In Christian theology beauty is defined as what reflects God’s own character and nature. *
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONDITION OF THE CHURCH AND HELP FOR IT
We all know that the immodest dress in the church is out of control. But, did you know that it’s the leaders responsibility first to address and resolve this issue? If we had men in the church who would start addressing and taking command of this situation, us women would follow because women will always follow men and give them what they want. When men start desiring the ways of the Lord again, rather than the ways of the flesh, women will dress and act in accordance with the ways of the Lord.
THE HARLOT AMONG US
There have always been times of cleanliness and times of filth. Times when the beauty of holiness in a woman is esteemed and times when the attire of harlotry is favored. It has always been contingent upon where a man’s heart lies because where his heart lies, the actions will follow (Prov 23:7). And where the multitudes of men’s hearts are set, the women will follow and the church body will follow as well. I am going to talk about harlotry today and I am going to talk about it in a way that may be strange or foreign to you. But, if you pray and entrust the Holy Spirit to open up your heart to the truth I am about to share, the multitudes could be changed in a matter of years starting with one man at a time, one church body at a time and then the multitudes. The street harlot has always been here. She is spoken about numerous times throughout the Bible, the well known verse being Proverbs 7:10 where she waits on the street corner. She’s been in all countries, Malaysia where we see child prostitution, London where Jack the Ripper murdered many of the street harlots and here in America where it has always been spoken of not to go across the other side of the rail road tracks to the “wrong side of town”. We are all familiar with hearing about or knowing the street harlot.
There’s another form of harlotry that exists today, and that is that of the common heathen or what the Lord would call a “foreign or a strange woman”. She has the “attire” of a harlot and does not profess the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. Any Christian man who marries or comes together with a woman who is not saved is considered unequally yoked (II Corinthians 6:14). Judah married the daughter of a strange god (Mal 2:11). The Lord talks about delivering man from the strange woman who flatters with the words of her mouth and not to lust after her beauty in to his heart for by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread. (Prov 2:16, 6:24-26).
Some of us know of relationships and marriages within our circles or families in which Christian men and women are close to unbelievers in marriage, friendship or some other close union. But what happens when we start to see it in the church? How did it get in? Why isn’t anybody saying anything? Is it because the “unbeliever” may have a chance at becoming saved by his or her presence within this church? How can we tell who is a strange woman or a foreign woman within the church when so many of them look the same? Is confusion starting to set in or maybe the light is just starting to be shed upon the confusion? Yes, this is where we are today. The church. The church has women in it that are professing to be of Christ, however they are dressing like the strange women we are told to stay away from in the Bible. In fact, they are wearing the attire of harlots. Now stay with me, how can I say such a thing, that Christian women are wearing the attire of harlots? First of all, let me share with you this; the name harlot describes an “unchaste” woman married or unmarried. Chaste means “Properly clean, innocent, modest, perfect (1). Are women in the church dressing in this manner? They are not, or so many men wouldn’t be struggling with illicit thoughts about their sisters in Christ within the church. I don’t mean to get explicit here but this is the truth, if you were to drive to the downtown of any large city to spy out a harlot, you would find that she looks just like many of the women of the church today. And these women who dress like harlots are comprised of the Pastor’s wife, the church Secretary, the women in the choir, possibly your own wife, yourself (if you are a woman)or the woman sitting next to you by her husband.
So, what if some of these women of the church dress like harlots but have good hearts? In most cases a woman who dresses like a harlot is wearing the fruit of her heart. A harlot is a harlot because she is looking for an exchange whether it be a nod of approval for her appearance, a glance, or a word, or a sexual exchange. As my husband once said, “If she is showing, she is selling.” As I shared in the beginning, there are times when the beauty of holiness is esteemed and there are times when the attire of harlotry is favored. In most cases if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. So, goes the woman with the attire of the harlot whether she stands on the street corner, is a co worker or sits next to you in church.
HARLOTRY IN THE CHURCH
Christian men everywhere are literally begging women in the churches to put some modest clothes on. Yet, nobody will step up and demand that these women be put out of the churches. A famous pastor once shared that without purity, there is no power. Before we can change anything in the church, we first need to see where we have come from and how man has lost his power.
The church used to be holy because it loved and sought after the Lord. Because of its love of the Lord, it had a resemblance of the Lord. The men and women of this church took great measures to protect themselves from evil. They first protected their own bodies and they also protected one another. During this time, they wouldn’t dare let the regular harlot walk on up to the church, have a seat and pretend that she was one of the members of the church. It would have been absurd for such a thing to happen during a time like this. Instead, the harlot who truly wanted to repent of her ways and follow Christ would humbly, with prayers and crying somehow make her way known that she just wanted to be made clean. She knew the church was holy because she knew Christ was holy. It made her all the more shamefaced to even be near this Christ church, but, she still wanted to touch the hem of His garment because she knew of and had hope of His mercy.
Today, the church is very, very dirty. It is filthy and an abomination to God. The harlot knows this and comes on in and takes a seat. She feels at home there. She has no shame and the sins of men with their eyes upon her give her this gratification. She becomes the one who is worshipped and this gives her great pleasure. Her worshippers (the men in the church) are in pleasure and don’t say anything to her because they don’t want her to leave. The men’s wives don’t say anything because they follow the men in the church , furthermore because they know they don’t have their husband’s hearts they compete with the woman in similar dress and mannerisms as they see this is what their husbands like. The church is full of sickness and confusion. It appears to be no different than what is in the world.
If only the church would get clean again, we could put the harlot back in her place of shame and keep our people safeguarded. You say that we don’t know the harlot’s heart and how dare we be such a judgmental people? No, there is much, much, mercy and grace for the harlot who comes repenting of her ways. Let us get the church separated and clean first and then strengthened in much love of the Lord and then the common harlot will not want to come near the church because she will know what it is. But listen to this, the harlot who wants to become clean and follow Christ will literally come begging and shamefaced to want to get right and then the church should clothe her and feed her with good spiritual food for nourishment.
So, now we see the condition of the church, but how did it get here? I’ll tell you how it got here, man gave up his strength to women. Men used to put God first. They wanted to be true worshippers of God and honorable in character. Somewhere along the line they started to turn away from God and turn to their former, natural lusts that they followed before salvation. Because women are followers of men and naturally want to be pleasing to them, they follow them by giving them the desires of their hearts through the wicked dress of harlotry. Men cannot get the harlotry out of the church until they repent of their ways and turn back to the living God. It is the men’s fault and responsibility for the condition of the church and they are the ones responsible for getting right with God and cleaning up the church. The woman who comes in dressed like a harlot is not the one with the greatest burden of responsibility for cleanliness in the church. It is the men. King Asa and King Jehoshaphat are prime examples of holy men who would not allow abominable things or people within the church. They came against and destroyed the temple prostitution that went on within the churches of that day.
The first place to start with making the church body clean is within the church. Let’s go to the book of Ezra. Ezra prayed and wept before God that they had trespassed against God by taking strange wives. Shechaniah responded by proclaiming that there was hope in Israel despite the condition of the church and then further proclaimed, “Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God: and let it be done according to the law (Ezra 10:3). Here, men knew in their hearts that they had married women that God was not pleased with and they put away (divorced) their wives and children. They were told to arise and be of good courage.
If men were commanded by God back then to put away their wives and obeyed, surely men of today can do something less strenuous such as sharing with the congregation that there will be a new dress code next Sunday and that dress code will be one of “modesty”. A pastor should be of good courage and have other leaders in the church stand with him in this matter and face his congregation of people to whom he’s responsible over and share with them that they need to dress appropriately in church or not come back the following Sunday. There’s no other way to do it but with courage and straightforwardness. As much as we all hate conflict, there is not an easy or nice way around this. Things hurt when they are in the process of getting clean. An open wound that is filled with pus and grime will hurt and be tender to the touch when being cleansed. Does this not sound in accordance with what you’ve been taught about Jesus Christ? The Lord Jesus said, “ Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division”(Luke 12:51).” We live in a terrible age, especially that of the church and this is a time we need Jesus Christ to divide before cleansing and reformation can begin.
The next place we need to go is to the door. When a woman approaches the church door in attire that is inappropriate, an older gentle woman should pull her aside and share with her in kindness and love that she is more than welcome to attend the service the following week if she would dress appropriately and modestly for church. She should ask the woman if she would like a visit from her or one of the other ladies in the church to talk about Christ and to see if she needs help with her attire. She may offer the woman a dress or outfit from the churches clothing bank if needed. The older ladies of the church can be a great spiritual guide to women who have recently been saved or aren’t saved at all but are seeking Christ. They should go out of their way in all ways possible; offering home visitations, lunch or coffee or assistance in picking out appropriate clothing, etc… But, they should also keep the boundaries secure and not let a woman enter in Christ’s church who is unwilling to make such a simple change as her attire. Anyone who is not willing to change in such a simple area for the respect of others within the church of Christ, is not ready to do the weightier matters such as sacrifice her life to Christ. If a woman is unsure about committing herself to Christ, a woman or women from the church can do home visits for a time to show the love of Christ and extend the hand of friendship to help persuade her heart in the right direction.
Finally, women cannot help other women without the support, commands and direction from the men. The men need to enforce this for the protection of their sons and daughters as well as themselves and the rest of the church. If a man cannot make a stand against “weak” women as Augustine used to refer to women, then they cannot stand for or against anything. Oh dear men and leaders to be, we women beseech you to stand up for holiness so we can support you in it and follow. We want holy, God fearing men and women as a body of Christ as much as you do. Do not cower and waver when a woman walks in with the attire of a harlot, take a stand and demand holiness in your church. It will bring the harlot to repentance and the once shamefacedness place that used to be and will be the start towards making the church clean again so it can be strengthened to do the work that is needed.
Further, it will produce a beautiful outcome and that is that women will go back to their proper God fearing place of shamefacedness. The term shamefacedness in Hebrew means “bashfulness with a reverence towards men.” This does not fit the description of the women in the church body today. Women have no shame because nobody shames them anymore for their immodesty. Where women are shamed for their unchaste dress or behavior in the Amish or Mennonite denominations or other cultures, they either become shamefaced or they leave. Let me reiterate, if a woman is shamed, she will be shamefaced. This is in her God given nature. Understand this, being shamefaced isn’t the same as humiliation or degration and certainly doesn’t have to mean a woman who’s shamefaced cannot have a voice or mind to speak. Many women who were shamefaced had an influence upon nations, translated Bibles and started churches. Corrie Ten Boom, Amy Carmichael, Helena the mother of Constantine, Monica the mother of Augustine, Pandita Ramabai founder of a mission and translator of the Bible, Susanna Wesley and so many more women were shamefaced.
Where the line is drawn and the command is spoken and set firm, the women will naturally follow. We have an example of this; the Amish have their boundaries set, for you will not see a worldly and seductively dressed woman walk into an Amish home church and take a seat among them for the Sunday service. It would be absurd. We have come so far from where the church used to be but with good courage and the first steps of walking in faith, the church can be changed for us and generations to follow. Let us now walk in good faith and works brothers and sisters in Christ, and do the first steps, so we can look expectantly unto our Father to see what He will do with the church in this coming age.
1. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, Grenz, Stanley
2. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia