Too much skin, girl. Too much skin. A talk on modesty

As the weather becomes warmer, the clothes start coming off our bodies. While summer is appreciated and welcomed, especially in areas which has winter climates, it also brings real and difficult sexual temptation for many people.

I’ll not make a case here for porn. I’ve done this in other places. I’ll simply say porn is the number one behavioral counseling issue with men, regardless if they come to counseling admitting a porn problem.

Porn is the most lucrative and largest industry on the Internet and it is the most-oft-used marketing approach on television. Our culture, Christian and non-Christian alike, is head-over-heels in love with the human body.

Sex sells. To think otherwise is to be naive or duplicitous. Sex has gripped the hearts of our teens and has infected the minds of our husbands. There is not a week which goes by where I’m not dealing with a pornography issue with someone in my counseling.

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The Blame Game

As you read this article I appeal to you not to fall into the defensive trap of blaming the other gender for their weaknesses. Can we embrace Paul’s attitude of being the foremost sinner and choose not to throw rocks at the opposite sex (1 Timothy 1:15)?

Your humility will affect how you respond to this article. Maybe the words of Jesus would be helpful as we launch into this highly emotional subject of modesty. He taught us how to judge ourselves first.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:3-5 (ESV)

It is true how some men will lust at any female, at any time, just because she is breathing and walking upright. As some women have said, “I could put a burlap sack over my body and men would still lust after me.”

I do not disagree. You are correct. No doubt the problem is bigger and more layered than what you put on your body. But it is also about what you put on your body. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Can we agree it’s an inside (heart) and outside (behavioral) problem?

The issue is complicated and this article will not solve the complexities. My main appeal is for us to dialogue as Christian friends rather than gender competitors.

Our mutual fall

If a man chooses to lust after a woman, it’s his fault. In such cases he should pluck out his eyes and mortify his heart (Matthew 5:28-29). Every man has two functioning realities regarding the opposite sex, neither of which is an excuse for him to sin.

  1. God made him to be visually attracted to the opposite sex. This is a good thing. It helps him to find the love of his life so he can lead, honor, nourish, cherish, and serve her.
  2. Satan’s deception has turned man into a self-centered person. We men have a hostile adversary. It is lust. What God meant for good has turned on us and now we are tempted to twist love into self-serving purposes.

Every woman has her own set of problems too. When Satan slithered into the garden of Eden, in the form of a snake, he did not leave the woman unscathed. She also took the LORD’s kind gifts and turned them into her own version of perversion.

  1. God made her to be attractive. Her beauty draws the attention of a man so her desires to be loved and protected can come to fruition. She was not made to be disgusted with the man. She wants him to look at her. This is a kindness from the LORD.
  2. Satan’s deception made her just as selfish, trapped, and deceived. She can easily have ungodly cravings for the attention of a man. One of the ways she can do this is by presenting herself in such a way to capture his gaze.

The inherent weaknesses in men and women have tempted us to take God’s good gifts of beauty and sexual attraction and twist and bend them. We do this until His gifts are turned back on to ourselves in order to feed our self-centered cravings.

As you have probably surmised, this article on modesty is not about who has the most guilt. To go there is to miss the point entirely. That would be a myopic understanding of the real issue.

This article is an appeal for all of us to consider how we can most effectively model the Gospel (caring for others) by our appearance while motivating each other toward practical holiness.

Where does your gaze go?

A few years ago we were in a context where a woman who was a wife and a mother was wearing mini-shorts with an all caps word written across her rear end. Besides her shorts being provocatively short, she had a sign on her bottom which essentially said, “Please look at my rear end.”

Unfortunately, no one in the situation had a relationship with her. It was awkward to say the least. This lady was unwittingly capturing the gaze of all the men and the women in the room.

She was foolish in her dress. She was dressing in an anti-Gospel way. The Gospel is about serving others (Mark 10:45). It is about helping others to grow deeper in their relationship with the Savior.

What she was doing, was capturing the gaze of the men in the room, by drawing their attention to her bottom. Sadly, she is not an anomaly in today’s culture.

She is one of a zillion examples of women who dress in such a way to not only devalue themselves, but take away from the imperishable beauty which the apostle Peter extolled.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—

but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. – 1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV)

You’re a sign post

He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30 (ESV)

John considered himself to be a signpost. He had one mission in life: to point others to the Savior. He was like a sign standing on the side of the road. You see the sign, process what it is telling you to do, and continue to your destination.

Nobody gives the sign post a second thought. It is forgotten after it is passed. The sign post knows its job. Unfortunately, this lady was also a sign post. However, she redirected the minds of men from staying pure to focusing on her bottom.

If a woman dresses in such a way to draw attention to herself, then she is tempting those around her to sin. If the man does sin, it is his fault. This does not mean the woman bears no culpability. She needs to know how she is being a temptress–assuming she does not know.

We must not say this is just one gender’s problem. We all must be talking about this issue, while humbly dialoguing toward God-centered solutions. It is not Christlike for a man to place all the blame on a woman.

It is just as wrong for a woman to call this a man’s problem. Covenant Eyes released these sobering statistics about the pandemic problem of lust:

Fifty percent of all Christian men and twenty percent of all Christian women say they are addicted to pornography.

The objectification of Danica Patrick

One of the things which is so mystifying about Danica Patrick, the female NASCAR driver, is her desire to be treated with respect in a man’s sport, while provocatively devaluing herself in her GoDaddy advertisements.

I’m glad she is breaking into NASCAR. I think it’s great for the sport. I hope she does well. She appears to be a special talent. Her being in NASCAR is not my frustration point with her.

It’s some of her GoDaddy advertisements where she is ripping off part of her clothing which makes no sense to me. Of all the people in the world who could do a GoDaddy ad, it had to be her–someone who wants to be respected for her athletic ability.

It’s a contradiction in purpose. Women rightfully bemoan how they don’t want to be objectified, but would like to be respected for their abilities. Danica presents the perfect you can’t have it both ways dilemma.

I don’t want to objectify a woman and I would appreciate it if the women in our culture would help to further this cause. What Danica is doing is the equivalent of teaching a weight loss class at McDonald’s or drinking a diet Pepsi–it’s a contradiction.

Dear Danica, I hope you can break into a man’s sport. I hope you run those boys ragged as you all race around the track. My appeal is for you to keep your clothes on while you’re fighting for equality and athletic supremacy?

An all-access pass

While women can be provocative in their clothing choices, men can be calculatingly secretive about their temptations. Most men stuck in porn do not give their wives or their friends full access into their world.

Wife, if your husband has nothing to hide, then there is no reason for you not to have complete and full access to all his devices. Only a man who is hiding something will not allow you to do this.

He will also be willing to talk to you about his struggles with lust. I’m not saying he is hooked on porn. He may not be tempted or addicted to pornography. I am saying he has been affected by sin and does struggle with a proper view and practice of sex.

  1. He has been affected by the fall and that means his understanding and practice of sexuality is not completely pure.
  2. He does struggle to some degree. None of us have pure motives regarding sex and sexuality.

He should be more than willing to talk to you about his temptations. If you are not allowed access to his mind and his devices, then there is reason to be concerned.

I am my brother’s keeper

Discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you. – Proverbs 2:11 (ESV)

Dear Christian friends–ladies and gentlemen, I exhort you to dress in such a way which does not capture the gaze of any person. It matters not if you’re male or female. Our Christian duty is to point people to Christ.

Let’s give others something else to think about rather than our physiques or our clothes. May our desire be to lead others to Christ with all that God has given to us to present His message.

Sometimes it is better to exercise self-control, by setting aside personal preferences for the glory of God. Discretion is a godly trait which will watch over you, while protecting you from evil.

May our godly words and godly behavior be unimpeded by the things we wear as we seek to assist others to see Christ in us.

Application Questions

  1. Though you may not be interested in capturing the gaze of a man, do you understand how your beauty can be a snare to men?
  2. Are you willing to give this some thought and even make some changes in order to serve the men in your sphere of influence?
  3. Does your wife have full access to all your devices? If not, why not?
  4. Does your wife have full access to your thoughts about your battles with lust? If not, why not?

In this series

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About Rick Thomas

Rick is an author, speaker, consultant, and podcaster. He has been training in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1997. After several years as a counselor and pastor he founded and launched his own training organization in order to encourage and equip people for more effective living. In the early ’90’s he earned a BA in Theology. He then earned a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry and in 2000 he graduated with a MA in Counseling. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow with ACBC. Today his organization reaches people around the world through consulting, training, writing, and speaking.
  • Adam

    Would you say it is a sin for a girl to wear a bikini at the pool or the beach? I know woman will not equate a bikini with panties and a bra but, it seems women have some sort of shame of not being infront of the opposite sex in their underwear. So, if they feel shame being in panties and a bra (with other men around) how can they not feel shame in a bikini? Is shame the same thing as sin? It is almost as if when water is involved, a girls morals go straight down hill.

  • http://www.RickThomas.Net/ Rick Thomas

    That’s a touchy subject. ;-) The logic makes sense to me.

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