6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell."
Matthew 18:6-9 New International Version (NIV)
|Alexandra Joye Warren|
When I first heard about The Window Sex Project I was excited. I felt like it was a piece that was relevant to my everyday experiences. I’ve blogged about the ridiculous "hollas" I’ve received on the street, even when I was wearing an outfit as fashionable as a paper bag. (And not a tricked out Project Runway–style paper bag, but over-sized, ill fitting, and not generally considered attractive.) As my work in the piece developed some questions began to surface.
Are we truly innocent creatures or are we ignorant of how much we provoke?
Now, I know some of your eyebrows are rising. I definitely don’t believe that women EVER deserve unwanted sexual advances or violence shown against them, no matter what they do. Every man and woman should be self-controlled.
But, what is a realistic expectation if we stumble out of the house wearing a spandex dress and stilettos?
In the scripture above, Jesus calls his believers to a high standard on both sides. He says, “don’t look” but he also says “don’t provoke.”
Like most women I know, I love to look fly. Growing up, because I was such a rebellious child, the one thing my parents let me have complete domain over is how I wanted to dress. The summer when my curves took full bloom I wanted to wear a very short skort (Yes, a SKORT, honey!) on the first day of ninth grade. My dad probably cringed a little on the inside, but let me go.
When I got to college I became the queen of the backless shirt. I went to college in Atlanta, so "hollas" were an everyday thing. I usually felt really great about myself, except the time in Lenox Mall during All-Star weekend when a strange man smacked me on the butt.
Still, I loved the attention. As a performer at that time, I likened my attitude to Rachel Berry on Glee, when she confessed, “I’m like Tinkerbell, I need applause to stay alive.”
When I gave my life to God in junior year, I decided, with a lot of help from my loving friends, that the backless shirts needed to go. I remember crying to my friends when they encouraged me to do a major overhaul of my sexy wardrobe. I asked, “Do I have to be ugly now?”
“No!” they exclaimed.
I didn’t understand how to be fly and modest at the same time. My very definition of “making myself pretty” was accentuating my curves. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
I decided that I wanted my spirit to shine. I wanted to attract men for more than my big butt and smile.
I developed close friendships with my brothers-in-Christ and realized these men of God go to great measures to protect themselves from lustfully looking at women. They would literally cross the street to not walk behind a woman wearing a too short skirt, and they would avoid conversation with a woman showing cleavage.
I realized that we were just all trying to get to heaven together. I try to dress modestly now for my brothers and because I know that God really only wants my husband to look at me with that kind of desire. I have no intention to entice anyone else.
Of course, I don’t mind a sincere compliment like “I like your hair!” or “I love your shoes!,” and I’m quick to say thank you.
But please don’t come at me disrespectfully because I’m doing my best to respect you.