A Fair Lady
Yesterday evening my wife, daughter and I went to our local fair. I have always enjoyed the fair, I remember when I was younger being asked in school to write on our favorite season of the year, I would always choose fall. One of the greatest reasons I would give for favoring this season, was the fair. I was anything but a farmer, my city school system didn’t even know what 4-H was, but still I loved the tractors, hit and miss engines, animals, dirt bike races and of course the rides and excitement of being around all the people. As we walked toward the entrance yesterday my one year old daughter began pointing up at the people on the rides way up in the air, being that I had missed the fair for several years in a row now, I was excited myself to see it all again. As we entered the gate by the ticket booth, we entered by the rides which was the main entrance, so naturally being near all the wild rides, was the younger crowd, lots of teens. Something that was obvious right away was how these young people were dressed, wearing far less than they should. We walked straight past the rides at first toward the farm animal area, but the outfits there were not much different. Attractive young girls were wearing very short shorts, a lot were wearing cut off tank tops and when you’re down to just that there is not much left to do to make things anymore skimpy, aside from getting everything to fit tight, which was not left out either.
While there were some adults dressed this way also, the huge majority were high school and college age, the greatest temptation was clearly on our youth. What all this made me realize was what a huge challenge our youth face, not only did it make me realize that, but it reminded me of the reality of this huge temptation I faced ten or so years ago myself. Place yourself back in that position for a moment, you’re in high school, the girls around you are dressed this way, sure there are some policies the school has to keep clothes from getting too minimal, but the school’s cheerleader and dance team outfits clearly show that policy is a joke. Maybe you were raised in the church, and you know that we have to be like Job, having a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1), but it’s not just a person or two at the school who we have to look away from, it is the majority of the girls in every class we have. The Bible tells us to be satisfied with the wife of our youth (Prov 5:18), but you have no wife yet, and because of the norms of our society, marriage is years away. And just when we finally get away from the girls for a moment, the talk of the guys is constantly sexual jokes. The list could go on, but this has to be one of the most challenging times in a Christian’s life.
So what is my solution to this great problem? Is it to tell the churches parents not to allow your kids to dress this way, even though the majority of kids do not have Christian parents? Is it to tell you to send your youth away to one of our many church of Christ universities who over emphasize grace and teach sin is okay? No, my advice is simply to the youth who find themselves in this situation right now.
To the young men: You are in a tough situation, there is no doubt about it, there is no denying the challenge you face in our society to keep Jesus’ words, to not even lust after a woman. This temptation will never go away as long as you live, but you have to realize it is at its absolute strongest right now. Satan knows that and he is giving it everything he has to use this to break you from the commitment to Christ you have made. This temptation is a drug, it may not be condemned by those around us like it is, but it is absolutely addicting like a drug. I know you feel like you can just give in to it once, but every time that happens it becomes soooo much harder to break from. I want you to think about your life ahead of you, think about the fact you will one day be married, and that girl who you will be married to in a few short years is somewhere out there right now. You don’t know her name, you wonder what she looks like, what her personality will be, but I promise she is the one who will bring true joy. Don’t focus on the many girls around you can’t have now, focus on her. Sure it’s hard to focus on someone you do not know, but just know she is just as alive as you are in some location of the world right now, and just as much as you want her to be pure for you, you have to be pure for her also. You don’t want her to be dressing like these girls around you, to be center of all the guys’ dirty thoughts, nor does she want you focused on any of those girls, because she is not dressed like that herself, but she has all the same beauty reserved for you. Focus on her, the reality that she is out there right now, that you will be with her in just a few years, and the purity you want to have for each other and for God, who your relationship will be built around. What seems so far away is just a few years away.
To the young ladies: I know you hear all the time of the temptations you place on young men, and you probably feel like you yourself are not that pretty to cause that, but you are! I am sure you know that girls are just as competitive as guys, maybe in different ways, but you know also the competition to look the best. This will always be a competition your whole life, but it is at its strongest right now, an especial challenge to be sexy, Satan knows this and he is using this to break you from your immersion into Christ. Jesus spoke of those who cause one of “these little ones to stumble” (Matt 18:6), he said of them who do such, it would be better for them to have a heavy millstone hung around their neck and be drowned! When we think of “little ones” we often think of children, but I don’t believe that is who Jesus had in mind, instead he was speaking of Christians, you know we are called children of God (Gal 3:26). Think of the importance that you be cautious in your decisions not to cause someone to focus on your body rather than you. When you see all the other girls getting the attention of the guys, think of your future husband, he is out there somewhere. Just like your greatest desire for him is that he has a loving caring personality, so also the one you are looking for will not be looking for merely sexual attraction, he can see your beauty without seeing bare skin or your shape, he also will be looking for the beauty of your personality, mainly your focus on Christ and His word. Peter said this perfectly in the inspired scriptures of God; “And let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quite spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” 1 Pet 3:3-4
Satan’s temptations will never disappear while we are alive, while we must do our best to avoid them, we also know we can never completely escape them. But believe it or not, as hard as it may seem, “…God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able…” (1 Cor 10:13). When Satan’s temptations are at their greatest, it is so important that we keep our hearts in the right place, that begins with where we allow our thoughts and focus to go.