When I was a teenager, I spent a few weeks away from home taking care of my nephews. My sister took me to the bus station to go back to Memphis once it was time for me to go home. I was not very conscious of my appearance, being something of a tomboy, and had put on a dress with part of the hem unstitched. I do not remember much else about my appearance that day, but noticed the hem once I was boarding the bus. Typical of me at that time, my hair would have been barely combed, with no make-up on, wearing shoes with no socks, and I seldom carried a purse. I probably was carrying my additional clothing and toiletries in a sack.
My mom was picking me up from the bus station but was delayed. No one I knew was around when I got off the bus.
I was fairly naïve, so I did not think much of it when a man approached me and asked if I needed a place to stay. (I noticed a woman standing by watching, who was wearing a mini-skirt and high-heeled boots that came up higher on her legs than I had ever seen before.) I told the man my mother was picking me up, and I was bewildered when he rather fiercely called me a liar and said it was obvious from my appearance that I was a runaway.
I heard my name called, turned to see my mom and left. It was years later that I realized the danger I was probably in.
My appearance advertised that I must have left in a hurry and did not take much with me. My unkempt state said I did not have anyone to care enough about me to be sure I was properly dressed. None of this was true.
What we wear and how we carry ourselves advertises a lot more about us than we may be aware of. I know that more than once I have unintentionally given the wrong impression about myself, or realized I was not dressed as modestly as I thought. It always makes me rethink what is in my heart, whether I am reflecting the mind of God.
In recent times I have seen women wearing skirts slit all the way up, with bows tying the sides together that exposed the skin all the way down. Do we wear such suggestive attire or revealing tops and then take on an air of offense when men look?
This could be an unnecessary provocation for our male friends.
The legal definition for provocation is a “set of events that might be adequate to cause a reasonable person to lose self-control” (Wikipedia ).
I don’t think Christian men should look anyway, but we are not surrounded by just Christians, and even Christians may be influenced by our society. Males are not excused just because someone dresses in a provocative way. Church, of all places, should be a safe zone. I am sure church members grow weary of having to deal with seductive dress in their daily life.
“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28 Matthew 5:28But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
American King James Version×).
Sorry, females, God will not hold us guiltless when we stand before His throne for not dressing carefully to not cause offense. Do we want to be the cause of wrong thoughts entering someone else’s mind? We should be mortified at the thought!
This lack of modesty leads to the breakdown of respect toward women. Do we think men we interact with are thinking about how intelligent we are when we draw their attention to our sexuality? We are not advertising intelligence!
“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion” (Proverbs 11:22 Proverbs 11:22As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.
American King James Version×).
As Christian women, we are called to be discrete. We must walk a narrower path and not the broad way that leads to destruction.
The definition of discrete: “apart or detached from others; separate; distinct.”
“Enter by the gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 Matthew 7:13-14  Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
American King James Version×).
Christ knew our way would be narrow and difficult. It gets narrower by the day as our society is losing touch with the morality taught in the past. Much of the diminishing of standards we see today also happened in Rome when Jesus lived. The ruins of Pompeii have frozen in time the depravity of Roman society in that city from that century. The Jewish society, while somewhat separated, was still influenced by the typical Roman ways of the time. Amid this picture of immorality, God found a pure, humble virgin to be the mother of Jesus.
We can go by the broad way and mimic society around us, or we can choose to be a light—separate and distinct in a darkening world.
Women don’t have to be covered from head to toe or to have someone measuring how long their skirts are. Our desire is to appear stylish rather than to try to show off too much of our anatomy. One takeaway I took from my college psychology class is that we do not see ourselves the way others see us. Maybe we should look in the mirror each day and ask if what we are wearing shows how we feel about ourselves inside.
Mothers need to be teaching their daughters proper attire, and moms should not mimic society themselves! What is our long-term goal for our daughters? If learning to be a follower of Christ is not our aim, then we need to rethink our values. And the same mindset must go toward teaching our sons to be respectful of women no matter their appearance.
We do not have to give up fashion to advertise modesty. It just takes more planning and effort.
We should direct our whole life into respecting ourselves, our neighbors, and Christ our Lord in how we appear both inwardly and outwardly.