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Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

The Seductive Lie of Immodesty, and Re-Claiming Your Identity in Christ

The Seductive Lie of Immodesty and Re-Claiming Your Identity in Christ

This is not another article on Matthew 5:28, hem lengths, or the horrors of uncovered shoulders. Today I’m writing more as the concerned mother of a teenage girl than as a biblical counselor. I want to take an unflinching look with young people of both sexes at the reality behind immodest dress; the desire to be desired; and where it can lead.

Sixteen-year-old “Vanya” was raised in a Christian family. A former AWANA protégé, she is a superb student and overall good-girl. When she started high school and began social networking, however, she noticed “sexier” girls wearing the fashions her parents forbid. She became dissatisfied with her own looks, associating beauty with short, tight, and low-cut.

On Facebook, pictures of teen girls with cleavage and entire legs showing would receive hundreds of “Likes” within hours. When Vanya posted pictures of herself fully-clothed, few people would “Like” them. She began to change her style….subtly at first; then more openly. Her makeup became heavier; her shirts more revealing; her jeans tighter…until her parents confronted her. Was this “love of fashion,” as she claimed, or a desire for male attention—at any cost?

Her “mature” look attracted the attention of 28-year old family friend George. Texts and phone calls turned romantic, all behind the backs of Vanya’s parents. She snuck out of the house to meet the man—for a long walk in the woods. When caught, she tearfully confessed, “He was the only guy who I could really talk to! He understood me and cared about me…we were going to wait until I was 18 and then get married!”

By the grace of God, Vanya’s parents discovered and stopped the situation before anything more serious happened, but Vanya was devastated. Vanya was seeking emotional intimacy and George seemed to provide it. (Whether George was seeking easy sex is open to speculation, but 28-year-old men do not seek emotional intimacy with 16-year-old girls.) Despite being raised in church by believing parents, Vanya was deceived by the lie that dressing and acting seductively will secure the kind of approval (and intimacy) she longed for.

Like all Christian mothers, I want my daughters to dress in a way that reflects love for Jesus. (This is a real challenge when current fashion involves wearing one’s underwear on the outside.) Wanting to avoid ‘legalism,’ I’ve often said that if we have the Holy Spirit within us, guiding us in purity, it is not necessary to carry a tape measure into the dressing room. Attempting to give some Christian liberty backfired in the name of “fashion” and “fitting in.” This battle for purity is one of the biggest reasons American evangelicals choose to homeschool, a choice I respect. However, my husband and I have decided to fight the battle by preparing our children to be on the front lines—living in this world, and ultimately responsible for their own choices.

As a woman who has counseled, parented, and evangelized teenage girls for years (on two continents), I can say with certainty that sensuality is the most common reason teenage girls who profess faith sometimes fall away. In simple terms, when they ‘count the cost’ of following Christ, they decide purity is too high. Of course, few would confess bluntly to such a decision, but the reality plays out in their lives. In school; with their friends; online—being seen as “sexy” becomes more important than being seen as a daughter of the King.

The natural, God-given desire to be beautiful and loved has been perverted, a cross-cultural phenomenon to which Christian girls are not immune. A British friend wrote, “There needs to be more teaching for the young people on honouring God in all areas of their life. There are some girls who are expressing faith, yet still wearing short dresses, striking provocative poses.”

Girls as young as 13 post pictures of themselves in dresses that cover no more than towels, sporting the infamous “duckface” pout (is that supposed to be sexy?). The social-media gamble for attention is a double-edged sword. Girls compete with one another to be the most “attractive” (equating sex appeal with beauty); guys pay attention and encourage. The same girls then jealously destroy each other’s reputations.

We cannot blame the media or ‘the world’ for the lure of immodesty, or for the lie that it promises love. The blame lies in our own sin-deceived hearts. While the world offers an evil and corrupt moral code, there is no getting around the fact that each one of us is responsible before God for our own sin (Ezekiel 18).

Young ladies, you were created to glorify God. You are made in His image. Your true beauty, which comes from your union with Him, is of great worth to your Heavenly Father (1 Peter 3:4). Stop objectifying yourselves and live out your position in Christ. Young men who truly love you will care far more about your holiness than the shape of your legs.

Young Christian men, 1 Timothy 5:2 applies to you whether you are involved in ministry or not. I am not going to lecture you on the dangers of lust; your pastors have already done that. Rather, I appeal to you as an older sister in Christ and a mother. Your Christian sisters are looking to you for approval, and they are just that—your sisters. Every time you hang a poster, wear a T-shirt, or “Like” a picture of an immodestly-dressed woman, you are celebrating impurity. You are also sending young women a dangerous message— their worth lies primarily in being physically attractive.

Stop it!

Tell them you value their friendship; appreciate their intelligence; admire their devotion to Christ. See the beauty in their smiles and the joy in their eyes; not the size of their chests or the daringly-short skirt.

Glorifying immodesty is a symptom of a deeper problem—the belief that sensuality attracts love; which will lead to lasting satisfaction. It reveals a heart that screams “Look at me!” rather than “Look to Jesus.” Ankle-length skirts and denim jumpers do not eliminate the heart issue of impurity, but embracing the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” is a good place to start.

Join the Conversation

As an adult, how do you work with your own children or with youth in your church to help them to develop a Christ-centered life of purity?

This entry was posted in Approval-Seeking, Dating, Friendships, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Self-Control, Self-Esteem/Self-Image, Sexual Purity, Teens, Women/Wives and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 
  • Melinda

    Thank you. This is an area where Christian fathers and mothers have pretty much capitulated to the culture. It’s an area that seems to be taboo in discipleship, and whenever modesty is mentioned as being important for the sake of the gospel in this world, one is often accused of being legalistic. This is an area of our lives that needs a lot of community in order to combat the cultural norms and be creative in being modest. What most parents don’t realize it seems is that modesty begins when a girl is a baby. If a girl is dressed in short, tight, and skimpy up until she becomes a teen, there’s going to be a big conflict when she suddenly is no longer allowed to dress that way.When so much emphasis is placed on outward beauty and very little to none on inward beauty as a girl is growing up, it’s not likely it’s going to “take” as a teenager. We, as older women need to be stepping it up in our churches, as godly examples, in prayer, and in coming alongside younger mothers and girls to help them develop godly beauty to take the place of the worldly beauty that is in our faces on every front. We need to see being like Christ is better than being like the world, or our girls will not have the fortitude or faith to be different on the inside or outside.

    • marie1971

      Thank you, Melinda. I agree completely.

  • pnd3

    Having walked through this with my daughter, I really want to encourage healthy relationships betweens Dad’s and daughters. There is truth to the fact that the girls know what attracts, but they are more wanting to be affirmed, valued, and loved. A big component is going to come from Dad and a healthy loving relationship between Mom and Dad. Hard to find these days, but still attainable. Sometimes the missing element is Dad (and Mom) being honest with their little girl. I admit it was a very difficult conversations (because of the pressing culture), but I longed to protect her heart and so I gave her a little education on what guys can be like without throwing them all under the bus. And I still pursue and affirm her now. Let me be clear, I haven’t done it perfectly and my daughter still loves fashion which occasionally includes skirts shorter than I’d like, but she knows how proud I am of her and that she is safe to come to me or her mom. We don’t fall on our sword on every hill and we try to live by the adage “rules without relationships equal rebellion” (something we got from Josh McDowell). Our encouragement is, don’t faint, don’t give up, love unconditionally and affirm your daughters bright spots often. That will draw her to you.

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  • RJR Fan

    Home school children ARE “on the frontlines,” coming to terms with their vocations, those magical zones where the love of God and the love of man intersect in a personalized life assignment. An unremitting sense of godly purpose, a vector of destiny, is the locomotive that will pull the freight.

    If your children are being indoctrinated into the cult of Caesar, you’ve already conceded the battle for the next generation.

    • marie1971

      My 4 children (all of whom are honor roll students, but more importantly, walking with God) are being raised with an unrelentingly biblical worldview by parents who care. There is no better training ground than the public schools for developing biblical discernment, as well as critical thinking. Christian kids in the public schools, like ours, are not in a homogeneous environment of conservative evangelical Christians who all think like them, which does indeed put them on the front lines. Every day calls for discernment and judgement about how to be IN this world but not OF it. There are, indeed, many opportunities in which we as well as our kids may be salt and light, as my 17 years of parenting has proven.

      “Cult of Caesar”? “Conceding the battle”? Let’s take that assertion to its logical conclusion, shall we?

      Since secular education is the law of the land in most of the world (including many European Union nations), essentially that comments claims that ONLY homeschooling American evangelicals have any chance of raising Christ-honoring offspring. Neither time nor space permits me to address all the fallacious reasoning there, but I can assure you that MANY public school young people, all over the world, are growing up to love, honor and serve the Lord and His people. To claim otherwise is the height of arrogance. Raising our kids in a uniform environment where everyone holds to a Scriptural moral code and an infallible source of Truth, as we do, is not putting them on the front lines – it’s enclosing them in a utopic (although temporary) plastic bubble.

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  • jewitherspoon

    my children follow their god given intellects and listen to the way god speaks to their hearts as only he and they can understand, and they are taught to be moral decision makers, compassionate to all people and the environment, and to never stop questioning and seeking. this has resulted in wonderful, grace-filled people, of many denominations and paths.

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