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Believing in a Better Modesty Movement

Believing in a Better Modesty Movement

Apr 4 2013
How we teach purity through a celebration of beauty and self-respect.

I started Secret Keeper Girl, my ministry to tween girls, with one core message: you are a masterpiece created by God. My research led me to believe that when we teach girls to celebrate their beauty while we teach them the self-control of modesty, it enables them to embrace self-respect free of hyper-focus on their bodies.

A healthy message of modesty can allow—and in fact, encourage—women to celebrate their beauty.

Make authentic intimacy—not marriage— the goal of purity.

The shallow end of the purity and modesty movement often offers a girl the false promise of a guy in exchange for her purity ring or modest attire. We have convinced girls they can make a deal with God: a purity pledge now and a wedding ring later. Purity is not something you use to bargain with God. It is something you do to obey him. When you put the focus on God and respect for the inner qualities of worth he has planted in each of us, the outside stuff—our beauty and power of allure— isn't that big a deal and is easily brought under the control of our inner character.

Frankly, I find this challenge to be much more difficult to address, complicated by the fact that God himself tells us that marriage is a picture of the love of Christ and the Church. We must take care never to underemphasize the value of marriage, but we also should not overplay it. It is not the goal of purity. Authentic intimacy should be the goal.

Genesis 2:18 says "It is not good for man to be alone." This isn't to say that singleness is not good. It says it's not good to be alone. Our desire for sex is not just a drive for a physical release but a force meant to propel us to seek intimacy. God created us to function in community whether single or married. This is what makes our human sexuality so drastically different from the rest of the animal world.

While the evangelical and purity movement must tread carefully in these two areas, the dialogue of self-control achieved through modesty and purity is worth having. Recently, critics have been saying that teaching women modesty and purity places undue responsibility on my gender for the sexual integrity of both men and women. Others run with that thought and sensationalize it to claim that modesty promotes rape culture. Such sensationalized messages fail to take into account that God calls us to modesty and purity, and leave us unable to dialogue our way to good solutions.

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