Modesty R Us

My two teenage daughters are going on a mission trip with the church youth group this summer. They just got back from doing some shopping, and on the list was a one-piece bathing suit for each. Two-piece suits are a big no-no on this trip.

Now, my girls have the most modest two-piece suits you can imagine. The top is like a tank top, and overlaps the bottom, which is actually a short skirt. The top has wide straps, a high neck, and is not in any way revealing. This is the type of suit my (and possibly your) mother wore to the pool when we were kids. All they need is the bathing cap with the plastic flowers on it to make the outfit complete.

My wife tells me that most girls going on the trip, as far as she has heard, are shopping for a one-piece suit. Any bets on whether the two-piecers they currently have are as modest as I’ve just described? Doubtful. She talked to one mom who said she just finished buying “all the clothes” her daughter needed for the trip. The mom explained that the requirements for the trip were more modest than what her daughter had in the closet.

Now, follow me on this. I’m about to quote from the guidelines for this mission trip: “Shorts are fine but should come at least to mid-thigh-six inch inseam (Please follow this). Girls, please leave your sport bra/tank-top combos at home…Girls should wear skirts or dresses with tops, not sundress type tops. Bring modest, one-piece bathing suits for pool activities…No revealing or tight-fitting clothing.”

What I hear this mom saying is that her daughter does not have one week’s worth of the above-described clothing available. Is she really saying that when her 14-year-old looks in the closet, all she sees are short shorts, sport bras, tank tops, and sundresses — all revealing and/or tight-fitting?

I realize that for some people, the prude-meter must be spiking right about now. I don’t deny it. I have always been fashion-challenged, and I don’t go much farther than jeans and a t-shirt myself (although see this article; maybe I’m not so out of it after all). What I’m wondering, though, is whether we have a double standard for ourselves. When we’re on a mission trip, our children must reflect Jesus and all propriety. However, when they’re going to the mall with their friends, break out the halter tops!

I’m reminded of my college years, when I was a varsity yell leader. The girls on the squad were fond of putting their hair into a ponytail on gameday, with a bow at the top. It gave them a sort of “little girl” appearance. These were the same girls who were drinking their brains out the night before. Their primary goal seemed to be to get so uproariously drunk so as not to remember what they had done. Then the next day, it’s Sweet Polly Purebread, the innocent and wholesome cheerleader.

Well, I’m a “sponsor” on this trip (I still am trying to figure out what a “sponsor” is and does; I guess I’ll find out). So, am I going to be spending ten days with girls who truly desire to be modest, or will they bury their new clothes in the bottom drawer once they get home, and only pull them out for next year’s mission trip?

3 thoughts on “Modesty R Us”

  1. As a “sponsor”, please do NOT wear any halter tops or drink yourself stupid. We would hate to hear the explanation and see the pictures!

    But seriously, if I am not mistaken, these ‘rules’ are more in place for the destination, not the trip takers themselves. I grew up with too many rules and too few explanations. I thought the rules were wrong. Now with some years behind me, and dare I say wisdom, I was wrong.

    Rules are a good thing, when as a ‘sponsor’ and/or parent you carefully explain the nature and reason for its existence. Allow the rule to be challenged and questioned and provide answers.

    It is sad to hear that someone would have to buy a new wardrobe for a church mission trip to be modest enough. I don’t feel we can be prudes and effectively reach the world, but we really have to be careful how we allow the world to reach us. What MTV and VH1 is selling is not eternally healthy.

  2. Hey, cowboysfan. No, these rules are specifically for the trip takers themselves.

    I agree with you about explanations, though. Perhaps some of the students would wonder why “form-fitting clothing” is inappropriate. I think that it would be wrong for us to assume that they all share our ideas about modesty — or even if their parents do. Rules without explanation leads to rebellion, I think.

  3. I think the rules and explanations are useless unless God imparts a desire for godliness, holiness and just plain helping out the boys around us. So, we give the rules, give the reasons and hope that God does the heart changes necessary to produce girls who willingly following them. If they put the clothes away until next year, maybe God is still working on the inside, even though we don’t see any change on the outside. The last thing any of us wants is a bunch of rule-following, “clean on the outside” pseudo-Christians.

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