Before becoming the mother of two boys I only thought I knew the power of a woman’s influence. In like manner, before becoming the only female in a household of males, I only thought I knew what men were like. My eyes continue to open as my children mature into young men and as I see their male characteristics develop. In their trek toward adulthood and at this juncture in our lives the opposite sex has already reached crucial significance. My boys (now ages 13 and 11) are fully aware of the female kind. They do not fully understand them of course (what male ever will) but their eyes are open, and so are mine!
Regardless of a child’s gender, we have general responsibilities to uphold and maintain if we as parents want to be well pleasing to God. We want to teach our children to know God, to love Him, to obey Him, to desire heaven, to desire to take others with them to heaven, etc…..But as our children mature these responsibilities become more specialized and lie within the realm of their gender and the roles they must fulfill in order for them to be well pleasing to God. So it is the purpose of this article, from the perspective of a mother to only boys, to expound a little on a foundational principle we’ve discovered as critical when it comes to what we want our boys to know about girls. It’s occurred to us, even at their young ages, the primary issue our boys face now and will face as adult males in this world concerns the issue of immodesty in females. The actual word “immodesty” is nowhere to be found in the pages of Scripture but the idea of its meaning is certainly there. Our Creator has not left us without principles, definitions, and descriptions of the two genders. With a little digging into God’s word we can learn what to set our eyes (and hearts) on in the midst of a world that would have us look only skin deep.
Meanings of Modesty
At the outset, I want my boys to know that God’s call for modesty applies to both sexes. In I Timothy 2:9-10 Paul writes: “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” The Greek word for modest in this passage is kosmios. It’s from the Greek word kosmos. It is the word by which we get our English word cosmos. The meaning denotes that which is in order, well arranged, becoming or seemly. When applied to our universe this is easy to see. We live in an atmosphere of physical continuity, order, and harmonious arrangement. When applied to women’s apparel it is easy to infer that her clothing must be the same—it should be in harmony and becoming of a woman who is professing godliness. Furthermore, it’s interesting that Paul uses this very same Greek word in I Timothy 3:2 in reference to a male. Yet Paul isn’t calling attention to a man’s clothing but rather to his behavior: “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, apt to teach”. The phrase of good behavior translates kosmios. Therefore, his behavior must be well arranged, orderly, and becoming of a man who desires the office of an elder.
In light of these two passages it is interesting to notice the emphasis God places on modesty for a woman versus modesty for a man. God knows that the female tendency is to focus more on the outward appearance whereas a male’s tendency is to focus more on his abilities or performance. When our boys learn both of these concepts from God’s word they will know what God expects of them as men and what God expects them to look for in a mate. With this in mind, it’s important to further investigate the responsibilities that lay upon both genders.
It is a well known fact that males tend to be much more visual than females. This is not necessarily a bad thing considering it is God who created this in man. Yet it’s important for both sexes to learn that visual boundaries that must be maintained in order to conserve their purity. As you’ll recall, David ventured beyond his visual boundaries and committed terrible sins as a result (II Sam. 11). Females can be very strong temptations for males when they present themselves without any boundaries. Therefore, it’s imperative for young women to learn how not to be a temptation to the opposite sex. At the same time, males must learn how not to feed their visual drive.
For us females, further explanation is given in the rest of I Tim. 2:9 with regard to the type of clothing a woman of God should adorn so as to not draw undue attention. Not only should her attire be neat but it should also be in harmony with her profession of godliness, i.e., respectable (with propriety) and responsible (with moderation). In like manner her adornment should not be focused on the means by which she adorns herself (with gold, pearls, and costly clothing). Instead, she puts on that which is the reflection of a woman after God’s heart. When her focus is in the right place then she will be busy adorning her life with good works. Ladies, it is not what we put on that matters. What matter most to God is what we put out. By putting forth good works we shine Christ’s light and not our own. This command is further illustrated in I Peter 3:4-5—“Do not let your adornment be outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with that which is incorruptible, a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” This is what defines a godly woman. This is, therefore, what I hope to instill in the minds of my boys so that they will in turn learn to desire in their minds what God desires when it comes to the opposite sex.
For males it’s important that they learn as soon as possible how to train their eyes. My husband has been responsible for this training with our boys and he has taught them to “bounce” their eyes as soon as they see something that is inappropriate. In so doing, they have learned to immediately move their eyes onto something else instead of letting their minds soak in the ungodly sight. I continue to be impressed and thankful every time I see my boys practicing what they’ve been taught. It is commendable for any male who is willing to work to the best of their abilities to maintain their purity. This is just one way he can do that. From Scripture my boys learn of another way to maintain their visual boundaries in this world. Remember Joseph? He did exactly what he needed to do in the face of such temptation—he RAN (Gen. 39:12)! Paul admonished Timothy to do the same thing in II Tim. 2:22—“FLEE youthful lusts.” While my boys work on these efforts personally they don’t have to be alone in their endeavor. As parents, we can help our children guard their purity (and our own) by guarding our homes against the devil’s two most destructive devices, the television and the internet. It can be as simple as putting these devices in plain sight for all to see in our homes. Or we can take it a step further and employ internet and TV guardians. I often wonder why many parents make it so easy for the devil to get to their children, and this often times through their own homes. It’s time to take charge and defend that which is most precious to God….our souls!
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of what we are striving to instill in our boys it is a beginning. Hopefully and prayerfully with this foundation we can together face the period of adolescence with confidence and security in God’s word and His promises. A reward awaits our children one day, not just in eternity, but in this life as well. We are fully confident that as a result of their efforts God will reward them with marriages that will be fulfilling beyond their imaginations. Marriage is indeed a blessing and to the pure it is one of God’s greatest gifts. We are also fully confident in God’s promise that His Word is “profitable……for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Tim. 3:16-17) Thus, armed with the truth of God’s Word rather than the misconceptions of the world regarding girls, my boys can be ready when temptation strikes. They will know what’s right. They will know what’s wrong. They will know that they have a choice. They will also know that God is on their side as they strive to walk the strait and narrow, and so are their parents.
Veronica is blessed to be the wife of Clint Brown. Clint currently preaches for the Farmersville church of Christ in north Texas. She is also blessed to be a stay at home mom to two boys, Jeremy (13) and Joshua (11). She has been a preacher's wife, Bible class teacher, missionary, and a host of other things for the Lord for the past 14 years and she's thankful for every moment God uses to mold her into His image.