For most people, summer brings days spent at the lake, pool or the beach – and this requires beach clothing – swimsuits, shorts, t-shirts and other cover-ups. I would say that modern Christians, especially the younger generation has become immune to the concept of modest dressing, especially when it comes to beach wear.
“In this manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair of gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” -1 Timothy 2:9-10
God didn’t leave us a lookbook or a list of what to wear (or not to wear), listed point by point and unfortunately this causes many Christ-followers to stumble. Have you heard someone say, “But God didn’t say I can’t wear shorts?” And they’re correct, God didn’t say that. He just left us with verses like the one above about how we should dress.
He simply instructs women to dress in a way that emulates godliness, propriety and modesty. Yes, even on the beach when everyone is quite close to naked.
So what is modest apparel? Skirt lengths? Tanks or t-shirts? Bikinis, one-pieces or even more coverage?
Modesty is defined as “freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc; regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; simplicity.”
So, let’s go to the intentions then – why do girls wear bikinis (or any revealing piece of clothing at that)? Usually it’s one of two reasons – it’s stylish (everyone wears it!) or it’s because she’s trying to get attention (usually a boy’s appreciative eye or comment).
You can argue with me and say that it’s more comfortable, but come on – honestly, how comfy is it to constantly be adjusting your top to make sure your breast isn’t showing or your bikini bottom hasn’t given you a wedgie? bluntly honest – I’ve been there, so I know.
I always resort to this test if I’m not sure if something is modest:
Would I wear this in the presence of Jesus? Right now, if Jesus came up to me, would I be ashamed? Would I try to cover up?
But even if you ignore the modesty argument entirely, there is a deeper meaning to how you dress your body.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Your body is a temple of the King of Kings – if you believe in Him, the His spirit lives in YOU. So it’s important how you dress and honor your body and temple of the Lord. Will you glorify God with your body? Or will you seek the attention of men by glorifying yourself?
I love this video clip of Jessica Rey, founder of Rey Swimwear, on the evolution of the swimsuit and how it affects both men and women. Take a few minutes to watch it!
So it’s proven that scantily dressed women (aka in bikinis for example) are arousing to men. And that is sin for both the man and the woman (unless you’re married to each other, in which case that is a whole different conversation).
But I say to you whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for you whole body to be cast into hell. -Matthew 5:28-29
Ladies, don’t fall to the argument that it’s up to the guys to restrain themselves. Yes, they must also work on their reactions and thoughts about women, but it’s also up to us to protect our integrity and not arouse lust before it’s God’s time. You don’t need to strive to get a guy’s attention with your looks or your body.
But as the verse above says, your beauty should be in modesty and good works – in the quite beauty of the spirit.
Let’s set a standard of modesty, not sexiness; acceptance, not judgement.
Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval. Your body is sacred and it is your message to the world – that you are a daughter of a King, and therefore worthy of dressing and acting as such. It’s not your clothes that make you beautiful – but your love, your actions, your thoughts, and your words.
If you’re looking for some modest swimsuit options, check out this modest swimwear directory – there are about 10 links to online retailers who sell modest swimwear.