In writing the content for this book, it became crystal clear that a discussion on the Bride of Christ would not be complete without addressing the outward display of an inward concept known as Modesty. Today’s excerpt discusses the failings within various arms of the Church in trying to understand this very critical concept.
Modesty Failings in the Church
Compounding this problem has been the Church’s negative fascination with the concept that discussing the sexual differences of men and women is bad; that sex itself is somehow dirty; and that to even think of being attractive in any way shape or form is asking to be raped.
God says in Hebrews:
Hebrews 13:4-5 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. 5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
But what has caused the church to fall down in this discussion is something Christ said about men:
Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
This echoes a passage in Proverbs:
Proverbs 6:20-34 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 21Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. 22When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. 23For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: 24To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 25Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. 26For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. 27Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. 30Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; 31But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. 32But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. 33A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. 34For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
Now seeing as we are talking to men here, let’s look at another verse:
Psalm 119:9-11 BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Notice that these passages do not leave men feeling that they have absolutely no way out.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
The way of escape is found when a man spends time in God’s Word. The godly man will be spending enough time getting to know God and His ways through His written Word such that when temptations come, and God said they would come, the godly man is able to keep himself pure before Him.
Remember, our lives are not meant solely for the approval and appreciation of others. Whether man or woman, our ultimate source of approval is God Himself. Seeking God’s approval is not a substitute for Salvation however. There is no way to earn that. But God is pleased when we choose to take what He’s taught us from the Scriptures and live them out in everyday life. Overcoming sexual temptation is one of those areas of everyday life that a man must face because sin has corrupted his God-given appreciation for all things beautiful.
This doesn’t mean men are never to come into contact with women. It means that men should, whenever possible, encourage women in living godly lives themselves. This means showing them the kind of respect discussed earlier. Focus on the Family has published some excellent literature regarding how men can positively impact the lives of the women they come into contact with.
Women on the other hand are not to needlessly tempt men. Proverbs refers to women without discretion in this manner:
Proverbs 11:22 As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.
A wise woman then, will consider the strengths and weaknesses of the men in her life and conduct herself accordingly. Remember, she is the nurturer, therefore, rather than see it as a slam against her personal sense of style, she should welcome the opportunity to present her men to God in a manner He would be pleased with.
By nature of the very fact that God created women with a shape pleasing to men, there is a power women have over men that God talks about in the book of Proverbs. But notice the kind of woman that misuses her power:
Proverbs 9:13-18 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. 14For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, 15To call passengers who go right on their ways: 16Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, 17Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. 18But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
How many women do you know who could be classified as airheads? Or perhaps they’ve called themselves that? How many of them also tend to engage in activities that make you raise an eyebrow, turn your head away in disgust, or get themselves into situations that ultimately compromise their Christian witness and/or virginity? When it comes to things of faith, respect, humility, and wise treatment of the other gender, there is no room for airheads on either side of the coin, male or female.
To those women who have been put down, degraded, told they were nothing, or told they were ugly, let me restate what was shared a few pages ago. God doesn’t make junk! There is no need to jump on the vanity bandwagon, because you are already a jewel in God’s crown. Let the vanity mirror go lonely. Forget the clothing styles that make you fall out of your top and peek through your skirts. The enemy would have you believe that if you advertise what you’re not selling, you will be liked by the world.
Rock ‘n roll and Pop stars are doing this constantly. As of the time of this writing, this author can think of at least three women who have been destroyed because they bought into the lie that to be popular, they had to all but bare it all. Unfortunately, dressing with exposure in mind tends to attract men who have no intention of exercising self-control and who are more than willing to forcibly buy what you appear to be selling and run with it, leaving you feeling dirty and worthless. It is up to men to speak into the lives of their women that they are beautiful just as they are, they are loved just as they are, and they are worth protecting, worth providing for, and worth fighting for. Men will appreciate a woman’s beauty regardless of what she is wearing. But a man has an easier time fending off the enemy’s attacks when she’s dressed appropriately, than when she flaunts herself instead.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.
Or as the NIV puts it:
1 Corinthians 10:23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Women would do well to consider how men are wired, and help them in their desire to exhibit self-control instead of hinder them in the effort.
What this looks like differs from culture to culture, but the end result is the same: respect the different genders and honour them by how each gender presents themselves. The trick here is to get rid of the selfish, “I’ll do whatever I want and don’t tell me otherwise” attitude and adopt, “How may I help you walk pleasing before the Lord?” This mind-set shift has no help from the media, or from many cultures around the globe. But it is necessary if men and women are to help each other toward a level of modesty in behaviour and dress that pleases God. Neither gender is off the hook here.
The Jewish people actually have an interesting take on this concept of modesty that I found while researching the Levitical garments earlier.
Bear in mind that clothing is the outer gesture of our special stature in the world as human beings. No other creature has the need or the desire to fashion a covering for its naked and exposed body. No other creature can understand the profound concepts of modesty, humility or restraint that clothing fundamentally represents. These ideas are uniquely human, and are the product of the recognition of a Transcendent God in Whose constant presence we live. To don the garments of the Cohen Gadol (priestly garments) is to take on the mantle of living life as a sanctified person, whose every footstep bespeaks Godliness. (brackets mine)
By now the reader should be able to see that the concept of modesty is so much more than a fixation on how a person looks and dresses. The world is very focused on this fixation, and the church has become that way too in many respects. The first thing we judge when a newcomer walks in the door, is how they are dressed.
At their core, every single person alive wants to be accepted for who they are, not for what they look like. To achieve this, we need a fundamental shift in where our focus lies, so that we can greet each other in a manner worthy of our shared status as members of God’s family. When we realize that “it’s not all about me”, and that our bodies are actually being reserved as gifts for a spouse God is lining up (or has lined up) for us, then we won’t go showing the contents of that gift to every man who walks along, and nor will every man seek to unwrap what is not yet his.
So many men and women are trapped in the fixation that if they don’t address their body’s flaws, if they fail to accentuate their assets, that the other gender won’t even look at them, or worse, will take advantage of and use them. Yes, women can take advantage of men equally as well as the other way around. Most discussions about this however, tend to only focus on how women get treated, which is wrong. Body image means so much to men, that some of them will religiously show up at the gym just to have that hot look at the bar Friday night. While it’s true women get a sense of security and safety from a man who can fight for her, that’s just the issue. She wants a man who respects and loves her enough to fight for her and not fight to get every other woman out there too.
There are suggestions that can help men and women deal with the ravages of the sin-nature on their bodies. How we look should first of all please our Creator who delighted to give us the shape and appearance He did. When we please Him, it matters very little what others think and we can get off the outer-appearance treadmill and rest.
Be sure to enter the giveaway in the code below, for your chance to win a copy of this book! Tomorrow we will enjoy a slideshow recap of the various types of subject matter found in this book.
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