Saturday, July 30, 2011

Modesty? what's at the heart of it?

Are you ready for your daily dose of brainwashing?  Good.  Because I've been brewing some ideas in the crucible, and I'm ready to pour the  coffee.  If you taste some grounds it's because I like it strong, and I'm kind of bold like that.

So, a lot of people who love the Lord Jesus seriously take the idea of modesty very seriously.  I mean--isn't this is what stumbles our young people? or old people?  Don't people fall into sin over modesty issues? Doesn't this lead to pornography addictions? and on and on.

So, let's define modesty.  I think of it as exposing something that should be covered, except in the case of biblical, intimate circumstances. (marriage)

Modesty is not just about clothing; it's about how you wear the clothing.  It's actions, words, speech, intent, etc.  It's very broad.

That's why making rules for modesty just doesn't work.  it's very possible to have a fully covered blue jean jumpered homeschool mama who is immodest in her words or eyes.  And it's fully possible for a half clad young lady to not want any attention from others and dresses that way out of ignorance.

Most people who deal with modesty issues mainly deal with the clothing covering up aspect of it because that is the easy one, right?  All you have to do to be modest is put certain amounts of clothing over certain parts of your body and the deal is done, right?   Well.. not so fast.

This entire issue came into focus for a me a few years ago.  I was asked my some of the leaders of our little church to deal with a certain young lady who wasn't dressing properly.  She was young, immature, and developed faster than people were ready for.  She was experimenting with high heels.  You've seen people who can balance on high heels try to walk?  I think it looks ridiculous.  There's a proper way to wear heels, but you have to have core strength to do it well.  I could do an entire post of walking in heels properly, I suppose.  I love wearing heels, but I don't think I could have pulled it off at 15 very well.

I digress.  So, what do most people do when they "sense" that a young lady needs some direction?  They make a lot of rules.  a lot of rules. rules on paper. contracts. etc.  What?????  

Why do I feel so strongly about this?  Well, first of all, rules fail to deal with the heart issues.  The spirit needs direction first, not the flesh.  When the heart is submissive to Christ, not a lot of rules and contracts are needed because the Lord reigns supreme.  Or the rules are more of a guideline than a law.

So, let's get a little deeper into the modesty issue and defining it.  Immodesty can take the form of clothing choices, communication choices, emotional choices and relationship choices.  Well, when you say it like that, aren't we all sort of immodest sooner or later?  That's kind of what I am realizing also.  The Proverbs 6 woman is staring back at us in the mirror.  She's wearing conservative clothing and going to Bible studies.  She opens her hands to the needy and her own wickedness is always prowling at the door.

In fact, when the leaders of my church asked me to help this one gal,  I was tempted to think this was some sort of way of reigning me in--making me more modest.  And then I'm like--that's kind of an odd way of dealing with it--so I dismissed it.  But really!  Do you feel it also?  Is your heart cutting open like mine?

So, despite my own failures to attain to these high standards, I'd like to give me thoughts on where all of this stems from.  Where does the immodesty weed sprout and why is so prevalent in some people's lives?

At the core of this issue is fear that stems from being unprotected in some way. A young woman whose father is not protecting her or is hyper controlling (two extremes) will tend toward immodesty.  The promiscuous spirit of a young woman is just an immodest spirit that is crying out for loving attention.    A married woman who feels neglected by her husband falls into the same trap also.  A loving husband also tends to be a loving father, but it is very hard for a man who hates his wife to give any degree of security to his daughter.

The issue for the young woman is security.  She feels so insecure and is so fearful that she garners attention inappropriately.  She wants to relax in the comfort of God's love and be content in him, but it is like going up a steep hill and ignoring all that is going around you at all times.  So, the young woman who isn't necessarily a fornicator but uses her physical beauty and womanly ways as a primary way of securing a man's love is actually a very insecure young lady.  She's very powerful, and she knows it.  But her primary motivation is probably not a sexual need but an emotional one.  She needs the drug-like feel that comes from having a man completely under her spell.  It feeds a huge emotional void that has never been filled.

So, what am I saying?  Is it wrong for a couple to be completely under each other's spell?  You tell me.  I've cast a few spells in my day also, but I refused to use those techniques on the man I wanted to marry. Because a love drug, even with someone fabulous, has a bitter taste in the end--especially if that is the only thing you have going for you. The world makes it seem like "love is all you need"--.  It's true.  Christ's love is all you need--romantic love is the frosting on the cake.  But it can't be the entire cake.

Which is primarily what the modesty question asks.  How can I make these young women more secure? How can I give them the confidence that only comes from Christ?  That takes time.  Building true character takes time.  Being confident in Christ is the opposite of immodesty whether in clothing, behavior, relationships, or anything. We can start with ourselves.  I can not change any random young woman off the street, but I can fill my tank with Christ every day and be secure in him.  I can model this happy confidence in Christ.  I can not feed their insecurities.  I can praise them for what they are doing well--particularly choices that increase their faith in God and holiness toward him.  I can give them a big picture of what God is doing in the lives of others.  I can help them talk through their insecurities and make sure they know that they have so much more to offer than just their physical beauty.  They don't need to hide behind the superficial things of life anymore!  And God will provide all that they need!!

And then next time I look into the mirror, I want to see Prov. 31, not Prov. 6.  How about you?


Lori Alexander said...

This is such a good post! The most important thing is for women to know who they are in Christ and how valuable they are. Then you live to please Him!

Braley Mama said...

amen sister! It is totally a heart issue, just love on the girl and model how to follow Him!

Mrs. Parunak said...

I know this is an old post, but I just had to comment on it. As someone who spent most of her life struggling with insecurity, I had to put in my impassioned plea that you not leave your young friend in that awful place. Yes, it does take time to develop security in the Lord, and yes, you do need to love her and be an example (those are huge--for sure not discounting those), BUT she also needs to understand the nature of insecurity, that the world is a place of pain and trouble, and that security ONLY comes through Christ. She needs to know that she is going to the wrong thing to fill the void she feels. Just like Jesus told the woman at the well (who was also trying to fill her void with the attentions of men) that she needed living water, that is exactly what this young woman needs to know. And she needs to understand that nothing else, not money, not popularity, not male attention, not anything will actually take her pain away. She needs Jeremiah 2:13 tattooed on her brain. And then, she needs to have real, practical ways to get to know the Lord better, to dive in to loving Him and serving Him. Even choosing modest clothes out of love for her brothers, when done as a sacrificial act of love for the Lord and as an expression of separating herself from her idols and trusting fully in Christ can be a way of drawing near to God and learning to drink from Him. Just saying, "High heels are inappropriate," will never help her and is totally irrelevant to her heart need, just like I think you've been so wisely feeling.

Organizing Mommy said...

Mrs. P: I totally agree! Actually, with that gal, I ended up doing a Bible study with her a few times related to the issues. But the heart is not changed yet. So, we keep trying and praying. In the meantime, I thought I would throw these ideas out there. It's no wonder so many gals struggle with this--especially since their hearts are hurting so much!