Monday, February 28, 2011

Valentine's Candy or True Love?

Imagine you are a wife out on a shopping trip the afternoon before Valentine's Day. As you walk through the store, you notice your husband is at one of the cash registers. Surprised, you walk toward him, hoping to give him a hug, and surprise him with your presence also. But notice that he has purchased roses and Valentine's candy--undoubtedly for you. You don't want to spoil his surprise, so you jump into a side aisle to watch and wait for him to leave. As he nears the exit, a beautiful, but immodest (or scantily clad) woman enters and walks past him. You notice that your husband stops, turns, and gazes after her with a delighted, but lustful look in his eyes, before finally turning to leave the store with his "gift of love" in his hand for you.

You are stunned, disappointed, crestfallen, angry. How could you even begin to think of ever accepting his gift, his "offering of love" now? You know now that it is not a symbol of his undying love for you, but a mere offering to "earn points," and to keep you happy with him for another year. Whatever will you do now?

Now imagine that you are another wife at that same store who also sees her husband buying her a gift. He walks out on the heels of the first husband, and also passes by the scantily clad, but beautiful woman. He barely catches a glimpse of her out of the corner of his eye, before turning his eyes, and indeed, his whole body in the opposite direction in order to avoid seeing her.

You watch, and feel jubilant, loved, cherished. Your husband loved you enough to keep his eyes for you and you alone. You will adore him, and cherish the gift that he purchased for you, because you know it came from the heart, and that he loves you above all others.

Now...there are several applications to this story, and I will just mention three.

1. Most women would read this, and say hurray for the second husband! If only all men were like him! Indeed, if only all men were like him. If only every man would purpose in his heart to set no evil thing before his eyes (Ps. 101:3). What a difference that would make in marriages today! I know a young man who made a "covenant" with his eyes (based on Job 31:1--"I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?"). One day, my dad rode with him through a section of the city that was filled with billboards advertising night clubs--which of course had defrauding women on them. Dad watched the young man's eyes, and saw that they never strayed to the right or left but stayed focused on the road ahead. Since that day, God has blessed him richly in both his marriage and in his business.

2. How many of us come to church every Sunday to present our "candy and flowers" (tithes, offerings, attendance, etc.) to God, and then instantly turn around the next day and begin lusting after the things of the world? "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). How this must hurt our Savior, the Lover of our souls! And believe me, I do not preach this section to anyone but myself. For I far too often am guilty of this very thing. Too often do I push God to the side, thinking that I'm too busy to spend quality time with Him. Too often do I enjoy watching an old, funny movie more than I do reading the Word of God. Oh foolish me! "O wretched [girl] that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord...."
"O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Ps. 51:15-17). This is true love for God--not just symbolic candy! May we each be like an adoring bride, and have eyes and ears for only our Lord, our Maker, and our Husband (Isaiah 54:5)!

3. Ladies, dare we ever allow our dress to cause our brothers in Christ to stumble! Yes, they should guard their eyes, but why should they even have the reason to do so in the first place??? God, through His servant Paul, says in Romans 14:21, "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth or is offended, or is made weak." Yes, that verse has to do with food...but should it not also have to do with our actions as well? For Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Doesn't it make sense then, that we should dress for the glory of God, and in such a manner as to keep our brothers in Christ from stumbling?

Now, my dad has always told me that a man can lust after a woman even if she's dressed in a potato sack... And while that may or may not be true, there is still no reason for us to "flaunt" our bodies before them. When a woman wears a low cut blouse (it doesn't even have to necessarily show any cleavage, but even if it shows only a slight "dip"), a man's eyes will be instantly drawn there, and their minds will begin imagining what the rest looks like.

If a woman wears a skirt that is too short (and in my definition [and my husband's!], anything that is not at least 2 inches below the knee is too short), they will inevitably show more leg than they intend as they walk and move about their day. A man's eyes are instantly drawn to their legs, and they begin wondering how much more they can see. When a woman wears a shirt, or skirt/pants that are too form fitting (even if they're covered from head to toe in material!), if a man can see too much of an outline of their form, his eyes will be drawn to their body, and he will be able to imagine only too well what lies underneath.

Yes, this may make a man sound like he's sick...and he is! He is a sinner just like us of the opposite gender! But God made a man to be sight-oriented, and they are naturally aroused by the things they see. That is a wonderful thing when kept within the bounds of marriage. But outside of that, it can lead to temptation, fornication or adultery. And again, while they need to make a covenant with their eyes and God, we women need to do our part.

Every day I pray that God will blind my husband to defrauding women he might encounter in his day, as he goes about his job (and believe me, he sees a lot in his line of work!), and that the Lord will keep Donald's mind stayed on Him. Is it therefore any wonder that I might feel perturbed when I go to church and see a woman who is not dressed appropriately? I actually had to tell my husband recently to not look at a woman, because I felt that she was dressed immodestly, and I didn't want my husband to see her and then struggle with thoughts that he shouldn't be struggling with in the first place!

It is my job as a wife to try and shield my husband from those areas of temptation as much as possible. This is practice I began long before my marriage, and it started with my dad and brother. In fact, my brother once called me his "moral compass." Whenever we went out, I would tell him to look another direction if I saw a defrauding woman approaching. If we went to a restaurant, and an immodest woman sat at the table next to us, I would tell my brother and dad to sit on a side of the table where they couldn't see her. And yes, it is impossible to keep them from seeing every immodest woman that comes along, but I can try to help as much as possible! This practice has become a habit with me, and I continue it with my husband to this day.

While my husband is the most loyal and faithful man I have ever known, I also realize that he is still a man and a sinner--and no man is above struggling with sexual temptations. Therefore, I am exceedingly jealous over my husband. I want his eyes to be for me and for no other woman. I therefore keep a zealous watch, and strive to keep the most valuable thing he has ever given me: his heart. This is how I display true love to not only my husband, but to all my brothers in Christ. Because I love them as brothers, I do not want to ever give them "eye candy," thereby becoming a cause of stumbling to them!

So women, here is my plea: when you get dressed in the morning, pretend like Jesus is standing in the mirror with you (and I assure you He is!). Does He approve of what you are wearing? Ask your husband (or your father, brother, etc.) if he approves of your clothing--and specifically, if he were to see this outfit on another woman, what would it make him think? Because while some men don't think twice about what their wife wears (due to the fact that she is his wife, and it's okay for them to look at and think about her), if they were to see the same outfit on another woman, it would be a whole different matter in a lot of cases! Whenever I am unsure about an outfit, I always ask my husband what he thinks (and I used to do this with my dad and brother before marriage), and he is always happy to give me his honest opinion. Indeed, there have actually been a few outfits that he has asked me not to wear in public, and I try to honor those wishes, since the Bible says that my body belongs to my husband--and he also zealously guards it and wants to keep it for himself! (1 Cor. 7:4--"The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.")

Then, finally, if it is too low cut, too short, or too tight (form fitting, so that it shows every curve of your body), DON'T WEAR IT!

Also, if you are wearing a skirt, do be careful how you sit. All too often, my husband has told me (or I have seen for myself!) of a woman who was wearing a relatively long skirt, but did not sit correctly, and showed far more to the world than she ever wanted them to see! (Sometimes I think we women might be better off if we went back to the days of wearing bloomers under our dresses...) And I know that a lot of women have a "skirts only" belief. And I understand and appreciate that belief. But if the job calls for it (i.e., if you're going to be in a situation where it is difficult to remain modest in a skirt--such as gardening, horse back riding, skating, hiking, etc.), then please do wear pants. God can and will be honored by a decision (as long as the pants are modest that is--not too tight, low riding, etc.) made to cover what He meant to keep private. After all, He actually commanded the priests to wear pants under their long robes in order to keep their private areas covered as they went up the steps to the altar (Exodus 28:42)!

Ultimately, though, PRAY about your clothing, dress for the glory of God, and PLEASE purpose in your heart to shield your brothers in Christ from temptation by dressing modestly at all times.

Anyway...I have had those points impressed on my heart, and I just needed an outlet for them, otherwise I might have burst at the seams. :-P And this is what this blog is for (and if you don't like it, don't read it!). If you were offended by anything I said, then I am sorry, but I do not apologize for what I said, because these are my convictions, and I believe that they are God-given. A conviction is something that you are willing to die for--and I would die before I intentionally wore anything I knew to be immodest outside of my bedroom.

May God guide us in His path of Righteousness, keep a watch over our eyes, teach us to truly love Him and each other, help us to put aside things of this world by being in love with Him, and reveal His perfect and matchless will to all those who truly seek Him.


p.s., a disclaimer here... The story at the beginning was not completely mine. It was an embellished tale based on a true story I heard from my instructor at Faith Bible Institute. Also, all my references to what men think when they see certain types of clothing are not just things I made up--they are actual facts based on what my husband, father, brother, and other men have told me. Also, please don't think that I'm saying that we all need to start dressing like we're on Little House on the Prairie--because I'm not! There are plenty of ways to dress stylishly, without being immodest. I know many women who have mastered this art, and they are some of the most beautiful, pure women I know. Also, please do not ever dress in a certain way in order to attract a man. If they are attracted to you for your looks, then you don't want them!


Faith said...

Thank you so much Melody for your "ranting". The same things have been on my mind, which is why we are going to start a modesty blog (which I was going to ask you to contribute to).

Sophia said...

Well said, Melody. Because my husband has been my "clothing filter" for some time now, I can honestly say there is nothing in my closet that doesn't have his stamp of approval. When I get a new outfit he is the first to see it, and I always ask him "do you mind if other men look at your wife when she's wearing this?"

Sometimes the answer is yes, other times it's no (though I know his preferences well enough by now that there usually isn't a problem). Regardless, there is a confidence and security when I know that what I'm wearing has my husband's stamp of approval.

Modesty is such a big issue in the world today. I've known of so many young men lamenting that there are no 'safe' places to look (and how hard it is to carry on a conversation with an immodestly dressed woman, even if she's a christian sister at church). It is good when young ladies determine to be 'safe' places. :-)

Bridges family said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Melody. This was an encouragement.

Love kate

MelodyJoy said...

You're welcome, Kate! You and your sister, I must say, are two of the most modestly dressed and beautiful girls I know! Keep up the good work!

Chelsey Hall said...

Well said Melody. I wish more women would understand just how important modesty is, and while men are responsible for their own "lusts or desires", women contribute a HUGE role to that when we dress in a way that only helps to lead them in that direction!


Vickie Black said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you and wish everyone could read your blog on this. Well said!

Vickie Black said...

This is so true and well written. Hopefully many will see and read.