This story is for the ladies. 🙂
Your mother comes into your home and proceeds to bake your favorite cake, but it’s not for you. She told you from the start that the cake is for a neighbor. The smell fills the house and you can almost taste it; your tummy rumbles. She pulls the cake out of the oven and tells you to “shoo”. You can’t even pinch off a bite of that delicious, sweet, decadent, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth goodness; it’s not for you, but you want a bite so badly. She lets it cool and the house is now nothing but the smell and sight of this cake that you can’t have. You just stare at it, licking your lips and smelling that wonderful smell, dreaming about it being yours for the taking. It is PURE TORTURE.
As soon as it is cooled off, she frosts it, adds decorations, making it even more tantalizing. You have to have it, and you’ll do anything to get it. You may regret it tomorrow, but now all you can do is think about fulfilling your desire for that luscious, scrumptious cake. So you take it and eat it in your room, and immediately feel guilty because you know it wasn’t your cake to begin with.
Now imagine that the cake is actually an immodestly dressed woman, and you are a man. This is the best way I can try to help women see what they do to a man when they dress, not just immodestly, but provocatively. There’s immodest dress that is ill-fitting and may, unbeknownst to the woman, show off her best assets such as her bum, chest region, and legs, and then there is the deliberate accentuating of those assets with push-up bras, low-cut shirts, and short shorts.
Imagine if your mother had not come over to your house to bake the cake, and you didn’t have to smell it or see it. The temptation to eat it would be completely removed. She might call you up later and tell you she baked a cake for her neighbor, but you would most likely associate it as being a gift for her friend rather than a means by which to satiate your craving for cake. So, too, a woman who adequately covers her body may be admired for her intellect and abilities rather than as an object of desire.
I speak now, specifically, to the women within the covenantal faith community. What are you willing to give up in order to protect your brother in Messiah from stumbling and lusting after you instead of being content with his own wife? I am not a beautiful woman, but a pretty face is not all men are attracted to. They are prone to lust after those things that distinguish a woman, namely her curves. Every man deals with the temptation of lust; those who have an encounter with G-d don’t just somehow, as if by magic, cease to have a desire for sexual pleasure. Our bodies, both male and female, were created to come together in one of the most intimate of acts, bringing new life into the world to perpetuate humanity, but they were also created to teach us about being one, being united with one mind and purpose. We were created to have one spouse and be content with the mate G-d made for us. We were meant to see that human connection, that oneness, that intimacy, as a picture of what we should have with Hashem.
I say all of these things, because we, who say we are a part of the covenantal faith community and still dress like the vast majority of the world instead of being intentional about protecting our brothers from sinning, are not fulfilling the commandment to “love our neighbor as ourself.” Our brothers in Messiah are our neighbor; if we wouldn’t want to be tempted by a scrumptious cake (as silly as that may sound in comparison), then why should men have to deal with our improper dress? It is unfair.
I don’t accept the argument that men should “just control their urges”. MEN CAN’T (unless, of course, they always have there heads down while in public.) I am not saying that a woman cannot look attractive, i.e. fix her hair, wear make-up, and look put together. We were created to “dress to impress”; we want to look nice. Men are created to notice; they like it when we look nice. But there is a way to be attractive and not provoke lustful thoughts. I would much rather be with a man who values and respects my thoughts and ideas–a man that wants to converse, have a partner to walk beside, and live life with me after my physical beauty fades–than snatch a guy who wanted a trophy wife but when I began to sag after childbirth and turn grey, he traded me in for a “newer model”. We can either be people worthy of relationship or objects for men to stumble over.
We have the power as women to bring about the redemption of the whole world and help to usher in the Messianic age. One of the ways I see us doing this is in taking on a more intentional mode of dress. How can we expect our men–husbands, fathers, and sons–to become great leaders within Klal Yisrael, if we do not take the steps to help them keep the covenant with their eyes (Job 31:1)? It is a great responsibility and privilege to be a woman in these last days; for I believe we have been called to lift up and support our men by being beacons of purity and positive speech. By elevating our homes (families), we can elevate the whole world. The old adage “a man is only as good as the woman who stands beside him” reflects just how important our actions are in repairing the world. When we choose modesty and positive speech, our men will be encouraged to step into the positions of leadership that they were given by G-d.
“If not now, when; if not you, who?” ~Hillel the Elder