All joking aside, I find myself browsing through websites or magazines and I feel the need to cover girls up with a blanket. The only thing that seems to be more common than the missing sleeve is the severely short skirt accompanied by bare legs and mile-high heels. I'm not judging. Really, I'm not. I understand the pressure to fit in. I haven't always been a prude! I too, tried to push the envelope where hemlines and necklines were concerned when I was a teenager - and I sometimes I succeeded. That's what kids do - they push limits. And who could blame them when their role models - like Beyonce`, Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan, just to name a few - are leading in the cause to abolish the sleeve (and most other parts of the dress)?
Parents are supposed to set limits. That's our job. And when our teenage girls come crying about how everyone is dressing that way or no one is wearing what we've bought her, our job is to hold on as tight as we can to the limits. I'm not talking about never compromising. Compromise has to happen at times. Give in on style or color. After all, (and I know this goes against everything we've been taught) sin is ugly, but ugly isn't a sin. Modesty should not be compromised!
I searched the Bible for counsel on the matter and here are a few of the verses I found on the subject of modesty:
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control. - 1 Timothy 2:9a
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. Proverbs 11:22
And as a parent, perhaps the most convicting verse of all...
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! Matthew 18:6-7
As the mom of a daughter, it frustrates me to fight against the "norm" on a daily basis. I've been told (more than once) by well-meaning people that I can't protect her from everything. This is so true. I'm fully aware that I'm not capable of protecting her from everything. That's actually not my intent - or my job. God won't even choose to protect her from everything! My job is to set limits and lead her, pointing her to Christ who will guide her by the Holy Spirit - if she will yield to Him, and to pray, pray, pray. Modesty is not about covering up so no one will notice her (but would that be so bad? Ha!). It's about the condition of the heart. It's about obedience. God's word is clear. He expects obedience.
As well as having a daughter, I'm also the mother of a pre-teen son (gulp). The older he gets the more I notice the behavior of girls around him. Girls have become significantly more forward since I was a girl! Part of how girls relate to boys is in how they dress.
And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily (or deceptive) of heart. - Proverbs 7:10
Recently I was looking at pictures of kids who had attended a dance. (I'm not opposed to dancing, by the way:) ) It was a conversation with a friend about these pictures that inspired this blog post. Pictures had been taken before leaving the house and the happy couple was all smiles. After pics of the couple by themselves, there were group pictures of several friends and their dates. When I looked at the group photo, I was amazed! Each girl looked like the next! Their dresses were almost identical - and they were all missing sleeves (and most were missing much more!). The longer I looked at the picture, the harder it hit me. These boys would be heading off to a dance where there would be hundreds of girls dressed just like this. Hundreds! In an attempt to normalize our daughters, we've put our sons in the middle of a no-win situation!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Matthew 5:27-28
I wonder if we realize what we're doing to our sons. We train them to respect girls, then in the most awkward years of their life, when they're barely old enough to shave, we put them in a sea of scantily dressed girls their own age who've been dressed to look 10 years older and tell them to mind their manners. Look but don't touch? Matthew 5:27-28 tells us that's not good enough! How is a boy suppose to keep his thoughts pure, let alone his actions, when he looks up and he's surrounded by a roomful of teenage girls dressed like sexy adult women? Do we expect too much from our sons? Or are we expecting them to give into sin, so we quit trying to keep the temptations away? Grown men lose the battle with lust, and we throw our boys in the fight? I've often heard "Boys will be boys". Really? We're giving them a pass on obedience because of their gender? God never excludes anyone from accountability.
Please hear my heart. I don't believe it's our intent to dress our daughters so as to require every ounce of self-control of every boy they cross paths with (and the prayers of their mamas), but I do think our society as a whole is clueless as to the reprecussions. Our daughters are beautiful just the way God made them. They don't know that unless we, as parents convey that to them - in our words and our actions. After all, what's wrong with a fourteen year old that looks fourteen? It's okay to dress up and look pretty - it's not okay to look sexy.
For our daughters who are being told they're worthless unless they bare all (or most), and for our sons who battle daily against lust within their own hearts and minds - say you'll join me in the fight to retrieve the sleeve!