A Response to Sharon Hodde Miller on the Modest is hottest debate

Womans in different dresses sit on sofa

Sharon Hodde Miller wrote a piece for ChristianityToday.com back in 2011 about how the ‘Modest is Hottest’ movement was hurting young women. I was not blogging back then, and in fact had not heard of this movement until recently. I have a 12 year old daughter and we have been exploring what our family believes Biblical modesty to be.

From other posts I have read of Mrs. Miller, she could rightly be understood as a Christian feminist, I do not say that to discredit her work, but only to offer a little background on where she is coming from in her thought processes.

The main site for “Modest is Hottest” can be found at http://www.modestishottest.com/

Sharon Hodde Miller’s response to this movement can be found at http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2011/december/how-modest-is-hottest-is-hurting-christian-women.html?start=1

In this post I will primarily be examining Mrs. Miller’s response, and showing where I agree and disagree with her critique.

Mrs. Miller writes:

“The Christian rhetoric of modesty, rather than offering believers an alternative to the sexual objectification of women, often continues the objectification, just in a different form.

As the Christian stance typically goes, women are to cover their bodies as a mark of spiritual integrity. Too much skin is seen as a distraction that garners inappropriate attention, causes our brothers to stumble, and overshadows our character. Consequently, the female body is perceived as both a temptation and a distraction to the Christian community. The female body is beautiful, but in a dangerous way.”

This is the typical teaching of feminists that the problem is not with women, but with men. We need to teach men to stop seeing women as sexual objects, but as people, or so we are told.

In the Feminist, and Christian feminist mindset, it is practically impossible for a man to see women as both people and objects sexual beauty and desire, it is either one, or the other in their view.

If anything, most feminists actually think men can have their minds reprogrammed, to sort of have a “sexual on and off switch”. So that only when it is appropriate, for instance in the context of a committed relationship, or in marriage would a man ever be sexually attracted to a woman. But the idea of men being attracted to women, minus any relationship context, is pure evil to the Feminist and her cousin the Christian Feminist.

I actually have had discussions with some Christians (some who are feminists and some who are not) who believe that a man being sexually attracted to women before marriage, or being attracted to other women other than his wife after marriage, is part of the corruption of sin from the fall in the Garden of Eden. They believe that God’s original plan was that man would only desire a woman sexually after marriage, and then only that woman, and no other woman.

The problem is, this kind of thinking is never supported from the Scriptures. God made men polygamous in nature, and his Word even regulates how polygamy may occur. Many of the great Patriarchs of the Bible, including Jacob the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, were polygamists. God pictures himself as a polygamist with two wives (Judah and Israel) in prophecy.

You can read in more detail about what the Bible says about Polygamy from my series:

Why polygamy is not unbiblical

The reason I have said all this is – goes back to Mrs. Miller’s assertion about men seeing women as sexual objects and that is the problem we should focus on – in her view. I would not disagree with the fact that there are men who purely see women as sex objects, completely divorced from their person-hood, and that is Biblically wrong behavior. God wants men to respect and honor women as human beings, and he wants them treated with human dignity.

But that does not change the fact that men seeing women as objects of sexual beauty and desire is NOT the problem here, it is not a defect, it is by the design of God. A man desiring women’s beauty, is symbolic of God desiring the beauty of his church. That is why God has designed women to want to be beautiful, and why he has designed men to be attracted to the beauty of women.

Psalm 45 which is a messianic prophecy of Christ and the Church says this:

“So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him…The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework…”

Psalm 45:13-14(KJV)

Just as God desire’s the beauty of his church, so too as symbol of that spiritual relationship, he designed man to naturally desire the beauty of women. That is why men are much more visually oriented then women most of the time. This is not some mistake of the fall – it is by design.

The Early Church fathers and their anti-woman teachings

Now where I have some agreement with Mrs. Miller is when she writes about Christians teaching that women needed to cover themselves as to not cause their brothers in Christ to “stumble”, and the fact that a woman’s body is said to be “beautiful, but in a dangerous way.”

She alludes to the harsh teachings of some of the early church fathers against women.

“Of course, this language isn’t new. Consider how profoundly the female identity has been negatively linked to her body throughout church history. For several decades now, feminist theologians have critiqued the mind-body dualism by which Christians have equated men with the mind and women with the carnal body. Citing Eve as the original “gateway for the Devil,” thinkers such as Tertullian have peppered Christian tradition with hostility toward the wiles of femininity. Origen likened women to animals in their sexual lust. According to author Jane Billinghurst, “Early Christian men who had to greet women during church services by shaking their hands were advised to first wrap their hands in robes so as to shield their flesh against their seductive touch.””

First let’s understand something, only the Apostles were inerrant in their writings and teachings on Christian doctrine, because they were directly and perfectly guided by the Holy Spirit of God. Their followers who came later, and other church teachers who lived years after them were not perfect or inspired in their teachings. They wrote some good commentary on the Scriptures at times, but they also fell into heresy.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 2 fighting against this errors that were creeping into the church, the errors of Gnosticism and Asceticism. Unfortunately, not long after the Apostles deaths, and for centuries to come, church fathers like Origen, Jerome, Ignatius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine all came to embrace and teach the false doctrines of Christian Asceticism.

Christian Asceticism taught that all forms of physical pleasure were wrong, and that the body was completely evil in every way. They actually looked at sex as a necessary evil for reproduction, as opposed to a gift from God and part of his grand design. It was common for church leaders to have Christian married couples who already had children to take vows of celibacy and never have sex anymore. Because of this false belief about sexuality and physical pleasure, they came to see women as the enemy because of how men could desire them, and this desire was seen as sinful.

So we have on one side, Feminists and Christian feminists say it is wrong for men to see women as objects of sexual desire, and on the other side we have the Christian Ascetics and many of their teachings that still survive to this day saying almost the same thing.

The reality is – both sides are WRONG. Men are not wrong in seeing women as both people and objects of sexual beauty and desire, these two concepts are not mutually exclusive, but are in fact the only way to understand sexuality in a healthy manner as God designed it to be.

Sexual desire before marriage, and physical sexual consummation after marriage are by the design of God. There is nothing dirty, or shameful about this truth, and no man needs to apologize for his visual sexual nature, or the fact that he can be sexually attracted to a woman without knowing anything about her person. Where the right and wrong come in, is what he does with that natural sexual desire, does he channel it within the bounds of God’s law, does he treat these women with respect, and does he keep the physical consummation of sex for marriage?

Mrs. Miller writes near the end of her article:

“…we must affirm the value of the female body. The value or meaning of a woman’s body is not the reason for modesty. Women’s bodies are not inherently distracting or tempting. On the contrary, women’s bodies glorify God. Dare I say that a woman’s breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honors Him. He created the female body, and it is good.

Finally, language about modesty should focus not on hiding the female body but on understanding the body’s created role. Immodesty is not the improper exposure of the body per se, but the improper orientation of the body. Men and women are urged to pursue a modesty by which our glory is minimized and God’s is maximized. The body, the spirit and the mind all have a created role that is inherently God-centered. When we make ourselves central instead of God, we display the height of immodesty.”

When I read this line from her the first time – “Women’s bodies are not inherently distracting or tempting” I almost fell out of my chair laughing! Only a Christian Feminist could write such non-sense! I am sorry, but common sense tells us women’s bodies are in fact “distracting and tempting” to men. Not only common sense proves this, but years of scientific research into the area of male sexuality proves how visually wired men are, and how they are distracted and tempted by the female body.

But we have to ask ourselves again, is this wrong? Or is it by the design of God? I know Christians are saying – “God would never want us to be tempted to do anything wrong” – and you are absolutely correct. But that is why I would take the word tempted, and replace it with “attracted”.

Men are distracted by the female form, because they are attracted to the female form. One reason that I alluded to earlier that man is attracted to the beauty of woman is, this is symbolic of God’s attraction to the spiritual beauty of his Church.

But this attraction to women’s bodies that God designed in men, has a second purpose. It also has the purpose of driving men to pursue women, to pursue marriage and having children. Neither feminists, nor church leaders should shame men for this very strong attraction to women, they ought to be praising God for it! The human race would not be here today, except for the strong attraction of men to beautiful women!

So I 100% agree with Mrs. Miller when she writes “Dare I say that a woman’s breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord!” That is an absolutely Biblical statement to make.

I also agree with Mrs. Miller that we need to have an “understanding” about the female “body’s created role”. While all human beings were ultimately created for the honor and glory of God, our bodies were also created for some very practical and physical purposes in this life and world.

God not only created woman for his own glory, but he also specifically created woman for man. Thus her body is also created for man – this is the female body’s “created role”.

“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

I Corinthians 11:9(KJV)

Does this mean a woman was created only for man’s sexual pleasure? Of course not! She was created to be a helpmeet to him. She was created to “bear children” and “guide the house”, to be his companion and mother to his children.

But there is no escaping the fact that a large part of the “created role” of a woman’s body was for the visual and sexual pleasure of man. Her body is both visually attractive, and physically pleasurable to a man, and this is not by accident, but by design. A woman’s body is given to man as a blessing, to be enjoyed.

“Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:”

Genesis 49:25(KJV)

“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.”

Proverbs 5:18-19(KJV)

“I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.”

Song of Solomon 8:10(KJV)

Did you know human females are the only mammals on the planet that have constantly protruding breasts? Other mammal’s breasts only protrude when they are pregnant, or nursing and after nursing the protruding breasts go away. God design a human female’s breasts to constantly protrude, for the visual and physical pleasure it gives to men before and after they bare and wean their children.

So the next time a wife says to her husband when he looks at her breasts – “those are for babies, not for you”, that is actually a very unbiblical statement to make. If they were just for babies, they would disappear after nursing, like they do on all other mammals, but instead God design them for the pleasure of man.

I would encourage the reader to look at my posts Why God made woman and How God made woman for a lot more detail on this subject of how God designed a woman’s body and why he designed it the way he did.

Conclusion

I disagree with both the “Modest is hottest” crowd on one side, and the Christian feminist crowd on the other side (represented here by Mrs. Miller). The Biblical truth lies in the middle of these two extremes. A woman should dress modestly – meaning appropriate to the occasion. If she is at the beach, then a bikini might be appropriate to that occasion. If she is going to church, she needs to be fully clothed. A woman ought not to dress like a prostitute, but at the same time she does not have to hide her beauty.

A woman does not need to dress in a way that hides her body from men in order to not “cause them to stumble”. A woman does not need to be ashamed of the beautiful body God has given her, and a man does not need to be ashamed of being attracted to women’s beautiful bodies. God calls us to self-control, and to not have covetous thoughts. So if a man is appreciating a beautiful woman’s body, whether at the beach or elsewhere, no sin has occurred. But if he begins to sexually covet her (lust after), by thinking of ways he could get her to have sex with him outside of marriage, then he has stepped outside of God’s boundaries and his design.

See these related posts to this topic:

What is Biblical Lust?

What does Modesty mean in I Timothy 2:9?

7 Biblical principles for how to dress as a christian woman

 

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Why I let my Christian son have a bikini poster in his room

WhyIAllowSwimSuits2

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would allow my 14 year old son to have a swim suit poster in his room I would have told you that you were nuts. The reason is because I was raised in an environment that taught us that being sexually aroused by the sight of a woman’s body other than a woman you were married to was sin. This was included in a broader definition of lust that is taught in most churches today.

I would never argue that the Bible does not condemn lust, because it definitely does.

But after a great deal of Biblical soul searching, as well as biological reference searching (the chemistry of how the brain works) I came to a very different conclusion than what my upbringing taught me. The Bible never condemns a person for being sexually aroused by the sight of another person, even one they are not married to. It condemns lust – which is a very different thing. Lust is sexual covetousness, not sexual arousal.

For more the topic of Lust see my post What does the Bible say about Lust?

Teens and sexuality

I believe wholeheartedly that God has reserved sex for marriage, this is plain throughout the Old and New Testaments and I teach this principle to my teenage sons, as well as my teen daughter.

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

Hebrews 13:14(KJV)

While God has reserved the act of sex (that includes intercourse, oral sex, or any other kind manual sex) for marriage, where I believe most Churches are flat wrong is in their teaching that sexuality itself is also reserved for marriage.

While on one side, we have the world blatantly encouraging our teens and young adults to have sex outside of marriage, on the other side we have the Churches teaching teens and college students that they must suppress their sexuality until the day they are married. I believe that both sides are wrong on this issue of sexuality from a Biblical standpoint.

So to that end with my teenagers I teach there is nothing wrong with my son’s thinking some girl is “hot” and there is nothing wrong with my daughter thinking some guy is “cute”.  For my teen daughter her interest in sexuality is only just now beginning, but my sons interests are both in full throttle mode(as it is for most teenage boys).

I don’t teach my son’s like my father and mother taught me, that if there is a nice woman walking down the side walk or at the beach that they have to look away or look at the ground for fear of having “lustful thoughts”.  Instead I teach them to have proper manners, and don’t stair at a girl like she is piece of meat (gawk at her), but they can take tasteful glances and appreciate the beauty that God has made in woman, as he has designed their brains to do.

Why I allow my son to have a bikini poster in his room

It was only after a lot of consideration, and even talking with my wife (she was fine with it way before I was) that I allowed my Christian son to get his first bikini poster in his room. He likes Kate Upton, so he got the Kate Upton Sports illustrated cover shot poster in his room.

Some Christians might say – “OK I agreed with you till now that your son does not have to look down when beautiful women walk by, but isn’t a swim suit poster in his room pushing it?” I don’t believe so.

I let him put a swimsuit poster in his room to remind him of the Biblical principle I have taught him that God designed him as man to visually appreciate women’s bodies.

There is absolutely no shame in this whatsoever! Even if he is aroused by that poster of Kate Upton on his wall, there is still no sin. The sin would come if he started looking up Kate Upton’s phone number, or scheming how he might try and find her to have sex with her outside of marriage (these would be lustful thoughts).

Or if he were to take his arousal from seeing Kate Upton, and then think about how he might influence a girl at school to have sex with him outside of marriage, all of these types of thoughts would be lustful, sinful thoughts.

But aren’t you teaching your son to look at women as sex objects?

I don’t have to teach my son to look at women as sex objects, his brain came pre-wired from God to do that. My job as a Christian father, is to help remind him that while women are indeed objects of sexual beauty and desire for men, they are also people with hopes, dreams, thoughts and feelings and they should be treated with honor and respect.

This is where I vehemently disagree with some conservative Christians on one side, and some radical feminists on the other side. These two groups of people that disagree on just about everything else, believe that it is impossible to look at a woman as an object of sexual beauty and desire, and at the same time honor and respect that woman, or women in general.

They suggest a false dichotomy, like it must be one or the other, and this simply is not true.

I teach both my teen sons that they would be stupid and marry a woman, just because she is beautiful. They should seek out a woman that is beautiful both on the inside, as well as the outside (and they don’t have to give up one, for the other).

I teach them to look for a woman that loves the Lord and his Word as much as they do, if not more. I teach them, that if a woman is truly surrendered to God and his design for her life, then she will be the best wife and mother to their children they could ever hope for.

But that does not mean beauty and sexuality must be sacrificed in order to find a Godly wife. It is not a contradictory to thing to find a woman who is both beautiful on the inside as well the outside.

But not all women look like that!

It was interesting how big a deal it was when I allowed my son to have the Kate Upton poster, it generated a lot of discussion before I allowed it, and then more after I allowed it. His mother (my ex-wife), was not happy about me allowing him to have the poster in the least bit. Of course I had to remind her that the rules in my home and how I teach in my home, and how she teaches in her home may be different sometimes.

My wife (my son’s step mom) is not threatened by the fact that there are more beautiful women than her in the world. She realizes that whether it is in a poster, or on the beach, or just walking down the sidewalk we will pass women that have slimmer, younger and more attractive bodies than her.

My ex-wife (his mother) always had a problem with being jealous of other women’s bodies, and she would have the attitude whenever she saw a beautiful women – “well let’s see if she keeps that look over the next 20 years”.

Regardless of either my wife, or my ex-wife’s approach, I as my sons father have to teach them about their sexuality as I believe is right. In regards to women’s bodies, my son’s know most women don’t look like Kate Upton, that is why she makes the money she does, because she is so exceptionally beautiful.

They know that the average woman will have some strengths, and some weaknesses in her physical appearance, just as we as men have strengths and weaknesses in our physical appearance.

So no –I am not teaching my sons to have an unrealistic expectation that all women should look like Kate Upton. What I am teaching them is, it is not wrong for them to appreciate feminine beauty, and especially exceptional feminine beauty when they see it.

Update: Since I originally wrote this post Kate Upton has been doing new commercials for some video game.  My son was over at our Pastor’s house with him and his teenage sons watching TV and the commercial with Kate Upton came on.  My Pastor’s reaction was “now that is a nice looking woman”.  My son thought that was great and had to come home and tell me what our Pastor said.  I think men need to be comfortable talking about women with their sons, and let them know there is a healthy and normal way to enjoy the visual side of their male sexuality.

Conclusion

WhyIAllowSwimSuits1

So when go on our family summer vacations, my son’s don’t have to feel guilty at all or look down when they see women like this on the beach. Instead they can feel free to appreciate the beauty and artistry of God’s design in how he made a woman’s body.

Picture sources

Picture 1 – “Anna Paola bikini” by Shameless Charlotte

– Flickr: Anna Paola. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anna_Paola_bikini.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Anna_Paola_bikini.jpg

Picture 2 – “Val & Aran (Women at beaches)” by edera from Genova, Italy – Val & Aran.

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Val_%26_Aran_(Women_at_beaches).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Val_%26_Aran_(Women_at_beaches).jpg

10 Cannots to Avoid Disaster

This is a fantastic list! This should be plastered on bill boards across america and taught in schools and colleges…this is the type of wisdom our nation was founded on.

It's the Women, Not the Men!

William J. H.  1BoetckerThe following list of “Cannots” was compiled by William J. H. Boetcker. He was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States as a young adult. He settled in Brooklyn, New York where he would become an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Mr. Boetcker was an excellent orator and became an internationally well-known motivational speaker.

Unfortunately, Mr. Boetcker’s list of “Cannots” has been, on many occasions, inaccurately credited to Abraham Lincoln.

Interestingly, when read in a different light, Boetcker’s list, unwittingly, defines and maligns much of the fundamental ideology of radical, second-wave feminism. The italics are mine.

!.  You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. (spendthrift through “independence”)

2.  You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. (radical feminist vs. Christian men)

3.  You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. (radical feminist vs. Christian men)

4.  You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. (poor women vs. rich…

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How to handle a perfectionist Wife

Angry woman shouting at man

How are you as a Christian husband to handle your perfectionist wife? Do you dread coming home from work because you know the moment you walk in the door your wife will complain about five things you have done or not done?

Why God makes perfectionists

Your wife’s perfectionist nature is not some mistake in God’s creation. It is by the design of God.  But what perfectionist wives don’t realize is, they need to channel their perfectionism into positive outlets and not be critical and inflexible with their husbands and children.

For instance a perfectionist wife may channel her perfectionism into how she keeps folds the clothing and puts it way. Often times the perfectionist wife is a great house keeper, planner and organizer. She can use these qualities in positive ways to help her family.

My wife is a perfectionist. Not everything about her perfectionism is a bad thing. When we go on vacations, she is extremely organized at getting our entire family packed up days ahead of time, and going to the store to get all the things she thinks we will need for the trip. I have seen very few women that can throw as good a baby shower or bridal shower as my wife, she is extremely organized and anticipates everything she will need ahead of time.

The negative hallmarks of a perfectionist

Being organized or wanting things done a certain way is not always the mark of perfectionist or a negative thing. But it is the inflexibility, the impatience, and the lack of mercy and grace toward those around them that mark the perfectionist. Perfectionists are often plagued by anxiety and insomnia because no one around them seems to live up to their expectations (including themselves) and they don’t know how to handle the imperfections in the world around them.

Perfectionist tendencies need to be left outside the home and personal relationships

This is one of those posts I can write, only because my blog is anonymous (and this is one of many reasons my blog is anonymous, so I can speak freely).

I wish I could say that my perfectionist wife, like my perfectionist Dad, had not only recognized her perfectionism, but recognized where it is appropriate to apply her perfectionism and where it is not appropriate to apply it – but this simply is not the case with her.

This is my second marriage and I met my wife after having been previously married and having children from that marriage. When we were dating she contained her complaints about me and my children for the most part, but after we were married her complaints came rushing out like water that breaks through a dam.

My wife recognizes her perfectionism, she will admit it before me, her family and my family. Her mother and sister have known this is how she always was.

But while my wife will admit her perfectionism before me and others, she will not always admit that it is wrong. Often she will state the typical perfectionist statement – “I am not wrong for wanting those around me to do things the right way”. I will get more into how I respond to that later.

I say all this, not to say my wife is some terrible person, but simply to say to those husbands reading this who may recognize these issues with their wives, you are not alone. In this post I am writing from my very personal experience.

Our heavenly father is NOT a perfectionist toward us

I want to make something very clear. God is perfect, but God does not act as a perfectionist toward us in the relationship he desires with us. Some Christian teachers over the centuries have incorrectly tried to say that God is a perfectionist toward us with passages like this (and others in the Bible):

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

Genesis 17:1(KJV)

But the idea God is trying to communicate in these passages, is for us to be “complete” in him. He wants us to walk with him, and to be complete in him. God does not want us to sin, but God knows we are sinners. Listen to God’s compassion here:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:9-14(NIV)

Being a compassionate wife and mother, is the opposite of being a perfectionist wife and mother. Your wife cannot be both. In the same way God recognizes our frailties and weaknesses, so too a wife ought to recognize these things with her husband and her children and be gracious about these things.

Are there times when my wife can be compassionate and loving? Absolutely! She has her moments. Your perfectionist wife may have some very soft and tender times. But then the perfectionism creeps back in and rears its ugly head. My wife’s soft and tender side is what drew me to her while we were dating. It was only after we were married that she removed the barrier and allowed her perfectionist critical side to come out in full fashion.

So how do you handle your perfectionist wife?

First of all as a Christian husband remember that two wrongs never make a right. It may be very tempting for you lash out at your wife’s perfectionist tendencies.   But if you are unkind and harsh with her, God may not bless your attempts to bring these issues to her attention.

In another article on How to handle a perfectionist husband, I wrote about a wife being criticized for how she cooks. What I was describing there was based on what has happened to me in real life with my perfectionist wife.

Unlike my Dad and many other men, I truly enjoy cooking, it can be a therapeutic experience for me. I enjoy looking up new recipes, and I have been known to watch a cooking show or two. In our home, my wife is more of the baker and crock pot person. If it gets baked or put in the crock pot, most of the time it is her making it.

I am the griller and stir fry person. If it is getting fried up on the stove, that is probably me. I cut and slice up meats and veggies, come up with different marinades and make many different Asian dishes. I also like to make pasta dishes and I have quite a few that my family enjoys. I am also the master pancake maker in my house – by my wife’s own admission.

But not long after we were married (and it may have even started softly and subtly when we were engaged and I cooked for her) – she started criticizing the way I cooked. She did not like how messy I was when I cooked, or that I did not mind if some splatter got on the stove or on the counter when I was mixing and making things.

Once we were married she became more aggressive with her criticism. She did not like how I did not clean while I was cooking, getting things out and putting them away as I cooked, the way she did. She keeps a clean kitchen while she is cooking, and directly afterwards has everything cleaned up and in the dishwasher. Why could I not just do things the way she did? This is something I often heard.

I wish I could say I never lashed out her, but that would not be true. In the first few years of our marriage I lashed out several times telling her to get out of the kitchen. I said she was ungrateful for me cooking and that many men would not make the effort to cook the way I did, and she should be grateful for that.

What I learned more recently in our marriage, is to contain my anger, recognizing this comes from her perfectionist mindset. I now calmly reminder her that we have had this conversation about 500 times since we have been married, and that I am not going to cook the way she does. Occasionally if her tone is off, and I will also address the issue as a matter of disrespect coming from her.

Some more examples of a perfectionist wife’s behavior

Again these come from real life experiences I have with my wife (whom I love dearly) but has a problem with bringing perfectionism into our home:

My wife is one the many perfectionists I have known, that is thrown off by a cereal box being left on the counter, or on the kitchen table. This drives her nuts. I do truly try to remember to put it away, and often I do. But with me and my kids (who are at my house 3 days a week), there is a very strong chance of a cereal box being left on the table or counter.

The cereal box being left out showcases a broader problem with the perfectionist mindset. Should the person of have put the cereal box away after they ate? Yes. But because a perfectionist cannot tolerate even the smallest failings of others this type of things drives them insane. Each person must do everything right, if they fail in the slightest degree, the perfectionist has the hairs on the back of their neck standing up.

Another thing my wife gets thrown off by is if any amount of water is on the bathroom floor or bathroom sink after someone takes a shower and brushes their teeth. This is another huge pet peeve for her. She will routinely hunt down the last person who was in the bathroom after a shower and ask them why they did not use a towel to wipe up the floor and wipe the counter.

Often perfectionists are thrown off by children rough housing, or yelling at one another. While I agree children need discipline, there should always be a time and place for them to just be who they are – children.

I basically have the rule that as long as there is no cursing, or bleeding (or broken bones) or hitting of girls – almost anything goes.

I have teenage boys and sometimes they fight. My daughter(who is younger than them) may get involved sometimes, but all the boys know they are not allowed to hit her because she is a girl. If she hits them, then they can bring it to me and I will discipline her for it if I think that is appropriate. So as long as there is no hitting of girls, no cursing, and no bleeding happening, I usually don’t get involved. I let my children play, rough house, and work out their differences.

For my wife, this often drives her nuts. She wants me to get involved in each and every scuffle and I have informed her that I do not believe this is the correct approach to fathering them. I will only get involved if I think it has risen to a level that needs some parental refereeing.

Being angry or worrying about small and trivial things is what causes many perfectionists to have horrible anxiety problems (my wife suffers from anxiety and sleeplessness and my father does as well – even though he has gotten better with age).

Don’t fall for the perfectionist wife’s justifications

When you try to address your wife’s perfectionist tendencies be prepared for these three justifications in defense of her perfectionist ways:

Justification #1: Her way is “the better way” or “the right way”

She might just try and tell you she was just trying to show you a better way, or the right way to cook. You need to let her know that her way might be what she thinks is the best way to cook, but you do not think her way is better and she needs to accept that.

Justification #2: Her way is not so hard

She might try and say her way is easier, or what she is asking you to do is not so hard, so why can’t you just do it the way she does? Again you need to respectfully let her know that you are not purposefully trying to upset her, you just have your way of cooking and she has hers.

Justification #3: Why do just want to keep doing things you know upset her?

This is the final weapon many perfectionist wives will pull out if all other attempts fail. “Why do you cook this way, or leave your tooth brush this way, or leave your clothes on the floor if you know it upsets me so much?” This is the perfectionist wife’s attempt to put you on a guilt trip, to make you feel that each and everything you do that is not done her way, is a personal attack on her.

You need to let her know that when you are cooking, you are not doing it differently to make her upset. You are doing it that way because it works best for you.

If you accidentally leave some clothing on the floor, or leave a cereal box on the counter, you were not doing it to upset her. You simply forgot to put the cereal away, or you missed the clothes hamper. If you has a father allow certain behavior she may not approve of, it is not to upset her. She needs to defer to your authority as the father and head of the home.

Whenever something is out of place, or you do something different than she would have done it, you need to gently and respectfully remind her that you are not her.

She has her way of brushing her teeth, and you have yours.

She has her way of folding clothes, and you have yours.

She has her way of cooking, and you have yours.

She has her way of driving, and you have yours.

She may want stricter rules for the kids, but you have decided to be more lenient in some areas. This is your prerogative as the father and head of your home.

I could go on with a 1000 examples of small things, but you get the point.

What is not a perfectionist wife?

Sometimes a husband may falsely accuse his wife of being a perfectionist.

A mom wanting her kids to pick up their clothes and put them in the hamper is not necessarily a perfectionist.    She may just trying to teach her kids good habits about cleaning up after themselves.

A mom asking her kids to scrape their plates and put them in the sink, or to perform certain regular chores like washing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom is not being a perfectionist. Again she is just trying to get her kids to clean up after themselves.

What I am NOT saying to Christian husbands who are married to perfectionist wives

I am not saying a Christian husband should not take his wife’s concerns into account.  Should a Christian husband try to clean up after himself? Yes. Should a Christian husband listen to his wife’s concern about the discipline of their children? Absolutely.

What I AM saying to Christian husbands who are married to perfectionist wives

But let’s face it, how a person cooks is not a moral issue. The way a person brushes their teeth is not a moral issue. Clothing not making it to the hamper is not a moral issue. The perfectionist wife cannot differentiate between these types of insignificant things, and the truly important things that have moral consequences.

Many Christian teachers have rightly said “you cannot be the holy spirit for another person”, and that is a very true statement. However, you as the head of your home, are the spiritual teacher of your home. This not only includes your children, but it also includes your wife. While you may approach your wife differently because she is an adult, she still is one who is under your spiritual authority and you bare a responsibility for admonishing her with God’s truth.  A certain amount of perfectionism from one’s wife can be tolerated, but a certain point if she is being disrespectful and obstinate about it a husband may have to call out his wife’s rebellion.

You need to help your wife realize that you do not live in a museum or a military base, you live in a home. Yes a Christian home should have some discipline and order to it, but it should also be a place that showcases God’s love, compassion, mercy, acceptance and grace. It is your job as Christian husband, and the head of your wife, to help your perfectionist wife to see this truth.

Related article: How to handle a perfectionist husband

How to handle a perfectionist Husband

Couple having a quarrel

How are you as a Christian wife to handle your perfectionist husband? Do you sometimes dread the moment you hear his car pull up in the drive way, because within 30 seconds of him being in the door he will find five things to complain about?

Why God makes perfectionists

It is not a mistake that there are perfectionist people out there. It is by the design of God. There are many professions that demand a person of a perfectionist mindset. Perfectionists are detail oriented, and typically well disciplined. These types of qualities come in vary handy for military jobs as well science and engineering jobs.

Perfectionists are often great planners and organizers. If a perfectionist is good planner or organizer, these traits are not necessarily bad to bring into the home, in fact they can be beneficial, if applied in a loving and flexible way. The trick is, leaving room for differences. For instance, the perfectionist husband can often be tempted to have every detail of a vacation planned out, when maybe there needs to be some room left for spontaneity in a vacation.

My father is a perfectionist. He has worked as an aircraft parts inspector for many years and he is very good at his job finding flaws in aircraft parts he inspects. If my father were not such a perfectionist, the air planes on which his parts go might crash and people would die. God gave him the ability to be meticulous when he needs to be.

The negative hallmarks of a perfectionist

Being organized or wanting things done a certain way is not always the mark of perfectionist or a negative thing. But it is the inflexibility, the impatience, and the lack of mercy and grace toward those around them that mark the perfectionist. Perfectionists are often plagued by anxiety and insomnia because no one around them seems to live up to their expectations (including themselves) and they don’t know how to handle the imperfections in the world around them.

Perfectionist tendencies need to be left outside the home and personal relationships

My father had to learn the hard way early in his marriage and when we were growing up, that some of the perfectionist tendencies that made him a great worker, would make him a terrible husband and father if he brought them home with him. Occasionally these tendencies would start creeping back in, and my mother would have to lovingly remind him that we were not parts in his plant, but that we were his family whom he loved.

A perfectionist husband needs to leave his perfectionism at the door of his home. It should never come into his marriage or into how he interacts with and parents his children.

Our heavenly father is not a perfectionist toward us

I want to make something very clear. God is perfect, but God does not act as a perfectionist toward us in the relationship he desires with us. Some Christian teachers over the centuries have incorrectly tried to say that God is a perfectionist toward us with passages like this (and others in the Bible):

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Genesis 17:1(KJV)

But the idea God is trying to communicate in these passages, is for us to be “complete” in him. He wants us to walk with him, and to be complete in him. God does not want us to sin, but God knows we are sinners. Listen to God’s compassion here:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:9-14(NIV)

Being a compassionate husband and father, is the opposite of being a perfectionist husband and father. Your husband cannot be both. In the same way God recognizes our frailties and weaknesses, so too a husband ought to recognize these things with his wife and his children and be gracious about these things.

When your perfectionist husband criticizes you for trivial things, he is not acting in a loving and compassionate way. God wants husbands to love their wives and in those moments of criticism he is doing the opposite of what God has asked him to do toward you.

So how do you handle your perfectionist husband?

First of all as a Christian wife remember that two wrongs never make a right. It may be very tempting for you lash out at your husband’s perfectionist tendencies.   But if you are unkind and disrespectful to him, God may not bless your attempts to bring these issues to his attention. It would be a mistake for you to try and take on the role of teacher to your husband, because he is your authority. But there is nothing wrong with those who are under authority conveying in respectful ways their grievances with their authorities.

“If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female,   when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me?

What will I answer when called to account? Did not he who made me in the womb make them?

Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?”

Job 31:13-15(NIV)

So if God wants masters to humble themselves and hear grievances from their servants (as we see here in Job 31), how much more should a husband be willing to hear respectful grievances from his wife?

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are cooking dinner for your husband and family. Your husband comes into the kitchen and begins complaining about how messy of a cook you are. He says something like “hey when I cook, there is no splatter on the stove, and I am careful how I stir and I clean and put away things as I am cooking, why do you have to leave everything out to clean up at some later point?”

You first instinct might be rage – you are justifiably feeling “how dare you come in here while I making our family a meal, and criticize the way I cook and tell me your way is better? How ungrateful! Why don’t you just cook the rest of this meal yourself?”

It might feel great to get that off your chest in that manner and storm off. But instead of losing it I admonish you to try this instead.

Ignore what he has said, say nothing to him in response.

If he asks why you are not saying anything, just calmly let him know you are trying to finish dinner and that you and he need to talk later.

Let him sit and think about what he has said to you, let him wonder what you will say to him later. After dinner is done and everyone has eaten, ask him to go to your bedroom or some private place away from the kids. This is where you can share your feelings and feel free to cry and let your feelings out in front of him. Being respectful, does not mean being unemotional.

Let him know how much it hurts you when he criticizes how you do cook.

Don’t fall for the perfectionist husband’s justifications

When you try to address your husband’s perfectionist tendencies be prepared for these three justifications in defense of his perfectionist ways:

His way is “the better way” or “the right way”

He might just try and tell you he was just trying to show you a better way, or the right way to cook. You need to let him know that his way might be what he thinks is the best way to cook, but you do not think his way is better and he needs to accept that.

His way is not so hard

He might try and say his way is easier, or what he is asking you to do is not so hard, so why can’t you just do it the way he does? Again you need to respectfully let him know that you are not purposefully trying to upset him, you just have your way of cooking and he has his.

Why do you just want to keep doing things you know upset him?

This is the final weapon many perfectionist husbands will pull out if all other attempts fail. “Why do you cook this way, or leave your tooth brush this way, or leave your clothes on the floor if you know it upsets me so much?” This is the perfectionist’s attempt to put you on a guilt trip, to make you feel that each and everything you do that is not done their way, is a personal attack on them.

You need to let him know that when you are cooking, you are not doing it differently to make him upset. You are doing it that way because it works best for you.

If you accidentally leave some clothing on the floor, or leave a cereal box on the counter, you were not doing it to upset him. You simply forgot to put the cereal away, or you missed the clothes hamper.

Whenever something is out of place, or you do something different than he would have done it, you need to gently and respectfully remind him that you are not him.

He has his way of brushing his teeth, and you have yours.

He has his way of folding clothes, and you have yours.

He has his way of cooking, and you have yours.

He has his way of driving, and you have yours.

I could go on with a 1000 examples of small things, but you get the point.

What is not a perfectionist husband?

Sometimes a wife may falsely accuse her husband of being a perfectionist. These false accusations of perfectionism usually come from lazy or rebellious wives. I know that it’s not easy sometimes as a wife and mom to keep up your home. There are just going to be those days where you feel like you were not able to get anything done because you were a mom-taxi cab or because of other things that happen with the kids.

But while I don’t think a husband should be coming home yelling at his wife, if a wife is lazy and sits around watching soaps all day and does nothing he has a right to say something (and as the head of his home, he must say something). But it needs to be done in the right way and this is not being a perfectionist husband. I will get more into this topic of lazy housewives in another post.

If your husband has rules for your children, you need to enforce those rules even if you don’t agree. Your husband is not being a perfectionist for expecting that you will enforce the family rules when he is not around. Of course there needs to be a place for mercy and grace when children break family rules but children do need discipline.

What I am NOT saying to Christian wives who are married to perfectionist husbands

I am not saying a Christian wife does not have to submit to and obey her husband. He is the authority in the home by the design of God. As I have said on other posts, a wife should listen to her husband as to how she keeps her hair, or what styles of clothing she wears and in many other areas she should seek his counsel. Especially when it comes to moral decisions of the home, she needs to follow his leadership.

What I am saying to Christian wives who are married to perfectionist husbands

But let’s face it, how a person cooks is not a moral issue. The way a person brushes their teeth is not a moral issue. Clothing not making it to the hamper is not a moral issue. The perfectionist husband cannot differentiate between these types of insignificant things, and truly important things that have moral consequences.

As a Christian wife, you need to in a loving and respectful way, be a helpmeet to your husband and help him not to be a perfectionist toward you or your children.

Related article: How to handle a perfectionist wife

Does God want a wife’s beauty hidden from world?

Standing girl in checked dress. Isolated with clipping path

Does God want women to hide their beauty in order to “save it” for their husband? Does God want women to hide their beauty so that other men may not lust after them?

While there are some subtle differences, this is actually one of a few things that Muslims, Jews and Christians have in common. The only difference is in how far each side goes with their teaching. The two reasons taught in Islam, Judaism and Christianity for a woman covering her beauty are these:

  1. A woman’s beauty belongs to her husband, or if she is unmarried, her future husband and it is his alone to enjoy in private.
  2. A woman should cover her beauty as to not cause other men to lust and thus sin against God even if only in their sexual thoughts.

Does the Bible say a woman’s beauty belongs to her husband?

Some might point to I Corinthians 7:4 to say that a wife’s body(and therefore her beauty) belongs to her husband.  I would have too in times past.  But if we look closely and examine this passage it is talking about the equal right of a husband and wife to have sexual access to each others body for the purposes of sex.

The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

I Corinthians 7:4(KJV)

But this is not talking about exhaustive ownership of each other’s bodies in all ways because one who is to be in subjection(I Peter 3:1-2,Ephesians 5:22-24) – the wife, cannot own the one who is her master – the husband.

God made wives the property of their husbands

There are some relationships in Scripture where the submission of one to another does not involve the ownership of one by the other. Examples of this would be the Biblical admonition to citizens to submit to civil governments and for church members to submit to their church leaders.  God does not give governments ownership rights over their citizens and he does not give church leaders ownership rights over their members. These two spheres of authority are limited in their powers and jurisdictions.

But God established some spheres of human authority where ownership of human property is either allowed(such as slavery under certain circumstances) or ownership is simply implied such as the relationship between a father and his children or a husband and his wife.

The ownership of the wife by the husband is confirmed in the 10th commandment where a man’s wife is included in a list of his possessions:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Exodus 20:17 (KJV)

Again in the book of  Deuteronomy a man’s wife is included in his possessions:

And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.”

Deuteronomy 20:5-7 (KJV)

These possessions all belonged to the man and he had the right to make use of them.  In fact he was encouraged to make use of these possessions.

There are many that falsely attack the Bible based on these and other passages saying that the Bible makes a woman a possession that is no more valuable than cattle(Exodus 20:17) and a peace of land(Deuteronomy 20:5-7).

Another way of saying their argument is “If a woman is owned by her husband then she has no value as a person”.

But this could not be farther from the truth.  While it conflicts with our modern values a person can be owned by another and yet have great value. The Bible says Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10). I don’t know about you – but I think rubies are far more valuable than a house, cattle or a vineyard!

Also the Bible calls on husbands to give honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel(I Peter 3:7).  So just because women are the property of their husbands does not mean husbands can treat them the same as their cattle.  This a false argument proposed by those who do understand the Biblical concept of human property verses the world’s concept of human property.

I find it utterly fascinating that people have no problem if you made this statement “Christ owns his Church” yet they go utterly bonkers if you say “A husband owns his wife”.  Yet the Scriptures clearly show that the husband/wife relationship was designed as a  picture of the relationship of Christ and his Church:

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)

How does the Church relate to Christ? As an equal partner? No my friends.  The church relates to Christ as her owner and master. She conforms herself to his will.

The husband/wife relationship was not only the first human authority relationship that God designed, but it was in fact the most powerful human authority relationship that God ever designed. 

It surpasses the jurisdictions and powers of civil government, church government and even parents toward their children. In no other human relationship are we told that the one under authority is to submit to the other as “unto the Lord” or literally as unto God himself.

Our culture utterly rejects the concept of a husband owning his wife because we worship the false god of equality rather than the one true God of the Bible.

Fifty years ago what I am teaching here was heard in pulpits across America but now because of the rise feminism Pastor’s fear teaching these truths for fear of being called male chauvinists or misogynists. Many Pastor’s and Christian teachers have actually convinced themselves that these teachings of the Scriptures are for times past and do not apply to our modern era.  They live in a constant state of self-denial when it comes to the truth of the Scriptures in these matters.

As a result this capitulation to feminism, in the last half century the Church has made an unholy alliance with our culture and has allowed the husband/wife authority sphere to be made into the weakest of  all authority spheres. But God’s Word has not changed even if our culture has.

I say all that to say this. 

The Bible clearly teaches that wives are not only to submit to their husbands in everything but that they are in fact the property of their husbands. A wife’s body and her beauty does in fact belong to her husband.

So does a husband have the right to organize his wife’s appearance as he would the appearance his vineyard? Of course he does.

The Bible even shows that Christ molds his church to his own liking:

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:25-27(KJV)

Again this passage is one that has been so twisted and warped because of feminist influences on our churches today.  We hear Pastors quote verse 25 of Ephesians chapter five telling husbands that they need to sacrifice themselves for their wives as Christ did the Church. But then they do not tell you what the point of his sacrifice was!

Was it to appease his Church and give her whatever she wants? Was it to let her do her own thing? Was it just to make her happy? No my friends it was not.  It was to make her holy and pleasing to him.  It was so he could present her to himself the way he wanted her to be.

I know it took us a while to get to this point but it was necessary for us to build this foundation first. The Bible is utterly clear that a wife is not only to submit to her husband but that she is his property. The Bible further confirms this ownership relationship by telling us that marriage was designed by God to be a picture of Christ and his Church and Christ conforms his church to his will and molds her as he would to present her to himself in all her glory.

So, not only in the area of sexuality, but in all areas of life a woman is to submit to her husband.  That means in the area of how a wife dresses and how she keeps her body and appearance her husband does have the ultimate authority. Her appearance should be made to please her husband – including what she wears.

Since a husband has authority over how his wife dresses, does this mean he is required to keep her beauty from the outside world and only for himself in private?

The Bible never commands a husband to hide his wife’s beauty from the world.

Except for if a husband asks his wife to do something sinful, he has absolute authority over his wife. So technically speaking, if a husband asks his wife to completely cover herself in a burqa Biblically speaking, she ought to obey her husband.

But the real question is – should he force his wife to completely cover her body from head to toe when she is outside their home or in the presence of non-family men?

My answer would to Christian husbands be NO. While a husband’s authority over his wife is almost absolute (besides him asking his wife to engage in sinful activity) – God commands a husband to exercise his authority toward his wife in love, in honor, and in knowledge of how she is made as a woman.

A husband is commanded to honor his wife and live with her in a knowledgeable way

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

I Peter 3:7(KJV)

Yes husbands have authority over their wives – but God gives a solemn warning to husbands. If a husband does not live with his wife in a knowledgeable way, and give honor to her, God will not hear his prayers.

One of the ways a husband is knowledgeable of his wife is by accepting her natural desire to be beautiful and to display her beauty. He honors her by displaying her beauty for all to see.

WomansBeautyGermanDirndl

Women have a natural desire to display their beauty

A common theme you see throughout this site is – God designed man and woman in distinctive ways to represent very important symbols. Yes beauty fades, as does our short lives here on earth, but God’s symbolism in man and woman existed long before we did, and it will continue long after we are gone.

God purposefully designed a woman to want to be beautiful, because he desires the beauty of his Church.

Psalm 45 which is a messianic prophecy of Christ and the Church says this:

So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him…The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.  She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework…”

Psalm 45:13-14(KJV)

In this prophecy it shows that the King (symbolic of God) desires the beauty of his wife, the daughter (symbolic of the Church) is made “glorious” with clothing that is “gold” and “raiment of needlework”.

As we mentioned previously regarding Christ and the Church, Christ wants to  “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing“(Ephesians 5:27)

Just as God wants his Church to be glorious, without spot or wrinkle, and without blemish, so too a woman naturally desires to keep up her appearance. Why do wrinkles and the aging process bother women more than men? Why do women want to cover up facial blemishes with makeup and most men could care less?

The reason is because a woman is wired to make herself beautiful, her desire to be physically beautiful is symbolic of the Church’s desire to be beautiful for God.

Does the Bible call on men to hide their wife’s beauty so other men will not lust?

Absolutely not!

Not one place in all of Scripture, does the Bible say a man has to hide his wife’s beauty from other men so they will not lust. There is nothing wrong with other men appreciating the beauty of another man’s wife. There is nothing wrong with other men even being sexually aroused by the beauty of another man’s wife. Lust occurs when a man thinks about how he may get another man’s wife to sleep with him, Biblically speaking, lust is covetousness.

See my post What does the Bible say about Lust for more the subject of Lust from a Biblical perspective.

But shouldn’t a woman take every step to not cause other men to stumble?

Since appreciation of a wife’s beauty can lead to sexual arousal, and sexual arousal might eventually lead to sexual covetousness (lust), shouldn’t we avoid even the possibility of that by keeping our women covered from head to toe?

Again – this is man adding his own logic to God’s ways. Paul even warns against adding human rules with this type of thinking:

“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

Colossians 2:20-23(NASB)

We are not to take away from God’s law, and we are not to add to God’s law. Many have done this (adding to God’s law), even with good intentions. We are to follow God’s Law as it is written, we are not to stray to the left, or to the right.

Where the Scriptures are silent, and thus allow freedom, we should be silent and let each man decide in his conscious before God. Where the Scriptures speak clearly, we ought to speak clearly.

Does this mean husbands should let their wives run around naked?

Earlier I mentioned that a husband honors his wife by displaying her beauty for the world to see. That does not mean I think husbands should encourage their wives to walk everywhere naked for the world to see.

There are lines and even we as Christians may sometimes disagree as to where those lines are. Here are some opinions I have seen from those who believe in the strict covering of women, whether they be strict Christian men, or even strict Muslim men:

  1. If you’re going to let your wife show her hair and face in public, she might as well go around naked.
  2. If you’re going to let your wife show her bare arms or legs in public, she might as well go around naked.
  3. If you’re going to let your wife show cleavage on her shirt or blouse, she might as well go around naked.
  4. If you’re going to let your wife dress in tight clothes, or a tang top and shorts then you might as well let her go around naked.

I could list a lot more opinions on the subject, but I think these four make my point. Most Christians would not have a problem with a woman showing her face and hair publically, but many Muslims do, and they would use the exact logic I have above to be opposed to it.

I have attended Christian churches, and attend a Baptist church now, where many men in including our Pastor, would embrace the opinion in point number four above. I personally disagree with all 4 points above.

WomansBeautyInShorts

I believe there is a time and place for different types of dress, but if it is a hot day and we are playing volley ball and my wife were to wear a tang top and shorts, I would have no problem with this whatsoever. There is no Scripture which forbids her from doing so, unless I as her husband and authority told her not to.

But what about women who don’t desire to be beautiful, or to publically display their beauty?

Let’s come back to the symbolism in God’s design of man and woman. God designed man with a natural instinct to want to lead, provide and protect. But some men, because of either how they were brainwashed growing up, or because of sin they were born with, have no desire to lead, provide and protect. God still calls on these men to lead, provide and protect, whether they have a desire to or not.

It is the same way with women. Even if a woman does not have a natural desire to make herself beautiful, she should cultivate that desire because her beauty is much more than physical, it represents an eternal spiritual symbolism and that is what God wants her to do.

See my post 6 Reasons Why women hide their beauty for more on this subject.

Conclusion

The Bible does say a woman’s body belongs to her husband, but it never says that because her beauty belongs to him that it must be hidden from the world and only revealed to him in private. The Bible also tells men to lead their wives in love, in honor and in knowledge of their nature as a woman. A husband should not hide his wife’s beauty, but should proudly display it to the world as Christ seeks to display the glory of his Church to this world.

He should shower his wife with compliments of how beautiful she is. Even if his wife is shy, he should gently and lovely help to cultivate a sense of beauty in her that her beauty matters not only to him, but also to God.

Never in any passage, does the Bible tell women they need to cover themselves so as not to cause other men to lust after them. If a man lusts after a woman (sexually covets her) that is between him and God.

6 Reasons a woman may not want to display her beauty

Whywomenhidebeauty

Why would a woman not want to display her beauty? Why would she want to wear clothing that hides her skin, her form or even her face and hair? As part of a broader series on women’s dress and beauty I wanted to tackle these questions here in a separate post.

These are 6 reasons women typically hide their beauty:

Reason #1 – Some women believe God only wants their beauty displayed to their husbands privately

Many devout religious women, both Christian and non-Christian (such as the Muslim and Amish Christian women above), hide their beauty for religious reasons. They truly believe that God wants them to hide their beauty, and he only wants them to display it privately for their husbands.

Reason #2 – Some women believe they will lead men to sinful thoughts if they display their beauty

The same devout religious women who hide their beauty only for their husbands in private, often hide their beauty for a second reason. They believe if they display their beauty they may cause other men to have sexual thoughts towards them and thus fall into sin.

Reason #3 – Some women don’t want to be sexual objects for men’s viewing pleasure

Here we come to the first non-religious reason why some women hide their beauty. They hide it because they don’t want to be “objectified by men”. They don’t want men receiving pleasure from seeing their beauty.

Reason #4 – Some women don’t believe they are beautiful

Some women simply do not believe they are beautiful. They look around at other women they do not feel that they measure up, so they give up and hide their beauty.

Reason #5 – Some women are just plain lazy

Some women have no religious, political, or emotional reason for hiding their beauty. They are just simply lazy and do not want to take the time to properly display their beauty.

Reason #6 – Some women are forbidden by their culture or their husbands from displaying their beauty

Some women would love to display their beauty in public, but either their husband or their culture forbid them from doing so.

A plea to Christian women who hide their beauty on religious grounds

First and foremost, if you are not a Christian, I invite you to accept Jesus Christ as your savior, because he and his Word will change your life and outlook forever if you let him.

There is a simple undeniable truth in God’s creation – man was built for function, woman was built for beauty. A woman’s beauty is symbolic of the beauty of Christ’s Church.

God did not make you the beautiful creature that you are, only for you to hide your beauty. He meant for your beauty to be displayed to the world. As believers we may believe in different standards of how and where we display that beauty, but we should be able to agree that God meant a woman’s beauty to be on display for all to see.

God gave you the unique form you have, your beautiful hair, face, eyes, lips, breasts, hips and legs as works of art. He did not intend for you to wear clothing that is so baggy or bulky that someone could not discern your form as a woman.

Yes God call’s women to modesty (I Timothy 2:9), but modesty means “appropriateness”. It means you should wear clothing that is appropriate to the occasion that you are in. You certainly should not wear shorts and tang top to worship in Church. But this same clothing would appropriate for a summer picnic with friends or playing volleyball at the beach.

God does not want women dressing like prostitutes, but there is nothing wrong with a woman wearing a sexier form fitting dress for a night on the town with her husband.

Nothing in the Bible says anything about you dressing to not lead other men into lust (sexual covetousness) – check it out for yourself, this is never a motivator for a Christian woman dresses. You dress for God, and for your husband. Please read my post on What does the Bible say about Lust to learn what it actually says, verses what many churches teach on this subject.

Please see my post – 7 Principles for how a Christian woman should dress For Biblical guidelines to follow on how to dress as a Christian woman.

A plea to women who don’t want to be objects for men’s viewing pleasure

If you are this type of woman, I am most likely talking to a feminist. You don’t like how society sees women as sexual objects for men’s pleasure. Your dress style is a protest against the culture. If you are not a Christian, I invite you to call on Christ today to save you and let him change your life. If you are a Christian then I invite you to reexamine your world view in light of God’s Word. The Bible is clear that God made woman for man, and for many reasons. One of those reasons is for him to experience her beauty.

In the same way that God experiences pleasure from the beauty of his church, men are meant to experience pleasure from the beauty of women around them. God meant for women to want to be beautiful, and he wired men to appreciate that beauty.

Your war against God’s creation, and his design, will never make you happy. Only when you surrender to God’s will and his design, will you finally find peace.

A plea to women who don’t think they are beautiful

Perhaps you are a woman that never had a father to tell you that you were beautiful. Maybe you did have a dad, but he always made you feel bad about yourself. Maybe you have an idea based on what you see on TV or in the stores that you don’t measure up to what is considered “beautiful” in our culture.

If you did not have a father that made you feel beautiful, I am very sorry about that. But the good news is, you have a heavenly father who does believe you are beautiful. He created you, he thinks you are wonderful. He wants you to accentuate your beauty in the best way that you can.

Are some women more beautiful than others? Yes. To say otherwise, would be a blatant falsehood. But that does not mean that each woman cannot be beautiful in her own way.

I wrote an entire post on this subject of finding your beauty in – What if I don’t have an hour glass figure?

A plea to lazy women

So you simply don’t care how you look? Maybe you are married, maybe you are not. Even if you are not married, God calls you to do your best at whatever you do:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord”

Colossians 3:23(NIV)

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I Corinthians 10:31(NIV)

So whether you are married or single, God expects your best in all areas of your life. You need to make yourself as beautiful as you can, in honor of God. When you are married, then you have even more reason to keep yourself beautiful in honor and respect of your husband.

A plea to husbands who force their wives to hide their beauty

Husbands – God has given you a beautiful work of art in your wife. He did not intend for you take the gift he gave you and hide it away from the world. God made your wife to want to be beautiful, and for her to want to display her beauty to the world. God wants you to honor your wife by letting her display her beauty in tasteful ways that do not bring shame to him or you. Please see my post Does God want a wife’s beauty hidden from world? for more on this subject from a husband’s point of view.