Modesty? When the Church Building Becomes a Place of Temptation
He pulled into the church parking lot with a big smile on his face, looking forward to worshipping with his Christian family. Minutes after his alarm clock went off he began singing familiar hymns and was still singing as he pulled into the church parking lot. But as he placed his car in “park” his smile took a downward turn. Instantly, he realized today would not be the joyful worship he had been anticipating.
It was just a curve. But, oh that curve…
She had no way of knowing the parking place she selected would force her to walk right beside his car on her way into the church building. She also did not realize that her selection of tight jeans earlier that morning would spawn an internal battle in the mind of a Christian man who longed to be faithful. As he placed his car in park, he looked up just in time to have his entire field of vision filled with a sensual sight of this young lady’s thighs. Oh, her legs were covered with fabric, but the fabric was so tight that it might as well have been non-existent. He couldn’t take his eyes away from those form-fitting curves.
She had no idea of the war that was raging in this man—in fact, she didn’t even notice him sitting in his car as she walked by. As she strolled past his window the battle in his mind escalated and he found himself glancing up in his rearview mirror to catch a glance of her backside. Again, those tight fitting jeans hid nothing. He watched her walk all the way into the building while his mind raged—the hymns he sang only minutes earlier had long been forgotten. Now his mind could only concentrate on those curves.
The young lady had no idea that on this particular day she would cause a similar internal battle in over 25 males, aged 11-87, all of whom had gathered to worship and honor God. She never realized that some of the men in the congregation had purposefully selected a pew or angled themselves with a clear line of sight to her backside. Or did she? She didn’t realize that 2-3 of the men sitting behind her would later go home and feed their porn addiction while substituting mental images of her for the actress on the screen. Did she have any inkling that she was being devoured in the minds of men who were supposed to be worshipping God? Did she care? Or did she realize that other men were forced to stare awkwardly at the floor as they waged war on the temptation.
Had this young lady known the thoughts that were going through the minds of some of the men in the auditorium, surely she would have never put those jeans on. But tight/skinny jeans are in style, and her friends have reassured her she looks really good in them. After all, it is not like she’s showing off a bunch of skin right? How could jeans be immodest?!
I realize the above scenario is horrifying and maybe even repulsive to some who are reading this, but Christians it is way past time we address the reality of the situation. We have a problem in the church! This year alone I have had several men share similar “battles” they have experienced in their church buildings. (The example above, while fictitious, was based on conversations I have had with Christian men.) Week after week we have men, who instead of worshiping God, find themselves internally wrestling lust and temptation. It’s time we address specifics without fear—motivated by love, honest concern for souls, and the desire to help others move toward being more Christ-like. Our congregations should be places where women are dressed not to impress or to look sensual, but rather to glorify God.
This is a call to fathers to lead their daughters, and a call for mothers to set a proper example. Fathers you are essential in cultivating an atmosphere of modesty both in your home, but also in the church building. It is way past time for fathers to take responsibility for their daughter’s clothing. After all, you are the spiritual leader. Fathers, don’t you care enough to protect your daughter from the lustful eyes of all the men who are devouring her in their minds on a daily basis? But the responsibility does not just rest on the parents.
Isn’t it time we raise our daughters to joyfully submit to their father and mother and choose to dress modestly for the glory of God? Daughters, what is more important to you, catching the eye of some young man or catching the eye of God? The reality is many of our children fear wearing the wrong label on their backside more than they fear the Lord. This is an indictment on the home and the church today.
I share this information not to shame or “judge” anyone. Instead, this information is shared so that fathers will step up and protect their daughters. I share this information so that hearts will be convicted and turned back to God. I share this information so that congregations will take healthy steps to address modesty. I share this information so that preachers and elders will discuss it with their congregations. I share this information so that humble women who have witnessed immodest dress in other Christian sisters will have the courage to actually reach out with love and compassion for their souls. (Stop avoiding it and stop excusing yourself—be a true Christian sister! Modesty should be the responsibility of the entire church family.) Paul wrote, “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control (1 Timothy 2:9, ESV). And finally, I share this information so that our Christian light will not be diminished and the Gospel will not be tainted.
There are many areas of immodesty that need to be addressed in the church. I have purposefully decided to focus on just one subject—tight jeans/leggings—in hopes that maybe these words will cause someone to truly consider the battle that is raging in the minds of men, and prayerfully reconsider their jeans. They go by many names—skinny jeans, stovepipes, pencil pants, gas pipes, etc. And while the fashion statement of tight jeans is most often made by younger ladies, its not uncommon to see these extremely tight pants/leggings on mothers (and grandmothers). Does anyone honestly believe tight jeans are glorifying to God?
The problem with skinny jeans does not begin at the mall, but rather it begins in the heart. Many will argue that they can’t find loose fitting jeans or that stores no longer sell that style. Again, before we address that point we should examine the heart. Is this a submissive heart that honestly wants to please the Lord? Modesty starts with attitude and then moves on to appearance. Once we have the proper attitude then finding proper clothing becomes much easier. If you search for clothing either online or in a mall with the attitude that you will not give up until you find something pleasing to God then chances are very high that you will find modest pants.
For those who currently wear tight jeans, here are a couple of questions to consider: First, ask yourself why you wear tight jeans—and be honest. (And please don’t say comfort, because I’ve never known anyone who puts on tight jeans to lounge around the house when they are by themselves.) Also, do you think it is Christ-like to wear sensual clothing to worship (or anywhere else for that matter)? Do you honestly think clothes that look “painted on” are modest? Are you aware that your selection of tight jeans/leggings causes men (young and old alike) to lust? Are you aware that your clothing may cause men to have trouble worshipping Almighty God?
If your jeans are accentuating the curves of your body then you need to reconsider what you are wearing. If boys can tell what type of cell phone is in your back pocket because your jeans are so tight, then you might need to reconsider what you are wearing. If you find yourself hopping around like a madman on one foot while trying to get your jeans pulled down over your knees when you change clothes, then it might be time to reconsider.
I realize many females will read this article and have someone else in mind. I plead with you to also go into your closet and honestly evaluate your wardrobe. Others will get angry or upset with me focusing this article on a piece of their wardrobe they wear on a regular basis. They will call me judgmental or instead look down on me as perverted. To these individuals I pray God will soften your hearts. All I’m asking is that you honestly consider your Christian brothers (and God) when you go into your closet to select your clothing.
Young ladies (and older ladies too!), I could spend hours detailing what tight jeans do to the neurochemistry of males—and how the battle in the mind mentioned above is a very real battle. Or we could talk about the “mental pictures” that many men take while staring at an immodestly dressed woman—images that will later be called up in lustful fantasies. But at the end of the day it comes down to whom do we love more—Christ or the world? What I pray you will see is that modesty is not about your clothes. It’s about drawing closer to Christ. It’s about reflecting Him through our actions, speech, and dress so that others will be drawn to Him—not ourselves. It’s about loving God more than loving the latest New York fashion trends. Because once you get the right attitude, your appearance will soon follow.