Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Tough Questions on Modesty

Leslie Basham: When you see immodesty in church, it could be a positive sign, a sign that new believers are being added. Here's pastor's wife, Holly Elliff.

Holly Elliff: If we're a growing Body, we're always going to be made of believers at different levels of maturity. We need to teach our kids to allow for that even in the youth group, which is tough, but to allow for those differences, not changing their own beliefs but being thankful to the Lord for what they've already been taught.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Thursday, June 22.

Over the last couple of weeks, we've been learning a lot about modesty. Nancy's taught about developing a modest heart. Over the last couple of days we got really practical about how that kind of heart can be reflected in our wardrobe.

Nancy 's friend, Holly Elliff, has a lot of insight in this area as a mother of eight and a pastor's wife. Let's join Nancy and Holly's practical discussion in our series, The Attractive Christian Woman.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We asked you to write questions that relate to modesty and clothing issues, and we want to address a few of those. One lady asked, "Can you help me understand how we as Christian women can be attractive and desirable to our husbands without being inappropriately attractive and desirable to other men?" Holly, you're a married woman.

Holly Elliff: I am.

Nancy: Help us out on this.

Holly: It's a good thing. Actually, I had a conversation over lunch with Lori about this, and we were talking about that whole issue and just how do we remain attractive and pleasing to our husbands without also attracting other men.

I think one thing that's important to do is to go to your husband and say to him, "What do you really enjoy me wearing? Are there some things you just like? Do you like me better in long skirts, in shorter skirts, in jeans and a sweater?" Find out what are his favorite things, and then find appropriate times to wear those things. I would listen to him.

I had a gal come to me not too long ago and say, "We get together with all these couples, and my husband really likes for me to wear these jeans that are really tight." It's a macho thing for his wife to look really good in front of his college buddies, and she said, "I am very uncomfortable with that. What do I do?"

I encouraged her to just go to her husband and be honest and express to him that when she wore those things she was very uncomfortable with those couples and would it be possible for them to go together and find some jeans he liked that maybe weren't quite as tight and that they would both be comfortable with?

She did that, and he had no idea that it bothered her to wear those jeans. So sometimes it's just a matter of communicating and being honest with your husband about where your heart is in that.

I do think there are times when you really need to dress for your husband. There's one jean dress that I have that I don't really even particularly like; it's kind of knee-length, but Billy really likes it.

So if we're going together to run errands or going out to grab a hamburger, I will wear that dress, even though I'd rather maybe have on something else. But he likes that dress, so I wear it when I'm with him.

I may not wear it other times, but I wear it when I'm with him; so I think making an appeal if it's an area where you're not comfortable and then knowing your husband well enough to know what he desires for you to wear.

Nancy: Okay. Holly, here's a mother who says, "I have a son who is maturing and becoming more aware of women." She and her husband are trying to teach this son godly principles, but they take him to church and say there are girls and women there who are inappropriately dressed—some of them children of those who are in leadership. "So how do we teach our son discernment and values without discrediting other church members?"

Holly: A couple of things come to mind. In our church, which is a fairly new church, we have a lot of new believers. We have a lot of women in particular and youth and college-age kids who were not mothered, and they don't know what's appropriate and what's inappropriate. They may have just come to Christ, and they don't have a clue that the clothes they're used to wearing could be offensive to someone else.

Sometimes I just have to say to my kids, "What did you think about what so-and-so had on?"

They say, "Well, it was really rude," or "It was not very modest." Then we talk about why it wasn't modest or what it was about it that they thought was rude. Then we say, "You've had the privilege of growing up in a home where you've been taught these things since you were little, but a whole lot of people never got that. So there are a whole lot of folks that are going to be in our church or that you're going to encounter out in public or at the mall that don't know the same truth that you know.

"So you're responsible to live up to the truth that you know, and then you're also responsible to pray that God will teach their hearts those same truths that you know. If God brings you into relationship with them, then you may have the privilege of being one of the people that helps share truth with them."

There are always going to be baby Christians and middle-aged Christians and older Christians, and we are never going to all look alike. If we do, it's a cult. If everybody's wearing the same thing, it's not going to be a New Testament church.

And so we're always, if we're a growing Body, we're always going to have beliefs at different levels of maturity. So we need to teach our kids to allow for that even in the youth group, which is tough, because there are kids that have different standards, but to allow for those differences, not changing their own beliefs but being thankful to the Lord for what they've already been taught.

Nancy: Holly, I know that you have children at different seasons of life. You have little ones, high school and college and post-college. Talk to moms for a moment about the process of developing the children and releasing them, and at what point are you making these decisions for them and how do you bring them to the place where they're making those decisions?

I bring that up because one of the moms here asked about adult kids away at college, 21 years old, more out on their own. Should parents still be imposing their standards on children at that age? I know there's not a stop and start point here. How do you process the development of your children in this area?

Holly: Well again, I think a whole lot of this goes back to the relationship you have with those children and whether you have built into them the ability to just talk and have conversations about things.

There's nothing we can't talk about in our home. We've encouraged our kids from the time they were little if they have a question or they're not sure about something, to just come, and we talk about it.

If you will develop in your kids the ability to just share with you verbally and to have conversations about everything, it may wear you out, but what it does is keep the door open so as they enter those teenage years, you are talking about all the things they're encountering.

My daughter who's 25 and married is obviously choosing her own clothing. But there are times when, if she's at my house and she has on something . . . She was given a blouse the other day that was very trendy, and I said, "You like that blouse?"

She said, "Well, yes. It's cool; it's in style."

I said, "What does Randy" (that's her husband), "What does Randy think about that blouse?"

"Well, he's not all that crazy about it." So we talked about whether or not it was appropriate, when it would be appropriate for her to wear that. It wasn't immodest, but it was just very trendy looking.

If she's going out with her girlfriends, that might be a good time to wear that blouse every once in a while. If Randy doesn't like it, then that would be an article she wouldn't want to wear if she's going out for an evening with her husband.

So the more you can develop the ability to talk, even with older kids, it is such a valuable thing to just keep open lines of communication.

My son came home from college the other day, and he had bought these shoes that were very in style but very interesting, and we had a conversation about his shoes. Now, I didn't say to him, "You can't wear those shoes," because he's 20 years old. But we did talk about the shoes, whether they looked like guys' shoes or girls' shoes.

Usually what happens in our house is that you don't get just my opinion, you get a whole lot of opinions, so sometimes it's kind of majority rules.

Nancy: Holly, I'm going to . . . You have a 14-year-old daughter here, and I'm going to put her on the spot. Don't go away. Bethany, have you and your mom ever had a major disagreement about what you could wear?

Bethany: Oh yes, oh yeah.

Nancy: Tell us about one. Can you think of one where you had a different opinion about something than she did—and it was your clothing you're talking about here, not just your brother's shoes?

Bethany: Well, okay. This morning I came down in this sweater and some corduroy, gray corduroy pants. And she says, "What do you have on?"

I was like, "They're corduroy pants. They're nice. It's okay."

She's like, "No, no, they're not nice enough."

These are the pants that my dad said didn't look nice enough yesterday.

Nancy: So you thought today might be different than yesterday?

Bethany: Well, my mom's let me wear them before, but she just didn't think they were nice enough. So anyway . . .  So I was just like, "Okay." I went upstairs and  grabbed about five different pairs of clothing and ran to the car.

Nancy: So when your mom has a disagreement about, or your dad, about something that you want to wear or that you think you would like and they're not crazy about it, what could help you respond in a positive way? You all are out shopping for clothes, and you're just not seeing things the same way. What's a good way that she handles things that makes you at least willing to cooperate to some degree?

Bethany: Well, when she says stuff like, "Now, what do you think that's going to draw attention to?" or "How do you think people are going to react to that outfit?" or whatever, it just kind of makes me think better about it before I buy it.

Nancy: How do you think you're going to handle these things with your children someday? What will you do that your mom did, or what might you do a little differently?

Bethany: I have no idea. That's just kind of . . . Hopefully, I'll model her character some, but I don't know.

Nancy: You know what? I think you're going to do a great job because you've got a teachable heart. I know you, and I know that you're responsive to your mom. I know you guys have a good and growing relationship, so that's going to make a big difference when you get to doing that yourself.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss with Holly Elliff and her daughter, Bethany. We've gotten practical the last few days about this subject of modesty. All of this discussion is built on Nancy's teaching on modesty from 1 Timothy 2.

If you missed any of it, you can get the whole series on three CDs. It's part of "The Attractive Woman Package," which also includes two of Nancy's booklets, The Look and Becoming a Woman of Discretion.

Revive Our Hearts is a listener-supported program. That means we depend on your prayers and your giving. The rest of this week for a donation of $25 or more you can ask for "The Attractive Christian Woman Package," and we’ll send it to you.

For more information go to ReviveOurHearts.com. While there you can find information on a helpful book called A Young Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George. It will help you connect with your daughter about some of the issues that we’ve been talking about.

If you prefer to call, our number is 1-800-569-5959.

Well, what have you thought about this series? Tomorrow, Nancy responds to a few of the emails she’s received in response to this series, The Attractive Christian Woman. I hope you can join us for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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