Ms. Wrong, part 1: immodesty

The first installment of our serial guide to considering a possible helpmeet. Here we focus on what Scripture says about modesty in women, and how to apply this in the modern day.

Kyle Trouble is an internet entrepreneur who writes manuals on how to pick up and have sex various types of women. Lori Alexander, on the other hand, is a Christian blogger with a fundamentalist streak.

Despite their differences, these two found themselves embroiled in internet infamy for the same reason.

Alexander wrote a blog post titled Godly Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos. The post was directed towards young women. The goal, as I understand it, was to educate them on how to put themselves in the best position to land a quality husband. She advised, “Stay virgins until marriage, out of debt, and don’t get tattoos!”

Meanwhile, Trouble tweeted out the following post:

Easy things to ask on a first date that tell you whether a girl is worth deeper investment:

  • Relationship with father
  • Sexual past
  • Views on children
  • Attitude towards men
  • Ability to cook/clean/domestic duties

All can easily be woven into a first date conversation.

He followed up the tweet with examples on how someone could “naturally” ask these questions.

Both of these posts generated intense outrage.

I have no desire to debate the particulars of each. In general, I don’t see much wrong with their counsel. I would tweak things here and there. What I found interesting was the visceral reaction to any standard being applied to women.

It is common to hear pastors warn women about bad men. Some have had parts of their sermons go viral as they lay into guys for being those type of men. Mark Driscoll has his famous how dare you rant. Matt Chandler, the kinder and gentler Driscoll, once prayed:

Father, for men in this room who prey on insecure women with wounded hearts, Father, I just pray over these men a type of weight on their souls that would be crushing. Father, I thank you that you do not take lightly wolves hunting down your daughters and that there would be a day that these men, hollow-chested boys in grown up bodies will cry out as you come for mountains to fall and that the mountains will flee before your coming. I thank you that you are a just judge who will not handle lightly boys who can shave who take advantage of your daughters. I pray that there might be repentance for these men for the salvation of their own soul.

Chandler seems bit over the top, but perhaps his church is loaded with “hollow-chested boys” on the prowl for insecure women. You gotta do what you gotta do. Regardless, I don’t have an issue with a pastor laying into men or warning women about Mr. Wrong. They should. I do.

Here is my question: where are all the sermons and bold rants against female predators?

Maybe they exist. I just haven’t ever heard one.

Maybe Chandler has an imprecatory prayer against all the harlots in his congregation?

Maybe Driscoll “how dare you’d” all the immoral women sitting in the pews at Mars Hill Church back in the day?

Again, I haven’t heard them.

In Proverbs, we find both a father and mother warning their son about the dangers of immoral women. In chapters 5 & 7, a father gives his son two very detailed warnings about the ruin that comes from being caught in the web of a “strange woman.” In chapter 31, a mother warns her son of the strength-depleting nature of promiscuous women (v. 3). Similar lessons can be found throughout both testaments. They just aren’t found in our pulpits.

Why? I’m sure the answer is multi-faceted. I’ll give you two factors that immediately spring to mind.

  1. Western churches lack a clearly formulated doctrine of sexuality. Consequently, they make also sorts of errors when it comes to the nature of men and women. These errors usually take the form of diminishing sexual distinctions. There is, however, one glaring exception. The church has a long history of believing women somehow possess a natural goodness that men lack. Such an idea is foreign to Scripture (cf. Ezekiel 23). Nonetheless, it has led the church to be incredibly soft on the sins of women (see chapter 2 of Leon Podles’ The Church Impotent).
  2. Pastors are scared of the backlash that will come when they start to hold women accountable. I don’t blame them. It will be intense. That is why I noted the reactions against Lori Alexander and Kyle Trouble. Western women have been thoroughly compromised by feminism. It is my observation that feminism undermines women’s agency. It does this by casting women merely as oppressed victims. One of the typical characteristics of victim mentality is an unwillingness to take responsibility for your own actions. Thus, feminism has produced women that are quick to buck against any objective standard not of their own creation.

There are men that women should avoid. I’m not denying that. However, there are also women that men should avoid. Some women will lead you to misery and destruction. In this series we’ll lay out some of the attributes of a bad woman, pulling heavily from Proverbs.

Before I get to that, it’s important to establish that the aim here isn’t to scare you away from women in general. MGTOW is antithetical to Scripture: in Proverbs 18:22 Solomon writes, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” It is true. A godly wife is a remarkable blessing. Men can subdue the world, but they can’t fill it. Obeying the creation mandate requires a marriage. It takes a man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). No man can build a household without a good woman at his side. Therefore, it is a massive step forward for a man when he finds a wife.

However, marriage is not without its risks. A good woman will further the mission of establishing a godly household, but a “foolish woman tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1). Just as a woman must be careful in accepting a proposal of marriage, so must a man be in extending one. He must choose wisely. His search for a wife must be informed by wisdom. This means he will need to know how to filter out bad candidates for a wife.

Therefore, in this series I’ll focus on a few of the attributes Scripture uses to describe an ungodly woman. Today I’ll be drawing mostly from Proverbs 7, where a father warns his son not to be like so many naïve young men who fall into the webs of an immoral woman (vv. 1–5). The consequences are dire. In vv. 26–27, he cautions, “For many are the victims she has cast down and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death.” Many men can testify to the hell it is to be married to an ungodly woman. The best path is always to avoid her altogether. Hence, Proverbs says, “do not stray into her paths” (v. 25).

So how do you know when to metaphorically cross to the other side of the street? The wise father answers by instructing his son through the recollection of a man he saw seduced by evil feminine wiles (vv. 8–9). In verses 10–21, he lists several attributes which are helpful in spotting such a woman. We’ll consider the first one here.

You can often spot an ungodly woman by her attire

The wise father says, “And behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot” (v. 10). Clothing is a form of communication. It says something about us. For example, the Babylonian warriors that surrounded Nineveh were decked out in scarlet (Nah 2:3). Why? Matthew Henry says:

The valiant men are in scarlet; not only red clothes, to intimate what bloody work they designed to make, but rich clothes, to intimate the wealth of the army, and that is the sinews of war.

It isn’t just warriors that use clothing to communicate…

What does a harlot communicate with her clothing?

The simplest answer is sexual availability. She dangles the possibility of sex in exchange for something she desires. That desire could be for money, attention, or a plethora of other things. Sometimes she is motivated by economics. Other times she is the twisted product of wicked shaping influences. Regardless, a woman dressed in immodest clothing should communicate danger to the wise man. She is like a brightly colored snake. Beautiful to look at, deadly to touch.

Now, I know people will want me to lay out some standard for immodest and modest clothing. I will only say two things.

  1. Immodest clothing is clothing that makes a woman (or man) into a spectacle. This spectacle could come in the form of too much or too little (1 Tim 2:9). It makes her sexuality scream. It is clothing or makeup that accentuates aspects of her sexuality to such extent that it is hard to ignore.
  2. Modest clothing doesn’t hide a woman’s sexuality. It is never a good sign when a woman is ashamed of her womanliness. Clothing shouldn’t totally mute a woman’s sexuality. Sexual silence can be just as concerning as clothing that screams. According to Scripture, there is male clothing and female clothing (Dt 22:5). A woman’s clothing should modestly sign her sex.
  3. You are looking for a woman that loves being a woman. She embraces her femininity. She isn’t ashamed of her curves, lips, or hair; but she also possesses the godly character to resist the modern temptation of monetizing them. This is partially demonstrated in her dress, and especially in how she dresses in pictures posted on social media.

    One more thing…

    Remember that we are all works in progress. My wife never dressed like a harlot. That being said, she did wear a few things early on in our dating relationship that weren’t very modest. She simply didn’t know better. Neither did I. We both came from homes that didn’t teach us about modesty. It took a mutual friend pointing it out in a kind way to open our eyes to it. She quickly adjusted her standards.

    I wouldn’t immediately rule out a woman who on occasion wears something that presses the envelope. Maybe she doesn’t know better. All principles should have some flex in them. So it is here. There are also other attributes that should be weighed in making a decision; I’ve known many women who dressed modestly, but were bad candidates by being “loud and stubborn” women (Proverbs 7:11). More on that next time.