My name is Hannah, and I have been a victim of the “Christian” modesty culture.
Scratch that; I’ve learned to become a woman because of the “Christian” modesty culture.
Growing up, I was one of those girls. You know, the kind whose mom and dad forced them to wear “appropriate” dresses that covered my knees and exposed less skin. But when this was the norm, I found it hard to believe anyone else lived differently.
Until I went to youth camp. That’s where I heard and witnessed counselors getting on to girls…for the length of their skirt.
At the time, it was a little confusing and perhaps wrongly handled. I never had the time to think about wearing something too revealing, because I didn’t own anything of that nature. Nor did I know what to tell my friends after getting in trouble for their outfits.
My friends, whose parents weren’t as strict, made comment such as: “Boys don’t have to wear a shirt at camps. But I’m in trouble because my Nike shorts are half an inch too short?” or “It’s no big deal. It’s just the length of my shorts!” or “I didn’t know it was that short!”
On one side, I knew my raising. Without trying to sound prude, I also recalled what the Bible said concerning short skirts and elaborate styles.
“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission, 1 Timothy 2:9 (NIV).
But on the other side, I felt for my sisters. It wasn’t fair that we were given a different set of standards because we were girls. Plus, I knew that the Lord had commanded men not to look at women with lust or ill intent.
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” Matthew 5:28 (NIV).
So, who is at fault?
When it comes down to it, modesty applies to both men and women, even though culture only seems to associate it with women’s outfits. When in reality, modesty is an issue of the heart…an act of humility.
If we threw out the Bible and took a poll, either side could do whatever they wanted. Women would choose the “freedom” to dress any way they want. Meanwhile, men could let their minds race and not suffer the consequences of their temptations. But when we look to the Word, we see the Lord’s intent is not focused the outside, but inwardly.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,’” 1 Samuel 16:7.
Ladies, the length of our shorts matters not as much as the condition of our hearts before Him. And when our hearts are aligned with His will and Scripture, it shows.
In the 8th grade, I was sitting through the church invitation. At the stroke of the piano, girls around began tugging on their skirts before the altar call. The pastor quietly said, “Bow your heads and close your eyes. Don’t distract anyone, because you don’t know who the Lord is dealing with.”
At that moment, the Lord reaffirmed something in my heart: what I wear is important because it reflects my true desires to serve and honor my Maker. Choosing modesty is more than an outfit; it is a choice to protect my brothers in Christ. It’s adopting humility. It’s wanting to consider other’s walk with the Lord as more important than my own.
I don’t know about you, but I want to care more about others than myself. And in choosing modesty or humility, I can become a better woman of God.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Instead, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:3-5.