For now, goodbye....
"What does modesty mean? Well, it means placing a low estimate on one's own merits, not being forward or showing off. It means unpretentious. Modesty means to be free from undue familiarity, from indecency, from lewdness, pure in thought and conduct. Speaking of modest apparel, it means decent, seemly. The opposite of modesty is conceit, boldness, immodesty, brazenness, lewdness.More on modesty:
Let's think first what immodesty says about us women before we talk about what its effects may be upon others. What are your Christian standards? Do you seek to be noticed, to make a splash when you come into a room? Or do you seek to be simple, humble, gentle and quiet in spirit and not wearing the very latest fashions nor looking frumpy by wearing something that's way out of date."
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." -Deuteronomy 31:8
My maid and palace servants are buzzing around me, braiding and placing flowers in my hair. Busily, they smooth pleats and tucks on my robe as I stand before the gigantic mirror in my room. I force myself to breath slowly, trying to calm myself. My mind keeps returning to three days ago, when my cousin, Mordecai, first told me the news. The dreadful news.
Haman, the king's right hand man had issued a decree that all the Jews should be killed. Mordecai's words still hung over my head like a noose. He told me that even though I was queen, I would not be spared. As a Jew, I was still decreed to be killed. I felt as every Jew must have felt upon hearing the news: cornered. What could be done? I prayed fervently that God would interfere and protect us as He had with our forefathers. Perhaps He could come as a pillar of fire as in the days of Moses. Perhaps He could send plagues to Haman as He had with Pharaoh. Perhaps He could erase the decree inexplicably from all record, and undo it....
Mordecai had cleared his throat. "Esther, my child, Hadassah. Have you not thought that the reason you have been made queen is to save your people?"
I gasped. "Even I cannot see the king without permission. Unless miraculously he was to show mercy, it would be my death!"
Mordecai raised his voice, something he rarely did. "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
I sat down on the garden bench, too terrified to even cry.
"Do you remember when you were first brought to the palace?" Mordecai's voice grew soft. "You were taken away from your family and forced to live with all the other beautiful Persian women while you underwent beauty treatments? Were all those days spent in vain?"
I looked up at him, unsure. He continued, gently. "No, Esther. your loneliness developed within you a special inner strength and trust in God. God was preparing you for this---so He could use you." It was then that I realized what I should do.
Now as I stand before the mirror, I take one last deep breath. "If I perish, I perish," I whisper. I pray silently as I walk out of the room. I was ready to see the king.
Imagine being chosen to be queen of your country. As exciting as that sounds, the price of your being chosen was separation from your loved ones, having to live with people who did not share your beliefs, and having to marry a king that you had never met and who possessed questionable character.
Imagine having no choice in the matter.
This was the story of Esther's life. She was a beautiful Jewish girl who was brought to the king's palace as one of the candidates to be queen. For a year before she was allowed to see the king, she had to undergo numerous beauty treatments. During that time she had to live with the other "queen candidates," other women who worshiped pagan gods. Esther's wise cousin, Mordecai, who had cared for her like a father before she was brought to the palace, advised her not to reveal her Jewish heritage to anyone. This was probably for her protection, but this secrecy could have separated her even further from the other women that she lived with. How lonely she must have felt! How did she cope? She must have wondered why God had brought her to this place where she was so completely alone.
In a way, we are all like Esther. We too, have been set apart for God. Sometimes we may feel terrible loneliness, but we can hold fast to the assurance that God has allowed us to feel lonely for a reason. In her pamphlet entitled Loneliness, Elisabeth Elliot describes what to do when feeling lonely.
"Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows...Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others."
Special thanks to Marie for co-writing the point of view of Esther.
"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck."
Have you ever tried to debate with someone who is convinced that they are right? You try and you try to reason with them, but they refuse to consider the possibility that they are wrong. As frustrated as I often am by stubborness, I confess that I can be extremely stubborn myself. I tend to want to teach---not be taught!
"He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding."
"'He makes His ministers a flame of fire.' Am I ignitible? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things.' Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul--short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God's house consumed Him. 'Make me Thy Fuel, Flame of God.'"Not long after writing the above quote, Jim Elliot left with his young wife for the mission field in Ecuador. There, he and four other missionaries attempted to reach a previously unreached Indian tribe--the Aucas--with the Word of God. On January 8, 1956 (today), they were attacked by a group of Auca tribesmen. Though each of the missionaries had brought rifles with them for protection, they all refused to use them in self defense. Every one of the missionaries was killed.
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24It has been said before that it is easier for us to surrender our bodies to death than it is to surrender our will to God. This death to ourselves is not one that we only die once, but it is a continual, every day death to our own selfish desires. This surrender includes giving up our own stubborness and willfulness and laying it at Christ's feet, giving it up so that we might become teachable and pliable in His hands.
"Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul’s words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ—nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Your business—are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self- aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, “Is that a mean reason?” For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian—its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word—Christ Jesus. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in thee and to thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, 'Ready for either.'”
First, a godly woman should dress and act in such a way that is chaste and modest. Alright, but what are the working definitions of these words? We don't have in the bible the books of First and Second Hem Lengths, so obviously it is more than a matter of conforming to a set of exact rules. No great surprise there. Christianity isn't about a set of rules which you follow which then brings about righteousness. It is Christ who makes us righteous and it is a matter of the heart, not how many good rules we can come up with. However, we tend to think that the shortest distance between unrighteousnes and righteousness is a good law and thus we get many of the problems we deal with in discussing modesty of dress.This is an excellent article that is well worth reading.
"...you girls should do something on BftH [Beauty from the Heart] on why you don't consider wearing pants to be something non-feminine. I'd really like to hear your thoughts on that, because in my opinion that's a major part of the definition. It appears from a couple articles I read that you would agree, but where's the practice? Ok, I don't mean to ruffle any feathers. Just want to hear what you have to say."Thank you for the interesting question, David. First of all, I would like to say that I do wear skirts occasionally and have nothing against those women who choose to wear them all the time. That, I believe, is their personal prerogative. Yet when approaching this subject I would be very, very cautious of drifting into legalism.
Dear Beauty from the Heart,
I was wondering, what is your perspective is on chivalry? The reason I ask is, at the beginning of the year I began courting a young man, with the expectation that we would discover whether or not God intended for us to become more than friends. Along the way, I discovered that I was very highly irritated by his 'gentlemanly behavior'. He would go very much out of his way to open doors for me, take something out of my hands if I were carrying it, and pull out seats for me. It sounds like a dream, doesn't it? But he became offended if I offered to carry anything for him, or open a door before he got there first. I was very confused, because my personality loves helping others and my one strength (among a myriad of weaknesses) is putting others before myself. I began to feel disrespected, as if my offers of courtesy were not valid or proper. At times, I felt as though I were his property, and by offering my services I was robbing him of some right.
For many other reasons, chiefly God showing us that we were both too immature (spiritually, for me) to be considering serious relationships, our courtship was ended at the beginning of summer, but the issue has continued to plague me.
What is the Biblical basis for chivalry? Is it acceptable for women to open doors for themselves, or offer to carry something if a man's hands are full? Am I being rebellious in some way by wanting to open doors when I arrive at them, instead of waiting for a man who may be a step behind me?
"A Damsel in Distress"
It's good to hear from you! You have asked several interesting questions. I've consulted my parents and God's Word and we're going to try to answer you to the best of our ability. However, if you have not already done so, I would encourage you to discuss this with your parents. They are the people God has given to guide you, and I’m sure they are more than willing to give advice.
It's true. Modern knights in shining armor have it tough these days. The damsels in distress who in medieval times would clasp their hands and shriek “Save me!” now proclaim “I can do it myself!” Is this wrong? After all, the word "chivalry" never appears in the Bible. In fact, from what I can find, the word first appeared in about 1300 AD in medieval
Perhaps….but let’s take a closer look.
When you hear the word "chivalry" what comes to mind? For me, I think of a man opening the door or giving up his chair for a lady. Are these acts of kindness just that—simple acts of kindness that should be offered by both sexes? Should men treat women with such differential res
pect for merely being women?
According to 1 Peter 3:7, women are to be treated differently by their husbands. It says, "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel..." What does the term “weaker vessel” mean? I posted once an analogy I heard on this subject:
A pastor once explained in his sermon the differences between men and women, and what it meant to be a "weaker vessel." He showed to the congregation two pitchers. One was a plastic water pitcher. He explained: "Men are like this pitcher. It is strong, heavy-duty and designed fo
Then, the pastor revealed a delicate, porcelain teapot to the congregation. "Women," he said as he gently upheld the fragile pitcher, "are like this teapot. It too is made for a unique purpose...but it is the weaker vessel. If I dropped it, it would shatter. If I dropped the plastic pitcher, it would not shatter. But the value of the teapot is not diminished by its delicateness. W
e treasure and protect teapots."
Although 1 Peter 3:7 is directed to husbands, this verse does recognize the differences between the sexes and that they should be respected, not ignored. We can see other instances in Scripture which women have been treasured and treated with deference, such as in the Song of Solomon, where a group of brothers announce that they will protect their little sister:
“If she is a wall,
we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
we will enclose her with panels of cedar.”
(Song of Solomon 8:9)
You see, chivalry is really a mindset. It's about embracing the role that God has given men: to serve and protect women. It stems from an attitude in the heart that wants to honor God, by putting the needs and comforts of women above their own.
Does this mean that chivalry is limited only to men? Well, yes-- and no. The Bible is clear that we are all to be servants of one another (1 Peter 4:10, Matthew 20:26-28). It is certainly not wrong for you to desire to serve others by putting their needs before your own, even when this inv
olves offering to carry something for someone else. In fact, it's wonderful that God has given you such a meek, serving spirit! Nonetheless, there are many opportunities for you to serve that are unique to girls.
For instance, if I am cooking dinner, I am not insulted by my brother's lack of chivalry if he does not offer to help cook. Cooking is not his strong point. (Actually, it is not mine either, but I am the person training to be a keeper of the home, and he is not!) He is perfectly capable of learning to cook, but as a girl training to be a wife and mother, I want to serve him in this way! Even chivalrous guys must need help from time to time, and should be humble enough to appreciate your willing aid.
Just the same, there needs to be humility on both sides. In order for men to be chivalrous, damsels must be willing to accept and support their actions. I know that it is sometimes difficult to make a conscious effort to allow guys to do things. At times in the past, I have insisted on carrying a heavy table myself when guys have offered to do it for me. I can handle carrying tables (most of the time) but I must step back and allow the guy to express his respect for my femininity by doing the work himself.
Thank you for writing, Damsel. I hope this helps!
Hannah (for Kristin, Lindsey and Stephanie)]
If you would like to investigate this topic more in-depth, I recommend checking out these posts on chivalry.
"The Modern Day Chivalry" (Part One of a five post series)
"Chivalry in a Modern World"
A blog by three young ladies who have a desire to serve the Lord and encourage other young women around them.