On Being Attractive to Men

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: 1 Peter 3:3-4
Full Text: Isaiah 15; 1 Peter 3

Advice | Ladies, how can we be irresistible to men? Cosmopolitan suggests, “Men find heels sexy. But that stiletto is even sexier when it’s dangling off your toes … For maximum man magnetism, show off your shoulders with a strapless dress or sleeveless shirt. Bare shoulders plant one thought in a dude’s brain” [1]. Although the advice is ungodly, the assessment is true [2]. Men are wired to notice beauty in women.

Adornment | There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking to be attractively feminine. Solomon celebrated his beloved: “How beautiful and pleasant you are” [3]. God made women to be beautiful to men. As a result of the Fall, however, we sinfully crave the power of beauty [4]. Peter wrote, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of your hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing that you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” [5].

Love | Have we, as Christian women, asked the Christian men in our lives how we can care for them in the ways that we dress? [6] Is our goal in choosing outfits to entice and attract or to love and serve? Are we trying to cultivate their love for God or their lust for us? Even in dressing for church, do we ask whether our outfits might be distracting?

Precious | Solomon wrote, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” [7]. As we saw yesterday [8], to fear the Lord is to know that we are always in the presence of God. What does He find attractive? “The hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” Yes, let us be attractively feminine, but let us never use our beauty to entice or manipulate.

Prayer | Lord, We confess that we have used our beauty for selfish purposes. In this way, we haven’t participated in the redemption of our culture and its desire for beauty. Forgive us, Lord, and give us wisdom to obey you in how we adorn ourselves. Let us not judge men for their struggles in this area [9] and, instead, let us be co-laborers with them, as we seek to live as precious in your sight. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Cosmopolitan. “How to Get Hit On All the Time.”  |  [2] As journalist Christopher Morley once wrote, “In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.”  |  [3] Song of Songs 7:6 ESV  |  [4] The Lord told Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband.” A few years ago, I did a lot of thinking about this. Interestingly, I compared the Western and Eastern ideas of how this “curse” has played out in our world. In the East (primarily Muslim nations), they recognize that a woman’s body can be alluring and, as a result, they cover women head to toe so that men will not stumble. In the West, we have done the opposite. We have thrown off any modesty and declared women’s rights. Yet both cultures are responding to the same curse. It’s almost like two sides of the same coin.  |  [5] 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV. For an extended reflection on these verses, see John Piper, “Holy Women Who Hoped in God.” 11 May 1986.  |  [6] Over the years, I’ve had several conversations with godly men who have told me that certain types of clothing are generally more alluring and challenging than others. For example, some have told me that yoga pants or low cut shirts are challenging. When I tell women this, they’re shocked (especially the yoga pants one!). So don’t take my word for it! Ask the godly men in your life what particular outfits they find to be more difficult. Ask them how you can dress to point them more to God. Respect their assessments of what is hard for them.  |  [7] Proverbs 31:30 ESV  |  [8] 843 Acres. “On That-Which-Is-God and That-Which-Is-Not-God.” 15 May 2012.  |  [9] I have found that women have a hard time understanding men’s struggle in this area. Sometimes that leads them to think that we don’t need to pay attention to what we wear because, as they say, “This is their problem, not mine.” There are two problems with this response: (1) Sure. But as Paul says, “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor’ (1 Corinthians 10:23-24 ESV). We, as Christians, are called to love and serve one another. As Paul puts it elsewhere, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4 ESV). We should be considering how men think about these things and, in response, respect and serve them in these areas. (2) Someone once told me that men think about sex as often as women think about calories. Wow. That put it in perspective for me. How can we help them in our clothing choices? Just as I appreciate men who don’t make comments that make my struggle with calories harder, men would benefit by being around women who aren’t making their struggle harder, too.

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8 Comments to “On Being Attractive to Men”

  1. Awesome. Going straight into mailboxes of my 3 daughters…and straight into my heart.

  2. Footnotes also great…calories and sex!

  3. a breath of fresh air! as a man who struggles with lust, it’s encouraging to see godly women who are thoughtfully and compassionately challenging me to be more like Christ. thanks for the post!

  4. As a man, I think women are in a balancing act which is sometimes unfair to them. We should expect Christian women to guard themselves from vanity and self-objectification. We shouldn’t, however, make unchecked male lust the low bar women must accomodate with their wardrobe. If a man cannot appreciate the beauty of a woman without transforming her into a potential object of sexual self-gratification, he is at fault and needs spiritual growth.

  5. Rob, I completely agree. Hands down. I wanted to write this post mainly for women because over the years I have had several conversations with married friends of mine and their husbands about this topic. These are godly men who, I think, are way above “the low bar” and yet who are honest about what things might be difficult or challenging for them. It’s been eye opening for me to see their perspective since, I think, most of us women just don’t think about these things in the same ways. This post, I hope, opens conversations about how we can all together as the church renew our culture in this area. Having said that, I agree with you entirely. And thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Bethany, thanks for writing this piece and responding.

      I think there is great ambiguity in what constitutes appreciation of beauty, even sexual beauty, and lust –this compounded with the changing interior responses a man has or feels comfortable in having. On many occasions I have no trouble appreciating the sexual beauty of a particular woman without having that appreciation turn into a consuming self-interest or “personal” desire. Another man might question or not give himself permission to appreciate that sexual beauty if he thinks it would be immoral when it isn’t, at least necessarily.

      Are men being unfairly taught that appreciation of sexual beauty –even the sexual beauty of a woman they are not married to –is inherently wrong? Appreciation, here, does not need to turn into desire any more than appreciation of a painting necessitates an infantile demand to personally own it.

      Just asking questions…

  6. Good point. Women, I think, struggle with the ambiguity between being “feminine” and being “enticing.” Sometimes it’s easy to tell; sometimes it’s harder.

    I’m not sure if you go to Redeemer, but Tim Keller’s sermon last week – “Love and Lust” – addressed your comments in his first point – here’s the link: http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=19663&ParentCat=6.

    And – you know – we are ALL “just asking questions” … :o)

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