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A Teenager on Modesty

Teenager on Modesty.doc

A Bit to Read

A Teenager on Modesty

For years I’ve received complimentary copies of the Standard Bearer, a North American publication coming from the Protestant Reformed Churches.  This and that led me the other day to read again an article printed in the October 1, 2002 issue.  Rev G. vanBaren reprinted an article on modesty, together with some introductory and concluding comments.  With stores shortly stocking up on spring clothing, eager Grade 12-ers in the congregation thinking of their grad dress and excited couples planning their wedding looks, I think it worthwhile to lay the article before you for your consideration.  Below, then, is a reprint of vanBaren’s article.  I take the liberty to add some further comments of my own.

VanBaren quote:

I was impressed by the reflections of a certain Leslie Cox, evidently a teenager, on the dress of young girls today (though the same might be said concerning young men). The article appeared in the Dallas Morning News, August 14, 2002 and was reprinted in The Christian News, August 26, 2002.

It is a hot Saturday afternoon, and I, along with some of my friends, am headed to a Christian concert. A local Christian radio station is celebrating 20 years of service to the community, and many popular Christian artists are scheduled to perform.
As I walk toward the stadium where the concert is being held, my attention is drawn to other teenage girls around me. What catches my eye is the way the girls are dressed. Their clothes leave little to the imagination.
They must have misunderstood what is happening here, I think. Surely, they wouldn't come to a "Christian" concert dressed like that.
But I am wrong.
In fact, after finding my seat, I notice that almost every girl in the stadium is dressed in the same manner: scantily, with lots of skin showing. Suddenly, I feel out of place in my knee-length skirt and navel-hiding, button-down shirt.
Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to paint myself as super spiritual. But when I see girls dressed like Britney Spears at Christian events, I can't help but question their reasons for attending altogether. Are they there to praise God? Or are they there to see how many guys' heads they can turn?
I have discussed this subject with some of my friends, and while some agree with me, others say God only looks at the heart. How a person dresses doesn't matter to him. Wear whatever, wherever.
But how a person dresses does matter to God. In fact, the Bible gives specific guidelines as to how Christians should dress. According to I Timothy 2:9, we are to dress "modestly, with decency and propriety."
The word "decency" refers to purity. In other words, what a girl wears shouldn't provoke a guy to think about her in an ungodly fashion. She should dress in a way that is pure – not provocative. She should be seen by her peers as wholesome and clean – not flirtatious and cheap.
Admittedly, dressing virtuously isn't easy these days. Fashion designers push the moral envelope more and more every season. What once was considered racy –tight clothes, sheer clothes and underwear-looking clothes– now is viewed as the norm.
But just because fashion designers throw modesty to the wind where teen clothes are concerned, God doesn't. And as Christians, we shouldn't, either.
Personally, I respect myself too much to wear certain things, but I respect God's opinion most of all. So whether I am going to a Christian concert or to a baseball game, I ask myself the following question: If Christ returned today, would I want to meet him dressed like this?
It is a question that I believe all Christian teenage girls should ask themselves before leaving home.

Somehow, I could almost wish I could have written something like that first. But then – who would listen to an aged grandfather? Her words, I would think, carry more weight because they come from a teenager, a concerned teenager. I do wonder, though, if this Leslie Cox would feel herself comfortable and at home at some of our gatherings –especially young people's gatherings– and in our schools?

A comment

There was a time when I did not ask a bride before the wedding whether she (and her bride’s maids) would be decently covered.  But experience has taught me that I need to ask that embarrassing question, and spell out certain parameters.  Fact is that I’ve come to conclude that girls do not take sufficiently into account the truism Cox verbalizes: “What a girl wears shouldn’t provoke a guy to think about her in an ungodly fashion.”  The Lord faults with sin against the seventh commandment those who look at a woman lustfully.  It’s for us, then, to take seriously the simple biological fact that it does not take much to arouse a healthy guy. 

So, bridegrooms, insist that your bride and her maids are well covered; after all, you are (shortly) head of your wife, and so are ultimately responsible for how she dresses (and how she has her bridesmaids dress).  Equally, fathers –for you remain responsible for your daughters till they marry– insist that your daughters give no occasion for thoughts and desires to arise in the minds of others that the Lord condemns as sin.  And guys: let’s take seriously what our Lord says about lustful thoughts and adultery (Mt 5:28), and encourage the girls "modestly, with decency and propriety".

Whether the occasion is a wedding or a graduation, or simply people being together, Christian love for the other dictates that we take human weakness into account.

C Bouwman
5 January 2007