What the Bible Says About Modesty and How to Live It

September 15, 2022

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Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends and welcome to the Foundation Worldview podcast, where we answer your questions with the purpose of equipping you, to get your kids to think critically through every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the Christian worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz. And we're going to dive right into our question today. This question says, how do we encourage our children, specifically our girls, to be modest and view themselves as worthy, in a world where provocativeness and sexuality are expected and even encouraged? Wow, what an important question. We know that our culture is obsessed with sexuality. That even our view culturally of our identity is that our identity is rooted in our sexual desires. And so if we want to raise our children to understand a biblical view of sexuality, a biblical view of their identity, exactly how do we do this? And so with this question, we're specifically going to dive into the question of modesty.

Now, as with any area of life, we need to have orthodoxy before we have orthopraxy. And what I mean by this is we need to have correct belief before we have correct action. And this is something that we sometimes get confused in the Christian community. We sometimes dive right into rules for living before a correct understanding of who God is and what is the nature of reality. However, when we look at the epistles, the epistles model this so clearly. In almost every letter in the new Testament, the writer first dives in to orthodoxy, correct theology, who is Jesus, and what has he done for us? That's usually in almost every letter, the first half of the letter. And then the second half of almost every letter is then how do we live, orthopraxy, because of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

So we're going to apply this to this question of our children, especially our girls just expected to be overly sexualized. So before we can help them have a correct understanding of how to live in this over sexualized culture, they need to have a correct understanding of who God is and who they are. So for all of our children, we should be asking and then biblically exploring this question of who is God. And taking our kids to the scriptures, to understand who God is, that God is our creator and sustainer. He is the author of all reality, and he loves us. He loves us and he is perfect, and he is holy, and he is just. We want our kids to understand the attributes of God. So encourage you to go directly to scripture. If you have really little ones, there's a great book out there by Lydia White called the Attributes of God For Kids, just dive into this topic of who is God.

And then once our kids have a solid understanding of who God is exploring the question, who are we and taking them to scripture so that they understand that we are created in the image of God, Genesis 1:27, God has created mankind in his own image. That is where our children's worthiness lies. It doesn't lie in anything they've done or accomplished or said, it doesn't lie in their talents. It doesn't lie in their looks. It lies in the fact that they are an image bearer of the holy God. That's not the end of the story though. Our kids also need to understand from Genesis three, that humans are fallen, that we have rebelled against the holy God and we are sinful. And that sin separates us from God. It separates us from one another. It even separates us from a correct understanding of ourselves. But again, not the end of the story, that God did not just leave us, His image bearers here stuck in our sin.

God the father sent his son Jesus to come live the perfect life that we could never live, die in our place and rise again to new life. And now everyone who turns from their sin and trusts in Jesus alone is adopted into God's family, forgiven of their sin, clothed in Jesus righteousness and given new life in Him. So our kids need to have this correct understanding of who God is and who they are. And then once they have this correct orthodoxy, this correct theology, we can then move into correct orthopraxy, correct living. So how are we to live in light of who God is and who we are? Well, we are to live in a way that pleases God. And how do we find out what pleases God? Well, we go to God's self revelation, we go to scripture.

So we go to God's word to find out how does he want us to live? And the reason that we do this is not because we're trying to earn God's favor or we're trying to check boxes off on a list. But because God has given his only son for us, to redeem us, he is our creator and our sustainer, and he is worthy of everything. And the Christian's call is continually to deny ourselves, to pick up our cross and to follow Jesus, that we are to follow Jesus. Once we have that correct understanding, then we can begin applying this to the concept of sexuality and modesty. So from what we know about who God is and who we are and how we are to live, we can ask our kids the question. When anything comes up regarding sexuality or modesty or dress, who are we trying to draw attention to in this situation?

Who is it that we're trying to draw attention to? Are we trying to point others to God? Or are we trying to point others to ourself? Because that's the real issue with immodesty is that rather than being an emissary, a representative of God, who's trying to draw our attention towards him, we're trying to draw our attention to ourselves. And so we can ask our children this situation, or sorry, we can ask our children this question, who are we trying to draw attention to, in a number of situations. If you have children who are a bit older and who have social media accounts, you can ask them about their social media accounts. Who are you trying to point attention to in your accounts? Are you trying to create a view of yourself that's not accurate? Are you trying to point others towards yourself? Or are you trying to point attention to God and then think through, okay, how can we do this?

How in the things that we post, can we draw the attention to God or think about social interactions? Social interactions very frequently are very selfish and pointed towards ourselves. Those who have more extroverted personalities, usually what they choose, what they accidentally stumble over is trying to actually draw physical attention to themselves through talking a lot, through getting a lot of people to laugh at them, through rather than caring about honoring God, through loving others, well, those who have more extroverted personalities tend to fall into wanting to draw the attention to themselves. Introverted personalities sometimes fall into not wanting any attention on themselves because they care so much about what others think about them. And so that is sinful as well. That's pride as well, where we want to think through in our social interactions, how can we point others to God by loving them well? And then the same applies to our dress.

How are we dressing? Are we dressing in a way that is drawing attention to ourselves? Or are we dressing in a way that's not going to distract others? Because this can go both ways. We could dress in a way that's very immodest, that is drawing sexual attention to ourselves. Or we could go to the opposite extreme and try to dress so modestly that we're dressing in a way that does this completely out of line with our culture and is drawing negative attention to ourselves. If I'm wearing a dress that looks like it came from the 1800s, okay, that's not necessarily modest. While it might be sexually modest, it's immodest in that it's drawing so much unneeded attention to myself. So we want to think through, okay, how can we dress in a way that is honoring to God? Dress in a way where we're not going to stand out to others, either by getting sexual attention to ourselves or by getting attention, because people are wondering why we are dressing in that way.

We don't want people to pay attention to our dress at all. We want to love them and point them to God. So that's what we want our kids to think of. When they're thinking of the clothes they're choosing to wear, how they're choosing to interact with others, the persona that they are portraying on social media or anywhere else that they are. Now, this question specifically focused on modesty in dress. And I can tell you, I know that in this time and in this Western culture of 2022, the concept of modesty and dress is an incredibly challenging one. Because our culture has lost just all sense of modesty. In the words of the prophet, Jeremiah, our culture does not know how to blush. There's just nothing that makes our culture blush anymore. And our culture also views anything, any impingement on our personal freedom is viewed as oppressive or even evil.

So we should just be able to dress however we want, okay, to empower ourselves. And it's so interesting several years ago, I'm going to tell you a story of personal conviction. And as I tell you this story of personal conviction, I'm not saying that the decision I've made is the right decision for everyone. So if you start to feel angry when I tell you this story, you should take a step back and think of what's going on in your heart that me just telling you my personal conviction might be making you angry, just a little bit of warning there. So this is just my personal conviction. A few years ago, I was convicted that if I was not comfortable wearing what I was wearing at the pool just to go walking down the street, why did I suddenly think that just because I was sitting near a body of water, it was appropriate for me to be wearing that outfit?

So I decided that I was going to change what I was wearing when I was at the pool. And so I just started wearing board shorts and an Underarmour top. Which that might look a little bit strange to some people, but it still goes along with our current cultural bathing suits. But it was interesting cause I had a number of people ask me why I chose to make that decision. And it's so interesting that the way I responded to that question completely, if I responded in a different way, people's responses were differently. Because really the reason that I decided to do that is because I thought I'm an image bearer of God and he's made my body valuable and my body is not supposed to be drawing sexual attention from others. So I'm going to choose to put on more clothes than I might have before so as not to draw sexual attention from others.

And whenever I would say that people would become very uncomfortable and be like, "Yeah, but do you really think ..." And kind of start to argue with me where a few times I was like, let me see what would happen if I changed the way that I responded. And I responded in a way, I guess it wasn't completely honest, so that wasn't a good thing. But it was interesting seeing seeing people's responses where I would just say, "You know what? I decided that my body is valuable and every person on the street does not have the right to see every single curve and detail of my body. So I'm choosing not to allow everybody to see that." Everyone was then like, oh yeah, that's great. Because I was talking about my personal freedom and what other people didn't have the right to do.

And it was so interesting how the responses changed based on the way that I framed that. But it's just such an example of how our culture just so values personal freedom. So this concept of modesty and not drawing sexual attention to ourselves is something that is so lost on our culture. So I would encourage for our girls and for our boys to just continually be coming back to every time we're looking at clothes, okay, this article of clothing, is this going to be drawing attention to ourselves that others are going to be looking at us sexually? Or is this so out of date that others are going to be really distracted when talking to us? Or is this something that we can look nice and we can look presentable, but people aren't going to be so focused on us and what they're wearing that we can actually then be faithful to the call, to love God through loving them.

Now, just some practical boots on the ground. I know that it's really difficult. It can be really difficult when you take children shopping to find clothes, especially for girls to find clothes that are not overly sexualized. So especially if you have children that are 10 on up and you're in that tween, teen phase, it can be really difficult. What I would say is take advantage of the fact that we have online shopping. When I was growing up and crop tops were in and everything, I would just have to buy extra larges in everything so the shirts would actually be long enough to cover my stomach where nowadays you can go shopping online and you can find so many things. So a couple of my favorite places just to get clothing that's usually really cute and really modest, the Bates Sisters Boutique. If you just go to just Google Bates Sisters Boutique, they have a lot of really cute clothes that are very inexpensive and also very modest.

I also really love a British clothing company called Boden. So if you just Google Boden, they have a lot of great clothes that are really quality. They're more expensive, but you can even order dresses and skirts and things in longs. I think you might be able to order tops in longs too, but just take advantage of the fact that we can get modest clothes much more easily accessible. And I would just also encourage you as parents and as church leaders and as Christian educators to just model this yourself, just model understanding who you are in Christ and just model respecting God through presenting yourself in a way that is not drawing attention to yourself, that we can model this well for the children that God has placed in our care, so that they can understand who they are, what God has done for them, and then how we are to live in response to that. As you move forward into your day, may God continue to bless you as you faithfully disciple the children that he has placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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