Okay, I’ll admit it. I have a problem with the over-exposure of body parts, which seems to be everywhere I look these days. When I was growing up, I was taught that I was not suppose to display cleavage and any part that is normally found under a one-piece swimsuit. Those areas should remain covered and protected so that I didn’t encourage public ogling (eyeballing; staring) or cause someone to stumble by tempting them to lust.
More recently, God even taught me how to take the ‘mirror’ test. When I put on a top that may be too revealing, I check it in the mirror by bending forward. What I see in the mirror is what others will see every time I bend forward, or what taller people may see when they stand next to me. I was so glad that God revealed this to me, because I don’t want to unwittingly wear something that will permit others to ‘check out my groceries’ whenever they glance my way.
I only have one body and it is important to me. I don’t take the preciousness of this gift lightly. In fact, it doesn’t even belong to me, it belongs to Christ. He paid for it with His blood on Calvary. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I want to honor God with everything, including my body. His delight is more important to me than my dressing in a way that would turn heads. With this viewpoint burned into my brain, I’ve had some unsettling thoughts recently.
About a month ago, I was shown a picture of a young lady wearing a prom dress with a non-existent back and a front that had a wide open trail down to her navel, scattered every so often with a thin line of tiny rhinestones where clothing should have been. I would have been cold wearing it to bed on a spring night, yet here she was wearing it in public with great pride.
I asked a young woman in her twenties, who was looking at the photo, if she would have also worn a dress like that to prom back when she was in high school. I was sure that she would have said she wouldn’t, seeing that she is someone that I think has her head on straight. She looked at the photo and said, “Sure I’d wear it. Things have changed.” I was floored! Then I took a look at what she was wearing. Lo and behold, she was wearing one of those cute little dresses with the low cleavage. You know the kind that’s so low that the V shows all the space between without actually displaying the objects on either side. Some people would have considered it tastefully sexy, but my mind began to immediately race. I was trying to look calm and composed, but inwardly I was screaming, “No! No! Not you too!” I felt like I was a part of that old sci-fi movie where in the middle of the night, someone would place a giant pea pod next to a sleeping loved one and the next morning the pod would have replaced the real person with an alien clone.
Am I from a generation so far removed that I am being unrealistic about how we should carry ourselves? I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve seen teen and young adult males trying to run across the street, but they couldn’t because they had to hold on to their pants so they wouldn’t fall down. And I confess that I am a member of the mystified old folks who wonder what the significance is in wearing pants so low that the seat of them hugs the wearer’s knees. I know that it’s just a trend, and trends come and go.
Stop! A memory is crystallizing. No!! It’s all coming back now! The fog is clearing. It’s about me! I was a part of the crazy hot pants and mini skirt generation in high school! I thought it was such fun to cross my legs and maneuver how to bend over and pick up a pencil without showing all the way up to Canada. I was just as clueless as my young friends today, who walk around with their underwear showing and clothing that looks like it’s been sprayed on.
Today, some members of my gender have a very special way of dressing as well. It seems to be a trend where I live to wear pajamas and fuzzy house slippers (what we called ‘slides’ when I was growing up) when you go shopping. I don’t understand this fad either. Is the confusion all just inside my head? I just wonder what message are we trying to communicate and with whom are we trying to identify by the way we dress?
I know that we are expressing our individuality in all kinds of ways these days. And believe it or not, I like being comfortable enough with who I am that I can feel free to dress in a way that expresses me, even if my fashion sense leans toward the practical. In fact, I like the fact that we live in a country where some people dress conservatively while others are more colorful and artistic. You might be one of those who has blue, green, purple, or hot pink hair, which covers your head like a halo. Or like one of my older friends who is retired, you may wear a toe ring, ankle bracelet, and still love your short skirts. Unlike me, you may believe that there’s nothing wrong with revealing the artwork in your cleavage, or even a little ‘groceries’.
On my way home, recently, I decided to stop at the gas station. A well-proportioned woman exited her car dressed very scantily clad in black. It took me a moment to figure out what she was wearing. At first, it looked as though she had gotten out of bed wearing just her panties and a camisole and decided to go fill up her tank. Upon closer inspection, (I’m sorry, but I unconsciously went into ‘automatic inspection’ mode! You know… the double-take) I discovered that she was wearing mini hot pants and a tank top. I was relieved to know that my first impression was wrong. I was so relieved that she at least had on outer wear, I dismissed what I had seen and went inside the gas station. (Can we all say, “Desensitized!” That’s what I was. It’s a shame that I’ve seen so much in recent years that something ‘over the top’ was dismissed with an “Oh well.”)
Anyway, while waiting for my turn to prepay, a man came in the station, looked at me, motioned to where the lady in black was pumping gas and said, “I don’t know what made her put that on!” I looked at him, and he started laughing so hard, he had to lean over a display to keep from falling down. He kept saying, “I just don’t understand. I just don’t understand.” I wasn’t sure if he was ‘under the influence’ or just really tickled, the way he kept falling out laughing, but I took a chance (hoping that he wouldn’t explode and go off on me) and told him softly, “Be nice.” This only made him laugh harder.
Later, when I was pumping gas, this same stranger drove up to my pump, rolled down his window, and tried to explain his previous reaction. He said, “ I don’t usually say anything, but some people ought to know better. I can’t understand why she would wear that!” Then shaking his head, he drove off laughing again.” Well, I thought I understood. I figured she wore it because she thought that she looked acceptable, if not down right sexy. I’m sure she didn’t wear it thinking, “If I put this on, people are going to stare and laugh at me.”
Then this week, I saw the news footage about the male performer, wearing an angel costume and thong, who flew on wire over an audience and landed on the head of someone who was sitting in the large auditorium. It was reported that the incident was staged and perhaps the ‘victim’ knew what was going to take place. Still, I wouldn’t want someone’s thong in my face. Staged or accidental, it was simply one more thing I’ve seen recently that makes my heart sad.
I guess that the question that’s been rolling around in my head is, “How far is too far?” I mean, think about it… where are the boundary lines? Have I become desensitized by all that I see? Have my own boundaries been moved? And if so, who or what has persuaded me to move them? In which direction have they moved; towards holiness or away?”
I think that we are all so busy trying to express our individuality that it’s easy to reflect the values we see all around us and forget that we are supposed to be a reflection of the One who lives within us. If, however, Christ does not live inside us and direct our lives, then it’s easy for our boundary lines to become blurred or even disappear.
I had so much to say about this topic, that I’m breaking it up into several blogs. I hope that you will read what I have to say and comment. Please know that I’m trying not to be judgmental. I just think that we are living beneath our privilege and falling short of the excellence to which God has called us. In order to rise to the occasion, we need His wisdom (the ability to know and do the Godly thing; making right choices; choosing the best attitude, ethics, morals, communication, and action in every situation).
Therefore, I’m praying that God will open my eyes, so that I may see others and myself the way that He sees us. I realize that we are all doing the best we can with the amount of wisdom and understanding we have. The great thing is that whatever wisdom or prudence (good judgment) we have, God has promised to give us even more, if we ask Him for it! I’m asking Him daily for more wisdom.
Until the next time, I encourage you to re-examine the world around you and discover what has changed for the better and for the worse. Look at your own boundaries, see which have moved, and in which direction. Most of all, continue to love passionately those you don’t understand, and ask God to pour His wisdom into their lives and yours.
Questions to consider: Do you have boundaries? Are you true to them?
Scriptures to take with you on the journey:
1 Timothy 2:9 Also [I desire] that women should adorn themselves modestly and appropriately and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with [elaborate] hair arrangement or gold or pearls or expensive clothing,
Genesis 24;16 And the girl was very beautiful and attractive, chaste and modest, and unmarried. And she went down to the well, filled her water jar, and came up.
Matthew 23:12 Whoever exalts himself [with haughtiness and empty pride] shall be humbled (brought low), and whoever humbles himself [whoever has a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly] shall be raised to honor.
1 Corinthians 12:23 And those [parts] of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modesty and decorum),
James 1:21 So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.
May you hunger after wisdom and holiness. They are both important if you want to enjoy the journey!
© 2009 God’s Perspective
This post has been republished from the archives in case you missed it. You don’t want to miss the second part of Prudence – Good Judgment!