Dressing for the Lord

In preparation for writing his book Dressing for the Lord, David Cloud, famous fundamentalist pontificator, asked some number of fundamentalist men this question:

“In your opinion, which of the following items of female dress cause a real potential for lust?”

  • short skirts
  • tight skirts
  • slit skirts
  • long skirts with slits to the knees
  • sleeveless blouses
  • low cut blouses and dresses
  • tight blouses
  • sheer blouses
  • T-shirts
  • V-neck dresses
  • form-fitting jeans
  • looser-fitting pants
  • shorts
  • one piece bathing suits

and then comes my favorite part where he feels led of the spirit to mention that:

We included pedal pushers and capris in the original survey but most of the men did not know what they are, so it turned out that the comments on those items were too irrelevant to include in this book.

Pedal pushers? I’m surprised there wasn’t also a question on whether bustles give you boners.

Of course, the results of asking a bunch of fundamentalist men what they think about low cut blouses is about as predictable as asking a bunch of NRA members what their views are on French gun laws — and just about as thoughtful and nuanced.

Unsurprisingly, when you’re a fundamentalist confirmation bias is actually considered a positive.

379 thoughts on “Dressing for the Lord”

  1. This line:

    “You can see her form in every detail and it will get men frothing at the mouth, lusting after that woman.”

    Ladies … I have never frothed at the mouth when noticing a beautiful woman.

    I suggest if you ever see the man who wrote this, than you need to hike up your alluring and revealing summer skirt and get the hell out of there … fast.

    1. Ironically, this is almost word for word what a Muslim co-worker told me regarding their standards for women’s clothing. And by the way, it is total BS. A man who might behave this way is no man at all, but a stunted little boy.

    2. To lust is by definition to desire sexually. As a poor inferior female I know I can’t hope to understand the male brain, but do normal men really desire to have sex with every female they see as Fundies seem to indicate? Doesn’t that make them equivalent to animals? Like a dog that goes around humping furniture?

      Again, I’m merely a female, but I do wonder if perhaps Fundies have equated attraction with lust. There’s nothing wrong with noticing someone and finding them attractive. That’s totally different from desiring to shove them up against the nearest available surface and go at it.

      But, maybe my feeble female brain just doesn’t get it.

      1. In all fairness and honesty, I doubt that most men want to just grab every woman on the street and go at it right there. On the other hand, with the high percent of men that have affairs after they get married, I would say that a majority of men would like to have more than one partner throughout their lives.

        1. Well, stats show that many women want more than one partner, too.

          A lot of it goes to how well people treat each other. If my wife decides I am worth nagging and being unkind to, kindness is going to look awfully attractive.

          True story. In my fundy church, a husband left his wife for another woman. The wife yelled, was angry, and said she wanted him back, didn’t know why he’d left. They had been talking with the Pastor as a mediator. He was willing to come home, but not right away.

          She wanted him back. But not if he wanted sex (I guess of a certain sort, but maybe any!). He had to promise to be faithful. He had to be nearly perfect. He had to be sorry for what he’d put her through. He had to pay. There was this condition and that condition.

          When she confided that to me, I tried to tell her that she might need to be less angry and more willing to forgive. She might also want to think about how she could change so to please him. She gave me a blank stare. This was about *doing right.* In her mind, she was Right.

          He’d wanted to come back at one point. But his wife was determined to let him know it would be a miserable existence. Unfortunately, no one at the church clued her in to her self-destructive attitudes. He stayed with the Other Woman. He was Accepted. She was adventurous. She wanted him and made him feel wanted.

          In my mind, he made the better choice. With the “godly” attitude of his wife, life would be nothing but hell.

      2. Yes, I believe many fundies equate noticing the attractiveness of a girl or woman with lust.

        1. I used to say that if I saw a pretty girl I would look. But not twice.

          Yes, I have looked twice at times. I try never to do it if my wife is around. Even so, I’d never act on any attraction. I am much too self-conscious to even try to step out and cheat.

        2. A Bible study teacher in my past fundy church said it pretty well, IMO: “It’s not a sin to notice an attractive, scantily-clad woman in the grocery store aisle. It becomes a sin when you circle around to get another look.”

    3. Ladies … I have never frothed at the mouth when noticing a beautiful woman.

      That’s because you’re not a horny ManaGAWD.

  2. Here’s something I have taught my daughters:

    If you lock your doors and ask the neighbors to check on your house while your on vacation and it gets broken in to is it your fault? No, of course not.

    If you are home with your doors locked and someone breaks in and rapes you is it your fault? No, of course not.

    If you are walking down the street in a bad neighborhood with hundred dollar bills falling our of your pockets and you get robbed and brutalized is it your fault? No.

    If you are walking down the street in a bad neighborhood at 2 am, drunk, in a see through tube top and miniskirt with no underwear and you get raped is it your fault? No.

    There is a reality that there are bad people in the world and in both of the second cases you placed yourself in a high risk situation. It’s still not your fault but it is prudent to take reasonable precautions in your life to protect yourself from bad people.

    The problem with fundies is that they claim the victim is at fault for tempting people. Also, they deny that most sexual abuse doesn’t happen to women that put themselves in these high risk scenarios. It happens primarily in a setting that they should feel safe in and perpetrated by someone they know and trust. This book and the type of preaching/teaching that goes along with it lays the perfect groundwork to facilitate the actions of these predators.

    1. Rape is about power, not lust. That’s why 80 year old women get raped. That’s why women wearing burkas get raped. That’s why fundy girls in long skirts get raped.

      1. And if rape is about power, (and it is) then you cannot ever, ever hope to dress in a way that will keep you safe from it.

  3. Apparently Fundy men are direct descendants of Adam, “God, the woman you gave me made me do it.”

  4. Two honest questions:

    1) Why not burkas, and niquabs?
    2) Is it that Fundamentalist men are all a bunch of lechers, or is that they have a faulty definition of lust?

    1. Dear ITBand. Try this exercise. Chocolate, (or steak) is sinful. Tell me what you like best about it. Tell me why it is hard for you not to eat it. Describe it to me vividly and let me describe it to you vividly. Now, stop thinking about it. If you think about it you are sinning.

      1. If all you ever hear is how you shouldn’t think about chocolate, (or steak) that is what you are going to think about. Guaranteed.

        1. So in other words, the obsession with lust fuels the lust which fuels the obsession with lust thus natural physical attraction becomes something to be avoided because it leads to that thing we are obsessed with?

          That’s an awful lot of pressure to put oneself under.

        2. Just what I was thinking. Something tells me that half of these fundie guys’ lust problems would drop almost overnight without their mogs fanning the flames and filling the ol’ spank bank, if you will.

    2. Yes, fundamentalist men (and women) have a faulty definition of lust. If I, a man, look at any woman who is not my wife and say “She is a pretty woman” or “She is a good looking woman” or any other comment complimenting her looks, no matter how innocent the intent, I have LUSTED with her in my heart. So I have committed the dreaded sin of fantasy adultery which we all know is just as terrible as the real thing.

      As a side note, I may as well actually commit the sin and get the pleasure out of it if I’m going to be punished either way, right?

    3. IT said
      “2) Is it that Fundamentalist men are all a bunch of lechers, or is that they have a faulty definition of lust?”

      I think it’s some of both. When boys are taught that normal sexual thoughts are vile lusts, and so very much emphasis is put on sexual behavior of any kind as bad and destructive; there isn’t much else for these boys to do but see themselves as lechers and perverts. They grow to hate themselves for normal, healthy feelings. There isn’t too much room for them to see women- she’s either the honorable pure untouchable, or a dirty evil temptress, the very source of their spiritual battle.

      Meanwhile girls are taught women don’t have sexual thoughts, and should be ignorant of sex altogether; that men are vile beasts who can’t be trusted. Until you marry one, then your job is to is to sastisfy him in every way, even if you don’t feel like it, with great enthusiam and creativity.

      1. exactly. Fundies cause their own problems in so many way, but that is what poor theology and Bible idolatry will do to you. When it is all about the rules and keeping away from the appearance of evil–the evil that lies within is never actually dealt with–in fact it seems to be stirred and strengthened by the superficial religion. No one has an encounter with real Grace and therefore, the person cannot change, just suppress their lust and even natural feelings.

    4. My brother said it was a lot easier to stop lusting when he got out of a world that sexualized knees and shoulders and talked abou lust every four seconds.

      Makes sense.

  5. Nothing on that list gets the slightest reaction from me. Shocking, I know.

      1. The image of Halle Berry, emerging from the water, in that bikini she is almost wearing, is very effective at making my spectacles steam up…. 🙂

    1. You and me both. On the other hand, a well-built guy in a fitting suit? Oh myyy! 😮

  6. My dad (to whom you can listen on saturdays at 9 PST on kkvv vegas) had my brother convinced that Christians can’t lust so it must be love. Consequently, he married a woman who first turned down his proposal because the ring “wasn’t big enough”. Should have been a red flag somewhere in there.

    1. Dear Big Gary, Doctor of Perambulation:

      Was that Michelle Bachanderthal???

      Christian Socialist

  7. From the link:

    “‘I look forward to the cold winters up north when women cover everything up.'” — Maybe he should just move to Saudi Arabia

    “‘One thing I see in my church is tight clothing. Oh, it may very well be covering but it is revealing the shape in a woman.'” — A woman’s very shape, to him, causes sin.

    And slits in skirts are a “teasing game”? *pulls out hair* NO! Anyone who’s ever walked in a straight skirt (especially one long enough to pass muster at a fundy college) knows that the slits are there to help you MOVE. Otherwise you take teeny-tiny, itty-bitty steps (which I’m sure someone somewhere finds provocative).

    “‘My wife sews attractive vests that she and our daughter wear over T-shirts. It’s a way of using clever camouflage to be modest.'” Sigh.

    1. Dear pastor’s wife:

      I hesitate to say that this couldn’t get any stupider because … well … someone would come along to prove me wrong.

      That said, there is nothing like elevating cultural norms for the status of doctrine and tying this to one’s relationship with God.

      This guy is SERIOUSLY ‘off message.’

      Moreover, I’m finding the ‘you’re responsible’ message more offensive every time I hear it. I’m beginning to think that every time some dolt in a pulpit says that, he needs to be challenged for making a personal confession of his own, moral weakness.

      I’m not advocating for ‘slut walks,’ and I don’t expect to be participating in them any time soon; but so help me — I think I’m beginning to understand why they happen …

      Christian Socialist

    2. Oh those @#$$%#$ modest vests. I hate them as much as I hate denim skirts. They do have one function to mask a reaction to cold weather but really they only draw attention to your chest otherwise, if you have anything at all there. I had forgotten those things.

    3. I’m sorry, but I live in Oklahoma (otherwise known as the second circle of Hades during the summer). In the middle of August, I am wearing shorts and sleeveless tops, modesty be damned. Any Fundy male can feel free to avert their eyes. Or pay my ER bill when (not if) I pass out from dressing “modestly”.

  8. From the link:

    “‘A sexual predator can be turned on and be as dangerous as a hand grenade with the pin pulled by a women [sic] that has the one turn on factor for his mind (which is a variable with such criminals) which could be any of the listed ways of dressing.'”

    Notice the list again: t-shirts, long skirts with a slit, loose-fitting pants, a dress with a v-neck. Seriously? This guy just said I’m responsible for a rapist’s actions because I wore a T-SHIRT?


  9. From the link:

    “‘Skin is a distraction! More skin; more sin.” Oh, really? Bible verse on that, please? Because the speaker here is sounding more like a fundamentalist Muslim than a Gospel-believing Christian.

    I really need to stop reading the link.

    1. I see the reading this link has had as bad an effect on your language as it has on mine.

    2. “Skin is a distraction! More skin; more sin.”

      By that rule, a scantily-clad very obese person would be more tempting than a scantily-clad slim person.
      Anecdotal experience does not support that hypothesis.

      1. Now, there are some guys who are into “big beautiful women” (i.e. “all about that bass” … you can thank me for that earworm later). And on the other side, there’s the whole “bear” community, so there’s that…

  10. I have to confess that when I saw the title “Dressing for the Lord”, my first thought was about salad and I wondered what Fundies could possibly find offensive about harmless condiments. Were they using the NIV over in Hidden Valley? Were the women wearing pants on one of the Thousand Islands? Were they using French dressing which is probably a sin on general principles?

  11. Adam & Eve were naked. This is a way to put 100% of the blame on ministerial sexual assault on the victim. She dressed wrong and made me do it. It wasn’t my fault. The minister wins 100% of the time and the victim lives in fundamental Christian shame.

  12. I am going to get a bit personal for a moment. This crap REALLY gets me angry lately. I, in my younger days, may have agreed with him to one degree or another. I have been addicted to porn since I was 21 (30 now). I have been married for a grand total of 30 days. I promised her I wouldn’t bring it into our marriage. I have kept that promise. I recogized my lust as my own. This is my responsibility, my burden and cross to bear. I hate the way my mind use to be. I view women and their beauty on entire higher plane and on a greater scale than I thought possible. I learned to choke my lizard of lust out and chokeslam it straight to hell. Women can not out dress my choice to lust if I choose to do so. I repeat, my CHOICE too. I hate that everything is put on women. Men aren’t the sons of God, we are animals controlled by our penises so completely that if those v-necks are a half inch too low then we lose control. A man’s lust is his responsibility and his cross to bear. You can’t carry your own and the cross of every guy you come into contact with, most of you ladies are barely tall enough to walk with yours!

    1. You’re life sounds like a living hell, completely bound by graceless theology. Loosen up a bit. There’s no sin in appreciating an attractive woman.

      1. Ha, maybe it does come across as that. I swim in a pool fed by the font of endless divine mercy. I do appreaicate the physcial beauty of women, a lot. I just claim responsibility for my actions. Its not a woman’s but mine. 🙂 And btw my life is pretty awesome, new job, smoking hot wife and even a step-dog

  13. Dear SFL Reader:

    When social unrest rises, when governments spy on their own, when citizens are increasingly seen as an enemy to be attacked, when police are militarized in so-called ‘liberal democracies,’ when states turn ever more quickly to violent repression of their own people with guns, when whole communities are increasingly put on lockdown, when governments erect the scaffolding of police states, when legislation attacks social and political rights, when capitalism has spent itself and seeks to sustain itself by spreading instability and risking multiple wars abroad — we need to return to 50s standards of dress for women!

    Christian Socialist

  14. From the Men’s surveys

    ““I am a red blooded, fully functional, American man, who desires to have his thoughts and words be acceptable to God. I have been happily married for 28 years. THE BIBLICAL ISSUE OF MODESTY IS BEST UNDERSTOOD BY AN UNDERSTANDING OF DEFRAUDING. No one should take any action whereby he causes desires to be raised in another that cannot be righteously satisfied. ” —

    ‘“It is the duty of every husband to make sure his wife is properly dressed, not only for Church but all the time. … I have been blessed with a modest wife. Men are weak in the area of sex and need ‘the handbrake’ of a modest woman to keep him on track and his thoughts in line.”
    ” when I see women dressing as I described above, I can’t avoid wondering why they are ‘advertising’ their flesh.”
    Do these guys even realize how scary they make themselves sound? That women owe them if they wear something they might find attractive? That women are things that advertise themselves? Perhaps the solution to their problem would be for these perverted men to stay home and listen to church on the radio so they can stop creeping women out. I don’t want myself or my kids around men who are so addlebrained

    1. It’s a little like saying, “I believe everyone should wear Kevlar clothing, because I’m not sure I can resist the urge to shoot them.”

    2. ‘“It is the duty of every husband to make sure his wife is properly dressed, not only for Church but all the time. … ”

      Piffle. It is the duty of every man, husband or not, to keep his eyeballs, hands, and sentiments to himself, no matter how a woman might be dressed, unless he is aware that a non-creepy compliment would be welcome.

      1. Yeah. As soon as my wife lets me decide what she will wear, I’ll let you know.

        After I take her to the hospital, because that’s when I’ll know she’s lost her mind.

    3. Funny how they skip the verse about “if thine eye offend thee”.

      Not to mention this one: “There hath no temptation taken thee but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

      And what about Joseph, who ran away from Mrs Potiphar?

      Either there is help available for those who are tempted, or man is an animal who can’t control himself. If there is help, it’s not the woman’s responsibility. If man is an animal, then evolution is true. Both positions are untenable for fundies.

  15. I wear a 38D bra. In some styles I have to go to a DD. Is there ANY way I would be able to dress “for the Lord” enough according to these people or am I forever condemned to be a “sinner” because I have big boobs?

    1. Yup, your a sinner, but there are lots of predators…I mean MoGs that would take time out of their busy schedules to “counsel” you.

    2. At my Fundie U, the rule was that shirts had to hang straight down from the bust line and couldn’t hug the bottom of your boobs. There was one very large chested girl that was forever getting talked to by the modesty police, er, female RA’s because no matter how loose fitting her shirts were, she couldn’t get them to hang straight and not show her curves. I think she only stayed one semester.

    3. I have a friend who goes to our local Fundy university. She wears about a 36J bra. Yes, that is a real size. I would think she would have to wear a compression bandage around her girls to meet the modesty requirements. I wear a 38DDD-ish, and I have a hard time not showing too much cleavage.

      1. I chose to wear sportsbras a size too small to meet the dress code. After my son was born I and I went from a 36D to a 36G I gave myself a case of mastitis and nearly died. But! I was modest!

  16. I’m glad we can talk about these issues, because my particular cross to bear is that I lust after sheep. I wish churches would stop encouraging the devil by putting up pictures of Christ as the Good Shepherd, or the Wedding of the Lamb, or by wearing sexy woolen items that stimulate the flesh. In fact, wish they would also avoid words containing the syllable “baa” (like the word “Bible” when spoken with a Southern accent). I’m not saying these things as immoral, just not to let liberty “become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” (I Cor. 8: 9).

  17. I just read every reply on this thread. I know that many if not most of you are being sarcastic, but many of your comments reveal a deep level of commitment to what it truly good and right. The problem is that Fundies think that you take something good and right, clearly revealed in Scripture, and move to the right of it, or be more conservative, or build a fence to keep from approaching the violation of it, and you become more godly. No, you become a Pharisee.

  18. He left off horizontal stripes! They draw attention to a woman’s evil chest area!
    Seriously, this was in a “textbook” used in a class for girls at my fundy high school.

    1. Well now I have a problem, I hate stripes. When a woman wears stripes its a huge turn off for me. Now I have to question who I am. Am I really a man? Am I really attracted to women? Maybe I’m gay and didn’t know it. Maybe I should go see a counselor and have him beat the gay away until stripes are attractive.

      1. But these are vertical stripes, not horizontal!


        This lovely blouse combines both vertical and horizontal stripes.

  19. I said this once and I will say it again…the last time I checked, this was planet Earth, not Saturn (so leave your tyrannical, misogynistic tendencies at the door). It’s a two way street here and as far as I’m concerned, these Baptists should be teaching their young men how to DEAL with sensual things rather than throw a wet blanket on their ‘desires’. It’s natural for the gods’ sake! Ugh…nothing makes me more sick than people who brush things under the rug. Maybe if they taught them that what they feel is natural, good and okay in moderation with a balance then maybe they wouldn’t have so many pedo preachers in the pulpit. Could just be me though. I understand it’s everywhere but a church? No. And they wonder why their movement is in trouble.

  20. In Korea, short short short skirts are the norm. My high school boys never noticed as they rode the subway and walked the street. A few years ago, we got an uber-fundy who started preachIng American fundy modesty standards in chapel. Now my boys notice and complain about their commutes with the vile women.

    I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Drives me nuts.

  21. “In your opinion, which of the following items of female dress cause a real potential for lust?”

    short skirts
    tight skirts
    slit skirts
    long skirts with slits to the knees
    sleeveless blouses
    low cut blouses and dresses
    tight blouses
    sheer blouses
    V-neck dresses
    form-fitting jeans
    looser-fitting pants
    one piece bathing suits

    Correct answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE!

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