Encouraging Immodesty Is Not Empowerment

Actor Tony Goldwyn (C) and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (R)
Actor Tony Goldwyn (C) and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (R) (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Days ago, our Nashville female mayor, Megan Barry, resigned in disgrace over involvement in a sexual scandal. Two years of adultery, felony theft and reported provocative images sent via texts brought the liberal, pro-abortion and LGBTQ advocate down.

The progressive "almost anything goes" philosophy ravaged her career, yet some affirm her behavior as "empowerment."

Twenty-three-year-old Aly Raisman, three-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the 160 victims in the infamous Larry Nassar case, posed undressed in the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She boldly declared her actions as representing "female empowerment." She brazenly told the press, "Women do not have to be modest to be respected."

Scores of young girls look up to Aly. Previously she stated, "Just to be clear ... Just because a woman does a very sexy photo shoot or wears a sexy outfit does not give a man the right to shame or not believe her when she comes forward about sexual abuse. When a woman dresses sexy it does not give a man the right to sexually abuse her ever ... I encourage you all to wear what you feel good in!"

Hunger Games celebrity Jennifer Lawrence said she felt "empowered" in doing graphic scenes in her new movie Red Sparrow. Scores of daughters and granddaughters who idolize her hear this message.

Contrast this with recent developments where cosmetic and clothing firms are shifting to more modesty to curb objectifying women as well as depicting unreality regarding shapes and sizes. Alexander Wang's latest campaign has removed models, altogether calling this more "empowerment."

Who's calling it correctly? Are highly sensual and provocative texts, ads  and photo shots empowerment, or is there "something rotten in Denmark?"

Return to Reason and God's Word

Scripture clearly reveals the direction Jesus gave us to never ""look on a woman to lust after her" (Matt.5:28) and Ps. 101:3 tells us, "I will set no wicked thing before my eyes."  What follows are six guidelines pertinent to women but having application for men as well.

  • We are to "Present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is [our] reasonable service of worship ... [and] "not be conformed to this world [pop culture] but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s]" (Rom. 12:1-2a).

We should look sharp, not seductive. We can dress cool without appearing cheap. Let's draw attention to our countenance and eyes (which Jesus said are the "lamp of the body," as opposed to body parts and flesh that often show where a person's heart and focus really are). Let's not rationalize either ("I get a better tan line, and guys shouldn't be looking anyway").

  • We know that we should never wear clothing that draws lustful looks, causing others to "stumble" into sin (see Matt. 18:6) or commit adultery in their heart by fantasizing after viewing us dressed provocatively or immodestly (Matt. 5:28), as in wearing a swimsuit akin to walking around in revealing underwear. Let's get real: Is some beach attire a bathing suit, or almost a birthday suit? We must not allow ourselves to become desensitized to the message of modesty today.
  • Modesty is a positive principle emphasizing inner beauty and character over outward vanity and cheapness. "I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly" (1 Tim. 2:9a, NASB). Sprayed-on leggings or see-through, bra-less blouses don't get a thumbs-up here.

"Proper": suitable, appropriate, conforming to an acceptable standard, decent

"Modest": having a regard for decencies of behavior or dress, not displaying one's body

"Discreet": lacking ostentation (showiness); showing good judgment

  •  In the Garden of Eden, before sin entered into the world, the man and his wife were both naked (the Hebrew word speaks of partial covering, covered by God's glory) (see Gen 2:25); after they sinned, the effect was shame, so they covered up (Gen. 3:7). " the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty" (1 Cor. 12:23b, NIV). This is why we naturally feel self-conscious about body parts revealed; we fold arms under breasts, clasp hands in front of our lower anatomy when standing before a group.
  •  No matter how alluring and supposedly happy certain divas, models and Hollywood superstars appear, don't be fooled. God tells us: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but the woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised" (Prov. 31:30, MEV). Behind closed doors, many of these "picture-perfect" (and computer-enhanced, surgically altered) people are, in reality, lonely, jaded and empty. They flit from romance to romance and therapist to therapist; "on the outside they appear beautiful but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" (Matt. 23:27, NASB). Pray for them!
  •  We are "called to be free. But do not use [our] freedom to indulge the flesh [our sinful nature]; rather, serve one another humbly in love" (Gal. 5:13, NIV). In other words, we have the privilege and the ability to defer to rather than defraud the opposite sex through sensuality.

"Defer": limiting my freedom in order not to offend those God allows me to serve (see Rom. 14:21)  

"Defraud": arousing sexual desires in another person that cannot be righteously satisfied" (see I Thess.4:6)

"Sensuality": planned appeal to the physical senses for physical gratification (see 1 Pet. 2:11)

Let's ask: "Who dictates my wardrobe—worldly magazines, movies and models, or the Word of God, which calls me to be (as a woman): 1. Feminine 2. Modest 3. Appropriate

Here's the deal: When there is a question raised (by yourself, a parent or a faithful friend) concerning an article of clothing, length of a skirt, level of a neckline, tightness of jeans, message on a shirt, follow the following:

  • Doubt—do without (Rom. 14:13).
  • "Flee from youthful lusts" (2 Tim. 2:22a, NASB).
  • "Honor your father and your mother" (Eph. 6:2a, MEV).

Let's help our young women learn to discern the deception of pop culture advocating "empowerment." Remember, modest attire starts in the heart, not a dress code, and focus on the abundant life Jesus promised.

Larry Tomczak author of 10 books, is a cultural commentator of 46 yrs, Intercessors for America board member, best-selling author and a public policy adviser with Liberty Counsel. His new, innovative video/book, BULLSEYE, develops informed influencers in 30 days (see www.bullseyechallenge.com). and he has a variety of resources on his website (see www.larrytomczak.com). You can also hear his weekly podcast here.

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