Last night Paul and I listened to a fantastic sermon on the issue of modesty. It was delivered in a Sunday School forum at a church where the elders saw a rising problem in dress among the ladies. I highly recommend that you download this 59 minute sermon and listen to it over and over. But, for those of you who do not have an hour to listen, I will lay out some helpful information from the sermon (after my lenghty disclaimer).
Before I continue:
When I was a young teen, my mother tried to tell me about modesty. She sat me down and read me 1 Timothy 2:9. At first I hated the idea of modesty, it was a foreign concept to me. Then, later I rebelled against modesty and propriety of dress. I am utterly ashamed of how I used to carry myself: wearing shirts that showed every curve, wearing shorts cut too short, wearing a bathing suit to mow the yard ("to get a good tan"). Most of these practices ceased immediately when I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye at age 18. I never understood that my Christian brothers were stumbling at my dress! I never knew I would be accountable for causing any man to stumble. I somehow thought that guys who were saved were immune to the lusts that non-Christians had, how terribly mistaken I was!
I wish that I could say that every day for the last 11 years I have been properly clad - carefully considering what I am suffering my brothers to see. But, unfortunately, I have tried to step right up to the line of what is modest and put a toe over it. This past few months I have been convicted of my dress again, but more so convicted of my attitude. As I have said before, you can be covered head to toe and still have an immodest heart! This was the point I have been in... until last night. Hearing the above sermon has renewed my desire to take more care in my dress (and give a heap of clothes in the "gray area" to GCF/Goodwill.)
I write this lengthy disclaimer because I want you to see my heart on this. I am not a Pharisee (though I would be honored if you call me a Puritan). Pharisees "bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." (Matt 23:4 KJV) I do not want to burden you with lists and rules, I cannot. For I know that, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt 7:2 KJV) The way you and I act is to be determined by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit's conviction. The apostle Paul talks frequently about a Christian's liberty to choose for himself on some issues. Far be it from me to bind someone's conscious... I cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit (nor would I seek to).
That said, here is a very helpful list that the elder preaching the above sermon compiled. This is given by me as helpful information only. I am not prescribing any dress code. And, since different cultures vary widely (and I have not been out of the States much) I will say this is geared towards Americans and Western-Minded Europeans. If you want to leave a comment about dress in a country you have been in, I would love to hear it.
These are 10 things that are magnets that draw a man's eye.
1. Dresses or skirts w/slits to the knee or above.
2. Dresses, skirts, jeans that hug the buttocks
3. Upper garments that hug the breast
4. Unbuttoned blouses that have one button left covering the breasts, and loose tops that if you lean over your breasts are exposed. (Us ladies are always putting a baby down or picking a rattle up).
5. Sleeveless blouses or large arm holes that men sitting behind you can look and see in your undergarments.
6. Low rise skirts and pants that barely cover the buttocks (and usually show a crack.)
7. See through clothing
8. Skirts & dresses that are so short that if you move around shows your undergarments.
9. Pants, slacks, jeans that hug the buttocks, hips and crotch.
10. Bared midriff.
Again, I can't say it enough... these are not rules. I do not mean to burden you. I DO mean to make you ask yourself if you are unnecessarily causing a brother to stumble.
Also, remember how I said that I was a teen when my mom talked to me about modesty? She did well to mention it - however, it should have been a lifestyle set in my heart from infancy. (No, mom, I am not faulting you. I love you, and I am not saying I am better than you. Please know that I never intend to dishonor you, but I thought this story from my life may help others.)
Enjoy the sermon. Hope this post helps you as much as it has helped me to re-establish it in my own mind!