Respect is at the heart of God’s intention for marital expression. Lean in while I unveil to you one of the best-kept secrets in the Bible: a single word. The Old Testament uses the word yada for intimacy. It means “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.”
Yada: To know, to be known, to be deeply respected
God’s very definition of intimacy transcends the physical act and emphasizes emotional knowing and an exchange of respect. Respect of others, and even of ourselves, requires self-control. This is one, though not the only, reason that our lives must be characterized by self-control.
This self-control begins with the delicate power of modesty. However, many times the teachings on modesty are not consistent with the intentions of the Bible, and shrouded with misinformation. Here are four lies to be aware of and avoid when talking about modesty.
Lie #1: The modesty movement forbids the expression of feminine beauty.
In some Christian settings, women might as well wear burqas. In those settings where the female body is hidden in shame, men seem uncomfortable. I do not find this same sense of discomfort in environments where women demonstrate a healthy expression of their feminine beauty.
A healthy message of modesty can allow—and in fact, encourage—women to celebrate their beauty.
TRUTH: We must teach women to celebrate their beauty while we teach them the self-control of modesty.
Lie #2: Modesty is a form of misogyny.
This myth is an example of how Christian culture is formed more by secular lines of thinking than by biblical truth. Third-wave feminism has posited the thought that teaching purity and modesty is a form of misogyny BECAUSE it is largely directed at women. This isa feminist dogma. It is Scripture that should be informing the Christian conversation on sexuality, modesty, purity, and even how we respond to sex crimes; not the leading voices of third-wave feminism.
There’s nothing wrong with teaching Christian young women that God wants nothing they wear to distract from the good works they do and the great minds God’s given to them so that they can be respected. In fact, from a biblical perspective it’s very right. AND . . . God directs the teaching at women. That’s why we do.
TRUTH: Teaching on modesty is primarily addressed to women in the Scriptures, and that is why we teach it primarily to women . . . and because we’re just so much darn cuter than men.
Lie #3: Men are off the hook.
Are men off the hook? Does teaching modesty say: “If women dress modestly, men will not lust”? No. Lust is the responsibility of men themselves. Period. Women could all dress in burlap sacks, and if a man is training himself to think of them as sexual objects, he will. Here is some modesty for men:
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Matthew 5:28 (ESV)
Guys are responsible for how they look at their Christian sisters . . . and any other women.
A woman who is unaware of the Scriptures on modesty should be able to walk around wearing anything and still find herself PROTECTED by an army of godly men who have been feasting on the Word of God so faithfully that they are willing to give themselves up for her.
Instead of “What can I get out of her?” A godly man will say, “What of myself can I give to protect her?”
Truth: Men are not off the hook and must train themselves to THINK modestly in a culture that is not.
Lie #4: Modesty is about clothes.
I realize that all too many books on modesty & purity risk suggesting that if you’re just a good Christian girl who wears her chastity belt and a silver ring on her left index finger, your prince charming will come. Without even realizing it, you might make a deal with God: I’ll give my heart to You, and You send a husband my way. But RESPECT FOR GOD, not a guy, is the goal. The point of modesty and purity is not to showcase yourself for a godly guy, but to showcase GOD to the world! Look at this verse.
“I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothing. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NLT)
This verse is primarily about the good things we do, not the clothes we wear. Like driving a friend to a job interview or helping mentor a tween. Or baking cookies for your family, or fighting sex trafficking by raising money. These things make God known. They say, “look at God!”
But the verse DOES mention clothes, doesn’t it? Because God doesn’t want your super-tight skinny jeans that look painted on to distract others from seeing the good works you’re wearing!
The greatest sin of immodesty is not how short your skirt is.
TRUTH: The greatest sin of immodesty is that we’re saying “look at me” instead of “look at God.”