When we dress provocatively, we dishonor God and display a lack of regard for His holiness. We can also become a distraction for our brothers in Christ.
I’d been traveling all weekend, and my flight from California to the East Coast got in at midnight. All I wanted to do was go home, drop my suitcases and hit the sack.
But the story my husband had waiting for me made me drop my jaw and want to hit—well, not the sack!
“She was just visiting our church service this morning,” he began haltingly.
He didn’t notice her at first, he said. But then came “greeting time.”
“Bob, I’d like you to meet John’s cousin,” a friend said as he introduced her.
That’s when my husband’s mind began to whirl. He’d heard about her. She was the one with the perfect—well, let’s just say she qualified to be a fitting model for Victoria’s Secret. You figure out what was perfect!
Through the rest of the service he was restless. Intrigued. Annoyed.
He wasn’t the only one; I asked.
Many of our friends were introduced to her that day, and like us, they had heard about her unique career. I asked all the men the same question: “What did she look like?”
The funny thing is, none of them could quite remember her face. But they all remembered her skin-tight leather pants with the lace-up fly.
Please understand that my husband, Bob, is a godly man in full-time Christian ministry. Like most men, though, he is subject to visual temptation.
Christian psychologist Mark Laaser estimates that 30 percent of Christian pastors and leaders struggle with pornography. Among Christian men in general, more than 60 percent are estimated to struggle with continual sexual compulsions of some type.
Those are scary numbers. I wouldn’t share them with you if they hadn’t been substantiated repeatedly.
My husband’s ministry involves helping men of all ages live lives of mental purity—a battle he himself wages daily. Bob gets into the faces of other men and asks them to name the specific distractions they need to remove from their lives in order to live in sexual integrity.
You’d expect them to name temptations such as the Internet, R-rated movies, magazine covers, even the giant Victoria’s Secret display ads in the mall. But sadly, they often point to a surprisingly different pit—and they fall into it every Sunday.
“I’m struggling with the way women dress in church,” they groan. They are specific in adding those two words—in church—because the location is what makes them feel so vulnerable.
After all, isn’t church supposed to be a place where they can go to be free from temptation? What’s a guy to do when the woman in his Sunday school class keeps showing up in a tight shirt and miniskirt, announcing it was a little cold in the parking lot?
I suppose he could sit on the front row every week. But come on, sisters! It’s time we accept some responsibility for this predicament.
Many of us are sinning where the men in our churches are concerned—and in the process, we’re sinning against God.
As Christian women, our greatest desire should be to please God in everything we do. First Peter 3:3 reminds us, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment. … Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (NIV).
But some of us are getting up on Sunday mornings and adorning ourselves in ways that aren’t pleasing to God. The outfits we choose are intended to cause all eyes—especially men’s eyes—to be on us.
For the sake of our brothers in Christ, not to mention the health of our personal relationships with God, we need to do four things:
1. We need to understand the power of certain kinds of visual images.
Have you heard of the Gestalt theory? It’s a visual design theory that teaches designers to control the attention of their viewers by forcing the viewers to mentally complete a visual image.
According to the theory, the challenge of completing an image that is incomplete intrigues the human brain. Our minds will always pause to finish an unfinished picture.
Try it yourself by checking out this trio of circles. What else do you see?
You think you see a triangle, don’t you? That’s because a triangle is the most common image that your brain can come up with to complete this picture.
Now let’s apply the Gestalt theory to the issue at hand. What happens when a man sees a woman walk by wearing a low-cut blouse or a long, tight skirt with a slit all the way up the sides? He pauses—maybe even does a double take—because he sees something in part, and his brain wants to complete the picture.
He can’t help it. It’s a simple fact of visual science!
2. We need to understand the special weakness of men for a woman’s beauty.
The power of the Gestalt principle is multiplied by the fact that men have a God-given craving for a woman’s beauty. Proverbs 5:18-19 says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always. May you be ever intoxicated by her sex.”
I italicized two of the last four words in that verse because I changed them to better reflect the actual Hebrew meaning of the passage. The God of the universe looks down at woman, created to be a physical masterpiece, and man, created to enjoy the view, and actually encourages man to be fully intoxicated by her sexuality. Wow!
When a guy gets “intoxicated,” his body can’t help but react. Physiologically, many of our bodies’ responses are activated by something called the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This system is controlled not by the will but by the environment.
For example, have you ever lost one of your small children at the mall, if only for a moment? Do you remember the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach? The rapid pulse?
Your body reacted automatically to the situation. You cannot control such reactions by choice. That’s how the ANS works—it forces the body to respond to the environment.
Sexual arousal operates the same way. Certain things in the environment—what we see, what we hear, what we smell—work together to tell the brain that the time is right for sexual response. The ANS takes over, and the brain reacts by sending specific chemicals through the body.
In a man this reaction is particularly strong since God created him to be visually stimulated. If he sees a woman walk by wearing revealing clothing, his pulse may increase; his body temperature may rise. Other changes may take place as well.
Of course, all this is beautiful and even celebrated by almighty God when the woman responsible for the arousal is the man’s wife. But too often that’s not the case.
Our culture constantly bombards us with sexual content in movies, magazines, advertisements and more. It’s enough to overwhelm even the most godly man.
And though he can choose how to act upon this arousal, he frequently cannot control that it occurs. The environment controls it.
Exposing a man to continual visual stimulation is like hanging a noose around the neck of his spiritual life! Yet many Christian women contribute to the hanging Sunday after Sunday.
3. We need to call immodesty what it really is.
The Bible is emphatic: We must never do anything to cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble (see 1 Cor. 10:32). That’s an uncomfortable challenge for those of us who’ve been lulled into thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s just fashion!”
We may squirm even more when we read Ephesians 5:3: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
Get that? Not a hint of sexual sin! But aren’t we hinting at sin when we wear a low-cut blouse, a tight T-shirt or a super-short skirt?
According to its Hebrew and Greek definitions, sin means missing God’s intended purpose for our lives. So what is God’s purpose when it comes to our sexuality? Proverbs 5:18-19 says that it’s to intoxicate one man with our beauty.
We are no doubt quite capable of getting many stares. But God says that the unique characteristics of our sensual beauty are to be treasured secrets—secrets kept for one man. When we dress immodestly, creating arousal in many men, we miss the purpose of the carefully crafted masterpiece that is our body.
Is it just a matter of fashion? No. Immodesty is sin.
4. We need to develop a righteous response to the crisis immodesty has created in the church.
As you read this, maybe you feel a twinge of guilt. I know I felt one as I worked recently on a new book for teenage girls on the subject of modesty. Perhaps you need to clean a few things out of your closet, as I did.
Maybe you see a reason for concern in your church. Don’t be afraid to ask a women’s Bible study leader or perhaps even your pastor to address the issue. God’s call for purity in the lives of His people is worthy of the tremendous effort it will take to break through the strongholds of denial in this area of sin.
If you’re married, be ready to help your husband walk through a visually tempting world. When I came home to the news that a Victoria’s Secret model had unexpectedly visited my husband’s mind, I didn’t condemn him or react with jealousy or hurt. Rather, I thanked him for sharing his struggle with me.
We talked about it until 2 in the morning. As Bob opened his heart, I was able to erase the shame that had been caused by this woman’s indiscretion. We agreed to work together to make sure visual temptation is treated with a zero-tolerance policy in our home.
Whether you are married or not, it’s important to set a good example. Make certain the clothes you pull out of your closet on Sunday morning—and every day of the week—are a statement of your commitment to live a godly life.
Train your eye to spot a counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag by looking at the real thing in person – at a boutique or an authorized dealer. Susan Scafidi, who heads the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, put these three bags side-by-side to demonstrate the differences. Can you tell which one is the fake?
1. Leather or not? Many Louis Vuitton bags are made of coated canvas, but the trim is leather. Before making a purchase, familiarize yourself with the style that interests you. If the trim is supposed to be leather, it should feel dry — not oily, slippery or sticky.
3. Are there sloppy spots? There should be no back-and-forth stitching – that’s a sign of sloppy construction that doesn’t meet Louis Vuitton’s high standards. Examine the bag carefully for this sign of a possible counterfeit. In this example, there is back and forth stitching under the tab.
4. Does the pattern match? Look closely at the matching of the pattern in the outside seams. A company like Louis Vuitton, which values its logo, wouldn’t divide the letters in a seam. And where the pattern appears on either side of the seam, it should match precisely.
5. What color is the lining? It should be precisely the same shade as the real thing–not a close approximation.
6. How does the hardware feel? It should be heavy — not hollow. If it’s imprinted with the Louis Vuitton name or logo, make sure it’s supposed to be.
7. Are there imperfections in the print? This style, celebrating Japanese cherry blossoms, was a collaboration between Louis Vuitton’s creative director Marc Jacobs, and the artist Takashi Murakami, known, among other things, for his whimsical smiley faces. In the counterfeit shown here, the brown toile peaks through the pink–something that doesn’t happen in the original.
8. Does anything else raise suspicion? This bag has leather trim, but there’s coloring outside the dark pink border on the blossom.
9. Does the whole thing hang together? Don’t be fooled by the presence of a hang tag. Anyone who can counterfeit a handbag can fake that, too.
10. Where was it made? Some counterfeiters routinely mark Louis Vuitton knockoffs “Made in France.” But as it happens, this cherry blossom line was made in Spain.
If you guessed that the bag on the right is the real Louis Vuitton, good for you. But it’s easy to be fooled by a fake, like the one on the left.
So I decided to create three looks out of one dress. 1) Red Carpet Ready, 2) Out on the Town, and 3) Business Dinner Chic.
Red Carpet Ready
My first instinct was to put together an elegant look. I love a black dress because you can pair it with your favorite pumps and you instantly look simple and elegant. Every woman needs a LBD and a good pair of go-to pumps. I decided to pair this dress with my favorite nude pumps and my very flashy, but regal BCBG chandelier earrings. The nude pump plays off of the gold in the earring and offers a little color variation. This look is perfect for an award ceremony, banquet, or upcoming holiday party.
Out on the Town
The second look I came up with is more of an edgy look, giving downtown vibes. I have been wanting to try the pants under a dress look, so this was the perfect opportunity. The asymmetrical hem can accommodates this look quite well. So because of my love for leather I decided to go with a faux leather pant under this dress to add dimension and texture. I also went with leather boots, to create a seamless effect. The turban and gold jewelry scream personal style. As you can see the same dress is now part of a “look” that’s perfect for a night out with the girls or your beau, Boaz or whatever you fancy calling him.
Business Dinner Chic
My last look is accomplished by the simple addition of a blazer. It’s the simplest way to give a dress new life. My closet is full of blazers because I grab one whenever I want to look a bit polished. Because I wanted to downplay the dress I added a black sandal. This is a great look for when you want to mean business, but still be a lady.
The next time you’re thinking that you have nothing to wear, think again.
So the next time you’re thinking that you have nothing to wear, think again. Pull out your little black dress and put a spin on it. Anyone can accomplish one or all of these looks.
by David Zinczenko
If I were a wise, grizzled guru sitting on the top of some Himalayan mountain, and you traveled halfway around the globe to seek my wisdom, you’d probably be surprised by what I told you. My one secret for a better life—a healthier, wealthier, happier life—isn’t “Spend more time with your friends,” “Do what you love,” or “Find your higher power.” It’s this: “Lose your belly.” Because when it comes to physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, belly fat is more damaging to you than you would ever think.
Belly fat—what scientists call “visceral fat”— is the most dangerous fat there is. This deadly fat wraps around the organs deep in your abdomen, spiking your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome. If you let that fat stay there, nestled on your lap, growing and making you sicker, there is no doubt about the consequences.
The amazing news is, you can start blasting belly fat today with these 8 healthy habits, inspired by my new book, Zero Belly Diet. Start now for your best 2015 ever.
And set yourself up for success with my indispensable list of 13 Foods to Toss Out of Your Kitchen for Good!.
ZERO BELLY SECRET #1
Have a Smarter Starter
A study printed in the journal Metabolism found that eating half a grapefruit before meals may help reduce visceral fat and lower cholesterol levels. Participants in the six-week study who ate a Rio Red grapefruit 15 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner saw their waists shrink by up to an inch, and LDL levels drop by 18 points. Researchers attribute the effects to a combination of phytochemicals and vitamin C in the grapefruit. Consider having half of one before your morning oatmeal, slicing a few segments for a starter salad, or eat one for a snack shortly before a meal. (P.S. A good snack is in the 100-250 calorie range. Indulge guilt-free in any of these 50 Best Snack Foods For Weight Loss.)
ZERO BELLY SECRET #2
Can the Canned Goods
What separates a healthy green bean from a not-so healthy one? About three aisles in the grocery store. Canned vegetables are typically loaded with excess salt and “flavor enhancers” like monosodium glutamate (MSG), which studies suggest may increase cholesterol levels and visceral fat accumulation. Just a half cup of canned cut green beans contains 380-390 mg of sodium—that’s more salt than you’ll find in a snack-size bag of Doritos! Go with fresh veggies instead—or you can find some of the cheapest and most nutritious produce just a few aisles along, in the freezer. In fact, a study by the University of Georgia found that amounts of vitamin A, C and folate in frozen vegetables are sometimes even greater than their fresh counterparts.
ZERO BELLY SECRET #3
Swap Your Cup O’ Joe for Green Tea
Sipping on green tea throughout the morning has proven to shrink your gut. Thank the compounds called catechins, belly-fat crusaders that blast adipose tissue by revving the metabolism, increasing the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speeding up the liver’s fat burning capacity. In a recent study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea with a 25-minute workout lost 2 more pounds than the non tea-drinking exercisers. Meanwhile, a research team in Washington found that the same amount of coffee (5+ cups/day) doubled visceral belly fat. For more soothing, calorie-free elixirs, click here for the 5 Best Teas for Weight Loss.
ZERO BELLY SECRET #4
Eat More Carbs—the Right Ones
It’s not carbs, per se, that lead to belly fat; but the type, researchers say. In fact, whole grains are a dietary staple of people with the littlest middles. A Tufts University study found that participants who ate three or more servings of whole grains per day (oats, quinoa, brown rice, wheat) had 10% less belly fat than people who ate the same amount of calories from refined carbs (white stuff: bread, rice, pasta). When it comes to diet, being unrefined is a good thing—the fiber fills you up. Make sure you’re eating them and not any of from our Eat This, Not That! special report: Foods That Make You Hungrier.
ZERO BELLY SECRET #5
Dietary fats are kind of like lovers. Some of them make you a better person, and others—as you often discover too late—are catastrophically bad for your health. The absolutely worst match for your apple-shaped figure? Saturated fats. Saturated fats, like the kind you’ll find in baked goods and red meat, “turn on” certain genes that increase the storage of fat in the belly, researchers say. Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, activate genes that reduce fat storage and improve insulin metabolism. Try walnuts, one of the best sources of polyunsaturated fats, with about 13 grams per one ounce serving. Sprinkle a handful on your morning oats or entree salad for belly-busting benefits.
And to discover how healthy fats can make you thin, check out the 8 Fatty Foods That Make You Skinny.
ZERO BELLY SECRET #6
Make Room for Musical Fruit
There are diet pills on the market that actually work. They’re called beans. Researchers suggest beans, as they’re particularly rich in soluble fiber, can lessen the accumulation of abdominal fat deposits. A study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Fill up, without filling out, with just 1/2 a cup of beans. If the musical fruits tend to leave you bloated, soak them overnight—that breaks down the gas-causing oligosaccharides.
ZERO BELLY SECRET #7
Sprinkle Pepper on Your Meals
Meet piperine, the fat blasting ninja! A powerful compound found in black pepper, piperine has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine to treat multiple health conditions including inflammation and tummy troubles. But recent animal studies have found that piperine may also have the profound ability to decrease inflammation and interfere with the formation of new fat cells—a reaction known as adipogenesis, resulting in a decrease in waist size, body fat, and cholesterol levels. More pepper, please! And for a slim tummy, stay away from its evil sister, salt. Stop nasty bloat now by avoiding one of the 10 Saltiest Foods in America.
ZERO BELLY SECRET #8
Swap Cooking Oils for Coconut Oil
What smells like an exotic vacation and can shrink your waist faster than your favorite Zumba class? You got it: coconut oil. A study of 30 men in the journal Pharmacology found that just 2 tablespoons per day reduced waist circumference by an average of 1.1 inches over the course of a month. What makes coconut oil superior to other fats is its medium chain triglycerides. Unlike the long-chain fatty acids found in animal sources of saturated fat, coconut oil doesn’t seem to raise your cholesterol and is more likely to be burned as energy than stored as blubber. At roughly 117 calories per tablespoon, it’s a near identical caloric swap for olive oil. Plus, its high smoke point makes coconut oil great for just about every dish, from eggs to stir-frys.
There are professionally pretty people, and then there are the rest of us. If you need any proof, see exhibit A: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which aired on Tuesday evening. Even without the help of professional photo editing (and, to be fair, with the help of professional hairstylists, makeup artists, and carefully selected lighting and camera angles) the Angels’ bodies were out of this world.
The highlight of the evening probably depends on your sexual orientation and your level of Taylor Swift fandom. But for us, one thing kept coming to mind: Holy s—- look at those abs.
But what does it really take to get the toned, flat stomach of a Victoria’s Secret model? That is, if you’re not a 5’9” Brazilian like Alessandra Ambrosio, who also happens to be in the top .000000001 percent of the most gorgeous women alive? (Yes, we calculated it.)
In short: A heck of a lot of effort.
“Getting a superlean physique requires that you eat, sleep, and breathe a fairly restrictive approach,” says fat-loss coach Jill Coleman, MS, co-owner of Metabolic Effect. “Every once in a while, you’ll see the oddball who can achieve it without such an approach, but 99 percent of the people I’ve worked with would have to severely change their lifestyle to achieve the shredded look. That means cooking all meals at home, eating out of Tupperware, never missing a day at the gym, and turning down invitations to social events (or going and not eating the food).”
(Tristan Fewings/Stringer/Getty Images)
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