Monday, April 9, 2012

The Cleavage Gap

Rebecca Lutzer recently sent me an article entitled “The Cleavage Gap,” written by Sue Edwards, an Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary.  She was teaching a class on how to work with men in ministry, and these women were bemoaning the provocative way women dress these days, while four of these very women were, as Sue puts it, “showing enough cleavage to distract any man in our midst.” 

Let me include an excerpt from her article:

I don't expect immature believers, and certainly non believers, to dress modestly. But these are leaders, the ones who set the standard for others. I'm trying to get into the heads of these leaders who don't get the cleavage gap. What are they thinking? Maybe...
  • It's impossible to buy stylish clothes today without showing cleavage, so I'm giving in.
  • I've worked hard and long on this body, and, by golly, I'm going to show it off.
  • My husband might secretly be drawn to other women if they show theirs, so I better
  • show mine.
  • I want to be loved and I'll never get a man's attention any other way.
  • It's hot and I want to wear something cool.
  • It's not my fault if men can't handle it. Women have been blamed too long for men's
  • lust. I'll flaunt it just to show them, a similar attitude to feminist's bra burning back in
  • the sixties.
  • I'm too busy to be bothered by this issue. Men need to get over it.

I wonder if these women realize how much their insensitivity hurts our chances of being taken seriously by men. Seems to me when we show cleavage, we back up what men have said and thought about women for centuries. We care more about the power of our sexuality than we do about its effect on our brothers. We aren't thinking about the long term impact of our choices, just about how cute we look today. Or maybe it's too much trouble for busy women to assess the effect of the gap. That's understandable for immature women who don't know better. But not for leaders with far-reaching influence.
Sue goes on to say that whatever the reason that women who truly love Jesus, who would never intentionally cause a man to lust, still dress inappropriately, she has found no solutions.  I share her frustration.  In the past we talked about the issue of dressing modestly at one of our luncheons, I’ve talked to various groups of women about it, I’ve interviewed and videotaped some men in our church and asked how it affects them, I’ve recommended Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book, “Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?”  Since it seems to be a message that embarrasses people, or makes them uncomfortable—or resentful or angry—I guess I’ve abandoned my efforts to do more on making women in our church aware of the “cleavage gap” and how it affects men—and what kind of testimony it presents to the world.  After all, I tell myself, I’m not the fashion police of The Moody Church!

It’s a topic that deserves our attention.  If you have any suggestions on how we can communicate the biblical message of dressing modestly to the women in our church in a more effective way, I’m all ears.  Meanwhile, I pass these thoughts on to you for your contemplation.


1 comment:

  1. I agree completely (with you and the article you reference). Some thoughts: 1)Maybe it's embarassing to talk about because some times women have low self esteem underneath it all. 2)It may be a "heart issue" in that the woman must be convicted by the Holy Spirit and have the maturity to change. 3)Also, modesty can be subjective (what one person thinks is modest, another person thinks is provocative--there are different levels of modesty). 4)Women underestimate the power of the "visual" on men. Thanks for your efforts on this- I think it is important as well, even more so now that I am a mother of a young boy.