June 19, 2007 by Stacy McDonald
Recently, in a department store with my children, I noticed a mother shopping with her teenaged daughter. The daughter’s attire made my heart sink. It was not the typical, tight, low-slung blue jeans she wore, nor the clingy t-shirt that revealed her midriff that made me shake my head, although they were noticeable enough. What grieved me most were the ironic words emblazoned across her chest: “What Would Jesus Do?”
I contemplated a reply to her question that seemed to beg an answer. I thought of taking her hand and gently saying, “Jesus would do and did do many things, but I can’t imagine Him ever having shown us His bellybutton. He certainly would have told you to put some clothes on—in fact He has; it’s in this little book I’d like to give you. . . .”
Instead, I focused on distracting my children, some of whom were at eye level with her navel ring. Maybe I missed an opportunity to speak truth to a naïve young Christian. Would she have been willing to listen? I don’t know, but I hope readers here are.
In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation. . . . (1 Timothy 2:9)
It is possible that this girl and her mother are not even Christians, but are instead a part of the growing number of non-Christians who think it’s “hip” to dress in Jesus-wear. [At the time time of the original writing of this article, it was all the rage in Hollywood for starlets like Madonna and Brittney Spears to wear "Jesus is My Homeboy" t-shirts]
However, let’s assume for a moment that they are both Christians—Christians who are simply so desensitized by today’s sensual culture that they don’t even realize they’re giving others a false presentation of the purity of Christ by their appearance. The daughter is simply wearing what “everyone else” wears, and neither of them thinks anything of it. In fact, they may both truly think she is being a better witness for Christ by wearing her t-shirt. Nevertheless, consider this possible scenario:
A young man nonchalantly approaches the pair in the store and quietly stands in front of the daughter, boldly staring at her chest. Slowly, he begins to read the sentence with some difficulty: “Whaaaa . . .t would Jes. . . .” The girl and her mother, irritated, have difficulty finding the proper words to rebuke him, since, after all, she has openly invited people to read the words plainly printed across her bosom, simply by wearing the t-shirt.
Finally, her mother scolds him for staring—for taking so long reading the short sentence. The young man not-so-innocently defends his rudeness by explaining the trouble he is having making out the letters, since they are quite distorted by what is so clearly underneath her t-shirt.
Horrified, mother and daughter run out of the store in tears, lamenting the perversion of men and the lack of gentlemen in the world.
Maybe you are as shaken as the mother and daughter in my story, but what exactly shocked you? Perhaps the graphic nature of my example caught you off guard, even offended you. However, we must remember that we encounter shocking scenes every day—at the grocery store, driving down the street, and even at church.
The real question is whether or not we ignore or even notice them. Talking about the problem isn’t the tragedy, but pretending it isn’t happening might be. So maybe we need a little shaking up. Maybe we need an exaggerated example of reality to wake us from our slumber of complacency and make us think.
For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. (Romans 2:24)
Even if the words on the front of her shirt were not so blatantly incongruous with her attire, would it be any better? She would still be using her chest as a billboard, giving everyone she meets an open invitation to stare somewhere they shouldn’t. In fact, it’s more than an invitation, because even those who might attempt to avert their eyes from looking at a girl’s chest may find themselves overtaken by curiosity, and look anyway—at least long enough to read the words.
And while we’re contemplating, let us remember that this young lady is claiming to be a Christian by her asserted concern over what Jesus would do. But the problem isn’t whether or not one young lady chose to dress this way, the problem is that it’s the norm in our culture today—a culture that we as Christians are supposed to be transforming for Christ.
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:5)
Sometimes the question is not “What would Jesus do?” but instead “What would Jesus have me do?” or, better yet, “What has Jesus told me to do, in His Word?” I must remember that my body is to be presented as a “living sacrifice” to the Lord. That means I must humbly accept that my body is not my own—it has been bought with a price by a loving and Holy Savior. Therefore, I have a responsibility to dress modestly, to present myself in a chaste manner, and to make sure that every reference I make to Christ, whether verbal or visual, honestly reflects who He is and is glorifying to His name.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
As Christian women, we are the very ones who are to demonstrate Christian femininity. Instead of strutting around in Jesus-wear that contradicts and blasphemes the nature of a Holy God, we can demonstrate modest and lovely character, explaining (without silk-screening) the power and holiness of an awesome and majestic God.
Be sure to check out Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters by Stacy McDonald, available through Vision Forum for retail or wholesale purchase.