Comments about ‘Ask Angela: A dad wonders how to approach an immodestly dressed woman at church’

Return to article »

Published: Monday, Oct. 14 2013 10:00 a.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Casey See

Very good advice. No one likes to be criticized. Anytime someone suggests that we change something, that is criticism.

As someone starts to regularly attend church, if members accept them as they are, they will change. In one ward we lived in, one of the members dated and married a guy with a full row of earrings on each ear and a plug on each earlobe. He was a solid, born again Christian guy. It took nearly 10 years, but he slowly removed earrings, plugs. Early on in their marriage, they split Sunday's between churches. Then she was called to a major calling and he decided to attend every week to support her. Finally just about a year ago, he was baptized.

It would never have happened if the members hadn't accepted him as he was. We let his father-in-law and daughter push the earrings and dress standards.

In the Bible, we never see the Lord criticizing people for how they dressed except the self-righteous. We shouldn't either.

Plano, TX

Attentive dad may think he is always happy to see new people at church, but it sounds like he is only happy to see perfect people. Instead of asking about how he should approach this woman who courageously is coming back after inactivity, I think he might want to ask how he can teach his sons about seeing others as they can become, looking at them as The Lord does, How Christ left the 99 and went after the one, the celebration of the return of the prodigal son. If they can see this woman as Christ does, and be kind, and learn to notice the wonderful things about her instead of just her clothing and appearance, they can help church be a " safe haven" for her. She will over time want to dress like those around her at church. Maybe instead of thinking of church as a safe haven, it is more like a healing place where we learn how Christ atonement can heal us of our hurt, clean us from our sins. We should be helping to heal and comfort others, and teach by example. Attentive dad can't teach her to dress modestly, he can teach his sons.

Omaha, NE

Why is it every ward has people who want to tell others all their faults because their family is perfect. What is immodest to him might not be to others but he has certainly spotted her. I feel sorry for his wife and sons.

Far East USA, SC

It never ceases to amaze me that some people like "attentive dad" feel justified in imposing their standards on others, even in church. Do your boys go to the mall? The pool or the beach? How about talking to them?

Many years ago, in Salt Lake, a neighbor approached me because I was mowing my lawn on a Sunday

This is the problem of living where such a large percentage share the same view. He probably lived in SLC all his life, and knew and associated only with others that felt exactly as he did. His reality got skewed.

It is one thing to think that I should not be mowing my lawn on Sunday. I understand that. But to think one is justified in saying something says it all.

A Mormon outside of Utah would never do that.


You are correct, Angela. Members should go to church and mind their own business about how other returning, inactive members are dressed or how they smell.

My question is this, is it the son with wondering eyes, or the father? And if not, how does he know every single Sunday what that Sister is wearing?

If church is the only concern he has about his sons being exposed to immodest dress, then, he is way out of touch with reality.

And too, some members ideal of immodest dress can be something as simply as not wearing a white shirt. I think much of what we fuss about is more cultural than anything that concerns the doctrine.

Winchester, VA

Many years ago we had a couple walk into church. He was dressed in a clean pair of overalls and she was wearing a jaw dropping red short-short dress. While I was trying to pick up my jaw, the Bishop's wife went up to them and welcomed them to church. Their story was a beautiful one of the Spirit leading them to pick a church out of the phone book. They were quickly introduced to the Missionaries as the "Golden" family, that being their real last name. A year later she had hung up her short short dress, and he was the new Elder's quorum President. It is obvious that we need to see things as the Lord sees them. I have seen many examples of people not understanding the principle of modesty - it is so we can see past the surface things and see into another's soul.

Mom of ten

The advice you gave is exactly right. It is wonderful that she is coming at all. And any mention of her "style" is inappropriate, and will certainly not be a positive experience for her. She needs love and acceptance. We all have thngs that others would want to change or tweak such as coming late to service, talking or whispering instead of reverance in the chapel while the music is playing, socializing in the halls instead of going to class, not getting substitutes for teaching when we are to ge gone, having noisey kids, not volunteering to help for service projects, etc. Is any one of us perfect and has it all down right? Does he really think that her mote is so big and he has no beam? I believe that is why the scripture teach that it is line upon line, percept on precept. We are all growing and learning. And young men, and older men for that matter, need tactics that work for them to remain righteous. They CAN contol where both their eyes and thoughts go. She can not "make" them think or do anything that they did not allow themselves to do. So, good advice.

Roanoke, VA

Silly question. Good answer.

Pickerington, OH

It would be unbelievably inappropriate and rude for this dad, or anyone, to say anything to this woman about dressing "appropriately" for church. If someone came to church smelling of smoke would you do the same? No, it would be wrong. Believe me, she'll catch on just through observation. And one person's view of what is "appropriate" is different than another person's view in many ways - is she wearing a sleeveless blouse - the horrors! Is her skirt 2 inches above the knee instead of 1 inch below? For shame! (Sarcasm here folks, if you missed it.)

Perhaps this dad should focus on teaching his sons, and himself, to view her as a daughter of God and not a sexual object. Every person is in charge of their own thoughts and feelings and actions and should not push the responsibility off on another person, as is frequently done to women. She is coming to church to worship and find her place in the Gospel of Jesus Christ - shaming her about her dress (which is what that kind of conversation is) removes the spirit and pushes her away. So not What Jesus Would Do.

West Wendover, NV

Angela, I agree 100% with you on this one. Time will take care of it. As a dad also I've seen it work out.

Springville, UT

Good answer Angela. I agree with you. I'm an LDS bishop and have this very situation going on in my ward right now. The returning-to-activity sister has already been offended by unapproving neighbors. If a man approached her in church to criticize her dress she would be crushed. She came to an interview with me in immodest attire and that gave me a chance to point out the difficulties with her clothing choices. In the bishop's office with no one else around was a much better place for her to have that learning experience than from a dad in the hallway.

Taylorsville, UT

My husband and I are completing our mission in the Northeast. Here, people in the very strong wards to not criticize how less actives or non-members come to church. With time, they adapt to our customs.

It is not the place of the dad to come up to the woman and lecture her about her dress. With time, as she becomes more active, she will dress in a more conservative fashion, because that is what she will see. Perhaps she doesn't have anything in her wardrobe like that right now and doesn't have the money to buy other clothing. What she needs right now is for people to genuinely welcome her and be interested in her. It is hard to return to activity. Be kind and not critical or judgmental. Is the father concerned about his boys, or is he uncomfortable on some level?

sandy, ut

The fact that a person is even thinking of approaching somebody else at church about how they are dressed tells the story about attentive dad. And it isn't a good one.

us, CA

I'm going to play devil's advocate here, only because I worked in schools where we had to address that problem. Young girls===and I mean young...5th grade and up===attending school with lowcut and/or see through blouses, thongs hanging out of jeans, no panties on with short skirts, and if you don't think these young ladies realize what they are doing...they are. Speaking to parents usually gets the response that it is none of our business or it is the problem of the men/boys looking at them. Yes, boys need to be taught to look the other way, but if you have a girl sitting with her legs spread and no panties on...really mom and dad you think they will look the other way? It is the extended role of the school official to explain and enforce dress policy because a lot of these parents just reflect the images they too see in entertainment and don't see modesty as a good thing. In church, it is the responsibility of the bishop/priest/pastor to counsel.

American Fork, UT

Although tempting to want to confront this woman--or anyone--about her attire, it's better left alone. Maybe this sister "cleans up" her act...another sister may attend church immodestly dressed. Then what? Talking to every person who is inappropriately dressed, whether sister or brother, becomes a dilemma: when do you start and stop telling people how they should dress.

Unless church has a dress code and you are the person to enforce it, it's better left to a caring, sensitive sister to kindly show a better way.

As for your sons, they are going to see "inappropriately" dressed people at church, in public, even on missions. Equip your sons with the tools to treat everyone with respect no matter how people are dressed.

I work at BYU and, occasionally, I see young women and men not following the BYU dress code. Unless these kids work directly for me, I don't say anything. Even if it's blatant dress code breaking, I can't accost every person. In fact, most people aren't going to say anything. After all, we have signed an honor code AND it's on our honor to obey the code.

Confused in AZ
Chandler, AZ

ABSOLUTELY NOT! It is not "dad's " place to say anything to this sister about her dress. She'll catch on soon enough so just mind your own business and do not be guilty of running off someone who is returning to the fold. And, maybe dad needs to keep his eyes to himself!


Casey See:

They split Sunday's... what... between churches? (What thing or things belonging to a Sunday did you mean to be referring to?)

Medical Lake, Washington

I would have to concur with the majority of the comments made. Our immediate attention seems to race towards how can we remove temptations from society, i.e how other dress immodestly; when our attention should always be focused on teaching ourselves and our families how to resist temptation. We cannot control others; only ourselves. Even if an individual is going around in public completely void of clothing, that does not give anyone the right to take advantage of them. 'But they are asking for it', some may justify, but still it is our own decisions and actions that will be evaluated at the judgement bar.

As people feel the spirit, over time they will make the appropriate changes. It is our job to ensure that such a spiritual atmosphere can be experienced on a regular basis. If we are not careful we can do much to chase away the spirit through our words and deeds.

Sandy, UT

YOUR MISSING THE POINT A guy mowing his lawn on Sunday has a neighbor approach him about it. That is just crazy! Who does that!! But comparing that to someone wearing inappropriately immodest clothing to church? I think there is a difference. It is fantastic that she is coming to church. And if this was gauged earrings and tattoos, approaching the topic would be insane!! For heavens sake I had gauged ears and many other visible piercings. But to suggest that this is the same thing is a bit naive. I have gone to support groups with friends and family for pornography addiction. I have seen what it does to families. They will ALL tell you that this type of dress is a trigger for them. It causes them to loose footing in their quest to kick their addiction. When I read people say things like "they just need to have some more self control" I wonder if they realize how judgmental that sounds? We apparently are ok to judge them, but NOT the woman? How about we don't judge either of them, and find a way to help both? Out of characters. Cant type solution.

Terrie Bittner
Warminster, PA

I was not dressed appropriately when I first began investigating the church. No one said a word to me--I was a teenager at the time. Eventually the teacher did a modesty lesson and I learned what the rules were. (I'd thought I was modestly dressed.) Without question, if someone had spoken to me, I wouldn't have come back since I only owned one dress and couldn't afford another. After I learned the rules my YW leader offered me a babysitting job and I bought a new dress.

Here in the east we have people come to church in jeans, t-shirts, immodest clothing...whatever they have. A stake president said that anyone who comes to church is there at the Savior's personal invitation and we should welcome them however they come.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments