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The Message of the Blue Dress

It was more silent than “Make America Great Again,” but Melania Trump’s Inauguration suit had a slogan as well: #JustBecauseYouCanDoesn’tMeanYouShould. She’s a young, former model who could have chosen to dress in a way that reflects this current culture – casual and/or seductive. Instead, her tribute to dresses of the past promoted elegance and modesty.

Everyone’s talking about how beautiful she was, and there’s a lot of chatter right now about female leaders who are promoting their causes, but what can women learn from the First Lady’s silent leadership through her much-admired outfit?

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

  1. Even if you have a figure that enables you to wear revealing clothing, remember that your body can be appreciated just as much when wearing fuller coverage. “Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her…the king loved Esther…and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen…” (Esther 2:15b, 17)

2. You can still present yourself in a current, stylish manner even if you purposely choose not to participate in certain fashion trends. And an extra benefit to you is that you become more confident when you display such courage and strength. “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Cor. 10:23-24)

3. Comfort isn’t everything. Perhaps Melania’s hands grew hot and sweaty wearing gloves for hours. Maybe they weren’t even texting gloves. She sacrificed her pleasure for the country’s best, for all the young girls watching. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4)

For more Biblical passages and practical application for purposeful dressing, click here.

It’s NOT Your Inner Beauty That Matters

Fact: There’s an unwritten message that your outer beauty really matters. And there’s the ever-popular written message that your inner beauty is all that matters. But neither one is right. There are more facts to consider.

Fact: Females are hard-wired with a need to feel special/valuable/lovely/beautiful.

Fact: Some people can tell a girl she is beautiful all day long and she may never believe it.

Fact: One certain person can affirm a woman’s worth one time and in that moment she may forever change what it takes to make her feel special.

Fact: Without a solid plan for dealing with emotions, women have a tendency to express their feelings through their bodies, impacting the way they eat and dress.

Fact: Society’s ideal image for a beautiful woman is physical attractiveness (usually in the form of sensuality) with a little bit of internal character to shine through. If a woman doesn’t have this magical formula, as consolation she is told inner beauty is all that matters anyway. But how could she believe that when she knows what society really thinks?

Fact: Christian females are told God makes them beautiful, God thinks they are beautiful, God doesn’t make anything less than beautiful, God cares about their inner beauty and that’s all that matters etc., but those messages often feel trite to women. Girls need comprehensive truth that deals with their deep need for loveliness, and a process for understanding how to satisfy that desire.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Phase One

  • Take a retreat into God’s Word where you will find the answer to your deepest longings. It’s not external or internal beauty; it’s imperishable beauty. (Isaiah 62:3; Ezekiel 26:20b; 1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Cor. 15:42-55; 1 Pet. 1:3-9; 23-25; 1 Pet. 3:3-5)
  • Make a list of what you think you need in order to have beauty and value, and then check to see if any of your beliefs came from God’s Word. Keep the ones that do, and pitch the rest.

Phase Two

  • Let the story of Adam and Eve teach you that wanting to be anything more than to be made in the image of God means the same thing as you actually wanting to BE God. (Gen. 1:26a-27; 3:6; 5:1)
  • Confess and repent of all the ways you have under-appreciated being made in His image and for venerating this world’s icons of beauty. Then enjoy the freedom and benefits of His forgiveness, and embrace this gift of imperishable beauty. (Ex. 20:4; Deut. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:49)

Phase Three

  • Spend time with the most beautiful person to ever live. No cream or surgical procedure, nor character-building exercise can have as much impact on your beauty as the living Christ can. (Ps. 27:4; 50:2; 96:6; Jn. 4:39; Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 2:1-11; 3:21)
  • Consider making a bold request of someone you trust. Ask them the difference they see in you when you spend quality time in prayer and Bible reading, and when you don’t. Let the answer motivate you to never miss out on consistent time with the Source of all your worth.
  • Notice the emotions behind the way you treat your body. How often are you eating something because you need comfort, believe it will feel good, or you’re telling yourself that you deserve a treat? Next time you are experiencing a craving, give your relationship with Jesus a chance to carry your burdens in that moment. Read Scripture, journal a prayer, listen to worship music, or go into creation for a time. Imperishable beauty begins with this relationship.

Phase Four

  • Be led by your newfound love of imperishable beauty in Christ to help you decide how much and when to eat according to your body’s needs…determine what kind of exercise will keep you physically fit to serve others…and examine how your personal fashion style diminishes or enhances your ability to reflect imperishable beauty, build His Kingdom, and honor Him. (Prov. 31:22; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:12-20; 9:27; 10:31; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 3:3)
  • Track your results. Compare your old viewpoints about beauty and worth to what they become once you’ve progressed through these phases. Notice moments when you are tempted to revisit your old perspective about beauty, and quickly pray for a solid grasp on the imperishable beauty that starts with Jesus and then moves onto you and through you for completion. (Phil. 1:6)

The Teenage Girl’s Modesty Scale (A Linear Way to View Modesty)

Imagine a 3-point scale. On one end is the world’s view of modesty, which is actually immodesty. Slide down to the second point and you have rules and dress codes. Finally, the third point, on the other end of the scale, is pure modesty. Most Christian teen girls live somewhere on this scale and they often struggle with it because 1) there are temptations coming at them from the immodest end; 2) the second point  – rules –  falls short of pure modesty, rarely achieves desired results, and stirs up useless emotions; and 3) true modesty often feels unattainable.

Keeping Room Tips:

1.Visualizing modesty on this 3-point scale is a great way to start a conversation with a teen girl in your life. Take her out for a smoothie or on a walk through the neighborhood together, and ask her if she feels like this scale makes sense based on her experience.

2.Then you can use the following questions to continue to draw out her thoughts and feelings on the topic: 

  •  What do you think the motives are behind each of the 3 points of this scale: immodesty, adhering to a dress code, and pure modesty?  (Answers: Immodesty is usually motivated by a desire to fit in; only following a dress code is often motivated by a desire to follow rules; but true modesty is motivated by love.)
  •  What do you think the world values more – lifestyle or holiness? What do you think modesty values more? (Answers: The world values lifestyle over holiness, and true modesty values holiness over lifestyle.)
  •  Which points of the scale are focused on self and which are focused on others? (Answers: Immodesty is all about “me” because there is no regard for how it makes others think and feel; rules and dress codes are still all about “me” and how well I follow the rules and display self-respect (whether I have it or not); and true modesty is all about “others” because it is so willing to think about how others may be effected.)
  • Which point on the scale has the most freedom associated with it?  (Answer: True modesty has the most freedom because a girl is free to express herself creatively and with love; immodesty is really an abuse of freedom; and rules and dress codes restrict a girl’s freedom since they are imposed by others.)
  •  Why are rules and dress codes are so ineffective? (Answer: They don’t create a pure heart for the Lord, for others, or for one’s self. Additionally, because this second point is placed between the two ends, it just feels the tug between the two forces instead of having any true position of its own.)
  •  What would the benefits be to a Christian teen girl if she were to decide to pursue true modesty? (Answers: She would be filled with the beauty of the holy Lord; she would have more of an opportunity to shine Christ’s light because her modest style would also focus on her face, actions, and words; she would have the satisfaction of knowing that her sacrificial efforts to find modest, fashionable clothing are a gift to all the males in her life; she would be obeying Romans 12:1 by honoring God instead of flaunting her body; she would demonstrate her understanding that her body is God’s masterpiece meant to be cherished and protected; she would be committed to a Person instead of to the world; she could consider herself to be relationship- and others-oriented; and she would be empowered by the Lord to become increasingly holy.)

Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God?  (1 Cor. 6:19, Amp.)

Aging According to the Kingdom

Modern culture advertises the aging process as something negative that you are to resist and conceal. And perhaps society has reached this view because of the many persons who live with no future hope and the elderly who put forth no effort. But have you considered what the Kingdom culture has to say about aging?

“Gray hair is a Crown of Splendor.” (Prov. 16:31) Do not misinterpret this verse to mean “Thou shall not color your gray hair.”  Rather, this verse is a perfect companion to “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Mt. 25:21) This verse reminds you that the Lord is waiting to crown you (with a Crown of Splendor!) when you have reached the end of serving Him in this life, and are ready to enter complete rest in eternal life. This verse can provide so much relief for you, and enables you to accept aging in a much more peaceful way than the world would have you to view it.

“The righteous will bear fruit in old age.” (Ps. 92:12-14) The message in this verse is the exact opposite of the message given by the world today. The righteous, those with Jesus active in their hearts, need not enter their senior years fretting over aging. He wants to keep you occupied (Eccl. 5:20) and bear fruit through you (Jn. 15:7). Life-changing prayers can make it to heaven even from your rocking chair.

You do not have to be “stuck in your ways” – even at an old age. God never stops helping you change. “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born.” (Gen. 21:5) This was the son through whom the forever covenant with God was made…and he was born to his father in old age. No doubt Abram changed more about himself than his name when he became the father to the nations as an elderly man.

Keeping Room Tips: Society has looked around and seen those in the older population who dread death, who don’t produce good fruit even though they could, and who are very much “stuck in their ways.”  And it has concluded that senior living is to be dreaded (unless you can afford to live in a fancy retirement community in Florida). But it doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Dig into God’s Word for yourself, asking Him to lead you to verses and stories about aging according to the Kingdom.
  • Make a Mission Statement or an Aging Plan for how you will live out your senior years according to what you find while exploring God’s Word.
  • Encourage your family members to dismiss the world’s view of aging and assume the Kingdom view.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Is. 46:4)

The Biblical View of Beauty & Modesty: A “MYTH & FACT” QUIZ (Part 3)

The myths and facts quiz Part 1 (click here) and Part 2 (click here) address Biblical Fashion and Modesty Basics, and now the article series concludes with myths and facts quiz Part 3, the Heart.

Myth or Fact? The Bible (especially 1 Pet. 3:4) teaches that you need to have a quiet, reserved personality-type to be beautiful and precious to God.

Myth. The Bible says that a gentle and quiet spirit (not personality-type) is of great worth to God. Having this kind of spirit means to quiet your self-focus, self-reliance, pride, and complaining; it doesn’t mean that you need to hush an outgoing, loving, joy-filled personality. Give Him the trust and glory for transforming you into a beauty that lasts – a uniquely gifted, beautiful, respected, and precious version of you, minus the loud folly of a life being run by sin. (Prov. 9:13; Prov. 31:30; Lk. 9:23; Jn. 3:30; 1 Cor. 12:11; 1 Pet. 3:4)

Myth or Fact?  The Bible doesn’t expect a girl to take personal responsibility for what guys think about her body, or for their lust problems.

Myth. God’s Word is filled with direction for loving others well and not causing others to fall. A woman’s carelessness to dress in a way that causes temptation for guys could reveal a lack of thoughtfulness towards men and a possible lack of readiness and trustworthiness to be someone’s wife. Also, both young women and young men are to be encouraged and supported in the area of self-control. If a woman expects a man to have self-control and discipline around a woman’s body, then she can model the same self-control and discipline in what she chooses to wear. (Lk. 17:1; 1 Cor. 8:9; 1 Tim. 3:11; Titus 2:4, 6)

Myth or Fact? The Bible emphasizes love. All of this emphasis on modesty makes God seem like the “fashion police.”

Myth. Yes the Bible emphasizes love, but not the world’s version. God’s love is grander than a soft, incomplete earthly version. God’s love is so big that calling you towards modesty is a great display of His love for you and all of His children. When a girl receives this kind of love from Him, she longs for modesty in such a way that she becomes even more modest than the fashion police could ever accomplish in her. It comes from her Christ-molded heart. Jesus asks you to lead a life with lowliness of mind, selflessness, and an absence of vanity, thinking of the best interest of those around you. When you choose beautiful modesty, you show respect to yourself…you show respect to the males in your life…and you show respect to God. Now that is a true heart of love. (Ps. 45:11; Eph. 4:2, 17, 22-24; Phil. 2:3-5; 1 Pet. 2:17)

Keeping Room Tips:  

Grab a friend and take turns going through each other’s hearts and closets together. When examining your heart, there’s no need to be condemning about past choices made. Let repentance gently open your heart for God to restyle it. When examining your closet, there’s no need to go to the extreme of having a plain and boring wardrobe. Design a Biblical, beautiful, stylish, fun, modest wardrobe; and then enjoy your Glorious Makeover: Jesus Edition.

The Biblical View of Beauty & Modesty: A “MYTH & FACT” QUIZ (Part 2)

Part 1 of this series (click here to review) revealed myths pertaining to the relevance of the Bible’s teaching on Modesty. Part 2 of the quiz continues here to provide you with more myths and facts to see if you know what the Bible has to say about Style:

MYTH OR FACT? The Bible teaches that a girl’s outfits should emphasize her face; not draw attention to her toned, shapely, or thin body.

FACT. It is in your face and in the sparkle of your eye that others can see a radiant glow – reflecting the time you’ve spent time with Him. It is in your face that they can see the light of Christ who is alive in you, and this light helps them to believe in Him. It is in the warmth of your smile that people can feel His love through you and glimpse the fact that He calls each one of them “the apple of His eye.” And godly guys trying to resist inappropriate thoughts and temptation appreciate it when a girl helps them focus on her face. Your face is the part of your body that has the incredible power of bringing people closer to Jesus. (Ex. 34:35; Ps. 17:8; Zech. 2:8; Mt. 6:22; Jn. 12:46)

MYTH OR FACT? The Bible supports the idea of a good sense of style.

FACT. Purple-cloth retailer Lydia and the well-dressed Proverbs 31 Woman both exemplified the value of a beautiful style that draws others into their love and care. But their sense of fashion didn’t become more important than their sense of prayer, service, and work for the Lord. They believed in dressing in a beautiful, creative, approachable, God-honoring way without making their wardrobe the source of their self-worth and purpose. (Prov. 31:10-31; Acts 16:14-15)

MYTH OR FACT?  The Bible doesn’t have anything to say about fashionable shoes.

MYTH. God told Moses to remove his shoes on holy ground, but some of today’s fashionable shoes for women are so uncomfortable and difficult to wear you have to remove them just to walk across the parking lot. That’s not what He had in mind. He wants to ready your feet in His gospel of peace; He wants to make your feet like the feet of a victorious and free deer who is enabled to go to great heights; and He promises that carrying the Good News to others will make your feet beautiful. Girls who can’t walk in their shoes will stumble behind and draw more negative attention to themselves than the girls who wear the kinds of fashionable shoes that allow them to move modestly and freely so they can be available to encourage and support others. (Ex. 3:5; 2 Sam. 22:34, 37; Is. 52:7; Hab. 3:19).

Keeping Room Tips:  

To the world, there is only one option – fashionably immodest. However, the Bible invites women to enjoy so much more freedom than that. The Bible encourages style and strong character and the creativity to modestly connect them together. What an enjoyable, compassionate, and God-honoring combination! Stay tuned for the conclusion of Beauty and Modesty Myths and Facts in the next Keeping Room article.