Modesty: Not for the ‘Educated’?

If you are a child, please ask your parent’s permission before you read this post.

As our family has been researching and seeking out different resources for teaching history and literature to our children, we’ve been hit with an interesting phenomenon.

Why is it that while many Christians speak out against the immodesty that surrounds us in our culture, there seem to be a large number of Christians who seek out immodesty in the ancient world and intentionally expose their children to it while labeling it ‘education’, ‘history’ and ‘art’?

Does the Bible have a standard of modesty?  Do we simply have different interpretations about the biblical standard of modesty?

Is the study of history (or art) so important that the biblical standard should be laid aside?

Is there a difference between a representation of a scantily clothed woman (or man) of today and a representation of a completely unclothed woman (or man) from antiquity?  Do hundreds (or thousands) of years sanctify objects?

Is it necessary/profitable to expose children in this manner so that they can practice applying their biblical world view and are able to interpret immodesty in the proper way?    If so, is there any standard whatsoever?

Are we just being prudish?

Please understand that I’m not suggesting that we can completely avoid immodesty.   I’m just curious about the reasoning of Christian parents who intentionally seek out nudity for their children’s consumption.

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83 Responses to Modesty: Not for the ‘Educated’?
  1. Meredith_in_Aus
    November 30, 2010 | 9:06 am

    I agree with you, Kimberley. We definitely don’t seek out immodest artwork for our children to see. When we unfortunately come across one of those images, we do what we teach them to do in real life: turn away and get rid of it. I have been known to doctor our own books by adding stickers/marker to offending pictures. I’m not so worried about some ancient fertility objects (that aren’t too explicit – just be very careful around Pompeii) or even some ‘anatomical’ drawings which exist to show things like muscle structure (in the chest, abdomen, or thighs, for example), but definitely try to avoid the stuff that is presented to draw you in. Kind of reminds me of catchy music with disgusting lyrics. Draws you in where you wouldn’t have gone otherwise.

    In Him

    Meredith

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  2. Jennifer
    November 30, 2010 | 9:12 am

    It’s so interesting that you brought this up as my husband and I were just discussing this the other day.

    I took my 8 year old son on a field trip to the local art museum. It was sponsored by the virtual school that he attends.

    I noticed the large amount (at least to me!) of nude sculptures, etc in the museum, including the naked woman just inside the entrance.

    Thankfully, my son was clueless.

    However, I started remembering an incident that happened a few years ago when I was working at a private Christian school.

    The high school students went on a field trip to this museum.

    The next day, I overheard the curriculum instructor, who had spearheaded this trip, complaining about the immature response of the students to the nudity.

    I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but after my own visit, I started chewing on this.

    And I asked my husband “Why, if we don’t allow our kids to see movies that portray nudity, would it be okay to take them to an art museum to see nudity? What’s the difference?”

    His response was “There is no difference and if we try to tell ourselves there is, we are fooling ourselves and lying to our children. There is no benefit in studying that kind of “art”.”

    I tend to agree with him. There are so many good artistic examples to study without studying the nudes ones.

    I’m not saying to not even mention that type of art, but there is a difference between learning that that type of art exists and studying the details of that type of art.

    Very interesting discussion. Thanks!

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  3. Luke Holzmann
    November 30, 2010 | 9:19 am

    [blinks] Well, I don’t know about people to intentionally seek out nudity for their children. That doesn’t make much sense to me at all.

    First, I would suggest that we begin by defining modesty. Such a word is loaded with presuppositions and assumptions which make it impossible to discuss without defining it. I’ll go first: Modesty is the manner in which we dress, act and relate with others which are culturally acceptable and appropriate.

    Second, I’d like to note that the Bible demands that we be modest, but does not dictate what that modesty is. Why? Because modesty is culturally defined. What is appropriate for you to wear to a funeral is different from what you wear to a sports event. Both would be inappropriate outside of those contexts. Similarly, it is not immodest to be naked with your spouse in bed, but you wouldn’t want to come to church that way. What is modest/appropriate is contextually and culturally dictated.

    Should the Bible be rejected because we’re studying history/art? …nope. Of course not. I would challenge you, again, to define what you mean. What is–in your mind–the “Biblical standard”? I still content that the Bible says we are to be modest, but does not define what that is. For example, the Bible does not define hem line, the amount of back which can be shown, how long of a slit can be in the side of a dress, or the type of neckline which is acceptable. So, what “Biblical standard” are you using or referencing here?

    Does time make titillating representations no longer immodest? It depends. And it depends entirely on an individual’s response to the representations. The real application of a Biblical worldview here would be to realize that it is not what we see that makes us sin, but rather what we do with it. Temptation and the possibility of sin is all around us, but since we have been freed from sin by Christ’s blood, we always have a choice. Does that mean we should seek this stuff out? No, because that implies we are making the wrong choice. But should we avoid major works of art because The David isn’t wearing pants (or a shirt for that matter)? I don’t think so, unless in doing so you will make the wrong choice. The purpose of the Christian life isn’t to move more and more into the light, but rather to become the kind of person who can take the light into ever darker situations. If you/your students aren’t at a place where you/they can appreciate a sexy image, then you should absolutely avoid it. But when you interpret immodesty in the proper way, you will find that even immodest images will have no sinful or negative affect.

    The definition of prudish is something like “holding to standards which are far beyond what is considered acceptable.” In that sense, a prudish person is inappropriate and–thus–immodest in the opposite direction. Hence, the negativity surrounding it. I suggest that too often our prudishness is based in our sincere desire to keep ourselves holy, but this approach is misplaced. Our holiness comes from Christ’s shed blood and the freedom we now have to love and bless everyone, no matter how they dress or present themselves.

    …I could go on for a lot longer, but I’ve written too much already. Thanks for bringing up this important topic and wading through my two cents!

    ~Luke

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    Carm Reply:

    Luke, you are right on! (in my opinion anyway).

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    Jessica Reply:

    Luke that was so refreshing! And everything I think but can’t express.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. This is a complex issue and I agree with most of what you state here.

    For the purpose of this post, I was defining immodesty as complete nudity, rather than attempting to define modesty.

    We believe that this is a biblical standard of modesty:

    In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 1 Tim. 2:9

    Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Gen. 3:21

    Presumably it was important enough to God that fallen man and woman (husband and wife) be properly clothed, that the first blood was shed in order to provide ‘skins’ for them to wear.

    The biblical standard of modesty can not be defined by a hem length or a looseness test, but there is a standard and it is much bigger than how much of the human form is covered.

    I agree that it is not necessarily sinful merely to be exposed to immodesty (even complete nudity). In 1 Cor. 10 we are promised that in every temptation there is a way of escape, in other words there is a proper response to every situation that we may find ourselves. And there are certainly situations where it may be necessary to expose ourselves and our children to nudity as part of taking the light into the darkness.

    But this isn’t the topic I was hoping to raise with this post. I wished to discuss the practice of Christians purposefully and consistently presenting nudity to their children as part of their regular education. It does happen, you should see some of the curricula that we’ve seen.

    It seems that these passages apply:

    But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. ~1Peter 1:15-16

    3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. …. 8 Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. ~Eph. 5

    This is the portion of your comment where our ideas differ:

    The purpose of the Christian life isn’t to move more and more into the light, but rather to become the kind of person who can take the light into ever darker situations. If you/your students aren’t at a place where you/they can appreciate a sexy image, then you should absolutely avoid it.

    We believe that the goal of Christianity is to walk more and more in the light, even as Christ is light and as we do this we will be better equipped to spread that light into the darkness of this world.

    Also we do not believe that Christians, children or adults, should seek to “appreciate” a “sexy image” of someone who is not their spouse.

    For the sake of clarity here is a definition of ‘sexy’ – concerned predominantly or excessively with the act of sex; sexually interesting or exciting; excitingly appealing.

    Allow me to restate, we do not believe that Christians should appreciate a sexually exciting or sexually appealing image of someone who is not their spouse. That would seem to be in direct violation of Matt. 5:28.

    Your conclusion is:

    But when you interpret immodesty in the proper way, you will find that even immodest images will have no sinful or negative affect.

    Previously in your comment you stated that we shouldn’t seek this stuff out because that implies we are making the wrong choice. Then you state that we shouldn’t avoid major works of art because they present nudity. So, what do you think is the bottom line? Do we seek out the many, many major works of art that present nudity? Or do we simply not avoid them?

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    Luke Holzmann Reply:

    “I wished to discuss the practice of Christians purposefully and consistently presenting nudity to their children as part of their regular education.”

    I did not intend to distract from your original ideas. My point was that in order to properly think about nudity in art, we need to understand when, where, and why nudity (to whatever degree) is immodest.

    I realize now that my writing at the end there was sloppy (I was trying to get so many ideas down quickly). I’m sorry for not being clear. When I said “The purpose of the Christian life isn’t to move more and more into the light” I did not mean to imply that we shouldn’t seek to walk more and more in the light of Christ. I was trying to convey the truth that, as Christians, we are called to go out and be light in the darkness. We are not called to shy further and further from the world in an attempt to be “more holy.” Rather, our holiness is found in Christ and becoming more like Him. And He came to earth, was a friend of sinners, and was holy. I think we agree on this, I just wanted to try to clarify my poor writing.

    …and, again, with my “appreciate sexy” bit. I realize now how totally imprecise I was.

    This all, again, goes back to our hearts/our motivations. If we seek out sexy art for the sake of sexual arousal, we are in sin. That’s lust. But seeing, admiring, and acknowledging the beauty of art/others is not. The bottom line is, as always, what we do with what is before us. In short: We can purposefully study works of art–even nude ones–if our motivations are non-sexual. Which, in the case of wandering an art museum, is pretty common. Going home with an art book and looking through it for the sexual jolt you get from seeing the images… yeah, that’s wrong.

    So, I propose that nudity in art–and medical work, for example–is often not immodest. Why? Because our intention and response within such contexts is non-sexual. Which is why paintings and sculptures are completely different from xrated movies and adult magazines. The context for the content is totally different, and our response and purpose in viewing these two different media are different. Of course, as with all things, we can choose to make them sinful by pursuing them to gratify our sexual desires. Our motivation and response is the deciding factor of what we should and should not view. The end goal would be that no matter what we see, our motivation and response would be in line with Christ. Would I go with Jesus to an art museum? Sure. Why? Because I believe that God gains glory from things like the Sistine Chapel.

    God does want us to be modest. That is clear. But when we see our holiness is in Christ and becoming like Him, the immodesty of others becomes a moot point. So, often, the study of art is perfectly acceptable. When it is not it is because our hearts are not in the right place. That is a choice we have in every situation of life… not just in the case of art.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to try to clarify things. If I have failed to do so–which wouldn’t surprise me at all [smile]–please call me out on it! Thanks for pushing me on this!

    ~Luke

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    Carm Reply:

    Once again Luke, very well written :)

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  4. Renee
    November 30, 2010 | 9:30 am

    I agree with you!!! Nudity or immodesty in for of art in history or the past (painting, sculpture) are the same as nudity and immodesty in modern art,like Xrated movies or Adult magazine! For me it’s all the same, it’s showing part of the body that God wants us to cover!

    I just thing that the medium to show the nudity have change but our standard should not!

    But maybe this is just me?

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    Renae Reply:

    Hi Renee, you say that nudity in art in history (paintings, sculptures) is the same as Xrated movies or Adult magazines. How can this be so? Since the purpose of art in history was not to cause sexual arousal, but simple appreciation of the human figure? It seems to me that the difference between art in history and Adult magazines is the motivations of the makers of the paintings verses Adult magazine, and the motivations of the viewers of the paintings and Adult magazines.

    You say you think the only thing that changed was the medium to show the nudity, but I am saying that I think there is more that has changed than the medium. What do you think of this?

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    Renee Reply:

    God created us in the beginning and there was no shame (no sin) after the fall sin entered the world and God made some covering (he made the first kill to made animal covering or clothing) Since then we have to wear clothes in public (not the marriage bed of course)

    So because of SIN a naked body outside the marriage bed is shame, lust, is bring sin whatever the medium used

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    Anthony Reply:

    RenAE wrote:
    “…the purpose of art in history was not to cause sexual arousal, but simple appreciation of the human figure…”

    A History Lesson:
    The line between erotic, pornographic art and classical nude art is impossible to draw. The commonly accepted differentiation depends on whether the intent is to cause sexual arousal or not. Thus it depends on the internal lust which is an innate drive for the propagation of species. The nude female form excites the male amygdala by design. Historically, the depiction of nude forms can be traced to the earliest cave paintings and carvings. Modern anthropologists call these fertility symbols as if they were religious rather than pornographic in purpose. That subjective viewpoint is tainted by the extent of how far our culture has slid into accepting public displays of nudity. Centuries before the erotic art of Pompeii (destroyed in 79 AD) became such a favorite holiday for Roman aristocrats, there was the overtly sexual Hindu “art” and the temple “sacred” prostitution of Ishtar and Aphrodite… neo-pagan Tantra Buddhism, the list goes on through the centuries.

    The Greeks and Romans marketed sex in the sell of their religious and libertine ideologies. It is no wonder that the Renaissance came out of this tradition of sensual humanism bordering the Adriatic Sea. Technological developments in paints, perspective, along with the sensual corruption of a series of perverted popes, gave rise to a new Greco-Roman culture that pushed boundaries of decency and modesty. The Florentine artists and intellectuals replaced the constraints of the church with freedoms that elevated humanism. Donatello (1386-1466) was the best known sculptor of this period. His boy “David” was the first nude since the pagan Romans.

    The wealthy Medici family, who had a large collection of Greco-Roman nudes, commissioned new trend setting nudes, and sponsored Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) and Michelangelo (1475–1564). Influencing Italy like the Mafia, these godfathers of the Renaissance were able to get into the Vatican as several of their family members were bishops and four were Popes. Cardinal Riario commissioned Michelangelo to sculpt the drunken nude Roman god of wine, Bacchus (1497).

    The Medici Popes, e.g., Clement VII, commissioned their favorite humanist artists, e.g., Michelangelo to fill the Vatican with art that relished creation. The famous Sistine Chapel resulted in so many nudes that latter popes had artists paint clothes on them. But the damage to modesty was done. Whereas Ham’s descendents were cursed for looking at their father Noah’s nudity, visitors to the center of Roman Catholic power are immediately confronted with Michelangelo’s David (1504). Powerful and overwhelming in its glorious posture, yet humiliating to the sensitivities of modesty.

    The Medici cartel did not go unchallenged. Like John the Baptist preaching against Herod, the priest Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) had long preached against the increasing toleration of homosexuality and morally corrupt art supported by the Medici rulers. When Charles VIII of France overthrew the Medici in 1494, Savonarola was raised to political power. As a forerunner to Luther and Calvin, he opposed Pope Alexander VI and made sodomy punishable by death rather than a mere fine. Homosexuals fled Florence, their once safe haven under the Medici, and Savonarola was able to burn the worst of the lewd artwork and books that had celebrated immorality. He was eventually overpowered by the forces of corruption and the pope had him burned to death in 1498, with the return of the Medici rulers.

    Michelangelo was described by his contemporaries as the inventor of obscenities. He wrote enough sensual poetry about other males, that today’s homosexual community gaily claims him as one of their own. Excessive nudity in The Last Judgment (1534-1541) was censored and the genitals were painted over by his apprentices. This decency lasted until 1993 when the Vatican had the genitals uncovered in a massive restoration project.

    Each new development of technology quickly becomes overwhelmed with pornography. Whether it be the printing press of 14th century, the invention of the VCR, or the expansion of the Internet. Nude art is still a rationalization for lust, from Giorgione to Rubens, Goya to Hefner. The medium changes. The purpose and motivation is the same, i.e., to provide as much sensual visual stimulation as cultural mores will allow.

    As in Proverbs, the prostitute still calls out to the foolish. The Davids of this world still admire Bathsheba’s beauty, and lead families and nations to ruin. Our cultural callous to shame has become so hard that shame is seen as a mental problem rather than an appropriate response to the violation of biblical principles.

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    Renae Reply:

    Hi,
    Okay so I was wrong about art history… But does that mean that nude art can NEVER be a mere appreciation (without the purpose of causing sexual immorality) of the human figure? When you said “The purpose and motivation is the same, i.e., to provide as much sensual visual stimulation as cultural mores will allow.” Are you saying that nude art is always something we should avoid because it’s shameful to look at and the motivation is ALWAYS the same?

    This last sentence of yours “Our cultural callous to shame has become so hard that shame is seen as a mental problem rather than an appropriate response to the violation of biblical principles.”

    Are you saying that the appropriate response is to not look at nudity because of what nudity represents (the shame resulting from sin)? Even if it is for a figure sculpture class?

    Thank you so much,
    -Renae

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    Meredith_in_Aus Reply:

    Well written, Anthony. Thank you.

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  5. Deirdre
    November 30, 2010 | 10:16 am

    Due to having younger sibs who have diapers changed, take baths and escape or wet their pants and strip them off, my kids all know what naked girls and boys look like. I tell them flashing one’s private areas is inappropriate and dishonoring to God. I try to take a laid back no fuss approach in order to try to take the tintillation out of the situation. We used to live in Europe where it is very difficult to take your children to any drugstore or waterfront situation (sometimes next to the playground) without them seeing unclothed people. I would find that I noticed more of the nudity than they did.

    We certainly don’t seek out nude art for my kids to see and I do try to steer them towards all the fine art that is less unclothed. I am not sure our approach is the perfect one or the best one for all families. If we come upon nude art in a museum, I don’t say anything much (don’t make a big deal of it either way) and we just move onto the next piece and talk about it. The pics we encounter in Usborne type culture bks in pics of natives in their scant traditional apparel are usually buns and breasts and the pics are usually small. They have seen breasts because babies eat from them, although no one goes topless around them and everyone’s buns look the same so I think it takes some of the allure away, although we teach that the bottom should be covered.

    Despite what I do, I find we end up in uncomfortable situations sometimes. We were eating a meal in a local Mexican restaurant recently which had a TV tuned to a soap opera type show. The dialogue was all in Spanish, but the pictures were universal! I looked up at one pt and there was a bedrm scene. Steamiest thing I had ever seen and it went on for several minutes. It knocked the breath out of me, thankfully I am glad that I don’t think any of the kids saw it. However there we were sitting “trapped”.

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  6. Jamie
    November 30, 2010 | 10:21 am

    Hi Kimberly! I do not think you are being “prudish” at all. These issues are HARD. We avoid the art museum at all costs because of this. Which is hard because I LOVE art. As far as history goes… well, I have mixed feelings. Most certainly, immodesty should not be pointed out or made into a spectacle. But if it is the reality, I’m don’t care as much. I am a bit desensitized, though, so take it with a grain of salt. My dad grew up in Sudan and Egypt, so I grew up looking at pictures of mostly naked peoples. Our family strives to be modest in all of our dress (can I take a moment to express my annoyance about how difficult it is to find decent pants and dresses for the girls???). Like I mentioned, we also avoid art museums. Why have nudity thrown in your face? I don’t particularly want my son staring at a naked woman’s body just because it’s an amazing sculpture. BUT, in the context of accurate history… I’m not FULLY opposed. Our children know that David danced naked in the streets, but I certainly have never shown them what a picture of that would look like ;). They still know it happened, though, you know? They also know about child sacrifices and other hard things. For our family, we have decided that there is a difference between pornography and accurate history. Does that mean we should point out every time someone was naked in history??? Absolutely not! But I also don’t want to show them a picture and think “wow, someone took a lot of license in adding clothing to those people”. Or in the case of Pocohantas “wow, Disney took a lot of license in removing her clothing”. I also think there are some things that just plain should *not* have visual aids… I would like to take a moment (again) to vent just a bit about people who think showing nudity is okay when in context of “it’s what happened” but don’t mind at all when illustrations get OTHER things wrong. For example: a picture of the civil war. I have seen illustrations that show the wrong hats going with the wrong uniforms and nobody is up in arms. They think that it’s not that a big of a deal and the *important* thing is to get the history part right. In my book, if the inaccuracies of pictures don’t bother them in that, it shouldn’t bother them to have some clothing added to other people groups. Just my very humble opinion. Sorry for the rambling and disjointed thoughts. I am typing quickly in between doing dishes and keeping Shoshannah occupied (she’s the only child today as the others are with grandma). I forgot how hard it is to keep one baby occupied!!!

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  7. Linda
    November 30, 2010 | 10:41 am

    Regardless of what society considers “acceptable”, as christians we have to seek the Lord on what modesty means to our family…..I have a friend ministering in an area where the women are topless. She retains her top.

    I’ve always wondered why my parent’s thought nothing of keeping all those National Geographics around the house, taking us to museums all over the place and exposing us to things we certainly shouldn’t have been exposed to, all for the sake of education. I got an education from those National Geographics, alright!!!

    Bravo for addressing this subject!!!!

    Blessings,
    Linda in GA

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  8. Anita Chamblee
    November 30, 2010 | 10:45 am

    Very interesting thread and comments! I have been thinking about modesty in dress a lot lately. A young woman is pursuing my 18 yo son. She is from a family that never cuts hair and wears only skirts. However, I do not think she is modest at all. She is very flirtatious, does not “act” like a modest young woman, puts herself in front of others, sits very immodestly and draws attention to herself. She may wear a skirt, but her tops are not modest at all. Modesty is not only in the way you dress, but in your demeanor as well. I know this is not what you are addressing here, but I have wanted to blog about this but can’t as anyone in my church will know who I am talking about!

    We did a very brief time schooling via The Well-Trained Mind, but I couldn’t continue. There were several issues, but one of them was that my younger children were just not ready to be exposed to some of the ancient cultures and the lifestyles that they led nor did we want them to be exposed at early ages. We now wait until the jr-high/sr. high ages to study the ancients and feel the children are more able to handle and discern the evilness that one comes across when studying these cultures.

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  9. tracylynne
    November 30, 2010 | 10:57 am

    Exactly do you really want your child to watch the Victoria Secret fashion show? I think although these women are beautiful, there is something to be said for catwalking almost naked down a runway in prime time. I do however think that there is beauty to be found in some works of art but it can only truly be appreciated at an appropriate age. I would rather my son learn to appreciate the beauty in nature than than “beauty” as imposed by the media. Just my take on this

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  10. Amanda
    November 30, 2010 | 11:00 am

    This is a very touchy subject with my husband and I and I plan to write a post about it later when I have the time. But, I’m very confused on the whole subject myself and what to do and teach my children. I’m a born and raised christian, however my husband became a christian shortly before we were married, so he still struggles with understanding a lot of my “views”. If it were up to me, I would “keep” my children away from that kind of thing as long as possible. Teach them there are bad things out there, and teach them to not sin when confronted with it. However, dh has assured me it’s not the easy being a boy. His argument is no matter how hard we try to “shelter” them we will somehow come in contact with it(like the previous post at the mexican resturant). I would by no means set nude art in front of my children and say “Let’s discuss what you see here”. But really, how do you find the happy medium? How far is too far? My children too have seen me breastfeed the baby, my son has seen me naked (which I have great concerns for), my son also takes baths with his younger sister, but at some point I believe(and I hope I will know the proper time) he should not be allowed to see. I would love to hear how others deal with modesty itself. What exactly does scripture say all about modesty? Thank you, Kim, for bringing this subject to mind.

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  11. Tracy
    November 30, 2010 | 11:21 am

    I think it is incorrect to say that modesty is culturally defined. If we use that way of thinking, then here soon as long as you have clothes on you will be considered to be modest and that just isn’t true.

    Our definition of anything should always come from the Bible. Our family has always found that Jeff Pollard’s definition of modesty from the book “Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America” to reflect God’s Word. “Christian modesty is the inner self-government, rooted in a proper understanding of one’s self before God, which outwardly displays itself in humility and purity from a genuine love for Jesus Christ, rather than in self-glorification or self-advertisement. Christian modesty then will not publicly expose itself in sinful nakedness.”

    [Reply]

    L2L Reply:

    I guess I don’t agree that nakedness is sinful rather we have made it into something sinful. I tend to agree, as I have lived overseas, that modesty can be defined culturally. What about when King David danced around in the streets showing off his “royal jewels”. His wife had a big issue with it and he put her away and never touched her. Was David wrong for dancing with such praise for God and in that worship thought nothing of what parts of his body were covered? I have not read Jeff Pollards book but red flags are raised in what you have quoted as it seems to focus more on the works we perform, dressing to a standard that man as put forth and not the humbling of God to give us humility and recognizing that our purity comes from the blood of Christ and not a garment we can put on.

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    Tracy Reply:

    Look at the quote again. It isn’t just about works…..what is in the heart will be reflected on the outside. The scriptures speak of humility and purity from a genuine love for Christ. That should be reflected on the outside.

    I have no interest in debating. I merely was expressing how our family decides the definitions of various things. And that is always to use the Word.

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    L2L Reply:

    Tracy, I love to discuss the Bible and do not consider it a debate. I am sorry you have taken my comment as that. I have read and re read the quote but feel that what is revealed within that comment to me would be offensive to you and therefore will not “debate with you.” Maybe this will be a book I add to my list for the new year and then again, maybe not ;)

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    Margaret Reply:

    I’m a little confused by that Pollard quote you offer as an example of a biblically-based definition of modesty, because it says nothing specific about clothing at all. Many different cultures could have different ideas about what defines ‘sinful nakedness’ and still be firmly within the bounds of that quote.

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    Renae Reply:

    Hi Tracy,
    I really liked that quote. I’m still trying to figure out what it means exactly… And I’d love to further analyze the quote with you.

    first: when the quote says ‘rather than in self-glorification’ when you glorify yourself, what are you really glorifying? God’s creation. And if you glorify God’s creation what are you really glorifying? God. What do you think of that line of thinking? Also, when the quote says ‘will not publicly expose itself in sinful nakedness’ Is nudity always sinful? Or is it ONLY sinful depending on what the motivation of the nudity is? If the nudity is pornography verses art I mean. Is it possible for nudity to be God glorifying? I think so, but I want to know why it isn’t if people think it isn’t. To me, it seems like the only situation nudity as an art form would be bad, is if the viewer was sinning by viewing the art in such a way that was violating God’s law concerning sexual morality.(By the way, see my previous post)

    Thanks!!! =D

    -Renae

    [Reply]

  12. L2L
    November 30, 2010 | 11:27 am

    I wonder if as Christians we focus on modesty for the wrong reasons. Many Christian women I know use it a tool to judge other women and what they wear. I am brought back to the fact that Adam and Eve were in the garden naked and were not clothed to be modest but as protection from the world after they left the Garden of Eden. I think the manner in which nudity is presented to a child is what makes it immoral. I see nothing wrong with a child looking at classical art that has nudity, the body is God’s creation and children should not be brought up to be ashamed or embarrassed by it. I wonder how many marriages have suffered because of this over emphasis. My two boys know what my breasts look like because I nursed all my children, does that make me immodest? And my daughter knows what a penis looks like because she has taken a bath with her brothers before and knows the proper name for that part of the anatomy. I think what IS important is to be sensitive to the comfort level of each child and what is gained or lost by teaching each period of art. I personally happen to love the older pieces of nude art because it shows the acceptance of women for how they were. There wasn’t an expectation of being pencil thin or picture perfect. And maybe its just me but I don’t see a classical piece of art arousing a young man like a centerfold life like picture. I just wonder as Christian women if we hide under the modesty debate to cover up the fact that we covet another woman’s body?? It’s all about the heart’s position, on both sides of the coin.

    [Reply]

    Margaret Reply:

    I agree with your point here that nudity has postivie connotations in the Bible, not just negative ones, and that the context of the nudity often determines its appropriateness for children and teens.

    [Reply]

  13. aimee
    November 30, 2010 | 12:11 pm

    Very interesting discussion. We don’t seek out immodesty in art, but it is there and we deal with it when we do see it.
    We went to see an exhibit on women in space at the Women’s museum at Fair park during the state fair of Texas. As we approached the building we were greeted by the huge, partially naked woman statue above the door.
    I remember thinking that it was an odd thing to see. Here is this museum dedicated to women and their strengths and rolls in history and the statue they choose to put above the door shows a woman half naked? It just didn’t make sense to me. And I was glad my kids didn’t look up and notice it! We rushed them in once we saw it!

    [Reply]

  14. Samantha
    November 30, 2010 | 12:56 pm

    We’re with you. We won’t let ourselves, or our children look at anything like that, regardless of the time period. I am certain they will get through in life without that kind of art education!

    [Reply]

  15. Janelle
    November 30, 2010 | 12:57 pm

    This is a really interesting discussion. I have wondered about these issues, as well. To be honest, I think I agree with Luke on our need to define what modesty really means. I think there is a difference in nakedness and being lewd; i.e. I would rather have my children see a naked statue than a clothed “steamy scene” from a movie and I would rather they see natives the way they really dressed than an ad in Victoria’s Secret. Here is my question, though…if we shelter them from any kind of nakedness, will they be prepared for life situations? I know a lot of people who struggled in their marriages because they got the message that nakedness was bad all their lives and then in an instant it was supposed to be okay with their spouse. Also, will they be able to minister to drunkards and prostitutes or native people in other lands that still dress this way? Will they be too distracted by the peoples’ dress? Do I think this means that they themselves need to dress as the people they minister to – certainly not. They should dress as they are convicted to dress, but I don’t want my children to grow up judging other people as “not modest” because they dress differently. I want my kids to have a healthy view of their naked bodies, and to understand modesty of their hearts. I am not sure how to foster that. I don’t think I need to parade a bunch of naked art in front of them, but I do wonder about what the best way to do that is.
    This discussion also made me wonder about what age is “appropriate” for them to learn. My kids are young, and do not equate nakedness with sexuality, as yet. They have seen some natives in their history books, but they have not even really noticed. Would it not draw more attention if I were to draw big black marks over them? And, would this not be much harder in the later years, when hormonal reactions are a natural part of development? I really don’t want that to be the time that they are first exposed to the naked form. Clearly, I have more questions than answers. So, I am interested to see what others have to say.

    [Reply]

    L2L Reply:

    Ahhh Janelle, maybe that is the issue at hand sexuality more so than nakedness??? Yet another turn to this very interesting topic, lol.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Please see my response above to Luke with regard to ministering to those in need.

    [Reply]

  16. Katie
    November 30, 2010 | 1:33 pm

    Wow! This is quite a hot topic. I appreciated the discussion on Simply Charlotte Mason about it. I posted my thoughts on it there. http://tinyurl.com/25ze4jl

    When in Spain last year with my husband, we went to a famous art gallery that had a lot of old nude artwork. I was impressed by the fact that some pictures ARE meant to depict sex and sensuality, and there are others where it’s almost like the artist forgot to cloth the people. They were naked, but it wasn’t offensive (to me or my husband at least). I think we can teach our children the difference.

    I was over protected in my parents house growing up and I want a more balanced approach for my children. I want them to be exposed to limited “improper dress”, but to know how to deal with it and to talk through it with them. I want them to know the difference between sensuality and sexuality. Whether we want them to see it or not, they WILL see it in some shape or form.

    [Reply]

    L2L Reply:

    Katie, you just reminded me of the summer I got to spend in Greece!!! I went to the beach with my mom only to find that every woman young and old did not wear their tops and all the men were wearing those swimming underwear, as I call them. Yeah I was in total culture shock but once I got use to it, it didn’t bother me…. and no I didn’t go topless, lol.

    [Reply]

  17. Lourinda
    November 30, 2010 | 1:40 pm

    The following link is to an interview with Ravi Zacharias, in which he speaks about mixing the sacred and the profane and briefly speaks about Michaelangelo. This may not be easily translated into how to teach about modesty, art and nudity to children, but it is noteworthy, though I must admit, I find almost anything he writes very thought provoking.

    From my own point of view, my oldest being a most 5, youngest 2 are almost 3, we teach that we are made in Gods image, physically and spiritually, but we are fallen. We have our children turn away when something comes in front of them they shouldn’t see…and we do it intentionally but casually. When asked why we explain that God made our bodies special and they are his temple. And even if whoever or whatever is not honoring their body as God’s temple as scripture says it should be, we turn away out of respect for the image of God in them, making it not only about ourselves, and not judgement, but out of love for the other person as well. And even Venus de Milo was posed for by somebody.
    Anyway, check out the interview, the quote I’m referencing is the end of his response to mixing the sacred and the profane.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/workplace/articles/interviews/ravizacharias2.html

    [Reply]

    Lourinda Reply:

    Also, as an aside, this is a topic very close to my heart…I was an art history major…so our family’s decisions in this area are very much informed by that, as I studied art at a very feminist liberal college before being saved. I will always love art and as “the nude” at one point male, later female was for centuries considered the highest form of art, it will make teaching the subject interesting, to say the least.

    Of note…I do think cultural context is important, not necessarily to define a seemingly subjective term, but because art doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it informs and reflects the society which produced it. That is part of what makes the bible so fascinating to me…though it has different form ex psalms, poetry, histories, but it’s cohesiveness of message, style, and content across not just hundreds but thousands of years…how could it be anything other than the inspired word of God!

    [Reply]

  18. Jennifer Dewing
    November 30, 2010 | 2:08 pm

    This is a very interesting topic. And it’s one that I’m glad other parents are asking questions instead of ignoring these issues.

    Our family defines modesty as not only what a person wears, but what is in there heart. You can have a woman who wears non-restrictive clothes and yet have an ugly attitude. You can have a woman who wears clothes that looks like she was poured into them and yet she has a sweet spirit. The root of modesty is “moderate”. There is a wide variety of “moderate” and in some sense, it IS cultural.

    The simplified version of what we believe is that clothing, be it for men or women, should not “show off” the form of a persons body. The length and fullness is where the variety comes into play. Aside from clothes, we teach our children that your body is special and should remain so for your future spouse. We don’t allow the boys and girls to take baths together, sleep in the same room, walk around naked, etc. (although the older girls do change the 2 younger childrens’ diapers and sometimes help give them baths).

    When it comes to art, or anything for that matter, we try to remember Paul’s admonition “whatsoever is pure…think on these things”. If an object/picture/movie doesn’t follow these guidelines, I don’t think it’s profitable to see it and talk about it. Even if it is labeled “art”.

    [Reply]

  19. Annie @ Beauty In The Surrender
    November 30, 2010 | 2:55 pm

    What an interesting topic. I haven’t thought of this since we haven’t delved into Art or History in that manner. At least not yet. But this is something to think on and to discuss with my husband.
    I does, however, bring to mind a question I have that is similar to the one you posted. That is, if I do not want to expose my child to violence in Media how then can I justify exposing him to violence through History? For example, my 9 year old some loves Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI and WWII, Vietnam and current war history. In reading a book about Abraham Lincoln, which was geared towards children his age, we came to a chapter on the Civil War and in it were graphic pictures of death. Literaly, there were dead soldiers laying on the battle field in black and white. Now grant it, I should have excersiced more caution and looked at the book before reading it with my son but I was torn. We GREATLY limit the amount of television out children watch for the reason that there is WAY too much violence presented but then what I am saying to my child when I allow him to look at historical photographs or read eye-witness accounts of war and battles on the basis of educating him and allowing him to pursue his interests? Does this make since? I am really wondering this myself and will have to pray on it but I would like your wisdom or the wisdom of another homeschooling parent. I think this kinda goes with your question as well.
    Thank you again Kimberly for your thoughtful observations.

    [Reply]

    Carm Reply:

    You can justify showing your son the violence of war because that’s what war is. Whether on TV or in a book, documentation and photography of war and its violence can only serve to educate any person, and begin numerous discussions about the reasons and consequences of such events.

    Watching evening news is another story (especially in Los Angeles where I reside), and the gratuitous violence in today’s children’s programming and cinema serves no educational purpose (in my opinion)… all best to avoided at all costs.

    [Reply]

    Carm Reply:

    Don’t know what happened with my last sentence there. What I meant to say was “… and is best avoided at all costs”.

    [Reply]

  20. Sarah
    November 30, 2010 | 6:04 pm

    This is just some food for thought. Michelangelo was sort of the beginning of widespread nudity in art. In fact, he was called the “inventor of obscenities” and there were many attempts to censor his artwork, including the Sistine Chapel masterpiece that caused outrage at the time of it’s completion. I’ve heard that he was once asked why he wanted to paint people nude and he said that he desired to see people how God sees them to which the response was, “but Michelangelo–you’re not God”. I don’t know if all that’s true, but I do agree that he’s not God and neither are we and if God didn’t want us covered He wouldn’t have himself made coverings for us in the garden. Therefore I don’t think nude images point us toward God or glorify God(rather it would seem to be in opposition to God).

    [Reply]

  21. Taryn
    November 30, 2010 | 8:47 pm

    I ordered a history encyclopedia from CBD that had questionable pictures- years ago. I didn’t like the images in our 1988 encyclopedia. This is another reason I chose to not do classical homeschooling- I do have TWTM book. If we are not “vexed”2Peter2:7,8(KJB)” with the filthy conversation of the wicked…in seeing and hearing…”,etc. as Lot was- something is wrong. Genesis 6:11(KJB) says that violence was a reason for the Flood so we need to watch out for that as well. We used mostly Abeka(KJB only) history, science and health for home educating(1985-2011) our 6 children. We also agree with keepersofthefaith.com articles/book reviews and enjoyed many of their books. We live on Long Island but do not go to the beach in the summer.

    [Reply]

    L2L Reply:

    what is TWTM????

    [Reply]

    Wendy Reply:

    The Well Trained Mind

    [Reply]

  22. Taryn
    November 30, 2010 | 9:36 pm

    I don’t know what the modern “bibles” say but the King James Bible says in IISamuel 6:14 that David was girded with a linen ephod. Read chapter 3 to see the whole story- David didn’t see Michal’s second husband as the marriage covenant(vows) husband so he took her back- rightfully so. Verse 22 explains that she did not “honour” her husband and she “had no child unto the day of her death.”

    [Reply]

    L2L Reply:

    I’m not following the later part of your explanation. What I was referring to was this, which is from KJV: 20Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! I am all for being correct but please do so with a bit more grace. Are you of the belief that KJV is the only Bible to be read, just so I am in complete understanding of your tone and mentality. As I did Re-Read chapter 3, one commentary suggested that David being uncovered was that he was not wearing his royal robes. As far as the linen ephod, verse 16 states, in KJV “saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD;” if he was all into his worship leaping and dancing he might have exposed himself in a “linen” ephod As far as the Second Husband part, I think I might know where you are going with that but not to be presumptuous could you elaborate for the sake of clarification.

    [Reply]

  23. Taryn
    November 30, 2010 | 10:11 pm

    I think Genesis 3 gives us a clue of modesty. In verse 7 they were sewing themselves “aprons”(King James Bible) then in v.21 the Lord God clothed them with “coats”(KJB). It seems obvious to me that history shows “heathen”(KJB word)/pagans were/are immodest but discerning Christians with wisdom are modest. Deut.22:5 forbids crossdressing. The KJB says God’s men wore “breeches”/pants. History shows women’s dresses/skirts covered their knees when they sat down-until the 1920s. ICor.11:14 even says it is a “shame” for men to have long hair. History tells us what that means(how long) too. Despite Warner Sallman’s images of Jesus-our Lord did not have long hair. He was a Nazarene not a Nazarite. ITim.2:9(KJB)”that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…”. That word apparel means long,flowing garment but history obviously defines that. Some things are just common sense.

    [Reply]

    L2L Reply:

    well i personally have never liked any of the pictures that I have seen portraying Christ because they have all pictured him as white, which he clearly is not, lol. But I am curious as you keep pointing out the KJB and my KJV does not translate the same way yours does which year exactly are you using, the 1611, one of the many before 1611 or one of the many after it? I just feel that we might better understand one another if we had the same translation after all God does say His Word does not return void!!!!!

    [Reply]

  24. Taryn
    November 30, 2010 | 10:33 pm

    Oh- and the statue-the David-was it Francis Schaeffer who said that it’s not circumcised so it’s not suppose to be the David of the Bible. I breastfed my 6 babies but I was discreet. Discreet, discreetly and discretion are King James Bible words.

    [Reply]

  25. Margaret
    November 30, 2010 | 10:47 pm

    I think that keeping children away from depictions of classical nudity in the name of modesty confuses two different topics. Modesty, as several posters have pointed out, is concerned with both outward appearance (not seeking to attract sexual attention) and one’s spirit and demeanour. Many classical artworks, on the other hand, are not sexual in nature but are depictions of God’s highest creation- people. My daughter is only 1, but I’m going to try to raise her to be familiar with what naked men and women look like, so that when she becomes a teenager and starts to be aware of sexuality, nudity won’t seem like the ‘forbidden fruit’. With teens of both genders, of course, there should be guidance and protection from sexually-oriented nudity, in both art and culture. Part of my thought process on this may come from my own personality as a kid (I was a homeschooled, fairly sheltered child)- I was kind of an independent spitfire, and whenever my parents told me I wasn’t allowed to see something, read something, etc, it made me focus on and be curious about the item, much more than if they might have offered to read or view it with me and then discuss it in a biblical context.

    To answer the question you posed in your post, yes, I think you are being a bit on the prudish side. The fact that you preface this post, on a very worthwhile and valuable topic with no questionable content, by asking children to get parent permission seems like a very high level of control over children and the topic of nudity/modesty (even those children that aren’t your own).

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Margaret,

    Raising Olives has thousands of visitors every day and I had no idea what type of comments and/or links this post would illicit. So while there was nothing objectionable in my post itself, I wished to give parents a heads up on the topic so that they could determine if they wished their children to sift through whatever comments may be left.

    Interestingly enough, God Himself shed blood in order to provide a covering for His “highest creation”. Since the only people in the world at that time were a married couple, I don’t think it had to do with their sexuality, but rather with the fact that after the fall, the human form required a covering. (But that’s just my opinion and I’ve been wrong before. :) )

    [Reply]

    jennifer Reply:

    I also appreciate the fact that Kimberly has left this judgement up to the parents, who are in the end completely responsible for their children, what they watch, what they see, and what they engage in.

    [Reply]

  26. Jama
    November 30, 2010 | 11:41 pm

    As one whose daughter reads this blog, I am grateful for Kimberly’s warning to her young readers whenever she thinks her post made need parental approval.

    [Reply]

    Margaret Reply:

    I understand, Jama. I was just trying to say that this particular post doesn’t seem to warrant it at all- it’s a discussion of modesty and classical artwork, with no graphic terms or descriptions. The fact that Kimberly thought that kids might need parental approval to even read about this topic highlights the filter/control issue that I don’t agree with.

    [Reply]

    Mistee Reply:

    But do our children need to be in the middle of the debate, irregardless of maturity level, or parental guidance? I appreciate Kimberlee’s warning. Each parent can then chose whether they want their child to be exposed to this discussion.

    [Reply]

  27. Carm
    December 1, 2010 | 12:28 pm

    What is your proof that Christian parents are purposefully and consistently presenting nudity to their children as part of their regular education? Simply because it appears in homeschool curricula doesn’t mean that parents are presenting it to their children.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    In addition to the fact that I personally know some who do?

    I’m a capitalist and as such I believe that if there was no demand for a Christian curriculum that purposefully and consistently places nudity before it’s students then I don’t believe there would be a continuing and expanding supply.

    [Reply]

  28. Taryn
    December 1, 2010 | 2:22 pm

    TWTM book is The Well-Trained Mind book as mentioned in a previous comment. Yes, I am King James Bible only(I think the Duggar family is as well, by the way). jesus-is-lord.com and kingdombaptist.org are good sites on this subject among others. I agree with Mark 10:11,12(KJB) and Romans 7:23(KJB) about divorce and remarriage. The modern “bibles” have changed Matthew 5 and 19 from fornication(during the betrothal/engagement) to adultery. I like Christian Light Publication’s book by John Coblentz- Marriage,Divorce and Remarriage. I also like Dr. Cathy Burns’ tract/books(libertytothecaptives.net). But anyway-we left the Catholic church and were married in the Baptist church-so we are not a fan of statues, images of Jesus/Son of God(that were made popular in the 20th century),etc. Michal’s quote in verse 20 may not be true just as Jesus quoting those that said he was gluttonous and a winebibber(Matthew 11) was not true. We use Abeka art/music. -Respectfully, Taryn

    [Reply]

  29. Taryn
    December 1, 2010 | 2:44 pm

    We used Abeka literature(1-9th). 10th grade-world lit., 11th grade-American lit., and 12th gr.-British lit. we did on our own. Christian Liberty Press(we liked the MCP math) has many Abeka books with tests that we used as worksheets. We also liked Christian Light Education’s hardcover readers and history texts.

    [Reply]

  30. Heather
    December 1, 2010 | 2:45 pm

    So glad you brought this up. I am feeling a bit relieved to see the variety of responses from other parents who are seeking to apply biblical principles to their children’s education. This is a hard topic for me at times, too, because I was an art teacher in a public school for years before feeling the call to homseschool and have always struggled with how to handle this without compromising my own conscience. My views have changed dramatically as I have drawn closer to the Lord and absorbed more of His Word. I will never teach my own children the same way it was presented to me and the way I presented it to others’ children in school. All this feedback shows just how important it is to be purposeful and discerning in the choices we make.

    [Reply]

  31. Carrie
    December 1, 2010 | 2:48 pm

    Wow, this IS an interesting discussion! Just recently my 9 year old son expressed discomfort at seeing a book about ancient Greece in which the males were depicted quite nude (the business parts were shaded, but still). I wonder if his discomfort at that means his conscience was bothered?

    My understanding of why Adam and Eve were clothed after their sin was to help them with their own shameful feelings. If we were perfect and sinless, would we have ever worn clothing? It’s an interesting argument!

    I watched the video BABIES the other day, a documentary about the first year of a baby’s life around the world. There was a lot of “cultural nudity” (I watched it alone), basically meaning the African mothers were topless. This doesn’t bother me at all, I find it quite beautiful and couldn’t judge another woman in a vastly different culture. When God looks at her, I’m sure he doesn’t view her as immodest or inappropriate. But if she became a Christian, she would no doubt cover up.

    Maybe we’re all so far from perfection that we cannot be balanced in our thinking about this topic!

    As an aside, Song of Solomon has some pretty graphic depictions of lovemaking, is that inappropriate reading for a young person?

    [Reply]

    L2L Reply:

    Good point concerning Song of Solomon. I’m married and Song of Solomon makes me blush!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Kim Reply:

    I don’t know what you mean by ‘if she became a Christian she would cover up’. That is an incorrect understanding of cultural differences. Nudity means different things in different places in different times. I live in South Africa (originally from Australia) and cleavage is not a big deal here. It took me a long time to get used to it, but now I understand that breasts are not as big a deal here as in America or England or Australia because breastfeeding is so common. But showing too much leg is considered very immodest to people who would happily show cleavage. I know a lot of American missionaries and they often criticise girls for showing cleavage, but they always wear really short shorts which is acceptable in their own culture, but not this one. See the problem?

    [Reply]

  32. Taryn
    December 1, 2010 | 3:18 pm

    I saw the video, Babies, and felt the woman was exploited. I am the grandmother of a gorgeous “mixed” baby girl(10m.) who lives with me. I wonder if my feelings would have been different before she was conceived. Anyway I felt bad that I could not watch it with my son(17)- we both would have been very uncomfortable. He would have enjoyed it since he has 4 baby nieces and another on the way. I heard somewhere that movie makers will encourage this when the people really do regularly cover up. And- please-naked baby girls in movies is not necessary-Three men and a Baby, Dragonfly with Kevin Kostner,etc.

    [Reply]

  33. L2L
    December 1, 2010 | 3:28 pm

    In all honestly I think much emotion has distracted from the original intent of Kimberly’s post. I would caution all as the sift through this for their own to make sure that you are taking the Bible for what it says and not what you “think” it says. I do think alot of scripture has been quoted but for personal gain and taken out of context. Be cautious what you say for every word we speak, we will be held accountable for!!!!

    [Reply]

  34. Taryn
    December 1, 2010 | 3:34 pm

    Movies are considered to be a form of modern art by many. It’s “funny” how this works. Jane Austen wrote romance novels that many Christians don’t read but today her books are considered classics. I only liked Sense and Sensibility book/movie.12th grade-British literature.

    [Reply]

  35. Taryn
    December 1, 2010 | 4:53 pm

    We enjoyed Christian Light Education’s Art- Art with a Purpose- grades 1-8 Artpacs-$8 each as well as Abeka’s.

    [Reply]

  36. Renata
    December 2, 2010 | 5:42 am

    Great topic! We have had this same troubles particularly with art works. My MIL who is a Christian has a nude up on her bedroom wall – although we felt uncomfortable about it, we asked her to remove it while our children were visiting – to someone like me it is pornography in artistic form – I understand that people who are more artistic see the beauty in the painting, but surely there was something else more suitable.
    I’ve just purchased the mystery of history for our history text (early primary children) & I hadn’t thought to look through it, but now I think I shall go & have a quick check that I am happy with all that it contains.
    As for prudish – well I’d rather be like that than cause my child to sin.
    Thanks for a fun discussion!
    Renata:)

    [Reply]

    L2L Reply:

    I do hope this does not sound harsh and I am NOT trying to attack you but I out of all that has been agreed and disagreed upon I have to say that we should draw the line at classifying pornography as art.
    I am also surprised your husband went alone with asking his own mother to remove a picture in her own bedroom, that just seems to be stepping over the boundaries a bit to me. Now granted when I go to the grocery stores I’ll flip magazines around that I feel exploits women but we can not become the Holy Spirit for our adult family members, jmo.

    [Reply]

    Renata Reply:

    Hi Just wanted to clarify that we would never had asked except that when the children stay there they always have morning time with the grandparents in their bed – you know all the kids pile into bed with Nanny & Grandpa in the mornings while they watch the news.
    My husband asked because he is the spiritual leader of our family & we have very different standards to what he grew up with (ie his parents ones) – we have prayed for the Holy Spirit to convict them on this – especially since there has been a problem in that area in that family previously, however I do understand that some people wouldn’t see art in this way – this is just how we view it. We are not trying to be the Holy Spirit to our parents, but rather our job is to protect our innocent children. I will do anything to protect my boys from the harmful effects of pornography – I have seen the absolute hurt & decay it brings in people’s lives.
    Thanks for your reply
    Renata:)

    [Reply]

    Candice Reply:

    “Artistic Pornography”–That phrase caught my eye. Several years ago my husband mentioned that he thought the paintings of ‘nudes’ were inappropriate for us to look at. I had really never thought of applying Biblical standards to ‘art’! I think we have been influenced by our culture to think that immodesty is okay in certain situations, such as the art museum or swimming pool. But God’s word makes no such exceptions. And, as my husband pointed out, paintings of nude women WERE the only available pornography before the camera.

    [Reply]

  37. jennifer
    December 2, 2010 | 11:01 am

    This is such a great post! I thought the same things as I looked through some of my son’s Usborne books. Many of those women are completely topless! I’m sorry, this bothers me.I don’t care how ‘culturally appropriate’ it is, I don’t want my first grader seeing ‘ta-tas’, no matter how ‘historically accurate!:)

    [Reply]

  38. Loni
    December 2, 2010 | 5:55 pm

    I love that a person can paint/sculpt/photograph a nude person and call it “art” and because of that label, it is okay to show and involve ourselves in. Yes, the human body is a beautiful art crafted by the most Magnificent Creator, but we are told to keep it sacred. God has given us boundaries and we should adhere to them.

    [Reply]

  39. L2L
    December 3, 2010 | 8:49 am

    Fellow Believers in Christ, since this post was originally wrote I have been wrestling with it in prayer. I just really felt like there was a deeper more underlining issue we are missing and as I was reading from the book Radical by David Platt, it hit me. We are assuming that our children are innocent and pure but that is not what the Bible tells us, it tells us from our very beginnings we are evil and have evil desires in our hearts. All you have to do is look at any child whose heart does not desire to obey their parents, we are all born with a will set against God. It is only when we are reconciled to God through accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior are we able to see the error of our ways and only through the power of the Holy Spirit are we able to turn from our sin and live a super natural life because of Christ and not because of anything we ourselves choose to do. I think that instead of discussing whether or not we should or shouldn’t use nude pictures in educating our children I think it would be more fruitful for our children’s salvation to be discussing why we don’t teach them that they are indeed an abomination in the sight of God until they accept Christ into their hearts and then teach them that to accept Christ into their hearts means you fully surrender your life your passions your purpose to him to have God do as he wills in your life setting aside all self centeredness to humbly live a life that is pleasing to him. (Kimberly I would love to ask anyone who would like to discuss or debate this comment to head over to my blog as my desire is to further this conversation but not to detract from the original purpose of this post. ) (I also want to thank you, Kimberly, as I would never have given much thought into this issue and I think as believers it is good to test what opinions we believe against what the Bible says and what better way to do that than in conversation and I am very appreciative of how we all have been able to express our differences in a respectful manner and not attacking each other, I must say I am very impressed with that indeed!!!!

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  40. Taryn
    December 4, 2010 | 9:28 am

    I like how in their book- Home Educating with Confidence the Boyers have an older child teach the younger children art one day a week. L2L- I forgot to add the verses in a previous post Matther 5:32″…saving for the cause of fornication,…”- fornication is changed to adultery in the modern versions- same with Matthew 19:9. Have you researched the new versions? The NIV had homosexual “editors” in parts of the OT and New Testament plus many strange changes. I use King James Bible curriculums for homeschooling- Abeka-art,etc., Christian Light Education-art,etc., Landmark Freedom Baptist, keepersofthefaith.com,etc.

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  41. Taryn
    December 5, 2010 | 2:31 pm

    Renae- I think that you can at least say that art “sometimes” had the intent to cause arousal. I read a book on the history of snowmen building- it was interesting and fair. I can’t remember the author but it was incredible what European towns did with snowmen,snowwomen and body parts. It was all documented and bordered on paganism(things they historically worshipped). Let’s be honest in this regard. It reminds me of subliminals(Disney,etc.)- a group of men(some cartoonists, advertisers,etc.) having a degrading sense of humor at our expense.

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  42. Taryn
    December 5, 2010 | 3:23 pm

    I think it depends on one’s worldview. I don’t think man is basically good(like Ann Frank’s diary says-she may have changed her mind). Those of us who think we are in need of the Saviour agree with the Bible that the heart is deceitful above all things(Jer.17:9). I can’t assume that because Botticelli had religious works- he did nude art for the appreciation of it- art appreciation classes aren’t going to convince me. I don’t think I should say to my children -oh no, don’t feel uncomfortable- that’s Botticelli-like I know him personally. I tell them to listen to their discernment.

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  43. Renae
    December 5, 2010 | 5:30 pm

    Hi Renee,
    Thank you, that makes perfect sense. I just have one question though: you said “since then we have to wear clothes in public (not the marriage bed of course)”

    And I am wondering: If the marriage bed context is fine, why is there NO other context that is fine? Such as the context of fine arts? Meaning if someone were to be a nude model for an art class?

    Thanks again, =D
    -Renae

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  44. Suzanne
    December 7, 2010 | 12:07 pm

    I am quoting from another reader’s comments.

    “Ham’s descendants were cursed for looking at their father Noah’s nudity”

    This is our family’s standard. If you see someone nude, you
    1) Cover it up as Noah’s other sons did
    2) Walk away as his other sons did and
    3) Don’t glorify it by talking all about it.

    So if we see a nude statue, a semi-nude billboard, a scantily clad magazine add. Our appropriate response as Christians should be cover it up, turn away, move on.
    Not glorify it, study it and reproduce it.

    Practically speaking, for inappropriate billboards, our kids know where they are and we look at the other side of the road. We turn half-naked magazines backward at the check out. And when we study art we focus on what is good and pure and lovely, by focusing on artists whose work is appropriate. Even covering up private areas on nude art does not erase the feelings they are trying to convey. I am not a person over ridden by lust, but let’s consider our little boys hormones.

    If you walked in on someone in their bedroom, posing for the nude statue of David, but it was actually your brother-in-law, what would you do?

    Cover it up, walk away, move on. Maybe apologize as you shut the door. Not take a picture of it and share it on facebook, or make a statue of it and put it on your lawn.

    The human form is beautiful. If you want to look at someone naked, get married.

    That’s what we’re teaching at our house.

    Suzanne
    joyfulmotherof5

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  45. Taryn
    December 7, 2010 | 2:45 pm

    I agree- that is the reason Ham’s descendants were cursed and I disagree with the New Age reason. Abeka agrees with the New Agers in one of their high school texts(p.97-Genesis-First Things). Dr. Cathy Burns disagrees with Abeka/New Agers in her book-Nephilim, Fallen Angels, and Aliens-What does the Bible Say?(libertytothecaptives.net). We used mostly Abeka for homeschooling- but we still read the texts before our children did.

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  46. Amie
    February 2, 2011 | 8:12 pm

    Your post made me think as I never thought of modesty in these terms. Today I think how I can’t take my children to the mall due to the Ambercrombie and Victoria’s Secret Ads…Ambercrombie even has topless guys with their pelvic bones sticking out of their jeans in the doors. Never thought of how I would appoach nudity if my kids were to see it in a museum or art book…Food for thought.

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  47. Linda
    June 20, 2013 | 10:55 am

    Kimberly,

    This is certainly a hot topic! Thank you for braving it.

    This year I had the opportunity to converse with an author in the Christian Homeschooling community, the name of which I will not tell. I own and enjoy books by this author, but in a new book, this author was contemplating including a link to a picture of Michelangelo’s David. I am thankful that the picture was not included in the book, but a write-up of how wonderful the statue is was included. I actually do not know how the author decided, whether to include the write-up and link or not.

    I wrote to the author about this specific subject, and some of what I wrote can be applied to some of the original questions you stated in your post.

    Here is what I wrote:

    … I think we ought to concern ourselves with not only what we put into children’s minds, but also what things of this world we choose to propagate. If Michelangelo read any works of David, especially Psalm 101:3, it appears that this statue of a naked Daivd was built only to mock David and David’s God. David himself told us, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”

    I’m not sure what the purpose would be of even mentioning Michelangelo’s David. It tips my scale on the “Cons” side.

    Cons:
    • Mocks David. (Psalm 101:3)
    • Mocks God’s commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14
    • Ham was cursed because he saw his father’s (Noah’s) nakedness. Genesis 9:22
    • Adam hid himself because he was naked. Genesis 3:10
    • Adam and Eve’s aprons did not cover their bodies enough for God. God had to clothe them with coats of skins. Genesis 3:7 & 21
    • It is not accurate – Not even a fool would walk around naked, let alone bring his brothers lunch and then walk onto the field of battle with no clothes on.
    • It is pornographic. It is amazing how many people, and Christians in particular, have been duped into believing that just because it is a cartoon, statue, drawing, or painting it is not pornography and that only pictures of real people who are naked is pornography.
    • This is a shameful creation of Michelangelo and ought to have been destroyed immediately after it was made and Michelangelo labeled a pervert.

    Pros:
    • Can’t think of one. (And no it is not a “stunning work of art”, it’s a naked man. If you saw a real man walking down the street in his birthday suit, would you point him out to your children and exclaim how wonderful the creations of God are?)

    I think as Christians, since we can’t do anything about this naked statue, at the very least we ought to ignore it, at the most we ought to speak out against it (to the appropriate crowds). Let’s emulate king Josiah when he tore down the groves, removed the idols, broke down the houses of the sodomites, broke images into pieces, and kicked out the idolatrous priests.

    Please consider my plea to remove any mention of Michelangelo’s David in your book, it cheapens your book and may cause a distrust towards you, the author.

    An interesting book on this subject is “Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America” by Jeff Pollard.
    http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Modesty-Public-Undressing-America/dp/1929241348/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363913384&sr=8-1&keywords=public+undressing+of+america

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