There’s this giant ball of fire floating in the sky, and it’s been heating things up! You know what that means… time to whip out that summer attire! Beach, anyone?
Fine. You caught me. I’m not writing about having fun in the sun. I’m writing about that loathsome topic: modesty. You know the drill, girls. Cover up. Hide your goods. Help a brother out. Don’t let him stumble.
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A lot of girls find the reminder annoying. Some see their brothers shirtlessly frolicking along the beach and instantly think double-standard! If girls gotta cover up, why don’t them guys? Certain individuals even disregard modesty on the idea that their brothers should just control their wandering minds.
Yeah, brothers should control themselves. I will be the first to say that. But war on lust has never been as hard as it is now.
You see, we live in a fifty shades of gray culture where sex is shoved into movies and our neighbors shout things like “free the nipple!” The internet is adulterated with porn stars who advocate open prostitution, because prostitution is basically what they do in front of a camera. The magazine rack at your local Target is stacked with photoshopped models who capitalize on the lusts of wild men.
Welcome to the sexual revolution. Society teaches us that women should be as sexy and stylish as they want only to chastise men for having inappropriate sexual fantasies when tempted by the women who decide that erotic is the way to go.
On several occasions, I’ve even had church girls tell me that they should have the freedom to dress however they want. If a guy has lustful thoughts, it’s his sin. His fault. Other girls get irritated when they hear modesty, modesty! while rarely hearing men talk about their own sexual purity.
Edit: Since some have voiced concerns, I believe it is worth clarifying that my references to lust refer to sins purely within the mind. When it comes to sexual harassment, I believe attire makes negligible, if any, difference. The scope of this article does not cover sexual assaults.
When It’s Just the Men
To all my beloved but frustrated sisters who aren’t aware, I think this is worth surfacing: sexual purity is a big topic in male circles.
Some men band into accountability groups just to fight lust. When youth groups separate boys and girls to talk about relevant topics, boys often tackle lust. I’ve discipled three pairs of guys, and I always bring up the topic of lust.
In a decent church, men will confront sexual purity more frequently than women will confront modesty. “Hey. I don’t want details or anything, but does the topic of sexual purity come up when you talk with other guys from church?” Ask that to a devout male leader in your church. Honestly, if he says no, you may want to consider switching churches. A healthy church deals with the congregation’s sin, and especially in this culture, lust is every man’s battle.
We don’t normally share about this stuff with our lady friends, and there’s a reason for that. Perhaps that’s why girls rarely hear about it, and maybe that’s why they feel that it’s unfair whenever they are confronted with modesty.
Fair enough. I get it. This is largely why I’m writing about this topic in the first place, to let my beloved sisters know that we aren’t trying to pin our sin on you. Our thought life is something we take seriously, to love God and to love you. In the end, we talk about modesty because we want you to help us love you. We certainly don’t do it to shame you.
Understanding the Girls
For much of my life, I didn’t understand why modesty was so hard for girls. It didn’t occur to me that girls got so much pressure from society to be beautiful and sexy. They’re taught that there’s no difference between dressing attractively and dressing to attract.
Brothers of mine have even been quick to judge girls by their attire. “Oh my goodness, she’s wearing yoga pants. Oh my goodness, she’s in a sports bra. What’s she trying to get?!”
I found it inappropriate for him to judge so quickly, because there was no way he would know why any girl chose a particular article of clothing. Perhaps she wore something for comfort or for practicality’s sake. Case in point:
My wardrobe was pretty much free t-shirts and basketball shorts – I didn’t exactly fit that demographic most modesty talks were geared toward … And so for years I skated through church life never bothering to think that modesty applied to me until one day, while I was out running, I suddenly realized that what I was wearing was… pretty immodest.
I wasn’t exactly thinking about modesty at the time either. I just happened to be paying attention to the cars that were driving past me along the road, when suddenly I realized that if anyone from church saw me at that moment I would probably feel really embarrassed. But why would I feel embarrassed? I wasn’t at church, and I wasn’t explicitly going out of my way to make someone stumble. I was just wearing what was comfortable for the activity that I was doing. Deciding then to take more back streets than not, I struggled with that thought for the rest of my run.
–Monica, Summer Means Everything is Modesty
Eventually, I also learned that many girls are confused about what passes as “modest.” Truth be told, it’s confusing for me too. Midriffs don’t generally cause temptation for me, but it might for a brother. Every guy is different. Should we suppose that girls can read our minds?
How to be Modest
In the end, all I can do is ask my sisters to use their best judgment. If you can stand in front of a mirror and affirm, before God, that your attire is pleasing to Him and mindful of your brothers, go ahead and wear it. Modesty, after all, is an issue of the heart.
For you girls who love us by considering our struggles, thank you. Thank you so, so much. It speaks volumes that you value our relationship with God more than your outfit. Sexual immorality is one of two explicit sins we are told to flee from in the entire Bible (1 Cor 6:18), and you are helping us do just that.
Since someone’s going to bring it up–yes, men can be immodest and girls can lust, too. They are undeniably important subtopics under the parent node of sexual purity, but as they do not contribute to purpose of this post, I have chosen not to cover those distinctions here.
Edit2: I found it appropriate to acknowledge that many monstrous men have made a call for “modesty” out of power, to the shame of others, in order to avoid responsibility for their sinful actions. This is absolutely inexcusable. However, we must not empower these culprits by allowing them to overshadow those who ask for a heart of modesty out of love.
So yeah. Have fun with your summer outfits. Don’t be legalistic about it. Just be loving. And thank God for giving us attractive people and romantic drives, because He ultimately designed it for His glory and for our enjoyment.