By Jesse Jost
Until women stop having curves and men stop having libidos, I doubt the modesty issue will go away quietly.
Women have many reasons for what they wear and evaluations of those reasons have been discussed at length elsewhere. What I want to explore now is the effect some kinds of modesty teaching have on the male brain.
I have grown up in circles with a pretty clear understanding that women should dress modestly so that they are not “defrauding” or a “stumbling block” to men and boys. It is common to hear that men have enough trouble with the battle for purity without Christian women adding to men’s distraction with careless dress. I was also raised to avert my eyes away from a woman who dressed “immodestly.”
The ideas behind guarding your eyes are admirable:
– Look away before arousal kicks in and you find yourself being led astray by the deceptive passion of lust.
– It’s a fact that what we fixate on sexually retrains our sexual taste, and if we are lustfully gazing on porn or other women, then we could become less satisfied with the wife that God has given us. And worse, if a wife knows her husband has a wandering eye, his comparing her to other women can make her feel an increasing sense of inadequacy.
– The two best reasons to guard your eyes are 1) the example of Job who “made a covenant with his eyes to not look lustfully on a young woman,” and 2) the teaching of Jesus who said that “looking lustfully” at a woman is the equivalent of mental adultery.
Modesty teaching has some worthy elements (you can read my previous thoughts on modesty here and the importance of guarding your eyes here). But lately I have been realizing that there are some ways that Satan twists these ideas and they can become destructive forces in the battle for purity, the most destructive of which is this: the way to combat men’s lust is through “modesty.”