Dan Phillips (of the Pyromaniac team) this week issued an invitation to hot controversy when he blogged about women's dress - or the lack thereof - and the offense/stumbling block that it is to our brothers in Christ. I'm glad he brought the subject up, as it needs to be stated that s do have a responsibility when it comes to helping our brothers fight sin; however, you really can't find a subject that's going to push the "legalism" button more than this one will. I think the comments on his post were even more interesting than the post itself. It was appalling to see people actually defending women who blatantly, inexcusably dress immodestly. I'm sorry, but I believe (and no one has to take me seriously on this - I'm only myself a female!) that anyone who says that a woman doesn't know what she's doing when she wears immodest clothing really needs to have their head examined. Women are born with that knowledge. We don't need anyone telling us that shorts that cut off right beneath our bottom are gonna cause a guy to look twice. In order not to be too hard on my fellow sisters, I do honestly believe that there are some women out there who really don't have a clue as to the extent that a man's imagination may go when he sees an immodest woman. It's true that there are some men with a problem so big that they really could lust after a women in a potato sack, however, I think that those people are an exception to the rule and not relevant to a discussion on men in general. It is not legalism or puritanical to say that women have a responsibility in our clothing choices. I think that the women at girltalk did a fabulous job on their recent modesty discussion, so if anyone really wants a good, thought provoking, non-legalistic if you will, discussion on fashion and modesty, I suggest you take the time to read their Fashion and Following the Savior series. Although I won't repeat too much what's already been said by women more experienced and more qualified to speak on this subject than I am, I will post some of my thoughts regarding this controversial topic.
1. Women need to be told that their dressing is important, and they need to be told this by men as well as by women. Older women need to encourage younger women. They shouldn't be afraid to take someone aside who is inappropiately dressed, and if they do, they need to do this in private. No public remonstraces and no gossiping about it later. Men need to speak more openly about their problems with lust so that no one can say that they were unaware of this problem. Also, I think that this is even more effective than any kind of preaching about it, because the real reason that women dress as they do is because they believe that this is what men want. In truth, this is what men want, but it shouldn't be so for Christian men. If a guy praises a girl for her chaste attire, this tells her that she is appreciated for her character and not for her body or clothing. This is really, really, important because women just want to be admired. If we can be admired for our character then why would we seek any other admiration? This is an example of the horrible effects feminism has had on our society. Women, in being "liberated" to do or dress as they see fit, have only become sex symbols and are not valued for who they are. This is tragic. Women really don't believe that a man will love them for who they are, only for how they look. Only men can help reverse this terrible assumption by encouraging their believing sisters and affirming their character traits, not their clothing choices.
2. Women are sinners, too. We need as much preaching to about our dressing motives/choices as men need about keeping their minds pure. Women know what they are doing when they choose a tight fitting t-shirt or strapless dress. Please don't just automatically assume that women are innocent little creatures who have no idea that men have a problem. It's a jungle out there, and women are the cats who prowl it. It's a contest to see who's the hottest, the prettiest, the most fashionable, and women are constantly fighting for first place in any, if not all, of those categories. Just as men struggle with purity of mind, women struggle with purity of heart and motive. It really is hard to let someone else get all of the attention. It makes you feel as though you're not good enough or pretty enough or fashionable enough. Again, men can help women with this by affirming their character and spiritual beauty.
3. Women are afraid that they will look frumpy and matronly if they are modest. And indeed, there is no reason to look like that if you are trying to be modest. It really is a matter of knowing how to dress. Also, having a male who will be honest and tell you if something is too tight, sheer, low, or whatever is absolutely essential. Sometimes I really do believe that something is modest until someone in my family informs me otherwise. This is what Christians are to do: exhort and encourage their fellow believers to holiness and purity. So sisters, don't be afraid to seek out someone who will help you determine what sorts of clothing are a problem for guys and what isn't (and some goes without saying, like bikinis. :-) ). It's not shameful or any kind of admission of immodesty if you do. It only says that you are concerned for the spiritual welfare of your brothers in Christ, and that is admirable.
And that's all I'll say. Any thoughts on this are welcome.