Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Judging Her Heart by Her Clothing

'Bathing costume, 1912' photo (c) 1912, University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections - license:

Summer is still in full swing, and so are the posts about modesty and bathing suits.  A few weeks ago, I finally bought a bikini.  I'd been planning on it since I wrote "Modesty, the Bikini, and Lust, Oh My!" Up until I was on vacation, I hadn't found one in the right price range that I liked, plus, I didn't want to order one online because I knew I would have to try on quite a few before I found one that looked right and fit well.  And, I almost didn't even buy it--I was hesitant because of the color.  I had it in my head that I was going to buy an emerald green bikini, and I ended up with an orange one!  I'm not one to wear bright colors so this was new to me, and when I wore it, I was actually more aware of the color than of it being a bikini.  

In a recent blog post I read, the author assumed that women in bikinis at the pool were deliberately strutting around for the purpose of getting attention.  She based this idea on the fact that she had done that in her past.  She explained that she craved attention and admiration from others and wanted that to come from her appearance, because she was so empty inside.

While I don't doubt the author's own experience, one person's experience is not enough to paint every other woman in a bikini with the same broad brush.  Will some women wear a bikini in order to get attention?  Yes.  But others will not.  Some will wear a one-piece because it looks better and flatters her figure more.  Is that modest or not?  Modesty is not based on the type or amount of clothing one wears; it is a deeper and broader issue (and one I hope to explore further in another post).

I heard a sermon a few weeks ago in which in the section of Scripture that was read, one person admonished another person for being immodest.  The "immodest" person was wearing practically nothing, and dancing around with such exuberance that anyone could see anything on this person's body.  This person was then shamed for the actions that led to the "immodesty" and the "immodesty" itself.  But you know what?  That person didn't care, because the actions had been celebratory and had God in mind.  
2 Samuel 6:20-22  20 David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, "How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants' maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!"  21 David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD, that I have danced before the LORD.  22 I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor." 
So, David was accused by Michal of not just being "immodest", but vulgar.  Vulgar!  Michal thought David should not be showing off his entire body.  But what she didn't understand was that it was not about David showing off or wanting attention from other people, but it was an act of worship before the Lord (there's a lot more to the story too, with political connotations, but for the purpose of this post, let's just think about his clothing choices--or lack thereof).

Think about that for a minute.  

David's lack of clothing, his "vulgar" attire and actions, were being judged by Michal.  She made some assumptions (and you know what that does).  She assumed that David was showing off.  She assumed that his clothing choices and actions were wrong and dishonorable.

And isn't that what a lot of us do when we condemn other women for their summer clothing choices?  We assume we know their motives and their heart issues, and we assume that the motives are wrong and their hearts are not pure.  We are Michal.

There is only one person whose motives I can accurately judge: myself.  There's only one person whose motives you can accurately judge:  yourself.  To continually berate women for making a particular clothing choice is not loving, can be harmful, and, as I've mentioned before, modesty in apparel has a wide range of interpretation anyway.  

Let's be a little bit less like Michal, and more like David:  celebrating and worshipping and honoring God with all that we are, including our bodies--which He created anyway.  

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