Showing Skin at Church

I don’t know if this is an issue (too much skin) at your church, but it definitely is one at ours. I can’t tell you how many conversations there have been about this topic. Doesn’t matter how many times our pastor has talked about dress and modesty, it only seems to get worse.

And I don’t want to pick on women here, it’s just that men don’t usually show skin because women aren’t usually visually stimulated the same way men are.

But it’s definitely an issue and I’ve become more and more shocked by what young women are wearing, not only in church, but when I step out the door and head into public. I’ve thought on this issue before, but now that I have a baby daughter I’m thinking more about the issue of modesty and what my wife and I want to teach her as she grows up.

No matter what we as parents do I know there will always be that cultural peer pressure on my daughter to do something different. But in the midst of that pressure I hope that we can convey the message of the importance of modesty, and that showing skin is not what she should value or want approval from others for. Doesn’t get easier for parents when teen stars provide much of the cultural peer pressure (i.e. Hannah Montana).

And I know this is a difficult issue for men. A little skin on a woman can send a man’s thought process hurling into outer space and in a direction farthest from purity. So on the one hand a man might get excited and tempted by it, but it’s also the same thing that can destroy him or make him make decisions that he would otherwise not make. That’s power.

It’s a vicious cycle. Women are admired in our culture for their sexuality, but we as Christians are also trying to send a different message that doesn’t usually succeed.

I don’t know where we head on this issue in Church. But maybe it needs to be an open conversation between men and women where we can encourage each other to strive for lives of more modesty, rather than just blaming each other.

How powerful is “skin.” So powerful that I decided a couple of weeks ago that I needed to sign up for online accountability with Covenant Eyes. What does that mean? It means for $7 a month all of my online behavior is monitored and flagged where necessary. And then each week my wife, my brother, and two of my best friends get a report of what I was looking at during my online time during the week. I spend a lot of time on the internet, and I’m smart enough to know the power of sexuality, skin, porn and more online. It doesn’t matter that I’m a father, husband, friend or pastor. We are all susceptible to its temptations. I’ve heard people complain about paying for online monitoring, but come on…are you kidding me? This type of accountability is worth what it would cost two lattes at Starbucks.

I want to leave you with this latest post from Anne Jackson, my thoughts on boobies. Definitely a catching and controversial title. Anne is a pastor at, and is the author of the book Mad Church Disease: The Church-Wide Burnout Epidemic. Check out her post at Relevant Magazine, Dirty Girls, The New Porn Addicts, as she talks about her struggle with pornography and the effects of it on her relationship.

Here is her entire post:

my thoughts on boobies
Written by Anne Jackson on May 7, 2008 – 12:32 pm

did you know?

–there is a female feature we call breasts. they can also be referred to as “boobies,” or “the twins,” or “the rack,” or “jugs,” so on, so forth.

–most men find this particular feature interesting. tempting. and amazing.

–upon catching a glimpse of said feature (regardless of how much is actually exposed), it is likely for a man’s mind to go to places it shouldn’t.

–with above knowledge, women, you now are educated and have no excuse.


aside: call me a prude. call me whatever. i don’t really care. and as much as this may seem like “casting judgment” (said in a very, scary, echo-y loud voice) on members of the female gender, please get a freaking clue.

i was doing some bloggy-clicking-around during my lunch and it amazes me how many “nice christian girls” (some who are even in church leadership – gasp!) show quite a bit of skin. in the office, at church parties, whatever (oh, and then post them ALL OVER THE INTERNET!)

please forgive me if it seems i have something stuck, as they say, where the sun don’t shine.


it’s called modesty.

and if you are supposed to be living examples of godly women…you should too!

that is all.

sermon over.

please, carry on.


  1. by anne jackson on May 7, 2008  4:59 pm Reply

    thank you so much for the link lovin and the thoughts on the post. i should clarify i'm not a pastor at life church...not by title anyway. :)

  2. by Rhett on May 7, 2008  5:08 pm Reply


    Thanks for posting. That's okay. I'm technically not a pastor either according to the PCUSA, but no one knows the difference. I say director and they are like " you are a pastor."

    Thanks for your honest thoughts in your writings. I wish people were most honest and open about the power of sexuality, skin, etc, etc. I think the Church is finally beginning to discuss it. At least some of the Church. :-)


  3. by cynthia on May 7, 2008  5:50 pm Reply

    Hi Rhett - funny you should talk about this today. I just left lunch with someone who sent her kid to one of our local LA churches. What'd they think says I? Collegiate replies: Just like a bar without the booze.

    Disappointed mom knows even her lost son is searching for a place where there's an atmosphere of purity. Seems too much skin can just ruin that atmosphere.

  4. by Rhett on May 7, 2008  6:05 pm Reply


    Not a surprise. A few years ago Maxim Magazine wrote an article about how to score in church.

    I blogged about it.

    It is like a bar in many places...and sometimes booze is there.


  5. by Heather on May 7, 2008  9:00 pm Reply

    hey, women are visually stimulated too!! but i agree, i am shocked at some of the things women wear to church. i would be embarrassed to go accept communion in a tube top. however, women have breasts. at some point, interested parties just have to deal with it, no?

  6. by Rhett Smith on May 7, 2008  9:05 pm Reply


    Like your candor as always!!


  7. by Luke Gilkerson on May 8, 2008  9:22 am Reply

    I hope your subscription to Covenant Eyes is helping out. Thanks for your thoughts on modesty.

    Let me know if you want a free packet of Covenant Eyes brochures. Perhaps you know others in your church who might benefit from our accountability program. If so, I'd love to get you more info to give to them.

    I recently wrote a blog post about porn addiction among women (though probably not as personal as Anne Jackson's). I'd love to hear your thoughts:

    Luke Gilkerson
    Internet Community Manager
    Covenant Eyes

  8. by Rhett Smith on May 8, 2008  11:56 am Reply


    I will check out the post at the blog. Thanks for commenting.

    And yeah, I love Covenant Eyes.

    So if anyone is looking for good accountability software go to

    It's just one more great tool in helping prevent, or put a roadblock up where people struggle.


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  11. by j a n on May 9, 2008  6:39 pm Reply

    This is a great post. One of the things I've noticed among some Christians is that we've become hesitant to "judge" other believers. We're not sure we really have any right to interfere in another's life. Except that the Bible is clear that we absolutely are to lovingly "interfere" in each other's lives, especially as believers.

    Women need to be able to have conversations with each other about this - not in a condemning way, but in an effort to come alongside one another. Leaders need to set absolute standards, say for anyone on stage (musicians, vocalists, etc.) I used to attend a church that would send choir members who showed up in short skirts home to change before they could sing on stage. It sounds harsh, but it demonstrates a standard, and responsibility for those singers in their roles as leaders.

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  13. by Diane on June 20, 2008  11:25 am Reply

    I left Sunday School class recently because I saw "too much skin" sitting directly across from my husband. He was polite enough not to have noticed, but where do I go with this? I feel like I need to do a "cleavage check' before deciding whether or not we walk into our adult Sunday School class from now on!

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