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.