What I pray for my son is something I stole from my husband.
I could take this down a thousand different roads, and guaranteed I’ll upset someone on every one of them.
This is living among people. And that’s okay.
But I have a fiery prayer for my son, deep in my heart. And for the woman he’ll one day marry.
I was raised in a Christian home, my parents are strong in their faith and loved us as such.
I knew the Lord, I knew the black-and-white right and wrong. And our church community did the best they could to root us in it.
But there is something I feel strongly that families and the church are doing a lackluster job at.
A modest heart.
While I am a woman – who is pro positive body image, confidence-building, strong women raising strong women, life-giving talk and the like—
I am first a Christian.
A Christian woman who for twenty some years had a screwed up view of modesty.
I was told what I could and couldn’t wear, that sex was for marriage and that modesty was an action, something I did or didn’t do.
Then came the clashing conflict.
The tv and movies we saw were showing plenty of the “couldnts” and no one would say a word. Leaders in different faith circles would turn an eye to snuggling but slap hand holding quicker than a blink. Men that I looked up to were taking glances and then teaching the word. And every guy I cared for had dabbled in pornography, yet no one was talking about it.
But the most conflicting part for me came from the women.
I would hear things like,
They can look and not touch.
They’re just designed that way.
Don’t be so sensitive.
Wait, I thought the bible teaches that men are to honor women and take their thoughts captive?
How can they choose to look and not be sinning?
I thought I was supposed to dress modestly?
What the hell is modesty anyway?
These clashes led to a tension…of craving affirmation of my beauty while feeling torn in what modesty actually was.
My heart hardened without the clarity.
I dressed how I wanted because, why not? The adults I looked up to were watching it on the screen anyway.
No one was challenging it. Except at camp, where “finger-tip length shorts” quickly became a joke without an explanation.
I knew that what was on the screen, “in-fashion”, at the gym, or on magazines was what men wanted so I sought to gain that attention.
I gave myself away in every way but sexual intercourse.
Emotionally and physically.
To more than one person, all before my husband.
So what did I bring into my marriage?
A tainted heart, a confused mentality, and a body shared with other people…both tangibly and visibly.
What are you thinking right now.
Why are you even writing this?
Well, I wish someone had for me. I wish someone would have written this to me.
I am raising my son in a generation, age and culture that is exhaustingly over-sexualized, and exhaustingly excused…with the way we dress, with what we watch, with the way we speak, in the things that we do…
Even in the Christian community. And very few are standing up to it, putting a voice to it.
I think the problem lies in the misunderstanding of what modesty is.
That its roots are in the heart.
We get so hell-bent on three things.
- A set of rules and regulations that unfortunately don’t exist so we make up our own
- Our “freedom” to express ourselves and
- Our “right” to feel good
So where does the modest heart lie in an overly sexualized life?
If you’re not a Christian, we won’t see eye to eye on this so no sense arguing about it.
But if you are, this prayer is with you, this plea is for you.
For my son’s heart shaping and for the heart-shaping of his one day bride.
We have to do better.
Modesty is not just for church. As a believer, the way we live each moment should reflect our heart and attitude towards Christ. There’s a song that says,
“You are the only King forever, Almighty God we lift You higher”
And it—among other things— has re-shaped my heart with a Kingdom-fixed perspective.
We make kings out of earth things…and we worship them, are enslaved to them.
Comparison, affirmation, feeling worthy, tangible relationships, our beauty, our healthy, our body, to name a few.
But what would happen if we actually lived with the Lord as the King of our heart? If our hearts were inclined and fixed on bringing glory and honor to Him, would the shape of our life look different?
For so long my heart was inclined toward self.
There was no God-ward perspective. I wasn’t waking up mindful of bringing Him glory.
I didn’t ask myself,
Will this cleavage make another man stumble?
Why do I even want to wear this lacey bra under a see thru tank?
Why did I post that picture?
Making out is fine, right?
Why do they have the finger-tip length rule anyway?
I didn’t ask, because in my gut I knew the answers.
Yes, men like cleavage that’s why I’m wearing this.
Because it’s sexy. And maybe he’ll want to be affectionate later.
I knew it would get noticed, and I wanted the likes.
I don’t know, it always leads to wanting sex…
Because short shorts show off more of my body and more of my body is appeasing to my co-counselors and it feels good to be noticed.
And why did I do these things?
Because it felt good, it made me feel beautiful, it was my body and I wasn’t responsible for another person’s sin.
While that last part is true, here was the hard-pressed truth.
God made me a woman, a beautiful and sexual being. He designed me that way so that I could share in that with a man in the context of marriage. And a man is designed to be fully captivated by a woman’s beauty, his bride’s, in marriage. God’s heart and truth are actually black and white about that. And it’s actually an amazing thing.
But before marriage, I dressed and acted in a manner that drew attention to my body. I watched things that glorified a worldly standard of beauty. I spoke in ways that were self-fixed and affirming. I had little regard for the consequences of myself or others.
And before marriage, my husband glorified a worldly standard of beauty. He watched things that tainted his views. He had little regard for his future wife in his actions. He lived for the temporary, not the eternal.
And then we got married. And we didn’t have whole access to each other. We had been shared.
And that was never our Redeemer’s design.
We cannot escape the sin of this world, I know that.
But we can aim our sights on living against the grind of it.
On raising our son with a Godly standard of beauty.
And not excusing the world’s.
On living set apart from it.
On shining a modest heart over excusing a fleshly one.
I pray for the woman my son will marry. That she will know her Maker first, and His heart’s intent for hers. And that in that she will seek to live so that the Lord’s enthrallment was the only essence of captivated she craves until He draws her to William.
And I pray for William, that He will live in fearless pursuit of whole like his dad. His eyes set higher, and his convictions strong…with what he watches, how he shapes his thoughts, what he turns his eyes from, what he is comfortable and uncomfortable with.
“Let the King be enthralled by Your beauty. Honor Him, for He is your Lord” Psalm 45:11
To be quite honest, Jeff and I are tired of being told we are too conservative¸prude and sensitive.
To be even more clear, our feeling uncomfortable when in a room where women are showing off skin unnecessary for another husband, or brother in Christ, or little boy like ours, to see; or choosing not to go to a certain movie or environtment–has nothing to do with our insecurities of self or lack of confidence in our own skin. In fact, it has everything to do with our security in the One who made us and His design for those things to be guarded, until the designed time.
Because in that guarding is the fullest life we’re intended for. And we are made for full and beautiful.
We aren’t immune to a sin nature in this world.
But I every fiber in my being knows, that our marriage and intimacy would look a little different if
- I had saved sharing my body in any manner for Jeff
- Jeff had saved his looking and thoughts for me
- Our Christian brothers, sisters and leaders would seek to live with modest hearts
- Our community would start talking about it, instead of getting swallowed up in “this is just how it is”
The tangible–when talking about this my friend asked me, so what are your standards when it comes to modesty?
And I still don’t have the black and white. But Jeff and I start by asking,
Is how I am speaking, acting, dressing reflecting Christ’s best or is it drawing out ours, and others, sinful desires?
Some days I feel fed up with it. Alone in it. Even, fleshly, angry or annoyed by it. But then I’m reminded that I was there, and for a long time I didn’t have anything helping to heart-shape me towards God-ward in this area. Sadly, I probably helped shape others in a self-ward way…
But now, as a mama and wife and friend, I have the day to day to speak out, to shine light on modest heart-living and trust that kingdom-glory-bringing will come.