A couple of months ago, a Catholic mom stirred up controversy by writing an open letter begging female college students to stop wearing leggings as pants, out of respect for their male colleagues. This was met with a severe backlash in the form of Twitter outrage and Leggings Pride Day (of course), led by gender studies majors and useless people (but I repeat myself). I write this because, as a Christian man who respects women, I have to agree with the Catholic mom. Christian women need to stop wearing leggings as pants; and here are four reasons why.
In 1 Timothy 2:9-10, Paul instructs women to dress modestly and discreetly, that is, in such a way as to not draw undue attention to themselves. Instead, he commands women to beautify themselves by doing good deeds, which bring attention, and therefore glory, to God, rather than oneself. By dressing in a way that drew attention to themselves, in this case by over-dressing, the women Paul was writing to were distracting others from glorifying God, when they should have been bringing attention to God, by doing good works. Leggings, and tight clothing in general, have the same effect of drawing attention to oneself, especially on guys. It may not be your intention to draw attention to yourself, nevertheless it happens. It’s in our nature, as men, to look at women.
It’s not just in our nature to look at women, but to like doing so. Men are turned on by just the sight of the female form. That’s perfectly fine when the woman in question is the guy’s spouse, that’s how God meant it to work. When she’s not his wife though, that’s lust and it’s sinful as Jesus explains in Matthew 5:27-28. While this instinct can, with effort, be controlled, it isn’t easy, especially with clothing that leaves little to the imagination. It’s hard enough for guys who were raised right, but for someone who was saved, especially recently, out of a promiscuous lifestyle, who is used to looking and lusting it’s going to be extremely hard. Ultimately, of course, it’s on his own head if a guy lusts, but isn’t it better to help a brother out than to wear something that could cause him to stumble? After all, in Philippians 2:3, Paul commands all Christians to regard others as more important than themselves.
They Encourage Objectification
This relates to my above point, but I think it’s significant enough to warrant its own point. When a man sees a woman in leggings (or any form-fitting clothing really) his first (sinful) impulse is to see her as a sex object, not a person because, as discussed previously, men are aroused visually. A decent man will consider a woman as a person no matter what she’s wearing, but even the best of men will not be completely free from the impulse to think of a woman as just a thing, and it takes conscious effort for us to view you that way when your clothing encourages our baser instincts. It also encourages sleazy guys, who are already inclined to view you as a dumb bimbo (their phraseology would be much worse), to act in the same gross, disgusting way that makes respectable men despise them (which we have since well before feminism was a thing, thank you).
They Are Undignified
This one’s pretty self explanatory. Certain styles of clothing communicate the dignity of the wearer; for example, look at women who hold public office. Ambassador Nikki Haley didn’t wear leggings to the U.N. during her tenure, because an ambassador is expected to be dignified. Proverbs 31:25 says of the ideal woman that “strength and dignity are her clothing”. Furthermore, like all human beings, women are made in the image of God, see Genesis 1:26, which gives you an inherent dignity. Since you have inherent dignity, shouldn’t you dress the part? That doesn’t mean you always have to dress like you’re going to the U.N. everyday, obviously, situations change and you don’t want to overdress. I’m not saying that you have to wear a skirt all the time, (although my mom raised and homeschooled five kids that way) but you should wear clothing befitting an image-bearer of God. Leggings do not communicate self-respect, nobility, or strength of character to men. (I don’t know what they communicate to women.) To men, leggings communicate messages like “I’m too lazy to put on real pants LOL” or “I have no value if men don’t stare at me” or “I don’t know how to dress”; in other words, you look like a schlub, even if you aren’t. As a bearer of God’s image, you should dress in a way that attests to the dignity of the One whose image you bear. God deserves all respect, you deserve respect because you are made in his image. No one respects a schlub.
So, there you have it; four reasons for Christian women to avoid wearing leggings as if they were pants. It’s an easy way to respect others and yourself, and most importantly show respect for the image of God. It’s also a way to love your brothers in Christ, by making it harder to sin by lusting. Most importantly, by dressing modestly and discreetly, Christian women can, by their good works, bring glory to God.
If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: Christians are called to put others first; just like Jesus did. Not treating leggings like pants is one way to put others’ needs ahead of your own, but it is not the only way. Your own gifts will determine what other opportunities you have to bless others, but dressing modestly is something every woman can do to imitate Christ in caring for the needs of others first.
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