It's summer. It's hot. There's water to swim in or sun to soak up. Everyone else is sporting the cutest 2-piece suits. Is it okay for a Christian girl to put on a bikini for such occasions? Or is she doomed to wear a full body wetsuit whenever she enters the pool? How much is too much when it comes to skin exposure? Okay, that's a lot of questions. The topic of to-wear-or-not-to-wear a bikini comes down to three things you have to consider:
Christian females have been struggling with the challenge of being modest for what seems like forever. The Bible tells us not draw attention to ourselves, but we also (very naturally) deeply desire to be and look pretty. Yet 1 Timothy 2:9-10 says girls should "dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."
Just to be clear here, the author is not saying that you can't ever wear braids or jewelry or nice clothes; what he's saying is that you should not wear those things in order to get attention. Dressing with the intention to turn heads is definitely the wrong motivation for wanting to look pretty.
In the Bible, both guys and girls are told to aim for physical, emotional, and spiritual purity: "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." (That's from 1 Timothy 4:12—our namesake's verse for 412teens!) After all, our bodies actually belong to God, and He expects that we will use them for His glory and not selfish reasons (Romans 12:1).
So if we are called to be pure and modest, we have to ask ourselves, "Is wearing a bikini going to help me be modest and pure? Can a bikini-clad body be used for God’s glory?"
Because our actions are often the physical playing out of our thoughts, God wants us to control what goes on in our minds. So much sin can happen in the darkness of our brainwaves, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can control ourselves and maybe even help others control their thoughts too. Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 talk about how we have a responsibility to other Christians to only be helpful—not hurtful—to their spiritual walk. If we do something deliberately to damage or weaken someone else's faith, then we've totally ignored God's command to be helpful and encouraging (Romans 14:19).
By dressing provocatively or showing a lot of skin, it's possible that you could cause a man to look at your body lustfully, which would be a sin for him (Matthew 5:27-29). That's not to say that the guy has no responsibility whatsoever to control his own thoughts, but it certainly isn't very helpful to intentionally tempt and tease, is it? Yes, guys are responsible for their own thoughts—a girl can't control a man's mind (contrary to popular belief)—but it is also a girl's responsibility to stop herself from tempting him on purpose.
If a girl has no intention to cause temptations or draw attention to herself, then it might be perfectly fine for her to wear a bikini. A lot depends on the situation and location and the people around her. Just a bunch of the girls in a friend's hot tub? Probably fine! A private swimming pool in the backyard, where no neighbors can gawk and stalk? Totally okay, so long as there are no guys present who are going to have a problem with your swimwear.
Remember, girls, we have a responsibility to be modest by not drawing attention to ourselves but instead putting the focus back on God. We are also responsible for helping and encouraging our fellow Christian friends by not intentionally tempting them to have impure thoughts (from the guys) or even thoughts of jealousy (from the girls). "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Bikinis are not inherently bad. This is really a question of modesty and intent. If a girl has no intention to cause temptations or draw attention to herself, then it might be perfectly fine for her to wear a bikini. A lot depends on the situation and location and the people nearby. Both guys and girls are told to aim for physical, emotional, and spiritual purity (1 Timothy 4:12). Our bodies actually belong to God, and He expects that we will use them for His glory and not selfish reasons (Romans 12:1). If we are called to be pure and modest, we have to ask "Is wearing this going to help me be modest and pure? Can this outfit be used for God’s glory?"
Cat is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, three socially awkward cats, and one curly-tailed dog.