Wednesday, July 15, 2009

commitment to modesty and biblical womanhood

I've been listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss lately, and in doing so have been compelled to re-evaluate the things I'm doing in my life. If we look at the biblical examples of women, the descriptions and standards are vastly different from what modern Christians have adopted in their everyday lives. It wasn't even until recently (historically speaking) that women began wearing pants instead of dresses and skirts.
Whatever happened to biblical femininity? The great women of the Bible had it down... they were strong, faithful women who also exampled femininity for later generations. They loved their husbands and were self-sacrificing to esteem them and make their jobs as the leader of the family easier. They viewed children as a blessing, even begging God for a legacy, and they raised those children according to God's standards instead of the world's.
Where have those women gone? I must admit that I am NOT one of them... not by anybody's standards. I have failed miserably as a wife, a mother, and a woman of God. As is for many others, if people knew my heart they would not believe I could be a Christian. Man is wicked from youth, and I have been wicked, and it's only by the grace of God that I am where I am today.
And today I'm re-evaluating my life. I want to be able to stand before God and hear Him say, "well done, good and faithful servant." I want to know at the end of my life that I've served the Creator of everything with every ounce of my being, and in such a way that I'm not wondering, "what if?" Isn't that what every Christian should want?
As part of my introspection, I've decided that today's standard of modesty within the Christian church has some serious flaws. In listening to various perspectives, I've begun to feel a responsibility for my brothers in Christ, as well as a responsibility to set an example for other women of God. Does the way we dress today reflect a godly influence on our lives? Is what we wear something that brings attention to our countenance or to our body? Where in the Bible does it instruct us to wear clothes that accentuate areas of the body? How does that show Christ in our lives? Is the way we dress causing our brothers in Christ to stumble? I would say an overwhelming number of Christian women have no idea what modesty is anymore. I know that I sure didn't.
I'm as guilty as many women of dressing immodestly. I fell into the secular world's trap, believing that I should dress in a way that is figure flattering first, and felt no need to think of flattering my reputation. I've worn tank tops and skimpy skirts, low-cut tops and tight pants, and I'm less than proud of some of the things I own. It saddens me to think of how many men may have been tempted because of the clothing I chose or the way I acted. I feel guilty for ignoring Paul's instruction to not cause a brother to stumble.
Now, right now some of you are probably thinking, "wear what you want- it's the guy's responsibility to resist those thoughts!" I'm telling you that they are responsible, but we are also responsible for doing our part and not adding unnecessarily to their temptation. What do we expect when our cleavage and midriff are showing... things that really only our husbands should have the privilege of seeing. We are leading our brothers astray, and denying our husbands their sole right to the intimate parts of our bodies. It's time to change.
I've resolved to change the way I'm living my life. I'm beginning the process of going through my closet and weeding out clothes that are not modest. I've discussed the issue with my husband, and he is all for it. He appreciates that I am thinking of him, and also thinking of what is glorifying to God (which pleasing our husbands is).
The next thing I know is coming is the question of whether or not I'm going to become one of those scary, isolated women who wear frumpy baggy dresses and braid their hair all the time. Nope, I'm not one of those. We can still be stylish in our modest dress. Any shirt that doesn't show the shoulders, bust or belly and any skirt that is about knee-length or longer is perfectly modest to me. There are so many options out there that I probably couldn't try them all in a lifetime. I've considered making my own skirts so they are tailored, but for now I'm saving up money to buy some basic items from thrift stores. Since so few people value modesty, clothes that are made in a modest fashion often cost more, but I believe that cost is worth it in the long run. Modest clothing is timeless, and often has no fashion trend to keep up on. They are pieces we see being appropriate across generations.
Modesty goes beyond clothing, though. It is in our countenance, they way we act and speak, and what the condition of our hearts is. Dressing appropriately is worthless if you are not modest at heart. I will be scrutinizing my actions, attitude, and thoughts to try and change things where I am in sin. I want to be a good wife to my husband, a good mother to my son, and a faithful woman of God. I want to be like Sarah in the Bible, and be considered one of her daughters because I live my life for God without any fear.

So here is Day 1 of my commitment to modesty and biblical womanhood. Did I mess up? You bet- but I am also humble enough to admit that and ask God what it is that I need to work on. It's amazing how much He will reveal if we have the courage to pray and ask God to show us our sins. It's even more amazing the blessings we will receive if we are faithful to Him and His Word, and how our lives can be transformed by surrendering and welcoming His work in us.


Trophy and Barb said...

Kudos on your commitment. I applaud you for being willing to step out there and be different. It won't be easy. But with God's grace, you can do it. Hang in there!

Courtney said...

Thank you for your support! It gets a little easier every day (I hadn't worn a skirt for a couple years, and it was a little uncomfortable and awkward at first). I'm sure there will be trials on this road, but I remind myself that it's God I'm trying to glorify, not man. It's nice to know that other people out there find modesty relevant.

dandsfamily7 said...

Dear Courtney, I am 37 and a mother of 5. We are serving as missionaries in Romania. I came across your blog as I was doing a search on Biblical femininity and wearing skirts in particular. I was so encouraged to read your blog because I believe I am at the place where you were. It's hard and I feel alone. We work with a team here and if I made the switch, I would really stand out, maybe even be weird?. I totally agree with what you have said on the subject and would love to hear how it's going. Thanks, Shannon

Courtney said...

Hi Shannon, thanks for checking out my blog! God bless you and your family for the service you're doing in Romania. That's a tough life, and I'm sure trying to figure out biblical femininity amidst all that makes things more complicated.

As for how I'm doing, winter is something I did not anticipate here. My skirts were definitely good for the summer, but when the weather turned cool I started to freeze! We just aren't in the place right now to be able to afford anything but necessities, and new clothing just doesn't fall into that category, so I'm trying to make do with what I have. I did get rid of immodest clothing, but I have been wearing pants a lot through the winter, and pairing leggings with a couple of skirts they'll work with. I also realized that it's awfully tough to run around after a fast little 1-year-old in a fitted jean skirt. I'm hoping to be able to make a couple skirts I have material for that will be wearable in the spring/summer months. I have a jersey/knit fabric and a softer jean fabric, and for ease of movement I think they'll be long, flowing skirts with elastic waist bands.

I would say don't give up on your desire to be feminine, but also be realistic. I know that God understands I want to please Him and be as feminine as I can be, even if I don't have the ability to completely re-do my wardrobe right now. When I first started wearing only skirts some people were a little put-off, but they got used to it very quickly. I think making the transition during warmer weather made it easier because women wear skirts more in general when it's warm. I don't think anybody will even notice when I go back to wearing skirts pretty exclusively again.

If you are looking for more women who are doing this, or for encouragement, check out some of the blogs I visit on the sidebar. My friend Crystal at Serving God and Family made the transition to skirts last year, and she's got some great posts.