Yes. And it’s not just a problem for males. Women have issues with it as well. But it is true that males are more visually spring-loaded to lust or to think unhelpful thoughts when they see a certain picture or person, so that’s where I’ll focus here. My concern today is that it seems like a lot of Christian women are oblivious to the fact that they have some measure of responsibility here. I say it carefully though, because I know that some women would turn the issue back on men as if it is their own problem. But I know that a sincere Christian woman would not have that attitude. A Christian woman would respond, “Really? I didn’t know. Please, tell me what the issue is here.” She wants to serve her brothers, and her brothers want to serve her. The brothers don’t want to put her under any artificial constraints and she wants to serve them. So there ought to be dialogue about this.
Necklines are an issue these days. Everywhere I turn at the airport and at church the necklines are plunging! Some fashion designers in the world are communicating to women today that the thing to do is have your neckline split extend too low. Women should dress in such a way that they draw men’s attention towards their eyes, their face, and not towards the other parts of their bodies. A woman can test herself in this arena by how she dresses her little girl. What kind of bathing suit do you put on your little two-year-old? Is it a cute little bikini? Or do you begin from the very start to teach this little girl that there is an appropriate way to dress? Are you preparing her so that by the time she is seven, eleven, or fifteen her whole mindset is, I dress appropriately, modestly, and not to entice or flaunt? One of the first words that my daughter Talitha learned was “appropriate.” She didn’t even know what the word meant at the time, but now it is built into her DNA as an eleven-year-old that she should dress in a way that is appropriate.
So I plead with the Christian women of the world that they take into consideration the things they are saying by what they’re wearing. Dress to please the Lord. And you can still dress beautifully. You don’t have to look stupid or out of style to be modest. I know this is the case because there are hundreds of very attractive women at our church who dress modestly and don’t cause men to stumble, and they don’t look out of style.
Why do I encourage women to draw a man’s gaze to their eyes? There is something about the face that makes it the most full and complete expression of a person (see Numbers 6:24-26). My hands only communicate a little bit about me, my shoulders don’t say much at all, and my belly tells you hardly anything! But my face says a lot about me, my eyes, my countenance, and my mouth. Having someone just stare at another part of my body would make me very uncomfortable. I’d say, “Look at my face! I’m a person!” But women are selling themselves because Madison Avenue has said, “Show your belly-button, your knees, your cleavage, etc.” And women, evidently, are wired to want men to notice their bodies. And that is what must be channelled in an appropriate way. Women should handle the desire to be noticed by preserving it for one man, whether he is present yet or not. They should also protect themselves (and other men) by not saying things that they don’t want to say. We are always saying things by what we wear.
By John Piper. © Desiring God.