Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Of Burkahs and Bikinis

I've been watching with interest the debate that was generated over here by a post entitled Should Christians Wear Bikinis. There's nothing like the question of modesty to rev up the people and get them talking.  I posted it on my facebook account and I agree with what the author has to say, HOWEVER, I decided to write something myself because I also believe there is something very significant that she missed...

My husband and I are youth pastors, we work with teens on an ongoing basis and have teens of our own, both male and female.  The subject of modesty is very close to our hearts largely because of the struggle that my husband has experienced with pornography in the past and the struggles that we have walked through with many others some to a glorious breakthrough and some to heartbreaking downfall.

We can stand on our soapboxes and say we should wear this or wear that we should have hemlines to here and all of that.  We can set up rules and point fingers at whose fault it is should someone have a lustful thought.
 Modesty is a heart issue.
We can be immodest not only in our attire, but in our speech, in our attitudes, in our wealth, in our actions and so on.  The question we must ask is not IF we should wear a bikini but WHY would we choose to.

We have created an indecent, immodest, extremely sensual society where much of our value is ascribed to whether or not we can create a sensual sensation.   If we aren't able to...we don't have value. It doesn't really have anything to do with female or male.  There are many men that are equally immodest as the women.  I will take a moment to quote Beth Moore from her book So Long, Insecurity:

    " Life has changed - and in countless ways, it has changed for the better.  but here's that line in the sand I promised you:  our foremothers did not have to put up with the media madness that we women do today.  They did not check out their groceries next to a magazine rack of gorgeous, half-dressed, airbrushed women.  They did not rinse the leftover Hamburger helper off the supper dishes while their husbands watched Victoria's Secret models traipsing around in high definition.  They did not stumble on pornography or chat rooms tucked in the closets of their computers - nor did they seek it out for themselves.  They did not get explicit mail from complete strangers in their in-boxes.  They could never have imagined the quick trip a woman could take from double-X chromosomes to triple-X movies.  They were not immersed in a society where a woman is only as valuable as she is sensual.  Simply put, they were not surrounded by our harrowing culture."

Our culture has bludgeoned us over the head with this concept, whether you are male or female, you must have a great body, you must show it off and if you can create a bit of a are valuable, if you can't, you better work harder.  This is completely opposite to what scripture tells us.  Our insecurities are what fuels the drive to show off what we've got, whether it's money, power, a great body or intellect.  We are desperate for someone to tell us that we are okay, that we look good, that we've arrived.  The reality is that this kind of intrinsic value affirmation can only come through Jesus Christ.

Scripture is pretty clear on this subject:

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
1 John 2:15-17

Lust isn't just a man's problem.  As women we wield a mighty power in our body, we can use that power to help or hinder the men in our lives.  We get proud of what we have and flaunt it, whether male or female.

 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Pet 3:3-4

While women were being addressed here, a beautiful spirit can belong to male or female.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart 
    and examine the mind, 
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.”

The part of us that really needs to be addressed is our hearts.  Are we secure in who we are in Christ?  As one who is still struggling with that issue, I am fully convinced that when we are truly secure in the fact that God loves me and I have unimaginable worth in His sight I will no longer seek after the affirmation of people who are fickle.

(this part is written by my husband)
God created us with a 2-part need that is symbolized by the cross. The vertical piece, our relationship with Him, and the horizontal piece, love of humankind (companionship/fellowship are reasons for Eve's creation and subsequently children and family and community etc.)  Eve is the community creator, I think because of this God-created capacity to create and nurture horizontal relationships, women, as her lineage, are vulnerable to looking there for security and worth, rather than to the husband, Jesus, who gave himself for her and loved her, despite her fallen nature.

If a woman has an earthly husband, that is the next place she needs to get love, affirmation and security. because it is the husband's mandate to love her as Christ loved.   When this is there and she is focused on loving Jesus and loving her husband and her husband is focused on loving Christ and loving her, there will not be temptation to get attention and "love" from others by dressing sensually etc. and doing things for the praise and pleasing of others, etc.

(me again)
At the end of the day we can go around and around about burkahs or bikinis but we would not be at the core of the issue.  It's a matter of our heart, whether or heart is modest in what we wear, think, and do.  Are we living to please the Lord or are we pleasing ourselves and trying to please the society that is around us?  We also need to take God seriously when He says that we'll be judged for all our actions - I believe that will include how we've handled the issue of modesty and sensuality.


Anonymous said...

Love it. People can argue with rules and limitations but they can't as easily argue with the heart of the matter. It is easy to get all tangled up in the laws and forget why they were put in place.

Lani - the flowerlady said...

you're so right Rachel, whenever we get tangled in the law we need to go back and look at the heart, it's so much clearer there! Thanks for coming by.