With wanton displays of immodesty ubiquitous within the Britney/Madonna culture and with feminism on the rise, Mohler says Christians must think seriously about the place of modesty when seeking to express genuine biblical womanhood.
Richard Baxter, the 17th century English Puritan pastor, once told the women in his congregation-in no uncertain terms-that they were to practice wardrobe modesty to avoid stoking the fires of lust in the hearts of men.
Said Baxter: “And you must not lay a stumbling block in their way, not blow up the fire of their lust, nor make your ornaments snares but you must walk among sinful persons as you would do with a candle among straw or gunpowder, or else you may see the flame which you would not foresee, when it is too late to quench it.”
To Mary Mohler, wife of CBMW council member R. Albert Mohler Jr., Baxter’s words sorely need to be sounded for the ears of evangelical women of the 21st century. And Mohler is doing her part to proclaim a similar message of biblical modesty.
In the fall of 2002, Mohler made a presentation called “Modeling Modesty” for a group of women at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where her husband serves as president.
The message struck a positive note among those in attendance, and she has presented it a half dozen times since. It is also a regular part of her “Embracing Femininity” class within Southern’s Seminary Wives Institute (SWI). Southern also reprinted her presentation as a booklet entitled “Modeling Modesty”.
“It has been interesting to see how many people see this as a hot button issue that few people seem to be tackling,” Mohler said. “There are some people who are very passionate about restoring modesty. They have encouraged me greatly.”
Contemporary American culture offers such avant-garde clothing stores for women the likes of “Xhiliration,” which targets girls as young as six years of age. “Xhiliration” woos customers with a freewheeling postmodern slogan, “There are no rules. Whether you choose to dress crazy or dress to thrill-make a statement, make a scene, wear what you want and it won’t be wrong.”
With wanton displays of immodesty ubiquitous within the Britney/Madonna culture and with feminism on the rise, Mohler says Christians must think seriously about the place of modesty when seeking to express genuine biblical womanhood. After all, the Bible in clearest terms sets forth a standard regarding how women should dress for worship, she points out.
“Scripture teaches that a man should look like a man and a woman should look like a woman-proudly (in passages such as Deut. 22:5),” Mohler said. “We are to celebrate the differences between us not only in dress but in every other way.
“When teen girls dress like boys, they are sending a clear signal that femininity is not an option for them. This often signals that they want to be treated as boys, so don’t even think about opening the door for them or offering to help. They have somehow bought into the lie that femininity equals weakness and inferiority.
“It is critical for our daughters to understand that their dress gives a huge impression-for good or for bad regarding their view of womanhood. A woman who dresses in such a way to avoid looking feminine is communicating strongly without even opening her mouth.”
Mohler does not speak speculatively about these things. Modesty has served as an irreducible part of training her 15-year-old daughter, Katie. Modesty must be modeled by mothers and should be part and parcel of a family’s culture from birth to the teen years, she said.
“Parents must get their kids on board early since society is vying to do the same,” she said. “Just look at the Sunday ads sometime and see what is being consistently marketed to young girls. They make no pretense about selling the idea that you too can look like Britney (Spears) at the age of six.
“Our girls need to know from their earliest memory how precious they are to God and to their parents. They need to hear that their bodies are to be clothed properly. They need to be taught that little girls should dress differently than little boys. All of that is in vain if they look to their mother and see them dress provocatively!”
Does this mean the evangelical woman must always adorn herself in floor-length skirts, petticoats and bonnets? This is not nearly the case, Mohler says; clothes may be found for women of all ages that are both modest and fashionable.
In her booklet, “Modeling Modesty,” Mohler urges parents to carefully scrutinize the stores in which their daughters shop.
“Suitable fashions for teenage girls are out there,” she writes. “Sometimes you have to look a bit harder for them. Bypassing the juniors’ department is a good start. Am I saying that my teenaged daughter cannot wear jeans, tee shirts, shorts, a bathing suit or skirts that are above her knee? No, there are times when certain garments within those categories are appropriate.
“Am I saying that never, ever, not even once, can she wear a halter top, cropped top, mini skirt, skin tight shirts, anything that shows cleavage or midriff, hip-hugger jeans and shirts that don’t meet, that she can’t even go into an Abercrombie store, that she can’t keep Clinique in business when she is 14, and that her Sunday clothes are going to be different from her other clothes? Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.”
Gender-News.com conducted an interview on modesty with Mary Mohler. The entire interview is available at www.gender-news.com/article.php?id=57.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.