It was a hot summer day. The sun was shining and temperatures were on the rise. I was headed to my friend Marie’s house on my purple bicycle. “What a perfect day!” I thought to myself as I came up her driveway; my favorite thing to do with Marie was to swim in their beautiful backyard - they lived right on a gorgeous lake, as did many pre-teens our age.
Marie and I went downstairs to change. Instantly she pulled out a brightly colored bikini and said, “this one is mine.” She pushed the other skimpy swimsuits around in the drawer and looked up at me and said, “How about you wear this one?” It was my dream come true - an in-style, top-of-the-line, gorgeous-as-you-can-get bikini. But, I knew I’d be in big trouble with my mom if I walked outside with that much of my skin on display, so with a deep sigh, I told Marie that I better not wear that one.
After a long day in the sun, I went home with a thought that pressed my mind for the next several years - girls who wore bikinis got a lot of attention from guys. Even the Christian guys. I had taken mental note of how Marie behaved differently when she was wearing that swimsuit; she was more confident and flirty, she walked differently to draw extra attention to her hips.
Most girls of this generation are not privy to the fact that the allure of this world is completely empty. When I was a pre-teen, I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I had been indoctrinated by the culture. I didn’t realize that I was believing the lie that those friends were all captive to; I was believing that I could still be “...an example of the believers…” (1 Tim. 4:12, KJV) while intentionally showing-off my body. A Christ centered woman values the people around her and desires to mirror the beauty of Jesus in the way she chooses to dress; she is not consumed with gaining attention from other people, because she is completely content to live only for the praise of her King.
In an age where wearing what is really just underwear and a bra in public is considered acceptable, modesty has never been harder. Even the word “modesty” gets many girls gagging.
Noelle, a 17-year-old senior had the same thought many Christian girls have had;
“I know the Bible says modesty is important and everything, but I don’t think bikinis hurt anyone. As a matter of fact, it’s really a way for me to worship God because He made my body. It’s His work of art and I’m just displaying it…. And I don’t mean that in a prideful or inappropriate way at all, I just like to keep up with the current trends, you know.”
Me, Noelle, Marie. All of us had asked the same question - Is it honoring to God wear a bikini? We each came up with different answers. Marie decided that since all those Christian guys gave her so much attention when she’s wore one, it must be fine! Noelle felt that it was an act of worship and a totally correct thing to do, but I’m about to suggest something radical and completely different from those answers. Are you ready?
What if God actually intends for that much skin only to be revealed to one man - the man you marry?
If you desire to honor and glorify Christ in every aspect of your life, you must be willing to submit in the arena of swimwear. It’s as Elisabeth Elliot has said, we cannot give our hearts to God and keep our bodies for ourselves. Will you listen to the screaming voice of the culture, calling you to bring your body to be viewed by any on-looker? The culture will tell you that it’s empowering, correct, sexy, “the real you," pure, decent, good, and right. I challenge that notion; since when have we, as Christian women, been able to trust the voice of the culture? Don’t we realize that the voice of the culture is puppeteered by the Enemy?
“Wait a second, Cassidy, you’re not actually suggesting that I should ditch the bikini, are you?”
I am asking you to do something that only a few in every generation will do; stop listening to the voice of the culture and tune in, instead, to hear the voice of your heavenly Prince who has given His life that you might live. We must dress in a way that glorifies Him; when our eyes are fully fixed on Jesus, all that is important to Him becomes important to us.
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. And it is quite clear that exposing all skin except the most private areas is not honoring to Him.
“We are to be vigilantly on guard against any unclean word, thought, action, or attitude that would dare defile His sacred temple. To become the holy dwelling place of the Most High is the essence of true set-apartness… Scripture is very clear about what it means to be the holy temple of God (see 2 Cor. 6:16-17)…. We are to be, as Amy Carmichael put it, ‘completely separate in spirit from the world and wholly devoted to Christ.’” (Leslie Ludy).
What is your ultimate goal - to be trendy or to be a woman completely set-apart for the King of Kings? If you choose to follow after Jesus with all your heart, it definitely won’t be easy, but it will be worth every struggle, surrender, and sacrifice.
As a pre-teen, I really wanted to turn the heads of the guys in my life by presenting my body. After all, no guy is going to want some girl who won’t be his supermodel, right?
A Christ-built man’s goal is not to find a woman with a great body, but great relationship with Jesus. You can be completely confident if a man in your life is pressuring you to show more of your skin, then he is not God’s best; men like that will not protect you or lead you closer to Christ.
As women, we have the natural desire to make ourselves as beautiful as possible, but that desire can easily become an idol and unnecessary focus if we do not keep Jesus as our central focus. My desire to turn the heads of the guys in my life was deeply rooted in both pride and fear. I was prideful in the sense that I felt that I was oh-so-attractive that I should be on display; and I was fearful in the sense that I didn’t think any guy would ever like me for who I was if he hadn’t had a little “sneak peak.”
So, my dear sister, it all comes down to this, who are you trying to please? Jesus or those guys?
Jesus went to the cross for you! He laid His life down so that you could be free in Him, and as His daughter you have the incredible honor and responsibility to represent Him. With everything you do, you are proclaiming to the world, “this is an acceptable thing for the servant of Jesus Christ to be doing.” Those guys who may initially give you attention for the amount of skin you have revealed probably don’t actually love you--they love your body, and that is not Christ-centered love. That is self-seeking love, and most likely lust.
I would much rather live and dress for Jesus, who has shown me the depths of His love by taking my place, than show off my skin for a guy who will likely find someone else as soon as his eyes get bored of me. Jesus never stops loving me and being faithful to me - I have no need to show more of my body to keep His attention. He made our bodies and He has commanded us in His word to be modest. There are no ifs, ands, or buts.
“...Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control…” 1 Timothy 2:9-10, ESV
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV
Will you obey? That is the true question.
We see clear as day in Scripture that we are called to be modest - there’s no explaining it away. If I truly understand what it means to be a servant of Christ, then I understand that modesty is not an aching burden, but rather an assignment from my King that would be my pleasure to live out.
Some will read this and conclude, “well, that Cassidy is very closed-minded! What does a sixteen-year-old girl know about modesty anyway?!” I invite those who feel that way to battle that one out with God - modesty as His command, not mine. (Hint: God always wins, so trying to excuse yourself now will not excuse you when you answer to Him for your every action [see 2 Cor. 5:10, Rom. 14:12]).
Others will say, “oh, maybe I should think about modesty in the future” but have no resolve to live it out.
And the tiny minority will seize the call to follow after Christ in the arena of clothing and make Him known through the way they dress.
Which will you be?