by Mary Van Nattan
The Attire of An Harlot
Next we come to some things that God has to say about whorish women in the book of Proverbs. First of all, let's read the main passage that we will be studying from:
Proverbs 7:1 ¶ My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. 2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. 3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. 4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: 5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. 6 ¶ For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, 7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, 8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, 9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: 10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. 11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, 14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. 15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. 16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: 20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. 21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; 23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. 24 ¶ Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. 26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. 27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
The Subtil Heart
Verse 10 is the key verse we will be looking at now. 10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. Right away we see that the harlot's attire and her heart are linked together. By her clothing we can tell that she is a harlot and therefore we know that her heart is subtil, like that of her father the devil.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made...
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
The reason the harlot dresses the way she does is because her heart is wicked. Clothes don't make the woman, but they sure can tell a lot about her.
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
This woman's clothes speak for her.
Let's take a look at one of the most famous harlots in the Bible.
Revelation 17:4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
From this description we see that the whore of Babylon is dressed in purple and scarlet (rich colors - costly colors in Bible times) and fancy, costly jewelry. She has arrayed herself in the alluring clothing of her trade.
Now, some folks would have us to believe that Christians women should wear drab, dark or dull clothes and ought to strive to be unattractive always. This is not biblically true, though it has been promoted by some who are falsely had in admiration for "piety," such as the Amish, Mennonites and others. The virtuous woman in Proverbs dresses quite nicely and dresses her family so as well.
Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Notice that she uses the same colors, but she is not dressing like the harlot, but rather the devil counterfeits the truth by dressing his "wife" like the virtuous woman. Of course, there is an obvious difference. The virtuous woman would not be mistaken for an harlot. (It is important to remember, however, that we are admonished in the New Testament not to adorn ourselves with "costly array", 1Timothy 2:9.)
The true clothing of the virtuous woman, however, is in Proverbs 31:25, Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. Strength and honour - adornment of the hidden man of the heart - are among best her qualities, not her outward apparel. Proverbs 11:16 A gracious woman retaineth honour...
So, why can the harlot's attire distinguish her so from the virtuous woman? First, because of the lacking element of honor. A whorish woman in not honorable, as our main text above shows all too clearly. But there is more that makes her stand out in her wickedness.
It has been the habit of prostitutes for centuries to advertise their trade with their bodies. From Corinth where they shaved their heads (1 Corinthians 11:6), to wearing short skirts (the Old West), to sitting naked in the "store" window (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) they are notorious for this custom. They shorten their hair, lower their necklines, raise their hemlines; they paint their faces, their hair and their nails; they wear high heels, tight clothes and no clothes. Their main goal in life is to be "sexy." Hollywood, Bollywood and Las Vegas have "perfected" this "art" to the last degree.
Godly people have tried to hold themselves apart from this wickedness in the past, but in modern times Hollywood has slowly broken down Christians' resistance with their subtlety. The devil has advertised his wares on the "sweetest" people until those who were "too brittle" and "old fashioned" finally were worn down and began to partake of his dainties.
Proverbs 23:6 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: 7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.
Now, some will tell us, "Our great-grandmothers would never have worn anything but skirts." That is true enough. They would also not have worn such skimpy under clothes and such short skirts. They would consider modern swimsuits blatant nakedness. But, on the other hand, some of them wore necklines that were far too low and many wore bodices on their dresses very tight. What they did yesteryear is not a high enough standard.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
Frankly, I think some of those ladies of years gone by often look just plain hot and uncomfortable in their skin tight bodices, as well as immodest. We should be striving for modesty in today's world, not calling for a return to the fashions of a bygone era. Some women think that dressing like the Regency or Victorian Era is so becoming and is also modest. In this they will too often make the same mistakes that the Regency Era folks and the Victorians made in their dress, and thus repeat their immodest trends.
Over the years, as the salted world's standard has slipped, the church has followed them down at a "safe" distance. In other words, as long as our standard has been higher than the world's we have been content and considered ourselves separated. But, we have failed to realize that our standard was far below that of God's because, rather than measuring against His high calling in the Bible, we have measured ourselves against the world's low-down, sloppy standard which is constantly getting lower. Thus we have followed them down.
2Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
How much worse to compare ourselves to the unsaved! And, too often rather than holding forth a Biblical standard for modesty when we do seek to change, we tend to look to the "old fashioned" standard of the world rather than the principles of the Bible. Thus in the Lord's church we have women wearing tight skirts that are not too short, "decent pants", and even slit skirts - as long as the slit does not come above a certain (though uncertain) point.
Added to this we have endeavored to be friends of the world.
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
As the church's doctrines have slipped, so have its' standards. The "love gospel", which excludes man's fallen state and the need of godly repentance, has made way for "Christians" to ignore sin. They have attempted to be friends of the world under the pretense of winning someone to Christ. They are not "friends of sinners" as our Savior was and is, they are at peace with the world. They are the enemies of the cross of Christ and of God.
Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
1) They are consumed with a desire to make their bodies look what the world calls "perfect." They have to be "sexy" even if they are not allowed to show much of their body in church meetings. They have to look good in shorts or a swim suit even if they don't wear such at church functions. (The "spiritual" ones work hard to be "sexy" within the context of the dress standard that is expected in their fellowship.)
2) They glory in the very things that they should be ashamed of! The women are proud of the fact that they have the "liberty" to wear pants, shorts and even bikinis. They go so far as to think it's cute to dress themselves or their daughters like whorish women.
3) They worry about what the latest fashions are and how they will appear to their neighbors and friends. They will wear mini skirts, slit skirts, low necklines, tight tops and bottoms, and other revealing clothes, even if they feel uncomfortable in them, simply to be "in style." They would rather please the world's crowd than the Lord Jesus Christ.
1John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
You cannot have both. You cannot love the world and love God. It won't work. You will either hate one or the other.
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
This is why so many women are so extremely offended when they are confronted with the need to dress modestly. They hate the very thought of it and will rail on whoever dares to suggest that they please God in this area. It is sad that there are so many who try to bring this subject up in a spirit of Phariseeism as law makers, but that does not excuse you from looking into the perfect law of liberty and submitting to God's standard.
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Isaiah 2:22 Cease
ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils:
The Actual Dress of An Harlot
Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: 24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.
We have already seen that the harlot wears rich and costly clothing and jewelry. Let's look at some more aspects of whorish attire.
We have recalled already that much of the "fashions" that have become accepted originated in harlotry and/or rebellion. Short hair, shortened skirts, low necklines, pants, shorts, etc. we have seen as worldly inventions at best, and some directly related to the whorish women. But, whereas some people would expect here a list of specific things that are not modest, we are going to look at principles instead. Fashions change. People are always thinking up some new and outlandish attire. If I attempted to make a list of specific items here I would certainly miss something and someone would use that to mock me or to excuse themselves. Therefore, I am going to try to give you some basic principles based on what we know harlots strive for in dress (the attire of an harlot), and give some examples of those; and then let the Holy Spirit of God apply it to your life where you need it and to mine where I need it. Contrary to the practice of some people, it is His job to reprove you of sin, not mine or anyone else's (John 16:8).
At the end of Proverbs chapter 7 we read, 24 ¶ Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. The ways of a harlot are perilous not only to men but to women also. The Lord warns all His children - male and female - about declining to her ways. Why? Because women will pick up the fashions and behavior of the harlot. Our hearts are wicked (Jer. 17:9). We can lust after her alluring beauty for ourselves and desire to have the attraction and fascination for men that she has. Because this attraction is sexual, we also become sexually attractive instead of inwardly attractive as our Lord Jesus would have us to be. Thus the image of His precious bride becomes soiled. (Proverbs 5:7-14 also is addressed to "my children" and warns all against the whore.)
Adulteresses and whores are hunting for the precious life. They seek men to corrupt. It is a curious thing that in Proverbs 7 it does not say that "there met him an harlot," but rather there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot... She was dressed like one, but maybe that was not her profession after all. This woman was married we find out farther on in the chapter. Yet, she was out seeking a man - a young man - void of understanding to work her wiles upon and her clothes told what she was. Have you ever seen a married woman whose manner and apparel invited the lust and attention of men? All too often she lies in wait in the church house foyer or office.
What are the keys to dressing like a harlot? What is her emphasis? What is the emphasis of the woman who is imitating the whore?
First, she flatters the man she's seeking. Proverbs 29:5 A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet. She spreads a net for his feet. She "smiles at the guys." She compliments them on their looks, on their strength, on their Bible knowledge, on anything that she thinks will get their attention on her. Someone will probably be thinking, "This is off the subject. Words are not clothes." But they are. Psalm 109:18 says that the wicked man clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment... Flattery is a "garment" that the most decent looking lady can wear. She can have her hair long, her hemline and neckline right where they should be, her garments full enough to cover her figure, no or discreet makeup; and yet she can still "wear" this whorish "garment" for the purpose of seeking and forcing men, whether she is married or not. Remember - With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. (Proverbs 7:21)
Second, she strives to be beautiful outwardly. In Proverbs 6:25 the warning is Lust not after her beauty... This is visible beauty. As we have seen, she tries to be beautiful in the context of the worldly styles for sexual reasons. The virtuous wife in the Song of Solomon is beautiful to her husband, but in a private way, in a godly way. As we have already mentioned there is a tendency among some Bible believers to promote the idea that a woman should be "attractive" to her husband at all times, and therefore she is attractive to other men as well.
Unmarried young ladies, if you think that the way to "catch" a husband is to always look your best everywhere you go and to smile at the guys, you have a whorish method for finding a husband. Chances are once you are married you will be insecure because you will think you have to keep on that way to keep your husband. Sadly, your feeling may be true if that is what attracted him to you. Even worse you will be in such a habit of it, that you won't want to quit even if he is willing, and you will continue to act and dress to attract the attention of men sexually. (I have seen this.)
By the way, the higher class the whore is the more costly her array and the more trouble she will go to to be beautiful. But, like the whore houses of old, it is all outward glitter.
Dewitt Talmage, in the company of other godly men, went to the red light district of one of the big cities in the U.S. I think it was New York. He examined the allegedly rich, beautiful decor of the brothels which he had been told was luxurious and impressive. What he found was cheap imitations. Tinsel and junk made to look fancy to men who were so inflamed with lust that they didn't really see what they were looking at. This is the way of the harlot. She decks herself in such a way that the men are inflamed with lust and do not bother to look deeper than her outward appearance. To a simpleton she is beautiful. To a godly man she is trashy. To God she is a deep ditch and a narrow pit, Proverbs 23:27. In other words, she is a grave.
Proverbs 7:26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. 27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
God's opinion of whores is pretty low! Thank God that He will save them if they come to Him in repentance through His dear Son! (Luke 7:37-50) And also thank God that He will forgive us when we confess the sin of acting, talking, or dressing like whores after we are His children. 1 John 1:9
Dear sisters in Christ, do not lower yourself to these cheap methods! Do you not see why the true adornments of the heart are of great price in God's eyes? To those who are wearing whorish apparel - may God grant that the next time you go to put them on, you will realize that you are wearing grave clothes - clothes that cause men to sin - and that you will be grieved at yourself.
Third, she emphasizes her breasts. Proverbs 5:20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
The breasts are a sex organ. Proverbs 5:19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. (Some of you ladies need to read that twice.) This is addressed to the husband, but it shows us why whorish women make a display of their breasts. They are using them to entice men. The breasts are not just for sex, nor are they just for feeding babies. They are for both. God made women that way on purpose. He intends that it be so. He has plainly said so in His word. Song of Solomon has a good deal to say on the subject. Harlotry uses the sexual side of it and has made the breasts into an icon. Remember Barbie® with her oversized breasts? Skinny legs and large or almost bare breasts are used to sell just about everything in the U.S. today. The true symbol of America is not an eagle, it is a mostly naked woman.
Fashion has emphasized women's breast for a long, long time. It has been "hard to find modest clothes" a lot longer than some of us think. Go do a search on wikipedia for women's fashions to see. High waistlines, low necklines, tight fitting tops and "shrugs", bullet bras and other types of undergarments, etc. are designed to emphasize or reveal women's breasts. This is whorish.
Not only are her words flattering, her lips "drop" as an honeycomb. The pouty, moist-looking, red lips are an important part of the sexy woman. This is the reason for lipstick. It makes the lips stand out. In plain, ugly English - it makes them sexy. Oh, there will be outcry against that statement. But tell me...why do you wear it then? What is a advantage of having a layer of goop (made with bat dung) spread over your lips? It certainly is not for convenience. It doesn't make you more comfortable. You actually have to be careful not to make a mess with it. Did you ever stop and really think why women wear lipstick? Why do they need their lips to stand out so prominently? Honey, it ain't to make you look meek! It's to make your mouth "kissable" - sweet as honey, or "strawberry wine" as the country song says. (Remember, she caught him, and kissed him.)
Fifth, she uses perfume. Proverbs 7:17 I have perfumed my bed...
I include this with attire because perfume is almost like a clothing and is sometimes much more noticeable than the clothing. There are perfumes that are sexy. Aren't most of them advertised that way? Now be honest. They are. Expensive, cheap, fancy, plain - they almost all are advertised as producing sexual results. There are perfumes that do not have a sexual smell to them, but most do. My brother has long maintained that most perfumes belong in the bedroom of the husband and wife, and nowhere else. Song of Solomon certainly has a lot to say about smells in relation to the attraction and love between a man and wife. Someone is going to be offended at that, but I can't help it. The Bible says that the whore uses perfume as an enticement, and many "good, godly" women are doing the same. When you walk into a room and your perfume fills the whole room with you, you are using it to attract attention. When that perfume has a sexual smell, you are using it to attract sexual attention to yourself. By the way, men can do the same thing and for the exact same reason. Some cultures are particularly bad about this.
Sixth, she takes the men with her eyelids. Proverbs 7:25 ...neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
She uses her eyelids. Of course, we've all seen the woman with the flirty eyelids. The cute glances out of the corner of the eye; the lifting and dropping of the eyelids; the eyes heavily made up with mascara, shadow, and pencil are geared to take a man's heart. They are seductive. A woman who displays this kind of behavior has a wicked heart.
Luke 11:34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
Eye make up is an ancient and pagan practice. The ancient Egyptians, for example, are famous for their eye paint. I feel that it tells more about the heart than we may think.
Ok, now that we know the emphasis of the harlot, let's work on some basic principles regarding her dress. Let's just take a run down of some things and give examples to help with understanding. The whorish woman wants to be "beautiful" and the context of the world's beauty is "sexy."
1. Revealing clothes.
Revealing clothes expose what should not be showing. Low or floppy necklines expose the breasts, especially when bending over. Shorts and short skirts expose the legs. It is a shame for women's legs and thighs to be uncovered. See Isaiah 47:1-3. As we discussed before, God did not want the priests thighs to be seen either. (Ex. 28:42) Tight clothes reveal the figure. Tight bodices, shirts and blouses expose the breasts.
Tight skirts and dresses expose the hips and thighs. There are skirts that are very little different than a pair of pants when it comes to revealing the shape of the hips and legs. They hide the crotch because they don't have an inseam, but that is about it. Look in the mirror, ladies. Be honest before the Lord. If that skirt looks pretty much like a pair of tight pants around the hips and thighs, especially from the back, it is too tight.
Sleeveless shirts show off the shoulders. "So what?" you say, "There's nothing wrong with that." Well, did you ever notice where sleeveless dresses/shirts show up? Places like Hollywood, high society events, rock concerts, high fashion, red light districts, ads for "sexy" things, and so forth. How long do you think it has been since Christian women started wearing sleeveless dresses? Not as long as you might think. They were worldly attire when my grandma was a young lady. Women's shoulders are usually soft, so they are advertising her sexually by exposing them. How often do they show an advertisement picture of a man kissing a woman's elbow or resting his hand on her ankle. Not very often. The shoulder is much more commonly used for those purposes. Why? It's more sexy. [You were expecting maybe a different answer that time? :-)]
To be continued.
graphics by mary vannattan