Bye-bye, Bikinis

“I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing,
modestly and discreetly…”

1 Timothy 2:9

Another summer has come and is now nearly gone. Today we celebrate summer’s last hurrah, and all too soon, we’ll be packing away our t-shirts and sandals, exchanging them for the warmth of sweaters, boots, and heavy coats. 

As the time comes to store away summer gear, one young lady wants to challenge Christian women to put a certain item of clothing—the bikini—into permanent retirement. In an article for Covenant Eyes, Alyssa Shull explains what led her to the realization that she needed to say bye-bye to her bikini-wearing days…      

For all of my life I always wore a bikini. It’s what everyone does. From the time I was a baby and into my early 20s. I seriously never thought anything of it. Everyone in our culture wears one and it’s what they sell in all of the stores. Personally, I never wore one with the attitude “Hey boys, look at my body.” It was always because I wanted a good tan.

Last winter I was listening to Pandora Internet Radio. If you don’t use them, ads always pop up on the side of the player when you’re listening. I was listening to some worship music, praying, and studying. An underwear ad from a popular clothing line appeared: it was a picture of a girl in her bra and undies. I started getting really upset. I said, “How come I am just here listening to worship music and this ad comes on with this girl barely dressed?” I was so mad at marketing. This can just pop up for everyone to see.

Then the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart with so much clarity. He said, “Alyssa, what are you doing when you go to the pool in the summer wearing a bikini?”

It was like a loving dagger right to my heart. I thought about it and I was like “Wow, thank you Holy Spirit, you are so right!” There is truly no difference.

At first I was like, oh man, now my stomach isn’t going to be tan…but my husband thinks it’s no big deal whether or not my stomach is tan.

At The Pink Lid, when I teach on dressing guidelines, I have a PowerPoint slide with two pictures on it. One is a pic of a girl in a bikini, and the other is a pic of a girl in bra and underwear. Then I ask, “What’s the difference between the two pictures?” All the girls just sit there and I can see that their brains are working overtime on this. And they all come to the conclusion that the only difference is the name and maybe material. But as far as coverage goes, there is no difference.

I would never take my clothes off in front of a crowd of people and just be in my bra and underwear, so why do we think it is okay to wear a bikini in front of a crowd? It’s totally a culture thing. Plus girls in the summer are posting profile pictures of themselves on Facebook in bikinis. These girls would never post a picture of themselves in just their underwear on Facebook. So why do all these women think it’s okay to post a picture of themselves in their bikinis?

I am here to say that it is soft porn. Christians for some reason feel it’s okay to post that on Facebook when they are frankly not even aware what they are saying through that picture. And it’s not just teenagers and young adults…it’s parents too.

So when I got straight-up convicted, I told my husband about what the Lord talked to me about. And it blessed him so much that I wanted to wear a swimsuit that covered me. My body is his and not for everyone else to see. It’s for his eyes only. And that should be your focus too ladies, married or not, your body is for your husband…

Find Alyssa’s entire article HERE.

Image: barunpatro

Psst…Your Secrets Are Showing!

“I desire…that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel,
with modesty and self-control”

1 Timothy 2:8, 9

It’s funny the things that stick in your mind sometimes, isn’t it? A few years back, I was in a class at church when I witnessed an unfortunate incident I have yet to forget.

Everything was proceeding normally that Sunday morning until a woman came to the front of the room to make an announcement. The moment she faced the group and began speaking, all I could think was, “Oh, my word, somebody cover that cleavage!” 

Her dress was surprisingly low-cut in the front, and I groaned inside as I thought of all the men sitting in the room. If I, as a woman, was distracted by the revealing nature of this lady’s clothing, how much worse off must the men be? Poor guys, they just can’t get a break anywhere.😦

Now, the interesting thing about this story was that the woman had a piece of paper with her which included details about her announcement, and as she continued talking, she slowly raised the paper up and held it to her chest in a slightly awkward-looking manner until she returned to her seat. Based on her unnatural pose, it appeared as though she had realized about an hour too late that her clothing simply wasn’t appropriate for the setting. I know this sweet lady didn’t enter her closet that morning with the purpose of dressing as a stumblingblock for her brothers in Christ, yet without intentionally pursuing modesty, that’s just what happened.

In the arena of modesty, the old adage proves true–a failure to plan is a plan to fail. But the good news is, with a little practice, planning to dress modestly quickly becomes a way of life. In this interview for MomLife Today, Dannah Gresh shares a few thoughts and tips to encourage us to keep our secrets covered… 

Need more guidance on modesty? Check out the Modesty Heart Check written by Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters. This handout serves as a useful resource for moms and daughters alike.

Find more from Dannah at Pure Freedom.

Related Post: Boys, Brains, & Bare Bellies

Photo: Scott Liddell

Boys, Brains, & Bare Bellies

“Therefore let us…decide never to put a stumbling block
or hindrance in the way of a brother.”

Romans 14:13

Bring up the topic of modesty around many Christian women, and you’re likely to be decried as a legalist within a matter of moments. Although there are plenty of people who are guilty of severely mishandling the issue, modesty, when understood biblically, has nothing to do with legalism and everything to do with love. Our love for God and our brothers in Christ should be the decisive factors influencing how we dress.

In this interview for MomLife Today, author Shaunti Feldhahn provides practical instruction on how immodesty affects the heart of a young man. As she shares a story from her own family’s experience, you may be surprised to learn just how early in a boy’s life this becomes an issue…    

Photo: Laura Morariu

A Model on a Mission for Modesty

When professional model Rachel Lee Carter became a believer, her understanding of the importance of modesty took time to develop. She shared the following story with Covenant Eyes

About ten years into my career I was asked to model a bra for a department store catalog. I had never modeled lingerie before but wasn’t dead set against it. I justified it telling myself, “Even Christian women wear lingerie.” Besides, this wasn’t smutty underwear—it was full-coverage lingerie. I booked the job without counting the cost and the pictures came out in Sunday’s paper.

During this time, I was just about to launch the ministry Modeling Christ. I went to my pastor, to seek an endorsement, but instead he gently prompted me to consider just what I had been modeling. He confronted me, in love but with firmness, on appearing in the lingerie advertisements. I felt stubborn and immovable, but I told him I would pray about it. I must confess I didn’t understand because I felt the clothes were modest. What irony. This is how I know modest is a relative term. It means different things to different people.

My pastor proceeded to tell me men think differently than women do, and that even though the garments weren’t revealing to me, they still had the potential to make men stumble. I wondered just how that was my problem. He went on to tell me many men had come to him in need of counseling because they were struggling with pornography. At this point I began to feel anger because my modeling was definitely not pornography. As he gently continued, he shared with me most of these Christian men admitted their lusting and stumbling began with the images seen in a typical Sunday paper…the kind of images I was appearing in. The way I heard it—and the way he intended it—was these kinds of ads were an introduction to pornography. One thing I understood for certain: men do think differently than women.

I did pray about it, but I struggled with the concept. I wrestled with the idea of needing to change the way I dressed because of the potential my choices had in making someone else falter in their faith or in aiding pornography. But the more I prayed and sincerely wanted to know God’s will, the more my heart became convicted of the matter. My heart was changed, not because of my pastor (though God used him to initiate it), but because God cares about this issue. God did create men to be different from women.

When I accepted this standard and asked for God’s forgiveness (for my unyielding spirit and for any damage I may have already caused another), I realized I’d have to explain to my agency I would no longer be available to model lingerie. This was a difficult task because I feared their judgment. Fortunately they appreciated my honesty and conviction and removed it from my status list…

The reason I share this story is to convey the importance our decisions have on others and on our walk with the Lord. As moms, we must model dignity and modesty to our kids. The Word of God is clear: I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety (a love for spiritual things)…appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

It can be easy for us as women to look harshly upon other Christian women who dress immodestly, but we need to realize that many simply haven’t been taught biblical principles of modesty. Like Rachel’s pastor, we need to look for opportunities to lovingly teach others what God’s Word has to say about feminine beauty, and soon they may be passing those truths on to others just like Rachel is…

Rachel Lee Carter has recently written a book on the topic of modesty entitled Fashioned by Faith.

When Skimpy & Skanky Reign Supreme

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”

Proverbs 31:10

It’s that time of year again–the time when warm weather arrives and modesty disappears. For Christian men in pursuit of purity, the spring and summer months can prove more than a little challenging as women reveal much of what had previously remained hidden under winter coats and sweaters. In a culture where skimpy and skanky reign supreme over the realm of feminine fashions, we as Christian women can greatly assist the men around us by dressing in ways that will help them keep their eyes on the Lord and off of our bodies. 

After spending 30 years in the modeling industry, Tressa Lemky is well acquainted with the culture’s continual pressure to give in to an immodest and immoral way of life. In this interview on 100 Huntley Street, Tressa explains how to stand against the tide by becoming a woman who models modesty. This is an immensely practical conversation that will help us understand the importance of considering modesty literally from all angles. Feel free to share it with other Christian women you know. 

[The conversation on modesty begins right around the 4 min. mark.]

Image: emi hirayu

Getting Proactive about Purity

A few months back, I gave my sister a copy of Dannah Gresh’s new book Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Little Girl. Now, at that time, my niece had only recently passed her first birthday, so I wouldn’t say my sister was having all that much trouble with keeping the little in her little girl. So, why, you may wonder, would I bother passing on a book that’s intended to help moms guide their girls from the tween to teen years?

Whether you realize it or not, you already know the answer to that particular question. 

They grow up so fast!

And because of how quickly children grow, wise Christian moms will realize they simply can’t delay in learning how to teach their daughters biblical truths about purity, modesty, and living as women in ways that will bring honor and glory to their Creator.  If you desire purity for your children, you’ve got to be proactive.

In this interview on 100 Huntley Street, Dannah Gresh explains how moms can make a vital difference in their daughter’s pursuit of purity…    

To learn more about Dannah Gresh’s events and resources, visit her website Pure Freedom.

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For many of us, love is a major motivation for dressing the way we do. We want someone to love us, notice us and think we’re special, thinking our attire is the perfect “subtle” way to get that person’s attention…But self-love can be one of the most dangerous motivations for us to wear the kinds of clothes we want to wear because it exalts self and puts us on the throne, calling the shots.

For others of us, however, love for the world is what drives us to dress a certain way. The latest fashions. The hippest trends…We are the women who are LOVING OUR WORLD, and it’s all the motivation we need; we are going to dress like it even if we’re clearly commanded to not love the world (1 John 2:15- 17). It’s just fashion! What’s the harm in that?

For a small number of us, our motivation lies deeper than a simplistic love for self or the world. No, we dress to find a certain power – feministic at its core. By dressing provocatively, we find we have power over guys, power over situations, and power over ourselves…The way we dress is powerful. Proverbs 7 describes this woman to a tee. She comes out “dressed like a prostitute” for the sole purpose of luring the man into her trap, to control him…

Ladies, guys are visual. They are stimulated by the things they see. The clothes you wear, and the way you wear them sends a visual message to a guy whether or not you mean it. In Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, Paul talks about going to great effort to help a brother not stumble in his walk with the Lord. As women, we can help them by how we’re dressing. When we dress in an alluring way, causing them to stumble in their thoughts and actions, we are the ones that are wrong. It begins with us. While their sin is ultimately because of their own choices, we don’t help them by dressing in a way that makes it more difficult to stand against temptation.

• Am I loving my brothers with how I am dressing today?

Galatians 5:19 gives a list of characteristics that describe those who live according to the flesh; among them are impurity and sensuality.

Galatians 5:22 gives the opposing list: the fruit of the Spirit; among them are kindness and goodness. The question to ask ourselves is: Is what I’m wearing kind and good towards my brother in Christ, or is it impure and sensual? Am I loving my brother with the clothes I am wearing?

~Sarah Bubar in “Love and Modesty

Photo: OBMonkey

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A girl putting on an immodest outfit will think she just looks good–because that’s what fashion dictates. Her outfit may not be the true reflection of her values, but it’s what she can buy. So she continues to add to the daily accumulation of the raunch culture’s visual impact. In the same way, I think many young women imitate porn stars (on a variety of levels–from dress to personal grooming to relationships) because it’s what they believe is attractive to men. If it’s “hot,” it must be good. In the absence of other teaching, there is a certain perverse logic to this.

That’s why we must proclaim without apology the beauty of modesty and restraint. As one of my married male friends tried to explain to my sexually active fifteen-year-old acquaintance: “The price of a candy bar is one dollar because that’s all that it costs to get it. You don’t pay two dollars because you don’t have to; one dollar is sufficient. Well, the price of my wife was everything I had and then some. She was not going to part with the treasures of her sexuality, her affections, her romance, and her support apart from my pledging my life and love to her until death do us part. She was priceless, in some ways. And I knew that going in–she demanded my respect and honor. And it’s been completely worth it.”

I long for young women to understand this principle. It is natural for us to want to captivate a man’s attention. But a Girls Gone Wild T-shirt is no symbol of love. It’s simply a badge of a tawdry performance. It conveys no lasting security or honor or even attraction.

The bride in the Song of Solomon speaks of something far more precious: “He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (Song 2:4, NIV). This bride has received public affirmation and acclaim, and she wears her husband’s love like a banner. Instead of insecurity or disappointment, this woman revels in her status: “Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love” (v. 5). She is no hook-up casualty or discarded sexual partner. She is celebrated and prized and intoxicated with her husband’s sexual attention.

This is the message that young women today need to hear. God’s original design for sex is still the best.

~Carolyn McCulley in “Raunch Culture Rip-Off

Photo: OBMonkey

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In verse 3 Peter [1 Peter 3:3] begins to talk about how women braid their hair and dress. And at first this seems completely out of the blue. But actually this isn’t a detour or rabbit trail. There is something so profound about what Peter does here. Think about it: Peter is addressing one of the most common means by which a woman seeks to gain power over men: appearance and allurement.

It was true in first century Rome; it’s true today. One of the primary ways that a woman gets what she wants is to highlight or flaunt her beauty and her outward appearance. This is why the hair,makeup, jewelry and clothing (not to mention diet and plastic surgery) industries are multi-multi billion dollar industries. Female sexuality, female beauty is often used like a weapon.

This text indicates that a natural tendency in the female human heart is a failure to entrust your­self to God and instead to put your hope in how you look. To get what you want–love, care, atten­tion, power–by the way your body looks, by the way you dress, by your style.

And Peter is saying to women, “Don’t play by the world’s rules.” Don’t find your greatest joy in feeling sexy. Find your joy in the approval of your God. Don’t make your focus outward adornment, make it inward adornment.

The point is not that it’s wrong to do your hair or wear jewelry. If that’s what this verse is saying we’d have to also say it’s wrong to wear any clothing at all. obviously that isn’t the point. Many women today need to adorn themselves with more clothing.

The point is that outward adornment shouldn’t be your primary preoccupation. You should give more attention to cultivating a heart that loves God, more attention to a quiet and gentle spirit–that means an attitude that isn’t demanding. God sees your heart; he looks past your outward appear­ance and what he cares about is your inner person. So make that beautiful.

Clothing and style will get you attention. A short skirt catches the eye of the world–but a quiet heart catches the eye of God.

~Joshua Harris in “A Word to Wives: 1 Peter 3:1-6

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Richard Baxter, the great Puritan preacher, said to women, “And you must not lay a stumbling block in their way, nor blow up the fire of their lust, nor make your ornaments snares but you must walk among sinful persons as you would do with a candle among straw or gunpowder, or else you may see the flame which you would not foresee, when it is too late to quench it.” What a timely warning.

On the one hand, there is a world that says there are no rules and anything goes. Then you have some libertarian type Christians who cry, “Liberty, liberty, we are not under law, we are under grace. It doesn’t matter. Wear whatever you want to.” On the other hand, there are also some legalistic Christians who radically restrict what they believe women are allowed to wear. Finally, there is a wide area in the middle of Christian modesty in practice. There is great diversity in this middle ground. This is where our tastes and styles are reflected by the many different options that allow for us to express our preferences…

Does God care how we dress? Yes, He does. He cares about every aspect of our lives. We are called to holiness, holiness in what we do, what we say, where we go, how we act, how we think, what we listen to, what we read, what we sing, and yes, how we dress. Scripture bears this out. Read Ephesians 5:8-10, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 and 1 Peter 1:15 for starters. May God give us both the desire and the wisdom to live lives that are holy in every aspect. A lost world is watching.

~Mary Mohler in Modeling Modesty

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Some of you may wonder…why make such a big deal about modesty? More importantly, why does Paul? Is it because we’re conservative people? Is it because we have personal preferences about how women should dress?

No. The reason is the gospel. Modesty is important because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul is concerned about it. He isn’t simply a “cultural conservative.” This isn’t Paul’s version of The Book of Virtues. For him, the issue of modesty is about the gospel.

And that’s why you should be concerned about modesty as well. For when we take a broader look at 1 Timothy 2:9, we discover that these instructions about women’s dress are set in the context of the gospel:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Tim. 2:3–6)

The gospel message is the motivation for modest dress.

The woman who loves the Savior avoids immodesty because she doesn’t want to distract from or reflect poorly upon the gospel.

R. Kent Hughes puts it like this: “Paul’s overriding concern was that the way Christians deported themselves would not detract from but enhance their gospel mission.”

We have a gospel mission: not only to preach Christ but to live in a way consistent with our profession of faith. As women, you can detract from the gospel mission by dressing immodestly, or you can enhance the gospel mission by dressing in a way that reflects the transforming power of the gospel at work in you. The humble woman, the modest woman, is concerned about the lost. And her dress reflects that concern.    

Make this your aim: that there be no contradiction between your gospel message and the clothes you wear. May your modest dress be a humble witness to the One who gave himself as a ransom for all.

~C.J. Mahaney in “Modesty: The Modest Woman’s Allegiance (pt. 7)

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Believe it or not, what we wear can have a major effect on others’ thoughts. Are we responsible for that? Here’s a true story that really made me think.

A friend shared with me, “Five years ago I learned about my husband’s failures with his thought life, which led to an affair with a woman at work who dressed very sensually. My heart was broken.”

Let me ask you a question: Who was responsible for this affair? Was my friend’s husband? Absolutely! Did the woman who dressed sensually have any responsibility? Absolutely!

Richard Baxter was a 17th century pastor who recognized, even then, that women’s clothing could snare a man’s mind. He used a word picture that graphically illustrates how our choices as women affect the men around us:

“And though it be their sin and vanity that is the cause, it is nevertheless your sin to be the unnecessary occasion…You must not lay a stumbling-block in their way, nor blow up the fire of their lust…You must walk among sinful persons, as you would do with a candle among straw or gunpowder, or else you may see the flame which you did not foresee, when it is too late to quench it.”

Ladies, God calls us to each walk in this world as “a candle among straw or gunpowder.” A fire or explosion can be devastating and it can injure and destroy many lives.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in The Look: Does God Really Care What I Wear?

Photo: OBMonkey

The Church’s Wardrobe Malfunction

“…women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel,
with modesty and self-control…”

1 Timothy 2:9

Why doesn’t the church address the issue of modesty?

On more than one occasion, I have pondered this question while sitting through church services that couldn’t swing a G-rating due to the amount of skin being flashed by the female members in attendance. The only answer I can come up with is that too many church leaders have neglected to take their calcium supplements, thereby weakening their spines to the extent that they are unable to address a topic about which many women are prone to get rather defensive, but that’s just my personal theory.😉

In the following video, Randy Alcorn offers a more gracious answer. He addresses the stumblingblock that immodesty in the church places before men of all ages and challenges women to consider how they can better love their brothers in Christ by rethinking their wardrobe (as well as the full-frontal hug–another aspect of church life that puzzles me). While many would scoff at the content of Alcorn’s advice, let me encourage you to sincerely consider what he has to say. He is not overstating the dangerous temptations which spring from immodesty.

Here are the resources by Nancy Leigh Demoss that Randy Alcorn recommended:

The Look: Does God Really Care What I Wear? (booklet)

“Free to Be Modest” (transcript)

Illustration: Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo

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Notice in 1 Timothy 2 that Paul goes beyond addressing a woman’s apparel. He says he desires “that women should adorn themselves … with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works” (2:9–10).

He’s very clear about what makes a godly woman attractive. “Good works” are to be what’s most noticeable about a woman who professes godliness. Not her wardrobe, but her good works—an observable lifestyle of serving others. That’s the appropriate adornment for women who profess to be Christians. And it is an evidence of the transforming effect of the gospel.

This may mean less time applying makeup, styling hair and  choosing clothes. It may mean more time sacrificing on behalf of your family and your local church.

Adorning yourself with good works means less time shopping and more time serving.

So, which are you more preoccupied with — shopping or good works?…

Once again, let me remind you that the Bible doesn’t forbid a woman from enhancing her appearance. But here in 1 Timothy 2, Paul isn’t just advocating modesty in dress; he’s insisting that more time and energy be devoted to spiritual adornment in the form of good works. And he’s warning about excessive attention devoted to appearance to the neglect of good works.

~C.J. Mahaney in “Modesty: The Right Adornment”

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How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood?… Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshipping God? Or is it to call attention to herself and flaunt her beauty? Or worse, to attempt to lure men sexually? A woman who focuses on worshipping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance.”  

~John MacArthur in 1 Timothy, The MacArthur New Testament Commentaries 

Photo: OBMonkey