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Shame from Modesty

10/10/2014 - Author: Jennifer

Shame from ModestyThere will always be differences of opinions in church. I do believe that some things need full agreement. One of the ongoing (and maybe never-ending arguments) in church is modesty. Not surprisingly, I have an opinion. What is surprising is how it has evolved/changed over the years. How I feel may also surprise you. First, some background.

I grew up in a legalistic environment. The church said it, so we did it. There was no room for interpretation of the Bible. So, when there was a church function that involved wearing a swimsuit–girls wore a one-piece or wore a shirt. Why? Because guys will lust and we can’t cause guys to sin. That’s it. We were taught that girls just don’t understand guys and that it is a fact of life. This is how God made them. Church never taught guys to look away. There was no telling guys to wear shirts. Guys were not asked required to wear shirts. Oh no. If they work out, they are allowed to show the fruits of their labor. (Are you seriously going to tell me that girls are not going to notice? If you could sell me that you are a great salesperson).

You know what? I now have issues with some of what was being said (and is still being said in many Churches). There are lasting consequences that I live with because of these teachings. Can I share a few with you?

  • It is all my fault if a guys lusts–no matter what is worn. I have had men look from my face to my chest in a uniform shirt. I know this isn’t my fault, but I still may ask–am I to blame?
  • I am ashamed/embarrassed of my figure.
  • Any attention that I may get due to looks feels shameful to me.
  • I don’t accept compliments well.
  • I will zip up a jacket to cover up more.
  • To this day, turning a light on in front of my husband can be weird. We have been married 12 years people.
  • Wearing clothes that don’t sag or make me look bigger can be a huge step for me. I don’t want attention. Here’s the thing–I want to look good, but if a man looks at me and lusts, even though I don’t want the attention, it is in my head that it is my fault.

I hate that it is an issue. I hate that I have been taken on a guilt trip and manipulated into thinking that I will cause my brothers in Christ to sin. I hate that my brothers in Christ (and guys in general) are not taught to glance away. This has also caused division in my marriage. (That is another story though).

I know there are women who crave attention, maybe due to confidence issues–they wear revealing swimsuits/clothing because their worth is based on looks they receive from guys. I think that we should be focused on why or where their heart and mind is and why they wear what they wear. But, what about women who just don’t share your conviction–who let God be their guide and not people in church?

I know that this goes beyond swimsuits. Yoga pants and leggings are making headlines. My opinion–unless you are doing yoga, get dressed. (I feel this way about sweat pants too, FYI). Yes, I get it–if your pants have writing on the back, then yes, you probably want attention. Again, this probably needs to be a heart check/self-esteem check.

I believe that what you wear says a lot about you. I do believe that modesty is important. I also think that guys AND gals should be aware that what you wear can bring unhealthy attention.

Can I say something? Christian brothers and sisters–you will be in Heaven worshipping God along side gals who wore 2-pieces here on earth. Scandalous? It shouldn’t be. There are gals who will always “cover-up” and go to hell. That is sad. Christians will be in Heaven with guys who had no issues performing in body building contests. Christians do not get to Heaven based on what they wear or don’t wear. Let us not forget John 3:16-17. 

For the church to be divided on this probably makes Satan happy. It is a win for him. We need to stop making girls feel shame because they are girls. Growing up isn’t easy. Stop putting added pressure on girls with your guilt trips. Let Church be a safe place. Let it be about loving and serving God with His Word (The Bible) as our guide. Have we caused people to leave church or not want to serve God based on rules that we made ourselves? What happened to John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”?

I want to add that if I am aware of your convictions, I want to honor that. I won’t invite an alcoholic to a pub and I won’t offer them alcohol at my home. If I am aware that you are trying to cut back on sugar, I won’t ask to meet you at a cupcake shop. If there is music that offends you, then we won’t listen to it. BUT, these are YOUR convictions, not what your preacher said. This is MY decision to honor it, NOT a guilt trip by someone else.

I am not saying eat at restaurants that have waitresses and waiters solely for eye candy. Really. I can’t imagine someone feeling good about themselves after their spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend went there? Comparison is horrible in relationships.

Please believe me when I say I that I love people. I value your eyesight and your mind. I don’t want to cause anyone to sin. That said, I believe that we also need to watch what we say, how we say it, and what we do. I think that gossip and arrogance is dangerous and can cause people to stumble in their faith. What a tragedy. I want to cry when I think of how I have failed in my witness when I fail to live for God in how I talked, not what swimsuit I wore. That is on me, nobody else. See what I am saying? There is nobody else to blame but me. However, we blame girls when guys look–and it doesn’t matter what they wear. Guys are not taught 1 Corinthians 10:13. Females have body issues. Let’s not add to it. Let’s teach our boys to respect women and have them give eye-contact (not look at other parts of her body).

To those of you I have judged and have made Jesus look bad–I am sorry. I am a recovering legalistic who is trying to let Jesus be my guide and not what others say. Search Him and tell me what You think.

Be blessed 🙂





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