A Modesty Meddler

I didn’t know, at first, whether to say anything. As I walked up the stairway to the balcony of the church, I rounded a corner and nearly fell over a teenage girl, sitting on the steps with her girlfriend. Beyond the rudeness of sitting there—people had to carefully maneuver past the girls—their clothing was a real problem. One girl wore a blouse that was so low, her entire bra was visible as she sat, leaning forward.

I noticed, but quickly edged my way past them. As I continued up the stairs, I imagined how many men ahead of me and behind me had to divert their eyes. I wondered whether they would. I wondered why these girls didn’t “get” what they were doing—how they were causing men to struggle and possibly stumble into sin. And if they did get it, why didn’t they care? For a minute at the top of the stairs, I argued with God’s Spirit, and then headed back down.

“Sweetie,” I said to the girl with the blouse issue, “I wish you wouldn’t sit there.” I gave her the benefit of the doubt: “I don’t think you realize that you are showing off a lot more than you probably want to show.” As she stared at me blankly, I explained, “I can see all the way down your blouse, and so can every man and boy who walks up here.” She yanked at her blouse, and then folded her arms and looked away. I glanced at the other girl. Again, a blank stare. Neither girl moved, obviously waiting for me to leave.

I’m not the confrontational type, but my heart grieved for what the men in our church faced that morning, for what they face every week. To quote Jim Harmon (“Modesty: Virtue Ignored. Contending for Modesty in the Church”), “To speak of modesty or standards of modesty today is to risk branding oneself as naïve, impractical, out-of-date, and a prude — and even worse — a meddler.” OK then. I was a Modesty Meddler. Though a thorny issue for the church, modesty is nevertheless clearly woven throughout scripture, linked to God’s holiness in us (I Peter 1:16). There is no excuse for immodest dress; there are always pure alternatives in fashion. [Note: Pure Fashion has some great modesty guidelines for young girls wanting to be modest and fashionable! For a downloadable PDF version, go to purefashion.com/modesty.]

In these days of moral confusion, I’m praying that God will show His church how to reach women of all ages with a motivating message of modesty (I Corinthians 6:19-20; I Timothy 2:9a; 2 Timothy 2:22; I Peter 2:9, 11-12; 3:2; Titus 2:3-5). I know that modesty is a choice that springs from a pure heart (Matthew 5:8). Oh, Lord, give us pure, modest hearts.

Update: In a wonderful new development, the fashion industry is considering more modest clothing as part of its trend away from “bling” and into more “plain” and mixable pieces. Jayne O’Donnell wrote, in USA Today, “”Modesty in young women’s clothing is getting a boost from the dismal economy.” But Jeanne Grunert thinks there is more than economics at play. In Suite 101.com, Grunert wrote that the modern modesty movement “is a return to dressing like a lady and dressing conservatively.” This would be a wonderful time for churches and women’s ministries to consider a Mother/Daughter Tea with a modest-yet-fashionable Fashion Show!

In the News: Although the press covered the controversy concerning same sex-marriage after Miss California, Carrie Prejean, courageously stood up for her beliefs, a considerable amount of discussion concerning modesty in regard to Miss Prejean also cropped up on the Internet.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, founder of Revive Our Hearts, offered a powerful, pertinent response on the True Woman blog.

For another voice concerning modesty, see Does God really care what Miss California and you and I wear?


God plus Four said...

Go Dawn! I'm not confontational either. But sometimes you just gotta! Sometimes I rehearse clever ways to "confront" this issue as I am often in the pressence of young women. Fortunately I have not had to "confront" in a long time.

Cecil said...

Way to go, Dawn. Regarding confrontation, to me it all comes back to "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." Also, "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke. (In this case, women). :-)
We MUST take a stand for good, for high values and morals. If those girls' mothers don't tell them, someone should. Thanks for stepping up and out. I know it is not easy.

Rebecca said...

Dear Dawn...

I'm making my way down your Blog! I just HAD to comment on this Post about Modesty...

I'm a PK...I also turned 50 in December so I'm not a "Young Thing!" I've been sooooo discouraged by the dress of women today and I'm so happy to FINALLY read someone speak up about it. It has gotten downright embarrassing at times to be out with my husband only to have him feel uncomfortable by the young girls (and even older women) around us showing too much of their skin!

Blessings to you as you share your TIMELESS thoughts with us. We need to hear your voice!


MrsD/Jacque said...

Blessings Dawn~
What can I say? True. True. True.

When Amanda and Jocelyn were just 2 and 3 I worked with the youth girls ages 12-25 for a few years. Having been a worldly and ungodly teen myself, not having a relationship with the LORD before I was 19, I knew the difference, and I was taken aback that so many who called themselves Christians did not in so many areas of behaviour.

As a young married adult, I was still understanding of the teen years, so I had no problem letting the girls know about these things. I am thankful I had the opportunities to do so, too, because, with 5 daughters and 3 sons so far, it was important to know what and why I believed what I did and to strive to be holy.

I think that is what is missing today: holiness. So many times, we say let them be kids. We say their works are enough, because the teens serve, when, in reality, we are doing them a disservice as adults by doing this.

When parents especially take their eyes off of their own thoughts and opinions and allow God's Truth to be the line they toe, these children will know holiness and these issues in churches will only be the problems of new converts and those yet to know him.

May God help us to be loving and to teach our children his holiness and to be separate from the world and its ways.



Karen said...

I just loved this post! I'm a pastor's wife and often struggle with how to address issues like this. I think you handled it perfectly!

What I was thinking with regards to the girls reactions was that the problem went far beyond their immodesty. It always does. It's a heart issue. Unfortunately, chances were great that she/they knew exactly what they were showing and didn't care. There is a brazenness about many of the teenage girls in this generation.

I remember being a teenager (I'm 37 now) and dressing immodestly. And I remember when I would encounter my pastor or church leader how ashamed I would feel. Even though I liked dressing that way, there was still guilt if the 'wrong' person saw me. You don't see much of that in today's churches.

My poor husband has to watch where he looks when he preaches - it aught not to be that way.

Anyhow, fantastic post. I hope someone calls me a modesty meddler :)

Page said...

Excellent post and way to go - your post is another "light" in regards to the subjec of Modesty.

Your post was spot on and needed to be said.