Much like the one I packed.
This week I traveled to Austin for work and knew my hotel had a pool. This discussion popped up in my head as I was packing my bag because there have been so many great comments thus far.

I packed a swimming practice suit, like the ones I wore when I was competitive swimming, because I knew a bikini would be inappropriate around my co-workers and I didn’t want to have to worry about any kind of top-half skin exposure. Does that mean I should wear the same kind of suit every time?

Let’s recap:

What responsibility should women have in modesty? Are men just going to imagine our bodies, no matter how much we cover up? Is part of our feminine genius inherent in the beauty of our figures?

Chase chimes in:

I think the important things to remember in modesty are that man and woman are made in the image and likeness of God, and that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The body is beautiful because it’s made in God’s image. This also means we’re attuned to each other’s natural beauty and dressing in a way that reveals our natural beauty (bikinis cover little more than the FCC-objectionable parts, after all) seems like a way to make use of our God-given gifts.  

Wailing wall in Jerusalem

But wait! Doesn’t that mean dressing down is a good thing? Well, maybe in a perfect world. We face this little problem called lust, though. Guys especially (though ladies, we see when you oggle stud muffins too) are inclined to see this beauty, then see past that whole “image and likeness of God” bit and allow beauty to be just a pleasure. Whether or not you think objectification is a problem that guys just need to get over is inconsequential to the fact that it is a problem, and widespread at that. Noodle on this: if you enable someone to lust over you, either out of indifference (it’s not my problem guys lust over my nice body) or willfully (i.e., a person who uses their looks to “control” someone else), you’re becoming his(her) god! Pornography does this; the pornography itself becomes the source of beauty and “nourishment” of unsatisfied feelings for its victim, the viewer. To summarize in a sentence: the God-given gift of beauty comes with great power, and with great power comes great responsibility.  

The other angle I mentioned was the notion that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). Temples are special places; remember that in Judaic law, the temple was so sacred that only the High Priest could enter its inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies. Thus, the body is sacred and valuable, immeasurably so. If you owned a Lamborghini (yes, a car analogy, forgive me I’m a guy), would you keep it garaged? Let just anyone drive it? Invite a passenger who would leave Frito crumbs all over? The answers to these questions seem “duh” obvious, because Lamborghinis are very valuable. But human life is infinitely more so. Dressing revealingly poses the same problem as our Lamborghini left outside, unlocked, with keys in the ignition: a temptation to those that see it (you) that could be easily avoided. The tragedy today is young girls who don’t know their self-worth, who look to the very things that demean them in search of attention and meaning. All should seek to dress in a way that reflects their self-worth.  

I’m worth infinitely more than a garaged Lamborghini…I suppose you want oppress me into wearing burqas tankinis? Would you put a Lamborghini in a climate-controlled chamber and never drive it to preserve its value and protect it from bad things happening? As I already said, beauty is good because it comes from God, so it isn’t necessary to cover ourselves into unattractive blobs. Modesty requires a fair amount of judgment based on your circumstances. For instance, a bikini might be better suited to a private backyard pool than the beach, but it also depends on who is around. And on whether you might end up in photos as Elizabeth pointed out (who knows who’ll end up looking at them). Unfortunately, like most things in life, I can’t give a straight answer, but I hope you might look at that next outfit critically and ask yourself if those who pass your way will see the immeasurable treasure of God that you are.

Has your opinion changed? Has your opinion become firmer?

Men, if you have been waiting for a forum to share with us your opinion, this is it. Comment and we’ll get in touch to add to this series.