Yes, we are talking about men here. Before then, public morals insisted that men not go shirtless. "Are you kidding?" some of you are probably thinking, but, as a preacher friend likes to say, "Here's the deal." Just because society's sense of modesty has changed does not mean God's has. We point to articles like this and use them to justify some of the most immodest clothing ever worn in any society through the ages. And why? Because we do not want to be different, that's why. Folks, being different is what being a Christian is all about. It is all over the pages of the New Testament. If you can't stand to be pointed at and derided because you refuse to act like the rest of the world, then you are not up to the task of being a Christian.
Granted, some of us have been raised to see certain things as "normal." Do you realize how many things a missionary has to "unteach" in a pagan society where they are accepted as "normal?" We are just acting like pagans when we allow our society to define our morality. It is high time we re-examined our behavior, and in this morning's post, our clothing.
Do you realize that European women (I read in a newspaper article) view American women as "dressed like prostitutes?" I wish I still had that article so you would know I am not making this up. What we like to call "immodesty" is probably better defined as lasciviousness—that which arouses lust. Here is where fathers fail to teach and mothers fail to accept their views. Men know exactly what other men are thinking—especially men who are not even trying to be godly. And what do men like to look at?
Cleavage, short shorts, any kind of swimsuit (or anything that shows an entire length of leg or even just most of one), spaghetti straps, work-out clothes, tight jeans and skirts, strapless and backless clothes, bare midriffs (and a belly chain is a special turn-on), and any item that blatantly draws attention to certain parts of the body. Yes, immodesty is often a heart issue. A woman who dresses with "the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" (1 Pet 3:4) will seldom dress immodestly. However, immodesty can also be a matter of ignorance. Just as those pagans who thought polygamy was "normal" needed to be shown otherwise, some women think certain types of dress are normal because that is what everyone else wears. Sometimes practicality simply demands some sort of list!
That list above can be found in any article or book on the subject, even ones not written by Christians. Ungodly people know what is and is not immodest. For some reason, the list doesn't change no matter what the date of copyright. In fact, it is the same list I saw as a teenager, oh, so many, many years ago. So what was that about "things have changed?" What incites lust does not change.
"So what can I wear?" you ask pitifully. A lot. I haven't had a bit of trouble finding things to wear. Neither has my daughter-in-law or my seven nieces. There are even companies that make "modest swimwear." Enough Christians of one stripe or another have asked for it and it is now available, if you will bother to look it up. I did not have such a luxury and I truly looked weird in my swimming get-up, which was made up of various items of regular, modest clothing that covered me from neck to knee and was not transparent, even when it got wet.
Another problem: parents, please think about the extracurricular activities you involve your children in, both boys and girls, and the kind of clothing that activity usually demands. Why would you allow your child to come to love, and even build his or her identity in something that sooner or later you will have to forbid? Could you be any crueler? I have reached the point that, though I enjoy gymnastics, I will no longer watch it now that half of every young female gymnast's behind is on display. I probably should have turned it off sooner.
Every year that passes I see us accepting things that we should not, things we should avoid and teach our children to avoid, not excuse as "normal because everyone does it." I remember conversations with my mother about that very thing. "What everyone does is probably the best reason for you not to do it," she said, and she was absolutely right.
Go look in your closets, sisters. Look in your daughter's closet. She will not understand when you suddenly forbid her to wear some things. You will never be able to make her understand, probably, until she marries, and even then some women refuse to get it. Why, their good man could not possibly have a problem with these things. Yes, he can, and you are making it harder on him when you won't accept the facts of biology.
We all have a responsibility to the people around us. If we cause lust, we are "causing our brother to stumble (SIN)," and yes, it is too, our problem, not just his, because God will hold us accountable.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves… (1Pet 3:3-5)