“What’s Wrong With Dressing Sexy?”

“What’s Wrong With Dressing Sexy?” May 19, 2010

An earnest-sounding young Christian woman wrote to ask me why she shouldn’t “dress sexy” if she feels like it. “Why not?” she wrote. “We’re not living in the time of the Puritans anymore. I should be able to dress in whatever way makes me feel good.”

The appropriate way to dress while out in the world can be a very real concern for Christians — especially for female young adult Christians, who perhaps feel especially the pressures of accepting as their own the standards of fashion and looks so aggressively and relentlessly target-marketed directly at them by a pervasive, corporate-driven media venally obsessed with the exploitation of human sexuality.

Not that that’s exclusively a Christian concern, of course. Anyone raising a daughter today worries about how regularly and heartily they know she is encouraged by the media to equate having fun and feeling good about herself with being, or even pretending to be, someone for whom there is no apparent reason to feel any particular respect. “Tick-Tock,” anyone?

There’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with a woman wanting to look pretty; that’s only natural. And part of being pretty — in fact, the very definition of being pretty — is having the way you look be appealing to others.

Again: nothing wrong with that.

What too easily does go wrong, though, with a young woman wanting to look pretty — as in appealing, as in admirable, as in manifestly worthy of respect — is that these days a young woman is likely to equate the idea of looking pretty with the idea of looking sexy. And as a look (and, alas, too often as an attitude) it’s almost impossible anymore for “sexy” not to get immediately translated into “is available for sex.” And that sure is how a lot of young men out there today are going to interpret a woman’s “sexy” look — because boys and men, just like girls and women, have also been deeply affected by the radical sexualizing of our culture.

With the way things are today — with how comfortable so much of our society is considering women as essentially sex chattel — any woman should definitely think twice before going out in the world signaling with her clothes or attitude that, essentially, she’s ready for sex. It’s just too dangerous out there. As every female sooner or later discovers, dressing “sexy” is only fun for as long as it takes some creepy guy to start insistently insinuating himself between her and the whole idea of fun. And that usually takes … oh, about as long as it takes any woman to smile and flip her hair a bit.

But beyond the physical danger, and the Creep Attraction Factor, there’s an even more trenchant reason for a woman to make sure that whenever she goes out she’s dressed attractively, but not “sexy.” And that reason is that it’s most definitely not pleasing to God (or, for you non-Christians, her Higher Spirit) when, by virtue of her dress or attitude, any woman makes plain to the world that, first and foremost, she prefers to be considered not as someone of any spiritual or intellectual substance at all, but as nothing more substantial than a body.

If you’re a young woman — or anyone at all, come to that — don’t ever do that to yourself. Don’t ever broadcast to the world that you think the most interesting thing about you is your body. That’s dehumanizing yourself. And the devil’s primary delight and work lies in dehumanizing people. Don’t make his work infinitely easier by volunteering to do to yourself what he’s forever lying in wait, itching to do to you.

Make it so that all people (especially, girls, men) either have to deal with all of you, or with none of you. Don’t allow your spirit — the real you, the eternal you, the Holy Spirit within you — to be in any way separated from the body God blessed you with as a temporary housing for that spirit. Don’t, in other words, let anyone treat you as if you are primarily a body. It’s wrong for anyone to treat you that way; and its no less wrong for you to treat yourself that way.

It’s up to every woman to decide for herself what she’s most comfortable wearing. If ever you’re having trouble, though, discerning between what’s “right” to wear, and what might be going a tad too far, don’t try to make that decision by looking in the mirror.

Make it (and this is to my young Christian friend now) by imagining that you are Jesus, looking down at you from heaven. You’ll then know what to do.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


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  • I shall endeavor to mature.

  • Hendiadys

    I dunno, John. I think the problem with this kind of attitude is that it fundamentally reduces women to sexual objects. Their sexuality becomes their defining attribute, which they are responsible for controlling so as not to affect the men around them, who apparently aren't capable of mastering their own baser instincts.

  • John G

    The problem arises when a young male thinks that a sexy dressed woman is looking for sex with just him. Not all men are looking for sex with a sexy dressed woman because it looks cheap. Furthermore, if the woman wants sex, she has control and her physical attraction of a few men allows her to choose her sex partner. Some men don't understand that difference.

  • Karen


    This blog did get to me…because of many things I know, have experienced, have witnessed etc. But don't get me wrong. Still love reading your blogs….you are GREAT at writing and very interesting. Ya just touched a nerve 😉

  • It seems to me every single one of us is responsible for our own sexuality and that includes being aware of how others respond to us.

    I don't have a problem with the expression of advice here– as a woman, Christian, or human being.

    Rape really has very little to do with sexuality and everything to do with power– sex just happens to be used brutally as an expression of it. No one, no matter what-deserves that brutality. I sure don't think John is saying dressing sexy is responsible for rape. Am I reading wrongly?

    Sounds like this post is addressed to the young women out there who think there's nothing wrong with getting their own little thrill over dressing "in whatever way makes [them] feel good" since we're "not living in the Puritan Age." That expressed opinion, one I've heard from many Christian young women, misses the point of individual responsibility. (I may not be responsible for my "brother's" sexuality, but I am, at the very least, responsible for mine.)

    Maybe Mr. Shore would like to address the young men but if what I "read" is true, male sexuality is hard-wired for visual stimulation. That being the reality, I want to present myself in a way that gets me (read my spirit, my heart, my essential self) heard and not merely seen. It is counter-productive for women to overtly sexualize themselves when it's pretty much guaranteed they'll be sexualized to some degree– even by nice Christian men. 😮

  • MJ

    I find it interesting that everyone focuses on that God is Love, but forgets that He is also Holy. Isn't that the reason Jesus came in the first place?

  • Susan

    No, Jesus was all about Love, not Holiness. He was sent "because God so loved the world." His highest commandments were to LOVE God with your whole mind, heart, and soul, and LOVE your neighbor as yourself. He died and resurrected because we couldn't kill his love for us.

    Love IS holy.

  • Susan

    "Sexy" is in the eye of the beholder. Instead of judging sexy-looking girls, people should stop looking at their bodies and start looking into their minds, hearts, and souls. I think they'd like that.

  • christine

    Wow Susan I think maybe you should re-read your bible. Saying that Jesus was only about love and not about holiness is proof-texting to the extreme

  • christine

    I don't think that John was implying that at all. Knowing his stance on abuse there is no way that he would imply something like that. I as a victim of abuse I would not in anyway say that the way you dress is 'asking for it'. However I do agree with John that just as much as it is the men's responsibility to treat women with respect, it is the women's responsibility to behave in a way in can be respected (not saying that if she chooses not to then she is fair game) both play a part in respecting each other and respecting themselves

  • Karen

    Sex is a part of human nature…it's not just for men. I can not even believe I am commenting because the excuses that I find woman make for men is so ridicules it's not even funny. Give men some credit please, regardless of them being stimulated by visual they still have a freaking BRAIN and are quite capable of controling themselves..

    And just for the record, I've been thought of as "sexy" wearing basic, conservative SUITS that show NOTHING.

    Are we really in this day and age blaming women and the way they dress for men's actions????? I guess what I read is true then…men have two brains and it's the bottom one that controls everything?

    Sex is not bad, infact it's a good thing. It's sad when women have been demoralized by other woman and men that they feel all that they do have in life is their physical appearance. I feel no contempt for those woman I just feel sad that those who judge them can cause them to have such low self esteem that all they think they are is a sexual being.

    I can be sexy, spiritual, intelligent, my essential self regardless of what I chose to wear. Why can I see myself, other woman, and men for that matter as attractive yet also know there is more to me and them then just their physical appearance?

    How can anyone who truly believes in God be able to believe simply because of a persons dress that there is nothing more to them? Naked, half dressed it matters not, all humans are spirtual beings with souls. See past the clothing or lack there of…that is the message that should be put out there. Not making excuses for weak minded people.

  • christine

    John: again another brilliant post. I am gonna quote it (with proper acknowledgment of where i got it from of course) at a young women's group I am running. This question has come up a lot and I find your answer fantastic. I love the way you have used the scripture and put that it to real terms. At the risk of giving you a big head, I think this is brilliant.

  • Diane

    I am a Christian woman, and I could not agree with you more, John. Your point about "Do not dehumanize yourself" is right on. Brilliant article.

  • Diane

    I believe it is addressed to women because science has shown that men are much more likely to be aroused visually than women are.

  • I had a much longer comment typed but all I really need to say is, I'm with you John. Thanks for writing this.

  • Susan

    Christine, I'm pretty familiar with the Gospels. I suppose I could suggest that you re-read them carefully, especially the synoptic Gospels, which are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Biblical scholars consider the synoptics to be the most authentic representations of the actual Jesus, whereas John is more a meditation on the meaning of Jesus' life.

    I don't proof-text; I pay attention to what he's trying to tell us.

    If you want to know the kind of behavior Jesus expects of us, read the Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7) and also take time to puzzle over his many parables, as he taught some of his most profound lessons through stories. They are inherently difficult to understand, but pondering them does tend to let the light in.

    If you want to know how to get to heaven (however you may conceive of heaven), read Matthew 25. It's really not a matter of "holiness," it's a matter of love.

    As for "holiness," Jesus' harshest words were for the high-and-mighty, the "pure," the holier-than-thou crowd, which were epitomized at that time by some of the Pharisees.

    Jesus condemned judgmentalism — over and over and over again. It such a trap for modern day Christians, and so, so unloving.

    Love isn't easy, you know.

  • I had the same reaction to this post as many other women. I too really enjoy reading your writing and blogs and agree with you on many subjects (even though I'm more of a mainstream progressive Christian and decidedly not "born again")…but you are treading on thin ice here.

    I agree with you that the world is dangerous and that women are vulnerable to being victims of sexual assault. HOWEVER. You are basically saying that when women dress in a sexy manner, they are inviting sexual assault. The problem with this is that this line of thinking is used every day in courtrooms across the land. The victim is blamed for the sexual assault because of what she was wearing or her own sexual behavior with others. A sexual assault victim is a VICTIM.

    On the other hand, I do not dress provocatively or too sexily in public because I believe this type of dress objectifies women. The reality is that women are taken less seriously when they dress in such a way. This is stupid, but it's reality. I would advise a young woman to think about how she is dressing because she sends a message with her attire–about how she wants the world to see her. And how she views her own body. But bottom line is that as Christians, it's not our place to judge how other people dress or act. We are not God.

  • Diane

    Well stated.

  • Diane

    I don't think John was judging how people dress or act. He was simply answering a question.Christians should take care to not cause temptation to other Christians. That is biblical. To extrapolate that to "John, you're saying that a woman was asking for it if she gets raped" is ridiculous.

  • Susan

    So well said, Marie. Thank you.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Yeah, what she said. I've gotta agree with Susan, Christine. Jesus repeatedly and consistently teaches us to love, and through this, He teaches how to grow in holiness, but he never commands that anyone be holy! You can't just tell people to be holy; it doesn't work. Humans' having the nerve to dare to pursue a certain knowledge of good and evil is the primordial sin—we ourselves don't have a clue when it comes to being holy. As Jesus said, no one is good but God alone. (And so in the same way Jesus didn't go around telling people to be good either.) If we want to be holy, we most low and unholy of beings, we have no choice but to be possessed of the Holy Spirit, adopted by Him equally as we adopt His Spirit. Now, to think you'll find that Spirit by the direct pursuit of holiness would be misguided, for you know not what it is to be holy! Yet we know what it is to love, for God first loved us. And so like a child you try to immitate the Father in His Love. And though you won't be perfect in how you immitate it, that's ok—we've got an eminantly forgiving Father!

  • Amy

    There were two points John made that, for me, kept this from being this from going down the old road of simply chastising women for dressing too sexy:

    how women are "aggressively and relentlessly target-marketed directly at them by a pervasive, corporate-driven media venally obsessed with the exploitation of human sexuality."


    "because boys and men, just like girls and women, have also been deeply affected by the radical sexualizing of our culture."

    While this is not to say sex hasn't been used for years and years to sell stuff, i see the pornification of just about every thing (anybody see miley cyrus dance at the teen choice awards?) affecting both sexes in equally damaging ways.

    I feel all I can do is encourage my daughter to know she's beautiful inside and out, encourage her creativity and confidence, and do the same for me son. Hopefully they'll be okay.


  • Wow.

    John is right.

    Especially the last paragraph. And the Bible verse.

    Our young Christian friend would do well to take his advice.

    Poor John. You weren't expecting all these… arguments, were you?

    Ah, the price we pay for telling the truth. Jesus said we would be persecuted, didn't He? Count it all joy, dear brother in Christ. Count it all joy.


    (By the way, I'm female, and under 20.)

    And… don't back down. You don't have to respond to… angry, Women's Lib-by comments (y'know, the ones insinuating that you're insinuating that rape victims are *always* at fault, for dressing or acting provocatively…) Your standard is the Word. Period. And you don't have to apologize for it. You know He knows…

    Yo. Peace, love, and righteousness. In the Holy Spirit.


  • vj

    I think the point John was trying to make is that when a person dresses in an overtly sexy manner, the very way they are dressed is virtually guaranteed to get in the way of a lot of other people taking the time to look into their hearts, minds and souls. If we emphasize the physical, that, unfortunately, is what people will focus on…

    If we want people to pay more attention to the whole package, we should dress in a manner that reflects our unique personality (heart+mind+soul), rather than being overly influence by the messages bombarding us from the marketing gurus.

  • Leave aside the ignorance on the part of several of the female commenters of the difference between men and women and how they're wired. The attitude that "men should just get over it" is similar to the attitude expressed whenever anyone is told that they appear rude or distant or cold or unhappy and they respond by saying, "Well, that's (insert name)'s problem if they think that." It's part of the growing self-serving tendency in our culture that says, "Do what you want, do whatever makes you comfortable, live for yourself, others be damned."

    Take that to its logical extreme. On the sexual level, why not go all the way and wear lingerie in public or a micro-mini that shows the bottom of your butt? If you did do that, would you still say to men, "Oh, get over it…control yourselves?" Of course not…you'd understand that it would be abnormally arousing to them as well as send a message. Don't you think that men are more informed about what crosses the line into sexually arousing or message-sending than a woman?

    On the practical social level, why not fart, cuss repeatedly, play loud music, etc., in public? Because, of course, we adjust our behavior accordingly when we're in public, for whatever reason.

    Anyone who fights to dress sexy for the heck of it, or "just because it feels good," and claims it has zero to do with men, is probably lying to themselves or others. You don't have to wear a burka to look classy but still attractive without giving off a sexual vibe…

  • Rufus

    I think I'm one of few atheists that follows John, and usually I can jive with what he's basically getting at. But seriously, believers and non-believers alike, you are making the mistake of believing that there is a difference between opinion and preaching. They are one and the same. John has a blog here in which he offers his opinion. Although I think it's great that you are thinking about these things, don't fire back at him and tell him he's misinterpreting the bible and preaching the wrong values. I think all of you are misinterpreting the bible. Even if every last one of you spoke fluent Aramaic and read from the original copy I'd still have my doubts. Although I completely disagree with John on this one I'll nonetheless fight to the death to protect his right to say what's on his mind.

    The freedom that gives John the right to express himself is the same freedom that allows people to dress however they want. And in addition, if there is a higher power up there then he/she/it probably has bigger concerns then where his/her/its subjects are doing their shopping.

    Dress however you want and be prepared to accept the consequences later, just like everything else in life. Be ready for those consequences. That's the behavior that any potential higher power wants to see. People learning from the consequences of their decisions and the decisions of others.

  • Ugh. Let me just go out and buy a burka then. I’d like to think we have progressed past the point of acting like animals and can rise above this mentality of men not being able to control their urges. Why is this only being addressed to women? Is it because have learned to control our impulses so that men can freely dress like they want? You’re enlightened about a lot of things, John, but you’ve got some progress to make on this one!

  • I added this to the post, if it helps: "Not that that's exclusively a Christian concern, of course. Anyone raising a daughter today worries about how regularly and heartily they know she is encouraged by the media to equate having fun and feeling good about herself with being, or even pretending to be, someone for whom there is no apparent reason to feel any particular respect. 'Tick-Tock,' anyone?"

  • This post couldn't have been more timely. Ours is a sex-saturated world, with people who have sex-saturated minds. I think the reason, too, why many women dress up the way they should is to attract men. In which case, they're attracting the wrong kind.

    1 Corinthians 10:31 exhorts us to do everything for the glory of God. Dressing up is not an exception.

  • Karen

    I’m sorry but this goes right along with “women who dress a certain way deserve to be raped”. Please explain the “man’s” mind set when he rapes or treats a women as a sexual object when she is not dressed “sexy”. Quite frankly it does not matter if a women is dressed sexy, nice, in jeans and a t-shirt..if you are a creep, the creepy factor will be there regardless of how a women or MAN for that matter dresses.

    Perfect example..I know a young boy who was 18 years old, dressed in jeans and t-shirt…he was taken by gun point and RAPED …he had to jump out of a 2 story house with his hands tied behind his back, he did this after he was raped every way imagined by 3 men, when for a split second they had their backs turned to him plotting how and which one was going to kill him and where they were going to dispose of the body.

    Another example..I know a women who was dressed in JEANS and a T-shirt…plain as can be adn was drugged and RAPED by mulitiple MEN.

    Please explain all the little kids who get raped, assaulted and killed….this kind of “preaching” is only aiding the sickos out there that they are justified in their actions.

    “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”

    My interpretation of this should be more directed towards each individuals mindset…in other words…just because you get all horny or whatever because you see someone dressed sexy does NOT mean they deserve for you to assault, rape or treat them less than human.

    MEN ..don’t allow your lower extremity to control your behavior. Quite frankly I think GOD would much more approve of that.

    I’ve spent many years as a child sitting in a church listening to preachers talk about burning forever in a blaze of fire for all stupid kinds of reasons. Having spent the majority of my childhood going to different religious organizations (all claiming to be christians) turned me off so bad that it would be a cold day in hell before I stepped into another one to hear even more hypocritial BS..coming from the mouths of the biggest SINNERS I have ever met.

    If you ask me more Christians create the majority of hatred in this world..more so than the heathan athiest or agnositcs. I’m neither..I believe in God and Jesus…just not how MAN seems to interpret their mindsets.

    I do find your blogs and writing interesting but just because you are a Born again christian does not make what you write and believe fact. It’s merely your own opinion and your own mindset.

    Simple…there is not a darn thing with dressing “sexy”, dressing in jeans, being gay…etc. What is wrong is causing harm to other people because you can’t control your own judgemental, creepy mind. I don’t need to find a scripture out of the bible to try and prove my statement. If you truly believe that God is a loving God you would simply know this.

    I’m extremely tolerant with those who have no tolerance towards others. It’s got to stop somewhere. 🙂

    One last thing….being GAY is NOT a sin, it gets old hearing that it’s a sin, but just not like other sins you can be tempted by. God loves gays just as much as a hetrosexual. Perhaps more so,considering they are persecuted by so many people, especially by those who claim to be servants of a loving GOD.

  • Sin, in my current understanding, is anything I allow to come between me and God. Sin could be an unhealthy attitude toward my body but it could also be facebook, a relationship with another person or with chocolate doughnuts. What's appropriate in dress is completely subjective and varies according to accepted norms within specific communities. I'm an anti-consumer-culture/funky thrift-store dresser and take pride in expressing my individuality through my external appearance. I don't adhere to anyone else's standards and like to have fun with clothing, which includes occasionally dressing in ways perceived sexy (at least by my sweet husband). The potential sin in my attitude toward clothing is that pride thing. What I've found about myself is that I'm allowing how I look to become too important and interfere with my right relationship with God when I spend too much time standing in my bedroom of a morning thinking, "no, this is not flattering…no, I wore this the last time…yeah, but I wanna wear those shoes today…". When I do that, I'm certainly not in touch with God's will for me but am thinking more about my physical impact on those around me. Generally, when I become aware of this, I'm able to step back, laugh, and say–"God, I've done it again. Help me find my way back to being more aligned with your will for me today" but sometimes it takes me a while to remember to see what I reflect of God rather than what the mirror is reflecting of me.

  • Appalachiana

    Forget the pride thing. Worry more about how totally irrational it is to be uncomfortable in order to conform to others call sexy. The "sin" in conformance is that by conforming you are adding to the pressure placed on those who have yet to conform. Young girls play in high heels, which will one day cause all sorts of orthopedic problems, and head to tanning beds, which might one day give them cancer, because they are conforming to the norm for women. Reject the norm if it is ridiculous and free your daughters and sisters!! I wouldn't burn your bra though. Bras do good things and a good practical one is acutually quite comfortable.

  • textjunkie

    Huh. I thought the point about not dehumanizing yourself was spot on. I do see women out in micro-minis showing the bottom of their buttcheeks, and no matter who is looking them, male or female, the person looking at them is not thinking about them as a person.

    But everything is a matter of degree, and I thought John hit on that–it's one thing to look after yourself and feel good about how you look, and it's another to put the goods on display and hang out a "for sale" sign. What is perceived as hanging out a "for sale" sign depends on the culture; in some countries it's showing an ankle or elbow, in others it's wearing short shorts and thigh high boots, in others it's flashing a pantiless crotch shot as you get out of the car. Male or female, you have to look around at your culture and say "how are people perceived based on what they wear, and how do I want to use that information?"

  • This is a discussion I've had with my daughter recently. We were at an amusement park – and looking around at all the other girls her age and seeing how they were dressed – I was pretty taken aback.

    I explained it to her like this:

    There is good attention, and bad attention. I hope you are secure enough in yourself and God that you don't have to go out there looking and dressing for bad attention.

  • Rick

    Just came across John's blogs. I have to say it's a refreshing new look at Christianity, coming at a time when I coincidentally am renewing my relationship with Jesus. I agree 100% with this particullar post. I think many fo the people who criticize it are in denial. We all know that when a woman wears a low cut tank top with her stuff hanging out, for example, she knows what reaction that will elicit from a healthy heterosexual male, let alone a pervert or creep. If that is in fact who she is and is willing to deal with that, so be it. Not my place to judge her. But spare me the sanctimonius nonsense that men should look the other way etc. It IS all about showing your face to the world in a way that will allow us failed mortals to appreciate you for who you are, not as an object of lust. Let's get real. great post, John. keep 'em coming!

  • beth

    Couldn't agree with you more John.

    As a mother of two teen aged boys, I have tried my best to teach them to bounce thier eyes and keep thier hearts pure. To respect girls and women as equals and not sex objects. That no means no and to keep thier pants on. Unfortunately I feel I am fighing a losing battle here and I know it. Boobs are everywhere! And I don't just mean the ones that should be covered up under a blouse.

    There is nothing wrong and everything right about dressing appropiately.

  • Great post, John! As the mother of two adult sons and two teenage daughters, this has always been my stance. Modesty doesn't have to mean un-sexy. I don't wear anything that shows my cleavage but that doesn't mean I don't wear something that may flatter my figure in a feminine way. One of the hardest battles with my teens hasn't been avoiding sexy clothes (they're appropriately modest) it's trying to find clothes that fit during the awkward teenage years. Sometimes, clothes that fit HERE, show way too much THERE. So we buy a lot of tank tops and camisoles to prevent any "spillage." LOL

  • Lauren

    It's alarming to me that women today feel somehow that it is their right to dress as they please. The Scriptures in I Peter 3 and I Timothy 2 give an adequate explanation of what is pleasing to God, modesty, propriety, shamefacedness, and a meek and quiet spirit. Studying these terms out within the context gives you the idea that being covered properly, both inside and out, is what is most pleasing and honoring to God as a Christ follower. Looking feminine and sexy are not the same. Ladies, stop fighting to have your right to look sexy and die to self! Stop harping with the feminist agenda passed on to us by women unhappy to be of the female gender. It's time for Christian women to move on to maturity in Christ and understand what the will of the Lord is in this area! Thanks for the insight.

  • I'm a teacher so humor me, but will those of you who think John Shore is equating women's dress with inviting sexual assault please go back to the text and quote it as evidence when you make the claim.

    This advice:

    "any woman should definitely think twice before going out in the world signaling with her clothes or attitude that, essentially, she’s ready for sex." includes not just dress but attitude. This approach to human interaction seems counterproductive unless, in fact, the young woman IS looking for sex; in that case, she's likely to find it.

    You do not have to be dressed sexy to invite sexual response. But let's be honest, women, we do know how to do this. No matter what we wear.

    Furthermore, we don't even have to do anything at all. That can be a pain but…

    Facts of life. Part of growing up.

    And his "more trenchant reason" is "it’s most definitely not pleasing to God (or, for you non-Christians, her Higher Spirit) when, by virtue of her dress or attitude, any woman makes plain to the world that, first and foremost, she prefers to be considered not as someone of any spiritual or intellectual substance at all, but as nothing more substantial than a body."

    Notice again "dress or attitude" and she "makes plain to the world" she prefers to be seen in one dimension.

    That part of the piece sounds like a very personal, individual response on the part of the woman to this gift of sexuality. It doesn't sound like judgement to me.

  • Actually, I work in a high school where I see several "very nice, intelligent, talented, and capable" young women dress in very miniskirts regularly. I am not kidding you when I say I've seen ALL of their breastage but the underside and nipple and yes, these same really smart girls DO make an issue, take umbrage, get insulted with teachers and administration for sending them home to get other clothing. They do actually say it's the guys' responsibility to "control themselves." Really? To me, that's just pretty stupid.

  • See? I like what you write, Ric.

  • Of course you've been thought of as sexy because you are! We all are. It's great! I agree with you.

    We're a whole lot of other kinds of wonderful too. I agree with you there too!

    I'm not saying men can't control themselves.. It's been my experience they do. I don't think John nor anyone else is blaming women for men's actions. I'm certainly not.

    The post is talking about a woman's responsibility for herself– and so is my response.

    Does that make sense?

  • Stuart

    Great post John, perhaps you should venture out into more controversial stuff……

    What always surprises me is how some people don't realise or accept how so many guys minds work and that no amount nagging/condemnation will fix them.

    As far as this whole sex and the male mind issue goes, there isn't just one elephant in the room, there is a herd.

    And anyway, if we behaved as we should, you would have nothing to write about!

    Write on!


  • Ben

    On the subject of 'objectification' I have this to say: I've seen talented people in the church become objects to others: there's the guy who plays guitar and sings, there's the woman who's good at designing flyers, there's the guy who is willing to move chairs, there's the wealthy one who might invite you to brunch. As humans, we can often approach people with a 'what can I get from this?' perspective. Sometimes that's sex or titilation, sometimes it's a new teacher for kids church. Sometimes the guitar guy needs to stop hiding behind the guitar, sometimes the cleaner-upper needs to take a break, and sometimes the attractive woman who is comfortable with her sexuality needs to show up in a big hooded sweatshirt to remind us that we're all valuable people with or without our gifts and talents.

  • Some women here (too) are just too damn idealistic.

  • Three opinions that haven't been mentioned yet (great discussion!):

    1) In my experience with women, their dressing sexy is mostly an ego trip. They know full well what response they're going to get, and they thrive on it.

    2) Many young women today are on birth control and/or anti-depressants, both of which have massive and detrimental impacts on the sexual centers of the brain. Not only might they have low libido and inability to orgasm, but often they don't even realize what "sexy" means nor what it does to men who are looking at them. Sex has ceased to become something powerful and erotic and turns into a fun game. I see this a lot in college-aged girls, starting with some of my younger cousins. They truly have no idea what they're doing because the power of sex has been cut off from them.

    3) None of the above should stop a wife from wearing something "boom chicka bow bow" in the privacy of their home!

  • Kara

    Ooh, John. I really couldn't disagree with you more on this one, I'm sorry to say.

    It isn't my responsibility to dress for the pleasure of men. Whether that means dressing "sexy" or not dressing "sexy" . Men's opinions of me, their biases, their potential inability to see and respect me as a full human being; they don't control my life. Do not. Will not, in any direction.

    Women should wear clothing that makes them happy. They can weigh the pros and cons of it for themselves; weight the pros and cons of unwanted attention.

    My clothing choices are not a statement about my sexual availability. And other people's interpretations don't get to dictate what my intentions were. Clothing is a personal choice. Men don't get a say in what I do with my body. Other women don't get a say in what I do with my body. And the spiritual element of it is between me and God.

    Finally, women do not "objectify themselves". Men, and even sometimes other women, objectify women. It's victim blaming to suggest otherwise; to say that wearing certain clothing negates every other element of a woman. (I won't go so far as to say you're condoning sexual assault; I know you better than that. It's just that victim blaming is an undercurrent in lots of different discussions.)

    It's just… I'm so sick of other people thinking they have a right to say jack about my body and what I choose to do with it. It's between me and God only. Period.

  • Appalachiana

    Women probably should avoid dressing in sexy garb simply because it’s so danged uncomfortable. High heels were surely invented by misogynists, and how miserable trying to walk in an ultra-short, tight fitting skirt. Forget sin or what Jesus would think about Victoria’s secret, when it comes to clothing…comfort and cleanliness should be the guiding light.

  • W

    Kara said:

    "I’m so sick of other people thinking they have a right to say jack about my body and what I choose to do with it. It’s between me and God only."

    Not really.

    If you're inside your own house (and don't do harm to anyone else with your body), yes.

    If you're out in public, no.

  • See? This is why I let you, John, tackle this type of post. Even you, who has written so much for women, are chastised for daring to suggest such things as dressing appropriately. As a former youth leader, father and now granddad, I hear you John. I watched the high-school girls practically compete (I’m not sure what else to call it?) with each other and ultimately, with their idols and role-models in the media.

    To the adult women (& men) here who object to John’s post, I respect that. But I hope we can all agree that the objectification of human beings is wrong. Adults consenting to being objects seems, well, sad. And young people being pressured into being objects is reprehensible. Creeps will be creeps. Fear and disdain of creeps should not be a woman’s decision point of how to dress. Love and respect for her whole being should be her guide.

    For a Christian, John puts this love and respect in perspective with his closing statements. Of course, Jesus does not require sexy or prude to earn his love. He simply loves us (no matter how we dress). Imagining Jesus’ point of view is not to invite guilt but rather to help us see the same complete, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical human being that Jesus sees in us all the time. He wants us to see ourselves as he sees us. He wants us to see each other as he sees us. I believe he wants us to spend as much time and energy on seeing and communicating our minds, hearts, and souls as well as our bodies.

    Ok, I’m rambling.

  • Jenifer The Defender

    Not only men are stimulated visually, women are too. Many woman read and watch porn, as do men, many woman are having "dirty thoughts" when they see a "sexy" person.

    The question i wish to put foward is : WHY IS SEXUALITY SHAMEFUL?

    It isnt. our clothes do not represent our spirits, just ask any fashion victim. Whaat i consider sexy dress, you may find unattractive and vice verca. Our bodies, created by "God", are perfect right? So why the constant SHAME SHAME SHAME. For many of us in the new generation, dressing sexy has NOTHING to do with being "available" for sex. Its a celebration of our life. If the creepy disgusting creeps mess with us we tell them to get lost. Its about reclaiming the beauty and power of the body. Just because i personaly choose to dress sexy does NOT mean i want to sleep with a bunch of stupid creepy idiots! Or ANYONE for that matter, true sexuality is about LOVE not fashion. Im just expressing my love of life,and my respect and love of my SPIRIT. I'm sorry, but a strong healthy body will look sexy no matter what one wears.

    It may be hard for you folks to understand, but this is a new era of spirituality. Seriously, you just cant JUDGE a book by its cover, or lack therof for that matter. LOVE not judgement, was the message of jesus. Think about that next time anyone has cheap judging thoughts about a sexy dressed woman or man, girl or boy. There is only one judgement, so chill people, and respect each other.

    There's NOTHING WRONG WITH DRESSING SEXY, there is plenty WRONG with creeps, judegment, assholes, repression, disrespect, sexism, and sexual harrasment/assault.

  • Jenifer The Defender

    No vj, because it's not up to "me" to enlighten "you". Poeple must question themselves. Like susan says, sexy is objective anyway. We ARE physical bodies, we cant escaape that. Dressing in a mumu isnt gona get me any more "respect" than short shorts. Because i respect myself. And i dont put up with anyones ignorance, INCLUDING well meaning christians.

    The way we dress should be respected as part of our unique personality. People, quetion yourselves. God loves everyone, god does not judge your clothes, thats up to the fashion police! ha ha. So dont you judge either.

  • Jenifer The Defender

    karen, your an intelligent woman, every one of your posts has been so right on! i agree with you. And if you were standing in front of me wearing a burka, then you ripped it off and underneith were wearing some hot little outfit, i'd respect you, your intelligence, and your spirituality just the same! If not more.

    Does that make sense to you beth?

  • Mike

    Help me out here: If Jesus never commanded us to be holy, what did he mean by “Go and sin no more”?

    God’s law simultaneously calls us to holiness, and shows that we fall abysmally short of it. That’s why we need God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

    Completely agree with everything else you say. It’s true that you can’t just tell people to be holy. Only God’s grace can truly motivate our desire to emulate his holiness. I’m thinking it’s not a coincidence that Jesus preceded “Go and sin no more” with “Neither do I condemn you.”

  • Jen the D, very nice! My young adult and teen sons are friends with the most amazing, powerful, beautiful young women. They all dress in comfy, casual, skimpy, sexy clothes but not as an act of sexual provocation–simply because the clothes are comfortable in the same way men's casual clothing is. They're all so open and honest about their sexuality it awes me. They communicate with one another and with others about what is good and right and talk freely about birth control and what's positive and healthy. What I see is people who respect themselves and one another and and understand the power of sex to affect people positively and negatively.

    Repression is the root of unhealthy sexuality. Which is not to say that "free love" is right. What is right is acknowledging that we are all sexual beings. God created us this way–God gave us this amazing gift that allows us great joy when we are able to allow it to have its right place in our lives.

  • Kara

    I just don't agree, W. I think people (men and women) should be able to walk around in public topless if they want. If I am not hurting anyone, it is none of anyone's business.

    Existing in public does not mean I cede my autonomy. It's still my choice, to the extent that I don't hurt anyone.

  • Kara

    Ah, the good ol' "combine internet sarcasm with an already defensive person and watch misunderstanding ensue" problem.

    I understand the legal concerns, although it's totally legit in the state of New York, Denver, CO, and all of Canada. It was mostly hyperbolic.

    To me there's a difference between saying one shouldn't drinking in front of those who struggle with alcoholism and saying one shouldn't drink in front of those who think drinking is always sin. It's a fine line, but I err on the side of not abridging my God-given freedom of conscience to accommodate the biases and objectifying attitudes of others.

  • ok. Go to any beach. You will see people of all ages wearing very little. In fact, except for the usual bright color and the fade resistance of the material, many of the garments one would find on the beach could easily pass for plain old underwear. No one seems to mind…It's accepted as a cultural norm for the location and purpose of the garments.

    Go to nations where clothing by the indigenous people is rather scanty by Western standards. Where body parts we usually cover, are flapping about in the breeze, so to speak, and it isn't considered sexually attractive. Again it is a cultural norm for that location and those group of people.

    My point is, we make physical appearance into the mindset of it being sexually attractive or not. Culture often plays a part in telling us what to think about the matter. And it greatly depends on the individual. I may wear a sleeveless dress, because it's cool in the hot summer. Others may think I'm dressing sexy because I don't usually wear dresses. What we decide to wear is a personal preference, how others choose to perceive what we wear is their preference as well. Maybe if we stopped obsessing about sex so much, it wouldn't be as much of an issue.

    We dress how we do for a variety of reasons. I can understand John's point about trying not to send the message of "I am a sexual object, never mind my brain" But some people are going to think that about another no matter what.

  • Basically what I was going to say. I became aware of this very early in life and as a result have always endeavored to dress in a way that looks attractive and stylish but never ‘advertising’. Good job to the OP for bringing this up.

  • Pockets = power.

    Short skirts = no pockets.

    Case closed.

  • Jennifer, you have some very interesting things to say and I've enjoyed reading them. When I asked "does that make sense" I meant literally, can you (Karen to whom I replied) see the logic in it?

    Aside from what I, perhaps wrongly, perceive to be an assumption you make that I am(and others here are) judging women who choose to dress scantily, let me answer in two parts, since I will also assume you asked that question respectfully as did I with the intention of inspiring a thoughtful response.

    Here it is then-

    1. Yes, it absolutely makes sense to respect any woman whether she wears a burka or a bikini. It doesn't even matter to me why she dresses as she does. I love people and we are ALL worthy of respect.

    2. Honestly, it doesn't really make sense to me you might respect someone, their intelligence, and spirituality more if they were "wearing some hot little outfit."

    It doesn't make sense to me to place that sort of value on one kind of dress over another. To me, that might just be judging a book by its cover.

    If you are talking about celebrating a woman's act of ripping off a burka as a larger symbol of something, I can see the logic of that inspiring admiration.

    Of course, I may completely misunderstand your communication; this is a cryptic one dimensional method.

    Again, very interesting additions to the discussion.

  • Emily

    This. Just this. Kara, that was so wonderfully said. Thank you.

  • Marie

    I was not angry and "Women's Lib-by" in my comments (although I'm a feminist and proud of it). I like John's writings because he is a progressive Christian, as am I. There's a place in God's world for all of us, even the feminists. The Jesus I know would have welcomed the "Women's Libbers."

    I didn't say that John was "insinuating that rape victims were always at fault." I just said that he was treading on thin ice by drawing a connection there. (If you dress provocatively, you are sending a message to men that you are looking for sex…) This might be true in some cases, but certainly not in all. And even if they are looking for sex, they should have the right to say no.

  • Marie

    Hear, hear! I've always felt more powerful in shoes I can run in (no high heels)!!!

  • Marie

    Um…the feminist agenda is not to dress immodestly. Hello? And it certainly is not to be unhappy to be of the female gender.

    Guess I'd better go don a big black robe (burka?) and be "shamefaced" and "meek"! Maturity in Christ. Oh my.

  • Marie

    Great thoughts, Kara–I agree.

    The objectification of women starts when females are little girls–with the happy meal toys they get at McDonalds! Since when did "Bratz" become the female ideal to aspire to? Girls are given lots of positive attention when they dress or act provocatively. The problem starts way earlier than adolescence.

    But women deserve respect whatever they are wearing–as another poster said, whether they are in a bikini or a burka.

  • Mae

    Regarding Jesus telling us to love, the Bible also says, "Therefore, present your body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." So, we are told to be holy.

    Regarding dress, I heard a young preacher urge his congregation to dress modestly because he had enough on his mind while in the pulpit without having to deal with inappropriately dressed men and women.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Not so fast! You leap to conclusions—it seems to me—leaving a glaring gap in the reasoning. To present your body as a holy sacrifice is a far cry from "be holy". First, it is a command directed at one's body, not one's self — which are too quite different things! Second, the body is made holy as a sacrifice; in sacrifice to God is it sanctified. So it is not a command to make the body holy but to make of the body a sacrifice, which, if a sacrifice to the One True Living God, makes it holy and thus acceptable unto the LORD. But I thought we were dealing with matters of the soul, since we spoke of an emphasis on holiness compared with emphasis on love, and it is not with the body that you love—it is with the soul! Nor is the object of love wood or stone, but male or female! As the body is made holy in sacrifice, the spirit is made holy in love! (And I am correct in saying that Jesus never directly commands holiness even if you twist this verse into such a command, since the verse cited comes to us from Paul—no doubt under the inspiration of the Spirit, but that is a wholly other Person of the Trinity.)

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Touche. "sin no more" pretty much equals "be holy". I'm not sure if He meant it so broadly though or was referring more specifically to the sinful ways that ultimately put her at His mercy, those sins which, upon hearing Him say that, she certainly knew in her heart, and Jesus certainly knew that she would know what He was referring to. I don't know whether she was secretly prostituting herself or having an ongoing affair, or if there was something else as well of which none but she and God were aware. (Also, it's worth bearing in mind that the earliest known manuscripts do not contain this passage.)

    BTW, my comment was directed as much at MJ as christine, but I mistakenly thought that both of those comments had been christine's. (Sorry, christine.)

  • Well, Paul said we should be careful not to cause our brothers and sisters to stumble.

    And trust me, if you’re walking around topless in my line of sight, I’ll definitely be stumbling! Maybe even right into a wall!

  • Kara

    Where’s the line, then, Redlefty? Do the weaknesses of others forever bind my, even against my own conscience? Can I drink, or is that a stumbling block? Watch R rated movies? Be gay?

    I gave up living for the approval of humans long ago. There’s a legitimate place for the doctrine of stumbling blocks, but not when it’s used to confine freed Christians to the restrictive beliefs of the lowest common denominator.

  • I forgot to turn my visible sarcasm switch on before I posted, and am probably one of the most libertarian people you’ll come across this week.

    In the case of public nudity I’d say the current illegality would tend to make me against it for those I love, just to keep them out of jail. And to me it’s not a right worth fighting for.

    And to answer one of your questions, I’d absolutely say that drinking could be a stumbling block for a few of my friends. I shouldn’t do it around them based on their previous history/trouble with the wrath of grapes.

    And I feel you on the “lowest common denominator” and throw myself a pity party on many Sundays at church as I keep my mouth shut to prevent other members from the so-called stumbling that would be caused by my liberal beliefs. But if I’m not going to influence them in any way other than to piss them off, then I’m okay staying quiet. And clothed.

  • christine

    Susan: I appreciate the time you took in writing your post to explain the gospels to me. So in response I would like to ask you to look up some bible verses:

    Matt 5:29-30; 18:8-9

    John 8:11; 8:34; 15:22; 16:8

    Now please don’t get me wrong, I do believe wholeheartedly that the Gospels are about love first and foremost. I believe that Jesus preached against believing that you could save yourself by being perfect because it is impossible and it was causing people shame and fear by not being able to reach the standards that the religious authorities of the day set. I believe that his new understanding of love changed the way we think and we should not judge people from a standard of right or wrong but should always at all times speak and act out of love.

    That said, believers are called to live out their faith in this God who saves. As James says “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). If we don’t actually put into action what he has commanded we are not living in faith. That therefore means going and sinning no more. We all know we will fall short of this and the glory of God will be our salvation from that but we need to TRY. Living holy is not being “holier-than-thou” or living by a set of rigid rules but by living faithfully out of the knowledge and gratification of what God has done for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

    Do not get me wrong, when I talk about living a holy life i am not talking about judgmentalism or holier-than-thou attitudes. A truly holy way of living will start with love for God and that will inevitably lead to a desire to walk away from the things He has told us are sinful.

    And we all proof text, I do it, scholars do it, we all do it. It is just the problem of living two thousand years after the event…it’s not necessarily a bad thing unless we miss the point of the story, which I agree with you is love, but holiness cannot be ignored either.

    (and btw what scholars only consider John only as a reflection on Jesus’ life? Where I studied it at seminary it is considered one of the best gospels for understanding the message Jesus brought and would love to hear contrary arguments to that)

  • Stacey E

    Wow, hard to believe so many people misinterpreted your point.

    It reminds me of women who wear low cut things with their stuff hanging out, and then getting upset when people stare at it.

    You don't look like a respectable person with all your goods hanging out. It has nothing to do with women needing to be controlled. It has to do with not presenting yourself as a prostitute.

    Nobody who dresses that way does it because it makes them "feel good" about themselves. Quite the opposite.

    It shows the world that you're desperate for attention, no matter what form that attention is.

  • I think what bothered me, which may be why some of the women reacted the way they did, was the complete lack of "I" statements in this post.

    The entire tone of the post was that of an authoritarian person telling women how to dress. Not a person saying "You know, *I* think that…" and "In my opinion…."

    I don't know about the other commenters, but it was that, more than anything, that got me riled up. I don't think its a bad thing for women to stop helping themselves be objectified, but the message would be much better received it it didn't come across so much like a man telling a woman what to do.

    I would have loved this post if it had only been worded differently. Instead I feel like I've just sat through a lecture.

  • Susan

    Maybe we need to talk about the word “sin.” Many Christians conceive of sin as a state of being naughty, and unacceptable to God. In other words, as a personal trait that makes a person “bad” or “wrong” and a sitting duck for judgment (and gossip) on the part of the holier-than-thou crowd. In fact, the word as used in the NT is the Greek “hamartia” which is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” Not to be “bad,” but to be in error.

    What is “the mark?” It is union with God. So what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:29-30 and 18:8-9 (to which Christine referred), is: whatever separates you from God, get rid of it. This can be anything at all. For most of us, it seems to be ego, pride, fear, and a sense of unworthiness that won't let us accept his love and mercy as freely given.

    As far as trying to be “holy,” Jesus makes it clear, over and over, that no one is holy, and that to think in terms of holiness and sin is to (alas) miss the mark again. Consider the Sermon on the Mount where he tells us that if we feel lust or anger, we are guilty of adultery and murder. That should quash anyone’s hope of ever achieving a state of holiness or sinlessness. This is especially relevant to those moments when we watch our fellow human beings (and especially fellow Christians) with an eagle eye, seeking out evidence of naughtiness and badness. Jesus tells us over and over and over again not to do that. For to do that is — again — to miss the mark, big time. It serves to separate us both from each other AND from God. It's a mistake.

    Remember, Jesus is trying to show us how to be whole, happy, and complete in this human life and the life hereafter, safe and secure in our relationship with the Lord.

    Now as for that “go and sin no more” quote. The frequency with which rightwing Christians use this quote is revealing. For the whole point of the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11) is how Jesus dispersed the crowd by telling them, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” That’s the meaning of the story. Yet, they *always* ignore the actual point and cling for dear life to that one little throw-away line, “now go and sin no more.” Oftentimes they will quote it in a way that position themselves as superior to the one they’re talking to – as if they had no sin and were authorized to scold those inferior others. Talk about missing the mark by a mile! They even ignore the mercy and generosity of precedes it, where Jesus tells her, “does no man condemn you? Then neither do I.”

    So it’s clear that this one line is a lifeline to their personal heaven of sitting in judgment on others. Now here’s some sad news for them. That story in John (which, by the way, I love for what it tells us about Jesus’ mercy and goodness) is considered inauthentic by Biblical scholars. As Matthew Tweedell pointed out, the story doesn’t appear in the earliest versions of the Book of John. Amazingly, a conservative Christian group is putting out a version of the Bible that doesn’t have the story in it. When I read that, my first thought was, “How on earth will they live without the harsh and self-righteous thrill of telling someone, “Go and sin no more?”

    I suspect that one of the attractions of that story for many conservatives is that the woman’s “sins” were sexual, and, sadly enough, “sexual sins” seem to be all some people can see. But that is a whole 'nother topic…

  • Appalachiana

    Perhaps the reason we are so obsessed with cleavage as a symbol of sexuality is because religion has drawn undue attention to breasts by making them so very taboo. Odd that there's so much hoopla about a paired set of modified sweat glands. I would guess that if all women started going topless, breasts would eventually loose the extreme allure they now hold.

    All this discussion about why women should dress this way or that seems to miss the point. If I dress myself to be "pretty" to someone else, how's that different from being sexy for someone else? And who, pray tell, gets to set the standard for how low cut is too low cut? Should a Christian woman play it safe and simply pack several turtlenecks and stiff wool skirts for that upcoming mission trip to Panama? Isn't it more practical and rational to encourage that dress be ruled foremost by honest comfort. Ya know what – sometimes a sleeveless, low cut silk shirt feels pretty dang good on a blistering hot day. If I weren't such a hypocritical conformist, I might just take off my shirt completely the way my husband does when we're in the garden. Sometimes I talk the talk but don't walk the walk, I'm afraid.

    As for the suggestion that prostitutes are not "respectable" women, I know you'll recall that Jesus befriended one or two. No matter our sufferings and sins, we all remain children somewhere within and need love despite everything else.

  • Appalachiana

    All this discussion reminds me of a relevant conversation between voluptuous Jessica Rabbit and private eye Eddie Valiant in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

    Jessica Rabbit – You don't know how hard it is being a woman looking the way I do.

    Eddie Valiant – You don't know how hard it is being a man looking at a woman looking the way you do.

    Jessica Rabbit – I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.

  • I've pretty wholly kept out of the conversations here, but (in case anyone's still reading this stuff), I gotta say: One of the things I'm really, really used to is people going into one of my posts feeling sure they already know what I'm going to say; very quickly reading what I've written; thinking I DID say what they were so sure I was going to; and then commenting upon their mistaken notion of what I said. That's kind of a constant; and it makes sense: people are busy. But I don't think it's ever happened more with any one post than it did with this one (and that's saying something). It's kind of amazing to me how many people here seem to be commenting on a post I didn't even almost write.

    (And Barnmaven [??]): If had taken the time to qualify everything I said here in the manner you've suggested, the post would have to be at least one-third longer than it is. You've got to use a LOT of words [not to mention the extra time] to adapt the tone you're criticizing me for not. I just couldn't afford that much space or time. And I wasn't, in this case, particularly inclined to pad what I was saying with lots of qualifying softeners. The girl asked me for advice. That's what I gave her.)

  • Appalachiana

    That Romans 12:2 thing you stuck at the end of your blog, John. You know…"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Thanks for pointing it out. Relative to dress, I interpret it as a call for dressing for comfort instead of conformance. Sometimes it's hot, sometimes its cold, sometimes I'm chopping firewood and sometimes I'm lounging by the pool. Maybe when it comes to dress, we should conform neither to fashion or prudishness but to the nudges of climate and activity.

  • Like it or not, women are judged more harshly than men when it comes to sexuality, especially by other women. I have a ten year old daughter that I already have to tell to change her clothes sometimes. And unfortunately, evolution which most people and religions believe in to some extent has given men and especially young men something called testosterone. That little chemical in young men most of the time is in over drive. I do not know how many of you remember your high school years, but I do.

    I am married to my high school sweet heart. We met when we were 16. We shared all our thoughts and dreams. So, I know what 16 year old young boys are thinking about. I was lucky and got a good one. Not many people today stay together that start dating when they were 17. But, my family accused me of dressing like an old lady when I was in high school because I wore really long skirts all the time. Even I had boys flirting with me all the time when I was a young girl. I guess I am not sure what would have been their reaction if I had dressed very provocatively.

    Like it or not, the image we create with how we dress sends a message. So, just ask yourself what you want others to think of you? Save the sexy look for your husband in the bedroom and you will be happy for waiting.

  • I like this! I like big hooded sweatshirts too! 🙂

  • Yep, I have returned to college after my children got to school age. I see the same things you are mentioning in your blog. I also agree with #3 thats where you pull out the Victoria Secret. It is only for the hubby. No one else needs to see that much of me. 🙂

  • denver

    WOW a lot of divergent reactions to this post. I think, IMHO, that it's all relative. "Sexy" is such a cultural concept, and relative to activity. For example, if someone on the beach is in a bikini, we generally don't think it's a big deal. But if that person wore a bikini to the opera? Inappropriate, right? What is "sexy" or not is totally subjective – and there is a difference too between "sexy" and "provocative." As someone above said, they're a man that wears suits that are non-revealing but they still get called "sexy." One day when there were firemen in full gear at my workplace a lot of the women said they were "sexy." Actresses on the red carpet in long-skirted, unrevealing haute coutoure dresses are called "sexy" just as much as the ones showing massive cleavage. "Provocative" however is dressing-to-provoke-a-response. In my opinion, there is a difference between a woman wearing a camisole (that fits) and jeans on a hot day, and a woman wearing a camisole THAT DOES NOT FIT so her boobs are hanging out, and jeans, on that same hot day. There is a difference between a woman at the renaissance fair in a corset or bustier getup because they are in costume, and a woman (true story) in a similar costume that is *using her cleavage as a cup holder*. There is a difference between seeing a National Geographic photo of a native woman who goes topless, and some buxom beauty in Playboy doing the same thing. It all depends on where/who/why/when/what, etc. It's all context.

    And for the record, I am a feminist, and I also dress so conservatively that a Muslim man that worked at a place I frequented asked me if I was Muslim because I was always so covered up (and no, I don't cover my hair or anything like that). You can be both. 🙂

    As far as the respect/objectifying argument, IS it respectful of yourself to dress provocatively? That's not a rhetorical question, I'm honestly wondering people's opinions on the matter.

    My two cents. 🙂

  • christine

    @Matthew: apology accepted 🙂 and no harm done at all

    @Susan: I think we are basically arguing the same thing here just starting at different places. Very well formulated reply. Thank you for the thought you put in to that.

  • christine

    yeah that must be really frustrating…btw I do not like your condoning of sacrificial animal worship in this post, very unchristian of you!!!!

  • Melissa

    It's totally ludicrous to think that as a woman you can walk around with your breasts hanging out and that no one will or should look. Or on the flip side, that a guy could go around with no pants on…. Hell, I look. Breasts and behinds are sexy – why wouldn't I look? Why would ANYONE say that it's no one's business and that no one should be looking? . "I'm topless and it's nobody's business but my own." So your boobs are out and you think people are thinking about whether it's their business or not? Of course not – they're thinking and comparing and maybe daydreaming. And it's all completely normal. I heard a woman snap off at a guy at the gas station recently because he was looking at her chest which was pouring out of a low-cut tee. He said something like "Nothin" that ain't out there to see." That's right – if it's out there on display, you can't blame a guy (or girl) for looking.

  • MJ

    A question then: If God’s holiness is not a factor, why did Jesus have to die?

  • I'm just going to toss this out there as food for thought….

    In 12-step they thump the table over and over about using "I" statements. In couples therapy, same thing.

    I know that when I want people to listen to me, I get a much better reaction following those guidelines than I do when I do not.

    Of course, its *your* blog and *your* writing and you are absolutely right to write how you want. I simply point it out as a possible reason for the veracity of the commentary. I felt that the point you made was a great one, and I agree with it very much, but I struggled with feeling really defensive and edgy while reading the post, and when I thought about why I was feeling that way when I was reading something I almost *completely* agreed with, I realized that the language was the issue.

    Just sayin'.

    Love your work, John. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • And I completely appreciate the validity of the point you made, Bar: it was very valid, and absolutely sound. Thanks for what you've here communicated. Perfect.

  • Kara

    I doubt many people will read this far down the comments, but I'll this anyway.

    John, for the most part I agree with you. But I think a distinction needs to be made between dressing "sexy" and dressing "slutty". Human sexuality is a normal part of our existence and I don't think there is anything wrong with expressing it in our dress. What nice young Christian man doesn't want a sexy and attractive woman to take out on a saturday night? But that woman should not look slutty or "cheap". On the contrary, she should look "expensive". She doesn't have to give the impression that she is a prude, but rather she is a sexy woman and that to get to know her in this way comes at a high price (in Christian terms, the lifelong commitment of marriage). I think subtlety is the approach that should be taken here. Sexiness should not just be given away, but instead hinted at by emphasizing parts of the body such as the back of the neck, the collar bone, and the back of the knee. Simple things like wearing perfume and an elegant and dignified attitude can go a long way. A woman who dresses and conducts herself this way is even more sexy and attractive because a man knows this kind of woman isn't so easy to get.

    I'm not saying that women who dress slutty or cheap really are, but like it or not that's the message they send. Unfortunately people do form opinions of us based on the way we look (if you come to work in rumpled and torn clothing and dirty messy hair people will think you don't care about your job). We are responsible for the messages we send and we are also responsible for how we react to other's messages (e.g. rape is the fault of the rapist, not the victim).

  • Ace

    Men are also human beings, not chimpanzees (I would hope), and capable of NOT harrassing or raping a woman just because she "dresses sexy".

    I'm F'ING PIG SICK of society penning 100% of the responsibility for rape/sexual assault prevention on women. Society tends to have this sick idea that rape is something that just happens in nature, like a rainstorm, and that any woman caught without her umbrella is the guilty party. Or it's her fault if she got drunk, or wore tight clothing, or went somewhere with a boyfriend without a minimum of 20 other people with her. Sorry, people ALWAYS have the option to NOT rape or harass others, much as they can choose not to murder, steal, lie, etc.

    Here you go, 11 Handy Rape Prevention Tips

    1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

    2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

    3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

    4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

    5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

    6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

    7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

    8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

    9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

    10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

    11. And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime—no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

  • Ace

    Oh, don't you know those feminazis just really deep down are jealous and hate men! The women's rights movement totally has NOTHING to do with voting rights, property rights and having one's voice heard and given equal treatment in government, and generally being treated like people instead of second-class citizens! They're just uppity and don't know their place!

    (that was sarcasm, by the way)

  • Holly

    Fabulous post!!! I agree 100%…until the last paragraph. "Imagine you are standing before Jesus"might perhaps be helpful(although we still have to remember that our hearts are deceitful and our imaginations just may lead us to some inaccurate conclusions-PRAY!)but "imagine you are Jesus" ?! Please don't say that.

    Otherwise, I'm with you. And I'm very saddened that we as believers take so many cues from culture. Let's look deeply at God's Word rather than whether this or that culture considers cleavage, etc, "appropriate". I love how you pointed that out by closing this post with Romans 12-it's only the Word's transformation that will help us as women in this important area.

  • being gay is is being of your 'father' the devil. There are so many scriptures that address this subject, it can mean only one thing…………I wanna do what "I" wanna do and not how God commanded , or created us to live. B.I.B.L.E. ever hear the saying… Believers Instructions Before leaving Earth…….?

    Don't get defensive because you want to blame man for what the bible teaches, it truly only shows you have not studied enough to prove what is right and wrong in the sight of a Holy and Righteous God. Works without faith is dead, and Faith without following Gods Word.(Jesus Christ) is dead also.We may have many different defects according to the sinful desires of the flesh, but that is why scripture says, the flesh and the Spirit of God are enemies. That is our battle as christians, crucifying those desires of our sinful nature , that we become more like Jesus and can be called the sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. Jesus says if you LOVE ME, you will do as I cammand. Submitting to authority is contrary to the submissiveness of Jesus Christ, and to be ONE with God and claim Him as our Lord and Savior, we learn to be submissive to His teaching. He created all, so how can a person decide which is right and wrong? Only one way…….I AM the TRUTH and the LIFE, whoever then truly comes to accept the Lord as Savior, follows TRUTH and in return is granted,by grace, everlasting LIFE……………..Study Ephesians, its a great outline of Christ-Like living.

    May you also be willing to pray for me as I will for you, for there is ONE Faith, One Spirit and One baptism.

  • I personally agree with this article. Jesus taught offenses WILL come , BUT WOE to him/her in whom t.he offense comes from. Ever read about how were are NOT to be a stumbling block to our brother? Women come to church these days as if they were coming to a fashion show, not to humbly bow before a righteous God. Corinthians were adressed on this subject and apostle Paul says he teaches every where the same in every church. If a woman is to be dressed MODESTLY,then there is only one conclusion why that isn't happening, There is no infilling of the Holy Spirit to give direction in that persons apparell. All men have a 'visuall problem when looking at women, of course unless they are gay, but in general,it is probably the most hardest sin to control. Jesus said to look upon a woman and lust for her has committed adultery in his heart. Whats in the heart always surfaces.So what is TRULY in a woman heart when she feels the need to wear a mini skirt, cleavage showing outfit into the house of prayer? I can understand a new believer,that is on 'milk' and learning the ways of the Lord. But there is no excuse for someone claiming to be a christian for sometime period to be wearing 'sexy' or exposing types of dress.The thing is, we can all have an OPINION on what 'we' think, but clearly the Bible, the WORD of God (jesus Himself) has sets the standards.

    And for the more mature woman of God, they are to teach the younger sisters in all sobrity and the seriosness of God' steachings, I think personally,the Preachers need to teach more on subjects like this, but you know why they dont? Because most are 'men' pleasing and dont want to "offend' anyone. My hats off to the author, although I think he should have adressed the issue with more SCRIPTURE, so there is a clear definition that what the young lady needed was more bible study on the place and the adorning of oneself.

    This is not merely for woman only, but for men too. I was a fashion nut myself at one point till the Holy Spirit convicted me, I was full of nothing but 'Pride' when I bought clothing, jewelery etc to 'LOOK GOOD. I have seen pastors with 1000.00 , 5000.00 and know that this is very contrary to the humble Spirit of Jesus Christ.

  • Actvity that doesn,t conform to the world is also neccessry to look into. As a christian, would you goto a nude Beach? Better yet would you work at Hooters knowing what the drive is behind the food? Who is Hooters biggest and most frequent guest. MEN, because they want to check out big tits in tank tops and shorts that bareley cover their buttocks. Get real, activities should never dictate your Christian stance, on the contrary Your Guide the Holy Spirit should be your Guide as to where you will go and how you will dress.

    Mexicans work in long sleeves shirts in the middle of 106 degree days,Maybe by your thoughts they out to wear thongs to the fild or construction site because of the climate!!!…lol

  • dont forget the scriptures that teach the Holy Spirit is our Guide. Other nations including this one , will dress according to what is 'Fashionable" in that area.That does not change Gods guidelines for us as believers. Cultures need to change to CONFORM to Christ, For some reason people think Culture defines what is accepetable and needs Christ to change for them.What the Trinity wrote and conveyed to us will NEVER pass away Chrsit said. So what He taught to the Israelites is the same He taught in the New testament. Bottom line is God doesn't change, people do, and if they want to be part of is HisKingdom, they He says: MY SHEEP HERE MY VOICE. Pretty simple. If you live in a country where toplessness is accepted by culture, does that change God;s word that says dress modestly. Key word DRESS…………..it is people choice to accept or REJECT the Word of God., no matter where , how or when they born.

  • Halley

    Hi Ellie, why would you think that men would somehow "evolve" into women? not desiring sex unless it was connected to love? That's how their built, they are sexual creatures, meant to procreate, it doesn't mean they're pigs, they just need to mature and grow in wisdom and Godly counsel by their fathers and other male mentors to become real men, who treat women as sacred children of God. This is a tough battle, and women and girls, by dressing provocatively, engage the mens minds and hearts unneccessarily. You speak of wearing burkas? no-one is suggesting that a woman can't express herself beautifully and be "attractive". What about a beautiful jacket, some great jeans? Killer earrings? If being "attractive" and "sexy" are the same things, how did our mothers and grandmothers ever attract a husband?

    You also ask why this isn't addressed to men? Seriously, my libido doesn't get going from seeing a man in jeans way past his pelvic bone showing a bit of skin, or tight jeans showing all of his physique, that's not how women work! Men are clearly not the sexualized creatures that women have become, particularly since the womens' movement, where women were taught, originally, not to be sex objects, that they were as good as men, should rec've the same salary etc? How did we go back to the chains of sexualization, i.e., that we are only worth something if we are sexy (see Maternity magazine covers now with "hot" pregnant women on the cover)? Doesn't that leave out about everyone over 40?

    I don't know if you have kids, but this sexual culture in which girls are taught that their inhernet value is sexual is literally killing our girls, through sexual debasement, perversion, pornography etc. This is expressed in our girls with cutting, depression, promiscuity, not to mention pregancy and disease.

    thanks for listening, I appreciate your time,


  • Halley

    I don't think we are blaming rape, assaults, on women dressing sexy. I think the bigger issue of dressing that way speaks to the question that woman can ask herself, "what am I saying about my own image and self worth if I feel I have to dress provocatively to garner attention?" I hope that helps make it more clear where we are coming from,

    thanks, Halley

  • Halley

    So let me understand, dressing with your boobs hanging out like the high school girls do (walk thru a campus) is ok? Forget about the whole rape thing, the quesion is what is it doing to the girl herself??

    just want to be clear on the position!


  • Halley

    Beth, so well said, I can't agree with you more, see my response to Ellie above and see what you think,

    thanks, Halley

  • Halley


  • Halley

    you're assuming everyone out there is as mature as you, have you been to a high school lately??

  • I say a hardy AMEN to this article…women need to ask themselves what they are trying to accentuate. Are they attempting to draw attention to their inner beauty of their heart or to their bodies. Women, leave dressings sexy for your husbands alone in the privacy of your own home.

    No one is saying that when women are raped it is because of the way they are dressed. However, let us be careful what image we are portraying. Regardless of what you say, men are enticed by what they see, but I would go a step further and say that we as humans are enticed by what we see. So, men…listen up too! You are not innocent of enticing women if you are going around showing off your buff body!

  • YES!!! you said exactly what I was thinking. Just because a woman dresses "sexy" doesn't mean she deserves to be raped, and doesn't mean she isn't a spiritual, intellegent woman.

  • There is a difference between "Sexy" and "Trashy".

    And please don't base things on high school students. They are young, immature and sexually charged human beings with hormones running high. Chances are that these high school girls ARE trying to attract boys for sex, because that's the nature of high school. If the school or the parents to not require them to cover up, then they will let their boobs hang out because they think they look good, and that boys will pay attention to them (it works. High school boys are simple creatures).

  • Halley

    you make some excellent points, Dallas, thanks for your insights!!

  • Halley

    beautifully put, looking beautiful and sexy are not the same thing, and so much of this is not only dress but a heart condition as well..thanks!

  • Halley

    well said…

  • Halley

    Wow, great points, especially the second one, the only caveat I would have with the first point is that in my experience alot of women who dress provovatively are not on a ego trip but actually are completely lacking in confidence, with low self esteem, and feel maybe they can gain some value with a "bit of skin"…flash forward, it works, they got "positive" attention, so they continue in that direction of provocation,

    just a thought….

  • Halley

    the way you speak it sounds like when you look at the demographics of the countries you speak of (I assume Europe etc) are successful..ie, no-one's getting married there, going to church or having kids, so why should our country follow their cultural mores??

  • Halley

    brilliantly stated, thanks for your rigorous honesty….

  • Halley

    thanks Kimberly, well said, from a woman who is successfully making it work…

  • Halley

    do you actually live in a world with real men? you don’t seem to have a handle on them, the wonderful strong heroic and sexual beings they are!!

  • Halley

    the problem with your line of thought is that we live in a fallen world, full of sin….end of story, fortunately we have a life after that won’t have sinful people with pride, lust and envy running around like here….

  • Kilyle

    You know… there are three groups of men who are possibly going to read your post.

    There's the men who know to do this intuitively. They aren't going to assault women.

    There's the men who might be swayed to think of women as more than an outlet for sexual frustration. I suppose your post is useful for them.

    Then there's the guys who actually do assault women. "When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone." Do you believe that the potential rapist is actually going to wake up and go "Wow, I guess I shouldn't do that"?

    I'm an idealist in a lot of ways, but I still wouldn't walk through Seattle at night alone. Criminals – most criminals, anyway – don't give a flip about all these fancy codes of conduct. And it's up to women to take steps to protect themselves against those who would harm them. Saying anything less strict than that is… frankly, not in the best interests of the women we're trying to advise.

    We might disagree on whether "dressing sexy" is inherently dangerous, but let's not give advice that's deadly.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Sorry, MJ, I didn't notice your comment until today. I'm not quite sure what you're getting at regarding the connection between holiness and Jesus' crucifixion. (Of course, Jesus Christ became the most holy Sacrifice for all mankind. Yet I think it is wrong to say that He [b]had[/b] to die; rather, I would say, you and I killed Him—a death sentence He willingly accepted out of love, knowing that only once we'd satisfied our own evil in His death would we be able to move on into the life.)

  • Well said. I think you completely understand what is the main difference between plain practical and idealistic.

    You know..I got this friend, who gives this "interesting" advice about traffic.


    "You don't have to look left and right, it is your right to drive straight ahead this road"

    – While there is this huge truck coming from the junction and not paying attention to me, which is bad because laws of physics aren't giving a doodle about my rights in traffic neither!

    So I would have ended up in hospital, right beside someone who is raped and who also thought that world is excatly that place she decided it should be?

  • christine

    I would say that Jesus did have to die because, according to OT, the penalty of sin is death and the death of either the person who did the wrong or a blameless thing in their place (think spotless lamd in OT sacrifice). Now this all seems crazy to us now but it was the only thing that paid for sin and Jesus decided to finish the need for this penalty once and for all by being not only the sinner (by taking our sin upon himself) and the blameless substitute (in the fact that he was sinless). He then conquered death and so stop the cycle of death that was needed by sacrifice.

    Metaphorically our sin held him there because of his undying love for us but it was completely necessary if we were not to pay the price of our sin=eternal death. His death was not about sating our need for evil and death rather about taking the punishment for it or otherwise we would still be making sacrifices to gain forgiveness. And by taking that punishment it means that we can stand before God and have the HS because sin no longer is a barrier between us.

  • Kilyle

    As evangelists, we’re not called to be the morality police. We’re called to draw people to Christ, “speaking the truth in love.” And every (normal) human being has a sense of their own sin from an early age, so we don’t even have to convince them of that.

    I don’t think homosexuality is an exception to this. Prior to salvation, personal sins are not the issue. After salvation, God handles sin on a (primarily) personal level, as time and increased understanding convict people to change their lives in countless large and small ways. In other words, the guy’s sin is none of our business.

    To the homosexual, I would recommend the site Whosoever.org – it’s run by gays, it gives the gospel to gays, and the people there don’t believe homosexuality is a sin. I’ve reviewed their gospel statement and it (at the time I read it) lined up entirely with what I believe. The amount of hate mail they get is unbelievable… all from Christians who clearly need to read the Bible more.

    At any rate, if you’ve been turned away from Christ because of the attitude of Christians toward gays, please do check out Whosoever.org

  • Ace

    That list is actually *SATIRE* in case you are unaware of what that is. It was written mostly in response to some ridiculous similar lists given to women on "rape prevention" that basically amounts to, 'if you don't padlock every door and stay in your house 100% of the day with at least three guard dogs and a gun, it is your fault if you get raped" – the list I posted however is meant to highlight the fact that rape is commited by rapists, not just fall out of the sky. It's not really a how-to guide, and isn't intended to be used that way, though I would hope it would make some people think twice about, for example, taking advantage of a woman who is drunk at a party or something.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    But if there is an alternative—namely, continuing the practice of sacrifice—then it isn't actually necessary. It was a choice, out of love. In fact, the whole practice of accepting sacrifices is a choice–accepted, for example, from Abel but not from Cain. Also, punishment is a choice, one that could have been more limited so as not to involve death. And if man would not have choosen to become the sinner that he is, the whole thing would be a mute point; as I said, we killed Him.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Also, if death is the requisite punishment of our sins, it seems then that we DO have a need for death, arising from our vain but inexorable pursuit of evil things.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    (Before anyone goes pointing to Mark 8:31, it seems that a better translation here is "should", not "must", judging from what I can make of the Greek and–more directly accessible to my understanding–the way it's translated in the Vulgate, the Russian Synodal Version, and Young's Literal Translation.)

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Perhaps you haven’t fully understood the point of sacrifice, why some are accepted and others not, and how that’s not the only means of acheiving its aim. I think this is most clearly revealed in Hosea 6:6: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

  • vanessa

    In the Institution where I am currently connected, it is not allowed to dress sexy or "worldly". This is a religious institution. I feel that this article has given me the reason why we should refrain from wearing anything that spells sexy. One can feel sexy by dressing appropriately, I guess. My friend often tells me to dress sexy because I'm not getting younger anymore. BUt my boyfriend tells me that if I want to be respected, I have to respect myself first. I believe my boyfriend is right.

  • Dianne

    depends on the woman – and the man…I think it’s individual

  • Meg

    Alright, having read most of the comments and skimmed the others I'm still going to say what I thought when I initially read the post. I'm an (under 20) young woman who was raised in a conservative home. I have a younger brother who's in his late teens and we talk about this sort of stuff a lot. My mom did everything she could to teach him to "bounce his eyes" and help me to dress modestly and yet femininely.

    Sometimes though it's difficult. I can take a walk with my brother around town and feel him get uncomfortable when a girl walks past with really short shorts or low cut top. As for me I cover as much cleavage as I can and wear long tanks to cover my midriff (yes it's a personal choice). This is not as easy as it sounds due to the culture we live in. I have a long torso and enough up top that I can't bring myself to wear anything short or low cut because I've talked with my brother and I have some idea of how he (a strong christian young man who does everything he can not to objectify women) struggles with this.

    I'm not trying to force my views onto others. I just think that there is a point that girls don't always realize they've crossed due to the images they see around them. I know I'm not always in style, I don't want to be. I'm who I am and who I am dresses with lace trimmed camis under low cut shirts to cover up, or under button-up blouses. I've talked to guys who don't meet /my/ eyes even when I'm covered so what if I wasn't? I don't want to do something that might cause trouble for my brother and his friends down the road. I'm not saying they would go out and rape someone (since that seems to be a constant argument in the comments here) but having dealt with sexual addictions of my own and knowing guys who have as well I don't want to risk them heading down there too catalyzed by who knows what. Perhaps a poster, perhaps and advertisement, perhaps a girl walking past in very little.

    I try not to judge people on first glance, but it's hard when a girl has a lot showing. Someone back several comments (I can't remember who) said something about not only men, but also women looking at the women who dress like that differently. I agree with this. You set yourself up for judgment even if we try not to we're only human. As are men. We, as women, really don't know how they're wired and to an extent (no matter how many studies are done) can't. As such isn't it better safe (for their sakes) than sorry? I'm not saying go buy yourself a burka, I'm just saying there are ways to wear those cute tops and skirts without showing as much and tempting quite so much.

    Anyhow, John–well put.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Excellent points, all of them, Mark! Since I was one of the ones discussing the holiness issue, I was particularly interested in the 6th. I had to stop and think about that one for a moment. You're absolutely right—to sin no more is not the same as to be holy—which leads me to the conclusion that nobody who's ever done anything wrong at all could ever be holy. The operative word there is no-BODY; I think a spirit can though if the spirit is purified (which I doubt was of any concern to Adolf Hitler). The body however—the unholy thing that it is—must rot; the body dies (as does the sinning soul—cf. Eze 18:20); the body (with certain notable exceptions) cannot enter heaven, and so we have to await, Kingdom come, the resurrection unto life everlasting (this body having been made, as Paul puts it, a living sacrifice—an offering—such that the life therein is no longer one's own to lose (In fact, it's lost already, whether willingly given or otherwise as "wages of sin"—and thus, Luke 14:26-27) and one's self lives on as surely as the purified & holy Spirit that made Its dwelling therein yet lives).

  • mark

    First, my bona fides:

    1)I am an agnostic—I do not have the level of FAITH necessary to declare absolutely that GOD exists nor that he, she, or it CANNOT exist. While I most certainly do not believe that the humanist, hands-on, in-touch, and responsive god most often worshiped by Christianity is out there, neither can I help but wonder that an entity that fulfills the function of GOD does , in fact, exist somewhere, especially when contemplating the beauty and wondrousness of Earth and the rest of the universe.

    2)I am a reasonably intelligent, fairly logical, moderately well-read male who has been occupying space on this planet for nearly 59 years. As such, I have what I believe to be fairly well formed, coherent opinions on a myriad of subjects plus the ability to form new ones, consistent with what I already believe or know to be true, and the ability to reform existing ones, when contra-indicating information is brought to my attention.

    3)I am also a transvestite, a wearer of feminine clothing, which practice I have had for nearly half a century. Unfortunately, or otherwise depending on your perspective, due to my draw in the genetic lottery, except for very early on in the behavior when I had NO desire to do so, my overall size has always militated against my going out while dressed up, except, grudgingly, on or around Halloween, which practice I have performed only sporadically throughout the years of my hobby.

    Thus, I believe I have a unique perspective to bring to the table in this particular discussion, especially in regards to female sexiness and appearance.

    1st) Sexiness is an attitude—NOT a behavior. You can take the most beautiful women on the planet and present them in FANTASTIC form; without the requisite attitude, they’re about as sexy as a slab of Jello. Runway fashion models and beauty pageant contestants do this all the time.

    On the other hand, the sexiest woman I ever met, 20+ years ago, was a 48 year old, zaftig-plus grandmother who, at the best of times, dressed like Aunt Bea, of Mayberry, going to the church social. In spite of her appearance, whenever she entered a room, all eyes, male as well as female, locked on to her in seconds, as though someone had thrown a switch. She exuded a chaste sexiness like no-one I’ve ever encountered, before or since.

    2nd) If GOD is the omnipotent Being most Christians believe Him to be AND if He gave a even half a whit as to how we appear, wouldn’t we all be BORN wearing clothing of some sort?

    3rd) Unlike most of the Christians I’ve held conversations with, I’ve actually read the entire Bible, and not just the one whose content was dictated by King James I of England. Would anyone care to point out where in ANY of the gospels did the rabbi we call Jesus criticize anyone for their choice of clothing?

    4th) I agree with most of the sentiments expressed by the various female respondents on this thread, especially Beth; however, I do have a few relatively minor disagreements:

    A) Rapists are NOT exclusively male; females can be and, more frequently than is usually reported and/or prosecuted, are guilty of committing or contibuting materially to male commission of that heinous act, and not only with male victims.

    B) Sorry, Beth, but…Rape has nothing to do with Sexuality and precious little to do with Power! Rapists commit a sociopathic crime; they voluntarily choose to break one of the most basic covenants that we humans have with one another. In that sex is such a personal act and potentially has such profound consequences, especially for females, that we, as human societies, agree, in the most basic sense, that ALL humans have the absolute right to choose the partner(s) and act(s) that they are willing to engage in, if any. Rape, in any form, violates that rule—-rapists are interested solely in their own gratification, and, more often than not, to punish their victims for daring to believe that the covenant applies to all equally. Rape, at its deepest level, is a crime of human ego.

    5th) Anyone who would suggest that a particular form of dress, lack thereof, appearance, and/or the Devil made them do it, no matter what “it” is, is a sick individual making excuses for his or her own lack of character. We all have the ability to resist temptation, no matter the source. If we did not, then Society simply could not exist.

    6th) In respect to another facet of discussion that arose in these responses, holiness cannot be merely the lack of sin-commission…..were that so, during the very fleeting moments between his self-administered cranial lead injection and his actual expiration, Adolf Hitler was holy…..which, of course, is a ridiculous assertion.

    7th) High-heeled shoes were created by a man at the behest of and for the use of another man!

    One of the French Louis’, XIV, I believe, had a problem. Due to the fortunate circumstances of his birth and to the somewhat restrictive marriage customs which pertained to members of his family and antecedents, he was about 2 inches shorter than the average male of his time. Tiring of being the Big Cheese but still having to look up to the various members of his court, he instructed his shoemaker to try to figure out a way to make the boss look taller. The shoemaker thought a bit then took a couple of empty spools and tacked them onto a pair of shoes. Voila, instant heighth, and, of course, high heels. Alas for Louis, his courtiers soon realized that the king was wearing the new type of shoe all the time; being the sort of sycophants they were, they had their shoemakers make them heels so as to flatter their patron. Louis was back to being short(er). At some point, women started to wear heels as well, no doubt for the same reasons as the king.

    So…………my opinion is: Dress the way you want……God doesn’t appear to care one way or another. Paul might object, but then, he was a fanatic….true, an intelligent one……….but a fanatic, nonetheless.

    But, be prepared to take responsibility for your own actions. YOU can’t cause anyone to rape you, nor lust in their heart for you, nor criticize you based on a hypocritical interpretation of a book written, then rewritten, then reinterpreted, then rewritten, etc……long before you were born. YOU can, however, avoid placing yourself in situations where your health and/or safety is in jeopardy.

  • Goodwin's Law illustrated once again. Its like Pi or Avagodro's Number.

  • Anne

    As females, we also must realize that men usually are tempted visually more than women. We have a responsibility to not carelessly provide temptation for men. When I exercise my "right" to dress revealingly am I helping cause someone else to sin? Will God hold me accountable for that? We are to be accountable for "every idle word" we speak. Matthew 12:36 What about careless (uncaring about the souls of others) ways of dressing?

  • @ Mark– nice to have you join the discussion. (I've been away finishing the school year.) You make several very cogent points. I agree with your explanation of motivations for rape. Saying it's a question of "power over " another is a simplification of what you've said. In the context of the post, the talk was about rape or the threat of it as applied to young women dressing sexy, but I know you're intelligent and you know that. You bring up a good point about women's involvement; sad as a violent act no matter what.

    I like your commentary!

  • nerdse

    For those of you reading the blog with your liberal chip on your shoulder:

    John Shore isn't trying to tell you that it's right to force women to be in charge of sexuality for both genders. He's not telling you it's right that there will be creeps attracted to you if you dress "sexy," nor that its right for a male to view you only as his potentially "getting lucky," regardless of how women dress. He's not telling you that it's all a woman's fault if a man reacts that way, nor that it will prevent rape. He IS telling you that, unfortunately, the way far too many people raise their sons is seriously lacking in morality – meaning, you have to deal with it, like it or not, right or wrong – including how you dress. Men ARE visual creatures, & no matter how well raised, they ARE going to notice.

    Although he hasn't mentioned specifically how sexuality works against being a decent kid in high school, I'm mentioning it: In way too many schools, a guy who's 13 or older & hasn't "gotten lucky" is considered a homosexual &/or a wimp ripe for bullying. Or that a girl who's a virgin is the target of some pretty nasty name calling, but if she caves in & has sex, she becomes a slut – especially if she ends up pregnant or with STDs, Hepatitis C, genital herpes, HIV/AIDS.

    Dressing modestly won't, unfortunately, prevent rape, & he's not telling you it will – please remove your preconception that all Christians blame women for everythin (wrong religion, dude). If you hear that out of the mouth of a person claiming to be a Christian, please also remember that standing in a church, or yelling to everyone that you are a Christian, doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

    RAPE IS NOT A SEXUAL CRIME. It USES sex as the best way to show HATRED, to dominate & demean someone, to take away their sense of self, & of security, It is the ultimate violation – just ask, not only female victims, but also molested 90 year olds, altar boys, & some male athletic team members & compare their notes on the experience. If it was sexual, rape would happen only to slim, attractive women who dress "sexy." Instead, it happens to 90 year olds, boys, & even tiny babies, in addition to women. It is a crime of power over someone else.

    I join Mr. Shore, not just in a lifetime of trying God's patience (something in which I spot him by 6 yr.), but also in telling you that right now, just as in history to date on this planet, fair or not, that's the way things are.

    Oh, there ARE gentlemen out there; I've been married to one for 38 years. He & his brothers were raised that way, & raised their sons that way, & they've done their best to raise their sons that way. I'd like to think I have, as well. Unfortunately, although there are far more nice, decent guys than most people realize, there aren't enough of them. Only the current generation of people having babies can turn it around.

    One of the biggest problems I see is how decent young women & men treat each other all too often. What is it about dangerous males & females that is so attractive to young people raised to know better & to look for something better? I do know that women tend to think they can change men; they can't 99.9% of the time. Women may be more likely to change than men, but the chances of keeping a hot chick who's "been around" faithful are very, very slim, romantic comedies to the contrary.

    "Life on Life's Terms" is a cornerstone in teaching recovering addicts, alcoholics, etc., that they can't use their substance of abuse to make that go away. Life's less pleasant aspects can't be drugged, drunk, sexed, eaten, shopped, or gambled away. Reality exists, & nothing is going to change that. The mantra of "my right to dress however I like without consequences or interference" is one way people try to say that life's terms have to change for them. They don't; they won't; & when reality asserts itself, your mantra isn't going to change how reality works.

  • YES!!! Yes, yes, yes, yes, thank you ever so much. Nailed it.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    I don’t think she’s suggesting at all that activities should dictate one’s Christian stance! What… to you a Christian stance is about how you dress? You really don’t get the whole “Christian” thing, do you? Do you know the will of the Father and how to discern it? Do you know what the whole of the Law has always been and always will be?

    It is not only stupid but wholly anti-Christian not to go to the beach nude if that is what is expected. Ever read the Bible? “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32–which I know I’m basically ignoring for the moment–for a very special reason; may God forgive me). Perhaps you need some more cross-cultural experience, my friend! I bet you don’t even understand why Mexicans dress as they do in such weather. If they didn’t their skin would get so dry from zero-humidity winds and so blistered from the hot summer sun down there that it would be far worse than wearing a thin cotton shirt. All societies with a large portion of their territory in desert are like this—ever seen middle Easterners?

    So, where does the Bible say anything about the sinfulness of taking your clothes off? Do you really understand what your whole issue with nudity really is? Go back and re-read Genesis 2:25-3:7.

    “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted” (Titus 1:15). You have given in to the temptation to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil; Why!? Why do you so hate God, who gave His LIFE for you so that you would not have to feel this guilt and shame any longer?

    You think the Holy Spirit is not Appalachiana’s Guide? You may not know it, but she’s got the Spirit to a far greater degree than it seems you do. Do you even know which spirit that is, so as to identify it correctly? —because I think some people might be gravely mistaken. Stop conforming to the world defining Christianity FOR you, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

  • Guys and gals……christians, atheists, and everyone…

    (Chellee’s definition of sexy: gorgeous, lovable, stunning, anyone wonderful, attractive, strong, luscious, witty, happy, voluptuous, fuckable, winsome, snuggable, sweet, crazy, manly, amazing, fuckable, want to please me as much as I want to please you sexy!!!!! I’m sure I’m starting this thing off offensively to someone out there! 🙂

    The actual point here, and John was speaking to it, if not directly, then most certainly indirectly, is that there is a real issue of misinformation regarding how we are choosing to dress…and even why we are choosing to dress a certain way. We really have to look beneath all of the reasons we choose a feministic argument, or a christian argument, or a man’s argument or a woman’s argument…..and at the bottom of it all is the self-respecting truth that we all must take responsibility for what we put out into the world that gives others the information they will base their opinions and beliefs about us upon. This is not just a “sexy=freedom to express myself” versus a “dress modestly according to scripture” issue. This is a simple universal fact that WE ALONE are responsible for what we want others to KNOW about us. If I want to be known as kind…..then I create actions that align with the truths of kindness. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to prove you are a loyal employee, or a great friend or an industrious entrepreneur….a faithful significant other or a an independent thinker…….whatever you are desiring to portray is being read through every fiber of your being.

    I am in agreement that I have the right to dress any way I want to. I just take issue with the mistaken belief that in putting myself out there in a sexy way….exposing my beautiful body to be seen and appreciated by those who WILL accept and respect me in an honorable fashion….but also by the masses who will take what they can steal from me….and other delicious, gorgeous, charming, lovely, fantastic, worthy girls ( or ladies if you prefer) and use it to gratify their own base and inhumane urges in a disgusting, disrespectful fashion. I do NOT believe that when I dress in a sexy…”out there” way….that most of the attention I have received has been respectful towards me. I can see that it this is NOT the case! I am not even saying that most men out there would overtly choose to disrespect me or any other woman. But John is right….there is a flood of information out there that deludes us all into thinking that we girls are more desirable and more beautiful and more fun and therefore more worthy of love and acceptance when we dress sexily! And it deludes men into thinking that they are not taking from or causing any damage by their seemingly “innocent” exploitation of others. It’s simply not truth. And if we are all honest with ourselves…we recognize that our need to dress inappropriately revealing ourselves DOES come from an insecurity. So does the need for a man to justify all the beautiful women and young girls out there dressing in a sexy manner for him to enjoy. In fact…..the need to take from others in a way that does not value their need for dignity and protection and my need to act with justness towards those that CAN be taken advantage of by me….and even with debasement of my own character in the process is just not a good sign, if you ask me. If you will notice….there is usually a double standard attached to these kinds of issues……It is all well and good for me to remain detached and do it or allow it to be done toward me…..but put my daughter, or my mother, or my little sister into the mix and suddenly the tables are turned. And let it be a man old enough to be her father….or for God’s sake even her grandfather, and this is now a completely different story!

    Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE LOVE LOVE gorgeous clothing and fantastic accessories and I LOVE feeling sexy. My hubby thinks I AM THE BOMB!!! He makes me feel sexier than I EVER felt before….and I have had three children and all that comes with those little treasures…….and he STILL thinks I ROCK…..clothed and unclothed! And this is the point. WHO am I trying to impress?…..WHO”S attention do I need?? The significant people in my life?….or the strangers out there who will cop a look (and perhaps a feel, if given the chance)….that I will never see again. How does that build self esteem and self love to have total strangers give me attention….NOT for who I ACTUALLY am….but for the fact that I’m willing to GIVE THEM A LITTLE BIT OF MYSELF in that moment by baring my cleavage or something else??? We ladies deserve better than that…..more healthy attention.

    My other point in all of this…..is why do we NEED to devour each other with judgment just to prove a point. There are clearly many faiths and beliefs represented here……can we make sure that we don’t take our belief systems and beat each other with them??? I’m all for LOVE!!! I’m all for LISTENING!!!! I’m all for taking the strong points of TRUTH and KINDNESS and RESPECT from each of you and making them all part of who I am. Some are able to be respectful and kind and listen and honor each other. Some are not. They, too, are doing that out of insecurity.

    THE END. By Chellee (You are all probably SOOOOOOO RELIEVED to see this end! hee hee)

  • Mijinjax

    One friend of mine used to say, "If it's not for sale, don't advertise it."

  • DR

    Quite helpful to comment as if a woman is some kind of commodity – what a lovely thought on this Saturday morning!

  • Classy people you count as friends, Mijin.

  • lr

    First, let me say that I am another atheist who follows (and loves!) John’s blog. I certainly do not agree with everthing he says but admire the way he says it and the ensuing discussions. As a woman who has been on the receiving end of way too many unwanted advances, I understand where John and many of the others who commented are coming from with their many reasons to be careful how you dress/advertise yourself. My beef with this advice is that is comes very close to telling someone to NOT dress sexy even if that’s how they feel. We definitely need to be aware of the possible consequences (the good, the bad and the ugly) of dressing sexy, but there are harsh consequences for hiding a part of ourselves or pretending not to be something as well. Just as we are “not only” our bodies, who we is not exclusive of those bodies. Thus, it seems appropriate that we acknowledge and celebrate (and show to the world if we want) our brains, hearts, souls, and sexy selves? We ARE all of it, so why not? Demanding respect for ALL of ourselves seems just as important to me as demanding respect for our ‘higher’ selves (whatever one’s definition of THAT is!) The most important part is to remember to respect ourselves first and the world will follow. The dressing is infinitely less responsible for misunderstandings than the attitude!

  • I get your points.
    But if you dress sexily, you’ll inevitably cause a great number of men to want to sleep with you.
    Some of them will be interested in your personality as well but many may view you only as a means to an end (namely pleasure).
    Is that really what you want?

  • Sexy is in the eye of the beholder. At one era showing a bit of ankle was considered provocative. Men and women both are going to have lustful thoughts. That’s no excuse for people not being able to behave themselves properly. There is such a thing as dressing appropriately for the occasion so what’s appropriate for a day at the office may not be suitable for a night of dancing, but there’s no reason when should change their apparel for fear that men with think about sex. Men think about sex no matter what.

  • What’s wrong with dressing like a whore? The answer to your question is somewhere in between. As much as people have a right to wear those types of cloths, others have a right to say it’s inappropriate. Just look at societies divorce rates, rape rates and ask yourself if it’s worth it.