Last week a young female friend of mine sent me a message asking me to write something in response to this image:
I don’t know anything about the guy who posted this picture, but I do know that the sentiment expressed in this photo is one that many Christians share. How do I know this? I’ve seen it firsthand.
One summer during high school some of the guys in the youth group I was a part of started to talk about how they thought that many of the high school girls were dressed inappropriately. To address this issue the youth minister had a meeting between the high school boys and girls. It was here that boys stated “you girls dress immodestly, and make it hard not to lust” (paraphrase). The girls, who had been hurt by that statement in the meeting, wondered why the guys in the youth group “lusted” after them. Both parties felt the other party was at fault, and you know what happened as a result of this meeting? Nothing. The girls wore what they wore, in spite of the guys alleged issues, and the guys continued to place the blame of their lusting on the girls.
Discussions on modesty and lust have a tendency to go this way. No one likes to take the blame, and it’s always the other persons fault. In truth, both parties are at fault.
Today’s post isn’t going to be some in-depth study of lust and modesty. Truth be told, you can find loads of those articles without even looking that hard. We know what the Bible says about lust and modesty, we just don’t apply them. I truly believe that when we know better, God expects us to do better. Today’s post is a call for Christian men and women to quit blaming each other and do better.
Guys, Quit Treating Women Like Objects
It can be tempting for guys to cite a girl’s short shorts, tight jeans, or low-cut shirt as the source of their temptation. Why? It’s tempting because if it’s your fault, I don’t have to change anything in my life. If it’s your fault, I don’t have to call my heart into question. If it’s your fault, I don’t have to deal with the fact that I have a problem with looking at women as nothing more than an object of my sexual fantasies.
Men in the Bible handled their struggle with lust very differently. Instead of blaming the female they couldn’t keep their eyes off of, they looked inwardly and sought to change themselves. Job didn’t say “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman…unless she’s super hot” (Job 31:1 NIV). He put all the pressure on himself. “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman.” Period. End of story. Other translations translate the passage this way “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (ESV). In essence he’s stating that because he’s made a promise to God, he can’t look at a woman with lust, regardless of what she’s wearing.
Jesus said it this way “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:28). If you look, you are doing something wrong. Jesus then goes on to give advice on what to do if you can’t control your lust, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (5:29-30). Jesus did not say “if you are lusting after a woman go to her and tell her that she’s dressed inappropriately and causing you to lust.” Again, Jesus puts the responsibility on the man to remove the opportunities for temptation in his life.
Instead of blaming females and their figures for our lack of self-control, let’s do better about looking away and avoiding situations where opportunities to lust might be prevalent. You know that you aren’t supposed to be looking at women with lust, so go and do better.
Girls, Put Some Clothes On
We turn our attention now to the ladies. Girls, first of all I want to apologize for the fact that (nearly) every time we have a girl’s day, or a gender-split class the subject of discussion for you is modesty. The boys typically get a class on how to be better leaders while you girls get a class on why your dress causes men to have sexual thoughts. We’ve done you a grave injustice and I’m very sorry.
Second of all, I want to offer up a reason that those classes are taught every time we have gender specific classes, and why modesty articles are written every summer by male and female bloggers: you aren’t doing anything about it! Most of the girls I knew growing up spent all their time complaining about the modesty classes and none of their time really applying it. Many girls would rather call guys “creeps” than go through their wardrobe and ask the question “does this glorify God?”
We all know those sections of the Bible that deal with modesty (1 Tim. 2:8-15; 1 Peter 3:3-6). Unfortunately, we often focus on those verses at a surface level. We teach that these verses instruct us on what to wear, and nothing more, but that misses the point. The passages that teach us about modesty aren’t concerned with what you wear (at least not as their top priority). They are concerned with your holiness, and one of the ways that holiness is expressed is outwardly through your attitude, and your clothing (for a more in-depth study of this read this article) .
Instead of blaming guys for having a lack of self-control, honestly address your wardrobe or pull a guy aside (like your dad or brother) and ask what comes to their mind when they see girls wear similar articles of clothing. You know that you aren’t supposed to wear clothes that draw attention to yourself and that your clothing has potential to draw the eyes of men, so go and do better.
It’s at the end of this article here that I’d like to remind you that I was prompted by a friend to write a post about this subject. I wasn’t sitting in my office one day thinking “I really need to do another modesty article this year.” Truth be told, I wish we’d stop writing articles like this, but until things change, until we start doing better, these articles will continue to be written by Christian bloggers the world over.
I’m tired of these articles. I’m tired of modesty/lust discussions. I’m tired that we’ve bought into a culture that tells girls to “be sexy” and guys that they should “look but not touch”. I’m tired most of all that instead of doing what we can do to glorify God we get at each other’s throats about who’s to blame. In truth, we’re both to blame. Instead of complaining and telling others to change, let’s look inwardly and see where we need to personally improve. We know better, so let’s do better.
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