By Larry Ray Hafley
From Indiana: “Is it wrong for some very fine and zealous ladies who are Christians to wear low neckline dresses and blouses? They believe it is wrong to wear shorts and short dresses, but they see nothing wrong in wearing a low neckline.”
In all matters of this kind, one must seek to be decent and pleasing to the Lord without being dogmatic with respect to personal opinion and private judgment or taste. I cannot pose as an authority on necklines. I do not know for sure what is regarded as “low,” but perhaps some principles will be instructive. If our querist had said “plunging necklines” instead of “low,” this may have assisted me in my reply, but I will do the best I can.
First, what standards do these ladies use to condemn the wearing of shorts and short dresses? It seems that the same scruples of conscience and conviction that guide them in one area would also direct them in another. What is there that is indecent about the exposure of the legs and thighs that is not also immodest concerning the breasts? It would shed light on this matter, perhaps, to hear these ladies’ objections to shorts and short dresses that would not also condemn their low necklines.
Second, The term “low” is a relative one. What does our inquirer mean by “low?” Is the term used as it is used in the fashion world? This seems to be the case as is seen by the reference to low neckline dresses and blouses. The degree of “lowness” has everything to do with a judgment in this instance. And it is obvious that we are here discussing that which involves a woman’s bosom and not her neck as such. Do the necklines dip low enough to reveal the curvature and cleavage of their breasts? I am not asking for information, but for consideration. If the answer to the above question is “no,” it would seem that the ladies are fairly safe in their apparel. If the answer is “yes,” then the girls will be hard pressed to justify their necklines while ruling out shorts and short dresses.
Third, if these ladies are truly “very fine and zealous” Christians, open lines of communication must be maintained with them. Do not hesitate to rebuke their immodesty, but be careful lest you attempt to make your personal value judgments every one else’s guide. Further, if you respect their demeanor and judgment in other areas of modesty and decency, is it possible that you are being overly critical in this matter? I am not making a charge. I am urging self-introspection.
Fourth, one does not need to be an expert on sex psychology to know that the bosom of a woman can be sexually stimulating to a man. Any dress, or lack of dress, that calls attention to the breasts of a woman is a stumbling block to men. It suggests that the woman is appealing to the man to notice her body for the purpose of lust and fornication. It lowers the virtue, influence and character of the woman in the eyes of those who are modest in their morals.
The partially bared bosom can be more sensually and carnally inflaming to a man than if the whole top half of her body were exposed. This ought to lead ladies to consider their discretion and decency when they contemplate low neckline attire. That all necklines termed “low” by fashion experts are immodest, I am unprepared to say, but that those which draw attention to the woman’s bosom are indecent, I am prepared to say.
I do not know if I have helped or not. I have tried to be discreet without being too naive. I have tried not be coarse or crude in frankly dealing with this question.
Truth Magazine XIX: 10, p. 146
January 16, 1975