Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Value of Concealed Treasure

Leslie Basham: Why be modest? For one thing, your marriage will be enriched. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s good for women to have some mystery about them—some things that only your husband will ever see and enjoy.

Leslie: Your listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, April 28.

Our subject matter may not be appropriate for younger children today. You may want to get them busy doing something else as Nancy continues in the series called, Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear? Though our culture will argue to the contrary, men—God-fearing men anyway—appreciate and respect modest behavior in women. This is especially true in the context of marriage. Let’s listen.

Nancy: Let me ask you, if you have your Bibles, to turn to 2 Kings chapter 20. Now this is not a passage that you would usually think of as relating to modesty or clothing issues, but I think there’s a principle seen in this passage that has powerful applications for us as women in the area of modesty.

Second Kings 20, we’re starting at verse 12, and the context here is that the king of Babylon has sent an envoy to Hezekiah, the king of Judah. Now, if you put the whole thing in the context of the entire book, you know that his intent is not a good one. Ultimately, Babylon is going to take over Judah.

But Hezekiah is unsuspecting in this particular incident, and verse 12 tells us,

At that time Merodach-baladan [what a name], the king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present for Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick.

Now this sounds innocent enough, it sounds like the man’s just trying to be nice. Well, this is an enemy, and Hezekiah foolishly did not understand that his intent ultimately was an evil one. And verse 13 tells us that

Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.

By the way, Hezekiah was a good king. He was a man who had a heart for God, but he did something very foolish. Just as many of us as women who really do have a heart for the Lord are making some foolish, unwise decisions when it comes to issues of clothing and modesty. Well, verse 14 says that

Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, "What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?" And Hezekiah said, "They have come from a far country, from Babylon." He said, "What have they seen in your house?" And Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.” Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the Lord” (verses 14-16).

I just want to say that God may be using this series in your life as a Christian woman who maybe has just been unwise or foolish in relation to some modesty and dress issues. God is, I hope, using this series to speak the word of the Lord into your life and to give you a new perspective on these issues.

The Lord [said], "Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. [That which you have shown to the king of Babylon, ultimately, he will own.] Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who shall be born to you, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (verse 17-18).

This isn’t going to just affect you, this is going to affect your children who will grow up now in a foreign land, will be captives; and ultimately, obviously, their children and their children, will be affected as well.

Well, we know this prophecy was fulfilled in 2 Kings chapter 25, where, in fact, the Babylonians did come in and just ransacked Judah, took the nation captive, and Hezekiah’s grandchildren were sent in to captivity.

Now the interesting thing, as we finish the passage we’ve been looking at, Hezekiah said to Isaiah . . . it’s like he wasn’t too stressed out over this prophecy. He said, “The Word of the Lord that you have spoken is good." For he thought, "Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” (verse 19).

In other words, well, the consequences aren’t going to be immediate, so it’s not so bad after all. But look at verse 21. “And Hezekiah slept with his fathers,” that means he died, and he didn’t see the full consequences of this prophecy. But it says that “Manasseh his son reigned in his place.”

Now, I don’t know what you remember about Manasseh, but as we go on into the next chapters, we find that Manasseh was one of the most wicked kings that the nation of Judah ever had. I wonder how much of that didn’t begin in seeds that had been sown by his father, who had a real heart for the Lord, but just made some foolish, unwise choices when it came to compromising with the enemy.

You say, “What does all that have to do with women and clothing?” Well, in a similar way, if a woman displays all her treasures—and your feminine beauty, girls, is a treasure. God made you a woman, and that’s beautiful. You may be 16 years old and no guy’s ever paid attention to you, and you’re thinking, "I’m not very beautiful."

Listen, every woman in this room has a God-given beauty. It’s a treasure. It’s something that one day you will want to be able to give as a gift to your husband for him to enjoy, and for you to enjoy with him together in the sacredness of that intimate marriage relationship. Your feminine charms, your feminine beauty, your body are treasures. They’re the gift of God.

When a woman or a girl displays her treasures to people who don’t have a right to partake of them, she runs the risk that someone who has an evil intent will take away what she has revealed. She runs the risk that her children will be affected in even more significant ways down the road. Some of you made foolish choices, morally or spiritually or in relation to modesty issues, when you were a younger woman.

You may now be reaping in your children or grandchildren attitudes and values, and you’re saying, “Where did they get that from?” Well, it may be that you planted some seeds in your own lack of modesty. Maybe not in extreme or excessive ways, but now some of your own children and grandchildren of the next generation are taking that philosophy to a greater extreme—and you’re shocked.

You’re saying, “I can’t believe she thinks that way!” Well, look in the mirror and say, “Did she get any of those values from the way that I handled my feminine beauty?”

See, in our culture, women are obsessed with displaying their treasures. As I told you earlier in this series, I took time, several hours, while I was studying for this series to read through magazines, look at pictures, see what the culture is reading. I talked to a number of teenagers. I talked to women and to men and I said, “How do you deal with these issues?” I read articles, and I found myself just really awakened to how driven our culture is to have women display their treasures and how normal that’s considered.

I mean, you pick up Cosmopolitan magazine, for example. (I don’t suggest you do—I did and never hope to do it again.) I don’t know that I had ever had one in my hands before. But as I leafed through that magazine and saw all the pictures . . .

Listen, a generation ago that would have been considered pornography. But not only the pictures, but the articles and what they’re promoting in terms of outright, in your face, sexual promiscuity. My heart was so sad as I thought of these women who were getting paid all kinds of money to show their treasures in ways that are going to result in them having no treasures left.

You see, you can show it now, flaunt it, advertise it, and have it taken away in ways that are hurtful and painful to you and your marriage and the next generation. Or you can protect it now, cover it now, keep it.

It’s good for women to have some mystery about them—some things that only your husband will ever see and enjoy. You’ll find so much more joy and fullness and blessing in your marriage and fewer hurdles to get over in your sexual relationship in marriage, and then you'll have a wellspring out of which to train your daughters.

I know you 16-year-olds aren’t thinking at this moment about how to train your daughters, but it won’t be long before you’ll be wrestling with these issues with them. What a blessing to be able to share out of your own life experience that, as you protected and cherished these treasures and kept them for the Lord and for just the right man, that God blessed you with greater fullness and intimacy as you became a married woman than you could have experienced any other way.

Now, let me say this is not just a problem in the secular world, women displaying their treasures. A man told me recently that he has a number of friends who felt that their families needed to leave a prominent, respected, successful seemingly evangelical church, a major church in this particular city, because of all the female immodesty in the church.

In fact, we asked earlier for you to write down some questions on cards, and one woman turned this in. She said,

I have a young son who’s becoming more aware of females as he matures. [That’s natural.] My husband and I strive to raise him according to godly principles, but we feel ambushed when we take him to church [not to the mall, but to church]. And he sees, his eyes "pop out" at the girls and even women who are more appropriately dressed for a nightclub than for a worship service.

Well, this is an issue in the church and one that we need to be concerned about. We become so desensitized as a culture. We’ve allowed the culture, the secular culture, to become our standard. We think as long as we don’t look like Britney Spears, we’re modest. I found as I worked my way through some of these magazines I was understanding better why so many Christian young women think, “I’m being modest,” because they’re comparing themselves to the standard of extremes and excesses that are out there in the secular culture.

So I want to challenge you to think about the treasures that God has entrusted to you, the treasures of feminine beauty. We’re not saying women should be ugly. God didn’t make women to be ugly. When God made it, He said, “It’s good.” That beauty is something that’s good. The beauty is not sinful. What is sinful and shameful and ultimately degrading to you as a woman is when you take those treasures God has given you and you display them openly for those who don’t have a right to taste and touch and feel and experience those treasures.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been explaining the value of concealed treasure. She’ll be right back with the second half of today’s program. It’s part of a series called, Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear? During this series, we’re hoping you seek the Bible and develop a heart for modesty by offering Nancy’s booklet called, The Look.

When you donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, we’ll send it to you, or you can call 1-800-569-5959.

Throughout this series Nancy has focused on the heart rather than individual pieces of clothing. Women have been asking themselves: What about this? What about that? You’re still going to have to make prayerful choices for yourself, but Nancy is about to get a little more specific.

Nancy: I’m going, though I really don’t want to, but in this session and the next, I just feel like I need to get specific. What are we talking about? What are the things we’ve said? That men are wired differently than women. That they’re more stimulated by sight. What are some of the types of clothing that pose challenges when it comes to this issue of modesty?

Now, anything you say on this subject is bound to get you labeled as a “legalist,” and I realize in doing this I’m running a huge risk. But I’ve thought this through a lot, long and hard, and I’ve just decided that we have to issue a word of warning to our culture—to our Christian culture.

I expect people in the secular culture . . . I don’t expect them to dress like Christians. So what I’m talking about is the way that we as women have come to dress in the church. It does need to be addressed, and it’s a tough thing for men to address. So while we’re talking to women, I just feel like these are things, though it’s very uncomfortable for me and I wish I didn’t have to do it, I think we need to say it.

I realize some of you may not be comfortable with your younger daughters or sons listening to this. I understand that. But maybe it will help you know how to train them. Let me tell you, they will be hearing these things, and they will be seeing these things in the culture. So ask God to show you how to train them and how to protect them in these areas.

So when we’re talking about immodest clothing, being immodestly dressed, what are some of the things that are involved? Let me say there are two basic categories, I think.

First of all is when we allow intimate or alluring parts of our body to be exposed, and the other is when we allow those intimate or private parts to be emphasized. Exposed or emphasized.

So immodesty can happen by uncovering those parts which, as you know if you look in the fashion magazines today, that’s the way it’s being done, or by partially covering those private areas. I’ve read from men that they have said—Christian men have said—that sometimes that which is partially covered can be even more tempting than that which is totally uncovered because it’s teasing. It’s playing with the guy’s imagination and mind.

So we could be talking about being totally uncovered or partially covered in those private areas or by being covered in such a way as to draw attention to the very part of the body we’re covering. So let’s talk about those categories.

First of all, the exposing of intimate, private, alluring parts of the body. Here we’re talking about . . . Again, some of this I would not know honestly if I had not read so much of what men have said is at the heart of their struggle. But we’re talking here about the exposure of thighs, chest and breasts, midriff (which can be showing or almost showing), back and shoulders, for example.

Take the matter of thighs. By the way, in the Old Testament the Scripture describes nakedness not always as being fully unclothed but sometimes as being partially unclothed in the region from the waist to the knees, which is what the dictionary says is the thigh.

The Scripture talks about a woman being a picture of being under judgment when she has her thighs exposed. Even in the Scripture we see this description, so we know that short skirts and dresses do this. Now, I’m not going to tell you how many inches is short. But these are things we need to be thinking about.

I read some about Mary Quant who is recognized as kind of the mother or the inventor of the mini-skirt. She made it popular. She’s a British designer. She said that her aim “is to dress women so men would feel like tearing the wrapping off.” When she was asked, “What is the point of fashion; where is it leading?” She promptly replied, “sex.”

So we’re talking about skirts that expose the legs and thighs inappropriately, slits that are halfway up the side, the back, or even now the front of a woman’s dress or skirt. What is the purpose of those high slits? It’s to expose the thighs.

And women, let me say, I just hate being this nitty-gritty, but it’s not just a matter of what it looks like when you’re standing in front of a mirror without moving. It’s a matter of what happens when you walk or when you climb up stairs and there are men behind you. Shorts would fall into this category as well.

Now we come to the exposure not just of thighs but of chests and breasts. Here’s where we have low necklines, cleavage showing, or large or loose shirts that are okay while you’re standing until you bend over. The material, the fabric, falls away from your body and a tempting part of your anatomy is exposed to the view of men. You may not even realize that it’s happening.

One of the things we’re talking about here is women having buttons unbuttoned even if nothing is exposed. Buttons being unnecessarily unbuttoned can look seductive and tantalizing. One man said, “there is not a part of a woman’s body that is so alluring to a man as her breasts, and when a man sees a woman with the top two or three of her buttons of her blouse open, he will probably conclude that it is her intention to tempt and tantalize men.”

Now, you may be thinking, he’s nuts. Well, maybe he is, but he’s a man. And if he’s a Christian man, he’s a brother. The fact that we may not understand or it may not look to us the way it does to men does not give us license to destroy the hearts, the thoughts, and the morals of those men for whom Christ died.

Well, we get to the whole area of midriffs exposed and the cropped shirts, cropped tops, halter tops, and then the whole realm of spaghetti straps, strapless dresses.

Let me just say, women, it’s not our place, our right, our responsibility to criticize and condemn other women who may not realize these truths, even women in your church. There are some non-Christian women in many of our churches or new believers who’ve never been trained; they’ve never been discipled. Just because you’ve got your long skirt and your high blouse and your long sleeves on, don’t sit there and be smug, and think, “I’m so thankful I’m modest, and I can’t believe all these women are so immodestly dressed in our church.”

Listen, if learning all this makes you critical or hostile or angry toward others rather than compassionate and tender-hearted, then you don’t have the spirit of modesty. The spirit of modesty is the spirit of humility, purity, and self-control. It means that you want to come alongside of and love other women who need to be educated and taught and mentored in these areas.

In our next session I want to touch on some other specific areas where we need to be careful and cautious. Just as we think about the exposure of the body, of the private, intimate, alluring, tempting parts of the body, would you just ask the Lord: “Are there any of these principles that my wardrobe violates?”

Maybe not in extreme ways. You say no one else would look at my wardrobe and say she’s being sensual. Ask the Lord. Is this pleasing to You? Is there anything about my skirts, my dresses, my shirts, my tops, my shorts that could put temptation in the way of Christian men?

I think you have a heart that wants to please the Lord. I think that’s why you’re here. I think that many of you are going to be willing to say, “Lord, it’s not that big a deal to me, this particular item of clothing. I can do without it if that would help me to be a blessing and a help rather than a hindrance to the men around me.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been inviting us to evaluate the way we dress. To help you as you seek the Lord on this issue, Nancy’s written a booklet called, The Look. It will lead you through a series of questions, helping you evaluate your wardrobe and, more importantly, your heart. The booklet includes a listing of relevant Scriptures so you can study for yourself.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you The Look. Your donation will translate into changed lives as women interact with Revive Our Hearts on the air in your community. Ask for The Look when you call and donate any amount. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or take advantage of this offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, tomorrow find out why it’s so hard to list do’s and don’ts on the radio when it comes to modesty. We continue developing a godly heart on this issue in the next Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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