Several years back I attended a silly little party with a bunch of ladies who got together to watch the Miss America pageant. One of the contestants explained that the way she chose her evening gown was based upon what dress she would one day be able to proudly look back upon and show her son pictures of.
Several at the party oohed and aahed; this virtuous contestant had quickly become their favorite. She walked out on stage in the evening gown she had chosen. It was long and flowy and not too terribly tight…and her cleavage was bouncing out over the top of it. Without thinking I let out somewhat of a sarcastic chuckle, but then stopped myself when I realized that nobody else seemed to be laughing. I scratched my head, held my concern to myself, and have never watched the pageant again. I was planning to open this week’s column with that story and then launch into telling you about my concern over a news interview where Sadie Robertson, beloved TV-daughter of Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, spoke about how it was an important part of her Christianity to dress modestly on Dancing With the Stars. I love the biblical concept of modesty, but I felt concerned with Sadie’s questionable definition of the word. I saw a brief clip of one of the outfits she has worn, and also a shot of her mom and dad smiling proudly in the audience, and I felt disappointed at what they, like the Miss America contestant, seem to consider “modest.” But then, after I typed up a few hundred words about my opinions of our culture’s ever loosening definition of modesty, I had a friend tell me that his wife (whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting) thinks that Sadie is “just adorable” on the show. Additionally, I was in a bible study at church where an older lady expressed how much she respected Sadie for being on the show and proving to America that you can be a Christian and still have fun. In that same bible study, one of our pastors questioned why it is that Christians seem to be hardest on and least forgiving of other Christians. So … having said all of that … I thoughtfully choose NOT to pontificate as planned about Sadie Robertson’s modesty. I definitely have firm opinions on the subject. I definitely plan to raise my son so that his standard of modesty is a conservative one. I definitely am sad that he will grow up with such a challenge in the area of womens’ sexuality because of how our culture has lost most regard for modesty. And, I definitely will attempt to try to uphold modesty in my own dress. But as for criticism of Sadie Robertson or pageant contestants or any other good, Christian folks who have different views than myself, I’ve decided I don’t want to be one of those mostly critical folks who “shoot their own.” Some things are black and white and must be fought for. Other things are a bit more vague and lend themselves to wide, personal interpretation. I think I’ll save my loud arguments for those most important, non-negotiable concepts so that I’m not just a clanging cymbal whose voice is barely regarded.