Modesty, MTV and Who's Really Dressing Your Daughter?

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“I wish more men had seen my wife in a bikini before we got married,” said no Christian man ever.

My last blog post “All God’s Daughters Wear Bikinis?” has stirred up quite a reaction. It seems that modesty is an issue that needs to be addressed more often.

I believe part of the reason for this longing is that there’s been a lack of teaching and instruction. I can honestly say that, as a man, it’s awkward to address the issue of modesty to a woman, but I believe it’s necessary. I truly believe that most young women who wear immodest clothing or bathing suits do so out of ignorance rather than a desire to incite sexual attention.

Some women have protested, “I’m not responsible for a man’s thoughts. I can’t let fear of causing a man to sin control my decisions about how to dress.” Ultimately, the Holy Spirit will lead you toward righteousness much better than a guy with a blog.

But, I’ll argue that spiritually mature Christians will consider their weaker brother and sister and sacrifice their rights for the sake of others (Romans 14:13). That’s what Jesus did after all, right?

Maybe I’m just uniquely weak, but when you stand in front of me in a bikini, I feel the need to look away from you. I feel awkward. I don’t want to have a conversation with you, because I want to leave your proximity. I don’t trust my eyes to not wander where they don’t belong, so I’m going to flee temptation.

Wait, whose body is it anyway?

Every Christian’s body belongs to God. Our body is God’s dwelling place.

Secondly, our body belongs to our spouse. If you’re not yet married, your body belongs to your future spouse. Therefore, I should protect my body as a steward of something that doesn’t primarily belong to me! If I consistently harm my body by overindulging in unhealthy food, I’m sinning against God and my wife.

Wives: The discussion about modesty isn’t primarily driven by concern of whether you might cause someone to sin, although that’s a factor … help a brother out here! The main issue is that your body does not primarily belong to you. Your body belongs to God first, then to your husband, and then to you. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:4).

Your husband might give you his full blessing to wear a bikini. I’m going to question his judgment, but if you both feel good about it, and you feel no personal conviction against it, then seize the day. Hopefully, you’re not placing a stumbling block in someone’s path … we’ll hold our breath and hope for the best!

Hey dads, guess who’s responsible for your daughter’s modesty?!

Ryan Visconti I’m the executive pastor at Celebration Christian Center (in Mesa, AZ), and I’m married to the incomparable and beautiful Ms. Amy. We share a passion for coffee, pizza, frozen yogurt, and ministry. We are newlyweds having way too much fun!

More from Ryan Visconti or visit Ryan at http://ryanvisconti.com/

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  • Brian

    While i agree with you on the modesty issue, why do you write as if EVERY young male and female is desitined to be married some day? Our daughters need to keep themselves pure “for their future husband”…what is that? Where in the Bible does it say everyone will, or even should get married? While it may be the norm in our culture, I, for one, am trying to instil in my daughter a desire to follow God, and Him alone. If that means getting married, then fine. If it means staying single….then Biblically, according to the words of Jesus, that is BETTER. And I won’t be pushing her one direction or the other, and I will stand up to any well-meaning brother or sister in Christ that tries to insinuate one way is more Godly than the other!
    Now I will get off my soapbox, and we can continue the discussion about modesty….

  • Shirley Rayburn

    I agree with Brian’s comment and think it leads to an important discussion regarding what should a woman or man’s motivation for purity be? Is it only concern for future spouse? I was single in Evangelical Christian church ministry into my mid-30’s. There was a season when I was sure that God’s best for my future was that I continue as a 1 Cor. 7 servant. My motivation for purity needed to be more than “if a man comes along”. I drew strength from Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled…. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:6, 8 NIV)

    • Brian

      I honestly didn’t think anyone would agree with me on this! Thanks, Shirley!
      I had the same attiitude when I met my wife. in fact, the first day I met her, I told her I was never getting married (no joke!). Of course, God has other plans. But it’s proof you don’t have to be always looking in order to find “Mr or Mrs. Right”…..

  • http://www.churchaccomplished.com/ Dave

    Believers need to be aligned with Jesus more than culture. You see culture as having stripped modesty from the church, and it has. Sadly, culture has also inserted oppressive standards on women into the church which seems less noticed. Until you advocate men covering themselves similarly to women to prevent lust, honor spouses, and wear more than underwear sized clothing publicly, you’ve remained locked in the cultural misogyny.

    • Debwoolsey

      To what oppressive standards are you referring? In general to be modestly clothed is not an oppressive standard.

      I don’t see any men with their shirts open to show cleavage, shorts that are shorter than the pockets hanging out the leg, or their clothes looking like they are painted on. I’m thankful for those young ladies who don’t do these things.

      • http://www.churchaccomplished.com/ Dave

        Deb, certainly modesty is not oppressive, but how it get’s applied at times is. Reread Ryan’s provocative article and see who is addressed and in what context. Wive’s are told to their body does not belong to them. Men are asked if they want other men ogling their wives? Dad’s are told their daughter’s modesty is their concern. Potential future husband’s rights are addressed. What’s missing is addressing modesty concerns to men, sons, and future wives “rights.” No mention of inappropriate male swim-wear (speedo), lusting due immodest male clothing. No mention of husbands covering up to keep their body private for wives or future wives. It’s just all so one-sided that the sexist cultural objectification of women is assumed by the church and accepted as normative, and the modesty rules get created from that flawed assumption.

        • pastor in training

          I don’t think he would disagree with you on the issue on modesty concerns to men sons and future wives. he was writing about women. Sounds like you should write a article , go ahead I think it would be well recieved.

          • http://www.churchaccomplished.com/ Dave

            But that is the point…these messages are *always* directed at women to protect the boys. It’s universally one-sided applicaton becomes a repressive assault on women based in a cultural misogyny that is not found in the bible. Scriptures use the “one another” reciprocity repeatedly and the modesty crusaders never do.

        • RBN

          Also, men are aroused by SIGHT, women by TOUCH. A dude in a banana hammock, while immoddest, just doesn’t have the same affect on a woman as a clevage bareing woman does on a man. Just facts. That’s y it seems so one sided, but it’s also y the Bible says that “it’s not good for a man to touch a woman”

      • Guest

        Women and girls are always getting beaten up over modesty issues. And some standards are oppressive. I grew up in a traditional holiness culture which is uber conservative. Even pants are considered immodest. I don’t subscribe to that thinking. As for men, men go shirtless. That can be a little uncomfortable. And it can also bring up feelings from women. I’m with Dave on this.

  • hbjorns

    This is the first time I feel the need to comment on one of these blogs in disagreement. I am a maturing Christian woman (because let’s face it there is no such thing as a “Mature Christian” as that would suggest you have no more maturing to do :) I am a mother of 4 young girls…..and I wear a bikini. I wear a modest bikini ie it does not have all my bits hanging out and it is the right size for my body, because let’s face it there is a bikini and there are some “bikini’s” but personally I believe that there is not much of a difference between a bikini and a swimsuit, the only difference is that the stomach and back is not covered with very clingy fabric. I am not talking about eenyweeny bitsy bikini’s I am talking about correctly fitting and sensible bikini’s. But some of the statements here above suggest to me a man who has issues deep inside him, statements like “Maybe I’m just uniquely weak, but when you stand in front of me in a
    bikini, I feel the need to look away from you. I feel awkward. I don’t
    want to have a conversation with you, because I want to leave your
    proximity. I don’t trust my eyes to not wander where they don’t belong,
    so I’m going to flee temptation” Those kind of statements tell me the problem is yours and not the wearer of the bikini. But let me ask you, how do you feel about a woman in a swimsuit? because let’s face it, they reveal just as much (appart from the stomach and back as I mentioned earlier) Do you feel the need to run then too…..would you not want to have a conversation with me if I were wearing a swimsuit or would that be fine? Also your statement “I’m just going to say what I believe: Parents, you don’t even have the right to give your daughter permission to wear a bikini.” WOW are you really going to put down law on people? We are free from Law, remember……….please hear my heart here, it is so obvious that you have issues with women in bikini’s that I think you should not be making such lawmaking statements for other parents to follow. Becaue what comes next? That We can not give our daughters jewellery? That Our daughters can not wear makeup (no matter what age they are)? Please, I urge you to examine your heart and motivations for posting this.

  • Jeffrey Ross Thomas

    You make the point that it is possible to disagree with you and not necessarily be sinning. If you really believe that, don’t speak in absolutes. If you don’t, call sin what it is. I don’t write that to be harsh but to be clear and also (I hope) to be kind and loving. The argument for modesty is entirely an argument to protect the weaker brother which is why I like looking at Romans 14. Below is a passage (from the NIV) I find particularly helpful:

    19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

    22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

    I have always held on to the fact that if something is a debatable matter, it is better not to do it than to cause someone to stumble. The example here is food but dress works just as well. What has struck me recently is what it says in verse 22. When speaking about a debatable matter, don’t talk about what you believe. That is very striking and I had to examine myself when this hit me. Beforehand, I had been all for sharing my opinions on whatever random topic runs through my head. The problem, especially for teachers, is that when you describe what you would do it is interpreted as what others should do. If this is an area of freedom, all there is to say is to enjoy this freedom without causing others pain. If this is an area where you have a definitive word from God, please share it without equivocation.

  • Guest commenter

    There is a very disturbing undertone to the whole article. The writer is objectifying daughters by viewing them as a possession – to be passed from the father’s ownership to the husband’s ownership. ‘Modesty’ is to protect the value of the object – much as if it were a product on the shelf at Best Buy. If the packaging has been opened, then it is worth less. Never once did I see any consideration that the daughter is a person in her own right – with her own thoughts and desires. It is all about being subjugated to males, which I suppose is not surprising, since the author is male. I am a guy, but I don’t view women as being owned by men. What a repulsive thought. Let’s face it, most of this is about believers being scared to death about sexuality. God forbid that they appreciate a woman’s beauty, if she is not ‘owned’ by them, and God forbid that another man admire the woman you ‘own’. As if that somehow lessens a woman’s value.

    • RBN

      ur joking right…”appreciating a woman’s beauty” is FAR different than lusting over her body. Women aren’t “owned” by men, but SCRIPTURELY they are the weaker sex and to be “subject” to their husband. I see pretty ladies just fine…w/ modest appearel on…otherwise, I like the other way, because their “beauty” would not be what I “appreciating”, and neither are u

  • Ktnomad

    Ok then, why don’t I just start wearing a burka??

  • Husband but not owner

    “You’re giving away something that doesn’t even belong to you. Your daughter’s body belongs to her future husband. You have the responsibility to protect her and protect what will belong to him.”

    Are you serious?

  • truth

    any woman who would wear a bikini in front of men (besides her husband) is either not a Biblical Christian or extremely ignorant