Reflecting Heaven's Beauty in Your Appearance – Part Two

Reflecting Heaven's Beauty in Your Appearance – Part Two

by Leslie Ludy | March 1, 2011

When I was writing my book Answering the Guy Questions, I interviewed many godly young men to get their perspective on young women today. One of my questions was, “How can girls help guys become the men God created them to be?” Without hesitation, each of the young men responded, “By dressing more modestly!”

Christ-built warrior-poets are longing for young women who will dress in a way that assists a man’s mental purity, rather than tempts him to compromise. But being a young women myself, I know that you can’t just say “dress more modestly” and leave it at that. I am well aware that this area is a huge challenge for modern Christian young women. Just a few months ago, I went to the mall hoping to find a couple of summer tops. After visiting ten stores and trying on countless possibilities, I walked away empty-handed. Much to my frustration, the only shirts available were tight, low-cut and see-through – and unless I wanted to shop in the grandma section, there seemed to be no modest options. As fashion trends become more and more sensual, most Christian girls feel they have no choice but to comply with culture.

Dressing modestly (and fashionably) these days is an art form. Most of us aren’t willing to make the effort to overcome the challenges and dress with grace, mystique, and dignity. Add to that our desire to be found appealing to the opposite sex, and we end up with dismally low standards for the way we dress. We know that we’ll get more attention from guys in form-fitting tops, tight pants, and short skirts. And it’s all too tempting to rationalize immodesty because “at least this outfit isn’t as bad as a lot of things I could wear.” We think that as long as we aren’t going topless on the beach, we have an element of modesty. But what is God’s standard?

“...I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly…” (1 Tim. 2:9 NASB).

The word modestly here literally means “with shame and bashfulness” – not shamelessly flaunting our bodies, but exuding a sense of careful dignity and guardedness even in the way we dress. The word discreetly means “to keep hidden.” Our body is for the enjoyment of one man alone: our husband. God asks us not to give other men the privilege of viewing what belongs only to the man we will spend the rest of our life with.

It’s easy to assume that true modesty means drab, shapeless, unfeminine clothes that make us extremely unattractive. But God’s pattern doesn’t bring oppression and ugliness; rather it brings liberty and beauty. Contrary to popular belief, feminine beauty doesn’t have to mean sensuality. It is more than possible to exude the kind of dignity, grace, and true feminine beauty that will captivate a man’s heart – without using sex-appeal in the process.

Don’t think of modest dressing as a dour duty that leads to restriction and misery. It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the stunning beauty of Christ, rather than the cheap counterfeit of the feminine beauty espoused by the culture. It’s the ability to capture the heart of a Christ-built warrior-poet by a feminine grace unseen in today’s world. It restores the value and honor to femininity that every woman desires. And it challenges young men to treat women with true respect and decorum instead of seeing them as cheap sex objects.

We must remember that our bodies are not our own (see 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Therefore, since our bodies house the presence of the living God, we cannot just assume that it is our “right” to do whatever we want with them. Instead, our body is to be spent for the glory of our King, not for the selfish pleasure of lustful men or to gratify our own selfish desire to be found attractive by the opposite sex.

In addition to our body being the sacred temple of the Most High God, our body also belongs to our future husband. As it says in 1 Corinthians 7:4, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does…” Therefore, we must consider our husband’s feelings and honor him with our body, even before we meet him. The Proverbs 31 woman “does [her husband] good and not evil all the days of her life” (emphasis mine) – not just after she is married.

Living to honor Jesus Christ and our future husband must be our core motivation when it comes to dressing modestly. If we are asking the question, “How much can I get away with?” we are considering our own selfish desires above the desire of Christ.

A woman who exudes true feminine mystique is both modest and selfless. She doesn’t hide her femininity; she dresses to reflect the joy and radiance that fill her soul. She dresses to honor her future husband and the men around her. Her outward beauty is an expression of the transformation Christ has made to her inner life. She puts effort into her appearance, not to gain approval and attention, but to show respect and honor to those she interacts with. Her goal is to point people’s eyes to Jesus and not to herself. She is modest and beautiful at the same time. In fact, her modesty is part of what makes her so beautiful and fascinating.

Making it Practical

Dressing with selfless dignity means not giving other guys the pleasure of viewing what was only meant for your husband. It means honoring and respecting your future spouse by keeping your body sacred and set-apart for his eyes only. And it means respecting the men around you by not putting temptation right in front of their nose, and then blaming them for viewing you like a sex object. It doesn’t mean hiding behind a long, tent-like robe. It just means guarding how much of your body is being exposed. So, to make this principle a bit more practical, here are some of my personal tips on dressing with feminine dignity:

Leslie’s Tips on Dressing with Feminine Dignity

Here is the rule of thumb that works for me on where to draw the line when it comes to showing skin: any area of my body that can be associated with sensuality is not to be touched or seen by anyone other than my husband. For example, if someone touches me on the elbow, there isn’t anything sensual about it. In fact, often at weddings or fancy restaurants, an usher or waiter will take me by the arm and lead me to my seat. Eric has no reason to be concerned about this kind of interaction, because there’s nothing sexual about it. But if a guy came up and touched me on the thigh or put his hand on my stomach, it’s a completely different story. Eric would have every reason to be jealous, angry, and hurt, because that kind of touch can definitely be associated with sensuality.

Any area of my body that would be awkward or uncomfortable for another guy to touch is an area of my body that I keep hidden for my husband’s eyes alone. Upper chest, thighs, stomach – these might seem like harmless areas to show off, but if you were married and wanted to stay that way, you wouldn’t allow another guy to touch you in any of those places. So why would you allow another guy to have the privilege of looking at what was meant for your husband’s pleasure alone? When you keep your husband’s feelings at the forefront of your mind when deciding what to wear, the issue of how much skin to show becomes far less complicated. It’s important to apply this rule not only in the area of showing skin, but also when evaluating how tight your clothes are.

I have found that there are many stylish and looser fitting pants, skirts and blouses that are feminine and flattering without “giving away the farm.” They may be hard to find in the teeny-bopper stores at the mall where every pair of jeans is labeled “ultra- low-cut-stretch,” but the young professional styles often have some pretty good options; or you can try local resale shops if you are on a tight budget. I’ve found that it’s better to have one or two pairs of classy, feminine jeans or pants than a whole closet full of super-tight ones that only get tighter every time you wash them! I feel so much more ladylike and dignified in looser-fitting feminine skirts, pants, and blouses than I do in the body-hugging outfits so popular today. And I’ve found that with some focused effort, I can be stylish and modest at the same time.

The bottom line: make it your goal that when a guy looks at you, he will notice the light of Christ in your eyes and the radiance of your smile rather than being distracted by the outline of your body.

Annie’s Tips on Dressing with Feminine Dignity

I love wearing dresses, but these days not many stores carry lengths that suit a girl of a feminine, modest mind-set. And even with the return of leggings, I just haven’t felt comfortable making skin-tight leggings a substitute for too-short frocks. Rather than give up on donning a dress until longer lengths come back in style, with a little ingenuity and a bit of perseverance I have found that you can make your own adjustments that allow you be a lady without the constant concern of tugging at your hem.

First, if you haven’t already gotten inspired about it, begin taking a look at second-hand clothing stores (nicer resale and consignment shops are my favorite!). They often have a mix of both up-to-date styles and the classic (not-so-short) dresses, and I have found many gems there that don’t need a single alteration in their length. Second, if I do find something lovely that is just a bit too short, I’ve had a friend with sewing skills add a complimentary, fun fabric to the bottom hem. Not only do I add length and rescue an item from being tossed out, but I have added my own one-of-a-kind touch. And thirdly, I may find a beautiful short dress and rather than go it alone, I layer it over tailored pants and heels. I may be wearing pants – which add comfort and modest security – but I’ve added the feminine feel of a dress.

And a bonus tip for your budget: if you find yourself without the funds to add to your wardrobe, find a consignment shop where you can take the clothes you no longer wear – sell a few to buy a few! The greatest “tip” I know that affects my selfless style mind-set is to pray about it. I truly believe that God wants all areas of our life to come under both His rulership and His provision. The desire to dress with an elegant, outward focus comes from a desire to glorify the Lord. And if He calls us to modesty, He has promised to make provision to help us fulfill that, even in a world that mocks purity and feminine mystique and stocks it’s racks with the opposite. There are many times when I have had need of a dress for church, a banquet, or work, and rather than wasting hours looking and being tempted toward frustration while searching the stores, I always begin with asking God to provide the perfect find to meet my need. As long as my heart rests far away from extravagance, over-indulgence in clothes, and a self-focus, the Lord has always met my need and given amazing stories to testify of His jealous guardianship over this area of my life!*

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