Miss America Joins Wave Challenging Christian Women to Make Modesty Their Fashion Statement
"Let us therefore ... offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship,
with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe." -- Hebrews 12:28
by Jenni Parker and Jim Brown
(AgapePress) A former Miss America is encouraging Christian women across the U.S. to dress according to godly values.
Nearly a decade ago, Heather Whitestone McCallum became the first woman with a disability crowned Miss America. As a result of a near fatal illness, she was declared profoundly deaf as a child. But McCallum's deafness has not hindered her from achieving success as a national pageant winner, or from using that success to stress to women the importance of maintaining a high standard of modesty.
McCallum notes that for many churches, sadly, promoting godly, modest attire is not a high priority.
"Too often we see women -- especially young women -- wearing little mini-skirts or backless dresses to the church service on Sunday morning when we should concentrate on worshiping God. And it's very tempting for men, because it's showing too much skin," she says.
McCallum feels it is wrong for churches to let members' attire distract others from focusing on praising God and to say nothing about it. She says without a godly standard of dress, Christians cannot worship God wholeheartedly or reach the world effectively for Christ.
The former Miss America is not alone in her concern about how female believers are dressing. A growing number of prominent Christian women are speaking out about the kind of attire they are seeing teenage girls and other women wear -- sometimes even in church on Sunday mornings.
Mary Mohler is the wife of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R. Albert Mohler, Jr., and a frequent guest on many national television talk shows. She recently told Baptist Press that there are certain types of clothing Christian women should never wear, including skin-tight shorts, mini-skirts, and hip-hugger jeans. The Church's attitudes toward fashion, she says, should not be the same as the world's.
"The world's attitude is if you've got it, flaunt it. Leave as little to the imagination as possible. Regenerate women, I don't believe, leave home with this attitude," Mohler says.
Mohler believes Christian women have an obligation to reflect holiness, as well as to help their male counterparts avoid impure thoughts. She says women must remember the struggles men face when provocatively dressed women stimulate them visually. "They should never have it flaunted in their faces -- and to have it done at church is an abomination," she says.
In a recent article for Light magazine, author Dannah Gresh points out the problem the media and the advertising world create by teaching teens that dressing sensually is cool and fashionable. In the age of low-rise jeans, belly-button rings, and backless shirts, the author says girls are being sold a bill of goods.
"They don't understand that what's really promoted is the idea that their bodies are for show, for the pleasure of others, instead of sacred temples meant for God's glory," Gresh says.
In her recently published book Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty, Gresh tries to unscramble the mixed messages. While Hollywood and 5th Avenue tell young girls that they should enjoy and flaunt their sexual power, with or without exercising it to have sex, Gresh is telling them that modesty offers them an even greater power.
The author tells parents that they should affirm their teen daughter's feminine allure but at the same time show her the purpose of that power.
"Again and again, the Bible confirms that a woman's intoxicating power is to be shared with only one man within the context of marriage. Until then, it should be under wraps," Gresh says.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss agrees. The writer, conference speaker, and host of Revive Our Hearts, a daily syndicated national radio program for women, has written a booklet called The Look to challenge women of all ages to consider what scripture has to say about how they dress. The Look offers parents, teens, and other women practical guidance on how to make biblical choices in what they wear.
DeMoss says modesty is a matter of deference, which she defines as the willingness to limit one's liberty for the sake of others who are weak or who may be caused to stumble. "Listen, there is nothing necessarily inherently sinful about [wearing] certain articles or items of clothing. What makes it sinful for us is if in so doing we are ... putting a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way," she says.
DeMoss's Revive Our Hearts website offers The Look as part of a "modesty package" (reviveourhearts.com/modesty/) that includes other resources on the topic.
These women are part of a growing wave of concern for those in the Church who are being affected by immodesty in fashion trends. As a national spokesperson, Heather Whitestone McCallum travels the country addressing women and assuring them that it is possible to dress beautifully, stylishly, and modestly all at the same time.
"God uses beauty to influence the world in a very positive way, like he did with Esther in the Old Testament. But at the same time God encourages us to use discipline -- not only to dress in a proper way, but also to work on the heart," she says.
The beauty pageant winner wants all women to understand that they can strive for genuine attractiveness by filling their hearts with the light that comes from a relationship with Christ. "The beauty comes from Jesus ... people would think you're even more beautiful if they saw Jesus in your heart," McCallum says.