His Wisdom for Her World

Is Sexy a Sin?

By on January 17, 2017 in Culture, Sexuality, Women's Issues with 19 Comments

“If you got it, flaunt it!” …So goes the advice to women around the world.

If you want to attract a man, you have to put yourself on display—you’ve got to be sexy. Lest I make this sound like a diatribe against secular culture, I should mention that Christians have offered me this advice too. Well-meaning but (in my opinion) misguided women have suggested that if I ever wanted to get married, I needed to “advertise” more.

I have been thinking a lot about this over the past month, and I have to admit that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to talk about this here. I worried people would think, “There is just another one of those frumpy, outdated, Christian women wishing for the good ole days of Victorian England (or whatever era was most prudish).” Let me be clear, I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking care of your body and wanting to look beautiful.

But “sexy”? …Let’s think about that together.

Hearing how the word “sexy” is thrown around in everyday conversations, it’s everywhere! Everything from food to cars is now “sexy.” (I can’t lie—there is something special about a bacon cheeseburger!) But it seems almost anything can be considered sexy today. Back in the 1990s Kenny Chesney sang about a girl who thought his tractor was sexy. In 2006 Justin Timberlake crooned that he was bringing sexy back. One year, during a Super Bowl, even a web hosting company was called sexy (I wish I could un-see that commercial!)

Some people find the word empowering—others offensive.

In 2013, ESPN Sports announcer Brent Musburger came under fire for gushing over Katherine Webb (the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron), calling her “beautiful.” Musburger was immediately criticized for his remark, and a flurry of Internet and Twitter commentary followed. Some felt that it was inappropriate for a 73-year-old man to comment on the looks of a 23-year-old young woman. In an interview with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, Webb said something interesting:

“I think the media has been really unfair to (Musburger). I think if he had said something along the line if we were hot or sexy, I think that would be a little bit different…The fact that he said we were beautiful and gorgeous, I don’t think any woman wouldn’t be flattered by that. I appreciate it, but at the same time I don’t think I needed an apology.” *

Webb’s comments got me thinking—what is it about the word “sexy” that would have been offensive to her, especially in light of the fact that so many things in our culture are called this very word? I think it comes down to its basic meaning. Sexy means, “sexually suggestive or stimulating.”** Though the words beautiful and sexy may be considered interchangeable, they have two very different meanings.

So, if being sexy means being “sexually suggestive,” I have to wonder, is sexy a sin?

Let’s consider these two women:

  • The Shulamite of Song of Solomon – Though the word “sexy” is not found in the book of Song of Solomon, I think we can safely make the argument that the bride groom found his bride sexy. Chapter seven alone (with some pretty blush-worthy descriptions) makes clear that this man is captivated by his young bride. Within the marriage relationship, it’s natural and good that a husband and wife find each other sexy. God designed marriage as the only right setting for sexual intimacy (Gen. 2:24). So, for a husband to find his wife sexually attractive is a good thing (Check out Prov. 5:15-20, which also speaks about the rightness of sexual attraction within a marriage).

However, outside of the covenant relationship of marriage, here’s what God says about a woman being “sexy”:

  • The Immoral Woman of Proverbs 7 – This woman used her looks and words to ensnare and entice men into sin. The Bible says she used the way she was dressed with “crafty intent.” Notice her motive—she was seeking to trip up the men who crossed her path. She wanted them to find her sexually attractive and suggestive. She drew attention to herself and intentionally put herself in situations where she would be noticed. The intent of her heart was not for the good of others.

Bottom line: The only appropriate person for a woman to be sexy around is her own husband.

What does that mean for our interactions with every other member of the opposite sex? I once heard a woman say that guys could find almost any outfit suggestive, and it was up to men to keep their minds out of the gutter. But that is a “me-first” kind of attitude that doesn’t belong in Christian thinking and ignores our responsibility. Instead, we’re called to have an “others-first” mindset, even if that means suspending some of your own rights for the sake of a weaker brother. Romans 14:13 encourages “Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

Ladies, we have some thinking to do when it comes to how we dress and interact with guys.

Do we have “crafty intent” like the Proverbs 7 woman when it comes to our clothes and our body language, or are we committed to adorning ourselves with modesty, which is fitting for women who profess Christ (1 Tim. 2:9)?

Despite the fact that the world (and, unfortunately, some women in the church), push “sexiness” as a feminine virtue, I encourage you, my sisters, to think about what is pleasing to the Lord.  “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Prov. 31:30)

(For some great tips about modesty, check out Amanda Walker’s article.)

*http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/01/09/katherine-webb-didnt-need-brent-musburger-apology/1820117/

**http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sexy

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About the Author

About the Author: Candi’s greatest passion is to see teenagers and women come to know the Lord and become mature disciples of Christ. Several women invested in her life when she was a new believer in high school, and the impact they had on her reminds her daily of the positive influence we can have on others for Christ.

Comments welcome. Keep it classy.

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  1. Bart Barber says:

    I””””ve said precisely this in sermons (and have been criticized for it by a few). Thanks for having the courage to put this in print.

  2. Candi Finch says:

    Thanks Bart! Glad for the biblical stands you take. I imagine it can””””t be easy for pastors to address these types of issues from the pulpit.

  3. Michaelia says:

    Beautifully said! Too many have excepted what society says about themselves and culture in general. It is the Word of the Lord that should be our guide. We should be teaching our young ladies these very principles. If one lady can read this and find truth from it, then it will be worth any criticisms! May God bless you for speaking for His truths.

  4. Candi Finch says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Michaelia!

  5. Michelle Gilliland says:

    Hi Candi 🙂 I clicked on the link to send you a fb message, but it wanted to charge me. So odd! At any rate, I loved your article. Very nice to see a young, single lady behaving like a lady! I have often thought these same sentiments, and even more so while in church. Having respect for other people is important, too! Sometimes even *I* get distracted by some of the clothing, and I cannot even imagine what the men are thinking. It””””s way more of an issue than simple judgement of others and their clothing styles. There are so many things in this world that we cannot control, but what we choose to wear is completely within our control. Having respect for other people and not adding to their already bombarded minds of all sexual impurity is just plain courteous. Okay, I””””ll quit now, but you can see that it drives me a little up the wall. 🙂 Thanks again for being so brave, and for not advertising yourself. 🙂

    • Paul Fishman says:

      The Word Sexy is properly used mainly to describe satan and evil. Sexy is also a word used for the tempter and temptation as well as promiscuous and homosexual people as well. This word is extremely offensive and NO Believer in Christ should EVER use this word except to describe the devil and evil.

  6. Candi Finch says:

    Michelle, I am sorry that happened when you tried to facebook me. I have no idea why that happened! Thanks for passing along your kind comments–I really appreciate your affirming words!

  7. Brenda Reyes says:

    I think that while you may have had good intentions with this article you are very misguided. What may appear sexy to one person might not have the same effect on another person. Women who look at another women and determine that they are sexy or provactive are judging the other woman are they not. I have found in my personal expierece that it does not matter what a woman wears or does not wear, but if men have lust in their heart they will chase any woman. I know when I get dressed and do my make up I pick clothes that make me feel good and confident as a person. It [does not make] the day much easier to face when you know you have all your sisters in christ judging you instead of praying for you…

    • Tina says:

      Hello sister, I know this is late but I think that Godly women are expected to be modest in their clothe choice,make up and hair colors so the attention we attract will point to God goodness nd characteristics in our lives, but when our wears exposes size, shape nd part of inner bodies then we are no longer looking the way God wants women who says they are His to look like.

  8. Candi Finch says:

    Hey Brenda,
    I appreciate you sharing your opinion. I tried to be very careful when I wrote this not to suggest that we become the modesty police. Instead of judging other ladies and determining that they are dressed provocatively, what I suggested is that each lady consider her own dress and motives, which I think is good for any Christian woman to do. We want to make sure we aren””””t conforming to cultural standards when it comes to what is appropriate or not appropriate in the area of dress.

    In addition, I also am aware, as I said above, that some guys could find just about any outfit tempting. I agree that how people define “sexy” varies. Nevertheless, just as men (and women) have a responsibility to control lust, women have a responsibility to adorn themselves in such a way that is appropriate for women who profess to know God (1 Tm 2:9-10).

    You may still disagree with me, but hopefully that clears up what I was saying.

    In Christ,

    Candi

  9. Cassie says:

    While I understand and agree with your sentiment, my concern is that we spend too much time criticizing and saying what cannot be worn rather setting some basic guidelines of what is acceptable and honorable to a single young lady to wear. For example, I am modest but I will wear fashionable clothing. Some would say that as a single Christian woman I should never any remotely close fitting or attractive because of this same logic that I would be a temptress. My question to you is what guidelines would you offer?

  10. Candi Finch says:

    Hey Cassie,
    Thank you for commenting ! In offering “some basic guidelines of what is acceptable and honorable” for a lady to wear, I think you by default will have to address some things that should not be worn as well as encouraging things that are good to wear. At the end of the blog after my bio, I referenced Amanda Walker””””s article that does give some good, practical suggestions. I hope you will check that out if you have not seen it. I find it instructive that many secular companies even have dress codes of “acceptable dress”–sure, they range in what is acceptable, but if secular companies have such standards, it seems only reasonable that believers also have standards in regards to dress. For instance, at two jobs I had in high school (one at an ice cream parlor and one at a local pharmacy), the companies had rules about revealing clothing.

    In addition, I do believe that a woman can be fashionable and modest–we just have to use good judgment here and make sure that we are not adopting a trend that goes against the principle of modesty for a woman of God. Here””””s the tough thing about this, Christian people disagree about what constitutes “modest” in terms of clothing. Some people probably think I am too conservative while others think I am not conservative enough!

    What we should agree on is that Christian women are called to dress modestly. So, we each need to work through what that means. Modesty truly is an issue of the heart. It has to do with whether or not we give control to God even over our dress. It is amazing to me that some say to God that they trust Him with their eternal destiny but won””””t let Him have reign over their decision-making when it comes to how they adorn ourselves. My hope is that we each let God be Lord in our lives, even Lord over our closet 🙂

  11. Sarah O. says:

    As a wife of only one year, I find that what I wear deeply affects men. Out of curiosity, I have asked my husband to openly share his feelings regarding the clothing women choose to wear. We were at a Christian banquet and he shared that he didn’t even know where to look because he was so overwhelmed with the inappropriate dresses of the women walking around and on stage. Basically, he stared at the ceiling on the stage to LOOK like he was paying attention but to not actually be able to see what was on stage. This hurt my heart for him, poor guy!
    On other news, though, looking “sexy” for your husband and only your husband is something I completely agree with. I wanted to put a caveat on what you said, though and mention, in my humble opinion, that that does NOT venture outside the home!
    I promise you, my husband is more attracted to me when I respect the other men around me and dress modestly than if I flaunted my body or his favorite attribute – even on a date night!
    You hit the nail on the head when you talked about the adorning and jewels… It’s the heart that a man should be after and my husband, man as he may be (and believe me, he’s ALL MAN!) loves me even more when I respect myself and others around me by dressing appropriately and not embarrassing him.

    • Ilse says:

      I think to some this all up, Christian women should just start dressing like muslim women who conceal their shape with robes. Only their husbands get the privilege of seeing the “sexy”. Okay, that may have sounded sarcastic – apologies. I struggle with this issue for 1, I am very curvy and all my clothing shows my shape (even though it’s not even fitted!). I don’t want to end up wearing clothes that make me feel ugly 🙁 Either way, people will always something to say. I cannot be responsible for the mindset of others’. God knows my heart and I will feel convicted if out of line.

  12. Marianne Colee says:

    Candi, this is a great article!

  13. Heidi M. says:

    Thanks Candi! As a mom of 3 girls, this subject weighs heavy on my heart. Though they are still young, I take every day to try to teach them about modesty according to God’s standards. Blessings!

  14. Grace Morris says:

    Amen Candi

  15. Sarah R. says:

    Candi, I thoroughly enjoyed your article! I have had similar thoughts on the issue (is “sexy” a sin?). I am so refreshed to read your thoughts and guidance on the issue! Thank you!

  16. Donnie says:

    Well written, thank you Candi.

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