It’s hot again. It’s not even May and it’s hot. And since I now reside in Louisiana the humidity adds a whole other level of discomfort. Plus, I’m pregnant so there’s that too.
The reason I bring up these facts isn’t (entirely) to make my complaints known to the world, but because warm weather means warm weather clothes means warm weather clothing choices. This isn’t an area I talk about too much. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it. I rarely teach about it. Not because I don’t think it’s important, but because there’s a lot out there and I’m hesitant to add my voice to such a divisive fray. While I don’t think there’s much to say that hasn’t been said before, my concern is that all sides involve sometimes accidentally tend to miss the point and often intentionally refuse to listen.
But here I go anyway with some thoughts to keep in mind as summer looms ever nearer:
Sometimes There Are No Set Rules
I have a stunningly gorgeous friend who’s nearly six foot tall and built like a supermodel – crazy thin and ridiculously leggy and all of that winning the genetic lottery business. I have an equally gorgeous friend who is much closer to the five foot mark and has incredible killer curves that many girls would love to have. If I were to make rules that both of them had to follow, I just don’t think I could do it. We’re all built differently. A top that looks perfectly fine on one person can look nearly pornographic on another. There are obviously going to be some things that apply to everyone (Stop trying to make a Christian case for bikinis happen; it’s not going to happen), but there’s also no good in developing a strict set of rules that everyone has to follow all the time because it just won’t work. Be patient with each other. Be kind to one another. Before judging another Christian, take a step back to see if something actually looks inappropriate or if it just violates a one-size-fits-all set of rules you’ve created for the world to follow.
I am a creature of comfort, as my poor husband and his constantly plundered drawer of sweatpants can attest to. And will if you ask him. Trust me, I understand the desire to spend my life in as relaxed a state as possible. The biggest modesty-battle-clothing-items of our day (you know who you are) are generally presented by the pro crowd as being a necessity due to the level of comfort they provide. Some shorts and tops have to be worn because it’s just so hot. If I may: y’all are lying and we all know it. We all know it because we’ve all done it. Every girl, teen, and woman has put something on at one point and wondered if it was crossing some sort of line but just loved how it looked anyway. It’s hard to come across that one thing that makes you really enjoy your appearance and when you do, you want to justify it. We want to look trendy. We want to look attractive. We want to be noticed. It’s in our nature. That’s ok. Justifying things you know you shouldn’t be wearing so you can do it anyway isn’t ok.
Consider Your Impact
What you wear will impact how people see you. It will influence the thoughts of guys who see you, and probably not in the way you want. Definitely not always in the guy you want. No girl wants to be viewed as an object in the mind of a male. It happens though. There are good Christian guys out there who are desperately trying to view you the way they know they should. Help them out. Are their thoughts ultimately their responsibility? Sure. Will they be held accountable for how they view and treat women, especially sisters in Christ? Absolutely. Am I writing this to them? I’m really not.
The essence of Christianity is living sacrificially. Paul was willing to give up eating meat for the rest of his life to help his fellow Christians not stumble in their faith. When I see women of any age fighting for their right to wear what they want regardless of how it effects others because it’s their right…I just feel like they’ve missed the point. The world can make that argument. Christians can’t. We voluntarily gave up the right to put our desires first the moment we put Christ on in baptism. When we say we don’t care, in our words or by our actions, that’s a much bigger deal than we make it out to be.
Your Christianity isn’t, or shouldn’t, be defined by what you wear. When Paul and Peter write about modesty, they don’t mention short length or yoga pants. They’re talking about an attitude, a mentality that says “it’s not about me, look to Christ”. But if what you’re wearing is causing people to look at you instead, reconsider. If what you’re wearing causes people to pay more attention to your body than your faith, reconsider. If other Christians are pleading with you to make different choices because you’re causing them to stumble, reconsider. Your clothes are by no means the most important thing in your faith, but if they’re keeping you from being the example you could be to the world, then they become important.
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
(1 Peter 3:3-4)