Modesty, Lust, and Sanity
“The church has developed a bad habit of seeing lust as all about the one “causing” the lust, while giving the man who’s lusting a pass. … Both lust and immodesty are wrong, and we need to lovingly deal with both. When either one is excluded or downplayed, things get weird or ugly.” ~ Me in a recent comment
I’ve been debating whether to discuss this topic. Every time I’ve tried doing this in the past it got ugly. I think much of that is on me, and maybe I’ve grown wise enough to do it well now. We shall see…
First, I need to confess my own past sins in this area. I developed a huge lust problem as a teen. I was free of porn, but I was always on the lookout for women showing a bit of flesh. As I lived in a liberal place with hot weather, (Austin, TX) there was always plenty to see. (Austin has a city pool that has officially allowed women to be topless since the early 70’s, and a local state park has allowed full nudity since the late 60’s. This attitude spilled over into the community as a whole and left many women less than fully covered in public – even in church.)
As I became more serious about following Jesus, I made a very poor choice in this area. Rather than dealing with my lust, I blamed all those who fed it. I became a self-appointed member of the modestly police. Part of my “job description” was looking for all infractions. In other words, I went out of my way to see as much as I could so I could be righteously indignant about the lack of modesty. I’d move to get a better view just to prove how immodest some probably clueless woman was. Yes, I was that guy. (Hanging head in shame.)
Eventually I got over it. I started applying my skills at predicting an impending flash of flesh to keep me from seeing rather than allowing me to see. I chose not to look, not to take advantage, and not to sin at every opportunity. Unfortunately, I didn’t lose the blame the women attitude immediately. I engaged in plenty of modesty arguments during the early days of The Marriage Bed message boards. “If women didn’t show their bodies, men wouldn’t lust!” Of course, my past behaviour showed the fallacy in my logic, but I wasn’t willing to see that yet. The ugly fact is blaming the lust object makes men feel less wrong or even justified in their sin.
So yeah, I was wrong, very wrong. Many men are in the same place I was for so many years. I’ve talked to men about this in the past, and will continue to do so. However, there are two sides here. Yes, some men will find a way to lust no matter how covered women are, but this doesn’t mean women can dress any way they like and blame the men if they lust. As I said at the top, both lust and immodesty are wrong, and both should be addressed. As a man, I think I should focus on talking to men about lust. I will leave it to you fine ladies to take up the immodesty issue with your friends and daughters.
~ Paul – I’m XY, and my wife showing her sexy bits just to me makes me feel special.
Related: How School Dress Codes Shame Girls and Perpetuate Rape Culture Seems this is a human problem, not just a chruch issue: “When a school takes the decision to police female students’ bodies while turning a blind eye to boys’ behavior, it sets up a lifelong assumption that sexual violence is inevitable and victims are partially responsible.“