Modesty: The Other Side of the Pornography Coin

Congrats to Rusty Akers winner of the 3rd of 5 copies of Worldliness by C.J. Mahaney.  I’m giving away another book today.  Keep reading for details.

Of all the chapters in Worldliness, the one that I found most revolutionary was the one about modesty.  I’ve heard plenty of people talk about the influence music, media, and materialism has on us, but this is the first time I’ve read anything that tackled the issue of modesty in the way C.J. Mahaney does in Worldliness.

Mahaney includes this quote from a young college man.

The thing women do no seem to fully grasp is that the temptation towards lust does not stop; it is continual; it is aggressive; it does all it can to lead men down to death.  They have a choice to help or deter it’s goal. Sometimes, when I see a girl provocatively dressed, I’ll say to myself, “She probably doesn’t know that 101 guys are going to devour her in their minds today.  But then again, maybe she does.”

Porn => Lust <= Immodesty

Pornography is a huge problem among men in the U.S. including Christians.  Only in the last few years have some churches begun to speak out on the dangers of porn and offer recovery groups for those struggling with addictions.

The underlying issue with porn is lust.  Men use porn to exploit their own pull towards visual stimulation to stir up lust for momentary pleasure.

Immodesty is essentially the other side of the same coin.  When women dress provocatively they exploit men’s pull towards visual stimulation and stir up lust in order feel good about themselves.  (Just to be clear, the porn/modesty connection is not made in Worldliness, it’s my own observation.)

Like the young man quoted above, I don’t think most women dress to intentionally stir up lust in men.  I think the predominant mindset in our culture among women is that a great outfit turns heads and draw attention.  Most women are flattered when one of their girlfriends tells them they look hot or sexy.  And in their quest for a little attention, in their desire to feel good about themselves, they don’t realize the temptation they are putting in front of men.

Sisters in Christ

The book includes a quote from another young man.

When a woman dresses immodestly, it doesn’t make it easy to see her as a sister in Christ. There’s a constant battle going on as I’m talking with her.  Communication becomes more difficult because as I’m trying to listen to her, I’m also trying to fight temptation.

I can attest to this myself.  I remember a specific situation a couple of years ago where I was teaching a class at church.  We broke off into discussion groups of 3-4 people and I ended up sitting across the table from a woman who was wearing a low-cut top that showed a lot of cleavage.  I honestly have no idea what we talked about and I probably sounded like a babbling idiot because about 80% of my concentration went into keeping my eyes focused on her face.

I’m not suggesting women shouldn’t look good or should hide themselves inside a shapeless robe and head covering like many Muslim women do.  But I think women need to be aware of how their dress affects the men around them.  Women, you have the ability to help or hinder your brothers in Christ as they battle lust each day.

I love the definition of modesty in the book.

Modesty is humility expressed in dress.  It’s a desire to serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or provoking sensuality.

After reading and thinking on this chapter, I’m convinced modesty is a topic that needs more attention and discussion.

What can you do?

  • Women – Every time you get dressed ask yourself, “What’s my motivation for wearing this outfit?”  Am I trying to honor God or am I trying to draw attention to myself?
  • Women (#2) – Talk about modesty with your friends.  Chances are they’ve never thought about their clothing in the ways we’re discussing here.
  • Husbands – Help your wife understand how her clothes affect men.  Tell her when an outfit she’s wearing could be an issue for other men.  If seeing other guys stare at your wife makes you feel good about yourself, you might want to do some soul-searching.
  • Dads – It’s your job to help your daughters understand modesty and dress modestly.
  • Pastors & youth pastors – When was the last time you taught about modesty?  If you’re a man, maybe there’s a woman in your congregation who would be better suited to teach about it.
  • Twitterers, Facebookers, bloggers – Share this post.  Comment.  Write your own post about modesty.  I specifically call on Christian women with whom this might have struck a cord to take the lead.  Women need to hear this message from other women.

What are your thoughts on modesty?

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58 Responses to “Modesty: The Other Side of the Pornography Coin”

  1. Great blunt post on modesty, about something so important that we seem to just ignore in today’s world. I’ve retweeted.

      • Honestly, if a guy lusts after every woman he sees who is scantily dressed (no matter what she looks like!) then either he has very bad taste in women or he is totally desperate.

        I find it hard to believe that men have no taste or discernment whatsoever, and that ANY women in a tank top or mini-skirt turns him on – even if she’s hideous looking. PLEASE!

        Men are gonna be turned on by women with beautiful faces — no matter what they are wearing.

  2. I think your recommendations are pretty good. But I want to caution too much responsibility being on women. Modesty is more about social convention than anything else. If that were not true then we would expect that at some point of covering then there would no longer be lust. We know that lust can occur even if there is completely covering. So if it is not about the amount that is covered, but about the social convention that concerns the amount of the body covered, we have to have a discussion about social convention.

    I remember a conversation with my grandfather. He was quite disturbed by the skirt a girl was wearing while singing a solo at his church. I remember thinking it wasn’t at all revealing or too short. I thought it was completely appropriate for the situation. What was really going on was that I had a different social convention than my grandfather did.

    Now also being fairly honest, I think I am aware of dress differently as I have aged. I really wasn’t much bothered with lust as a teen. Sure I looked, but it wasn’t really about lust in the same way it can be now. Certainly one difference is that I am now married and able to imagine things I would not have been able to imagine in my teen years. At the same time I think I am also less bothered by my imagination now than I was in my teen years (I know that is contradictory.) Here I think is the difference. When I was a teen what a person wore or didn’t wear didn’t make much of a difference with lust, in part because of lack of experience with the female body. Now, because of more experience I think it makes more of a difference, but I think I am also much less tempted.

    All this to say. While I don’t disagree with any of your recommendations, I think we need to spend much more time on the men that are being tempted than on what the women are wearing.

    • Good points, Adam. Even if there were women walking around naked in the streets, it’s still ultimately mens’ responsibly to control their minds.

      I agree we do need to spend more time on the men that are being tempted. What prompted me to write this, though, is that currently almost 100% of the writing, teaching, and conversations about lust focus on men. Modesty, while a lesser issue, has gone relatively untouched in recent times.

      Additionally, modesty not just about asking women to help with mens’ issues with lust, it’s also about challenging women to reflect on where they find their value and affirmation.

  3. I think we must be reading different things. I have read almost nothing really taking men to task but a ton taking women to task. Almost everything I read about modesty is aimed at teen and young women, and the ones that take the message seriously are usually already fairly modest. And then women start getting complexes. I have seen estimates that college women at Christian campuses can be almost 50% more likely to have low body image and eating disorders (ranging from about 20% nationally to almost 1/3 at Christian campuses).

    At the same time, your original complaint was most likely not a teen or 20 something. I see lots of tight tops among young women, but cleavage is more of an older women thing.

    • Adam I was talking more broadly about the issue of lust. These days I am seeing a lot of books, blogs, and sermons directed towards men about lust and pornography (and that’s a good thing), but I haven’t seen any about modesty which is why this stood out to me. Admittedly I have not been looking for them, so maybe I’ve just been missing them.

      I’m surprised to hear college women at Christian campuses are more likely to have low body image and eating disorders. I would have thought that women who believe they are valued for being a child of God and have parents who show unconditional love would not be as inclined to dress immodestly to gain attention and would be less concerned about body image.

  4. Some thoughts on the post.

    I was at the library a week ago and picked up The Beauty of Modesty: Cultivating Virtue in the Face of a Vulgar Culture The authors, a pastor and his wife, write Appendix A, “Modesty and Men” to clarify that everything written in their book applies to men, too, in principle. There is no double standard in modesty. Increasingly in our day, men are encouraged to be sexy. They need those washboard abs to show off to the ladies. Just as with women, therefore, men are pressured to view their bodies as sexual bait. The Appendix continues to give several other reasons why modesty is just as much a men’s issue as it is a women’s issues. Overall, The Beauty of Modesty is written largely for a Christian audience and is recommended reading for pastors, teachers, youth workers, and parents who are fighting the immodest onslaught that threatens to overwhelm us.

    Readers, both male and especially female, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


    In Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain,neuroscientist and researcher William Struthers, a Christian, explains how pornography affects the male brain and what we can do about it. Because we are embodied beings, viewing pornography changes how the brain works, how we form memories and make attachments. By better understanding the biological realities of our sexual development, we can cultivate healthier sexual perspectives and interpersonal relationships.

    For those who have read it already, would love to know what you think.

    P.S. Paul, I’m really hoping to win a copy of this Mahaney book! 😎

    • J Rae, great comment. Both books sound interesting.

      Regarding the double standard in modesty, I think you and Jennifer are both right that modesty is a significant issue for men as well. I think I’ve forgotten because I gave up trying to be sexy 12 years ago when I got married. Plus as you can see from my avatar there’s not much hope for me now anyway.

      But there is a double standard in that the issue of modesty is raised almost exclusively with women like I did in the original post.

      • I think I’ve forgotten because I gave up trying to be sexy 12 years ago when I got married.

        Here’s a new way to tell whether someone is married or single, without looking at the ring finger. 😎

  5. Christian Modesty, Your Clothes say it for you, Does God Really Care What I Wear?, Beauty of Modesty, A Return to Modesty, Secret Keeper: A Return to Modesty, and Becoming a Women of Discresion are all modesty books written in the last five or six years.

    On the lust side I know of Sex is not a Problem, Lust is and the Everyman’s Battle and derivatives.

    I think both sides need to be addressed, I just think we need to be careful about blaming the victim.

  6. Props to Adam! So thankful for all you said.

    Here’s the deal…I get the overall thing that you’re saying Paul…but I really don’t think you guys get how much condemnation is put on the girls in this area. It really bothers me. And I know that you well-meaning Christian boys would never intentionally cause condemnation…but you have to understand that it is an issue. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in groups where the girls have been pulled aside and given the “Modesty Lecture” and I’m so sick of it. YES- girls should not purposefully flaunt their goods for attention. BUT- as Adam said, the boys need to step up and learn to control their minds, and fight the battle of lust…not matter what’s in front of their eyes (which CAN be achieved because of the New Birth)

    I mean, we’re really going to lecture the girl and put the responsibility on her because she showed up in a tank top w/spaghetti straps instead of the “appropriately declared” one-inch strap tank??? That’s ridiculous.

    I’ve spent too much time holding crying girls who have been told they are causing guys to lust and stumble because they were not “appropriately” dressed, yet were completely innocent minded when they chose their clothes that day.

    And are boys given the same lecture about their dress? Boxers slightly creeping out the top of jeans causes some girls to lust. What about watching boys playing sports with their shirts off?
    Are boys held to the same standard and lectured about their modesty?

    • Jennifer, thanks for your comment. I apologize if I struck a nerve with you. You’re right that I don’t know how much condemnation is put on some girls in this area. It’s been about 10 years since I served in youth ministry, and my church has never been much for condemnation of any kind. But I can imagine the scenarios you describe are a real problem in some churches.

      I’m not suggesting that anyone be “lectured” nor am I suggesting there be any sort of legalistic dress codes, and I definitely don’t think women should be blamed for mens’ failings.

      What I’m suggesting is that if you live in a culture (like I do) where nobody is saying anything about modesty and this line of thinking is new to you (as it is to me), then it would be good for more women in that culture to become aware of the issue in a non-condemning way so they can consider dressing more modestly rather than dressing immodestly simply because they’re unaware.

      You’re also right about there being a double standard. I always thought guys with their pants falling down look silly rather than sexy, but then I’m not a teenage girl, so what do I know right?

      Again, great comment! I really appreciate you bring a different perspective to the conversation.

  7. I am probably too sensitive. I went to seminary at University of Chicago. Most of the women I went to school with were exiles from evangelical backgrounds. Some of them had been quite badly treated, mostly for just being women. Discussions of modesty have often been as much about sexism and repression of women as about modesty. (Paul I am certainly not talking about you here, just my background.) If you look closely at the books on modesty, at least several of them are closely connected to the quiverful movement and helping women regain their proper roles.

    I am sorry for hijacking your post. I really do think that most women don’t understand the visual nature of men and your suggestions really were good.

    • Adam, no apology necessary. I love the push back and the important perspective you’re bringing to the conversation. I definitely presented the issue one-sidedly in the original post.

  8. It only struck a nerve because I’ve seen this argument too much. And not just back in my youth group days…but in pretty much every area of ministry. So much so, I’m surprised to hear that it is a new concept to some.

    And I truly, truly do NOT think that the condemnation is intentional. I’m just trying to make people understand that it is all too often a result. The concept of men being visually-minded is driven into girls…ESPECIALLY in the Christian world. And then because of that, it’s somehow becomes the girls responsibility to dress in burkas so that boys don’t stumble.

    And…fyi…I said boxers “peeking” out the top of jeans…definitely not the pants-on-the-ground look! hahaha!

  9. One thing that hasn’t been brought up here is the fact that the overwhelming “immodesty” of our current culture is promoted for big bucks. Modesty does not sell well in our world, so there is a push towards hot and sexy that pervades every area of our life. Blaming either the men or the women is not getting to the crux of the matter and will not resolve anything.

    As long as men fear lust, it will have the upper hand in their lives. God’s love is greater than lust, so running to God for help is the first step in putting down lust. My advice to guys is to ask God to make good out of the temptations they face and then speak it forth. When you’re tempted to lust, cry out, “Father, I thank you for making good out of this situation!” Keep at it and see the glory of God in your life.

    As far as we ladies are concerned, God is our Papa Father and He loves His girls. We can go to Him and ask Him for the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom we need to take our places in His kingdom. If we focus on pleasing our Father, then everything else will fall in place, including how we dress.

  10. Amen brother! As a man, that really hits what I have been thinking and teaching the last 4-5 years of my life. I honestly want to live up north my whole life because it gets cold and it forces women to put on more clothes. As much as it our job as men to keep our eyes in check such as Job 31:1 says, but women make a huge difference in the matter as well. It’s like trying to stay away from candy, but going to the candy store everyday. You just cannot do that!

    Thank you for that post brother!

    • I live up North and teach high school and I can tell you with certainty that the women around her don’t dress modestly. You underestimate the cold tolerance of teenage girls who want to impress;) That or you overestimate their common sense.

  11. Joshua Tyler Rodenburg March 3, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Men just need to stop looking at the breasts. Seek after the change that will completely eliminate the urge to “take 80% of my concentration to keep my eyes of her face.” That is really just silly. Be a smart brother in Christ and be the change you are looking for in relationships. Girls can make good choices, but sometimes they are just beautiful. I am a face person. I see the breasts, but my attention is on the face. No, that is not a gift. I desired purity from a young age, and today that translates into not offending women. This discussion is excellent, but this is not a struggle of men, it is a weak effort of men. The voice comes from the face, look at the face. What is so hard about that? I agree with Jennifer…she seems to have the proper perspective on this.

    • Joshua, thanks for your comment. Let me see if I understand you correctly… Are you saying what a woman wears is not an issue at all? Only men who put forth weak effort struggle with lust? Others are not tempted no matter how provocatively dressed a woman is?

      If that’s what you’re saying, then ouch! It’s not every day I get called out as being weak on my own blog. But I appreciate you having the courage to say what you believe.

  12. This made me think of going to my older son’s football games and the reaction of my younger son at seeing so many scantily clad high school girls. His eyes were popping out of his head! The girls walked back and forth on the bottom of the bleachers so that everyone had a good look at them, over and over and over again. I noticed that just about everyone watched the girls instead of the game. I kept wondering where their parents were, and what the girls’ motivations were. I stopped taking my younger son to the games because of it. Now my son is at a small charter school where there are fewer girls, but I actually had to ask the principal to talk to one mother about her daughter’s cleavage being highly visible due to her low cut tops.

    • Maybe you should get your own life, and stop controlling the decisions of other girls. How petty of you.. that you’re that insecure with other women and you’re that untrusting of your son’s intentions that you must insert yourself into other people’s business.

      • I had the same reaction, Sarah. She’s holding everyone else responsible for raising her son. I think this would have been the perfect opportunity to initiate conversations with her son about controlling his own urges. Asking the principal to talk to the mother of another student? Please!

  13. Congrats to “J Rae” who won the 4th copy of the book. And thanks to everyone who commented/tweeted/shared the post so far. Great discussion!

    I’ve got a new post up today. The last in this series derived from Worldliness.

    It’s All About Love

    And there’s one last book up for grabs.

  14. This is a really great post and even better discussion. I’ve often read or heard similar admonishments for girls and women to be more modest in dress and I agree. As the mother of two teenage daughters it’s been difficult to find clothes for them that are attractive and not revealing while being somewhat trendy. I do think it’s also important for men to take hold of their own responsibility for their thoughts. Great topic.

  15. In our men’s group at church – we spent several weeks reading, studying and being quite open and honest about all of this – the book we used was called Everyman’s Battle. Can highly recommend it for men’s groups (or for ladies to read to understand how men work – it’s a real eye opener!).

  16. Honestly, if you are considered beautiful (as people tell me) men are going to lust or desire you if you are wearing a gunny sack.

    I don’t really subscribe to the theory that men lust after any scantily dressed female because: 1) some women are built better than others, and some look better than others, 2) all men don’t have the same tastes in women.

    So what one man finds attractive, another one won’t. I don’t believe all men are lusting after all women all the time. If so, they aren’t getting any sex.

    Also, if it’s a sin to look at women in certain dress then is it a sin for a man to be a gynecologist? Doesn’t make sense to me.

  17. And yes, women lust after hot looking guys as well. I don’t care if a guy is wearing a parka, if he has a good looking face then yes, I’m attracted.

    It’s natural for men and women to be attracted to each other – it’s never gonna change. There is no point in feeling guilty about it.

    Yes, don’t look at porn, but we are all attracted to the opposite sex unless we’re gay — I guess! lol a different issue!

    • Thank-you for expressing what I was thinking. Instead of fighting our wiring, why not just acknowledge that we’re feeling attracted, put it in perspective and move on. The sin is in acting on the urges or fanning them to obsession, not in having the urges. I think fighting the urges or trying to not to feel them is unproductive and unrealistic and is probably having the opposite reaction, keeping these men (and women) stuck. It’s good to be aware of how we’re being manipulated by the media, misguided women (and men) and that dressing to provoke is not really all that attractive, really. As for men, are they aware of how many women watch football to lust after the men in tight pants? What about Twilight? ’nuff said!

  18. I enjoyed reading this story and will continue to visit the website for more. God bless!

  19. In regards to this article, I believe modesty is a great tool to assist in the battle against lust. I do think as women that our reasonable service is to help those that are weak in the faith by dressing more appropriate, and we should show God that we aren’t trying to bring lustful attention toward ourselves.

    But the greatest tool that God has equipped us with through Christ, and the help of the Holy Spirit is Self control. The bible states that self control is the fruit of the spirit, and if we walk after the spirit we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Job said that he made a covenant with his eyes not to lust after a woman. So it is possible for a man to have control over lust, and practice this purity in their sexual lives.

    However, I think far too many men, especially in the church has failed to exercise this virtue. Some of the problem lies with elders who believe it is okay to still engage in this practice by convincing others that this is simply the way men were built. Men were not built to constantly think about sex, because this makes sex and lust idols.

    Therefore this false notion leads men to worship sex and lust instead of worshiping God. In fact, what ever a person lends their mind and attention to constantly is considered worship. So lust must be controlled.

    Furthermore, what and who we worship will become our master, and we will be enslaved to it or them. Remember scripture says whatever you lend your members to that thing will be your master whether to corruption or in corruption.

    Since we were created to worship God, God is to be our only master and source of control. We were not made to be controlled by anyone else or anything else. Everyone was created to worship God not sex or lust. Pornography proves this lesson, because the more men lend themselves to watching, hearing, and practicing pornographic acts the more control it has over them.

    So let us seek God for the strength to worship him in spirit and truth. To love him with our whole heats, minds, and soul. God will provide a way of escape for the moments when sexual temptation or lust arises.

    And in addition, we must exercise self control by refusing to watch those things that will entice lust, and learning to see women as God sees them free of lust, yet eyes filled with compassion and genuine love.

    Also, men must look at women as an opportunity to eagerly serve them with the love of Christ.
    Every women has an issue that needs to be
    healed, restored, or mended.

    Most women have had these wounds issued at the hands of another man, so it is important for men not to add to their already vulnerable and hurtful situations.

    Therefore, it is extremely crucial for men to be filled with the spirit of God , so they can minister to a woman just as Jesus was able to minister to women in the bible. Remember Jesus was tested just like every other man, yet when he saw a women he saw past their beauty and looks, because He had enormous compassion on them. Men must and have to be willing to do the same.

    Men must practice having this pure compassion towards women. However, if they are weak then simply turning their heads when a beautiful woman approaches until they are strong enough to deal with a woman in such a pure way.

    Finally men must understanding that women are gifts from God to be treasured and not trampled upon by any means of fulfilling their lustful desires.

    This is why job was able to look at women without lusting after them. Remember God consider Job to be a just man, and he blessed him as such. Because job chose to look at women through the eyes of love instead.

    So in dealing with the essence of the problem which is lack of self control,
    this issue may have a better chance being both understood and brought under the subjection and authority of Jesus Christ.

  20. Wow. This is completely sexist and disgusting. I’ll wear what I want, thanks. I don’t need your approval. I don’t need your god’s approval. I dress for myself, not men. And sometimes I want to wear a low-cut shirt because I think it makes my tits look awesome.
    And quite frankly, it’s incredibly unsettling that you seem to think men cannot control themselves and placing the blame on the way women choose to dress. I’m 100% positive that all men have the capability to ignore their “lustful” urges.

    • Couldn’t have said it better.

    • Stephanie, thanks for your comment. I’m not suggesting men can’t control themselves, nor am I blaming men’s lust on women. Men need to take control of their thoughts and take responsibility for their own behavior.

      What I’m saying is that women who genuinely care about men can help men deal with this struggle by choosing to dress modestly instead of provocatively.

  21. This is terribly sexist and depiste the author’s attempts to hint at the issue being a two-way street the article and ensuing comments focus entirely on the woman’s duty to dress ‘modestly’ and to serve man.

    It’s unsettling and unfair for your argument to solely be that man cannot control their urges and women are tempting them by dressing in a way that attracts unholy attention.

    Men have brains. Men have morals. Men can make a decision on whether what they do is right or not, just as a woman can decide to wear what she likes.

  22. I agree with alex and stephanie. It’s a lot like blaming the shiny sports car you were staring at when you rear end the back of the car in front of you. That person has every right to own and publicly drive that nice car- it’s theirs and they’re proud. If you stomped over to them and tried to blame them for your accident they’d laugh you right off the street. Women dress for themselves. And many times for other women. Men, I’m sorry but it just isn’t about you.

  23. This argument hinges entirely on the exceptance that women
    a. Do not understand sexual desire or attraction.

    b. Are ignorant to how the way they dress affacts others(it shouldn’t affect them)

    c. Are at fault for all of men’s weaknesses.

    and finally,

    d. To the end women must serve men even in their dress so as not to cause him any distraction or temptation that as a man he is inherently and constanly going to feel.

    • Bryn, I don’t think that’s not accurate at all. I think most women understand sexual desire and are aware of how the way they dress affects others. Nor are women at fault for men’s weakness.

      This is about women who do understand sexual desire and don’t want women just to be thought of as sex objects. It’s about women who have the right to dress any way they want, choosing to tone it down because they care more about the men around them than about getting attention for themselves.

      If your best friend struggled with alcohol, would you drink in front of him? If your best friend was struggling with her weight would you come over to her house with a fresh baked batch of brownies? If your best friend was struggling with debt, would you invite her to go shopping at the mall with you? You have every “the right” to do so, but we often voluntarily give up our rights because we care about others and we’re sensitive to their struggles.

  24. A man lusting over a woman is not a two way street. Its a man’s fault if he can’t control his urges and desires. A man yelled “you have a nice ass” to a friend of mine while she was in sweats. Women are not pieces of meat to be lusted after and when men everywhere figure that out then there will be no lust issue. This totally feeds into rape culture and yes, I will condemn any man or woman who tries to blame somebody else for their thoughts.

  25. This is an awful article. Very narrow minded.
    Clearly a deep lack of understanding of both men and woman. No wonder we have such a strong rape culture in our society and why so many rapists are left to rape again and again. You help to fuel victim blaming, you are part of the problem.

    • Agreed. What I got from this was: a man’s life is a constant struggle and a woman should ease his burden of temptation by placing the onus on herself not to potentially turn any man on. Seriously…? Are men really not evolved enough to hold a conversation with a woman who shows some cleavage and remember it? “Modesty is a desire to serve others, particularly men…”

      Dear men,

      Sometimes I wear sweat pants when I go out, other times I wear tight jeans. Sometimes I wear dresses and yeah, sometimes they’re short and revealing. Sometimes I put a shirt on over my sports bra when I go for a run, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I wear clothes that show off my legs or my butt and other times I wear sports jerseys so big you can’t tell what I look like beneath them. Know why? Because I want to and because I like to. I don’t do it for you. I do it for me.

      Sometimes I even like it when you look at me. Imagine that. Can you touch? Not unless I say you can. Can you look? If you start panting or looking otherwise “tempted” or threatening, I will walk swiftly away from you, possibly to the police.

      But you know what, men? I’m not my clothes. Nor am I my breasts or my backside or my legs or my stomach. I’m a human, just like you. I can control myself in the presence of men. Yes, even men whom I find attractive. All I ask is that you do the same.

      And don’t tell me what to wear or how to behave. I do what I please because it pleases me.


      A Woman

  26. Oh look “I’m not responsible for my own actions” if you’re not responsible for your own actions you need to be institutionalized because you’re clearly incapable of functioning like an adult human being.

  27. It is not my responsibility as a woman to keep your male mind from lust. That’s your burden, and what I wear and do with my body is an expression of what I choose. Despite what you may think, women experience many lustful thoughts as well. I see men on the street that, despite my best efforts, I think about lustfully. However, I do not blame this on the clothes they wear, even if they are tight fitting and reveal the contours of their bodies or show their chest hair. It is their right to dress that way, and it is MY responsibility not to fall to temptation. If I should base my clothes decisions on a higher authority, it should be GOD’S, not because I’m worried that some man is going to fantasize about me later. I don’t have a social responsibility to keep him from doing whatever he’s going to do later in the privacy of his own home. That’s his struggle, NOT mine. If I choose to show my cleavage, that doesn’t make me a whore. This article is appallingly sexist, and if I have to go further in explaining why to you, then maybe you should reevaluate some of your views on women. A good place to start is by looking up the “Madonna/Whore” dichotomy, and go from there.

  28. Since we’re getting a surge of comments here saying the same thing, in an effort not to not repeat the same reply. Let me clarify some things again.

    I am NOT blaming women for men’s problems with lust. Men are responsible for their own thoughts and actions.

    What I’m saying is women, who have the right to dress any way they want, may want to tone it down because they care more about the men around them than about getting attention for themselves.

    If your best friend struggled with alcohol, would you drink in front of him? If your best friend was struggling with her weight would you come over to her house with a fresh baked batch of brownies? If your best friend was struggling with debt, would you invite her to go shopping at the mall with you?

    You have every “the right” to do so, but we often voluntarily give up our rights because we care about others and we’re sensitive to their struggles.

  29. WOW! I cannot believe you are suggesting that women are responsible for the thoughts or actions of me. Your sexism is disgusting. It is the 21st century and women have the right to dress in the way that they choose. If you cannot control your “pull towards visual stimulation” perhaps you have a problem. Men walk around shirtless all the time and no one is questioning a woman’s ability to control her desires. By the definition of modesty you provide: “Modesty is humility expressed in dress. It’s a desire to serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or provoking sensuality”, it is suggested that modesty is a way of serving men. Women are not in servitude to men, and men should have the ability to take women seriously as human beings regardless of how they are dressed. As a Christian woman I am thoroughly disappointed by this article.

  30. I’m pretty sure the worst part about your article is this definition:
    Modesty is humility expressed in dress. It’s a desire to serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or provoking sensuality.

    You want me to serve others, particularly men? If you really are a Christian than the only thing you should worry about women ‘serving’ is God.

    I’ve read you replies. And they only make you sound more narrow-minded (if that is even possible) “What I’m saying is women, who have the right to dress any way they want, may want to tone it down because they care more about the men around them than about getting attention for themselves.”

    I don’t put on clothes to get attention. I have rather large breasts, sometimes tops I think look pretty, happen to show them off. I don’t do this intentionally. God built me this way.

    You talk of ‘lust’ as if it a serious problem. But who does it hurt? Sex between two consenting adults is a crime? Perhaps you should worry about real problems in this world. Rape, Racism, Cancer,Poverty. Instead of worrying about ‘lust’. You also fail to grasp that women lust after people too. Women are taught to control it, by themselves with no help from men. Have you ever asked a man to only wear long sleeved shirts so that their biceps don’t show?

    I know you think you are helping people and I understand that. But you’re not.

    • Bridie, thanks for your comment. If you look around my blog, I do worry about other problems like rape, racism, cancer, poverty. In fact, I don’t just worry about these problems, I do things about them and encourage others to as well.

      As a Christian, I serve God by serving others – both men and women.

  31. Hi. Most of your article speaks to Modesty of the body, what about the rest of one’s life like, I.e. psychologically? There’s are phrases I hear often, “to whore oneself out” or “doing it like it’s porn”. They actually refer to ppl bragging and showing their achievements off, rather than physical clothing or lack of. Thoughts?

    • Hi B, interesting question, and one I hadn’t considered until now, but I suppose your right. If modesty is “humility expressed in dress” then modesty as it applies to all areas of life would be humility.

      Are we flaunting our achievements, our possessions, our connections etc to draw attention to ourselves or are we humbly giving thanks and praise to God for our blessings?

  32. Instead of fighting our wiring, why not just acknowledge that we’re feeling attracted, put it in perspective and move on. The sin is in acting on the urges or fanning them to obsession, not in having the urges. I think fighting the urges or trying to not to feel them is unproductive and unrealistic and is probably having the opposite reaction, keeping these men (and women) stuck. It’s good to be aware of how we’re being manipulated by the media, misguided women (and men) and that dressing to provoke is not really all that attractive, really. As for men, are they aware of how many women watch football to lust after the men in tight pants? What about Twilight? ’nuff said!

    • I would like to add that a better approach would be to appeal to the self-interest of people by encouraging them to see themselves as a human being who is far more than their physical attractiveness. Generally, singles are insecure about their ability to attract a mate and they are often unaware of how much more attractive it is to be intelligent, kind and individual than this pathetic demand for attention.

  33. I am a non-heterosexual man (actually I dont like labels), and I am inspired by your articles. I really like what I read so far in your blogs except this article. I am also against churches/religion in general (but not spirituality), but I think you generally have a good thing going. Keep it up.
    However, we are all learning, I am a firm believer that there are religious people who have firm convictions (not listening to others) about things…is what leads to devastating consequences. I’m absolutely with you 100% about facilitating.
    Our society/culture has a huge problem coping with lust, sex, and porn. Its sad, and I see it everywhere…gay people are certainly among the worst offenders.
    The messages being sent out by media have become epidemic. There is so much suffering and collateral damage, of all sexes and sexualities.
    First and foremost, we must remember that everyone has a soul. Their bodies are merely physical containers, we must never reduce people to objects, money, numbers, etc.
    Secondly, we must understand our reasons for sex. You were spot on when you said that people desire attention! Yes, its true, all humans (and mammals) have the desire to be important/special and part of something, and its what drives us. (I’ve worked with monkeys so I know its true in other mammals also).
    Thirdly, we must understand sexuality and how to channel it in a constructive way. Sex and sexuality is in essence a kind of bait, a bargaining chip. We all have it male or female, old, young. The thing that makes me laugh at porn, is that experienced porn stars would never do their acts without being paid or coerced into it. If they were simply hanging out with the same people casually, they wouldn’t bother! So really, its all an act, which is why they are called “actors”. Reality is never what “Hollywood” makes it to be, our fantasies are just that…fantasies.
    Our curiosity about “getting people” leads us to sexual urges. But people are not objects to be had. They are souls to be lifted, not objects to be possessed. Souls come and go as they please, we unconditionally love them anyway.

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