Dedicated to Modesty
About the Guest
On today's broadcast, Christian recording artist Rebecca St.James recalls a conversation she had with her parents about moral purity and her decision to stay sexually pure until marriage. Rebecca tells how dressing modestly helps her keep that promise.
Rebecca St. JamesWith diversity and depth, the Sydney, Australia native has made the globe her mission field since debuting in 1994 at age 16. Almost 10 years into the journey now, it's remarkable to remember what has transpired and to consider what still may come in the life of this 25 year-old. That's the stimulus of Wait for Me: The Best from Rebecca St. James. In the United States, Rebecca's a Grammy winner who quoted Scripture during her acceptance speech and who writes compelling faith editorials and b...more
Rebecca St.James recalls her decision to stay sexually pure until marriage.
Dedicated to Modesty
Bob: All right, cue up that new, hip FamilyLife Today music, all right? Yo, parents, listen up. Today Rebecca St. James wants you to talk straight to your children about purity.
Rebecca: You know, it's that heart commitment coming out in the way that you're living, the decisions you're making in what you wear, and I think this whole mentality of "kids are going to have sex, anyway, they are going to dress immodestly, anyway, no matter what I do" – that is so damaging because it says to the kids, "We don't believe in you." But if you say, "I believe that you can do it, and here's how we will help you," it's so powerful.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 22nd. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. As a parent, what are you doing to challenge your children to live a pure and holy life for God? Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I'm afraid the engineer has been having too much fun in the studio doing a little music, playing around with the theme song. We're going to talk today about purity and about holiness. I know when you were raising your daughters you tried to address the issue of purity and modesty with your girls, right?
Dennis: Barbara and I both did.
Bob: And it was, at times, a challenge, right?
Dennis: At times? In my opinion …
Bob: … 24/7?
Dennis: I'm telling you, Barbara and I probably spent more time talking about this issue with our daughters.
Bob: Barbara is here with us. Would you agree this was the big issue?
Barbara: You know, I think that's probably right as far as more time. If you look at the time that we talked about all the things that we talked about with our kids, that one was one of, probably, the top two or three things that we talked about, because it is so ongoing. I mean, you start the conversations when they're little. I remember I started talking to my girls about it when they were five and six, and they wanted a two-piece bathing suit or seven or eight, and they wanted, you know, whatever. But all the way through prom dresses in junior and senior high school. So it encompasses a huge age range.
Dennis: I really feel like our children, their ears are right at the end of a giant megaphone that the world has, and I feel like the world is screaming and did scream into our children's lives, and I think the reason we continued to talk about it is we wanted to make sure our voice could be heard over the loud scream of the culture.
Bob: Wouldn't it have been nice, though, if you could have hired, you know, somebody – Rebecca St. James – come over to the house and just sit down with your girls and talk with your daughters.
Dennis: Rebecca St. James?
Dennis: Do you think you could have hired her for that?
Bob: I – you know – I …
Dennis: … let me ask you a question.
Dennis: What would you have paid her?
Bob: To come talk to my girls?
Dennis: To come talk to your girls.
Bob: A lot of money.
Dennis: How much?
Bob: I would have taken out a loan. You know, I wouldn't go into debt for much.
Bob: But I would have taken out a loan.
Rebecca: Well, thank you.
Bob: You just need to know, Rebecca, that's because I don't have much cash on hand. That's why I would have to take out a loan.
Dennis: That's why I was trying to get Bob nailed down, Rebecca, because I'm not sure his credit is much good here. Well, Rebecca St. James does join us on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Rebecca: Thank you very much.
Dennis: You experienced this with your mom, didn't you? Your mom talked to you.
Rebecca: Yes, my parents – yes, yes – well, we would always have these really kind of deep conversations in the car, because we've traveled together a lot over the years, and so we'd talk about issues like purity. And I think one of the about modesty is it's purity in action. You know, it's that heart commitment coming out in the way that you are living – the decisions you're making in what you wear, and I think some girls say, "Yes, I'm waiting, I'm a virgin," and they're hardly wearing anything, and guys are confused. They're, like, okay, so are you waiting or are you trying to draw me into – you know, is that just something you're saying but you're really living some thing else. So I think, you know, my parents always were all about not just saying it but living it.
Bob: You're in your mid-20s now, but 10 years ago, when your parents were having these conversations in the car with you, were you rolling your eyes and going, "Oh, Mom, Dad, come on. We've talked about this."
Dennis: Now, tell the truth.
Rebecca: I'm trying to think back. I don't remember – you'd probably have to ask them. Maybe I did sometimes. But, for the most part, they really made it make sense. And I don't think they ever just said, "You kids need to live this way because it's the right way."
Bob: I like the way you said that.
Rebecca: I'm trying to do my dad's voice. You know, they weren't like dictators saying, "You need to obey me." They always said, "This is why we want the best for you." You know, the consequences of sin are damaging. They're going to hurt the rest of your life. You know, think smart about these things. And kids are smart. I think if you have this expectation of that they can live right, then often they will try and attain that. I think this whole mentality of, you know, "Kids are going to have sex, anyway. They are going to dress immodestly, anyway, no matter what I do." That is so damaging, because it says to the kids, "We don't believe in you." But if you say, "I believe that you can do it, and here is how we will help you," that's so powerful.
Dennis: Rebecca, your songs are heard all over the world by young men and women and some of us who are a bit older. I think Bob just got a few of your songs on his iPod. But I have to ask you – when you were a young lady growing up, do you remember the first conversation you had with your mom about this subject of moral purity? Of modesty and how you dressed?
Rebecca: You know, I don't. I mean, I just remember, from an early age, like, in my early teens, knowing the importance of waiting. And then when I was probably l5, I went to a True Love Waits rally. And at that rally I saw a couple of hundred young people saying, "I'm going to wait," and they were signing cards, and I decided, then and there, you know, in much more of a certain, definite way, I'm definitely going to wait. But I'd known for years that was the right way to go. But I think, even having that card and now I have a purity ring that my dad presented to me, you know, those significant reminders are excellent.
Dennis: You know, I'm looking at your purity ring, and I'm thinking of some of the letters I get back from moms and dads who take their kids on a Passport to Purity weekend, and who give their son or daughter a copy of a book that Barbara and I wrote with our two middle children – our Rebecca and Samuel. It's called "So You're About to be a Teenager." And one of the things you mentioned yesterday was at the age of 12 you made a spiritual commitment that really began to determine how you used your gifts, your musical abilities. Well, this book, "So You're About to be a Teenager," calls 12-year-olds to begin to make spiritual commitments around drinking, drugs, sex. They are called "Twelve Extreme Life Promises."
And the reason I mention this at this point is because I think parents need to realize that this ongoing conversation needs to start early, it needs to be continued, and you need to call your children to make some tangible commitments.
Now, since that book has come out, we have also sought to create resources – in this case, a brand-new resource to help moms and daughters.
Bob: Yes, and we've got a resource called "Secret Keeper Girl" that we put together with Dana Gresh. It's designed to give a mom and a daughter eight dates to do together, where you can not just talk about issues of modesty and purity and abstinence, but where you can actually do some things together to experience what purity and modesty look like.
Dennis: Yes, there are eight dates in here. There's a – well, it's called "The Power of True Beauty and Modesty," and it contains eight practical dates that you can go on with your daughter, and all types of practical projects you can do, but one of the neat things about this is it not only has a diary, and additional diary that the young person can write in, but a CD that you can listen to on the way to the date as you go, and then you listen on the way back. And that's where Rebecca St. James gives you some of her wisdom.
Bob: In fact, at the conclusion of date number 6, that's where you get in, Rebecca, to some of the very practical things that you have applied as you've grown up as a young woman, and I think our listeners ought to hear a portion of what a mom and a daughter will hear together as they are driving home from the "Secret Keeper Girl" date. And I think we've got it set up so that our listeners can hear it.
[sound bite from "Secret Keeper Girl"]
Girl: Rebecca St. James is committed to modesty. When she buys clothes, whether it's for the stage or just to hang out with friends, she keeps a few things in mind.
Rebecca: I like to wear funky, cool, modern clothes, and to find things that are modest and are not showing too much flesh and are not too tight. It's very, very hard to find that. But it's such a worthwhile battle, because I so believe in being modest and not leading other young girls to do the wrong thing but also not causing my brothers in Christ to stumble and to lust.
You know, a lot of times my dad, if he thinks that something, you know, is a little bit more on the edge than what I usually wear, he'll say, "Oh, that's a boy-getter outfit." So he'll kind of tease me about it, but it's something that, really, he has a problem with, he'll come straight to me. Sometimes Dad has this, I think, little girl, little daughter impression, you know, that makes him maybe be a little bit more critical of something that I would wear. Mom kind of balances him out. And so I think between the two of them, you know, over my teen years, especially, I've gotten some good balanced feedback. If it was just my dad, it might have been a little bit more erring to one side, especially the conservative side.
They always encouraged me, and I suppose, especially my Mom through how she dressed, to wear things that were not showing too much skin, skirts and shorts that weren't too short, things that weren't too, too tight. It's like I always knew, deep down, that that was the right way to go, too. And I wanted to live that way, too. I didn't want to do something that would displease my parents, and I didn't want to do something that would displease God or hurt other people. And so I think it's my own sense of responsibility, as a Christian, before God, that I want to do the right thing.
It's interesting, when I first started out in music, coats were kind of the in thing, and so that's fine, because, you know, you can be really modest with coats. Coats aren't quite so cool right now. You know, funky tops and, a lot of times, a lot of flesh showing in these tops is, kind of, the thing that you see on TV, you know, at the stores, and trying to find something that is modest and funky and cool is difficult.
I have a few guidelines that I use for the things that I wear, both onstage and off. One of the things that I am very aware of is I want to wear pants, especially onstage, going around, you know, in a skirt would be very difficult, especially since I sing rock music. Also making sure that what I wear is not too tight, like showing every single curve. Like, even the top that I'm wearing right now, if I wore it just as it is, it would be very, very tight, but I'm wearing two shirts underneath it so that it's not quite so form-fitting. That's something that can really lead a guy on in a bad way.
[end of sound bite]
Dennis: Bob and I both have grins right now, because we're both dads. We know what Rebecca thinks of dads.
Bob: That's right. It's the burlap.
Rebecca: Oh, I love my dad.
Dennis: Sure you do.
Bob: It's just the burlap wardrobe that he's got for you, right?
Rebecca: Yeah, exactly, thanks, Dad, great. It's so cool.
Dennis: You know, I think of you, though, Rebecca, here you are, a musician, a Christian musician representing Jesus Christ onstage. This is really interesting, to hear you commenting about modesty, because what you dress – people are going to really, really watch.
Rebecca: Oh, they are. And, believe, me, if there's even something slightly that they're a bit worried about, they'll let me know. And it's very few letters that I've gotten of people being concerned, partly because my dad has been involved so much in my wardrobe choosing.
Bob: But let me be honest here, because if we look at Christian music and album covers and CD covers, your standard is not universally held, is it?
Rebecca: No, and I have been very blessed in that I've had my dad as my manager, and, you know, people speaking into my life that aren't "yes" people. But some of these poor artists, they're not being advised well and, sincerely, I can't point the finger and say it's just their own fault.
Bob: Have you ever been pressured in the industry you're in to …
Rebecca: Compromise a bit?
Bob: Have you ever been pressured in the industry you're in, to …
Rebecca: … compromise a bit, or …
Bob: … in this area?
Rebecca: My standards? Yes. Actually, I was doing a New York photo shoot years ago, and somebody, I think, from my label or maybe – it was, actually, probably – because I had a stylist – a wardrobe stylist – and she wanted me to wear just a spaghetti-strap top and show a lot of upper chest – not necessarily cleavage, but upper chest and arms. And I did not feel customer at all about that. And so I stood up and said, "I don't feel comfortable." So they then said, "Well, if you don't look like you're relaxed and comfortable, the photos aren't going to look good." So they let me kind of stay strong on that.
Dennis: Yes, and in the spotlight sometimes the standards begin to melt. I remember a number of years ago there was a little girl who grew up in a Southern Baptist church from Louisiana, and she proclaimed around the country she was a virgin. And the next thing we know, she got married for 55 hours, she'd locked lips with Madonna, and she has trounced around on the stage with …
Rebecca: … practically nothing on.
Dennis: Practically nothing, and I think as a result has set a standard or the lack of a standard for young girls that's going to be felt for a generation.
Rebecca: It's so devastating.
Dennis: I don't think we can reel it back in at this point, but Christians can't continue to emulate what the culture is doing.
Rebecca: Yes, absolutely.
Barbara: I think one of the best things that Rebecca has said all along is that she is letting her father be involved, and that's her choice. And as a young woman in her 20s, she could easily say to her dad, "No, I don't want you to be involved." But I just think that's remarkable, and I think it's one of the keys to why you have maintained your standard, because you've allowed your father and your mother to continue to be involved in your life, and you've been open to being accountable to them and to being teachable, and that's a real rare commodity.
Dennis: And I want to applaud you for your stand, and I want to cheer you on that you continue to hold to that standard and be careful and guard your heart because, frankly, I don't know of another entertainer, Bob, another woman entertainer who is quite taking the stand …
Bob: In as public a way?
Dennis: Yes, as Rebecca St. James.
Bob: And let me ask you if personally you see other single young women dressing less modestly than you. You see single guys kind of looking at them a little more than they might be looking at you.
Rebecca: Yes, I mean, I suppose I have placed my own sense of attractiveness in different things. You know, because I know that the kind of things that I wear draw a certain kind of guy. And ultimately the guy that I want to have as a husband is a guy that's committed to purity. He doesn't want to lust. You know, and so he – by what I'm wearing, if I'm dressing kind of seductively in what I'm wearing, I'm going to be attracting a guy that is okay with that, and it almost says that I'm impure, but that he's okay with that; whereas, if I'm dressing modestly, it's going to attract a guy that respects that and appreciates that. So I'm okay with dressing that way.
Bob: And have you found guys who appreciate that?
Rebecca: Appreciate that? Yes. Yes, I have.
Bob: That's good news, isn't it?
Dennis: I'll tell you what she's doing, she's giving a generation of young ladies hope that someone can be different and not weird.
Barbara: And hopefully courage to be different and to be willing to do it.
Bob: And I'm personally just hoping jackets will come back for you.
Dennis: I kind of liked the coat era. I don't, frankly, remember it all that much.
Rebecca: They've definitely got their "Dad" hats on right now.
Dennis: We really do, you know, Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 20 says – and this is really what's happened over the past couple of days with Rebecca and with Barbara joining us on FamilyLife Today. It says, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."
Dennis: Now, our daughters need to walk with those who are wise and not the fools of this era, and I'll tell you who the wise need to be – it needs to start at home.
Barbara: That's right.
Dennis: It's at home where a mom can instruct her daughter in what those standards ought to look like and help her, practically, know how to take a stand and how to dress in this generation.
Bob: And you probably can't hire Rebecca to come over to your house and talk to your daughters, but there is a way to make that happen.
Dennis: There is.
Bob: We can send you a copy of the "Secret Keeper Girl" resource, and in it is the CD that has the dialog – we heard part of it today – as you go on dates with your daughter around subjects of beauty and modesty – all of those dates outlined for you in this resource. On the way there and on the way back, you get to hear Rebecca and Dana Gresh challenging your daughter to the kind of standard that you'd like to challenge your daughter to, but she just needs to hear it from a few other voices.
Rebecca: And I think one of the most powerful things about this particular resource is that it's modeling mentoring. Mentoring is kind of like a lost art, you know, something that generations past understood, but now it's, like, we have to talk about it to get it into people's heads that parents need to be mentors but also girls just need that input – you know, somebody to come alongside of them and cheer them on in the right way. And so I just think this is so beautiful – mentoring from my parents and then also my mentor, even now, has been one of the most empowering things that has ever happened in my spiritual and personal life.
Rebecca: It's amazing, and so I just love that this is modeling this.
Bob: Well, moms, there's the challenge. We want you to contact us, get a copy of the "Secret Keeper Girl" resource and take your daughter on eight great dates. Some activities where you can talk, where you can examine, where you can practice, where you can have fun, and where your daughter can understand the standard that it's not just Mom's standard or Dad's standard, but it's Rebecca's standard and Dana's standard and there are some of the rest of us out here that are holding to it as well.
Dennis: That's right.
Bob: Go to our website, FamilyLife.com. In the middle of the home page, you'll see a button that says "Go," and if you click that red button it will take you right to a page where you can get more information about the "Secret Keeper Girl" resource. And, by the way, a great way to kick off your "Secret Keeper Girl" series of dates is to go together, mother and daughter, on a Passport to Purity weekend. You spend the whole weekend together, you go over a lot of these themes, and then you can build on that weekend experience as you start having these mom/daughter dates with the "Secret Keeper Girl" resource.
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, and you can get all the information about both "Secret Keeper Girl" and Passport to Purity when you go online at FamilyLife.com. Click the red button in the middle of the screen, and you're right there. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, and someone on our team can make sure that we can get these resources sent out to you.
When you get in touch with us here at FamilyLife, can we ask you to consider making a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today? We are nearing the end of the summer, and that is the end of our fiscal year, and this year, frankly, the summer is ending on a little bit of a low note. We are about 18 percent under where we had hoped to be by this time this year in donations and, as you can imagine, when that's the situation, you have to start looking around and saying, "Are there things we need to trim back on? Are there cuts we need to make in ministry," and that's always a difficult decision to make.
So what's been happening here is that listeners have been calling to say we want to help support the ministry, and we not only want to help support the ministry, but we want to challenge other listeners to join with us, and so a challenge fund has been established. We heard from Jacqueline, who called in and said, "I'm a senior citizen. I listen to FamilyLife Today, and I think other senior citizens ought to support the ministry." We had a mom from Springboro, Ohio, who called in and said, "I want to donate $20, and challenge other mothers who have teenagers to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today." And a listener from Colorado Springs made a donation and challenged homeschooling moms to be a part of the challenge fund. Can we ask you to consider here in the next couple of weeks making a donation to FamilyLife Today and issuing a challenge to other folks like you to do the same, to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
You can donate online, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, and we want to say thanks in advance for your support of the ministry. We appreciate your prayers, we appreciate your financial support, and we always appreciate hearing from you. Dennis?
Dennis: Well, it's been good, as a dad, to have a daughter in the studio – not my own daughter but another dad's daughter who resonates on the subject of modesty, wouldn't you say, Bob?
Bob: I'm just having the sense that maybe your daughters rolled their eyes about this more than Rebecca St. James did.
Dennis: You know – well, she's a firstborn – so that does …
Barbara: … that makes a difference.
Dennis: But, Rebecca, I do so appreciate you. It's been fun to have you on FamilyLife Today, and I hope you'll come back and join us again sometime.
Rebecca: I'd love to.
Dennis: And we'll continue to uphold the standard for the next generation of young ladies.
Rebecca: Thank you so much.
Bob: And the next time you bring the concert to town, I'll bring Dennis along, okay? He'll be out there, going, "All right, yeah."
Dennis: I have one question – do I need to bring earplugs?
Rebecca: You might, yes. Actually, yes, you should.
Rebecca: That's a complete affirmative.
Dennis: Rebecca, now this just jars my opinion of you, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Uh-oh, uh-oh.
Barbara: You don't know how she can be modest and be loud at the same time? Is that what you're wondering?
Dennis: No, no.
Bob: Bring your earplugs and come on, dude. We'll have a great time.
Rebecca: Yay, woo-hoo.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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