On Bikinis, Swimwear and the topic of “modest” clothing in general

30 Sep
Young Woman Shopping for Clothes

I quit wearing bikinis shortly after I got married. Marriage opened my eyes to a whole different perspective on things, and I just couldn’t, in good conscience, wear one in public anymore. While I wish I had the time/discipline to get back the “bikini” body I had (prior to the birth of two children, three miscarriages and various health hang-ups), the only time I use the one I still have is as underwear under outdoor clothing for things like rafting or splashing in spray fountains at the park or such. I think the human body is beautiful, in many shapes and sizes. It’s an amazing work of art and a fabulous display of the Creator’s creativity. But in the Fall, sin complicated a lot of things, and mankind lost the right to expose the human body as we think fitting. We neither govern our own bodies properly without sin, nor do those around us govern themselves sinlessly toward it.

Clothing is a good and gracious gift from a God who knows our weaknesses and seeks to help us in the midst of them. There is a wide variance allowable for what is considered “modest”, and this can vary considerably from culture to culture and time period to time period. But I think the best guidelines for what we wear are 1) that we are not self-conscious in our choice of clothing for our various activities, 2) that our clothing works to reveal character rather than skin or “shapeliness” and 3) that areas of our bodies typically deemed “private” and “sexual”, especially within the culture around us, are sufficiently covered so as to not inadvertently be exposed to the eyes of those around us.

Different aspects of the human body trip up different people  in different cultures. It is simply kind and considerate to strive to be as little of a stumbling block as possible to those around us, regardless of our personal preferences or comfort levels in clothing. I understand in some cultures, this can be exceedingly difficult to discern and do (I think particularly of some muslim cultures where the act of discerning between what is conforming to an ungodly culture and what is exercising Christian charity toward the culture in modes of dress can be complex). But, as women, and particularly Christian wives, we are charged in Scripture not to seek to make as much of a statement about ourselves as our bodies and/or clothing allow, but to make a world-changing, life-altering statement about the Gospel through our character and demeanor.

1 Peter 3: 1-6 ~ In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives. Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming. (emphasis mine)

(Disclaimer: The photo at the top of this post, as far as I can tell, is free for the posting on a personal blog as long as the photo credit is showing. If I am wrong, please let me know so I can remove it. Thanks.)

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