Without ever lifting a brush you paint a picture of yourself with the clothes you wear and the demeanor you project. What picture of yourself are you painting?
According to the fashion industry, less is more – way less. Low-rider jeans, midriff revealing shirts and bra tops are everywhere, leaving us to wonder is modesty in fashion at all? Is it possible to dress fashionably and modestly?
In her book, What Guys See that Girls Don’t, author Sharon Daugherty discusses why modesty and fashion are important issues, especially for Christians. With Scripture as her basis, she speaks frankly to young women about the impact their dress and behavior has on the opposite sex.
The author recently discussed her book.
What is the term ANS that you refer to in the book, and how does it relate to this issue of modesty and dress?
The ANS is the Automatic Nervous System. It controls many organs and muscles in the body. It is involuntary and acts in reflex to our environment. A person has no control over the ANS because it functions involuntarily. For example, when someone experiences sudden fear, the ANS reacts immediately without a person thinking about it and their heart rate increases and they may break out in a cold sweat. They didn’t decide to make their heart rate increase or break out in a cold sweat. It just happened.
Guys and girls are made up differently. The ANS in a guy is connected to his sexual system. A guy can be walking down a hallway when suddenly around a corner a girl is bending over showing the top of her thong as it rises above her low-rise jeans. Then she stands up and her breast cleavage shows under the tight blouse she’s wearing. Immediately, the ANS in a guy causes his heart rate to increase, his hands to break out in a cold sweat, his body to break out in a cold sweat, and he has to make a decision. Does he look another way and get control of his thoughts, or does he keep looking and let his imaginations go wild? Most girls think that just because they don’t have a problem looking at a guy with no shirt on that a guy should be able to control himself and not have a problem if they want to show their body. Guys are turned on by sight.
Is it possible for girls/women to dress modestly and be fashionable at the same time?
Sure, it’s possible to be fashionable and modest at the same time. You have to choose to select cute clothes that still cover up the body parts that need to stay undercover. Sometimes you have to buy a size bigger or have something altered at the seamstress.
This issue of modesty and dress really goes deeper than just a fashion statement. You tie it to hedonism and a greater change in our society that is taking place. Please share what you have seen.
Hedonism says “Whatever feels good do it.” It is an attitude of being free to do whatever you want to do and not feeling responsible for anyone else’s feelings. It actually is selfish and doesn’t consider how it could cause a brother to stumble. Another mindset of our society today is the post-modern mindset which doesn’t believe there is any absolute truth or absolute morals. Post-modernism believes truth is always changing and people have to keep searching for it. They believe everyone determines their own moral values by experience and no one can say someone else is wrong or right because they didn’t believe like them. They believe everyone’s values and beliefs are equally right. They don’t believe the Bible is the absolute truth so they reject the absolute morality that the Bible teaches. This is why some people would have a problem with modesty because they don’t accept the Bible’s moral boundaries. They want to cast off all restraint and boundaries to live their lives the way they want to. The problem is, if a Christian lives with this attitude, they will cause others to stumble and will even bring great heartache and pain to their own lives.
You talk about the process of being changed. If someone is listening who realizes that they need to change how they have been dressing what steps do they need to make other than just changing their dress?
Change starts within the heart. The first step is surrendering your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ not only died on the cross to save you from going to hell, cleansed you from sin, and destroyed Satan’s power over your life, but He also saved you to come alive inside of your heart and set up His Kingdom and rule in your life.
Once you surrender, then He has the ability to speak to you in your thoughts and you’re open to listen to Him. Without surrendering your will to Him, the Bible’s teaching on modesty might just sound legalistic. You’ll find that you have to keep yourself in an attitude of surrender to the voice of the Holy Spirit because each of us has a strong will that has to be submitted to His lordship.
Once you surrender, then begin to read God’s Word daily. As you read God’s Word, it will read you. In other words, it will talk to you in your thoughts. You’ll begin to bring your life into submission to the way God thinks instead of living by your own feelings and thoughts. Romans 12:2 says as we renew our minds by putting God’s Word into our lives, we will not be conformed to the world’s way of thinking, but we will be transformed in our thinking to think the way God thinks.
In your book you refer to the “love test” which is a key element for someone to take to determine are they really dressing in a way that is pleasing to God. What is that test?
Jesus said that the greatest of all the commandments that God has given to us as Christians is 1) to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds and all our strength and, 2) to love others as much as we love ourselves. He said all the other commandments from God stem from these two commandments, and if you keep these two commandments you are obeying all the others (Matthew 22:37-40;Mark 12:30,31). If we keep the law of love, we’ll keep all other commandments (Romans 13: 8-10). When you love God passionately, you want to please Him and bring honor with every area of your life. You think about whether you would grieve Him or glorify Him by something you do or something you wear. You also think about how you come across or relate to others. You understand that others are affected positively or negatively by your life. You love your brother enough not to want to cause him to stumble and sin by the way you dress. You understand that he has to manage his thought life and keep it pure, so what you wear could help or hinder him from a pure thought life. Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 speak to us about not using our freedom to hurt our brother’s weak conscience. The love of God wants to do everything it can to help others grow in their relationship with Jesus and not cause them to fall from their commitment to know Him.
The love test helps us examine our motives. “Motive” is the reason behind what we do or say. Is my motive for how I am dressing pure, or is it based on a lust to be lusted for?
When your motive is pure, you place a self-restraint on what you wear, what you say, where you go, etc. Purity in motive affects everything in your life.
Love accepts responsibility for others and considers their walk with God. The law of love, of course, is based on surrender of our wills to his convictions and leading.