(By Jerrold & Catherine Lewis)
*Much of what you read here comes from the thoughts of my wife Catherine, and from her extensive reading on the subject of modesty.*
Before we can begin discussing the idea of Courtship in earnest, we need to cover a few sociological barriers first. Cosmetic to be sure, but necessary nonetheless. There was a time when the women of the Church were very modest in what they wore. You could almost always spot a Christian woman by her discretion in attire. But having been in dozens of Reformed Churches over the past several years, I have come to realize that the attire of our next generation of mothers is far closer to the world than the Scriptures. You might ask, “What does this have to do with Courtship?” Everything. The kind of man a Christian woman will attract will be directly proportionate to the signals a woman sends prior to courtship. Can what a woman wears send the wrong message and attract the wrong kind of man? Absolutely! And I firmly believe that most of our Reformed young ladies have no idea what they are doing to the hormones of a man in what they wear. Did you know that your clothing or (lack of clothing) could be causing a man to sin? To illustrate this lets turn to one of the most famous passages in all the Bible that speaks to the subject of lust, 2 Samuel 11.
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house:and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself;and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. II Samuel 11:2
We often think of David’s sin in this passage but never pause and think if Bathsheba had any part to play in this fiasco. Now it is true, that comparatively David’s sin was far greater than Bathsheba’s. His list of sins were lengthy and potent including an abuse of power, lust, adultery, lying, and finally murder. Bathsheba’s sin, some would say (if anything), was being at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man looking. But is there more here than meets the eye? Think for a moment, why was this woman bathing on the roof in clear sight of the kings window? Remember, it was not the case in Israel at that time that women bathed outside. Bathing was done inside as an act of discretion (much like today). David did not wake up every morning to a whole host of roof-top bathers! This was a strange thing in deed, and many believe that Bathsheba was in fact doing this on purpose. So then Bathsheba’s little sin was the cause of David’s great sin(s). So it is, when a young woman wears low rider jeans, or low cut tops, or tight fitting clothing that uncovers or exposes what should be otherwise covered.
It is my belief, that too many young ladies are displaying to every man they come across, what ought only to be for the eyes of her husband (present or future). And the kind of man you will attract by wearing revealing clothing will not be the kind of man that will lead the home in family worship, pray with you, or be a spiritual leader to your children. He will be a man who is attracted to you in a physical way first, because of what you have given him a sneak peak at before marriage. This is not the kind of man you want to court!
Listen to what George Abbott, an old writer on Courtship has to say about clothing some 120 years ago and see if men have changed in a century,
Another mistake ladies make is, they believe that foolish fellows, who flatter them about their beauty and fine appearance are really sincere, and mean what they say; while the truth is, that they in heart despise and ridicule them; or, if they feel any of the fondness they profess, it is but a low, selfish passion, to which they will not hesitate to sacrifice their pretty, garnished victim… Alas! by these mistakes thousands are every year brought to ruin and disgrace; and she who thoughtlessly begins with the first and simplest of these mistakes, is in danger of proceeding to the last and grossest.
Ladies, even young Christian men in Reformed & Presbyterian churches will stumble into lust over the clothing you wear. Why? Because they are fallen sons of Adam just like every other male. And if you, as a woman are sending out vibes, that you are not at all concerned to show off parts of your body that are not for general eyes, you will attract a baser sort of man that will care very little for your wellbeing, and more for his carnal lusts. Ladies, if you want to attract a man that will be a spiritual leader, a man who will be faithful to God, and who desires holiness and purity in marriage, don’t advertise with your body, advertise with your inner beauty. Because a godly man will not want a wife who is not chaste in her clothing.
What do the scripture say regarding clothing and beauty? “ 1Ti 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” (See also 1 Peter 3:3,4 ). This does not mean that a young woman needs to wear a gunny sack or walk around in bland clothing. There are many ways to look contemporary, trendy, and at the same time feminine and modest. Clothing itself is not religious or irreligious, but it does convey a message. What message are you sending?
To be continued…