Looking at some pictures today and thinking...I would like to briefly address this issue of "modesty" in the patriarchal crowd by providing two significant pictures from my own life.
Here I am about two years ago, assisting one of my cousins with a conference for young ladies (the conference was very much a spin-off of things ATI, as you can see by my "godly" attire):
There's no way I would wear that outfit now unless I was going to another country to preach the gospel and that was their clothing style. (Then I might do so.) Now I will clarify that on a day to day basis I did not dress like this, though I usually did wear things like that to church during high school and my first years of college. My family was not as strict on clothes as some people in the vision forum/Gothard/Botkin crowd. Until my junior-senior years of college, my daily attire typically consisted of a rather unstylish conglomeration of whatever I thought looked best on me...including high-waisted jeans (they were more "modest" than bootcut), and what I wore was usually a size too big because I was pretty much taught that nothing I wore should show much shape...occasionally a long dress could make an exception with that. I always felt like I looked so fat in my "modest" clothes. Those clothes in the picture above...I no longer own those. When I left home, I left those clothes and every bit of clothing I had like them. I will be honest. I am very grateful that my parents provided me with lots of clothes, but many of those clothing items I never want to see again...simply because I realize now how unflattering and legalistic they are. Like the words "authority" and "godly" and "modest", I cringe at the idea of a long skirt simply because of its association to my previous lifestyle. Don't take me wrong; some long skirts are very pretty and modesty has its proper place. But now I rarely wear a dress or a skirt that is longer than a few inches below my knee. And I avoid regular t-shirts as well. I wore t-shirts a lot growing up, partially because some of my t-shirts were the only things that actually fit me and I secretly wanted to wear clothes that fit me, like other girls, though I felt sinful for doing so.
Now here is a picture of me since I have moved out and managed to obtain some new and stylish clothing items (through the help of generous people and the clearance racks). And yes, that is my fiance with me in the picture and yes he is actually hugging me; (proponents of patriarchy, cover your eyes and sorry for the sarcasm):
Though outward appearance holds no weight in our salvation, I find these photos an interesting comparison for thought, evidence of what was and is going on in my heart. Legalism vs walking in the freedom of Christ. It is purely through the work of Christ that we are saved, not our outward apearances and "duty lists." Through His grace and love He transforms the hearts of those who believe in Him and makes them pure and righteous and gives them a desire to obey the commands that He does place in Scripture...and even though we mess up daily, He still loves us and sees us as righteous and covered with the blood of Christ.
My pastor is currently preaching through the book of Galatians and this morning he used an illustration that brought tears to my eyes. Imagine that it's Mother's Day or Father's Day...and each of your children makes you a card. One brings a card that is perfect, spotless, great penmanship...but they hand it to you with a look of "Ok, I've done my duty; here's your card." The other brings a card that is messy, hardly recognizable and has some milk or something spilled on it. And the child says, "Look, here's your card! I made it for you because I love you!" Which do you prefer?
As we as believers grow and walk in Christ, we must run to the beauty of the gospel daily, resting in His grace as He grows us in Christ, seeking Him as He gives us the love to truly follow and obey Him. And He takes our imperfect pictures and cards and loves them because we are His children.
Go and walk in the freedom and grace of Christ, realizing that is through His work alone that we are able to love Him and believe in Him. But don't abuse that freedom; obey His commands, not because it's your duty, but because He has placed the desire in your heart to obey Him because you love Him. And don't add to those commands; always remember...obeying rules won't make you a better Christian. You might look good on the outside, but it won't change your standing before God one bit. If you are a believer in Christ, you are covered by His blood and righteousness. If you are not a believer, you are not righteous no matter what you do to look righteous. It is only by the grace of God and the blood of Jesus Christ that you can be made righteous.
I cannot stress this enough.