Everyone has opinions of what should or should not be considered modest, especially when it comes to swimwear. For some, the girl in the center is not dressed modestly because her legs and neck are showing. Don’t laugh. For many people, including some in the Christian faith, immodest swimwear is a slippery slope. So, how do we as Christian women navigate the muddy waters of modesty when it comes to swimwear?
Many well-intended people have strong opinions on what is considered modest. Some will say that only one-piece swimsuits are acceptable. Others will say that a tankini is reasonable.
Still others might be ok with a modest 2-piece as long as it covers the cleavage and rear completely. (Not talking about bikinis here.) Take the girl on the left, for instance. Her cleavage, hips and rear are covered. So is this modest, or a disgrace? Is showing the belly a lack of discretion? Or does it depend how much of the belly shows?
What if only a couple of inches of the belly shows like in the picture to the right? Is her suit modest or provocative? Are their hard and fast “rules” to what should be considered appropriate for Christians to wear while swimming or not? The answer? Depends on whom you ask. For myself, I’d choose the one on the right but I wouldn’t judge a girl for wearing the one on the left.
Being a modesty advocate, I take these questions seriously. I’ve been applauded and ridiculed for my opinions on modest swimwear–and will continue to be–but I understand why. It is because often times, our “opinions” as Christians are rooted in something other than scripture. They are opinions formed by upbringing and denomination. Clearly the Bible teaches us to dress modestly, but how that looks by the pool is up for debate. Again, I’m not suggesting a girl can wear anything she wants–there should be guidelines. I have mine, and I recommend girls and their mothers and fathers (or a wife and her husband) develop their own.
This discussion will always come down to a heart issue. God knows our hearts and intentions. If our intentions are to draw attention from guys and men, head back to the changing room. We can say whatever we want, but our intentions in wearing what we wear speak volumes.
Opinions are just that, opinions. And since God didn’t lay out the specifics of how swimwear should look on a Christian woman in the twenty-first century, we must really investigate our motives before heading to the beach.
Some Christians are offended at mixed swimming (guys and girls swimming in the same location). Some insist on swimwear that isn’t form-fitting, so it should have an abundance of ruffles. Some will argue that anything other than a one-piece with a built-in skirt is distasteful. Search your heart. Interrogate your intentions and be sensitive to God’s voice. Ask for God’s conviction in this area and be willing to obey. And always, remember to honor your parents or husband.