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Guided By A Voice: Skin Parade

September 12th, 2010

This past weekend, the husband, his best man from the Air Force, and I were supposed to go away on a mini-vacation to a beach house. Our plan to avert the beach was just to hang out at the house, play some putt putt, and maybe knock out some ugly zombies at the arcade. The beach house, as we all know, is by the beach, and as a couple, Rob and I have long ago decided to avoid the place like the plague. We both humbly admit that we are not strong enough to effortlessly expose ourselves to constant skin parading without actual, tangible horse blinders.

The beach and the mall are two very different but also somewhat similar places. Both the beach and the mall have people dressed to entice sexually, but the beach allows for people to be stripped to the least clothing a person can legally wear in public. I don’t need for anyone to tell me in which of these places it is harder to keep from rubbernecking.

We’ve been ridiculed for it, yes, but we really didn’t expect that other Christian friends would think that this was “too much” and make us feel really bad about our personal decision to try our hardest to do something that’s good for us. It helps to know that people like Joshua Harris and his wife, Shannon, avoid beaches, too. See, it’s one thing to be strong and able to resist all temptation just like Christ, but it’s another thing to admit your weakness and avoid instances of what tends to trap you more than others. Like an ex-alcoholic avoids even a sip of beer, we’ve avoided witnessing explicit expressions of sexuality, including immodesty at the beach and in media. Rob has been “clean” from pornography for more than two and a half years, and I have been “clean” from immodesty since we were engaged. As fresh as we are, we’ve never been so sure and so strongly against anything that will cause us to stumble again, and that is why the beach is a no-zone for both of us. It’s not that we are religiously trying to make everybody else feel bad for going to the beach while making us seem “holier-than-thou” for abstaining (which a couple of people have complained to us about) from public bathing. Nor is it that we came up with a high and mighty rule for the sake of rules and hope to live by it as if we keep tallies or scoreboards. We decided this because we admit to our weakness, and with God’s help, we’re able to live by enjoying our life together in the other million things we can do with it. There are probably close to, if not actually, that many activities, places, and movies we can indulge ourselves in that do not have blatant sexuality involved with them. If not for holiness and being right with God, why else would we not want to keep our marriage at its strongest by avoiding anything that may keep us apart even in our heads?

I chose the ex-alcoholic/beer example instead of the ex-drug addict or the ex-smoker examples because beer in itself, unlike nicotine or drugs, is not sinful or harmful in moderation, just like skin in itself isn’t sinful. We all know that smoking and drugs are addictive and harmful to the body; whereas alcohol was drunk in moderation at a wedding party by Jesus without being a drunkard. Showing some skin is okay (face, neck, feet, forearms, etc.), but just baring it all with breasts here and thighs there transforms any public place into an instant meat market.

I used to love summer and associate it with how I liked going to the beach. I enjoyed the beach because it meant sunbathing for me, and it seemed to be the perfect place to get a natural, bronzed tan without spending money on vanity tanning salons with UV killer lasers that eat away your cells over time, producing nasty, premature wrinkles while making you think you are looking healthier and younger at the moment. That’s another lie a lot of people buy themselves into—the effects of instant gratification of the uninformed or stubborn mind. I think tanning is just like consuming alcohol. A little is okay, but a lot will consume you. Porn, illegal drugs, and nicotine however are destructive and addictive in their most minute presence. We really need to eradicate all of these things.

Thankfully, two new bits of information helped stop our beach trip—a hurricane that never really got to our area and news that our Air Force buddy had to fly a mission that weekend. We are pretty sure that in the near future (well, maybe not until next summer), something like another beach trip invitation will come up again. So what are we going to do about it? We cannot avoid everything that comes our way, especially those things involving best friends and families. It would be a perfect world, at least for us, if everybody we cared about had the same convictions so we wouldn’t have to put up with compromising situations—but alas, it isn’t. We are still in the world but not of it (John 7:14-15). I can only pray for our mind’s protection and let the Holy Spirit make us stronger.

Well the beach be one of the best things we got, cause it’s not what you have on but what you have not. – Jonathan Richman (sardonically)

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19 Responses to “Guided By A Voice: Skin Parade”

  1. allison

    I love reading your posts for their honesty. My fiance and I are going through similar struggles right now, and I always find myself pausing to think of how people will see us as avoiding certain triggers. It really helps to read posts such as this that show other people go through the same thing, and it is ok to do what is best for YOU regardless of others. Thank you!

  2. Natasha Atkerson

    I praise you for your husband’s and yours high standards. I don’t think your weird, or strange (mostly because we both have a lot of the same convictions!)
    I really do think you can just tell people “No.” If their true friends, you should be able to tell them your beliefs. Praying you’ll have wisdom next time this comes around,
    Natasha
    natashaatkerson.blogspot.com

  3. sweet

    God really works magic in the most unexpected ways…

    Praying for good health and guidance as well…

    Kisses love
    Sweet
    PensandLens

  4. Adina

    Hey there,
    I have a suggestion if you want a beack experience without the meat market: try going off season, like on a beautiful day in the spring, or if you can afford the tickets and like the heat, Miami in the summer. Also, some beaches in the Hamptons can be very sparsely populated.

  5. Julia

    The beach is best at early morning or late night when fewer people are out anyway!

  6. Rachel @ a la Modest

    Thank you, Adina! Miami in the summer? Interesting! I guess not a lot of people travel to Miami beaches in the summer? I guess that makes sense if they’d rather travel during winter to get some sun in the warmer parts of the country.

  7. Rachel @ a la Modest

    True :) We have been thinking about that. I do love to swim, and crowded beaches just do not let you do that! Thanks for the suggestion, Julia!

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  9. Esther Irish

    We used to avoid beaches and pools all together too. Now with four little kids we do go occasionally, but try to avoid the crowds.

  10. Guided By A Voice: Skin Parade : Is This Modest?

    [...] post was originally from à la Modest by Rachel Dahl. You can go directly to her website or Facebook for more posts on modesty. Modest [...]

  11. Cheryl

    Wise choice! Besides, the sun can be too harsh on our skin while in the beach so better stay indoors and enjoy each other´s company. :)

  12. Sherri Lloyd

    Where do you live?
    Beaches are so beautiful, I love them… I’m from California, and the best time to go without having to see all of the borderline nudity would be in the winter, I love it, especially in northern California in the winter, if anyone is there during that time they are usually bundled up because of the winter winds… But gosh is it pretty…

    Maybe you guys should reschedule with your friend in a month or two when it’s more chilly…

  13. Sher

    It’s nice to see how you both set the bar so high in your lives! Though I feel rather sad that it’s not even ‘safe’ to go to the beach nowadays, because I do enjoy listening to the waves and just feeling the sand under my feet:)

  14. Mono_S.

    Hey you! Sorry I haven’t been commenting or anything of late, my internet situation and house move has been blocking most activities.

    What I was wondering was whether you’d like to contribute in any way to my upcoming zine. I should be publishing it a bit later in the year and out of all the bloggers I’ve met so far I’d be more interested in your opinion on a few things than anyone else’s *nods*

    Let me know if you have any interest and, when I next steal some wireless connection, I’ll send you over everything I’ve got together so far. If not then that’s totally kool-aid too!

    Take care x

  15. bea

    This is so interesting and quite admirable that you guys share such high values.

    I used to think maybe I was being silly because I didn’t want to get a facebook for a similar reason. I know I have a tendency to get envious or resentful easily when I see people posting all sorts of things on social networks. Sometimes I’m even tempted to keep checking a persons page and just be mean about the things on it. So I thought it would be better for my well-being if I avoided that stuff all together. Does that sound silly?

    Bea from A plus B

  16. Candra

    Try the oregon coast…you won’t find bikinis there! Or bathing suits even. Wetsuits, t-shirts and shorts are usually the least people venture to go out in since the water is chilly, but the weather is nice.

  17. Pastor Mike
  18. Pastor Mike

    When impure thoughts come to my mind I always visit this site: http://bit.ly/c6o7VK

  19. Natalie

    Love it and totally understand! My fiance and I haven’t been to the beach together in the more than 2 years of dating. I would hate to be physically exposed even in my most modest swimsuit with shorts over and the sight of barely clothed people just doesn’t help our eyes and hearts.

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