Most of us Christian women hopefully don’t get up on a Sunday morning and say to ourselves, ‘How can I look sexy, hot and seductive for church?’ We want to honour God through the way we dress (Romans 12, 1 Cor 6:19-20, 1 Tim 2:9). We don’t want to cause our brothers to stumble (Romans 14:21,15:1-7).
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves not with elaborate hairstyles, or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds appropriate to women who profess to worship God (1 Tim 2:9-10)
A pastor called Albert Martin became concerned and burdened with how some of the women in his church were dressing. As a result he prayerfully asked a number of men in his church to name the top 10 ways women dress that men generally find overtly sexual and distracting to help the ladies better understand the affect clothing can have on a man. He was not suggesting that the women were dressing immodestly intentionally. Neither was he blaming the women for men’s struggle with lust and taught that men need to take full responsibility for their own sin. Rather, he had a strong desire that men would love and honour their sisters and knew that the way the women were dressing was unhelpful.
Some of you might be thinking: ‘What right do men have to share with me what they find immodest. Modesty is between me and God’. If that’s you, I would ask you to consider what it means to dress with decency as required by the above text. The Greek word for decency means: ‘a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfullness, reverence, regard for others, respect’. Thus to dress with decency is to dress in a respectful, reverent way with regard for what others think. Modesty is not all about us and our own standards. If most men find our clothing indecent, we should care.
Here is the list they came up with along with their reasoning. They were real and raw in explaining how the male mind is wired. Obviously the list was subjective. You won’t find a place in the Bible that says ‘Thou shalt not reveal thy cleavage’. However, I have spoken to a number of men about this list and they have been in agreement. See what you think. If you disagree, why not ask your brothers in Christ for their opinion…
1. Dresses or skirts with lengthy slits
Apparently when a man’s eye sees a long slit that comes up to the knee or above on a tight skirt or dress, he can think, “Oh, a few more inches and what would I see?” That is the way a man’s mind works. The slit is a magnet to men’s eyes.
2. Dresses, skirts or jeans which tightly cling to the butt
A skirt that tightly clings to our butt is a skirt that not only comes down over our butt, but deep into the back of the thighs. We’re not talking about fitted clothing here, but rather skin tight clothing. It draws men’s attention.
3. A skin tight upper garment
It is one thing for our garment to come down and hang loosely upon the breast, but if it tightly clings to our breasts as well as closely shapes and isolates them we can create a big distraction! People should not receive an anatomy lesson in mammary glands when they look at us!
4. Unbuttoned blouses, low neck lines or cleavage
Some of us women unbutton down to one button away from bearing our bras. Apparently when a man sees only one button to go his mind can go, ‘I wonder what is under that one more button’. John Piper shared in a sermon: “Women, remember that in a church setting you need to at times bend over and pick up a child. Bend over and look at yourself in the mirror before you leave the home. What may seem to cover you well standing up, does not cover you sufficiently when you bend over.”
5. Sleeveless tops with large, gaping arm holes
We look down on our sleeveless dress and see nothing but our shoulders. But if it has a large gaping arm hole, a man sitting behind us looks up at the pulpit, sees through to our bra and his mind can go where he doesn’t want it to go. If the arm holes are tight enough that no one can see in, Pastor Albert suggested it is our liberty before God to choose to wear them or not.
6. Low rise skirts or jeans
This is the style made popular by Brittany Spears, Jennifer Lopez and other celebrities. We’re talking skirts that barely hang on the hip bones and jeans that barely come up and cover the crack of the buttocks.
7. Skirts and dresses that are just plain too short
If we find it difficult when we are seated to adequately cover ourselves, then our skirt/dress is probably too short. We can get engrossed in something in a public setting and forget to keep our knees locked together. Before long our legs end up spreading a bit and anyone just happening to glance can see clean up to our underwear. Mrs. Albert Mohler advises, “If you arrive at church dressed in such a way that by the end of the service the people around you, by no fault of their own, know the colour of your underwear and they have watched you do a shimmy dance as you try to get your too short, too tight skirt to go under you, there is a big problem.”
8. See-through clothing
Clothing that fails to fully cover our underwear that could benefit from a camisole or a slip underneath.
9. Skin tight trousers or jeans that tightly hug the buttocks, the thighs and the crotch.
Some of us rock up to church in jeans that either have spandex/lycra in them or a kind of very stretchy material that hugs the buttocks, comes around and hugs the thigh and presses up on our crotch and the crack of our buttocks (think jeggings). Pastor Albert says we have no idea what that does to many a man when he sees it. It draws his eye to the most erotic part of our body. That whole area becomes a magnet for men’s eyes.
10. A bare midriff and back
We’re talking about where tops come down and just barely, if at all, meet the low rise jeans. We may look in the mirror and say, “Well, I am fully covered,” but all we need to do is to reach over a couple of inches and our belly is showing. If we just bend over, people can see our back and usually the top of our underwear.
Well I don’t know about you, but I was certainly challenged by this list! I’m aware some of you may be thinking, ‘It’s not my fault if men lust after me… that is their problem’. Yes men are fully, 100% responsible for not lusting after us (Matt 5:28). Yes some men will lust whatever we wear. However, that does not take away our God given responsibility to try and dress modestly and decently (1 Tim 2:9-10). I think to love our brothers is to say, ‘If my tight, figure hugging, see-through, short, cleavage baring dress with a slit up to my butt could stumble you, how ever much I love it, I will not wear it’. Is it really loving or Christ-like to say, ‘I don’t care if my dress is overtly sexy and distracts your mind. That’s your problem…deal with it. It’s my right to wear it’? Is it really loving to say to our married sisters in Christ, ‘I don’t care if my dress distracts your husband. I am free to parade my body in front of him if I want’? Does this mean we should go about judging any woman who isn’t dressed right? Of course not. Any woman, however she is dressed, should feel loved and accepted in our presence! If you are a new Christian and your wardrobe is full of the type of clothing mentioned, please don’t worry. Don’t let it stop you coming to church. It might be that you have far more important things to sort out before God at present. Godly men and women will not judge you for your clothes and will just be so pleased to see you! Please don’t let this article distract you from your new relationship with God.
Please do share with your sisters in Christ so that we may all better honour God in this area. You can listen to the full sermon this article was based on by clicking here. Stuck with how you can dress fashionably and modestly? Check out this great site that is packed with ideas…Set Apart Style.
[UPDATE: To clarify some misunderstanding for those who did not listen to the full sermon this article was based upon, I updated the introduction and conclusion]