Now that I have read and understand a lot more about how men think and how their minds and eyes work- I have a whole new understanding of the blessing of modesty both for the women who embrace the concept and for the men who benefit from women who choose to dress modestly.
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. I Timothy 2:9-10
MEN ARE MORE “VISUAL”
What this means for many men, in real life, is that seeing provocatively dressed women can create huge temptation for them – this is quite a problem in our sex-saturated culture today. Temptations bombard our men from every angle. Some men struggle more with this than others – just like some women struggle more with having a chocolate cake on the counter in the kitchen more than others do (great illustration by Shaunti Feldhahn in “For Women Only.”) But – from my understanding – it is practically a universal struggle among men to keep their thoughts pure when seeing beautiful women who are immodestly dressed whether in real life, in a magazine or on a screen.
One young Christian single man commented that the visual temptation he experiences is more like having a chocolate cake on every flat surface in the house – meaning, everywhere he looks, there is visual temptation to lust because many women are dressed provocatively, even in the church.
As women, we are mostly not wired to be visual the way they are, we are more about words and romance (so we are much more tempted by romantic novels, chick flicks and love songs, although an increasing number of women are struggling with porn addiction, too).
WHAT? ME? IMMODEST?
A lot of us think we are just being fashionable with our clothing and don’t have any idea of the impact our clothes have on the men around us. Many of us have never studied the subject of modesty – and it can be quite a surprise that visual temptations are such a huge issue for many men. Let me clarify – there seems to be a continuum of level of temptation. Teenage boys and men in their 20s may have a much greater struggle with visual temptation than men in their 60s and 70s. Testosterone levels can play a role here, too. Your husband may not struggle much visually. But there may be other men around you at work, in the store and at church who do struggle and battle all day every day and who long for a reprieve from being constantly bombarded visually from every angle.
It is not that men are “cads” because they are visual – or that they are “worse sinners” than women. We have our own temptations and sinful tendencies that are just as offensive to God – our difficulty with forgiveness many times, our tendency to want to control our men or God, our own idols (things we put above Christ in our hearts), gossip, self-righteousness, contentiousness or clinging to bitterness (these are the kinds of sins I struggle with, at least!). All men and women are sinful – no one is good but God alone (according to Jesus). We have no room to look down on our husbands or brothers in Christ if we are not affected by visual temptation – we each have plenty of sin in our own lives to deal with.
I would like us as wives to be a place of safety and a haven where our husbands can share their struggles and temptations and where we can support them in prayer – just like we want them to support and pray for us in our struggles and temptations.
OUR GIFT TO OUR CHRISTIAN BROTHERS
I want to see God’s women do something about the visual temptations that are impacting our men! They need our help. We are in a powerful position to either cause them to drown deeper in this snare or to give them the gift of our own modesty and our daughters’ modesty to give them some respite from this constant temptation and assault on their eyes. They need our prayers first, our compassion and mercy, our understanding, and our obedience to God’s commands for us as women.
We are not responsible for other people’s sin – but we are responsible for not purposely presenting a stumbling block to others. It is possible that some men could still lust after me even if I dress modestly – I am not responsible for that. But I am responsible to God for respecting Him with my attitudes, actions, words and clothing. I seek to show that I respect God, myself, my own sexuality, my husband and other men by the way I dress in public.
When the Bible talks about women dressing modestly- there are no specific “rules” given about what can and can’t be worn. (We are not to dress like prostitutes or have lavish hairstyles or expensive clothing.) This is something that each woman must pray about and decide about between herself, her husband and God.
Modesty is an attitude of the heart that a woman wants her clothing to point to God and glorify Him instead of drawing the attention of men to her body. Modesty is “humility in clothing.”
I would like to encourage you to go through your own closet and also your daughters’ closets and prayerfully consider each article of clothing.
- Does it glorify and honor God?
- Does it glorify my body or my daughter’s body?
- Is this something to only wear for my husband?
- Am I (or is my daughter) going to cause a brother to stumble if I (she) wear (s) this outfit?
Some of the Christian college guys in Shaunti Feldhahn’s book, For Women Only, were so thankful when the girls around them would take the time and effort and care to dress modestly. They described how a woman’s covering of her body made her more beautiful to them and also made it possible for the guys to focus on her face and her heart instead of focusing on her body and curves.
Yes – it is a pain to find modest clothing today. But it is not impossible. I believe our brothers in Christ are worth the trouble.
My Youtube video about Modesty (15 minutes)