As a way to continue the conversations in The Biola Hour, we've invited Sam Gassaway to blog her thoughts after each episode. This is a response to Episode 35 on beauty and modesty. Feel free to interact with Sam's thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter (@sgkay47). This is Sam's final blog contribution - Sam, we are deeply thankful for the thoughts and insights that have continued our conversation this year. May God richly bless your life after Biola!
“Do not worry about your body—what you will wear. Is not the body more than clothes? Why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor, yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first his kingdom and righteousness. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself.”
Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV, abbreviated)
“It’s my body, I’ll do what I want with it.”
Free will exists, that’s true. In this season of creation, we have the capacity to reject the guidance of our creator. Does that give us the freedom to pursue whatever our hearts desire? Yes, it does. Is everything our hearts desire good for our mind, body and soul? Probably not.
Modesty is the trigger word with which I will deal today. Modesty—as a Christ-like virtue, not as the world defines it—is an interior disposition, centered around our actions and thoughts. It is not hemlines and inches, it is temperance and self-control. I will not go into the world’s definition regarding modesty’s hyper-focus on maintaining boundaries and coloring within the lines.
Admittedly, when Jessica Rey was on the guest queue for the Biola Hour this week, I wasn’t sure whether I would end up writing about fantasy in Hollywood or the place of modesty in fashion businesses promoting Christian values.
Jessica Rey is best known today as the CEO of Rey Swimwear, a company dedicated to providing quality, ethically-made swimwear. However, she is also well-known for her iconic role as Alyssa Enrilé in the TV show Power Rangers Wild Force. Astonishingly, her acting career started when she auditioned for one Kellogg’s commercial, which ended up paying for her entire grad school—though she sadly reports that commercial acting does not pay like that anymore.
However, this is not what defines her life. After fulfilling her honor as the White Ranger, she eventually grew frustrated with the contradiction between her identity as a human made in the image of God and her desire to feel both comfortable and beautiful. Modesty is an attitude, she says.
It is not aggressive, it does not boast. Much like love, it is a gift that we are meant to steward and foster, which results ultimately in respect and care for oneself.
“And our world can use a little more of that,” says Rey.
When a woman begins exploring her own personal modesty, she will likely receive pushback from everyone around her. She is either not modest enough or too modest depending on the person and the context in which she behaves and dresses. But this is not why she is called to explore what this means to her.
This is Christian modesty: not how you dress, how you act in a dress. Again, this changes dependent on the context, the person and the purpose. Jesus is concerned with your heart, not your hemline.
If Rey could change the world in one way, she would have all people see one another as God sees us all. If we could just not see ourselves in the world, she says, but as made in the image of one outside the world, how could we treat our minds and bodies accordingly?
This is my last blogpost for Biola, the writing of which is a melancholy and surreal experience. So, I’ll sign off from Biola using the words of Jessica Rey, when asked what she took away from her Hollywood experience.
“I really don’t know what I’ve learned.”
But just learning hasn’t really been the point—it’s about who I’ve become having been a part of everything this university has to offer. Transformative, painful, growth-oriented, affirming, challenging and everything in between. It’s been a blessed journey.