There is a lot of shame these days.
People ‘fat shaming’. People ‘skinny shaming’. People ‘body shaming’. And the universal solution offered by our culture seems to be to shed more clothes, take more pictures, and gauge confidence by one’s willingness to bare it all.
They say to be confident by showing more skin. By giving up more of yourself to prove your self-acceptance. At first glance, it seems to make sense, doesn’t it? These words about confidence and bodily acceptance are good things.
They also say modesty is a result of body shame. They say women who cover themselves do so because they lack self confidence; that if they were really free, they would shed those standards and their “modest” clothes along with it.
But the dichotomy they propose is a false one.
Our world sees no shame in nakedness, so they seek to glorify it.
Our God sees glory in nakedness, so He shields it from shame.
At the beginning, nakedness was a pure and holy thing because the world was pure and holy. There were no lust-filled eyes, no hungry evils, no threat of leaked photos and cheapened sexuality. It was perfect. It was safe.
But when sin entered the world, nothing was the same. It was no longer a safe place for the magnum opus of God’s creation: woman, her beautiful body in all its glory, had to be shielded from the shame of sin. So God Himself made a covering. Nakedness would now be reserved for the only place where it could once again be pure and holy: marriage.
Shame did not come from modesty. Modesty – the covering – came to deflect shame. God Himself clothed man and woman to shield their beauty from the evil of this world.
Ever since that day men and women have been trying to demean the glory of the covering. They know the power of the beauty beneath it. They want to market it; they want to grasp it; they want to advertise it for personal affirmation – and in so doing, it loses the glory.
That’s right, dear girl, I’m going there. I’m talking about bikinis and tight pants and low tops and all the stuff we don’t want to hear. Yeah, I’ve owned them. I’ve worn them. I’m a normal woman in a culture that told me I was ‘self conscious’ and ‘lacked confidence’ if I didn’t show off my body. I thought that confidence and nakedness went hand in hand.
Dear girl, that’s not God’s way.
Confidence doesn’t come from how many clothes you can take off without feeling awkward. It doesn’t come from six-pack abs and trim legs and a bikini-bod. It comes from the knowledge that you, as a woman, have pleased God with all you do and say and wear and think and that when you stand before His throne one day He will say: “Well done.”
You are Woman: the final touch, the crowning glory, the magnum opus of Creation.
“Glory” is another word for “beauty” in the Greek. Your beauty, dear girl, and mine – it’s a small mirror of the glory of an Almighty God. God covered that glory in the garden to preserve its magnitude; to shield its power.
When Moses met God on Mount Sinai, his face so glowed with the radiance of God’s glory he had to wear a veil when he walked among his people. The beauty was too great for the people to bear. The glory was so stunning, so reflective, and so radiant it had to be covered (Exodus 34:29-35).
You’ll close this window and another blog will pop up – one that says you lack self-confidence if you cover up your cleavage or your midriff or your thighs. It will speak to the nagging part of you. It will tempt you to disbelieve your value as an image-bearer of God.
But the covering is our grace and our glory. It is not our shame. It is evidence of confidence: a confidence so strong, so inner, so grounded in something outside itself it transcends anything the culture can offer.
Your body is covered because in its beauty is a reflection of the face and hand of the Almighty God no human eye can bear to see (Isaiah 6).
Your body is covered because God’s plan is to preserve that which is so utterly holy for the passion of committed love (Song 4:9-11).
Your body is covered because God hides that which is of great value (Matthew 13:44-46).
Dear girl, don’t listen to the voices screaming for you to shed your shame by shedding clothes. It won’t work. It never does.
The shame can’t be removed, replaced, or washed away by your hands or any Buzzfeed, PopSugar, Refinery29 blogger’s words. But it can be covered by the hand of a loving God, who knows your value and longs for you to recognize it.
Dear girl, before you go to bat defending your bikini, I’m not after it. I’ve been there, done that. And when I made the decision to stop wearing that bikini and my tight workout pants, I did it not because I was ashamed of my body but because I began to truly value it. I believe I’m beautiful by God’s design and I don’t need to strip down to prove it. That’s real confidence.
So what I’m after is for you to recognize the glory your body is meant to radiate. I want you to evaluate your thinking in light of your faith in Christ, who made beauty, not in light of what our society says is normal and acceptable.
And I hope, sweet girl, that you will cease striving to numb the shame by baring more, and instead kill the shame by embracing God’s design.
Only then will you truly accept your body for how beautiful it is. Only then will you look in the mirror and realize that you truly are the crowning glory of creation. And only then will you live in the unwavering confidence of “Well done.”
“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
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