Being a Woman of Integrity

It seems to me that there are a lot of articles, sermons and books exhorting men to be “men of integrity,” but there doesn’t seem to be much of a push for women to do the same. Why is that, I wonder? Is it not equally important that women – especially women who claim to be Christians – to live with integrity? I’ve been dwelling on that thought for the past several days. Subsequently, the thought has given birth to a desire for a new blog post.

First things first, let’s define integrity. A quick Google search yields this:
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.30.39 AMThis is a pretty basic understanding of what integrity means. As a Christian, I believe it’s even more specific and all the more more important, as we are God’s representatives here on earth. Charles Swindoll, of Insight for Living, has this to say on Christian integrity:
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That’s not a very popular view today, is it? It seems all that matters nowadays is looking after one’s self. Just turning on the television will give an idea of how society regards integrity. The most popular shows are the ones that glorify adultery, sexual promiscuity, murder, theft, violence, you name it. No one bats an eye at the idea of using lies and manipulation to further self interests. Even Christians watch these shows and without realizing the impact they’re having on our hearts. But these things are the very opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Let’s face it: being a Christian is tough. Most of the time, being a Christian means taking the path of most resistance. In a culture that glorifies living in the flesh, Christ admonishes to rise about our debase human instincts to be more like Him. A woman of integrity strives to be like Jesus in public as well as in private. That doesn’t mean we’re perfect or somehow without sin because, there’s no getting around it, we all goof. What it does mean is that we’re aware of our choices and consistently striving to choose to live according to our convictions. It’s so important to realize that when we tell the world we’re Christian, people are going to be watching us and scrutinizing our actions. What are we telling the world by our lifestyle? Are we being a light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16), or are we a part of the darkness itself? Are we obeying Biblical commands or using our salvation as a free pass to live however we please? If we never told our friends and family that we are Christian, would they still be able to know it based the way we live our lives? These are important questions to ask ourselves on a regular basis. One quote that frequently comes to mind when I think of integrity is this:

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As Christian mothers, I find it especially important that we live with integrity. Our children are watching our every move. Our choices are shaping their little hearts. When they see us living one life at church or in front of Christians friends and another life in private or with our worldly friends, what message is that sending them? Are we pointing them towards God or towards the devil?

I realize that this is a difficult topic for many of us, but it’s of the utmost importance that we talk about this as believers. Morality is on it’s way out, so it’s my conviction that living a life of integrity is more important than ever. Let us remember The Great Commission in all the ways we live our lives, not just our words and actions in front of a select few – and in so doing, we will reflect Christ to the unsaved world. Amen.

Why all the fuss over modesty?

Modesty. It’s not exactly a popular subject, is it? For most, the word elicits thoughts of Amish women covered from head to toe, Muslim women hidden behind their burkas, or frumpy, formless dresses. That’s not how I see it, however. I see it as a beautiful, feminine, even (gasp!) fashionable solution to a big problem facing our daughters today.

Yes, I said problem. I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to discussing that our culture has a major problem in the modesty department. When I walk past the baby aisle and see little outfits like this, it’s clear to me that we have a pretty big problem on our hands. Sure, it may seem cute and innocent to some, but let’s think for a moment about what this is really doing in the long run. Bathing suits like that on babies leads to bathing suits like this on little girls. And bathing suits like that on little girls leads to bathing suits like this on teens. And bathing suits like that on teens leads to bathing suits like this on young women. I think you get the idea. When we begin instilling these sorts of values in the minds of growing girls, we are ingraining in them the idea that this is an acceptable and desirable way of presenting themselves to the world. We are sending subtle messages to their young, impressionable minds that their bodies are objects to be displayed, and that their worth is measured by how much skin they show and how sexy they can be. Do not be deceived – there is nothing innocent or sweet about instilling thoughts of sex-appeal in a toddler. Trust me, I know firsthand that it’s easier to teach a child self worth from a young age than it is to un-teach those sorts of ideas when it really begins to matter.

When I look at my daughters and think of their future, I do not wish to see them with men who devalue them. Honestly, I see red when I consider the idea of a teenage boy lusting after one of my daughters. (And I’m just the mom! You do not even want to know the murderous thoughts that go through my husband’s head when thinks of boys having impure thoughts about his little girls!) There’s no denying that sex sells – but girls should not be selling themselves. Our daughters are worth so much more. When the world looks at my girls, my hope is that the world will see who they really are: their love for others, their generous spirits, their wonderful personalities. As their mother, it is my God-given responsibility to teach them how to clothe themselves in a way that allows the world to see their countenance and not their sex appeal. The Lord has given me four beautiful little girls – but their real beauty is in their love for the Lord and the fact that they are daughters of the King of Kings. THAT is true beauty that will never fade with age, and it is the beauty that shines above anything the fashion industry can offer.

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Mothers, fathers, caregivers, it’s time for a change. Let’s teach our daughters to value modesty. Let’s teach our sons to value women who value themselves. Let’s raise our children to know that there is more to life than the fleeting pleasures of the flesh. Let’s teach them what TRUE worth looks like, and let’s begin my modeling it ourselves.

What is “Modesty”?

I have always been of the opinion that when Christians have a question, we should first and foremost look to the Bible for answers. So why is it then, that when approaching the issue of modesty, we so often look to society’s standards and not God’s? The answers are there, if we are willing to look and listen to what the Lord has to say.

Sometimes, as we all know, we have to cross-reference different passages in Scripture in order to gain a clear understanding of God’s position on things. In my extensive research, here’s some of what I’ve found pertaining to modesty. (The emphases are mine.)

A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

And you shall make for them linen trousers to cover their nakedness; they shall reach from the waist to the thighs.They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they come into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place, that they do not incur iniquity and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and his descendants after him. (Exodus 28:42-43)

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

I think these verses paint a clear paint a pretty clear picture as to some basic guidelines for how to dress ourselves. We should make sure we are covered from waist to thigh to cover what the Bible defines as our nakedness; women should not dress like men, and men should not dress like women; and we should dress in a manner that does not draw attention to ourselves. There’s more, however:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. (Luke 17:1-3)

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)

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 5:28)

So, while the Bible does not clearly define the breasts or cleavage as “nakedness,” it IS clear that women should be very careful not to tempt men. Our culture has sexualized breasts, and breasts are something that women know full well they can use to their advantage over men. Understanding the verses above, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that we should dress in a way that covers our breasts and cleavage, so as not to be a stumbling block to the men around us. If we desire to trust the Bible to be applicable to all aspects of our lives, then I believe that, per the Bible, these are the guidelines we should use when selecting clothing: women should dress as women and not as men (skirts and dresses, anyone?), they should make sure their bodies are covered even down to the knee so as not to expose our nudity, and we should also adequately cover our breasts as they are widely seen by men as sexual objects. We should dress with discretion, taking great care to make sure that we are drawing attention to our hearts and minds, not our physical assets.

As I’ve said, we can gather through these verses that it’s a grave sin to cause someone else to sin. And according to Matthew, a man merely having sinful thoughts about a woman is equivalent to adultery. As Luke says, we need to watch ourselves. Are we intentionally dressing in a way to bring attention to ourselves? Women, we need to ask ourselves, will our short skirts or shorts, tight clothing, or low-cut tops cause men to lust after us? If so, we are in direct violation of God’s command. Jesus went to far as to say “woe” on us if we cause someone to stumble. I don’t know about you, but I never want to hear Jesus look and me and say, “woe is you” for something I’ve done! That’s a scary place to be!

I know that it’s unpopular to dress modestly in our culture. I realize that it tends to make us stand out like a sore thumb, and many people don’t want to make such a big, bold statement declaring that we are different. Christians nowadays want to live with one foot in heaven and one foot in the world, but this is not what God wants for us! We are called to be set apart – we are not of this world.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

We’re only on this earth a very short time; do we want to spend our time bringing glory to ourselves and our own bodies, or do we want to spend that time focusing on expanding God’s body, the body of Christ? Pray about it!

Why Skirts?

One question I get a lot is, “Why do you and your daughters only wear skirts and dresses??” The way we dress tends to bring us a lot of attention when we’re out (well, that, and the fact that we’re a larger than average family), and at times people can be outright rude. (Though, mostly, people are very sweet, and we often get compliments on how beautiful all the girls are!) It seems that, to some, our values are a little offensive, and are perhaps a symbol of female oppression… but, no matter! We’re very happy with our decision, and we love dressing modestly! Since some people are a bit uncomfortable to ask, fearing that they might offend us by asking outright, I thought I’d take a chance to explain the story behind why we decided to dress the way we do.

About 3 years ago, the Lord began laying on my heart the desire to dress more modestly. I didn’t start out intending to wear nothing but skirts and dresses, rather simply to try to wear things that covered me more. It all started when I was reading a book called Raising Maidens of Virtue. This book (which is amazing, by the way!) greatly stresses the importance of dressing modestly, in a way that does not draw attention to ourselves in a sexually enticing manner. I was deeply convicted that I needed to dress in a way that was more respectful; not only to me, but to my husband, and to other men as well. While I am not responsible for the lustful thoughts of other men, I am responsible for the way I present myself. If I am intentionally dressing in a way that would cause men to stumble, I am not following God’s will. It’s also disrespectful to the wives and future wives of these men of God. I remember reading a quote on Facebook once, which said something along the lines of “Dress the way you would want other women to dress around your husband.” How convicting that was! I certainly don’t want women flaunting themselves around my husband, so I should be respectful enough of others to refrain from flaunting myself in a similar manner, no?

So, I began to dress in clothes that had higher necklines and not too snug, and I made sure the bottoms I wore were not too tight and came at least to the knee. As the Lord continued to transform my heart, I began to see the value in dressing more femininely as well. Our culture has really blurred the gender lines, and sometimes it can be very difficult to tell men from women, and vice versa! The traditional role of women has been so devalued, and with wave after wave of feminist movements, it seems that it’s now very prevalent in our society for women to want to be, well, men! But I believe that God designed a very special role for women, as wives and mothers, and it’s something we should treasure and be proud of! I no longer desired the things that “feminists” desire. The more God worked within my heart, the more I have began to love being a wife, a mother, a woman. With this newfound joy, I realized that I wanted to dress in a way that was not only modest, but also celebrates my femininity. And so, I began to wear skirts and dresses! It’s been about 2 years now since I made the switch, and I have never looked back, and I do not miss wearing pants at all! I love how comfortable and flowing my skirts are. I love when my children tug gently at my skirts to get my attention, or when they are sleepy and snuggle into the folds of my skirts. I especially love that my husband admires me every single day for the way I dress. He has told me more that once that it’s such a treat for the eyes to see me dressed so nicely every day – which is so funny, because even my “around the house” skirts, which seem so frumpy to me, still seem to appealing to him!

I’m sure that to some I may seem completely crazy. I’m okay with that, as it probably is at least partly true! 😉 The way we choose to dress is a very personal decision, and for many people, it’s not a spiritual issue the way it has been for me. I respect that we all must dress in the manner which seems appropriate to us. But if you have ever been on the fence about this issue, let me be the first to say, nothing feels more wonderful than to be shown the amount of respect I have been since we began dressing more modestly! I began to feel for the first time in my life that people (read: men) were finally seeing me for who I was, and not just the cleavage I had exposed, or the form-fitting clothes which left very little to the imagination. It’s a wonderful thing to have a conversation with someone who looks you right in the eyes, not glancing down at your chest, or legs, or whatever else is showing. I have doors opened for me, and young men calling me “ma’am” and show a level of respect I never knew before. It’s amazing, the difference! And all because God put it on my heart to clothe myself in a way that would be honoring to Him. These are the principles I have been instilling in my daughters, and will continue to impress upon them as they grow and reach the age when they will be torn between wanting to please the Lord, and also wanting to keep up with their peers. I pray that they will respect themselves and their bodies, and choose to clothe themselves in a way that brings honor and glory to the Lord. Amen!

Wives, Submit to Your Husbands

I was reading a blog recently and came across some very negative sentiment toward Quiverfull families, or what they consider the “Christian Patriarchy Movement.”

(Here is the blog I was reading.)

I have to say that it breaks my heart to think that a woman submitting to her husband is so deeply loathed. Unfortunately, some men will take it too far and use it as a tool for abuse, but that is NOT what the Bible supports. In today’s world that is so filled with pro-feminist, pro-choice, anti-family agendas, God’s plan for the family is now looked upon as a bad thing, and that breaks my heart.

Whether you like it or not, this world is filled with positions, stations and hierarchy. If you work, the odds are good that you have a boss, and he/she probably also has a boss, and so on. There is an owner of your company, but the tasks are so numerous that it would be impossible for him/her to perform all them all, and so he/she must delegate the tasks to others. It is the same for the family. Someone must be the head. Someone must be ultimately responsible for decision-making when there is not an agreement and a stalemate is not an option. That role, in the context of the family, is designated to the man. Certain roles are then delegated to the wife, and the children must submit to her and the husband. And still more tasks are delegated to the children. The husband, the wife, and all children must submit to the “big boss,” a.k.a. God. So, the hierarchy looks like this: God>Husband>Wife>Children. As children grow, they then become adults and the hierarchy shifts accordingly.

It may sound very rigid and strict, but this is God’s simple and very effective plan for a family to run in peace and harmony. Think again of a company as an example. Can you imagine how a large corporation could function if there was no hierarchy or delegation of tasks? If everyone was equally responsible for everything and accountable to no one, how could it work?

Many women struggle with this idea because they want to be in control. Many men struggle with this idea because they would rather sit back and let someone else do it all. The important thing to remember here is that God calls us to a higher standard than basic human nature. As women, we need to rise above our desires to control everything and allow our husbands to lead. Likewise, husbands need to step up to the plate and lead their families as God commands; with love, just as Christ loved the church. When I think about it, I really would not want my husband’s role. I would not want to be accountable to the Lord for our family. It’s much easier to be the wife, to support my husband, and to hit my knees and pray for him when he struggles.

The sad reality is that there will always be those who abuse power. There will be those men who take the command for wives to submit to their husbands as a license to abuse and overwork her. It’s important to remember that this is NOT biblically supported, and this is NOT in God’s perfect plan. So many will look at only the first half of the command (“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22) and not see the rest of it. Here is the whole command, in context:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33 (KJV)

It’s important to note verse 25 which says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” No husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church would abuse her or mistreat her. He would cherish her, protect her, and her thoughts and opinions would matter to him. He would make decisions carefully, taking her wishes and needs into consideration. He would try his best to make decisions that are best for her and the entire family as a whole. THIS is God’s perfect plan for a family.

My thoughts go out to women who were/are not in ideal marriages like this, and who were/are married to men who refuse to see the second half of God’s command for marriage. I implore you to remember that these are not examples of God’s perfect plan.