I am ugly. I am fat. And I certainly don’t keep my house clean enough. More often than I care to admit, these thoughts blanket my mind like a dense fog. If you will be brutally honest, you will admit that these thoughts, or similar ones, cloud your mind also. I can hear many of you, even now, disagreeing with me. “She shouldn’t think those things about herself.” “She is beautiful.” “She’s had six babies in 11 years. Give her some time to lose weight.” (Be careful, though. That last comment has the hidden meaning that I am fat and do need to lose weight.) I have even had conversations with my pastor about these issues, and his reassurances that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, although helpful, have not “cured” me.
Why? Why is this a continual struggle?
The author of “Worthless women and the men who make them” (http://www.danoah.com/2010/10/worthless-women-and-men-who-make-them.html) is right. Despite his ungodly word choices (even profanity substitutes are inappropriate and distracting), he is right. Here are my responses to his main points.
- “We've replaced that beauty with a standard that is, and always will be, impossible for them to hit.” By “that beauty,” I believe the author means the natural – I would say God given – beauty of each woman. Our culture, focused on perfection and sensuality, feeds us normal women lies that we are not beautiful. How can I compete with a cover model? What this author doesn’t realize is that the Bible not only reassures us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) but also that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) – even women. For further reading on this subject, try John and Stasi Eldredge’s book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul and a Bible study book by a friend of mine and sister in the faith, Valorie Quesenberry, titled Reflecting Beauty: Embracing the Creator’s Design.
- “It doesn't take opening your mouth to propound these things. . . All it takes is you and me, stopping and looking.” This is called lust. If you are married, Jesus also called it adultery (see Matthew 5:27-30). I am blessed with a husband who takes this seriously. The few times that we go to Gomorrah – uh, excuse me, the mall – and pass by Victoria’s Secret he dons his figurative blinders and suddenly enters into deep conversation with me, the kind of conversation where you look in the other person’s eyes. What this author doesn’t realize, though, is that you don’t need to leave your house to be inundated with salacious images. Every time you turn on your television, most video games, most sites on the web, you invite this into your personal space. “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see. . . .”
- “I can't believe I am going to say what I am about to say. I can't believe I actually do want what I am about to ask. But I do. Desperately. So, I'm going to throw it out there. I think we need women to wear clothing that shows a little less instead of a little more.” Finally! Finally, this truth is being seen by more than just those in the holiness church. Modesty is an integral part of a healthy society, and a necessity for a healthy church. What this author doesn’t realize is that he is preaching the beauty of holiness. What this author doesn’t realize is that the Bible sets forth standards for dress and behavior that, if followed, would virtually eliminate these issues of immodesty, immorality, and lust. Deuteronomy 22:5 tells us that men should not wear women’s clothing and that women should not wear women’s clothing. (Before you think that we don’t follow the Old Testament any longer, remember the Ten Commandments and 2 Timothy 3:16 which tells us that ALL scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction in righteousness, etc.) Skirts, as long as they are not a second skin, are much more modest than even the loosest-fitting pants. In Genesis 3, the Lord made the first clothing for a sinful Adam and Eve because their “aprons” were not enough. The original word that describes what the Lord made is “coat.” Think historically of what a coat covers. Does it reveal cleavage? Does it even reveal the thigh? Does it have the word “PINK” across the derriere? Dr. Allan Brown of God’s Bible School & College in Cincinnati has written a terrific booklet which explains the Biblical basis of modesty.
- My sister-in-law’s Facebook comment was that we should teach our daughters early in life what true beauty is and remind them often. Amen, sister! One of the best ways to teach our daughters is to model it ourselves. (Lord, help me to have a better attitude about myself in front of my three precious daughters!) I wrote the following in the Note to Parents at the beginning of my children’s picture book, A New Dress for the Princess: A Story about Modesty. “Our world certainly does not teach modesty or the many benefits derived therefrom. Thus, modesty must be taught daily to our children from a very early age. What is unacceptable at age 16 should also be unacceptable at age 6. I wrote this book not only to help my girls visualize modesty but also to help them see the beauty of modesty as well as to jumpstart conversations with my girls about appropriate dressing and modesty.” I also wrote this in the Note to Parents in my children’s book, Pretty Is as Pretty Does: A Story about True Beauty (another Princess story). “Our world seems to be obsessed with physical appearance – to the exclusion of examination and development of the heart. Yet, the Bible is clear that the Lord God considers the inner man to be of utmost importance – almost to the exclusion of physical appearance. Of course, we should not be surprised that the world’s priorities are diametrically opposed to the mind of God.”
I know this has been a long posting, and I am grateful for all of you who have stuck it out and read the entire article. These issues are a passion of mine, and I rejoice that perhaps the beauty of Biblical holiness is growing.