David W. Cloud

 Way of Life Literature, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277,  (360) 675-8311 (voice), 240-8347 (fax). (e-mail)

Christian husband and father, when your wife or daughter goes out in public, is she causing men to lust after her by the way she is dressed? Many reply, "That is not your business." I contend that the way women dress IS the business of men other than their husbands and fathers. Men have to look at women, and if they are dressed immodestly it is a tremendous battle not to lust after them. Man was created with a powerful desire toward the woman, and the fall has placed adulterous thoughts in the heart of man (Matthew 15:19). Before the fall, man’s heart was pure, but that is no longer the case. Saved men wrestle against their old natures, and when they are walking in the Spirit, they resist their natural sinful desires toward women. But even for a saved man, it is a tremendous struggle to resist lusting after an attractive, immodestly clad woman. Most unsaved men, on the other hand, make no attempt not to lust. In fact, they boast in their lusting. I therefore contend that the way women dress IS the business of men other than their husbands and fathers.

Further, the way women dress definitely is the business of pastors, whose job it is to guide the churches in the paths of righteousness.

If your wife or daughter goes out in public dressed immodestly, men are lusting after her from the time she leaves the house until she returns. The Lord Jesus Christ said this is adultery (Matthew 5:28). Do you believe that lusting and adultery are not the preacher’s business?

What is modest clothing? Consider, what is attractive to a man? The woman’s shape, for one thing. If she wears clothing which accentuates her figure, she is causing men’s attention to be drawn to that part of her, and I contend that she is causing men to lust. This would include tight pants, bathing suits, tight shorts, tight tops and sweaters, and tight or clinging dresses. A modest dress is one which is long enough to cover the thigh (Isaiah 47:2), which is to the knee, and which is not tight and clinging and which is not revealing in the front or back.

You say, "I don’t think you should worry about this type of thing."

I could not disagree more. I don’t expect everyone to agree with every jot and tittle of my definition of modest clothing, but as a preacher I am concerned that a growing number of women in our Fundamental Baptist churches are dressing less modestly each year. I have observed the decline for 24 years. I believe the chief reason is that preachers are saying less about clothing and other practical aspects of holiness. Why? Have the world’s fashions become more virtuous? Have Christian homes become more separated from the world? The very opposite is true, and we all know it.

I believe two of the chief reasons for this decline in standards are these: (1) Some preachers are worldly themselves and enjoy looking at immodestly clad women. These usually have no standards for their own families; they certainly are not going to preach standards to the church. (2) Others have high standards for themselves and their families and have convictions that many of the women and teenage girls in their churches are dressing indecently, but they simply don’t want to battle over this. As it is, they deal with many unpopular things, such as ecclesiastical separation and Baptist distinctives, and they simply do not want to deal with yet another unpopular issue.

Admittedly, this is not a pleasant issue to deal with. Carnal women are extremely resistant to a man of God who teaches on proper attire and who preaches against indecent, worldly dress. The carnal woman is strong willed. She and she alone is going to determine how she dresses. If she wants to wear pants, she will wear pants. If she wants to wear leotards, she will. If she wants to go to the beach half naked in a bathing suit, she will. If she wants to run around in shorts, she will. She is not concerned about the consequences of her manner of dress. She is concerned only that she is comfortable and fashionable. The fact that she might be causing men to lust after her and to commit adultery in their hearts is not important. She is not interested in trying to understand how men look at women. She doesn’t want to hear about the unisex aspect of modern fashions. Contrariwise, a spiritual woman has a meek and quiet and submissive spirit (1 Peter 3:3-5). Though she might not agree with every detail of how the preacher defines immodest attire, she will submit and go out of her way to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). She does not want to offend anyone or cause others to stumble (1 Cor. 8:9,13). A woman’s attitude toward these things reveals her spiritual condition.

The husbands of carnal women don’t always appreciate a pastor who angers his wife in this area and stirs things up in the home.

I can sympathize with the man of God who is hesitant to enter into this fray, but it will not stand up at the judgment seat of Christ. OUR JOB IS TO PREACH RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND PREACHING IN GENERALITIES AND AVOIDING SPECIFICS DOES NOT GET THE JOB DONE.

Preachers, don’t be weary in exalting the highest moral standards possible. Our people should be different from the world. YOU MIGHT NOT BE VERY POPULAR NOW, BUT JESUS CHRIST IS NOT GOING TO TAKE AWAY YOUR REWARD FOR EXALTING RIGHTEOUSNESS IN A WICKED AGE!

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