An Open Letter from a Brother to Christian Sisters
We hear a great deal about the sin of David, but seldom does anyone mention the sin of Bath-Sheba. And it is true enough that David's sin was deliberate and presumptuous, and Bath-Sheba's only a sin of ignorance. David committed deliberate adultery and murder; Bath-Sheba only carelessly and undesignedly exposed herself before David's eyes. We have a natural tendency to classify David's sin as enormously great, and Bath-Sheba's small.
Yet it remains a fact that Bath-Sheba's “little sin” was the cause of David's great sin. Her “little sin” of ignorance, her little thoughtless and careless exposure of herself, was the spark that kindled a great devouring flame. “Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5). On the one side, only a little carelessness – only a little thoughtless, unintentional exposure of herself before the eyes of David. On the other side, adultery and guilt of conscience; murder and loss of a husband, besides the death in battle of other innocent men; great occasion for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme; the shame of a publicly known, illegitimate pregnancy and death of the child; the defilement of David's daughter, Tamar, by her half-brother, Amnon; Amnon's death; the uprising and death of Absalom; the defiling of David's wives in the sight of all Israel; and the sword never departing from David's house (see 2Samuel 12:11-18). Again, I say, “Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” None of this great evil would ever have taken place if Bath-Sheba had only been careful not to display her body in the sight of a man. Observe: she neither designed nor foresaw any of this evil, yet she was the occasion of it all. She did not display herself purposely or wantonly . She only did it ignorantly and thoughtlessly . Yet the results of her “little sin” of ignorance were just the same as if it had been purposeful wantonness.
Now the reason for my writing all of the above is this: there are many Christian women today who are guilty of the same carelessness as was Bath-Sheba. Godly women, who would recoil with horror from the very thought of wantonly displaying their bodies, do nevertheless carelessly and thoughtlessly display themselves habitually, by the manner in which they dress. I do not write to accuse them of intentional wantonness. I believe many of them are as innocent of that as was Bath-Sheba. But neither can they be altogether excused from blame in the matter. The whole world is well aware that certain kinds of feminine dress are provocative and tempting to the eyes and heart of a man – and are Christian women alone altogether naive and ignorant? This can hardly be; and yet I do not write to blame you, but, where it is possible, to instruct you – to provoke you to love and good works, to help you be thoughtful where you have been thoughtless before, to make you careful for the spiritual welfare of the weakest of both your Christian brethren and non-Christian men, where you were careless about it before, to provoke you to be wise where before you were simple.
The first thing that must be understood is that nakedness before the eyes of others is wrong. It is wrong in a man, and it is wrong in a woman. When Adam and Eve sinned, God made “coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). The sole reason for His clothing them was to cover their nakedness, as the Genesis account makes plain. Observe, He clothed them with coats . They were already wearing aprons, which probably covered as much as, or more than, much of the clothing that is worn today; yet in spite of their aprons they were still naked in their own eyes and in God's. And God did not clothe them with shorts, or swimming suits, or tank tops, or halter tops or anything of that sort, but with coats , long coats, or robes , as the Hebrew word might properly be translated. Observe further, He clothed them with coats. He did not clothe Eve with a coat and Adam with a pair of shorts. He clothed them both with coats - whence we may assuredly gather that nakedness is just as wrong for a man as it is for a woman.
When a woman exposes herself only a little, she becomes a fiery dart to tempt the heart of every man who sees her. Like it or not, this is the plain fact. And because this is a fact, you are not at liberty to dress any way you please. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's”. (1Corinthians 6:19) But if you dress in such a way as to expose your body, or parts of it, to the lustful gaze of every man who chooses to look at you, you certainly do not glorify God in your body. And if you fear God and love your neighbor, you dare not dress so. You dare not use the temple of the Holy Ghost as an instrument of unrighteousness to allure the eyes and tempt the hearts and tantalize the passions of men.
Many men are wicked, and will lust after you in spite of anything you can do to prevent it. They have “eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin”. (2Peter 2:14) Should you therefore help them sin? Will God excuse you if you do? Other men, godly men, are not wicked, but only weak. David was not wicked. He was a man after God's own heart. But in the presence of an unclothed woman, he became weak – he let go of God's protecting hand as many men would. But after he lost control over his passions and committed adultery with Bath-Sheba, he did wickedly design her husband's death.
Your Christian brethren may not be wicked, but they may be weak. And the devil does all he can to weaken them further. His ultimate goal is to make them wicked. They are forced to live in a world where they are continually bombarded with sights, which are designed by the enemy of their souls to weaken their morals and destroy the purity of their hearts. And must Christian women be instruments in the hand of the devil to facilitate his dirty work? Must they make themselves a temptation to their brethren even in the congregation of God? Oh, that you could understand the fierce and bitter conflict in the souls of your brethren, when you arouse their desires by the careless display of your feminine beauty. Oh that you could hear their pleadings with God for help and deliverance from the power of those temptations! Oh that you could see their tears of shame and repentance when the temptation has overcome them, and they have sinned with eyes and heart and mind! Never again would you plead for your right to dress as you please.
The fact is, you have no such right. You have no right to destroy, by your careless dress, the brother for whom Christ died. You are bought with a price, and you are not your own. You are duty-bound to glorify God in your body – to clothe that body, not as you will, but as God wills. And a little bit of real love for the souls of your brethren would remove forever from your heart the desire to dress as you please. For, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves . Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me”. (Romans 15:1-3) Christ was willing to deny Himself all of the glories of heaven, and bear all the reproaches of the ungodly for your sake, in order to save your soul; and will you plead for your right to please yourself in your dress? Can you not deny yourself a little of comfort in pleasing yourselves to save another man's soul? Can you not bear a little reproach for being “old fashioned” or “out of style” in order to help your brother in his battle against sin?
You may think I'm making too much of too little. You may suppose the case is not so serious as I have represented it to be. But consider: you are a woman, and cannot experience the passions of a man. You have your own passions, but they are not the same as men's. Nor are they excited in the same manner as those of men. If you would understand the workings of a man's passions towards a woman, you should take a man's word for it. Those of you who are not willing to do this don't need to read any further, since it would be just a waste of your time. You cannot experience it yourself. And the plain fact is that the sight of a woman's body easily excites man's passions, as was plainly the case with David and Bath-Sheba, when he beheld her washing herself. Most men, ‘tis true, will be better able to resist your allurement than David did Bath-Sheba's. They will not go so far as to seduce or rape you. But how do you know they can resist the thought and desire of it? How do you know that they do not sin with their eyes and heart and imagination? There is great pleasure for a man in merely looking and lusting, even though he goes no farther. You know very well that the Bible says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) And will you say that this is not a serious matter? It is serious, for it is sin , and sin is serious. Sin blights and ruins and deforms and destroys and damns. The ultimate result of sinning is death. And if you would know just how serious a matter this is, you need only read the very next verse, which says, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Here is probably the most solemn statement in the Bible concerning the seriousness of sin, and it is spoken with reference to the very sin which you may so lightly and thoughtlessly occasion by your careless dress. This is not a light matter, and you dare not treat it lightly.
At this point you may say, “Amen; all true; but I do not need to hear it, for I dress modestly.” Are you quite sure of it? If you follow the fashions and practices of this age, you assuredly do not dress modestly, for modesty is ignored by many of them, and purposely thrown to the winds by many others. And it may be that you, being a woman, and not able to see yourself through a man's eye, are unable to perceive that which may be really tempting and provocative in your own dress. God would have you to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) But if you unthinkingly dress as the rest of the world does, you are assuredly neither wise nor harmless. Not wise, for however ignorant and innocent you may be, you are following a system of fashion designed by wicked men, women, and devils to break down and destroy the morals of both men and women. Not harmless, for however little you may intend it, you thus make yourself a fiery dart in the hands of the wicked one to tempt every man who sees you. You will pardon my plain speaking then, if I give you some specific instructions in order to help you find wisdom in the matter. That being done, I have confidence that the godliness of your own heart will make you harmless.
As said before, the obvious design of God in making clothing for Adam and Eve was to cover their nakedness, and any clothing which fails to do so, cannot be right. Bare backs, bare midriffs, bare legs and thighs, are wrong – wrong in the sight of that God who clothed Adam and Eve with coats to cover their bare bodies. Shorts, halter tops, swimming suits, and anything else which intentionally leaves you partially nude, have no place in the dress of a woman professing godliness. Whatever the rest of the world may do, you are bound to do right . And whatever the rest of the church may do, you are bound to do right. And the things which I have just mentioned are so obvious and so flagrant a violation of the purpose of God in clothing you, that there ought not to be a moment's question as to what is right. But (alas) the standards of the church are sunk so low in our day that there are actually Christians and preachers who will defend such things. They will actually defend what they call “mixed bathing” – that is, men and women freely mixing together in a state of almost nudity. Have they no shame? Have they no sense? I wonder if they will defend such things when they stand before the judgment seat of Christ. If they have no shame now, will they have some then?
Meanwhile, we need say no more about forms of dress which so obviously thwart the purpose of God. Let us turn our thoughts to some things which, while less flagrant, nevertheless violate the evident purpose of clothing.
Short Dresses . You need no one to tell you that these are wrong. The whole world knows that they are provocative to a man's eyes. But women who profess godliness, women who ought to know better, will simply follow the current fashions of the world, whether long or short, without any reference to what is right . Others will quibble about how short is too short. Rather than making sure their dresses are plenty long, they will make them as short as they dare, while still persuading themselves that they are long enough. You may stand at attention in front of your mirror, and convince yourself that your too-short dress reveals nothing, but only let you sit down, only let you bend over, only let you get in or out of a car, and what a spectacle of nudity you present. And whether you design it or not, and whether you like it or not, those nude legs and thighs of yours are provocation to lust in the eyes of men.
For the same reason, you ought to have nothing to do with those skirts that are slit halfway up the sides, back or front, however long they may be. Who could be so foolish as not to see that the very design of such a fashion is to expose your thighs to view? Or is it to enable you to walk? So much the worse if it is. If your skirt is so tight that you cannot walk without cutting the sides, by all means throw it away and get something with a little more material, so the wrath of God doesn't get kindled against you as it did against the women of old for the same reason: “The Lord saith: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet ; therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts... and it shall come to pass that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.” (see Isaiah 3:16-24) We shall have more to say about tight clothing further along.
Do you ask how long your dresses ought to be? See that your legs are well covered below the knee, front and back, while you are bending over or sitting down, and you will be safe enough. But be careful here: it is not enough that your legs should be covered only from the vantage point of your own eyes. When you bend over, the front of your dress will naturally hang lower, so as to cover more of your legs, but the back will be drawn up so as to cover less. Very often I have seen women sit down and carefully arrange the front of their skirt so as to cover the topside of their thighs or knees from their own view, while leaving the sides and undersides of their thighs completely exposed to the view of anyone sitting across from them. And this will be unavoidable if your dresses are so short that they only cover you down to the knees while you are standing erect. If you would be safe, your dresses should cover you well below the knee in all postures. This can be assured when the edge of your dress rests closer to your ankles than to your knees.
Low Necklines . Again, the whole world knows very well that these are a great temptation to the eyes of men. And if you were a godly woman, no doubt, you would never dream of purposely wearing a neckline too low. But you may be doing it nevertheless through thoughtlessness or ignorance. It is not only low necklines that offend, but also large or loose ones. You may stand erect in front of your mirror wearing a large or loose neckline and think it perfectly modest. But bend over a little so the material of your blouse falls away from your body, and immediately the most provocative view is offered to the man who happens to be standing in front of you. The same is true, of course, when you dress with the top two or three buttons of your blouse unbuttoned. This looks provocative, even if nothing were exposed by it. It looks seductive . It looks to a man as though you must design to expose and tantalize his passions. What else can he think? “For what other purpose could this woman leave two or three buttons of her blouse unbuttoned?” Do you say it is for comfort? Because you cannot bear a tight choking collar? My counsel to you is: don't wear anything with a choking collar – it is unhealthy anyway. And if you have to wear it for some reason, make yourself comfortable by unbuttoning one button only. There can be no possible excuse for leaving two or three buttons open. It will add nothing to your comfort. It is simply following a wicked fashion of a wicked world. Your collar will no more choke you with one button open than it will with three. One button will always be a great plenty for comfort's sake, and with some blouses even that will be too much. If you can leave your top button open, yet not expose your breasts when you bend over and the material of your blouse falls away from your bosom, very well. This may depend upon the nature of the blouse, as well as the size of your bust. But if there is any danger of exposing yourself, you better button all your buttons. You might set the top button down an inch or so, and make another buttonhole for it, and thus provide for both comfort and modesty. If this does not help, then I advise you to present your blouse to someone who is a smaller size than you and provide something that fits yours. You can scarcely be too careful here, for there is no part of a woman's body so alluring to a man as her breasts. When a man sees a woman with the top two or tree buttons of he blouse open, he will probably conclude that it is her intention to start a frivolous game. Is this the impression you wish to give? If not, button your buttons, snap your snaps, and zip your zippers.
If you happen to bend over in front of a man, and he sees your breasts actually exposed because of your large, loose, low, or open neckline, unless he is a godly man who turns away from the sight, he will be tantalized, whatever you may think or intend. And even the godly one will be exposed to that view for a fraction of a second unintentionally before he recognizes it as temptation and turns away. Believe me, even that short glance stays in the files of his memory for a very, very long time. Therefore, you cannot do what the rest of the world does. Let your neckline be high enough and small enough to be in fact a neckline and not a chest of shoulder line, and you will be safe. Your neckline should be of the sort that you can close up with buttons or snaps after you put the garment on.
Sleeveless Blouses . Sleeveless blouses always reveal too much. Little as you may be able to understand it, your shoulders, underarms, and the parts of your chest or your back which immediately adjoin them, are very attractive to men; and a sleeveless blouse cannot help but display those parts. You must also bear in mind that others will see you from all angles and in all positions. And the armholes of a sleeveless blouse will often allow a man to see inside the blouse, especially when your arms are uplifted or outstretched. Thus part of your chest and probably some of your breasts are displayed. Also, there is no need for other people to see the upper parts of your arms and parts of your shoulders.
A godly woman should refuse short sleeves that do not reach at least to the elbows. Remember that you cannot see yourself as a man sees you. I am a man, and know what it is to be tempted by such sights. And if only the weakest of your brethren might be tempted by your sleeveless or short-sleeved blouse, ought you not to deny yourself a little of comfort or of fashion, and conceal your body a little better for his good?
Sheer Clothing . It ought to be unnecessary to say anything about clothing that is so light or so sheer that everybody may see through it. The obvious and undeniable design of such clothing is to thwart the purpose of clothing, and expose your body (and your underwear) rather than covering it. This you cannot help but realize. Everyone else knows it also, and when a man sees a woman thus attired, what can he think but that it is your intention to display your body to his sight? And yet so low are the standards in the church today that it is not uncommon to see Christian women wearing see-through clothing. What a shame to see that some women in the world dress with a high degree of modesty and taste while many Christian women by their appearance leave an impression of a very low standard of both morals and taste. If you have been guilty of this, your first business is to repent – to reject at once everything which is obviously and purposely sheer. You ought to be careful also not to wear any material which is so light or so thin that it may be seen through when you are standing in direct light, such as in front of a window. Finally, reject any material with a very coarse weave: wear clothing , not netting .
Tight Clothing . Dress, which explicitly reveals your form , is as bad as that which reveals your nakedness. The whole world knows that such a dress is provocative. When a worldly man sees a woman dressed in tight clothing that reveals and displays every curve of her form, the sight will certainly excite his passions. A newborn man who is exposed to such a sight feels abhorrence and disgust and he will gladly leave your presence. At times he feels that you need a good thrashing. The world calls tight clothing “revealing” which is exactly what it is – and as such, it is an obvious violation of the purpose of God in clothing you. Every woman who professes godliness, therefore, ought religiously to refuse every form of dress which reveals and displays her figure. Specifically, you should avoid tee shirts and anything made of knit, stretchy, or soft clingy material. Things of that character will serve you well as underwear but never as the visible layer of your dress. Woven material with some stiffness and body to it will conceal your form much better. This is of the utmost importance, especially for a woman who is large in the bust. There is no sight on earth, which will surely tempt a man's eyes, and so quickly inflame his passions, as the sight of a woman's breasts – whether they are actually exposed, or their form displayed by tight or clingy clothing. This is a fact which the world knows very well. Forty years ago the world was singing a popular song about the pleasure of seeing a woman in a sweater and tight skirt. The natures of men and women have not changed in forty years...
When a man looks at you, he should see your clothing and not the shape and form of everything that is inside it. Tee shirts and knit blouses, by their very nature, cling to your body and reveal and display the shape and form of it. And you should take a man's word for it that the shape and form of a woman's body, even though it is covered with clothing, will naturally draw his eyes and tempt him, as well as the sight of her actual skin. I do not mean to say that it is impossible for a woman to wear a sweater or a knit top that is not too revealing. What I do say is that the sweaters and knit tops which American women usually wear are almost always too tight. A woman who is very small in the bust may fairly easily wear sweaters which are loose enough to conceal her form, but the larger her breasts are, the more difficult this will become. A woman who is large in the bust should avoid knit clothing altogether. She will have a hard enough time of it to conceal her form without wearing sweaters. I cannot emphasize this too much, or insist upon it too strongly. A woman must understand, must take a man's word for it, that the sight of her bust may take away a man's heart in a moment. If she would please her God and help her brother in his fight against sin, she should dress in such a way as to hide and conceal the form of her breasts. She should, therefore, wear loose-fitting blouses of woven (not knit or stretchy) material. I am writing for godly women who would rather please God than the world.
Understand also that you will accomplish little by exchanging tight sweaters for tight blouses. A blouse of woven material, by its very nature, will conceal your form much better than a sweater, but it may still be provocative enough if it is too tight/small. And it is nothing but foolish pride that keeps you from wearing a larger size. Your blouse should never be stretched tight across by your bosom, but should be slack enough in the fit that when a man looks at you, he sees the blouse and not the form of what is inside of it. For this reason, you should also learn to avoid provocative positions and postures, at least in the presence of men. By this I mean any position which makes your bust too prominent, or stretches your clothing tight over it – such as standing with your hands on your hips and your elbows thrown back and stretching with your back arched. You should likewise refuse to be dressed with what is called an “empire waistline” which girds your garment around your body immediately below the bust, instead of at the waist. The unavoidable effect of this is to prominently display your bust. Again I tell you, I am a man, and know very well what it is to be tempted by such sights – and it may take only a moment's involuntary sight to turn a man's heart or imagination into the wrong channels.
Slacks . Here we come to the bone of contention that divides churches, families, and friends. The background is this: historically, in our culture the men have worn pants, and the women dresses. This is an undisputed fact, which is embodied in the proverbial expression that a wife who runs the house “wears the pants in the family.” The “women's liberation movement” which is more than a hundred and fifty years old, has sought to put the pants on all the women (figuratively but also literally speaking.) It has sought to “liberate” the woman from her God-appointed place of subjection to the man, and to give her “equal rights” or, to do whatever the man may do. It is a movement that has virtually enslaved women and put undue stress and unholy ambition in their lives, leaving their families and the whole society in pitiable condition.
One of the results of this movement's spirit has also been to put upon the woman's body the man's clothing – namely slacks. One of the prominent preachers of “women's liberation” was Dr. Austin. I possess a picture of her as she posed for the camera in 1851, dressed in the so called reformed dress or American Costume. The white shirt has a neck opening that makes a very masculine impression. The rest of the dress is dark. Masculine top (a kind of a long-sleeve vest) with widely open chest, masculine-like pants, masculine shoes. On the top of this is a knee-long skirt supported with some braces, so the whole looks quite wide. A watch chain is hanging from the vest button hole to a little pocket as it was used by men in those days. The features of her face are such that you really doubt that she is a woman... And there were more protagonists. Some of them had a masculine appearance but some looked quite like females. In 1865 Garret Smith, a member of the Congress, said: “A reformation in the dress of women is very much needed. It is indispensable to her health and usefulness.” His daughter Elisabeth Smith Miller was one of the first women to wear the American Costume in public.
It is interesting that the first groups of people to accept this singular dress (American Costume) were different types of spiritualists and other adherents to anti-Christian teachings. A Christian writer of those days wrote about Christian sisters: “Let them adopt this costume and their influence is dead... With the so-called dress reform there goes a spirit of levity and boldness just in keeping in the dress... Modesty and reserve seem to depart from many as they adopt that style of dress... Let the sisters adopt the American Costume and they would destroy their own influence and that of their husbands. God's prohibitions are lightly regarded by all who advocate doing away with the distinction of dress between males and females... In these last days fashions are shameful and immodest. They are noticed in prophecy. They were first brought in by a class over whom Satan has entire control, who ‘being past feeling [without any conviction of the Spirit of God] have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness...' Were the apostle Paul alive and should he behold women professing godliness with this style of dress, he would utter a rebuke.” (Quotations from Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 457-460. ) If this writer says the apostle Paul would rebuke women wearing the American Costume, what do you think he would say if he saw the way women, professing Christianity, dress today, and even shamelessly venture to grace the house of God in such abominable dress?
But the church has followed the world in so doing. Many of the older and stricter men and women of God, less influenced by the world, take a strong stand against women wearing pants. Slacks, they say, are men's clothing, and (on the basis of Deut. 22:5) it is an abomination for women to wear them. The younger set, most of whom have grown up wearing slacks themselves, and who probably know nothing of the historical background of the question, can see no point in the stand which their elders take, and so regard it as narrow-minded and petty. “The slacks which I wear,” they say, “were made for women and are not men's clothing.”
On the one side it may be argued that God made neither slacks for Adam, nor a dress for Eve, but coats for both of them. Yet Deuteronomy 22:5 certainly assumes that the same clothing is not to be worn by both men and women, and it is also certain that historically in our country slacks have been the men's clothing. Our culture was received from that of the medieval age, which in turn, was received from the Latin culture. The latin culture was strongly influenced by all the cultures that lived around the Mediterranean Sea, including that of the Hebrews. The Pictorial Bible Dictionary by Merill C. Tenney says: “Among the Hebrews neither sex was permitted by Mosaic law to wear the same form of clothing as was used by the other (Deut 22:5.) A few articles of female clothing carried somewhat the same name and basic pattern, yet there was always sufficient difference in embossing, embroidery, needlework, and color so that in appearance the line of demarcation between men and women could be readily detected.”
It may be argued that the culture has changed and slacks are now acceptable clothing for women also. Yet when we consider the sinister forces which have wrought to change the culture in this corrupted age, we may plead that the change is in no way recognized by God, but is an abomination to Him. I say no more than this, for it is outside of the purpose of this article to settle the controversy. I do not ask here, is it wrong in the eyes of God for a woman to wear slacks? I ask, What effect are her slacks likely to have on the eyes of men ?
And first, by their very nature, slacks are apt to reveal and display your form. Women contend for modest slacks, but who wears them? By the very nature of the case, it is difficult to make a pair of modest slacks (especially for a woman who has a full figure), and as a matter of fact, it is an extremely rare thing to see a woman in slacks that are not too tight. Why is this? Why may men wear slacks that fit loosely, while the slacks of women must cling to every inch of their legs and thighs and hips and buttocks and private parts? Verily because it is the god of this world who inspires these styles, and he knows his business only too well. He knows only too well that it is a snare to a man's heart to have displayed before his eyes the form of a woman's thighs, buttocks, and private parts. You ought, by all means, to keep your private parts carefully concealed at all times, and there is nothing that will do it so well as a dress. A loose-fitting skirt or dress , provided it is not too short , is the best possible clothing with which to conceal all of the tempting parts of the anatomy, which reside between your waist and your knees.
But some women suppose that because their slacks are not skin tight, they are therefore modest. Well, now, suppose that your slacks are loose enough that they leave some space between the material and your skin. Still they basically display the form of your legs and thighs and buttocks. This is the nature of the garment, and can hardly be avoided. And further, as soon as you bend over, or sit or squat, those “modest” slacks of yours will be stretched just as tight over parts of your form as the skin-tight slacks which other wo-men wear. So unless you are so thin that you have no form with which to attract a man, or so obese that your form will only disgust him (and you are no competent judge of this), you better leave slacks alone. Though you may not be able to understand it (for the sight of a man may not affect you in the same way,) it is the sight of the form which will arouse a man's passions. What a man's touch is to a woman, the sight of a woman is to a man. This is plain enough in the Bible account of David and Bath-Sheba, and every honest man will tell you the same thing. You would do well if you believe on the word of a man, though you may not be able to understand it. The sight of the form of your thighs and buttocks and private parts will tempt the heart of a man, and it is the nature of slacks to display the form of those parts.
Some, who believe it is wrong for a woman to wear slacks, but who wish to accommodate their ladies for engagement in the more masculine type of activities, recommend the wearing of culottes, which are sort of a cross between a skirt and slacks. Our only question concerning them is, Are they modest or immodest? They may be either, depending upon several things. If they are fashioned so as to look like a loose-fitting skirt, and are long enough, they may be as modest as a skirt. Unfortunately, many of them more nearly resemble slacks, or even shorts, than a skirt. If yours are long enough and loose enough to keep you well covered and concealed in all postures, they may be as acceptable as a modest skirt.
Enough of specific instructions! We must next answer some objections:
“What right does this fellow have to prescribe all of these legalistic rules for women?” I answer, if we lived without sin in the Garden of Eden, you could dress just as you please, or not dress at all, and hurt no one by it. But in this world you cannot, and if you do, you will only be contributing to swell the tide of sin which is flooding the whole world. I write for godly women, who want to do what is right, but who are not likely to know how to do right without some instruction from a man. I only seek to shed the light on the subject, which only a man can do, concerning the effects your dress will have on the men who see you. And I suppose that truly godly women will be happy to receive such instruction. It is usually the worldly , who are unwilling to do right at any cost, who raise the cry of legalism.
You may object “But this is a small matter, and not worthy of so much ado. We ought to be occupied with the weightier matters of the law, the matter of the heart, and not make such a fuss over little outward things.” This may be an outward thing, but in no way is it a little one. Can you read Matthew 5:28,29 and yet contend that this is a little matter? “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” But suppose it is a little matter, can you, therefore, lightly pass over it or ignore it? Not so, for “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10) The Lord does not rebuke the Jews for attending to small matters, but only because they did so to the neglect of weightier matters. “These [the weightier matters] ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other [the small matters] undone ”. (Luke 11:42)
In the past, our country was a wonderful example of godliness for the whole rest of the world. The first settlers and those who followed them fled Europe to escape intolerance and persecution done by Papal Catholicism. They sought to worship God according to pure Biblical religion. Our spiritual ancestors knew very well that there must be a marked distinction between male and female dress as there is a marked distinction between the roles of man and woman. They knew that disregarding this principle would open floodgates of immorality which would eventually result in the collapse of the whole nation. Did not our Redeemer say that in the last days before His coming, the world would resemble Sodom and Gomorrah?
Who has the leading influence over the rest of the world today? Is it not the United States? All who have traveled to foreign countries can testify how much other cultures have accelerated their race in imitating everything that is American. They criticize us at every occasion, yet they follow everything we do. And that includes the bold, ambitious, and manly conduct of the American woman who knows nothing any more about Biblical shamefacedness, sobriety, submission, patience, and longsuffering. The “Liberation of Women” in America began only about 150 years ago. Just a few generations passed and the whole face of the society is entirely upside down. Crime, especially the crime of fornication is steadily increasing. Unfaithfulness between husband and wife and a loose concept of marriage has resulted in more people being divorced than married today! Some people have been married more than 10 times. Incredibly, if you talk to the “reformed women” of these days, many of them would contend that the current decadence of society has nothing to do with nakedness, half-nakedness, and their appealing, inviting behavior... How blinded a human being can be!
Years ago, a European friend of mine told me about a young lady who came to London for the first time. She complained about local men trying to treat her as a prostitute. She had to be told that as long as her dress and colorful cosmetics resembled those of the prostitutes, she could not expect them to treat her as a decent woman.
Sorely, today's decent women try to show as much, or even more, of their nakedness than those who have their bodies for sale...
“But any man who views women so must be perverted.” Yes, be it known unto you, my sister, that men are perverted. All men. And women also. We are sinners. Our pristine purity is lost, and our hearts are naturally and strongly inclined to sin, especially the sin of lust. Sin easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1.) But understand: though all men are perverted from their original purity, and though the passions of all men are alike in this matter, I would not want to leave you with the impression that the practices of all men are alike. You don't need to feel uneasy in the presence of them. If you dress right , and act right , and associate with the right kind of men, in the right kind of situations, there will be little occasion for you to be uneasy or uncomfortable. But there will be great plenty of occasion for you to be careful , even in the presence of the best men. Why? Because though the godly “have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24) and have renounced the unlawful indulgence of those desires – they are not mortified and crucified forever yet. It is not one act, one decision to stay faithful that makes the sinful tendencies incapacitated for the rest of your life. Walking with Jesus is a daily experience that needs to be invigorated every day, every hour, and every moment because of the sinful nature that we possess. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other.” Galatians 5:17. Both men and women are corrupt and can be safe only through the mercy of God who offers you to walk by His Spirit because only then are we His. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit … because the carnal mind is enmity against God… so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God … if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Romans 8:1,7-9. In this biblical language “walking after the Spirit” equals “crucifying” or “mortifying the flesh.” A man who does that may well be called by God “a man after my own heart”. Acts 13:22, 1Samuel 13:14.
But what happens if a man of God, for some reason, loosens his firm grip of God and lets His merciful hand go for a moment? In that very instance he loses the only possible protection against his own lusts. The divine power is taken from him, and he is left to himself , that is, he becomes a sport of his own passions and outward circumstances. This is what happened to king David and this is what can happen to every godly man if he forgets to hold tight God's hand continually . There is no condemnation to those who walk after the Spirit, but only as long as they walk . As soon as the connection is broken, sin stands in the door.
Do you understand now why it is wise to be careful even in the presence of the best godly men? And again, I don't mean that you need to feel uncomfortable in their presence. A godly man means that he is striving for divine excellence, he spends much time in prayer – private talks with Christ, receiving strength to destroy the works of Satan and reflecting God's image in any situation. He is a man who will not be sold or bribed at any instance, a man who will do and say that which is right, regardless of consequences. He is compassionate and loving because Christ is on the throne of his heart and is radiating His character from him to all who come in contact with such a man. To meet people like that is very desirable. Staying in their presence as long as you can results in refreshing and strengthening your faith. If you are a godly woman who has the same goals like a godly man, you will experience a very special spiritual communion that the world cannot offer. No need to feel uncomfortable.
If you happen to be a woman who does not care for God very much, well, you will feel uncomfortable in the presence of a godly man because the principles that rule your life and his principles are irreconcilable. It relates to the teaching of Jesus about serving two masters. But I would highly recommend that you stay in the presence of the godly man anyway. And it does not need to be a godly man only; it can be a godly woman also. Because through their presence, the Lord may awake your dormant spiritual life.
Now back to the above mentioned carefulness. There is a serious reason for a woman to be careful here, namely that you don't want to be held accountable for sins of men who behold you as you dress in a seducing way. We know for sure that every man is responsible for his own sins whether they were committed physically or only in his imagination. There is no excuse for a man if he sins as a result of his unrestricted lust. No excuse for king David, neither for any other man who committed this sin before him and ever after. What a tremendous host of men will burn in the final judgment, losing their eternal bliss only for yielding to the lusts of the flesh!
But have you ever thought of losing your eternal life for such a trifle as having your neckline a little lower, or your shoulders naked while wearing a sleeveless top? Our Savior says: “Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come, but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh” Matthew 18:7. And I hope that none of us is so naive as to think this woe relates to men only. To women also! The English word “offence” here used means in Greek a snare, occasion to fall, a stumbling block. We could also use the word temptation here because that's what the Lord Jesus is talking about - an occasion to sin. The one who sins is responsible for it, but woe unto you who are a snare to sin! What a tremendous host of women will burn…!
To return to the original question. Whether men are “perverted” or not is really beside the point. How far his desires are normal or how far they are the result of his sinfulness may be difficult to determine. And, perhaps there is no reason to analyze it. We must deal with the facts as they are, not as we wish they were. The real facts are: many men do not possess the ravishing fulfillment of love which they cannot help but crave, and they are therefore weak, and easily tempted by the sight of the feminine form. Suppose that some men are strong, or so fully satisfied in their own marriage that you could not tempt them if you would – what then? The fact remains that many men are weak and unsatisfied and burning. With the strong you need not concern yourself. But you are bound by duty (as you ought to be moved by love) to “bear the infirmities of the weak” – yes, even of the weakest – “that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his [her] brother's way.” (Romans 15:1; 14:13)
“But if a man looks upon me to lust, that is his sin, not mine.” Nay – “Now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat [or with thy dress] for whom Christ died” … “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. ” Romans 14:15, 21. David was made weak, he was made to stumble by Bath-Sheba's careless exposure of herself, and the display of your feminine beauty will have the same effect upon your brethren. After reading this article, I think, you can hardly plead that you do not know this, and “to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17. Can you honestly say you were completely ignorant of those effects?
“But if I were to follow all these instructions, I would have to buy a whole new wardrobe, and that I cannot afford.” My sister, you cannot afford to sin. If you are a real Christian, you came to Christ resolving to forsake every sin, and do the whole will of God, at any cost. If you have a will to do right, you will find a way – or cry to God to provide one. It will be shown to you. You can afford to call unto God to show you how to change the way you dress. You cannot afford to sin, or to provoke others to sin.
“But I am not attractive or shapely. No man is likely to be tempted by the sight of me. Therefore I may dress as I please.” In the first place, you are no proper judge of what is attractive to a man. It is of course true that a shapely and beautiful woman is more likely to be a temptation to a man than a plain woman. It is also true that a woman who is not attractive to one man probably will be to another, and even the homeliest will be attractive to somebody.
And what about your example to other women? What about your example to babes in Christ, who have dressed improperly through all their ungodly life, and who may now be looking to you to teach them and lead them in the right way? Do you want them to look at you and excuse their own improper dress on the basis of your example?
Finally, unfortunately, some women are so naive, so ignorant of the nature of men, that they suppose that because no men are actually making advances or propositions to them, they must be no temptation to any man. Let them understand that a man derives a great deal of pleasure – sinful pleasure – from looking at women, from looking at any and every woman who is personally attractive to him. Why do you suppose that men spend millions of dollars every year for pornographic pictures? Let the pictures be left out of pornographic magazines, and see how many copies they would sell! What pleasure is it that men continually purchase at so great an expense?
What pleasure can pictures afford them, except the pleasure of looking? It is sinfully looking at a woman's body that inflames a man's passions and regales his imagination, and there is a great sinful pleasure in that looking. Many men will freely indulge in that pleasure, with little or no restraint. They will feast their eyes upon the feminine form wherever they may find it, and this of course will include your form if you dress so as to expose and display it. Godly men will recognize that pleasure as sinful and they will fight hard to resist the temptation and conquer sin. The spirit is willing, but in the face of strong temptations, the flesh is weak. The will is present with them, but sometimes how to perform it they find not. In spite of all their determination and praying and striving, they may find their eyes involuntarily drawn to the sight of a beautiful and shapely woman, and a moment's involuntary sight may be enough to take the heart away. A man who, with the divine help, has gained some mastery over this kind of temptation may easily resist the initial onslaught, but constant exposure to such allurement may weaken and break him down unto his destruction. Not always may the victory be won as it was won of Joseph. Therefore we are told to “flee youthful lusts” (2Timothy 2:22) – to flee from the very presence of such temptations. But whither shall we flee in this wicked world? Must we flee from the very congregation of God in order to keep our hearts pure? Shame! Shame! If we cannot find a safe asylum there !
To conclude: there is nothing either wrong or evil about your female physical form. It is the creation of God, and we know everything He created was “very good.” The woman was created “for the man” (1Corinthians 11:9) to be a “help meet for him.” Her role in the life of mankind was to be different from that of the man. That's why there are both physical and mental differences between these two. But the differences were designed to work in natural harmony as they certainly did before the Fall. The first man was greatly delighted when God first brought his wife to him. She was taken from a part of his own flesh, and he treated her as that for the whole time they remained innocent. There was no shade of carnality in their minds.
When God creates differences, the purpose is harmony, happiness, and peace. From the moment of the first fall, Satan's effort has been to use these differences to foster strife, hatred, envy, self-exaltation, covetousness, jealousy, and lust.
This is the time when the controversy between Christ and Satan reaches its climax. We are deciding our own eternal destiny by the side on which we choose to stand. Both men and women! If you want to serve self and the devil, you can continue to display your body to the world, be the same as others are, do as others do, trying to capture the attention of others to yourself, thus satisfying your pride. And at the end, Jesus will tell you that you had received your reward in this world, and there is no portion for you in the eternal life, however “religiously active” you may have been. Through your influence you have disseminated only temptation, sin, infidelity, and anguish.
If you want to stand on the side of Christ and make Him and His word your “man of counsel,” then you will certainly create a holy atmosphere around you through obeying His word. You will certainly pray for God's help to find how to tastefully “adorn yourselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety." 1Timothy 2:9. The extravagance in which the world abounds will be refused and you will “lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Matthew 6:20. And, in the end, you will be counted among the wise virgins. May God help you!
Sincerely, your brother in Christ.
P.S. This letter is meant to be an instruction to Christian women. However if it happened that a brother read it, I have something to tell you too. There is a wonderful word in the book of Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” The word translated here from Hebrew as think means “fix attention” or “watch thoroughly”, as it reads in the translations of some other languages: “why then should I gaze upon a maid [woman]?” I made this verse mine own many years ago and did make a covenant with mine eyes. And believe me, dear brother, with daily prayer, being strengthened by the power of God, it works miracles. It works for me as it worked for Job and Joseph, and it will work for you too - that is if you are serious about it. Only make a distinction whether you really mean to be a son of God or a son of the world.
The other thing I wanted to tell you is that what you have read about women's dress and its temptations is essentially true about men's dress too. Nakedness is nakedness, regardless whether you deal with male or female. Tight clothes, naked legs, and upper arms and shoulders, open shirt buttons, etc. – all these things attract the eyes of women, and have an impact on their hearts. They may not gaze at you as freely as men often gaze at women but the impression is made. I am not a woman but I took the word of women when I discussed this with them. With blush in their faces they said these things affect them physically and emotionally.
Let us then be men and women of God, let us obey His word, let us not be overwhelmed by the huge majority of those who are in rebellion against God, and let us not be afraid to be distinct from them. The sons and daughters of God are only those who refuse to accept anything that is based on pride, display, and rebellion. Let us submit ourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from us (see James 4:7.) After we do this, we may with confidence ask the Lord to make us a savor unto life to those who may still be saved. There is not much time left. God bless you!
The text of the above article was taken from a brochure of the same name (The Sin of Bath-Sheba), published by Pra del Torno Publishing . It has been rendered here in unchanged form as it appears in that brochure. Should you need printed copy(ies), please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org