Several days ago Dr. Mohler had a podcast that discussed Modesty at Christian Weddings. This has actually been an on going discussion on several different blogs including: Joshua Harris, Trying to be Mary in a Martha World, A Puritan’s Hope, and GirlTalk.
On the Molher program a lady called in and made the comment that she didn’t think a man should tell a woman how to dress and while I think men are not the ones to go to for fashion advice, I thought Dr. Mohler made a good point. It is the man who will likely sin because of the way a woman dresses and therefore the man should have some input. Fathers should give advice to their daughters about their wedding dresses because fathers know how men think and react to the clothing women wear.
Guys are visually stimulated and that is something that I believe most girls fail to understand or consider when buying clothes. This is a natural response that is built within men and it is not something that can just be turned off at the flip of a switch. Even a happily married man who has eyes for no one else but his wife can be stimulated by another woman who dresses in a skimpy outfit, because that is the way guys are made. Even if he didn’t want to experience this, just a few seconds of someone walking by who is dressed immodestly can cause impure thoughts or feelings in a guy. It’s that easy.
I am certain that most girls who dress this way don’t think to themselves, “I’m gonna make a bunch of men sin in their minds today”. They just want to wear something that they think is stylish, attractive, and draws attention, but what women often fail to understand is that they are drawing the wrong type of attention. Do women really want a guy to like them only because they are attractive and have nice features? No. That is a shallow, meaningless relationship and yet they choose to dress in such a way that suggests otherwise.
This whole discussion brought up the issue of Christian weddings and the question: should churches set a dress code or policy for weddings to regulate what women wear in church ceremonies? While I think this is a good topic to discuss, I want to open it up to a little broader perspective.
As a youth pastor, my wife and I are facing this issue with our teenage girls in the youth group. I am shocked and appalled at what parents allow their teens to wear. Just the other day a teen was wearing a top that clearly showed her cleavage and when she sat down you could see her whole bra and other bodily parts. I noticed when I was passing out material to the youth in Sunday School and I am certain that all the guys that walked by noticed her too. A few days later I saw her again in public with the same shirt on while she was with her parents. After further prodding we find out that her mother bought her the outfit and approves of it. Now at this point you must tread carefully. Do you (A.) – Tell her the shirt is inappropriate at the risk of offending and embarrassing her and making her mother angry? (This method has been tried before in our group. It made people embarrassed and angry and never come back to church. It didn’t stop them from wearing those type of clothes.) Do you (B.) just ignore it and not say anything since the parents are obviously aware of the clothing and approve of it? Do you (C.) deal with the issue on a broader scale by teaching modesty to the girls in your youth group and hope that they make the right choices and change the way they dress?
I truly believe that the way kids and teens dress is a matter of parental responsibility and it is just another area in life where parents are dropping the ball. Our pastor preached on this the other day and I think it is so very true, parents today are more concerned with making their children Pretty, Powerful, and Popular rather than Pious. With that type of thinking, dressing popular is more important than dressing modestly and being involved in school activities, sports and social functions is more important than going to church and learning about modesty and Godliness. This is why the most popular church kids who have grown up in our church and should be the strongest spiritual leaders in our youth group are actually the least active teens. We have teens that have missed upwards of 15 to 16 weeks in a row of youth on Wednesday nights and then parents wonder why their teen isn’t growing spiritually and why they don’t know all the events that are going on. While I don’t understand this mindset, I know it exists because I see it working every week.
Proverbs 16:16 says “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” Our parents of today and the teenagers that are currently in our churches seem to be so busy that they cannot find time for church. Teens are involved in so many different things that they cannot pull a hour or two out of the week to make it to church at all and so I wonder; where is their wisdom and understanding coming from? If they don’t come to church, who is teaching them? Where are they learning about modesty? Who is teaching them morality and righteousness? I think the answer to those questions is obvious. We are raising up a generation of shallow, baby Christians with no ability to discern between right and wrong and with no understanding of the deep truths of God’s word (Hebrews 5) and the most troubling part of it all is that the parents are not only allowing it, they are fueling it.
What are we to do when parents are the ones allowing their teens to dress and act in these manners? How do we teach modesty to a group of kids who are popular leaders with tremendous potential and yet they never come to church, never get involved, and are too busy to learn anything about righteousness or modesty? How do we reach a group of kids who know nothing else but what their parents teach them about being pretty, popular, and powerful? This is the challenge our youth ministry is facing today.