Modesty and the Heart

We've known Cristin Henry for several years now, as we connected with her in our Community Group. Since she always took notes and did her homework (ehh, "prep work"), other group members called her my teacher's pet. They were jealous.

They should also be jealous because she was the winner of a free meal in Allendale. We are waiting for her to come (back) down.

She is one of the best thinkers I know, and one of the few young single ladies that regularly listen to podcasts by pastors like Mark Driscoll. She also blogs at Along the Path, where she recently did a series on modesty. I asked her to write a summary guest post for me. I think you'll enjoy, and be challenged.

Modesty is an interesting word.  Depending on whom you are talking to, it may be a great, admirable word or it may be an outdated, repressive word.  I have had several conversations lately on the topic of modesty, and as a result have thought about my own life and view of modesty.

The more time I spend thinking and talking about modesty, the easier it is to see that it is a heart issue.  It’s not about where you shop or what you wear as much as it is about what your heart is inclined towards.  When your heart is inclined toward Christ, the rest of your life, including what you wear, will be an overflow of Christ in your life.

For women, I see two main heart issues when it comes to modesty:  identity/value and love of others.

image courtesy of biewoef via
We find value in the honor of attention from others.  Attention from others is not inherently bad because it is a part of community and relationship.  It becomes dangerous and negative when our value is corrupted by the need for attention; when our identity becomes rooted in how others see and define us.  When Christ defines our identity, though, we no longer look to others to define us.  When our desire for acceptance is met in Christ, we are free to be who He created us to be without looking to others for acceptance. When our identity and value come only from Christ, our clothing will be a non-issue.

The other heart issue for many women is how we love others, particularly our brothers.  There are struggles unique to men, namely the struggle with visual, sexual images.  We are called to love our brothers in Christ by being considerate of their struggles and seeking to put their interests above our own.  The way I dress is not a matter of my freedom or my rights.  When I choose to follow Christ, I lay down all rights to myself – that includes my right to wear anything I want.  Even if my clothing had nothing to do with my approval or identity (which is not the case), I am still called to a higher standard out of love and respect for my brothers and for Christ.

What do you think about modesty?  Do you spend much time thinking about it?  Do you think it’s an important or relevant topic?  Paul seemed to think it was important enough to address in his letter to Timothy:

“…women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control…” – 1 Timothy 2.9

I encourage you to spend time thinking about the topic of modesty and dialoging with others about it.  Consider how your words, dress, and actions affect not only you personally, but also your brothers and sisters around you, as well as the next generation of women you are influencing.

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