Michelle Duggar on Modesty and Bathing Suits

6.22.12

Photo credit Paul Debois/Getty Images

It's officially summertime, and swimming in a pool and wearing modest clothes came up the other night at mealtime in our house. Early on in our family the topic came up when some of our now-older kids wanted to talk about our decisions to wear modest dress.

We discussed all the reasons why we wear clothes -- sometimes as a uniform or for work, for protection from the elements (especially for avoiding a sunburn), for distinction (determining whether you're a man or a woman by looking at someone) and for modesty.

We were searching through scripture, and we found where God talks about a covering -- what His idea of that would be. And in our heart before the Lord, we really came to a conclusion for our family about wearing modest clothes. 

This isn't for everyone, and we don't push this on anybody. And we don't judge anyone that doesn't have this perspective, but for us, we felt like we needed to be covered from our neck to below our knees mainly because God talks about the thigh being uncovered, and how that's nakedness and shame. 

And so in our dress -- whether we're doing activities that require us to climb, ride a horse, bike, swim, whatever -- we just want to keep the thighs and torso covered; we don't want to play peekaboo so that there's a visual element that might defraud someone.

For us the definition of the word defrauding is to stir up desires in someone else that cannot be righteously fulfilled. Now, granted there are a few people out there who could be stirred up by a cardboard box all the way from head to toe, but regardless we want to maintain modest dress.

The Reason We Don't Swim in Public

We typically don't go to the beach in the summertime. And in general we don't do a lot of swimming events where swimming suits are worn because it's just too hard for the guys to try to keep their eyes averted in those situations.

We have some friends who allow us to use their swimming pools. Or we sometimes visit a creek or a lake that's private. And in those situations the kids are always wearing modest clothes.  

Growing up I would wear a bathing suit or shorts and not realize that it was revealing. When I got older I really felt convicted about my responsibility for how I was causing others to be defrauded. And I began to cover up because I felt responsible for my part in that. 

I realize that you can't keep somebody from having wrong thoughts, but I do think you have control at least on how you present yourself. So as the older girls and guys grew up they became sensitive to their clothing choices. The girls would say, "Do you think this is too low-cut or should I put a pin here? Or what do you think about this? Is this too short?" 

We really do know that this isn't for everyone; this is just our personal conviction before our Lord. And this is what our family does. There are some families that are much more modest than we are, while others families may feel like modest dress just isn't a conviction for them.

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