My family and I sat down last night to watch the movie Soul Surfer. A movie that our Christian friends have all been raving about. Such an incredible story of faith and overcoming adversity. We were excited to see it. We knew there was a possibility that the film would show girls in their swimming suits, but we figured it’s only rated PG and it’s a “Christian” movie, how bad could it be? Disappointed, we turned the movie off right around the bikini photo shoot that Bethany Hamilton’s best friend took part in.
Before I began writing this blog, I worried that some people might think I’m a prude or a radical. But the more I lay in bed thinking about it, the more I felt like something needed to be said. It saddens me that in our culture today, Christians have lost their sense of modesty and propriety. I’m concerned that women are asking their husband’s to “bounce” their eyes but are not teaching their daughters (or even themselves) to use modesty and propriety in the way they dress. Even at the beach. We want to teach our children to guard their hearts, bodies, and eyes, and keep them sanctified for the future mate, yet we allow our daughters to traipse around in string bikinis, short shorts, tights shirts, and worse, we allow our sons the opportunity to gaze upon this plethora of bare skin. Isn’t this the epitome of hypocrisy? How confusing must it be for a Christian boy to sit down with his parents to watch a movie like Soul Surfer? If his parents have been teaching him that women are a gift from the God to cherish and respect, that his eyes and his heart are for his wife alone, and then they pop some popcorn and watch a movie that is filled with string bikinis, short shorts, and bare midriffs? How can he “bounce” his eyes when essentially every scene in the movie contains multiple women in bikinis? It would be almost impossible. And what about the Christian girl whose parents have taught her to cover her body and use modesty, but she sits down with her father to watch a movie filled with half naked girls (more like 70/30)?
The problem isn’t “if that tempts you” or “if swimsuits are a trigger” like I’ve heard some people say. It’s a matter of the heart. Are we no longer pursuing purity? Can a man pursue purity, “bouncing” his eyes from inappropriately dressed women, yet excuse it when the message of a movie is inspirational? The whole reason Christian men have even invented the idea of “bouncing” their eyes is because of immodesty. Too much skin, too much left unseen. My husband was very uncomfortable watching the movie. He has trained his eyes to look away when a woman is dressed inappropriately and his covenant says that he will not look upon another woman. So how could he, in keeping with his covenant and showing me the utmost respect, continue to watch the movie? It wasn’t about swimsuits being a trigger or tempting him. It was about his heart. The heart that he’s promised to me. The heart that wants to pursue me and see only my body. The heart that has repented of impurity and longs to please the Lord through his choices. A changed heart.
But it’s not just about him either. I felt incredibly uncomfortable watching the movie. My husband questioned whether I would be so adamant about this if he hadn’t wounded me with his sexual sin. But I have to say no. I believe in modesty. Not only for the benefit of men, but women as well. Immodesty breeds ungodly comparisons. Women tend to compare themselves more heavily to the woman who dresses inappropriately and gets all the “looks.” Yet God did not create us to be insecure about our beauty and to compare ourselves to others. Each woman is created in God’s image and is a beautiful gift to her husband. But that gift often seems to pale in comparison when we see the worlds standard of beauty and we think “I just don’t measure up.” It’s an unfair burden that we’ve placed on each other and on our men.
A key element to sexual purity is modesty, yet it is often the most overlooked. If we expect to teach our children anything about living a life of sexual purity, it has to start with modesty. Sexual sin almost always starts with the eyes. When Eve sinned, she first “saw” that the fruit was good (Genesis 3:6). When David sinned, he first “saw” that Bathsheba was naked and very beautiful (2 Samuel 11:2). My husband will often tell me that it starts with the eyes and the heart is soon to follow. A man will see something enticing and look upon it. Then it moves to his mind, then to his body, and eventually invades his heart. We have to stop the darkness at its source.
1 Timothy 2:9 “…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Walking in Freedom,
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