It’s Memorial Day, also known as the unofficial start of summer. With summer comes pools, lakes, beaches, and all kinds of other water fun. As Christian ladies, we also know that this is the start of bikini season, because we’ve been hearing for months all of the “lose weight now!” commercials prepping us for this time of year.
But as a Christian woman, I hate it. I hate that not only the world is screaming “look great in your bikini!” but so many of my sisters are saying, “I’ve got to get in shape for bikini season!”. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with exercising and being fit (bodily exercise does have its benefits – 1 Tim. 4:8), but it’s this bikini word that really gets under my skin.
Maybe it’s that younger Emily really struggled with this. I was a thin teenager, and even into my freshman and sophomore college years I grew increasingly skinnier. And I struggled. I had things I knew I could wear, so I wanted to. Not just bathing suits, but tight clothes, short clothes, etc. Being skinny added that new level of temptation to me. Partially it was because the world was always screaming to flaunt what you’ve got, but it wasn’t made any easier because so many Christian women/sisters seemed to be promoting the same idea.
Well that’s definitely not me anymore.
My issue with bikinis is two-fold. One, bikinis are nothing more than waterproof underwear. Prancing around in our underwear would never be accepted, under any circumstances, and yet we think that because we’ve labeled it “bikini” that it’s somehow fine. However, from the Bible’s description of nakedness (see Adam and Eve in the garden pre and post fig leaves) we know that it isn’t ok and it never has been. How much respect would we have for such great women of the Bible as Esther or Abigail or Ruth if the Bible told us that they ran around in their under-garments (which still would have been much more modest than modern-day bikinis)? That’s not the picture we conjure up of God-fearing, God-obeying women, so why are we excusing ourselves? I, for one, want to be a God-obeying woman like so many of those women in the Bible, and it starts first with presenting my physical body in a pure, holy fashion before God and before the men (who have ever-tempted souls) around me.
The next issue I have is particularly for married women and bikinis. I have seen countless posts on Instagram or tweets about or Pinterest boards of inspiration centered around bikinis and swim-ready bodies. First and foremost, you’re married. That bikini-body you’re trying so desperately to get, well, it doesn’t really matter. The only person who should be seeing you in it is the one person who already controls your body (1 Cor. 7:4). And chances are, they love your body just the way it is.
And if you don’t love the way your body looks, why are you SAYING THESE THINGS OUT LOUD!? Let’s learn to have some shame around the marriage bed. No, the marriage bed isn’t shameful, it’s honorable (Hebrews 13:4), but do we need to be talking about the intimate goings-on of our marriage bed? I think that also means we don’t need to be talking about how good our bodies are going to be looking in our underwear. We don’t need to be conjuring up those images in anyone’s heads but our own husbands.
1 Peter 3:4 tells Christian women that they are to focus on attaining incorruptible beauty (gentle and quiet spirit). We aren’t supposed to be seeking after perishable beauty so we can flaunt our bikini bodies when we hit the beach. We aren’t supposed to be self-seeking at all. Instead, we’re Christ-seeking, which means we’re modesty-seeking, purity-seeking, and holiness-seeking. You decide if you can do that in a bikini. I only know that I can’t.