Thursday, May 30, 2013

a response to 'the flip side of modesty culture'

Earlier today, I read this blog about the modesty culture and how Christian women can wear whatever they desire so long as they "own it." What I found was frustrating and discouraging.

Now, let me be clear: I don't believe there is a single thing a person can do that warrants for him or her to be sexually assaulted. Dressing immodestly doesn't mean a woman who was raped "asked for it." That's ridiculous and disgusting and couldn't be further from the truth.

I am a woman. I am also a Christian. I am more feminist than not. BUT. I believe it is my responsibility as a sister in Christ to do everything [reasonable] in my power to build up my brothers in Christ who may struggle with lustful thoughts. A simple way I can do that is to be conscious of what I put on in the morning. For example, this morning as I headed out with a new-to-me scoop necked shirt, I looked down and realized I had a lot on display. I pulled my car out of the garage, parked it, and ran in to throw a tank top on underneath my shirt.

The truth is, I liked the way the shirt fit me. It had a belt that hit my waist at the right spot to hide my post-baby belly flab. I felt confident in how I appeared. Not to mention I'm breastfeeding, so I'm sure my boobs would meet the standard of the average guy if on display. However, it is not my desire to gather that kind of attention from guys. They don't need to see my breasts, and honestly, I'm sure there are plenty out there who don't want to (it's temptation and they want to avoid it). So when I left a comment on the blog respectfully mentioning that I disagreed with the whole "women should wear whatever they want as long as they own it" notion, I was somewhat surprised by the reprimand I received from other Christians. Comments about how lust is a heart issue and not a sight issue and we are not responsible if those around us choose to sin by entertaining lustful thoughts.

"But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."-Matthew 5:28-29.
"I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others."-1 Corinthians 10:23-24.
"Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God."-1 Corinthians 10:32.

Dressing modestly will not magically fix lust issues within the church. But if it can help just one of my brothers in Christ to not give into temptation to think lustful things about my breasts, why wouldn't I want to do it? Why do other Christians take such issue with the fact that I believe dressing at least somewhat modestly glorifies God? Both lust and modesty are issues that involve the heart. As Christians, where do we put our value? Is it in our bodies? Or is it in the spirit that dwells within us? The average person can appreciate someone's physical beauty with a glance and leave it at that. Truly, the human body is a beautiful work of art created by a Master. But does that give us a right to dress in ways that we know will elicit attention--often the kind of attention that we know will result in us being sexualized? I'm not dictating a specific style of dress, nor am I denouncing specific items of clothing. However, as Christians, we're called to be set apart in this world (1 Peter 2:12), so let us then be more preoccupied with being clothed by the Spirit than how much skin we can get away with showing under the pretense of 'owning it.'


  1. Thanks for these thoughts, and for the way you glorify God by trying to be modest. I'm so tired of the current rantings against modesty.

    1. Thank you for the sweet words. I was feeling rather defeated after reading that blog and working through the comments with her other readers, so it's nice to hear I'm not totally whack. Yes, I said 'whack.'