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Friday, January 29, 2016

Ladies, Please . . .

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.


I 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 almost forgot I was supposed to say, “The Body of Christ” as she held out her hands to receive.  

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.


Anonymous said...

I have to say Rich, there are many women who suffer the same fate. I don't know how many times I've sat in a pew in front of a handsome minister and melted, mind wondering all over the place. Not due to him being dressed seductively, I feel most women are attracted to a certain quality in a man's personality, a handsome man can be dressed from head to toe and we'll feel attraction. I think for women and men alike, it's an on-going battle with the flesh. And,I will be the first woman here to say that I so agree...that you men have to be in a constant battle because there are so many women who dress to seduce. They say they dress for themselves but I don't believe it. Not for one minute.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Glad you posted this. I wish it would be put in every bulletin several times a year! As a woman, I want to be accepted for my mind and heart, not because of how I look.

Rich Maffeo said...

Published in bulletins several times a year? From your mouth to God's ears.

Rich Maffeo said...

Hello, Anonymous. I think we are talking about two totally different things when I talk about seductive dress. What you describe regarding a minister who simply was good looking/attractive -- but not, as you said, dressed to seduce. That is quite another thing from women who ARE dressed seductively and (I must wonder) why they are dressed to seduce.

My only plea is for our sisters in Christ to dress modestly. Everyone wants to be attractive, but one does not have to dress like a street-walker to be attractive. I have seen LOTS of attractive women both in the workplace and in the pews who dress professionally, but quite modestly.


Javier said...

This english is dificult.

Rich Maffeo said...

Hello, Javier. It might be difficult but I praise you for trying to learn the language!

Javier said...

Thank you!
Sí, es importante que las mujeres vistan bien, porque los ojos son muy traidores. Un truco es invocar a San Agustín, como el tenía problemas con la pureza es muy solidario.
Aquí te dejo una concordancia bíblica en la que pensé ayer cuando leía las lecturas de la misa:
The psalm said about the Christ:
"...You are the most handsome of men;
fair speech has GRACED your lips,
for God has blessed you forever..." Psalm 45, 3
And the gospel said about Jesus:
"...And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the GRACIOUS words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?..." Luke 4,22

Rich Maffeo said...