June 13, 2010 by Stacy McDonald

The Beauty of Chastity: Honoring Marriage (Part 1)

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Because of my own sinful past, as well as the fact that sexual sin introduced so many sorrows into my life (even before I was born), I learned early in my Christian walk that purity meant more than simply avoiding sex outside of marriage. Sexual purity, like all virtues, begins in the heart.

The Bible calls it chastity, which doesn’t always mean “sexual abstinence.” After all, even married women are called to be chaste (Titus 2:5, 1 Peter 3:2). Being chaste is more than a physical state of being; it is an active virtue that consistently demonstrates sexual purity—in thought, word, and deed.

Chastity requires me to honor the estate of marriage and to respect the marriage bed. It goes well beyond simply avoiding sexual activity outside of marriage. In fact, it’s far more active, since it includes loving my brother enough to help protect his chastity (Galatians 5:14). Whether I am single or married; whether it is my marriage or the marriage of my neighbor, I am called to honor marriage. Because “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

A Reflection of Mom

As moms, we have a huge responsibility. Our daughters are looking to us to find out how to grow into godly women. If a daughter sees her mother dressing in provocative clothes that reveal or accentuate her private areas, or donning clothes that are skin tight and obviously cut to allure the opposite sex, then that is what she is likely to emulate.

Moms, these precious little girls want to be “just like us!” What an honor! Now, let’s see to it that we are pointing them to Christ:

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Daddy’s Eyes

And dads aren’t off the hook! Daughters are watching Daddy’s eyes! Every girl wants her hero to think she’s beautiful—and if her hero is attracted to sensuality in other women, she’s likely to want to please him by becoming “his kind of beautiful.”

Sons learn in very much the same way. They notice what types of movies or television their dad likes to watch. Boys pay attention to Dad’s magazine subscription and follow his gaze in the check out line. A son sees what his father values most in women and is affected by whether or not Dad respects, protects, and is faithful to Mom.

A Woman’s Responsibility

Jesus said that even looking upon a woman to lust after her is adultery (Matt. 5:28). And men must take this seriously, learning to guard their eyes as Job did.

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1)

With this in mind, we women have a choice whether or not to make it difficult for the men around us. It’s been said that just as men have the sinful tendency to lust after women; likewise, women have the sinful tendency to lust after being lusted after. Notice how the married woman in Proverbs 7 wasn’t actually a prostitute, she simply dressed like one. Her heart motives were to entice a young man:

“And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.” (Proverbs 7:10)

However, sometimes women dress provocatively without any intention of following through with anything sinful. Still, remember the old adage, “Don’t advertise what’s not for sale!”

A woman’s pride or insecurity may sometimes cause her to dress immodestly in order to be noticed (1 Timothy 2:9). At an early age, I learned that when I dressed a certain way, I received more attention from the opposite sex. Of course, I eventually realized it wasn’t the kind of attention I was looking for. Still, I learned something: Men are easily affected by the way we women dress, carry ourselves, and behave.

Sometimes, women, especially young women, aren’t at all aware of the affect they have on men. So it is up to the older women in their lives, chiefly their mothers, to teach them. The Harris brothers put together a revealing (no pun intended) Modesty Survey that mothers and daughters will find helpful in discussing some of these topics.

As women, we are called to glorify God by communicating biblical beauty (not sensuality) in the way we dress and carry ourselves– it is our DUTY to our brothers (and sisters) in Christ.

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

I am not loving my brothers in Christ (or their wives) if I dress in a way that is likely to entice another woman’s husband. I want to save my body (physically and visually) for my own husband, and I should teach my daughters to save their bodies for their future husbands, as well as to love their brothers in Christ enough not to stumble them.

So am I to dress as plain as possible? Is frumpier holier? Should I try to hide the clear fact that I’m a woman by wearing a sack? In Part 2 of The Beauty of Chastity we will discuss biblical beauty and what that means. Click HERE to read Part 2.



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24 Responses to “The Beauty of Chastity: Honoring Marriage (Part 1)”

  1. Kristy Quinn says:

    Very beautifully written. I am an ex-professional singer. I wasn't taught modesty growing up. I learned how to dress from society as well as my friends. It wasn 't until I had two of my four daughters that God brought Godly women into my life-women whose beauty was more powerful than any women I had ever laid eyes on in any magazine. :)They shined and I knew I wanted to be like them even though I didn't know how to achieve that. That was years ago and now I'm one of those women. I will never forget the power those strangers had over me by thier choices.

    Have a happy night!

    Kristy @ http://happyhomemakingwithkristy.blogspot.com/

  2. Jennifer says:

    Stacy, the new profile pic of you is so beautiful! :) Great article too.

  3. Persuaded says:

    Wonderful post Stacy… and if I may, I'd like to add just one thing: as mothers, our sons model their future wives on us. To me, that is a very sobering thought… my son will marry a woman who acts like me. (I kinda wanted better for him than this, honestly;-D) I must be careful to be the kind of woman who I want him to marry, the kind of woman I want to be the mother of my grandchildren.

    This was recently brought home to me as my son listened in on a conversation between my 19yo daughter and I. We were talking about headcoverings and whether my daughter chose to wear one.
    My son piped up with, "You should start wearing a headcover… that's what all the boys go for!"
    It was soo funny we could barely contain ourselves, lol. (and it's particularly noteworthy as I am the only person of his acquaintance who covers!) All humor aside it brought home to be how much my choices affect him and how he sees women, how he determines what is and is not attractive. Sobering thought.

  4. Ginger says:

    "women have the sinful tendency to lust after being lusted after."

    Oh my goodness, that is so true! I've never heard that line before, but it is dead on.
    I think it's a shame when women take modesty to the point of frumpy and unattractive. It is possible to be fashionable (and I don't mean keeping up w/ the latest fashions) and modest. I actually think it's a poor witness when we think jumpers are the only way to be modest.
    I had always thought that the dresses/skirts only women were all about feminity. But it isn't only about dressing feminine, it's also about modesty. I never realized how modest skirts were until I started seeing how often teen girls check out their butt in their jeans. Clearly they know the jeans accentuate their rear ends!
    I have really enjoyed switching my wardrobe to all skirts. I feel so feminine and pretty in a skirt. And my girls are getting it too as they copy me.

  5. Mrs.L says:

    Stacy,

    Thank you for this much needed post!
    We need to bring this topic out
    in the open! It is first and
    foremost a matter of the heart, but
    our dress does so often reveal our hearts! In this day and age we need to reflect deeply on how the subtle or (not so subtle) influences of our
    culture can entrap us into worldly thinking, which does not bring glory to God! Bless you for taking this topic on considering that even within the Christian church we hear echos of "Don't judge me, I'm free in Christ." May the Lord's glory be exalted!

    "Finally, then brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God,
    just as you are doing, that you do so more and more."

    1 Thesalonians 4:1

  6. Tara says:

    Thank you for this. I am the only "girl" in the house and I am so very grateful that my husband treats me like a queen.

    I well remember the days when I dressed less than modestly and I agree wholeheartedly with you, it wasn't the attention I wanted.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    :)

  7. Darelina says:

    Amen Stacy!

  8. Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet says:

    What a blessing to see this! I wasn't taught modesty either even growing up in a Christian home. I only learned it within the last 7 years. Now looking back I wish I would have known then what I know now, but now I can teach my daughter. :D

    Blessings!
    Sherry

  9. Christine says:

    Stacy, Thanks for posting this. It's so good to be reminded. I like when you wrote "physically and visually." It was a good emphasis. Thank you again!

  10. Mrs. Hewett says:

    Stacy,

    Thank you for sharing this. You expressed it very well. I was blessed.

    On a side note, my 6 year old daughter (who is fascinated by weddings, and very excited to watch Tiffany's online) absolutely LOVES the dresses on your girls in the photo above. She declared she wants one of each for her wedding someday! Thanks for being a virtuous & godly example. More than just your daughters are watching and learning from you. Many blessings to you all.

  11. Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife says:

    Very good post. You have hit the nail right on the head. I am so thankful my husband takes modesty SERIOUSLY around here. If he thinks something is too revealing he lets me know right away. He protects my daughters and I and I listen carefully to what he says.

  12. Kimberly says:

    Stacy,

    Well said, well said!

    I'd like to add a thought on something you mentioned if you don't mind. My sister lived in Europe for several years when we were younger. As you may know, nude beaches are pretty standard there. Apparently, it is common practice to don a swimsuit if you are trying to impress someone. The point being, the swimsuits are designed to accentuate and allure. The same can be true of clothing. Many christian women believe they are practicing modesty as long as they are covered. In other words, those tight jeans may be doing more harm than you realize.

    May we all make a renewed effort to seek Christ's heart in the way we dress and present ourselves.

    Kim

  13. TeamIngram says:

    I understand your point – unfortunately though our daughters can choose to do as they desire… we can be examples & have people around who are examples, but in the end… we all chose…

  14. Tammy says:

    awesome article!

  15. J & A says:

    True, valid points, and something that should be on our minds with or without children. I do hope, though, that the part II doesn't turn into a "skirts only" implorement – drifting a little too far towards legalism for my tastes. The burden of immodesty and temptation is not left solely in the woman's lap, however; Christian men have a duty and an obligation to guard their OWN thoughts whether or not women around them comply and aid that mission. So much is said about women tempting men (much of it valid…they think differently than we do, are challenged in different ways, etc.) but each of us has a personal responsibility to our Lord even as we also have a responsibility to each other. I hope the role of men in preventing temptation to slip in to THEIR OWN minds isn't undermentioned…

  16. Ginger says:

    J&A,

    Skirts-only is legalistic only if one thinks legalistically about it. The fact that a lady wears only skirts doesn't make her legalistic.
    Although it isn't only women who need to be modest, but men who need to guard their eyes too, this is a blog for women. So I think it's perfectly appropriate that Stacy only be addressing women.

  17. Stacy McDonald says:

    J, you are right that men are responsible to guard their own hearts and minds from lust. Jesus warned men (and women, I believe) of this very thing. We are all responsible for our own sin.

    When Potiphar's wife took a liking to Joseph, he proved that men are capable of avoiding sin, even when being enticed (or attacked) by a seductive woman.

    But Ginger is right, we are addressing women here. I don't think too many men frequent my blog. And according to Titus 2, I'm called to teach younger women, not men.

    And here's the deal: we tend to read Matthew 5:28 only for the man's sin, but Jesus was teaching a principle here. He was saying that sin is not only in the action, but sin begins in the heart:

    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:27-30, NKJV)

    He was also saying that even if drastic measures are necessary to avoid sin, we should do whatever it takes.

    Like I said, men have a tendency to sin by lusting after women, while women have a tendency to lust after being lusted after.

    Though a man must learn to guard his eyes, he shouldn't be having to guard them FROM Christian women. But if he does, he does. Still the Christian woman is responsible for her sin, even if the man has guarded his eyes successfully.

    And I realize some men could lust after a rock, but that's not what I'm talking about here.

    The whole lust thing is a heart issue. If a woman knows certain clothing tends to "turn men on," and has an attitude of, "I'll wear what I want – godly men won't look," then she is sinning just as much as those men who WILL look.

    She's also sinning against their wives and assaulting the marriages of those around her.

    Again, I am not setting forth any sort of Christian uniform. I am also not saying that our clothing should be ugly or unattractive. What I am saying is that what we choose to wear should glorify God.

    Our adornment (clothes, makeup hair etc.) should communicate loveliness, beauty, chastity, humility, and gentleness. It should reflect godliness – which happens to be beautiful.

    It should not communicate fast, loose, rebellious, loud, obnoxious, frumpy, angry, promiscuous, or unclean.

  18. Lauren says:

    This was a wonderfully refreshing post. A needed reminder that we can't just check "purity" off of our list once we walk down the isle in a white gown. We're never "arrived" or "done with that, now for something else". God calls us to purity at every point in our lives, and to encourage others in their pursuit of purity as well. Thanks for the great post!

    Lauren
    http://www.pearlsanddiamondsblog.com

  19. Lacey says:

    thank you, I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the second part.

  20. BassoonJedi says:

    Stacy,

    We have been having problems lately with our preadolescent daughter, who lives with us half-time. Her "other home" is not Christian and they worship and glorify the world in dress, language, movies, music choices, attitudes towards sexuality, you name it. We have been struggling with how to raise up a pure and chaste daughter with such a conflicting message.

    Today I read your post and clicked on the Modesty Survey. Surprisingly, my stepdaughter was nearby and was very interested in reading the survey. This led to a discussion about modesty, remaining pure, and God's standards (and our expectations). What a great connection!

    I can't thank you enough for all the things you post on. To be honest, there are some times when I think you are over-the-top in your personal standards, but what I do appreciate and respect is that you seem to want to put boundaries up because you love Jesus. That alone makes me want to listen to what you have to say, even if your beliefs or practices seem a bit extreme compared to ours.

    I also want to thank you for taking the time to post, because it really is a ministry. I have been blessed by a newfound respect for the work I do at home. It came about because the Holy Spirit spoke to me through your blog and book… even though I sometimes disagree with you! A discussion with my son about heart attitudes brought up the topic of doing work with a joyful spirit… and I was delighted and amused to find that he thinks I really ENJOY housework! It was a good opportunity to explain about doing our work as if for the Lord. Your writings were really instrumental in helping me see this role as a "blessing" to my family, and I thank God that it appears to be making an impact.

  21. Jennifer says:

    Happy Independence Day and please be sure to watch/rent the classic film 1776. You want a great family film? This is an adorable, witty, hilarious musical based on the writing and signing of the Independence Proclamation, the lives and wit of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and their devoted wives, and charming 'ol Benjamin Franklin. Please watch!

    Sorry to hijack the thread :)

  22. Dianne says:

    Amen!

  23. [...] 3. Love your brothers in Christ enough to endeavor to be that Titus 2 woman who is called to teach the younger women, among other things, to be discreet and chaste (Titus 2:4). (See also The Beauty of Chastity) [...]

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