The Top Ten Reasons Modesty Gets a Yawn

My family and I have had the privilege of hanging out with some unbelievably awesome single guys lately. A big  reason I say they are so awesome is that they actually care about winning the battle with lust. Most men gave up long ago. Titus talks about Cretans whose “god is their belly.” In our culture, deity seems to have migrated several inches south.

But these guys have a problem, and it’s a problem that we have to own as their sisters in Christ. Everywhere they go, women are unbelievably unhelpful. Flaunting. Revealing. Immodest. Out in the world, we wouldn’t really expect anything else, but when it’s women in the Church, that’s a different story. Over and over, our friends have lamented that Christian women just don’t seem to understand what they’re doing to their brothers. I think that’s because no one is out there trying to teach them. And guess what, ladies, that’s OUR job. The Bible says that it’s up to women to teach other women how to be discreet and chaste (Titus 2:5).But so many women can’t muster much passion about this issue. It conflicts with other values, or it just isn’t on the radar screen. So, in honor of awesome guys everywhere, I would like to present my Top Ten Reasons Why Modesty Gets a Yawn in hopes that all of us ladies can wake up, start being “teachers of good things” and consider how to provoke other women to love their brothers by making the gathering of the saints a safer place for battle-weary soldiers of purity.

10. I’m too old to be a problem.

You’re never too old to be discreet and chaste. Just because you don’t look like a teenager doesn’t mean that you don’t still need to be careful. When you’re bending over in tight jeans, your crow’s feet don’t show anyway. And if your cleavage is spilling out of your neckline, it’s likely to be a challenge whether or not you have a few gray hairs.

Even if, for the sake of argument, you really are too old to ever cause anyone to struggle, you’re still not too old to set an example for the younger women who are naively exhibiting themselves. After all, if their mothers and grandmothers are doing it, why shouldn’t they?

9. I don’t have a body like a Victoria’s Secret model, so who would ever lust after me?

This one is similar to #10 and reveals a way in which most women don’t understand men. Women think that they have to have a perfect total package to provoke anyone to lust. Actually a man will feel a twinge of arousal from seeing anything that is hyper-accentuated and immodest about a female body–even if something else is less than perfect.

8. But my husband wants me to dress immodestly.

Usually, when husbands express this, it’s because one of two things is happening (sometimes both at the same time). Either you are not paying attention to satisfying his deep desire for visual stimuli when you are alone (and wives, when you’re alone, go ALL OUT!); or he’s a lust junkie who’s getting a buzz anywhere and everywhere he can and is annoyed that he isn’t getting the same buzz from you. A man that is fighting hard will not want you to be as inconsiderate and unloving as all the women he has to put up with all day. But a man who’s wallowing in other women’s immodesty will want to pull you down into the pit with him with absolutely no regard for how many men you cause to stumble along the way. If your husband doesn’t care if other men are lusting after you, it is a huge red flag that he is probably lusting after everyone else.

7. Are you saying that if a man is lusting after a woman, that it’s her fault?!

Nope. Not even close. Lust is a sin. And if a man is committing it, God holds him and him alone accountable. I’m not advocating the Islamic stereotype “blame the woman for her own rape” kind of mentality that says that men are not responsible for themselves in the presence of a beautiful woman.

But we can help our brothers. Being immodest is like throwing a party for a bunch of recovering alcoholics and deciding to have an open bar. If your guests got totally smashed it would, of course, be their fault, but no one is going to think for a minute that you really loved them or cared about their struggles.

6. But my husband never has any trouble at all with immodest women.

Apparently, there really are a few men out there who are totally oblivious. I don’t personally know any of them, but I’ve gotten enough comments from wives insisting that their husbands are in this category that I’m willing to acknowledge the possibility. However, just like I am taking your word for it that your husband has no difficulty, you might want to consider taking my word for it that a lot of other men do.

5. If Christians look like freaks no one will want to be a Christian.

People who don’t want to be Christians don’t want to because the Gospel sounds outlandish, or because they firmly believe something else, or even sometimes because they don’t understand their own sinfulness and what they need to be saved from. That “Christians are too weird” is just an excuse, as evidenced by the “Christians are no different from anyone else” excuse that we hear equally often. God frequently asks His people to do things that make us look weird (turning the other cheek, not lying, esteeming others as better than ourselves, for example). We need to be concerned with what’s right, not what’s normal.

4. But I want to dress like my friends.

Sure, but somebody has to be a leader. Imagine how much easier it would be for your friends to be considerate in their dress if you were already doing it.

3. I want to look cute and stylish.

This is a hard one. Probably every woman really wants to have everyone think she’s beautiful, but at what cost? Is following fashion so important that it’s worth placing a stumbling block in your brother’s path?  Now someone’s going to jump in right about now and say that we can be cute and stylish and modest, and, of course, that’s lovely when we can achieve it. But modesty needs to be the first priority. So often it’s the other way around, and “cute and stylish” trumps modest. When we decide that our own sense of style matters more than helping men avoid lust, fundamentally, it is just selfishness on our part.

2. Guys won’t pay attention to me if I’m dressed in a sack.

Yeah, a lot of them probably won’t. But you have to ask yourself what kind of attention you really want. Are you looking for a godly husband or a long trail of panting, drooling puppies who will abandon you in a heartbeat just as soon as another piece of meat strolls by? Quality men want virtuous women. The problem is that the world is mostly populated by non-quality men, so virtuous women necessarily get less attention. This isn’t really a problem when you consider that drooling puppies make lousy husbands (assuming they ever quit playing video games long enough get around to marrying you). You’re wasting your time if you’re trying to appeal to them.

1. But I don’t see any men lusting after me!

Ha! Yes, there are a few creepy guys out there who ogle women openly, but 99.9% of the men out there are much more subtle. They know that it’s socially unacceptable to stare, so they don’t. In fact, most men will not look at your body when you are looking at them. If your attention is on them, they’ll look at your face, nod politely, play the gentlemen. But turn around to talk to your friends, and they’re watching you out of the corners of their eyes, and it is not your face they’re looking at this time. You have no idea how many surreptitious second (and third and fourth…) looks are being stolen. You also have no idea how many of your brothers in Christ are fighting hard not to take those second looks and are feeling really beaten up by how aware they are of your body.

Our brothers’ fight deserves much more than a yawn. Be modest yourself. Share the truth with your sisters. Let’s wake up and help each other out.

<blockquote>And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works –Hebrews 10:24</blockquote>

6 thoughts on “The Top Ten Reasons Modesty Gets a Yawn

  1. I appreciate your article. If it’s not too much trouble there are a few things that I would like you to clarify.

    Are you suggesting in point 2 when you say:

    “Are you looking for a godly husband or a long trail of panting, drooling puppies who will abandon you in a heartbeat just as soon as another piece of meat strolls by?”

    That any non-christian/men/husbands adhere to this description which you elaborate further when you say:

    “drooling puppies make lousy husbands (assuming they ever quit playing video games long enough get around to marrying you)”

    I would like to know to whom you are referring to here?


  2. Clairebashall,

    Thank you for your comment! The “drooling puppy” man is any man who has bought the lie of our consumer culture that says women exist for his entertainment, and he can shop around for the best thrill. For the most part, these are the guys who want to flirt and date and hook up, but not really follow through and marry you. If they do get married, they often panic when time starts to dull their thrills and wind up turning to porn, affairs, and/or divorce. These men are found outside of the church and in it, and just because a young man claims to be a Christian doesn’t mean he hasn’t been affected by this philosophy to some extent or another. Are these “Christian puppies” really Christians? If we believe that obedience is a sign of faith, then a lot of them probably aren’t believers, and I’d say their “drooling puppy” status is a good clue to the state of their hearts before God. Just saying you’re a Christian, or even regularly attending church doesn’t necessarily mean the Lord has gotten a hold of your heart, that you are a new creation who has passed from death into life. Genuine Christians whose lives are hid with Christ, are not going to be “drooling puppies.” They are going to be the quality men I was encouraging people to look for instead.


  3. A quick note on the practicality of modesty. I’m about the same height as the average American male (5’8″) and my husband is 6’3″. We’ve often commiserated about shorter women who dress immodestly–he complaining about the attraction aspect and me about the embarassment. You see, for those of us who are tall (and most men are taller than most women) looking at a shorter woman’s face can actually give us more of a view than we bargained for. If a woman is shorter than average (closer to 5′ tall) and wears a low-cut shirt, she may not realize that tall people end up seeing more than cleavage–we have a bird’s-eye view of her underthings too. And the thing is that we can’t avoid seeing it. If I have to look down significantly to look at your face, I’m getting that view of your bosom in my periphery whether I want it or not. As a woman, I simply find this a little embarassing that I can’t look at another woman’s face without seeing down her shirt at the same time, but the implications for my husband are far worse. For him, since he’s hardwired to find women attractive, it’s really hard not to look when you can’t avoid seeing anyway. But more importantly, it means there is no way for him to look at the woman that won’t look like he’s ogling her.

    I think many women (myself included on occasion) forget that not everyone is seeing us from our own eye level, and immodest dress only exaggerates that oversight.


  4. There are quite a few women that I have tried to share this truth with, but many of them don’t think it’s a problem because they are surrounded by good church folk, and besides, they can’t possibly be immodest because they are Christians – as if being a Christian makes everything permissible.
    Thank you so much for the article, and for the comment above!


  5. C. S. Lewis once pointed out that modesty is relative to cultural norms. A lady with a very short skirt today may be no more immodest than a woman showing her ankle in Victorian society.

    I think it is important to be mindful that the cultural standard has changed. We should not dress deliberately provocatively. However, if it is normal for a woman to wear a skirt three inches above her knee, I am unlikely to attract the wrong sort of attention in a skirt that is just past the knee.

    I once had a friend from a Middle Eastern country remark that women here were not very covered up and tended to have things hanging out that shouldn’t be. Out of curiosity, I asked him what he thought of my clothes. He told me that while they would not be acceptable in his country, I did not show anything that ought to be kept to myself, and that I was very ladylike. I was pleased, because that was what I was trying to achieve in my dress, being ladylike and dignified according to my own cultural standard.

    Occasionally, I see women wearing things like poorly fitted, ankle length skirts, sometimes paired with sneakers, in an attempt to be modest. There is no need for that sort of thing, and I can’t help but think that they look silly and anything but ladylike. Perhaps if Christians “look like freaks” they are simply dressing poorly.

    Our grandmothers and great grandmothers were generally modestly dressed. They wore beautiful, feminine clothing. I think a lot of what modern women associate with being modest is really more masculine than anything else. (Sneakers with a skirt? Really?) Our grandmothers did housework in heels and a freshly pressed apron. They covered up what was important, but still managed to be neat and pretty for their husbands, as well.

    There is no reason that we cannot dress in a feminine and graceful manner, so long as we are not provocative. There is nothing wrong with being beautiful in a proper and ladylike fashion.


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