I read your article, How women Can Make Church a Safe Place For Men and I’d like to respectfully share my counter view.
I get your issue with immodesty, I really do. Here in Australia, we’ve just come out of a rather hot summer.
The current fashions are skimpy and there were some Sunday night church services where a few of the young women came dressed in teeny tiny denim ‘shorts’, I say shorts, but I’m sure they would’ve passed for underwear. Tank tops with the underarms cut out down to the waist, and teeny strapless bras or bikini tops underneath seemed to be the norm.
I’m a married woman and even I had to look away in order to stay focused. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for the men of the congregation to avert their eyes.
But I also looked away in order to pause and think about what God felt toward these young women. Was He dishonoured as you suggested? I can’t find any scripture that would back that up.
The Father’s Heart is for these women to know who it was He created them to be, to discover their royalty as daughters of The King.
Yes, it is His desire that they carry that royalty with dignity, self-respect and respect for those around them, in order that they may not become ‘stumbling blocks’, but it’s highly doubtful that this revelation of God-given identity, will come through an externally imposed dress code.
I guess the thing that made me most sad about your article was the way in which you recounted the story of the woman who was visiting, the cousin. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call her *Jess, as I feel it would be disrespectful for me to keep referring to her as ‘the woman’ or ‘that woman’.
Your article seemed to suggest that Jess was a guest, not a Christian woman who should ‘know better’.
How sad that in a place filled with Christians, Christians who are told not to gossip and to love above all else, that Jess’s reputation did proceed her, that you had ‘heard’ about her.
How sad that in a place that is supposed to be filled with the most loving people on earth, people who are to reflect the love of Christ, that Jess was subjected to disapproving glares from women, and the ogling of men who proved that they are no different to the men of the world in terms of how they control their thought process.
Do you think that Jess couldn’t feel the disapproval?
What a wasted opportunity for her to have encountered grace. I truly pray that there is untold story within this incident, one that tells of how a gracious few in the congregation were able to see past this precious woman’s attire, and ‘unique’ career and were able to highlight the treasure within her, through acceptance and genuine interaction.
A close friend and I recently had the privilege of ministering to a woman who has been in and out of various roles within the sex industry for many years. Let’s call her *Amy.
Amy requested prayer around addiction and also shared that she was in dire financial trouble. She was days away from returning to prostitution as it is the only means she knows for access to fast money.
As Amy shared her dilemma there were so many things we could have said, so many reasons it was wrong for her to prostitute herself. Instead, we ignored all those things and called out the beauty that we saw in her. I asked the Holy Spirit to flood Amy and fill her with peace and a knowledge of how precious she is to Him and how truly valued she was. I asked God to show Amy how He sees her.
My friend and I had spent about an hour and a half with Amy by this time. But as we were praying, something incredible happened, her body which up to this point had been shaking uncontrollably, became still. Her tics and tremors disappeared in seconds.
Then, for the first time since meeting her, Amy looked us in the eye!
We hugged her as we said our goodbyes, and though I’m not naivé enough to think that she may not have returned to the sex industry on some level, I do know that this woman encountered the Father’s Heart. The heart of a Father who met her directly in her sin and did nothing more than bless her with peace and love, lifting off her shame so she could finally make eye contact.
I’m believing there will be huge transformation in Amy’s life.
So I ask, why is it that your friend’s cousin, Jess, made you so angry? Why are you offended by the actions of a woman who by the sounds of it, knows no differently.
I ask you, who is it that you want in your church, in God’s church?
We talk about wanting to be a haven for the lost, but when it happens, we get our full-brief, beige conservative knickers in a knot! Why?
Men are not helpless weaklings powerless over their thoughts. To suggest so is offensive, and certainly not beneficial for any parties.
You are right, men are created as visual beings, women created to arouse that attraction. But we are all called to self-control.
Jesus is clear where the onus lies. Just read Matthew 5:28-30.
He draws no difference in the location where this might occur and he makes no disclaimer or pardon if the woman is dressed ‘inappropriately’.
The onus lies with the individual who is tempted.
“….bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” (II Corinthians 10:5, 6 NKJV)
I’d like to suggest that the location (church), of women dressed provocatively isn’t what makes men ‘vulnerable’, it is instead the guilt, the sudden awareness of what they are doing that comes with that location.
Again, 1 Timothy 5 :1-2 encourages men to view older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters. The onus here is on the men.
We are called to be in the world, not of the world. The world is already cultivating a disturbing rape culture where the victims of serious sexual assaults are blamed by the perpetrators, suggesting that women ‘ask’ for it by the way they dress. Is this the type of thinking we want to encourage within the church?
And yes, I know that seems a bit drastic, but it’s a slippery slope.
We live in a world where temptation is everywhere.
I have a 13year old son, I’m well aware of the temptations that he is facing.
There was a time last year during the morning school run, where we seemed to be stuck in traffic with the same bus, showing the same model posed provocatively in see-through lace lingerie, every single day!
The protective mother in me wanted to blind-fold my child, to take artistic licence and spray-paint the model’s half naked body, covering her in a turtleneck skivvy and long pants!
But really, that protective urge was nothing more than fear. Fear of my son being led into temptation, fear of him walking down paths that lead to impurity.
Fear produces results….Though usually not lasting.
I am doing my son no favours by trying to shield him from the everyday realities of the fallen world in which we live.
Instead, we talked about the poster and why that image, and ones similar can change and damage his thinking toward women and what he can do about it.
I am doing my son a far greater service by teaching him his identity in Christ, and showing him how to recognise the worth and God-given identity in others, whether or not they are yet aware that they have it, let alone know how it should be displayed.
It is when we choose to deal with this issue from a heart attitude perspective, that we can make some real progress, building a culture of awareness and mutual support among the sexes.
If we come at this from a place of judgement and blame shifting, we undermine the work of the Holy Spirit, who is well capable of changing the hearts and minds of both men and women alike. That is a work, I dare not undermine.
Respectfully, your sister in Christ,
*not their actual names