The bikini as a topic of discussion by mature Christian students in a Doctor of Ministry program at a world class theological seminary? Why? What connection could there possibly be between a bikini and faith?
Jeff Pollard saw the connection. Even as a new Christian, in his thirties, something just didn’t seem right to him at the youth beach conference in which he was participating. He was so concerned about it that he did extensive research in an attempt to convince Christians to think about bathing suits.
“What troubled me,” he said, “was this: the beach with its accompanying lascivious atmosphere coupled with the dress of the conference attendees [Christian young people] did not seem in harmony with the preaching of God’s holiness…This led me to examine modesty in general and then swimwear in particular. Why swimwear? Because Scriptural evidence convinced me that modern swimwear is immodest nakedness, and historical evidence convinced me that it was designed to be so.”
Consider these snippets from Pollard’s little book Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America:
Fashion designers through the years have freely admitted that a swimsuit is, in the words of a designer named Fred Cole, “not so much a garment to swim in but something to look beautiful in.” And to reveal more and more of the erotic parts of the body. Cole said of the first suit he designed that it was “a dizzying vision of sexuality.”
“Inching away from the biblical standard, suits crept up the thigh and down the shoulders to the bosom. Yet for all this daring display, the last sensitive region was for a while still protected: the groin…Nevertheless, even this last holdout was unveiled and is now prominently displayed…Isn’t this the antithesis of Christian modesty?”
“Swimwear not only legitimized nakedness but its Siamese twin, voyeurism. The female form was no longer merely a fantasy hidden under layers of cloth and petticoats; it was now a stark, sensual reality for all those who wanted to look…American men established gazing and fantasizing as a red-blooded tradition…At the beach [and, until now, on the Miss America pageant stage] you can see more of what you cannot legitimately see anywhere else: live, naked flesh. Not only that, it’s actually packaged to make it more erotic than most total nudity would be.”
“Being drawn to a person’s God-given beauty is one thing; having one’s eyes directed to another’s body by a sensually designed garment is another.”