Updated: Oct 29, 2018
In light of recent events and conversations about modesty, sexual assault, and where the blame lies, I felt like I needed to get something off my chest. I’m going to get real with you guys. This is not something people like to talk about because I think it makes people uncomfortable, but as a Christian and your sister in Christ, I have to confess something that I’ve struggled with for many, many years:
Well, men in suits.
I try to keep my eyes averted and my thoughts pure and my eyes on Jesus and usually I’m successful! But sometimes not so much. Sometimes I can’t help but to entertain the evil, dirty thoughts that will surely creep into my head. Sometimes the clean cut, well-tailored men will strut by smelling of cologne and aftershave and...
Don’t these men have self-respect? Do they even understand what their clothing is doing to me? I often wonder, are they wearing these suits because they just don’t know, or are they doing it intentionally to tempt me?
Listen, as a woman I am an emotional creature: it’s just how I was made. I want to feel protected and safe, and nothing screams “I am a MAN and I will protect you!” like a suit and tie. I can’t help it guys, this is just how I’m made.
It’s science. Look it up.
Now I know what you might be saying, “well, isn’t it your responsibility to control your own thoughts around men?”
Of COURSE! But is it too much to ask you to simply be more attentive to what you wear?
If the purpose of our clothing is to glorify God, how are you doing so by wearing something that obviously causes others to sin in their minds? We all have a responsibility to not sin with our eyes, but you have a responsibility to not give them a reason to sin.
Perhaps instead of chastising me for not having enough self-control, you could take a good hard look at what’s in your closet and ask yourself, “is my wardrobe advertising what’s not for sale?”
Here’s what you have to understand: your body is a commodity. Anytime you appear in public, it’s public knowledge that anything you show is something available to everyone. Do you have strong hands? Muscular arms? Well, are they there for me to enjoy? No? Then WHY are you showing them off? What kind of message are you sending?
What, you expect me to believe that you dress this way for you? If you truly cared about my (and I’m sure other ladies) desire to live holy, you would take into consideration how your clothing may be a potential stumbling block for me.
If your job requires you to wear a suit, well clearly you need to find another job!
- Have you considering wearing a suit that is too large for you?
- Maybe add in an ugly tie?
- Do you have any plaid?
These are simple remedies that can be implemented that will make it so much easier for me on my journey towards a pure, and lust-free mind.
Here are some other actions to avoid:
- Throwing your jacket over your shoulder
- Flaunting your intelligence by saying smart things
- Being a talented musician
- Being talented at anything
- Wearing button down shirts
- Talking passionately about social justice
- Reading books
- Looking thoughtful
- Standing around looking thoughtful
- Sitting in chairs
- Looking thoughtful while sitting in chairs
Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list. There may be clothing and/or behaviors that are not listed here that others find desirable. It is YOUR responsibility to find out what they are and eliminate them from your life. By avoiding these clothing, actions, behavior, personality traits, and conversations, you are demonstrating you care enough about others to assist them on their path to righteousness. Now, this really isn’t about a list of modesty do’s and dont's, this is about making tiny little changes to your life that prevents the remote possibility of any lustful thought entering the minds of those you interact with.
Remember: upholding an impossible standard that will never remain static must always trump your convenience, comfort, and ability to exist in a public space in any manner you choose.
Does this sound ridiculous men? Or does it sound familiar?
In the list of verses that talk about our clothing choices and our bodies, (1 Peter 3:3-4; 1 Peter 5:5-6; 1 Tim 2:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; ) not a single one of them is telling us to beware that our clothing is a stumbling block for someone else. That's because not one of these verses is telling women that scientifically men are visual creatures and so we have to look bad to avoid their sinful nature -- God is worried about your heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Romans 14:12-13 says that each of us will give an account to God -- so do not put a stumbling block in your brothers way. This verse is not saying "make sure you do nothing that someone else might sin from," it's actually saying the opposite: STOP making it so hard for people to live righteously! Stop making up rules and expecting others to live by them.
Stop the judgement.
Stop pretending that someone else is your problem.
Stop policing other Christian's walks and don't do what you feel like is wrong for yourself.
Paul continues to say, "whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. Blessed in the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves."He says you are condemned by your doubt, not by your actions. If you believe in your heart something is wrong, don't do it! But don't let someone else tell you that you need to be constantly vigilant about keeping them pure.
The best example of this I can come up with is rape culture, as it has nothing to do with what we're wearing. It is estimated that in India a new rape is reported every 22 minutes. Last I checked women in America were much more scantily clad than those in India, and yet India is still much higher up on the lists of rape reports.That is not a clothing problem, it's a heart and culture problem. This is a lust problem.
Now, there is something to say about our intention. Women AND men, if you are intending to dress seductively: stop! The world "stumbling block" is skandalon, it means a snare, or trap; a person who entraps another person. This is where the problem lies! Not in wearing a skirt but in intentionally dressing to make someone look at you. This doesn't even mean wearing less clothes, in fact it could be wearing MORE clothes, more jewelry, covering up so that someone thinks you're "more righteous." If you are dressing a certain way to please someone else then you're in dangerous territory; but stop worrying that you are causing someone else to sin.
"Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7