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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