Men & Modesty

Christian guys expect girls to be modest, but hardly give a second though to their own modesty.
This is strange. Women may be shedding clothes this time of year, but so are men. Why are we only talking about female modesty? If modesty is important then it is important for all Christians. If it isn’t important for men, then why all the fuss about women? If it is important for women, why the silence about men?
Is it because guys can’t be immodest?
Nope. I’m pretty sure the existence of speedos rules out that possibility.
Is it because girls don’t struggle with physical lust?
Nope. Pretty sure Potiphar’s wife wasn’t the last woman to “cast her eyes” on a guy and lust after his “handsome form and appearance” (Gen. 39:6-7).
But by our silence we send the message that modesty is a female issue and lust is a male issue. Guys sit around the pool wearing low-rise trunks and tanning their abs and pecs while wishing the girls would cover up. And girls are left wondering what people will think if they admit to struggling with lust.
…These discussions can be dangerous. For one thing, talking about modesty and lust in the same article can imply that immodesty causes lust, which is a destructive lie. No man (or woman) was ever forced to lust by another person’s outfit. For another, allowing men or women to give feedback to the opposite sex makes it look like our modesty is for each other. It’s not. It’s for God. Input from the opposite sex just helps.

Read the rest at The Other Side of Modesty from the Rebelution blog.

Advertisements

6 responses to “Men & Modesty

  1. And girls are left wondering what people will think if they admit to struggling with lust.

    Isn’t this how the enemy always seems to work: planting that weed in our minds that we are alone in our struggle?

    It’s a rare thing that a Christian man or a Christian woman sets out to cause their brother or sister to struggle with lust. I think this needs to be acknowledged — there are underlying issues to attitudes of immodesty that a simple rule-of-thumb (i.e. wear this / don’t wear this) cannot resolve. What can be attributed to one person’s pride or insecurity (or a myriad of other reasons for immodesty) can hardly be a matter of attack regarding another person’s impurity.

    What the church can do to address the issue is disciple those that might display immodesty, encouraging an actual spiritual change of heart. While the immodesty / lust issue is visible enough to make an easy target of women, it’s no more a physical issue between two believers than a materialistic Christian that sets off the iniquity of another Christian’s envy. It gets messy when each believer has their own set of lies to confront and denounce, but even messier when we attack the symptoms of one as the cause of another.

    That is to say, as a man I have the opportunity to struggle with lust whether each of my Christian sisters dress modestly or not. Even if they held to a perfect law, I still could not hold the same law to the hundreds of unbelieving women I see everyday at work. Does that require diligence to maintain a pure mind? Absolutely! But that diligence is required as a result of my personal struggle, regardless of whether another believer’s own set of struggles are added to the mix.

    In other words, while I see myself as a physically modest individual, I could just as likely prompt a Christian woman’s personal struggle by demonstrating my stubbornness, spiritual pride, or reclusiveness. There’s no anecdote for this, aside from God changing each of our hearts as we pursue His Spirit. To presume that immodest women should reconcile their heart through a law is inconsistent with how we know His Spirit to work.

  2. Anthony, I agree with you completely. The issue of lust is not in what we see, but in where are our hearts are, and we cannot blame our own sin on another. But I do think it’s good for us to encourage each other in righteousness and that one such way is to dress in God-honoring ways.

    I don’t know if you read the whole The Other Side of Modesty blog post, but I thought this paragraph was quite appropriate: “…These discussions can be dangerous. For one thing, talking about modesty and lust in the same article can imply that immodesty causes lust, which is a destructive lie. No man (or woman) was ever forced to lust by another person’s outfit. For another, allowing men or women to give feedback to the opposite sex makes it look like our modesty is for each other. It’s not. It’s for God. Input from the opposite sex just helps.” (And I added this paragraph to my original post, because I think it’s very important for my readers to remember.)

    • Yes, always encourage.

      I’ve had some very good blogging conversations with women about modesty, and I think the most effective communication occurs when we are able to understand that it’s an attitude best offered for God. I think building the sort of relationships in the Body where we can talk about holy living has all sorts of positive fallout, and I think modesty should be included in that conversation. I never find myself having to argue with a woman about what is acceptable when I’ve established a pattern of concern over their spiritual well-being. I think many discussions come across cold and rigid (and self-serving for men), which is why young women who are establishing their own values apart from their parents (or their church) often reject the idea of modesty as some creation of man for the sake of man.

      This article jogged to mind a male friend of mine, and perhaps taking a unique look at how his history and insecurities lead to immodesty and physical pride helps me understand how the same can be true for women: that it’s not as black and white as a woman wearing something purely for the attention of men. There are a lot of variables, and beginning the conversation by talking about pursuing holiness rather than shaming behavior that causes another to sin could go a long way.

      • Thank you for commenting, I appreciate hearing your thoughts. What you’ve said here adds depth and quality to what I first posted.

        I agree, an attitude of modesty (and thus humility) should be offered ultimately to God, not to a man or woman.

        “There are a lot of variables, and beginning the conversation by talking about pursuing holiness rather than shaming behavior that causes another to sin could go a long way.” This, I think, is in the essence of encouragement and it’s something I missed in writing this post. Thanks for pointing it out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s