It’s wonderful watching your children grow up and become their own person in young-adulthood. My oldest daughter has grown into a beautiful young lady, and I’m so excited to see what God and life have in store for her.
Recently, my daughter posted this article on her social media, along with this caption and an invitation to comment:
“I think this is a really important article for everyone to read. I have been told time and time again that I need to dress differently, I need to act differently, and that it’s my fault and any woman’s fault if a man is turned on by how they look.”
This is my letter to my daughter. And maybe to yours, as well.
You are beautiful. From the moment you were born, I have wanted to share you with the world and proudly show you off.
You are beautiful. Now that you have grown into a young woman, I marvel at how you present yourself: your attention to your hair and makeup, your choice of clothing ensembles and accessories, and the way that you carry yourself with confidence and poise.
You are beautiful. And I see how men and boys notice you.
You are beautiful. So I have raised you to be modest. Not because of the failings of lustful men, not because of a misplaced fear of your sexuality inciting a rape, and not because of some legalistic rule about the way women “should” dress. I have raised you to be modest because modesty is a reflection of your character and identity.
You are beautiful. Not only on the outside, but also on the inside. And your outward appearance should reflect your inward beauty. Outside, your physical beauty is fleeting. In fact, they say that it’s only skin deep. But inside, your beauty begins with something that began in eternity: a heavenly father who created you in His own image, with a purpose, a value, and an identity that transcends time. He planned you before He even created the world, and He knit you together with care and with love. The person you are is far more beautiful than the body that you inhabit.
You are beautiful. You have gifts and talents that are far more valuable and attractive than anything you could ever wear. You have abilities and values that shape your inner beauty and radiate from the inside to the outside. You have dreams and goals and passions and desires and loves and hates and purpose and destiny that transcend anything that can be seen by anothers’ eyes. You have character, shaped by God, family, and experience that defines who you are and how you present yourself to the world.
You are beautiful. And the world should be allowed to appreciate your beauty. But the beauty of your body cannot and should not be separated from the beauty of your character. And the flaunting of your body diminishes the beauty of your inner self, and blemishes the perfection of God’s design in you.
You are beautiful. Your beauty will be shared in three different and distinct types of relationships. You see, God created you for relationships: a relationship with Him, with them, and with “the one”.
You are beautiful. Your beauty is something with which you worship God. This is the first relationship. You are created in His image, a reflection of Him and of His character, and you are created for His pleasure. The Bible says to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. As a Christian, modesty is not about a rule to follow, but about an act of worship. As we follow Jesus and as we live for God’s will, we sacrifice for Him. We dress and present ourselves with our bodies in a way that is glorifying to God. Defining and presenting ourselves sexually, which is what dressing immodestly does, corrupts the good creation of God into something that it wasn’t intended to be. When you choose how to dress, do you ask if you are acting in a way that is pleasing to God?
You are beautiful. The people around you see your beauty. This is the second relationship. Your outer beauty should never overshadow your inner beauty and character. When it does – when men view you in a purely physical and sexual way (and they do) – you allow your beauty to be diminished, because you allow them to separate how you look from who you are. This may not sound fair, but the way that you dress does affect others, and you do bear responsibility for that. This is because of who God created you to be and what He created you for: a member of a community. Just as God, Himself, exists in relationship, He designed us to live in community with others. Living in community carries inherent responsibilities: your responsibility is to point others to the glory of God, and nothing should detract from your ability to do so. Dressing “provocatively” or immodestly distracts people, especially men, from seeing your character and your far greater “unfading beauty” of your inner self, as the Bible says. When you choose how to dress, do you want to show off your body or do you want to be appreciated for who you are and what you contribute to society?
You are beautiful. Your physical beauty is a gift to your future husband. This is the third relationship. Whether you think it’s fair or not, your feminine body is highly sexualized in our culture. How much more special is the gift of yourself to your future husband – when God joins you together as “one flesh” – when only he is ever able to see the parts of your figure that no one else has seen [or almost seen]? And for you, how much more special is it that a young man is first attracted to you because of your inner beauty and character rather than an initial, perhaps even involuntary, physical attraction? Giving yourself to be joined with your husband begins long before you ever meet him. When you choose how to dress, do you want to attract men who will lust after your body, or a man who will love you and pursue you to win your heart… and then, and only then, to be the sole winner of your body as well?
You are SO beautiful. As your Dad, I want to guard your beauty. No father ever wants his daughter to be merely an object. I don’t want that for you, and our heavenly Father doesn’t want that for you. I also don’t want you to just follow a set of modesty rules or cover yourself out of fear or concern for how others will look at you. When you guard your physical beauty, you are actually demonstrating a deeper, mature, and far greater beauty that your creator gave you and that you embrace. You own it, and you get to choose what to do with it. My desire is that you would choose to live with your beauty as the child of the Most High God that you are – a princess of the Kingdom of Heaven – and that you would, in all areas of life, choose to honour God, respect others, and submit your body and your beauty to your future husband.
You are beautiful.