What’s Up With Modesty?

 —  February 19, 2014 — 12 Comments


I live in a land of perpetual spandex.  Everywhere you go women seem to be on their way to or from a workout wearing yoga pants or something of the like. On top of this we seem to be bent on resurrecting the 80’s as leggings and tights have made their way back on top once more. We’ve modernized this look by placing pockets in the back, coloring them a shade of denim and calling them “jeggings.” At least in that decade we coupled these with long sweaters and shirts every time. Not anymore. A friend of mine posted a very funny infograph a couple of months ago along these lines entitled, “How To Know If You’re Wearing Pants.”

While I consider all of the above ridiculous and even at times inappropriate I never realized they were an issue of immodesty. That is until I came across a blog post that spoke on the topic. As a matter of fact it has seemed like these “modesty” posts have been really quite the rage for the last several months. There have been many Moms who have asked girls to watch themselves for their sons. Young women have spoken out on how it is their responsibility to keep “pure” for the guys in their lives.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I have two daughters at home in that teen range. Sometimes we walk through the mall, and I will point out the “never” outfits. You know, those items this parent will never allow them to don on their bodies.

It begs the real question about what modesty is and what it is not.  In the 18th century it was considered terribly immodest for a woman to show their ankles.  In some cultures it is considered risque for a woman to show her face to anyone other than her husband. There was a time when men wore tights and this was simply considered the “style.”

So what are the constants in this issue?

It’s Not Just A Girl Issue

We have the tendency to keep telling our young ladies to help protect the purity of guys. At the same time, we allow our girls to drool over a shirtless guy. The idea that “only boys” are visual is a terrible misnomer. We women can easily take a second glance at something that causes us to to “stumble.”  We need to be teaching our boys and girls to be sensitive to what might cause someone to “lust” after you.

Navigating Culture

When I first moved to Florida I was shocked at what the “good Christian”  teens wore. Tank tops, strapless shirts and bikinis were all regular attire for the girls. Guys found excuses on a regular basis to remove their shirts and wear low slung board shorts. It didn’t take me long to realize why. It’s hot there.  Most of the year it’s over 80 with 70% or higher humidity. It was less about modesty and more about the ability to not feel like you are on fire. Styles change and they sometimes expose more or less skin. We need to find ways to teach our students how to deal with the ever-morphing culture.

It’s A “Heart Issue.”

A young woman asked me once if I thought her shorts were too short. I asked her why she wore them. If she wore them so that boys would look twice and decide she was “sexy” well then yes they were. If she genuinely thought they were “just the style,” then it was for her to decide with God.  Anytime, a girl or guy starts dressing so that someone will drool a little over them, then they are dressing immodestly in my opinion.  It isn’t always about what someone wears, sometimes it’s about why they wear it. Now that does not mean that we have an excuse to join a nudest colony because our “heart is in the right place.”  This is a constant navigation.  We are held responsible when we follow the Lord to be in the world but not get sucked into it.  We must be very careful about why we wear what we wear. It’s a constant assessment.

It’s Not Just For “Them”

This is not merely an issue for the young. I wonder if there are times we point fingers because we wish we had the “body to wear that?” We can think this “modesty” thing is just for the young because they are the ones “struggling.” If in our deepest soul we wish we could wear it, that’s immodesty too.

Modesty is a much more complicated topic than we give it credit for. I think we would like it to simply be about a list of rules of “what not to wear” and then it’s dealt with. The reality is that it is much deeper than that. When we are totally head over heels in love with Jesus, then we have a deep desire to live differently.  We fight a little less about what we should and shouldn’t wear and navigate this track with Him in mind.   I think that is what we need to be teaching the next generation and ourselves.  I also think us Moms need to write some posts to sons about how to dress so my daughter isn’t “crushing” on you. We’re all responsible.

What do you think about this topic?

How are you dealing with it yourself and then teaching your students?

Leneita / @leneitafix

guys 2

There is a misnomer in America: Girls are the only ones who pick apart what they look like. However, did you ever notice in those Abercrombe & Fitch & Hollister ads that annoy us at the mall, there isn’t just a beautiful, half-naked woman.  Instead there with her is a “buff,” gorgeous guy, showing the world his six pack abs.

Think about these stats from the National Association of Eating Disorders, The New York Times and the Self Esteem Institute:

  • More than 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school regularly exercise with the goal of increasing muscle mass.
  • 38 percent of boys in middle school and high school reported using protein supplements and nearly 6 percent admitted to experimenting with steroids.
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.


The world is not just pushing our young women to look a certain way.  For a pudgy Middle School boy awaiting his growth  spurt, they are shown the “comic relief” in media has glasses and a little bit of weight. The nerd or geek is lanky and the one who “messes up.” We all “know” the one that “gets the girl,” is athletic, tall, slim and strong.

I think it’s time we recognize that while boys are appearing goofy and just trying to show off for the girls, there are long term consequences to the way they see themselves.  According to a study done by Florida State University drug usage is higher in 20 year old males when they have experienced low self-esteem in Middle and High School.  Gangs are known to recruit not only in the inner city, but now in suburban and even rural areas, males who feel disconnected from family and are looking for a place to be respected.

How do we help the young men in our lives?

1.  Deal With It

Boys will tell you this is a “girl’s issue” while at the same time sweating the next time they will have to change for gym class.  Talk about the topic in your programming, and one on one.  It is helpful  to have the discussion in small groups of BOTH mixed and single genders.  This way you can get to the heart behind the “why” to the low self- esteem.  Is it the “comparison game,” or are they suffering bullying, verbal abuse at home or perhaps all of the above? Try allowing students to write anonymous questions on index cards and pass them in regularly.

2.  What Is the Image Of God?

Genesis does not declare that Adam was created looking like an underwear model.  The distortion is that our bodies became “ugly” when sin entered the world. If the Lord continues to create people of all shapes and sizes could it be instead our perception is skewed?  Take the time to dig into the Word and what it means to look at yourself in the mirror and truly be God’s reflection.

3.  Promote Healthiness:

High School athletics often push for guys to make time to bulk up so they can have a better performance. If you have to “make weight” with anything, there are rarely ideas in how to eat well and merely exercise. Instead, we live in a fast food culture with “easy to make” meals.  Rarely are students being taught ideas like portion control, or better choices in food.  What about teaching about nutrition, and balance in working out within the context of your ministry? Practical and spiritual need to collide sometimes.

4.  Modeling Life

Our goto is to usually to say that we need more Christ centered men to speak into the lives of our boys.  This is true. However, it isn’t just words they need to hear. It’s the way we live. Are you a guy who is super competitive or driven to be over the top fit?  Are you a Dad who might be a little too “into” whether or not your son wins at sports? It goes for us women too.  Are we saying that what matters is character and a life founded on Jesus while at the same time off handed swooning at the latest action star? Are we all “joking” about the ways we wish we looked just a little bit different?

I never really knew the depth of these insecurities until my son hit puberty and began to compare himself to his friends. At the same time, his friends share how inadequate they are. These are just starting points, parents need to have ongoing conversations that acknowledge insecurity is male and female.  The truth is in girls or boys our appearance is way easier to take control of than our soul.  We can “fix” our body, working on all the ins and outs of trying to follow Jesus and be His, takes far more effort.

How are you approaching this issue with the guys in your ministry?


Weekend Teaching Series: Crazytown (week 2 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: 5 Things Guys Wish Girls Knew
Service Length:71 minutes

Understandable Message: This week was another huge hit with students – we covered 5 things from guys that they wanted girls to know. I mashed up some very insightful conversations with guy students, my personal experiences and what the Bible says into a fun talk on relationships and sex. It was super fun to talk frankly with the students and push them into really thinking about the choices they are making and the consequences of a life outside of God’s path. Excited to make this into a resource for others to use in the future as well, too!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment:We had a great weekend planned – we played a hilarious new screen game called Taylor Swift Lyric or Lamentations that was one of the most clever games we’ve ever played. We also had a fun dating video spoof and lots of student involvement. Great energy on a tough weekend (prom at one of our key high schools) and met several students for the first time, too!

Music Playlist: Heart Attack (Demi Lovato cover), Hosanna, Divine and Holy

Favorite Moment: I’m really proud of Travis, he is our new weekend guy and is doing a GREAT job planning the program and keeping things on track. What a great series this has been – 1 more week to go!

Up next: Crazytown (series finale, week 3 of 3)

From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor who is asking about starting over again in a much smaller context than his previous experience. I’ll post some of my thoughts next week on how I answered him over email, but was hoping you could weigh in with your thoughts, too. Weigh in!

I’m newly on staff with our church and just wanted to pick your brain a little! I’m working on some outreach ideas for our students and trying to put together some “guy specific” events and ideas and just wanted to see if you wouldn’t mind sharing some knowledge. If you get a chance, if there’s any way you could just let me know a couple things that have worked for y’all, or maybe like your top 2-3 ideas, or even a resource you could point me to, that would be fantastic!

I replied to his email … but would love for you to Weigh In, too! Leave a comment!


Was going to post about this weekend’s Life Group Retreat, but was happy to read more insight than I would have offered over on Phil’s blog. The idea for the retreat was a concentrated relational time with students and their Life Group leader. We had students from all classes present, but new groups and freshman/sophomore groups were the most likely to participate. My pitch to leaders was that while the event was optional, it would give them 24 hours with their students in one weekend, something they would be hard-pressed to do in a semester of group meetings. Here’s some of the insights on doing something similar, head there for lots more thoughts and logistics:

1. If we do it again I would rename it “Life Group Overnighter” or “Life Group Hangout” or something that gives a better indication of the low-key nature of the event and doesn’t encroach upon our programmed events (like Winter Camp and Summer Camp)

2. It is worth shopping around for hotels and a personal visit will help.

3. Check if the hotel has a rewards program.

4. When you submit the room list, request that girls and guys are on different floors.

5. As trip leader arrive hours earlier than the students/leaders, you will have to reorganize a few rooms around and fix a few errors.

6. Be proactive. I usually check with the front desk during the evening/night to see of there have been any problems. This gives a good impression and helps you head off any potential problems early.

7. Keep the programmed part of the event short. We met together and played a quiz that gave everyone the chance to in something for their group (ranging from a giant bag of popcorn to a deck of cards). Students will be hyped up to stay in a hotel so anything more than that will be tough. It’s just a chance to check everyone is ok.


Silly little video in the series for Happily Ever After. If you missed the first one, check it out here.


Fun little video we made for the GUYS weekend of the Happily Ever After series. The first of two …


A video we found on YouTube worked GREAT as a countdown for our Happily Ever After: Guys weekend. Action movie mania!