Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Personal Standards of Modesty

If you’re just joining this series of my personal story of modesty, you may want to read my testimony in Part One and Part Two.

So, my eyes were opened and I committed to modesty. But what exactly did that mean? I’m a black-and-white kind of gal, so I wanted to have some pretty clear guidelines for myself and my daughters.

I often wonder if this is what people think of us and our style of dress ~

I wanted to seek the Bible in all things, but God didn’t write down exactly how long sleeves should be. J So, I started with what the Bible does say and used my conscience to round it out.

I started with the Genesis verses. The aprons that Adam and Eve sewed for themselves weren’t enough. {Genesis 3:7} God made the first animal sacrifice and used the skins to make tunics for them. {Genesis 3:21} I have seen this translated also as “coats.” This is the garment that was required to cover their sin.

For skirt length, I looked to Isaiah 47:2-3 which reads, “…Take off the skirt, uncover the thigh, pass through the rivers. Your nakedness shall be uncovered….” This tells me that when my thigh is uncovered I’m naked or immodest. My skirts and the skirts of my daughters must fall at least past the knees. If I sit down and the skirt pulls up above the knees, then it is too short. Long skirts are my personal preference.

My basic guideline, then, is to be covered from my neck to my knees. I also take this to include some kind of sleeve, since coats and tunics have sleeves.

Sleeve length can be a divisive topic, and I’m not giving any hard-and-fast rule here, except that there ought to be some sort of sleeve. Personally, I am most comfortable in ¾ length sleeves. I have found that short sleeves, especially if they are loose, will flop open when I raise my arms. If that happens, someone could see my undergarment. Sometimes I wear a button-front short-sleeve shirt with sleeves that come down to the elbow. I leave it hanging open with a tee-shirt underneath that covers my arm a bit more.

I prefer a crew-style neckline, since I definitely don’t want to bend over and have someone be able to look down my shirt or feel like I’m going to fall out. J

I’m sure I come across to others as strict, but these guidelines are actually quite freeing. Many, many garments are simply off-limits to me. I just don’t even consider them. I don’t stand in the store or stand in my closet agonizing over whether the shoulders will slip off, whether my straps show, whether someone will see I haven’t shaved my legs high enough, whether my slip will hang out.

Neither do these standards affect my relationship with my girls. They wear short sleeves. I will leave it up to them and the Lord as to whether or not they should wear anything longer. They can wear skirts that come just to the knee, but, as of now, they prefer the longer lengths. The reason these standards are not restrictive to my children is because I am not restrictive in my praise, encouragement, affection, or fun with them.


But this is the reality of relationship ~

My daughters are my best friends, and I am theirs. We LOVE our girls shopping days because we talk, we share our hearts, we laugh, we try on funny hats. We enjoy each others’ company, so they don’t mope around bemoaning what they can’t wear. We’re too busy having fun.






Posts still to come ~

A List of Why I Like Skirts
What If My Husband Disagrees?
When Extended Family Disagrees



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49 comments:

  1. Thank you for taking us through your journey! Love the pictures :)

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    1. Thanks, Amy. We had a good time with the first photo. It was sooo hard to keep a serious face!

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  2. I love to read this! Thanks for your openess.

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  3. I'm finding your story very interesting (just catching up on it this morning) and I'm actually posing a question about modesty on my marriage blog on Friday so I hope you'll stop by and throw in your two cents! I do have a question though that perhaps you can clear up, and I hope that you don't see the question as combative because that isn't my intention. Ever since I read about the Duggars using the Isaiah verse to guide their standards, and I read the verse for myself, I've been very confused as to how that verse could be interpreted towards anything related to modesty. Here's what my version (ESV) says: "Take the millstones and grind flour,put off your veil,strip off your robe, uncover your legs,pass through the rivers.Your nakedness shall be uncovered,and your disgrace shall be seen." The person (God's addressing Babylon) is actually taking off everything they are wearing - veil, robe and uncovering the leg as a whole, not just thighs - thus the description of nakedness. So can you explain why it spoke to you about thighs = nakedness? Thanks!

    Elizabeth@Warrior Wives
    www.thewarriorwives.com

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I cannot answer for the writer, but I can answer for us. When trying to decide a length of a skirt, this verse tells us that God considers showing a thigh the same as nakedness.

      make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.

      3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered,


      If we make bare our leg and uncover our thigh, the Word is telling us that God considered that to be nakedness.

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    3. Let me make sure I'm understanding both you and the author...if I'm understanding your interpretation correctly, you do not believe that the verse is talking about a person removing all of their clothes - veil, skirt, and uncovering their legs? You believe that the person being described simply uncovered their thigh? Am I correct in understanding that you do not believe that God was describing the person as naked and disgraced because they were completely lacking all clothing? What I read in multiple translations is that the "virgin daughter of Babylon" was told to take off her veil AND strip off her robe AND uncover her ENTIRE leg. Am I mistaken? I'm sorry, I'm just totally baffled as to how the verse can be read to mean that showing thigh is equivalent to nakedness when the person being described was totally nude.

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    4. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for letting me know about your post coming up on Friday. There are so many blogs I love to read, but it's hard to keep up with all of them.

      I think our difficulty is in the differing translations. I use the New King James Version since the King James Version is accepted as the most reliable but the New version is a bit easier to read. In the NKJV, I don't see that the person is completely undressed at all. The veil is removed, and the veil is just what it is today, a sort of headcovering. The skirt is taken off, and the skirt is just the lower portion of the robe, not the entire garment. Finally, the thigh is revealed, not necessarily the entire leg. Changing the description from skirt to robe or thigh to leg can make a big difference in its' interpretation. I hope what I've written is understandable, since it's late here. :) Great question, and thanks for asking.

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    5. I am NOT a theologian...but I think they lost their clothes and modesty because of going into captivity. It was a terrible thing to have to expose their nakedness (not so for most Americans)so it is showing in reverse what is modest.

      One thing that is very important to me is the heart. God looks on the inside, my heart, and although modesty is important, it is most important that He works on my heart.

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    6. Excellent point, Judith. All obedience, all change in any area begins in the heart.

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  4. Id be very interested in this post: What If My Husband Disagrees?

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    1. Coming soon to a blog near you, Genevieve. :)

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  5. I agree. I am glad you write these post. It helps me to know you better. I do wear short sleeves but not ones that are real short. keep it up its better than living on the edge.

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    1. Spot on, Michelle. "Better than living on the edge."

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  6. Thank you for letting us see your family's decision process! Questions, which you may already be planning to address later in the series:
    - What are the clothing standards in the church you attend? Do the youth generally abide by them or are your daughters outside the norm for their church peers?

    - What about swimming/swimwear? How do you address this?

    - What about standards for boys? Do you have specifics? (for example do they always wear pants, wear shorts some of the time, etc)

    Again, I'm enjoying this series a lot.

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    1. I just wanted to share some of what we've done for swimwear. You can spend some $$ and get very beautiful, modest swimwear online. You can also sew your own. For us, we mostly have not had to do this. We will often get a swim dress, put bike shorts and a water proof shirt with it, and it makes a very cute suit. You can also do longer, wide-legged board shorts with a waterproof shirt. Sometimes, you can find some great things for swimming in the athletic wear section of your store. You can even get a short lycra-type skirt and shirt and pair it with bike shorts/capris for your own cute and modest suit. We wear regular undergarments with suits such as this and have no issues at all. You really have to just look around and see what would work. Think outside the swimsuit box!

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    2. Great questions, Tristan! I am planning on a post about what we do for swimwear, but Val has some great suggestions in her comment. I think I'll also do a post about boys, but the standards would be the same.

      These are the clothing standards in the church we attend, and, for the most part, everyone follows them. My daughters are not outside the norm, and we are VERY blessed to be a part of a conservative church and larger denomination.

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    3. Val, thank you so much for providing such practical suggestions for Tristan!

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    4. I was wondering this as well. Our church is conservative in some ways, but definitely not skirts-only...I'd be very interested in hearing from others called to this independently of their church/denomination. I hope that makes sense. Just wondering if there are others who adhere to this definition of modesty and attend a more mainstream church. (The reason being that I have found I tend to not agree doctrinally with some of the churches that dress this way... I hope this makes sense.)

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    5. Crystal, I have often thought how wonderful it would be to have a directory of churches who follow this modesty. It would make it so much easier for all of us to find each other. :) I hope there are others who might comment on attending a mainstream church. As far as the doctrine, I'm curious as to what you disagree with. There are so many denominations and so many different takes on doctrine that it's difficult for me to keep them all straight. I can't say that we agree one hundred percent with our church on every single thing, but it's still a good fit for us.

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    6. I just wanted to reply about attending a mainstream church while being a homeschooling family who wears skirts/dresses 90% of the time.

      Out of about 600 we were the only family that I knew of who wore skirts/dresses most of the time. Nobody was ever rude to us, but we did feel that we weren't completely accepted. Immodest dress among the youth group was very concerning to us and the lack of instruction/preaching in this area was equally alarming. I know the focus is to be on the Lord and our heart should be reflective of that, but after searching the scriptures, I do believe Jesus cares about what we wear. I just wish more pastors would address this. I think many people are just plain confused and would like to hear some biblical teaching on this subject. It has been our experience that the main stream churches we've attended do not teach on this at all. After much prayer, we decided to leave the church after 18 months of attending. We are now searching for a like-minded church.

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    7. Thank you for your comment, Michelle. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, since you'll see this in a later blog post, but we did have an associate pastor at a megachurch say that what we were choosing was Biblical, it just wasn't convenient. I wonder if they don't preach it because they are afraid the parishioners will leave en masse. We've been preached at for so long that salvation brings freedom in Christ, freedom from the OT rules, freedom from all rules, that I wonder if most people think that as Christians we don't or shouldn't have any rules at all. Yet, what about keeping pure until marriage or not committing adultery or not taking the Lord's name in vain or not stealing or not being lazy or resting on the Sabbath? We have varying interpretations of what those mean, but they are still, by definition, "rules." We obey the Bible and God's will because it is pleasing to Him.

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  7. Hello Mrs. Carver!
    I have been greatly enjoying your series on modesty and getting to know you better. I commented in your other post but thought I'd write to you here too :). My mother is my best friend too and it is always nice to see other mother/daughter relationships as I've been blessed with (my peers think I'm very strange but I wouldn't give up our friendship for anything ;) I'm very interested how you've handled extended family not agreeing with your convictions, my mother has been my support group but that's about it. I don't have a blog (no time for it) but id be interested in getting to know you and your family more if you would like to. My email is Acka_Backa@hotmail.com

    Many blessings for you and your family,
    Rebekah

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    1. How sweet, Rebekah! You can email me whenever you wish. One of the best things about a mother or sister being your best friend is that you're almost always together. Thank you so much for your encouraging words.

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  8. Another great post! We layer a lot of our shirts with tanks underneath ,sometimes we have to wear the tanks backwards. I wish it were easier to find shirts that fit without needing to layer

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  9. Beautifully said. Thank you for writing, I enjoy your posts very much.

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment, Sheila.

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  10. I am truly enjoying your posts as well as the comments that follow with all of the wonderful suggestions. I agree with you that is so freeing to not have to follow fads and fashions, even though people often think we are so restricted in what we wear. Yes, sometimes shopping can be a battle because it's hard to find clothes that fit our standards, but then that is what makes shopping so much fun! Summer is my biggest problem but I have been doing it for a long time and I always find something that will work. I cannot wait to read the rest of your posts.

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    1. Thank you for your encouraging words. Shopping can be a challenge, can't it? But I love a good challenge! There are solutions that work if we're willing to find them.

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  11. Meghan, I am loving this series, and praying for grace, favor, and understanding to continue from the commenters!

    This topic has been on my heart a lot lately, although I interpret the verses a bit differently, and haven't found anything scripturally that, for me, speaks specifically to wearing skirts-only. And my hubby is not really on board either.

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    1. We've all been pretty civil so far, haven't we? :) I know you've been struggling with this, and I so much appreciate your openness and your encouragement even in a subject with which you disagree. I appreciate your friendship, Crystal!

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  12. Have been enjoying your 'series'! Thanks so much for sharing! I also have (finally) finished my blog post on modesty - if you're interested, please check it out:
    http://tswoodford.blogspot.mx/2013/06/modesty.html
    Looking forward to reading more on this from you!

    Love in Him,
    Steph

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    1. Thank you, Steph, and thanks for letting me know of your post. Wonderful words you share on your blog!

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  13. I wondered if you all had a hard time not cracking up while taking that first photo!

    I suspect that most pastors don't preach this because they don't believe it. Not to be contentious, but...I don't. I believe that there are some basic guidelines, but I do *not* believe it's this cut-and-dried, and I would probably not draw the lines in the same places your family has. It is my belief that much of modesty and femininity actually *is* cultural and/or situational, no matter how much we like to say otherwise. (I'm a black-and-white kind of thinker, too!) For instance, is there any of us who would insist that at the doctor's office it's necessary to remain completely clothed at all times? I'd venture to guess not. While I certainly wouldn't claim that it's okay go around naked because we might undress for the doctor when needed, if there's any situation (apart from intimacy with one's spouse) when we would require a different degree of dress, then we have to admit that modesty is relative.

    (By the way, the word in Isaiah 47 is, indeed, a skirt and not an entire robe, but...well, if I took off my entire skirt, it would definitely be more than just the lower few inches of my thigh that were uncovered. In a day where underwear as we know it was not worn, it's pretty clear that a woman removing her entire skirt would be pretty thoroughly exposed!)

    With all that said, I don't intend any disrespect by this, and I absolutely agree that everyone needs to dress according to their own consciences before the Lord!

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    1. Of course it is up to each individual woman and how the Lord leads her, Rachel. You make a good point that we need to expose certain parts of ourselves for the doctor, but we do keep the rest covered up with the rest of our clothing or a gown. Even in childbirth, I prefer to keep as much covered as possible. I have some friends who only go to female doctors because of this very issue. I truly do appreciate your input here, and many blessings to you as you seek the Lord! :)

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  14. You sound like a fun mom - love the pictures. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on modesty and your story, it is very encouraging.

    May I ask though, have your girls ever asked to wear pants? And if so, what do you offer as an answer to them? My thought behind this question is that I want to be prepared for my daughter - she is still a baby now and both my husband and I want to raise her (and any other children the good Lord will bless us with) in modest fashion. I have revamped my wardrope a lot since I began wearing mostly skirts and modest clothing, though it's not completely modest yet, someday soon I hope it will be. But I guess I'm unsure on how to go about the best way of teaching my daughter in it...

    :)

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    1. My girls have never asked to wear pants. They have never seen me wear pants, and they have heard me talk about the discomfort of when I did wear pants, so that's a good starting place for teaching your daughter. Teach her the Scriptures as well. My daughters have worn sweat/fleece pants under their pajamas as well as snow pants and complain fiercely about how uncomfortable they are. :) Great question, Bibi, and I think since you're concerned about it now you'll do fine. :)

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  15. I just found this blog through a pin on Pinterest! I began modest dress and skirt wearing almost a year ago. I get disapproving looks sometimes, but I feel so good about my decision. It sets me apart from the world, too.
    I am really enjoying your blog, and your family is just lovely! Very attractive and modest clothing

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    1. Good for you! Stay firm in your faith! Thank you so much for reading, and many blessings to you as you see His will.

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  16. Thank you, Meghan. I'll try that :)

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  17. Hi Meghan,

    I am new on the journey to modesty. I have been more modest than those around me (family and friends), preferring to wear capris and crew-neck short sleeves, rather than shorts and sleeveless. But I have been reading and praying about skirts these last weeks, and it was good to read your story. Looking forward to reading about when extended family doesn't approve, and your list of why you like skirts. My husband seems to be on board with skirts, but my sisters and mother will have a hard time understanding it. I am already thinking what I will say to one of my sisters-in-law who likes to comment in passing about various things she thinks are "legalistic". Legalism is all about what others think and outward appearances, and true modesty is about what is going on in the heart - a desire to honor God in everything we do - even and especially in how we dress, speak, and act. Looking forward to hearing more of your story.

    Lacy

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    1. Also, I have always attended non-denominational non-skirt wearing churches, most of them Armeniast leaning in their theology. Even among the homeschool community, there are only a few skirt-wearers out there where I live. I have been drawn to modest and skirts apart from my church experience, and I hope we will not be unaccepted, or that we will not feel alienated, by this issue. I do wish I had a church with others who share this same value, especially with my family not sharing it, but like you mentioned in your story, where to start??

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    2. Lacy, it sounds like you have a pretty good answer already for doubting family members -- a desire to honor God in everything we do. As I'm sure you already know, much time in prayer and studying the Scriptures will be helpful. For support and encouragement, the online community is growing in issues of modesty. Perhaps following those blogs that help you will keep you encouraged as you look for a church. Many blessings to you, and I'll keep you in my prayers!

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I so much appreciate your time and effort in leaving a comment, and I try to respond to as many as time permits. :-)