By Rebecca Grace
| AFA Journal Staff Writer
The fashion world would like to introduce Americas new top
model Miss Modesty. With her grace and elegance, she glides
down the runway with an appearance that silently screams "skin
is no longer in!"
But who is this Miss Modesty, so named by a fashion editor at Seventeen
According to Atoosa Rubenstein, editor-in-chief of Seventeen
"Americas most-read young womens magazine,"
consumers can expect to see a definite change in the 2004 fall fashions.
"Basically, its really interesting because for the past
few years what has constituted trendy and edgy has been either very
punk or very sexy," Rubenstein explained. "I think there
is a new trendy and that trendy is modesty."
I dont want to send the signal that
these girls want to dress in potato sacks. They want to be stylish,"
The expected shift to a more conservative style is evident in this
seasons lower hemlines and higher waistlines found on clothing
sewn from materials such as tweed, corduroy, plaid, argyle and knit
accented with demure details such as bows. In addition, the blazer
is expected to be a staple.
Maybe a girls skirt is short but she will be
wearing a blazer on top of it and flats. So there is a little more
balance [of modesty]," Rubenstein added.
While the secular worlds move toward modesty is a step
in the right direction, it is important for Christians to measure
such balance against Gods standard of modesty as set forth
in Ephesians 5:3 that states: "But among you there must not
be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity,
or of greed, because these are improper for Gods holy people."
"I was reciting that verse because I was working on memorizing
it and that phrase, not even a hint, really jumped out
at me," said Joshua Harris, executive pastor of Covenant Life
Church near Washington, D.C. "Its a statement of how
high Gods standard is for us." (Click here for a review
of Harris, click here.
"Im grateful if there [really] is a modesty trend. I
would encourage it
. But the root problem in peoples
lives is that theyre cut off from God. They dont have
a relationship with Him," Harris said. "When I put myself
in the shoes of secular people, how long lasting could a modesty
trend really be?"
Rubenstein believes the modesty movement is not just a fashion
trend but a cultural shift that is showing its face in fashion.
"If it werent for Britney Spears, if it werent
for that culture of very sexualized fashion and music videos, I
dont know that we would be here right now in terms of the
modesty trend," she explained.
"If our culture shifts towards modesty because there is kind
of a backlash from the whole Britney/Janet kind of reaction, thats
great," Harris said. ". . . but I think that the cultural
shift apart from heart change through the Gospel will be short lived,"
A heart condition
"We cant let the culture war become more important than
the Gospel going forward or to think that just because modesty is
real popular right now that real heart change has taken place,"
After all, "The lack of modesty in churches is just a reflection
of whats true across the board that theres just a lot
of worldliness in the church today and were not that different
from our culture," Harris added. "The church really dresses
like the world and that should be to our shame. That should motivate
us to want to change."
In an attempt to cultivate such a change within his own church,
Harris and the pastoral staff speak to the issue of modesty without
being legalistic. They also have a modesty checklist available and
they attempt to create an environment conducive for women to discuss
issues of modesty.
"Go to godly ladies that you know who dress modestly and be
humble and invite them into this part of your life," Harris
suggested. "I think a big part of modesty is humility
to recognize that you need help from others
. Modesty is a
posture of the heart."
A battle worth fighting
"The statistics clearly tell us that this is a battle worth
fighting," said Dannah Gresh, co-founder of Pure Freedom, a
ministry dedicated to "equipping men and women of all ages
to live vibrant lives of purity." Gresh said a 2000 study released
by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health "revealed the top
five factors that place a teen at risk of early sexual activity."
One of the five contributing factors is the appearance of a girl
to be older than her actual age.
"How does a young girl appear older but by the way she dresses
and presents herself?" Gresh added.
For Tami Young and her 10-year-old daughter Kara, modesty has been
a recent topic of conversation.
"Our children and our daughters are one of the most precious
gifts God has given us. Our responsibility is to train them up as
Christian mothers to be godly and teach them how to feel good about
themselves and who they are as godly women," Young explained.
"Its good for a girl to want to look attractive and
to be pretty . . . [therefore] I dont equate immodesty with
dressing in a stylish way," Harris added.
In other words, there is a way to be stylish without being immodest.
"My mom and dad have a rule the pants [meaning shorts]
cant be way up here," Kara said while pointing to her
upper thigh. "I also cant wear pants that have writing
on the back."
At this young age, Kara desires to follow her parents rules
"so when I get older and stuff, I wont be showing things
and giving all the attention to my body."
When seeing others dressed immodestly, Kara said, "I dont
think of them as being a Christian. I think of them wanting to be
cool and only thinking about themselves."
The way a girl thinks about
herself, better known as self-image, is an important aspect of modesty
as pointed out by Kara and elaborated on by Michael Pritchard, a
25-year-old graduate student seeking a masters degree in business
"First of all, I think modesty isnt
just shown on the outside, but it starts on the inside. [Its]
someone who has enough respect for themselves that theyre
not so cognizant of how they dress because they are confident in
themselves, period," Pritchard said. "So, if a girl is
dressing immodestly [and] showing a lot of skin, to me, I think
it shows that she is not confident in herself."
"Being a guy, the first thing I notice
is how the girl looks. Thats just how Im wired and thats
what happens," Pritchard said.
However, thanks to a spiritual grounding and
a Christian upbringing, Pritchard realizes he must not dwell on
what is enticing to the eyes.
"Do I always succeed with that thought?
No, I dont. Its very difficult sometimes, but one thing
that I do try to remember is that by thinking those thoughts you
are not respecting the other person, and youre hurting yourself,"
Since mans eyes are a potent source of
his thoughts, this does not give women the permission to disregard
the way they dress by blaming it on men and their inability to look
the other way.
"Lust is craving sexually what God has
forbidden. One of the motives behind modesty is to cover your body
in such a way so that others are not tempted to want what isnt
theirs," Harris said.
"So immodesty is basically using lust to
market yourself, in a sense," Harris added. "The enemy
is not our sexuality. Its lust.
We can give thanks
for our sexuality."
"It is the precious gift God has given
to women to woo their husbands and create romance. Men in the Victorian
era didnt write love notes, sing serenades and court young
women because it was more fun than the casual sex movement of today.
They did it because the virtue and modesty of the women required
men to earn their hearts!" Gresh explained.
"So modesty for Christians, shouldnt
be primarily about style or fashion or even just the standards of
people around them. It should start with a desire to be holy
to be set apart for God, for His glory," Harris said.
"Holiness is the seed from which modesty
grows," Gresh explained. "Without planting that seed were
just hitting kids over the head with rules. We [Pure Freedom] love
to teach them why God desires holiness and purity. Out of that a
passion for modesty and discretion is natural."
So who is this new Miss Modesty? She should
be a young girl whose outward appearance mirrors the inward desires
of her heart, as she glides with elegance down the hallways of schools,
aisles of churches, and avenues of life.
The Delicate Power of Modesty by Dannah Gresh
Girl: 8 Great Dates for You and Your Daughter by Dannah Gresh
Not Even a
Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust by Joshua Harris