(I would recommend caution for young readers. This post is unusually gritty for me and may not be suitable for young minds.)
It's a rare thing that I feel the need to add my two cents to a viral controversy but a recent influx of Facebook posts by some friends I once loved dearly has made me think a lot and you get to reap the benefits of this thinking! ;)
The controversial issue I am speaking of is modesty.
In my opinion the recent online debates (can they even be called that when they are so rife with logical fallacies and name slinging?) between the scandalized conservative Christians and the offended liberal Christians have failed to draw the correct conclusions.
Allow me to illustrate with an admittedly exaggerated summary of each:
For many years the conservatives have preached, "Get your heart in the right spot! Stop trying to get men's attentions by showing off your body! Wear skirts to the ankles and long-sleeved flowy tops in all situations."
In recent years, the generation that grew up hearing this message has started a kickback movement. "My heart is in the right spot!" they assure their parents and grandparents. "I am not trying to make a guy lust after me. I'm simply wearing what I find comfortable. Guys should not be sexualizing my body like that anyway. If they stumble, it is their fault for thinking about my natural body like that. Not mine."
Ah...where do I even start?
First off, let's define modesty.
Dictionary.com defines it as:
Or in English, not trying to draw attention.
So, the liberals claim that their heart is in the "right spot". They are being modest--not trying to draw attention. Good for them. I'm glad they are thinking about what their goals are every morning when they dress.
But what exactly does it mean to have your heart "in the right spot"? Does it simply mean that you make sure you are not trying to make a guy desire your body or does it mean that your heart wants what the Bible commands?
Before you hit the "X" on this tab thinking I am just another super conservative about to stuff my legalism down your throat let me say this: the Bible never commands women to wear long sleeves or ankle length skirts. It doesn't even command they wear dresses all the time. And no where does it insist that they must specifically cover their chest, legs, and belly button!
So what does it command? 1 Timothy 2:9 says, "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,"
"Great!" the liberals say. "That's what I am doing, so what's your problem?"
My problem is 1 Timothy 2:9 is not the only commandment in the Bible. What about all of
1 Corinthians 8 which urges us not to put a stumbling block in front of a weak brother. (Feminist ought to be delighted at the fact that I just insinuated men are the "weaker brother" in this case!)
Men are the "weaker brother" when it comes to lusting after a woman. I am not saying they cannot help it, that they should, or that it is the women's fault if they do. I am saying it is wrong for them to lust but God has created them to find women attractive and they are therefore more prone to fall into that sin!
I would also like to point out all of the commandments on love. I'm not going to bother listing them here as I think every Christian would agree there are plenty in the Bible. We are told to love even our enemies but especially our sisters and brothers in Christ.
Let's use an analogy here: You have a diabetic friend who you invite over for dinner. Knowing that they do their best to control their blood sugar with diet rather than glucose shots are you going to make a chocolate cake and set it directly under their nose? No. Because you love them and wouldn't want to tempt them to harm their own body. But if you did make a cake and they ate some, would it be your fault?. Also no. It was their choice. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree it was not a loving, kind, and thoughtful thing to do.
So, if I am wearing clothes that I know the average guy would admit causes him to think wrong thoughts, can I honestly claim my heart is in the right spot? That I am being loving, kind, and thoughtful towards my brothers in Christ? The conclusion I have to come to is "No".
So where do I get my standards for modesty? First off, I do not get them from other women. They simply cannot give you an accurate opinion on what will bother a guy and what will not. Go to the guys in your life. Your husband, father, brother. If you don't have any of these there is always the Modesty Survey put out by The Rebelution (If anyone has a link to this please put it in the comments! I was unable find the actual survey.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~It's interesting to note that coming from a different and purely secular tact I would still draw the same conclusion. As someone who claims to be a "True Feminist" (the fundamental principle being that men are not better than women--though I may draw different conclusions than many other so-called Feminists) my reasoning would look something like this...
No matter how much the fight to unsexualize women's bodies goes on there will always be men out there who are eager to "check me out". They have no right to do this. This is my body and no one elses'. Therefore I will never give those perverts the opportunity to do so.
This also touches on the recent complaints from women who have been raped. "No one asks what my attacker was wearing!" they whine. "My bikini was not wrong! My thigh high plunge neck dress was not wrong! What was wrong was what my attacker did to me!"
I agree. Their rapist is a horrible criminal who deserves to rot in jail.
Nevertheless, was the woman's attire wise? We all know a criminal has at least a badly damaged moral compass. Preaching for men to stop sexualizing women is never going to affect those who already have no care for the rules of society and government.
In order to protect ourselves from these messed up people there are some steps of wisdom we can take. 1.) The circumstances: did I go to a bar at midnight alone? That is not wrong necessarily but most people with their head screwed on would tell you it was unwise. 2.) Was I wearing clothes that would cause a guy to think about my body in a way that I do not want him too? Also not wise!
Be wise ladies and keep your beautiful body for yourself and the man you choose to give it to. Not every Tom, Dick, and Harry you pass on the street.
(Sorry for the long post! If it makes you feel any better I could have made it twice this long! ;D )