Total Truth Thursdays 05 | Modesty: When It Goes Wrong

Apr 3, 2014

Welcome to our third Total Truth Thursday! Kirstin and I started this link-up in hopes that it will be successful in creating a safe environment for us to share our opinions, beliefs, and thoughts- however strong, against-the-grain, mainstream, or out there they are! If this is the first time you’re hearing about Total Truth Thursdays, head back to this post and catch up on what it’s all about!

Before we dive in and link up, there are a few things that you need to know:
1 // You can find the list of topics for each week HERE 
2 // Kindness is key.Whether you follow the topics for each week or come up with something on your own, please remember that others may or may not agree with you, and you may or may not agree with them! Disagreements are natural, passionate opinions are welcomed, and constructive feedback is fine. However, we won’t put up with rudeness, ugliness, or name-calling. Just be nice! 
3 // To link-up, please follow Hey Kelsea Rae & These Moments Called Life on Bloglovin’ or GFC and copy and paste the button code to your post somewhere! We are so excited to get started!

Today's topic is modesty.

Modesty is an interesting subject for me. I grew up in a very conservative Baptist church in an area where churches like that were and still are abundant.  While not all of the things I was taught there I've let go, most of it has caused me a great deal of pain and confusion as I've become an adult. I won't go into much detail about it all (another time, another post!), but I will sum it up by saying that I was taught, most of the time by actions more than words, that what we did WAS our righteousness. It usually wasn't about following God's personal leading and conviction in any one area of my life (drinking, dress, activity, music, relationships, etc), but more about living up to a set of standards that someone else had placed on me. And boy, were the expectations never lacking.

When it came to modesty, well that was just another level of spiritual maturity. "Oh, she still wears jeans to church? I guess she just isn't that close to Jesus yet" kind of thing. I was judged by others, and taught to judge my own spiritual well-being, on my decision to wear what they thought was modest, usually involving some sort of skirt/sweater combo if I'm being specific. And if I knew what spiritual maturity looked like, well it would come naturally that I was also able to peg exactly what it didn't look like. The checklist was easy, and I was safe, admired, praised, and on my way to meeting everyone else's expectations of me.

In my home, modesty was encouraged but never rigid. We knew what was expected of us because it was what was appropriate, but our parents never used it as a spiritual marker, for which I am thankful. I thank God everyday that I didn't do what many people my age are doing- leaving the church, forsaking the God they were taught wrongly about, and never looking back. Nope, I didn't do that. But I can't say it's been an easy journey, this trying to see God for who He truly is and live in the light of truth.

You want to know how I see modesty? First, I absolutely believe in it. In a hyper-sexual society where you literally cannot escape some sort of sexual image or innuendo everywhere you go, it's not helping things when I flaunt it for everyone to see. I want to be seen for me, not my body. I certainly don't want to give other men an easy opportunity to think about me in ways that I only want my husband to, or ways that they should only think about their wife, and I don't want to aid in the temptation of someone who may have any number of sexual struggles. That's not Law, that's just being thoughtful. 

I think, though, that some Christian circles get modesty wrong in several ways.

1.  It is often used as a spiritual gauge.  The more you had covered, the more righteous you must be.

2. They throw out these detailed, specific "requirements", when I truly think each Christian woman's choice of clothing should be between her and God only.

3. They address immodesty with unbelievers rather than addressing the heart and leaving the rest to God.

4. Women are held largely responsible for the thoughts and actions of men. While I don't want to help some guy think about my cleavage, he certainly has just as equal a responsibility to look away, commit his thoughts to God, and control himself, regardless of what he sees. I don't care if a woman were to walk around half naked, a man is 100% responsible for his actions and the woman is not "asking for it" (assault, rape, etc), even if she should choose to dress more revealing.

In my opinion, modesty, along with a lot of other issues, is a matter of personal conviction. It is between me and God and whatever He is choosing to touch on in my life. I believe there are some absolutes in the Bible and clear commandments. But mostly things aren't so black and white, and I think God did this because He wants our hearts and knew that if it was as simple as "do" or "don't do" he'd lose us to our own attempts at perfection. He doesn't want our neatly crossed-off checklists. They make him sick. He doesn't want us to live up to the expectations of our pastor, our fellow believers, our parents. He wants us at full abandon to Him only, because it is then and only then that He can accomplish whatever it is He has for us.

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  1. #3!! Yes! There can be no change of any kind without true heart change. There's go point in trying to preach things at people if they don't hear it in their heart (spoken from a student pastor's wife!)

  2. #4: AMEN! Thank you. That is exactly right. Modesty is a personal choice, and each person is responsible for his or her own actions and thoughts, regardless of what someone is wearing. Love this Kelsea!

  3. so good!!! All of it, but number 4 is so right. thank you for sharing!!

  4. This is so right on. I always find it interesting to hear about modesty from the mindset of those that have always grown up in the family was saved a bit later, so they hit on the modesty/purity thing hard and heavy. Even though I'm not always the best at it, it's always good to be mindful of our brothers in Christ - even if it won't put us on the pages of Vogue ;) Thanks for the great post! Thursdays are my favorite over here.

  5. What a great post. I am so happy I found your blog. There is something so beautiful about understanding what God truly wants from us, and that is a personal relationship. While I agree there are very clear expectations of things in the word of God - there are also many things that are to be taken up with Him and through having a personal relationship with Christ you will be able to stay in obedience. The awesome thing about being righteous is that we cannot understand it in our flesh - "the law" was what Christ was being persecuted for going against! He made decisions according to righteousness. I could go on, but this is such a great post!

  6. This is something I have greatly struggled with as well. I also struggle when the church leaders I know value modesty so highly that they continue pulling aside and embarrassing a high school girl for doing the best she can when she is the only Christian in her impoverished family. Several people have stood up for her, but none of those people want it to escalate into a fight. It makes me sad along with returning me to questioning everything like I did in high school when I moved from California (where I was almost prudishly more modest than my friends) to Tennessee where I am suddenly being criticized for wearing shorts that come to my fingertips instead of my knees. I wish I knew how to create a more loving balance in this area, instead it saddens me and I just do my best to pray and hold close to the God-given convictions I hold personally. Thanks for opening up this topic!

  7. Girl! I grew up as a Baptist missionary kid =). I couldn't wear shorts until I think high school. My parents weren't as strict as we got older and things evened out.

    Modesty is such a hard topic to cover (pun not intended but I thought it was funny) I like that you said God is after our heart not a set of rules! I couldn't agree more.

  8. absolutely dead on kelsea. modesty as a spiritual marker, just not right. and #4 i completely agree with. many have made it the women responsible for a man's sexual fall, but as you said, it is a personal conviction. if we both men and women seek God for His guidance wholeheartedly then He will be the one to work within our hearts accordingly. Great post Kelsea!

  9. Thank you for sharing this! I think you're absolutely right, modesty is all about conviction and the specifics of what God is showing you. I think it's our job as Christian women to make sure we are not tempting men by flaunting things but you're right, at the end of the day, the man is 100% responsible for his actions and thoughts. Thank you for your honesty, Kelsea!