The time and culture in which we live can be incredibly challenging for young women to navigate. When you’re on the cusp of adulthood and trying to figure out who you are, what makes up your identity, what your value is based on, and who will love you for you, it’s easy to become ripe for the picking, easily sucked into the lies thrown at you every day by the media. Lies like,
“It’s all about being hot.”
“Guys will only love and appreciate you if you give them what they want physically.”
“Your worth is found in how sexy you are.”
“Being modest means having to be tight, super strict, and no fun.”
“Modesty = frumpiness.”
What we have to understand, however, is that our value was never to be found in our bodies or what other people think of them. Our worth comes from who we are, not what we look like. Who we are is an image bearer of God (Genesis 1:27), fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
When we can live in light of that reality, allowing that beautiful truth to seep deep down into our bones, we can rest. We can cease our striving to become model material in the eyes of the world and instead delight in how God has already fashioned us, right here and right now.
The topic of beauty does bring up some important points we all need to consider, however. Inevitably, when tackling the topic of beauty, there are going to be questions of modesty standards and the like which we would do well to address, so that’s what we’re going to do today!
We need to put to rest once and for all the myth that dressing and living in a modest manner has anything to do with being unkempt, unfashionable, or frumpy. You can be fashionable and trendy in how you dress while being modest at the same time. The truth we need to grasp here is that God never demonized beauty. He was the very One Who gave it to us in the first place!
Likewise, He isn’t against our playing up to our best features, enlisting particular cosmetics, hairdos, and clothing styles to complement the unique beauty He has given to each of us. Esther, for example, was well known for undergoing a series of beauty treatments in preparation for meeting the King. Rebekah was gifted with beautiful jewelry before meeting her future husband, Isaac. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying each of those things.
The problem comes when we become haughty over how beautiful we believe ourselves to be or when we allow our jewelry, hair accessories, or clothing to become so elaborate and expensive that our desire crosses over from wanting to simply present ourselves in a positive light to suddenly adorning ourselves in pride and haughtiness, just waiting to see who will fall at our feet impressed over our elaborate get-up.
This is what Paul is speaking to in 1 Peter 3 when he says our adornment should come from having a meek and quiet spirit rather than from costly clothing and pearls. It’s not that clothing and jewelry are bad or forbidden (I dare say it would be hard to be modest in a sexual sense if we didn’t wear clothing!). It’s that our hearts have to be in the right place in order for us to be able to enjoy and employ the use of these things in an appropriate manner. For more on the topic of modesty, check out my post 4 Things to Remember about Modesty.
The Affects our Bodies have on Boys
We hear all the time that males are incredibly visual and visually stimulated. This fact is too often taken to the extreme of being used to blame women and what they wear for any incident of boys and men lusting.
This is inappropriate. Are men visual? Yes. But, according to the Song of Solomon, women are, as well! Should women be careful not to intentionally dress in such a way so as to cause men to stumble and fall headlong into lust? Yes. We are told throughout the Scriptures to not be stumbling blocks for others and to not tempt others into sin.
However, there are two things to remember here:
One is that all men are so incredibly different and what causes one to stumble would never cause another to stumble. Some men are going to be “turned on” by something as seemingly innocent as a woman’s collar bone or the shape of her calves. Does that mean women have to go around wearing only turtlenecks and ankle-length skirts? Of course not. That would be legalism.
The second thing to remember is that, while we do have a part to play – that of never intentionally wearing something with the purpose of turning a man’s head (unless he’s your husband, which we’ll get to in a moment!) – men are likewise responsible to not make that second glance. We will each be held responsible for what we ourselves do – not what someone else does.
Waiting to be Sexy for our Husbands
As women, there is a place within each of our hearts that yearns to be viewed as attractive, sexy, and desirable. Deep down, we want to turn a man’s head and see his eyes light up as he takes in our beauty. And you know what? There is nothing inherently wrong with that! That is part of God’s great design and blueprint for marriage.
We want to be careful to protect and respect our bodies by dressing modestly not because it’s somehow wrong to be attractive, but because we want to preserve that “sexiness factor” for marriage when we can fully and freely delight in all that it has to offer. We want to preserve that part of our lives for the time in which we can fully enjoy it with no guilt, shame, or regret attached to it. We want to protect that part of ourselves not because it’s wrong to be sexy or beautiful, but because it’s something to preserve and treasure in such a way that we might enjoy it to the full in the beautiful bond of marriage.
Do you want to be seen as pretty? Good news – you already are! God made you perfectly and with such intricate design. Do you want to dress beautifully and in a trendy style? Good news – modesty does not have to prevent you from doing so! Do you want to be seen as sexually attractive and desirable? Good news – that’s part of the joy of marriage and it’s worth waiting for!
The beautiful truth, dear girl, is that your Heavenly Father does not disdain your wanting to be beautiful and to have your beauty delighted in. That’s part of His design! Another part of His design is your living out your beauty in a modest fashion so that you can enjoy it to the full! God is not a taskmaster bent on destroying your fun. Far from it! He wants you to enjoy life to the full – including the beauty aspect of life! – and He knows that His way is the best way for you to do so. So, rest in Him, friend. He’s got your back!