“Tell her Mama!” (Guest Post on Modesty)

by Guest Poster on May 27, 2011 in Grace, Obedience, Responsibility

As we walked from our car to the pool, our first time visiting this summer, she was walking out.

Young, fresh, beautiful, perky and scantily clad. Her suit was so revealing that my young son, just five, couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He had never seen something like this before and in his innocent, precious little voice he whispered to me, “Mama! She’s naked! You can see her privates! Tell her Mama!”

It took me a minute or two to figure out that he was actually concerned for her. He thought she didn’t realize her “privates” were hanging out and wanted to protect her.

In about a 20 second exchange, a mother’s work to protect her son’s eyes from this exact thing went right out the window…and I was deflated. This issue, the immodesty of girl’s bathing suits (or clothing in general), and protecting my son’s mind never crossed my mind as we decided whether or not to join. And part of me regrets it.

Since that time, I have been repulsed and shocked by the images of women in barely there bikinis that flaunt around the pool. There’s no age limit to the madness. Young girls just beginning to blossom are wearing bathing suits that attract the eyes of grown men. Mature women are leaving nothing (and I mean nothing) to the imagination. And even women who have no business whatsoever wearing a teeny bikini are cramming themselves into something that shows off parts of their body that make you wonder, “do they own a mirror?”

This is how I know it’s a matter of the heart.

I’ve always been a fairly modest dresser… (ok, yes, there was that one skirt…but honestly, by today’s standards it was quite long!)…partly because I was raised by a dad who wanted to protect me from men’s eyes, and partly because I have some areas on my body that force me to. Well…come to think of it, “they” don’t really force me to dress modestly, but for a woman who likes to feel covered I have learned that some things that look beautiful and perfectly modest on one woman look perfectly scandalous on me.

Yes…I’ve always been a modest dresser…but I’m not naive. We’ve been to the beach recently and I see the bathing suits hanging on the racks at local department stores. I know what’s popular and I understand the desire to fit in and look good.

Even some professing Christians, mothers themselves and their daughters, have caved in to the pressure to be pleasing to man rather than pleasing to God.

But I just don’t feel like there can really be a valid argument, based on scripture, that it’s ok for women to dress this way in public.

“…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.” ~1 Timothy 2:9-10

Most of the commentaries I’ve read on this subject indicate that Paul was not forbidding women to dress nicely, fix their hair or wear jewelry. Rather, he was setting a standard for reverence, godliness, protection for the men AND the women.

Why in the world would we want to tell little girl’s they’re sexy and dress them to catch the eyes of men who might hurt them?

Why in the world would we want to dress in such a way that we turn the eyes of men who aren’t our husbands…don’t belong to us?

Why in the world would we feel that we have to cave to the pressure to “bare it all” even when our bodies are past their prime?

Because the “abundance of our hearts” are coming out.

  • Secretly, we want our daughters to be beautiful and turn heads. There’s status that comes with having “a looker.” Or maybe we just want to make life easier on them by allowing them to fit in.
  • Secretly we enjoy the stares of men who aren’t our husbands because it makes us feel like we’ve “still got it” and can still turn heads…even if those eyes and heads and hearts belong to someone else.
  • Secretly we hope that wearing what everyone else is will make us feel better about a body we’re already a bit ashamed of.

In Luke 6:45 we read, “…for out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks.” Plainly said, our actions and words reveal what’s in our hearts. And the issue of modesty is no different.

There are all kinds of good reasons why women should dress modestly. But my personal reason? For the sake of my little boy’s heart and mind. Please ladies. I know he will struggle to make a covenant with his eyes even if you are dressed modestly. Please don’t make it easier for him to sin and harder for him to choose to look away.

 

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Brooke McGlothlin is a homeschooling mother of two young sons. She offers hope for change to the hearts of women at her blog, A Life in Need of Change, and is the Co-founder of the well-loved online community for mothers of boys, the MOB Society. Brooke prays the Word over her boys daily, and recently released the popular eBook Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most available as a PDF download or on your Amazon Kindle for just $5.97. Her prayer challenge for mothers of boys, 21 Days of Prayer for Sons, begins June 8.

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{ 24 comments }

Rebecca June 5, 2011

For those that avoid going to public swimming areas, I don’t see how doing so will keep the men/boys in your life away from temptation. I was driving around town the other day and there were young girls in bikinis everywhere! In the stores, at the gas station, you name it. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world, but we can be a shinning light in this dark world, and set a godly example.

Lifesong June 6, 2011

Brooke,
Thank you so much for caring about what is right & sharing the truth in love. It is much appreciated. God bless you as you raise your precious boys in the nurture & admonition of the Lord.

Arnold Jagt June 6, 2011

Men are always soley responsible for their thoughts, words, and actions in regard to women’s appearance and cannot legitimately impute their guilt onto women. “Thou art the man!” as Nathan said in 2 Samuel 12:7.

Monna June 7, 2016

Agreed, Arnold.
I understand this writer’s desire to protect her daughters from creepers at the pool but to say that the women in their suits at the pool are making it hard for her sons not to sin is a dangerous precedent. She needs to keep teaching him to look away.

Misty June 6, 2011

Yes, men are rsponsible but so are women. We do need to be careful with how we present ourselves. Women cannot control how a man is going to think about her, but she can help curb some of his tempatation by being meek, godly, and clothes.

Lois June 7, 2011

Thanks for your post. If christians could be part of the solution instead of part of the problem that would help.

Dawn June 7, 2011

Thank you for this post. I rarely comment on blogs, but feel compelled to here.

@Rebecca and Arnold Jagt, while I completely and wholeheartedly agree with your comments, I do feel that it is a matter of disrespect for women to dress immodestly around men. ALL women know that men like to look at bodies. And to entice them to do so purposely is an attempt to draw them away from the goal of Heaven. No, simply avoiding the swimming pool isn’t going to avoid these influences, but as pointed out, there are already plenty of places to see what is unholy, why add to it? Women do bear some responsibility for their part in stirring the thoughts and actions of men…. We would consider it unfair and hurtful to offer drink after drink after drink to a person attempting to stay sober. How is it any different to offer a continuous stream of impurity to men who are trying to keep their eyes and minds and bodies pure?

Yolanda Honda June 7, 2011

I think this is absurd. Women should be able to wear what they want regardless of what men think. We are constantly submitting ourselves to men, caring about what they think. I think you should wear what makes you happy… and there’s something about wearing a bikini that is liberating for a woman! A woman should be proud of her body–especially if she worked hard to get it that way. Women can be strong, dominant, beautiful figures—WE DON’T HAVE TO HIDE.

Nowell June 7, 2011

Wow, IT IS ABOUT TIME TO BRING THIS TO THE ATTENTION OF MOM’S AND DAD’S who CARE ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN. There have been modest, but nice looking and comfortable bathing suits for women to wear in the not so recent past. I am not sure what is available these days, but skimpy bathing suits should not be considered OK, ESPESCIALLY BY CHRISTIANS!!! We have been conforming to the WORLD more and more these days, and I believe it grieves the HOLY SPIRIT that dwells within every believer of JESUS CHRIST!!!

Momof3 June 7, 2011

It is always good to consider what God wants for us in all areas of our lives, including what we wear. I do have to say that I get frustrated with this particular issue and how it is covered by Christians. It should ALWAYS be accompanied with a message to sons. The reason girls and women dress like this is because we are made to want love and we know how to get love from men, by looking a certain way. We must also put equal emphasis on sons looking for women who glorify God and not to give attention to women who dress in a way looking for attention. If Godly men stopped giving so much attention to women and girls who dress imodestly, maybe there would be less pressure for these girls to conform to the dress of the world. But if we put all of the pressure on our daughters and continue to let our sons off the hook because they are “just made that way and can’t help themselves”, we can plan on the cycle continuing. Our daughters know what Christian boys are drawn too, and sadly most of the time it isn’t modesty.

MaryinOC June 16, 2011

Thank you. That’s the kind of guy I hope my girl will find 🙂

May G-d continue to bless you and yours.

Emily June 29, 2011

I find it terribly sad that the writer of the article thinks little children are capable of “sinning”.

Psychology has proven that people don’t even begin to develop an actual conscience until they’re in their teens — and that’s only the beginning. Conscience is a process, and for many people, perhaps even most people, achieving what can really be considered a “fully-formed conscience” can take decades.

And another thing — it’s normal for boys (of all ages) to be fascinated with women’s bodies. Many fundamentalist Christians actually persecute men who AREN’T fascinated with women’s bodies.

Would the writer of the article feel comfortable if her son did NOT stare at women in bikinis?

Or would she, like so many religious people have done throughout history and even in our so-called modern times here in America, condemn her son if he grows up to become a homosexual? Well, he certainly would be “safe” from those evil bikini-wearing women at the pool then, wouldn’t he?

I’m not sure what the writer of the article expects — should all females be forced by law to bundle up in burkas, covered head to toe like the Muslim women, because certain men’s mental development is warped and their mind so sick that basic human anatomy sends them into hysterics of rage?

This is a real thing. Women have been killed because their covering slipped exposing their hair. Women have been killed because they want the same freedom that men have, to dress comfortably and according to their own individual preferences. I’m so glad to be living in a time and in a region of the world where women are NOT killed for such things. I’m glad women in America have the freedom to wear bikinis instead of burkas.

I’m wondering how the writer of the article would feel if she lived in a country where women are forbidden by law to learn how to write, and are forbidden to publish, and are forbidden access to media such as the internet where her blogging was published?

And, what was SHE wearing at the pool that day? Was she really so “modestly dressed” that no male in the vicinity might accuse her of arousing his lust? Was she wearing a burka? Or a floor-length skirt with a long-sleeved turtleneck sweather, gloves, and a mask? Was every strand of her hair hidden beneath a scarf?

Certainly modesty is a virtue. But what is modesty? Is it what the writer of the article says it is? Is it what Muslim males say it is? Should anyone have the right to tell anybody else, “You can wear this but you can’t wear that”? Who decides where is the middle ground between freedom and conscience?

CanadianMommy May 22, 2012

excuse me, but my daughter is 7 years old and on occassion has looked around to see if im watching, when im not, has taken something she’s not supposed to, and then when caught, lied that she didnt do it with so much convincing, if i hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, i would have believed it, when she was called out on it, she hung her head and cried in shame…..dont’ tell me that little kids can’t sin…give me a freaking break! They understand how to sin long before they understand how to get redemption for sin, which is why they are blameless in the eyes of God. You are born into sin, and trust me, they catch on very quick on what is not allowed and they figure out ways to do it anyway………and as for “what is modesty”….if you look in the mirror and you yourself know that men will stare, i can bet that you aren’t dressed modestly, women aren’t idiots, we know darn well how we affect men and we know exactly what reactions we will get when we wear something not decent!

Liz July 9, 2011

A mom with a teenage daughter, we have had many talks of this kind. Thankfully, my daughter gets in that SHE is responsible for the attention she gets — whether good or bad. Scripture speaks clearly about modesty. It also speaks about the woman’s body is only for her husband – no one else. Our culture has no standards any more — anything and everything goes. We, as parents, must set the example and help our children understand the ramifications of such immodest behavior. Thank you for such a great post!!! God BLess.

modest dresser July 29, 2011

Hi I just read this post and wanted to give you my input and experience. My mother raised me to dressed modestly which I still do at my 27 years of age. It is wrong to believe that dressing modestly is going to protect girls and women from any level of disrespect or harassment from men. Time and time again, I am constantly catcalled, I always wear shirts that cover my breasts and sleeves that go to my elbow. I do not wear short skirts, shorts or tank-tops and yet it has not stopped men from cat-calling. I do not wear swimsuits of any kind in public which also means that I do not go swimming in public co-ed settings (I only go swimming in female-only pools).

You do however have a responsibility to teach your son that women are to respected, even when they do not show any respect for themselves. This means that you bear responsibility. In the end, if you want to protect your son’s eyes, then maybe it is best to keep him at home or to wear a blind fold when in public as it seems to be only way to prevent him for even getting these thoughts to begin with.

Cathy Gheen April 13, 2012

Your young son will always encounter things that his eyes should not focus on. Your job is not to make him think those things don’t exist. Your job is to teach your son how to be in the world but not of it. This moment was a perfect teaching moment. If we do not start to raise boys who look away from a scantily clad woman, we will continue to give Christian woman a reason to dress provocatively. Christian men should lead by example.

Not only do we need to teach our young daughters to dress modestly but we also need to teach our young men to guard their hearts and minds.

Musings of a Minister's Wife April 13, 2012

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Both the men and the women here will not only guard our hearts and our eyes, but we will also take responsibility for protecting our other Christian brothers’ and sisters’ hearts and eyes. Thank you for the wonderful article.

Kristi April 13, 2012

I am so thankful that you wrote what is on the minds and hearts of so many mothers. I want to encourage my daughters to dress in a way that protects their purity, and I want my son to realize that true beauty in a woman radiates from her relationship with Jesus, not her body. Women are never liberated when objectifying themselves, no matter how good that bikini looks.

CanadianMommy May 22, 2012

well said 🙂

kimberly April 13, 2012

The bible explains sinful nature much better than the world does. We were born sinners and need a saviour to.save us from sin. My children at 1 knew what and when they were doing something wrong. My 2 year old knows right from wrong.My 6 year oldknows when someone is dressed appropriate or not. To say they can’t understand this is absurd. Modesty is so important. When you cause a man to lust you are sinning and causing others to sin! We need to quit acting like we are innocent and perfect. That’s why this world no longer acknowledges their need for a savior because we have listened and believed this lie that we are not sinners!

CanadianMommy May 22, 2012

exactly right!!!! Kids aren’t stupid, they know exactly what is right and wrong

Dory April 14, 2012

Hmmmm…such a subject! It is sad to me that most don’t really understand or even want to understand the deepness of this…but let me briefly say this: We are all going to be accountable to our mighty Lord and so we had better ask the Lord and be willing to accept His answer about modesty – and believe me He cares about it more than most care to study up on.
Can one be modest in jeans or skirt or swim wear? It really is a heart issue and how your heart is – bottom line! Even a modest skirt could be “alluring” if a woman’s heart is not walking in the spirit of the Lord! We ALL (men and women) must strive to walk in the spirit of the Lord – it is the only way!

Kathy May 22, 2012

The devil has lied to women for years. This is one of his most successful ones yet. Everything women these days are pressured to believe about themselves, most of the time, involves immodesty and vanity. It’s all designed to destroy her, instead of looking to God for his approval, they seek it from men. If ladies everywhere would only be half way honest with themselves they would admit it’s true. You know it’s true because Satan is very busy trying to do damage control whenever articles like this are posted.

Hillary Clark July 2, 2012

I watch a 4 year old boy and a two year old boy in the evenings and we went to a local beach. Of course there were many young girls in “barely there” bikinis. The four year old, who is very outspoken and bossy started yelling @ them and waving his arms in anger, saying “Why are they wearing their underwear outside!”
When my daughter was growing up the rule was one piece bathing suits only. When she was about three we had a pool party and she said, “Mommy, tell them no rikinis!” I had to smile.
When she was about 12 years old she had two invitations to summer pool birthday parties, of course the rule was still the same. She was worried she would be the only one there in a one piece and said she wouldn’t go unless she could wear a tankini. I said then she wouldn’t be going. She went to both in her one piece and when I picked her up she said she wasn’t the only one there in a one piece after all. Today she is 23 and an ordained children’s minister @a 500 person church. Parents, don’t give in to your children’s demands no matter how angry or upset they get and set the example for them.

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