Teach Daughters the Importance of Modesty

by Dannah Gresh

I sat baking in the warmth of the Florida sunshine when she came by. Her hot pink jeans were filled with model-thin legs and topped off by a matching tight cotton T-shirt. Her belt and shoes were white leather, pulling everything together in a baby-doll look that pretended to say "innocent" but whispered "sexy." "I've got a problem," she admitted restlessly. "Ya know when you were talking about purity? Well, like, God was telling me something about myself then." She paused as tears welled up in her eyes and then she tried once again to verbalize what was causing her pain. "Well, now, I know that if I wear the right thing, they'll look. I can feel them watching me and ... well," she hesitated. "And what?" I prodded. "I like it," she blurted out as another tear emerged. "Then why are you crying?" I asked. "Because I also hate it," she said. "I hate it because of the way it makes me feel but I love it because...it's like I've found this power," she said finally. Modesty. Most parents recognize the need to address it, but many are at a loss as to how to do this. They fear creating a rebellious spirit or robbing the innocence of their daughters. At the end of many arguments, complacency quietly announces, "It'll be OK. It's just fashion." Is it just fashion? The Indianapolis News once wrote, "Those who minimize the correlation between immodesty and sexual promiscuity deceive themselves and others…." Studies have noted that a girl who looks older than she actually is has a greater risk of sexual activity. These girls are made to look older by fashion and make-up, most of which hints at or blatantly advertises their sexuality. There is a strong case to argue that the end result of today's immodest fashion is sexual promiscuity. It's time for parents to enter into the battle with no reservation. But how? I've discovered some powerful ideas that might help you deal with the subject effectively in your own home. • Help your daughter understand the power immodesty accesses. What happens when a person sees a woman walk by wearing a long, tight skirt with a slit all the way up the sides, or a low-cut blouse? The viewer pauses or even does a double take because his or her brain wants to complete the picture. It's simple visual science. Imagine the powerful multiplication of this principle in the mind of a man who's been created to crave the beauty of a woman. • Explain the special weakness of men for a woman's beauty. Proverbs 5:18,19 says, "Rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful deer; may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be exhilarated (intoxicated) by her love." The God of the universe looks down at woman and actually encourages man to be fully intoxicated by her sexuality. Wow! Let me explain something of what happens when a guy is "intoxicated." Many of our bodies' responses are activated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This system is not controlled by the will, but by the environment. Ever been in a fender-bender? Remember that sick feeling in your stomach and the rapid pulse? You felt physically different because of the environmental change. You cannot control these reactions by choice. The ANS forces the body to respond to the environment. Sexual arousal works the same way. Things in the environment-what we see, hear, and smell-create a sexual response. This is particularly strong in a man, since God created him to be visually stimulated. If he sees a woman walk by wearing revealing clothing, what happens in his body? He may notice the change in his pulse, his body temperature will rise and blood begins to pump rapidly through his body-clear physical changes. Of course, this is beautiful and celebrated by the God of the universe when the woman who creates the arousal is the man's wife. Sadly, the arousal isn't always created within the marriage union, but can be caused by the simple naive fashion choices of a young woman. While a man can choose how to respond to this arousal, he cannot control that it has occurred. What does continual exposure to visual stimulants do to a godly man? You might as well hang a noose around the neck of his spiritual life. It's not "just" fashion, as our often-blatant casual attitude towards dress displays, but a constant source of spiritual failure for men. • We must call immodesty what it really is. According to the Hebrew and Greek definitions, sin is missing God's intended purpose for our lives. Look back at that verse from Proverbs. God's purpose for a woman sexually is to "intoxicate" one man with her sensual beauty, but God says that the unique characteristics of her sensual beauty are to be treasured secrets-secrets to keep for one man. When a girl dresses immodestly and creates arousal in many men, that is missing the purpose of God's carefully crafted masterpiece. Immodesty is not "just fashion," then. It is sin. And we must call it that. • As parents, we can't remain complacent anymore. Here are a few tips to address the issue in your home. First, begin early. If you explain these simple principles to your daughter when she is eight, nine, and ten, rather than after she's fully developed, she is more likely to embrace them. Talking to her before she develops also allows you to avoid making her feel like her new curves are "bad." The issue is not her body. God made it and it is beautiful. The issue is the clothes. Second, be unashamed of dress standards that you may establish for your family. Following Christ is costly and we simply water down the relationship we can have with Him when we don't require those we disciple to pay the price. You should acknowledge that you know it hurts. It's a very real hurt to your daughter, but it's one worth embracing. Finally, don't compromise. Remember, you have wisdom that your daughter does not have. While you may understand what men and young boys will think when she walks through the hall in an outfit, she does not. Don't be fooled into compromising because it's a little battle. I'm convinced it's not so little. Taken from #/Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty/#, by Dannah Gresh, Moody Press, copyright 2002. Used with permission. Dannah Gresh is the author of And the Bride Wore White, which is the basis for a retreat that's been used in more than 2000 churches in multiple countries, reaching more than 60,000 teen girls. Her husband, Bob, is the author of #/Who Moved the Goal Post? Seven Winning Strategies in the Sexual Integrity Game Plan for teen boys/#. They have two children, Rob and Lexi. Thanks to Live It (liveit.crosswalk.com).