Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Modesty: What Most Men Won't Tell You

Blog author's note: The following blog post is written in response to the attached article. I recommend reading it to best develop your own opinion, however I have quoted from the article in my post so it is not necessary. 



Now I know I’m gonna be in the minority here by a long shot, but upon reading “Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means” by Rachel Held Evans, I felt the need to give a male response to the article.  What I’m about to write is something that most men don’t tell women because of one of two reasons; the first reason being that we have bought into the modern concept of modesty ourselves, or the second being that we secretly like immodesty because it looks nice. 

In the attached blog post by Rachel Evans, she says, “...men are responsible for their own thoughts and actions when this happens; they don’t get to blame it on what a woman is wearing.” She then goes on to say, “regardless of whatever synapsis involuntarily fire in a man’s brain when he sees a woman’s body, he alone is responsible for the decision to objectify a woman or treat her with respect. Placing that burden upon women is unnecessary and unfair.”  First off, on the one hand I totally agree with her. When it comes down to it, every man that looks lustfully at a woman has to answer for his own actions.  However, without making a judgment on whether or not immodesty is wrong just yet, I want to point you to 1 Corinthians 8:9-12.   “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.  For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.” Paul is talking here about eating food sacrificed to idols which is not wrong, but should someone who thinks it is wrong see you doing it and eat it anyway, then they have sinned and you caused them to do it.  (Now ladies, please don’t think that I’m comparing you as meat sacrificed to idols because I am most definitely not.)  As Ms. Evans says, if men lust, they are the ones sinning; this verse does not disagree with that.  However, if someone causes somebody else to sin, according to Paul, then “you sin against Christ.”  Granted, some men will lust over a woman who has done nothing to cause him to do such a thing other than the very fact that she exists. In such a case, I would say that only the man is at fault, however in many cases, that is not the case at all.  I will be so daring to say that wearing a bikini is wrong. Yes, it looks good, and no I’m not saying you have to hide your femininity.  What I am saying is that, if for no other reason other than the fact that I KNOW both from experience and others, that dressing such a way causes guys to stumble.  And to cause someone to stumble is, according to Paul, a sin.

Now ladies, I don’t think you realize how much of a struggle sexual sin is for men, but suffice it to say that I do not know a single guy who does not struggle sexually in some way.  For those of us who care about this and try to keep it at bay, it is very hard to have our sisters in Christ dressing immodestly in such a way that it makes it harder on us.  Let me give you an illustration to maybe put it into perspective. The first is imagine that your brother was an alcoholic. You knew that if he had a drink it would make it very hard for him not to stay sober.  The natural thing to do would be not to have alcohol anywhere near him. You would probably not only not let him have a drink, but you yourself would not drink around him.  In the same way, if you know that your male brothers have a tendency to struggle with sexual sin, why would you not help us in fighting that struggle by dressing in such a way that did not tempt us?  Let me use another illustration. Now we have all cut out sweets or gone on a diet at some point in time.  Say that you are.  Now imagine that you are invited to a party.  Now during the course of the night, everyone keeps asking you if you want to have a piece of cake. Now if nobody had asked you, it wouldn't have been too hard to restrain yourself, but with each person that asks, and each time you see someone eating a piece of that cake, the harder it becomes to not eat any cake.  If you do give in, it will be your fault, but your battle was not made easier by those offering you the cake.  In the same way, yes we can guard our eyes, but ladies, the more your batter our defenses with these things, the harder it becomes for us to squelch the temptation!

Rachel Evans forms a dichotomy in her article.  The dichotomy is as follows: men have a choice when they look at a woman in a bikini. Look at them as an object them or look at them as another human being. I would argue that the first option is very hard NOT to do.  In fact, in order to achieve the latter option I have to avert my eyes. Ladies, I don’t think you understand the struggle. But it is real, and it is everywhere. On behalf of men everywhere, help us in this battle.

I do not want to place the entire burden of our battle on you women as Rachel Evans indicates that I would.  The battle is still ours to fight.  We don’t ask you to fight the whole thing for us. We ask only that you to aid and support us in the fight.  Rachel Evans says, “The truth is, a man can choose to objectify a woman whether she’s wearing a bikini or a burqa. We don’t stop lust by covering up the female form; we stop lust by teaching men to treat women as human beings worthy of respect.”  First off, I am not suggesting that every woman should dress in a burlap sack. Not at all. God made you beautiful. I am just asking that you don’t exploit that.  The most beautiful woman is not one who does everything she can to show off her beauty, but one who lets it speak for itself.   Secondly, I most definitely agree that men need to be taught to “treat women as human beings worthy of respect.”  There are plenty of things men can do (those of which I will not discuss here because it is not the purpose of this post). However, it will be easier to train our children not to see women as objects if they will stop presenting themselves in such a way.

Let me leave you with this thought.  Rachel Evans finishes her article with these words, “Find something that gives you the freedom to run with abandon into those incoming waves—hot sand tickling your feet, warm sun tingling your skin—and revel in this body and this world God gave you to enjoy.”  God gave us a lot of things to enjoy, but some of these things he gave us to enjoy under a certain context (Sex in marriage, alcohol when within the legal drinking age, etc.).  In the same way was the female body meant primarily for the enjoyment of her husband.  As a man, it would mean so much more to me if my future wife had saved her body for my eyes, rather than masquerading it for the world to see.

39 comments:

  1. Here is an excellent article I ran across today also written on the male perspective of modesty. I highly recommend you read it.

    http://lifeteen.com/help-heaven-guys-perspective-modesty/

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  2. Excellent post, Caleb!!! It's so great to see a different perspective on modesty and honestly, when girls hear it in a man's perspective, it's more likely to hit them between the eyes and make them want to change how they are portraying themselves. I started dressing modestly because of conviction after I watched the video on Youtube called "What Guys Think of Modesty" and it really made me realize what I was doing by dressing immodestly.

    Thanks for this post! I'll definitely be sharing!
    www.modestyismypolicy.blogspot.com

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  3. I am an 18-year-old Christian female, and I think it is a bit of a stretch to compare "looking lustfully" at a woman to alcoholism or other forms of addiction, unless that is truly what the problem is (i.e. sex addiction). Ms. Evans is correct that modesty is tremendously subjective, and I also think there's a gulf between the connotation of "modest" (covered up) and that of "immodest" (slutty). Tennis skirts, for example, are something I would consider neither modest nor immodest. And yes, I wear them.

    There are plenty of times when I take a look at what a person is wearing and think "wow, they look trashy". This includes saggy pants on guys and truly immodest booty shorts or plunge tops on girls. It also depends on the context and where they're going/what they're doing. "Modest", if you ask female Christian bloggers, seems to be t-shirts that meet the four-finger rule paired with a floor-length skirt. I live in the Northeast at the temperature clocked in at 90 yesterday afternoon with almost 100% humidity. Not a chance in burning hell, which is apparently New England at this moment, am I going to wear a full-length skirt or long pants.

    Furthermore, it is entirely possible to see a woman as a sexual being/sexually attractive and still treat her with respect. THAT is what you should be after. A woman can't control whether you find her attractive - she can try to influence it perhaps, but she can't control what you or anyone else thinks of her. Some people might have a fetish for long skirts! How would she know?

    Let's flip it around for a second. No one ever talks about modesty for men, yet I see plenty of men who dress in a way that cause women to stumble - where do I start? Baseball pants. Football pants. Shirtless guys at the beach. Suits, in all seriousness (there was a satire piece on this, but I'm being very serious). Hot though they may be, I still see those men as people. Hot? Gorgeous? Yummy? Absolutely. Human beings with human dignity? Of course. There's no dichotomy there.

    That, perhaps, is the question the Mod Squad should be asking.

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    1. Thank you for your comment! My point in bringing up alcoholism was not necessarily to compare "looking lustfully" to addiction (although as you yourself said, it could be used that way), it was to give an illustration of a struggle that all of us are aware exists. I did this, hoping that it would make the male struggle with lust a little more understandable to females (note: my goal with the illustration of alcoholism was not to make the struggle relatable, but rather understandable). You also say that modesty is "tremendously subjective". I would argue, however, that it is not subjective. I would probably agree with you and say that tennis skirts are not immodest, however I would be careful with saying that because, not having seen every one I cannot say that to be the case for every single one.

      On your second paragraph, I will tell you that I agree with every word you said. I don't think modesty needs to be floor-length skirts and turtle necks either. Within reason, I am ok with short shorts and strapless. Like I said in the post, I don't think we all need to be in potato sacks. (And I'm from Florida where we had 98° temperatures with 100% humidity all the time. Summer was not a season down there it was a way of life. So I feel ya!)

      In your third paragraph, I also agree entirely! If you will note, in my post I said, "Granted, some men will lust over a woman who has done nothing to cause him to do such a thing other than the very fact that she exists. In such a case, I would say that only the man is at fault..."

      Frankly, the reason nobody talks about modesty for men is because it is not mentioned in the Bible. Women are the ones commanded to be modest according to scripture, not men. Now, before you get all up in arms about what I just said, hear me out. While this may be true, I believe you can use 2 Cor 8:9-12 to apply to men in the same way that I applied it to women in this post. If a man causes a woman to stumble in a way that he could have prevented, than he is at fault as well. As for being able to see those men as people, I have a couple responses to that. 1) That is fantastic and I am so glad! 2) Many men can look at an attractive woman as a human too. 3) However, women and men were made very differently (hopefully you've noticed that by now) and women have a lot easier time with that then men do. It is just a difference in the way we are created. Men, in general, are more sexually oriented. Now it should be noted that when I see a woman in a bikini, I never forget she is a human. What we mean by objectifying someone is that we view someone with a different purpose. Rather than just a human created in God's image, we see a human who is absolutely stunning and we would love to have sex with. I've put it rather bluntly there, but that is the way a man's mind works. While women may not see a dichotomy, men have a harder time at avoiding one.

      Overall, I want it to be clear that I am not arguing that it is a sin to be attractive. That isn't my intent at all! My intentions were rather this: In my experience women don't understand how much of a struggle this kind of thing really is for men. Because of this, they dress immodestly without any intent of causing their Christian brothers to sin. This post was written so that maybe some of those who don't realize can better understand the struggle so that together we can fight this battle united rather than divided.

      Thank you for your read and thank you again for your comment! I hope you don't take anything in this response as an attack, because that is most certainly not my intention.

      God Bless!
      Caleb

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    2. Oh dear. Did my other comment post? I got an error message.

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    3. Well, since you are anonymous I'm not entirely sure, but I haven't seen any comments come in for moderation since the one posted at 12:07 PM but I responded to that one as well.

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    4. Apparently not then. It was rather long, so I won't retype the whole thing, but I'll try to get my main points across concisely.

      First, thank you for respectful and civil discussion. I'm not used to it when I debate people online! That we are able to discuss and debate this issue in a friendly and civil manner is a relief indeed.

      Second, I do agree with you on many points. However, the most glaring point upon which I disagree with you is your claim that "women have a lot easier time with that then men do" and that "Men, in general, are more sexually oriented". You have no grounds whatsoever to make that kind of statement, just I as can't claim it's harder for women because I have only experienced the female side of things. You might be shaking your head right now because another woman just doesn't understand how hard it is to be a man, but please hear me out.

      Although Christian - and someone who spent a semester at a Christian college in the Northeast - I grew up in a rather secular community. There wasn't very much outright hostility of the kind you might find on the West coast, but for the most part, people just "were" Christians, Catholics, what have you - no Jesus fish bumper stickers, if you get what I'm saying. Because most of my friends are "Christmas and Easter" Christians, those who go to Church but don't think or talk about their faith very much, or are non-Orthodox Jews, I know firsthand how Christian-Christians tend to think and look at issues like this versus more mainstream society.

      It is from BOTH experiences that I can tell you that the view you are expressing here is one I hear a lot in Christian circles and not at all in secular ones. In my secular world, I hear stories of girls pursuing my male friends for hookup buddies or FWB, other girls who make out or more with guys they barely know, just as you would expect a guy to do. I have Christian female friends with whom I have discussed the struggle to stay pure. Don't take my word for it, though - take a look at this graph from the Guttmacher institute depicting the percent of teens at any given age who have had sex. The numbers for men and women differ by fewer than five percentage points for any age group.
      http://www.guttmacher.org/graphics/TeenFS-TeenSexualActivity-Graph.gif

      So why does this stereotype persist in the Christian community that men struggle more than women? I don't know. Perhaps Christian women feel like they shouldn't be open and honest about their sexuality, or perhaps they expect men to like it and want it more than they do, and men in turn accept that idea as truth. I can't comment on what it's like to be a man, but I can say that if the gulf between men and women is indeed so great, then using women's desire as a starting point, all men must be bona fide sex addicts for there to be such a difference.

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    5. And whoa whoa whoa. "the female body meant primarily for the enjoyment of her husband"? Would you care to extrapolate on that?

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    6. I'm sorry your first attempt didn't go through. :-/ Well I am very glad that you too are able to hold a civil discussion about the matter. I don't see much of a point at getting all up in arms if somebody disagrees with me here.

      I am afraid that I have to concede to you on this one to a degree. You are right that as a male, I cannot with full assurance make that claim, and I must say that the statistic you gave me is somewhat surprising to me.

      It must be noted however, that my post was written specifically to an audience of Christians. While I have no scientific evidence to back it up, I can only speak from experience. In the interactions I have had within such circles (which I have grown up in and continue in today at college), I have encountered a lot more men that struggle sexually than I have women. In fact, the women I have encountered have, without fail, been very surprised at the fact that men have such a hard time because as they have told me, "women don't have that much of a problem." Perhaps I have always been around the minority of women, but my experience in that matter is what I have written to.

      Regardless of which one of us right, however, I believe that the point of my post still stands. In short the bare-bones version is, the battle against sexual immorality is a battle that we need to help each other in. Which ever of us is struggling with the matter, the other needs to be there to help them in any way we can. The way I see it, modesty is one of the best ways to do that.

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    7. Both comments are very interesting, and I too, having a similar experience to Caleb in terms of what girls have told me about the female struggle with impurity of mind and body, I too was surprised at the statistic, though I have an idea as to why it exists.

      Caleb and I, having come from an almost universally Christian environment, have only experienced girls who live in the realm of a strong Christian ideology, and it is very apparent that \a strong Christo-centric network of interpretation in terms of the body being in the image of God and having a certain holiness about it clashes very strongly with the secular world of nihilistic, postmodern materialism.

      Strong Christian girls are living in a Church that, whether they know it or not, has been handed down from very studied, very well read theologians of all denominations that understand certain passages from the Bible to be indicative of an importance and holiness to the body that demands respect of many kinds, including modesty. Passages like the one in Isaiah 6, where the prophet sees six Seraphs covering the Lord's body, or the image presented of the tabernacle to be a guarded and safe place that only a few, if not one, was allowed to enter, have, since the beginning of Christianity, been seen as not just literal visions of what is, but also indicative of man and his estate, spiritual as well as, and just importantly as, physical, both of which have many applications, and one very practical one has always been seen as modesty. And whether or not girls know these things, and many others that could have a series of books written on them, and most probably don't, they still live in an environment that is rooted in the teachings of those theologians who parsed out the things I just spoke of, as well as much more, and, as is very clear of humanity, we are very much defined by that environment that we live in.

      As opposed to this, girls not in the environment of the church, are not conditioned by it. The secular world values pleasure over morality, materialism over "the things not of this world," and as such, love becomes lust, the heavenly becomes the earthly. Not that these things cannot happen in the secular world, on the contrary, they happen often. But it is undeniable that there is a difference in values, and with a difference in values undeniably comes a difference in outcome.

      To add to this, I personally agree with "Anonymous" that it is brought up all too often that males struggle more than females with sexuallity, which is obviously not true, though I would contend that males have a more natural struggle with "brute" physicality whereas women have a more natural struggle with emotional states which certainly can include physicality, but in a different way than guys and their naturally objectifying physicality. Why are females the overwhelming majority of readers of steamy romance entertainment like "50 Shades of Grey," while the overwhelming majority of viewers of pornography are males? It raises a crucial question about the differences of struggle, though the struggle is in no way, nor should it ever be, black and white. Both men and women will always struggle with both, yet with differing degrees. As a great historian of American History once said succinctly, yet profoundly, "Its complicated."

      (Continue onto next comment...)

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    8. (...Continued from previous post)

      And so, I would postulate that the two radically different experiences put forth in the preceding comments by "Caleb" and "Anonymous" are not contradictory at all, but come from a conditioning of the mind and body to certain values inherent in the two systems: One that has mankind subordinate in the universe and therefore, giving a transcendent value to the body, has modesty at the forefront of its understanding of the body, valuing mostly the beauty of subtlety and the mystery and subsequent lifelong unveiling of that body to one person, the spouse. Tie all of that in with my opinion on how women are driven sexually as opposed to men that I elaborated on previously.

      The other worldview gives primacy to man and his pleasure, which is most easily obtained through physicality, and thus leads naturally to more and more promiscuity of the body.

      I hope this, rather wordy, description of my view sheds some light on how to resolve Caleb's experience with "Anonymous" experience, all the while presenting it solely as a contribution, and not an attack on any person.

      In Christ,

      EC

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    9. I would just like to say that sexual temptation is very much an issue for girls. Just look at how the different percentages of men and women who watch porn are becoming much more equal. I go to a Christian University and I run in mostly Christian circles, but most of the girls that I have talked too, struggle with lust. I think if modesty is to be talked about, it should not just be directed to girls. Trust me, there are so many things that guys wear and don't even think about that can cause girls to "stumble."

      As for Scripture only talking about modesty in reference to women, I think you should do a little more research on that. The only passages in the Bible that talk about modesty in the sense of "covering up," refer to both men and women. The verses about women dressing modestly has more to do with acting respectable and not drawing attention to oneself, like wearing gold jewelry and braiding one's hair would have done in those days. We don't claim that girls can't wear jewelry but somehow we think from that verse that they are supposed to cover up? I think you are missing the point of the verse. Modestly is not about the clothes you wear, but about the attitude of your heart.

      I am not trying to be disrespectful at all, but I am just putting some things out there to think about. Just know that your sisters in Christ struggle with lust as well.

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  4. absolutely terribly written - "how much of a struggle sexual sin is for men". What utter rubbish. Woman have just as much struggle against sexual sin if not far more . Where I come from woman have an average of 32 sexual partners in a life time. It comes down to this question: would you look at your mother or sister sexually? No? Why? Because its wrong. Just like it is wrong to sexully objectify any woman- it comes down to choice. 1 Tim 5:2 'older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.' It starts and ends there period. Choose to be a man and have some integrity not blame your sin on others. Absolute purity. Your mind, your choice, your sin.

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    1. Sentence 1: I think you missed the distinction between bad form and bad content.

      Sentences 2-4: I refer you to EChan's comments above. I think it comes down to a difference not in degree, but in kind, which, at least for the Christian girls to whom the post was written, causes a difference in degree. I must admit, however, that the figure in sentence 4 seems like rhetorical hyperbole, unless your data set is restricted.

      Sentences 5-9: The conclusion does not follow from the premises, although no one would deny free will. I'm just saying your first bit is a rhetorical non sequiter. However, though we are responsible for our own choices, you underestimate the effect our experience has on our will. Our desires don't just come out of nowhere. We begin as babies not even knowing we're alive, working off instinct. The world is where we get most of our desires. Though we begin with a certain foundation, for the most part our will is conditioned by those around us. There's still an element of choice, so men are clearly responsible for their eyes, but real life is more complicated.

      Sentence 10: Can't really argue with the Bible, although it appears to have been taken out of a discussion regarding rebuking vs. encouraging your Christian brothers and sisters rather than a discussion of modesty, so I'd be interested to see your hermeneutics. However, even if it were contained in a discussion of modesty, acknowledging man's responsibility in the matter (as Mr. Julin and I have done) does not negate that of his influences as has been shown above.

      Sentence 11: That's rather dogmatic.

      Sentences 12-14: Firstly, as has been demonstrated above, although men are largely and primarily responsible, this fact should not make us forget the responsibility of his influences. Secondly, disregarding this fact, your argument seems to be like refusing to help because one is not required to do it. Jesus wasn't required to die for you (Sorry, had to go for the big one, but the move is justified). If we wanted to be conformed to the image of Christ, as Saint Paul says, we have to go "above and beyond."

      Also let's not let what has heretofore been a calm, mature discussion degenerate into meaningless, dogmatic contradiction.

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    2. Reading your response is liking reading a long list of sinful justifications.

      On responsibility of influences
      Romans 6:11-14
      So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

      This verse clearly shows that when we come to Christ sin will have no hold over us. If a person is struggling with sin then they have no crucified their sin and it needs to go. Jesus can and does transform our minds. It should also be noted that this is personally written to each- because our mind and will our own.
      'On responsibility of influences' we are in the world not of it. I know woman and men who minister to people who are in strip clubs, brothels and other interesting jobs. Do any of them see these people lust despite what they are wearing ad even doing? No because they are godly and they see things for what they are people who desperately need Christ.

      Simply put Caleb we can and we should be like Christ. When we truly follow Christ we choose to sin and we know when we are crossing that line. Anything outside of Gods will is sin. It is always Gods will for us to be self controlled. For people who are still sinning sexually and even struggling to do the right thing then they are not walking with The Holy Spirit. Gods character should be so ingrained that sin rarely occurs.
      So many of these responses suggest that woman should be modest or do not be promiscuous. Which is really saying: I am not pure, help me! Each person is responsible for their own godliness and pure heart. It does not matter how a woman or man dresses. Our responses show truly where we are at. And if a person is struggling they are not in a godly place. Which only they can fix- not the community. No other person is responsible for our spirit, our sin and our relationship with Christ. God has made these boundaries obvious. If you are still struggling with how any person chooses to dress I suggest you take your sin and struggle to God and repent. And change.
      In your article you stated that woman dressed a certain way 'caused a man stumble.' We are called to be in God. We should be so sanctified that people could wear nothing/be missing body parts/ be deformed/ be preforming a strip dance and they should be no response from you whats so ever that is not godly. If you are thinking anything other than eg 'this person needs god' or 'this person needs my help' then you are sinning. Because you do not have Gods love for them otherwise you would not objectify anyone or judge them.
      I am also suggesting that the reason so many people have sexual issues is their lack of actual relationship with God- their lack of respect and reverence and their lack of fear and awe. If you are in awe of God would you dare disrespect his creation or degrade another created being for sexual gratification. No one would not. This is the type of Holiness is what is required as a bare minimum for people who actually follow Christ.
      Please don't kid yourself if you think that your sin can be blamed on another created being or even partially. The only thing you can change is yourself. Show people that you are a man of God by your brotherly and godly love and character.
      I don't require any response to this on here. I do ask though that you pray- ask God to fill you and show you who you are meant to be.

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  5. Caleb, I appreciate your willingness to be open to discussion and your bravery in the face of the brutal blogosphere.

    Your post does raise some serious questions for me though.

    If modesty is not subjective, as you say, then how do you prove that your ideal level of modesty is the objective one? Over the hijab? Over the catholic habit? Over hundreds of years that told women they were immodest if they weren't wearing their petticoats? Practically, how do you assert your definition of modest dressing over anyone else's? How do you justify the tennis skirt, which would have scandalized men in the 1800s? Standards of modesty have varied significantly over time and through cultures, and so also, coincidentally, or maybe not, what "causes" a man to lust.

    Now, how would you respond to the notion of nudist colonies? By all appearances, here exist communities of naked men and women who are able to interact with each other day to day sans lust. Do you think traditional African tribes in which women do not cover their chests are being immodest and fomenting lust in the hearts of their male companions?

    It seems that people are heavily influenced by their society's definition of modesty, and that makes it virtually impossible to discover the objective analysis of modesty, if some such thing did exist.


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  6. Caleb, It is interesting to note that only females have responded to your post. Thank you for your courage to shed light on the inner workings of a man's mind when most men prefer to avoid this topic like the plague.

    It would seem that those who have responded have misunderstood the real issue, which I believe you're discussing. They are insisting that women struggle with sex just as much as men do & perhaps only in Christian circles is this not true. They are clearly referring to sexual promiscuity (the sex act outside of marriage), not lust.

    It may or may not be true that men and women struggle equally, especially in this sexed-up, always in your face culture of ours. But lust is a whole different animal. Correct me if I'm wrong, but lust is not just seeing someone attractive and thinking, "Wow, I'd like to have sex with that person." It is seeing someone attractive and playing through the whole sexual act with that person in the mind.

    That is why Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." It is interesting to note that all verses in the Bible that deal with lust are directed at men. Perhaps because the Creator of mankind knew how He created man.

    Now, ladies please don't get bogged down in whether or not women also struggle with lust. That's not the issue. The issue is that men always have and always will.

    Ladies, if I slapped you in the face, what would your reaction be? Immediately a number of physical things would happen within you mind and body--your heart rate and blood pressure would rise, your pupils would dilate, your adrenalin would surge, and a host of other chemical and neurological reactions would take place. That is the way you're wired. Now, are you responsible for your outward response--whether you choose to slap me back, curse at me, etc. or calmly look at me as a human being with dignity and worth? Yes, you're responsible for the conscious choice you make in that given moment, but certainly I would be responsible for bringing about such a powerful physical response in you that tempted you to flatten me or tear my eyes out.

    Like it or not ladies, that is more of an accurate comparison to a man's struggle with lust than what has been described in the various responses given. So, in light of that, I'd like to go back to the actual purpose of Caleb's post--to give women insight into the incredible temptation that we provide when we are immodest.

    It is not disputed that a man is responsible for the sin he commits in his mind. However, it is equally a sin for the woman to disobey God's command in 1 Timothy 2:9 "to dress modestly, with decency and propriety." Like it or not, if I dress in a way or move and behave in a way that tempts a man to lust, then I am guilty of causing my brother to sin, as Caleb aptly pointed out.

    So, I ask you ladies out there to quit dodging the issue by nit-picking but instead to ask yourself when you look in the mirror before you go out the door. "Am I dressed in a way that is known to cause a problem for guys? Am I dressed in a way that when I bend over will reveal too much? Am I dressed in a sensual way? If so and you want to please your heavenly Father who loved you and gave His son for you, change.

    God bless you Caleb and may God also bless ladies everywhere who have the courage to dress with modesty and decency.



    Correct me if I'm wrong, but

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    1. I'm the Anonymous from up above, and I will say to you that a woman's experience of lust absolutely becomes relevant when Caleb tries to say that "men have it harder than women" (no pun intended; maybe you'll see where the pun could go).

      Your insinuation that women should alter the way they dress because of the reaction it might invoke in a guy is, I'm sorry, sexist and d-baggish. As always,one must dress for the situation - if you are going to a professional environment, dress professionally. If you're going to a concert, or the grocery store, you should dress in a way that makes YOU feel comfortable. Noticing a woman is hot is, in part, up to the woman. "Playing through an entire act of intercourse" is YOUR fault, NOT hers, regardless of how she is dressed, and to be frank, if you're imagining sex with strangers on this regular a basis, you might want to go for psychiatric help. Not even my secular male friends experience this.

      And you know what? Sometimes I try to look hot - not necessarily revealing, but attractive in a way that shows off my curves. It is my body and I make that choice to dress that way, and if you want to be part of society then you have to accept that women don't get on their knees and do what you want because you say so. I'm surprised you have a woman in the first place, if this is the attitude you bring towards her dignity and autonomy.

      Caleb, I implore you to post this comment, disagree with it though you might.

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    2. I will allow the person to whom you have responded give their response to this, but I just wanted to let you know, that if you haven't noticed, I post all comments regardless of what I agree with or disagree. I merely moderate them to filter out spam or excessive language should it become necessary.

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    3. "So, I ask you ladies out there to quit dodging the issue by nit-picking but instead to ask yourself when you look in the mirror before you go out the door. "Am I dressed in a way that is known to cause a problem for guys? Am I dressed in a way that when I bend over will reveal too much? Am I dressed in a sensual way? If so and you want to please your heavenly Father who loved you and gave His son for you, change."
      You keeping talking about how women don't understand, but you are not understanding- the answer is yes! The answer is always yes! Some man is always going to think we're not dressed enough! Some man is always going to think we're sensual! Some man is always going to say that this, that, or the other thing about how women dress is a problem for him!
      So unless you're truly advocating that women never again leave their homes, this is 100% unreasonable. There is no way to dress in a way that men will agree does not cause them to lust.
      So I must conclude the problem many men have is not with my clothes, but with my body. I cannot control that. Therefore, I am not "causing" you to sin.

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  7. Thank you so much for your support. Honestly, you may have said it better than I did! Your illustration of the slap in the face is spot on.

    It is very true that in most articles I have seen written on modesty, including the one I have responded to here, the majority of comments have been written by women. In the posts that disagree with my own, the women have been in great support, and those that agree with me, the women have come out of the wood-works to scream chauvinist. It is a shame that our posts on this topic are seen as placing more regulations on women to subjugate them, rather than their intended purpose of allowing us to see women as the ladies that we should be treating them as.

    Thank you again for your post.

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    1. But the slap in the face is wrong. A woman stepping out of the house looking like a female is not wrong. The blog you responded to was talking to women like me who grew up in an environement where showing curves or that you had legs made you sinful. Where even then we are blamed for tempting our "brothers" and often these are married men who have a release for all that sexual tension. I think we women don't struggle the same because we are not told we are wrong to notice a man's masculine aspects like his strong arms, broad shoulders, strong hands, or the V of his body unlike men in the church who are shamed for noticing a girl is a female and so quickly look for someone to blame which just makes the problem worse. From my experience (42 yrs husband 45) men who believe it is okay to notice curves have less trouble with objectification and lust. In fact when my husband sees boobs he thanks God for mine :). My dad still struggle in his 70s but then again he still thinks my mom is property, he still objectifies women. Instead of asking women to cover up maybe you younger men should put the call out to men who have conquered it and see what they did.

      Cris
      Best of luck in overcoming your struggle.

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  8. Hi Caleb! Rather than commenting on here, I wrote a blog in response to yours. I want you to know that in no way at all am I trying to be rude or hateful or anything. I tried to write things as nicely as possible so I wouldn't offend anyone who believes differently than I do. But I thought I would post it here so you could read it and see my point of view on things. :)
    http://mikaylaannm.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/women-struggle-too/

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    1. Wow...a blog post in response to a blog post in response to a blog post! I must say, I never expected this to happen. Mikayla, after reading your post a few times I have determined that the best way for me to respond to you is paragraph by paragraph. I will assign a number to each paragraph (1st paragraph being 1, 2nd being 2, etc.) beginning with the paragraph that starts with “For example...” That will be paragraph 1.

      ***

      Paragraph 1:
      I believe you have misunderstood me when you say that I place “some of the blame” on the woman. When a man looks lustfully at a woman, I believe (rather strongly, I might add) that he is 100% blameworthy for his lust. No one else can share his blame. From the very beginning of time, in the Garden of Eden, humans have had the tendency to shift the blame. Adam not only shifted the blame for his sin onto Eve, but also onto God! “‘The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it’” (Genesis 3:12 NIV). But the fact of the matter is that Adam was solely to blame for eating the apple. While Eve was guilty of giving the fruit to him, Adam was guilty of taking it. You seem to have missed the dichotomy I have drawn here. When it comes to lust, men are 100% responsible for sinning with their thoughts, while women are 100% responsible for the entirely separate sin of causing someone to stumble IF AND ONLY IF they have done something to cause men to stumble within their control. Now before you go biting my head off for discriminating and not acknowledging that women stumble too, it must be noted that you could take the words men and women in my last sentence, and switch their places; the statement would be just as true.

      “All men ever do is act like since they are men, they don’t have self-control.” Where did this even come from?! Sentences like this make me think that you are under the impression that I am justifying men’s actions when they lust after a woman. I’m not. At all. I am all for self control! Perhaps you are not aware, but men practice self control all the time. It is something called “bouncing our eyes”. Let me explain this term to you. Let’s say I am at a water park and I am trying to find my family in the crowd. Now let’s say that as I am searching, my eyes pass over a woman in a bikini. I have a choice to make. I haven’t yet sinned. (Contrary to what you think, I am not saying that the second a man sees a women in a bikini he has sin.) I can either take that second glance or we can pass our eyes on by and continue the search. To take that second glance and check her out would be a sin. To keep on looking is called bouncing my eyes. That, Mikayla, is the form of self control. Yes, men do have it, and some of us practice it all the time.

      Pargraph 2:
      I hope you realize that this is no justification for it. Immodest as a man or immodest as a woman makes no difference; you are still immodest. All you seem to have done is brought up another issue...that of vanity. However, neither the intent of my response nor the intent of my blog post is to address the topic of vanity so I will just leave it at that.

      (Continue onto next comment...)

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    2. (Continued from previous comment...)

      Paragraph 3:
      I’m very glad it made you so angry. It should. It isn’t right and I never said it was. However, perhaps I should clarify what I mean by “objectify”. When a woman is “objectified” her status is not on par with that of a phone (to use your example). In fact, we never forget that she is a human; not even for a second. However, the way we look at a woman as a human changes. Perhaps the best illustration I have ever heard to explain it is a little crass, but merely because it is blunt. Now prepare yourself, this is going to make you mad as well, but it should; it makes me mad. When men objectify a woman, they see her as a human being with the same purpose as a urinal; something there to relieve themselves. Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t go to the beach and see urinals with arms and legs walking around everywhere, that would be ridiculous. However, when a man objectifies a woman, he ceases to see her as a human being with emotions and the ability to think and love and hurt or be happy, and begins to think of her solely in physical and sexual terms.

      Paragraph 4:
      There you go assuming things again. Please provide me with a quote either in the original blog post or comments section where I said that. I never said that, I don’t believe that women should, and since you clearly missed it in my post, let me point you to a spot where I addressed this. In the comments section, you will find that I have written these words: “ I don't think modesty needs to be floor-length skirts and turtle necks either. Within reason, I am ok with short shorts and strapless. Like I said in the post, I don't think we all need to be in potato sacks.” Enough said.

      Paragraph 5:
      See paragraph 1 response. Also, note that you are assuming that I don’t think women struggle sexually as well. I never said that.

      Paragraph 6:
      See paragraph 4 response. You’re putting words in my mouth again. I never said shorts and a tank top was wrong. Believe it or not I’m not a fundamentalistic puritan.

      Paragraph 7:
      You are most certainly right. I will be the first to tell you that to marry someone just because of sex would be wrong. (One of many reasons I think the whole “try it before you buy it” philosophy of having sex before marriage is wrong.) I do not, however, believe that the only purpose of sex is to procreate. I believe that God created sex with the PRIMARY purpose of procreation, however I also believe that God created sex to be pleasurable. Why else would men and women have certain anatomical parts that biologists cannot determine any purpose other than pleasure?

      (Continue onto next comment...)

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    3. (Continued from previous comment...)

      Paragraph 8:
      Mikayla, you have a tendency to read something you don’t like and black out for the next couple of sentences. Let me quote for you the sentences immediately following the one you quoted. “Now, before you get all up in arms about what I just said, hear me out. While this may be true, I believe you can use 2 Cor 8:9-12 to apply to men in the same way that I applied it to women in this post. If a man causes a woman to stumble in a way that he could have prevented, than he is at fault as well.” I UNDERSTAND that women struggle too. I invite you to find a single spot either in my blog post or my comments where I say that women don’t struggle with this.

      ***

      Mikayla, I can tell that you have very good intentions and I do appreciate you sharing your feelings on my post. I love it when people do that, regardless of whether or not they disagree with me. I have tried to respond respectfully and I hope you do not confuse my moments of bluntness as being rude; I chose to be rather blunt at points because I did not want to leave any room for confusion. It has come to my attention through your comment and others’, that it would be good for me to write a follow up blog post on this very topic, because it seems that a lot of women have misunderstood my stance on whether or not women struggle. I feel it would be beneficial to everyone if I wrote out my thoughts on the matter all in one place, rather than scattered among various comments. Feel free to respond to this comment if you would like, but I would also encourage you to keep an eye out for the upcoming post within the next few days. Thank you again for your response, and I am very sorry if I have offended you in any way.

      - Caleb
      http://mountaintopfloridiot.blogspot.com/
      NOTE: I have responded both here and on her blog. I encourage all readers to read what she has to say in order to fully understand my comment. She doesn't have to respond in both places.

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  9. Caleb, you said, "I don't think modesty needs to be floor-length skirts and turtle necks either. Within reason, I am ok with short shorts and strapless," and "I never said shorts and a tank top was wrong."

    It seems that the line you've drawn about what's ok to wear and what isn't is arbitrary. A tennis skirt could easily invoke lust, as could tight fitting jeans. In fact, so could minimally form fitting clothes. You say you aren't advocating potato sacks, but how is your standard of modesty practically realized? How do you know where to draw the lines? It seems that it's currently based on your own experience of what might make you lust... but while short shorts are ok in your book, certainly they might be a "stumbling block" to some guy somewhere.

    As it seems reasonable that SOME men would lust at the sight of a woman in short shorts and a tank top, shouldn't women avoid wearing those clothes at all costs? In fact, some men may lust at the sight of a woman, so, as not to cause our brothers to stumble, shouldn't we stay indoors? I know that YOU aren't making that claim, but I think your argument could definitely be taken this far. If the woman needs to avoid making men lust, then she, if she wants to be perfect at it, needs to avoid men.

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    1. It seems like you have hit on THE question, now haven't you? This may not be the response you are hoping for, but I want to respond with another question.

      If you do believe what the Bible says about modesty being important, than regardless of culture, is there some point where you have gone from modest to immodest. How much clothing can you lose before you suddenly become "immodest"? That line has advanced to more and more clothing over the years, but where does it stop? We only have two pieces of clothing left, really. If you stop it at the bikini, why? If you stop it at the tankini, why? etc. Either you believe that modesty is relative (in which case forget clothes, pants never were comfortable anyway!), or you believe that there is a line somewhere. I would propose that your argument relies on the same principle.

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    2. Just because it's fun, I'm a former Genevian too! Found out about your blog on the Facebook TGS Alumni page. I'm glad to see TGSers out and about.

      Simply because I may have missed this: what exactly do you think the Bible says about modesty being important? Can you point me to any particular verses you have in mind?

      I am willing to argue that modesty is relative, as has been demonstrated by time and in other cultures. I'm currently living in a country in which showing my ankle might "cause" someone to lust. Tennis skirts here may be the equivalent of a topless woman in a Western country.

      More specifically though, I'd go so far as to say that modesty could be intersubjective. Rather, it's a particular society's idea of what is or is not appropriate.

      Even more specifically, within a society, there is a lot of variation within sub-cultures (e.g. the Amish, nudist colonies) and among individuals (e.g. your stereotypical grandmother, your stereotypical secular friend who is quite desensitized towards bikinis) on what counts as modest or not.

      My point is that the line is so difficult to find, it may not be possible to formulate a definition that everyone agrees on. Perhaps we could assert that modesty itself is objectively compulsory (which is another problem altogether), but since the only definition we have of modesty has come from people's personal opinions, "be modest" ends up being a nebulous and inconsistent command.

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  10. Great article, I appreciate the email telling me about it.
    I totally agree-it's out job as ladies to do everything we can to protect the men around us. The world is hard enough without adding ourselves to the struggles facing men!
    Natasha
    A modest fashion blog: www.natashaatkerson.blogspot.com

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    1. if you want to protect men encourage them to be godly. Not make woman responsible for their lack of self control. Men need to take responsibility for their own bodies and minds.

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  11. There has not been a response yet to Christalyn's 5 July "surrebuttal."

    You state you are not advocating "floor length skirts" etc. Yet your definition of modesty would have been shocking and indecent in 1914. How would you argue your concept of modesty to your great great grandparents?

    If you would not or could not, then you must accept that modesty is relative to time. However, you reject that modesty is relative to time *and* place or situation. Just as your definition of modesty would be deemed immodest in certain modern societies, your definition of immodest would be deemed modest in certain modern societies. How do you argue one without the other? If modesty is not relative to time, place, and social norms, your attempt to define an objective standard is still completely arbitrary.

    Put another way, a tennis skirt may be perfectly modest by cultural definition in Western society. We can be confident it is immodest by cultural definition in Saudi Arabia. How can you argue an objective standard for one culture which is a " looser" standard for another?

    Is there a line that may be crossed from modest to immodest? We would agree that there is such a line. However, you are essentially stating that line is where you say, is immutable, and universally and objective defined. I am stating that line is relative to time, place, and situation, and that cultural norms change.

    Are you stating that bare breasts in certain African societies are by definition immodest? You have yet to respond to the contention that even complete nudity is acceptable and therefore modest, in certain societies or subcultures or even specific social situations such as the sauna in certain European countries, where complete nudity is required for practical reasons. Even in the sauna there are still bounds of modesty. Body position would be an example separating modest from immodest behaviour. Yet you appear to dismiss this even as a possibility out of subcultural bias.

    In sum, either modesty is relative or it is not. If definitions have changed (and you seem to accept that they have and you are not as you state a "puritan fundamentalist") then modesty is relative.

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  12. Great post! As a Christian woman I'd prefer my body not to be seen for the world at a beach. Just because the world makes it seem right, doesn't mean its right in the Lord's eyes.

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  13. It appears as though my previous post has disappeared somewhere?

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  14. I don't think that you can use I Cor 8 to say that women should consider men's struggle with lust in their choice of dress. I know a lot of people DO try to use it that way, but I don't think the analogy holds. To me the direct comparison would be to say that women who know that their standards of appropriate clothing are broader than others should be considerate of their sister with the 'weaker' conscience to whom dressing in such a way feels sinful.... 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, e̶a̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶i̶d̶o̶l̶'̶s̶ ̶t̶e̶m̶p̶l̶e̶wearing strapless dresses, won’t that person be emboldened to e̶a̶t̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶s̶a̶c̶r̶i̶f̶i̶c̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶i̶d̶o̶l̶s̶wear strapless dresses? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

    When you do things that other people think are sinful but you know aren't, it can hurt them by encouraging them to do things that they logically reason are ok, since you are doing it, but on a conscious level they still feel are wrong.

    So I do think Christian women should be dressing more modestly in order to prevent other Christians from stumbling, but I think the guy's side of the issue is completely separate.

    My advice for guys to combat the temptation to lust/objectify is to stop stoking those flames..."everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial" I'm not saying that Christian men shouldn't listen to pop/rock/country music, watch tv or movies, or hang out with people who objectify women, but in my own experience when I stopped doing those things for other non-religious reasons, my initial/unconscious reactions when interacting with other human beings changed.

    ~M

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  15. I would like to follow up on my previous post. Your comparison to alcoholism or gluttony is ironically on point, but your assumptions are wrong. It does not get harder each time a drink is offered. The first time the drink is offered is the hardest. Five minutes or five days between an offer is irrelevant to the alcoholic maintaining sobriety.

    My choice to drink the drink, or eat the cake, is not equivalent to the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. I may help my friend by not offering the drink or by discouraging him or her from from taking the drink, or reminding him or her of the diet. My choosing to drink or eat the cake is not a factor. Should I refrain from eating the cake at my own birthday, or toasting the bride and groom? By your reasoning I should, on the off chance that a stranger or even my friend may be struggling with gluttony or alcoholism. It is no different than wearing that bikini. Your struggle with lust is not greater or lessor than any of these other struggles.

    You may have been encouraged as a child to "finish your plate." In certain societies that would be shaming to the host, implying that he did not give you enough to eat.

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  16. Great argument. Only thing…what if a girl lusts after guys when they wear those adorable flannel shirts, dark skinny jeans and loafers? Or really christian football players? Do men have to stop looking nice so they don't cause a women to lust? ….. We all have different things that turn us on

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  17. My name is anca. I have been in Canada a couple of years ago. For me i have never given much thought on relationships. I have a christian mother and father who have told me how to dress appropriately. I have never been in a relationship I am 26 years old have fear of intimacy with men. The only time I dressed inappropriately was once to boost my confidence. Very alienated and quiet as a child. Been abused physically by bullies in middle school. At my age I am wondering after I find employment will I be able to have stable relationship. Quite scared with the prospect that I wont have someone to share my life with. It is different for these women because at least they feel confident. Fear of being touched by opposite sex. For me a relationship will not be possible. I envy women who are confident to have relationships I wont have that luxury. So before you men complain about women who dress to provocativally try to understand this from the perspective of a woman who is scared of simple touching.

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  18. I would like to say something on this topic. I have just turned 27 years old. I look younger than my age. Most people would tell me I look like I am 18 or 17 years old. Why do you men make such a big deal if a women wears lets say a mini skirt. Is it because it arouses you? It is quite confusing. I am a woman who has not been in a relationship. I wear clothing not on what you men want but what the temperature outside is like.

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