Teen Track—Truth or Bare

Oct. 10, 2008 Dannah Gresh

Session Transcript

Dannah Gresh: There is one topic that pushes a lot of hot buttons, more than any other topic—modesty. We get more comments about modesty. In fact, some of the comments about modesty we can’t post. They are too steamy.

 

Erin Davis: But these girls are in the inside scoop. So, I brought them to share the steaminess.

 

Dannah: Do you want to know the comments that did not get posted? Are you sure? Because I’m pretty excited to hear them. I haven’t heard them yet.

 

Erin: I should say that some of them are edited. But they’re all pretty steamy. Like this one that says, “I think wearing low-cut shirts and looking at Abercrombie posters is your choice, and no book is going to make me change my mind about anything.”

 

My son’s name is Elisha, and she also put on there that my child had a girl’s name. It was hurtful. She was very upset about modesty and came out swinging.

 

Here’s another one: “I think there is nothing wrong with wearing low-cut shirts and looking at pictures because there isn’t surgery done on them because they are naturally like that.”

 

And then she says, “What, should I just wear stupid turtlenecks the rest of my life? I think girls should be able to wear what they want. It’s their self-expression. It makes no sense that you think that’s wrong. And I guess I’m probably going to have sex, because I look at a picture one too many times.”

 

Oh, please. “Impressing boys doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t think, because you’re only impressing them if you put yourself out there.” And I’m just wondering if dressing immodestly is putting yourself out there. I think it might be.

 

Here’s one: “I think it matters what your beliefs are, and I really don’t think it matters what you wear. Unless you just want attention, and if you want attention to get yourself somebody, I don’t think it’s my problem.”

 

Then she says, “Do you wear low-cut shirts? I’m sure you do.” Well, I don’t on purpose, that’s for sure.

 

Here’s another one about the turtlenecks. “Oh, okay, we’re going to wear turtlenecks for the rest of our lives? Oh yeah, right. So, when I go swimming should I wear shorts and a big, old sweatshirt so nobody will see my body? Sounds good, right? I don’t think it really matters what you wear. If guys look at you, that’s no big deal. Life isn’t perfect. And you might as well live it while you can. And if showing cleavage is a sin, how come it became invented?”

 

Dannah: I should probably interject here that these bloggers are generally professing Christians. It’s a pretty conservative blog. It’s a bunch of Christian girls coming to dialogue their thoughts.

 

And this is the one area where they get the most ticked off. We have hundreds and hundreds of blog comments posted when Erin talks about modesty.

 

Erin: Several hundred is no stretch. This one is pretty good: “According to you, there are only two reasons girls wear clothes you deem immodest. One, they think it’s fashion. And two, they want guys’ attention. I’ve worn plenty of modest clothes and my fair share of immodest clothes, and I’ve never worn them just because I think they are the fashion.

 

“I could shock you guys with some of the outfits I’ve worn and some of the costumes I’ve donned for Halloween. And I did not go out with the purpose of attracting attention. I felt good about myself and exuded confidence wearing the clothes. Yes, the amount of skin I have shown did garner some attention, but who cares? If a guy can’t control himself, it’s not my fault.”

 

This is my favorite, because I could just imagine the girl typing this out. She says, “I just read the book, and it’s kind of just dumb. It really says stuff that isn’t true, like hinting of sex by wearing too low-cut shirts. Or maybe even looking at the Abercrombie poster too many times. Oh please, this is pathetic. The world isn’t perfect. If you keep saying all this stuff, girls are going to believe it, and it’s just going to ruin everything.”

 

Clearly this is an issue worth talking about. My question for you is why is modesty so important?

 

Dannah: I think I can shed some light on that. Are you ready to dig into your Bibles for a few minutes? Open your Bibles to a passage we’ve already looked at—Proverbs 5:18– 19. I used that to talk about God’s gift of pleasure, and I want to unpack it. I want to really look at the Hebrew language in it.

 

It says, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you be ever captivated by her love.”

 

Obviously, a steamy verse. In fact, we are not going to unpack the first few phrases because they are ultra-steamy. But we’re going to unpack that very last phrase, “May you be captivated by her love.”

 

If we were to look at a literal Hebrew translation, it would probably not say “captivated by her love,” because the Hebrew word was more literally the word “intoxicated.”

 

May he be intoxicated by your love. Actually, no, the Hebrew language didn’t talk about love there. It would have been more literally translated “sexuality.” May he be intoxicated by your sexuality.

 

God is celebrating that in this verse. It’s a unique power that God has placed within woman, to create this attraction between husband and wife. But let’s go back up to that first verse.

 

“May your fountain be blessed, may you rejoice” in how many wives? One wife. So girls, how many men were the secrets of your beauty created to intoxicate?

 

Audience: One.

 

Dannah: How many?

 

Audience: One.

 

Dannah: God wants you to keep the deepest secrets of your beauty for just one man.

Why? Because your beauty is so intoxicating.

 

Now, is somebody who is intoxicated in control or under the control of something else? Under the control of something else. So, on your wedding night this is awfully big, because you lock yourself in the wedding chamber bathroom for like four hours and 55 minutes trying to figure out how to make your grand appearance.

 

Should you wear your hair up? Should you wear your hair down? Should you put on your old cotton flannel PJ’s that your mom got you in ninth grade that you’ve never worn? Or should you wear whatever it is that my best friend bought me? You know, lock yourself in that bathroom, you come out, you’ve made all your decisions, and you make your grand entrance.

 

And there is your husband, and he is intoxicated, under the control of your sexual beauty. And guess what? God thinks that’s beautiful. He thinks it’s great. But how many men are those deep secrets of your beauty for? One.

 

I just love studying social science, the science of the body, and comparing it to what God says in His Word. And way back thousands of years ago, when this Hebrew writer wrote about intoxication, we didn’t know something about a system in our body called the autonomic nervous system. This is a system in the body that controls sexual response. It also controls fear.

 

Let me go back and set up a scenario that maybe you’ve experienced as a five-year-old, so that you can understand the power of this system in your body. Which is what is intoxicating for a guy.

 

You’re five years old, you’re shopping with your mom, and where are you? You are in the clothing racks. Every now and then you peek your head out to make sure your mom’s little feet are out there.

 

And there she is, so you’re cool and everything. But after about 20 minutes, you peek your head out, and your mom is lost. You come out of your little clothing rack cavern, and she’s not this way, she’s not that way, she’s nowhere to be seen. And that’s when you realize, she’s not lost; I am.

 

At that moment there are very powerful physical changes that take place in your body. What are some of those changes? Your heart rate increases. You sweat. Your breathing changes. Your body temperature changes. You panic.

 

How many of you stood there and said, “Gee, my mother is missing. I think I will sweat now”? No, it’s an automatic response. That is your autonomic nervous system. It’s a very powerful system.

 

How long did it take for that response to take place? A split second. It’s a very immediate system. It kicks in when we’re afraid, and God created it also to kick in when we’re sexually attracted.

 

Now, I have to explain something to you about the difference between a male autonomic nervous system versus a female autonomic nervous system. Sexually speaking men are microwaves; women are crock pots.

 

It’s very difficult for you to understand the power of this intoxication that the Hebrew writer talks about in Proverbs 5, because we don’t experience it on that level. A guy’s main sexual organ is his eyes. When he looks upon your beauty, when he looks upon your sensuality, that is what triggers the autonomic nervous system.

 

Your primary sexual organ is your heart. When you feel safe, when you feel beautiful, when you feel loved, when you feel treasured, then very slowly your autonomic nervous system will warm up.

 

But for guys, it’s a very immediate response much like what you experienced when you got lost as a five-year-old in the mall. Very powerful physical changes take place in his body when he experiences that.

 

I want to explain one other factor related to modesty, and it’s a visual design theory. We’re using science today to understand why modesty is important. We have the autonomic nervous system. We also have a visual theory of design called the Gestalt theory.

 

This is a theory that says the human brain craves the completion of an incomplete object. Visually when you see something that’s not quite finished, you turn it into something. That’s why when you lay down on the grass and look up at the clouds, you can see your grandma sometimes.

 

This morning, I was taking a shower at 5:00 a.m., because I had a radio interview at 6:00 a.m. I was looking at the towel hanging in there, and the way that the towel wrinkled it looked like a nose.

 

And that’s really not what you want, a nose and eyeballs looking out at you at 5:00 in the morning when you’re showering. I mean, we create things out of things. I actually had to press the wrinkle out.

 

But I’m going to show you two curvy lines and a dot, and I want you to shout out to me what you see. A joyful person, okay.

 

So, I show you two curvy lines and a dot, and you see a happy little guy. I’m going to show you another one. Advertisers use this theory a lot. This is a very popular logo that many of you see on a regular basis. This is the FedEx logo. You can see it driving around town almost every day.

 

Designers know that if somewhere in their logo they can embed a shape that you cannot identify without using Gestalt theory of completion, you will spend more time looking at their logo. There is embedded within the FedEx logo a shape. I want you to shout out for me what the shape is when you see it, but don’t say where it is.

 

Audience: An arrow.

 

Dannah: How many of you see the arrow? For those of you that don’t, get ready to go, “Oh.” Now what I want you to do is apply this visual design theory of Gestalt to modesty, or rather immodesty.

 

When a girl walks down the street in a tiny, teeny, little miniskirt with a shirt that is so tight it must have been airbrushed onto her body that’s cut down to there, what happens in the minds of not just guys but girls? Because us, we do a double take. What happens in our minds when she walks by?

 

We finish the picture, right? How many of you add a little fabric to that skirt? No, it’s the other picture we finish, right? It is human nature; the brain was designed to finish the picture.

 

Are you starting to get a little bit of an idea why modesty is such a big, fat, hairy deal? God tells us, “Please, don’t cause your Christian brothers to stumble.” And that verse is addressed to many issues; it’s addressed from brother to brother, from sister to brother, from brother to sister.

 

Let’s apply it for just a moment to our Christian little brothers. Girls, we are causing them to stumble. We don’t understand it, because our own autonomic nervous systems are not quite so powerful. We don’t understand it, because we were not created to be intoxicated by their physical beauty.

 

We must respond differently to the fashion culture that we live in. Now, what does it look like? God calls us to be modest.

 

But what exactly does that look like? That’s why we thought we would get practical with you. Because lots of girls will read Secret Keeper, my best-selling book on modesty, and they’ll come up to me and be like, “We’re totally into modesty and everything, and I’m so glad you wrote that book.”

 

And I’m like, oh my word. You know, it’s not just the way your wear clothes, but your body language as well.

 

Catherine is a boy. Abby, you’re going to be my girlfriend, my BFF forever.

 

Now, I’m walking up to Abby, and it’s like the first time I’ve seen her today. I’m so excited to see her, and so I’m like, “I’m so totally excited to see you.” Now, I’m walking up to my friend Joe.

 

And I’m like, “Joe, I’m so totally excited to see you today.” Does that work? No. Your body language is modest or immodest. Now you might not be that drastic, but I see girls all the time that walk up to guys, and they’re just like … and I’m like, it doesn’t work.

 

I know your body is covered with fabric from head to toe, but in his mind right now, you’re setting off the autonomic nervous system alarm.

 

But body language is modest or immodest. Not just clothes, but we want to define for you what is modest when you wear clothing. Now I want to say that there is a broad range and lots of differentiations, so if what you see today your mom would totally veto, you need to respect your mom and submit to that authority.

 

We think we have tastefully selected some girls out of the audience. These are the clothes they chose to wear this morning when they woke up. And my good friend Erin Davis is going to come up and introduce them to you.

 

Erin: Are you ready for the LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com fashion show? I’m going to need some loud, cranking music, and they’re going to come down one by one, and then we’re going to talk about what they’re wearing and why it’s fashionable and modest.

 

First we have Heidi. We picked Heidi because of her skirt and her leggings, and we’re going to talk a little bit about that right now. Heidi is wearing a skirt. Skirts are very cute. We love skirts, but the length of Heidi’s skirt we appreciate.

 

We’re going to talk about some tests in a minute so you can know whether your skirt passes or not. But you’ve got a nice length skirt and leggings, which I think are a great backup plan.

 

Next we have Ariel Holly. Ariel rocks layering, which we’re going to talk about in a minute. Layering is the key to modest dressing, and Ariel does it very well.

 

Next we have Hannah. Hannah did some strategic layering. I don’t know if it was on purpose, but she layered in an area where we females sometimes are immodest. She covered that area up really well. And her jeans past some tests well.

 

Next we have Maddie. Maddie also did layering very well; she’s also incredibly adorable. And the height of her shirt is something that I appreciate and I’m going to talk to you more about it in a minute.

 

And last, but certainly not least, we have Veronica. She’s working it; she looks good; she looks cute. Veronica is wearing another jean skirt, which is cute, and leggings. The skirt is a nice length, she’s layered, and she’s just modest all around.

 

So good job, one more time, applaud for my models. Now do these girls look frumpy? No. Do they look like they read Lies Young Women Believe, and it just ruined everything? No. They look adorable. But they’re modest. And let me tell you something about modesty—it can be a little bit tricky to figure out for yourself.

 

There have been moments where I thought I looked modest when I got up in the morning. Then I walked by a mirror or a window over the course of the day, and I was like, “Who let me out of the house in that? That’s ridiculous.” It happens to the best of us.

 

We want to equip you with some tests that you can do to know if your clothes are modest. Here’s my advice: Do these tests before you leave the house in the morning. And if they don’t pass, go change. These are some really practical things you can do.

 

The first one is called Spring Valley. Models, what I do you’re going to do. Everybody stand up; let’s do it together. Take your hand like this. All girls have a couple of valleys on our bodies. And this is about the upper region valley. Now, on some of us it’s hill, valley, hill. On some of us it’s mountain, valley, mountain. On some of us it’s pretty much still all a valley, but it will work out.

 

Take your hand, and put it in the valley. Now, let go. I should not hear your shirt spring back into place. There should be no “boing, boing” when your shirt goes back. It’s going to go back, probably, but it should not just spring up.

 

One thing I see a lot on girls is their shirt says something like “University of Missouri,” but I don’t know what it says, because it’s so tight there. This is a problem. This is a good way to tell, and let me tell you, this is one that I fail very frequently. I just go change.

 

Our motto at Pure Freedom is that a Sharpie is your best fashion friend. If you think, “I’m a small shirt, but I don’t pass the Spring Valley,” you get a Sharpie; you go buy a medium shirt. You write “small” on the tag. It’s fine, and your shirt is still a small and you pass the Spring Valley.

 

Let’s do it all together one more time. Models … perfect, and let go. Good, now all my models passed that one well. But that’s not the only area that we could get stumped on there. Sometimes, the shirt is loose enough but it’s way too low-cut.

 

Let me give you a tip for this, and it’s called the Palm Pilot. You take your hand like this—you hook your thumb like in your clavicle, right here. There should be nothing but fabric below that point.

 

There should be no skin below your hand. Now, this is why I picked several of these girls because the answer to this problem is layering. There are a lot of really cute shirts out there that are just too low-cut.

 

That doesn’t mean you can’t buy them. That means you layer them. There was just an article on ABC news that modesty is now in fashion and that layering is part of that trend, which I think is really cool.

 

At Pure Freedom we talk about something called the secret weapon. It’s just a plain men’s ribbed tank top. You can get them at Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, wherever your handy store is. They’re cheap, and they’re really long.

 

You just wear it under whatever shirt you’re wearing, tuck it in, and it takes care of problems back here and up here. One more time, let’s do the Palm Pilot.

 

The last one is called Criss-Cross Applesauce or Grandpa’s Mirror. Sit down, Criss-Cross Applesauce. Sit in front of a mirror in the morning, and imagine that that mirror is your grandpa. I want you to see things from his perspective, which would be what’s looking back at you from the mirror.

 

If you’re sitting with legs crossed if you have pants on, or legs crossed in the chair if you have a skirt on, and there’s anything that you see that would make your grandfather uncomfortable, you just fix it.

 

You just put on a longer skirt; you just put on longer shorts. You can layer with leggings but, honestly, the super-short skirt and leggings doesn’t equate to modesty. We still need to wear decent length skirts.

 

Just look in the mirror, make sure you’re not seeing anything that would make Grandpa blush, and you’re good to go. Got it? So, these are some tests. Dannah has lots of other tests on her website, PureFreedom.org, that you can just do quickly before you leave the house in the morning to make sure that you are not creating an incomplete picture and causing that autonomic nervous system to go off.

 

Give it up one more time for my LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com models.

 

Dannah: And to say thanks to you guys, I’m going to give you a copy of Secret Keeper. It has all of our Truth or Bare fashion tests in it. But we have about ten of them that help you to determine are you pulling a plumber, because it’s not so cute on the plumbers, and it’s not really great on you either. So, make sure that you’re doing that each day.

 

Okay, it’s time for LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com Live.

 

We’re going to have some audience interaction. We’re going to have some Q&A. We’re going to let you ask us questions about guys and modesty. But before we do that, be thinking about questions that you might have. We’re just going to have maybe three to five questions, depending on how hard they are. And if we can pass.

 

You all have been asking us lots of questions. Good questions. Questions we’re excited about. So, we thought we’d tell you a little bit about that as a group.

 

Before we get started, there’s something you should know about Erin—she has a new baby. His name is Eli, and he’s a little miracle guy that the doctors did not want her to keep, because he was such a high-risk pregnancy. And we were really afraid that he would need to be on dialysis. He had a distended bladder and probably wasn’t going to be able to pee.

 

Which is not good thing; you need to pee. So, many of us laid our hands right on Erin’s belly. We were working on Lies Young Women Believe at the time. Nancy and I laid our hands on Erin’s belly with a bunch of other ladies, and we walked in faith.

 

In fact, you changed the baby’s name. His name was going to be…

 

Erin: Truett.

 

Dannah: And you changed it to…

 

Erin: Elisha.

 

Dannah: Because…

 

Erin: It means, “God saves.”

 

Dannah: And we believe that. They had her in an intensive care neo-natal unit where they would remove the baby by C-section, do immediate surgery, and put him on dialysis—whatever was needed. When they went to do the ultrasound that day, he looked okay.

 

And they said, “Well, maybe you can deliver this baby. But we’re still really concerned because if he can’t pee that’s a big problem.”

 

So, Elisha was born on a Saturday, came out of his mother’s belly, did not scream, but immediately peed on the doctor. And he’s now…

 

Erin: Seven months old. The cutest thing there ever was.

 

Dannah: Well, I had three that were kind of cute.

 

Erin: Right, I agree.

 

Dannah: But they’re big now, much bigger. In fact, I have an 18-year-old son who is adorable. But girls, he’s mine. So, does anybody have any questions about guys?

 

Erin: Cindy Brown asked us a great question during the break, so Cindy is going to ask our first question. She came and asked us a question, and we said, “Hold it. We want to hear it in the group.”

 

Cindy: I was wondering about dating, and if it’s your maturity level or if it’s your age.

 

Dannah: It’s your parents. That’s a really good question. It’s probably a little about both. If you look at dating as a step toward marriage, I’m wondering why you need to take that step before you’re within the age of marriage.

 

Now, the world will tell you, “That sounds ridiculous.” How many of you would say that sounds kind of ridiculous? How many of you are scared to answer?

 

Erin: Be honest, that’s good.

 

Dannah: I recognize that different families choose different things. In our family, we have told our children that when they are in 9th grade, they are allowed to go to formal events on a date with a group.

 

But as far as going out in a car with a guy or a girl, we’ve asked them to delay that until after high school. Because we feel that’s when they’re old enough to really think about, “Who is God calling me to marry?” And we’re going to be actively involved in those relationships.

 

My son is a freshman in college, and he hasn’t had a girlfriend yet. He hasn’t been kissed yet. And he is big and strapping and body-built. He’s a basketball player and a soccer player and an honor student. He is super-smart, he’s an engineer, and he is such a catch.

 

And he’s pure as can be. Girls, they are out there. But if you want him to wait for you, you need to wait for him. Now that said, you need to tune in to your parents. Whatever their guidelines are, you need to respect those, submit to those, and honor them.

 

Erin: And Cindy, I’m not saying this is the situation with you, but I often hear that line, “It’s about maturity not about age” by girls who are justifying their choices prematurely. It’s very hard for you to determine your maturity level even if your like-aged friends tell you that they think you’re especially mature.

 

There are no black lines on these issues. But if the maturity is, “I feel like I’m mature enough to be married,” then maybe it is about maturity.

 

Dannah: Question number two.

 

Christa: What if you have a friend who has been dating a guy almost a year and is really drifting from God, and she’s a believer? What do you say to that person, even after you’ve confronted them and prayed for them, but they’re still drifting?

 

Erin: That’s really hard. Actually we hear that a lot on the blog. Those kinds of confrontations don’t usually go very well. You said besides just praying, and I just want to remind you that prayer is your primary work.

 

Sometimes we think it’s an afterthought, but it’s the most important thing you can do for your friend. But if this has gone on for a year, and you’re thinking, “Oh, my gosh, how far is she going to go?,” let me tell you something about Jesus: He will never stop pursuing her.

 

She may make choices for a long time that take her down a long, bad path. But that’s really between her and her God. I’m not saying, “Don’t say anything.” But truth speaking can be sticky business. And it always needs to be done in love.

 

It always needs to be confirmed by Scripture, and it always needs to be bathed in prayer. Just get those things right, and keep praying.

 

Dannah: I like to use something called emotional banking in all of my relationships. Anytime you confront a friend, “Girlfriend, are you sure you want to wear that skirt out in public? Girlfriend, have you been spending time with God?” You know, those are withdrawals from her emotional bank account.

 

Does that make sense? You know, when your mom says something like, “Hey, did you clean your room this morning? Did you go over your Internet time today?” Those are withdrawals. We respond a lot better to those withdrawals if our mom has made deposits.

 

“I’m so proud of you; you got your homework done before you got on the Internet tonight.” That is awesome, right? It’s good to get a deposit. And I think when we’re confronting our friends, we need to ask ourselves, How have I deposited into her life? Is there enough in her emotional bank account from me for me to make a withdrawal?

 

Love on her in some ways that are not related to that relationship and the way she’s struggling with the Lord right now. Bake her cookies, write her a note, call and encourage her, tell her you’re praying for her.

 

And then after you have something in that emotional bank account, look for opportunities that God ordains to make that withdrawal. And say, “I’m really concerned about where you’re at right now.”

 

Audience Member: What if your church has a big group of girls and boys chasing after each other and getting all confused? What are you supposed to do about it? I mean, they’re your friends, too. Are you supposed to tell the youth pastor or something like that?

 

Dannah: So, when there is the pressure of all kinds of other guy-girl relationships happening around you…

 

Audience Member: Well, a girl is going after a guy, and the guy is going after a different girl, but the girl likes that guy, and then…

 

Dannah: Drama. How many of you have drama in your lives? How many of you, in your home school or church community, your Christian school or public school, sometimes feel like you are one of the only ones, or at least in the minority, of those who are trying to approach this issue of guy-girl relationships conservatively?

 

Most of your friends are engaged in boy craziness, guy-girl relationships, flirting, immodesty, dah dah-dah dah-dah. How many of you feel like a little bit of a minority? Yeah, lots of you. You’re not alone.

 

So, what does she do?

 

Erin: My husband is a youth pastor, and I have been involved in youth ministry for about a decade. Nothing is quite as destructive in a youth group as that. I hate it. Because I’ve seen a lot of really core kids lose their fire for God because they’re so wrapped up in that thing you just described.

 

Dannah: They’re getting lost in each other rather than in God.

 

Erin: They are. And I wish I had the magic solution, because I would use it frequently. But you can do what you know is right. The best thing that you can do is to not give it life. Don’t talk about it, and don’t let other people talk to you about it. Do it kindly. But we give those things life a lot of the time by just talking about them incessantly. And if we don’t talk about it as much, they tend to die down.

 

Dannah: And the fact is, there are going to be infatuations, there are going to be attractions, there are going to be crushes. Those are real feelings, right? How many of you have experienced that real feeling?

 

You can’t deny it. “I’m not feeling this; he’s not that hot.” By the way, our dear friends Jonathan and Susie have two teenage girls, and they’re not allowed to say the word “hot,” which I kind of like, because I’m not a big fan of the word.

 

But when they see a guy they think is especially attractive, they’re allowed to say, “What a lovely vessel for which the Holy Spirit can dwell within.” And they can rattle it off like that. And occasionally, we notice a guy who is a lovely vessel for which the Holy Spirit can dwell within, right?

 

Take those emotions and feelings, rather than feeling them among your peers, and talk to your youth leader’s wife.

 

Talk to your older sister, who’s in college, or your mom. She had a crush one day, too, on someone called your dad!

 

They’re real feelings, and you can’t just stuff them down. We’re not advocating that. We’re not saying the things you’re experiencing aren’t real. We’re just saying that the measure with which you control yourself now will in part be the measure with which you enjoy your marriage later.

 

 

Wendy Baker: Hi. I’m Wendy Baker.

 

Erin: From St. Louis, Missouri.

 

Wendy: Dannah, my youth group read your book And the Bride Wore White. I loved it. I especially liked the part where you said that you shouldn’t have a long engagement.

 

I’m soon to be 18. I’m a senior in high school. And I found the guy that God wants me to marry. I’m very certain of that. And we exchanged promise rings. Do you think that’s the same as having a long engagement if we don’t plan on getting married?

 

Dannah: That’s a good question. Where are you parents at with the relationship?

 

Wendy: My mother loves him very much. She is just as much in to this as I am. His father is very into it. His mom is still very attached, and I don’t think she’s as enthralled about it as the rest of us.

 

Dannah: How old is he?

 

Wendy: He’s a year younger.

 

Dannah: Wow, so he’s a junior in high school?

 

Wendy: Yes.

 

Dannah: You need to first ask your parents what their thoughts are. It’s possible that you have found the one. Do either of you plan to go to college?

 

Wendy: Next year I’m hoping to go to Southeast Missouri. He wants to be an engineer and take over his father’s company, so he’ll probably go down to Southeast as well.

 

Dannah: Wow. High goals! One of the things about being ready for marriage is that not only do you need to be emotionally ready, but economically ready, so that you have the ability to be responsible for yourselves and your family unit and that your parents don’t have to take care of that.

 

If you have an intention to go to college—and it sounds like you have some pretty high aspirations, big goals, you sound like good leaders—you have to take into account that there’s college to pay for and those kinds of things.

 

One of the reasons why I recommend shorter engagements—and by shorter, I mean six to ten months as opposed to a year to two years—is because when that commitment has been made, the temptation goes through the roof.

 

It’s really, really hard to maintain a pure lifestyle. It seems like it’s so close, but it’s not. It’s so hard. You know that your hearts have given commitment to one another, and the only thing that’s left is the marriage, some words to be spoken in a ceremony, and to give your bodies.

 

Your hearts have been given to each other. The temptation gets really hard. If you choose to follow the path of purity rings or promise rings, I really would recommend that your parents are on your accountability team and that you have pastoral leadership on that accountability team.

 

A promise ring is one step away from an engagement ring. You are taking the temptation process and magnifying it, and you have to be really realistic about it. In most cases, I probably wouldn’t recommend that at the ages of 17 and 18. I would say, “How can you temper this? How can you slow this down?”

 

Especially if all parents aren’t on board, I’d wait and give the parents time to get on board. Now, because I haven’t had time to talk with you, I don’t know if that’s what right in your situation.

 

Only your parents can determine that. But if you’re going to follow that path, make sure the accountability level is extremely high. That’s a hard question to answer.

 

Erin: That is a hard question. That’s a hardball.

 

Dannah: What do you think?

 

Erin: Well, I met my husband at age 17, and he was 19. We didn’t get married for several years, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

 

We profited nothing for dating for five years. It just accelerated the frustration.

 

Dannah: Do you think he would have been there four years down the road?

 

Erin: Yep. There was no doubt in my mind.

 

Dannah: If you hadn’t been in the official dating relationship, do you think the attraction would have survived?

 

Erin: There’s no doubt in my mind that I was created for him, and he was created for me. There’s no doubt in my mind that as she said, “I have found the one God wants me to marry.”

 

Dannah: So, why wouldn’t you recommend it?

 

Erin: It just got complicated. My husband is a youth pastor. He tells kids that your bodies follow your hearts, and they do. We have so many kids that sit in our living rooms or sit in his office, and they’re in Christian leadership. They love the Lord, but they have screwed up sexually.

 

They would have said to us six months ago, “No way! That’s not even an issue for us. Look, we have the ring! We’re committed.” But your bodies follow your hearts.

 

We dated for about five years, and our hearts got fully committed very fast. Our hearts were not intended to be that committed to each other outside of the context of marriage.

 

Dannah: The good thing is, I’m so proud of you, because on your wedding day, she was a virgin.

 

Erin: I was pure. And so was he.

 

Dannah: But it was a battle.

 

Erin: It was a mess! I don’t know if that’s right or not, but the waiting was very, very, very hard. Let me just speak about his mom’s situation. She’s supposed to be attached. He’s a junior in high school, so it’s not that she’s in the wrong by wanting to hold on to that for a little while longer.

 

I hope you don’t think we’re coming down on you too hard. If I were sitting in this audience at your age, I wouldn’t have wanted to hear that particular truth. But let me tell you, there are lifelong consequences for rushing it.

 

Wendy: And I appreciate you answering my question.

 

Dannah: You put yourself out on the line there. Let’s take one more question, and then move on.

 

Heather Darnell: My name’s Heather Darnell, and I’m from Kentucky. I have a question on modesty.

 

What do you think about bathing suits—two-piece opposed to one piece—and the line…

 

Dannah: Does anyone else have a question out there? (Laughter)  Would you like to know what kind of lip gloss to wear? That one’s yucky.

 

This is controversial, and there are going to be a lot of different opinions on this from your parents, whom you must submit to. But I think it’s okay for kids to swim. You get to the point when you’re 40, and you’re like, “I do not want to put that swimsuit on!”

 

But there’s a difference between getting in the water and swimming in a swimsuit, which is totally okay, and then sunbathing in a bikini.

 

I go to a conservative church, and my girls are in a conservative Christian high school. But they are some of the few girls in one-piece swimsuits at almost all the parties they go to.

 

They’re lovely. I’m not going to compromise on that. They both have gorgeous little bodies. They have a lot of intoxicating power. The one thing we do that is kind of a family rule is once they get out of the water, they put a cover-up on.

 

There are all kinds of cute, really fun cover-ups out there today. There’s no reason to strut your stuff in a bathing suit once you’re out of the water. Dry off, throw on a pair of cool PacSun board shorts, and throw on a T-shirt. They feel so much more comfortable talking with their friends and with guys when they’re not sitting there in a bikini with everything sticking out.

 

I’ll say something controversial—I would let my daughters wear a tankini, because sometimes they’re more modest than a one-piece suit. A lot of the one-piece suits come down to here or up to there.

 

A lot of times the tankinis are not so tight-fitting up here, and if they’re long enough, they don’t really run into a lot of belly-showing. But you need to submit to your parents on that.

 

Really the purpose of wearing a swimming suit is so that you can get wet. It’s not so that you can show as much skin as humanly possible.

 

What are you thinking wearing a pair of shorts and a bikini top to Six Flags? What is that about? If you are going to wear swimsuits because your parents allow it, wear them at the pool or the beach while you’re in the water, not at Six Flags, because you are definitely going to trigger some autonomic nervous system stuff.

 

The same thing is true with prom dresses for formal events. A lot of times Christian girls throw out all the modesty rules when they go to the formal department, and you should be able to pass the same tests—the Raise and Praise test, the Spring Valley test, the Palm Pilot test.

 

It is possible to look exquisitely beautiful, and yes, you can pass this one in a formal outfit, because my daughters have done it.

 

But don’t ruin your modesty just because you’re at the pool or you’re at a formal school event or church event.

 

Do you have anything to add to that about swimming suits?

 

Erin: Here’s the one-liner that I hear often: “There are no one-pieces that fit me.”

 

I’m not saying out loud what I’m thinking in my head, but that’s ridiculous. They’re out there, and they’re cute. You can do it.

 

I think the Gestalt theory is great for helping people understand the swimming suit situation, because if you have an incomplete picture here, a partially complete picture here, and these are already showing because you’re in a swimming suit, it’s very easy to complete the picture.

 

Dannah: For years, since I was much younger, and I will not tell you how old I am, I have almost always put a pair of cutoffs or board shorts over my swimming suit, not just because it’s modest, but I feel not so out there. It’s more comfortable.

 

Erin: It’s tough, though. Swimsuits are tough.

 

Dannah: Okay, that’s all from LiesWomenBelieve.com Live. We’re going to open up our Bibles one more time for a quick challenge before we finish up for the morning.

 

I want to take you to one of my favorite Bible verses. It’s in Psalm 25:14. I want to answer the question for you, “But what if there is a hint of sexual sin in my life?”

 

What if this morning you’ve been feeling a little bit convicted, a little bit condemned perhaps about the clothes you wear, about the way you approach guy relationships, about the way you stand when you’re with your guys, about hugging guy friends?

 

Maybe the issues for you are much deeper. Maybe there is sexual sin in your life in a deep way. Maybe you are addicted to pornography. Maybe you have a great Christian boyfriend—you’re that couple that Erin was talking about. You sit in your youth pastor’s living room, and you’re a leader in the church, and suddenly you’ve found that you’re the one in that unthinkable position of being sexually active.

 

Maybe it’s not your own sin, but sins that have been committed against you. And you’re saying, “What now? I didn’t even have a choice in what was done to me when I was younger. What now? Am I pure? Do I have the hope of being pure? What does that look like for me?”

 

I want to take you to this Bible verse, Psalm 25:14. It says, “The secret of the Lord is with them who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (nkjv).

 

I want to unpack this. The secret of the Lord is the first phrase. The Hebrew language here is one that is very difficult to translate into our modern-day language.

 

So, when you open up the NIV or the KJV, all the different versions, and lay them side-by-side, this verse is going to sound really different in all of those versions. Let’s go back. What was the original intent of the Hebrew writers?

 

The intent was for them to describe an intimate circle, an intimate circle of believers—that would be your church body, your local church body, your small group, your discipleship group—that intimate place where you are in close fellowship with other believers.

 

But the Hebrew language just doesn’t say that there is this intimate circle. It goes on to describe them. They were a group that knew each others’ fears, hopes, dreams, successes, failures, and sins.

 

They are your friends that celebrate when you get on the volleyball team. They rejoice with you. They’re your friends that cry with you when your parents are going through marriage problems.

 

And they’re the friends you can sit down with and say, “This is my sin.” Girls, who knows your sin? Who in this world with physical flesh and blood knows what you struggle with?

 

You see, this Bible verse tells us that the intimate circle of believers were truly known. They knew each other. I know that you guys can get together and talk about superficial stuff. I see it all the time.

 

You can talk about what brand of jeans you like. You can talk about what you’re watching on TV. You can talk about what music you like, but when have you really told someone, “I need help, because I am struggling with lying; I’ve been lying to my parents”?

 

“I need help, because I have been struggling with looking at sexual stuff on the Internet.” Who knows that stuff? If you’re really going to be like that Body of Christ that’s described here, the secret of the Lord, you’re going to be so close that you’re going to share each others’ secrets.

 

Not just your, “Oh, I totally have a crush on that guy” secret. Talk about that; tell your mom, your older sister. No, to your friends, your pure friends, you’re saying, “I am struggling with a lack of passion to read my Bible.”

 

This is real. What’s the opposite? The opposite is loneliness. I’m not talking about loneliness like, “I’m so totally lonely; there’s nothing to do, so I think I’ll take a bubble bath” loneliness.

 

We all need a little bit of that in our crazy lives. There’s not enough of that. But I’m talking about the kind of loneliness when you come to a conference like this and sit in that seat while we talk about purity and modesty, and you feel lonely, like, “There’s no one in this room I could tell that my boyfriend and I have been crossing some lines. I could never speak that out.”

 

“There’s no one in this room that I could tell that my parents are thinking about divorce.” That’s loneliness. Loneliness is having real issues on your heart, real struggles, real temptations, real hurts, and you don’t have anybody to talk to.

 

That’s what the secret of the Lord is. The secret of the Lord is that place where loneliness is absolved. I have to tell you that too many times in our Christian churches, I find that we walk in there, and it’s very obvious to me that the last thing every girl and woman put on before they walk out the door to come to church was their mask of Christian perfection.

 

Everything else might be falling apart. They might be the ones with the dual persona—one persona on the Internet, on Facebook, on MySpace, a totally different one at church, and they make sure they put on the right face to come to church.

 

That’s a lonely way to live, and we live that way all too often in our churches. How do we get out of that place of loneliness?

 

It says that this place of intimacy, this secret of community, is with those who fear Him. What does it mean to fear God?

 

The Word talks about fearing God frequently. Several years ago I fell in love with this Bible verse (Ps. 25:14). I have it painted above the doorway of my home office, because I love it so much—there’s so much rich stuff for us in it.

 

I thought to myself, What does that really mean to fear God? I’m not afraid of Him. I’m not thinking He’s going to do anything, but it’s a good quality to fear God.

 

All through Scripture, what does it exactly mean? So, I looked it up. The Hebrew word for fear in this Bible verse, and many others, is yir’ah. It means “to submit to, to stand in awe or to bow down to worship.”

 

I read that, and I thought, “Well, God, sure. I want to submit to You. I want to bow before You. I love to worship You. So, what does this mean? If I’m going to be in an intimate circle of friendship, I have to submit, bow down to, and worship You. I’m just not getting it.”

 

I did what I encouraged you to do. I studied the word. I knew some Hebrew stuff. I did a little research in my study Bible, looking at key notes, and then I just sat there and meditated.

 

I said, “Lord, show me what this verse means in my life. Teach me what this is saying. What does it mean to fear You?”

 

As I sat there in this silence, I began to see a picture in my head of me, and I was kneeling down. I was submitting to, I was standing in awe of, and I was worshiping, but it was not the God of the universe in front of me.

 

It was people in my life—pastors, church leaders, Sunday school teachers, close friends, family members, you my readers, girls that I minister to, my D-group. And I realized what God was saying to me. He was saying, “Dannah, you can choose to fear Me, or you can choose to fear man.”

 

The opposite of the fear of the Lord is the fear of man. The fear of man rises up when God says to you, “Hey! You see that new girl who just moved into the neighborhood across the street? I know she’s a little weird, and she’s dressed in punk stuff and everything on her body is pierced, and you’re scared to death of her. But I’ve got my eye on that girl, and I just want you to invite her to church.”

 

And you’re like, “God, You did not just say that to me. You must mean that for somebody else.”

 

A few years ago I was sitting in Barnes and Noble working on a book that I was writing. As I was sitting there typing away, a girl, probably in her late 20s or early 30s, walked in with a stack of psychic books and sat down next to me.

 

I got this little prodding in my heart from the Lord. It was like, “Dannah, I want you to talk to her.” You know what I said to the Lord? “God, I am writing a book for Your glory right now. I’m a little busy here.”

 

And He kept just that prodding in the heart. You know when the Lord’s pressing you, and you’re like, “This is way out of my comfort zone, God.” So, I finally said in my head, “Lord, I don’t even know what I would say to her. What do I know about psychic stuff? I’ve never read about it. I’ve never been involved in it.”

 

There was nothing. And I feel like sometimes God just puts ideas in your head, and I felt like God said, “Dannah, tell her it’s a counterfeit and that I have something real. Just tell her that this psychic power is a counterfeit for prophecy that you can help her read about in the Bible.”

 

I was like, “What? This is way out of my element! God’s putting things in my head I don’t even really understand.”

 

That woman sat next to me for an hour reading her little psychic books. She eventually stood up with her stack of books and walked out the door of that bookstore, and I never said one word to her.

 

Why? Fear of man. I was afraid what she might think of me. Some Christian freak is talking to her about prophecy and psycho-power. What about the people sitting around us? They would think I was really creepy.

 

Have you ever been there? Have you ever done that when God pushes your heart, and He says, “This is what I want you to do; this is how I want you to obey Me in this moment,” and the fear of man rises up to crush out your ability to obey?

 

Nowhere do I find that the fear of man rises up to a greater degree than when God looks into your heart and says, “This is the sin that I want to purify for you. This is what I want you to talk to your mom about tonight. This is what I want you to talk to your youth pastor about. This is what I want you to do with that relationship.”

 

We know that God wants us to go to one of our brothers or sisters in Christ who are older and wiser and confess that thing and lay that down, and we say, “No. I am so afraid, God, of what they will think.”

 

That, my friends, is the fear of man. Why do you live under that power? You will never know. Either the fear of God or the secret of the Lord—that place of freedom and fullness and community that’s the real Church of Christ, that’s the real Body of Christ, that’s not some country club church where we all have masks of perfection on.

 

A few years ago, I went to the wedding of my dear friend Lauren. She’s somebody that Erin knows as well. Lauren came to one of my Pure Freedom events when she was 15 years old.

 

Three months before she came to that event, her boyfriend had led her to the Lord. She grew up in an agnostic home. Her boyfriend’s family would pick her up every Sunday morning and take her to church.

 

They just loved Lauren. Three months after that day that she first came to know Christ, she came to this little retreat that I had with this small group of girls. She listened to God’s truth about purity, some of which you heard this morning.

 

She came up to me at the end of the weekend crying, this strong volleyball player, vibrant, fantastic student. She said, “Dannah, I think I need to break up with my boyfriend.”

 

I said, “Really? You said he led you to the Lord, that his family is discipling you spiritually. What are you thinking?”

 

She said, “I never heard before today that God wants us to save the gift of sex until we’re married. I never knew that. And even though this guy has been pushing me toward the Lord, he has also never spent one night with me where he has not pressured me to have sex with him.”

 

Lauren took off her mask of perfection. She laid down her fear of men and for the next six months, we walked together. See, that’s what it’s about—you can’t do this Christian walk alone.

 

It’s a community of believers. Jesus even said when He went up to heaven, “Where two or three are gathered, there I am in the midst of them.” Christianity is not a solo sport. It’s a community event. It’s a community of fellowship.

 

For the next few months, Lauren and I cried a lot, because she’d come back to me and say, “Oh, but he wrote me a love song. Oh, but he sent me candles and a note, and he said, ‘Light the candle and read this for me.’”

 

And we cried a lot, but I walked with her through her secret, through her loneliness. I listened to the specific confessions of her heart as she told me what sins they had committed together, and while she had her virginity intact, there were some lines that had been crossed.

 

She didn’t have another boyfriend after that until she met a guy named Kevin three years later when she was a freshman in college. Kevin came up to her and said, “It’s really cool, but I am not going to kiss my wife until my wedding day.”

 

She looked at him and said, “Good luck finding that girl.” Well, you know, she was that girl. And this was her wedding day. I stood in a long reception line, and I waited to greet Kevin, who I’d never met before. He looked into my eyes and said, “Dannah, I just want to thank you for my wedding gift.”

 

I’m thinking he wasn’t talking about the casserole dish. Lauren pulled me close, she held me, and we cried for a moment—joyful tears. Then she pushed me away, looked at me, and said, “You are the reason I waited, why tonight I’ll be a virgin. I’m ticked at you right now!”

 

“Because right now, I have to go to this stupid reception.” You see the passion then that was holy and good, and God was just about to bring it to fruition.

 

Right after that, I walked to the side of that receiving line and I lost it. I don’t think there have been many times in my life where I cried publicly the tears that I cried at that moment, because I remembered another 15-year-old girl. This 15-year-old girl named Dannah loved the Lord. She was a missionary for Child Evangelism Fellowship who was active in her church and was teaching three and four-year-olds because she was so mature as a Sunday school teacher.

 

They said, “Let’s put this girl in leadership.” I remember feeling butterflies in my stomach as I walked down a wooden path getting a diploma, because that summer, I was going to win little hearts to Jesus.

 

I was going to teach them the Gospel in underprivileged neighborhoods. But you know, that very same summer, I walked down a path that was quite different.

 

In the fall of that summer, when I was 15, this girl who loved Jesus so much walked down a path with her Christian boyfriend and gave away the gift that God meant for her to give to her husband on her wedding night.

 

I know what it feels like to wear a mask. I woke up every morning after that, and I felt the loneliness of my sin. I woke up every morning after that with a secret on my heart that I didn’t tell anyone for ten years.

 

You know what? I lived in a prison of loneliness. One of the lies I believed is that God could never use me.

 

If you’re sitting here today, and you’re saying, “I’ve crossed some lines. I’ve crossed the same line you crossed, Dannah, or I’m really close to crossing that line.” Or you know what some of the most precious girls that have come up to me—middle school girls with braces on—and they’re like, “I’m totally boy crazy, and God is convicting my heart of this.”

 

They’re crying, and I’m saying, “Praise God, You are bringing repentance into their hearts early before Satan takes that thing and turns it into something full-blown.”

 

You have got to take your mask of perfection off. If there is anything that we talked about this morning as we talked about guys and modesty and purity, if there’s a secret in your heart, I want to tell you that as a Christian woman, as a Christian young woman, we have no room for secrets.

 

Christianity is a community that shares our fears, our failures, and our sins. I want to just pray over you. Today, you started out with that word yada, which means “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.”

 

The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and God makes His covenant known, yada, to them. Remember, you have to get so lost in God’s yada that a guy has to seek Him to find you.

 

If you’ve gotten lost in a guy or in a sin or something’s been taken from you, this is the beauty of God’s yada—that there’s no pit so deep that God will not go into that pit and retrieve you from it.

 

But you have got to tell your secrets to your mom, your big sister, your youth leader, someone in your inner circle. You want to heal? James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

 

Leslie Basham: This message was presented at True Woman ’08 in Chicago. Check out all of the messages delivered there and more by visiting TrueWoman.com. There you’ll find even more ways to connect, from books and resources you can order for yourself, your friends, or your life group, on-demand multi-media, to ongoing conversations you can be a part of.

 

And we’re updating it all the time! True Woman ’08 is a ministry of Revive Our Hearts, helping you become God’s true woman.