SHOULD CHRISTIAN WOMEN DRESS IN A SEXUALLY PROVOCATIVE MANNER?


A friend of mine had a fascinating conversation with a friend from an Islamic country who was visiting this country.

The visitor had converted to Christianity about five years previously and this was his first ever visit to the UK.
His impressions were very interesting!
Many things shocked him: the freedom which westerners just take for granted, the prosperity, the huge range of choices in just about every area of life.....and much else too. But this man was especially shocked by one particular thing. He told my friend,
'Your western women often dress in a manner in which only prostitutes would dare dress in my land! You have advertising boards erected in your cities advertising things like holidays and shampoos which - to us - would amount to what you call 'pornography' because the ladies in the pictures are almost naked!' 'On any warm summer day, your cities have many women wearing short skirts and low-cut tops. It is very shocking to somebody from my part of the world.'

The man had noticed other things about modern western women too:
'In our land when women's eyes meet the eyes of other men , they usually quickly lower them as a sign of modesty and loyalty to their own husbands, but here many women will look men challengingly in the eyes and will even talk to other women about quite shocking things when men are in their company! All of this is a shock to men from my part of the world.'
But when this man was later invited to a Christian service, he was apparently even more shocked! There he saw a few ladies wearing skirts and dresses with long and provocative slits and quite a few ladies wearing tight jumpers and tops fully revealing the shape of their bosoms. He had not expected to find this in a place of Christian worship! Now from what I was later told about this man, he was no 'prude' nor was he extremely naive, being happily married with four children, but he was genuinely shocked!!

Now what is your reaction to this? Perhaps I should warn you right now that your reaction will be very indicative of whether you stand 'sure and fast' with Jesus Christ or whether worldliness has made inroads into your spiritual life!

I am in sympathy with the reaction of this Asian Christian. I don't want to offend any of you ladies but I would seriously ask you to consider some of these things!
Is it decent and seemly and modest for a woman who has committed her life to Jesus Christ to try to dress herself the way that so many women do today? I speak of such things as the current trend towards very tight blouses and tops, skirts with very long slits, very short skirts, almost backless dresses and other things too. Of course, our society has been throwing off all the last vestiges of propriety, modesty, tastefulness and decorum during the last few years; television programmes (especially after a certain hour of the evening) frequently contain swearing, cursing and nudity. Certain cable television channels now openly and unashamedly specialise in pornography and, I am told, lesbian-based pornography is especially in vogue! All of this should genuinely horrify the Christian and, I am sure, it mostly does, but are we tempted to compromise our own standards? Now I would never suggest that because a Christian woman may be occasionally a little unwise in what she wears, that means she would ever stoop to watching pornography, but we must realise that the liberal and permissive forces which have so influenced our society, are continually pushing for looser and looser standards in every area of life!

Now the modern reaction to the objection to women wearing revealing attire is to say, 'They can wear whatever they like. If you have a problem with that, the problem only exists in your own mind!' However, I think that this is a very disingenuous and unsatisfactory response. God made men a certain way and the way that God made us means that we can be sexually influenced very easily! To deny this is just to be naive, simplistic and to bury one's head in the sand!

Now here is the truth:
You women can actually cause a normal, well-balanced man (not some kind of pervert) to SIN

- I REPEAT 'SIN' -

if you wear provocative and revealing clothing!!
Let us never forget that sin starts in the mind!

For the Christian man, Jesus plainly shows that a man can commit adultery with a woman in his heart and thoughts even if he never as much as touches her hand! Matthew 5: 27-28(NIV), says this:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart"

We must take Jesus' comments to heart! However, I would just point out that for a man to notice that a woman is very beautiful is not a sin, nor is it even a sin to be tempted; but this sort of temptation certainly can very quickly become a sin for a man! But we should certainly realise that there is a big difference between noticing that a certain woman is beautiful and lustfully staring and leering at her, especially when 'lustfully leering' allows the imagination to become too involved.

Throughout the Bible, we see standards of modesty and humility upheld for women who would serve God. 1 Peter 3 gives this advice to Christian women:

'Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful...'
(1 Peter 3:3-5 NIV)

We must realise that for either a man or a woman to purposely dress in order to attract undue attention to themselves is not an indication of Christian humility! An American friend tells me of a group of ladies in a church which he once attended having an ongoing friendly competition as to who could where the most eye-catching and sexy clothes in Sunday services! After much deliberation, my friend brought the matter to the notice of his pastor - but the pastor was already aware of this and he told my friend that he was enjoying the spectacle! Moreover, he said, some of the women involved were very influential in the congregation and he backed off from taking them to task! 'Hey, if I handled this the wrong way, I could be out of a pastorate' he frankly told my friend!!

But it should not take too much spiritual insight to see that there was something very seriously wrong with the leadership within that congregation and I am not surprised that my friend decided to leave their fellowship!

What I Am NOT Saying

I am not saying that our modern western Christian women should dress in only dull and drab clothes! I am saying that, as an act of worship to Christ, they should attire themselves modestly, not drawing undue attention to the shape of their bodies, avoiding tight-fitting clothes, whether worn on the upper body or lower body (I do realise that larger women have a particular problem here and I am sympathetic towards that), being very careful about the length of skirts and dresses, as well as being careful about low neck tops. Moreover I would appeal to such women to keep modesty in dress in mind as an act of consideration and Christian love toward the men within the congregation!

At the risk of sounding very old-fashioned to a few, I would say that for an obviously attractive woman to 'play down' her beauty by wearing neat and discreet but pleasant clothes, being determined not to attract undue attention to herself, is a wonderful joy to behold! Of course, ladies should be clean and well-groomed (as you ladies invariably are).

I sincerely hope that I am not offending anyone who is reading this, but - if you feel a little offended - why?? I am simply upholding the biblical standards of Christian womanhood!
Robin A. Brace
2003