In a culture filled with twitter, Instagram, facebook, blogs, and other forms of social media, we are much more a visual culture then we were even 15 years ago. People can take and immediately post pictures of everything: the food they eat, their babies playing or sleeping, and a group of friends at a push of a button on a phone.
In this world of visual demand, what does our body language say about our modesty and our hearts. Modesty is more than what we wear, it is a posture of the heart.
Romans 6:13; Do not present your members (your body) to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked the question about why all the girls now pose in pictures with their hands on their hips. I had grown tiresome of these similar poses, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. There were several answers and more questions in her FB feed. Earlier this week as my husband and I were flipping through channels late at night, the answer became immediately clear. We stopped on the last 10 minutes of America’s Next Top Model, the wanna-be model reality show hosted by Tyra Banks. I used to watch this show every week, but just don’t anymore. When the final contestants were chosen, they all pose in the same way: hands on the hips, and tilted somewhat sideways (usually not straight on because it’s not a flattering pose for most women), and chests out but tilted back. This is a very provocative pose no matter what shape you are (or how much you weigh, or how many clothes you have on). It highlights the God-given curves of females. God did make our bodies the way they are: with chests and hips. But, how we use them need to be for God’s glory.
Usually when we talk about modesty, we are referring to the length of our skirts, or the shirts we wear. This post is more about our posture. I’m not questioning any of the motives of the girls I know who are taking pictures like this, but just want to highlight some of what the outward appearance appears to say.
1. Men are visual creatures. They are drawn to the sexual – many of them are at least. When we wear modest clothes, but stand in such a way that draws attention to our hips and our chest, or our butt (stiletto heels do just that, but also our stances), it doesn’t serve our brothers in Christ at all.
2. Postures can say much about our hearts. I can stand in such a way that says I’m not approachable, I don’t want to be here (the folding of arms, scowl on my face, etc). What does what I’m doing or how I’m sitting or standing say to those around me?
This past week I was in a breakout session at a Christian conference, mostly men there. There was a lady a few rows ahead of me with an almost sleeveless shirt on, arms folded behind her head, chest out, leaned back, playing with her hair. She may have just been hot or bored, but it was distracting to me (her stance) and I’m sure it was also distracting in a more dangerous way to the men sitting around and behind her. Was she aware of this? I don’t know. Just saying what her stance communicates.
If we want to stand like the Top Model models, then we communicate: look at me, here’s my body, look at these clothes. If we want to stand in a flattering but different way, then maybe we could communicate what we want to communicate: gentleness and meekness, quietness, adorning of a beautiful spirit not clothes and curves (1 Peter 3)
A great resource that compares these two (Woman of the Word vs Woman of the world) is Mary Kassian’s Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.
A great sermon to listen to on the Soul of Modesty is by CJ Mahaney – the best sermon I’ve ever heard on the subject.