Thursday, March 29, 2007

Learning Modesty

Remember the scene from Little Women when Jo wanted to invite "Teddy" to be a part of the girl's 'theatrical society'? Being more proper than their sister, Meg, Amy and Beth gasped at the thought and immediately objected. "Nay!" says Amy, "...we bear our souls and tell our most appalling secrets."

Would women today, specifically Christian women, have the same response? I recently read a post by Lydia Brownback entitled Modesty and Other Women's Husbands where she addresses the "modesty of our person". Lydia shows us that being modest is not just about proper clothing but about setting boundaries in our relationships with married men. Her thoughts were challenging and convicting, leading me to examine my behavior with male friends (both past and present). God has graciously allowed me to glean wisdom from a much (much) wiser woman and it would be wrong for me not to apply it to my life and then pass the wisdom along to others.

In light of Lydia’s post (as well as recent personal experiences) I have been considering how 'modesty of our person' also applies to our friendships with single men. Being 'best buds' with the opposite sex can often lead to confusing emotions and hurt feelings. Not just for those involved but also for their future spouses. For example, when I am tempted to pour my heart out to a male friend I need to stop and think, "Is this a situation that he would be ashamed to someday share with his wife? Is this something I would want my future husband to do with his friend?" Inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex involves more than just physical intimacy. We cross the line when we spend large amounts of time together, connecting emotionally to a degree that has been reserved only for a mate.

I see a lot of young, Christian women who push themselves into close friendships with men. You know, the guy and the girl who are always together and everyone assumes they are dating. Many girls give the impression with their behavior (though they deny it with their words) that they are interested in more than friendship. I have been on mission teams with women who can't seem to get enough attention from our male team members. Not only would it make others uncomfortable, but it often became a distraction that hindered the ministry.

I am not saying that we should avoid friendships with the opposite sex. Fellowship is a rich blessing as well as a command for the Church, allowing us to encourage and sharpen one another as believers. What I am saying is that being involved in the lives of our Christian brothers should aid in our (and their) sanctification, not hinder it. Our friendships should edify and build up the body, not confuse and frustrate other church members. Setting appropriate boundaries is not about limiting fellowship, but about achieving, maintaining and protecting true fellowship.

3 comments:

Glenna Marshall said...

Gosh, I totally agree, Kellye, as I did with Lydia's original post. I think these are things I did not learn until after marriage. While I was not the type of girl that spent large amounts of time with male friends (I was way too shy for the most part), I think I would have loved the opportunity, and looking back I can see relationships where I did exercise the most emotional modesty. I didn't learn until later (possibly from reading one of Nancy Wilson's books) that boundaries between single males and females are necessary to maintain "above reproach" living. I am thankful that I was kept from any other close relationships with males except for my husband, but I would definitely pass this advice on to single women, as well as remembering it as a married woman as I do know and (with my husband) spend time with other married men (and their wives).

Good post. :)
-gm-

PS, I finally picked up Ligon Duncan & Susan Hunt's book again and am finding a lot of answers to the questions I've had. I just finished the section on "the Need" and I can really relate with some of what I read. I think it's going to be quite helpful as I digest all these thoughts about women's ministry.

Glenna Marshall said...

EDIT: I meant "where I did NOT exercise the most emotional modesty..." Sheesh, that typo totally negated my entire comment! Oops!

j razz said...

See Kellye, I knew you had it in you... you "blogged" about something personal, something that spoke to you and something that affects more than just you. A great post and if you keep this up, I may just remove my boycott of your blog :)

You said, What I am saying is that being involved in the lives of our Christian brothers should aid in our (and their) sanctification, not hinder it. Our friendships should edify and build up the body, not confuse and frustrate other church members. Setting appropriate boundaries is not about limiting fellowship, but about achieving, maintaining and protecting true fellowship.

Do you want to give some practical ways to do that? I think that would be a good follow up post!

j razz