Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Taking the Gospel into the Dressing Room

Leslie Basham: When the True Woman conference came to Chattanooga this past March, some of the attendees arrived early and checked in to the volunteer station.

ROH Staff: We are greeting volunteers that come to the conference.

Leslie: These volunteers were invaluable at True Woman.

ROH Staff: I appreciate the enthusiasm that the volunteers bring in. They come here just so excited about Revive Our Hearts and excited about the weekend, and that kind of enthusiasm is very energy giving.

Leslie: Why would someone volunteer at True Woman?

Volunteer: Well, I know Nancy DeMoss from many years back, and I love her, and I want to be here to help.

Volunteer: At times I have felt that our nation is out of control and what can I do about it? Well, I can do something about it. This is a movement that can make a difference.

Leslie: One attendee describes the big impression volunteers make at True Woman.

Volunteer: We have helpers in the room, volunteers, wearing pink aprons that say, “True Woman ’10.” How appropriate. How appropriate they are serving us.

Leslie: This all leads to an important question: What’s keeping you from putting on one of those aprons and volunteering when True Woman comes to Indianapolis and Fort Worth?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now on the front end, if I say, “You might have to wear a pink apron at the conference,” I think most people are going to be rolling their eyes, thinking, “No way are you going to get me in a pink apron.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss is talking with a couple of our customer service representatives about those famous pink aprons and possible resistance women may have to putting one on.

Nancy: But what do they think by the end of the conference?

ROH Staff: Well, in Chicago, we sold out of them.

ROH Staff: Everybody wants one.

ROH Staff: They’re going to be a collector’s item. “How can I get one? Do you have any more? Where can I buy them?” They want them.

Leslie: Women are calling now to sign up as volunteers for Indianapolis and Fort Worth, and there are plenty of important roles to fill.

ROH Staff: We need people for the registration table; we need people to be greeters.

ROH Staff: There’s ushers; people to help direct, and positions that don’t take two hours to learn.

ROH Staff: There are people in the resource center. You don’t have to handle money.

ROH Staff: To assist in the breakout sessions as well.

ROH Staff: You’re not missing the conference.

ROH Staff: I have seen more joy. I’m excited. We have so much fun on the Wednesday night tote stuffing (laughing). The volunteers come in, and we have all these tote bags we need to put together.

Nancy: With all kinds of goodies for the attendees.

Volunteer: I am placing them on the chairs, placing the handles neatly inside, and making sure they’re nice and neat for the ladies when they arrive tomorrow.

Leslie: Take the next step in serving at the True Woman conference September 23-25 in Indianapolis, or October 14-16 in Fort Worth.

Volunteer: We even have a discount.

Leslie: Did she say, “Discount”?

ROH Staff: They can come for half price if they volunteer, which is really amazing. We’ve had some ladies who I’ve talked with on the phone, and they say, “I just can’t afford that price. I’m in this situation.” We will say to them, “Have you considered volunteering?”

Leslie: Visit ReviveOurHearts.com for more details, or call our special True Woman phone number at 877-966-2608.

Volunteer: I’d say, “Do it.”

Leslie: Mary Kassian says, “Modesty doesn’t have to equal unattractive.”

Mary Kassian: I think that you can dress attractively, and you can dress in a way that you’re not out of style or out of date, but you are honoring God’s design for who you are, and you are honoring Him with the way that you dress.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, August 24.

A man wrote to Revive Our Hearts asking for prayer in his battles with lust and pornography. He was thankful (in his words), "that someone was finally teaching on modesty." He said the women in his church were having fashion wars. This battle was waged with the shortest dresses and lowest blouses.

The teaching he was referring to was a teaching series Nancy provided called Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear? You can hear that in-depth study at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today, Mary Kassian will help us think through this issue. Last week Nancy and Mary began a conversation over the new book, Girls Gone Wise. Here they are.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In this series we’re talking through some of the contrasts between a wise woman and what Mary Kassian calls a wild woman, or in the Scriptural terms, we would say a foolish woman.

Mary, thank you so much for writing this book, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. We really need the kind of instruction that you’ve given us in this book, and I’m so grateful that you’ve provided it for us.

Mary: Thanks, Nancy.

Nancy: That instruction comes from the Word of God. We’ve been looking a lot during this series at Proverbs chapter 7, which is imbedded in the Scripture one specific picture of a girl gone wild, a woman who is a church woman. She’s religious. She’s a young, married woman, but she has a lot of characteristics of wildness and worldliness that end up getting her and the young man in a lot of trouble.

Mary: She does, and it’s interesting, going through this passage, as we are working our way through it, that we see that at every point there is a contrast between wildness and being wise. This picture of this young, wild woman is really a picture of someone whose heart has not submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ, someone whose heart has not said, “Yes,” to Jesus.

We see wild women all over in our day and age. This Proverbs 7 woman, she was in the church. And we see wild women in the church today as well.

Nancy: It’s interesting that one of the characteristics of this woman that’s pointed out in Proverbs chapter 7, we find it in verse 10, it says that she is "dressed as a prostitute.” Now, it doesn’t say she is a prostitute—she’s not.

Mary: She’s not a prostitute.

Nancy: But her dress suggests that she could be.

Mary: She could be, and so she is dressed as a prostitute. The appearance, the way that a woman adorns herself, the way that she chooses to dress and present herself is a mark of whether that woman is a wild or a wise woman.

  • A wild woman dresses in a provocative way. She uses her body to get attention, and she tries to dress in a way that really glorifies her flesh.
  • A wise woman dresses in a way, we’re told in 1 Timothy, that is "respectable and modest and self-controlled" (2:9).

Now, we’ll unpack this, I’m sure, and we’ll see that she's not unattractive; she doesn’t dress unattractively. But she dresses in a way, she adorns herself in a way that’s markedly different than a girl gone wild.

Nancy: I think a lot of women today think, “It doesn’t really matter how I dress. It’s the heart that matters. It’s not what’s outside.” But it’s interesting that when this passage says that she is dressed as a prostitute, her appearance communicates something about her heart.

So the clothing is not unimportant. It matters.

Mary: It really does matter. Actually, it matters theologically, too. This is really interesting: In Scripture, at the very beginning when we sinned, when man and woman sinned, the first thing that happened was Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves up with leaves. They sewed themselves leafy aprons and tried to cover their nakedness before God.

That covering was inadequate, but God didn’t tell them to take it off. He did something else. He provided another covering that was adequate. He shed the blood of an animal and covered them with skins.

So the reason we wear clothes is actually to bear witness to the gospel. It is to tell a story. We cover our nakedness to tell the story that Christ covers our nakedness, our shame, and our sin, that the guilt we have because of our sin, that His covering is adequate for us. That’s why we continue to wear clothes. And even when we see Him in eternity, we will not be clothes-less. He will give us new clothes. He will clothe us in righteous garments at that time.

So when we expose our bodies, when we expose naked flesh and dress in a way in which we glorify nakedness, we really are not telling the truth about the gospel. Our clothes are not bearing testimony to what they ought to be bearing testimony to.

Nancy: I think that sometimes we suggest that the reason to dress modestly is to curb sexual temptation on the part of men—which is a reason—but you’re saying it’s not really the primary reason.

Mary: It’s not the primary reason, and I think that if curbing sexual temptation of men were the only reason for why we ought to dress modestly, then we would all have to cover ourselves up completely.

So I think we need to go deeper. I think we need to understand the reason for clothing, that, really, God has told us in Scripture that it is appropriate for us to be clothed, and it is appropriate for us to be clothed adequately. When we clothe ourselves adequately, we are bearing witness to the gospel story that when we come to Christ, we are clothed in Him and His righteousness adequately covers our guilt and our sin and our shame.

Nancy: And yet it seems that what it means to be adequately covered is something that gets translated differently by each different generation, era, culture. Is that something that’s constantly shifting based on culture? You look around today, and it looks like the hooker culture has gone mainstream.

Mary: It really has. I think that it does shift in various cultures, but I think that there is an underlying principle that there is an appropriate way to dress in a way that covers our nakedness. That means sometimes the hemlines go up, sometimes the hemlines go down. Sometimes the sleeves go up, sometimes the sleeves go down. But there’s a fundamental principle that our nakedness should be adequately covered. The Bible doesn’t give a restrictive list, point by point: “Well, your skirt needs to be . . .”

This is a funny story: I remember when I was young. It was the era of hot pants, and my mom had this rule for the number of hand widths for above my knee that . . . When I went shopping, it had to be a certain number of hand widths above my knee.

Nancy: Not more than a certain number of hand widths.

Mary: Yes – that’s right. Not more than a certain number. It had to be lower than that.

So she had put in a specific rule for me to follow, but the Bible doesn’t give real specific rules like that. It gives principles that transcend all cultures and all places and all times. It gives the principle in 1 Timothy chapter 2, verse 9, that we are to "adorn ourselves in apparel that is respectable and that is modest and self-controlled" (paraphrased).

So I think that those three qualifiers, respectable and modest and self-controlled, are really good indicators. They’re very, very helpful when we’re considering what we ought to wear.

Nancy: Well, let’s just look at each of those three, and, again, if you didn’t catch that reference, it’s 1 Timothy chapter 2, verse 9. It says the godly woman "adorns herself with respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” Those really can become three guidelines for our dress.

Let’s take the first one: Respectable. What does that mean to have respectable clothing?

Mary: Well, respectable clothing—the word there is actually based on the word cosmio, which is the form of the Greek which means "to put in order, or orderly." It’s related to our English word, cosmos, which is the universe. The ancients thought that the universe was all ordered. It was all in the right order and held together in the right way.

So if our dress is respectable, it’s really appropriate and put together in the right way. It’s fitting. It fits who we are, and it fits the environment that we go to. It fits who I am as a child of God. It reflects that story, that I want to bear witness to the gospel, and I want to honor God in the way that I dress.

It’s actually a really good word because it counters the hooker look, but it also counters those who dress unattractively and sloppily all the time and who do not care about their appearance.

Nancy: You’re really talking about . . . When the rubber hits the road, and you’re out there shopping and you’re dealing with the world’s styles . . .I don’t know how many mothers I hear tell me, “You don’t know how hard it is to shop for kids today, for teenage daughters.” My sister has three teenage daughters, and she says, “It is so difficult to find things that are becoming.”

But you’re saying we need to be intentional. We need to be asking questions. We need to be thinking about what we’re shopping for. It may take more effort. It may take more time. But it’s really worth being intentional about it.

Mary: It really is worth being intentional about it because I think that our clothing is one of the ways in which we honor God.

Nancy: So 1 Timothy 2 tell us that we should adorn ourselves with apparel or clothing that is respectable, and then it says with modesty.

We’ve talked a lot about modesty on this program before. I had a lot of listeners thank us for going where angels fear to tread because this really is counter-cultural, but help us think through what that word modesty really means.

Mary: Well, the Greek word is usually translated modesty, but it contains elements of modesty and humility in there as well. There’s an associated word that is really dressing with eyes downcast. So it really is the opposite of being the loud and wayward, brazen, “look at me; look at my flesh,” kind of appearances. It’s a humility.

Nancy: The old King James has in this context the word shamefacedness, which is an old-fashioned word you’d never hear today, but it does have to do with this appropriate humility, downcast eyes. Not as in being downtrodden, but being clothed with humility.

Mary: Dressing in a way that is respectful towards the Lord, and, really, that shamefacedness, again, that has negative connotations when we say it nowadays. But it really was picking up on that aspect of modesty and humility, the humble aspect, to recognize that we are fallen creatures, that we stand guilty before God, and we need the blood of Jesus Christ, that covering, to cover us in order that we may present ourselves before Him, and so to bear testimony to that story with our clothing.

I think that’s what modesty is all about. We want to cover our nakedness adequately, in a humble way, saying, “Yes, this really honors the story of the gospel, that I am clothed in Christ. Christ covers my nakedness and my shame in the spiritual realm, and therefore, I am going to cover my nakedness appropriately in the physical realm.”

Nancy: So practically, we’re out shopping for clothes, and we’re asking, “Is this decent? Or is this indecent?”

Mary: Yes. That’s right.

Nancy: I think a lot of people, a lot of women shopping, a lot of moms shopping with daughters aren’t even asking those questions.

Mary: They don’t ask those questions, and it’s important. When you go into that dressing room to put on that skirt, you want to sit down and see what it looks like, and you want to bend forward in that blouse, and you want to have a look and say, “Am I being decent in the way I’m dressing?”

It is a challenge. Certain body types have a bigger challenge than other body types that find clothing that really is decent and really has that modesty and humility built into it.

We’re trained as women that we want to be displaying our bodies. .

Nancy: Flaunting

Mary: We want to be flaunting our skin. The question is usually, “How much can I get away with?” instead of, “Is this honoring God?”

Nancy: I just think of the questions that are more likely to be asked in a dressing room or department story: “How do I look in this?” and “What’s the price?” Not that those are unimportant questions, but they’re, I think, secondary questions to, “What does this reflect about my heart?”

I think we’ve just separated our clothing expeditions from our spiritual life, but really, there’s a strong connection there.

Mary: There’s a very strong connection, and it’s good to think through those questions. That, again, helps us correct errors on both sides—on areas where we want to flaunt ourselves, but also errors or where when we are tempted to just not care about our appearance at all. That does not bring glory to the gospel either.

We ought to dress attractively and in a way that is womanly, but not in a way where we flaunt our naked flesh.

Nancy: There’s no virtue in being frumpy.

Mary: No. Period. My sons would bear testimony to that. My husband bears testimony to that. Even as I was writing this chapter and discussing these issues because they all got passed by my family and my daughter-in-law. We all would sit around and talk about this.

Nancy: So we have respectable. We have modest. And the third word that 1 Timothy 2 talks about is self-controlled. What does that have to do with the way we dress?

Mary: Well, self-controlled really has to do with moderation, to be moderate in the way that we dress and in the way that we approach the whole question of appearance.

Nancy: So we have the contrast between a wild girl and a wise girl. The wild girl, the characteristics of her clothing would be unbecoming, indecent, and excessive. That’s what we see described in Proverbs chapter 7.

Whereas, the girl who is wise, her appearance, her dress (and when we talk about dress, we’re talking about clothing, hair styles, makeup, the whole external appearance), the questions we want to ask are: “Is this becoming or fitting? Is it appropriate? Is it decent? Is it moderate?”

Yet, Mary, even as we say those things, I know we have some younger women, younger listeners who are thinking, “I would just stand out like a sore thumb if I was going to dress that way. There’s no way I could fit in to the world. I’m going to feel so strange.” Maybe there’s that part of a lot of women that says, “I want to be a little bit wild in this area. I don’t want to stand out and look different than everyone else.”

Mary: Well, I think there are two issues that you just touched on. One is that I do believe that every woman wants to feel attractive and feel beautiful. I think that’s a God-given gift to women and for womanhood. There’s nothing wrong with that.

When we’re talking about dressing decently and dressing in a way that’s fitting and becoming and in a way that’s moderate, we’re not talking about dressing frumpy or ugly. I think that you can dress attractively, and you can dress in a way that you’re not out of style or out of date, but that you are honoring God’s design for who you are, and you are honoring Him with the way that you dress.

So, it may be true that you do not attract men with your flesh, you do not cause them to lust perhaps after you in the same way that other women do, but who wants to attract that kind of attention anyway?

There’s an interesting thing: My son and I were walking in a mall. There was a woman who came past, and she was dressed very, very provocatively, and she kind of gave him the look as she walked by (even though he’s walking with his mom). I asked him, “What do you think when you see a woman dressed like that?”

He thought for a moment (he was 17 at the time) and then he said to me, “Well, it arouses the male in me, but it doesn’t attract the man in me.”

That was a really interesting statement, and I think one that we should all take to heart. Yes, it’s really easy to attract attention by flashing some flesh, but that’s not the kind of attention that in the end we really do desire because we desire godly men who will look past the clothing and see us and get to know us and cherish and honor us as God does.

Nancy: I’m glad you ask those kinds of questions of your sons and your husband, because any time we talk about this subject on Revive Our Hearts, we get a lot of response. We get a lot of response from women saying, “Thank you so much for speaking on this. Thank you for having the courage to address the issue of modest dress.”

But we also get a lot of responses from Christian men who say—and I want us as women to listen to this. They say,

Thank you so much for talking about this. This issue is really a problem at church. We expect the women of the world to dress in a way that is sensual and worldly and provocative. We know we can’t change that. But when we go to church and we want to worship God, it really trips us up, and it’s hard for us to get past the way that the women are dressed at church.

I could throw into that: at Christian weddings, Christian events—not just church, but Christian gatherings. What a grievous thing it is for us to conduct or dress ourselves in a way that discourages men in their pursuit of holiness rather than encouraging them to pursue God and to want to love Him more.

Mary: Whether we’re at church or whether we’re out and about in our daily lives, the way that we dress and present ourselves as wise women is very different than that of a girl gone wild.

The appearance of a girl gone wild screams, “Look at me.” She draws attention to her own flesh. The appearance of a girl gone wise is beautiful, and everything about her draws attention to the beauty and glory of Christ.

Leslie: The way you dress shows what you believe about the gospel. Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss have been exploring this.

I hope you’ll take the next step in evaluating your heart and your wardrobe in light of Scripture. Get a copy of Mary’s book, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. She provides 20 contrasts between a wild woman and a wise woman based on Proverbs 7.

One of those contrasts is appearance. Learn how to incorporate biblical wisdom into your wardrobe and into all your decisions.

We’ll send the book Girls Gone Wise when you make a donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts. We’ll also include Nancy’s complete interview with Mary Kassian on CD.

You can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us and ask for Mary’s book and the CD series. Both are called Girls Gone Wise. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow, Nancy and Mary will continue to contrast a wise and foolish woman. As a wise woman, how do you approach sexual conduct? That’s tomorrow on 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.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.