Lust & Dressing Immodestly

This past Sunday in church, we unpacked Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30 where He spoke about the sin of lust and the heart condition that motivates it.  As a follow-up this week, I wanted to post a couple of resources that might be helpful. Yesterday’s post was primarily intended for men and dealt with the temptation to view pornography.  Today’s post is primarily intended for women, and deals with the issue of dressing immodestly.

This is a touchy subject, but an important one.  The purpose is not to judge anyone or set arbitrary standards for what is or is not “modest dress”.  In fact, this is not even to say that we have a particular problem with this in our fellowship.  The purpose is simply to remind you that how you dress does in fact affect how your brothers in Christ are able to fight against the sin of lust.

This article was originally posted on the blog on June 1st, 2011 by Jared Moore, and was entitled “Dressing Immodestly? 9 Negative Responses You Encourage”


Ladies, I want you to know that you do not encourage one single positive response from men whenever you dress immodestly. If you choose to bring attention to yourself sexually by dressing immodestly, you encourage these 9 negative responses:

1. A denial of your mind. By encouraging men to look at you sexually, you encourage them to not think about the fact that you have a mind. If a man does not care about your mind, he does not care about you.

2. A denial of your value. You are more valuable than your physical appearance and your sexual availability. Your value comes ultimately from your Creator (Gen. 1:27). By encouraging men to focus on you sexually, you do not encourage them to value the main elements that make you valuable in God’s eyes.

3. A denial of your need for provision. Although we live in a growing egalitarian society, Christian women should want their husbands to be their primary providers (1 Tim. 5:8, Eph. 5:28-29). Whenever you encourage young men to look at you as a sex object, you encourage them to not consider how they can provide for you as faithful Christian husbands.

4. A denial of your need for protection. In the Scriptures, husbands are expected to protect their wives (1 Pet. 3:7). When a man is looking at you sexually, and he is not your husband, he is unconcerned about protecting you. If he was concerned about protecting you, he would desire to protect you before he looked at you sexually. In other words, marriage and protection are a result of love, and come before sex.

5. A denial of your value as God’s image-bearer. When you encourage men to view you as a sex object, you encourage them to see you as created in the likeness of something less than the image of God. You might be a little higher than the animals in their eyes.

6. A denial of God’s value in creating all the elements that make you a human being. If you are a professed Christian, then you represent Christ in all that you do, including in how you dress. By portraying yourself as a public object for sexual lust, you encourage young men to value your appearance above everything else about you; thus, you encourage them to only value God’s creating ability in your outward appearance. Every element of you was fearfully and wonderfully made, not merely your outward appearance (Gen. 1:27, Ps. 139:14).

7. A denial of your humanity. Your humanity includes more than you being viewed as an avenue for sexual lust. If you are stripped of everything except your sexual worth, then you are diminished to something less than human, slightly above an animal, if that. If you think deeply about this, thousands of women are being sold into the sex trade every year. Their “owners” value them only in a sexual way. Why would you voluntarily encourage men to only value you in a sexual way?

8. A denial of your good works. If you encourage a man to look at your body instead of your good works, you encourage him to selfishly use you instead of enjoying the Lord (1 Tim. 2:10). You should rather encourage a man to enjoy the Lord through enjoying you sexually within marriage; instead of encouraging men to sinfully enjoy you without enjoying the Lord. It is impossible for men to enjoy the Lord by looking at you as a sex object.

9. A hiding of God’s glory. When you encourage men to check out your body instead of your face, you encourage them to look at you sexually, an act that only your husband should participate in. If you are a Christian, your goal should be to encourage others to run to Christ. By encouraging men to look at you sexually, you encourage them to run to sin, instead of communicating by your modesty that your body is not for sexual immorality, but is for the Lord (1 Cor. 6:13). You are not your own, for you were bought with the blood of Christ (1 Cor. 7:23). How you dress either reveals this truth or hides it.



6 thoughts on “Lust & Dressing Immodestly

  1. Since it’s universally-accepted that men are visually stimulated, how are women supposed to attract husbands if not by advertising their sexuality, their feminine “assets”? There are many of us who spent our teens and twenties dressing modestly, and were ignored by Christian men who preferred instead those who spent more effort “advertising.” Now many of us are in our thirties and still unmarried, and even worse, Christian men prefer the less modestly-dress young bodies. Again, if men are programmed by God to be attracted to women’s physical attributes, then how can modestly-dressed women even hope to compete?

    • Jenny,

      Thank you so much for that honest question. I’m sure your question represents the concerns of many women who have experienced a similar struggle.

      For believers, our primary question in all facets of life should be, “how can I best glorify God in this situation?” So, the question for single women is how can you glorify God; or, what does God want you to do, instead of “how are we supposed to attract husbands?” If God has called you to marry (and I do say “if”, because He does not call every man and every woman to marry), then He will provide the perfect husband for you in His perfect timing. I would encourage any woman in your shoes to focus more on following hard after God, and less on trying to attract husbands. God will provide.

      I can only begin to imagine how difficult it would be to continue to trust the Lord for a spouse day after day, year after year. I’m sure that is hard, and I’m sure that women in your shoes struggle with trusting God in this area. Yet, my encouragement is still the same. If He is calling you to marriage, He will provide the right man in His perfect timing. I’m sure you would agree that it would be a mistake to attempt to expedite things by dressing immodestly in order to attract a man.

      Also, please allow me to emphasize that there is a difference between God hard-wiring men to be visually stimulated, and men sinfully lusting after women. Because I know God has hard-wired me in that way, I need to set up boundaries and be careful about my surroundings so that I can fight against my fleshly desire to lust. When men “undress ladies with their eyes”, they are acting out of their flesh, and you do not want to attract that kind of man as a husband. His wandering eyes will not stop wandering just because he gets married.

      Finally, I need to mention that this kind of discussion should never result in Christians setting up a list of rules about how women should dress (i.e. how short of a skirt is too short, how low of a blouse is too low, how tight is too tight, etc.). That reeks of “Phariseeism”, that Jesus clearly rebuked and condemned regularly. So, I’m not suggesting that we resort to setting up an arbitrary “modesty guideline”; however, we also should be able to recognize that what seems “immodest” in my eyes, might seem “modest” in someone else’s eyes. The focus needs to be following the Lord, and giving due consideration to how others (other guys) might struggle against lust when looking at a woman. For example, I was visually and physically attracted to my wife when we first met, although she dressed in ways that I never felt were intended to accentuate body parts. She dressed nice and wore pretty clothes, but she didn’t go out of her way to flaunt parts of her body that she could have flaunted. Had she done that, she would have attracted other kinds of men, and would have unknowingly provided me with another opportunity to lust (sin).

      I know this is a sticky subject, and one that requires lots of prayer. My best encouragement would be to focus on honoring the Lord with everything you do, including how you dress, and then trusting Him to provide exactly what you need.

      I hope that clarification helps.


  2. Thanks for your quick reply. Yes, I do agree that there’s a difference between lust and attraction, and no, I’m not advocating dressing immodestly that would attract the wrong type of attention. I do have two other questions stemming from your reply:

    “If God has called you to marry (and I do say “if”, because He does not call every man and every woman to marry), then He will provide the perfect husband for you in His perfect timing. I would encourage any woman in your shoes to focus more on following hard after God, and less on trying to attract husbands. God will provide.”

    Why do conversations on modestly always morph into a conversation about being called or not called to marriage? Yes, God provides, but we’re still expected to look for a job when unemployed. Yes, God provides, but we’re still expected to prepare for things. Genesis suggests that marriage is the norm, not the exception, and Paul says to marry if you have sexual desires. Why not take action? (Especially if you do believe you’ve been called to marry.)

  3. Sorry, I forgot my second question: Why shouldn’t we do anything to attract husbands? There isn’t a single married woman – modest dresser or not – who didn’t do something (e.g., smile, dress femininely, laugh as a guy’s terrible jokes, etc.) to get and keep his attention. It seems rather strange that women who appear to be doing something just so happen to always be the ones called to marriage.

  4. Jenny,

    Again, very insightful questions. Thanks for asking them.

    It wasn’t my intent to morph the conversation into whether or not someone is called into marriage (which is why I put it in parentheses). My post was originally about dressing modestly/immodestly, but since you had mentioned attracting husbands, I thought I should address that in my reply.

    I’m not advocating not looking for a spouse or not doing anything to attract a spouse. You’re absolutely right. I’m simply saying there is a huge difference between looking for a spouse or wearing a pretty dress and walking around in a skin tight, low cut dress that shows off every curve. I’m getting dangerously close to defining morality (which I don’t want to do), but I’m risking that in order to explain my point.

    Thanks again for the dialogue…..I’m sure it will prove helpful to others too.

    Grace, sister.


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