They Do Exist.

Being Single: Are Christians Allowed To Be Sexy?

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Ruthie Dean, and she wants to ask you a question: Are Christians allowed to be sexy? How does this affect your singleness & attempt to “catch” a man? How do YOU dress? We would love to hear. You can follow Ruthie on twitter at @_ruthiedean and read her blog at RuthieDean.com. – Lauren

I think the church has misled us.

I grew up as a Georgia Peach in a conservative Christian home. I entered the 9th grade not knowing people had sex outside of marriage. Yes, true story. I heard about sex at youth group—but all I can remember is WAIT UNTIL MARRIAGE. So I made a commitment to wait until I found the one — even if he never came along. (I tied the knot this past June with a man I knew as a little girl. It was unspeakably worth the wait. Keep it up singles. You will thank yourself later.)

But as I entered college and went on mission’s trips and such, I started to notice other messages Christian groups were sending through their mandates for one piece bathing suits and for longer skirts. I didn’t walk with Christ until I was a sophomore in college, so naturally would show up to church and groups on campus my sophomore year in tank tops and short skirts–because that’s what everyone else on campus was wearing. I was pulled aside by some gracious women and some not so gracious and told to dress differently. Their reasoning? I am beautiful and don’t want to make men stumble.

I pushed back, as I tend to question everything most things I’m told. “Are you saying I can’t be beautiful? The woman’s body was created by God FOR BEAUTY—and you want me to cover it up?” And as soon as I would start dressing more modestly, I would move or join a new Christian group and have someone pull me aside for “The Modesty Talk.” It made me feel dirty and cheap, but I wasn’t sure why.

Were they wrong? Why did I feel so cheap?

Now, the older, married me has more clarity on the issue. The Bible tells us not to cause our brother to sin (1 Cor. 8:13). It is important to dress appropriately so the men around us can have a better chance of not thinking about what we look like naked. But unfortunately, many churches and church leaders have twisted these passages around to blame women for men’s lust. We all need to take responsibility for our actions and STOP BLAMING others for our sin.

What is an appropriate way to dress and act as Christian women? I believe we need balance between either extreme. I’ve seen Christians showing copious amounts of cleavage and Christian women completely forsaking their appearance (i.e. baggy jeans from 1998). Neither extreme is good, because God designed us for beauty—to please our husbands and create beauty in the world around us. We are beautiful and we are called to celebrate the beauty God has given us.

I’ve noted a general fear about sexuality because of all the problems it causes, but I want the church to do a better job of tackling issues like abuse, pornography, and sex within marriage. As women, we don’t need to be fearful of beauty. It is a gift to be treasured.

Song of Solomon references a wife dancing seductively [nude] for her husband. It references breasts and curves and other unmentionable areas. It talks about making love outdoors. I never heard these passages in church. Are the passages contradictory to the messages I’ve heard most of my life in the church?

Are Christians allowed to be sexy? What does beauty look like, dress like, act like in the single life?


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28 Responses

  1. Frances

    Great article. I do believe the church has gotten it wrong when it comes to how women should dress. It is always shoved down our throats to dress appropriately so that we don't appear to have questionable morals or so that men don't stumble. But like you said, rarely are women told to be confident in their God give beauty. If more women were encouraged to love the skin they are in, fewer would feel the need to dress to feel beautiful. It would be natural. I am single and just naturally tend to be mindful of what I wear because I was that girl that dressed sexy for attention. Now, I prefer not to have that inappropriate attention but I don't feel like I have to limit myself on what I wear. I still enjoy tank tops, skirts and dresses because I realize I don't have to dress seductively to still feel beautiful.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:29 am

    • Ruthie D.

      Amen Frances! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and for reading.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:46 am

    • I think you make a great point: we are always taught about modesty and " not being a stumbling block," but "rarely are woman told to be confident in their God given beauty." Growing up in a fundamentalist school that completely over stressed this issue by their dress code, I think, caused me to feel like their is something wrong, or their there is something bad about my beauty. Recently, my counselor (who is a Christian) has encouraged me to do healthy things that make me feel sexy. Thanks so much for sharing Frances and Ruthie!

      September 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    • Jenee

      I posted your reply on my tumblr because I like it so much, I can take it down if you'd prefer, but your words were very inspiring. It's here, http://beholdthereal.tumblr.com/post/20409723095/

      April 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

  2. I enjoyed this post. I have often asked many of these questions, and as a girl who grew up in a church and in an abusive home, I came to question not only whether or not my beauty was to be shared, but whether or not I even have beauty. Now, as I am older, I better understand issues of modesty. I have beauty, but I don't have to be seductive to make myself feel that way. My inner beauty can radiate, and I can use make up and clothes to enhance my beauty. But, at the same time, I don't need these things to make me beautiful, because I was created that way in the first place. And, that beauty should be celebrated, not scorned, feared or abused. (Hope this all made sense…)

    Great post. Thanks so much for sharing.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:26 am

    • Ruthie D.

      Wow. I'm so sorry about the abusive home. How confusing it is to learn to appreciate our beauty when so many punish women for beauty or cast blame. When we begin to value ourselves as DAUGHTERS, then our inner beauty will shine through and we'll know what is and isn't appropriate. Thanks for commenting and I hope to see you over on my blog.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

  3. Good thoughts!
    True, many a church and youth group has not addressed this correctly, and many have.

    I have found since being married that I want to dress even more modestly than I ever did before, because I realize how special a woman's beauty is, and it is to be kept for her husband to love and delight in, not for any other man's eyes.

    Some men will lust and think sexual thoughts about you simply because you are a woman, regardless of what you wear. That is not our fault, but when we exploit our bodies with clothes that show nooks and crannys and places our husbands are only supposed to see, and then get all up in arms that men can't 'control' themselves – it is very hypocritical.

    That said, God created the woman last – the most beautiful thing on this earth is a woman's form, a 'piece of beauty too much for a man's eye' as I once read. We are to rejoice in that and love who God created us to be as beautiful creatures. As a response of His love for us and the beauty he bestowed to our care, we are to respect our body and looks; cherishing our sexuality by keeping the intimacy of it hidden from the world's eyes, saved for the secure place of marriage.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    • I agree for the most part, but I think there is an important distinction to make for women who are victims of sexual violence. It is never, ever a woman's fault when someone takes away her right to choose. Not the conservatively dressed woman nor the woman who flaunts her body. You can say to a woman, "maybe you can dress differently so you respect your brothers…" but it is never under any circumstances OK to blame a woman for a man's sin. Period. Ladies?? Anyone with me?

      September 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      • I agree there – sin never excuses another sin. In the case of abuse it is not a woman's fault for something a man does against her, that is his sin. Both men and women alike need to be responsible for their own actions and sin before the Lord and allow Him to change their hearts, whatever the sin they are dealing with or have committed is.

        September 29, 2011 at 8:05 am

      • shannon

        I totally agree with you sister just because you show a little doesn't stop guys from looking now and men are responsible for their own sin.

        June 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm

  4. Corrie

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post. I am in the fitness industry, do fitness competitions and the occasional modeling job. I also love Christ dearly …

    I think there's a general fear with many Christian women about feeling good about their body, being fit and being sexy. I am always encouraging women to love their bodies and be healthy… and it is interesting sometimes the responses I get if I do a swimwear shoot, or a competition where I wear a bikini.

    I believe you have to be mindful of what you wear, but there are few and far between Christian role models for fitness … few Christian role models demonstrating that you can be fit, healthy, and sexy. I am often criticized by more legalistic Christians… but half the time it's them that are emailing me for advice. It's a balance I'm always trying to find, but I know it comes down to your heart and following Christ.

    Thanks again for posting.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    • I'm sure you've had your fair share of "how can she look that good and still be a Christian" looks! Thanks for walking with Christ and not being afraid to share! I agree with the general fear among Christian women to feel good about their bodies…I spent many years of my life trying to destroy my beauty. While I don't model, I am a bit of an avid runner…so I can identify with you there. Again, thanks for sharing! Love to see you over at my blog.

      September 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm

  5. Sometimes the root of dressing provocatively is not that a woman maliciously wants to make her brother stumble, but it's that she feels undervalued and unappreciated in the first place. It's just a coping mechanism that satan loves to whisper to women. If we as the church lavish love, encouragement, and praise on one another within the body of Christ, I think that will get to the root problem of WHY women ever even feel a need to show off their bodies. The body of Christ needs to be a refuge from the world in which women are valued equally as God's reflections of beauty, regardless of the way they dress – whether in 1980s frumptastic jeans or in low-cut shirts. And I believe that true, genuine, Christlike love will transform women's inner spirits in such a way that we already feel lovely – and yes, even sexy – for just being ourselves. Some of the most beautiful transformations I've seen in Christ-centered communities are when, for the first time, women feel comfortable in their own skin.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    • I agree. Abuse happens, whether verbally, physically, and/or sexually and often women dress out of response to that kind of deep pain. Love your words of truth, sister!

      September 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

  6. pinky3009

    i think as a christian woman u can dress modestly in an attractive way …bt what is rily important is ur inner beauty .. That is wat enhances the physical beauty despite what u wear.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

  7. Thank you so much for writing this! (See my previous comment above). This something I have been struggling to find for myself. I have struggled with a lot of insecurities about my body and along with feeling like my my outer beauty is somehow bad because of the school I attended and their ultra strict dress code, I have felt guilty for wanting to feel sexy. For the last few months, I have been discovering more about myself, including how I am beautiful inside and out. My counselor, who is a Christian, has encouraged me to do healthy things that make me feel sexy. My confusion and feeling bad about being attractive has caused some anxiety and confusion when it comes to romantic relationships. So I guess my point is I am a work in progress, discovering what it means to beautiful, God-purposed me.

    September 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm

  8. what a great post! i saw this the other day and skimmed briefly and bookmarked it for later. i was raised catholic (and very rebellious i turned out to be) where skirts had to be past your knees and sleeveless shirts were taboo. of course, i wore something underneath and take off all the rest when i left the house. i was a 102 lb, 5″2 then and very insecure– i had to reveal to be sexy! things turned around when i found the gospel in my sophomore year: i wore sweatshirts and baggy pants, gained 50 lbs and stopped caring. what extremes!! later on i realized that i had issues with my appearance. i didnt love my body. now i eat healthy and dress appropriately.

    as a discipler for young women, it is always difficult to approach this issue. these teens are at an age where if there is a hint of discomfort in what you say, they will turn away. luckily, scripture is clear as you have pointed out: our only concern is to not stumble someone. otherwise, we must dress to be ourselves — daughters of the High King!

    September 30, 2011 at 8:38 am

  9. My friends and I recently wrote posts on "What is the distinction between being sexy and being desirable?" Here's mine: http://notaminx.blogspot.com/2011/09/bright-maide….

    My short answer: I want to be a desirable woman, to be someone described as "having pleasing qualities or properties…worth seeking…attractive." (That's from the dictionary, not a faith book, friends!) Desirable doesn't crown sexuality as the most important aspect of a woman, nor does it deny sexuality. It just integrates it. You are wanted for more than your body! You are worth more than your body shape or size! You're a woman a man can pursue, not just a woman who can arouse.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm

  10. IMO, Christians shouldn't strive to be "sexy," (too many negative connotations with that word) but we should definitely desire to be–and feel–/beautiful/!" Beauty reflects the heart of someone with a genuine desire to please God in how they think, act, and dress. That will look differently to many of us, but complete honesty with ourselves and before God is key. There's also absolutely nothing wrong with nakedness, sensuality, and passion in the context of marriage. In fact, God essentially says "You have my blessing–enjoy /frequently/!" (1 Cor. 7:5).

    We need to learn about sexuality, but we must be objective and appropriate in the process (within boundaries we know are safe for ourselves in keeping away from temptation). Most importantly, we need to have the same view of sexuality as God does–something He designed to be beautiful, honorable, pleasurable, sacred, and fulfilling. Satan is doing all he can to twist and destroy every part of that plan and perspective. It's way past time to starting tearing down the lies and misconceptions.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

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  13. Audrina

    I am so very annoyed right now. I googled "how to feel sexy as a christian" and that is how i found this article. I have been a devoted Christian for the past year and how stopped smoking pot, underage drinking and have been living for Jesus. It is really hard for me though because i am single and i have such strong urges to have sex (even though i am a virgin). Not only am i struggling with these urges but the urges of feeling sexy. Since i do not just hook up with guys anymore, i don't really work out as much (also because of college work) and i feel so effing lame! I feel all alone and not sexy, meanwhile all of the other college girls are dressed up cute, and going out and getting drunk with their boyfriends. I feel so alone and unattractive. I have met a few boys recently that liked me but were not Christians so I did not date them, but now i am thinking maybe i should just settle? I hate feeling so alone and ugly, and not sexy and not normal. I have a large chest and so i cannot even wear v necks without looking like a whore. I HATE MY LIFE. WHY IS BEING A SINGLE CHRISTIAN WOMAN SO HARD?!

    February 28, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    • Aimée

      If it were easy, everyone would just do it. You were chosen to turn your life around to Him, for Him. I personally believe that you should never settle, because what if by settling you are missing out on what He has for you? Between our hormones and the oversexed society around us, the urges and curiosity are going to happen, but what you chose to do about them is always in your control. I encourage you to not fall into the "everyone else is except me" mindset and stay true to what you believe. Keep putting yourself out there and find a good group of people to be around— I felt that the positive influence made a big difference for me. Try to find something that motivates you, because I know that the more you focus on what you think you're missing out on, the worse it seems. As frustrating as it can feel sometimes, Audrina remember that His time is not our own, and that God's plan for you is worth waiting for.

      March 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm

  14. shannon

    I think if you are single christian women then you dress modestly a little now I don't think we should dress in a mini skirt or anything that's too tight or revealing but I do feel if you are single then it is ok to wear jewelry braided hair and to show a little like your arms or legs but not to much I say show one or the other if you really read 1 Peter chapter 3 :3-6 1 Timothy 2 :8-15 You will see these scriptures apply for married women. I strongly believe that churches take these passages out of context I know my church does as a Pentecostal. Women are not to be blamed because men can't control their sexual desires that is they're problem not ours and we are not responsible for their sin. I don't believe singles are suppose to dress like they are married nor are married women suppose to dress like they are single. Like I said though single ladies that doesn't mean we can show all our body parts no . Either show your arms or your legs but try to dress a little modestly but not too modestly as a married person would dress. If we dress like we are married then people will never know who is single or who is taken. Do yawl agree

    June 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm

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  16. Bibiana

    I think there are many attractive outfits a Christian woman can wear. You can be beautiful without wearing tight clothes or showing cleavage.

    December 29, 2012 at 9:25 am

  17. Dress is the most important one thing for the make attractive and gorgeous our looking. Women are not beauty with out the gorgeous dress. You was pulled aside by some gracious women and some not so gracious and told to dress differently. This reason is always need to be remember for all of us to me as more attractive by the gorgeous dress up.

    September 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm

  18. JohnT

    I really get upset when people say men can NOT control themselves. By and large they do, and since most women are not Christians, It does nothing to help. It is possible to be a red blooded man without lusting no matter how seductive a woman is. I find most of the dress codes silly. There are no universal rules. Each person needs to use sense. A thin young girl can go much shorter than normal. Bible writers noted many female characteristics and women are a testament to God’s great taste. Ladies , do not be embarrassed or embarrassing. We love you and respect you.

    December 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm

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