In recent months, there has been much discussion about modesty and whether or not Christians can be sexy. Esther Kuku adds her views to topical debate.
So much has been written on the topic of modesty, and most of it is addressed to single women. But do the standards of modesty change once you’re married? And is it OK for Christians to be sexy?
This question became a matter of intense debate on a friend’s Facebook page recently. Over a hundred people commented on a flyer, entitled ‘Single, Saved and Sexy’, advertising an evening event for single people. The flyer contained a picture of a lady dressed in what I thought was a perfectly acceptable evening dress, but the majority of people commenting felt the V neckline was inappropriate.
Comment after comment criticised the flyer as being wrong – tacky, even. This Facebook page was flooded with the conviction that it is inappropriate for Christians to see themselves as or to be sexy, and that it is wrong for a ministry to be promoting this. I disagreed, and was firmly put in my ‘Facebook place’!
I disagreed for this reason. If I were to come home to my husband, and cover myself from head to toe every evening, stop wearing make-up and the kind of clothes he finds, yes, sexy, I would soon fall into problems. I disagreed with the Christians-can’t-be-sexy Facebook frenzy because, when I am at home, in the privacy of my house, I will be sexy, and so should all married men and women – hence it is OK for Christians to be sexy!
More importantly, though, I disagreed because modesty, in my humble opinion, is more than a list of rules on what to wear or what not to wear. The dictionary defines it as ‘freedom from vanity and boastfulness, having regard for decency of behaviour, speech, dress and having simplicity’.
When I leave home, modesty means and becomes an opportunity for me to express my priorities, values and personality, without speaking a word. I am a Christian woman, and everything I do in terms of my behaviour should communicate that fact.
Modesty is wrapped up in how we want to communicate ourselves to the outside world. You can be a Christian who has never put a foot wrong in terms of how you dress: skirts always below the knees and shirts buttoned to the collar. But if, in your workplace, you’re the one that people know to go to for the latest gossip, well, there is a problem.
The outside looks holy, but the hidden person of the heart is as cheap as a dress with a plunging neckline… And it isn’t just women who need to check themselves; modesty is a message for men, too. Men like to boast about what they have, just as much as women do. For us, it may be clothes; for men, it’s cars, their jobs, technology and not to mention those with a gym membership, who like to wear those tight, distracting T-shirts. So, both genders need to embrace the totality of what modesty means – not just the way we dress, but also our behaviour.
1 Peter 3:3 says: ‘Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather, let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.’
A gentle and quiet spirit is not boastful, and is free from vanity. I think that if we aspire to the tenets in this Scripture, our lives will embody modesty in every sense of the word. And here’s the funny thing: modesty then becomes an attribute that is appealing to others – sexy, even!
A quick poll of a few of my friends who are married resulted in the findings that most of their husbands found their godliness incredibly attractive and sexy to them. That is why they married them. It was that incorruptible inner beauty that the world cannot emulate, and that no outfit can compete with.
“Modesty is wrapped up in how we want to communicate ourselves to the outside world.”
1 Peter 2:9 says: ‘But (we) are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.’
This, again, tells us how we should conduct ourselves: as royalty, but we ought not to judge. If someone in church is always dressed inappropriately, there may be a reason for it. Why not offer to take them for coffee and go shopping? If they are relatively new to Christ, those may be the only style of clothing they have. If they have been saved 20 years, well, pray for them; there may be deeper issues of insecurity and an undeveloped understanding of their personal value and worth at play.
Finally, it is teenagers that sometimes find themselves under the most pressure to ‘be sexy’ and conform to the world’s concept of what is attractive and appealing to others – especially young girls. Older women have a responsibility to express our values and priorities without words, dressing like royalty and conducting ourselves in the same vein in order to be an example.
There is then the need, perhaps through counselling, to let them know that, as far as I am concerned, while the standards of modesty don’t change once you walk down the aisle, marriage is a game changer… And, in the privacy of your own bedroom, you can be as sexy as you like!
Esther Kuku’s column won’t be appearing in Keep The Faith for the next few months -only because she recently became the mother of a bouncing baby girl.