|The fashionable "Burkini" popular with the religious of many faiths.|
It's getting to be that time of year again: When all the Christian bloggers begin posting articles about modesty. Now I'm probably going to get in trouble for this, and for my "click-bait" title, but I would like to put out an argument as to why not everyone should be dressing identically in order to follow Jesus.
|Big sweater, big shirt, big hair.|
My background was one that had crippled my self-confidence, identity and ability to walk with freedom in any way. This background revealed itself in the way I dressed: I dressed to hide.
|My fave jacket: XLarge camo.|
I grew up in the church and at the time, there was a prevalent attitude that young women must "dress appropriately so as not to cause their brothers in Christ to sin". There were still cautionary tale-tellers sharing about how to dress so as to prevent getting raped or being seen as a "slut" with the clothing you wore.
These ideas are garbage: they're not Biblical. Let's just get that out in the open here at the get-go, okay? My "brothers in Christ" are just as responsible for their actions as am I. How I dress does not make them less responsible for what they choose to do, in their thoughts or with their actions. We'll all stand before God alone. We won't get to say, "So and so made me sin". If it didn't work for Adam it won't work for others. Actually, one of the best quotes I've heard correcting this line of thought came from Jesse Duplantis, talking to a man who was complaining that the woman in front of him in service was wearing a sleeveless dress (shocker!). In a burst of truly God-inspired humor, Jesse responded, "Brother, if an armpit turns you on, you need deliverance!"
|A helpful scarf.|
And here's the thing with that Religious Spirit: you can never cover up enough for that bad boy. It wants to stick you in a cage and keep you there by any means possible: through shame about your body, through guilt about even being female. This is why some extreme religions end up covering their poor women from head to toe. That's no different than the calls for modesty in the Christian church. You cannot say this "rule" becomes right just because it is clothed in Christian trappings. If women are to become responsible for all of men's sexual darkness, I'm sorry, but you can never cover up enough to plug that pit.
When you ask God for things like that, which He actually wants for you, He'll do it. And part of leaving Shame behind was a sudden appreciation for who and how He had made me. And my body. A change started happening in the way I saw myself. And this translated into the clothing I wore.
"Hey, look at this! My arms aren't skinny and awkward: They're slender and graceful...and beautiful. I think I need to start wearing sleeveless shirts because I actually like my arms!"
"Well, who would have thought! I might not be the most full-figured of gals, but I can look good in a two piece. Fact is, a one piece bathing suit tends to flatten my bust, but a form-fitting two piece can accentuate my slim figure, rather than hide it!"
"All these years I could have fit into size 4 and size 6? What was I thinking? These capris are adorable!"
I remember being in a praise and worship service. I was deep in loving on God. I was belting out the worship as my soul sang along with the songs. My arms were raised. My eyes were on Jesus. Every ounce of me was involved. And...all of a sudden there was a tap on my shoulder.
"I think you should know, your bra strap is showing!" the woman behind me whispered, when I turned around to see who had invaded me and Jesus.
I'll admit, my first thought was shame. And then, I kicked that lie to the curb and thought, "You interrupted my worship of God to tell me my bra strap is showing? Who the hell cares?"
Now, of course, she did. She was offended by the fact that I was worshiping in a tank top in church. But my bra strap was not offending Jesus, so I told her, "Really, it's okay," smiled at her and turned around to continue my worship. There was no need to let that Religious Spirit stop me from worshiping God, which is what it wanted to do.
Funny thing is, there's a story in the Old Testament that parallels this experience exactly: when David was worshiping before the Ark of God and his (ex)wife, Michal was offended with how he was dressed as he worshiped. The Bible says Michal met David with some very outspoken scorn regarding what he was wearing (He was wearing a "linen ephod" which basically means, he was dancing in his short shorts): “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”
How religious she sounds. And David throws her contempt right back at her: “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!”
If there was one thing King David got, while living in the era where everyone was supposed to follow the Law, it was this: the heart is what matters--not the laws you supposedly follow.
So this modesty idea goes back to the heart and following "the spirit of the law". What is God okay with you wearing? You, personally. And, if you're married, then your spouse becomes a part of those decisions. My husband saved his eyes, his heart, and his body for me. In the words of Beyonce, (who I have never quoted on this blog before), he "put a ring on it". Therefore, he has some right and say in what he'd like me to wear.
But here's what I can do. For those same religious folk, who find my freedom to be greatly offensive, I am aware that this blog might be hard to stomach. I believe in following Scripture which says in 1st Corinthians 8:9 - "But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.".
For all of those with that weaker conscience mentioned above, I promise I will not wear my really short shorts to church. That's me being loving for your sake. Now, if the worship is really awesome and I am deeply involved with praising Jesus a lot, I may get a little crazy and show off a bra strap. But I will not choose in advance to wear my short shorts to church. Just for you. I promise.
Just don't follow me to the restaurant afterwards.