Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie: Modesty goes beyond the types of clothes we have. It involves what we do with what we have. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

 Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Some of us have a lot of items in our closets that we are not wearing. Somebody else could be using those clothes. If we don’t have modest and self-controlled hearts, we will hoard what we have and not be quick to share.

Leslie Basham: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, April 29.

 If you have young children at home, you might want to divert their attention for the next few minutes because of the mature content of today’s program.

We’re in the middle of a series called Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear? We’re dealing with some practical issues. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: We started in the last session and are continuing today in a portion that has been extremely difficult for me to address. It’s forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and out of the way I would normally feel the freedom to talk. So some of the things we’re saying are real hard for me to say even to a group of women and girls as we have here today.

As I’ve sought the Lord on this, I have just felt so prompted that many, many women today who have grown up in this very secular, immodest culture don’t know what we’re talking about when we talk about modesty. If I say women are supposed to be modest according to God’s Word, a lot of women and girls will say, “I am being modest.” They may not be asking themselves the necessary or the right questions to determine if the way they’re dressing really is modest.

We talked in the last session about one form of immodesty which is exposing intimate or private parts of our body that should be covered, but there’s another form of immodesty and that is emphasizing, even if it’s not exposed, emphasizing private or intimate parts of our body that should be covered.

Now, let me set this up by reading a quote from a book that has been very helpful to me, a book by Jeff Pollard called Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America. I encourage you to get a copy of this. You will probably not agree with everything it says, but it will definitely challenge your thinking in a way that I think our thinking needs to be challenged. He says,

Being drawn to a person’s God-given beauty is one thing; having one’s eyes directed to another’s body by a sensually designed garment is another. While clothing does not have to smother one’s gender, any apparel designed to draw the eye to the erotic zones of the body cannot fill the requirement for biblical decency.

Did you catch that? It’s not just items of clothing that expose these private parts of the body, but apparel you actually wear that covers these portions of the body but is designed to point the eye of another person to that, what he calls, an “erotic zone of the body.” That is a part of the body that would be sexually stimulating to men.

So let me just mention some categories that should be of concern to us. Now, again, I hate giving lists, and I don’t like making lists for someone else, but these are categories of things I think we need to think about.

For example: When it comes to our clothing, there are ways that writing or pictures can be in places on the clothing that would emphasize private parts of the body.

I’ll just tell you personally, and I’m not going to draw rules for anybody else. I want you to ask the Lord, “What’s pleasing to You?” Personally, I’m not comfortable wearing tee shirts or shirts that have writing across the chest or pictures. You look at some women’s outfits, and the pictures are placed in such a way on a woman’s chest, and this becomes suggestive, even though it’s not exposing a private part, but it’s just causing the eyes to go right there. In fact, as you get dressed, ask yourself, “If somebody else were to look at me in this outfit, where would their eyes naturally go?”

A friend sent me a quote this week written by another woman who said,

If you want a guy to like you for your heart, you’ll show him your heart. If you want a guy to like you for your body, you’ll show him your body. When he begins to show interest in you, ask yourself, "Based on what I have shown him, what is it that he is after?"

So, as we think about how our clothing emphasizes certain parts of the body, ask yourself, “Where is the eye being drawn?” This can be true as it relates to sheer clothing, revealing fabrics, see-through fabrics. The purpose is to expose the private parts rather than to cover.

Remember, we said the biblical purpose of clothing is to cover the private parts and the body. These kinds of revealing, see-through fabrics, sheer fabrics are designed to be provocative and revealing, and, as we’ve said, may be even more provocative in the eyes of a man than if a woman had nothing on over that part of her body. 

Clothes that are tight or form-fitting: Think about the tee shirts, shirts, sweaters that you wear, particularly ones that are made of knits or stretchy, clingy materials, and say, “Is this drawing attention to private parts of my body?” No, they’re not being exposed, but that’s where the eye is going.

Buying clothes that are too small: If you buy your size today, chances are the clothes are going to be too small. So you may need to buy a larger size. Now, I don’t like buying larger-size clothes. That doesn’t make me feel real good, but it makes me feel better than buying clothes that are in the size I think I am but they’re designed to be form-fitting and tight.

And especially, ladies, after you’ve had some babies or you’ve gained a little weight, clothes don’t fit the same. Be careful. Clothes that may have been fine on you ten years ago, but your body has changed. You hit forty; you’re over fifty now, and maybe you need to be wearing some different clothes than what you were able to wear when your body looked a little different those years ago.

One of the men that I read on this subject said,

You must take a man’s word for it that the shape and form of a woman’s body, even though it is covered with clothing, will draw his eyes, inflame his passions, or arouse his imagination just about as quickly and as surely as the sight of her actual skin.

Now, let me address here two things—if I haven’t been controversial enough already, I will be now. I don’t want to give any conclusions but just ask you to think prayerfully first about the issue of women’s pants, women’s slacks. There are a lot of things we could say about this. I won’t go into it, but historically in our culture, until the last generation, men have worn pants and women have worn dresses.

So one of the things we need to ask is: If we’re going to wear slacks, are they feminine, or are they just what a man would wear? That’s where we come to a biblical principle that our clothing as women should be feminine. That’s not the purpose of this series where we’re talking about modesty, but it is something to think about.

Here’s a concern that does relate to this series, and that is, by their very nature, many, if not most women’s slacks are designed to reveal a woman’s form. Today, where this has just become so way of life, we don’t even think about it, I’m just asking you to think about the slacks. If you’re going to wear slacks, think about the kind you’re going to wear. It’s rare today to see a woman in slacks that are not too tight. What am I talking about? Slacks that cling to the leg, the thighs, hips, buttocks, crotch. Do I need to be any more specific? You may not have even ever thought about this. You’re not a guy!

We’re living in a world that is not even thinking about issues of modesty, a world that has no concept of modesty. I’m just saying: Think about whether what you are wearing is form-fitting and could be tantalizing or seductive to men, not in an extreme way perhaps, but in a way that you would not want to be influencing men’s thinking.

Then there’s the whole area of undergarments. Today, underwear has become outerwear. There’s no question but that this whole move in design and fashion is designed to be provocative to guys. There’s no question about it. To have women’s undergarments exposed, bra straps, now thongs being exposed above women’s slacks. It’s hard to imagine how this can be, but the purpose is to be tantalizing and teasing to men.

Honestly, I look at some of these women, and I think, “I don’t think you must feel very good about yourself,” or “I don’t think you must be very secure as a woman.” Most women aren’t. If you don’t have Christ, you have no basis for being secure. But ladies, if you’re a child of God, you have every reason to be secure and not to have to use cheap, seductive means to get the wrong kind of attention.

Now, my goal here is not to offend anybody. I really don’t want to offend anybody. I want you to like me. I want you to agree with me. But I’ll tell you what: I care more about you and your marriage, present or future. I care more about your walk with God and your moral purity and the moral purity of the men around us, and about the moral purity of your sons and your daughters as they grow up in a very pagan, secular, immodest world than I care about what you think about me.

I’m not asking you to agree with me on everything I’ve said. I’m just asking you to ask the questions: “Am I modest?” If you stand in front of a mirror, as you’re walking with the Lord and growing in your relationship with Him, and God gives you freedom, with your heart being pure before Him, that you’re being modest, then I say, “Go with the Spirit of God.”

Some of the things I’ve just listed cannot be modest, and you need to distinguish between those, but I don’t want you to get hung up on the specifics as much as just to say, “Lord, give me a modest heart, and help me to be a woman of grace and a woman of humility, and a woman who reveals Jesus so that I can draw others to You and not be drawing others to me or to my body in a way that would be provocative or tempting or would cause men to sin.”

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been calling us to modesty, not to a list of rules of do’s and don’ts, but to hearts and attitudes that serve and uplift those around us. She’ll be right back.

Nancy’s written a booklet that will help you develop that kind of heart. It’s called, The Look, and it will lead you through a series of questions to help you evaluate your approach to modesty. It includes a biblical foundation for modesty and a list of Scriptures for you to dig in on your own.

We’ll send The Look when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Now, let’s get back to Nancy and the series, “Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?”

Nancy: Recently I was called in for a photo shoot with FamilyLife Ministries, one of our partner ministries. The different people who are involved in the radio ministry there were coming together for a photo shoot. They told us kind of what they wanted us to wear, and I didn’t have anything in my wardrobe that was quite along those lines. This was while I was studying this whole issue of clothing. I spent probably three days stressed out over what I was going to wear for this picture. I was just exercised about this. I thought, “I am violating Matthew 6" which says—Jesus said—"I tell you, don’t be anxious about what you will eat, or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on"—don’t be anxious about it (verse 31, paraphrased). He said,

Look at the birds of the air. They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? . . .  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

If God so clothed the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or, "What shall we drink?" or, "What am I going to wear?” . . . [Don’t do that.] Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:26-33).

He’s saying, “Let your first priority be your relationship with God, being right spiritually, and don’t fall into the sin of being so focused on clothing that you’re anxious about what you’re going to wear, or you’re fearful of not being provided for.”

We can sin in relation to clothing if we fall into worry or anxiety about our clothing.

Then we can sin in relation to our clothing if we are selfish, and we refuse to share the clothing we do have with those who need clothing.

In the gospel of Luke chapter 3, John the Baptist went out preaching a message of repentance. So the people in the crowd said to him, “What shall we do? How shall we demonstrate that our repentance is genuine?” You know what John’s answer was? “Whoever has two tunics [two coats] is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (verse 11).

We demonstrate that we truly have believed the gospel when we take what we have and we share it with those who do not have as much. Isn’t that what James says in the book of James chapter 2? "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food and one of you says to them, ‘Have a great day. Go in peace. Be warmed and filled. Bless you, brother!’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (verses 2-5, paraphrased).

What kind of faith is that? It’s not a live faith. You see, our faith will be demonstrated by sharing what we have with those who have need. Some of us have—and myself included—a lot of items in our closets and on our shelves that we are not wearing. We’re not using them. And, by the way, the only clothes that can get moth eaten are the ones that don’t get used. They’re just sitting there. We’re thinking, “Oh, I’m going to be able to fit into this some day. Well, I haven’t for six years, but some day I’m going to.”

Somebody else could be using those clothes. Somebody else who has a need could be benefitting from them. If we don’t have modest and self-controlled hearts, we will hoard what we have and not be quick to share.

Then also in the book of James chapter 2, he talks about another sin related to clothing, and that’s where we look down on those who don’t have as much as we do. We give preferential treatment to those who are rich. He says,

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.

Now, what does that mean? Well, he’s going to illustrate.

Suppose a man comes into your meeting [your church assembly]wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here’s a good seat for you." [Would you be on this committee? We’re looking for some money for the building fund. Why don’t you come and have this responsible position in our church.] But you say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet.”

He’s not talking about just literally where they sit, but about the way we esteem those who have money and the way we are less considerate of those who don’t have as much. He says if you are that way, you’ve

Discriminated among yourselves, and you’ve become judges with evil thoughts (James 2:1-4, NIV).

If we’re not modest and self-controlled in our hearts, we’ll be guilty of elitism, partiality, favoritism.

I thank the Lord for people who have supported Revive Our Hearts, some of them very generously, some of them very sacrificially. But I want to say, too, I’m so thankful for the widow of 90-some years of age who sends in a little gift out of her Social Security, her limited income, and says, “I want to invest in the Lord’s work.”

When it comes to clothing, that’s just symbolic of how we treat people. Do we treat people better if we think they have more or if we think they have something to offer us than we treat those who may not have anything that we can think of that they can offer us? God’s Word says that those people are often the ones who are rich in faith, those who have less materially.

There’s another way we can sin in relation to clothing, and I want to touch on this because I think it’s something we really need to remind ourselves of in this current culture. It’s another way where we as Christian women need to be counter-cultural. That’s where we fail to make a distinction between the way men dress and the way women dress. The Bible addresses this very specifically, clearly in the Old Testament and in the New Testament as well.

Deuteronomy chapter 22, verse 5 says,

A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God (NKJV).

That word abomination is very strong. In the context there in Deuteronomy, he’s talking about several things that are abominations to God. One is idolatry, sexual perversion, occult practices—witchcraft—defrauding one another economically, and in that list is this sin of breaking down the distinction between the sexes in clothing.

Can you imagine putting that on a list with idolatry and sexual perversion and witchcraft?

Now there are other things God doesn’t like, but not often in the Old Testament does it use the word, “This is an abomination to God.”

I don’t know all the reasons why, but I think at least part of it is that the fact that God created male and female different from one another is foundational to God’s whole eternal plan. When we do away with those differences, when we blur those distinctions in the way men and women look and act and conduct themselves in their roles and in their functions and even in their clothing styles, when we go to a unisex society, we have done incredible damage to the cause of the gospel and the cause of Christ in our world.

The most obvious difference between men and women is the first thing people notice: what you’re wearing. The Scripture says, “It is an abomination to God” to blur those lines, those distinctions, of men and women’s dress.

As you go back and study cultures, when you have patriarchal societies, ones that recognize the headship and leadership of men and fathers, you’ll find that in those cultures, the clothes of men and women are vastly different. But when societies become matriarchal, those are societies where women are basically running the show, where women are more dominate, you’ll find that the clothes worn by the two sexes become more and more alike.

You know what happens as women become more masculine in their appearance? Men become more feminine in their behavior.

I find Christian women today who are so exercised, and understandably, over the fact that men are passive and men aren’t taking initiative and men aren’t taking leadership. I think one of the factors here is that as women we’ve started to act and dress like men. There’s a sense in which the men are saying, “You want our place? You can have it.” And then we’re upset at them.

If we want men to be men, then we need to be willing to be women. That means feminine. Now, to be feminine doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear frills or pink or lace all the time. But it does mean: Ask the Lord to show you what kinds of clothing styles are distinctly feminine? Which ones are made for women?

As you make choices that are feminine, choices not to be part of this unisex culture, you’ll find that God blesses and uses you in distinctly womanly ways. As we do, that’s how we reflect the gospel of Christ. We adorn the gospel of Christ, not by being just like the guys, but by a willingness to be women and to be womanly.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She has given us some new things to think about as we choose clothing that glorifies God.

Perhaps you know a younger woman who’s never been exposed to this kind of teaching, but you know she has a heart to serve God. I hope you'll get a copy of the Bible study we’ve been telling you about. It’s called, The Look.

This booklet will lead you through Scripture on this important topic. It will also provide helpful questions to ask about clothing. Like, “How do you know whether a piece of clothing is appropriate?” The booklet will help you prayerfully make these decisions.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you The Look. Just call us at 1-800-569-5959, or donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, and we’ll send The Look to you.

What’s the down side of modesty? What disadvantages might we experience if we choose this path? We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Please join us for the next Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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