Like many of you I have been astounded by the news that in several French resorts, men with guns have ordered Islamic women wearing a full dress covering at the beach to disrobe. Of all the things to get hot under the collar about in these days, it strikes me as hitting the softest target. Instead of coming against extremist terrorism, the real enemy among us, they attack the easier option. And I can’t help but see it as legalised assault.
Now it does somewhat unnerve me to see women with their faces almost completely hidden, I can’t see who they are, their facial expression and therefore their intent. But in Spain the Christian gypsies used to rarely undress at the beach or river and swam fully clothed. Modesty is not wrong, it is not anti Christian. In Bible days women would be fully covered and in my youth, women’s modesty was vigorously encouraged by our leaders, some going to greater extremes than others, e.g. arms covered.
Now you have to know that I am not at all prudish. We have lived near the Costa del Sol where I am not at all distressed by topless bathing or indeed nudism, if it is done discreetly and in the appropriate place i.e. the beach. (Although I would still say that the majority of bodies look better with some covering!)
But this is a call to reconsider our modesty as Christian women. Not all fashion should be slavishly followed. Not all fashion flatters every age and more importantly every shape! To look stylish and make the most of who we are today is far more important.
Several incidents have made me want to write about modesty. I have just been to a Christian conference and have at times been surprised by the lack of modesty. Why when the sun is out do we Brits have to bare all, men and women alike! But also hearing and reading of incidents in the media, do we in the west need to rethink our ‘freedoms’ in this area?
Of course in an ideal world you would be able to walk scantily clad through a park at night, down deserted dark alleyways, around the city centre, but here is the truth, you can’t!
To protect ourselves and our daughters, we need to remind them, modesty helps to protect not only us but other females. Not every man is like our loving Dad and protective brother. And in an age when sex is no longer saved for within the loving intimacy of marriage and there is now an attitude of entitlement, when pornography has warped sexual desire, when drugs and alcohol weaken self control, when the psychiatric-ally ill are on our streets and trusted to take their medication, when men of other faiths and nations see we western women/girls as loose and easy sexual prey, two words of advice, cover up!
Be modest, take care, protect yourself and in doing so protect other girls and women. No assault is not your fault, no matter what you were wearing and in my younger days I have been both physically and verbally, sexually assaulted, but do absolutely nothing to give them even the tiniest reason for thinking that you are ‘up for it’!
And the final reason I wanted to write this, is to agree with an article in the newspaper where a female journalist, writing on this issue, mentioned the grace and dignity and how simply beautiful women, including Moslem women, can look when modestly dressed and I completely agree with her.
By all means enjoy fashion, express yourself, be stylish and elegant, make the most of what God has given you, and I’ve come to realise that after a certain age, it’s definitely best to ‘gild the lily’, a bit of make up and jewellery helps no end! Let’s tell our daughters, be beautiful, be confident, but be a daughter of Sarah and be modest.
(1 Peter 3.)