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The Respect Dare, Day 30 – Modesty and Respect

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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.  Honestly, I didn’t “get” that until a few years ago when I began to study how men think.  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.  That breaks my heart!

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.  Or, we are just buying what is in the stores – and most of the clothing in the mall is just not very modest.  Especially for younger women in the teen sizes.  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. (You may want to check out The Modesty Survey results by Rebelution and read some of the guys’ comments when you have time.)

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 would appreciate 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.”

RESPECT DARE 30:

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?

Let’s be willing to ask

  • WHY do I want to wear this outfit?  What are my motives?

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 can a pain to find modest clothing today.  But it is not impossible.   There are beautiful, feminine modest choices out there if you are willing to look.  Modesty does not have to be frumpy.  I believe our brothers in Christ are worth the trouble.  I also believe that Jesus is infinitely worthy of our obedience to Him in every way.

OTHER RESOURCES

What Christian Men Think about Modesty

Men, Testosterone and Temptation, Part 1

Men, Testosterone and Temptation, Part 2

My Youtube video about Modesty (15 minutes)

Do Men Really Objectify Scantily Clad Women?

A Wife Sees Some of Her Idols – People Pleasing and Beauty

Why I Wear Skirts Every Day Part 1 (my personal convictions)

Why I Wear Skirts Daily – Part 2 (resources to find modest clothing)

Avoiding Legalism

 

43 thoughts on “The Respect Dare, Day 30 – Modesty and Respect

  1. “ – just like some women struggle more with having a chocolate cake on the counter in the kitchen more than others do”

    The book, Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst also made an interesting connection between the natural wiring of men’s visual wiring to that of women with food. The first temptation for women was FOOD. In Gen 3:6, there were actually three temptations for Eve: good for food, delightful to look at, and desired to make you wise.

    The “food/eating” was the FIRST one! Wisdom was actually the LAST reason. I believe that women have the equal struggle with food that men have with eyes. I wonder if the ratio would be relatively equal if you charted women’s obesity rates to that of men and the rise in porn addiction? (just curious)

  2. The porn industry knows what it’s doing. First, it grabs men’s eyes. Then, it grabs their hearts. Then, it teaches men what they are “supposed” to expect from women and from sex. Then, the men take these false assumptions with them into the world, their marriages and their families. Then, the boys watch the men, and the cycle repeats itself. The porn industry gets rich and the devil laughs.

    The immodesty of women pours gasoline on this fire that is already burning. Many women have accepted the lie that they are supposed to act like and look like porn stars for their men. And, of course, contraception and abortion have provided them the “freedom” to do so without the “fear” of creating new life.

    Here again, the devil takes the most beautiful aspect of God’s creation (our ability to share in His creative power) and distorts it for us. The devil is “God’s ape.” He takes something beautiful from God and mimicks it. He distorts it, rewraps it in an attractive package and sells it as something different than what God intended. Our sexuality is a prime target of Satan because it is designed to create new souls, new families for God. (“Be fruitful and multiply”)

    God is all about love and new life. When something is sexual but not loving, or when something is focused on snuffing out or preventing new life (physical or spiritual), you can pretty much bet that the “Ape of God” has his hand in it somewhere.

    The immodesty of women is merely one strand in a cleverly crafted, evil web of sexual lies.

    “Our adversary, the devil roams about like a lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

  3. We are having a discussion on the PW FB page today about what a wife can do if her husband wants her to show cleavage and wear short shorts in public, but the wife wants to dress modestly. You are welcome to join in!

  4. In reading this, I’m curious: Does The Respect Dare or any other material you are drawing from (or you) address the issue of female-oriented pornography? Basically put, I’m talking about material (written but sometimes visual) that has the same net effect on women as the visually-oriented stuff does to men? Basically to pander to their emotions and color their conceptions as to what relationships should be? To paraphrase Thomas: “Something that teaches women what they are “supposed” to expect from men and relationships and grabs their hearts and takes false assumptions into their marriages and families.” In other words, create a fantasy that will hook women in and have them lusting after something that’s unrealistic. A good part of it is mostly written, but there are movies too. Usually labeled “romance novels” or “romantic comedies”.

    Unfortunately, it’s so mainstream and accepted by everyone, even Christians, that It’s taken extreme stuff such as Magic Mike and Fifty Shades of Grey for anyone to even notice that there’s such a thing, and even after that, there are those that deny it or believe that women are somehow more able to rationally handle porn in a holy manner than men (the whole feminist women are holy, men are disgusting cretins meme). It’s such an ill-recognized thing that it’s rare to find anyone directly address the topic in a reasonably equivalent way as the male-oriented porn is. In fact, this is the only article I’ve found that’s a female-equivalent to what you are writing here (i.e. don’t be a stumbling block to women in the way female-oriented porn acts on women). It really says something that women are generally not recognized to lust after men.

    People can find out the rest of my observations and opinions of this topic on my blog, but the main question is whether this issue has been addressed in this sphere at all.

    1. I have posts about romantic movies, novels and music that teaches a distorted and unrealistic view of emotionally connecting with men that causes very unrealistic expectations of men in real life. I will try to get the link.

      Thanks!

      1. Ballista,

        I’m so sad! I guess the biggest discussion I had about it must have been on PW FB a few months ago. Not sure if I can pull that up or not. I’ll check PSG, too.

    2. I think this is a far bigger problem than is acknowledged. It is extremely important for women to guard their ability to be satisfied, to be pleased with what they have. Romance novels feed desires that have no outlet in real life. I avoid them for this reason. In marriage, a wife must learn to feed her gratitude, not her lust. All romance should be owned by her husband, no matter how romantic he may or may not be. Otherwise you are cultivating a taste for other men (real or imagined).

    3. Women complain all of the time about the way porn creates expectations for women that are unreasonable.

      Romance novels and movies train a woman’s mind to want a dominant man who can magically guess what will please her and lead her to it before she has to say anything- and he is a top man, wealthy, handsome and he chose her! This is not the way it works in a Christian marriage. This is not the way it works in real life. This does not help Christian women properly value their husbands and the sacrifice and love that they show their wives and families.

      Marriage is great at putting things in their proper place. A man gets sex from his one source, not from a constant flow of variety. Women get romance and leadership from one man, but it may not be exactly the way she wants it all of the time. She may actually just get the bare minimum in terms of dominance and romance and that is actually okay- if she can learn to be happy with that.

      Romance novels are a way that a woman can be manipulated into feeling her leadership is necessary because if her husband was good at it, like the men in books are, he would be making her feel the way that the men in the books do. Of course this mainly operates at a subconscious level… but when you have weaned yourself from any artificial source of romance, it becomes clearer to you how it massively manipulates your romantic desires.

      Supersizing of desire is a real problem.

      1. Renata,
        SO SO SO SO SO true! AMEN!!!!! I talked about this on FB one time a few months ago. But I really need to write a post about this issue. It is very freeing to stop watching romantic movies and reading even Christian romance novels – for me – that way I stopped building up unrealistic expectations of emotional connection. It helps me to appreciate what I have.

        I have a post about “Things That Create a Spirit of Discontent in Me” and That was one of the things on the list!

        YOu can search that title on my home page to pull up the post if you are interested. 🙂

      2. April,

        I’m not going to lie to you, it was really difficult to let go of my ideas of romance. I wanted very deeply to get love letters, flowers, dates, etc from my husband that I understood I would get if he “really” loved me. He thinks those things are blandly vapid and somewhat emasculating. This was a point of contention in my marriage… I realized that romance was so commercially dictated today that I was unable to even see my husband’s home-grown version. You know- the “bring the trash can back from the curb in the pouring rain so I wouldn’t get wet”, the “stop to pick up milk for the children”, the “get up and go to work without complaint (even though if he were single he probably would choose a much less stressful job)”. I couldn’t see these things because to me they were “expected” and thus “not romantic”.

        I had to train my brain- still do, in fact. Every time I see him doing something thoughtful or something I don’t think he would do at all if single (and I look hard for it), I say to myself “how romantic”. And, although I like a good sappy book or movie, I can’t consume them anymore because I know they mess with my thankfulness. Nice side effect is that my husband can’t stand chick flicks and is now happier on movie nights… 🙂

        I work at a library and am amazed at how many women haul out bags filled with “honor books” that are basically female porn. They are 100% pushing discontent for women. I feel for them because I know they feel trapped- they only feel the rush of lust when reading romance novels. Life seems bland by comparison. But like how you cannot see for a time after being blinded by a bright light, your ability to feel the romance of your husband can be restored by strict purity and thankful thoughts. Don’t be surprised though if what you end up seeing is not the slightest bit conventionally romantic. Wean yourself from those desires– they are a slavery. There is a vivid life of freedom beyond it.

      1. I have read your site from top to bottom and have greatly profited from it in my marriage, April — thank you!

  5. What if you have trouble deciding what is modest and what is not? For example, is a pencil skirt to the knee modest? Or a dress that is to the calf in length but figure-hugging in form? Do you think it a good idea to defer to my husband’s judgement in this?

    I agree this is an important issue and thank you for this post. Actually for all of your posts. They are precious gifts.

    1. Maria,

      In general, the more skin that is showing and the more body-hugging a piece of clothing is, the more easily a woman becomes a visual temptation to men.

      However, the are many definitions of modesty. And the real issue is – what causes the men you see to stumble. There is no way to completely prevent all men from lusting. If they really want to, they can choose to lust even if you are trying to be modest. So, this will be a matter of your own convictions with God. And your husband would probably be an excellent resource to ask.

      That is what I did when I started wanting to dress modestly, ask Greg, “Is this piece of clothing going to be an issue for men, do you think? I don’t want to cause my brothers to stumble.”

      1. Thank you for the reply April. I understand the basic principles, it’s applying them to a piece of clothing that’s the harder part. As I’ve always thought of myself as dressing modest anyway. But I’ll ask my for my husband’s help in this.

    2. You can check out The Modesty Survey by Rebelution. It is a large survey of Christian men and they talk about what articles of clothing are issues for various men – you can see the survey results and even read comments individual guys make about different topics and types of clothing. 🙂

  6. My husband is one of those men that struggles with keeping his thoughts pure, and often cannot look at women who are dressed immodestly and has to turn his head to avoid even seeing them (which is extremely tiring). So since we’ve been open about the modesty issue, I’ll put something on (especially if it’s new) and he’ll let me know if it’s good or not. He can look and say “Yes that looks great!” or he can say “No I wouldn’t recommend that. The problem is…” and be totally honest about what he would be thinking if someone walked in wearing that. It is so freeing knowing how men who struggle with this think, and that I am not going to be a stumbling block for those men! God has been so good to reveal this issue to us, and it has made our marriage immeasurably better!

    1. Valerie,
      I am really glad you shared! What a blessing to get to talk with him about these things and understand his world and perspective better – not to mention, having his “insider” advice on how to dress in a way that won’t tempt other men….

      Hmmmm… I wonder if he would want to write a post for me?

  7. Thank you so much for this amazing blog!! The issue of modesty is really important so I wanted to share my ideas with you. Your sentence ‘modesty is humility in clothing’ is so true, it says everything. What is amazing also, is that wearing modest clothing helps us to be more humble, it really goes both ways. So looking at it from this side, I think modest clothing should not only respect God, our husband and our body, but it should also be a constant reminder of our status as humble, obedient and trustworthy wives. So, for example, wearing an old jeans skirt and an old t-shirt may cover our body, but does it give the impression that we are able to keep a home tidy, and follow our husband’s instructions precisely and diligently? And does it inspire us to act as such? I would say no, although some may disagree.

    I thought about this a lot after making my formal apology to my husband for being disrespectful. How can I be distinctively modest, change my attitude, and be reminded to do so throughout the day with adequate clothing? So here is what I ended up doing: I asked my husband whether he would agree if everyday, regardless of the weather, cold or hot, and until I truly become a modest wife, I would wear a white shirt buttoned to the very top with long sleeves, and a long dark skirt. Once I feel that I have become a better wife, I would ask him how he feels about my performance, and if I improved enough to loosen the clothing restrictions. He found that it was an interesting idea, and this has been going on for four months. I am learning every day, and I try to become a better wife every day, but I won’t change anything about clothing for the next 2-3 months or so.

    Well thank you for reading, and I would enjoy reading your opinion on this. This is clearly not for everybody, but it works with me.

    1. Ann Mary,
      It is great to hear from you!

      I like the idea that modest clothing helps inspire true humility. That is certainly very possible when our motives are right.

      I did something similar – although not quite as rigid. As I learned about godly femininity and modesty, I began to wear long skirts every day. I did it to increase the femininity of my appearance, to feel more feminine, to be modest AND to remind myself that “I don’t wear the pants in the family.” It was a tangible reminder to me that I am not the leader. That was helpful to me because I had taken charge of the marriage for our first 14+ years.

      For the first time in my life, I began to understand godly femininity and began to truly feel womanly in a powerful, godly way.

      Deciding what we wear and why is certainly something that each wife and her husband would want to consider themselves and arrive at their own convictions themselves. The key is the motivation of the heart – are we seeking to honor God, to honor our body, to honor our husbands, to honor other men and others in public – and are we seeking true humility.

      Thank you for sharing! I am so excited about what God is doing in your life!

  8. I cannot locate the recent 30 day challenge, so am not sure of the correct dates for it. But I am still and more than ever learning from it.
    I was not concerned about wearing revealing clothes. It has come to me to be more respectful and way less frumpy.Hanging around in sweats and a thrown together ponytail is another kind of immodesty. I was not presentable..so would not be attractive to my husband.
    I bought a few new clothes, dug out the nail polish, jewelry box and makeup bag. And transformed into “ladylike”
    I no longer feel unsightly. (overweight)
    I concluded that there were 2 kinds of under-dressed and being slobby did not represent Christ or respect my husband.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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