Are Christians Allowed to Be Sexy?
Even as Christian women, with our worth rooted in Christ, we still struggle with beauty to some extent. I see it in my mirror, and I see it when I walk into churches, when I talk to youth groups, and when I scroll through online feeds of sexy selfies. We've probably found ourselves leaning to either extreme; sometimes, we fear our beauty, and other times, we feel like we'll never measure up.
"Be careful" was the first message I heard from the church about beauty. Being careful meant dressing modestly and hearing constant reminders of the sexual nature of the male mind. I didn't particularly understand the appeal of following rules, and I enjoyed attention, so I threw off the modesty rules and dressed in a way that caused men to notice me.
Even though I grew up in church, I didn't truly believe in Jesus until college. After my decision to follow him, my mind soon thought about what meant for my wardrobe, ridiculous as that may sound. I had read Every Man's Battle, a book about men's obsessive sexual thoughts, and it left me with a great deal of fear and a disconcerting desire for a new wardrobe.
I was told that being a Christian woman meant protecting men's minds by the way that I dressed. That's what Jesus wanted. So I lugged a trash bag full of short skirts, dresses, cropped shirts, and tube tops out to the dumpster—determined to dress modestly and respect my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Take up your cross and follow, right?
I replaced my midriff baring shirts with hoodies. I moved to China to share the gospel, where I stopped wearing makeup and didn't care much about my style. But like many Christian women, I found that dressing modestly wasn't the answer to all my problems. It didn't stop me from "causing" men to lust or stumble. (So said the people who once again reminded me to "be careful" about how I dressed). And this forced modesty didn't make me feel any better about myself.
I didn't feel beautiful or confident wearing loose T-shirts and gaining weight. Covering up made me feel worthless, just as trying to dress "sexy" had made me feel unworthy. Both approaches establish our view of ourselves and our bodies according to a man's response, rather than allowing us to recognize our inherent value and beauty as women of God.
Whether we see our body as a beautiful object that men desire or one that is dirty and needs to be covered up—we're still living in fear. And fear is contrary to the gospel.
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