Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wearing Beauty and Modesty: No more masks!

I just love the above painting of Ruth.

Again, the following entry has been adapted from Real Women Don't Wear Masks, Carol Van Atta and Dr. Kathy Rodriguez (not yet published)

Precious Princess Warriors for Christ, we have finally arrived at our last entry about the Seductive Mask. Hopefully, the following entry will give you insight and encouragement for removing the seductive mask and the amazing benefits of instead putting on Beauty and Modesty. God bless you.

Wearing Beauty and Modesty

When you hear the word beauty, what comes to mind? Do you envision an airbrushed supermodel or an exotic woman from some faraway land? Maybe a famous movie star or teen pop queen? If you’re like most women, your immediate response likely had to do with outer beauty. Tan, toned, and sculpted — the All American dream girl.

We encourage you to take some time to research what is considered beautiful in different parts of the world, or in different eras of time. You will be pleasantly surprised by the diverse results of such a search. The idea of what is outwardly beautiful changes like the seasons. For some summer is best, while others choose winter as their favorite. And, of course, there are fans of fall and spring. So it is with the concept of beauty, especially if we are deriving our definition from the world around us.

In 2003, the winner of a beauty contest in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou (Africa) weight 257 lbs. This contest was a stark contrast to the Miss World Competition which was held at the same time in China.

According to several sources, in the 1890’s a plump body and pale complexion was considered attractive as those features were supposed to represent wealth and a refined indoor lifestyle.

While at the website we discovered varying beauty ideals explored in detail. For example, in Asian cultures the focus in on a woman’s eyes. In the Middle East women who use more natural products for make up like henna and kohl are considered most attractive.

These are but a few ideals of what is considered beautiful. So, as you can see, we could spend countless hours, days, even weeks trying to figure out what type of “beauty” we want to be, and once again, these remedies are all outside solutions to an inside dilemma. After all, according to God’s ideal, and He is our King, beauty is more a matter of the heart. We should be more concerned about the motives of our hearts than the brand of make up we buy or jeans we try to squeeze into.

God’s Word clearly explains:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30 NIV

Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel. Rather let it be the hidden, person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the
sight of the Lord. 1 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV

Rather, clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Romans 13:14 NIV

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braded hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. I Timothy 2:9-10 NIV

I love the definitions of modesty and self control provided by an online article featured on appropriately titled: Fashion and Following the Savior. “Modesty: ‘Propriety: The avoidance of clothing and adornment that is extravagant, showy, and sexually enticing.’” Self Control: “’Restraint, moderation for the purpose of purity.’”

Now this doesn’t mean we can’t dress nice and fashionably. In fact, I think as daughters of the King of the Universe that representing Him well in appearance is very important. In fact, our dress can even reflect our inner qualities. For example, if I’m focused on purity, loyalty, serving God, helping others stay focused the Savior and God’s love, dressing like a wild woman is not an accurate representation of those beliefs.

However, modest dress doesn’t mean wearing a turtleneck during the summer months, or a giant gunny sack the rest of the year. With wisdom, we can easily figure out what is modest, attractive and appropriate attire as modern Christian women. It is probably best to avoid, belly baring hip-huggers, low cut blouses, see-through dresses, and the like. Ladies, we know, don’t we?

In one of our healing classes in Restoration Ministries entitled For Women Only: Accept No Substitutes, we often offer to help a woman in the class review her wardrobe as she exchanges the lies and false promises of seduction for the eternal truths of beauty and modesty.

Ultimately, if we clothe ourselves with the Fruit of God’s Spirit, we will discover that we are walking as beautiful and modest women of God, no longer vying for the sinful Seductive Mask.

The Story of a Friend

Ruth, the Moabite woman — a widow, sister, and beloved daughter-in-law — she was a woman who reflected beauty and modesty both inside out. Her noble character is fully demonstrated in her friendships and relationships. Therefore, an examination of her life will prove helpful in understanding the benefits of wearing a new God-ordained identity.

Imagine, if you will, that you married into a family that did not share your personal religious beliefs or your social customs. You have possibly risked judgment and ridicule from your family and friends by adopting the seemingly strange foreign practices of your new husband and his relatives. After all, observing specific religious ceremonies play a magnified role in your life.

Overtime, you become more and more fascinated with the spiritual beliefs of your husband and his parents. You find yourself drawn to the miraculous tales of a sea parting and a monstrous ark carrying Noah, his family, and all the earth’s animals to safety. The idea of a loving, consuming, and all-knowing God becomes more inviting as the years drift by.

Sadly, your father-in law and your husband perish, and Naomi, your faithful mother-in-law, a woman who is now closer to you than your own mother, gently encourages you to return to your family of origin as she plans to journey back to her homeland in Judah.

At this point in the story, Ruth’s situation has become more than a little disheartening, wouldn’t you agree?

We can’t forget she has been with her Hebrew family for over ten years. I’m certain the idea that she would be required to return to her old ways in the midst of such a tidal wave of grief sounded overwhelming.

Yet, amazingly, even after Ruth’s sister chooses to remain behind, Ruth completely separates herself from her home, her birth family, and any ties to her former pagan religion, and dutifully follows Naomi, discovering a whole new way of life.

Talk about a willingness to surrender to God’s will! In the comments Ruth makes to Naomi, her beauty and modesty shine brightly against the parched dessert landscape. Her servant’s heart is most pleasing to God and comforting to Naomi who has been left alone to fend for herself without a male relative.

Back in Bethlehem, where they finally settle, Ruth quickly follows Naomi’s direction and serves as a provider for both of them. The town folk can immediately see that Ruth is a godly woman of beauty, modesty, and integrity. She obeys the Jewish customs and gracefully fulfills her commitment to her aging mother-in-law.

We know what happens next, don’t’ we? Let’s fast forward, okay?

Ruth has begun to gather food behind the harvesters in a distant relative’s field. Upon meeting Ruth, Boaz the field’s owner, immediately senses her innocence and loyalty and provides a covering of safety.
Listen to Ruth’s unassuming response:

“At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, ‘Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me — a foreigner.’”

I love Boaz’s response.

“Boaz replied, ‘I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband — how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’”

Dear friends, all these blessings from this kind, respected, God-fearing, and wealthy man were due to Ruth’s godliness not her seductiveness.

Modesty can be described as humble, unpretentious, reserved, meek, gentle, mild …
Ruth fit the description perfectly. She had no need to resort the kind of shenanigans that wearers of the Seductive Mask use. Remember our fist story about Mrs. PT, Potiphar’s over-pampered bride? She didn’t get “her man” nor did she keep her husband’s attention. Surely, Potiphar suspected what his wife had been up to. If not, he would have followed protocol and put Joseph to death. I’m quite sure that the disastrous results of Mrs. PT’s failed seduction only worsened after Joseph was imprisoned.

Ruth, however, obeyed God and lived as a beautiful and modest maiden who was ultimately rescued by Boaz, her Kinsman Redeemer. By refusing to be a scheming seductress, Ruth received all that most women yearn for: a handsome husband, a stable home, financial security, children, and the admiration of her peers and elders. Boaz’s words express this exact sentiment:

“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do as you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character …"

Truly, ladies, when we live God’s Way things are much more likely to go the way we desire, and if they don’t, we can still trust that God knows best and rejoice over the fact that we didn’t compromise ourselves to get what we want. Amen!

You’re a beautiful princess, a daughter of the King, a woman of noble character, and a lady of modesty. No matter what you might have said or done in the past, God has chosen you to be His Bride. Don’t settle for less than the ultimate Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Trade that old hollow mask for a life of worth and redemption.

To my precious Prince Charming,

Thank you for being my Kinsman Redeemer. Like Ruth, I can trust that you will care for me as I adhere to Your ways. I’m sorry for wearing the Seductive Mask. The truth is, it never even fit properly. Today, I understand that my survival does not depend on using my womanly whiles. I do not gain power or control by behaving in such an unbecoming manner. The acceptance and love that I so yearn for is found in You.

Right now, I choose to throw this filthy mask into the flames where it belongs. I refuse to reach for it again. I am trusting in You alone to meet my needs. You remind me to be anxious for nothing; after all you know my every desire and have numbered every hair on my head. Who could ever provide for me like that but you, my King?

Thank you for creating me as a woman of character. Please place other women of wisdom in my life to help love, guide, and support me as I learn to live a life free from masks.

I love you, Jesus. It is in your holy Name I pray. Amen.
Ladies, I welcome you comments. Feel free to share you thoughts and feelings about this mask, or any of the others we've explored. God bless you as you continue to "Reign Real."


~~Devita~~ said...

Yes, i once read my friend's blog and i read there the definition of beautiful at 70's is really different now.

The physical beauty in this world will be perished but the beauty in our soul will stay and rest forever.

Kimberly said...

I can only pray that I be a Godly woman "like Ruth". I love her story! I praise God for allowing me to cross paths with your blog.

CT said...

Good word Carol-
Thank you.
I also enjoy that painting of Ruth-

-Christa Taylor