After the Fourth of July weekend I saw several photos pop up on my feed of bikini clad Christian women. After the first few I thought, “This isn’t right. Aren’t we supposed to be called out of the world?” Something didn’t sit right with my spirit.
“Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” –2 Corinthians 6:17-18
I haven’t always dressed modestly and I have had my own share of bikini days, but as I draw nearer to Christ, I have found myself dressing more and more modestly. Since truly coming to Christ, I have never felt free to wear a bikini. The desire to clothe myself has grown stronger than seeking attention through being unclothed. Now, I’m not saying you need to be covered head to foot and no feminine parts showing ever. Everything in this world has a spiritual reality and there is a way to dress in a spirit of purity and modesty without wearing a bag. People can become legalistic about anything and women’s dress is one of those things. But as a woman called by God, I feel I have a responsibility to be separate from the world. To clothe myself in a way that is honoring to Christ.
“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify (make no provision for) the desires of the flesh.” –Romans 13:14
After discussing the issue with my husband, I realized that the motivating factor behind women dressing modestly should NOT be for the sake of their fellow brothers in Christ. While that is considerate, men have their own battle to face and must learn how to guard their own hearts and minds against lust while living in this sinful and fallen world. Indeed, Christian women should dress modestly for the sake of Christ. Out of love and reverence for their Lord. There is no time I can think of (besides an ultrasound appointment) in which it is acceptable for a woman to bear her stomach. As a woman called by God I don’t feel free to expose my body in that way, even if everyone else around me does. A woman finding her worth and value in her body, and the exposure of her body, is rooted in the world, not in Christ.
I realize I am touching on a sensitive topic here, and there have been extremes in both directions. I’m going to give you some things to think about. Questions to ask yourself to help you examine and hopefully open up a dialogue or discussion about the subject matter.
1.) When is there another time where it’s acceptable for your stomach to be exposed?
2.) Have you asked God about your bathing suit attire? What has He said? If you are being convicted about or questioning your regular attire, have you asked God about it? What has He said?
3.) What is the difference between your bathing suit and your bra and underwear? (This is not a rhetorical question, but one to be examined. Compare and contrast the two).
4.) Why are you wearing what you are wearing? Is it for you? For the attention of others? What’s motivating your choice? (If the answer is “I like it,” “It makes me feel good,” “I want to show off what I’ve worked hard for,” ask yourself why).
Be holy. Don’t just go through the motions and try to look the right way on the outside. Wrestle with God about these things and really get an answer. If this is something you struggle with, get to the root of it. There is an answer to why, and it usually lies in your heart somewhere. You’ve been hurt, you struggle with self-esteem, you had a poor relationship with your father, you were teased growing up, your beauty is where you find your identity…there is always a reason why. Get to the root of it and let Jesus cleanse you. Be holy and worship your God in Spirit and in truth. Have your own convictions and desire for righteousness, holiness, purity and modesty. No one can do that for you, and trying to “live right” on the outside won’t get you there either. It comes from within, from the heart. Be cleansed on the inside and it will reflect on the outside.
Modesty is not just an issue in swimming attire, but in all attire. Apply the above questions to your regular dress. Ask the Lord to show you how you can be holy, modest, and pure in what you wear and specifically what items of clothing are immodest. The Lord your God is a jealous God. And like a jealous husband wouldn’t want his wife indecently exposed, or a loving father wouldn’t want his daughter revealing herself, so too does God feel towards you. Honor God in the way you dress. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all that is in you. Love Him in this way.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” –1 Peter 2:9
The King James Version says, “a peculiar people.” Peculiar means odd, unusual, distinctive from others; belonging exclusively to some Person, group, or thing. God recently showed me that in order for Him to be my Father, I also have to be His daughter. I am royalty. His peculiar and special possession. And just like there are certain behaviors that are deemed indecent for the royalty of this earth, there are certain behaviors that are deemed indecent for a daughter of God. Immodesty is one of those things.
I myself had to go through a purification process in my dress. I had to follow the promptings and nudges of the Holy Spirit when wearing something borderline. We always want rules because that means we can clearly be inside or outside of them. But it’s the small compromises that get us. One small compromise at a time. So while I myself have certain guidelines I dress by, I don’t have rules. I always follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and I pray about what to wear when uncertain. God is a God of the details, and He loves when you depend on Him, even in this seemingly small way.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” –Ephesians 4:22-24
Put off the old and clothe yourself with Christ. May it be said of you, “She is clothed with strength and dignity.” –Proverbs 31:25