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Friday, July 11, 2014

Bikinis

[Readers,

The following was a comment on the June 9, 2014 post "Swimwear".  I felt it brought up some good questions and deserved it's own post, which follows.

You can jump to the original post by clicking HERE.

- Bro Jo]



Anonymous said...

Bro Jo, Your last sentence in your previous comment may have answered the question I'm about to ask, but I'll ask anyway.

First, background to the question.

There was a YW in my ward who was 17/18 when I first turned 12 and entered YW. I really looked up to her because she was an exceptional young woman who was a straight A student, Laurel President, Captain of the Volleyball Team, and had a very strong testimony. She always advocated the Church's standards, especially modesty.

Fast-forward a few years to when I was 17/18 and she was getting sealed to the missionary she had waited for while at college.

Sometime after her honeymoon was over, she posted pictures of the affair on Facebook. And what I saw kind of shocked me because of the kind of person she was.

She was wearing a bikini with her new husband at the beach, snorkeling, on ziplines, etc.

I know that that should hardly be shocking, as we see it everywhere, but that got me to thinking:  are bikinis considered immodest?

I always thought they were, but when I looked at the old and new versions of the FTSOY, neither said anything about swimwear.

A few years passed after this, and one of my fellow YW was sealed earlier this month. With her honeymoon pictures, she too was wearing bikinis in her pictures, when she had had strong standards in regards to modesty previously.

I don't wear bikinis personally, but the Church doesn't have specific rules about swimwear, does that make them okay?

Or should we try to cover up as much as possible to stay modest?

Does the circumstance change at all when we get married?

Is wearing something like that for the eyes of your spouse acceptable?

Thanks in advance!

- Anon




Dear Anon,

Great questions!

The Church doesn't have specific rules about a lot of things.  Such a list would, IMHO, be ridiculous.  See, the more specific commandments are the more likely we are to say that the excluded items are okay.

For example, the Word of Wisdom doesn't specifically mention crystal meth, but it does say not to put harmful things into our bodies . . . and certainly meth qualifies.

And let's say the Prophet came out and listed every possible "bad for you" substance by name and slang . . . is he supposed to do that every time something new comes out?  Does Church leadership really need to come out and say "you know, e-cigarettes are habit forming and contain harmful nicotine, so don't smoke them"?  Isn't it enough to simply trust that mature and intelligent people get it without being told every little thing?

And two things about "commandments:

1.  Regardless of the root "command", the truth is that all commandments are guidelines given by Heavenly Father for His children with the design and purpose of helping us have more joy and ease in our lives, helping us feel the Spirit, and ultimately making it easier for us to return to Him.

2.  I believe one need not be perfect in living all of the commandments to know what's right and wrong, or to point those things out.  I am not perfect (very long list of people - starting with Sister Jo and the Jo Kids - that will testify to that), but that doesn't mean I don't know right from wrong; nor does it mean that I'm not entitled to have an opinion on right from wrong, or to share that opinion.  Doing so isn't "judging" people; it's qualifying behavior.  Judgment is the Lord's, but that doesn't mean we can't say "hey, that behavior is stupid, and I think it's dumb to do it".


For the Strength of Youth may not say "don't wear a bikini" . . . but does it need to?

It clearly talks about modesty, what should be covered, and not to "make exceptions" for special occasions.

You know what I think is a good test?  For us to ask ourselves why we're wearing that item.  If the answer is ever "because I want to show off how hot I look" or "I want people to be turned on" . . . well, I think those are clearly a sign that we ought not be wearing that.


Remember, I'm not a spokesperson for the Church.


I can tell you what I know, and what I think, though.

Sister Jo and my daughters do not own bikinis.  Not because I'm a prude.  Or old.  Or ashamed of the human body.  Or uncomfortable with . . . whatever people will claim.

And it's not because I'm an oppressive ogre who exerts some kind of misogynistic power over the women in my home.

It's because we think bikinis (and some other swimwear, too) are immodest.

We know lots of Good Church members who disagree with us on that.

I think parents who let . . . encourage . . . (even buy) their daughters bikinis are, frankly, naive and stupid . . . when it comes to this particular issue.

Or, perhaps something worse than naive . . .

Sister Jo thinks that some people want their children to look sexy so they can convince people that they too are (or once were) sexy.

I find that very disturbing.

And I think in many cases she's absolutely correct.


For the Record:  I think these same concepts apply to guys sometimes, too.  Girls aren't the only ones that are ever immodest.


In our home we recognize that there are certain activities (sports, dance) where the items worn to participate could easily be called "immodest" AWAY from that ACTIVITY.

And I think that's an important distinction.  We would neither condone our wrestlers wearing singlets outside the gym than we would our ballerinas wearing tights and leotards outside the studio or off the stage.

We may change into swimsuits at the beach or pool, but we don't wear them around town.


And let's be clear:  the purpose of a bikini is not "because it's really hot today" or because they're great for swimming in;  their purpose and function is to show of the body and arouse those looking.  Anyone who says different, again IMHO, is a liar.


There are times when we have felt intimidated to stand up for modesty, especially with dance.  I think those feelings come from Satan.  On the (albeit) rare occasion when a costume has been selected that we found too risque when we spoke up to the person selecting the costume rather than mock and argue, they were supportive and understanding.  And, I might remind, we live "outside the Zion Curtain".  (Perhaps that's why.)


I don't think modesty starts at a certain age.  I don't think parents should give in (finding modest clothing, even for toddler girls, can be very difficult) or give up.  It's so much easier to set a standard of modesty in our homes EARLY, and stick to it, than to try and impose it later.  (Yeah, good luck with that!)

And I don't think that modesty relaxes after a certain age or with marital status.


As for what married people allow their spouse and spouse only to see them in . . . I say "Go for it!"  You're married - I expect you to see each other naked, for gosh sakes.  If she likes to see her husband walk around in a Speedo (not very likely) or it turns him on to see the wife in lingerie (which, honestly, never gets old) then Great for Them!


Now, I'll tell you that expressing this opinion is not going to endear me to any of my bikini condoning friends or their wives or daughters . . . or mothers.

Don't drop your standards.  But don't go preaching to people on this issue, either.  You worry about you and your children (when the time comes).  I can tell you from experience, if someone asks your opinion on this, give it, but if your opinion is like mine no one who doesn't ask is going to want to hear it.

When it comes to modesty, I think the best thing to do is live your life your way and allow others to live theirs.

Unless you're in a position where you're required to say something, but even then you need to be very delicate.

A quality that, I'm sure you've noticed, I lack.

- Bro Jo


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had several roommates, friends, even mission companions who posted pictures of themselves on their honeymoons wearing bikinis. For some reason there are women in the church who wear bikinis on their honeymoon when they would never consider it otherwise. I personally don't understand the logic. When My husband and I were planning for our honeymoon he brought up the idea of me getting one, and I have to say I did consider it. But at the end of the day, I only want his eyes seeing those parts of my body framed up in that way, not everyone and their mom on the beach in Mexico. I don't think it matters to Heavenly Father if we are on our honeymoon in a bikini, any more than it would that it's our Senior Prom so a strapless, backless, miniskirt dress is ok - His standards don't change.

Spencer Neu said...

Bro jo
What you said about always being modest and to start it when they are young or not at all matches what my mom says. She was the activity day girls leader about 7 years ago and she would do something called modesty matters. The girls would stand up and they would test their clothes to see if they were modest by reaching above your head or touching your toes. That kind of stuff. If they were modest theyd get M&M's. Her theory was start them young and they'll do it on their own. And in the past month one of the girls who got lost like 6-7 years ago who was in her class came back with her mom and was baptized today because the girl remembered modesty matters from activity day girls and has lived modesty since then (and being 15 and just getting into high school must have been extremely hard with all the worldly stuff) but because my mom taught that she was again found and baptized today (july 20, 2014). So i guess what I'm trying to say is that i agree with you start them young and they will live it forever.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything Bro Jo said, except for the part about spouses seeing each other either naked or in immodest clothing in private. This clearly demonstrates a lack of faith. While it may appear private to you, remember that your Heavenly Father, angels, and perhaps even your unborn children can see you in your state of undress. Also, it's never a good idea to incite lustful ideas in anyone, including one's spouse. Remember that sexuality is primarily for the procreation of offspring. Therefore, one must be extremely careful when exercising the power of procreation. Lingerie is never appropriate. Could you imagine Sister Monson, your grandmother, or Heavenly Mother wearing such items?

Bro Jo said...

Respectfully "a lack of faith" is totally ridiculous. If those spirits don't want to see us in a state of undress, then they shouldn't look when I'm in the shower or darting from the bathroom to the laundry room.

And they certainly won't want to see all of the things Sister Jo and I do together when we're alone!

I would never imagine, nor look at, the women you suggested, but Sister Jo looks great!

Ain't nothing wrong with having the hots for your spouse.

Please . . . let's be a little less Puritan and stop raising our children to be ashamed of their bodies and afraid of sex with their spouse . . . your kind of thinking and teaching is, IMHO one of the reasons we've got so many 30+ year old singles in the Church.

One can be modest, Eternally Married, and still have a healthy dose of self-confidence regarding their appearance and a good sex-life with their spouse.

- Bro Jo

neuroevolutionary said...

If lust is bad in marriage than myself, and a whole latta priesthood leaders are in trouble. I very much enjoy sex with my wife, and further, the church says sex is primarily for marital bonding and procreation, not just procreation.

Anonymous said...

Swimming can be risky even when you are modest.

Once, at a singles pool party, I couldn't even look at this guy I liked. Even with modest shorts, without a shirt, he was simply too hot for me. In self defense, I focused on his good teeth when talking to him and then dove into the water to escape. I laugh at myself now because I couldn't believe I had that kind of reaction, but it was a natural one and understandable.

I really wanted to tell him to put on a shirt, but that wasn't really my place. My feelings and frustrations were my own and I owned them and dealt with them as best I could.

Individually, modesty is a line you have to make with God. How do you keep in the spirit of what the garments signify in the pool? People often mistake modesty as just a simple rule about covering up. It's more important than that. In this church of symbols, hasn't anyone wondered what modesty symbolizes? Food for thought.

I personally never wanted to wear a bikini because of all the "oops, there goes my top," jokes. So...why risk it?

On the other hand, girls need to and like to feel pretty and they should do things that promote this. Maybe I'm just weird because I prefer cute comfort to sexy anxiety?

Amanda said...

I very much agree with just about everything. I personally go by what the Spirit tells me. If I were to try on a particular item of clothing (which might even be modest!), and I don't FEEL modest wearing it, or feel uncomfortable, I won't buy it! I'm a convert to the church and had to work for ~3.5 years to earn my Temple Recommend. So even if I was tempted to wear a bikini (which I'm not), I would ask myself, 'Is wearing this worth not having my Temple Recommend?'

Also, I absolutely agree that you are SUPPOSED to feel desire towards your spouse! It specifically says in Moses 4:22 " Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." The husband is supposed to desire his wife just as the wife is supposed to desire her husband. Sex is for marital bonding (ie showing our love towards our spouse) and for procreation. While I agree that it is not a good idea to incite lustful thoughts in others, your spouse is the one and only exception (within reason of course...you shouldn't be filling his head 24/7 with those thoughts but it's not wrong to show affection to your spouse).

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 2 years now, and have had several in depth conversations on what we expect from our future spouse regarding sex and modesty. We both personally feel that what goes on in private between a husband and wife is THEIR business, as long as it is not harmful or degrading.

Overall my best advice is to listen to the Spirit. If you don't feel modest wearing it, it most likely isn't modest. And for goodness sakes, spend some 'alone time' with your spouse! :P

Anonymous said...

Stop. Why are you even addressing this subject. Stop mansplaining clothing. Bikinis are not to show off skin and bodies and to incite lust. Bikinis are to swim in. They are functional clothing either to sun bathe or to swim in.
Also toddlers can't be immodest in any sense of the word. Seriously that's creepy that you think they could be. Very creepy.
You should have only typed your second to last paragraph and taken it to heart.

Bro Jo said...

Wow!

In one comment you:

A) Dismiss the entire topic as irrelevant, not appropriate, and something not to be discussed - ironic because you not only read the post (kind of), but are interested enough in both the topic and the opinions expressed that you needed to express your own

B) Sexistly say that I'm not allowed an opinion because of my gender

C) Demonstrate complete ignorance of the history, creation and function (or lack thereof) of the bikini

and

D) Totally misconstrue what I wrote about establishing a pattern of modesty when raising children

That's, in some way, kind of impressive.

Best,

- Bro Jo