Question from a “19 Kids and Counting” fan on Facebook: Why did you decide to follow a style of modest dress and what are your family guidelines?
After I was born again and became a Christian, I really began to cover up. I felt like the Lord was saying to me, you know what, you probably shouldn’t be wearing that. It’s a little bit low cut, or a little bit too high, you know. I just really felt like I needed to obey what God was saying to me first and understand later. And then I saw in the scriptures a lot of things that helped me understand why I was feeling uncomfortable with my previous clothing choices. And I’m not saying this is for everyone because I realize different people are at different places and aren’t always going to have the same way of interpreting things.
Interestingly, Jim Bob and I had a conversation at that point and I said to him, I really feel like the Lord is impressing upon me that I should be modest in what I wear. And also, that I really should be defining who I am as a woman by choosing to wear dresses and skirts. So Jim Bob said, what about when we’re riding bicycles or going hiking? Do you think the Lord wants you to wear a dress then? How are you going to do that? What about swimming and all these other things that we do?
And I said, well, I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I just feel like the Lord is saying, do this Michelle. Honor me in this way. I don’t always know the answers and details, but I just wanted to honor him. And so I did. I began cleaning out my closet and I had to go shopping. I went to thrift stores and different places because most of my clothes were not skirts and dresses. I really had to do some research to find things that were modest and so I’d have more things to choose from in my closet.
As we studied as a family, we found we could come up with our idea of what we thought modesty was, but we really wanted to see what the scriptures said about it. Our interpretation was that from the neck down to the knee should be covered. By keeping those private areas covered, there’s not any “defrauding” going on. My kids are taught the definition of defrauding as stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled. We don’t believe in defrauding others by the way we dress. And different people may be defrauded by different things. We can’t control their thoughts, but we’re responsible before God for our part. And so years ago, I just felt between me and my Lord that I really needed to dress modestly.
We always tell our children, go to his word. It’s not about these rigid standards. I meet many different people along life’s way and I hear some people say they are so sick of rules and regulations, and they go on and on about how they were raised in a certain denomination. I’m hearing what they’re saying, but I don’t understand it because that’s not where I came from. It’s not drudgery; it really is a joy to see what God says about things and bring that into our lives.