Talking Modesty

Modesty. Today my family and I went to the New Mexico State Fair, and I was baffled (but not completely surprised) by the number of young women scantly clothed. On the way home, my sister and I started to talk about modesty. What does it all mean? As a woman myself I am affected in a negative way by the topic of sexuality and what that means to be a woman with sexuality. So, I decided to search Google and found this article called “Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means” by Rachel Held Evans. She presented this argument that woman are often fed two horrible things-like two sides of a coin. A culture that tells woman there only value is in their sex appeal rather than her character, and the other extreme which goes on to imply that woman need to dress modestly in order to keep our brothers from lusting toward a woman bodies. Two of these points, according to Rachel, point in pleasing men on one side with their sexual appeal, and on the other, pleasing men by taking responsibility for their sexual impulses as if our bodies were dangerous.

As I read this article, something hit inside me. I have been fed this as a woman. What have I been fed? Both sides of the coin. The mixed messages. Pressure to pleasing a man by being the best looking in a sexual away, and then believing this projection that my body is dangerous tool that causes men to lust, so therefore, needs to be hidden with modest dress. A few examples this has manifested in my life: I was on a date with my ex-boyfriend and I was wearing a beautiful blue dress that was fitted. I was wearing my hair down and I felt beautiful. We went to a pueblo cultural center and the night was filled with music and an open dance floor. I love to dance. Dancing is something that I truly do enjoy, and I wanted to dance even if it was by myself. However when I told my boyfriend I wanted to dance, he told my flatly that if I do men will look at me lustfully. That stopped me dead in my tracks. I didn’t want the attention and felt if I did dance, I was responsible for those men lusting after me because I chose to dance. So I didn’t. That night wasn’t very much fun. Another example (with my ex): I was about to go to the gym. I was wearing pattered blue yoga pants and then a fitted workout shirt and a hat as well. My ex came to me and said I shouldn’t be wearing that because he told me if I do, he would “look” at me. So, I changed so I could protect him from lusting after me. Whether or not he meant it this way, this gave me the impression that it was my responsibility to prevent him from lusting after me.

I feel furious at the revelation. SO, now. Here I am. Writing this blog to blow off some steam as I am realizing that I am fed mixed messages about my sexuality as a woman.

I realized that since I adopted the perception that a woman was responsible for a man’s sexual impulses, I started looking at women and their bodies as dangerous and seductive. This includes how I look at my own body. I find that this is a horrible trap I have caught myself in.

Where is the accountability for men? Has society reached so low a point that they have reduced men’s sexual desires to animalistic because there is no accountability for their own thoughts and actions?

I realize that a woman who chooses to dress in a manner that reveals a lot of skin does have an affect on men becuase how God created them. I am not saying that woman should be able to wear whatever they want because “men need to control their thoughts more”. NO. That is NOT what I am saying. Dress can be inappropriate on women and men alike.

What I am saying is that in todays culture, a woman tends to be caught in a standard (masked by outward dress) that a woman cannot reach. Two sides of a coin remember? On one side, woman cannot reach the standard of having a perfect body in order to please a man. On the other, woman cannot meet the standard of modest dress so men never lust after them. In my opinion, men will lust regardless of what a woman wears because he chooses. Lust is the product of sin in the heart, not a product of  an individual causing another individual to lust. Jesus even said “For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” Lust comes from the evil desires of ones own heart and this is true for BOTH men and woman. Not just men lust. I have dealt with this battle in my own life.

In all truth, this blog is a short cry from a wounded woman. I have believed that my body is a dangerous thing that is responsible for  a mans lustful thoughts. I have been carrying a false sense of responsibility. I have failed to see the glory and purity of my own body and sexuality as a woman because of the perceptions I have adopted unconsciously. We all need healing, men and woman alike because I am sure we ALL have dealt with our own negative perceptions of our own sexuality and that of the opposite gender.

Lord, whoever is reading this I pray your truth in this matter of sexuality. Lord I ask that you would make a difference in perceptions and cultural attitudes on women and mens sexuality in the secular world and in the church that reflects your heart, not our fears. Please heal the wounds I have received due to sin in the world and sin from my own heart.  Forgive me if someone has read this and received condemnation. I pray against in Jesus Name. I ask for truth-for myself and the reader. I ask for healing for us all, Jesus. In your name, Amen.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Talking Modesty

  1. It’s quite controlling, isn’t it? Part of modesty is being quiet and not asserting yourself. I struggle to speak my mind and often feel as if I’m somehow dissapointing God by just being me.

    • Hi Jamie. Thank you for your comment. Don’t be afraid to be who God created you to be. You are not a disappointment to God. He loves you. He never shames or belittles or puts us down. We have an enemy, and he wants you to believe that God is disappointed in you, but it is not true. Lord, I ask that you would show Jamie your love for her, and how beautiful she is to you. I ask that you would tell her how proud you are of her. In Jesus name, Amen.

  2. Hey Hannah, I found you when I commented on BBB’s post (she’s one of the few bloggers I follow). For some reason, the only other comment I noticed was yours. I read your blog post and God placed it on my heart to reach out. This doesn’t happen often.

    I greatly appreciate the sincerely sharing of your Christian journey. I see the earnest discovery of your true purpose while being conflicted by the fallen world we live. Within the space of this page, I see a beauty coming forth from the wounds that you hold. Keep on leaving that heart in Jesus’ hands. It seems you are on a new journey and new start, and that you’ve been through some tough times.

    Coming from a place where I lost many years of my life, by His grace, – the wounds, the imperfections, the mistakes (mine and others), God is crafting beauty out of ashes. It’s a strange dream today, since doctors couldn’t help me – I wasn’t “supposed” to lead a normal life today. I have come out very advanced in some areas, and lagging behind in others. As in all new beginnings, I’m still awkward with certain things… including dating?!

    When the “church” emphasizes certain modes of behavior more than they are supposed to, it can stunt and harm us. Christ allows us to be free. You should be able to celebrate your appearance more freely. You should be able to dance. David danced in his underwear. Of course dancing is attractive – that’s part of what makes the world beautiful. We men and women should spend more time being transformed by God, then they would be able be “more than conquerors” – to appreciate beauty more instead of being ‘tempted’ by it. To overcome the world, rather than holding others back.

    What you said is very apt, that woman (esp Christian) are caught in a “standard that they cannot reach” – a perfect balance of 2 sides of a coin. This must be frustrating. But this is true also of men. They are told to be alpha males, the hunters, the confident strong leaders; but have to have their sexual impulses in check. They have to be able to break through barriers (emotional, intellectual) with women, but hold back if it is going in a bad direction. These are reasons why we need Jesus. Only with Him can we grow into those balances.

    But all of us are on that journey of growth.

    A fellow sojourner,

    Ken

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