Seemingly from time immemorial followers of Christ have heard of the need for women to be modest. When a pastor I regularly addressed the need for proper dress, swim attire, and the like. I never missed a chance to warn men against lust including the dangers of pornography, sex-saturated movies, and eating at Hooters.
Well, I cannot say for sure Hooters ever was mentioned, but it might have been…
Modesty as a subject addressed to women continues to be as popular as ever. Some would argue it remains a needed point of discussion. Consider this limited sample of Internet offerings:
- Jonathan Merritt's RNS column, "Is the modesty movement harmful to women?"
- Dannah Gresh's "A modest proposal for my critics"
- Maura Byrne's "The bikini question"
- Sharon Hodde Miller's "How modest is hottest is hurting Christian women"
Near the end of my pastoral tenure a shift happened I had never experienced in 20 years of ministry. After a sermon in which I addressed men and lust a woman approached me and asked, "When are you going to start challenging women in this area? Don't you think we struggle with lust, too?"
I was very much taken about because, frankly, I had never considered it.
Not long after that I had occasion to sit with our middle and high school students to discuss summer activities. When talking over the annual "one-piece suits or two-piece with a dark t-shirt over it" rules, one high-school girl said, "Why don't the boys have to wear shirts? Don't you think girls have problems looking?" A spirited discussion ensued in which the girls eventually backed down from their assertion that boys should wear shirts when swimming.
After one lake outing I did hear a faithful girl say, "Wow! ________ looks fiiiiine with those 6-pack abs!" It was clear she was not talking about one of her female friends…they were all wearing one-piece suits. No abs on display.
Without speculating as to the cause or timing of this shift, let just sum it up this way: there are, even within the body of Christ, teenaged and adult females who struggle with lust. Their eyes betray their hearts in the same way most teen and adult males have experienced since puberty.
Modesty is an attitude of the heart (1 Timothy 3:2) as well as a manner of dress (1 Timothy 2:9). Modesty considers how we think about ourselves in relation to God, which is reflected in the way we dress.
Modesty realizes that being "in Christ" means the believer does not need to gain lustful attention through boasting or revealing clothing. It considers the weaknesses of others and strives not to contribute to a spiritual downfall.
I think the question is, "Are women the only ones who need to be modest or are men also accountable?" I think there is no question we are accountable. Male followers of Christ should take modesty as seriously as we want, hope and pray that our sisters in Christ would.
What about it? Do men as well as women need to consider personal modesty?