Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, as you choose clothing, keep some things in mind.  

Nancy:  Some men in this world, and even some men in our churches are wicked. They have wicked hearts, wicked intentions, and they will lust after women regardless of what you can do to prevent it. So in the case of those men, why would you want to help them sin? Why you would want to put further temptation in their path?

But then there's a whole other category of men. I think there's a lot of these men in our churches. Men who are not wicked men. They have a heart for God; they want to be godly men; they're not wicked. But as one writer says, "Your brethren in Christ may be weak." Just weak.

I think David is an illustration of that. The Scripture says "He was a man after God's own heart" (see Acts 13:22). He was a man who wanted to please the Lord. He didn't get up that morning and say, "I think I'm going to lust after a woman. I think I'm going to commit adultery. I think I'm going to kill this man so I can have his wife." He didn't have wicked intent initially, but he was weak. He was particularly weak in the presence of an undressed woman, and most men would be.

Leslie:  You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, April 26.
 
Last fall Revive Our Hearts received an email. It was from a listener who works at what she describes as a conservative Christian college.  She had written to the Dean of Women and shared the letter with us. She had been looking at clothing styles in the stores and wrote:

I knew we were in for an interesting school year, but I was not prepared for the skin I've been seeing here. I have not seen so many short shorts and mini-skirts since the 70s! Last year a couple of the faculty wives commented on the struggles the men had then; I cannot imagine what they are dealing with this year.
 
The kicker was when one of our student workers came in this morning tugging at her short shorts so they wouldn't show anything important. I have to admit, I was speechless.

This listener went on to ask the dean at the college,

Do you ever discuss modesty principles, combined with putting the interests of their Christian brothers ahead of their desire to be fashionable, with our women? I am grieved that some Christian parents seem to be clueless. 

Then this listener went on to ask Revive Our Hearts, “I would like to put some of Nancy's materials into their hands—what would you suggest?”

Well, I suggest Nancy’s booklet, The Look. I’ll tell you more about that later in the program.  And I recommend that everyone listens as Nancy continues in the series, Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?
 
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I didn’t want to start this series by giving you a list of clothing items or articles and say, “You should wear these; you shouldn’t wear those.” That’s a dangerous thing to do. Now, there are some things that are pretty clear cut, and we’re going to talk about some of those.

But I thought it was so important that we lay a foundation of understanding. I find that a lot of Christian women today are just clueless. They really haven’t been trained; they haven’t been taught.

Let’s be careful not to be too hard and those who have not been trained, have not been discipled. That’s what we have church for. That’s why we have the Word of God and the Spirit of God and accountability and small groups. It’s to help each other grow in these areas.

Some women have really come out of backgrounds that are very much a part of the culture. They’ve never known any different way of thinking. Before we point fingers and criticize and judge in our hearts, let’s say, “What can I do to encourage this woman in her walk with the Lord.” Remember, modesty starts in the heart. It’s a heart issue before it’s a clothing issue.

Remember that, moms, when you’re trying to get your daughter to dress modestly, don’t start with the clothing issues. That’s a good way to alienate your kids. Some of you can remember when you were kids and how you were alienated however many years ago it was by maybe a parent who was thinking more about externals than about the heart. We’ll get more into that in another session.

But today we’re continuing to focus on the principle of creation—understanding how men and women are different. This lays a foundation for our thinking as women. Realize that men are wired differently than women—and God made them that way!

  • Men are affected more by what they see, by the visual.
  • Women are stimulated more by touch and relationship.

Anybody who’s married knows that this is true. But it’s not just true sexually, it’s even true in other matters of morality and dress and so on.

I think one of the most common thoughts that women have today when it comes to this matter of clothing is, “I can’t help it if guys struggle morally because of what I wear. It’s up to the guys to control their minds. I shouldn’t have to change the way I dress just because they can’t control themselves.”

I wonder if there’s any woman who at some point said or thought that when being challenged about the things that we wear. Sometimes this challenge to dress modestly just goes against the grain. It’s like, “Why should we have to make so many adjustments as women just because the guys can’t control their minds? Is this really my problem?”

We're talking about principles of modesty, and we talked in the last session about the importance of not ever putting a stumbling block, an occasion to fall, something that would perhaps lead someone else into sin.

We used the word picture that I got from Richard Baxter who was a pastor during the 1600s who said that "we as women need to walk in this world as if we were holding a candle walking into a room filled with straw or gunpowder."

We need to be so careful that we don't by our carelessness or our suggestiveness or anything about our appearance or our behavior, that we don't light a match to fuel fleshly or sinful lust on the part of men. And that this is part of our responsibility as women.

I tell you one of the reasons is that we are a family. In the Scripture, particularly in the New Testament, you see this concept of believers as being part of a family. We have relationships with one another, and we have to take care of each other and look after each other.

I'm thinking of the verse in 1 Timothy 5 that says, "Treat younger men like brothers, and older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in [all] purity" (verses 1-2, NIV). You see, in the family of God, we are a family. That means we have to take care of each other, to think in terms of others and not just ourselves.

So we come today to another principle or a set of principles that relate to this matter of modesty that affect the way that we dress. Let's just put it under the umbrella calling it: the principle of edification.

The principle of edification. To edify means “to build up, to encourage, to strengthen.” In the Scripture we're told that we have a responsibility in the family of God to build one another up, to help each other, not just to live for ourselves. Hebrews chapter 10 tells us in verse 24, "Let us consider [think about] how to stir up one another to love and good works."

When we as women go into our churches or to the workplace, you go into your school, do you go thinking, “ How can I encourage these men to be more godly?” I’m a candle walking into that room. I have a lot of power, a lot of influence. And if I use that candle in the wrong way, I may cause a fire. I may cause an explosion.

The principle of edification says, "I'm willing to live according to the law of love." What is the law of love? It says, "I have a commitment to do what is best for others rather than wanting to live my life selfishly, just doing what pleases me." Romans 13 tells us that "Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (verse 10).

You see, if you have rightly loved the men around you, the men in the Body of Christ, then you have fulfilled the law of God. The law of love says, "I don't want to defraud the men who are in my life, the men that God puts around me.

Now, what does it mean to defraud. That’s kind of an old-fashioned word that may not be familiar to everybody. It’s a word that means “to deceive, to lead someone on.” It means “to create an expectation that you cannot righteously fulfill; one who dresses in such a way that teases or tantalizes or tempts the men around her."

So as a woman dresses or walks or conducts herself in such a way that says, "I'm available; here's my body. Here's an invitation; come to my party," and then she says, "I don't really want you at my party. I didn't mean it. Oh, I don’t want to do that! I don't want to get sexually involved; I just wanted to dress in such a way that I was sending you an invitation." Then he says, "I'm accepting your invitation. I'm coming to your party."

She says, "Oh, no, no, that's not what I had in mind." You know what she just did. Sh.e defrauded that man. She created and expectation that she could not righteously fulfill Most Christian women I think don't realize when they're sending an invitation. They don't set out to defraud for the most part.

Now there are some women who do it intentionally and consciously, but I think most Christian women are kind of clueless when it comes to some of these things. We're just fitting in; we're just doing what everyone else does. We're doing what comes naturally and don't realize that we are defrauding.

You see, we are a part of a family, and we are responsible for those in our family who are weak. In many cases, that relates to the men. Now that doesn't make them stupid or foolish. It doesn't mean that we aren't weak; we're just weak in different areas as men and women.

Romans 15, verse 1 tells us: "We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves." Ladies, I don’t know how else to say it except to say, “If you’re in the family of God, if you’re a child of God, you have an obligation not to live for yourself.”

So in answer to the question, "Why should I have to change my clothing just because the guys around me can't handle it?" The answer to that is that we're family. We have an obligation to bear with the failings of weak and not to please ourselves.

So Romans 15 goes on, verse 2 "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." There's that word to edify him. "For even Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me'” (verse 3).

You see, some men in this world and some men even in our churches are wicked. They have wicked hearts, wicked intentions, and they will lust after women regardless of what you can do to prevent it. So in the case of those men, why would you want to help them sin? Why you would want to put further temptation in their path?

But then there's a whole other category of men. I think there are a lot of these men in our churches. Men who are not wicked men. They have a heart for God; they want to be godly men; they're not wicked. But as one writer says, "Your brethren in Christ may be weak." Just weak.

I think David is an illustration of that. The Scripture says "He was a man after God's own heart" (see Acts 13:22). He was a man who wanted to please the Lord. He didn't get up that morning and say, "I think I'm going to lust after a woman. I think I'm going to commit adultery. I think I'm going to kill this man so I can have his wife." He didn't have wicked intent initially, but he was weak. He was particularly weak in the presence of an undressed woman, and most men would be.

I read a powerful article; it's anonymous, by a man. The article was called “ The Sin of Bathsheba,” and let me read to you a portion of what he says in that article. He says,

Your brethren in Christ may be weak, and the devil does all he can do to weaken them further. They're forced to live in a world where they are continually bombarded with sights, which are designed by the enemy of their souls to weaken their morals and destroy their purity of heart, and must Christian women help the devil to do his work? Must they make themselves a temptation to their brethren, even in the congregation of God?

Oh that you women could understand the fierce and bitter conflict in the souls of your brethren when you arouse their desires by the careless display of your feminine beauty. Never again would you plead for your right to dress as you please.

The fact is you have no such right. You have no right to destroy by your careless dress, the brother for whom Christ died. “You were bought with a price and are not your own” (see 1 Corinthians 6:20).

You are duty bound to glorify God in your body, to clothe that body not as you will but as God wills, and a little love for the souls of your brethren would remove forever from your heart the desire to dress as you please.

So the question is:

  • Why don't we defer?
  • Why don't we limit our liberty for the sake of our Christian brothers?
  • Why aren't we more careful?
  • Why are we so bent on dressing in ways that the world knows are designed to attract attention sexually? Why?

Some of you may remember Keith Green, a Christian musician who was killed in an accident many years ago. His wife, Melody, has had a real ministry to women in this particular area. Let me read her answer to that question. She says,

Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians are lost in their own selfish little world, either oblivious or uncaring about the affect they have on others. They may even appear to have a real excitement and love for the Lord; however, their body is sending out a totally different message.

I know, because I have done it, partly in ignorance but mostly in rebellion. I can remember thinking, " Well, it's not my fault that they can't keep their eyes off me and on the Lord. They just aren't spiritual enough. Why should I have to change just because they are weak?"

The Lord showed me it was my fault. [Candle. Gunpowder.]

I was responsible for causing my brother to stumble, and it had to change. Once I really saw the damage my selfishness was doing to others and to the Lord, I was really ashamed of myself and embarrassed that I had been representing Jesus in such an unbecoming way.

As Jesus said to us in Luke chapter 17, verse 1, "It's inevitable that stumbling blocks should come [there's going to be women in this world who dress sensually], but woe to those through whom they come!" (NASB).

So the Scripture gives an example of a man in the Old Testament, Job, who said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes. How can I gaze at a virgin?” I’m going to guard my eyes. We think of that as being a verse for men, and it is, and it should be. They need to make a covenant with their eyes, to guard their eyes.

Could I suggest that women need to make a covenant, too? We need to make a covenant that by God’s grace we will never dress or conduct ourselves in a way that would cause men to be sexually stimulated by the sight of what they see in us.

Don’t think that you have to look like one of the models in Cosmopolitan magazine to be sexually stimulating to guys. In fact, in an upcoming session we’re going to talk about the specifics of things that many Christian women wear that are often sexually stimulating to men.

But before we even look at those, we just need to make a covenant. Would you just say, “God, by Your grace, I purpose in my heart, I covenant, that I will dress in a way that will not stimulate men to sin in their hearts"?  

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now, Lord, I just pray that You would give us a sense of the seriousness, of how important it is that we conduct ourselves and clothe ourselves in a way that will edify the men around us; that we live by the law of love and are willing to defer and unwilling to defraud; that we will accept the fact that we're responsible for weaker brothers.

Help us to be sensitive to the way that guys are wired and the way that they are different from us and to have a heart of compassion and selflessness and be willing to be as servants in the body of Christ, to limit our own liberty in order that we can help and bless and encourage the men around us who really do want to live holy, pure, and godly lives.

Help us to inspire them to do that rather than being women that when they come to our church, or they come into our office, or they come into our home they have to struggle and fight to stay pure. Help us to help them in that fight to succeed. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie Basham: Have you been putting any stumbling blocks in the way of your brothers in Christ?  Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us how important it is to ask ourselves this kind of question.

Ask yourself a few questions about your current clothing choices:  

  • What do my clothing and external appearance communicate about who I am and what I believe?
  • Which aspects of the world’s philosophy have I adopted? 
  • Do I need to make any changes in the way I think about my dress or appearance?  

Those three questions come from Nancy’s booklet, The Look. When you go tackle this Bible study, you’ll encounter questions like these. You’ll have time to pray about them, record your thoughts, and reflect on actions you need to take.  Studying The Look with Nancy could transform your view of modesty from the inside out.
 
When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll say thanks by sending The Look.  Just call us with your donation, 1-800-569-5959, and ask for The Look, or look for this offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When the True Woman conference convened in Chattanooga in March, Dannah Gresh spoke to the young women on the topic of modesty. Let’s get a taste of what they heard.

Dannah Gresh: One of the things I want to show you is called the Gestalt Theory. It’s a design theory that says that when we see something that’s not quite complete, the human brain stays focused on it longer, and it craves the completion of that picture.

For example, how many of you have ever laid down on the grass in your backyard with your BFF and you looked up at the clouds and you saw Bozo the Clown, or you saw “that totally looked like my Grandma.” Right? Because the human brain craves this completion of something. It wants to make sense of things. So designers use this a lot.

One of the things that’s very intriguing to the female brain because we compare ourselves to other female bodies, and then the male brain, because males are interested in female bodies, is this area of immodesty.

Now, imagine a girl in some teeny, tiny, skimpy clothes, and she’s showing off just a little bit of everything—just a little bit of everything. As she walks by down the hall, based on the Gestalt theory, what’s going to happen? They finish the picture, right?

Now how many of you think that the people who see that girl, they’re adding a little fabric, they’re finishing that fabric, they’re adding a little fabric to her dress? No. It’s not anything but science that we were created to wonder—like, it just works that way.

So I want you to take this area of immodesty very seriously because first of all, it’s missing the mark. God created the deepest secrets of your beauty for how many men? One. Just one guy. Though it might be cute, sometimes the more skimpy things and the really tight things create a level of interest and perhaps, arousal in the male brain; and interest in the female brain that probably you don’t . . . When you know about it, you really don’t want to do that—that’s gross.

Leslie: That’s Dannah Gresh. She’ll bring that message on modesty to the True Woman conferences coming to Fort Worth and Indianapolis later this year.

If you register now, you’ll get a discount during our spring sale! Get the details at ReviveOurHearts.com

As we've heard today, men and women are different when it comes to processing immodest images. Continue to get insight on this, tomorrow.

With a final thought, here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I can remember when we were growing up that it seemed like our family was always kind of different than everybody else. It wasn’t in a negative or a harsh or a restrictive way, but we were really a lot more conservative than most everyone else we knew.

Whenever we would start to express as kids that “everybody else seems to be doing" whatever. I don’t know if my parents said these exact words, but here’s the idea that we caught, “You’re not everybody else’s kids. You belong to the Lord.” And we came to see that as a privilege. That was a special calling, and to want to be different if that was what was required in order to influence our culture to think more biblically about every area of life.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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