Modesty: Crop Tops and Heart Wars
Lately, my Pinterest feed has been flooded with bra-less, stomach-baring, booty short-wearing young women. Pictures neatly pinned to the “My Style” board of so many teens and young-20’s, showing the world what their ideal style is.
And my heart breaks.
Before the Lord saved me, I could have been one of those gals in the pictures. In fact, I was. I’m the first to admit that my clothing choices before Christ were quite promiscuous. This lined up perfectly with my heart that was equally immoral.
The way I dressed displayed what resided in my heart: A deep desire to be noticed, sought out and viewed as “sexy” by men. In a word, sensuality.
And it ruled my heart.
What Rules Your Heart?
The Bible doesn’t have a ton to say about modesty and there definitely aren’t any specific rules. This makes it a hard topic to approach. Since God is sovereign over his Word, he must have done this for a reason.
Throughout scripture, we see God calling us to put on or clothe ourselves with good things. Compassion, kindness, humility to name a few (Colossians 3:12). Ultimately, he wants us to put on the Lord Jesus.
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:13-14 ESV)
If we adorn ourselves in Christ, we will naturally dress ourselves in “respectable apparel, modesty and self control” (1 Timothy 2:9).
So, what is “respectable apparel”? Scripture doesn’t give any clues about appropriate hem lengths or rules about skin exposure. It doesn’t say we have to dust the floor with our skirt and never show a shoulder either.
There aren’t written rules because Christ should rule our heart, which, in turn, rules our fashion.
Whether it’s clinging to sensuality or holding to man made rules, both reflect a heart that isn’t ruled by or clothed in Christ.
There’s a war for the hearts of young women. It’s a battle permeated with lies about our worth and purpose. Young Christian teens are being preached to by the lives of popular Christian girls on Instagram, telling them that you can love Christ and yet still dress like Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift.
We need to ask ourselves questions and give honest answers when we ponder our clothing. Here are three questions to help decipher whether or not Christ is ruling our decision making about fashion or if there’s a deeper issue at hand.
1. Does the culture around me call this “sexy”?
As Christians, we are called to live in the world (in order to make disciples) but not be of the world (John 17:16). We are also told to not love the world.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 ESV)
In the culture around you, is the outfit in question something that would be considered sexy or sensual? While a quick search on Pinterest will answer your question, you probably know the answer already.
2. Why am I drawn to this?
Are you drawn to it simply because it’s floral or bohemian? Or is there an emotional draw to it?
What feelings does it create in your heart or what thoughts does it spark in your mind?
Maybe it makes you feel “hot” or you think about what so and so would think of you in it. Pay close attention to your thoughts. They reveal what’s in your heart.
3. What is my motive?
Each of these questions brings me to the last one: motive. Discerning heart motives is a big part of the Christian life so this is good practice. How you answered the previous questions will reveal a lot about your motive.
What is it that you’re wanting? Do you crave attention from boys or the ability to make other girls envious? Do you feel like you have to dress this way to fit in?
Find your motive and then align it to truth. If it’s fear of man (wanting to fit in), than remember your identity is in Christ and your worth is not in what people think of you (Colossians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
In my teen and early adult years, I was consumed with the attention and affection of boys. This was an idol in my life that the Lord graciously rescued me from, though I was blind to it for so many heartbreaking years. If this longing for attention sounds familiar, I pray you would turn to the Lord and ask him to help you turn away from it. Don’t go down the painful path I walked before you.
It’s Really About God
Modesty isn’t really about you. It’s about honoring the God who created you.
I design mugs for my shop. As the designer, it’s my job to “clothe” the glossy white mug with whatever I please. Likewise, God created our bodies and he should govern our clothing choices.
So, the next time you slip a crop top (or any item of clothing) off its hanger to try it on, ask yourself these questions. Discover your motive and seek out answers about whether or not it would glorify God.
Remember, as Christians, how we dress reflects the God we claim. Are we reflecting the image of the one true God, or a marred version?