Modesty: A Man’s Perspective
I saw a girl at an anti-rape protest a few years back and she was wearing little else but duct tape, underwear and shoes. Painted on her were the words, “Still not asking for it.” And that, deep under the layers of our modesty and good intentions, is the reality. Not that she should wear anything or nothing, but that she should be able to wear whatever as a woman and that our boys and men within the walls and purview and community of the church would conduct themselves in a manner that does not categorize her actions and her clothing choices as something inherently sexual. What does it say of the Proverbs 31 woman when we let this type of thinking, letting only her clothing speak to her character? Not her actions and intellect, when clearly those are the strengths on display in the oracle from King Lemuel’s Mother. Further, when we say that a woman is able to be contextualized and understood by her clothing, her eyeliner, her lipstick, her way of walking, only what she is wearing… it is any wonder than men are then programmed to assume this also, creating deviations of the most horrible kind? When we go just a short distance down the opposite end of the modesty spectrum, women are suddenly changed into objects. Sexual gratification machines that have no value other than the exploitation of their parts.
Further, as we see Dove soap ads defending the beauty of the modern, average woman and her flawed and broken perception of her own self and beauty, we seek to throw another layer of shame and guilt on our daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends. Modesty as it’s been portrayed asks females to think of society and the “impositions that men face,” rather than make up in their own minds whom they choose to be and the image they choose to portray. How much guilt have we put on unsuspecting female teenagers, in the wild wash of hormones and growth spurts and looking more like a woman by the day, by telling them that their choice of attire might “cause her brothers in Christ to sin” We ask for so much work and thought from the women of our churches to be so very chaste, and it would seem that men, aren’t left with much responsibility to deal with. That’s wrong.
Guys, Men, and brothers, in both defense and offense: I’m reminded of a quote from Martin Luther that youth leader once told me when I was a struggling with attractions as a young man: “You may not be able to keep the birds out of your hair, but you can keep them from building nests.” This is the truth. Women aren’t “doing” anything to you. If you find yourself thinking of and liking someone, that’s called attraction. That’s sexual. That good. That’s ok. That’s, for lack of a better term because there are so many variables, normal. What you choose to do with those feelings, how you obsess or not, that’s is what is important. The real question, the responsibility, asks, can you take a step back and look at your attractions, or are they making “nests,” as the quote spoke to.