Dover HeartSid Womack

Modesty

1Timothy 2:9, 10--"Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works."

1Peter 3:3-6 "Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing--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, by submitting to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening."

We don't hear much preaching on modesty these days. We see even less in print, which is why this was written. Compounding the problems both genders face particularly during single life is the fact that there does not seem to be much honest communication between the two sexes. Thus one gender presents temptations to the other (this can go both ways) with little appreciation of the size of spiritual road-block that has just been imposed. Then sometimes the ladies especially get a reaction from the men that may seem far beyond what they intended to get. Date rape or at least fornication occurs and both wonder later how such a thing could have happened. As long as older people (who can see what is happening) refuse to talk about these misunderstandings, these sins will continue.

Modesty is an attitude. Modesty is about not wanting to call undue attention to oneself. Modesty is not a legalistic prescription for clothing. A person who intends to be modest will not need a tape measure or a ruler to know when she or he is right. Modesty does not flaunt what one has. If it is physical appearance, modesty does not make a bigger point of what is already there than needs to be. Modesty is the exact opposite of "If you've got it, flaunt it." Modesty recognizes that circumstances dictate what is decent apparel and bodily movements. If we are painting the outside of the front of a house, we don't dress like we would if we were swimming alone in the swimming pool in the back yard, with a tall fence keeping prying eyes out. Like Willard Scott once said in a documentary video about visiting Washington D. C., one shouldn't wear beach-wear to see the museums on the Mall.

A person can be immodest with his display of his material goods as well as being immodest with his physical body. James 2: 1-9, while talking about our response to a conspicuous display of wealth during a worship assembly, portrays the problems that Christians can bring with them to worship services. Modesty can be revealed in how one displays his educational or vocational credentials. It is one thing to go into detail about those in a job interview (where this information is relevant) and another to spend a lot of time on it in front of people to whom the point does not need to be made.

The dress and behavior of many women today is "over the top" for getting the attention of most men. The signals that some women are sending indicate (whether intentional or not) that they are not just ready to meet men, but are ready to mate with them, right now. Small wonder so many situations end up in one-night stands or outright rape because the signals are misunderstood. One study showed that men (across the whole age spectrum) think about sex about 200 times per day. If the study was talking about men in their 50s it might be 200 times per day. Much younger men and boys likely experience it more often than 200 times per day. The same study reported that women think about sex 4 or 5 times a day. Put another way, men think about sex including intercourse 40 times as often as women. Men were "wired" to have a high consciousness about sex to insure the propagation of the species. Men are also the ones expected to go to war or to face natural disasters, so in times of high casualties among men, this part of God's Intelligent Design insures that the human race will continue.

Men notice that women are women in a matter of seconds. Within five seconds of the entrance of a woman into a room, men are aware of the different pitch of women's voices, the "clop" sound of the higher-heeled shoes, their perfume, the way their wrists and hands move differently from those of men, the flounce of womens' hair, the movement of womens' buttocks as they walk, and much more. Within ten seconds, men already know whether they feel physically attracted to a woman or not. If they have acute sinusitis and are "doped up" with decongestants, it might take 20 seconds. Women do not have to beat men over their heads with baseball bats to get them to notice that they are women. What I am saying to you is what your boyfriends or your husbands might tell you in their most candid moments. Men are wired for sex. They are like lions, lying in the tall Serengheti grass. A rabbit hops by, the lion sees the flicker of a slight movement, and just like that, they are ready for the chase. Remember: 200 times a day. That's men without a pornography habit or a biological imbalance--that's average. 200 times a day may be the exposure to temptation that the men you respect most go through each and every day--200 times a day is not what the reprobates go through. If the women around us came to work dressed in burlap gunnysacks with holes cut for the eyes, the mouths, and the arms, we would still have some problems keeping our thoughts pure.

Many of the men around you, married and single, are also your brothers in Christ. They too are trying to follow the command of Paul in Philippians 4: 8--"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." The men around you could use some help with this. The men around you already know that you are women. They know you are pretty. They know you are sexy. They know if you are "hot." Just because they aren't yelling at you about it every minute does not mean in the least that they are oblivious. The real gentlemen are trying to keep their self control. It isn't easy being tempted 200 times a day.

Surely some women today must not be aware of the mating signals they send out, dozens of times per hour. How they sit, how they stretch to reach something tall while wearing dresses that are a bit short, how they bend over to pick something up off the floor, what they show when they lean over a desk while wearing a low top--not one of those things is missed by the men in the room. Don't kid youselves--not one. Womens' clothing or the lack of it add to the "flicker" that lions a.k.a. men must deal with.

Let me bring this to you from both a viewpoint of strength and of weakness, ladies. If your boyfriend was 40 times quicker in reflexes than you and he could punch 40 times harder than you could, would you walk up behind him and tickle him? Not a good idea. Weakness?--Let's try this metaphor. It is as if the men you know are all floating in a big vat of Diesel, bobbing up and down, barely able to keep their heads above the Diesel (water?) Would you please be careful about striking a match? Even if the men are all eligible bachelors, they are still your brothers in the Lord. You will marry only one of them (Mark 10: 7-12), so don't complicate the lives of all of them. Don't tempt them so badly that it is almost (I Cor. 10: 13) impossible for them to do what is right. Save your charms for the man you marry.

Jesus said in Matthew 18:6, 7 "But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh!"

And also "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."--Matthew 5: 27, 28. It is no accident that this was addressed to men instead of women. Men are far more visual than women and their sexual response, when they decide to use it, is brisk and immediate.

Increasingly in modern times, modesty has been an area where men could use some cautions as well. The women may be slower to react to sexual stimuli than men, but they are not totally visually dead. How often in public is it really appropriate to take your shirt off? Just because you have six-pack abs doesn't mean that everyone should know about them. And the way some men wear trousers that are low in the back is just plain vulgar. That doesn't turn many women on, and it turns the nice ones off. That presentation is not attractive.

When we live modestly, we experience the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4: 7).

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