Since it's summertime and the weather is nice and hot, the clothes come flying off and people start working on their tans and such. Unfortunately, sometimes when the clothes come off, so does the modesty :(
My friend Tom will take it from here.
"I preached this week on The Oval at Ohio State where a warm, sunny, spring day resembles a beach more than an institution of higher education. I refer to the hundreds of girls sunbathing in their bikinis and a similar number of guys out to watch the show. The scene prompted me to write in this edition of word of the week about being a “stumbling block.”
On the negative side, a stumbling block is a person who causes another person to stumble, or to sin, in their relationship with God. Scripture has grave warnings for the person who lures someone into sin. On the other hand, the term can also be used concerning wicked people who are stumbled by that which is good, as in those who refuse to believe in Christ and, therefore, the word of the cross is a stumbling block to them (1 Corinthians 1:23). In this particular article, we will be referring to the former application.
The “term stumbling” block comes from the Greek word skandalon from which we get our words scandal and scandalous. Skandalon refers to a snare or a trap and, more specifically, to the part of the trap to which bait was attached. The obvious implication is that people can prove to be a snare, a trap and even bait that leads others into sin.
Jesus gave stern warnings against being a stumbling block. “"Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:7). You don’t want Jesus saying “woe” to you. But He goes even further. Jesus had just told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, be rejected by men and crucified. Peter loved Jesus too much to allow such a thing to happen and urged Jesus not to follow such a path. “But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's.’" (Matthew 16:23). Can you imagine the scandal of being a stumbling block to the holy, sinless and pure Son of God? To show us how awful this is, Jesus actually called Peter “Satan”!
It is no small thing to be a stumbling block to another person. I hear people flippantly dismiss their behavior which tempts others as if it were all the other person’s fault. While it is true that each of us is responsible for the sins we commit, nevertheless, both Jesus or Paul taught that we bear some responsibility for how our behavior affects others. Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Paul taught that we should “determine not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother’s way” (Romans 13:14).
OK, let’s get practical. Do you do things that lure others into sin? Is your behavior so scandalous that others fall into a trap of sin? Let me give some examples.
I’ve already mentioned that this article was prompted by the sensual and tempting attire (or lack of attire) of so many women on campus. Scripture tells young women to adorn themselves with “proper clothing” that is “modest and discreet” (1 Timothy 2:13). Christian women’s clothing ought to draw more attention to their godly character than to your curves! Your kindness, purity, love, good works and radiant countenance is what can and should attract a man to notice you. But ungodly women of low character can not attract a man in this way and so they must resort to luring him with sensual and immodest clothing.
Christian women: DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP BY ALLOWING UNGODLY WOMEN TO SET YOUR STANDARDS FOR DRESS!
Christian men: DO NOT UNDERMINE YOUR SISTER’S EFFORTS TO ADORN THEMSELVES PROPERLY BY ALLOWING UNGODLY AND SENSUAL WOMEN TO CAPTURE YOUR ATTENTION!
It is not my intention to lay down a list of specific rules concerning dress. The last thing I would like to do is fall into the trap of the Islamic “moral police” who institute man-made regulations to uphold their own standards of righteousness. Rules just create a bunch of sneaky people who are always trying to figure out how far they can bend the rules without breaking them. I would like to motivate you to be as righteous and pure as you possibly can and to help those of the opposite sex to maintain pure thoughts as well.
That being said, let me give an example of two.
Years ago, Roz and I had a young lady living with us who had come from a rather loose background. She often wore tight tops with a plunging neck-line that drew undue attention to her breasts. It was embarrassing to her and to us, but we brought this up to her for discussion. She was unaware that she had been a stumbling block to guys in the fellowship and actually thought she was dressing far more modestly than she had in the past. However, she heeded our advice and began to wear tops that were less revealing. A couple of weeks later, she shared with me how things were going. “I’m not used to feeling clothing up near my neckline, but it sure is better to have a shirt around my neck than a millstone!” What a sweet, teachable spirit! She didn’t want to be a stumbling block and, once she became aware that she was one, she made a change.
John writes, “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). This young lady loved the brothers more than she loved herself. She yielded up her right to wear whatever she felt comfortable in so that she would cause no offense to some young man seeking to have a pure heart. She took the attitude of a servant rather than that of a self-centered person who cared less about others. She now had Christian character that was far more attractive, precious and enduring than any skin that was to be reserved for her future husband. O, that more young Christian women would have this attitude today!
But this week I noticed how sensual and immodest dress can do more than stumble a Christian brother who is trying to maintain pure thoughts. On Friday, a small group of Muslims were interacting with me about the gospel and why they felt Islam is superior to Christianity. At one point, they referred to all the girls in bikinis and said, “Our religion does not allow a girl to dress like this or allow us to look at them. These are Christian girls wearing such tempting bathing suits. Obviously, they don’t care whether or not they sin or whether or not others sin. What do you think of these girls? Do you think God wants these girls to dress this way? Isn’t it obvious that Islam is a better religion that Christianity because Muslim women would never walk around dressed the way these Christian women are dressed?”
I’ve got to admit, these Muslims had a good point. Personally, I doubt the “bikini babes” were Christians. (Many Muslims believe all Americans are Christian, but we know better.) But suffice it to say, there are people who watch our behavior and make judgments on how serious we are attempting to live a righteous life.
I have focused on women’s dress being a stumbling block and said some things that need to be said. But there are other ways in which we should be careful not to be a stumbling block.
For instance, you may feel the liberty to partake in activities that are neither right nor wrong – they are “gray areas.” But if your liberty tempts another person to do something they feel is sinful, you have become a stumbling block to your brother in Christ. “Gray areas” may refer to such things as what movies you watch, the consumption of alcohol, or even what slang words to use.
You may stumble a person by something that is not “evil,” but which may be wrong at the time. Tempting someone to join you in playing video games when he was feeling led to spend time in the word or prayer is being a stumbling block to him.
Guys, just as you would not want a sister to dress in a tempting way, you might use words or look at her in ways that lead her on and tempt her to lust for you. This may be far more subtle, but every bit as much of a stumbling block as it would be for you if she were dressed in an alluring way. (And, by the way, guys, you do not have a free pass on dressing modestly, either. Being overly “showy” with your body can be just as tempting to girls as their immodest dress can be to you.)Again, the key to all of this is love (1 John 2:10). We should never do things out of selfish or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, we should consider others interests above our own (Philippians 2:3-4). Rules and regulations will never prevent you from being a stumbling block; only genuine love can do that."
- Tom Short
Amen :) This doesn't mean you have to be a prude or imitate the clothing of the men and women of olden times or something(OH NO! AN ANKLE! AHHH!) But just use your discretion.