Remember back—maybe waaaay back—to some of the disagreements you had with your own mom about what you wanted to wear.
Why is that?
Well, I think the rumble about wardrobes is a small piece of an ongoing war that was waged in antiquity. Tucked in the midst of Genesis 3 is a Bible verse from which everything else in the Scriptures flows. It’s a battle cry that God issued after Satan lied to Adam and Eve. Here is what God said to the snake:
I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
(Gen. 3:15 NLT)
This is a verse that theologians refer to as the proto evangelium, which means “the first gospel.” This piece of biblical poetry wields a promise. War has been declared, and there is hostility in the world. But the outcome of the fight between good and evil has already been determined. These words in Genesis are the first promise of redemption that we see in the Bible.
Let’s think about this. Satan sleuths in. Adam and Eve succumb. God declares a victory that is yet to come. There’s a bit about the consequence of the sin. And then: clothing!
Of course, dressing Adam and Eve was not what God dealt with first and foremost. The garments of skin were not of the utmost importance to Him when He entered this catastrophic scene. But they’re not unimportant. God does include covering Adam and Eve’s nakedness in His plan to mitigate the damage of sin.
Let me say this again: the gift of clothing has the potential to declare “the gospel is here.”
You and I have the benefit of looking back on the victory Genesis 3:15 foretold: Jesus’ death and resurrection. And the way we are clothed still matters to God.
Our dress can still declare “the gospel is here.” In fact, we have these instructions to execute:
Clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Rom. 13:14 NLT)
This verse is included in Romans, Paul’s fullest explanation of the good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection. First, we understand our sin and spiritual nakedness and get right with God through what Christ has done on the cross. We experience the life-transforming power of the gospel. Then, we dress like someone whose life has been changed.
Being properly clothed begins for us in the same way it did for Adam and Eve. Shame helps us understand our spiritual nakedness. After we begin to bravely face the destruction sin has caused in our lives, then we can come before the Lord to be clothed in the life-saving presence of Jesus Christ.
Okay, let’s talk about how shame in Scripture often differs from what you’ll hear on popular secular podcasts. Yes, shame feels bad and needs to be dealt with. But, according to the Bible, it serves a useful purpose. When we allow our shame to illuminate our sin and our need for the gospel, it can be helpful. We have experienced the first step in being clothed in Christ. It invites us to bring the rags of our sin to Jesus Christ and exchange it for the covering of the gospel.
Sadly, not everyone wants to clothe themselves in Christ.
Some people have hearts that have become quite hardened to shame. They experience an inability to be aware of their sin and the need to receive Christ’s rescue. They are shameless.
Rather than being drawn to God in humility and need, they press against Him in rebellion. In Romans 1, Paul writes about these kinds of people and describes how they’re dressed in “dark deeds” (Rom. 13:12 NLT). He claims that “they invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents” (Rom. 1:30 NLT). They are shameless.
Shamelessness has become so normal in society, that dignity is odd when we see it. This causes us to feel so strange when we choose to dress differently than our unbelieving friends. I often find myself bummed out when something that looks lovely on my less curvy friends doesn’t work on my body. It would just be so simple if I didn’t have to care about presenting myself with dignity and care!
Of course, our daughters aren’t thinking about shamelessness when we want to wear whatever they want. They’re just trying to express themselves.
And now, we’re back at the beginning because this is the very thing—our desire —that led Eve to take a bite of a piece of fruit God had told her not to eat. And to experience shame.
Satan’s solution to shame is to numb us until we are shameless. This is no solution at all. It draws us further into a life of sin and its consequences.
God’s solution to shame is the gospel—to clothe us in Jesus Christ. “For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame’” (Rom. 10:11 ESV).
And now you see why we fight about what we wear.
So how do you talk to your daughter about being clothed? Your number one priority in discipling your daughter is not to conform her outward appearance to standards of modesty, but to bring her heart to the cross of Jesus in truly authentic surrender. Only the Holy Spirit can do this work in her life, but you can support it.
In a survey I conducted when I was writing Lies Girls Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, I discovered something alarming. Many of our church-going tween girls believe they are Christians, but cannot verbalize how to become one. They think they are Christians because they were born that way, or they go to church, or their mom is a Christian. But the only way to become a Christian is to confess your own sin to Jesus and declare with your mouth that He is the Lord of your life (Rom. 10:9–10). Again, only God’s Spirit can bring us to such a surrender but we can set the stage through understanding the pathway to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Take some time to have a conversation with your daughter about that today. Find out where she is in her understanding. Do you see the Holy Spirit at work convicting her of her need for Christ? Teach her to properly respond to her shame by turning to Jesus.
If your daughter has already surrendered her life to Christ, take some time today to celebrate it and remember key points in her spiritual journey. Help her grow in her understanding of the gospel.
Does this article resonate with you? Help us make more intelligent-faith content for girls and moms by making a one-time gift to the Crazy for Jesus campaign. Together, we can make a CRAZY difference in this world.