Be kinder to yourself.
And then let your kindness flood the world.
And then let your kindness flood the world.
This post can easily be very lengthy if I elaborate on all the things that God orchestrated in order to get me to my current place and state in the universe, so I will give an overview with most of the focus on the connection between modesty and how it helped guide me to Islam. My full reversion story will be continued in a follow up post.
The first day I met my husband and found out that he was Muslim, thoughts of whether or not we could work (because I was Christian) and what married life would look like invaded my thoughts. I was nervous but I was also curious and attracted to him enough to be inquisitive rather than dismissive. While we were getting to know each other, I wanted to not only show him who I was on the inside, but I wanted to make a very good impression on the outside too. So whenever we met up I made sure to wear something that accentuated my figure, but without being raunchy or revealing--to my standards of what I thought was acceptable for a Christian woman. I have to pause here to note that the standards for what’s acceptable for a Christian woman are so subjective and open to an array of interpretations. In the Bible modesty is encouraged, but there is no explicit guidelines for how a woman should dress. I have personally seen everything on the spectrum of too sexy/revealing to straight grandma/old lady type outfits show up in a church service. One of the ramifications of this is humans falling into the trap of casting judgement on other humans…
But back to the topic. I thought what I was wearing was acceptable in God’s eyes (but mostly my eyes), yet I was trying to impress this man and keep his interest in me beyond our stimulating conversation. To my surprise, he would often make comments that suggested I cover up more or that he preferred longer dresses. As someone who had to overcome sexual sin and using my body for attention, this was both refreshing and frustrating. I was excited and thankful to meet a man who would rather focus on who I was and my heart when deciding if he wanted to go further with me--but knowing he was Muslim, and knowing how most Muslim women dressed--I was also worried that he’d want me to cover everything up if we were going to be married.
As time went on, we would have conversations and debates--borderline arguments--about the definition of modest dress. He would always take me back to the Quran and the instructions given to the prophet Muhammad from Allah... Here’s where I would get stuck, because I had no supporting evidence from the Bible that was explicit to explain why my interpretation of modest dress was just as acceptable to God. I got stuck here because my interpretation of modest dress was simply my interpretation of the text (or that of other humans).
However, there was a chapter in the Bible that connected to our discussion that came to mind during one of our last discussions. In 1 Corinthians chapter 11, there is a passage titled, “Instructions for Public Worship”, and it had been a topic I was reading about around the same time we were having these conversations. The specific verse that came to mind was: But a woman dishonors her head (or her husband) if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is same as shaving her head.(1 Cor 11:5 NLT) I began to form the argument that covering was necessary during worship because it showed honor and reverence, but it wasn’t a command for our everyday appearance. But I also had a lot of questions enter my mind at the same time as this argument: Why don’t I see women doing this across the board in church services today? Why in one translation does it say: “she dishonors her head” while in others it says: “she dishonors her husband”? I get that the husband is the head of the household, but what about the shaving of the head part? What context am I missing?
I’ve read and heard various interpretation of this passage and therein lie the problem for me... There was one principle though that could be supported in both religions: modesty is about devotion to God. It is also true, and can be supported in both religions, that modesty is also about avoiding sexual sin beginning with lust and seduction. The latter seems to be the aspect everyone focuses on the most. But after having these conversations and exploring both texts I was forced to ask myself: Does the way I dress show my devotion to God? Does the way I dress prevent men from lusting after me or am I seducing them with my appearance?
(Answers: Probably not all the time. In this case, my intention was to seduce.)
Answering these questions resulted in my conviction and remorse, and many more questions about Islam and Christianity and which way God wanted me to serve Him. My prayer is always: “God help me to serve you. Guide me in the Way You want me to go”...I say that prayer often because I need God to help me to be strong in my faith. Life throws so much at us, and it is so easy to take our eyes off Him. It’s so easy to become caught up and only concerned about the here and now. I realized that I’m happy and at peace when I’m living in a way that’s pleasing to God, and that when I think beyond just this life my decision-making is easy. That being said, I also realized that I needed to be sure that my life was indeed pleasing to God. So I began asking more questions and seeking answers...
To be continued....
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