(This post is written to Christian women and is based on a biblical worldview, supported with Scripture. Since the writing of this post, a sequel has been written, The Motive to Modesty.)
Hurriedly I raked through my second dresser drawer in the dim light of the unlit closet, scrambling for pants of some kind. Finding some, I grabbed a workout shirt, jammed feet into tennis shoes and breathlessly answered the door for Mr. M.
“Ready for breakfast?” he asked.
We cooked breakfast together and headed downtown to go for a walk by the James, where a paved path was perfect for running. By the time we got there, however, our plans changed to the farmer’s market (our Saturday favorite), Estate Consignments and coffee at a little shop beside the bank.
As we walked into the estate store Mr. M glanced at my outfit. The pants I had found in my harried search were workout capris—otherwise known as yoga pants. “You know … ” he said. “You are dressed a lot like those girls you always comment on at the gym.”
We had talked about this before. Mr. M has requested, not commanded, that I refrain from wearing the pants to the gym, and really not in public at all. But I’d ignored the request, and here I was walking down the sidewalk in them.
“I was kind of surprised you wore them,” he said sadly.
I picked at the tag on a buffet table, glancing at myself in a mirror in the corner. It was just one request he had made—a request based on what he knew of his own male mind and the minds of the men around him. But I wanted MY way, so I ignored it.
(For those who wonder why my husband felt comfortable advising me on my clothing, read That Day My Husband Told Me What To Do)
I like those pants. I like them because not only are they comfortable—as all yoga pants are—but I look trendy. I look like one of those suburban moms with a ponytail, pushing her children through the market in a twin-seat stroller. And I like that look, regardless of the consequences.
But there are consequences.
The issue here is not that I wore yoga pants. The issue isn’t yoga pants at all, but the principle of the matter. The pants are skin tight. You can see every curve of my lower body. Not only is it attractive to Mr. M, but from several informal interviews, comments and input from other men, it’s a recurring blind spot with Christian women everywhere. It’s about how hot I look, or how I want to dress, regardless of what anybody thinks.
Let’s be real: I have failed and still do fail at modesty on occasions like I just depicted above. The journey toward true femininity is one we all share as Christian women, and today I’m going to share some truth I’ve learned through my own mistakes and the studying I’ve done because of them.
I recently saw an article shared on Facebook written by a woman’s husband concerning modesty and the church. While the article addressed young men, it was primarily ‘shared’ on Facebook by … women. Why is that?
The content of the article reflected two concepts:
1. Men are not keeping their eyes to themselves and honoring their Christian sisters, and
2. Women are unfairly singled out about their clothing in the church and workplace.
There is certainly truth to the first point, and the bulk of this man’s article was very valid in its address to men and the issue of lust. But the reality is that many Christian men—at least the ones who truly seek after God and are convicted by His Spirit—are not only aware of their lust problem but are guilty about it. They are not all shameless beasts looking for an opportunity to undress women in their minds.
In many cases, the very women offended by the negative attention of men are dressing in such a way as to earn it.
The issue of modesty gets heated, as fingers are pointed and hemlines discussed, but I’m going to skip all that fuss and speak woman to woman, because I think we can handle it!
#1 Myth of Modesty: ‘It’s his job not to look.’
It’s true, lust is a sin, and men shouldn’t entertain it.
But the level of their lust is directly related to how much of our bodies is available to lust after. The less we advertise, the less opportunity we give them to covet our bodies.
The article I mentioned earlier said women have been unfairly singled out concerning modesty. While men are responsible to honor us with their eyes and minds, when we dishonor ourselves by what we wear, the real unfairness is to the men.
Do we really expect to wear whatever we want and then tell them not to look at us? Do we really expect to fit in with the latest (often sexually promiscuous) trends and NOT be viewed as an object of sexual desire?
It is not just his job not to look; it is our responsibility to provide nothing provocative to look at. We cannot blame men for what we instigate, and it is time for women of God to start acknowledging our responsibility in this matter, taking up our cross and honoring God with our dress.