The TRUTH About What Guys Think (And Feel) When You Dress Sexy For Church

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Plus: Should women be held responsible for their impure thoughts?

When the church I attend in Southern California finally saved up enough money to buy their own building, their biggest decision to make was whether or not the folding chairs everyone would sit on during services should have a massive open gap in the back. 

This decision was important because purity was at stake.

"Purity?" you ask. Indeed.

You see, this particular Orange County church was jam-packed every Sunday with young and tan, attractive twentysomething women often sporting hip-hugger jeans.


As all who wear them know, hip-hugger jeans are both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because they are more attractive than the high-waisted Bongo jeans we were all subjected to in the early '90s.

Low-waisted jeans are also a curse. They result in precarious situations whereby our unmentionables (i.e. thong underwear) tend to creep above the back waistline when sitting.
 

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These unlawful appearances of attractive thong displays happened rather frequently during church services, and they did not go unnoticed by the young, twentysomething men who attended each Sunday.


In fact, men complained about how distracting it was to be in church trying to focus on God while attractive women's sexy underwear was visible.

Our pastor heard their cry and instated a mandatory "Thong Test" on all folding chairs that were brought into our new building. Chairs with long enough backs to prevent the attraction were allowed to stay. The chairs that failed the thong test were discarded.

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However, even after every chair had been perfectly selected, girls would come to church wearing tube tops and denim mini-skirts.


All of their exposed female flesh, men complained that their thoughts were still drifting in lustful and unholy directions.

Our pastor took a more direct approach. This time, he addressed all the women from the pulpit. He asked that they would please, please be more modest and consider putting on more clothes before coming to church.
 

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Over the decades, the majority of Christian women feel that asking us to shoulder the burden of deflecting men's lust or sexual fantasies is daunting and unfair.


On the one hand, we understand and appreciate that these men are trying their hardest to be respectful of us and to see us as people rather than sex objects.

How can we possibly argue with that? It's quite commendable that red-blooded, 21st-century men would choose to focus on God rather lusting, or thinking about sex; yet the question still remains: In spite of everyone's best intentions, when men find themselves fantasizing during church, whose responsibility is it?

The very best way to begin answering the question of who is responsible for lustful thoughts or controlling attraction it was to go to the men themselves. I talked to a handful of my Christian guy friends, ages 25 to 32.

I asked them if men were really that prone to wandering thoughts when attractive women sat around them at church. Their answer was a resounding "yes."

One friend mentioned that throughout the course of his day, opportunities to fantasize are virtually endless.
 

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Whether men are driving down the street and see a racy ad on the side of a public bus, watching a Victoria's Secret commercial on television, or catching a glimpse of a girl jogging in a sports bra, scantily clad women are everywhere. That is just the way it is.

In light of that fact, he says it would be really cool if the church could be the one place men could go and not be bombarded with sexual images; however, he also added that a modest dress code or  forcing women to cover themselves up isn't necessarily the answer.

"No matter what, there's always going to be some guy fantasizing," he said, "because every guy is attracted by something different—whether it be a certain body part or a certain look. You can't really control how a guy is going to respond."

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That's why he chooses to sit in the front row at church: "That way I know I won't have any distractions. It's just me, the pastor, the worship team, and God."

"But," he continued, "if women would choose to be a little more conscious of how they dressed, and how it affected us, I think I speak for a lot of men when I say that we would definitely appreciate it."

Another of my male friends said that he feels a lot of guilt whenever he is tempted to fantasize — that it can make for a rather frustrating and awkward church-going experience.

He said the thing that bothers him most is that it seems like immodest women have a double-standard. For example, he said he's noticed girls at church who wear really low-cut shirts and then have cross necklaces hanging in between their cleavage.

Responsibility is a very shaky and elusive concept and it differs from one situation to the next.

For example, if a woman is getting dressed and fleetingly thinks about throwing on a T-shirt with a plunging neckline because she secretly hopes that the cute guy who always sits in the row behind her is going to notice and be attracted to her, is she then partially responsible if he does?

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Well, yes. Let the woman who has never dressed a certain way to gain attention from a guy she's attracted to cast the first stone.

We choose to either indulge that urge by dressing and acting in a certain way toward the men we encounter or instead choose to dress modestly and restrain sex appeal. And sometimes it isn't an easy choice because the message we get every day is that the quickest way to get noticed and to get ahead is by using our sex appeal. It's a daily temptation, and just like the men around us, sometimes we cave.

But it's not always about attention.

Sometimes we throw on a strappy sundress simply because it's fashionable, or because it's hot outside and we want to be comfortable, or because we want to feel pretty—not for anyone else, but for ourselves. And if a woman is dressed a certain way for any or all of the above-mentioned reasons, does that mean that she is the one responsible when a man sees her and starts fantasizing about her?

I'm going to say no. I'm also going to add that it would be a shame if she had to wake up every morning and spend hours analyzing over whether or not the dress she wanted to wear would cause the men around her "to stumble."

But, you may ask, what if the dress was 2 inches shorter? What if it was a tube top as opposed to having straps? Would it then be deemed too attractive and inappropriate? Should she choose not to wear it even in spite of how much she loves it? Should she think of the men who will lust after her in that dress before she thinks of herself?

Both sexes could be a bit more compassionate toward each other and recognize that we're all in this together. Maybe we can work collaboratively towards obtaining the one thing we all want to be and have, yet seems to be the hardest to maintain when unwanted attraction creates lustful thinking: Purity.

Yes, purity. We're back to that again.

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