My two oldest children are boys. One is nineteen, the other is thirteen. It concerns me that young ladies today often display no sense of modesty, or at least, not much sense. Many of them would say that they have a good sense of fashion, but you know where the "fashionable" get their sense from...from the world. The Bible says to live in the world, but not to be of it. That definitely applies to how we dress each day. When I was growing up, I was taught that you NEVER wore workout clothes outside the home. Those were for the gym, or for your basement workout station. A few years ago, the most fashionable outfits were rhinestone-studded sweat suits made out of velour. Okay, maybe that was more than a few years ago...But seriously, the first time I ever wore sweats outside of my home (and probably the last), other than during Cross Country team practices and races, was when I had out-patient surgery on both of my feet, and the bandaging prevented me from putting on my jeans to go home.
These days, I see girls and guys schlumping (my favorite word lately) around WalMart wearing their favorite...pajamas. And their slippers, too. Are you kidding me? Wearing our pajamas out of our houses to go shopping? The sad thing is that the kids (and adults!) wearing pajamas to the store might possibly be the more conservatively dressed folks there.
If you turn to your left you might see a young man with his pants dragging the floor, hanging down, showing off his designer you-know-whats (I seriously thought THAT fashion statement would be gone by now...I remember sending kids to the principal's office to get a belt when I was teaching the eighth-grade about fifteen years ago) and if you look to the right you will see a young lady wearing a very low cut short top that fails to pass the belly-button test (if you lift up your arms, can we see your belly-button?) paired with a pair of the recently (and sadly) re-emerging "skinny" jeans. Yikes!
If you are lucky (or rather, unlucky), one or both of them will be displaying a rude or catty phrase blazing across whatever they are wearing that passes for a shirt. Possibly complete with vulgar language or symbols. Definitely nothing you want your emerging readers to ask you about..."Mommy, what does #!@*! spell?" To top off the display, you will likely see a sneer or a leer on their faces, instead of an open-faced, welcoming smile. So sad. I guess it's hard to smile when you have so much poor attitude to convey to the world. What would the world be like if we all dressed with a mind towards respecting ourselves and OTHERS? Better, I am sure.
I was over at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home today, checking out her Wise Woman Link Up!, and I followed a link-er (okay, if there is a term for this, I don't know it, but you know what I mean) to an excellent post about modesty on her blog, Somewhere in the Middle. I was impressed by the notes MissyLou gleaned from listening to a sermon by C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries on modesty (I love to listen to online sermons, too...and to find someone else who actually takes notes from them means that I am not alone in doing this!).
Here is a teaser sample of her notes, but I'd love if you'd head to her blog and check out the rest of them:
•Any biblical discussion of modesty begins by addressing
the heart, not the hemline. We must start with the attitude
of the modest woman.
•Modesty means propriety. It means avoiding clothes and
adornment that are extravagant or sexually enticing.
Modesty is humility expressed in dress. It’s a desire to
serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or
•Immodesty, then, is much more than wearing a short skirt
or low-cut top it’s the act of drawing undue attention to
yourself. It’s pride, on display, by what you wear.
You can listen to the sermon by CJ Mahaney from which MissyLou took these notes HERE. It is called The Soul of Modesty. To read a series of blog posts by CJ Mahaney about modesty, you can go HERE. Make sure you print up a copy of the questions from the blog to go with the series and have your daughters (and yourself) do some deep thinking about the subject, then settle in for a deep, but amicable, discussion about modesty and what are your family's opinions about the topic, and why.
You can also go HERE to print up a copy of an excellent modesty checklist from Mrs. Mahaney and others that you and your daughters can use to evaluate wardrobe choices.
Most of what is in this modesty checklist is what I was taught, as a young lady, equated with good taste. Sadly, these days you hear folks crying "Oppression, sexism, radical right crazy homeschooling ultra-religious conservatives!" if you think that your daughter's skirts ought to fall below her knees and that she ought to sit like a lady with her knees together and her ankles crossed. I may be a homeschooler, I may be conservative, and I may be a Christian, but personally, I see these rules as simply good manners that used to be taught in almost every home. Yes, they are a reflection of my Christian ideals perhaps. No, you don't have to be a Christian to respect yourself and others enough to follow them.
I personally do not believe that you HAVE to wear denim skirts or dresses to attend a homeschool convention *smile* (though I do like them), nor do I think that every top I wear must be a crew neck or buttoned all the way up to my ears. But come on ladies, there is good taste and there is...not so good taste. Wearing something that is particularly tempting to the general population of men, and is revealing parts of our forms that should be saved for viewing by only our husbands, is not good taste. Being rude is also not in good taste, and let me tell you, your shirt does not have to have an overtly rude saying on it to be really rude.
Seriously, read the modesty checklist and you will see that it is made up of all the "nice girl" things your grandma used to say...like if your top gapes open when you lean forward, use a pin to hold it closed, and if your skirt is see-through when light is behind it, wear a slip. These motherly bits of advice were good in my grandma's day, and they are still good in ours. I want MY daughters to be "nice girls" who live for Christ and outwardly express their pleasant attidudes and respectful spirits in the way they dress and through their contented countenances. I do want them to be intelligent and spirited, too, but you don't have to look cheap (or dress like a man or be angry) to be able to speak your mind (in the nicest way possible).
Oh, for the old-fashioned days when most mothers taught these rules to their daughters...because I have four sons, and I hate what they have to see when we go to public places. I teach them to avert their eyes, and we pray for their future wives to be brought up in modest homes. What else can I do besides teach them to treat women with respect in spite of their sometimes poor choices ("Perhaps she can't afford something else?" has been said by one of my young ones), and to teach my girls to respect their Lord, themselves, their brothers, and others by dressing modestly.
Thank you, Mom, for raising me with modesty.
Added later: I found this post on modesty at Large Families on Purpose with some excellent links to modesty posts and resources. I plan to explore them later myself, and just in case anyone happens by, I wanted to share them with you.