It was a popular teaching by Bill Gothard that clothes on women could “defraud” their brothers. He used a verse in 1 Thess. 4 to prove this:
“3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” (A better interpretation of verse 6 says: “and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.”)
He took this verse to mean that all women should be careful how they dress so as not to “defraud” their brothers in Christ with their clothing, which he defined as causing them to stumble or lust. Besides the obvious stretching of the context and content of this verse, there are a few problems with this definition of “defraud.”
verb (used with object)
to deprive of a right, money, or property by fraud
Some synonyms of “defraud” are: “bamboozle, beguile, burn, chouse, circumvent, clip, con, deceive, delude, do number on, dupe, embezzle, fleece, foil, hoax, jive, outwit, pilfer, pull fast one, rip off, rob, shaft, sucker into, swindle, take to the cleaner’s, take, trick, victimize”
In order to say that a woman’s clothing can “defraud” a man, you would have to prove that
1. A woman’s body is the right or property of another person
2. A woman is wrongfully offering her body to any man who gazes on her
3. A woman is lying by offering her body to another without intent to follow through with the deal
4. A woman is taking something from any man who looks at her, just by the piece of clothing she is wearing.
5. A woman is responsible for a man being deprived his rights any time he thinks something immoral about her
I really hope I wouldn’t have to detail why all of the above is wrong, but in case I do, here goes:
I am not anyone’s property or right. No one owns me except myself. I am not offering anything by the clothes I wear. If you think I am offering you something by my clothing, I am not responsible for your wrong thoughts.
I cannot steal anything from you by the clothes I wear, especially not something that is owed to you, since I owe you nothing.
I cannot control the thoughts of everyone who sees me, as I do not expect everyone else to control my own thoughts. I am not responsible for your thoughts or actions, as you are not responsible for mine. You are not a victim of my clothing if you desire me sexually. I have not bamboozled you out of your property by wearing a short skirt. I cannot dupe, hoax, trick, or rob you of anything by the jeans I wear. It doesn’t even make logical sense.
Quite simply put, one cannot “defraud” anyone else by one’s clothing. Or, as another wise person once said, “I do not think that word means what you think it means”.