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.