17 April 2012

Sister... show mercy! (Repost #4)

[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. I hope it's put to use in youth groups. Originally posted in 2006, it always receives a mixture of gracious and bizarre responses. Let me add this one word to husbands: you too. "Smokin' hot" 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. And fathers? Duh. Doug Wilson waggles his eyebrows at you and, this time, so do I. So here it is once again, slightly edited as usual.]


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) and eyes (Job 31:1).
  • 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?

When I go fishing, 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; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves;  the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 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, 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-- 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 before the plunge, and....

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 dear 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 31,900,000 results come up. (Up from  63,500 in 2010.) Yes, some are funny and quaint at best. But are they all Amishwear? "Can't find?" Really?

More fundamentally: I do not accept that anyone has to wear clothes that are too tight or too clingy 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 Johnson 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

56 comments:

donsands said...

Good writing. Good word. Tough subject, and an ongoing and difficult part of our life.

My wife is very modest, and yet she has quite fine attire. She always looks very pretty, and yet godly.
I don't know how to explain it really.
Even when we vacation, and we go to the pool, my wife is modest, and yet she wears swimwear.


Thanks for the good post. I'll have to share this one.

And why to we always call Bolonga, Baloney? I like a good balonga and chesse sandwich with mustard and rye bread.

Rob said...

Interesting that you'd make cute remarks about "Bible Burqaware™" but not touch at all in this post on the Apostle Pauls' instruction in I Cor. 11 regarding head covering, on a post about women's modesty. In this post-feminist egalitarian era, the head covering is THE foundational (and Scriptural) indicator not just of modesty, but also displays reverence to the authority of the husband, and to God's word.

Bring on the snarky reponse, but I think this is a neglected ordinance that is usually craftily avoided with plentiful hermeneutic tap-dancing (aka "My wife doesn't like this passage"), and if you're going to be really genuine in your post about modest dress, you do a disservice to discount I Cor. 11.

scrapiron said...

Thank you. It needs to be said. Now if the females will only take it as wise advice and not condemnation.

DJP said...

Wow, Rob. Prickly much?

Like I said, "it always receives a mixture of gracious and bizarre responses." So you're saying all this is wasted words because I didn't comment on a passage which has no impact on the focus of this post per se, and which is widely-disputed among sound interpreters?

For my part, I think verse 15 makes it clear Paul is talking about longer, feminine hairstyle, and it has nothing whatever to do with the thrust of this post. Hence its absence.

DJP said...

Thanks, scrapiron; that's my hope. For many, it has apparently been successful. However in the past, despite my best efforts, some have seen this post as an attempt to evade men's own responsibility and to cast unwarranted shame on women. Sometimes one nearly despairs.

dac said...

I think instilling modesty in your daughters also builds their self esteem and a proper self image

Cathy M. said...

Some of the most inappropriate clothing I've seen in a church has been worn by the "praise team." If you MUST raise your arms and flap around in front of the congregation, please consider wearing a choir robe (Bible Burqa?).

dac said...

As with many things that are in the bible that are seen as restrictions I actually see blessing and freedom from them

Rob said...

Dan, you're putting words into my mouth to say that "all this is wasted words". I didn't say that at all, but rather I think that you left out something important, being that the head covering is a principle indicator of modesty and propriety for women in churches, but instead it seems like we bow to egalitarianism and throw out the covering ordinance (And curious, if, as you say, 1 Cor. 11 is about women wearing "longer, feminine haristyles", wouldn't your interpretation of modest hair length also have been worth putting into this post too?)

Your posting is about modesty in church and how the way a woman dresses in church should be godly and not distracting, so wouldn't the ordinance for women to wear a head covering a principle way that women can portray modesty? Maybe the Apostle Paul had similar issues in Corinth?
Or is really the most important thing all about skirt length and percentage of clevage displayed?

yankeegospelgirl said...

Well, this is excellent. However... I will say that it is in fact true that modest women's clothing is hard to find if you just go to your local Meijer or other mainstream retail outlets. If you want to talk about "what's on the shelves," yes, it's pretty much all like that. Now, there are companies that specifically make modest clothing, but then you can run into price issues. For example, Lilies is a company that makes gorgeous women's dresses... at the right price.

If you keep looking, it is possible to meet all your clothing needs with modesty. One excellent company for women is Blair. However, it takes a lot of motivation and lot of imagination, particularly if you're a mother trying to find decent stuff for her girls. You want to talk about modest pre-adolescent/adolescent girls' clothing? Even harder to track down than modest women's. My mom got around some of that by putting us in boy's clothing.

rosemarie said...

The best lecture I ever heard in a class on Theology was given in an impromptu plea from the professor. I was a returning student in my 40s surrounded by young men and women in their late teens early 20s. It was a Christian university in an area where summer temperatures reach 110 on a regular basis and the young women of the class were dressed sparingly. In mid lecture the professor stopped and begged the young women to "give an old man a break! I have no safe place to rest my eyes!" He continued in a fatherly way explaining to them the cost of their comfort on men from 8 to 108 years of age. The young women heard him because of the way he approached the topic and while he and I differed on whether or not you can be a 3 point Calvinist... I admire and respect his practical teaching to this day.

Great post, Dan, as a woman I appreciate it.

Andrea said...

Rob I live in one of the largest Amish/Mennonite/Apostolic areas in the country. Trust me, the young Mennonite girls of a certain stripe have mastered the art of wearing a headcovering *and* a hopelessly tight top or (long, denim) skirt. Headcovering is not at all an indicator of modesty.

DJP said...

Rosemarie, that's precious. I think if I could have had that transcribed, I'd post it instead of this. As a man, you do sometimes feel like one of those cartoon-characters walking across red-hot coals, only it's the eyes that are getting burnt, not the feet. You literally almost yelp as you smack your eyes about internally.

The heavenward gaze on some men may not solely because they're devoting themselves to prayer. Well, that too; but there's a from that may be fueling the to.

DJP said...

Rob, I appreciate the additional info, but you're still afield from my point. I'd say re-read the post, or failing that, just re-read the last paragraph.

Rob said...

Alright, understood... I was just tossing my $.02 into the fray on the covering. And yeah, I did read that last paragraph, and applied that "what-are-you-thinking" to "what-was-the-Apostle-Paul-thinking" in I Cor. 11. I'm the furthest thing from Amish, but rather read a book by Sproul years ago, Now That's a Good Question, in which Sproul not only addressed the issue of the covering, but stated why he believes that the Bible teaches it's a principle still in effect today, basically because it's built into the creation. I don't agree with Sproul on everything but when he does teach on something I like to examine what he says on something and why. Again, 2 cents.
Thanks for humoring me.

Rob said...

Sorry, that should be 'Creation' with a capital C.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Yes, I'm the one who twice gave today's post 5 stars. It's on the top ten best teamPyro posts of all time.

Every time I read this post, aside from publicly linking it on facebook or emailing it to my sisters in Christ, I'm challenged in how BEST one should go about approaching the subject in a face-to-face situation. This quote stood out to me:

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

Perhaps it might be helpful if we could come up with some good (and tactful) questions--like that one--which we can use in real-life situations that would be constructive. I'm usually at a loss for words when faced with the opportunity.

AnnaKate said...

This is an awesome post, and as a young girl striving to dress modestly to honor God and encourage brothers in Christ, I really appreciated the perspective. My family has been visiting some different churches lately and we've definitely noticed the lack of clothing that seems to me to have come out of nowhere.

I really enjoyed your plea to show mercy, as I've seen some very feminist posts around lately charging men to be responsible and women to be liberated. I know so many godly young men who are striving their very best to keep pure minds, but it's like trying to walk safely through a field of loaded landmines-- there's nowhere for them to look. It is true that men are responsible for their thoughts, but to dress immodestly is to throw temptation their way and then cry, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Alyssa Faith said...

Thank you for once again sticking your hand in the fan. It is a kindness indeed.
I think that another part of the issue is understanding that 'modesty' is synonymous with 'humility'. So often when we women are tempted to show what we have no business displaying it is out of a prideful desire to show that "Yes, by the way, I AM attractive" and to compete for attention. We are conceited with a sense of our self-importance and forget that to be great in God's kingdom is the opposite of being great in the world. The world calls women great for their sex appeal. Christ says "Whoever would be first of all must be last of all and servant of all". There is, I think in true modesty, a Christ-like laying down of my life for my brothers. I give up my power to turn their heads in order that they might be safe. Doesn't mean I don't look tidy, becoming or presentable. (Some may turn heads for other prideful reasons with frumpy bagamuffin attire) But it does mean I see myself as the servant of Christ and not as someone to be served by the admiration of men (especially other than my husband). Let us "not think of ourselves more highly than we ought but with sober judgment". Modesty will never flourish where there is pride in the heart.

Eric said...

Every "amen" from a lady in these comments is golden. Thank you, ladies - you exhibit great godliness and wisdom, and I can't think of more attractive qualities.

Motley Fool said...

Sisters, let me recommend the Modesty Survey for your consideration. You don't have to agree with all of its results, but with hundreds of questions (posed by girls) and thousands of responses (by guys), it may make it easier for you to determine what a wide swath of Christian guys find modest.

Karen said...

First, as a Christian woman, I appreciate and wholeheartedly agree with this post. A few observations:

1. it is much more difficult to avoid wearing tight/revealing clothing if you are obese. Obesity is a big problem (pun intended) with far-reaching consequences.

2. That issue aside, while finding a modest/affordable version of any given specific clothing item (such as a formal black dress) is usually very frustrating, dressing modestly/ fashionably simultaneously is just not that difficult. There are ways to 'fix' what is available (if you don't know how, find a seamstress to help).

3. I am hoping this post will be followed up with one directed at men because in a sense, this is preaching to the choir. Honestly this is a very difficult thing for me because my husband and I grew up in conservative churches where modesty thankfully wasn't an issue. In spite of that, my husband has chosen to follow after pornography. This has caused me to wonder. Not that I think Christians shouldn't bother to be modest, but the world is full of evil. What is the answer for Christian men? What will really 'work'?? Because as a professing Christian,God's grace was there for him, his marriage vows were there, hundreds of memorized Bible verses were there, my prayers for him were there - and he still chose to search repeatedly for porn online. I don't know what will help him differently next time he has an opportunity to sin again and it grieves me. Christian women should and can dress modestly, but what is the true solution for Christian men? My husband reads this blog regularly so I'd love it if you would put some words in from the male perspective FOR men.

Thanks!

DJP said...

Oh dear, Karen. I'm so sorry. He's chosen to give himself to pornography, and yet he reads Pyromaniacs?

What sort of post are you looking for? At first, I thought you meant urging men to be modest. Now I'm thinking you mean about our own responsibility for our own thought-life.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Dan,

You're one of the bravest men I know.

Well said, very well said.

And @Cathy M - too true about many "praise teams". (I miss the days of choir robes!) Any woman standing or sitting above floor level needs triple-strength caution about her attire. *ahem*

Julie

Linda said...

as a woman I believe that we should care about our brothers in Christ by that important plea. However, the responsibility does go both ways.

I've dressed in my work apparel-which is very modest and still had certain men just look wrongly at me. All I could figure is they are struggling with pornography and their thought life. Of course these men are not Christians.

Reality though is there are many Christian brothers who are also struggling with pornography and their thought life-"as a man thinketh in his heart so is he". So the area of concern has to begin with them as well.



as one lady said it so well- can't remember who it was---"If your clothing is a frame for your face from which the glory of Christ springs forth, it is of GOD. But if your clothing is just a frame for your BODY it is sensual and God hates it."

Nonna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nonna said...

There was a time when I dressed inappropriately and immodestly, more often outside of the church building. I was ignorant of what it meant to be godly in behavior and cared more about earthly things. I was very athletic and knew I was attractive - I was selfish, vain, and attention-seeking.

Fast-forward to the current day. I still care about being healthy and the importance of staying active, but I do not see the need to show off my body to other people. Such behavior is worldly, and furthermore, unbecoming to one who calls themselves a Christian.

Rob: As an Orthodox Christian, I understand your concern about head coverings. Many Orthodox women cover their heads in corporate worship, but there are some who think it is unnecessary. That may be because they are influenced by modern feminist notions, or have no idea of the significance of doing such.

It is very rare in my experience as an Orthodox Christian to see females dressed immodestly or inappropriately during worship. There is an implicit understanding that when we gather together during the Divine Liturgy in worship of the Holy Trinity, that our behavior should be fitting of being in the presence of our Creator. Our worship involves the participation of the entire body, and thus our conduct - from our attire, to our speech, to our attentiveness, to our inward and outward conduct, must be that of reverence and awe. We are in the presence of a Holy God Who who calls us away from distraction to lay aside all earthly cares.. Immodest attire is certainly a distraction during worship.

This article is an important reminder to Christian women that we are not to imitate the world in our behavior. Part of that behavior is in the manner in which we dress. We should not flaunt our bodies as if they are some commodity on the market of consumerism. Rather, we are to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship."

oma4 said...

Karen,

I relate to your post, my husband also struggles with sexual addiction, he is a Christian and has repeatedly allowed himself to be lured into the trap.
Dan, thank you so much for your courage to tell the truth , I echo Karen 's request for a similar admonition to the men we love, and want to see delivered from this blight.

Eric said...

Karen,

Tim Challies wrote a profitable series of blogposts awhile ago called "Sexual Detox". There are links to all six parts of the series here:

http://challi.he253.vps.webenabled.net/christian-living/sexual-detox-the-e-book

You and your husbnd would probably both benefit from reading that series.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

One other thought on the issue. I think it goes beyond the area of the weaker brother who struggles with lust. I think it's equally as important that as we bring the younger generation into the worship service, they be "brought up" to the level of dressing respectfully, rather than we lower the standards to accommodate the young, hip, sloppy agape dressers. In some ways, the way a culture dresses for a funeral might be a good marker for how one ought to dress for church. We dress a certain way to show honor and respect to the deceased person. How much more ought we dress respectfully for our risen Savior! I don't think we ought to be forlorn or have a dirge for a Sunday service, and yet it ought to rise well above the level of "midway at the State fair." If I never saw another pair of flip flops and cargo shorts in church, I wouldn't complain a bit. (And if that's how one dresses for a funeral in--fill in the blank cross cultural region--okay then, maybe.)

Nonna said...

Merrilee:

Cargo shorts? That's one thing I don't see. However, using a funeral as a gauge to how people should dress in church may not be a good example. Truth is, there is an attitude of dressing down in our society no matter where one goes. It's sad but true. There was a time when women would cover their heads in church, even in Protestant churches. There was a time when men and women knew that they should dress appropriately and respectfully when entering a church.

As far as finding clothes that are modest, this is not a difficult task whatsoever. If one doesn't have the money, they can always go to a Goodwill or Salvation Army. I have seen modest, attractive clothing for women of all ages at these stores at an affordable price. There just is no excuse for someone attending church dressed like they are going clubbing, camping, or to the beach.

Emily said...

Rob, I dont think that he was neglecting the passage of un cut hair being biblical for women...but I think that this specific blog is about dressing in a helpful manner to the opposite sex. This was a blog on modesty not on holiness.

atomicreform said...

I'd like to add that it definitely not impossible for girls to find modest clothing - even at more "mainstream" type stores. You've just gotta do the work.

Additionally, I think its especially important for women who are dating or engaged to Christian men to be MORE careful about this. Not only do we not want Christian women to be un-helpful, but what kind of message will we be sending if our dating relationship is put under these pressures even more? Godliness can really grow from seeing the importance of this in a woman's life...just sayin...

Rhology said...

Or is really the most important thing all about skirt length and percentage of clevage displayed?

A hot girl in inappropriate clothing with her head covered presents me with the same temptation as a hot girl in inappropriate clothing with her head not covered.
Just sayin'.

DJP said...

So you're a repenting drunk. You're saying if a friend keeps his liquor away out of sight in the pantry or pours a shot of Johnny Walker and sets it on the table in front of you — same thing, no difference?

Tom said...

I think we should get back to worshipping how the Jews did it. The women in one area of the church and the men in another. Problem solved.

Rachel said...

Wow... this is a great post. I've made it a mission since my mid-teens to dress modestly and I have always been able to find something to wear (so your "baloney" comment was quickly answered by an "amen, brother!"). Women have to be creative sometimes, but it is NOT impossible or even that hard if you have the heart to try!

Immodesty in church saddens me so much. Since I'm a keyboard player/singer at my church (up front where everyone can see me!), I've become even MORE aware of the need to be modest. What could be worse than distracting great, godly men from their time of worshipping God by me wearing something that causes them to stumble???!!! Christian guys have a responsibility to turn away and guard their eyes, but Christian women should see it as their own responsibility to make sure that those same guys have nothing to guard their eyes from in their company.

Thanks for posting this. A wonderful lady from my church forwarded a link here to me and I was very blessed to read this.

In Christ,
Rachel

DJP said...

Thanks, Rachel. Stick around; I blog here with wonderful guys who put up wonderful posts all the time. (c:

I appreciate how many get my bottom line points:

1. I am not making anyone but we men (us men?) responsible for our own sanctification and walk.

2. I am saying sisters can make it easier or harder, and asking that they do the former, not the latter.

It's not about rights, it's about love and, well, mercy.

Sir Aaron said...

@Karen: You are saying that your husband has decided to continue watching pornography or succumbed to watching it on occasion? Because there is a pretty big difference there.

Sir Aaron said...

I think women who wear clothes to attract men are playing with something they don't fully understand. And that is an understatement. If women knew what really goes on in men's minds and how often it goes on in there, women would swear off all men as totally depraved sex addicts (to put it nicely). And sure, women can lust. But it isn't even in the same universe.

I should write something about my experiences as a young man, my "training" so to speak that I received from older men who tutored me in the art of "dating." It would be quite illuminating for some.

I have to say, Job must have had discipline that only comes from God when he made a covenant with his eyes.

Karen said...

Sir Aaron, what do you mean by "continue?" Continue once I found out? Why is the timing important? He had to deliberately search for the things he was looking at; I don't get the significance of exactly how often it happened. Is there a secret cut-off for how much porn men are allowed to indulge in before it is 'bad' enough to disqualify them from, say, church leadership? I'd love to know.

The point behind my original post wasn't to say 'woe is me because of what my husband has done' (although of course I feel that way) but more to say: Christian women who care about modesty are unfortunately not the norm in the society where Christian men have to be immersed daily; what will help them?

Stephen said...

Karen, at the very least there is a difference between (A) acknowledging an activity is sinful and admitting to still engaging in such wickedness when fleeing the Spirit, and (B) declaring that such activities are not sinful despite their obvious fallen nature to others looking at him. If your husband is of the (B) nature, then I am astounded with Dan that he is also a reader of this blog. If he is (A), then sadly he is likely not alone or even a small number among this blog's readers, and I only proclaim Christ's mercies and grace to we who like him daily fall into sin of many kinds and plead for the Spirit's power to remove it from us. Praise God that he has not left us alone spiritually or physically, and even provided us with a community of like-minded believers who follow after Christ, including those of the opposite gender. May we all seek to be an encouragement and not a hindrance to our brothers and sisters.

(The part where I directly talked to Karen ended around the 2nd sentence, though I hope this comment agrees with Dan's original post and can be applied to us all)

Sir Aaron said...

Dear sister Karen:

First I want to address the issue of church leadership. This wasn't a point that you mentioned previously. Qualification for church leadership is, IMHO, a separate issue. There are lots of good Christians who aren't elgible for leadership for a variety of reasons. And just to make it short, I'd have to hear the specifics before I made a judgement about whether a man should be disqualified from leadership based on prior viewing of pornography. I simply don't think that the issue is cut and dried and if it were, there probably would not be a man alive who would be elgible for leadership.

(cont)

Sir Aaron said...

Karen - Cont -

In your first post you said: " In spite of that, my husband has chosen to follow after pornography." The inference I drew from this and I think others as well, is that this is a current ongoing situation. That is, you found out that your husband viewed pornography, you confronted him, and he decided to continue on anyways. If this is true, then that is a serious church discipline issue that requires active involvement by your local church leadership.

But if this is not the case, and you are shocked that your husband despite his years and years of Bible study then this underscores the point I made earlier. And that is women have no idea what a struggle this is for men. They simply cannot comprehend it. I want you to imagine for a second you have a craving for a specific favorite food. Maybe you were pregnant and had an intense craving. Ok, now imagine you have that craving multiplied by a factor of 1,000and you have it all day long every day for the rest of your life starting the day you hit puberty. Now picture that you are bombarded with images of that food constantly. And all you need to do to have a little taste, albeit, not quite like the real thing, by simply sitting at your computer and typing two words into Google. And after you taste it, your brain releases chemicals into your bloodstream that causes pleasure.

Frankly that analogy doesn't even fully comprehend the intense sexual desires that men beat down everyday. Is it any wonder that a man will, in a moment or moments of weakness, seek and view pornograpy on the internet? No...it isn't any wonder and it is why the smarter of us Christian men install programs (or use OPENDNS) to filter the internet to prevent such abuse.

(cont).

Sir Aaron said...

Karen - cont.

Does that mean there is an excuse for sinning? Heavens no. But men shouldn't be beaten down after they've fallen and then repented.

Should you worry that your man will sin again if placed in tempting situation? YES, you should worry! Frankly, all women should worry. David, a man after God's own heart, had a horde of wives and still managed to commit adultery and kill a man to cover it up. Proverbs is replete with warnings to men to be careful with sexual sin. Job says he made a covenant with his eyes! I'm telling you that sexual sin is a massive, ingrained temptation to most men, of the sort you can't possibly imagine or relate to. A wise woman understands this risk and helps her husband appropriately.

Note: That does not mean nag, restrict, or otherwise treat a man like a criminal.

Karen: I hope this helps, and I'll pray for you in this situation. If you have any other questions or comments please feel free to email me (or comment here as the Pyros allow).

Karen said...

Sir Aaron, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate your honesty and maybe I should have a more realistic view about how tempting porn is for Christian husbands. It's hard for me, but I am trying to be sympathetic (just like I don't get how some folks struggle with giving in to same-sex attraction but I try to sympathize). I guess that's why I made my original comment (i don't mean to derail this thread): since this is so, so, so hard for men to avoid (basically it's unreasonable for wives to expect their husbands to not at least occasionally indulge in porn if I'm interpreting you correctly) all the more reason I hope this post will be followed up with one directed at men.

Mizz Harpy said...

@Dan thanks for reposting this article. I forward it to someone else this year who is shocked at the way some young women are dressing. I used to dress immodestly at work justifying it by covering up with a lab coat. I've learned better since then and feel very bad about the way I presented myself. What's odd is that I was careful to cover up in loose fitting tee shirts and sweat pants when I went to the gym. It was the product of my pride and vanity, flat out sinful.

Nonna said...

I can see by the comments that this is a rather sensitive issue.

Sir Aaron said...

@Karen:

Well, I don't think I would say that wives should "expect" their husbands to "indulge in porn." I think wives should expect men to honor their committment to their wives physically, mentally, and spiritually. HSAT, I don't think women should be shocked or even surprised that men succumb to this temptation. Nor should women treat their husbands like immoral monsters for having succumbed. In my opinion, women need to better understand the temptation and work with their husbands to (a) meet their physical needs; (b) reduce temptation and (c) hold them accountable in a loving yet firm way when they fail.

The primary thrust here is not to relieve the man of his responsibility. Pornography is a terrible sin and if we "indulge" in a moment of weakness we need to repent and make efforts to prevent us from repeating the sin. But I think that women don't do nearly enough on steps (a), (b), and (c) above because they fail to realize how dangerous the threat actually is, especially with respect to their own husbands.

Sir Aaron said...

@Karen:

BTW, I do sympathize greatly with you and your husband. I truly believe it's hard for you. And not because of anything that is your fault. Women truly don't understand the temptation and it can be the cause of much pain, anger, and frustration in a marriage.

This is why I say that when women dress to attract a man, they don't really understand the all the ramifictions.

Linda said...

Sir Allen said --"If this is true, then that is a serious church discipline issue that requires active involvement by your local church leadership."---

That's great advise.

However Sir Allen, what do you do when you DO confront your church for discipline when you KNOW someone is behaving inappropriately and it is ongoing, yet the Church Doesn't discipline as they should?

I've been there with an altogether different issue with the former church I used to attend and they acted like me and my brother "Just simply didn't know the facts-"Oh it cant be true nonchalant attitude and just brushed it off. In other words they were not going to do anything

Sir Aaron said...

Dear Linda:

I apologize for my late response. I've been caught up with work, family, and preparing for Sunday School and haven't had a chance to respond yet. Plus I wanted to mull over your comment and give you a serious and discerned answer.

First, let me say that I'm ill-fitted to counsel you long distance based on a few short sentences you've written here. You should always seek the counsel of a local Pastor.

However, I don't want to seem evasive so let me give you my general philosophy in such matters.

Your story sounds eerily similar to a story my Pastor (you know, the author of this post) told me about a woman he met. I believe that his advice to that woman was to leave the church.

And I'd have to agree. A Pastor's job includes counseling which is what should happen in your situation regardless of the specific facts in your case. If I were an elder (and I'm not) and you came to me with some accusation, I'd, at a minimum, give you my undivided attention and treat you with the respect you and any accusation deserve. And if I determined after hearing your facts that action was not required then I'd give you a Biblical justification. Because counseling flows from Scripture. If that's not happening, then the elders in your church have failed in their responsibilities and I think you should leave. And this is from a person who believes that leaving a church should only be done under the most exceptional circumstances.

I hope this adequately answers your question and I do pray that you'll be part of a local body that can attend to this matter in a proper, Scriptural manner.

thoughtfuldave said...

Guys. xwatch has saved my life! It sends a list of "questionable" sites that you've visited over the previous 2 weeks and sends them to your accountability partner. Mine is my wife. Also, we have a blocker “K9 web blocker”.

I started my addiction to porn at 6 years old when I found a Hustler on my school playground. I have that moment burned into my mind. God help me to protect my kids from inadvertently stumbling onto a porn site and having a horrific lifelong struggle like I have.

xwatch and K9 blocker. Both free. Spread it to all your friends and slap them upside the head if they think they can go surfing in shark infested waters. WHY IN GOD'S NAME WOULD YOU EVEN GO ONTO THE INTERNET WITHOUT SOME SORT OF ACCOUNTABILITY TOOL. Like a poster above stated, "two words typed” and you are in. Dang, one word typed...3 letters typed...and the whole world of smut comes into the quiet of your living room. Can a man take fire to his bosom and not be burned?

Joy said...

Definitely thought provoking! However, I would caution believers to be careful what they deem too tight, clingy, short,or sheer being that the Bible does not give such guidelines.

Some of my thoughts on the issue are included in the following post:
http://joysnogreaterjoy.blogspot.com/2012/02/modesty-shopping-and-cleavage.html

Linda French said...

I would add to the article that men, too, need to be concerned about how they dress and sit. A man who crosses his legs in typical man-style, but is wearing loose shorts is allowing a women to look right up to the top of his leg, a distracting sight. Also, men need to dress in loose enough pants that he is not drawing attention to his groin area, and to keep his chest covered in public - a low-buttoned or unbuttoned shirt advertises his sexuality the same way a low-cut blouse on a woman does.

Linda French said...

I would add to the article that men, too, need to be concerned about how they dress and sit. A man who crosses his legs in typical man-style, but is wearing loose shorts is allowing a women to look right up to the top of his leg, a distracting sight. Also, men need to dress in loose enough pants that he is not drawing attention to his groin area, and keep his chest covered in public - a low-buttoned or unbuttoned shirt advertises his sexuality the same way a low-cut blouse on a woman does hers.