You’re Worth More Than A Pair Of Shorts

I don’t like to wear shorts when I take the bus. Even if it’s boiling hot outside, I just don’t like it.

It isn’t because of the way the seat feels on my bare legs or because I never take the bus in the summer. Nor is it that the bus has amazing air conditioning either. No, it isn’t any of these things. Rather, it is because I think something bad might happen to me if I wear shorts when I’m traveling on my own.

Shorts make me feel extra vulnerable — even though mine aren’t “uber-short.” I worry about other people’s perception of me. I worry that guys will try to approach me and take advantage. I’m scared to wear shorts, even when the rising temperatures scream that I’m crazy to wear jeans because of what my culture, both Christian and secular, has taught me about men.

But I’m learning that this mindset is wrong. Plain and simply, it is destructive.

I don’t care whether you believe in modest dressing or not. I don’t care how Biblically sound your ideas are. I am not here to debate with you or argue over the value of modesty for Christians or dismiss your ideas and beliefs. I just want to say that a girl’s worth should not be rooted in how long her shorts are.

For a long time, I believed that dressing modestly somehow protected me. That if I wore higher shirts and longer shorts I would be a less likely victim. To be honest, I do not know what the statistics are for sexual assault victims*; however, I do know that what we wear as Christians or even as non-Christians, but as people, should never define who we are as human beings.

We live in a sex-saturated culture. I’m sure that’s clear by the advertisements and movies and music that we come across everyday. But contrary to popular belief, this fascination with sex is far from absent in the church. Oh no. It simply takes a different form at the altar. In Christian culture, sexual fascination takes on the form of legalized purity.

“But how can this be true?” You may ask. “After all, didn’t Jesus command us against sexual immorality?”

Yes, against immorality. But God didn’t tell us that our sexuality should somehow determine our worth.

In the Church, we’ve become fascinated with purity, particularly sexual chastity. While that’s great in and of itself, I believe we’ve taken it a bit too far. Nowhere in the Bible does God say that we’ll be saved based on what we wear or that there is no forgiveness for pre-marital sex or that sexual purity is the ticket to heaven; but that is the way that I believe some Christians have made God’s grace out to be. On the other hand, God calls us to love Him, first and foremost, and then to love our neighbour. Attaching a person’s worth to a clothing choice is simply not loving because we are whole people, worth more — much, much more — than a single clothing choice.

We were created in the image of God, our creator. Now, I’ll be honest — I haven’t always lived that idea out. I’ve spent my life critiquing others’ clothing choices and actions and monitoring my own. I haven’t always seen others as whole people, humans, created in the image of God for His glory. And I haven’t always seen myself that way either. But now, I want to change. I don’t want to see anyone’s — my own or another person’s — worth wrapped up in their chastity or lack thereof.

Because we were created for more. Much, much more.

We were created to love and be loved infinitely by our Perfect Creator.

We were created to serve God, create as He did, and bring about justice.

We were made to enjoy and live and work and build relationships.

Created in His image, first and foremost. That is our true identity.

You’re worth more — much, much more — than any old pair of shorts.

So now, let us live in the freedom and joy of Christ.

*Just so it is clear, I am NOT by any means advocating that “statistics” can show who is at fault. I firmly believe and know that a victim is NEVER at fault because of their clothing, words, or actions.

Today, I stumbled across this AWESOME post by an amazing blogger on modesty and worth. It is extremely well-written and insightful; she writes from this same perspective, though I think she conveys her thoughts much better than I did in this post. I encourage you to check it out!

Holier Than Jesus?

Some people try so hard to please God that they want to be even more perfect than He is. Usually, I point fingers at those “some people” as others. Today, I point the finger right back to me.

Last night’s sermon was convicting in more than one way. You know those questions that a pastor will often ask? Well, I was nodding my head at quite a few of them…

I have a confession. I’m a hypocrite. A pharisee. I am self-righteous beyond belief.

You’d never know it by looking at me or just knowing me or even reading what I write. But isn’t that exactly what a hypocrite is? Someone who says one thing and does another.

And that is exactly who I am, sadly. I profess to be great at forgiveness because of what God has taught me, yet I’ve been finding unhealed wounds that I’ve bitterly left for years. My general motto is that God loves everyone, but recently I learned that I’m sometimes apt to think He loves me more than some. I write these posts about modesty being a non-issue and how there is grace in God. But whenever I see a girl in really trashy clothes, I look down on her and pride myself in my “more than modest apparel.” So much for being forgiving, loving, and modest, right?

Truly, Jesus was all of those traits that I’m not. He forgave the whole world. He loves the whole world. And he never once bragged about either of those amazing attitudes.

And as my pastor reminded me last night, Jesus ate with those very people we look down on. Maybe I don’t know any tax collectors or prostitutes, but I know lots of sinners. I know people who have fallen from Grace. And somehow I think I’m holy enough because I’ve been a Christian for longer, I wear crew neck shirts, and I go to church twice a week. But when I do it that way, I’m just trying to be holier than Jesus, an impossible feat.

Because Jesus didn’t come to condemn, but to save. He didn’t come to love some, but to love everyone. He didn’t come for the righteous, but for the unrighteous. And if I really want to have the attitude of Jesus, I need to lose my hypocrisy and really, truly live like He did. Prostitutes and tax collectors at dinner and all.

That Kind Of Christian

Note: This post is controversial, but please just take it as a message about preserving the love of Christ and not the spitefullness of the devil. We all have our different views on this subject and my object is not to ignite debates or send people away from my blog. Rather, I want to spread awareness about the view that many non-Christians sometimes have on us as Christians.

We were sitting under the shade of a big, lumbering tree in the park one day before our acting class. She and I were as different as different could be. I was three years older, shorter, and enjoyed memorization while she disliked it. Most of all I was a Christian. I was religious. And she was not religious at all, in her words. But somehow, that didn’t matter — we always had a conversation and it was almost always sprinkled by spirituality.

One day, she hesitated before finishing her sentence. “Wait, are you that kind of Christian?”  

“What do you mean?” I asked, in order to avoid what I knew was coming. She’d been talking about her mom’s lesbian friend. It was doubtless why she would ask this kind of question before proceeding onto such dangerous grounds. Yet I hesitated, too. I didn’t know how to answer just then.

“Like, are you Anti-Gay?”

I looked at her for a moment. What should I say? How could I explain myself? If I said one wrong thing, I could give her an even worse impression of Christianity than she already had. One slip of the tongue, one even slightly judgemental sentence could turn me into that kind of Christian and her from all hope of a loving God.

“Well, I–um, we had a discussion about this in Bible study once,” I stammered. “I have my Bible here, actually. Let’s look at that and see what the Bible says.”

“Okay.”

We searched and we found. It was still hard to explain. Even so, I tried.

“Deep down, Christianity is about love,” I said. “We are called to live a certain way but our highest calling is to be like Christ–to love as He loves. So I hope I’m not that kind of Christian, but a Christian who loves.”

She understood or so it seemed. We were friends for the rest of the class and continued with our conversations. I prayed for her and tried to be the kind of Christian she needed, the kind that we all need, the kind that loves.

Sometimes, I think of her again and wonder…am I ever that kind of Christian?

A popular speaker I’ve heard says that the main assumptions about Christians are that they are judgmental and anti-gay. He was right in my friend’s case. In fact, she had been so turned off by the judgement, that she barely wanted anything to do with Christianity.

Oh, how I do not want to be that kind of Christian. But I know I am at times and have been in the past.

Lord, make more like you. Make me a true ‘Little Christ.’

Note: This is NOT a post about Gay rights or the Christian response. It is simply an observation of the way that Christians often come across to non-Christians. Please refrain from statements on Gay rights and anything disrespectful about either side. If I see any comment like that, I will not publish it. Thank you.

A Garment Not A Chain

Dear Christian Girls,

This is a letter I’ve been meaning to write for a while. There are a lot of letters out there regarding the issue I’m going to talk about, but I personally disagree with most of them. I think it’s time for something fresh and new. I believe it is time I told you all the truth about clothing, your body, and modesty.

First of all, God made you in His image. That’s probably not something you hear all the time. Maybe it is. I don’t really know. I do know that it is true and that you need to hear it. Plus, knowing that even we as females are made in God’s image helps unravel the truths of His desires for us. You were made in God’s image, and are loved by the Father. Chains do not become you.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27

Secondly, you’re absolutely beautiful. Your face, eyes, hair, smile… they reflect God’s glory and make you radiant. But I’m going to tell you something that you probably won’t hear very often, at least not from a Christian. Your whole being is beautiful. God made you that way. He made you different from men, with shapliness and curves, so that they would desire you. And there is nothing wrong with that. He thinks you are beautiful, no matter what anyone else says. You do not need to hide behind a chain, beautiful girl.  

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’

Genesis 2: 22-23

Next, I want to remind you that you’re sinful. But of course you knew that because Christians have been blaming you for your own sins and the sins of others since the fall of man. I’m not here to tell you that though. Instead, I want you to know the truth. Even though you have sinned, you are no longer condemned. Although you were born sinful and deserve to be chained, beaten, and killed, Jesus has paid the price. He took your sin on his shoulders and bore your suffering. You are freed. There is no reason to live in the bondage of chains.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

And now, I want to tell you something truly earth-shattering. Or at least it was to me when I first realized it. Because of these three things, all of those modesty lectures and articles that tell you to cover up if you’re a Christian, that you’re a stumbling block to your brothers in Christ, and that any girl who wears a bikini to the beach doesn’t love God enough are not true. They are lies and you should not believe them. Modesty should not ensnare you like a chain.

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t think you should run around naked either. I know that after sin came into the world, nakedness brought shame. I know that there are certain parts that God wants to be covered. And I know that God talks about modesty in the Bible, too. But it still shouldn’t be a chain.  

He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’

Genesis 3:10 

What we wear does say a lot about who we are and modesty is important, in my opinion. However, I happen to know that these things are not as important as some people tell us. Did you know that dressing modestly is not one of the ten commandments? Did you know that modesty is barely ever spoken of in the Bible? Did you know that God cares more about your heart than the length of your skirt or the thickness of your shirt? The clothes that you wear are garments and not chains.

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 

You see, once I was you, beautiful girl. I felt sinful for what I had worn. I was ridden with guilt and cursed the way my clothes seemed to stick to me. I was ashamed of the body and gender that God had given me. My ‘modest’ clothing was a chain around me and I could not run free. And then I heard the good news that my chains had been broken by the greatest strength. My sins were forgiven and I was free. And that forgiveness is open to you, too.

Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’

Luke 7:50

I know that probably sounds blasphemous to you, but I hope this letter will help in some way. Christianity is not defined by the clothes that you wear–Jesus defines it all.Your beauty should not be enmeshed in shame–there is no reason for that. Jesus has paid the price for your sins–you are not condemned. And God looks at your heart not the clothes you choose, whether ‘modest’ or ‘immodest.’ He does not chain you in guilt, shame, or worries about necklines–and neither should you.

Love,

Your sister in Christ, Elizabeth

Forrest Of Lies

Sometimes I walk with a head that hangs in shame through a forrest of people who hate me. It’s a difficult road, full of thorns and twigs. And it’s dark in the forrest — so dark that I can’t find my way out. The forrest of lies consumes me until I want to cry.

In the forrest, I’m never good enough. I’m ugly, stupid, and not likable. No one wants to be my friend in the forrest of lies. Because who would want to stand next to a failure like me?

I’m bad and wrong in the forrest. I’m too ambitious for a female. In the forrest, they denounce what I want to do with my life and who I would like to be. I’m utterly wrong in the forrest. I can’t be successful there. My dreams of university and a career are scoffed at. I’m told that I need a man to do anything worth with my life. A man and a lot of kids. I am worth nothing in the forrest of lies.

I am sinful beyond compare there. My clothes are immodest even though I try so hard. Certain things I do and ways I act are just plain terrible. My actions in the past are unforgivable. I’m not good enough for grace in the forrest even though grace was made just for me. I’m never pure in the forrest of lies.

The forrest is demeaning, rude, and shallow. I do not like to live there and I will not let myself stay there any longer. It’s full of ridiculous expectations that I could never meet. Perfectionists without an ounce of grace pound my heart to pieces. And that is why I call it the forrest of lies.

But at the end of the forrest, there is a garden. It’s a perfect, beautiful place. I go there to be uplifted and refreshed. And in the garden, there is a gardener who calls me by name. Although He is perfect, the gardener doesn’t mind that I am not. For He has enough grace to share the beauty of his flowers with me. So I’ll leave this forrest of lies behind and go to the garden. Are you coming with me?

Being A Christian

“You’re a Christian?” she asked, eyes wide. She was thoroughly surprised.

“Yes,” I nodded. We’d recently met at an acting camp and I’d told her about my trip to Mexico which led to the fact that I was a Christian.

“Sorry, I’m not religious at all,” she apologized.

“That’s ok,” I replied. “Did I not seem like a Christian?” I wondered if it was bad that I hadn’t come across as a Christian to her.

“No, not at all. The only Christians I know are really judgemental.”

~~~

Sometimes I wonder why I am a Christian. Why I go to church. Why I do the things I do. Because sometimes being a Christian seems like everything it’s not supposed to be.

I never wonder why I love God. I don’t have perfect faith, but I always know that He is worthy. I love Him and He loves me. God is good. He is right, beautiful, and pure. The problem is that church is not always the same.

The simple truth is that the church is made up of a group of people. They’re sinful humans who are capable of hurting feelings and making mistakes. And sometimes, despite good intentions, church is a place where people are deeply, severely hurt.

But people don’t get it. I mean, it’s church for crying out loud! How could a building with a sign that says “Everyone Welcome” and a group that gives out free juice every Sunday have the ability to hurt? What could be so unloving about that? The truth is, there is a lot that the church does and is doing to hurt people.

Yes, church is full of wonderful and loving people with good intentions. The church attempts to welcome people with open arms. But sometimes, intentions are twisted. Sometimes, lies are told, people are judged, and the arms of love are withheld. It’s time Christians acknowledged that the church is far from perfect.

My friend at acting camp was absolutely right when she said that Christians are judgemental. We are judgemental and I can certainly understand why she has run from religion. I would have run myself if it weren’t for grace.

For there is a God who is everything that the church is not. He redeems us with His grace every time we mess up. He is the one we should look to for the perfection we seek and the love that we crave. God is what being a Christian should be about.

~~~

There is a lot on my heart right now. I don’t know how to share it all, but I know that I must. I’m going to be talking about the church and the hurt that it causes when I can. I’ll still be posting on other topics… this is just a new one I’d like to introduce. I think it will be controversial, heavy, and hard, but I’m willing to take the risk.