To All My Sisters

Conversation I overheard last week at the McDonald’s at Stonestown Mall:

Boy 1: What do you think about this hot weather?

Boy 2: It’s ok, it’s been like this all week.

Boy 1: Well, to tell you the truth, I kinda like it.

Boy 2: Yeah, me too. It gives the girls at school a reason to dress like sluts.

I wish more girls heard this conversation. If only girls knew how sleezy some guys are… Or maybe girls nowadays don’t care. I was impressed with my summer team when the guys asked all the girls to be careful about the way they dressed so they wouldn’t cause the brothers to stumble.

So to all my sisters out there: Dress Responsibly.


Mary Ann November 5, 2007 Reply

Yes, it is true! What a horrible — but revealing conversation — but at the same time, I would say, boys, stop lusting. Look away!

It is not the sisters' responsibility to keep brothers from stumbling. It is the brothers' responsibility to keep themselves from stumbling. The brothers need to avert their eyes and control their passions.

Matthew Ng November 6, 2007 Reply

"Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness." -1 Timothy 2:9,10

Rick Holland and John Piper have preached great sermons on this topic.

In response to Mary Ann. I think there is equal responsibility here. There can be little valid, biblical reason for a woman to dress in a "revealing" manner. Dressing in that manner is almost always a means of attracting in a dishonorable and deceitful manner (even if it is ingrained into our society today). However, you are right in pointing out that men should not lust. Men have equal responsibility to not give a woman dressing in that manner the time of day.

Ha! Sorry I got all preachy.

Mary Ann November 6, 2007 Reply

I'd like to clarify my statement. In the issue of men lusting after women, it is the men's responsibility (I don't think it's "equal responsibility"). God will hold men accountable for their sin. God will not hold women responsible for men lusting — unless they have the evil preconceived intention of dressing provocatively in order to capture and bring men to ruin. Yes, women *should* dress appropriately, but it is not their *responsibility* when it comes to this issue. There's a distinction between these two ideas.

The problem I see is that when it comes to talks on purity, women are always the ones who are asked to cover themselves — and there always seems to be an oversight in telling men to look away and stop lusting. The implications are tremendous: women become the scapegoat for the problem of men's lust. i.e. women *are* the problem.

This is the same kind of reasoning that forces Muslim women to wear burkas. The men can't help but lust after the women, so they say, "women, cover up." Implied in this also is the ideology that women are evil.

Vinson November 6, 2007 Reply

amen to that ;]

Matthew Ng November 7, 2007 Reply

I think I was a bit harsh in my words. By no means did I mean that women hold the responsibility for man's lust. I think there lies two sins. The sin man commits is lust, which he has 100% responsibility over. The sin woman commits is discontent in image (sometimes unintentional) to not dress in a modest manner. And my "equal responsibility" idea stems to that sin is sin and we are all judged by God on the fact we sin, not by the sin we commit.

I do agree that woman get the rough end of the stick when it comes to talking about purity. It's hard these days to be a pure man/woman of God.

Joey November 8, 2007 Reply

lol i think it's more like guys should control themselves, but it's understandably hard sometimes so we need the girls to help us out by not making it harder for us

penguingolfer89 November 8, 2007 Reply

We should go back to Jesus time how the pharisees were bruised and bleeding because men couldn't look up to look at women or they would be lusting after them. Men would just look down and continously bump into things.

What is the world coming to. If you just looking at outward appearance, shame on you!

Men and women should both have the heart and mindset of Christ. I believe both men and women should be respectful in "looking" or dressing appropriately. Not just women dressing appropriately, too. Men need to dress appropriately too, don't be showing your boxers around or sagging your pants.

I'm surprised what people wear to church now a days too and how people of the church look at each other. I see guys and girls in chapel service looking at each other in lustful ways.

sacrod November 13, 2007 Reply

I agree with Mary Ann. I think a double standard does exist, and I think men as visual creatures are generally much more prone to fall in this manner. I also think that women can be absolutely clueless to the fact that some men are capable of extremely dirty minds, and do need to be aware and dress modestly. This, however, does not absolve responsibility for the males who fall, and the women who do not realize that the way they dress is so influential to a man's perception are many times, at most, merely guilty of being naive. Men who act and think according to their fleshly desires, on the other hand, are guilty of much more.

Kurt November 20, 2007 Reply

"The fact that some men are capable of extremely dirty minds"

Whoa ho ho there. I think that we're not the only ones with the minds, FYI. Careful.

We have different sins. Men aren't the dirty ones and women all pure. To make a gross overgeneralization, men tend to look, women tend to imagine. Men tend to picture images, women tend to dream of situations–that's why by and large men are attracted to porn and women romance novels. You can commit idolatry either way and neither honor people for who they really are.

Women are not responsible for being treated poorly. They are never responsible for rape.

Men are responsible for their lust. I don't think that anyone here has said they don't.

However, there is a bit of give and take here as well. Let's imagine a different situation: people are supposed to be prayerful in church. It is my responsibility to be worshipful there. I have control over what I think about and what I'm looking at. But if someone answers their phone in the middle of service I get distracted. I am wrong for wanting to slap that person. They aren't supposed to answer their phone.

We all have responsibility here.

–guys and ladies need to be careful to dress appropriately. Guys can't be whipping their shirts off and ladies need to avoid too tight or low cut stuff.
–guys need to be aware of things that may cause women to stumble. At a discussion on this i was a part of the women admitted that they needed the guys to be more careful about innocent things like hugs which were a stumbling block for them. It's not fair to say that it's not that big of a deal to me when it's a problem for her.
–gals need to honor their bodies and show modesty too in their dress. It's not fair to say it's not that big a deal for me when it's a problem for him.

kurt November 20, 2007 Reply

i wanna hear what our "web host" has to say about this

amy November 21, 2007 Reply

hm. interesting. so basically girls can cause guys to stumble…
what about the girl's safety? — move beyond your christian circle — indecent dress can cause more than indecent thoughts. something to think about.

Vinson November 21, 2007 Reply

Wow. Who would've thought that a news post from the "web host" would create such a controversial debate. Personally, I think that both guys and girls should be aware of what messages they are sending when choosing what to wear. For example, you guys see guy wearing very baggy jeans, a black hoody, and a lot of "bling". Common reaction from everyone is that "Oh, theres a gang banger over there." Same with girls dressing responsibly. Even though you don't mean to send out a certain message, other people may think different. Its both our responsibilities and it shouldn't be set upon other people. Some thoughts can't be prevented, including indecent ones, but God is a forgiving God. As long as you know its wrong, I'm sure He'd forgive you.

I'm not sure if I'm getting my point through, but hey! I'm just a kid. Why listen to me, right? :)

Mary Ann November 21, 2007 Reply

Good contributions, everyone. I'm glad everyone has been thinking through this seemingly non-controversial post. The reason why I commented in the first place (though I don't even really know Jen — thanks Jen for allowing us to write here) is because of the underlying inaccurate message that unfortunately gets communicated again and again in Christian circles. As I mentioned earlier, when in a discussion about sexual purity, the line of thought goes, 1. men get aroused by what they see visually so 2. women need to cover themselves to keep them from lusting. There is usually an omission of an exhortation to the men. The message that therefore gets communicated is that it is women's fault and responsibility, and the responsibility is taken off of the men. My beef with this is that it gives women an inaccurately negative concept of her body and her sexuality.

Let's talk about what this means practically. As a Christian woman, I hear the message that my body causes sexual feelings in a man and that is sin. Therefore, sin and guilt are related to my body and sex. As a Christian woman, I am told that I am not a sexual being (and should not be one) – at least not as much as men are (men are the sexual ones and that is sometimes implicitly excused because "they are visual; they can't help it; it's biological") — and besides that, being a sexual being is BAD and EVIL, so if I am that, then I am bad and evil. As a Christian (single) woman, I am told to keep pure, stop thinking about sex. All this seems fine when I am single — but what happens when I am to get married and God sanctions the freedom to have sex?

I'll tell you what happened to me and to many other Christian women when we got married to these wonderful husbands that God gave us — it's difficult to turn the switch from off to on in a split second and say YES to this great gift that God had in store. It's difficult to really embrace it as a beautiful, good, right and PURE thing — even if I know it in my head, it's very different than getting through to the rest of my body. Just because I say "I do" doesn't mean that all those years of thinking of "sex as bad" can change as soon as I say those words. It took a lot of processing and prayer to get to the right understanding about my body and sexuality — and frankly, all that angst could've been avoided if the right message had been taught in the church. (Sadly, I have married friends who have not yet resolved and think of what they are being robbed!)

This is why I believe it is important that we communicate the correct message when it comes to sexuality. Women, your bodies were created by God; you are a sexual being, and this is GOOD. You need not ever be ashamed of who you are. Men, if you are having trouble lusting after women, you need to submit your passions to Christ. Learn to control your passions; do not put the blame on women.

Christian women should not be responsible for men's lust.

The reality is that if a guy has issues with lusting, even if a girl was wearing sweats and jeans, he'd still lust after her.

Lastly, I wanted to add a comment I read elsewhere, "However, the modesty issue generally resolves itself quite well when a Christian woman is both genuine in her faith AND free to dress according to her own conscience. The lust issue generally resolves itself when a man is both genuine in his faith AND loves his Christian sisters as himself. Each takes responsibility for his/her own Christian growth and witness and doesn’t play the oldest game in the book: blaming someone else for their own sin."

some girl November 22, 2007 Reply

wow! sorry for being MIA, I've been in and out of town these past couple weeks.

vinson's right in saying i didn't think this post would elicit such a discussion. thank you for all your comments and thoughts.

my phrase for the sisters to "dress responsibly" was merely a play on the alcohol beverage ads urging people to "drink responsibly." it was not meant to place blame on women nor was it meant to absolve men from their own actions/decisions.

my final thoughts (much like how jerry springer ends his shows): every individual is responsible for his or her actions/thoughts, but at the same time, as followers of Jesus, let's live above reproach–don't even give the opposite sex a chance any chance to point blame.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

penguingolfer89 November 22, 2007 Reply

I like that, "As followers of Jesus, let's live above reproach-don't even give the opposite sex a chance any chance to point blame."

This weekend in W. Virginia we had SYC and our theme was Livin It, the speaker Steve Fitzhugh spoke about us living out our faith and our lives for Christ. If we live one way with in church and we live a totally different way outside of church then that ain't right. If we say, "I love God!" and then someone looks at your MySpace, or looks at the transcripts of your text messages, or listens to your ring tones, what would they think? He put it in a better way. I can't ever get my thoughts out.

It's like what if our bibles came to church to testify for us…The way we dress testifies also how we live our lives and who we are living our lives for.

Gobble gobble, I thank God for the way he gives us a choice to believe in Him or not and also choices to be responsible or not, but I also thank Him for giving us multiple chances, a person who doesn't dress responsibly can change…

Ray November 25, 2007 Reply

So who wants to write a letter to companies who makes these clothes that caused this topic to stir up? :)

I personally like girls that dress more conservatively. It's for the girls safety and to avoid debates like this.

To Mary Ann's post : no offense, but do women lust? Have you ever "checked out" a guy?

Talk to me, Goose.

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