A while ago, we had a Christian family over for dinner. It had been a most enjoyable evening. After dinner, we gathered in the living room to sing and listen to Christopher play a few hymns on the piano. I was sitting on the floor by the fireplace, looking across the room to the hallway opening, where the piano was located. The wife of the other family was sitting on the edge of the loveseat, putting her almost directly in my line of sight to see Christopher.

She was rather conservatively dressed except for a loose fitting top with a medium neckline. She was sitting with her baby on her lap, and then she bent over to set the child on the floor in front of her. She was now directly in my line of sight. As she set the child down, she looked across at me. To my horror her top hung open, and it could have appeared to her I was inappropriately looking at her. I immediately closed my eyes and turned away, but I was never so humbled in all my life. I honestly could have wept right there.

After the fall, Adam and Eve immediately were aware that their nakedness was to be covered. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:7). Adam and Eve had been in close fellowship with God, and even though they had just disobeyed Him, they knew they needed to cover their nakedness. Think about it. There was no one else around other than their God Who created them, and they still felt shame and the need to cover up.

Why don’t many Christians feel shame and grasp the need to be modest in dress? Why is it that all seem to have a different idea of what is an acceptable level of dress (or undress)? What influences a person to come to the opinion they have about it? How can someone decide? Who is right? Does anyone have the right to say that someone else’s clothing is inappropriate or immodest? Why do some consider it “okay” to wear a revealing swimming suit to the lake or pool, but not to church? Everyone draws the line of modesty somewhere, but why do some draw it where they do? One thing I’m confident of, few if any of those who choose to dress immodestly have ever earnestly sought the Lord for His will in the matter.

Some churches have dress standards that are more or less enforced, whether overtly or through subtle pressure. Forget all of that. I encourage dads to put away all outside factors as you consider the subject of modesty.

Dad, what is your role in this, or is it a personal matter for you and your wife to decide separately? What Scripture would you base your answer on? Unfortunately, my experience has been that the more immersed a family is in the world, the more their values will reflect the world’s. If they have a frequent diet of TV, even with the more acceptable shows, the family will still be sitting there for commercials. Fifteen years ago the Diet Coke and yogurt commercials would display scantily clothed women’s figures to sell their product. I only shudder to think how things are advertised today.

A frequent exposure to this type of visual conscience-searing will affect how a couple views what is modest. Also, the amount of time spent in God’s Word will have a great effect on one’s attitude about modesty. What Scripture would a husband use in reference to this whole issue?

What does God say is appropriate? How does He want us to dress? Is there a different set of modesty standards for going to church, shopping, the beach, and elsewhere? Before the fall, there was no shame, but after the fall, the response was shame regarding nakedness. Note, Adam and Eve weren’t naked by today’s standards; in fact, I expect they would have been considered clothed. Remember, they had sewn fig leaf aprons to cover themselves. However, in Genesis 3:10, Adam said he hid because he was naked. God must have agreed that Adam was naked, because God killed animals and made coats to cover them. The Hebrew word used for coats means to cover. This would appear to be a large covering for their nakedness since Adam’s fig leaf apron was insufficient in God’s sight. It is possible that the aprons were even more of a covering than many swimsuits worn by Christians today.

The husband is responsible before God for his wife and for her purity. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:23-28). Could Scripture be plainer about the husband’s role in guarding the purity of his wife?

We read in Luke 8:27 that the demoniac wore no clothes. Once the demons were cast out, he was clothed and sitting at Jesus’ feet. Then in 1 Timothy 2:9 we read, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel,” where modest means “well arranged, seemly, and modest.” Remember that the word naked was used to describe Adam and Eve after they had “covered” themselves with fig leaf aprons.

I find this topic similar to tithing. I have known people who will attempt to argue that the Bible does not command Christians to tithe, and others who will argue it does. I find the subject of Christians drinking alcohol in the same light. I believe God has given us a number of topics like these to test the heart. My question regarding these issues is, “Am I looking for the line of sin, or for how close to my Jesus I can draw?” When there is a question whose answer I’m not totally clear on, it is the desire of my heart to choose the side of holiness and the side closest to my Lord.

Have you ever seen something interesting out the side window while you were driving? The tendency is to inadvertently steer in the direction you are looking. If we keep our eyes on Christ, we will move closer to Him. If our focus is on the world, we will be drawn to it and agree with what the world deems as acceptable.

Is anyone in the family wearing clothing that is seductive, tight, revealing, and exposing? Which side do you want to err on? Your Lord’s or the world’s? The world wants to show as much skin and body parts as possible, whether visibly or through tight clothing. Vine’s Expository Dictionary lists Matthew 25:36, 38, 43, 44; Acts 19:16; and James 2:15, where “naked” means “scantily, or poorly, clad.” This being the case, how many churches on Sunday morning have members fitting this description?

I’m not advocating wearing black trash bags with holes cut out for the eyes. What I am pleading is for dads to be the heads of their Christian homes. Our calling as parents is to raise up godly seed (Malachi 2:15), and that is why many choose to homeschool. We are to carefully guard the purity of our wives and children. Each dad should take this issue before the Lord, and study the Bible until he knows for sure what is pleasing to his Lord. Remember, it is not a matter of what we feel is okay, but what is pleasing to our Lord Jesus. We should never try to see how close to the line of sin we can come without stepping over, but rather how close we can draw to our Lord Jesus.

May we be men of God and lead the way for our family in setting the example of modesty. After having studied the subject, dads may be convicted that not wearing a shirt or wearing cut-offs or shorts is immodest. If so, I encourage you to be strong and courageous and demonstrate to your family that you are more concerned about what God thinks about you than you are about your own personal comfort.

We need to communicate what we have learned to our family and our desire that they dress as the Lord would have them. We could help them evaluate their clothing and retire anything that is deemed unsuitable.

It blesses my heart to have my wife and daughters bring me their new clothing for my opinion. I have not mandated that they must; it is because they want their clothing to be pleasing both to the Lord Jesus and to me. I know this whole subject is a personal and sensitive issue. It is my desire that no one feels judged or condemned by this, but I pray that I may spur each dad to own this area of responsibility, to study the matter, take it before his Lord, and then to present it to his family.

Posted in: Dad's Corner

No Condemnation

It was the week to write a Mom’s Corner, but the Lord had not been revealing to me what He wanted me to write on. I presently have my scheduled writing time after my early morning devotions. This particular morning, I lingered in bed doing some extra praying before my scheduled prayer and Bible-reading time. I knew I had nothing yet to write and would spend my writing time praying. The basis for writing is prayer, so I was continuing to ask the Lord for His direction.

My time in Romans 8 that morning was so fruitful and encouraging that I felt strongly the Lord gave it to me for the Mom’s Corner. Let me share a verse I believe is especially applicable to us as homeschooling moms, and one that has personally helped me.

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” I wonder if this is how we, as homeschooling moms, live–with no condemnation. It seems so easy to fall into the trap of self-condemnation.

One of my personal areas of greatest struggle is with my attitude and voice. If I am involved in a task and one of the children interrupts me, it is natural for me to respond to them with a short tone and an edge of irritation in my voice. My heart’s desire is to do as Titus 2:4 says, “to love their children” in all my interactions with my children. Am I demonstrating love by being unhappy with a child who interrupts? Of course not! If the child was being rude in interrupting, he may need training or correcting, but that should still involve a neutral tone of voice, or a pleasant one.

When I fail, what do I think? Usually it is one of two things. I can follow the path of least resistance, and this is what goes through my mind, “There I go again. I was irritated over such a small thing. Won’t I ever learn to handle these little frustrations with gentleness and kindness? I am such a failure. I don’t ever change!” Self-condemnation, lots of it!

My other choice of thoughts comes from focusing on the Lord. These verses in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 have greatly changed my thinking and dealing with my sin. “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” While these verses may be dealing with salvation, I have found personal application in them to my walk as a believer.

My thoughts of guilt and self-condemnation are the “sorrow of the world” that worketh “death.” What benefit is there to my family, or to me, in those kinds of thoughts? Do they bring about change in my life? Do they encourage me to depend on the Lord Jesus Christ? Absolutely not! They actually keep my focus on myself and allow me to wallow in self-pity.

On the other hand, there is “sorrow to repentance.” This is the sorrow that is fruitful and productive. It puts these thoughts into my mind: “Lord, You are surely not pleased when my words do not show the fruit of Your Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. My irritation and anger is sin, Lord. I confess to You my wrongdoing and ask You to forgive me.” No condemnation!

What benefits are there to me and to my family with these thoughts? First, it is the reality of the joy of “no condemnation.” It is the truth of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Here is freedom and joy rather than guilt and self-pity. The Lord is freed to work in my heart. He is the One Who will do the changing in my life. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

I know that I am more able to love my family, if, when I sin, I confess and repent of it, and ask for the Lord’s help to overcome it, than when I head in the direction of “poor me, here I go again.” Confession and repentance relieves the burden of trying to be the one to bring about a change in this area of my life where I am prone to failure. I can’t do it anyway, but when my thoughts are wrong, it makes me feel like it is my responsibility.

How often does self-condemnation take this form in our thoughts? “I am ruining my children by this homeschooling. Look at what a bad example I am to them. They are learning all my negative traits and following in my areas of sin. I just don’t have the patience to deal with them twenty-four hours a day.”

Yes, there have been times I have thought these thoughts, although not for the past several years. Is this the way God would have us think? I am sure you would agree; it is not. If we are a bad example, we need to be confessing–never excusing or justifying–each incidence of sin in our lives before the Lord and our children. We must repent of it and prayerfully submit to the Lord. If we lack patience, we should look for the benefits the Lord has for our children and for us by allowing a “furnace” in which to learn patience. Can we ruin our children if we are following the Lord in obedience to what He has called us to do, and we are walking faithfully with Him? No, of course not!

All of the negative thoughts are self-focused. We have to set them aside and take them captive to the truth the Lord gives us in His Word. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

As I walk in the Lord’s path of “no condemnation,” my children learn how to deal with the sin in their lives. They see a humbled mother coming to them and confessing the irritation in her heart and the negative tone in her voice. There are no excuses, simply repentance. These children will battle sin throughout their lives. If I were ruining them, it would be from teaching them to look at self and feel self-condemnation for sin, rather than to look at the Lord, repent over sin, and be grateful for forgiveness. I would be failing my children by modeling worldly sorrow, rather than sorrow to repentance.

I challenge you to take a critical look at your heart and thoughts when you fail. What are you thinking? Is there self-condemnation, or are you confessing and repenting? Are you falling into self-pity, or are you experiencing the joy of walking with the Lord Jesus in “no condemnation”? May we encourage each other to not follow what comes naturally, but to walk in the truth the Lord has given us of “no condemnation.”