Modesty, part 2.

9:57 AM


   Wow, that post got quite the responses from you all!  I am sorry it is taking me SO long to follow up that post like I said I would, but things kept cropping up to blog about, and I'm STILL swimming underneath a load of blog posts I haven't gotten to, but nevertheless, I do want to re-visit it like I said I would.  So let's check out some clips of what you all had to say, and my responses will be in bold:

   "Great post. I think it's important in relating to people in this world that we don't dress sloppy, and without taste. There is something to be said for looking good for our husbands, and I'm not talking about just in the bedroom. But modest, neat, and fashionable, so that he can be proud to walk along side me and hold my hand in public. I also feel that our dress says something about how we feel about our femininity and how we take care of the body that God has given us. In a world we're girls are throwing there femininity out the window, it goes a long way to see a young lady who is neat, modest, and feminine. As women we are created by God to admire beauty and want to emulate beauty in ever aspect of our lives, and me thinks that's a good thing."

 Well said!  I agree that we are created to admire beauty, and I could not agree more about not being sloppy, tasteless and unkempt.  Good words. 

   "I think the thing I struggle with regarding modesty is...what is considered modest? Depending on who I am around, I will get very different definitions. There is much difference of opinion, even (or especially) in Christian circles. It's easy to begin to think and dress the way the people around you do (I have been guilty of that). I think a lot has to do with personal conviction, but is there a basic standard we should all follow?"

   Well....when I started out writing that original post, I didn't want to go anywhere near 'defining standards'.  I just set out to defend the argument that modesty AND fashion can indeed, co-exist.  Setting standards terrifies me.  It's the biggest can of worms, and if your upbringing was anything like mind, standards was all you heard about.  From your parents, from your teachers, from your was all about rules.  So unfortunately I don't know if I'll be able to quite answer that question today, Amanda. :)  I would like to be able to, someday, but I don't think today is that day.  I feel I have a lot of research and study to do before I get there. 


   In regards to modesty standards, I recently heard what I think is the best quote I have ever heard on the subject, ever.   I don't know who it's original with, I just know I heard it from Dorcas Smucker, so I'll credit her.  I can't find the original quote, so I will just tell what I can remember......"Immodesty is a lot like obscenity. I can't really define it, but I know it when I see it."  

   Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.  Because don't we all know that's really true?  I mean, we could get caught up in hem-lengths and necklines until the cows come home and we're blue in the face, and everyone, everywhere, will come out at a different place.  But what that quote alludes to is the fact that if we're truly honest with ourselves, we KNOW when something is crossing the line and if we would just admit that, we would save ourselves (and a lot of other people) a whole load of trouble.  Wow that was a long reply to one comment.  Moving on.....

  "My dad used to say something along the lines that Christian women should be the most modest, but the most beautifully dressed of all women. I quite agree. We are representing our Lord, and it's a privilege to do it in such a way as brings glory to Him, to His beauty and creativity."

   Wow, wow, wow!  What a refreshing way to think about it!  Not so much that we HAVE to do this or we HAVE to do that, but rather, it is a privilege to represent the King, our Father, and how we would want to appear while doing that.  What a beautiful challenge, Clarita.
  "Being in Taiwan and Italy and immersed in other clothing cultures certainly did affect me and the things i choose to wear now... I think the biggest thing i took away is that while every culture is very different in its standards of sexy/attractive/decent/proper/modest, and every culture cares about image and how you present yourself, the US is particularly obsessed with clothing choices reflecting the individual.....North America has this very "if you've got it [a hot bod] - flaunt it; if not - hide it" thing going on that really focuses on and judges how much/what kind of body a person shows.  Certainly European culture is very secular but the attitude that your body is your body and it's just this thing that you live with 24/7 but it's not the sum reflection of your identity or your beliefs or your values seemed to be quite healthy."  

  I love the points Anna made about European cultures being different in the sense that what you were 'allowed' to wear was not dictated by body type whereas in America, there is a STRONG pressure to show it all off if you're hot, and to cover it all up if you're not.  Which isn't fair.  

   That being said, I still think that regardless of body type, we do a disservice to ourselves if we remove all mystery from the way we present ourselves.   There is something to be said for mystery, and a quiet, graceful dignity that we are losing in our country and in our culture.  

    "As Christians, we're supposed to follow the Golden Rule and to love others. And there are people all over the world who don't have enough to wear or enough to eat. So, as Christians, how do we justify spending a lot on clothing that, if we're honest, we don't need?" 

   Great challenge.  I have much to learn in this area, as I would buy new clothes all the time if I let myself.  Everyone has their weakness.  At this point, I don't feel too convicted about it as I OFTEN shop from garage sales and Goodwill to add to my wardrobe.  However, my focus can often be too materialistic and greedy, and in that respect, I do want to re-examine my priorities.  Good thoughts!

"I agree easily on the whole modesty thing, but the fashion part is very confusing. How do you reconcile following fashion with Biblical passages such as 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3,4? Is following fashion the same as "being conformed to the world" (Romans 12:2)?"

   Ahh, the famous 1 Tim. 2:9.  First, what I would have to say about that verse, is that it is such a beautiful admonition, but it is often taken out of context.  For example, conservatives are quick to interpret that as, "Do not wear jewelry".   But then they would still braid their hair and wear expensive (even if homemade) clothes.  So what I take from that Scripture is once again, all about the heart's intent, and focus.  Is the attention those women were receiving coming from their pretty jewels and braids? Or was it from their "good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."  I think he was encouraging those women to be known for their works, and not their looks.  And that can manifest itself in a HOST of ways, looking a little differently in individual's lives.  A very inspiring, convicting challenge.

   Same story in 1 Peter 3:3-4.   Our beauty should not come from the outward things, such as our outfits, hairstyles or pretty jewelry.  But it needs to come from our inner self....the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  And just as I don't think inner beauty can be found by wearing lots of jewelry and experimenting with fancy hairstyles, neither can it be found by doing away with all of those things.  Because with either action, we are missing the point.  The verse could have just as easily said, "Please don't let your beauty (or worth) come from plain attire, of wearing no makeup and a certain hairstyle."  But that was not the issue those women were facing that day, the issue was vanity IN their pretty things, and so he was warning them not to find their value in that. 

  And as far as "be not conformed to the world" goes, we so often look at that first part and not the whole context.   Romans 12:2 says "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."   First of all, the power is not found in just trying our hardest 'not to conform'.  The power is found in the renewing of our mind.  And when we renew our mind, by getting in the Word and speaking with Him, He WILL reveal to us His will.  I think He will make it clear if we're willing to listen.  But the moment we turn our eyes and focus to the world to either concentrate on following it, or concentrate on NOT following it, once again, I think we are missing the point.

   "There is nothing "spiritual" about wearing dowdy, unattractive clothing. In fact, the Proverbs 31 woman seems to have an incredible sense of dignity and style. is vital that we follow the Spirit of God rather than the messages of the culture when choosing what to wear. Our clothing choices should be an outward reflection of the beauty, radiance, joy, and purity that Christ has built within our inner life. Personally, I love dressing with elegance and style--and it is something that Eric appreciates as well. But if I ever find myself obsessing over my wardrobe or lowering my standards of modesty just to stay up with current trends, that's when I know God needs to remake my habits in this area."   -Leslie Ludy

 Wow, that last sentence really hits home.  I find it very easy to "adjust" my standards because of my love for fashion, so that is a timely, and poignant reminder for me.  

  All in all, thanks so much for what you all were willing to share.  I  so appreciate the venue this blog has provided for sharing opinion, ideas, thoughts and feelings.  I hope no one feels threatened here, but it can be an environment to share and encourage one another on.  If I in any way confused you, or didn't answer your questions, please let me know! I will try to clear things up if I can.  Anyway, I have two little girlies that want me to wrap this up so I'll just end it here.  I've enjoyed our "discussion"!  Feel free to add more.  

*** Side Note***  I didn't add these outfit pictures as some sort of example of the definition of modesty, I just put them on here because they were ones I already had on hand because of a post I was going to do sometime about dressing up t-shirts in the summer.:)  Sometimes Sundays are hot and the only thing I feel like wearing to church is a t-shirt, so that is a way to dress them up a bit. O.k., that's all for now!

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  1. My father in law once gave a gave a good description of modesty. "When a lady walks into a room, is the first thing you notice the peace and beauty of her face or her body?" Modest clothing will always simply point to the peace we have. :) Every thing we do whether it's our clothes, speech, or actions reflect whether there is modesty IN our hearts or not. :)

  2. Thanks for that post, Shelley!
    Amanda Miller

  3. This is an excellent read! And no, we do not need more standards on the subject. We need to be transformed on the inside. Love, love the quote by Dorcas Smucker. And like I tell my daughters, (ages 4 & 6)"pretty on the outside isn't pretty, if the inside's full of ugly!"

    a happy day to you!

  4. First off, I love your blog...thank you for sticking with it. I know you said you shop at garage sales and Goodwill a lot, but can you please give those of us who are fashionably challenged a few tips on what stores or brands are your favorites? :)


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