Okay, so of course that’s not something I say on a regular basis, but it got your attention didn’t it? I am actually writing today to encourage a new line of thinking when it comes to modesty…here’s the backstory.
Flipping through the radio stations the other day, and I come across this bizarre radio show involving a preacher, some teenaged boys and girls, and what seemed like an endless line of questions about the ways teenage girls dress. It seemed with each passing question, the whole thing got more bizarre, and there were 2 straws that broke the back for me was this – the preacher asked the question of the boys, “When you see how a girl dresses, what does that tell you about her?”, to which one boy replied, “When I see a girl dressed, you know, not good, it tells me everything I need to know about her character.” REALLY? You have the discernment as a teenaged boy to be able to tell EVERYTHING about a girl’s character simply by the clothes she is wearing? Now let’s bear in mind, usually in these instances it’s not so much what the girl may be wearing but the imposed sanctions on what they think the girl should be wearing that leads to this character judgment. The 2nd question asked that got me was this, “So when a girl dresses immodestly, how does that affect you? What would you want her to know about her dress?” The response? ”Well, when that happens, I want the girl to know that like, if she dresses that way on a date or something, it will be more difficult for me to not have bad thoughts about her. In a way, it’s like she’s setting guys up to fail in our morals ’cause of the way she is dressed, and she just doesn’t need to do that to us.” I. Nearly. Ran. My. Van. Off. The. Freakin’. Road.
I have 2 daughters, and maybe a 3rd coming if baby J’s court case goes our way. Do I want them to dress in a modest fashion? Yes. But I want them to dress that way because THEY are valued, and THEY are precious and THEY are loved…NOT because if they don’t that somehow gives some hormonal-raging teenage boy the ability to say, “Well, if they had just dressed a little more modest maybe I wouldn’t have succumbed to a weak moment, blah blah blah…” Let’s stop putting the moral impetus on girls, and let’s instead start holding parents just as accountable for the way their young men are being raised (which, by the way, I have one of those to raise too)! Young girls need to be aware of the way they dress because of THEIR value, not because they dare not look a certain way that causes a young man to throw his morals out the window in that moment. You may think I am taking this too extreme, but in a real sense, I believe this nonsensical way of teaching modesty only accomplishes a few things: 1) it creates a mindset in young girls that leads unbelievable amounts of guilt should something happen to them sexually – it leads to a “it’s my fault” sort of belief, as if there is zero responsibility for the boy. 2) it creates a mindset to young men that their ability to keep their morals in check is entirely predicated on what they visually take in and that’s a load of crap – let’s not encourage an already existing culture outside of the church that says women “asked” for it, by including it within the church. 3) It thrusts Christian living for young girls backwards into a legalistic arena by equating their “character” to where their hemline falls, and fails to take into consideration the “character” of the boy who so easily compromises his just because the girls wore short shorts. Job 31:1 tells us that Job says, “I have made covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” It doesn’t say, “I have told all the young women around me to make sure their dress touches the ground lest I have impure thoughts and act on them.”
Just yesterday we had the girls out clothes shopping and told Kenzie, our youngest, that she couldn’t pick out a particular shirt due to it’s see through back. We ended up finding another one she liked just as well, in a similar pattern, that was more appropriate. We did so because we are teaching Kenzie she has worth, value and meaning that goes beyond whether or not her back is exposed as a young girl, not because if she wore the original shirt some 1st grade boy might have been compromised by her choice. As a former young man, let me fill you in on a little secret – clothed from head to toe or wearing short shorts, if a male wants to lust, he’s gonna lust. Let’s deal with both sides of this equation, and quit making young girls feel they are somehow less “Christian” if they make a clothing choice you don’t agree with.