Editor’s Note: This is from a talk given at a gathering of young single adult sisters. A companion piece for the young single adult brothers is forthcoming.
2 ¶ And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her;[i]
You’re beautiful. Do you know that? You’re supposed to be.
Artists since the beginning of time have painted your figure on walls, papyrus, ivory, copper, stone and canvas. They have sculpted you all over the world. Writers have attempted to describe your beauty in literally millions of words through all time. Composers have created the most beautiful works of music about you.
Men, on the other hand---with the exception of David by Michelangelo---are depicted for power, strength, war, dominance, intellect or virility. But, almost never for beauty. (In fact. I think the story of “Beauty and the Beast” tells it all: he “konks” people over the head to protect her, while she patiently civilizes him.)
So, it is little wonder that men look at you, admire you, and to one extent or another, lust after you. They---we--notice just about everything about you, including how you dress. We notice how much of you is showing on the outside. If:
Because God created you to be beautiful in Adam’s sight. It’s called “attractive” because it “attracts” our eyes and more. And, it has worked for 6,000 years.
And so, you want to look beautiful, interesting, and yes, desirable. God intended it that way. When He said a man shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh, he wasn’t talking about mud wrestling. He was talking about intimacy, the most trusting relationship between a man and a woman.
On Being a Woman
From the “Proclamation on the Family” we learn that:
2. All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
3. In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
4. The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. [iii]
How Men See You
There are some differences between how you see the issue of modesty – or immodesty – and how men see it. Men and women are simply different; they process images differently.
What you are marketing, the message you are sending---and the message men are receiving---when you dress immodestly to be more attractive are two very different messages. And, here rests the challenge you face when determining how to dress and how to act.
What you may see as being simply more attractive—desirable--by being less modest than you have been taught, men will see as an invitation to touch, to enjoy, to “lie with you” as David did when he saw Bathsheba. (Not coincidentally, not only “lie with you”, but probably “lie to you” as well.) Remember: David desired her by only seeing her. He knew nothing about her.
All too often, when I counsel with a sister about improper behavior, she says “I thought it meant as much to him as to me. Now, he doesn’t want to see me at all.” Desire, or lust, and love are two different things and often mean different things to the two people involved.
What men see they want to possess. So, what you show they desire. The more you show the greater the invitation to them, as they see it, to do something they should not because the message received is that it is OK with you or you wouldn’t be dressing, or undressing, that way. Whether you intend it or not, that is the message they believe you are sending – an invitation to do much more than simply admire. An invitation to caress and possess.
Do not believe that lust will make him love you. I have counseled too many of the brethren who are currently in a lustful relationship doing things they know are wrong including improper touching and oral sex. When asked, “do you love her? Are you thinking of marrying her?” the heartbreaking answer is “no.”
When a sister tells me she doesn’t want to take out her endowments because garments restrict her wardrobe, the message I receive is much larger than garments and wardrobe. It is about where she is in committing to live her life God’s way, rather than the world’s way.
(I understand the inconvenience garments are for women because of the other things you wear. I’ve lived with a woman – a very modest woman – who is as beautiful to me today as she was when I married her more than 41 years ago.