no more sports bras? part 2
Last week I shared how God changed my heart in an unexpected way as it pertains to showing skin during a workout. But the story doesn’t stop there. He has also changed my thinking about modesty in dress in other important ways.
There are a number of purposes served through this blog and almost all of them are personal. Its cathartic for me to share my faith journey. God is working on how I think, feel and act and the blog helps me reflect and organize my thoughts. My main reason for sharing, however, is to be held accountable for the work I am doing in 2021 to glorify him.
One of my great fears in sharing my thoughts publicly is that I will either shame others through what feels like judgment or I will unwittingly lead others into sin. I am not even an amateur theologian. I am just a girl trying to live eternally who will definitely mess up along the way. I would never want a reader to feel judged because of my opinion on a topic. I would never intend to cause others to sin or to rationalize sin.
I believe whole heartedly that there is only one truth. All the modern day mumbo jumbo about finding and living your truth is far from biblical. I also believe God lays out most of that truth in scripture. However there is a reason there are so many church denominations. We all still have to interpret God’s word and ultimately determine how we live it out as individuals and as the body of Christ.
This topic of dress makes me nervous. I fear I may lead others into sin, especially when I see so many sisters whole heartedly in the camp of “modesty is the best policy.” A big part of me would just prefer to stay away from it and don turtlenecks year round to play it safe.
But here I am, writing about it anyway. And all I can do is share my heart and mind based on what is in scripture and where I have been led thus far in prayer.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 NIV says:
“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
Several weeks ago, I watched a famous online pastor speak to sexual morality. He made some comments which made my possibly over-exposed skin crawl. I spent several days trying to decide if it was his message or my own sin getting to me. Generally when I feel that way I explore it and wind up convicted.
Not so this time.
Here’s what he had to say. I am paraphrasing but it is super close.
The famous author and pastor stated women who desire and dress for the attention of men (plural) are never going to be satisfied with the attention of a man (singular) and will never change.
He went on to say that he sees a lot of women in his congregation dressing gratuitously and he believes even if intentions are good the behavior should change to help brothers in Christ who struggle with sexual sin.
Oh boy, oh boy. Now I am not only responsible for my own sin but yours too? That’s a lot to carry.
The first part about women dressing for men hit me hard. As I shared previously, I without a doubt fell into this category earlier in life. Since puberty I sought attention from multiple men, just one was never enough. I had a constant awareness of the looks I would get as I moved about the world and felt any disruption in it as a personal affront. If I was in public and didn’t feel male eyes on me, it felt like a disturbance in the force. I believed at the time that everyone moved through life like this, and had good evidence that all men did indeed notice women “in that way”. It actually caused me to dislike and distrust men immensely for a long time.
Looking back now I see it for what it was, a hormone driven, flawed view of the world fueled by feelings of inadequacy. It led to sin and created a lot of problems in life for me and others.
So I knew well the type of woman the pastor was talking about in his sermon. He was talking about me. Rather, he was talking about the old me.
Where he got it wrong is when he said a woman who seeks attention from men would never be satisfied from attention from a man. I am living proof of the inaccuracy of that statement. Because Jesus Christ invaded my heart and made it completely new, after 15 years of marriage I am fully satisfied by the attention of Bill Winslow. Today when I move about the world and feel eyes on me belonging to anyone other than my husband it makes me feel pretty uncomfortable and exposed. I don’t like it. Like a lot.
So there is that. A sinful woman can indeed change. Jesus can transform anything and anyone. Even the worst of us.
Now I will confess to still finding joy in looking pretty and feeling sexy. In my last post I mentioned my comfort in wearing bikinis on the boat. I also have sundresses and tops that I consider flattering which others may consider too revealing (but maybe not, I am getting old and out-of-mode). I enjoy wearing these ensembles primarily to gain the attention of one human. I want to look nice and proper in modern clothing so my husband sees it and views me the way those men of my past did.
I also find leggings insanely comfortable and do not want to give them up in order to keep brothers in Christ on the narrow path. I know we aren’t promised comfort in this life, but there is just something about being ready to workout at a moment’s notice that’s hard to give up because someone else may not like it, or like it too much.
What to do?
In these cases I think intention matters. If I am dressing in attire appropriate for the our time with the goal of looking nice for my husband on our very own boat and not for the attention for other men, I think its ok. If I am dressing for comfort after a workout but am limiting the shorty shorts and sports bras to the gym, also ok. At least that is where scripture, other writers, and prayer have led me to at this point in my faith journey.
All this has led to a change in behavior, however. I have become much more thoughtful about my intention when I dress and when I share images of myself on social media. I can acknowledge in the past I have shared more than one social media post in leggings and a sports bra because I like the way my form looked, and I am not talking about lifting technique. I recognize why that’s wrong and am working to change it. This year as a part of my journey to glorify I established a rule for myself that if my intention is attention then I don’t share and I don’t wear.
It has led to far fewer workout posts on social media, but a happier heart and a lighter soul.
As for leading my brothers or others astray who struggle with temptation of sexual sin, for now I will leave this conversation with what my favorite Christian author has to say on the subject:
What are your thoughts on modesty and dress? How have you changed or not changed your behaviors as you have grown in your relationship with Christ?