It’s officially summertime, and that means it’s time for pool parties, backyard barbecues and bonfires. But because it’s summertime, that also means it’s time for bikinis, mini-skirts and short shorts to make their yearly debut on many young women my age.
And to be honest, summertime used to mean some of those last three things for me, too. As a teenager, as much as I was told to cover up, I insisted on wearing a bikini to the beach with my friends. After all, everyone else was doing it, so why shouldn’t I? I didn’t want to get made fun of or look like a prude.
But a lot of things have happened in the last few years of my life. In fact, my world was rocked shortly after my 21st birthday when I was faced with an unexpected life-changing event. During that season of my life, what the enemy meant for evil God used to refocus my mind and restore my heart. Looking back, I am now thankful that so many good things came out of that trial in my life, and one of them was that God changed my heart on the modesty issue.
While I used to think, “Well, it’s not my problem if a guy looks at me with wrong intentions,” I am now striving to focus on how much I can glorify God as opposed to focusing on how many freedoms I can have before I’m technically sinning (we can sit and debate all day about whether a woman is responsible for making a man stumble with the way she dresses, but to me, that’s totally missing the point). In the wake of a messy situation, I learned that I am a sinner in need of a savior every single day. I realized that I am nothing without Jesus Christ. And as I began to believe that, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I began to realize the many things I had been doing with wrong motives. As a result, I began to desire to honor God in every area of my life, including the way I dress around men. This means I actually began to believe 1 Timothy 2:9-10 to be true:
“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”
But don’t be mistaken—my decision to choose modesty doesn’t mean I am ashamed of my body. Here are three reasons why I choose to cover up, which you might not expect to hear.
1. I am extremely feminine
Being modest gives me the chance to express my femininity. Although I could easily choose the low-cut shirts and cheeky shorts displayed in storefront windows this time of year, I choose to walk inside the stores, see past the popular outfits and get creative instead. I like to shop, and I’ll occasionally spend time searching through boutique websites until I find the perfect new outfit. Plus, putting extra effort into choosing a new outfit means I’m spending my money wisely (and probably not wearing the same thing as the girl sitting next to me in church)!
2. I want to attract a husband
Okay, so I’m not saying the most important thing in life is to get married, so please don’t misunderstand me. What I am saying is that I want to dress in such a way that will attract a man who is interested in more than just my appearance. Dressing myself like prime rib at a meat market is sure to get me some attention, but dressing as though the curves God gave me are a precious gift is more likely to attract a man after God’s own heart—a man who is husband material.
While I want my future husband to find me attractive, I also want him to see my heart as one who loves the Lord. And the kind of man to notice my heart is surely to be the kind of man who has a great heart, too.
3. I am not ashamed of my figure
I don’t know about every other girl who has grown up in the church, but in my experience, my parents, pastors and teachers never once made me feel ashamed of my body in teaching me to be modest. In fact, they did the exact opposite. They pointed me to scripture to see that God designed a woman’s body to be a beautiful, feminine figure that should only be enjoyed by the man she marries, if she marries.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14
“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.” Song of Solomon 2:7
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18
Girls, if you grew up being told you should be ashamed of your body and that’s why you should cover it up, I am genuinely sorry. That is unbiblical, so please turn to the word and read the truth for yourselves. And guys, if you love The Lord, please learn to appreciate the beauty in modesty and begin to treasure a girl’s heart above any other feature she possesses. Modesty isn’t about a list of rules or shame. It’s about seeking to become more like Christ in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).