Modesty in an immodest world

It's no secret... times have changed.  Our social lives have moved to the net.  There are those of you that I consider genuine friends, even though we've never met in person.  You can get to know someone pretty good after emailing a few times and following their daily whereabouts through pictures.  So, how does this change affect us?  It is my opinion that the online forum can make us bolder in the things we say, post and do.  The internet gives us a sense of anonymity.  It allows you to control how people perceive you.   Were you a nerd back in high school?  Photoshop some glam photos and erase that stigma!  Want people to think you're super smart?  Labor over your status posting with a thesaurus in hand!  

Like this guy.... look how FIT he is... LOLOLOL!  (With his pink robe on the door.)

Now... I'm guilty of this as well.  Let's be honest... it's fun to slip into some different shoes at times.  Proof:

Look ya'll!  I made the cover of Elle girl!  Pretty cool for a stay at home mom... dontcha think?  ;)

Here's the issue.

What is ok to post, and what is not?  

I watched an Ellen segment where she looks up Facebook photos of audience members and shows them on TV.  They're embarrassing shots for sure, but here's the thing that gets me.... The fact that they were even posted in the first place!  There was one girl who was shown drunk and sitting on the pot while talking on the phone.  My thought... if you can control your image, why is that the one you want to put out there?  If I can convince people that I'm an intelligent, healthy, active, tidy, organized, witty, strong, independent woman, why would I choose to portray immature and searching for a purpose in life?  K.W.I.M????

I am a 'fan' on Facebook of a particular page and the owner of said page posts what she calls a "daily eye candy".  The photos usually consist of shirtless and very muscular gentlemen.  Yesterday, a picture of a very skinny model was posted and there proceeded to be a long discussion about how we can instill in our children a healthy body image when the world is telling them lies.  The answers ranged from 
"Tell them they are beautiful no matter what"
"Make sure she has a strong male father figure reaffirming her from day one" 
"By valuing individuality and celebrating each child"
I submit to you this thought... 

Those are all great things to do, but they don't address the root problem.  Girls need to find their identity and acceptance in Jesus.  When you are confident in Him and who you are as His daughter, you don't need to use your body to get attention.  Is it ok to have a picture of yourself in immodest clothing on your Facebook?  For me.. no.  I've struggled with caring too much about outward appearance in the past.  I went through my "looks" phase.... 
I laugh at the photos now.  I'm not the girl in the photos anymore.  Do I like to look nice?  Sure.  Do I enjoy fashion?  You bet!  Do I understand that fashion is just a means to represent ourselves and that it should reflect who we are rather than define who we are?  Yup.  You can tell a lot about someone (usually) by how they carry and present themselves.  What does this photo tell you about me?

I think it says, "Hi.....I'm Regina and I use makeup and bleach to create a confidence that I don't have based on my personality alone.  I'm actually incredibly insecure about who I am under all the 'fluff'."
Ok... maybe the photo doesn't say all that.. but it's the truth of where I was in my life at that time.  My value was determined by the talents that I had.  Ballerina was likely sitting in front of the TV eating cheetos while I spent time in front of the mirror.  That's where I've changed.  I'm not going to say that I'm done growing in this area.  I know that the Lord is continually working in my heart.  But here's what I've learned.

My value is determined by Jesus, not me.  It is what He did on the cross that gives my life meaning and purpose.  I have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus.  I am a daughter of the Most High God.  I have a heavenly inheritance.  It's like a present... sure you may admire the wrapping paper for a minute before you open it....  That's our talents and such.  Yes, they're nice.  But in the end, it's discarded and the gift inside is what lasts.  Who saves the paper and frames it in their home?  Nobody.  Our earthly bodies are nothing but wrapping paper.  Our souls are the lasting part of us.  The priority should be on making that beautiful.  

So back to the shirtless eye candy on Facebook......

Those men and their bodies belong to Jesus.  His word dictates how we should behave with our bodies.  

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5:28

If we're looking at these pictures and thinking about how sexy they are, are we not guilty of doing just that?  It's lust.  Plain and simple.

        Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. Romans 14:13

How you present yourself matters.  Think of the countless people who will ultimately be stumbled by those photos.  It's a somewhat "justifiable" baby step in an immodest and impure direction to gaze upon them.  "It's not like it's porn....  I'm not saying my husband needs to look like this...." blah blah blah.  

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The bottom line is this.  Keep your eyes pure for the things that bring glory to our Lord.  "Eye candy" (if you really must have it) should consist of people being about the Lord's business.  And just like actual candy... it should be enjoyed in moderation.  Don't become so engrossed in what others are doing, that you forget to be doing also.  

This is eye candy for me:

Normally, I'm not really one to speak up and out on things like this... I just pray and allow the Lord to do His own convicting.  I'm not one to offer up unsolicited "rebuking".   However, in this case, this particular person asked openly what people thought of her "eye candy of the day" and if we felt that it was superficial and hypocritical after all the discussion that had taken place about healthy body image.  Most people felt that it's perfectly ok to look at those pictures as long as they represent a "healthy" ideal, rather than a "to thin" or "unrealistic" ideal.  I differ in my opinion because I think the fact that an ideal even exists is evident of our immodesty in society as a whole.  If people would stop showing their bodies off altogether, it would solve both problems.  Here was my response:

 I think too often we ignore our first, gut feeling on things because we're able to "reason" our way out of them. I know the pictures aren't saying, "I wish my husband looked like this" directly, but when we gaze upon the body of someone who is not our husband, we are placing images and ideals in our mind that are different than what we have in our men. I want my husband to know that for me, he is the ultimate ideal. For me. Nobody else. I have no need for eye candy other than him, in the privacy of our home. I would feel insanely uncomfortable if he was posting a daily "eye candy" of a female figure. I would feel like I couldn't measure up to that! I think our bodies are to be enjoyed by our spouse's eyes only. And that goes for the people in the photos as well. To the singles... when you are putting images of an ideal (realistic or not... usually not....) in your mind, it's like reading the end of a book first. You take the element of anticipation and surprise out of the experience and potentially cheapen it for your future marriage. Your conditioning your mind to place greater importance on looks than character. A sweet photo of someone caring for children, or providing relief to disaster victims, or rescuing puppies serves as a reminder that humanity still possesses compassion and the ability to love selflessly. Find someone with a heart like that, marry him and then enjoy all the eye candy you desire. ;) Now, I know this is an old fashioned perspective... and many people will disagree, but I think you can't go wrong that way. I have yet to meet someone who regrets purity. 

So here's the bottom line.  Teach our kids to see themselves the way Jesus does.  Teach them how to care for their "temple" in the healthiest ways possible.  Don't fill it with processed junk food when the Lord has placed healthy whole foods on this earth.  Get up and move around, get fresh air and exercise so that you are healthy and fit enough to do His work.  Teach them that the Lord made them special and unique and in His own image.  Drill into them the importance of grace and what was done for them on the cross.  Teach our daughters to have a healthy and balanced view of fashion.  Fashion is a great tool for self expression, but it requires a firm grasp on "self" to be effective.  We are beautiful women (each and every one of us in our own way) who are loved, valued and provided for by God.  We've been given roles in the home, talents for the ministry, and bodies only for our husbands.  Express that.

So I posted the photo of myself from a few years back and I don't want to leave you with that image in your head of me.  So, here's a current photo of what I now look like.  

Ballerina and Hipster are awake now, so rather than give 'em cheetos and a movie, I'm gonna go tend to them.  :)  Have a blessed day~

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