One of the most intriguing discussions we have ever had around the Christian Fashion Week founders' planning table was about the word 'sexy'. Instantly, the group was divided on what the word meant, what it conveyed, and what it implied. The concept of sexiness means something very different based on the way you interpret language, life, and the place of sex appeal in the vast mixture that is human life. For many, the word was easier to define before agreeing to live by a certain moral standard. But, afterwards, it seems that the skirts got longer, everything got looser, and sexiness was replaced with the need to outwardly convey a sense of decency and morality.
So, what really happens to sexiness?
Wil's discomfort lies in the definition of the word "sexy". So, we dove straight into that first. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sexy means, "sexually suggestive or stimulating." It offers a second definition: "generally attractive or interesting." It was clear what Wil was having a problem with. "I would not feel comfortable with my daughter saying that she looks 'sexy'," he explained.
In our modern world, sex is big business. It drives marketing, merchandising, entertainment, and even personal habits. Porn websites are responsible for an estimated 30% of all internet traffic. According to some researchers, up to 45% of men use the internet to watch porn. This means that sex consumes one third to almost one half of our attention as a society. Our need for the provocative is undeniable. I would argue that God Himself wired us that way, but of course we always find ways of mismanaging what we are given.
However, Christians are told by scripture that we are to control that part of who we are. We're not told to make it go away, just to balance it. We learn that anything in excess, especially if it begins to control us, is dangerous. Sex, alcohol, bad friends, bad hygiene - the intention is to keep us balanced and attentive to our purpose instead of our obsessions.
But, balance implies that some things are safe in moderation. In the Bible, there is an entire book devoted to romanticism, even eroticism. The themes discussed in it are themes that would quickly be silenced in most church discussions. But, it is undeniable that sex, the romantic, the erotic, and sex appeal is part of life - yes, even the Christian life. Even in the Old Testament, we see Judges 21, where the daughters of Shiloah danced for men who took them as wives. That's pretty sexy stuff!
We agreed around the table that day that the word "sexy" means different things to different people. For some, it means "sexually enticing" while others use it to mean "beautiful and well put together." Not everyone who uses the word attaches the act of sex or sexual enticement to it. But, for me, that's not what matters. I'm not interested in apologizing for something that isn't necessarily wrong simply because it is sometimes twisted into a very dark thing. Sexuality, sexiness, and sex are not filthy concepts reserved for whispered discussions in shadowy back alleys. They are among God's most brilliant creation, allowing mankind to do everything from procreate to experience a one-of-a-kind bond that keeps them wanting more from each other.
For singles, sexiness is an attractor. It is a part of courting - a way of reeling in a partner who is attracted to what you are radiating. Without rules, it's a dangerous proposition. Not only can you end up with some serious spiritual problems, but there are a myriad of other complications that come with minimalizing the power of sexual attraction and allowing yourself to be consumed by it. But, when it's the real you that someone finds sexy, things begin to find a balance. When attraction is combined with true relationship, you can walk a lifetime together. That IS your objective right?
That brings me to the place of sexiness within marriage. This is the place of unrestricted passion. It's the context painted in scripture of healthy, blessed sexuality. So, the role of sexual attraction changes from a billboard to a post card. It moves from being a poster to a very intimate and personal photo. But, the freedom you can enjoy within that exchange is amazing. Sexiness within marriage is like a phone conversation that never ends, that starts with the superficial but becomes deeper and more creative as time goes on.
Some people are thinking, "That does NOT sound like my marriage!" So, how long ago did sexy go out the window? Is there a lack of balance in that area - either way? Only you know that for sure, and I don't want you to feel judged in any way. But, sexiness is an important component of keeping the fire alive and I don't want you to miss that.
This post isn't intended to provide sex advice, but it obviously leads us to exactly what Wil was explaining that day. Sexiness, at the end of the day, is about sexuality. It's not that we are all perverts and creeps. But, it is our sexuality and natural enticement that makes what we see into something beautiful, exciting, and enticing. Once we understand that, we can stop living in denial of our nature, and start to look for its best context. What we all want is a happy, balanced life. As Christians, that's exactly what our Bible teaches us. Just put it into perspective and then feel free to use it to its full potential.
At Christian Fashion Week, you are going to see 17 designers showcase a variety of fashions. There will be moments where you look and say to yourself, "I would look HOT in that dress," or "Boy, is that sexy!", or for the guys, "man, I would kill it in that!" Don't worry - we won't sizzle your eyeballs with revealing attire. The runway won't ooze with sensuality. There won't be any peek-a-boos or slips. But, you will undoubtedly be hypnotized by the beauty of the art that is presented for the first time by these provocative (pun intended) designers.
When you have that experience, don't question whether or not you should be feeling this way at a Christian event. Instead, think about the best context in which to express that side of yourself. Think about whether or not the garment is an expression of who you truly are. Ask yourself whether you will feel beautiful (or handsome) and confident while still maintaining the moral standard you live by. We won't all agree on every garment. But, I know that there will be something beautiful for everyone who attends. With both men and women fashion lines in our showcase, the Christian community is positioned to bring sexy back.
No need to redefine the word. Just wink and say, "you know what I mean."