Archive | modesty

3 {real} reasons to dress modestly

3 real reasons to dress modestly

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 KJV

I’ve heard it said that the 1 Timothy 2:9 call for women in the church to “adorn themselves in modest apparel” is probably more in reference to not spending lots of time and money trying to look better than each other, rather than a reference to how much skin they were covering (after all, I’m pretty sure even the gentiles of that day-and-age wore pretty discreet attire.) It should not surprise us that Paul would be inspired by God to write to women about focusing on things above, rather than vain, exterior things.

It is ironic, however, think of how this applies to us in 2015. Obviously, we should not be so shallow as to spend all of our money and time competing with one another on who has the latest, trendiest clothes. But also, in our culture in which we compete over who has the longest legs, smallest waist, most toned arms or most shapely this-or-that, our competition almost takes us back to the old understanding of the text: that women should cover our bodies.

Let’s take the sexual aspect of it out. Say there were no men who might “stumble” depending on how you’re dressed. Say that were a non-issue. Would you dress modestly, or would you still try to tout certain features as a way to compete with other women?

We will always have “designer” this and “the latest” that to use against each other, and to don as medals of fashion victories, but we’re probably even more obsessed with sizes than brands.

There are some unhealthy reasons to dress modestly, the topmost being that you are ashamed of your body. You are a designer piece, handcrafted by someone so enamored with you, He calls you His masterpiece. Your body belongs to God and He, in all his pure glory, finds it fit to dwell in. The body is celebrated in scripture as beautiful, sensual, strong and sacred. Take care of your body and don’t be ashamed of it!

The second most common unhealthy reason for modesty is the idea that women are to blame for men’s lust issues. This is somewhat complicated, but in a nutshell: we are sexual beings who should be and will be attracted to one another, no matter how we dress. However, being attracted to someone and committing the sin that is lust are two different things. We are all, men and women alike, prone to lust and responsible for our own actions. With that said, we would do well not to tempt anyone, be it our brother or sister, into any kind of sin, whether that be lust or envy or malice or gossip.

Proverbs warns continually agains “the temptress” who lures men into her web, no doubt by immodest dress, word and action. Don’t be a temptress…to anyone!

With that said, I still think it’s important that we dress modestly in the traditional sense which is, covering our bodies. What that means exactly (how long, loose and dull must our clothes be??) is not for me to say. For one thing, I have not received any special message from God about that. For another, it really is, as much as we hate to admit it, a matter of culture. As I’ve written before, it’s a also matter of personal convictions. 

With that said, here are three real reasons to dress modestly:

1. Modesty says, “I am dignified.” 

Few things have remained true throughout the centuries, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the association between modesty and dignity. Though advances in woman’s stance in the culture have (thankfully) led to fewer restrictions on what we wear, we cannot fully associate immodest dress with liberty. In many ways, showing the world our bodies says, “Don’t objectify me, I’ll objectify myself!” No matter our motive, we are still showcasing our bodies as mere sexual objects when we purposefully dress in a way that’s seen as revealing. So yes, it’s liberty from corsets and dragging hemlines and the “rules” that governed both, but it’s not true liberty. True liberty is found in Christ, and when we acknowledge that, we no longer need the attention that comes along with dressing a certain way.

If we are going to continue fighting for gender equality, let’s make sure our dignity as women is at the frontline. I don’t want to be “liberated” so that I can use my hips and waist and breasts and legs to entice, but so that, like men, I can be respected for my mind and heart and ideas and strengths. Gender equality will exist when we’re not disappointed in “plain” women who do amazing things! Einstein wasn’t “a looker”, but I’ve never heard that mentioned…

To dress modestly says to the world, “I am honoring my own body by keeping it to myself. I don’t need your approval of my measurements, thankyouverymuch.”

2. Modesty says, “I am not competing with you.”

As I said at the start of this post, our biggest method of competition between women today is not brand names (though that could still be an Olympic sport) but body type. Just click on Pinterest once and you’ll see thousands of girls pinning tips on how to have that bod. If we needed one more reason to put our clothes back on, it could be as a bit of a olive branch to the fellow woman. Maybe your body fits this year’s qualifications of “perfect” and maybe (probably) it doesn’t, but women are said to look at each other’s bodies even more than men do, so stop worrying about lust and start worrying about envy. Love your body, enjoy your body, be happy with your body and, by all means take care of your body, but don’t ever use your body to put someone else down.

3. Modesty says, “I am more than a body.”

No one should ever feel they have the right to take advantage of your body, no matter how you’re dressed. It’s yours (and more importantly, God’s) and never “up for grabs,” whether you’re wearing drapes or nothing at all. However, the way we dress sends a message, be it true or false. Wear a burka and I’ll assume you’re Muslim, wear a habit and I’ll assume you’re a nun, wear a suit and I’ll assume you care, wear a stains and holes and I’ll assume you don’t. Call that “judgmental” if you wish, because it is in a sense–but it’s also sensical.

Dressing in a way that is seen as “modest” in whatever culture you find yourself in, gives people the message that you are not looking for a sexual partner or any sexual attention. It invites others to look you in the eye and get to know you–not just your shape. It says, “I have a body, but that’s not my most important feature.”

Lingerie has a place in this world, and it’s under your clothes. When you’re in public, think about what message you are sending about Christians by what you wear. Don’t obsess over it, don’t panic about it and don’t go to extremes out of fear of failure or sin. Our clothes are merely the shell of a shell. God looks at the heart and that’s way, way more important than the dress or even the body.

I love the end of of 1 Timothy 2:10, especially in The Voice translation,

“Women, the same goes for you: dress properly, modestly, and appropriately. Don’t get carried away in grooming your hair or seek beauty in glittering gold, pearls, or expensive clothes. Instead, as is fitting, let good works decorate your true beauty and show that you are a woman who claims reverence for God.”

It’s refreshing to think that this verse which has been, quite honestly, used to put women in the church down for many years, begins with “the same goes for you.” Paul wasn’t writing to Timothy’s church to segregate the sexes and put women in some legalistic box. He was writing to encourage them all in “good works.” He says that primping and brand names and glitter are all fleeting and unimportant, but that a woman’s true beauty is found in her reverence for God. That’s a win for gender equality if I ever saw one!

Put on your clothes, put on your honor, but “above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony,” (Colossians 3:13) because, when your heart is beautiful, you’re already a complete masterpiece.

4

you are not a body

I have had so many thoughts on body-image swarming through my mind lately. After some of our team members at Kindred Grace opened up about it in April, my sisters and I had a long conversation about how we really talk to ourselves. Since then, every glance at the computer screen seems to be met with articles about eating disorders, health, pornography, lust, accepting one’s self, the approval of man and all of the many other topics that I’m realizing spurn from how we each see our own bodies.

It is one of those things I wonder if I could write a book about (but quickly realize many people already have!) because the more I think about it, the bigger the topic becomes. I used to think of body-image as something we talked to junior-high girls about to help them through their awkward stage. After that, my philosophy was always something between “God loves you, no matter what you look like” and “get over it already!” In short, I saw little value in discussing something so shallow and carnal as how a person sees his or her own physical body.

But then I grew up. And by grew up, I mean, made it through puberty. Was the body image message dead to me now? I felt pretty good about myself. I mean, I was no supermodel, but that was okay with me. I wore what I wanted and continually thought less and less about what my peers thought about me. I had this body image thing in the bag!

And then I started gaining weight. For the sake of honesty and clarity, I will say that I went from being a very small, underweight (though healthy) person, to being a slightly more average-sized person. In other words, I wasn’t fifteen anymore. Sit-ups were no longer second nature. Dessert no longer vanished into thin air. Then the strangest thing began to happen: I realized I had never been truly confident in my identity in Christ after all. I had been confident in my thinness.

While telling myself that I didn’t care what society told me to look like, I was secretly comforted by the fact that I happened to fit much of society’s criteria. Primarily: I was skinny. Maybe I was also pimply, flat-chested and gangly, but no one could call me fat. That made me confident, and the slight change in the scale pulled that rug right out from under my feet.

I began to realize how negative my self-talk was. “Well that’s lovely.” I’d say to my morning mirror. I’d get angry trying to fasten my jeans. I’d untag myself from unflattering Facebook pictures in which I thought my stomach was bulgy. I was nit-picking my own appearance.

And this from a girl who has been raised in a great, Christian home by parents who had always called her beautiful. This from a girl with super supportive friends who never criticized her appearance. This from a girl who weighs less than average.

Is this not the result of fashion magazines and photo-shopped movie stars? Is this not the crazy sort of thoughts that bring about eating disorders? Why are we ever shocked by those who starve and gag themselves when their whole lives, the world has been telling them they’ll never measure up? And what’s worse, that they’re unloveable. Look at the check-out line and you’ll find two things on nearly ever magazine: how to lose weight and how to get men and be sexually satisfying to them. The two are inseparable. It’s not about health, but about market value.

My mind reels with thoughts about innate worth and sexism. My heart weighs heavy with stories of girls on hospice, literally starving because they’re convinced, deep within their spirit, that they are fat. And life is just not worth living if you’re not a beanpole with balloon boobs.

I am linking at the bottom of this post to some recent posts that have inspired me and given me food for thought. As I said, the topic just gets broader and broader the more I think about it! Through all this, one thing has finally come to the surface of my mind and that’s what I’m going to close with.

Whether you are fat or skinny, confident or mortified, black or white, tall or short, selling yourself or hiding your skin, health-nut or couch-potato, there is one thing we must all remember: You are not a body.

You are not disfigured just because your body is disfigured. You are not unacceptable just because your body has been rejected. You are not unpresentable just because you’re hair is never like you wish it would be. You are not lacking just because you’re thin, you are not too much just because you’re heavy. You are not wasted just because you’ve shown yourself to the world, you are not unlovely just because nobody’s ever told you so. You are not a body.

You are a soul.

A living, spiritual being. Your body is simply your place of residence. A body is not a house. Tea is not a teacup. What use is a teacup without the fragrant, warm tea to be poured inside?

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all the eyes turn away, are you ugly? Our eyes can only see the exterior! O, if we could see your soul!

Interesting links:

Food/Eating Disorders:

What is Your Foodview? by Jenni Marie

Dear Miss Indiana: Thank You for Loving Your Body by Emily T. Wierenga

Understanding Disordered Eating by Neeva Walters (also: Disordered Eating: Hope for Healing)

On body-image:

Women & Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty & Love Is by Ann Voskamp

On Body Image and Self Worth at Design for Mankind

Moms, Put On that Swimsuit by Jessica Turner

How to Teach Beauty in a World that’s Blind  by Natasha Metzler

What Makes You Beautiful  by Bailey B.

Health:

Is Physical Health a Spiritual Issue? by Tyler Huckabee

How sexism plays in:

Women Swiftly Running Out of Things that Aren’t Sexy @ Patheos (*minor language)

3

of seeds and fruit

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“Well, at least you planted a seed.” 

It’s what one Christian says to another when witnessing does not lead to conversion or our values are put down by non-believers. It has biblical roots in Matthew 13 in which Jesus tells the parable of the sower. In this parable, the seed is the gospel. We drop it here and there and sometimes it springs up and sometimes it doesn’t. Only some of the seeds that take root sprout and only some of the sprouts mature to fruit-bearing age.

What I have been thinking about lately is the fact that I so often confuse “planting a spiritual seed” with forcing my Christian lifestyle on other people. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in defending the greater good. I believe in using my voice and my vote and my influence to further God’s will on earth. It’s when I make an unbeliever feel weird or guilty for not living like I do, that I’ve missed the point.

What is the mark of a believer? The presence of God’s spirit. If someone does not have the spirit, they cannot bear the fruits of the spirit. It is pointless and harmful to expect or request these fruits from non-spiritual people.

An example would be sending a girl out of a youth group event for immodest dress. Now, if it is a girl who has grown up in the church and is dressing provocatively in order to spit in her parent’s face, it might need to be addressed. If, however, it is a new girl or a girl who is a new Christian or not a Christian at all, telling her that her appearance is unholy, that her choice of dress is causing others to sin and embarrassing the congregation is not only ridiculous, but hurtful.

If a woman comes into a crisis pregnancy center looking for help, chances are she thinks she’s pregnant and she’s not too excited about it. She might feel like she can’t afford another baby. Maybe the pregnancy is the result of rape and carrying that man’s child is the last thing she wants to do. Perhaps her boyfriend is pressuring her to have an abortion so their parents don’t find out. In any case, she’s in a crisis and she’s looking for help. In this situation, sitting her down and lecturing her on the Bible’s teaching of abstinence is going to pour cold water all over this critical situation. She is not there to learn about what your god says about your body parts. She is here for help. If later on, through the actual seed you planted, she comes to know Jesus and desires to follow him, she will seek out answers about how to live in a way that glorifies God. At this point, however, she needs information and a shoulder to cry on (along with having her physical needs met, whatever they may be.)

Our job is not to police other people’s sex lives or even spiritual lives. Our goal should be to show love, offer help and point to Jesus. He will take care of the rest. Mark Buchanan put it nicely when he said, “The only kind of control the Bible endorses – indeed, commands – is self-control.”

So I must ask myself this new question when I interact with those who don’t know Jesus, Am I trying to plant a seed, or merely demanding to see the fruit?

Because if my eye is on the results, I’ll never pour in the proper amount of love (which is usually a little more than I plan on giving, isn’t it?) I’m here to give Jesus, not a list of sins. We all fall completely and vastly short of the glory of God no matter what we do with or how we dress our external bodies. The seed is from God, the fruit is His work and to Him does all the glory go.

(a good article on the modesty issue I mentioned is How to Train Your Men to be Abusive by Shannon Coe)

1

why modesty is (and isn’t) very important

(Note: Despite my closing statements, I really do feel like this is a good topic to debate. I am only learning and would be genuinely interested in discussion on the topic of modesty, at least at this time. I am using lots of scripture references in this post for your own further study, but please remember that I am not theologian. This is my own interpretation. Also, I am purposely including only New Testament passages in order to keep things relevant  As we continue to live under The New Covenant, the NT should continue to be our guide. Please join the conversation in the comment section if you have something to add!)

There has been a lot of talk lately about The Modesty Culture. From my spot here with Chrysanthemum (my laptop) it appears that the basic idea is this: Our traditional view of modesty for women is skewed and the way we dress and the way men act are not correlated. To the first point-yes. I noticed this in high school. Girls used to say things in youth group like, “Nike shorts are immodest, I don’t wear them.” And another girl would whip around, eyes wide, jaw-dropped and say, “They ARE?!” And then I was the one with the bug eyes as I realized that my peers thought modesty was something like 100% cotton or buy-one-get-one-free. It was something that an article of clothing either was, or wasn’t and you might as well just print it on the tag.

To say that immodest dress causes lust or rape is silly. That isn’t the cause of lust or rape. Lust and rape have been around a long time and are rampant in countries where women are forced to wear burkas, the most “modest” kind of clothing I can imagine. In these cultures, men are the boss, period. Women are merchandise. You wear the burka, no questions ask. You go to his bed, no questions asked. I seriously doubt girls in this culture are thinking, “Gee, if I was wearing a darker, heavier burka, maybe he’d respect me.”

So no, I don’t think immodest dress causes men to be lustful or violent creatures. That is a deeper, older heart issue. However, I have one issue with this tidy idea which brings us back to a place near where we started, though not via the same route at all. I still believe Jesus-following women are called to modest dress, and here’s why:

1. I am no theologian, but I am learning every day. I think that, though our cultures change for good and evil over time, 1 Timothy 2:9 was left in the Bible for a reason. I think that the plea for women to dress “with modesty and sobriety” is still relevant. If you read it in context, what Paul appears to be saying is that women should care more about good works than good looks. He says for men to try not to get so angry in church and women, likewise, try not to be so flashy in church. It appears to all be in context of a church service, but I don’t see why this wouldn’t apply to the rest of life. After all, church isn’t just a building or a time slot and our brothers and sisters in Christ see us all week long (along with the rest of the world.) I doubt Paul meant for the men to leave church and go back to their “anger and quarreling” nor likewise for a woman to pull off her clothes as she left the sanctuary, forsaking all sobriety of dress.

2. Immodesty may not cause men to lust, but it does tempt them. Hear me out on this one. I am not saying that we are responsible for what our brothers and sisters decide to act upon, but there is no one who can argue with the fact that as the American culture has become more lewd, as pornography has become a booming industry and body wash companies use female anatomy to advertise*, as lace thongs are being sold in little girls sizes and nudity is the norm at the movie theater, there has been a rise promiscuity and, in general, acceptance of “sexual freedom” (to do whatever we want, wherever we want, with whomever we want.)

*warning: link to Axe ads is quite provocative

I think the only way to further my point is the make a confession. I live in a college town where the #1 activity is what you might imagine and the second-most popular thing appears to be running. Yeah, running. All over town. In as little clothes as possible. Now, I know that this is Texas and yes-the summers here are sweltering, but that’s really not an excuse in my book. I understand why many guys don’t think anything of it when they run out of their dorm with nothing but shorts and tennis shoes on, but I also know that they work out for one basic reason-to make themselves attractive. (Not everyone, but most.) And my confession is this-they do look good and it does bother me. I have to turn away when I’m driving/walking around town and not stare at all of the half-naked college guys prancing around because it does affect me. 

I know that even if I lived in a porn theater, my sexual decisions would be my own. I really believe that. But it’s a lot harder to fight lust and “save myself” for marriage (Hebrews 13:4) when there are tanned abs encircling my car. (Honest, aren’t I?) Modesty isn’t just for women. Modesty isn’t just about clothes. But if the way men dress (or don’t) affects my mind, why would I think my dress doesn’t affect the mind of my brothers?

Sex before marriage isn’t the only kind of impurity (Matthew 5:28.)  It all starts in the mind (or, as scripture calls it, the heart.) I have to be extremely, over-the-top careful about what movies I watch in order to avoid this kind of sin. I have to not look at the sidewalk while I’m driving. I have to scroll quickly through certain websites which use crude advertisements to avoid this sin. You can call that what you want-common sense? A sacrifice? (See Matthew 5:29) But it’s what I have to do to keep my mind from wandering to hurtful, degrading places.

Historically, men degrade women. I’m not being sexist when I say that. Women have long been objectified, oppressed and made to be a commodity. This is absolutely unjust, wrong and makes me angry. But I don’t want to degrade men either. I don’t want to be one of those moms who goes to the theater to drool over Twilight beefy werewolves. 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Max are two perfect examples of women recently degrading men. This isn’t just a man’s battle. (Romans 13:14)

I would like to tell the guys I know that modesty is for them too, because it helps protect us all. Especially, perhaps, modesty in their speech. Stop showing off and flirting with every girl you see. It’s embarrassing.

3. It’s really not that big of a sacrifice to keep your clothes on. We do things to protect our own minds, as Christian women, all the time. Don’t pick up that book, don’t turn on that tv channel. We can put hours of thought into if this outfit makes us look good, why not a couple of minutes into if it makes us look immodest? We aren’t our brother’s keeper, but, for some reason or another, Paul wrote that women should be careful about how they dress. And so what if it’s to help a brother out? Is that so offensive? Sounds more like “loving one another” than selling oneself, to me. Romans 14:13 begs that we never put a stumbling block in front of a brother. This is in context of food and drink, but it doesn’t say “in regard to food and drink” does it? It just says never.

4. Women appreciate modest women too, and not just women who struggle with homosexuality. Women show off to other women just as much as they show off for men…maybe even more! In our competitive minds, we want other girls to see how attractive we are, how fashionable or thin or tan or wealthy, and we do this by dressing brazenly. The only thing I can find that scripture tells us to wear is “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” and “above all else, love”. (Colossians 3:12-14) Showing off and putting others down is not kind, humble or loving.

5. Lastly and most grandly, clothing is only the tip of the modesty iceberg. A woman in a burka can seduce a man. A woman in a bikini can repulse a man. A man in a nice suit can be the most flirtatious jerk you ever met. A man with no shirt can be met with indifference. I think that the main reason women should dress modestly is because our dress should reflect our person. I want to dress like a woman. In my culture, that means certain things. In Scotland, a kilt is seen as manly. Here, we call those “mini skirts” and sell them to teenage girls. It is a matter of culture. I like to dress in a way that my culture will see as feminine because that is what I am, feminine. Not because my dad makes me or my pastor will kick me out of church, but because God made me female and I want to be seen as such. God also made me an heir. I want to dress like one. I want to dress with modesty because I am learning to be a modest person, not just a mannequin for modest clothing. Though many of you know exactly how I dress, I am going to refrain from describing it here. Some of you will see me as legalistic, others as immodest. This is where personal decisions are  made, and that’s fine. Not even the wordy Apostle Paul told us about necklines and swimsuits, so we can keep the details to ourselves. I make changes pretty frequently in what I approve of for myself or feel good in. I also make clothing decisions based on financial, ethical and aesthetic reasons. I like to look pretty. I like to buy fair-trade whenever I can. I like to save money. These things don’t have to do with modesty, they have to do with reflecting the rest of my personality and mindset.

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25.)

Yesssssir. I don’t actually think this issue is about bikinis or necklines or fabric. We should really be asking ourselves, “Am I following Christ? Am I representing Him well? Would immodest dress reflect a proud spirit?” Jesus tells us that the Father listens to the humble, not the people who dress a certain way. Should we think about what we buy, what we eat, how we dress, how we speak, where we go? Yes! But that is of so little concern compared to greater things. Perhaps, instead of complaining about what our neighbor is wearing, we should focus on the main thing Jesus says about clothes-clothing the poor. Perhaps, instead of bemoaning our culture day-and-night, we should reach out to the girls who have been victimized by porn and prostitution. This may sound like a bit of a rabbit trail, but I think it’s true. Jesus himself said not to worry about clothes. It may be an issue, but not a salvation-related issue. Not a gospel-related issue. Not a huge issue. It’s just an outer layer, worldly issue.

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

Stop worrying so much about how you or I look on the outside. Our clothes and our bodies are so very temporary. We’re all going to the grave to turn into dust momentarily. In Heaven, we’ll have new bodies. We might just be walking around with crowns for all I know. Until then, read scripture for yourself, consider your decisions and then go and live in freedom.

10

in defense of purity

Several bloggers have recently tackled the issue of sexual purity. Though I completely respect their point of view and agree with what they had to say, I wanted to offer a response. This is a defense of virginity.

iryna merkulova, “red umbrella”

It was a Tuesday night and I was walking through the mist up to the arena. I had spent the day in a long, green and brown dress with quarter-length sleeves, which a neighbor had sent to us in a bag of used clothes. This particular neighbor sends high-quality hand-me-downs, so I wasn’t ashamed to step out in one of her old dresses…except maybe tonight. I had debated changing into jeans or anything more…normal. After all, this was the only night of the week I spent on campus, surrounded by hundreds of college students in a basketball court.

But why change at the end of day? If this had been fine for the past eight hours, it would be fine for a couple more. I trotted up the steps in my damp flats and through the heavy doors. The music was already starting, electric guitars whining and cymbals shivering and our talented lead vocalist belting out praise. I slipped in and sat somewhere out of the way. Maybe I was feeling slightly self-conscious about my attire. Soon, however, the seats around me filled up. The music came to a close and the ministry leader stepped on stage to speak. The topic was sexual purity.

Maybe dressing like an Amish girl was okay once in a while, but dressing like an Amish girl while we use such words as “lust”, “temptation”, “modesty” and “promiscuity”, is a bit uncomfortable. The skinny jeans and tiny shorts seemed to pulse around me. It was a good talk, and when he got to the part about forgiving yourself for your sexual sin and moving on, many girls were sniffing back the tears. I began to thank God that I wasn’t one of those sniffing. It wasn’t the Pharisee’s prayer of “thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like these” but a prayer of true gratitude, for I am not “pure” solely because of my own self-control.

I have made my share of mistakes and walked barefooted much too near the cobra’s nest, but I’ve been spared many falls, many bites. I sat in that auditorium as one of the few virgins at a Christian event of college-age students because, among other reasons, my parents have protected me. During that talk I went from feeling inferior to feeling blessed. I am blessed to have a different story. Blessed to have made it through my teen years without much regret. Blessed to have a mom and dad who watch out for me and guide me in the Lord. Blessed even to be naïve.

Losing your sexual purity isn’t the only sin and it isn’t any worse than the other things we do out of our flesh, but it does have great earthly consequences. My parents never taught me (as I am afraid some girls were taught) that my value was solely in my virginity and, losing this was the unforgivable sin. When we would hear of a friend or family member who was promiscuous or pregnant out of wedlock, their reaction was always sorrow, never anger. They taught me to value my body, to have dignity and to save sex for marriage, but they did not make and idol out of purity.

Sometimes, girls who come from Christian homes feel overly protected. I have felt this way many times. We have the church, the extended family and, most of all, our parents watching over us. Every decision is discussed. Maybe your boyfriends had to fill out questionnaires before taking you out. Maybe you signed a purity pledge or got a ring to symbolize your oath. Maybe you have to call every time you get to the grocery store and again when you’re on your way home (*cough cough* my parents!) This can be frustrating, especially as you get older, even if you know that it is done in love. However, I am thankful that I have, what some would call “overly protective parents” rather than no parental guidance at all. Living in a college town, I hear about a lot of stupid parents. Parents who think it is more important to be a friend than a mom or dad. Let’s remember what friends do at bars: encourage you to go further…preferably further than they themselves are willing to go! We hear about moms driving into town for twenty-first birthdays to party at the bars with their children. A good mom is someone who drags your wasted body into the hotel at two in the morning so you don’t get in a wreck, or get arrested or die choking on your own vomit, right?

Purity is something we are called to. It is a direction we are to walk in. It is a daily, personal lifestyle. We are going to be called to purity our entire Christian life. When you marry, sexual purity continues even though abstinence does not. It isn’t as if this is an issue only for teens and twenty-somethings and it’s not about someone trying to keep you from having fun. Sexual abstinence before marriage is a Biblical command. God only commands things that are important and for our own good. He set up this rule in order to protect something He thinks is amazing. His timing is always best. Always. No matter how much we may feel differently.

The talk was over and they were playing my favorite song on the keyboard, Be Thou My Vision. I lifted my skirts and scampered out of the arena among a flood of students. Outside I could see that rain had begun to pour. The girls rushed out into the storm to their cars. No one was prepared for the rain (do college students even carry umbrellas?) Boyfriends had nothing to shelter their girlfriends with. Everyone parted in the slippery parking lot. I pushed through the door prepared to do the same. Stepping out into the weather, I felt the rain stop over my head. There was my dad, holding a big umbrella above me. We smiled and walked to the car.

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