I wrote this several years ago when my wife and I regularly attended Protestant worship services. I revised it only a little after we began attending Catholic Mass. I feel I ought to reprise it once again.
serve as an Extraordinary
Minister of Holy Communion in our parish. One Sunday as men and women approached to receive the
Body of Christ, I did an involuntary double-take when a young woman
stepped up to receive. She wore skin-tight flesh-colored leotards
and a see-through blouse that looked remarkably like a negligee. I
forgot I was supposed to say, “The Body of Christ” as she held out her
Unfortunately, she is not the only woman seductively dressed in our
church. It seems the norm rather than the exception to see women wearing
form-fitting slacks, or jeans, or blouses which leave very little to the imagination.
It’s not something Christian guys
usually talk about. We aren’t supposed to have these thoughts. But when I
approached a friend from church, his answer encouraged me to poll
another friend. Then another. Then another. Age doesn’t seem to matter.
It’s the same for all of us – teens, college age and older. Even much
older. Everyone I spoke with grapples with the same temptation common
among many Christian men.
I don’t know much about women’s
struggles with their sexual nature, but I sure know about men's
conflicts. Society bombards us with sexual images. Billboards, photos in
weekly news magazines . . . even some lingerie advertisements in local
newspapers can rival centerfolds in earlier era Playboy magazines. Short
hemlines can fuel a man’s imagination to full throttle. Tight clothes
that accentuate every nuance and curve can drive us to distraction.
Plunging necklines and unfastened blouse buttons – ladies, let me be
completely honest. We need your help.
At work, at play, even at church – most
Christian guys wage nearly constant battle with their thought-life.
Sometimes we win the skirmishes. Sometimes the battles rage so fiercely
we not only lose, but we feel wounded even after bringing our sin to the confessional.
Yes, we understand the desire to look
attractive. Who does not care about personal appearance? The
multi-billion dollar weight-loss, clothing, and grooming industries give
evidence of that basic need in each of us. However, when our Christian
sisters adopt the world’s definition of attractiveness they often
become, instead, seductive.
We don’t deny responsibility for our own
sins. We don’t rationalize God’s commandment to take “every thought
captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). But we do ask you, please be considerate of our conflicts and, in Christian love, don’t add to our sensory overload.
St. Paul said he would never again eat
meat or drink wine, if doing so would cause a weaker brother to stumble
(Romans 14:1-23). “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food”
(verse 20). I don’t think it misses the Holy Spirit’s intent to add, “or
for the sake of fashion.”
Ladies, when it comes to sexual thoughts
and lust, we are indeed your weaker brothers. So we plead – be
beautiful. Be graceful. But also seek God’s view of beauty and grace.
And seek, too, Biblical standards as to how to dress in public.
We will be very grateful for your loving response.