07 September 2010

Sister... show mercy! (Annual repost #3)

[I'm very grateful for the use God has made of this post. Many pastors, leaders, and others have requested permission to print this and hand it out; and many sisters have said they were going to share it around. Originally posted in 2006, it always receives a mixture of gracious and bizarre response. Let me add this one word to husbands: you too. Attractive wife, right? Praise God. So  remember what it was like to be single. You know how guys are. You used to be one! So you show some mercy to your brothers. Sensitize your wife about showing love for her brothers in this important way. Read this with her. Help her to dress helpfully and mercifully. Or am I assuming too well of you? Do you know what's going on, how your wife is affecting your brothers, and do you derive pleasure from the thought? In that case, do you really need me to tell you to repent?]

Preface: "What are you? Nuts?!"
Just thought I'd lead with the question you'll be wondering in a few minutes. I am about to stick my finger in the fan, about up to my elbow, and I know it. But I really think someone needs to say this — and why not me? I have less to lose than many who've thought the same thing, but daren't say it.

So here we go.

What will change, and what won't. Spring's sprung, and summer looms. Mercury rises, fashions change. But one thing that won't change, unless I'm happily mistaken: some good Christian sisters will not dress as helpfully as they could.

I chose that word with care: "helpfully." I am not talking about sin, shame, indecency, wantonness, or the like. Perhaps I could, with some justification. But that's for another time — and probably another writer. At this point, I just want to talk about being helpful.

Sister, if there's one thing you and I can certainly agree on, it's this: I don't know what it's like to be a woman, and you don't know what it's like to be a man. We're both probably wrong where we're sure we're right, try as we might. So let me try to dart a telegram from my camp over to the distaff side.

"Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man" (Proverbs 27:20). Solomon doesn't use the Hebrew words that would indicate males exclusively, so this and Ecclesiastes 1:8 may apply across the gender-board. Libbie pointed out very ably that we men wrongly assume that we alone battle with temptations entering through the eye-gate.

But. But if men aren't alone in the battle, they may have a particular weakness for this aspect of it. Consider passionately-godly King David, whose psalms express aspirations after God beside which our own are pale, bloodless things. One day King David is in the wrong place, at the wrong time; sees a naked woman bathing next door, and boom! he's gone (2 Samuel 11). Family, kingdom, God — all forgotten, consumed in the flash-flame of a lust that was only visual in its inception.

And what of that Israelite Philistine Samson and his own "eye trouble?" He sees a fetching young pagan, and bellows at his dad, "Get her for me, for she looks good to me" (Judges 14:3 NAS). Where did Samson's passions take him? How did his course end?

Unless all the men I've known personally or at a distance are completely unrepresentative, it's a lifelong struggle, a lifelong weakness. As I recall from a Proverbs lecture on mp3, Bruce Waltke says that his dad, at around age 100, told him, "Bruce, I still have the same struggles I did when I was 50." It was sobering for Dr. Waltke to hear; sobering for any man! (In fact, put me down for "disheartening.")

Where am I going with this? Oh, don't try to look so innocent. You know exactly where I'm going.

This is... church? So here comes this brother into the assembly of the saints, hoping for a rest from the battles of the week, a moment to regroup, sing, pray, get the Word, fellowship. He looks up to the choir, or to his left or his right — and in a tick of the clock, he's facing the same struggle he faced every time he turned on his TV, opened a magazine, or went down a city street. He's seeing things that make it far too easy for him not to keep his mind focused where it needs to be focused.

And he's not in a nightclub, he's not at a singles' bar, he's not at the beach. He's in church.

Now, some very direct disclaimers:
  • Every man's sin is his own, and every man's struggle is his own (Proverbs 14:10)
  • No one makes a man think or feel anything (Proverbs 4:23)
  • It is each individual's responsibility to guard his own heart (Proverbs 4:23)
  • Beauty is a wonderful gift of God (cf. Exodus 28:2; Song of Solomon 1:8, 15, etc.)
Having said all that: while it may be true that I'm the one holding the matches, you won't help me if you pile twigs all around my feet and douse them with lighter fluid. To be a little more specific: if you know I've had trouble with drunkenness, you won't wave a glass of wine in front of me tauntingly. If you know I battle covetousness, you won't take me window-shopping in high-end stores I've no business frequenting.

That is, you won't do those things if you love, if you care for me at all.

So I put this question: what are some sisters thinking, in how they dress?

"Attractive"? As the ladies pick clothes, they'll consider what's pretty, what's flattering, what's attractive. Who could blame them? But, "attractive" to whom? In what way? To what end? With what focus?

I want my lure to attract trout so they will bite and get hooked, and I can kill them and eat them.

A business wants to attract buyers so they will spend money and acquire their product or service and make them rich.

By that blouse, those pants, that skirt — what are you trying to attract? Attract to what, so that they will focus on what and feel what, and want to do what?

Consider the questions again. "Is it pretty?" Fine question, no evil in it. "Is it comfortable, is it complimentary, is it fun?" No problem. I'd just suggest you add one more question: "Is it helpful, or is it hurtful, to my brothers in Christ? Will this unintentionally contribute to their having a focus that is harmful to their holy walk?"

Now, lookie here:
In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23 the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils (Isaiah 3:18-23)

...likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing-- 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4)
What it isn't. Immediately we'll swing in, as we always do, and say, "Now, the writer's not saying that women can't dress nicely, or wear jewelry, or blah blah blah." And we'll all disown our Fundie forebears who focused on nylons and lipstick, and came up with precise hemline measurements. We'll want to make sure that we're not advocating a new line of Bible Burqaware™ for evangelical women. All that will be true and valid enough.But... what is it? But I'm concerned that, in our anxiety to be sure to prevent the wrong interpretation, we effectively cut off all interpretation. We have swung from making the passages say silly things, to not letting them say anything. These passages have to mean something! They must have some application! What is it?

Surely the passages warn against vanity, externality, sensuality; and promote a focus on a godly character as true beauty. Who you are; not just what you look like. Remember: "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion" (Proverbs 11:22 NAS).

Oh boy, I'm going to make it worse now. Deep breath....

Say what? What are your clothes saying about you, sister? What are they supposed to say to your brothers? "Hey, look at this?" Well, they actually are trying to look at the Lord; it's not good for them, not helpful for them, to be looking at that. No, it's not your fault that they have a problem. We established that. And it's really great that God has made you beautiful. May your husband (present or future) celebrate your beauty.

But, please hear me: you can help the brothers who aren't your husband, or you can not-help them. Which are you doing? If you're not married, and a man looks at you, is he thinking, "What a great character"? Or are you giving him reason to think something else about you is "great"?

I know many of the responses. I've heard them. "You don't know what it's like to buy women's clothes, you ignorant man!" Mostly true. My first just-for-fun purchase of (what I thought was) a pretty blue dress for my wife was... well, it was appalling. What a good sport my wife was. I took it back to the store immediately, and made a much better choice.

"I caaaan't." But this: "I can't find anything modest! It's all too revealing! It's impossible to get something that looks nice, yet isn't too tight, or too short, or too-something / not-something-enough!"

Sorry, but baloney.

I put modest women's clothing Christian in Google, and 63,500 pages come up. (Up from 43,200, last year.) Yes, some are funny and quaint at best. But are they all Amishwear? "Can't find?"

More fundamentally: I do not accept that anyone has to wear clothes that are too tight or too sheer or too short — unless you are the largest and tallest woman living in the hottest part of the planet. Because I see larger, taller women than you walking around in hot weather, and they're all wearing clothes, every last one of them. They got those clothes somewhere, I reason. You could too.

"But — but they won't look good on me! The shoulders will be wrong!"

Need-to-not-know. I'm not sure that's necessarily true, but let's accept it and pose a counter-question. You tell me. Which is worse: your shoulders hanging a half-inch too low? Or a blouse/skirt that simply (shifting into turbo-delicate) provides need-to-know information to those with a need-to-not-know?

I'm sure we all agree that there are clothes that show off what others have no helpful business seeing. Here's what to show, in clothes-selection: show a Godward focus, discretion, a godly character.

And show mercy.

Parting thought. Darlene pointed me to a statement by Arthur Pink, which makes everything I've just said look awfully mild. But there's no denying that Pink has a point. I'll close with it:
Again, if lustful looking be so grievous a sin, then those who dress and expose themselves with desires to be looked at and lusted after-as Jezebel, who painted her face, tired her head, and looked out of the window (2 Kings 9:30)-are not less, but even more guilty. In this matter it is only too often the case that men sin, but women tempt them so to do. How great, then, must be the guilt of the great majority of the modern misses who deliberately seek to arouse the sexual passions of our young men? And how much greater still is the guilt of most of their mothers for allowing them to become lascivious temptresses?
Now, note, Pink and I speak to different audiences. I speak to those whom I charitably assume are inadvertently dressing in an unhelpful manner. Pink speaks to those whose intent is to allure. Between the two of us, I can pray we've provided food for thought, prayer, reconsideration, and needed change.

One last thought: it is a mistake to think I exclusively have church-attire in mind. That is lifted as a particularly egregious example of what-are-you-thinking? In what I say, I have in mind any place where both sexes are present.

Dan Phillips's signature

95 comments:

Tom Chantry said...

Here we go again! Should I get it started? Dan, you're a mean, insensitive, fundamentalist, troglodytic cretin!

DJP said...

Hey! Those are my charms!

Sharon said...

Wouldn't this be a more appropriate post for, say, June 7?

Matthew Birch said...

Im pretty sure that if any lady saw me in reveling clothes the last thing they would be doing is lusting but hence that's not your point.

I have always admired my wife for she is beautiful and she is very concerned that I be the only one who sees that beauty. She may be a little to cautious if that's possible. I am a blessed man to have such a godly wife!

Good article.

frecklesandfaith said...

Thank you for posting this!

The Squirrel said...

Dan,

I've always thought that this was one of the most very helpful posts that you have ever written. Thanks for re-posting it, and I'm forwarding the link to a few young ladies I know who need this reminder.

Squirrel

Cathy M. said...

Seems like this would be better posted in spring. We're all about to start wearing yards and yards of wool. I do have 2 little anecdotes on the topic...

An elderly lady at church once took the children's choir director, an ample young woman, and advised her NOT to face the congregation when she raises her arms... or better yet, wear a choir robe.

A month or so ago, we visited a church in Nashville to hear Ken Ham speak and the "praise team" included a man in the lowest pair of hip hugger suit-pants imaginable. It didn't make me lust, but I couldn't quit worrying that his business was about to become public. After the service, the first remark my husband made when we got to the car: "how about Mr. Prissy-britches.." I was like, "I KNOW!" Apparently, it made him nervous too.

Useful post. A good reminder :-)

Robert said...

Dan,

Thanks for this. I am going to forward it to my wife and have her share it with her friends. My wife actually asks me if what she has on is OK if she thinks it is even close to bordering on being tempting. She appreciates that I don't want anybody else to see any hint of things that are only for us to share. She also wants to make sure that she is not tempting others.

mikeb said...

Wow, you are sticking your hand deep into the fan...I'm surprised no one has thrown the legalistic card at you yet. Or the "stop making rules where the Bible doesn't speak on it" card. Just give it time, I bet the will come.

I for one agree with your post, and think the issue of modesty (or lack thereof) is one that Christians have totally conformed to the world on: swallowed hook, line and sinker. I find that you can't even have a meaningful discussion about it without being told you're legalistic. I've been to megachurches that feel like nightclubs, with plenty of surgical "enhancements" being exhibited, along with the latest short skirt, tattoos in discreet locations prominently being shown, platform high heals...

We've been told for years by seeker churches that it's all about the heart, that the body doesn't matter, which many Christians interpreted this as to mean "do whatever you want to your body and dress just like the world." Even those megachurches which fall into the "young reformed" fold are falling prey to this.

DJP said...

Yes, Sharon, normally. I just didn't this year, and today was urged to post it by someone whose word (OTBE) is law.

(c:

Tom Chantry said...

...how about Mr. Prissy-britches...

If metas were contests, this one would be closed. No one can hope to top Cathy M.

round.tuit said...

I agree with others who have commented that this post would have been more appropriate for Spring.

Our God is a jealous God. I don't think I will ever understand those men who enjoy the attention of other men to the body of their wife.

Trevor said...

To give in or not to give in to the temptation to forward this post to the listservs of multiple Christian college ministries...hmm...

Chris H said...

In addition to the subject matter, which I think is handled in a magnificent way, this is perhaps my favourite DJP post because of the tact used.

It doesn't come off as cheesy, nor does it distract from the point of the matter. I also like the phrase "turbo-delicate" because it sounds like the setting on a space-aged washing machine...

Weirdly, though, my verification word is "uncoat."

Robert said...

I think that this applies just as well for the colder weather as for spring/summer. Do you think that people can't try to show off their body in warm clothes as well? If so, then you're deceived. People can wear any sort of tight clothing that is just as revealing as a lack of clothing (just look at many of the females in the super hero movies). In fact, I think it is good to issue the warning for all seasons so that people don't stop checking their choice of clothes just because they're warm or long.

round.tuit said...

Robert - I hear you, but bare skin has more of an affect on me. I am accustomed to temperatures of -20 and you just don't see so much of it then. :-)

Daryl said...

But it's IMPOSSIBLE to find modest clothing in my size, so I HAVE to expose myself to the waiting world!!

Have some sensitivity...

Mike said...

So well written it's ridiculous. A million gold internets for you sir!

Mike said...

Oh and Sharon, I would agree, except that I've seen too many deacons wives and daughters come to church wearing coats trimmed in fir and mini-skirts in the dead of winter.

Which makes me wonder...are we absolutely sure there aren't any passages in scripture that allow us to pick our brothers up by the lapels and shake them like a dog with a dirt dish towel....in Christian love of course?

Daryl said...

...assuming that the issue is the skirt, not the fur trim...

No need to go THERE.

Mike said...

Daryl, not quite sure what you're curious about there. I'm not anti-fur if that's what you mean. Card carrying member of the NRA in fact. I think what annoys me most, aside from the obvious indecency of the skirt in this situation is the way some of these same people dress to draw attention to themselves. (Which is partially what the article was referring to if I'm not mistaken.)

CR said...

Good post and I do hope people will help us single guys and dress modestly in church.

Anon said...

Any time is proper to address sin, its causes, and its cures. I for one am glad to have this issue addressed and wish it were so more often. I struggle with lust and find it very difficult to be in Church only to have the world on display (at least this part), paraded where I should feel the most secure from its onslaught. I sit close to the front so as to not be looking at dresses that are see through. Where can I go? What can I do? My sin is ever before me and it seems I cannot get help in the one place I seek it, my church. Pray for me but immediately sisters help me by dressing in attire fitting for the Lord.

michelle said...

This post is good for any season. We women find a way to be just as inappropriate in the Fall and Winter as we do in the Spring and Summer. This is an excellent reminder and I LOVE it when you post this!

Rachael Starke said...

Yep, it's a classic for a reason.

No doubt many women won't fess up to the root issues of pride and a wicked Genesis 3 desire to "rule" over men by the way they dress. But, in all honesty, I wonder if another issue has to do with the way women really don't understand the sin of lust - they don't understand the intensity of mens' response to visual things, and they also don't recognize their own response for what it is through other means (hello, Twilight movies?). And I wonder if that is partly because of age issues. Men tend to battle most with these things in their teens and twenties (thirties? forties?); women, if they battle at all, do so later in life.

I'm in that "later in life" stage now, and now that I understand with more clarity and empathy how easy it is to let eyes and mind stray, even when you have every desire not to, my whole approach to dressing "mercifully" has been transformed. Not sure what it would take to get some of the younger women in my acquaintance to see it the same way though...

David said...

Mike,

Seeing a girl in a fir-trimmed coat would make me pine.

Mike said...

Oi. Okay, I went back and re-read my post. I mentioned the fur lining of their coats to emphasize the fact that it was winter...and despite that fact, they were still dressing indecently. It was a response to the appropriateness of the post's timing.

I didn't mention that in my first "defense" of the statement because well I'm at work and just didn't take the time to re-read what I'd originally said. So I responded completely without thinking. I apologize for the confusion. Wear all the fur you can buy...I promise it's okay. End of the rabbit trail. Sorry Dan for the unintended hijacking.

Keith said...

Dan:

Thanks for running this again. It's amazing the number of people who have not yet discovered that it is cooler in the shade.

Has it occurred to you, though, that some of what you are dealing with may be precipitated by the attitude expressed in your "What it isn't" paragraph? The pendulum doesn't stop swinging in the middle; it proceeds to the far side. When people throw off legalistic shackles, they tend to run too far - well beyond the biblical standard. Is it possible that God's expected standard of modesty for both Men and women is somewhere more conservative than the common practice in your church community?

I grew up in and have stayed in a community of believers whose women dress modestly and conservatively. I agree that this practice can, and sometimes does, lead to legalism. However, the vast majority of women I know are guided by a strong personal conviction and engage in their conservative lifestyle with joyful service to the Lord. They don’t judge others who do not dress like they do, and they consider it a privilege to serve God by being clearly identifiable from the world.

In this and other posts, you seem to dismiss these kinds of Christians, or put out veiled warnings about them. This saddens me, because I think you either don’t have much experience with this community, or you are somehow reacting against it.

I don’t in any way intend to be combative or critical, so if I come across that way, I apologize in advance. I’m just trying to advocate for people I know for whom you don’t seem to have much regard.

And, I’m just wondering. Do you just not have much experience with conservative communities, or are you riding a pendulum?

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I've always loved this post. In fact, you should schedule to re-post it, for sometime in April or May EVERY YEAR. (And manage to fit it in again some other time, just for good measure.)

It is a problem everywhere, but you are right that the church, on the day we come to worship, should be the one place a person can find a "sanctuary" free from immodesty. Most especially for those who are given the responsibility of leading in view of the congregation. And I think this is an issue that would be best addressed if church leaders (pastors, elders, wives of elders, deacons, wives of deacons) would speak to the flock on the issue, corporately and individually.

I also think there are plenty of young women who are naive about the issue, willfully or not. I would love to hear testimonies from people who have personally addressed the issue of modesty with individuals successfully and with humble tact. I think about what I would say, but hold my tongue because it would probably come across more like a condemnation than an edification. But I'm interested in improving in that area.

DJP said...

Keith, I'm not tracking. Can you maybe quote something I said that you find objectionable?

trogdor said...

If you posted this in the spring, all the southern hemisphere readers would whine about the timing. Can't please everyone.

This is a classic, although it's awfully tough to share if you care about being tactful. Fortunately, I don't.

sonofthunder7 said...

@David, *groan*...

But in all seriousness, just wanted to echo the thought that it's not just the summer clothes! I get the feeling that some women think that as long as the skin is covered, they're good. "Fashionable" winter clothing(sweaters, turtlenecks, etc) can be just as accentuatingly dangerous. I'm not along here, right? Right?? So I'm not complaining about your timing, Dan.

And I can praise God in saying that I belong to a church where the women(and men!) dress in a God-glorifying manner - we come together to worship our Father, not impress each other!! Sadly, I've been to churches where the attire seems more fitting for a club than church. This makes me sad.

Thanks for this timely post, Dan. And to you all you godly women, I thank you for your desire and deeds to aid us men in walking holy lives.

Keith said...

Dan:

I'm sorry I wasn't clear. I agree with the spirit and most of the content of your post. My concern is centered on the following two paragraphs:

"What it isn't. Immediately we'll swing in, as we always do, and say, "Now, the writer's not saying that women can't dress nicely, or wear jewelry, or blah blah blah." And we'll all disown our Fundie forebears who focused on nylons and lipstick, and came up with precise hemline measurements. We'll want to make sure that we're not advocating a new line of Bible Burqaware™ for evangelical women. All that will be true and valid enough.

But... what is it? But I'm concerned that, in our anxiety to be sure to prevent the wrong interpretation, we effectively cut off all interpretation. We have swung from making the passages say silly things, to not letting them say anything. These passages have to mean something! They must have some application! What is it?"

You seem to dismiss with a stroke all those who interpret the Bible more literally than you, without acknowledging the effectiveness with which they have chosen to deal with the modesty issue. I appreciate your concern for the problem - why can't you appreciate their solution?

It's this "Well, of course I'm not talking about living THAT way!" kind of attitude that saddens me. I guess I'm kind of agreeing with you that the problem you are seeing is because you may be riding a reaction pendulum. Maybe it is time to bring to mind the people I described in my previous post, and then take a second look at both the letter and the spirit of the relevant biblical passages. Or at the very least give a courteous nod to those on the other side of where you think the center is instead of dismissing them.

DJP said...

...and let me just say again to be clear, as I have to do every time I post this: I am not talking exclusively about dressing in church.

Is there a setting, other than alone with one's husband, where this shouldn't apply?

sonofthunder7 said...

Dan, not fair asking a question with only one possible answer!

Carl said...

Wow. Everytime I come across an article or idea along these lines I pump a fist into the air with joy. I'm a man, and the time period before I encountered this kind of biblical thinking I thought I was alone and crazy, or that something was wrong with me. Or that I was the only man who looked at a woman and thought,"Isn't that a little to revealing?" I'm glad to see that I'm not alone and not crazy. Thanks for this article and please continue to reprint it every year. Also, could you start adding facebook linking capabilities to the blog? I'm going to share it on facebook anyway, but it would be easier with facebook compatibility. Thanks.

DJP said...

Thanks, Keith, that's helpful. But I'm still lost. Are you saying that your position is "that women can't dress nicely, or wear jewelry"? You do think we should focus "on nylons and lipstick, and [come] up with precise hemline measurements"?

Plus, I don't see how it's a question of literality. No one interprets Peter literally.

mikeb said...

I think I get what Keith is saying, but it would take a long article to make his point without others misunderstanding.

You have the neck to ankle skirt-wearers with long braided hair types vs. the tattoo riddled hipster with boyish hair and Paris Hiltonish attire. I think Keith is saying Dan plays the middle, because after all it can't be either of "those" extremes the Bible is talking about, it must be something in between, right? But of course one end of these 'extremes' changes throughout time depending on the culture, leaving the middle ground to slide around as well. Keith would rather there by a strong Biblical interpretation of a standard that does not move with the times. And I think we can all appreciate that view.

I personally don't think we can put Dan is such a small box based on what he's said. (Poor Danny boy is often misunderstood :)

Pooka said...

In SoCal, this article should be broadcast bi-weekly. Maybe on the local radio station or on a billboard. Maybe tacked on the door of the local church.

Charlie Frederico said...

Thank you for this post. My wife and I are often disgusted at the lack of godliness in many 'well-meaning' women (and men) in their indecency. This is a topic that should be taught with some regularity and with tact. Inappropriate dress is a reality. We need to get past the "all God cares about is the heart" stage. How many brothers and sisters are led into sin in their hearts by the impropriety of others. It is bad enough to have to deal with it in the world, but to have to combat it within God's household is uncalled-for. Actually, I appreciate the exhortation, but the actual instruction of the passages involved would have been useful. Thank you again.

VcdeChagn said...

I personally don't think we can put Dan is such a small box based on what he's said. (Poor Danny boy is often misunderstood :)

My wife dresses very conservatively (long skirts only, long hair, etc) and she thinks Dan's article is great.

I'm not sure that he's saying anything about more conservative dress at all. If he is, I don't read it in the article and this is at least the fourth or fifth time I've read it over the years.

Dan, FWIW "Sister have mercy" has become a phrase in my house over the past couple of years.

My wife finds it amusing when I look away from a woman and mutter it under my breath.

Keith said...

Dan:

Again, thank you for your patience. I realize that I'm a guest on your blog and that I'll need to clarify my point quickly, or I'll become tiresome. Trust me, I'm trying to understand you too, because I think there will be value in the understanding.

When you say "Plus, I don't see how it's a question of literality. No one interprets Peter literally." do you mean:

No one, as in no one that you know?
No one, as in no one that matters?
No one, as in no one possibly can?
No one, as in no one who knows how to exegete scripture?
No one, as in we used to believe that, but now we know better, and it’s time everyone got with the program?

I don't mean to be rude, but that statement really hit me hard. It sounded to my ears like those who say "No one takes the first eleven chapters of Genesis literally."

I can tell you that my wife and I and thousands of other people I know of are under the impression that we are taking Peter literally. Maybe you could show us how we are being silly or inconsistent (and you may actually be right) but for us, it is a privilege and a matter of joyful worship to obey the directives of our Lord as we understand them. We are not engaged in works righteousness, as far as we know. We just love Jesus and enjoy obeying Him as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s will through scripture.

Also, I'm not asking you to agree with me or the way my church community chooses to practice obedience to Christ. I rejoice in your liberty. God is using you mightily, and I'm grateful for it.

However – and here I feebly try to make full circle – I think that we who take a conservative approach to dress (for both men and women) have chosen a path that minimizes the problems you bring up in your post. It would be useful – and I think more honest – if you could acknowledge this instead of consigning us to the backwaters.

And, I’m still curious. Are you just ignorant of us, or are you aware of us and our stand and are riding a pendulum of reaction against it? In my experience, most people with your dismissive attitude fall into one of these two categories. (Oops, was I rude just now? Well, if so, I’m sure I’ll be appropriately punished.)

Paula said...

@ Keith - I appreciate the grace and tone of your comments. I live in an area with a large Mennonite population that chooses to dress very modestly and consider them dear brothers & sisters in Christ. I do agree with you that the more modest styles of attire eliminate a plethora of problems related to dress, temptation, and the like.

I do agree with DJP, that those imposing strict regulations such as the horrendous pantyhose rule, ought to check their attitudes & motives (seriously, are pantyhose supposed to make your legs look less attractive/desirable?)

@DJP...thank you for posting this, whatever the season, it is needed! As the mother of two teen boys, I am probably especially sensitive to the topic & especially irritated with the immodestly dressed girl in the pew in front of us causing a distraction during worship!

I heard a pastor's wife share one time that her husband struggled every Sunday because he had to climb into the pulpit and stare down into a sea of...well...you can imagine. Women (older and younger) need to consider the view from above as well as the view they see when they look straight on in the mirror. Not only because of the pastor in the pulpit but because men are generally taller & have a different view than the one you see in the mirror.

I highly recommend Dannah Gresh's materials for young women (and their moms). She has some good, common sense guidelines for dressing modestly, while still being fashionable.

DJP said...

Paula, sometimes nearsightedness is a blessing to a pastor.

DJP said...

Keith, not to be rude, but do I know you? Why would I know your church, or any other detail of your life? Are you famous, and I missed it?

As to your questions, no problem whatever, and no offense taken.

Here's 1 Peter 3:3-4a woodenly literally from the Greek text: "Of whom let the adornment not be the outward [adornment] of weaving of hair and putting about of gold pieces or the putting on of garments, but by contrast the inner person of the heart..."

So, there you go. "Garments" is just the general Greek word for clothes.

So: no clothes, period. Just a pretty heart.

That's the woodenly literal sense.

Which nobody practices.

(So that corresponds to your "no one possibly can.")

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I cannot believe that a TRUE Christian woman would dress provocatively. Dressing modestly is not only the godly thing to do, but it is also the tasteful thing to do.

Also, and I may get some flack for this one, but do any women out there find it offensive that men, sitting in pews, are having lustful thoughts toward them? I know I feel violated to some degree.

ibcarlos said...

Rachael parenthetically asked: 'thirties? forties?'

To which I say: 'yes' & 'yes'.

|c:

(Word verification: 'dicingou' Cantonese for "put somethin' decent on," maybe?)

Keith said...

Dan:

So, in order to take Peter literally in 1 Peter 3:3-4, I have to agree that he had nudity in mind? Seriously? Seriously?

I'm not well enough acquainted with your humor to know for sure, but I think you're gently pulling my leg.

If not, then I think you have opened up endless possibilities for the interpretation of other inconvenient scripture passages.

First, read the passage in some "woodenly literal" way. Second, point out any absurdities that seem to arise from this reading. Third, dismiss any clearly intended meaning as absurd and assign your own. Brilliant! Straw flies everywhere.

OK, so now I am pulling your leg a bit.

Seriously now, I have been lurking here for quite some time (years, I think), and I consider your stuff required reading. You have been kind to let me make my points, so now I will slip gently back into my gopher hole and await more good stuff.

Nudity!

DJP said...

Keith, thanks for your kind words, I appreciate it. And thanks for reading.

But, Keith, that is what Peter says, though we all know it is not what he means. But he says "Of whom let the adornment not be the outward [adornment] of ...the putting on of garments." So if anyone to crows "I take Peter literally: no gold jewelry and no hair-do's," then he needs to add "and no clothes!"

But, while that is the literal import of his words, we know that he means that the woman mustn't be all about her clothes. Fancy clothes mustn't be her focus. But she still can wear clothes. "Can"? Must!

Thus, HSAT, a woman can also wear jewelry and do her hair nicely. But that mustn't be her focus, that mustn't be what is most beautiful about her. What must be most beautiful about her must be the godly attitude of her heart.

However, if one wishes to prohibit the first two items in the name of literality, he must also prohibit the third.

Which, as I mentioned, nobody does. Yet. Thank God.

Mike said...

I wish we could all learn to disagree like Keith.

And Dan, I think this sentence, "But that mustn't be her focus, that mustn't be what is most beautiful about her. What must be most beautiful about her must be the godly attitude of her heart." is the key.

A woman, (and quite honestly it should go for men as well...I would say generally, a believer) must not be known because of their clothing, or merely their external appearance. I say, by all means, wear what you like as long as it is decent, but it is our lives, our spiritual fruit that should be our adornment...our most noticeable apparel. It is that spiritual fruit which gives God the most glory...not what we wear. It is the heart with which we wear it and the spirit of the Word by which we measure it, that judges it.

John said...

I appreciate this...again. But Cathy M. has a great point. Choir robes, baptismal robes, and even preaching robes traditionally also serve the purpose of modesty (in both senses of the word). Very hot in the south, but still...

Eric said...

Dan,

I think your last response to Keith is clear, concise, wise, polite, and loving. I hope it helps Keith understand what you were getting at with the "no one takes Peter literally" statement.

D-Dee said...

This admonition is good for any season of the year. It used to shock me when I would attend church. Little shocks me now. Yes, women should be careful in how they dress. I feel that the Church leadership is timid in instructing young women in modesty. Maybe they feel it is not their place but the family's responsibility. Some young women are saved and do not come from a Christian family, they need to be discipled. I believe it is the Church's responsibility to teach modesty just as they teach to be holy as Christ is holy. True some women are ignorant of how their appearance affects men; however there are women who dress to effect a man and if these women claim to be Christ followers then they need to be admonished privately. The same goes for men - Years ago I chaperoned a group of Christian youth. The director came to me and asked me to speak to the girls about their bathing suits never breeching the conversation about a young man in a speedo. Yes, summer is one of the best times to bring up the subject of modesty however; Fall and Winter have their less than modest sweaters and tight fitting jeans, etc. Our goal as believers is to be holy as Christ is holy in every Season.

Linnet said...

I think this is good and all, and with me, you're preaching to the choir...but for sake of discussion. I've heard women talk about modesty and yet wear swimsuits in public settings or church swim parties. Does the definition of modesty change depending on the activity? It doesn't get much skimpier than a "bath"ing suit...lingerie often times has more material to it.

The points are valid, and I don't like or approave the idea of measuring hems or having someone decide for those under their leadership exactly how they should (should not) dress; that can become a breeding ground for self-righteous judgment (can you believe what so and so is wearing, or why is it okay for her to wear, but not for me to wear), which redirects our focus in another sinful, I mean not "helpful" way...but at the same time, it can be somewhat easy to talk modesty, getting an applause response from those who also care about it..without ever really knowing what modesty really means to each individual applauding. Any Christian can say "I believe in modest dress" and mean something completely different than the person next to them claiming the same view.

Where is an effective forum where it's appropriate to begin talking specifics without stirring up discension? Who's best in that forum..men and women both..one or the other?

ben or katie said...

Thank you so much for this post. We can't be reminded enough about being helpful in our clothing. I am a co-leader for HS Ladies....can we print this post to share with them?
Another thought about the post.....what about wedding dresses & wedding party clothing? This is a HUGE issue we are constantly fighting with. People say they can't find modest wedding dresses etc.....blah, blah, blah...as you say. But, YOU CAN FIND THEM!!!!!!!! :) My wedding dress was used. I liked everything but the top. It was NOT modest. So, my sweet mom made a new top that was modest....end of story. You have to be creative and work at it sometimes. Thanks again for the great post, Katie

DJP said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Katie. You may use it; just please give full credit to source.

Eric said...

Linnet,

I had some of the same thoughts relating to swimming. Certainly it can be argued that there are obvious examples of purposeful flaunting in the swimsuit department (thongs and speedos come to mind), and on the other end of the spectrum, it is not very practical to go swimming in a dress or coveralls. So, somewhere in between lies a happy medium between form and function. Where one falls on the spectrum in judging swimming attire will vary greatly. Thought for consideration: Why do you think that people (including Christians, from my experience) expect more modest swimwear from women that aren't as shapely those that exhibit a fit and trim body. For me, the standard for modesty for the Christian shouldn't change with body type. So, for my own personal application, if my wife is holding a few extra pounds after childbearing I really exhibit hypocrisy if it is only then that I ask her to dress more modestly at the beach. What I would have then exhibited is that I'm more concerned about other men observing my wife's out of shape body then I am about them observing her body in general, a faux modesty if you will. So, to bring this home, one way to look at the issue of swimwear is to ask ourselves how much of our bodies we would feel comfortable exposing if we were/are not particularly fit.

Obviously, that is just one way to look at the topic, and undoubtedly has its shortcomings, but I throw it out there for sake of discussion. The key to the answer will still ultimately lie in what I think Dan is asking everyone to consider: What is helpful to others in avoiding temptation to sin? One thing of which I can be certain: if more people asked themselves that question, it would be much easier to visit the beach with my teenage boys.

Linnet said...

I have yet to see a swimsuit without almost full legs, arms, and backs showing on the beach..and at least some cleavage indicated...not to mention there is modesty issues in the form of tightness of clothes, and not only in how much skin is showing.

This gets into some of what has already been discussed about lines of modesty changing over time.
We can talk about what a modest swimsuit looks like or we can ask if any swimsuit is modest, which is my question. How can one argue that any swimsuit is modest and have a problem with a dress that's too short at church? If function/activity is what determines modesty, then does a man's temptation change in one activity and awaken in another?
How can a man be tempted into lust with a dress that's above the knees in church, but then spared from the temptation when beside the same woman at a church pool party with LESS on (but is wearing what may be considered a modest swimsuit purchased in the "happy medium" department). This is the part that seems contradicting and almost hypocratic as men talk about these issues (and women).
On another note, if a man is tempted with alcohol (keeping with the earlier analogy from the post), why be hanging at the bar?
In the same way then, if a man struggles with lusting eyes, what is he doing hanging out on the crowded beach? or taking his young sons?
As far as the question of function for the women...a man's pair of longer swimshorts (men wear them...they must be functional) and a tank top or t-shirt can be just as functional for both men and women. (Yes, I recognize some Christians would question the modesty of any type of shorts or tank-Keith? which makes my initial point of how do we define modesty as we preach it and applaud our favor towards it?)

and guys...since the original post addressed modesty to be helpful to both men AND women in women AND men...how about wearing some shirts? good grief.

Linnet said...

*for women and men

Karen said...

I'm so glad I live in Alaska. The climate helps keep my husband from suffering from wandering eye problems. (Although - many of our highschool girls don't know we live in a cold climate. I felt sorry for my sons.)

Daryl said...

Linnet,

I think you just inadvertently pointed to the problem a lost of women have with this kind of article.

You said "In the same way then, if a man struggles with lusting eyes, what is he doing hanging out on the crowded beach?"

The lust and eyes issue isn't something that some guys struggle with. It's something that all men struggle with.
Some struggle successfully, and so it may never occur to even their wives that there is an issue.
Some struggle less successfully and so those who walk with them probably realize that and, hopefully, are willing to help.

Then, of course, are those who don't struggle at all. It's not that they have no problem, it's that they've given in.

It's hard for many women to understand that even the most godly man has this struggle. But there you go.

Daryl said...

ummm, yeah...that's "a lot of women".

I'm not too sure what a "lost" of women might be.

Linnet said...

Daryl, if what you're saying is true, and I think for the most part is, then again...why when a man is already struggling (who acknowledges his problem/temptation and doesn't want to feed into it) is he going to the beach? we know what can be expected there.

bp said...

Great article. This is definately an issue in our house with 4 teenage daughters living at home. I think the biggest battles I have are: Too-tight jeans and too-short shorts. An on-going battle ground here.

On a side-note, this summer a gal and her (boyfriend? husband?) came into church and sat 2 rows ahead of us. It was a hot/muggy morning and she took off her sweater to reveal a complete bare back with bra (in totality) showing. Her (bf/husb) looked over at her back from time to time and whispered to her but I don't know what he said, cuz she didn't cover up.

My question is: How appropriate is it for complete strangers to approach someone in a case like this?

Christine said...

Linnet,

I state emphatically that *my* swimsuit is modest. My husband does not want me wearing clothing above the knee. We vacation at a lake every summer. Problem? No.

There is truly modest swimwear out there. My husband was willing to spend the extra money, and I found a swimsuit at www.hydrochic.com.

My husband has also taught our four sons to "eye bounce" when they encounter something they shouldn't be looking at. At the lake, we have witnessed them simply turning away as boats pull up bearing UFOs (underdressed female objects).

Thanks for letting me post.

Christine

Linnet said...

also Daryl...I agree that some people think a godly man has less of a problem. The truth is a godly man acknowledges his problem and takes responsiblity for it...even when he looks like the odd one out. He does not feed his problem in one arena (whatever method that might be-my example was going to the beach if he knows he will lust there) and then ask others to make up for in another arena (ex. women at church).

I don't believe every man struggles on the same plane, (too assuming) although godliness is NOT the determining factor.

Linnet said...

Christine, my initial point wasn't to get into actually defining modesty in swimwear as much as it was to say that those of us who amen modesty talk may be thinking completely differently about it. We can easily say what another woman isn't modest, and someone may be looking at us thinking that what I'm wearing isn't modest.
So, it's hard to define it together as a Christian culture.

UFO! love that...my husband also does the "eye bounce" and asks me to give him a heads up if a "ufo" is approaching...taking responsiblity in a culture bombarded with sexual images.

DJP said...

Christine: My husband does not want me wearing clothing above the knee

Had to ponder that wording a fair bit. Pretty sure the words "that stops" might need to be inserted before "above."

/c:

Paula said...

Linnet....you raise some very provocative (no pun intended - haha) questions that it seems today's Christians neglect to even wrestle with anymore. I fear that we have so adopted the world's standards for dress & fashion that even broaching the issues you've raised seems absurd, as if you're proposed burquas or Amish styles.

Really, why is it not OK to wear a micro mini skirt in church, but OK to wear a much more revealing swimsuit at a youth group beach party?

Legalistic rules aside, in the spirit of Dan's post, should Christian women be bearing (almost) all at the beach? Should we be asking that question?

DJP, I realize your post is more specifically about toning it down in church, & maybe you didn't feel comfortable, as a man, saying this, but as a woman of a certain age, I don't have a problem saying it: If it's too immodest to wear in church, maybe it's too immodest to wear anywhere else!

DJP said...

Paula - DJP, I realize your post is more specifically about toning it down in church....

No, it really isn't, though folks always take it that way. Church was just an illustration. Check my 12:09 PM, SEPTEMBER 07, 2010 comment.

Daryl said...

Linnet,

I'm not sure how much more clear I can make it.

But I'll say this at least. If every man who has to struggle in this area stayed away from the beach, then every man, your husband included, would never ever go to the beach.

Ever.

It's worth noting that in a men's gathering, where this point is made, you'll see every head nodding and smiling, and not a single one disagreeing.
And, if you saw one disagreeing, the guys who notice are saying "Nice try buddy, we know better than that."

Sir Aaron said...

Lust is Every Man's Battle. However, some of us struggle more than others because we came from a life of sin wherein we expected/encouraged/celebrated for engaging in sexual sin with women. As such we trained our eyes and our minds to actively seek out women based on attractiveness, judge them based on our lust, and then carefully analyze them to determine (1)sexual availability and (2) a best approach to "score." So the some of us not only have preconditioned lust, but also extensive bad habits that we have to break.

Through a long history of depravity before becoming truly saved, I learned several things. First is that most women are surprisingly naive about what their clothing (and tattoos/piercings) says about them. A practiced man can profile a woman based on her external appearance suprisingly accurately (suprising to women, that is). Secondly, some women do know something...namely, they know dressing a certain way draws men's attractions and that can be used to attain attention (usually because they didn't get enough from Daddy) or to control men (naivety again, because men are getting exactly what they want).

Now as a Christian, I understand I have to retrain my eyes (as Job). All I want from women is to not wear clothing that has a "look here" sign.

BTW, my daughter is pretty tall for her age (41" at 3 yrs old). Finding a dress that goes even to her knees is extremely difficult(because then the top part is too low). My wife and I have resulted to buying women's shirts to wear as a dress and then having her wear an undershirt. (and thank God for school uniforms).

Sir Aaron said...

@Mary Tyler:

Personally, I think you should feel violated. Unfortunately for women, the men at church have disney channel thoughts compared to unsaved men.

I've often wanted to write a book about my experiences before becoming saved so that women (and fathers) would know exactly what many men are not only thinking, but actively plotting. I dare say, most women would be shocked and offended. But as a Christian, I also know that mankind's sinful nature would ultimately result in denial.

Sir Aaron said...

What I want to know is who came up with the idea of men wearing the most uncomfortable clothing in the history of mankind (neckties and suits) whilst women get to wear dresses made from cloth not thicker than the napkins at Subway? Also, odd that men wear work clothes to church but women don't. If they also wore professional clothing, we'd not have this blog post.

Sir Aaron said...

@Daryl:

I'm with you. I think men would not be allowed near any body of water.

Ever.

Daryl said...

Sir Aaron,

If men all came to grips with this, then they would stop blaming women who really are trying to be careful.

If women came to grips with it, more of them would be more careful.

(Talking about Christian men and women that is. Many non-believers understand this...and take full advantage.)

anitra said...

@Sir Aaron:

You said: "Also, odd that men wear work clothes to church but women don't. If they also wore professional clothing, we'd not have this blog post."

Have you seen what constitutes "professional clothing" for women these days? Super-tight slacks, button-down shirts that don't actually have buttons past a woman's cleavage... As a woman, I feel much more comfortable (and less revealing) wearing a plain T-shirt and skirt to church than I do wearing a woman's suit.

Paula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Thank you, Sir Arron for responding truthfully to my post.

I guess I live in a bubble; it was only a few years ago that I found out that Christian men still are plagued with lustful feelings (not all, but some). And we are all a work in process, I realise that.

Since discovering this, I sometimes don't even want to go to church. I REALLY do feel violated, even when I wear turtlenecks and loose fitting clothing. I guess I thought church, of all places, was one of the safest places to escape this malady.

I want to be seen as a Godly woman, a real person, not some...well, you know, OBJECT to be lusted over.

And, I am all too aware that many women dress far too provocatively. This is an issue that concerns me JUST as deeply.

I hope I don't give the impression I dwell on this matter obsessively, or cover my elbows and wear a bun in my hair (I have cousins, who are Wesleyans, that do this). This is just as extreme. But yes, it does bother me. I think most Christian women, in general, feel this way (violated). Our personhood is important to us.

Once again, thank you for your honesty. God bless you for that.

Linnet said...

Daryl

I think I was hearing you clearly all along. My understanding is you are saying that ALL men struggle with lust towards women, and that by choosing the word"if" (when writing "if a man struggles with lusting eyes") I'm implying that only some men struggle with lust.

Here is what Jesus said,
"if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out."

Jesus said, "if your eye causes you to sin". I said, "if a man struggles with lustful eyes"

Jesus gives us the chance to self-evaluate by using the word "if". If Jesus, knowing the hearts of all, leaves room for self-evaluation, when addressing lust, then how much more should I?

He goes onto say...
"It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched."

(after that, avoiding the beach -"if" that's what it takes- isn't looking so bad!)

sounds to me that "if" a man self-evaluates and comes to the knowledge that going somewhere or looking at someone is going to lead him to sin against another in a lustful way...then he should avoid it...whether EVERYONE, EVERY MAN "including my husband", is or isn't.

Jesus leaves no room for justification in his, what we might consider, extreme solutions.

In the end, after these beneficial but still only conversations cease, each of us are responsible for our own self-evaluation, coming to our own individual conclusions and solutions. But no doubt, those choices will be brought to accountablity to our God who loves beauty, intends life, and hates the darkness of lust.

Sir Aaron

Avoiding ALL bodies of water (which I would think is not necessary, but IF IT IS for a man)...then isn't it the better option, rather than using women for his own gratification? or (I'm flinching) facing concequences Jesus mentioned?

Again, my initial points are not to get into a bunch of should's and shame, but rather, they are 1. we all have different views of what modesty means in application.
2. That when Christian men are honest enough to address their sin against women, and then ask their sisters to help by becoming more self-aware of their dress, my hope is that my brothers are also seriously self-evaulating, making difficult, SACRIFICIAL, and what may appear to be extrememly wierd (gasp!) or bold choices to protect the women they come in contact with as well as keeping their own minds pure and sound.

I immensely enjoy this exchange but don't want to be a blog hog, so I think this is pretty much it for me.

Sir Aaron said...

@Mary Tyler:

1.) First of all, church is by far the safest place you will ever go. As I said, what a non-believer does in his mind is far, far worse. And you encounter those whenever you go into public. In other words, don't let this be an excuse for not going to church.

2.) You don't live in a bubble. Most women cannot even begin to grasp the fight we men have. You've just discovered what most women haven't, which is one of the unfortunate side effects of the feminism movement. Women weren't liberated, they're just objectified as sexual objects to be used with little more thought than one's clothing.

I've always told women that if they really knew what men they'd probably lock most of us up. Or they'd feel tremendous pity for us. The latter was confirmed when a speaker at one of my training conferences shared a personal story of a medical problem that required a brief period of testosterone treatment. Apparently her sex drive went through the roof and she realized what men must have to deal with every minute of everyday of their lives (from the moment they hit puberty).

So pray for us and forgive us.

Sir Aaron said...

@anitra:

I work mostly with attorneys and other high level professionals. Most would not wear such things. Some of their secretaries, however...

Sir Aaron said...

@Linnet:

I see more bikinis at the pool across the street from my house than I do on a trip to some beaches. So yeah, I'd pretty much have to avoid all bodies of water, public parks, and probably any public place where women are present. As we've been discussing, I can't even go to church without some woman wearing enticing clothing. But for the record, I generally avoid public places, tv shows, etc. where I feel the enticement is more than I can handle.

But I'll tell you a little secret. I don't need enticing clothing to lust. Men will lust after women even if you sealed them in a cardboard box. Spend some time in the middle east and you'll see what I mean. We have to take an attitude like Job "I have made a covenant with mine eyes; how then could I gaze upon a virgin? (note: the NIV sounds so much better but I quoted ESV). We simply can't lock ourselves in a closet.

I keep thinking that as I age my lust/sexual drive will decrease. But Dan's update doesn't give me much hope for that.

bp said...

Does anyone have any ideas of how this should be addressed in the church? Our church definately addresses it with Purity Conferences, but ususally only people who are already sensitive to this issue go to these. And once in awhile it's addressed from the pulpit, but do you think it's appropriate to approach strangers in the body, take them aside, and mention it? Or should this be the responsibility of friends and acquaintances?

DJP said...

Speaking (ahem) for all men, I wish that it would be handled in three ways:

1. Titus 2:3-5
2. Male relatives (dads, brothers, husbands) sharing some wisdom and the sisters listening to them.
3. Sister-on-sister exhortation a la Hebrews 10:24.

bp said...

Good answer, Dan. Thanks.

john said...

My husband and I have a 14 year old daughter and if we didn't have the thrift store, I am afraid I would be shopping Nieman Marcus. WalMart, Target...all the low-end places have only schlock and prostitute wannabe clothing.

It's hard--and I know how to sew! Past size 6X, it is hard finding a modest pattern.

But as you so astutely pointed out: not impossible.

Really, how much do I want to honor God with how I dress? Do I really want Him and what He tells me to do more than anything?

Dghonne said...

Painful Thoughts

Since I’ve been saved the Holy Spirit works in me every day to hold back the most despicable thoughts you could ever imagine. It’s amazing how these thoughts still fight in effort to overpower the Sprit…it is a true spiritual war!!!

Every day when I was kid (now 43) – pre internet – you dreamed about stumbling across your friend’s dad’s girly magazines. Then, when you did, it was like you just won the lottery.

My concern is for today’s boys and especially their future wives. With computers in every corner and internet cell phones in every bathroom stall, there is no way to protect the eyes and hearts of the boys, which in turn, will put expectations on their wives that can never be fulfilled.

Knowing so many more boys will grow up to put their wives through what I had before repentance…truly makes me weep.

john said...

Sorry to post so soon, but we found swimsuit patterns we could buy on line that were modest and cute. They were easy to sew. And my 14 year old daughter loves hers. I made one for myself and even the non-believing neighbor girl wants me to make one for her. We just found LOUD patterned lycra.

There is a way, and in His mercy, we have lots of fun despite what Hollywood and Madison Avenue wants to shove down our throat. They don't get the chance they used to as we homeschool (what a relief!) and don't have TV and shop at Costco, Sam's Club and Trader Joes, thus obviating any opportunity to *see* the latest...

Patience said...

Well here is a tip for the ladies :-) Don't just look at the mirror...look directly down and if you can see anything you need a higher neckline!

My flatmate and I check with eachother before leaving the house. I also ask a close male friend for his opinion. He is a solid Christian so I value what he has to say.

It can be difficult for women to know exactly if we're wearing something "wrong" because we look at our outfit and think "Well don't I look cute" or "My dress makes me look pretty - the colour makes my eyes stand out".

I am speaking from my own experience here. I personally find discernment in this area difficult. Just last Sunday I was unsure about my trousers. I regret wearing them now. I felt very convicted and then I read this blog during the week. I feel very confused about what is right and what is wrong.

Thank you for this post Dan because it reminds me that I must not only be "helpful" to men but I must also be an example to the younger women and girls in my life. ( Like in Titus)

I almost wish we had specific guidelines for how short/long skirts should be. When I was at school (wow that makes me sound old!) we had to kneel and if our skirt didn't reach the ground we got into big trouble and had our skirts corrected. Mine was always "too long"! I feel that was a blessing.

About swimming attire. I was very blessed to find long swimming shorts that come below my knees! That was due to many hours of second-hand clothes shopping and God.

Not meaning to take away anything from this post but what about women who get caught up in "emotional porn"? (I think Todd Friel calls it that) As in "lovey dovey" books and romantic movies. I personally believe that can also be very destructive to relationships etc. Perhaps one of the gentlemen already wrote one this topic another time? OR they might in the near future?

(Please feel free to correct my grammar, punctuation etc!)

Denny said...

Still waiting on the video version.

Shatterfocus said...

I have to say, as a 17 year old girl who has struggled through these issues, I still haven't come to a solid position. I DEFINITELY come down firm on the side of not wearing too-tight, or revealing clothes. However, some people still say things. "That shirt is too flattering". But why? It's not tight anywhere, it's just a flattering cut that makes me slimmer and longer. Is that wrong?

I'm just wondering here. If we are leaving everything to the imagination, and someone still chooses to imagine, because they imagine that imagining what's underneath is nice, who is ultimately to blame for that?

Note: I'm not trying to blame all men- but I must say that sometimes I think some of the very legalistic ones have expectations a little too high. Just sayin.

However, with that said- great job on the post! A great reminder :)

DJP said...

I'm sure it's frustrating for attractive women who try to be merciful, Shatterfocus. But I thought I actually covered all that in the post. I don't make women responsible for what men do in their hearts; I just ask that they not throw fuel on the first unnecessarily. Just be merciful, don't pretend, care, be wise. There's miles between a large burlap sack and the clothes some Christian women wear.

Sir Aaron said...

Just to kinda echo DJP, there's a lot of middle room. I don't think women should have to wear dresses to their ankles and cover every square inch of skin. I just ask that you don't wear clothes that are designed to draw my attention. I'll take care of the rest.