by Carol DeMar
“Trendy but Tasteful” is the catch phrase national chairwoman Brenda Sharman uses to describe the philosophy behind Pure Fashion, a developmental program for young women in grades eight through twelve. Training sessions cover the virtues of modesty, purity, and chastity but also include dos and don’ts of hair, make-up, and posture. Sharman states that “modesty is more than what you wear on the outside.” I agree. Modesty is a reflection of one’s beliefs and attitudes. Just as the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart (Matt. 15:18), what we wear reflects how we inwardly view our role as women and as Christians. Created in 1999 by a group of Atlanta mothers, Pure Fashion’s goal is helping young girls “live, behave and dress with a sense of dignity…and protect their innocence and purity.”
Buying Into Modesty
Girls beg their mothers to buy them the latest fashions. Magazines, movies, and television bombard all of us with what we should wear and how we should act. Mom gives in to her daughter who becomes propagandized by the ad hype with how to be sexy, popular, or pretty, because Mom is weary of battling the clothing issue. It’s easier to hand over the money even if it means Susie dresses like some temptress. “And behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. She is boisterous and rebellious; her feet do not remain at home” (Prov. 7:10–11). Permitting daughters to encourage impure thoughts by their immodest clothing is sinful. Teach your daughter to walk in dignity as a child of the King.
Parents must combat the media machine that is continually thrusting anti-Christian behavior, dress, and attitudes upon us. An all out war is being fought for the minds and bodies of your children, seducing them with visual delights that entice and corrupt, not unlike weak Edmund succumbing to the tasty Turkish Delight offered by the White Witch in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Constant parental vigilance is necessary to protect children from the onslaught of impropriety that assails them during their every waking hour.
Set standards and abide by them. Permitting a daughter to wear a dress that shouts “Easy!” misleads others into thinking that she may have loose morals. Fathers must participate in teaching modesty to their children. Fathers show how much they love their daughters by preventing them from appearing as harlots. Nixing your daughter’s dress choice because of its immodesty may cause her disappointment for a brief time but will show her how much Dad cares for her in the long run. Modesty begins in the heart, and it takes both parents working together training their daughter to live a godly life. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
Bra Straps Are Inappropriate Any Time
I am compelled to bring this up, because I am on bra strap overload—girls and women should never wear clothing where bra straps are visible! It doesn’t matter if the straps are clear plastic, colorful, or covered in polka dots; they should remain under wraps at all times. I have seen girls and women wearing dresses or tops that exposed several straps, including bra straps. This is not attractive. This is not a fashion statement. This is not how a lady presents herself. Wear an undergarment that remains hidden from public view! That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Modesty Training Includes Boys
Dad and Mom should be team-teaching modesty to their male offspring as well. Wearing pants halfway down the derriere is not acceptable. Sons learn how to act and dress as Christian men from their fathers. Fathers must pay attention to what their sons are wearing as well as their daughters.
Boys should not appear as if they are attempting to gain membership into a local gang. Young Christian men should not find this look appealing. The look does not promote godliness or purity to the rest of the world. The kind of people this look will attract will probably not be followers of Christ. Young men must ask themselves what they are attempting to portray to the world and other Christians.
Young men do not have to wear suits to church, but they should present a neat and clean appearance. A nice pair of slacks and a polo shirt or button-up shirt are quite acceptable. The hem should not be coming out of the slacks nor should the bottom of the hems be frayed. Shoes and socks not flip flops are preferred. Sons should also be taught to keep hair clean, combed, and at a neat length. Teaching young men how to dress prepares them for when they will be interviewing for that first job when they are around sixteen years of age. Many employers I have spoken with have become exasperated and discouraged with the lack of common sense in young people who dress inappropriately when going on a job interview. If the interviewee dresses poorly for the interview when attempting to make a good first impression, how much worse will he dress if he actually is hired?
Dads might take their sons out to lunch or dinner. Once in a while, depending on the budget, choose a restaurant where a tie and jacket are required. If the budget cannot accommodate such a “field trip,” then set up a “restaurant” at home and arrange the table with the extra eating utensils often used in fine restaurants. Help your son become comfortable in various situations. This will prepare your son for his future, whether it’s to enter the job market or for when he becomes a husband and a father.
How do you treat the mother of your children? Do you honor her and treat her with dignity? Your sons will learn to respect girls and women when they observe Dad showing respect for their mother and sisters.
Dads are responsible for training sons in good conduct, good manners, and proper speech. If the father exemplifies a man of God in his own life, the son more likely will follow his positive example. Fathers should exert leadership in the home and provide sons guidance in all areas of life.
Look Upon That Which is Pure
The visual testimony (how one dresses, behaves, etc.) is powerful and often is used to draw conclusions about an individual. Children must be taught the basics of presenting a positive impression. This is not about trying to deceive—it’s about presenting a message to the world about who you are as a Christian. Modesty must be incorporated into the daily lessons parents are teaching their children. Immodesty is too often reflected in Christians. “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion” (Prov. 11:22).
If Mom is dressing inappropriately, how can we expect daughter to dress properly? Philippians 4:8 instructs us accordingly: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” It is difficult to dwell on pure thoughts when Christians are failing in the modesty department. Be a positive role model for your children by wearing clothing suitable for a man or woman who follows Christ.
Choosing friends who are Christ-like in their attitudes, talk, and dress helps to reinforce those qualities in children. Develop friendships with other families who value these same qualities. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20).
Dressing for the Occasion
It is disheartening to see the lack of discretion among young people at social functions. T-shirts, jeans, tennis shoes, or flip flops are not appropriate for a wedding. Out of respect for the bride and groom and their families, but most especially out of respect for our God, we should wear clothing appropriate for the occasion as well as appropriate for a follower of Christ. “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1–2). I am reminded in Matthew 22 where the man who attended the wedding without wearing proper wedding clothes was bound and cast into “the outer darkness.” The passage is speaking in a covenantal sense, but in a practical sense, I believe we also learn that dressing appropriately is expected from believers, otherwise the illustration doesn’t make sense.
I have visited churches where casualness was the operating dress mode from the worshippers to the ministers. Men and women who dress well to go to work sometimes attend church to worship the Creator looking as if they have just come from the beach or rolled out of bed. God won’t send us to hell if we wear flip flops to church. But doesn’t our King deserve the respect due Him? Our bodies are a living sacrifice and how we present them to the heavenly Father is a sign of our respect or disrespect. “I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). It is difficult preparing the heart and mind to worship when a young lady in the pew in front of you is wearing a strapless dress and keeps pulling up the bodice. It is especially difficult for the young men around her to concentrate on the sermon when their eyes keep roaming toward the strapless dress wearer fidgeting with her garment. Teach your children to live as followers of Christ and not as those who bend and sway with whatever the world offers at the moment in fashion or entertainment. Part of presenting our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice is what we put on our bodies. Does it glorify the Father? If clothing conforms to the world and distracts from spiritual service of worship, we are not presenting what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2).
This past weekend, my husband and I attended a wedding. It was held at our church, which is quite large. The church was filled with guests who were there to celebrate the marriage of the bride and a groom who is a beloved Christian high school teacher and works with the young people in our church. Though our new fellowship hall is very large, it was still not large enough to hold the many people who would attend the reception, so guests drove to a nearby church where the reception facility could accommodate all of us. As I visited with friends and enjoyed the wonderful food, I couldn’t help but notice how attractively well-covered the young ladies were, and I was very encourage! With a couple of exceptions, all of the young women wore becoming dresses, reminding me of the style of clothes I wore years ago and has again become popular today. The young women looked feminine and lovely. Their hair was not garishly colored nor did they wear makeup or nail polish that shouted “I’m a rebel without a cause!” I have thought about this pleasant experience for the past few days, and I am encouraged and full of hope that feminine modesty will reign once again.