‘What’s the definition of beauty?’

‘What’s the definition of beauty?’My daughter is only four-years-old, but sometimes, I think she’s 14.

That was the case a few weeks ago, when she walked purposefully into the kitchen, sporting a pink dress, glitzy shoes and shiny fingernail polish, and asked me through a sweet smile: “Daddy, do you think I look beautiful?”

I chuckled at the situation and responded quickly, “Of course, I do!” She walked back into her room to continue her game of dress-up and I finished eating my snack, but later I began to ask myself: What am I teaching her? In other words, what is she learning about beauty?

If I’m not diligent, then she will learn all the worldly, wrong things as she grows older: that beauty is skin-deep, that worth is based on a perfect figure and the right clothes, and that her body is to be put on display like a cheap weekend sale at Walmart.

I thought about that recently when my family and I stopped at a gas station to fill up the van and to get snacks during a short road trip. There in the gas station window was the magazine rack, and there on the magazine rack were the latest “gentleman’s” magazines flaunting barely dressed models – easily seen by anyone who did not even enter the station. Such as my daughter.

But we don’t have to stop at the wrong gas station to be confronted with worldly images of beauty. We see it every Sunday during the fall, when the TV cameras switch from the football game to the cheerleaders and we’re left wondering if “thin, half-naked and blond” were the prerequisites. We’re faced with it during commercials, when Hardee’s trots out soft-porn images to try and sell us – of all things — hamburgers.

Heck, we even see it in during Disney and Pixar cartoons, which promote not immodesty but perfection. How many average-looking heroines can you remember from the most popular animated movies?

Then there’s social media. A recent Pew study found that 61 percent of teen girls — but only 44 percent of teen boys — regularly access Instagram, the picture-based platform where, essentially, only “glamour shots” are posted. As director Delaney Ruston discovered in the documentary Screenagers, Instagram and platforms like it are destroying the body image of middle school and high school girls, who feel constant pressure to look flawless for their friends and romantic interests. Continue reading

3 ways to raise modest kids (in an immodest world)

3 ways to raise modest kids (in an immodest world)I’m not sure when parents began debating the so-called “sheltering” of children, but I’m pretty sure the conversation became far more significant when television was invented—that is, when we allowed culture to invade our lives.

I tend to fall into the let’s-shelter-our-kids camp—at least for youngsters—but I’ve come to a simple conclusion: It’s impossible. For instance …

My 3-year-old daughter and I recently were sitting at the newest restaurant in town, sharing a Reuben sandwich and a plate of fries while coloring our favorite animals, when her eyes caught the image on one of the overhanging TV sets.

“Daddy, she’s naked!”

I took a quick look at the television to see what she was referencing—it was, if you’re curious, “Entertainment Tonight”—and then told her in a reassuring voice, “You’re right. We need to pray that woman finds some clothes.”

Legally and technically, my daughter was wrong: The woman, a model, wasn’t naked. But biblically and practically? My daughter was right on the mark. And I was proud of her.

God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skin in the garden (Genesis 3:21), but ever since, Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch and every other designer and store have been trying to remove it, inch by inch. Their creations in ritzy New York studios create a domino effect: sold in stores, bought by teens, and then returned by parents. But it’s not just Christian families who have weekly “you’re not going out like that!” arguments. This issue crosses ideological and cultural boundaries.

Scripture says we are to kill desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:24) but immodesty does just the opposite, bringing it back to life and encouraging its captives to strut around like a boastful half-naked peacock.

Of course, we shouldn’t simply blame fashion designers for this problem. Their clothes wouldn’t have gone over well with, say, the Pilgrims or even Colonial Americans. We as a society buy those clothes, and this issue often is a matter of the heart.

Still, there are practical steps parents can take to raise modest children in an immodest world. Here are three:
Continue reading