Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 2 Corinthians 6:19-20
The topic of modesty gets brought up quite a lot in the Christian world. It’s one of those areas we’ll never all fully agree on because my line for modesty won’t match someone else’s.
We should each work to protect our own marriage but do we help protect other marriages? What do I mean, you ask? Well, let’s start with modesty.
Do you dress in a way that attracts men to stare at you? I’ve heard numerous Christian men say that if they see bare skin out of the corner of their eyes, without thinking, they tend to look. Does that mean we should be in long sleeved turtle necks and skirts that touch our feet? My personal answer is no, though of course there are people who might say yes.
One day at church, my husband was filling out a form on a table, when he looked up to hand it over, he got a full on view down a young woman’s dress. She was bent over writing on the other side of the table. I sincerely doubt that she was bent over like that on purpose or even aware that her dress was so extremely revealing – although if you wear a dress with a giant hole above your breasts, you should probably be aware that you’re going to be showing too much when you bend over.
Shouldn’t we be a little more aware of those things? With the warmer weather coming soon (or so we hope here in Oregon) we do need to put a little thought into how much we are showing off.
Our men are flashed with skin through the media all the time, let’s try not to be a live temptation to them as well.
A quick check in the mirror will allow you to see just how revealing a dress, skirt, shirt, or tank top truly is. If you were bent over a table, could someone see completely down your top? Check the lengths of your skirts and dresses as well. Just being aware of how much or how little movement you should allow yourself in a certain outfit, should help.
Why should you even care about how much skin you show?
Well, think about how you’d feel if it were your husband getting a nice flash from someone you see regularly, especially a close friend of yours. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to have my husband’s eyes for me only. Second, because we shouldn’t be tempting another person to sin.
One friend shared with me how one attractive woman in her life (a Christian friend no less) dressed in such tiny tops and short shorts, that she knew her husband was drawn to notice when their families were together. Her husband was already struggling with other temptations and this just felt like it compounded the problem. She didn’t know what to do or say.
Are we totally responsible for all of it? No. Clearly the men need to take responsibility and try to limit the opportunities for their eyes to wander or be drawn. We can certainly help by being just a little bit more aware.
What do you think? Does it bother you at church when other women dress in a revealing fashion? What would you say to a Christian friend who was dressing too provocatively? Is there a point we take this too far?
This is so true, and we do need to be careful – men are tempted by their eyes more than we could probably imagine.
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Honestly, I think this is never a woman’s fault. It’s one thing for a man to look at a woman, but honestly it’s another thing for a man to have sexual thoughts about said woman. These are adult men you are speaking of and if they are unable to keep their minds out of the gutter, then that’s their own problem. It’s the same with women. If she sees an attractive man, wearing a tight t-shirt for example, it’s her fault if she lusts after him. Womens bodies are just bodies. Not sexual objects. It’s time that men take the blame for their dirty thoughts. In my opinion (and I am catholic) women have the right to dress however they wish.
Clearly, we disagree on this. Men are visual. That is how God created them. I doubt very much that a woman who dresses provocatively, does so for herself but for the attention it draws from men. Women’s bodies are sexually attractive. The men have responsibility in where their thoughts go, just as we have a responsibility in not being a temptation to them, unless they are our own husbands.
If I had a friend who struggled with food, I wouldn’t put her favorite dish in front of her and then tell her not to think about it or any other food. That would be a cruel temptation for her and a good friend won’t do things like that. Ultimately, it is up to that friend whether or not she allows herself to think about and focus on the food item but I also have some responsibility in it.
GREAT reply, Mel! What a wonderful illustration and SO true 🙂
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Modesty is so important and yet it is becoming a lost art in our society. Have you read any of Dannah Gresh’s books? One of my favorites is “<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0736930140/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=inthedai-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399349&creativeASIN=0736930140"8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters.”She and her organization are on a mission to protect purity from tweens through adulthood. While modesty can be defined in blurry terms, she offers some great “tests” to see if our clothing is too tight, too low, too short and the like. These have been very helpful in teaching my seven-year-old how to respect others and honor God with her wardrobe.
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That’s awesome! I will have to get that one. And ironically, I didn’t know who she was until last Friday and someone posted a youtube teaching of hers and I loved her and am now reading another one of her books! 🙂
This is so true–we do need to be careful about how we dress. But at the same time there’s another side to it, which is that we SHOULD look nice for our husbands. I think often Christian women feel like they have an excuse to be frumpy because we’re married now, and he’s supposed to love me no matter what, and so I don’t have to put in an effort.
But it goes both ways. If we are to be modest because we know that men are sight-oriented, then we also have to remember that our husbands are sight-oriented, and try to appeal to him!
I find that a difficult line, but what I try to do is dress fashionably and attractively without showing too much skin. And I try to make sure that the person I put makeup on for, or the person I dress up for the most, is the one I’m married to. I want him to want to come home and see me, and I want him to be proud when we go out together. But I don’t want other men to get the wrong idea, so it is a constant challenge!
Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!
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That is very true Sheila 🙂
Amen amen and amen! I wish people would use the mirrors more, and do “bend over” checks with their wardrobes. I am thankful to have a husband who will tell me if he thinks something may draw any kind of unwarranted attention (items like that are few and far between since most of my wardrobe consists of sweats thanks to being a personal trainer). I also get angry because some of the women who dress with no regard to modesty become angry when they are stared at. Really? Isn’t that what you wanted! Yes, we need to hold each other accountable, in this area as well.
Amen! I’m surprised at the attitudes some women have. That the responsibility lies all on the men and that women should be able to wear what ever they want. My husband would tell me and has if something is too short etc.
Much needed message. Thanks for sharing.
This has always been a bit of a touchy topic for me.
I understand AND AGREE that we aren’t to be a temptation to others.
Rachel, if our “bodies are just bodies” Adam and Eve would not have covered themselves after having eaten of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
Because I have been on both sides of the fence, I would like to throw out a few thoughts, and leave you with a few questions I could use answers or insight on. I will apologize in advance for the unorganization and lengthyness of them.
I can tell you that particularly, as a teen being raised Pentecostal, my mother kept a VERY close eye on what her three girls wore. To me (of course…I was a teen) it was rediculous. The slits in our ankle length jean skirts (anything above the shin was frowned upon) had to be sewn closed, and any visit we made to the beach was done in split skirts. I was laughed at and made fun of in P.E. because I wore Koolatz. Very embarrasing at times. We were not to wear make up, trim our hair, or even wear CLEAR fingernail polish. Sleeveless was a big no no and don’t even THINK about cap sleeves! No jewelry, and our Pastor also preached against rings. Yes, this included wedding bands and engagement rings.
I evidentally need to pray about this, because in typing this post, I find myself getting a bit angry.
First thought. I have walked through a Wal-Mart parking lot at the age of 17 in the dress code mentioned above only to have men actually cat call at me!! Now, I am 5 foot 11 inches, slim, blonde hair, brown eyes, I GET ATTENTION….PERIOD. So I can tell you from a very personal standpoint that you could wear a burlap sack and there are men that are going to be “tempted” and let their thoughts run away with them.
The list of rules (as far as I was concerned) was more important in a church….or rather the church I attended than the message of the gospel. This led me to develop a vision of God as the mean kid with the magnifying glass on the ant farm, and I still struggle with this, though, now at the age of 35 I am learning differently. I can tell you, that the list of can’ts left little to do, especially with no youth program in place, so you can imagine what the main activity of the youth was!!! My parents tended to be more strict than that of the other youth, and I personally think it was because the other youth’s parents thought “their kids were such good church kids and wouldn’t be caught in that kind of activity.”
I moved away at the age of 19. Five years later when I returned, imagine my “surprise” to find many of those youth girls had children out of wedlock. Imagine my confusion when I am now running into those that attended the same church, namely women, who are now wearing skirts right below the knee, highlighting their hair, having nails done professionaly, wearing shorts and sweats for workouts, trimming their hair to follow the latest trend, some wearing jeans (modest) and with the faintest amount of foundation, lipstick, eyeshadow….. Yeah. I’m confused.
From a very early age, I was never convinced this was a necessity for salvation as it was taught to me. However, I honored my parents (mostly cause they would bust my butt for disobedience) and dressed as instructed while under their roof.
Needless to say, this is no longer the way of things for me OR my family. We are ALL currently learning about God’s grace and love AND the actuallity of the standards we are to have as His children.
Sheila. Honey, I am SO with you on your post!!! We need to be attractive to our husbands! I think one of the reasons I struggle so with this is that my father ran around on my mother. My Dad and I are REALLY close, so growing up, he would tell me things like, “When you get married, Angela, be attractive for your mate. If you have to cut the grass, do it in a pair of cute shorts and a tank, not koolatz and an oversized shirt with stringy hair.” In adulthood, I strive to look good. I pride myself on being attractive for my husband. Here is the second thought on that….
I pride myself on being attractive for my husband….EVERYWHERE I GO! WHETHER I AM WITH HIM OR NOT. My husband is “known” in our town, and I would hate to have someone he knows that has never seen me hear my last name, ask me if I am his wife (which happens often) while I’m in torn up sweats, stringy hair, nasty tennis shoes with floppy soles and a stained tee shirt! Christian or not, it is HUMAN NATURE to think ….oh my God! THAT’S his WIFE!!?? No, we hold no position of importance in our small community. My husband is just very friendly and never meets a stanger.
I would be lying if I said I do it ALL for him, but he is MOST DEFINITLY a BIG factor!!
Third thought. You mention men. I being a bit technical here, but it’s still a thought. I am a woman. I am visually stimulated. So I think this is something that should be taken into consideration in this sharing of thoughts. This particular “standard” is not only directed to women. (my tone here is full of a giggle. it’s hard to deduce that from looking at typed words ;o)) I think men hold (maybe not as much) a responsibility in this department too. Wranglers are too tight!!! LOL!!! A man with a great looking chest (and especially without (snicker)) should steer clear of those clingy shirts that show off “in all the right places” buldges!
Fourth thought. As a female high school student, I had a female LESBIAN coach. Should she have been allowed to walk freely through the girls locker room? NO! She is tempted by the same anatomy that a man is tempted by.
Fifth thought. How short is too short? How low is too low? How much is too much?? I’m letting God lead me through these, but I’m sorry ladies. When you are donning a pair of daisy dukes to run to the grocery in, you are INVITING attention. When you wear a shirt cut so low that the pink parts are in danger of showing, you are INVITING flirtatious, lewd comments. Could those men be polite and NOT say what they are thinking??? Sure! But the Bible tells us if we cause them to lust in their HEARTS….WE also have sinned.
I just came back from the beach. I wore a bikini on the beach. It looked good on me. I did not feel convicted. When I go to my friend’s house to swim…I’ll wear a bikini. It will look good on me. HOWEVER….if her husband happens to come home early, I will grab up my cover up or put on shorts and a tee shirt while he is there. This is not only modesty, but RESPECT!!!
While at the beach, I guess it’s just kind of a “when in Rome” thing. In more intimate settings….THINK!!!! and listen.
Thanks Angela! All very well said!
I don’t know Angela, you had me till the bikini story. But if you think it’s modest and respectful to cover up that bikini clad body for your friend’s husband, what about other women’s husbands who are at the beach?
Hippie4ever, I completely understand where you’re coming from with this question. It’s one that I asked myself and God before this trip.
All I knew/know to do was to ask God to let me be sensitive to His voice concerning what I wore out there. Now don’t get me wrong! I’m not running around on the beach in a thong! (giggle) I do have a 6 year old son to take into consideration. I felt no conviction, but as I mentioned, this is a touchy topic for me, so…..was I not being sensitive enough?? I can’t answer that for certain, and maybe that’s something you can help me pray about.
I am still praying about this particular subject, because I have recently had to go through a closet filled with low necklines (I haven’t worn skirts in YEARS until recently). The Big Man Upstairs has used Melinda’s blog to speak to me on SEVERAL occassions, and I feel he’s kinda pointing some things out to me on this particular post as well. I’m stubborn out of bitterness sometimes, so maybe He is prodding me a bit to give this issue a bit more thought and prayer.
If there is ANY explanation to be offered, it would be that the situation with my friend feels more intimate. To me it could be compared to INTENTIONALY bending over in front of him to pick something up so that he had a clear view down my top. Just to give you a visual. LOL!
I mentioned “when in Rome”… A great man of God in our church is currently on a missions trip in Africa. Before he left, he went through some training in which the ladies that were going were told that they need not worry (as far as this culture was concerned) about their necklines, but showing an INCH of thigh would be serious taboo.
Lately, the question I have been asking myself is ..”Would I be embarrassed if my Pastor caught me in this..”
I agree that there is a double standard when wearing a bikini to the beach. Would you want your husband’s eyes and mind freely taking in all the sights??? Then would you want to wonder just whose body he is thinking about in the privacy of your bedroom?
I agree! I’m very thankful for a husband who is very careful to avert his eyes but pretty hard to do when there is naked skin everywhere 🙂
Thank you for approaching and writing on this topic. We work with teenagers and we consistently stress modesty in dress. It’s difficult but not impossible. I appreciate you venturing into this hot topic!
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Over and beyond the effect women who dress in skimpy clothing have on men, I am wondering why they feel driven to dress this way – why they need so much attention. I think it is a low self-esteem issue – maybe these women feel they are not valuable in any other way, so they welcome the attention they get from wearing this type of clothing.
Also, some women feel their sexuality is part of being powerful in this society – I think this category of women feel powerLESS, and so enjoy the pseudo-power that sexuality gives them.
Finally, I think a lot of woman, maybe even most, who are so obsessed with looking “sexy”, are competitive with other women, and are dressing this way to cause other women to become envious.
All of these needs for attention and the whole competition thing is pathetic, and I wish women who are into dressing for sexual attention could feel better about themselves.
What concerns me also is that there is so much focus on this in the media (Madonna, Lada Gaga, Britney Spears, etc.), so little girls grow up feeling this is how they want to look, sometimes at an alarmingly early age.
Well said Janet! Those are some great points and things I have wondered too. My daughter won’t be dressing like that.
I started reading this last night, but my eyes were so tired I decided to leave the window open and read it today. As sure as I know my name, I know God intended for me to read this in the very moment I needed it. (Not my own modesty in question, or even the woman about whom I’m speaking, but my husband’s reaction to what *I* don’t even consider to be immodest.) As you said, the definition of modesty is different from person to person, and my definition apparently is not even close to that of my husband. Had I not read this when I did, we almost certainly would be arguing now instead of me praying and posting. Thank you, Melinda, for writing and sharing as God leads.
Oh I’m so glad Cindy! I love hearing these kinds of things 🙂 So encouraging! And I am so thankful God kept you both from arguing 🙂 That’s the best!