Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mutant Modesty (Not Your Typical Sermon)

"Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothes - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is very precious."
(1 Peter 3:3-4)

Over the last few months, I've been tapping into different sources of "women talk" going on, whether in blogs (specifically blogs), conversations with friends, books, or whatever other resources are out there that talk alot about the Christian woman. And one of the BIG topics is, of course, modesty. 

I've found blogs that are all about "modest fashion," and showcasing different outfits that that person believes to be modest. I've found blogs that discuss the "modesty" verses, such as the one above. I've read blogging articles about too tight, too low, too short...and interestingly, also blogs about too loose, too high, too long, too frumpy, too homeschool....needless to say, everyone has their own view of what modesty is. But what I know and believe in is that GOD also has a view on modesty, and THAT'S the source we need to go to, not our fellow man.

But as I've been silently stalking these different sources of modesty input (and not just blogging!), and evaluating alot of what I see, I've begun to pick up something. Something that is not right.

Has anybody notices that in the popular "modesty" verse above, it does NOT say that it's wrong to braid your hair (21st century interpretation: cut your hair; style your hair; put some effort into making your hair look nice). Neither does it say that it's wrong to wear gold (ie. jewelry; earrings; necklaces; etc). It may SOUND at first glance like it is, but it's not. Because if we were to take this as literally as it sounds at first glance, then the next stanza would REALLY be an issue: "the putting on of clothes." Yikes! Going by first glace interpretation, if we aren't to do our hair, aren't to wear jewelry, then by golly, we aren't to wear clothes! Now...we ALL know that a skin-baring nudist is not walking in the true spirit of the Lord, so there's GOT to be a bigger picture here.

And the bigger picture of that verse is this: don't let what you wear be your beauty. Whether you dress trendy or you dress in jumpers or you balance in the middle somewhere - that's not the adorning the Lord wants most from you!

Our clothes, whether simple or stylish, are not to be our main focus. They are not to be too important to us. The thing that we should do the MOST in beautifying ourselves is adorning ourselves with the INNER BEAUTY (the quiet spirit, the gentle spirit). In doing this, that doesn't exclude "doing ourselves up to look nice on the outside," but rather just not letting that be the source of our beauty. This modesty passage really is just saying "you're outside is not where your true beauty comes from, so don't focus on your hair, your jewelry, your clothes, etc, as your ticket to godliness; but rather it comes from your heart, so focus on beautifying your heart!"

There are the obvious mini-skirt and bikini-wearing Christians who are breaking this biblical rule. But right now, there are also ALOT of conservative skirt-wearing Christians who are violating this verse in the exact same way. There is a HUGE facet of conservative people who are taking HUGE pride in their modest adorning, and glorifying "modesty" to the point of idol-worship. And consequently, are in violation of 1 Peter 3:3-4, despite their yes, modest apparel. This is JUST as wrong as the women who obsess over fashion and trends. Honestly, in some ways, it's even worse.

When we look to our clothes and any other kind of exterior means of beauty as a way to measure up to what God wants from us, it's improper adorning whether it's a slinky outfit or a head-to-toe jumper. It's displeasing to God whether it's a stylin' hair cut or floor length hair. Whether it's earings or no earings. Make-up or no make-up.

"For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."
(Psalms 51:16-17)

The sacrifice that is MOST pleasing to God is what is in our HEART, not on our body. What we put on our body IS very important, but that's not the most important. What's on the body will be influences by what's in our hearts most of all. It's our heart attitude that God is looking for. Not our works, not our actions, not our physical "sacrifices" or "burnt offerings."

I find it very interesting, also, that King David wrote this Psalms during the days when sacrifice and burnt offering WERE the means of atonement. Burnt offerings were VITAL. Yet for David to say that God does not desire that, he knew that what the heart of God really wanted was not an animal burning on an alter (or a type of clothes worn). The Lord wants a heart that is beautiful, and a life is seeking His FACE more than His alter

What I'm seeing is scores of girls and women letting their arts of modesty become just an act of righteousness, and taking immense unholy pride in being supposedly so much more "virtuous" than others.

Wear what you believe before God is modest, but don't add the accessories of pride and self-righteousness. Don't wear your clothes like they are earning your brownie points in Heaven. Modest adorning is not just of the body. It's mainly of the heart.

Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart
with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which in the sight of God is very precious.

3 comments:

  1. You definitely hit the nail on the head with this post! I love it and agree with you! "Wear what you believe before God is modest" :) I'm sure you've seen a bit of what I wear from my blog but there was a time when people thought I was immodest by what you've seen. It really hurt! and it's only because they wore skirts to their feet, etc. While there's nothing wrong with that, I don't think we should be pointing fingers when we do the same thing differently. Thanks for this! :)

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  2. This is a wonderful post :)
    In a speech I heard the other day a man was saying something like: 'We get a principle from God (like for instance modesty) and there are 100's of applications, but the problem is that we take our own application and elevate it to the level of the principle itself, claiming our application is THE WAY to obey the principle.'
    That was hugely paraphrased, but a little light when on in my head when he said it and modesty came to mind as well.

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  3. Thanks for pointing out this issue--it's a big one, and something that I've struggled with. It really does come down to humility and submission to God. ~Jenna

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