By Lewis Willis
I saw an article in the March 2000 religious journal The Christian Chronicle which prompted me to write this article. Let me begin by telling you about that Christian Chronicle article, and I shall then make the application I want to make based on it.
Miss USA was recently crowned! The girl who won the beauty contest is Lynnette Cole, of Columbia, Tennessee. The Christian Chronicle was so impressed with this news that they wrote about it on page 1 of their March issue. Readers are informed that Lynne, as she is known at home, is now qualified to enter the Miss Universe Pageant.
What’s so unusual about this? Why would I think to write an article based on this information? Well, Lynne is a member of the West Seventh Street Church of Christ in Columbia, Tennessee! Her preacher, Ted Burleson, says of her, “Lynne is as genuine as she can be. She is the real thing.”
I want you to know that I did not watch the pageant! I do understand, however, that a part of the contest is the “swimsuit competition.” Now, you know why this article is being written, don’t you? What in the world is a young Christian girl doing participating in a contest that is designed to see which contestant is the most beautiful in a skimpy bathing suit? Has she never heard of “modesty”?
Still more mysterious to me is her preacher, brother Burleson. Has he never read the New Testament? If so, how did he miss the passages that prohibit such exhibitions of sexuality as is practiced in ungodly beauty contests?
Consider what the Scriptures teach on modesty.
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Tim. 2:9-10).
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Tit. 2:3-4).
Now, what do those expressions mean? Let’s just list and define them:
- Modest apparel: “orderly, well-arranged, decent” (Vine 79).
- Shamefacedness: “a sense of shame, modesty, is used regarding the demeanor of women in the church ” (Ibid.)
- Sobriety: “. . . sound judgment . . . it is that habitual inner self-government, with its constant rein on all the passions and desires . . .” (Ibid. 45).
- Discreet: “. . . of sound mind, self-controlled . . . is translated sober-minded” (Ibid. 317).
- Chaste: “. . . signifies (a) pure from every fault, immaculate . . . (b) pure from carnality, modest . . . holy, pure” (Ibid. 183).
There is no way for a Christian to be decently dressed, manifesting a sense of shame, using sound judgment regarding the subject of sinful passions and desires, while parading herself or himself in skimpy attire to win a beauty prize. The same can be said of wearing such immodest apparel while working on the lawn, shopping, or on vacation. I have even seen women wearing shorts in the worship!
There is a desperate need to rediscover the sense of shame associated with decisions having to do with the way we dress ourselves, or allow our children to dress. We are approaching that time of year when most people (including many Christians) seem to think they are at liberty before God to undress themselves in public. One’s senses are shocked to see what many members of the church think “modest apparel” means. It seems to mean to many folks just do whatever worldly minded people do. Paul said, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” (Rom. 12:2). Do you suppose, Mom and Dad, that “be not conformed to this world” might have anything to do with the way you dress, or with the way you let your children dress? If not, how about telling me what it does refer to.
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