I want to address something I usually won’t talk a lot about . . .
Recently, as I was leaving church I saw a young lady, and although I didn’t see her face and do not know who she was, she could have been Cat Woman. She was wearing some kind of curve-fitting spandex super hero suit that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. [NOTE: I have since been told that this is called a Catsuit. I could add a picture to this post of what the a Catsuit looks like but they are not decent enough to post.]
Now, I’m 55 years old, I’m strong in the Lord, and so I learned a long time ago how to avoid and evade things that could cause me to have trouble when Cat Woman shows up. But I guarantee, she gave some men fits that Sunday! What struck me was why? Why would any woman show up to church (or if she is a Christian show up anywhere) looking like this? (That day I also ran into another example of a woman who I know is sincerely trying to be a godly woman but gave no thought to the signals she was sending to men by the way she was dressed.)
Now let’s get a few things straight here: I am not expecting ungodly, non-Christian women to do any better than what I have described above. They should! But why would they if they have no godly standard they care about? But many Christian women are guilty of dressing in a way that makes life difficult for the men around them.
Now, the two most common arguments against what I am saying are:
1) Women should be free to dress any way they want to and
2) Christian men should get their minds out of the gutter
No. Neither women nor men should be able to dress however they want to with no regard for others. That is an American value, not a Christian one. In Romans 14:13-15:3, Paul makes it clear that our personal freedoms do not trump the needs of our weaker brothers and sisters.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. 15We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself…
Yes. Christian men should strive to be pure and feed on what is godly and pure, and to walk in the Spirit. And yes, if a man is not walking in the Spirit he can be tempted easily without even seeing a woman! BUT if a woman wears “gutter clothes” a good man can be lured back to the gutter. To not understand this is to misunderstand the fundamental nature of the flesh and our battle against it! And not just our battle but the other person’s battle. That’s why Paul says “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (Rom. 15:1)
So yes! Men ought to be pure! But there is no excuse for a godly woman to dress in a way that will cause men to look at her or to cause godly men to have to avoid her.
Categories: Culture Apologetic
I agree 100% Pastor. As a woman seeking God I look around in disbelief at how some women dress both in and out of the church. I can easily see their motives for their fashion choices. We Christian women especially, must obey the Lord’s direction and, as Godly women take seriously the responsibility in our possession to prevent our brothers from stumbling. We also must be the example to other women to be proper and Christ like in all we do. Many women do not take heart this serious “power” in their possession and abuse it to their own self satisfaction and sin. It is a serious problem indeed and worse when it happens inside of the church family.
A great example, and highlighted by the Scriptures. What are these women thinking? Why would they come to church dressed like that? Men are constantly tempted in daily life and even a Christian must work at turning away from temptation. I feel sorry for them because they show a need for attention but when a man shows attention they cry “sexual harassment”. Church is not the place to dress like that. A Christian lady must dress modestly.
As the father of two girls who are taught to respect themselves and to be cognizant of the impact they may have on others, this still seems somewhat misogynistic and in line with the patriarchal blaming and shaming of women for the their own weaknesses of the flesh..
Well, Robert, that’s interesting. The passage from Romans I shared makes clear what our attitude should be. Also, the idea of misogyny here is also not what it is about. It is about Christians preferring the weaker brother, not women exercising their American right to dress provocatively. Sinners may do as they wish, but Scripture in no way supports that kind of spiritual insensitivity.
By the way, Robert, a woman’s beauty is not a weakness of her flesh. Dressing in a sexually provocative way is a spiritual weakness that must be addressed, not coddled because they are women.
I concur that it is not the women who have weak flesh, it is the men. Unfortunately our culture insidiously tells women that they only have power through their sexuality and only know how to get attention through provocation. However, it is not my place to sit in judgment.
Robert, if you are saying that women are forced to dress this way, that is farcical. And there is always someone who refrains from speaking truth because it is cast as judgmental. These are Scriptural principles. If we are not careful, teaching and admonishing will become off limits and labeled judgmental. The bottom line is that we know what decency looks like. Yes, men who are weak will stumble if a woman wears the Habit of the Nunnery! But good men can be needlessly hindered when women are insensitively dressed.
I agree that women are not forced to dress this way, but when they only seem to get attention, be it negative or positive, through their dress, they internalize the cultural narrative, that unfortunately seems to supersede the spiritual, even the house of God. It saddens me that this is the current state of things. I am all for modesty and decency in dress, especially on the Sabbath. However, we all need to be mindful of the base impulses and not look for an outward cause, i.e. ” I strayed because “she” was dressed in a way that I couldn’t resist”…
Well, Robert, no one here has advocated that a man be able to blame others for their own lust. James 1 won’t allow it. So I agree that the “base impulses” must be recognized. But those base impulses are not just in men who go astray and give in to lust, but they are also in women who are acting on their own base impulses or being pressured into following the base impulses of others.
A few years ago my daughter & I were in a Sunday morning service when a woman (she was late) came into the service. She happened to be very beautiful but unfortunately she was dressed provocatively. There was a man with his wife & children who turned and saw her as she passed by. He than quickly looked away & mouthed “Jesus please help me”. (Enough said!)
I’m always amazed on how some women ‘dress’ when they come to church I can only imagine how difficult this is for the men that see these women.
Thanks Linda. It certainly can be difficult! But, as Robert I think is getting at, no man can ever blame his fall on another. Jesus is too strong for that. Thank God the man understood his own problem. I think most women who do this are naive rather than trying to be vixens.
Thank you Pastor for speaking about the white elephant that is rarely addressed in church. I am curious about a few things.
1) If you think that most Christian women who do this are truly naive (as you said in your statement above) then how do you reconcile that with the last statement in your post, “But there is no excuse for a godly woman to dress in a way that will cause men to look at her or to cause godly men to have to avoid her.” (I am NOT of the opinion that most Christian women are completely naive). I believe that as Christian women, we need to be accountable. I also believe there is some culpability on the part of Christian men but I’d rather not go into that here as there is much to say about both.
2) I’ve heard men complaining about the same thing for years and yet nothing seems to ever be done about it. As a Pastor, do you think this problem should finally be addressed in the churches so it can be dealt with? If so, how? Thanks.
Hi Marlene. A godly woman can be naive and dress immodestly and there is no excuse for it. Naïveté and godliness are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
I think the best way for it to change is for people to grow in maturity not necessarily be confronted or monitored etc. As long as there are sinners, immature Christians, even mature Christians who don’t see a problem, there will always be a problems with modesty. Frankly, if you were to take a Sunday and observe how much cleavage is visible (sorry to be blunt), it might be surprising. We get used to it. But the weak brother can’t escape it.
Excellent! Totally agree!