ODJ: smartly, not seductively

April 17, 2014 

READ: 1 Timothy 2:9-10 

I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves (v.9).

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently. “Much preaching about women dressing modestly has been destructive,” she said, “because it subtly places the blame for men’s lust on women. Men should take responsibility for their lust and women should be free to wear what they want.” My friend’s words got me thinking.

There is some validity to my friend’s critique. A woman shouldn’t be blamed for a man’s lust, no matter what she wears. Jesus said that the person (male or female) who lusts should deal with their sin; He didn’t say that the person who draws the attention should behave differently (Matthew 5:28-30). David was responsible for his adultery, not Bathsheba for bathing on the roof (2 Samuel 11:1-12:13). In some tribal cultures women wear little clothing and bathing suits reveal much of the body at the beach. If a man can control himself in such settings, why should a woman be held responsible if her attire attracts a man’s lustful gaze in the office? When we tell a woman to cover herself so she doesn’t entice a man, we can subtly send the message that she is responsible for his sin. She isn’t.

There is another factor at play here, however. For the Christian, love is our ultimate value, not personal freedom (Matthew 22:39; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, 10:23-33). Our calling is to help each other grow in Christ-likeness (Hebrews 10:24). So, if we use our freedom to do—or wear—anything that causes someone else to stumble in their spiritual growth, we haven’t acted in love. In that case, none of us (men included) is free to dress as we want, but in a manner that takes others’ holiness into account.

So, dress smartly, creatively, beautifully! But don’t dress seductively. In the apostle Paul’s day, braided hair could be construed as seductive. What equivalent fashions can we avoid today? —Sheridan Voysey
365-day plan› 1 Kings 12:1-24

Read 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, 10:23-33 and consider what it says about personal freedom and the spiritual needs of others. 
How can we avoid the opposite error of becoming legalistic about matters of dress? What are the benefits of dressing modestly?