Wheat and Lilies

Dorney Park, Pennsylvania. It's 98 degrees and everybody's in the wave pool or standing in line for the water slides. I'm on a beach chair, guarding the wallets.

Gorgeous, shapely teens walk by in tiny bikinis, diamonds glittering in their belly buttons. I have to admit that the jewelry accentuates a beautiful part of a woman's body — as Song of Songs puts it, the feminine stomach is "a mound of wheat encircled by lilies." But such an eye-catching strategy designed to show off naked skin makes me uncomfortable, and not just because I have sons I'm trying to protect.

If you looked that good, you might flaunt it, too, a sinister voice whispers inside my head. But thanks be to God, a chorus of maternal compassion silences the shallow hiss of middle-aged envy.

Why supply yourself so readily to unknown eyes? I want to ask these possible future daughters-in-law. If it's that easy to display your sexual allure for crowds of strangers, how much natural girl-reserve is left in your psyches? You're given that modesty to fend off unwanted hands and eyes. It's your birthright as women.

I'm not saying that girls should wear baggy t-shirts over their bathing suits at a water slide park. I'm not trying to lay down the law about bikinis (yellow-polka-dotted or otherwise) versus one-pieces versus the head-to-toe black purdah worn by the few Muslim women in the park. I'm talking about a heart-attitude of modesty that regulates a person's relationship with your own skin. Tend your wheat and lilies, daughters, we should be saying. And don't fret. God can repair the walls that protect your scented gardens.

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