Four Ways to Love Our Men

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I awoke yesterday to hear that Matt Lauer had been fired. Now, I knew he was extremely left-leaning and a typical reporter, but, as newscasters go, I did think he seemed like a nice guy.

As I tried to wrap my brain around the latest casualty of the sexual harassment and abuse accusations, I felt sad. There have been several over the past few months and, while not surprising, they are just…sad. I know as much about these guys and their accusers as I do about the peanut head bug (yes, a real insect) that lives in the Amazon Rainforest (i.e. nothing), so I have no idea what the truth really is and I will refrain from sharing any opinions on such tragic situations. But perhaps these accusations can raise a conversation that we Christian women should probably have.

Let’s think for a moment about men.

Men love sex.

Sure, there are exceptions, but as a rule, most men were created by God to love sex. As young men, they can hardly go a few minutes without thinking about it. This obsession might diminish slightly as they grow older but their love for it remains. Men love sex.

And Hollywood and marketers use this love for sex to achieve ratings and sales. Anywhere you turn, sex is being sold. It doesn’t matter if it’s a war movie or a commercial for deodorant, sex is often what’s for sale. It is appalling.

On our TV screens, fornication and naked bodies abound. Crude and dirty jokes are the norm. And many–even Christians– just watch, with nary a thought to turn it off. Radios croon out lyrics encouraging premarital sex, cheating, and all other varieties of sexual sins and it is justified by the excuse that it’s only the tune they like–they are not listening to the words. (Impossible, by the way, since your subconscious mind hears everything.)

The internet is loaded with pornography that is hard to escape. Even a simple search on a site we consider safe will sometimes bring naked images to our screen.

And this push to sell sex has reached us in personal ways we never imagined. Co-workers show cleavage, church ladies wear short skirts. Even at homecoming dances, our teenagers wear the latest styles that leave little to the imagination–torturous for the young men accompanying them.

Men cannot escape the constant battle and efforts of this culture to remove the purity of their minds. There is nowhere they can turn. Even in church this battle is fought, as even the sanctuary is no longer a sacred place where a man can get away from women who are dressed immodestly.

I think we can see that Satan has hijacked sex. Literally. He has mangled and destroyed it, warped it and corrupted it until it has become something Christians don’t even want to talk about. But sex is a beautiful gift from God the Father. He designed it specifically for a married couple. And when used in this way God is not only pleased but He is also glorified.

And so we can see that there are two utterly opposing views–the world’s view of sex and God’s view of sex. And Christian men are often caught in the cross-hairs of these two viewpoints–knowing the view they should have, but constantly being pulled to the world’s side of things wherever they go.

So while a man is absolutely and completely responsible for his own sexual purity, I do want to raise the conversation that there are four things we women can do to help our Christian brothers as they fight this tough battle of purity in their own lives–

1. As girls and women, we can dress modestly. As parents, we can require our daughters to do the same, explaining that this is a way we can show Christian love to the boys and men around us. We can make sure that we and our daughters are clothed in such a way that it doesn’t lead a man to think sexual thoughts.

2. As moms, we must keep our young and teen-aged boys away from sexually impure entertainment and work hard to protect them from online pornography. We can and should help our husbands in this area as much as we are able to, as well. This may well be one of the most challenging and important jobs we will ever take on.

3. As women who love the men in our lives, we can pray for them. Pray hard, that God would protect them as they walk through a world that is obsessed with sex at almost every turn.

4. And as wives, we must be sure to love our husbands in all ways, including in the bedroom. God designed sex to be beautiful and wonderful in its biblical context. If our husbands don’t feel loved in this way we leave them open to temptation.

 

Life is often ugly and messy. This is one of those things we don’t even like to talk about. But sometimes things just need to be said. Again–let me be clear–men are 100% responsible for their thoughts and actions. They will be accountable to God for what they think and what they do. But I hope, as Christian women, we can come alongside our Christian brothers in love and support as they fight to stay pure in a culture fixated on sex.

 

 

It’s About Love

Modesty

I had an interesting conversation with my kids the other day.

“Your shirt’s a little low there, Mom,” said a daughter.

I self-consciously pulled it up and mumbled, “I know. This stupid shirt…”

Upon which my son said, “no worries, Mom, no one is looking at you, anyway.”

Uhhh, thanks.

But, hey, while it was a little hard on my ego, I also realized that it’s mostly true.

So why should I worry about modesty as an older woman?

Perhaps we should first answer the question of why all women–whether young or old–should worry about modesty at all?

I think there is a really good reason that God tells us to be modest (I Timothy 2:9). Let’s look at why that might be–

When most men get a glimpse of a breast or see thighs and bottom barely covered or covered by skin-tight pants, they are sexually aroused. This is how God created them.

I don’t know why He created them like this. I just know that He did.

Not only is this the way they were created, but then we read in Matthew 5:27-29 that to lust sexually is counted the same as committing adultery. We also know from the context of the passage that both of these things are considered serious sins. So this natural tendency that men have is something they must fight every day.

And over the past 50 years or so, this battle in their minds has become almost minute-by-minute combat which they can’t escape, often even in our churches!

We also know that God tells us in His Word that we are to love others (Matthew 22:39). If I would ask you what loving someone looks like, you would probably mention doing something special for them or being nice to them. And this is a part of love, for sure. But let’s leave the status quo definition of love behind for a moment.

Couldn’t we women also show love by keeping ourselves properly covered? Dressing modestly is truly an act of genuine love, encouragement, and protection for all men who see us, especially for our Christian brothers in the Lord.

For some reason I have not quite ever been able to understand, we Christian women have just seemed to completely forgotten that God calls us to modesty and that He does so for a reason– to protect us and to protect the hearts and minds of the men around us.

Our love for God and our obedience to His Word should be an even more important reason for us to obey Him in this area. And here is what I have found out– what we wear is just the first step in demonstrating modesty. The true heart of modesty is humility and grace. Think of it like this– when we dress immodestly we draw attention to ourselves. When we dress (and act) modestly, we are much more likely to draw people’s eyes towards Jesus instead of distracting them with our outward appearance.

Perhaps it is not you who dresses immodestly but you have allowed your daughter to dress in such a way. I never cease to be amazed at what Christian parents allow their daughters to wear. Parents who I know genuinely love the Lord and have a wonderful testimony, otherwise.

Inevitably, when you have this modesty question, some woman will loftily announce that she can’t be held responsible for a man’s mind and where it goes.

Yes, that is true. He has a responsibility to turn his eyes away. But how loving and kind it is to dress in such a way that men do not have to do that when they look at us!

So back to the original question– what if no one is looking at me, anyway? What does it really matter if my shirt is too low or my skirt too short?

This is a pretty relevant question, because as women head into mid-life, they sometimes grow a little panicky in all the life changes. And in a reaction to that panic can sometimes dress in ways that are slightly more immodest or not age appropriate. And, honestly, I can understand why. This time of a life is a really strange place to land as a woman, and everything feels topsy-turvy. But we still need to dress modestly.

Let’s go to Titus 2:3-5 to find out why–

the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

It would seem pretty clear from these verses that we have an obligation to dress modestly for the sake of the younger women around us. We need to be the example they are to follow. That is our responsibility as we grow older. We never get to stop caring. We always need to be intentional about what we wear.

Now, I admit dressing modestly can be extremely difficult for all of us women–whatever our age–for a number of reasons–

1) We won’t fit in with those around us. A really good example of this is if you are a young woman on the beach. If you aren’t wearing a bikini, you almost stand out like a sore thumb. You don’t quite fit in with the crowd. Which is actually exactly what we are supposed to do — not look like the world– but it can be a bit uncomfortable and we have to be willing to part from the crowd. And that is never fun.

2) We can’t find modest clothes to buy. I have found this one to be especially challenging. It seems that fashion has dictated that cleavage is in and modesty is out. It is downright difficult to find a shirt that doesn’t slink its way down in the course of the day or give a full view if you bend over. And let’s be honest– most of us don’t want to live in polos or turtlenecks. But should we be sacrificing our modesty for that cute shirt? I am especially challenged as I write this, because I am ashamed to admit that I have made some exceptions for some “cute” shirts.

Is there ever a reason that we can in good conscience be immodest? Like is it okay on your wedding day? Or at a beach where no one knows you?

Answer this question: Are there men there?

If there are men there, then the answer is always no. There is, however, one glorious exception– we can be as immodest as we want with our own husbands! No modesty is necessary in the bedroom!

This has got to be one of the most confusing times there has ever been to live out our Christianity. We are told conflicting opinions about almost every topic. Modesty is no exception. But let’s stop listening to the placating excuses for why we can dress the way we want and let’s start turning our eyes to God’s Word, where we not only find the clear command that we need to be modest, but also find out why.

If you are in the habit of wearing low shirts, short skirts and shorts, tight yoga pants, or immodest swimwear, may I challenge you to do your own study of God’s Word in this area of modesty? Let’s stop following the crowd and drawing attention to ourselves and, instead, turn our focus towards pleasing God in this area of our lives.

 

Are You Pregnant?

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Sometimes this American culture that we find ourselves in feels just a bit surreal to me. Yes, we are in a culture where celebrities gyrate in obscene ways on our TV screens and the general population, which includes more than a few Christians, feels comfortable watching it. Yes, we are in a culture where our college kids are thrown together into co-ed dorms to romp and play for four years (of course, I know there are moral kids in  co-ed dorms who do not do this but just the fact that it is allowed is just so wrong). Yes, we are in a culture where college professors hold seminars on sexual activities I wouldn’t even dare write about here. And yes, we are in a culture that praises–maybe even worships–sexual freedom and touts abortion as the answer to any unwanted consequences of that freedom. The whole thing makes me just a little sick to my stomach.

How can this be?

But it is. So what now?  How do we respond to this crazy, sexually saturated culture?

Well, for starters, we have to be different. And if we are, we will definitely be noticed, and oftentimes, not even believed.

I was reminded of this, once again, when I went to the doctor with one of my daughters. The doctor came in and asked all of the proverbial questions. Do you smoke? No. Do you drink? No Do you use illicit drugs? No. Are you pregnant? No.

Are you sure? Have you been tested?

My daughter looked at her, speechless, and then looked at me. I piped up. NO, she hasn’t had sex. She can’t be pregnant.

The doctor then stated very matter-of-factly that many young girls lie about this in front of their parents, which I am sure is very true. This type of conversation was not new to me. I have had it before with doctors and I am sure I will have it again.

“No, I am not interested in Gardisil for my daughter because she is not sexually active.”

“Well, I know that is what you would like to believe, but…”

“Actually, I trust her.”

Usually after this conversation–and I’ve had this same conversation with the same doctor three times–the doctor (whom we like very much) kind of sighs and moves on to the next topic. I know that he does not have the same faith in my daughters that I have. But then, he also does not have the same faith in the one and only true God that my daughters and I have, either. Of course he is skeptical.

Now, I know how easy it is for kids to make mistakes in this area of sex and it does happen. And if it would happen to one of my kids, I would continue to love and support them, anyway. But I also know that my kids have committed to remain pure before marriage. But if you say this to any health professional they look at you like you (and your kids) have two heads and then treat you as if you just lied to them. My kids also experience this in the work world. I am sure your young people have had the same experiences if they have stood for what is right in this area. Many are the Christian boys and girls who are ridiculed because they have chosen to wait to have sex until they are married, while their peers share their “fascinating” sexual experiences with one another.

Can I just go on record saying it is possible to wait for sex until you are married? I know because I have done it. I don’t say this in a self-righteous kind of way but in a To God Be the Glory kind of way. And, yes, I stayed pure 25 years ago but there are many who follow through on this commitment in this present, treacherous age–young people who love the Lord and each other more than they love themselves.

I would also like to go on record saying that I have never, ever been sorry for waiting. I have only one body to give and I have always been very thankful that I waited to give that body to the love of my life, my husband.

Why do we treat teenagers and twenty-somethings like they have impulses they cannot control? I just don’t get it. But I digress.

I can’t help but wonder if those boys and girls who stand against the strong tide of sexual impurity aren’t admired and envied for their perseverance? Oh, it will rarely be said, but deep down inside there are many who can only wish they had waited, while they pick up the broken pieces of their hearts and lives.

The point–the whole point– is that, as believers, we are called to be holy, which in its very essence, makes us very different from those around us. And this particular topic–the biblical view of sex– goes against the flow in this current culture big-time. As believers, we should stand for godly marriage, waiting for sex until marriage, modest dress, and sexual purity in the movies we watch, the books we read, and the music we listen to.

And while we work to remain pure ourselves, we need to encourage others on towards purity and continue to love even when there are mistakes. We won’t make any difference in the world at all if we stay in our own little worlds pointing fingers at everyone. This world needs to hear that the life God calls us to as believers is about love and grace and holiness and blessing.

This culture is absolutely sex-crazy. Unless you move to a remote cabin in the woods somewhere, you can’t escape it. It is a strange land we find ourselves in. But we need to keep our eyes on the Lord and show that there is a different–a better–way to live. We need to show that not only is it possible to be sexually pure, but it is a blessing! We don’t have to be like the world. In fact, it is quite imperative that we are not like the world. And when we stand strong in this area of sexual purity, we will shine like a brilliant lighthouse in the midst of a very stormy sea.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom: Questions to Ask Your Mirror

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I remember hearing a really great series by Nancy Leigh DeMoss on the controversial topic of modesty. I thought this may be a good time of year to remind us women what modesty means and so I headed over to Revive Our Hearts to see if there was anything written regarding this subject.

I’ve always thought I hold a pretty high standard, but as I read this article, I was challenged to remove some items of clothing occupying space in my closet. I hope that you have a heart yielded to God and His will as you read this helpful article, just in time for our summer wardrobes–

There’s no question about it. The decision to live your life for God’s glory will require some tough choices. It will probably take more time to shop, and your clothing may actually cost a little more.

You may not look as cool or “in” as you would like, and sometimes you just might have to stand out in a crowd as someone who is different. But remember, you are different. You have a different citizenship, and you were bought with a costly price!

As you evaluate your wardrobe, you’ll need courage to ask specific, practical questions, like these:

  • Is there writing (or pictures) on my clothing that emphasizes private parts of my body?
  • If someone were to look at me, where would their eyes naturally go—to my face, eyes, hips, thighs, breasts, etc.? Where do I want men looking when I come into view?
  • Is the fabric that I’m wearing too sheer? Could someone see through it to private parts of my body?
  • Am I wearing tight, form-fitting clothes? (A well-known designer once said, “Your clothing should be tight enough to show that you’re a woman, but loose enough to show that you’re a lady!”)
  • Do my pants fit correctly? Are they too tight? Do they cling to the hips, thighs, etc.?
  • Am I wearing anything provocative? (Today, underwear has become outerwear—often designed to be provocative. To expose undergarments is to tease men.)

As you examine individual items in your wardrobe, stand in front of a mirror. Bend forward and ask yourself, “Can I see private parts that a man (other than your husband, if you’re married) shouldn’t see?” If the answer is “yes,” you are dressed immodestly.

Look from all angles— front, back, and sides—while walking, sitting, moving, stretching, and bending. Remember, we often bend over to pick up packages or children, or to get into and out of a car. Ask yourself, “What will others notice and see? Where will others’ attention be drawn—towards breasts, hips, thighs, etc.? Why do I want to wear this outfit? Why do I like this style?”

Your heart attitude is key here. Ask the Lord to help you represent Him well. Ask for a teachable, open, obedient heart. If you’re married, ask your husband to help you understand what your clothes and appearance communicate to men. Ask him if your clothing is modest. If you’re not married, ask your father or an older woman these same questions. 

Modesty Resolutions

Prayerfully consider, “Am I truly modest—according to God’s standard?” Then determine to be a woman after God’s own heart. Do you desire for your appearance to reveal a modest, godly heart?

If so, here are seven choices I challenge you to make:

  • Resolve to live to please God and to bring Him glory.
  • Yield (dedicate) your body to God. Say, “Lord, this body belongs to You.”
  • Resolve to be modest because that’s what pleases God.
  • Resolve to be pure (inwardly and outwardly).
  • Resolve never to dress in a way that could tempt men to have lustful thoughts.
  • Be willing to stand against the culture, whenever the culture is contrary to the Word and ways of God.
  • Be humble and open to the input of others.

Remember that it’s possible to have a modest outward appearance while having the heart of a Pharisee (critical, self-righteous, and judgmental towards those who do not see things the way you do). Modesty doesn’t mean that you have the corner on truth. Give God room and time to work in the lives of other people—don’t say, “Because I see it that way, that’s how it should be.” Remember, you’re not the Holy Spirit! Ask God to help you  communicate modesty to others in a winsome way. Speak truth with a tender heart, compassion, and love.

Make the truth as attractive as possible.

-This article was written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and can be found here, along with many other good articles.