Such is the state of our culture. Parents, I offer you two scenarios to consider:
1 -- If you were rich, and you sent your daughter on a mission trip into a difficult part of town, would you want them to pin their money -- 20s, 50s, 100s -- to their shirt, for everyone to see. All the people who lust after money, who reach out to grab whatever they can get, however they can, would target your daughter.
2 -- If your daughter is pretty -- which would include the ability to be sexually attractive -- would you want them to advertise what God gave them by revealing it? All the men who lust after sex, who reach out and grab whatever they can get, however they can, would target your daughter.
You would never agree to display the money, such as in scenario one. But many parents, including those in the church today, are enabling the display of their daughters sexual beauty by allowing them to display too much. Stick with me here -- there is a lot to consider.
A parent might say, 'Who says it is 'sexual' beauty?' The World. And we as Christians are to be in it but not of it. Or a parent might say, 'I'm not displaying my child's sexuality, they are just going swimming in something comfortable and stylish.' But remember, sexuality is in the eye of the beholder. If your child is too young to be sexually mature, you must remember that there are, frankly, a lot of perverts out there. If you're child is into puberty, then clearly they can attract sexualized looks. You cannot put a bumper sticker across their biki bottom that reads, 'I am not sexualized, and you may not look at me that way.'
Fellow parents, I nor my bride are prudes. We don't travel via horse-drawn buggy with Judy wearing a long dress. And I have not yet bought a table cloth and punched head and arm holes in it for my daughters to wear. But there is a level of sexual impropriety -- um, just plain sin -- in our culture that demands we as Christian parents hold a higher standard for the protection of our children (foremost) and as an example.
This truth seems to escape even the church family. I am around Christian families whose girls are wearing very revealing swim suits. Why? Someone has taken an intrevenous dose of naivity, or they are downright liscivious. I'll assume the former. (Moms, aren't you grossed out by those guys walking down the beach in thong swim suits with their parts practically hanging out? If your daughters aren't wearing much more on the lower half, what's the difference?)
The Word of God clearly teaches modesty in appearance among Christian women. FirstTimothy 2:9 instructs that "women adorn themselves in modest apparel." The definition of modest is 'having or expressing a humble opinion of oneself or one's accomplishments or abilities.' (Collin's) If your children are beautiful by the world's standards, they must be humble about it. We know about struggles with this.
To dress in such a way that says, 'I'm hot,' is not modest or humble. It is sexually inviting to many. When a pretty woman gives a man way too little to imagine, he is likely imagining. Realize that you are dealing with undisciplined minds, at worst, and normal sexual attractiveness, at best.
To help them understand, I have been frank with our girls. I have said -- when they grew out of a pair of shorts, or tried on a swim suit too revealing -- "If you wear that out, all the guys will just be imagining what little is covered up." I've asked, "Do you want to sexually arouse a man?" ("No, Daddy!!) "Then don't wear that. It is alluring to undisciplined men, whose minds are too un-Christlike not to think sinfully."
I have explained to them that men (and I mean 'boys becoming men' here, too) who see a pretty woman wearing very little, if mentally undisciplined, are very quickly aroused. I am attempting to protect my daughters by telling them the truth about what their appearance can say to other men. Since a Daddy's job is to teach his daughters how a Godly man is supposed to treat them (respectfully, not sexually until married, etc), then this is one of the things we as Dad's must do! Moms, if you are reading this, have your daughter's dads read it and see if they don't agree about how men respond, then lovingly challenge them to teach their daughters the same.
There are stylish one-piece swim suits. Tankinis are a compromise that aren't too revealing. Be wise. Be modest. But Moms and Dads, you really have to help the situation. Here's where I go to meddling instead of preaching: it's really hard to help my girls understand why they should be modestly dressed when the mothers of many of the kids their age are showing off their stuff, too. Men, you must influence your wives on this! And while you're at, some of you need to tell your wives to show a little less up top in their day-to-day wear.
This culture is oversexualized. I don't know of it being significantly different within the church, or certainly not at your neighborhood pool or lake. Honor God. Protect your daughters.
Finally, I leave you with the modesty guidelines Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, gave his daughters. They are worthy of pinning to their bedroom mirror.
- If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
- If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.
- If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
- If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.
LOADS OF NOTES, LINKs, QUOTES
A practical must-read for any parent who ever has oversight of smaller (grade-school and under) children: http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/familyhealth/article/817445--eight-summer-safety-myths-that-put-kids-at-risk
- A project that will strengthen and extend your family bond: http://anniefox.com/parents/parents_7-06.html
- Concerned your teens might be dabbling in drugs? Check this out. I can't speak to its validity, but very interesting. http://www.examiner.com/x-19494-Broward-County-Parenting-Teens-Examiner~y2010m6d9-DrugWipes-Finding-out-what-substances-your-teens-are-using-could-save-their-lives
- 'Google Alerts' and your teen: http://nathanshoultz.wol.org/blog/shoultz/parentAlert
- Where does texting rank in your children's social media choices? http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007737
- Excuses churched youth use for not sharing the Gospel. Read, share, debunk, encourage. http://www.calledtoyouthministry.com/resources/article/excuses-youth-group-students-make-for-not-sharing-their-faith?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CalledToYouthMinistryResources+%28Youth+Ministry+Resources+from+Called+to+Youth+Ministry%29
- When should teens getting a drivers' licence? Some interesting data. http://www.livingwithteenagersmagazine.blogspot.com/
- Board material: "It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help." -- Steve Scalici
- Expose your children to the words and wisdom of John Wooden. Sports fans or not, this is worthy of review: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5249709