Beaches are my favourite places on this planet.
I’m lucky to live in a country with an inordinate amount of coastline. You can’t get more than a couple of hours from a beach if you try.
The problem with beaches is lots of people don’t wear many clothes on them.
Our nearest beach is a place we can’t even visit over the summer holidays and weekends. Even in the shoulder season we have to travel away from the city to find a patch of sand without a parade of flesh walking past.
Not going to the beach over the Christmas season is a crying shame, but it’s just the reality of living in a sin sick world.
Purity Is A Big Deal
Sexual sin is the area young people most often fall in. And they fall hard. I don’t want that to be us, no matter how unlikely it may seem for goody-goodies like ourselves.
When Jesus tell us lust is the same as adultery in the heart, we need to pay serious attention.
I’m posting this now because the movie Soul Surfer just came out. It’s been heavily promoted to Christians because it’s the story of Bethany Hamilton, a competition surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack when she was young, but carried on competing and shared her faith and the gospel with many (good for her!).
A movie about girls surfing immediately sounded like something I wouldn’t be able to watch, and a quick check on Plugged In confirmed that there was far too much skin on display.
What Are We Thinking!
Since when was it a good idea to market a movie with bikinis to Christians?
We’ve fallen a long way for this to make any sense.
Maybe it’s because much of the ‘Christian’ community goes happily to films with major immodesty problems, so that when a movie with a Christian message plus bikinis comes along, it’s a good fit .
I suspect so.
Paul Washer says if what many Christians wear to the beach was worn by someone 50 years ago (I think more like 80), they would have either been thrown into prison or carted off to a mental institution.
What happened to us?
We’re just not separated enough from the world.
Outside our doors is a world hellbent on pursuing pleasure, especially anything sexual.
In polls, nearly as many ‘Christians’ look at porn as heathens. The divorce statistics are basically the same. The scandals, the sin, is as rampant in the so-called church as in the world.
On Boundless, a large blog for Christian young people (which I really like), they had a discussion about porn where most the Christian commentors thought it was inevitable that everyone would fall to the temptation and look. In fact, when a guy put his hand up and said he’d never looked at porn the reaction from the others was disbelief. They thought the temptation to look at porn was too strong for anyone to be able to say they’d never looked.
Well of course it’s possible. With every temptation there is a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). I’ve never looked at porn. And it’s not because my flesh wouldn’t enjoy it. It’s because it’s possible, by the grace of God, to flee from sin.
The reason the Christian community has such bad statistics is because we’ve conformed. We have gone crazy. We think it’s okay to go and watch a movie with girls surfing in bikinis if it’s got a Christian message.
We think we can live like the world and not have the same consequences. The reality is the statistics aren’t any different because we don’t live any different.
“And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2)
(Here’s another good post on modesty by Scott Brown.)
The Slow Descent Into Madness
It happens a little bit at a time.
The Bible tells us to not conform to the world. Don’t fit into the same mold.
To keep from the serious sins we have to fight the ones that might seem smaller. And with sexual sins, it starts with modesty and lust.
Where Exactly Is The Standard?
While modesty is obviously a big issue, the Bible doesn’t give us exact guidelines for how much clothing to wear. Like everything, it’s a heart issue first.
Paul Washer say his wife’s advice is that if your clothing is a frame for your face, it glorifies God, and if it’s a frame for your body it is dishonorable. Seems like a handy rule to me.
Guys And Girls
While I’m told lust works both ways, it’s clearly more of a problem for guys looking and girls showing.
Responsibility is on both genders. Guys are responsible for what they look at and what they lust after. Girls are responsible for not causing a guy to stumble. And responsibility doesn’t stop just because someone else drops the ball. That’s how responsibility works – someone else might sin, but it’s still your fault if that causes you to sin. It’s not that the blame is shared, half each. Everyone who sins takes the full blame.
I’m so thankful for the girls I know who put effort into dressing modestly. They of course honour God in doing that, and they also make it much easier for us guys to do the right thing.
So what is modest? Well I’m not going to delve into details right here. Obviously skin and tight are the main things that affect us. Realise that different areas are an issue to different guys. On The Rebelution’s Modesty Survey, I found some of the answers I read to be too low a standard and some to be too high, as far as what affects me. Your mileage will vary.
And I don’t think girls have to dress in such a shapeless way that guys would never notice their body (it’s not practical, realistic or required). I’ve seen it put, if a guy wants to jump of a roof, the railing isn’t going to stop him. But the railing should still be there (it clears the building owner of any guilt). Without a black and white line from the Bible, we have to conclude for ourselves what is reasonable and what is not.
But for any girls wondering how much difference it makes when they dress modestly, well it makes a HUGE difference.
For us guys the solution to modesty is pretty simple.
“Flee youthful lusts.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
As I’ve heard preachers say, we’re told to resist the devil and to combat enemy forces, but when it comes to lust, just get the heck out of there.
There’s places where you know you’re going to see people or pictures that you shouldn’t. Don’t be there.
And then when you do see something that is immodest, stop looking! Turn away and focus on things that are noble.
There are of course a number of things you can do to protect yourself from lust (and I highly recommend Joshua Harris’ Sex Isn’t The Problem (Lust Is) ) but the main one for me is to keep out of harm’s way.
The devil tries to sell us the line that these things are fun and exciting. I’m sorry to say sometimes I believe the lie and wish that I could get away with looking at what I shouldn’t. Sin seems to be attractive. It’s hard to look away when the immodesty doesn’t seem terribly bad, just a little gratifying.
But when I step back from the heat of the battle, I know that God’s plan is much more rewarding. God obviously created sexual pleasure for a reason, and I have to trust that doing things His way, leaving it all for marriage, will be the most rewarding.
And even beyond that, I trust that it will be ultimately more pleasing to please God, than to please the flesh.