If it wasn't Friday, I would think today is Modesty Monday.
Is it just me or have there been several posts about bikinis/modesty lately on Facebook and Twitter? Not complaining by any means, as I shared one myself on FB, I've just noticed a lot of them. I'm sure it has everything to do with it being swim suit season.
I've read a few of them, all from a well-meaning Christian perspective, but I wouldn't necessarily agree that they are all biblical.
A popular thought among women seems to be that it is a male's responsibility to not fall into temptation when he sees a particularly attractive woman in a bikini (or whatever she might be wearing...or not wearing). That women can and should wear what they want and flaunt what their momma gave them and if the men lust, well, that's their problem. They should learn to control their thoughts.
Yes. Men should take responsibility and self-control over their thoughts and actions. And they certainly are powerless to do so without the help of God. If they are easily tempted when they see a half-naked woman, then a nude beach is probably not the wisest place for them to vacation. Duh! But just as men should be held responsible, so should us girls. We have to show self-control as well over what we buy and how much skin we allow to be seen. There really isn't a clear boundary, the discretion lies between the girl and God. But I think it's pretty obvious what is modest and what is not, and a lot of that has to do with our body type.
As one girl said in something I read, she is big busted and because of that she can't be modest in anything she wears. But let's not throw our hands in the air and wear just anything simply because we can't be as modest as someone else. When choosing between A, B, or C we can choose the option that is most modest. That's better than nothing, right?
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.
1 Corinthians 6:12a
This isn't an issue of bikinis vs. one-pieces, as there are some one-piece swimsuits that are almost just as revealing as a bikini.
The issue is a lot of other things. Attitude. Motivation. Ignorance. Irresponsibility.
But I'm not here to say what's already been said. I'm going another direction to discuss my reasons as a mother that I don't allow Lily to wear a bikini.
It has very little to do with swimsuits, actually.
I want to protect her from crazy men that are somehow turned on by a little girl. Thankfully, this is not every man, or even most men. But, let's not be ignorant. They are out there.
I also want to guard her purity.
But that's not my end-goal in not allowing her to wear bikinis.
The world's standards say to flaunt what you have and wear what you want because you own your body. But that is the complete opposite of what God's word says,
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Jesus paid a lofty price for Lily. One day, I pray, His Spirit will reside in her and her body will belong to Him to be used by Him for his glory.
I want to teach her the lasting and flawless beauty of being holy. Set apart from the world. I want her to be confident that doing things God's way, while it may be a sacrifice, produces good and satisfying results. And this applies to all areas of her life, not just her clothing choices.
All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12b
As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.
1 Peter 1:15
I'm not going to tell you that wearing a bikini is wrong. They are all I wore until I had Lily...when my stomach was less flabby and I had time/money to tan so that my stomach that never sees the sunlight matched the color of the rest of my body. If I put a swimsuit on now, you better believe it's not to sunbathe. What mom has time for that? I'm headed out to play in the pool or on the beach with an active little girl, and I guarantee you I want anything flabby as contained as possible for all that activity!
I will make the claim, though, that a bikini is usually not the better choice.
But, again, as a mom, it's about way more than a swimsuit style.
It's about holiness. It's about being set apart. Or as R.C. Sproul puts it,
The primary meaning of holy is 'separate.' It comes from an ancient word that meant, 'to cut,' or 'to separate.' Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase 'a cut above something.'..This means that the one who is holy is uniquely holy, with no rivals or competition...'When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is trascendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be 'other,' to be different in a special way. The same basic meaning is used when the word holy is applied to earthly things.
Wearing a bikini is not necessarily wrong, but that doesn't mean a girl has to wear one. A child of God is not dominated by this world. She is a stranger on earth and a citizen in Heaven. She is free to be different and unique. Holiness in a girl is an absolutely gorgeous thing that is far more attractive (to the right boy) than the cleavage squeezing out of her bikini top and her flat, tan stomach or that stupid coveted thigh gap. Ladies, Suzanne Somers did not achieve the thigh gap simply by sitting on the couch while using the Thigh Master.
However, holiness can't be beautiful without humbleness. Just as a girl should not flaunt her body, she should not flaunt her holiness. Holy and unfading beauty comes from a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).
Ask Lily Who made her pretty and she'll tell you "God". Ask Lily what makes her pretty and she'll tell you "my heart for Jesus".
I want Lily to have the confidence to be beautifully different from the world with a humble attitude and assurance that God created her for holiness. I want her to know that if God called her to be holy, then holiness is attainable and all-satisfying. He's not going to ask something of her that can't be done or isn't for her good.
When she's older, if she wants to choose a two-piece I very well may let her. But, her choice will hopefully be saturated with discernment and wisdom from God and be void of the idea that she has to wear a bikini for whatever reason.
That goes with all other things. I want her decisions in life to be based on her assurance that she is making a choice that pleases the Lord (because we have taught her to seek after that which pleases Him, not the world) and her confidence that God's approval is the only approval she needs or wants.
I do not want her to succumb to the same choices the world is making because she feels like she has to. I want her to confidently, humbly, and quietly live above the world's standards because she is free to and she is called to by the God who created her and knows what's best for her.
The issue of modesty goes far beyond physical appearance and clothing choices and goes straight to the heart. If we lack the confidence that our heart for Jesus is what gives us true beauty, then we will be careless about how we dress and carry ourselves. If we possess this confidence, we will be comfortable and content with being set apart from what everyone else is doing.
There are a number of things I will say "no" to for the rest of Lily's life (or for as long as I have a say in her choices). And, like a two-piece swimsuit, there are some things I might eventually say "yes" to. But I won't say yes until she has a foundation of confidence that her value is in Christ alone. She is enough for Him and He is enough for her.
And Mommas, building this confidence in our daughters begins with us. We have to be confident that the holiness God desires from us is satisfying and be willing to make sacrifices so our daughters can see that we value God's approval only.