Mixed Swimming

My mom doesn’t want me to go swimming with my guy friends this summer because she says it is hard for a guy to keep his thoughts pure when he’s around girls in their bathing suits. What’s worse is she won’t even let me get a bikini! All of my friends are wearing them! She says she’s just concerned for my purity, but I think she’s being way too overprotective. Can you please explain to her that it’s not a big deal??!?!!

–Dying of Heat in Georgia

I know how you feel—you think your mother is being way too restrictive and doesn’t have any idea what’s cool now. While that might be true, she still has your best interests in mind. It’s not that she doesn’t trust you; she obviously just understands teen boys. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to be able to help much with the fashion side of things—check out Alicia’s article for that—but I do think I can help with idea of both sides of the situation and give you a direction to go.

What’s the big deal about a bikini anyway, right? “It’s just a bikini and everyone else wears them.” Or, “That’s just the way things are today.” I’m sure these thoughts have crossed your mind, so let’s think about it for a minute and decide what the real issue is here. If we take a look at 1Timothy 2:9, it says, “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control….” So, girls are supposed to be modest. Anyone can take an honest look at this verse and agree that bikinis aren’t modest. The verse also mentions respectable apparel. I think respectable apparel would be clothes that allow the wearer to be respected.

So, what about swimming with boys? In the appropriate situation, I think this is just fine, but I’d definitely not swim alone with a boy. Even if your intentions are pure, his might not be, and even if they are, he can easily be severely tested. You can help out by talking to your mom and setting up some rules–don’t forget to cover all the bases. Important situations to talk about would include the public pool, pool parties, going swimming on dates, swimming at camp, and swimming at the beach. Taking responsibility for yourself can often be met with greater trust. Of course, in the end, you must obey and respect your parents’ decisions. If they have clearly stated that you may not swim in the company of boys, then don’t. It doesn’t matter if everyone else is, or if you feel uncool, or if you think it’s simply just unfair and too old-fashioned. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1 ESV). This verse in Ephesians does not include the word unless. (This means no switching swimsuits after leaving the house and no lying about who all will be attending that pool party!)

Now for the second half of that question. I will confirm that if you get that bikini, you will get attention. However, it isn’t going to be the attention a Christian girl should be looking for. God designed guys to be visual. We can’t help it; it’s just the way we were made. God made us that way so we can enjoy our wives after we’re married. We are made to like what we see, and to want more of what we see. When God designed us that way, he wasn’t intending for females to walk around in skimpy clothes or bikinis. He was intending for us to have fun with our wives at home. Read Song of Solomon chapter four if you need a better explanation of this! When girls dress immodestly, they are dressing in a way God does not approve of, and they are tempting men to lust over them. All men are tempted in this area—Christians, non-Christians, married, and single. It doesn’t matter who the man is—God designed all of us to be visual! You will be respected more when you’re dressed modestly, and we’ll appreciate you for your godliness and consideration.

Remember that your mom is just trying to protect you because she understands men a little better than you do; so try to listen to her and be patient with her, because she’s doing her best. It might require a little more work and some well-thought-out shopping, but you can find alternatives that will keep both you and Mom happy. Just a simple google search for “modest swimsuit” yields tons of results. You can also try your local mall or other stores, but finding one online that suits your taste might be a little easier.

When looking for a suit, keep a few things in mind:

1. Does this swimsuit cover a lot more than your normal underwear? If not, then call it what it is; don’t believe a name change makes it acceptable to wear in public.

2. Is the suit family friendly? What if you wore this swimsuit with your family at the beach? Would you feel comfortable?

3. Are you embarrassed? Try the suit on and walk outside the changing room. Just how red your face turns is a good indicator!

4. Is it functional? Look for something secure enough that it’s not going to malfunction (think strapless or too loose) if you take a jump off the high dive.

You can look attractive and modest at the same time, so please do all men a favor this summer and cover up.

“And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim, but the LORD will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands.” Isaiah 25:11 (ESV)

By Nathan Parks


  1. K. Usher says

    Thank you for tackling this subject. I was in the midst of discussing the bikini issue with my 18-year old daughter. I know it is wrong but she just won’t listen. I put in the search engine “mixed swimming” and came upon your website. The article is well-done although I go a step further. I don’t believe it is modest to show upper thigh. I think shorts are a must for swimming. Anyway……….thank you for putting this article out there on the web. I copied it off and will refer to it often.

    Thank you from a mom who is struggling with a daughter who is more fascinated with the world than with Jesus.

    God bless you all.

  2. K. Usher, you and your daughter might like Ohana.
    Here are two links to board shorts from the Ohana website:
    Clearance board shorts
    Juniors Board Shorts
    Please keep heart and don’t give up!

  3. J.C. Hughes says

    I was reared in a non Christian home. My parents were good people who thought that my sister and I should attend Sunday “School”, but none other service was really pushed on us. I was allowed, and even encouraged to go to dances, and mixed swimming get together.
    I am thankful that you have given some good advice, with a younger man’s thought to the question. But I am not in total agreement with the advice on mixed swimming. I know that today you see more skin shown at the mall than some showed while swimming when I was a boy.
    The ideas that a woman (young or older) must be modest in dress and that a man must keep control of his thoughts are biblical teachings.
    The question then becomes who defines modest for the woman? Does the style industry? Or the super models? Or maybe it is the movie star. Can any of these be a role model for modest apparel?
    I think not. What we see worn to worship services today, would not have been worn a few years ago.
    So what is worn to the beach, pool, should be something that doesn’t draw attention on one’s self. It shouldn’t be suggestive to others.
    Paul told the Corinthians in 1st Corn. 10:53 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
    1. This tells us that we face the same temptations that all face in the world.
    2. God will not let us be faced with temptation that we can’t turn from.
    3. With all temptations he will give us a way of escape.

    The question I have for you is when does he give us that way of escape? Could it be in our decision to stay away from the temptation?
    Now should one be involved in mixed swimming?
    If what you wear doesn’t cause someone to have evil thoughts (at the pool, beach, mall, etc.) then it would be all right. What would be evil thoughts? Matt. 5: 28 Jesus said “But I say to you that whoever looks at woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
    Now I want you to understand that this is not a one way street. It applies to both men and women.
    I feel that anyone going to mixed swimming area is walking in an area that could be mighty dangerous.

  4. Shelley Hazel says

    Thanks for your thoughts on bikinis and your encouragment for modest dress. Immodest dress has to be the biggest impediment to teen girls’ (and, as a result, teen boys’) purity today.

    I recently read a manuscript by Stephen Higgenbotham on this subject that was excellent (I’ll try to send it to you). Refrencing Gen. 3: 7-11;21, when Adam and Eve were found naked in the garden and God gave them appropriate clothing, he pointed out that
    1.) clothing was designed to cover our bodies, not show them off
    2.) culture must not entirely determine what is modest or immodest because God gave them clothing to cover themselves better than leaves in a time when there was no culture.

    So, I would ask, do even “modest swimsuits” cover your body or show off your curves? Even if everyone else is accustomed to swimming together, in swimsuits or bikinis, is that modest?

    If you really want to swim with boys, and you are at a location where NO ONE ELSE is wearing swimsuits and bikinis, then why not wear dark, heavy material t-shirts and cut off jeans? You don’t have to wear a swim suit to swim. Some would even argue that a wet shirt is too clingy to wear in mixed company. How about a guy’s perspective?

  5. Tom Holliday says

    What a wonderful topic to excersize our spiritual muscle on! I make this response 6 months after the last post asking for a guys response.

    I was raised by Godly parents, but these topics were never a part of our spiritual life (i.e we were allowed to swim mixed, public and private).
    Since I made a personal choice to seek Jesus when I was 19 and have my own faith, and am pursuing Christ-likeness for myself, and my family, I am considering many social/cultural topics.
    I am 42 and have an 8 year old daughter for whom these topics are future. I also have a toddler son for whom I will need to make whatever message consistent. 3 Points:
    1. I remember being a teenager. As was pointed out in Mr. Parks response above, I was a male then, and am a male now, and while my responses to the visual temptations have changed, the temptations have not. I enter public pools with a dark tshirt, and long shorts only to play with my kids, and nephews, nieces. As I read and pray I have become increasingly convinced that exposing my body to anyone besides my wife does not honor God or Jesus. Currently I am against mixed bathing after awareness sets in (different age for every child – diligent parents will know). I have not had to address this with my daughter yet – so for now this is my conviction. For the record, I swam competitively for 8 years through my teen years in a racing suit, and spent entire days around females in racing suits. Sorry everyone, but awareness is awareness and it is no respecter of 1 pc or 2 pc suits (for males anyway).
    2. Scripture teaches that the flesh affects the spirit and vice versa. While a saving relationship with Jesus is spiritual in origin, it must be carried out while flesh and spirit are still together. I’d be a hypocrit if I stated that I have always lived this way. As age and spiritual maturity increase choices change. The walk of faith in Jesus is a journey, not a destination. Time spent speaking to God in prayer, and listening to God in scripture will reveal answers to all our questions. Like any good relationship, it requires time. If heaven is your goal make this a priority.
    3. At the risk of offending I’ll say that in observation of my own life, choices that are a result of what I want are by nature-selfish. 1 John 2:16 states that “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but of the world.” These 3 things produce self-satisfaction, and selfishness which do not in my life honor God. Jesus tells us to do unto as we would be done by. I’d prefer not to be tempted in this way, so will try not to tempt others in this way. Is this easy? No. Are followers of Jesus to be recognizeably different and unique from “the world”? Yes.

    Final thought: It has been helpful to me to realize that God is present with me NOW. This both leads me to love myself and others more, and as a result helps me to honestly evaluate my motives for making choices.

    Sorry this is so long.
    Congratulations to the young lady for caring enough to seek answers at her age. I wish I’d been as thoughtful about faith and family when younger.

Speak Your Mind