Bikinis aren’t nearly as controversial among Christians as they ought to be. After all, they’re really just waterproof underwear. Of course, modesty is somewhat subjective and can change with the times and culture. But if Christians generally agree that wearing underwear in public is a problem, then it being waterproof shouldn’t change their attitude.

So why aren’t bikinis more controversial? I think it is because we don’t want them to be. Growing up I hated thinking about the morality of bikinis. It seemed like every other girl I knew wore them. I didn’t dare risk coming to the conclusion that I ought to be the odd one out in some frumpy one-piece.

I didn’t dare risk having to step out of the “game.”  Moreover, I didn’t feel it fair that I might have to.


By “game” I mean that primitive desire to win mass sexual approval. Girls and women in our culture are continually encouraged to over-value their sexual rank in their world. I don’t care how many times you give modesty talks to Christian girls and insist that guys like “mystery,” girls know the truth; guys may like mystery, but guys also like girls in underwear. And girls want guys to like them.

But either you believe in the concept and duty of modesty or you don’t. Now I get and respect the arguments for rejecting modesty. I get the argument that a woman isn’t responsible for a man’s thoughts, though this doesn’t really hold up when you believe that you are your brother’s keeper. I even understand the argument for nudist colonies. There is a sweet idealism in them and, for all I know, they might work in certain circumstances.

But if you’re going to accept that women and men have any duty to withhold their sexuality from people outside of marriage, if you’re going to accept that some part of the body ought to remain intimate, and if you’re going to accept that there are, indeed, ways of “tempting” a person of the opposite sex with your body, then you’re going to have to accept that bikinis are not a safe option. You’re going to have to be willing to step out of the game.

Stepping out of the game is scary. Girls and women fear that it means they won’t get noticed, won’t be appreciated, and won’t find somebody.



Available from Anthropologie


But time and time again I have watched how people who refuse to play the game possess an unusual amount of self-confidence and self-worth. They recognize their own dignity, and it is attractive. I’m not going to say that dignity has mass sex appeal, but it’s very attractive to the people who are seeking it.

So don’t be afraid to step out of the game. Don’t be afraid to wear a non-bikini swimsuit. I won’t play the “mystery” card or pretend that you would get a bunch of attention, but you can still be beautiful and attractive in a one-piece.

Most of all, I promise, that bitterness about modesty — the it’s not fair that I feel like I have to be good and nobody else does — that goes away when you fully commit. Straddling the fence doesn’t get you anywhere. You won’t satisfy the masses, and you won’t satisfy your own conscience. You have to decide. Do you believe in modesty or not?