2006 at 9:57 am | by Kristin Chesemore
Biblical Womanhood Modesty
Last week, we began our series from 1 Timothy 2:9-10 by considering the attitude behind the clothes we wear. Fashion that honors God comes from a heart of “modesty and self-control,” and modesty is humility expressed in dress.
As for the appearance of the modest woman, we learned that she is to “adorn [herself] with respectable apparel.” Not that it is wrong to look attractive! We learned that the essence of our desire to beautify actually comes from God. However, seductive, ostentatious dress is dishonoring to our Savior.
Today, we continue to focus on the appearance of the modest woman and one reason why it is so significant: it protects our brothers in Christ from temptation and sin. As my sister Nicole wrote in the book Girl Talk,
“Women are sometimes ignorant of the effect of their bodies on the eyes and hearts of men. But, for the most part, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that we know exactly what we’re doing. We enjoy the attention of guys. As a pastor-friend of ours once remarked, ‘Guys lust and girls want to be lusted after.’”
To instruct all those who might be ignorant, and to remind the rest of us, I want you to hear from the guys themselves. Here are two young men sharing their struggle with lust. Let’s call them “Kevin” and “Jack.” I know they speak for the majority of godly men today.
“Each and every day is a battle—a battle against my sin, a battle against temptation, a battle against my depraved mind. Every morning I have to cry out for mercy, strength, and a renewed conviction to flee youthful lusts. The Spirit is faithful to bring me the renewal I need to prepare me to do war against my sin, yet the temptation still exists.
Sometimes, when I see a girl provocatively dressed, I’ll say to myself, ‘She probably doesn’t know that a hundred and one guys are going to devour her in their minds today. But then again, maybe she does.’ To be honest, I don’t know the truth—the truth of why she chooses to dress the way she does. All I know is that the way she presents herself to the world is bait for my sinful mind to latch onto and I need to avoid it at all costs.
For the most part, the church serves as a sanctuary from the continual barrage of temptation towards sin. However, the church’s members are not free from sin yet, and there are girls both ignorant and knowledgeable of men’s sinful tendencies. I must confess that even church can have several mines scattered about.”
“The one place where I might think I wouldn’t have to face as much temptation is at church, but this is not always the case. When ladies whom I’m friends with dress immodestly, it definitely has a negative effect on our friendship. When a woman dresses immodestly it makes it difficult to see her as a sister in Christ. There is a constant battle going on as I’m talking with her. Communication becomes more difficult as I’m trying to listen to her, because I’m trying to fight temptation.”
Here’s what these young men say about women who do dress modestly. Hear the appreciation in their words:
“I am so grateful for the friendships that God has given me with the ladies in my church. I am so appreciative of the sacrifices that these ladies make to glorify God and to serve and care for the guys. I heard of one girl who went shopping and really liked the shirt she was trying on. But then she thought, ‘No, I can’t do this to the guys.’ That was the first time I had ever heard of anything like that and it made me so grateful. It is such a blessing to have friends who care for me enough to be selfless and sacrifice what might look attractive in order to help me and other guys with sexual lust. When ladies dress modestly, it’s attractive and makes me want to hang out with them more. I think modesty is so attractive in friendships because it makes it easier for a friendship to be centered around God and for fellowship to be unhindered.”
“To the girls who don’t follow the pattern of the world: thank you a million times over. You are following Scripture’s commands and helping your brothers in the process. Despite all that godly men are doing to defeat the sin of lust, they still need help, and they need you to provide it.”
The appeals of these young men striving for holiness pierce my heart in a unique way. Perhaps it’s because I’m the mother of three young boys—boys who will become men someday and will undoubtedly face the same temptation to lust.
So, ladies, let’s take to heart the temptations and pleas for help from Jack and Kevin—to serve the men today, and the young boys who will become men tomorrow.
2006 at 6:17 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
One of the many things I love about my friend Kimm from Philly, is that she always makes me laugh. During my recent busy season she sent me the following video clip with this email: “Here—this is my treat to you….cause you are workin’ sa hard.” I hope it makes you laugh as hard as it did me!
Much more on Fashion and Following the Savior next week!
for Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
2006 at 11:10 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Modesty
In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul insists that the women “adorn themselves with respectable apparel” and not with gold, pearls or braids. Yesterday, we learned that he was not forbidding stylish clothing or banning jewelry. So what was Paul getting at?
To the women of this first century church, Paul writes to warn them against imitating the dress and adornment of the ladies of the Roman court and the prostitutes. These women were known for their extremely expensive, showy clothes and ridiculously elaborate hairstyles. They dressed, not only to attract attention, but to seduce as well. Paul does not want the women of the church to dress in this manner and thus be a distraction during the church service, or at any other time.
What he is condemning is not attractive attire, but the association with worldly and ungodly values. Women who profess godliness, he says, should not dress in such a way that resembles those who are extravagant, or worse, intent on being seductive or sexy. Simply put, we are not to identify with our sinful, worldly culture through our dress.
So, the question for us is this: Who are we seeking to imitate or be like in our dress? Who inspires our wardrobe? Are we preoccupied with looking like the latest American Idol winner or the actresses and music stars on magazine covers, or the immodest woman next door?
A while back, I saw a few minutes of one of the innumerable makeover stories on television (I’m surprised we haven’t all been “made over” by now!). Two women were going to receive a new look. One of them wanted to look exactly like Jennifer Anniston, and the other like Jennifer Garner as I recall. These two ladies (who, I’m sorry to say, didn’t look a bit like the actresses they so admired) were just gushing about how much they admired everything about these glamorous stars—their style, their way of walking, their clothing, their hair. It might have been comical if it wasn’t so sad.
Most of us are not trying to look exactly like a famous actress—we know it’s a lost cause! However, if we are seeking to imitate the sexually enticing clothing of the women in our culture, we are no different than these two wannabes. That is why Paul’s message is urgent—not just for the original recipients of his letter, but for us today. He doesn’t want the women in the church looking exactly like the ungodly, seductive women in the world.
Women in the church are to be different from the world. We should be stand-outs—not because of our revealing clothing, but because of our distinctly modest heart and dress.
More discussion of 1 Timothy 2:9-10 coming your way next week!
2006 at 10:40 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Modesty
Now that we’ve established that modesty begins in the heart, it’s time to consider what it means for our wardrobe. What’s a modest girl to wear? Once again, let’s turn to our 1 Timothy 2:9 passage. Here Paul instructs the women to clothe themselves in “respectable apparel.”
Now let me set your mind at ease. Adorning ourselves in “respectable apparel” doesn’t mean we must restrict ourselves exclusively to cheap, out of style, unattractive clothing. Paul is not saying that gold or pearls or braiding are forbidden. In fact, you will find other places in Scripture where godly women wore fine clothing and jewelry.
For example, the Proverbs 31 woman – who is put forth in the Bible as a model for biblical womanhood – wore colorful, high-quality clothing (Pr. 31:22). We read where the bride in Song of Solomon adorned her appearance with jewelry (S of S 1:10). We are told that Esther underwent 12 months of beauty treatments – 6 months with oil of myrrh and 6 with perfumes and cosmetics (Es. 2:12).
So we are not to take this verse to mean that godly women should try as hard as they can to be out of style and unattractive. No! Quite the opposite. God is the creator of beauty. God delights in beauty. All we need to verify this fact is to consider the beauty He created all around us: whether it is an elegant flower, or towering trees, or a meandering river, or billowy clouds or the majestic night sky. Every time we stop to take in one of these breathtaking scenes on display in God’s creation, we can’t help but be convinced that He delights in beauty!
And because we are created in the image of our Creator, each of us has this propensity to make things beautiful. That means, when we decorate our homes, or plant a lovely flower garden, or seek to add some form of beauty to our surroundings, even when we attempt to enhance our personal appearance – we are actually imitating and delighting in the works of our Great Creator.
Now granted, these activities can be sinfully implemented; but still, we must not overlook the fact that the essence of our desire to beautify comes from God. John Angell James in his book, Female Piety (first published in 1860), offers this helpful thought:
This taste [for beauty], however in many cases it may be altogether corrupted in its object, wrong in its principle, or excessive in its degree, is in its own nature an imitation of the workmanship of God, who, “by his Spirit has garnished the heavens,” and covered the earth with beauty.
Now hopefully we have convincing proof that our desire to enhance our appearance isn’t wrong, that “respectable apparel” does not have to be dowdy or out of style. So what exactly does Paul mean by “respectable apparel”? We’ll consider the answer to that question as our series continues.
2006 at 6:20 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Numbers of you are writing in with questions on the topic of modesty. Rather than using our normal Wednesday Q & A format to attempt to answer these questions, we hope to address them along the way in this series. So hang tight and keep reading!
2006 at 11:44 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Modesty
Thanks everyone, for sticking with us on this very important topic of modesty. In a world where modesty is anything but popular, your eagerness to please God by your dress testifies to His work of grace in your heart.
Please know that this series isn’t about imposing some kind of girltalk clothing standard. It’s about applying God’s standard and wisdom to the area of our dress. Ultimately, as Janelle said, it’s about our hearts; for, a modest heart comes before modest dress.
You see, immodest dress is more than simply wearing skimpy clothing. Often, it’s an expression of pride, the opposite of humility. Simply put, immodest clothes are pride on display. In his book Humility: True Greatness, my dad explains that “The proud person seeks to glorify himself and not God, thereby attempting in effect to deprive God of something only He is worthy to receive.”
In other words, the immodest girl seeks to dress in a way that draws attention to herself and to her body, instead of serving others and bringing glory to the Savior.
How can we know if pride is our fashion style of choice? By considering our motives: why we wear what we wear. Here are three arrogant desires that can often motivate the way we dress. I know, because I’m familiar with all of them.
1. A desire to be selfish.
I simply don’t want to invest the time and effort required to find modest clothing. I mean, let’s face it—it’s not easy to be modest these days! I have to try on three times as many pairs of jeans as the girl who isn’t concerned about modesty. I might as well go on an archeological dig—it’s that hard to find a stylish, attractive shirt or dress that’s modest. Not to mention that I have to leave hanging on the rack many things that I think would look really great on me! However, when I grumble and complain or make excuses for immodesty, I’m putting my selfish desires above serving others and glorifying Christ. That’s pride.
2. A desire to show off.
I want people to think I’m trendy. I want them to include me because of how I dress. I worry they’ll reject me if I don’t dress a certain way. This is a common temptation. But really, it’s just another campaign for my own glory. I want the attention from others that I should be directing to God instead.
3. A desire to seduce.
This is the most serious of the three. While many women who choose immodest clothing aren’t literally trying to seduce a guy, in it’s infancy, there can be a desire for that lustful attention. We want to feel attractive and desirable. However, this is sinful, and a particularly virulent form of pride. It’s says: I’m worthy of the kind of attention that’s forbidden in God’s Word. It tempts men to sin against God’s holiness.
If these three proud desires—to be selfish, show off and seduce—are lurking in our hearts, we must first admit to the ugly truth. Then we must repent and receive the forgiveness that comes only through Christ. And we must purpose to put on humility—first in our hearts, and then in our dress. For if immodesty is an expression of pride, then modesty is humility expressed in dress.
So how about you? Are you wearing humility today?
“[Do not dress] from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:3-5
2006 at 12:53 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood Modesty
Time to dive into our little series on modesty. Just a small disclaimer before we begin—some of the content that we will be presenting this week is adapted from a message by my dad entitled “The Soul of Modesty.” He has kindly agreed to let us steal his material and give it a little girltalk twist. Thanks, Dad!
We are gonna hang out on three main points:
? The attitude of a modest woman
? The appearance of a modest woman
? The allegiance of a modest woman
Soon after Caly was born, I packed away all of my maternity clothes and eagerly dug out my “regular” clothes. I was excited. I thought it would feel like shopping, but without spending any money. When I pulled out my storage bags from under the bed, however, there wasn’t much there. What happened to all of my clothes? What was I wearing before I got pregnant? I still haven’t figured that one out. Anyway, I’m currently borrowing a pair of jeans from my mom and planning a little “wardrobe rebuilding” trip soon.
But before my trip to the mall, something far more important must take place. I must first evaluate my heart. My dad says it this way, “Any biblical discussion of modesty begins by addressing the heart, not the hemline.” So what is this heart we’re supposed to have? 1 Timothy 2:9-10 makes it clear. It says that “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” These two qualities are to inform the way that I dress. Let’s check out these definitions.
Modesty—“Propriety: The avoidance of clothing and adornment that is extravagant, showy, and sexually enticing.”
Self Control—“Restraint, moderation for the purpose of purity.”
Maybe modesty is a word you don’t really want to think about. Perhaps you’ve had a vague idea that it means “ugly” or “out of style.” It may not have occurred to you that God has something to say about the clothes you wear.
As do all Scriptural commands, this command to modesty and self-control has broader implications than merely externals, what we wear. It goes right to the heart of WHY we wear what we wear. Our clothes, whether we realize it or not, say something. They give us away. They reveal the heart behind the clothes we wear. A modest heart comes before modest dress.
So what do your clothes say about your heart? What would we discover if we met your closet before we met you? Do your clothes reveal a heart of modesty and self-control? If you are not sure, check back tomorrow when we will take a look at what a modest heart is not.
2006 at 4:00 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
What is the gospel? It’s the most important question for a Christian to answer, and yet, ashamedly, we often stumble over a concise response. I like how one pastor taught his children—one word for every finger on their hand: Christ Died For Our Sins. Steve and I have taught Jack, so he can answer the question, even though he doesn’t yet understand its significance (Oh, Lord, may you grant him illumination soon!).
Over at the Together for the Gospel Blog my dad provides a more comprehensive definition of the gospel. He also explains why it is vital for each of us to keep a firm hold on its truth. Every day, we are in danger of misrepresenting, minimizing or marginalizing the gospel. (A sinful tendency I recently became conscious of myself.) In point #3 on personal application, Dad explains how to avoid this trap.
So what is the gospel? Write down your answer and then read Dad’s post. Even if you know the right words to say (like my three year old son) let your heart be freshly affected by their truth.
2006 at 12:10 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Modesty
It’s that time of year again. The fashion magazines are touting the newest and hottest clothing trends for spring and summer. And because fashion is so fickle, a woman is sure to find that what was popular last season, must not see the light of day this season. But more than just the latest style, spring and summer (in particular) usher in a vast array of immodest and indecent clothing. Thus the racks and shelves at the nearest mall are crammed full of body-revealing attire.
So, what’s a Christian woman to do?
We must consult God’s Word rather than the fashion magazines. We must take God with us when we go shopping. And what’s interesting—and freeing, I might add—is that God’s clothing style for women doesn’t change from season to season. He presents his fashion standard to us in 1 Timothy 2:9-10:
Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
Over the next few days we will be talking about this verse and what it means for our 2006 spring and summer wardrobes. We hope you will join us for this discussion: Fashion and Following the Savior.
2006 at 9:11 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
Karen from Abingdon, MD has further proof that boys are different than girls (as if we needed any!).
My 9-year-old son was complaining because his 15-year-old sister always has "private" conversations with me. Being 15 and the only girl, she always has something she wants to share only with her mom. So yesterday the whole family was together in the living room and my daughter whispered to me that she needed to speak to me privately. We got up and "went to the big bed." We always shut the door and stretch out on my bed and talk. When we came back he said, "I never get to have private talks with you." I told him that any time he wanted to have a private conversation with dad or me, he just had to ask. About an hour later he came to me, whispered in my ear that he had to speak to me privately. We got up, and went to the big bed. I shut the door, we stretched out, and he looked me right in the eye and said: "I really think we should have hotdogs for dinner tomorrow night."
May you have a grace filled weekend!
for Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
2006 at 6:08 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Biblical Womanhood Suffering
We hope you have benefited from the Suffering and the Sovereignty of God excerpts we’ve posted this week. A special thank you to Justin Taylor and Crossway Books for allowing us to share this material with you. Please take time to read through this final installment from David Powlison. I pray that those of you currently experiencing severe trial will find encouragement in his words…
“How does God meet you in trouble, loss, disability, and pain? You probably already know the ‘right answer’. He does not immediately intervene to make everything all better. Yet he continually intervenes, according to gracious purposes, working both in you and in what afflicts you….
How does God’s grace engage your sufferings? We may know the right answer. And yet we don’t know it. It is a hard answer. But we make it sound like a pat answer. God sets about a long slow answering. But we try to make it a quick fix. His answer insists on being lived out over time and into the particulars. We act as if just saying the right words makes it so. God’s answer insists on changing you into a different kind of person. But we act as if some truth, principle, strategy or perspective might simply be incorporated into who we already are. God personalizes his answer on hearts with an uncanny flexibility. But we turn it into a formula: “If you just believe____. If you just do____. If you just remember____.” No important truth ever contains the word ‘just’ in the punch line.
How does God’s grace meet you in your sufferings? We can make the right answer sound old hat, but I guarantee this: God will surprise you. He will make you stop. You will struggle. He will bring you up short. You will hurt. He will take his time. You will grow in faith and in love. He will deeply delight you. You will find the process harder than you ever imagined – and better. Goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life. No matter how many times you’ve heard it, no matter how long you’ve known it, no matter how well you can say it, God’s answer will come to mean something better than you could ever imagine.”
2006 at 12:57 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
These last 2 weeks have been a busy stretch for me. I have taught at 3 events – from Fairfax VA, to Charlotte NC, and then back again to Gaithersburg MD.
Even though public speaking is not my normal or primary job description, CJ and I agreed that these 3 teaching opportunities were right for me to do. And what a privilege it was to serve all the women who led and participated in these events! But for now, I have declined all speaking requests for the remainder of this year. Why? Because being at home – caring for my husband and family – is where God has called me and is where I love to be!
I can’t end this brief season though, without sending out a huge thank you and expressing my deep respect to the following women who made these events happen. My heartfelt thanks to:
• Lesley Mullery, Lisa Gallo, and Nicole Whitacre for the 3-part series: “Femininity: God’s Way in a Wrong Way World.”
• Jenny Detwiler and the conference staff for Encounter ’06.
• Carolyn McCulley for speaking at Encounter ’06.
• Shannon Harris, Valori Maresco, and Karin Layman for Titus2Tuesdays with the theme “7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman”
All of these women have a passion for biblical womanhood and have worked tirelessly to serve women of all ages by promoting a biblical understanding and application of femininity through these different venues.
We live in a culture that clearly does not prize the virtues that comprise biblical womanhood. And what’s even more challenging is that many in the church at large consider these virtues of little value and minimal relevance as well. So, it is for this reason I wanted to communicate my gratitude to the aforementioned women. Even though each of them already has a full schedule “living out” biblical womanhood, they have sacrificially taken on even more responsibility to create contexts whereby many can be encouraged to embrace God’s high calling to us as women.
And finally, thank you to all who prayed for me. I’m convinced that your kindness helped carry me through!
2006 at 6:51 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood Suffering
Mark Talbot, another contributor to Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, considers, “All the Good that is Ours in Christ: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do To Us.” Ponder the following thoughts and listen to his message.
“Paul reports afflictions so severe that he and those with him ‘despaired of life itself’ (2 Cor. 1:8; see vv. 8-11). Many of us have tasted such grief. I have known afflictions much worse than my paralyzing accident. I have had seasons of perplexity about God’s providence that have been so deep that sleep has fled from me. Yet these griefs have been God’s gifts. For only by such severe suffering has my loving Father broken me free of some of my deeper idolatries. In the nights’ watches, while others sleep, my wakeful heart must find its rest in him or it will find no rest at all.
‘Be gracious to me, O God,’ David prayed when the Philistines seized him at Gath, ‘for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid,’ he states,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
‘All day long,’ David continues, ‘they twist my words;’
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife; they lurk;
they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life. (Ps. 56:1-6)
But God, David knows, has kept count of his nightly tossings; he has numbered his futile wanderings; he has kept track of all of David’s sorrows. He has put David’s tears in a bottle and written all of his anguish in his book. And David knows that the God who cares for him that much will never abandon him. ‘This I know,’ he declares, ‘that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ (Ps. 56:9b-11; my emphasis). David knows that God will keep his feet from sliding so that he may still walk before God ‘in the light of life’ (Ps. 56:13).”
2006 at 12:59 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Since last week’s Q&A discussion on the ending of a courtship, I have had a few conversations that were too good not to post.
Both were with moms who had daughters involved in relationships. The first mom had just walked her daughter through ending her relationship. As I inquired about how they were doing, she expressed gratitude for how the young man responded to her daughter in this decision. He told her that their courtship had been nothing but a success. Why? Because they had both grown in godliness. This young man had the wisdom and foresight to see that a successful relationship is not one that necessarily ends in marriage, but one where the couple grows in faith and love for the Savior.
The second mom has a daughter who is two weeks into her courtship. Everything is new and unknown. This mom told me that she and her husband were excited about this relationship because of what the Lord is doing in the hearts of their daughter and this young man in the process.
These moms see something much more significant than a relationship. They observe God at work in the hearts of their daughters. They are grateful that their daughters are growing in godliness. This is an eternal and God-honoring perspective.
So, whether you are presently exploring marriage or have recently ended a courtship, may this biblical view of relationships permeate your thinking and fill your heart with faith.
2006 at 4:34 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Hey y’all, small confession. I was supposed to be working on a Q&A post for this afternoon, but a little gabbing got in the way. That’s right, there was some serious "girl talk" going on today. My mom has been quite busy with traveling and speaking lately and she just finished last night. So, this afternoon, we (Mom, Nicole, Kristin, and I) squeezed in lunch during the kid’s nap. And consequently, the post got squeezed out. You should see a Q&A post appear sometime tomorrow morningish.