I just posted a fabulous article written by Sarah Bessey on Women in Bikinis on my Facebook yesterday. I had a lovely friend post something in reference to men and lust and not wearing a bikini because of it. It got me thinking and writing.
I completely respect that line of thinking. In fact, I’ve heard it whispered all my life, but at 40 years of age, I’m not sure I’m buying it any more. Let me tell you why.
First, I highly recommend reading the article I linked to. I love Sarah’s voice. She thoughtfully addresses so much about women and the church that’s refreshing. I kind of love her but that is neither here nor there.
As I seek to create an environment that allows our children to grow up in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, I am fiercely aware of how, at every turn, culture seeks to rob them of their freedom. So I, in equal zeal, seek to cut that robber off at the pass…with out any apologies to tradition or church culture. I dance for an audience of one…and I…with great fear and trembling, seek to honor him with everything I do…and everything I allow our children to do. Period. I want them all to dance their way as wholly and freely as possible into adulthood with true and authentic relationships with their creator. Everyday…I pray towards that end…every dang day people!!
So Bikinis…lust…flesh and the female body. How does this fall into play?
We…both male and female are born with female and male attributes. Remember, we are created in the image of God. Jesus exemplified ultimate meekness in his very character. Both gentle and strong at the same time….both masculine and feminine traits equally present…a fully whole human, fully God, and was completely self actualized with never being married or having any sexual relations. The more whole we are as people, we find both of those attributes in play not overshadowing the other..fluidly moving back and forth as needed in any given situation. For women, we can be both strong and gentle without having to be strong or overly masculine or weak victims all the time and likewise men can be both strong and gentle without having to be strong and gruff or effeminate all the time. Sadly, due to abuse, trauma and outside influences, one of those sides can be beat down so sharply that only one side is dominate over the other. Women can be overly…weak or way too strong and closed off depending and men can fall into the the same pattern. It creates people that walk around with a pretty deep limp. The fluidity of meekness is disconnected. I see it EVERYWHERE and it makes my heart ache! For more in depth info on this topic specifically, you can read some of the amazing Leanne Payne’s work. It will bend your brain in such good ways.
So how can we nurture an environment where both sides of our kids personalities (and ours for that matter) are nurtured? Well….back to bikinis…the argument that we as women should not wear certain things so the dudes around us won’t stumble to me hints at a weird codependency at the least and a subversive message to women that our likeness…our form is something to be hidden and ashamed of. I’m sorry, but pinning the lust problems of men on us women was probably first contrived by a man from an uber Puritan and patriarchal background. Dudes need to deal with their hearts because those visual things that trigger them are everywhere! I’m just not going to be soft on that. Let’s grow up and do our own push-ups shall we?!?! Now, of course…we need discernment and wisdom in all things right!!! I’m not trotting off to the church potluck in a bikini. I use discretion. I don’t wear low cut shirts, pray for, ride with or counsel men alone…ever….as it shows no wisdom or discernment. But… if my mini and I are going to the beach together or out paddle boarding with the family you better believe I’m going to wear a bikini, with no shame…and I’ll tell you why!
I’m nurturing, protecting and calling out her voice!!! In fact I’m fighting an all out battle day in and day out so that our kids can exercise their one and only God given, created, shaped, formed and called VOICE. No shaming, no controlling, no ignoring or wishing it was something else but creating space for them to roar. ( and if I want them to be able to do it, then I must too. No shaming, hating or beating myself either) Baby roars at first but in time full fledged, lion of Judah, world changing roars. And I will say, because of the cultural ills of patriarchy and misogyny I fight doubly hard for my mini. I know you’re rolling your eyes but try to hang with me!! You say how can a bikini nurture her voice? I didn’t say I was putting her in heels, painting her lips red, letting her wear shorts with words across her butt and teaching her how to flirt to attract a man. Actually, none of those things are allowed in our home…along with playing with barbies but that’s a whole other blog. And she herself monitors when she wants to go with the one piece or two piece. I am teaching her how to be comfortable in her own skin. Proud of how she was formed, and not afraid of the beauty and strength of it all! How to be gentle but fierce. That’s how we were made…not wallflowers to be covered and patted on the head but full fledged partners in redemptive work. To engage in that fully as women, we must truly love how God has crafted us. All of it, even our bodies. I’m also showing my boys that strong women can be comfortable in their own skin both gentle and strong with out obsessing about appearance or not eating and saying they are fat all the time. Aint’ no body got time for any of that drama. Prayerfully, they look for that as a mark in their future spouse.
(Goodness, as an aside, my kids are all athletes two of them in the pool 6 days a week and they wear skimpy swim gear that only gets smaller the older they get. We don’t and can’t fit into the “don’t wear bikinis” mold…so are we excluded from righteous living because of it? No. It’s absurd to even think of but that’s what some parts of church culture dictate and it makes me crazy.)
This culture is hard enough on us women, let’s not throw church dogma on top if it. There is a way to be comfortable in your body without flaunting it or sexualizing it. We are souls with bodies…not the other way around and definitely not purely sexual creatures. We were created in God’s image and we should celebrate the goodness of it. In fact, God honored Jesus’ body by raising it from the dead and one day he will do the same for us!!! Because in our resurrected state…we get these bodies back…but better then ever…so we better learn to enjoy them now right!!!
So dudes lust. Yep that’s the truth but here is a shocker. Women do too. We are just as visual as men. Ever heard of something called Pinterest? We just lust over different things. We aren’t going around asking people to not decorate their Homes beautifully or cook with artistic flair. Hopefully, we are dealing with our hearts before the Lord if we deal with jealousy or lust over what others have that we want. Our sin issues aren’t men’s problems, they are ours to weed and wrestle out of our hearts with the transforming work of the Holy spirit.
So I say all of this to say if you’re not cool with wearing a bikini…no big deal. Be blessed. Don’t wear one and be at peace! But, if you are freed to wear one, by all means do it with joyful abandon before your audience of one. The world needs the roar of a woman who is deeply confident, body, mind and soul!