Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bikini's... 3 Reasons Why I've Chosen Not to Wear One

Summer is in full swing, and has been for a while seeing as it's the end of July. Life is full vacations, cook outs, pool parties, beach days and sun tanning. This means there are females in swim wear just about everywhere you turn - if not in real life then on billboards, store ads and commercials. Most of these females, if they are any where around water, are wearing itty bitty pieces of clothing that leave little to the imagination. However, if you see me sitting poolside, I won't be bearing my belly.

Most people assume I don't wear a bikini because I'm insecure about my body, forced to wear more modest clothes or simply hate the bikini style. None of these are true! First, I am actually happy with my body. Though currently I'm growing a baby and I'm a little bigger than I usually am, there have been several summers that I've felt very confident about the way I looked and even now I feel fit and healthy. Second, no one is forcing me to do, wear, or not wear anything - christianity doesn't work that way. It's not about a set of rules to live by, but a relationship with the Lord that allows choice and free will. And third, to be honest, I don't hate bikinis. I think some bikinis are really cute, especially the ones with stripes or polka dots! Sometimes I think about looking cute on a beach with my husband some where and wearing one of these trendy swim suits.

So hold up. What? Didn't I just say you wouldn't see me wearing a bikini??? Isn't this post about how I've chosen not to wear one? Then why do I think they're cute? Why do I think about wearing them myself but not actually wear one? I say this because I want people to know that sometimes dressing modestly is somewhat of a sacrifice. Sometimes we need to choose things that aren't exactly what we want but is something we should do. Modesty is an unpopular choice in a culture that promotes flaunting what you have and has forgotten about the value of keeping some things sacred. I've in fact sometimes forgotten the value myself. I never wore bikini's in high school (growing up in my parents house there was actually a rule that we couldn't wear bikini's - but now that I'm not under their rules, I am grateful for the standards they held, as it has helped me make my own choices now and know why I'm making them) but even though I never wore bikini's, my choice in swimwear wasn't always the most modest. On my honeymoon I did in fact wear a bikini because I was so excited to finally be able to share my body with my husband. I just forgot that I'd also be sharing my body with every other person on the cruise ship and beach.

Which is why, even though I think some bikini's are cute and that I might look cute in them, I've chosen not to wear them any more. Here are the top 3 reasons for making this choice.

#1 - I am making the choice for the males around me - my brothers in Christ- and their women who would prefer their husbands or boyfriend's eyes be kept on them and not on me. (And the moms fighting for the purity of their sons!) I've heard the argument that we can't be responsible for what a man thinks or looks at when he sees a woman with minimal amounts of clothing on, but I can't in good conscience fully go along with this train of thought. Sure, a man is responsible for his own thoughts and actions, but if I am choosing to walk right by him with areas of my belly, butt, thighs and chest exposed, I am inviting him to gaze on my body. I am openly sharing the intimate areas of my physique that we know without a doubt are visually stimulating and arousing for males. I've come to understand that it is an unfair challenge for me to do that. In a world where guys have to divert their eyes and guard their hearts every time they walk into a store, turn on a TV, open a magazine, or go the beach if they are trying to with due diligence not to let their eyes wander, then I can choose to help them out. The bible talks about my freedom of choice as a believer in 1 Corinthians 10. Verses 23-24 say "I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others." Just from this verse I am reminded that my choices do affect others and I should be aware of that as I make many decisions in various areas of my life. Romans 14:13 says "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." From here I am reminded that it's not for me to judge fellow christians in their weaknesses (like men who might struggle to keep their thoughts pure if they see me in a bikini) but instead do what I can so that I am not someone making it harder for another believer to pursue righteousness over worldliness.

#2 - I am making the choice for my own dignity. As women, we are always bemoaning that men have a hard time looking past physical appearance and appreciating a woman for who she is... but I say we make it harder on ourselves by dressing immodestly. We are again issuing a subtle challenge - "I'm going to flaunt my body right in front of you, but you better not look! I just want you to listen to what I'm saying and be attracted to my mind and spirit and then be attracted to my body." We need to realize that our bodies are special, so special that they were bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) So special that they are not meant to be shared with everyone on a public beach but instead meant to be shared with the right person at the right time. If we really loved our own bodies we would realize that they are sacred and shouldn't sell ourselves short by offering body parts to capture others attention. Instead we should try to stand out with authentic beauty that God see's as having great worth -  "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." (1 Peter 3:3-4) This is true for all choices of clothing - not just swimwear.

#3 - I am making the choice for my husband. He is the one that I've chosen to share my body with and that is a privilege that is, and should be, reserved solely for him. By keeping myself for his eyes only I am letting him know that his admiration of what I look like physically is enough for me. I don't  need others to take a second look in order to feel sexy, as I lay out on the beach in a bathing suit that covers little more than my bra and underwear do. I don't walk out to get the mail or answer my door in my bra and panties because those are intimate clothes that I feel only my husband should see me in. So why would it be okay to wear the same thing - only made of material thats meant to get wet - out in public for strangers to see? My husband's attention towards my body makes me feel beautiful, sexy and admired - and if I allow those feelings to be stirred up by another man, even if it feels nice to be noticed, I would be opening up my own heart for the potential to wander. If you are not married - you can honor your future husband by saving your body for him.

So if not a bikini, what do I wear? My current choice of swim wear, for those of you wondering, is a modest tankini with shorts. This means I avoid tops that are low cut and choose something that fully covers my belly. For bottoms I wear athletic shorts over regular bikini bottoms. I think it is possible to make modest swim wear choices without wearing a full on bathing gown from 100 or so years ago. : )

I know there are many differing opinions on whether or not it's okay for a christian female to wear a bikini, and even some who may think that what I choose to wear is still too immodest. I don't mean to pass judgement on any women who do choose to wear bikinis, life is hard enough without women looking down on each other, especially sisters in Christ. I do, however, want to encourage those around me to grow closer to the Lord in all areas and to pursue righteousness over what our society and culture says is okay, as it is a something that I will always need to be encouraged in as well.

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