Though it would be simpler to place the lust problem in the lap of one gender, it would bring harm to God’s Word because lust is every person’s temptation.
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I have gone through the trauma of discovering that my husband was viewing pornography. I thought it was a problem that only involved explicit material. I never knew or even thought that any unproperly dressed woman was tempting him to sin.
Then he began confessing to me that he was lusting after any woman on the street, our church, and even our family magazines–those who exposed themselves with inappropriate clothing. I was shocked and horrified.
The pain and suffering we went through were the worst things that ever happened in my life. BTW, God healed me of cancer. The saddest thing of all was that I never knew how men looked at women or what they thought when they looked.
Knowing this broke my heart. I never knew how the clothing of a woman affected the men around me. My husband never told me how it affected him.
I followed the secular way of clothing myself without realizing how I was contributing to the problem. Bikinis, shorts, cleavage, tight-fitting jeans that accentuate lower body parts, all were some of the things that tempt men to lust and sometimes to yield to that temptation.
Can you see how deceived I was? Worst of all I thought I never looked like them–those who unashamedly trafficked in porn. I was under the impression that my clothing was tasteful and sophisticated. I was completely oblivious to what effect I had on the men and women around me.
Call me naive, but I never knew that our fathers, husbands, brothers, and pastors lusted after women. I thought it was only the unsaved and perverted people who “really” needed Jesus. But it was in my church, my home, and my marriage.
My appeal is to our leaders, husbands, and fathers to help us, protect us, lead us:
- Tell us what it is about our clothing that is unacceptable.
- Tell us why it is unacceptable.
- Tell us what it is all about.
- Tell us how we can cause men to stumble.
- Tell us what is happening in the minds of the men around us.
If you will speak honestly to us and love us enough to tell us the truth about porn, many wives and daughters will be grateful and willing to humble themselves into more God-centered ways of thinking and dressing.
Many husbands are not leading their wives this way. Many mothers are not modeling modesty to their daughters. I fear for the next generation of wives, mothers, and daughters who will be even more naked than they are now.
The enemy deceives us into thinking that pornography in the media is the problem. We women, mostly through our ignorance, have become part of the problem and nobody seems to be willing or prepared to speak openly about it.
I thank God Almighty for the power of the blood of Jesus that took my husband out of bondage and restored our marriage. Now I dress very attractively for my husband in private. The moment we leave our home, I change into a modern, trendy lady, but not a sexy one. This process works very well for us.
When you dress “sexy” in public, you will be dressing sexy for the public. What this means is that you will be an object of lust. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:7-8
Reader Warning: If you interpret this chapter as an attempt to blame a man’s lust problems on women everywhere, you’ve misinterpreted the purpose of the chapter. Each person is entirely responsible for the sin he/she commits. Nobody is allowed to blame their sin on others, on circumstances, or as a by-project of living in a fallen world.
Porn is a two-way street. It takes two people to engage in porn. The guy who is seeking a sexual object to satisfy his lusts and a woman who wants to be the object of his lusts. Remove either participant, and porn would struggle to survive.
Typically when people think about porn, they quickly jump to the perverted guy problem, which is only half of the equation, which is why the wife of a porn addict wrote to me. She made a vigorous and compelling appeal for me to talk about the other side of the porn problem–the gaze capturers.
Before I proceed, may I ask you a question: When I say “porn” or “pornography” what comes to your mind? I asked my wife this question, and she said, “naked women.”
She did not jump to the perverted guy problem but talked about women with no clothes on. What she conveyed is the other misunderstanding about the porn problem: that it’s only about the naked porn women found on the Internet, adult movies, and porn magazines.
Thinking that porn is only (1) a perverted guy problem or (2) a ladies of porn problem not only narrows the interpretation of porn to something that misses a vital detail, but it reduces the Bible’s impact on the real issue.
To understand the real problem, you have to go deeper than the outward manifestation of the problem. Looking below the surface is how we address all our problems; we begin in the heart before we address the behavior, which is why the Bible starts at the root of porn rather than the fruit.
I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28
You cannot get into porn without first lusting. Porn participation is the overflow of lust-filled hearts. Understanding the underlying heart issue not only broadens the pandemic scope of porn, but it’s an alarming warning to women everywhere: millions of husbands, fathers, brothers, and leaders are tempted to lust though they may never look at porn.
Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (lust). Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin (porn), and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (relational dysfunction). – James 1:14-15
A lady in a church building on Sunday morning is better than her being on the set of an X-rated production, but her church building is not impervious to the encroachments of lust. And her role in our ubiquitous battle against the encroachments of lust is just as essential in the sanctuary as it is at her swimming pool.
Any woman is a potential lust magnet that can attract a guy because this kind of temptation does not isolate itself on the Internet. And unlike the alcoholic who can take another route to work rather than driving by the liquor store each morning, lust is harder to escape.
After you re-frame the conversation from the behavioral problem that it is, you will be able to perceive how much bigger it is, while being able to fortify yourself in the fight.
Are You a Gaze Capturer?
Without dismissing the man’s temptation to lust or removing all the responsibility he deserves when he acts out on that temptation, it is just as important to give adequate time to the other side of this problem: women enjoy being observed and they hope someone will find them attractive.
God put an attraction gene in both the male and female. In Genesis 1 and 2, the concept of looking at a girl and being liked by a guy was God’s design. Adam was the pursuer and Eve was what he wanted. And it was good.
Then the man and the woman fell in the garden.
Sin opened Adam’s eyes in ways he could never have imagined before. And Eve walked in her kind of darkness. They both enjoyed their unique versions of lust.
- Adam wanted Eve for self-serving purposes.
- Eve wanted Adam to pursue her for self-serving purposes.
Eve’s sin is why women are easily tempted to seduce or manipulate a man. For some women, it is because they enjoy the tantalizing power they can exert over a guy. I’m sure this is not an odd thought to you, especially if you contextualize that desire within the feminist’s movement.
Feminists like Eve hate the role of submission, which is why they rebelled like their predecessor. Do you believe this temptation to manipulate or gain power is exclusive to the feminist’s lobby?
There are millions of women who love God, but sin tempts them to manipulate the opinions of others by how they present themselves to others. These women are gaze capturers.
- Are you a gaze capturer?
- Do you secretly enjoy the power (perverse security) you feel when people notice you?
- Do you secretly enjoy the ability to control (perverse security) others by your beauty?
Providing a Conduit to Porn
Just as darkness filled Eve’s godly desire to be pursued and enjoyed by Adam at the dawn of sin, a post-modern godly woman can also be tempted by the pleasure that lust offers and the power it promises.
More than likely you have not posed in a pornographic magazine or starred in a pornographic movie. However, do you believe you are less guilty than the woman who does if you dress in a way that tempts a man to sin?
Consequentially, you may be less guilty, but if you dress in a way that tempts a man to lust, you are minimally acting as a conduit that feeds his lust until he can find more explicit satisfaction somewhere else.
Like the wife who wrote me, you can unwittingly cooperate with the porn star by the way you dress. My appeal would be for you to guard your heart against thinking the porn queen is the only problem in the battle against lust. It is possible for a church going, God-loving woman to play a role in lust’s victories.
While I’m not your judge, I would appeal to you to talk to your husband, your father, your pastor’s wife, small group leader’s wife, or some other godly person who is willing to speak into your life lovingly.
If you are not dressing in a way that is alluring, tempting, manipulating, seducing, or gaze capturing, you have nothing to worry about and nothing to change. However, if you are, wouldn’t it be great to know now? Wouldn’t humility motivate a Christ-centered response from you?
I realize this brings up a whole other set of problems in the Christian community, but let me ask,
Who is Your Faithful Friend?
One of the sadder observations I have seen in the Christian community is the lack of loving courage that is required to bring the corrective care that this kind of problem demands. The proverbial faithful friend is more of an anomaly than a ubiquitous reality.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. – Proverbs 27:6
Sadly, when there is wounding, it seems to happen with harshness and carelessness rather than corrective love that leaves the person built up in the faith. Individuals freed by the gospel act like the gospel. In the context of this discussion, there are two essential characteristics of this kind of gospel freedom.
- The caregiver brings corrective care in a spirit of gentle love that is courageous, compassionate, complete, and constructive.
- The care-receiver wants their corrective care because the gospel has delivered them from the desire to hide or self-protect.
If either one of those conditions does not happen, friends will not be faithful to each other, which brings you to two important questions:
- Are you freed by the power of the gospel to be a faithful friend?
- Are you freed by the power of the gospel to ask a faithful friend to evaluate your clothing choices?
If you are free to ask a friend for help, I suggest that you press the point further by sharing with that person some of your temptations. Make it easy for them to care for you. Rather than expecting them to ask you the perfect question, you can circumvent this potential pitfall in caregiving by being proactive through releasing them from a narrow question asking criteria.
Hey, Good Looking
One of the big tensions in the modesty wars is our misunderstanding of what it means to look desirable. Usually, the point-of-focus gets hung-up on the word desirable as in, “Are you saying I should not look desirable?”
Most certainly it is a good thing to look desirable and to want someone to desire you. That is living according to how God designed you. To be undesirable could be a hindrance to the gospel’s effectiveness. The real issue here is not about being desirable, but about whose authority are you going to submit to as the definers of desirable.
Most of us women are not even sure what is inappropriate anymore. We have given over to following the media, the fashion gurus, and Hollywood. – Supporting Member
It is a sad commentary on the church that our culture is doing the trend-setting within the church. The only people in the world with the right answers about modesty should be setting the pace and establishing the trends, at least within our Christian culture.
Call to Action
Now it’s time to review what you’ve read. Here are a few questions for your consideration.
- When you think about the porn problem, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
- Have you considered the source of porn, which is lust from the heart?
- Do you realize how you cannot confine lust to the porn industry?
- Because lust is omnipresent, what is your responsibility in fighting against its encroachments?
Bonus Question: Because lust is omnipresent, what specific way do you lust? (Think about your cravings, sinful desires, or things that have more control over your thoughts than Sovereign Lord.)
This last question may be the most important one for you to answer. Our most powerful sin pattern is self-righteousness, which manifests by finding someone you can criticize. It’s easy to compare sins with other individuals. Paul said, “There is none righteous, no not one.”
Also published on Medium.