I recently read an article by an associate professor of psychology (Jennifer Shewmaker) at Abilene Christian University concerning sex, lies, and teenage girls. A very good article and an important reminder.
In this article the professor exhorts: “It is imperative that churches confront sexualization head on.” The reason for her forceful remark is associated with what our teenage girls are being bombarded with on a continuing basis. I remember very well the aggravations in our own home as a very conservative dad (me) tried to balance modesty and decency for our two daughters facing the onslaught of physical, sexual imagery. If it were not for my wife the girls would have been unbalanced!
Five recommendations came from this professor. They are: encourage vulnerability associated with an emphasis on appearance; believe in girls and where beauty actually resides; focus on strengths and not on physical appearances; praise the courage girls have in doing those things that glorify God and not the body; talk openly about sexualization and its shallowness (The Christian Chronicle, January 2014, p. 25).
What the professor had to say I was glad to read. In addition to that which she offered, let us put more emphasis on the Lord’s way; when that is done, these other points of exhortation will fall naturally into place. For instance, the Holy Spirit speaks to women concerning modesty in clothing (1 Timothy 2:9) and humility of heart (1 Peter 3:1-6).
Children often chafe under the rules of their parents; to a lesser or greater degree all children do. What they need to see is not a mere decree, but reasons why the rules are in place and that parents try to live in accordance with the same. They will see failure in the parents (children always see this), but in the love they gain from mom and dad, they will see pass the failures and settle themselves into the wisdom of those rules.
Boys and girls, men and women should always wear modest clothing. Girls who wear shorts with leg “lengths” just below the buttocks are not wearing modest clothing, but clothing that brings a boys eyes where they don’t belong (similar to the writing on the backside of girls clothing that many of the kids in school wear)! Modesty, in this context, will be clothing that does not bring attention to one’s body, but allows God to be glorified by the behavior of the one wearing decent and modest clothes. It is for certain that minimal clothing during warm weather does not bring attention to God, it brings attention to something not at all virtuous.
In a different context I found this remark telling: “Depression can strike anyone, regardless of age, race, nationality, occupation, income level or sex. Women, though, have significantly higher rates of depression than men do” (Mayo Clinic on Depression, 2001, p. 7). I can’t say why this is the case, but perhaps there is a relation (at least in part) to self-esteem , clothing, and our little girls taught the standards of society rather than the Lord’s.