EDITED-THIS IS A REPOST FROM JULY FROM WORDPRESS
For my introductory entry, I’m going to move out of the way and allow the two leading ladies in our congregation to share what is both their heart and mine. Read with a biblically informed conscience and a tender heart.
The two following contributors are Kristy Ottesen and Wendie Hager:
Dear Bethany Family,
As a mom of two girls, my heart desires to instill in them the qualities of a woman who is seeking after God. I want them to be honest, selfless, humble, gracious, kind, slow to speak, slow to anger, genuine, and modest (I am sure there are more, that’s just the ones that come to mind). I would like to take some time and share my heart about the last one mentioned, modesty.
When most people think about modesty they think about what girls wear, but I believe it is more than that, I believe it starts in our hearts. I think it starts with how we view ourselves. I also believe that is comes from where we find our worth. If we are finding our worth in Christ then we should not be seeking out our worth in anything else, including attention from others. Modesty is more than just making sure our hearts are well covered, it is making sure our heart is right in what we do and the choices we make, including our clothing. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That includes the clothes we put on in the morning.
One thing that I pray for my girls, my youth girls, and to be honest, myself, daily is that they (I) would find their worth in who they are in Christ, that they would know they are worthy of love because Jesus died for them, that they would know they are beautiful, even when they don’t feel like it, and because God created them and He did not make a mistake when He did.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 149:13
You see, we are worthy because of He who created us. We are worthy because God sent His son to die for us.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:” Colossians 1:14
We are covered by His blood and because of that, God can look upon us. He can see us. We can have a relationship with Him.
We are now His children.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1
Now if we could live everyday knowing who we are in Christ we wouldn’t be tempted to find our worth in our relationships, in what people think of us, in how many Facebook friends we have, in how good we are in sports, how much money we make, or in who finds us attractive. We could simply rest in His love and choose to trust His Word and what it says about us and that would be enough.
You see, my brothers and sisters, it’s not about clothes, it’s about our heart. If our heart is content in Christ, we will make a choice to cover ourselves, to choose purity, and to make a choice to take care of our hearts. Our heart would be to not make anyone else stumble but to be a good example for those who look at us for direction. If we are seeking Christ then we will be seeking to make choices to glorify Him, and that requires us to realize that our actions affect others.
I want to make a few confessions as I open my heart up to you. First, I am a person who is desperately in need of and depends on God’s grace daily. If it were not for the grace of God in my life thus far, I would be a total failure. My second confession is that I’m in love; I deeply love my Savior and I deeply love my husband and two sons (and my unborn daughter). And because of grace in my life and the undeniable work of the Holy Spirit, I love YOU. That is why I want to open my heart to you concerning a dangerous issue I see in the church (and by church I mean among all who call upon Christ as their Savior, wherever they may be).
Please do not mistake what I am about to say as an indictment against any individual as this is just as much about me as anyone. The issue is how we as women carry and present ourselves, especially as those who have been adorned by mercy and are called to be holy. Now that warm weather has set in and summer is quickly approaching, we notice a long standing trend in how we dress. Our desire to be comfortable is certainly understandable, as no one wants to suffer through what may very well be another scorching few months. However, I want us to stop and honestly and frankly think about how the (way) we dress affects others.
I do love my husband, and he loves me. We have a commitment to each other through covenant marriage that is good according to God’s plan. The problem however is that my husband is a sinner, born in sin and warped due to sin’s effects. Because of that he will struggle his entire life with the temptation to sin. He has given his life to Christ and through that Christ is empowering him to walk in holiness; however that comes neither easy nor fast. God created men in His sovereign will to be visual creatures. They notice detail and how things look. They notice beauty and design: from cars to the female body. My husband notices me, and he struggles hard NOT to notice others. This is what sin has done to him and every other person: sin takes that which God has created and warps it and ruins it. I’ve watched him when we are out in public, when other woman around us have chosen to take a different path, who do not desire to save themselves visually for their husbands, and it’s a struggle for him to keep his eyes pure. If we were to all be honest, I think most of us would admit that is the case for our husbands as well. The reason this is heartbreaking is because he earnestly wants to think only of me that way, but too often his mind wanders at just a glimpse and the hurt is both of ours to bear. I have two little boys who are both sinners by birth, who will both struggle with purity all of their lives, and my heart is already broken for them because of the temptations they will endure.
I want my husband to have those desires only for me, and I want YOUR husband (or future husband) to have those desires only for you. And as a mother of two little boys (men in training) I want them to withhold those particular desires for their future wives. It is horrifying for me to think that a man who is not my covenant husband may simply look at me and desire me that way, if only for a fleeting moment. In fact, what Jesus said on the matter is this, (;) as soon as he does that, he’s guilty of adultery (Matt. 5:27-28). It is equally horrifying to think that my sons or your sons have looked or will look at another woman in the church that way. Let us as sisters in Christ help each other to keep our marriages and families strong by determining not to present ourselves in a way that causes other men to stumble
The second thing that breaks my heart is how we present ourselves in worship. One of the highlights of my week is to join together with you along with my brothers in Christ to celebrate grace and honor God. It is a holy time, which means it’s a time of deep devotion. My husband has been studying and struggling the last year on how to create an environment when we meet on Sunday that draws our gaze away from ourselves and turn our eyes heavenward. Our sanctuary should help us focus on Christ. Our music should draw our affections towards Christ. Our praying should foster devotion to Christ. And the preaching should highlight Christ. However, what happens when we as women of the church intentionally do things to draw attention to ourselves, in particular our bodies? What happens when we come into the sanctuary exposing our chests and legs, adorning ourselves to accentuate those parts of ourselves that arouse the sexual desires of men? The very sad truth is this; when we do things that we know will cause the men in our church to focus on us, during a time when they should focus on the One who perished on a tree, we have made ourselves (into) an idol. This not only breaks my heart but I’m convinced beyond being swayed that it breaks the heart of God as well.
It is a biblical truth that every man must take his own thoughts captive and that God holds each man accountable for what he thinks about, even briefly. And I also realize that you may not think it seems right that you should have to limit what you wear for the sake of someone whose name you might not even know. However, Christ commands us to love our neighbor, and loving our neighbor means we don’t intentionally subject them to their own sin nature. God wants us to love each other and not place stumbling blocks in each other’s path. So what does this look like? Without coming up with a codified dress code it would look like this:
Don’t expose more than you cover. You should have more of your leg covered than exposed. Leave those intimate parts to the pleasure of your husband.
Don’t wear clothes that cling tightly to the skin. You don’t have to show bare skin to become an object of desire. Save that for your husband.
Don’t wear low cut tops. Think about what is at eye level to others and how you reveal your bust when you bend over or get close to others. Save that for your husband. If we put on clothes and think that they make us quite attractive physically, then they probably do.
Let us love our husbands and be only an object of desire for him. Let us love with brotherly love the other men (this goes as young as boys) in our church not to cause them to stumble sexually. And let us love our Savior by adoring ourselves, not outwardly but inwardly with a pure heart that desires holiness.