Beyond Blushing

Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Nancy Leigh DeMoss | 02.20.14
Twitter: @NancyDeMoss


Some time ago, a friend showed me a letter that a young man wrote to the editor of her Christian college newspaper:

"The other day I was going to the business office to take care of some financial matters and I could not believe some of the things I was seeing. The landscaping around campus looked exceptionally great. There were new dorms, new faces and unfortunately, scantily clad females were everywhere as well.

"This is . . . particularly hard for males because they are stimulated by sight. Now guys, we are not off the hook just because females are dressed inappropriately. We are called in 2 Timothy 2:22 to 'flee from youthful lust and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.' However, girls, help us brothers out. . . . Please consider your clothing and what the Bible says concerning the way you dress." 1

It seems that women today have not only forgotten how to blush, but they also do not recognize what should cause a blush. Men and women are created differently. Men are visually stimulated, while women respond more to touch. As one man put it, "What a man's touch is to a woman, the sight of a woman is to a man."

We may not understand why men are wired for sexual stimulation by sight, but remember, this is part of God’s plan, and He has declared it good—when it is used for His purposes. We have a responsibility not to cause men to stumble by dressing in a way that visually tempts a man to sin. This is a serious issue, if we desire to reflect God’s heart and be a blessing rather than a hindrance to the men around us.

Living life to God’s glory may require some tough choices, but they will be worth it.

A woman shared with me, "Five years ago I learned about my husband’s failures with his thought life, which led to an affair with a woman at work who dressed very sensually. My heart was broken."

Let me ask you: Who was responsible for this affair? Was this husband? Absolutely! Did the woman who dressed sensually have any responsibility? Absolutely!

Richard Baxter was a 17th century pastor who recognized, even back then, that women’s clothing could snare a man’s mind. He used a word picture that graphically illustrates how our choices as women affect the men around us:

"And though it be their sin and vanity that is the cause, it is nevertheless your sin to be the unnecessary occasion . . . You must not lay a stumbling-block in their way, nor blow up the fire of their lust . . . You must walk among sinful persons, as you would do with a candle among straw or gunpowder; or else you may see the flame which you did not foresee, when it is too late to quench it." 2

God calls us to walk in this world as "a candle among straw or gunpowder." A fire or explosion can be devastating, and it can injure and destroy many lives.

As Christian women, our clothing choices can either help men succeed morally or can put temptation in their path that they may find it difficult to overcome.

Melody Green, widow of gospel music legend Keith Green, described the mixed message many Christian women send through their clothing choices:

"Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians are lost in their own selfish little world—either oblivious or uncaring about the effect they have on others. They may even appear to have a real excitement and love for the Lord—however, their body is sending out a totally different message. I know, because . . . I have done it—partly in ignorance, but mostly in rebellion. I can remember thinking, "Well, it's not my fault if they can't keep their eyes off of me and on the Lord. They just aren't spiritual enough. Why should I have to change just because they are weak?"

"But the Lord showed me that it was my fault. I was responsible for causing my brother to stumble and it had to change. Once I really saw the damage my selfishness was doing to others and to the Lord, I was really ashamed of myself and embarrassed that I had been representing Jesus in such an unbecoming way."3

Ask yourself, "Am I helping or hindering men who desire to be morally pure?" "How can my dress and appearance bring glory to God and help my brothers stand?"

Remember that modesty is not first an issue of what we wear. It's essentially a heart issue. If our hearts are right with God—if we’re walking in purity and humility before Him—the fruit will be a modest external appearance.

Our culture shouts, "Be cool," "You only go around once," "Go for the gusto." But the Lord whispers, "You only have one life; live it for My glory."

What would it mean for you to dress for the glory of God? Would you need to make any changes?

Living life to God’s glory may require some tough choices, but they will be worth it. By seeking to please the Lord in the way you dress, you can encourage the men around you who want to live godly lives. As the college student said in his letter to the editor, we can "help our brothers out."

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read "What and What Not to Wear."

  1. Phillip (Freaky) Howle, Letters to the Editor: "Women's choice in dress leads men to stumble, " The Skyliner (North Greenville College, Tigerville, SC. September 4, 2002).
  2. Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory in Baxter's Practical Works Vol. I, (London: George Virtue; reprint ed., Ligonier, Pennsylvania: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1990), 392.
  3. Green, Melody; Uncovering The Truth About Modesty,

© Revive Our Hearts. Used with permission. Adapted from The Look: Does God Really Care What I Wear? By Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Topics: Relationships with Others


  1. Thank you for posting this article. It is such a good reminder. And it was interesting for me since I was just reading the chapter on men being visual in the book "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldhahn. I don't know if I'll ever really "get" how men are wired the way they are. We are different. Articles like this and the book I mentioned do help.

    Again thank you for sharing this and reminding me it is a heart issue and we can love others in many ways, including how we dress.
    posted by EmilyR
    on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 9:46 am
  2. Great post! I have three daughters, and although they each have their own sense of style, each has found tasteful ways of dressing modestly. It is a challenge to shop with this view in mind, but we have found success with stores (online and local) as well as resale shops.

    A video I saw recently is worth sharing here. It is of a group of college-aged men singing a song "Virtue Makes You Beautiful", substituting the words of a popular song with the great message of their perspective of modestly. Check it out here:
    posted by ET
    on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 11:05 am
  3. Love this Nancy. We all need to think about our "one life" in all arenas of our lives. Thanks and blessings.
    posted by Adrienne @ Whole New Mom
    on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm
  4. It's kinda funny that the pic for this topic displays a girl wearing those skin tight pants that every woman who has pants is wearing now. I would find it hard to concentrate if I were a man, as there is nearly nothing left to the imagination on the lower regions of a 'lady'. The leggings that young girls are wearing (or some call them yoga pants) make me cringe because even as a woman, my mind goes places I'd very much rather it not when I see this everywhere I go.

    Westerners are so much like Sodom and Gomorrah now, I can hardly see a difference between the two places.

    We need heaps of prayer, since even the ladies within my (very conservative bible preaching) church who teach the younger ones about modesty, wear those pants and layer their skin tight shirts thinking that just because cleavage isn't showing it's 'all good'. Wow, how did we fall so far so fast? 25ish years ago when leggings first became fashion forward, the girls then were considered scandalous if they didn't cover their bottoms with a shorty long back shirt. Now the shirts are hiked up just in case they happen to accidentally cover something. I would be a very desperate person were I a man trying to be righteous in this world. Especially since I find it hard as a straight, born again woman!
    posted by HeadHungInDismay
    on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:07 pm
  5. This article is offensive to the woman in me. Since when did it become my responsibility to control men's thoughts or actions. This whole article is part of one of many rape myths. Men can prevent their instincts to become aroused. By saying they can't is a disservice to them. It's offensive to both men and women that the presumption is that they have no free will. This article saddens me. I'll pray for you all.
    posted by Sara
    on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 10:40 pm
  6. Oh, Sara...please don't be offended by this article! The author, in my opinion, is not at all saying it is the woman's responsibility "to control another man's thoughts or actions." Rather, the article is encouraging women of God to examine their hearts and intentions in the way they dress. It encourages the biblical notion of being our "brother's keeper" in not dressing in a way that would cause another man (especially a brother in Christ) to stumble. The article even mentions a young man saying as such..."Now guys, we are not off the hook just because females are dressed inappropriately." Men certainly have their "responsibility", however, as a woman, this is the author's, who is a woman, "responsibility"--dressing modestly as to glorify the Lord. To me, it is a sweet, precious thing to see that other sisters in Christ are helping my husband and sons in the area of their thought lives.
    posted by Sherri
    on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 1:41 am
  7. Sara you are offended that we should not tempt anyone to sin? If you see something good as something bad you may need to re-evaluate where you are coming from. Please see this as said in a gentle, not condeming tone. The writers here aren'te asking nor sharing their own opinions, really, they are sharing God's word. Look into 2 Timothy 2:9 and then look further into God's word as to what HE defines as modest. Please don't look to yourself and what you 'feel' honors or offends your womanhood if you are a child of God, seek to honor and not offend HIM. The writers here are as aware of 'the old boys club' (vitim shamers) as they are the porn culture (the latest wave of feminists).

    I have never seen a writer here (who works for TW) write in the tone of a victim shamer. I hope that you will continue to read here and see the gentle God loving hearts that write from day to day and how, in a compeling and meek way, they show how they desire to seek Him and not the world's view on every subject in their lives.
    posted by Sister In Christ
    on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 3:12 pm
  8. This is absurd. I've gotten just as many comments from men on my body when I'm dressed in loose khakis and a polo shirt as I have dressed in a skirt and blouse. How do you dress to not cause men to look at you?
    posted by kk
    on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 11:29 am
  9. I agree only partly with "KK", and Sara. Man are visually stimulated, and for some, it doesn't matter what a woman wears. I think the bigger issue is our motives regarding what we're wearing and why we wear it. Lets face it women in the church and outside of the church likes attention. We need to ask the Lord to reveal to us our motives for what we do and why we do it. I believe, this will help all of us realize where we are in our work with the Lord.

    I also want to say we live in a society where pretty much anything goes now. I worked in an office 30years ago, and you could not get away with wearing what so many women, young and middle age are wearing now. Wearing leggings to work with a short top was out of the question. Now, no one says a word.

    At that time I use to look at how the women who were older than me dressed. I wanted a good example of what a mature woman wore. Now younger women don't even care. Its all about attention, no matter the cost.
    posted by Melinda
    on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm
  10. In helping our 5 daughters, we are focusing more on our responsibility before the Lord, rather than our responsibility before men. It became too heavy a burden for my girls to consider whether each and every item/outfit would be a problem to the men around them (we are talking about incredibly modest girls, not rebellious or wearing borderline items), and so I began to focus more on what is communicated by our dress regardless of who is around, and why we would want to be careful about any and all relationships around us. Our basic ideal #1 is to protect marriages around us, whether we are single or married, because this is a picture the Lord has given us of the church's relationship with Christ. And Ideal #2 is to protect our individual relationships with Christ, and give ourselves to Him unreservedly (living out that picture with our Lord). Modest attire, as well as modest demeanor, communicates a willingness to submit to the Lord's ideals, and to keep with is meant for one person saved for that one person, and not to invite others to know what is meant for only that one person. THIS is where our guidelines and principles come from. Protecting the ideals we are given in Scripture.
    **In that, immodest dress communicates a message that does not square with either of those ideals. Immodesty communicates a willingness to share more with those we are not committed to than is healthy. There IS a 2-sided issue here, regardless of where we see the line actually needing to be, and some need more help in balancing the ideals and actions than others (like our family).
    Communicating these ideals in a way that is balanced and winsome and true is not easy in this age where individual expression is so highly valued. Thank you, TrueWoman, for your repeated attempts to call us to reflect Truth well. It is nice to know we are not alone in our attempts- even if some see a need to word things differently. -a fellow Truth-seeker
    posted by DebiDew
    on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm
  11. I ended up here by accident, I am a husband and a father of a teenage girl and yes I am working on trying to teach her modesty. It seems that a lot of women are struggling with this concept. I remember my sister growing up had issues with it, even though we are 3rd generation Christians. The simple rule is the less "in your face shape and body skin is shown the more the outfit swings towards modesty" . The other issue that I would like to mention is how a women carries her body is the other critical component. Weather she caries her body as the carrier of the her assets ( her virtues ) or as her body the asset. Most men can spot that very quickly. The perverted mind can pervert anything that comes in but less skin and less curves results in less temptation for the faint heart. I do not think that women are responsible "not to tempt men" but it is a level of christian maturity, and duty for us as parents to teach our daughters what biblical modesty is. My kids when they were 2 and 3 did not mind running around naked around the house, on the contrary they thought it was fun, so modesty it seems to me is a direct result of the maturity. In the end there are not a lot of rewards for being a stumbling block that I have found in the bible.
    posted by Pfc
    on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 1:53 am
  12. I believe as older women we should gently be speaking to women( when appropriate) about their dress. I wouldn't speak to a teenager whose parents attend church. However we have women over 40, newly saved who are dressing immodestly. Those who are mentoring her believe they need to pray and ask the Lord to bring conviction. I believe if we love her with Christ's love we can take her to scripture to show her the truth because we DO love her. Please advise.
    posted by Lynne
    on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm
  13. @Lynne...Certainly training/instructing/reproving a fellow Christian woman can be an act of love. However the words must be spoken in love and with respect,cccc and all things considered. There are so many variables in your situation, that it would be best for your pastor's wife and/or elders' wives to be involved. First, you need to take into consideration, and respect, the wishes of those who are mentoring this woman. They desire to lead her into truth and not close the door by her being embarrassed. But, the Body is compromised when a woman is being a distraction and stumbling block. Perhaps one of the mature women in your fellowship could talk through the options with each group and come to a place of consensus how is the best way to handle this situation. I consider it a privilege to pray with you this night, asking God to give direction and hope. "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go" (Isa. 48:17). Blessings to you.
    posted by Sarah, with the TW Team
    on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 11:24 pm

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