Friday, August 30, 2013

Miley Cyrus, Modesty, and How We Teach our Teenage Girls Wrong

I've been listening to all this chatter over the last couple of days about Miley and there have been some good things said about it all, like Trevin Wax's I Weep for Miley. This development and just the season of the year (Summertime!) has led to a lot of discussion over the last several months about modesty, some of which has been good, but some of which has me weeping.

I've heard LOTS of things about modesty over the years. I grew up in a pretty conservative church culture. The kind where girls only wore skirts or culottes. My sister wouldn't go to youth activities because she always got talked to about her jeans (not that they rode too low or were too tight or anything... just the fact that she was wearing them). I never quite got some of the rules that were put in place for us girls. Because, for instance, the culottes showed more leg than my pants did on the volleyball court (we seemed to play volleyball a lot). But it was what it was, and I know that our church leadership was trying to help us to live out this whole modesty thing, because what we wear is important. It was just done in a way that I didn't understand.

We've moved forward from the whole culotte fiasco I think (although I looked good in a pair of mean teal polk-a-dot culottes with a matching scrunchie), but modesty is still a very hot topic and the sexuality of women is talked about more and more. And here comes Miley, the sweet little Hannah Montana Disney character (which I honestly never saw much of, maybe 2 episodes). I only knew of her from afar. I watched about 10 seconds of her performance Sunday night and was just kind of bewildered. I don't know why anyone would want to move like that in public. And it has erupted all sorts of reactions. One in particular that I watched was especially heartbreaking to me. The conversation in this pastoral response video quickly moved from Miley to just general modesty for women, young women in particular, and while I appreciate the video's desire to teach young women about modesty from a pastor's perspective (a much needed topic of discussion for women), here is my humble opinion of what was lacking within in this video, and often times is lacking in discussions about modesty.

I've heard mentioned over and over again in my life when taught on this subject that how you dress will determine what you attract. And the guys that are attracted to immodesty will eventually throw you to the curb. The guys who are attracted to a modest girl recognize the prize, the princess that they have. The particular conversation within this video that I heard recently compared girls to cars. The immodest girl is like a Ford Ranger, he said. She's normal and common. She has to advertise to attract. Everyone has a truck like that because it's common. Whereas a modest girl is a Rolls Royce. She's valuable and priceless and will withstand the test of time. So if you want to be classy, or one of a kind, a rolls royce if you will, be modest.

This comparison broke my heart for a few reasons:

1. While there is a certain level of truth that the way you present yourself will attract a certain type of guy, there is no absolute to this. Please don't make implied promises to impressionable young girls that tug at their heartstrings. Most girls deeply crave the attention of a man, and most want one who will be faithful to her (despite what many will say). Making the kind of guy you're gonna end up with the motivation of modestly, puts that motivation in the wrong place. I've watched too many girls grow up thinking that if they act a certain way and dress a certain way they're sure to get a certain kind of guy. And some of them end up alone, or some of them end up being cheated on. And they are left with heartbreak, because the driving motivation behind what they had been doing all those years was selfish and their hearts didn't get what they had been (perhaps subtly) promised.

2. Please don't ever compare a girl to a car again. It only adds fuel to the fire of young men viewing women as objects, especially in the case with a car.... something that most guys love, and love to use and abuse! I am not a Ford Ranger (a pickup truck?!). I am not a Rolls Royce either. Neither of these are made in the image of our God, as all women are (and men are for that matter). I realize that this was just an analogy that this pastor used, but it lacked much when it came to viewing God's women as the children of God that they are.

3. Further, and perhaps most important, this comparison and the way it was made (and the way I've heard it made for so much of my life at youth camps and such) doesn't point young women to the gospel, it doesn't point them to Jesus, it simply plays at the idols of their heart, mainly the desire to 'stand out.' As women this desire is played on everywhere and our clothing is one of the main ways in which women attempt to stand out from the crowd. Different methods are used, varying styles of clothing and hair, different personalities, different sins even, but the root issue at stake behind all of it is the desire for glory for self. But God is the one who deserves ALL of the glory. When I get dressed in the morning it should never be to 'stand out.' My clothes shouldn't draw attention to me, they should be a reflection of my walk with my savior. And to encourage women and girls to be modest for the purposes of standing out, is only asking them to dress in more covering clothing for the sin of seeking personal attention.... the very same sin they were committing (more often than not) when they were choosing to dress in less clothing.

It's just exchanging a sin for a sin, not pointing our girls to Jesus.

The answer to the clothing debate isn't exactly simple, and there are not hard and fast rules, but the root of it is simple. Girls, immerse your heart in Jesus and want nothing more than him. If we're dressing to draw attention to ourselves in any way we're dressing selfishly, and sinfully, no matter how modest your outfit might be. But if we're dressing for God's glory, we will be mindful of others and not seek to draw attention to our bodies, but rather our sweet spirits that are a reflection of our Savior will draw attention to God.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV)


  1. VERY nice points Abbie.. love reading your blog :)Thank you for being an encouragement and an example of a Godly woman.

    1. Thanks Lindsay! I've enjoyed hanging around you too! You're always an encouragement!

  2. Just found your blog through the link-up and thank you for posting this! I couldnt have said this any better! Great post!