Modesty and Your Daughters

A man talking to women about modesty – don’t you hate it? And, honestly, I get it. I used to write a lot far too much about modesty, and it was heavily driven by my own sexual frustration and influenced by my struggle with lust. Now I’m no longer sexually frustrated and I have a handle on lust, so hopefully this will be a kinder, saner rant. Besides, this is about your daughters, not you.

Modesty and Your Daughters

What your daughter wears should not affect how much sexual pressure she receives, and it should not change her risk of forced sex. But sadly, how she dresses does affect both of these things. For adult women, the effect is small; for teens and college-age women it has a huge effect.

I recall in high school how all the boys told each other that girls who dressed immodestly “wanted it” or “were easy”. I don’t know how much we convinced each other this was true and how much we pretended it was true because we wanted it to be, but we all treated it as a fact. What a girl wore on a date greatly influenced how much and how hard a guy would push her for sex. It’s as if each “immodesty point” we gave a girl negated one “no” from her. I wasn’t personally acquainted with this because I had this strange desire to be in a loving relationship before I got sexual with a gal, but I did take revealing attire as permission to stare ogle. 

As much as I hate it, this is a reality, and it’s a reality that could hurt your daughter. What makes this difficult is you and your daughter see the way she dresses with a female mind. For men, it’s far more than what’s showing. Colour, pattern, type of material, type and location of fasteners, and many other things go into how sexual clothing seems to a guy. But your husband sees with a male mind and he can help. If you want him to explain why one outfit is more sexual than another he may not be able to do so. But if you ask him to rate outfits as mild, moderate, or sexy, he should be able to do so. And, yes, your daughter will hate it and fight it. But it is possible to be pretty and feminine without sending “I want you to do me” signals to all the guys.

What about the boys?: Of course, they have a responsibility in this. Unfortunately, most boy’s parents don’t make any effort to educate them, meaning there are a lot of predators wanting to date your daughter. If you have son(s), please do all you can to keep them from being this way. Dad certainly has a part to play, but I think mom can do more. Help your son(s) understand how women and girls think and why they do what they do. Teach your boys those half naked girls have no idea how naked they are or how much it affects guys.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I don’t want your daughters to face sexual pressure.

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54 Comments on “Modesty and Your Daughters

  1. I agree with you, Paul. I do not hold to the idea that a woman should be able to wear whatever she wants without any responsibility. Yes, a woman should be safe from attack regardless.

    Where Christian women bristle is that what is modest or even frumpy to one guy, is sexy to another. And please….please don’t take away our comfy yoga pants. After decades of uncomfortable pantyhose, jeans, and cheaply made work slacks that feel like chaffing plastic, let us have our yoga pants! (Opaque and not painted on, of course). It is an agonizing losing battle to dress nicely, comfortably, and modestly.

    And what works nicely for one gal is slutty on another and is frumpy on yet another. And then shapely ladies, even modest clothes can’t hide their fantastic figures.

    Still, I agree that we should communicate with our daughters what is and isn’t appropriate. AND teach our sons to be gentlemen.

  2. I really appreciate the glimpses into the male mind. I still remember being at a nightclub in my teens/twenties, and there was a girl in the bathroom wearing a white, skin-tight dress with large peek holes up the sides. She was complaining to her friend about a guy who’d danced with her and tried to put his hands where they didn’t belong, and she said, “What kind of girl does he think I am!” I wanted to say, “I think you advertised a certain kind of girl, so that’s what he expected.” Now, in no way does this justify what the boy did, but I was surprised that she couldn’t see how she’d come across to a hormonally charged guy in a nightclub based on her attire.

    By the way, I agree with Libl. Please don’t take my yoga pants! Because, while the dress that girl wore at the nightclub was clearly immodest, sometimes in the Christian community, it feels like it gets ridiculous on what you can and can’t wear because some guy out there can’t make his eyes behave. I think I’m growing more into the idea that we absolutely must talk about modesty (the Bible did!), but even more so about viewing people of the opposite sex with respect and grace.
    J. Parker recently posted…Q&A with J: Does He Know How Your Orgasm Works?My Profile

    • Libl/J.Parker,

      I don’t understand why you think yoga pants are ok to wear. Ignoring the ones that are skin tight, don’t they show the curve of a woman’s butt? Don’t they often show the cleavage between the cheeks? What does a man commonly wear that shows this much of the shape of his butt?

      • In defense of books and covers — the cover is supposed to give an idea of what is in the book. That’s the intent.

        There is a popular social theory called signaling. Basically, signaling is a way of quickly identifying what social group you associate with. Eg, if I am reading the NYT while ordering a soy latte with fair trade coffee at an independent coffee house, I am trying to signal that I am relatively well-educated, liberal, and socially conscious. The idea is that a lot of our choices are based on, or at least influenced by, the social perception that we want to give.

        Clothing is a HUGE part of that. Look at Goth kids or prep kids or whatever. Kids in high school get it and intentionally use their clothes and appearance to show their social identity.

        Most of the time, when girls are dressing slutty, they know what they are doing and are trying to convey that they are sexually desirable, sexually available, fun, outgoing, whatever. The disconnect isn’t in the message, it is in how strong that message is. Most girls are definitely trying to send an “I’m sexy, don’t you think?” message, but like at a level 5, and then the guys are reading and responding as if it’s a level 11.

        • @sunny-dee – Signalling is a huge part of this. The problem, especially for teens and younger women, is they don’t understand the signals attached to certain things.
          When I was in high school it was “common knowledge” that a girl who didn’t wear a bra was easy. I doubt that is still the case today, but it was far less common in the 70’s for a teenage girl to go braless. Every guy could tell from 20 feet if a girl was wearing a bra, and if she was not he saw it as a signal that she was looking for sex.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: She’s Smarter than Either of You ThinksMy Profile

        • I guess what I’m saying is, if someone is intentionally putting a message out that “I’m super sexy!!!!” it’s not anyone else’s fault for noticing and interpreting that message. (How they respond is different.)

          But I’m also with GC below — the modesty message is unsupportable for women in anything less than a burkha because it focuses exclusively on men’s interpretations, and literally anything a single man finds sexy is verboten.

          The general rule with leggings and yoga pants is cover your butt. That’s pretty much all it takes. You can wear just leggings and a sports bra *in yoga class* but past that, tossing on a jacket or sweatshirt or long T will cover your butt, and that’s pretty much the universal “modesty” standard, at least with women.

          • @sunny-dee – Sometimes I think “So men can lust over anything” is used as an excuse for wearing whatever. Yes, a man looking to lust will manage no matter what. To me, this issue is the men who are not looking to lust, or who are honestly trying not to lust. When you cause those men a problem I think you have causes a brother to stumble, and Jesus is pretty clear that’s a bad thing. The problem is the “modesty police’ are usually guys who are all about lust, and they set a ridiculous standard.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: She’s Smarter than Either of You ThinksMy Profile

          • sunny-dee,

            Oh, ok, Christian women cover their butts with a sweatshirt or long T when they’re wearing yoga pants. That works.

            Don’t you feel though that women’s clothes are generally tighter than men’s, even “modest” clothes? It seems to me that I can make out the shape of a woman’s butt better than a man’s. A man’s pants or jeans generally seems to be looser than a modest woman’s – do you agree?

            • That is because women have bigger butts than men and finding clothing that fits all over and is comfortable is nearly impossible….except for the wonders that are yoga pants, jeggings, and leggings. If men understood the struggle that is women’s clothing shopping, they’d get it. Also, we have figures. It feels as if some men resent that we have figures, even if modestly dressed, because they can see the unique womanly shape of our bodies.

              • This ^^^ very much.

                Tom, men and women are shaped differently. A big bust or butt will be discernible no matter what the woman is wearing. If your standard for not lusting is “being unable to discern the female shape,” then the problem is with your standard.

                • No, that’s not my standard. So I guess no one can design clothes that don’t hug a woman’s butt tighter than clothes hug a man’s butt.

              • I see. It’s women’s bigger butts that make their jeans/pants tighter in the butt. Ok. But, since we can send a man to the moon, I would think we could design clothes that didn’t hug women’s butts so much.

                • @Tom – The problem is finding such clothing.
                  Last summer we went to a Walmart in Lancaster PA – an area full of Amish and Mennonites. The clothes available were far more modest than what one usually sees in a Walmart.
                  I am not suggesting it’s impossible to find modest clothing, but in most places it is exceptionally difficult and more costly.
                  Paul Byerly recently posted…It’s Time to Talk About PornMy Profile

  3. I agree with you that young women need to have an understanding of how some boys and men think. However, I’ve come to believe that the Christian “modesty message” is a complete lose-lose proposition for women. I’m not convinced that it protects them from sexual assault – men who assault women do so because they believe that women owe them something, that women are “less than” them in some way, or that they are entitled and have the right to exercise control over women. Men who view women as valuable, equal human beings, created in the image of God, do not assault women, regardless of what they are wearing.

    So the Christian message creates a false belief – “If I dress this way, I’ll be safe.” But that isn’t the case, even within churches and Christian organizations. I could very quickly name 30 women or girls who always dressed in the “approved” Christian manner and yet were sexually abused or assaulted by men – within their faith communities. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg. And we know that respect for women and the safety of women are abysmal in cultures and countries that enforce “modesty” by forcing women to completely cover their bodies – so carrying modesty rules to the extreme doesn’t work either.

    Also, the message always puts the burden on women, so even if they’ve followed all of the “rules,” they blame themselves if something happens. And I think that’s a “feature” of the system, not a “flaw.” Because the message always says that women are responsible and that anything that happens is their fault. Honestly, one of the main purposes seems to be to make things more “comfortable” for men and to take the responsibility off them.

    It’s also a losing proposition for women because it sends a message that women’s bodies are “a problem” and that women themselves are a problem. There’s no way to sugar coat it and pretend that the message is about “covering and honoring our bodies.” What comes through is – “your body is a problem for men and therefore it must be covered and hidden as much as possible.” And then we wonder why women struggle with feeling good about their bodies and seeing sex in marriage as a good thing.

    The other losing proposition for women is that the Christian “modesty message” is completely arbitrary. Clothing that “causes lust” in one person has no affect on another. Women are supposed to “not cause a brother to stumble,” but which brother? The one who lusts when he sees a woman’s long hair? The one who lusts after every woman in a pair of jeans? The one who can’t control himself if he catches a glimpse of a knee? And while most people believe that certain clothing is appropriate in certain settings (bathing suits at the beach, running clothes on the track, etc), Christian “modesty” can’t really allow for that – because women’s bodies are always a problem and need to be covered, even in those settings.

    I agree with J that we need to talk about and practice modesty in the Christian community, and teach it to our children. But the current extent of the Christian modesty message is “women’s bodies are a problem and need to be covered in order to protect men from lust.” And I just don’t think that’s what the Bible says. I think we need to figure out what modesty means in the Bible, then practice that and teach it to our children, daughters and sons. When it comes to talking with our daughters, perhaps a starting point is to talk about their great value as children of God and how the ways they conduct themselves (including but not limited to the way they dress) need to reflect that value.

    • @GC – Assault is one thing, sexual pressure is another. Yes, they all fall under the same category, but there are guys who would never force sex who will pressure for it. And clothing can be a major invitation to sexual pressuring. This was my primary concern here. I agree no manner of dress makes a woman safe from assault, but some manners of dress make a woman a target for pressure, and I’d really like younger women to be as free of that as possible.
      And yes, this can be used to blame women. But the other error is to say what a woman wears and how she dresses has no effect or consequences. Both are wrong, and anyone on either bandwagon is part of the problem.
      At the top of the post I admitted why I used to yell long and loud about modesty, and it was way more about my frustration and sin than anything else. I fear this is what drives the modesty message in the church, and that’s not helping anyone.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: She’s Smarter than Either of You ThinksMy Profile

      • Paul, yes you are right that young women need to understand how guys think, how sexual pressure happens, and how to avoid (if at all possible) and deal with it.

    • “But the current extent of the Christian modesty message is “women’s bodies are a problem and need to be covered in order to protect men from lust.”

      You and I must be hearing dramatically different messages, because what I consistently hear from the church is that men’s God-given sex drives are a problem that need to be solved, and that women shouldn’t have to consider how they present themselves.

      Rather than pointing fingers at the other sex, is it really that hard to say that yes, men need to control their eyes and thoughts, and women need to control how they dress in public? It’s not a zero sum game.

  4. RE Yoga Pants: I recall seeing a picture of a guy in some tight pants – biking pants I think – and being able to clearly see he was circumcised. To me, that is totally wrong and unacceptable – especially if he were walking through a mall or going to church that way.
    I’m not an expert on yoga pants, but I assume there are some that don’t invite anyone looking to know intimate details about a woman’s butt or vulva.
    I also know from experience many women have no idea how much they show in certain clothing. I used to look for it, and it was everywhere. Now I work to avoid seeing it, so I’m not seeing it even though it’s being shown.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: She’s Smarter than Either of You ThinksMy Profile

  5. I have been called everything from ugly to gorgeous. My husband has said everything from he can’t control himself by me to he finds me completely unattractive. I have been overweight and anorexic. I have been told I dress up too much and told I am too frumpy. I have run the gamut of wearing headcoverings and double layer long dresses to bikinis, mini skirts, and stilettos. I have been told my jeans were distracting and a stumbling block and that my modest skirts and dresses were a stumbling block and to please wear jeans like every other gal. I have tried on hundreds of pairs of pants and walked out with none because none of them fit right. I have frozen at night because no good wife wears frumpy pjs to bed, only lingerie or naked. I have been comfortable at night only to be called frumpy and unattractive and unsexual because I want a warm night’s sleep. I have been told my super long hair is far too sexual and that it is ugly and unattractive. I have been told cutting my hair was gorgeous and made me look younger, and that it ruined what was most attractive about me.

    At the end of the day and as I age I have completely given up dressing and acting and doing for the approval of other people…yes, even my husband…because you can’t please everyone and it is far too fickle. I wear what I want to wear and I realize that sounds like an excuse to be irresponsible, but it isn’t so long as I heed the holy spirit. I am not going to wear revealing clothes to church or leggings as pants to the grocery store. My bathing suit is very modest to the point of being teased, but I am happy and comfortable in it and can play with my kids confidently without wardrobe malfunctions or shaving or fitness worries. I just don’t care anymore about everyone’s opinion. I have fought the losing battle and finally settled on what makes me feel happy, comfortable, beautiful, and confident. Some think I am too modest (like my husband who sometimes wishes I would slut it up a little more) and some think I am too immodest. I am happy with how I dress. End of story.

  6. GC made a lot of excellent commentary. My daughter is a young adult. If she and I were reading this together. I would tell her that my experiences as a woman have shown me that following someone else’s code of modesty is really no guarantee about how a guy will or will not treat you. You can be catcalled or pressured for sex no matter what you wear.
    As for what I would tell my son I would tell him to remember that just like him his sister, and all other women, are beautifully made by God. He should treat them with dignity and respect, and not make assumptions that marginalize them

    • @Kate “I would tell her that my experiences as a woman have shown me that following someone else’s code of modesty is really no guarantee about how a guy will or will not treat you.”
      But numerous studies have shown both men AND WOMEN judge how interested a woman is in sex by how she dresses. It should not be this way, but it is.
      Many years ago I serviced a newspaper rack outside a nightclub. One of the security guards would often talk with me as I filled the rack. One night he was all worked up about some women in a very short dress. He had decided she was wearing nothing underneath, and had put a great of his evening into getting a look up her skirt to prove this. He also indicated to me that if he were not on the job he was sure all he had to do to get something sexual from this woman was to get her alone in a semi-secluded place.
      I have no idea what this woman thought her clothes were saying about her, but I doubt she knew what she had done to the security guard.

      She Dresses to Attract, He Perceives Seduction: A gender gap in attribution of intent to women’s revealing style of dress and its relation to blaming the victims of sexual violence

      Men’s perceptions of women’s sexual interest: Effects of environmental context, sexual attitudes, and women’s characteristics -

      Intolerance of Sexy Peers_Study by T. Vaillancourt.pdf – File Shared from Box
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Why “I’ll Stop Asking for Sex” Is A Bad PlanMy Profile

      • But you’re acting like these are somehow contradictory things and they are not. Women DO dress to attract attention. No one denies that — that is why women also condemn other women when they dress extremely. It’s how 99% of us know the “cover your butt” rule for leggings and raise our eyebrows at the ones that don’t. In some cultures, wearing certain colors is a sign of prostitution; it is literally how a women signals that she will exchange sex for money. There is no “should” in it should be wrong, anymore than gravity or calories are unforgiving. It just is.

        What I am saying is that very young women (teenagers, maybe through college) may not realize the strength of their signals — they think they’re signaling “I’m into you,” and what guys are interpreting is “I’m easy.” (And this runs both ways — horny guys are intentionally misinterpreting signals too strongly because they want it to be true.)

        The problem comes with mature adults who should be much better at sending and recognizing signals. Some women still go bra-less and panty-less and then are shocked (maybe) at being perceived as sluts. Meanwhile, a guy just runs through every single attribute that he finds enticing and then blames the woman for sending him all these sexual signals.

        Those adults are not ignorant; they are making excuses for their own bad behavior. That’s not a modesty issue; it’s a responsibility issue, and they’re not owning their own behavior.

      • The woman didn’t do anything to the security guard.
        She wore a short dress, and his imagination and obsession with sex did the rest. Not that I’m defending the very short dress, mind you, but when most guys see something like that, they have an “Ooh La La” moment, and then get on with their day – they definitely DON’T spend hours trying to get an upskirt view. And why on earth should anyone assume that because a gal is wearing a miniskirt, she left her panties at home? That’s borderline nutty, too.

  7. A lot of interesting comments here. As a mother of sons, we tell them while attraction to women is natural, to remember that girls are people, with hearts and feelings, daughters of God, and do your best to treat them like ladies.

    I also think a lot of it has to do with how you carry yourself. In church one Wed night there was a woman about 20 years old, in form fitting jeans. She probably wouldn’t have stood out too much, but during worship she stood up (some folks will do this if the spirit moves them, and maybe raise their hands) but she was the only one standing. Then she began to sway very seductively. I noticed three college age young men a couple rows in front of me trying very hard not to notice. I noticed a couple of husbands trying not to notice. Now I don’t want to judge, but I suspect she was doing this on purpose, for attention. The Pastor has spoken about this a couple times from the pulpit, the importance of not drawing attention to yourself because during worship,the focus is supposed to be on the Lord. And Pastor is referring to men and women, because there are many ways you can call attention to yourself, especially in a large congregation.

    Anyhow, the Holy Spirit must’ve gotten a hold of me, because instead of getting upset I began praying for this young woman. Maybe she was clueless about the effect she was having. Maybe she craved attention. Maybe she didn’t understand what she was doing was inappropriate. Maybe she was worshipping and didn’t have a clue people were staring. I don’t know. But God knows, and so I prayed for her, and for the men who were obviously struggling, and yet doing their best to look away.

    It’s a sticky situation. I say pray. Ask God to help you know what is okay. Ask brothers and dads. And the best advice one of our Pastors gave to a large group regarding modesty, “when in doubt, don’t.”

    • @B – When I was young I assumed women knew what they were doing when they grabbed a guy by his sexuality. After talking with many, many women, I have come to the conclusion the majority have no idea and those who know greatly underestimate how much of an effect they have.
      It’s like one of the studies I linked to above “She Dresses to Attract, He Perceives Seduction”. She wants to tweak his sexuality just a bit, but she gets him going big time.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Why “I’ll Stop Asking for Sex” Is A Bad PlanMy Profile

      • This might get me in trouble, but being a woman, I have to strongly disagree. Unless they grew up quite sheltered, I think the majority of women know EXACTLY what they are doing.

        That being said, I do not think every woman in yoga pants is trying to get men to lust after her. And maybe I’ll agree with you that some women could be clueless as to how far some men’s minds are going. But a woman (maybe not a young teen, but once a woman is 17 or 18 or older) who wears obviously seductive clothing (i.e. Cutoff shorts so short the pockets hang out and a cami meant to be an undergarment, or a mini skirt with high heels), the majority of those women know they will attract attention and are hoping to do so. Or take the woman I think of as the “bikini strutter”. Every time we have ever gone to a beach, pool, water park, there is at least one woman who thinks she is rocking her bikini and wants everyone to know it. She walks around and around the pool, in circles, usually with hands on hips, bending over to pick things up every so often, making sure everyone notices her. I’m sorry but she knows what she’s up to. She’s seeking attention. Positive or negative, she wants attention. It’s intentional. I try to pray for her. I don’t know her heart, either.

        Now before I get attacked, I will admit perhaps there are some women that just don’t get it. Perhaps no one has mentored them. We go to a huge church that attracts seekers, and sometimes a woman will come dressed wildly inappropriately – but maybe that’s the best outfit she has, or maybe that mini skirt is the only skirt she owns. I understand. However, once a person is saved, they should desire to dress in a way that is pleasing to God. For that you need to pray and yield. I believe convictions have to be personal, you can’t just go by someone else’s convictions. That’s why communicating with God is so important.

        I may come off in this comment like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth, but I believe this issue is that complex. Far more complex than it seems on the surface.

        • @B But how is a woman to know? She does not think or see as a man sees. At best she is making a guess. Besides, plenty of women dress that way, and there are a lot of folks saying how a woman dresses does not or should not matter.
          Early in our marriage Lori and I discussed this at length and I showed a male perspective. She started to look at the women around her in public places and was shocked by how much they were showing. Women had not suddenly become less modest, rather she had learned to see them more the way a man does.
          I think it is very rare for a woman to really understand the power her body has to attract and arouse men.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…It’s Time to Talk About PornMy Profile

          • I don’t get the disconnect here. Do you honestly think women don’t have a clue what they’re doing? Of course they do. I agree with what @sunny-dee wrote above:

            “Women DO dress to attract attention. No one denies that — that is why women also condemn other women when they dress extremely. It’s how 99% of us know the “cover your butt” rule for leggings and raise our eyebrows at the ones that don’t.”

            As to what you said about a lot of folks saying how a woman dresses does not or should not matter? It absolutely matters. We can’t listen to “folks”. That’s why we have to pray for God’s leading, and if we are still confused, ask a trusted male relative.

            Maybe it’s my generation? Maybe it’s the part of the country I live in? But the majority of women around here absolutely know what they are doing when they dress in a sexy way – and they would be very fast to admit it.

            I’m sorry, but I really don’t believe “women don’t know”. I just don’t buy that.

            Maybe I’m the one who is clueless, but it’s never been something I’ve ever had to worry about. I’m physically fit, and I wear knee length skirts, long skirts, jeans, and leggings (yes, with my butt covered :) and I have never seen a man give me a second glance, anywhere, ever – it just doesn’t happen. So while I do try to be modest, it’s nothing I’ve ever had to worry about. I’m not really attractive enough to attract that kind of attention (and in a lot of ways that’s a good thing).

            But again, I believe many of the women (not all, but most) who dress provocatively are doing so to attract attention.

            • @B “Do you honestly think women don’t have a clue what they’re doing?”
              A clue? Probably. A real understanding? No, not even close. They want to attract attention, not scream “I’m looking for sex!”
              Before Lori and I were even dating she fully exposed her breasts to me several times (leaning over). I had always assumed when a woman did this she knew it and did it on purpose, but I didn’t think that was the case with Lori. So I gathered up my nerve and told her about it. Her shade of red confirmed to me she had no idea. Once she knew, it never happened again. At that point, I started to think some of the many girls and women who had done the same to me since I was 13 might not have done it intentionally.
              I think most women show more than they think they show, and underestimate the impact it has. The combination of those means they are sending a sexual signal much, much greater than they could imagine.
              BTW, a lot of guys are good at taking a second look without being seen, at least not by the woman they are looking at.
              Paul Byerly recently posted…One Simple Thing: Hug MoreMy Profile

              • This reminded me of a time when I was breast feeding my 2nd child. I was wearing a fairly modest shirt that was kind of drapey in,the front with a not-too-low v-neck. I normally have smaller breasts and don’t have to worry too much about exposure issues, and I was completely unused to how to dress and move with my newly ample nursing bosom. I had to pick something up and quickly bent over to grab it and caught a glance of just how much I was exposing. I straightened up and saw that my friend’s husband’s single friend had this glazed over look in his eyes and a grin on his face. He saw what I was accidentally revealing. It was embarrassing, and I wish he had the manners to avert his eyes. I have since mastered the art of the hand-to-chest before bending over, and squatting instead of bending forward.

  8. I’ve noticed something since I’ve started enjoying shooting: I’m not worried about my kids being neglect with a gun.

    We’ve got a battle rifle & an AR-15 I built hanging on the wall. Unloaded, but they just need ammo & they’re ready to go. They’ve been there for a while and all my of current children have fired them. They all know you put a bullet in the chamber, pull back the charging handle, take the safety off, pull the trigger, and it goes boom.

    My children have never once taken the guns off the wall, tried to take them off the wall, asked to play with them, or said they’ll use the guns to kill someone. They love to play guns with their nerf guns, cardboard tubes, etc. One very important reason they’re not like that is because of how they’re raised: those aren’t toys for playing games with, they’re tools for shooting stuff to be shot. They KNOW this. My youngest son will tell you about handling a gun (he’s 7), “keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.”

    Perhaps we, as Christians, need to take sex, attire, & the like just as serious: the way we dress is just as dangerous as a gun. (I want to say here that I consider the way one dresses & acts to be complimentary. A women in a dress from Fredrick’s of Hollywood who slouches, picks here teeth, & scratches her butt in public is less attractive them a women who is leaning over in your direction) Is dressing in an intentionally provocative way any different then pointing a gun at someone? Is there a difference between yelling “I’m going to kill you!” when you have a gun in your hand & purposely putting on pants that show the outline of your crotch? Sure, it could be ignored, and if someone isn’t a Christian they might say there is a difference, but as a Christian, is there? The bible tells us not to lie with our words, but if a Christian intends to dress provocatively and says they don’t intend to cause lust, wouldn’t that count as a lie also? (notice I said “intends?”)

    Paul said a while ago that the bible say we need to edify one another. If the way you dress isn’t doing that then I’d say you’re dressing immodest, according to the BIBLE. Not according to a preacher, your neighbor, etc. Someone lusting after someone else doesn’t mean the person being lusted after is in the wrong either. People make their own choices & you can choose not to lust.

    The unsaved don’t use the bible as their guide, so the best advice for anyone when someone who believes they can do whatever they want it’s their body shows us is Job 31:1. We know better, it’s not our body: it’s God’s & our spouses. The reality is that those who believe they should be able to do whatever they want is more then those who believe God has better for us.

    • We should also teach our sons to respect women as sisters in Christ and not take advantage of them. One thing I tell my boys is, “a gentleman respects a woman’s privacy, even and especially when she doesn’t respect her own privacy.”

      You proudly display your guns rather than locking them up inside a safe. But, your boys know not to touch them. They aren’t even tempted because of how they were raised. Same goes for raising young men on how to view and treat women. Some would say you are very careless (and in some cases worthy of being charged with child endangerment) for leaving your guns out like that. You say it shouldn’t be a problem since you raised them right.

      A woman intentionally displaying herself (think Kardashian) is like a loaded gun, cocked, safety off, carelessly left on the table. Even a slight bump could set it off. It is obnoxious when women purposefully display themselves sexually.

      Where the average woman gets a bent nose is when we are just hanging around every day life in every day clothes and still get the ramrod of correction on our modesty. We are like your guns, unloaded, safety on, hanging on the wall. Some guy might love AR’s and be tempted to touch the gun. Others might think AR’s are ugly and be more interested in a trap door Springfield. One person might not blink at the Pedersoli reproduction hanging over the fireplace and consider it modest and appropriate for home decor, but think the “assault rifle” AR is better off never in anyone’s hands or homes (like some say Christian women should never be seen in yoga pants or skinny jeans).

      Others think we are best locked away in a safe (denim jumpers, caped dresses, burkas) because the female form is dangerous just by its very existence.

      I don’t want to have to think about every little detail of my outfits, my figure from one day to the next, and whether or not guys are going to lust. I don’t see guys worrying about it when they go to the beach, dress up for dinner, wear workout clothes, or go topless in the summer mowing their lawns. No one bats an eye, but if mom slips on a swimsuit to play with her kids in the pool and the UPS guy stops by and sees her in her form fitting bathing suit and finds it sexually appealing, then arms are raised.

      I get it. Women are inherently made beautiful and sexually appealing. I agree we should be modest in dress and behavior. And I believe boys should be taught to control and behave themselves, just as you taught your boys to not touch the guns you have displayed.

  9. Oh what a hot topic. I came out of a strict, legalistic, home. I can tell you for a fact that dressing “modestly” did NOTHING for some of the boys we knew. We dressed modestly, they turned around and talked absolutely dirty about women, looked at porn, hid a camera in the bathroom to try and record girls taking their shower and did a host of other things I won’t mention. I came to realize, that at the end of the day, it’s a heart issue–not a matter of putting on another layer of clothes. Women are responsible before God to dress amd present themselves according to His leading in a way that adorns the Gospel, boys are responsible to treat women with respect and choose not to lust but to love them as Christ would. If their hearts are not right, no amount of clothing will keep a man or woman from sinning….they will always find a way. As far as protecting my daughter, I will tell her exactly what I just said and what to do if she ever finds herself in a dangerous or inappropriate situation.

  10. Any reactions on Melania Trump’s “jumpsuit” that she wore to her husband’s acceptance speech?

    • @Jolie, I had to look up pictures to see what you meant, but I see nothing wrong with it. It’s a little funny looking in my opinion (but I’m no fashionista) – but I’d say it was extremely modest.

      She’s a beautiful woman, but I don’t see that particular outfit causing anyone to look too much or lust. I think it was very tasteful.

    • @Jolie – An interesting example of how men and women see clothing differently.
      The layered look, with an open flap, draws a man’s eye and mind inside. I doubt there was anything to see no matter how she moved, but it still grabs a man’s attention and draws his sexual interest.
      And all white is sexual. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but it gets most guys going.
      Was it modest? In that it covered her body, yes it was.
      Was it sexually provocative for men? Absolutely.
      Does she know it was sexually provocative for men? I doubt it. At least no how provocative it was.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…One Simple Thing: Hug MoreMy Profile

      • It doesn’t help with Mrs. Trump when men know she has posed nude before, even if they have never seen any photos. I haven’t, and I still find that what I see coupled with what I know, very unsettling. When I have knowledge that a woman has sexually provocative behavior, I gave a difficult time seeing her in anything, and I prefer not to look at all. Maybe she doesn’t think something is sexually oriented in the way she dresses. But whatever is in her mind, I want nothing of it. For the same reason, I won’t watch the red carpet strutting at the Oscars. Or what passes as fashion in the news. Or many Tv shows. They may intend to titillate, they may not. But it’s my respsibiliry to turn off the tv. It’s when I can’t get away from it in the grocery store, the mall, or, sadly, at church.

  11. @Paul, I am not talking about what happens in a nightclub here, I am talking about everyday experiences. I wore a school uniform for 12 years, so I think I have some experience in dressing modestly and how it does or does not effect the choices boys might make or how they view women. I think in the modesty debate we have to listen to the voices of women who have actually seen how things play out. I think people who advocate the modesty message think it guarantees a certain outcome for the woman when it simply does not. There are a lot of voices out there sharing negative experiences about how they were taught about modesty.
    For the most part my social set growing up consisted of people who dressed more modestly than not. The boys who might have considered dating me probably had sisters who dressed as I dressed. They weren’t really considering dating girls that dressed “slutty”, perhaps it was more of a social class thing or they didn’t want to bring those sorts of girls around their parents. We still wore jeans and one piece swimsuits though. How we dressed was no guarantee of not receiving pressure.
    Not every guy out there is automatically motivated to choose a girl who shows more skin. Perhaps he sees the girl who is dressed more modestly as someone who is more meek and easily pressured, someone who is easier to manipulate.
    @Tom and the pants issue….men’s pants typically fall straight from the waist. If you are a woman with a bigger behind and a smaller waist there is more of a curve hugging effect than a draping effect. Women with smaller waists/larger behinds typically have some difficulty finding pants. This is not me though. Pants that would fit those women would typically leave too much fabric in the thigh for me. There isn’t one universal pair of pants that will look flattering on all women.
    For women with bigger busts I can almost guarantee no matter how you dress, men will assign certain attributes to you whether they apply to you or not.
    For the person who made the comment that we should edify each other, do you think that holds true for both men and women as far as how they dress?
    Here’s a paraphrased example of an exercise from a modesty training program for prepubescent girls “Sit criss cross applesauce in front of a mirror with your shorts on. Now imagine what your grandpa sees when you sit like that”. I’m not sure what the creators of this program thought, but to me it says from now on, grandpa and most any other male will be policing you to see how appropriate you are. Beyond creepy.

    • @Kate – My point on the nightclub story was to relay how a man saw an outfit and how it convinced him a woman was easy.
      I’ve heard a lot of guys express such opinions based on nothing more than clothing. That has got to affect what they do or try to do with a girl. I think it’s a very valid part of the conversation.
      And again, it’s not that some ways of dressing end inappropriate sexual attention; it’s that some other ways of dressing draw and magnify such attention. It should not be that way, but it is.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…One Simple Thing: Hug MoreMy Profile

  12. Perhaps we should stop categorizing woman as sluts ! Young woman should be armed with the knowledge of how men and our culture judge females by how they dress. Modesty when it pertains to clothing is a lose-lose proposition for woman. Females & Males should be taught to wear what is appropriate for the occasion & be open to listening to the still small voice of God. Woman are NOT responsible for the sinful thoughts of men. What does the Bible say to do it your eye causes you to sin ? The answer in the Bible was NOT to preach a message to woman on modesty.

    • @w – I agree we should stop categorising women as sluts. Unfortunately, a lot of people of both genders do it, and it does change how those people see women.
      As to sin, the Jesus was clear we can cause others to be tempted, and that we would answer to God for that. This is true for men and women and in many, many ways.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…One Simple Thing: Hug MoreMy Profile

  13. I agree with Tom. my family and I were sitting around watching home videos and one of the things that we noticed was that all and I mean all of the females had loose fitting jeans and the comment was made that if a woman was wearing pants as tight as what is worn today she was running around in pantyhose. Today’s pants for women no matter if its leggings or skinny jeans are designed to show a woman’s curves unless its dress pants those are still loose same goes for dresses they are getting shorter. my question is for the men, how low does a top have to be to cause a guy who is trying to be good have to be before it is a problem for you? I read in one of Shaunti Feldhahn books that if you can look down and see you cleavage so can others so i put on a dress yesterday with one of those peepholes and low and behold i could see down it so i sewed a piece of material in there. and i believe that a good many of the woman who are wearing low shirts and skinny jeans and the new short dress and by low shirt i don’t mean the ones that are made to show cleavage i think they just want to be fashionable.

  14. Okay Paul, you win. This time. ? Maybe women and men really do see things regarding dress WAY differently. Based on the exchanges in conversation between you and I above, as well as our different opinions on Mrs Trumps white outfit. I’m a woman. I thought her outfit was pretty, tasteful, and not the least bit sexually provocative. Like, not even a little bit. I thought it was actually kind of classy.

    Also, when I said women know what they are doing, I do think a lot of women dress to try to attract attention and they are thinking “look at me, look at me, aren’t I hot? Don’t you think I’m pretty?” There are even women who I have heard admit that they love it when they turn the heads of other women’s husbands and boyfriends. I think that’s crummy, but I have heard it said.

    I do not, however, think that most scantily clad women are thinking “I’m looking for sex.” When I read your comment above I was like “what?? He has got to be kidding. Not many women think like THAT, and no man would think that either.”

    Maybe being a woman, I don’t really have a clue what men are thinking. Since you’re a man, you probably have a better idea. I seriously didn’t even know during this whole conversation, that we were on two very different pages, and that the “what the men are reading into the outfit” page was quite that intense.

    • @B – Bingo – You see it! And I’m sort of sorry for that because honestly it’s ugly and a bit scary. It’s certainly not something I want a teenage girl to think about, which is why it’s better if she is just given limits.
      A lot of teenage guys are looking for an excuse to push a girl for sex. That means they will make up things and repeat them to each other till they believe them. It’s human nature to excuse and justify what you want, we all do it to some degree. When the push for that thing is strong we do it more, and few things push the way sex pushes a young man.
      Most men start to see the truth in their early 20’s. I wonder if the reason “frat guys” are seen as so bad about sex is they run in a pack that repeats the lies over and over, allowing them to believe them for longer. There are other very male groups that probably do the same thing – sports teams, the military when it was all male, and so on.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Why It’s Ok Most Marriage Issues are UnfixableMy Profile

  15. I looked at Melania Trump’s white outfit. Beautiful outfit and sexy to me, but more elegant than lust-inducing to me. Anybody else pleased that the First Lady will be like 100 times more beautiful than any other First Lady the USA has ever had?

    • I’ll take 100 Nancy Reagans and Elinore Roosevelts and other first ladies who did so much for the country and humanitarian efforts over First Lady Trump looking more beautiful than any other first lady.

      Hopefully she does engage in a lot of influential things that help man kind and doesn’t just pose and look pretty.

  16. As on pe who has admitted being battle weary in the fight to keep my eyes pure in this world, I have several thoughts that came to me reading through these posts. In no particular order:

    1. My wife told me that she grew up with mixed messages about dressing. On the one hand, she needed to dress in such a way as to attract boys. On the other hand, she was not to look cheap and certainly not follow up sexually with any of said boys. And this was from her mother! No wonder she carried body image issues into adulthood and marriage.

    2. We have to distinguish between what we find in the world and what we find among believers. It’s one thing for me to have to rein in my eyes in the mall, and another thing to have to do it in church.

    3. It IS Chritian women’s fault for not dressing modestly. And it IS Christian men’s fault for not exercising discipline in how they deal with what they see. It is our fault because we are guilty as sinners in a fallen world. What is needed to remedy this is for believers to submit this to God so that by the Holy Spirit we are conformed to His image and not to the world. And we need to show more grace and forbearance to our fellow believers of both sexes, forgiving and seeking forgiveness, and asking God’s help in not causing a brother or sister to stumble.

    4. My wife is full-breasted (a fact I like and she doesn’t) and nothing she could wear short of a loose robe could hide that. But she is modest and doesn’t show cleavage to anyone but me. We can apply some common sense in these matters.

    5. Every culture has a standard of modesty. A Victorian Englishwoman would be horrified to reveal her ankle in public, while a Pacific Islander might be bare breasted. Both could be equally modest or immodest in their respective societies. None of the things being discussed in this forum occurs in a cultural vacuum.

    6. The very word “attractive” reveals much. An attractive house, an attractive job offer, an attractive landscape. All are trying to elicit a response. When a woman dresses “attractively” she is trying to elicit a response. From whom? From herself? Maybe she has a healthy appreciation for her God-given beauty. From other women? Maybe she wants other women to approve of her (or perhaps envy her?). From her husband? I love that my wife will wear something in the bedroom to elicit a sexual response from me, but it stays in our bedroom. This goes back to the mixed messages my wife got as a teenaged girl. “You need to be attractive, but not too attractive.” I don’t envy women having to deal with such confusion!

    7. We talk about a man’s health sexuality. (Or a woman’s.) In reality, none of us has a truly healthy sexuality that is not to some degree contaminated by sin. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need forums like this blog. But as believers, we can have a sexuality that is being conformed to what God desires for us. We talk about the visual aspect of most men’s sexuality. Perhaps it would help to see how that works by observing a truly corrupt and depraved form of it.
    In my field of music, I have had close working association with many homosexual men. Over the years, I’ve been made aware of things that I would never had thought, much less experienced. For example, there is a whole gay subculture that obsesses on men’s wrestling, because the men wear wrestling singlets with nothing underneath. Their genitals, frequently with erections, are pretty clear. Most men think nothing of it, but a homosexual man who is responding to a visual image of anorher man’s body, will give women some idea haw heterosexual men may respond to women’s bodies. Should men wrestle in baggy pants because there are perverted men ogling them? Of course not. But should a wrestler wear his singlet out of the wrestling gym without covering up? Of course not. And if he is a Christian man, he should go out of his way to not openly display his sexual equipment in public.

    All of this goes to say that I think we have too many people of both sexes laying blame and not enough people taking responsibility in matters of modesty. More humility and grace will go a long way in helping each other. Let’s work on the logs in our own eyes before working on the speck in another’s eye. Let’s also thank God for His beautiful gift of sex between a husband and wife, and help find ways to honor Him with our sexuality, rather than letting it be a stumbling block, or even a weapon.

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