The Modesty Rules: Is a Woman Responsible for a Man’s Lust?

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Lust, responsibility, and why "modesty rules" fail.

I grew up in a conservative home, in a conservative church and in conservative social circles. And hear me correctly, being conservative isn’t the problem.

The lies I believed from my culture are the problem, and lies can come from any background.

It’s been an intense process over the last two years as I’ve become aware of my many distorted views from my past, but in the midst of it, I’m seeing God more clearly.

In the culture I was raised in, there were constant discussions about modesty.

Not the “oh, hey, don’t be a rude showoff, because that’s rude” kind of modesty conversations, but the rulers and rulebooks of big-time modesty. If you’ve experienced it, you’re probably nodding or cringing, and if you’ve never encountered it, well, use your imagination.

Though the trappings varied, the lectures and conversations were always essentially the same: People talked about what girls were wearing and how the act of putting on clothes in the morning could radically change what boys were thinking.

There were endless options for violations and validations in Modesty-land, depending on the exact situation and circumstances. It didn’t take long for me to absorb the idea that I wasn’t a person with a body—I was an outfit with the power to control the morality of men.

I believed the lie that I was responsible for everyone else.

There was always a part of me that was desperate for a way out of the burden of over-responsibility, but my diligent self just kept trying to shoulder the shame and paranoia of the Modesty Rules, because I thought they were God’s plan for me.

In the last few years, though, I am learning a subtle difference in responsibility.

I have learned that, yes, people should be responsible, but not to me. God created each person with a level of autonomy and responsibility tied directly to Him.

Emily Maynard Emily Maynard is an outgoing introvert from Portland, Oregon. She likes Twitter, vegetables, fashion, Harry Potter, college students, and new information on anything. Emily is passionate about questioning, exploring, and growing alongside great friends. She's learning to speak up and loves watching people find their voices. She is not the Emily Maynard from The Bachelorette.

More from Emily Maynard or visit Emily at http://www.prodigalmagazine.com

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  • Billy

    Deeply respect your opinion & agre that We aren’t responsible for others actions. However, we are called not to cause our brothers or sisters to stumble (this applies to men as well). Wearing clothes that show off your body can lead to that. Modesty is about respectig your body as the temple of God that it is, not showing it off through inappropriate clothing. Also, i disagree with your statement about dressing to the culture we live in. Women today are wearing shorts that are so short that the pockets hang lower that the shorts as well shirts showing off cleavage! Men wear their pants half showing off their choice of underwear for that particular day. I strongly disagree that if we were to be standing before God in thy clothing that he would approve.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      Since Billy’s comment seems to have the most traction, let’s engage it well, shall we?

      As Christians, we have been grafted into the covenant first made with the Jews. Therefore, we believe the Old Testament, though not the legal structure we are to follow in the same way, contains the revelation of God’s heart as He interacted with His people, among other things.

      It seems prudent, then, to consider the Jewish understanding of modesty, which is a loose translation of the Hebrew word tzniut.

      The primary use of tzniut in Scripture is humility. It is the word to describe Moses in Exodus, the way of wisdom in Proverbs, and the call of the faithful in Malachi. Modesty is linked, directly, with an act of deference and abasement. While this may involve not causing others to stumble, it expects the same from them.

      Modesty is not about respecting your body in a way that is reducible to clothing. If you want to say modesty is about respecting your body, I hope that means that you do not eat junk food and you do not have a cell phone, both of which may bring harm to your body.

      See how silly that sounds? It sounds silly because we have reduced a beautiful, Scriptural concept like tziut to a bastardised “modesty” that comes off as rules for how we dress, not the heart formed by the Spirit which inspires us to dress with respect to one another.

      If you read the article from start to finish and, I dare say, with care, you see that Emily’s point is just that: modesty is a habit of being, not a rule book.

      Bravo that she takes the meaning of the Scripture more seriously than its passages out of context!

      • Billy

        I deeply respect your opinion as well and you are entitled to it as I am mine. However, I do disagree with your rebuttal. Modesty can be defined as: behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency. We must be careful with how we represent ourselves to this world (saved and unsaved) because we are temples in which God dwells. As representations of Christ we should not bring negative attention to ourselves; wearing provocative clothing does that. What causes a desire to wear those types of clothing? A want to fit in with the culture around us. As children of the most high God we are called to be peculiar to our culture; not to fit in.

        • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

          Except what I wrote here wasn’t an opinion, but a defense of a Biblical understanding of modesty, not the secular understanding you have imposed on what the word means in Hebrew. Which is an argument based in Scripture, not opinion. How we use that word, sure, that’s opinion, but what the word is and is not is not an opinion. You engaged none of that. You repeated a Scripturally untenable position. That’s not being entitled to an opinion, that’s ignoring the complexity of the Word of God you claim to represent.

          • Billy

            Agree to disagree is my final response to you. I would love to talk about this more with you but there isn’t any productivity coming from it because neither of us will change (which is fine). God bless you

          • http://www.shaneyirene.com/ Shaney Irene

            This is quite a shame. Why comment if you’re not willing to engage in a dialogue and potentially change your mind?

          • John Peters

            To begin with, there are several things that we need to consider – Firstly, what does the Bible say about modesty? Secondly, is it Biblical to just follow the trends and do what we like to do? Thirdly, is modesty/immodesty something that we can see examples of in Scripture and take lessons from?
            For the first question, I have to say, the Bible says that modesty is not so much an issue of the outside as of the inside. The modesty of the outside is mentioned – “Don’t let your adorning be exterior.” The focus is on the interior. Focus on drawing close to God much more than the exterior. Naturally, however, this is most certainly going to have an effect on your outward appearance and modesty. “Out of the abundance of a person’s heart do their works come.”
            The second question is one that I’m surprised to find controversial. I don’t see anyone in Scripture who was commended for being popular or conforming to the world. Rather, in Romans 12:1-2, Paul tells us not to do that! He writes the epistle of Galatians to correct the fact that people were conforming to the popular standards! He is full of scathing rebukes for conforming to those who led them astray! He even said he wished that the ones who were troubling them were dead, rather than to have them lead these people astray.
            For the third question, go to Joseph. Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery. He refused. However, it must have been a pretty massive temptation, seeing as Potiphar’s wife evidently was surprised by his refusal. What’s interesting in this story, however, is to go into history, and look how they dressed. The fashionable women of Joseph’s time dressed in a necklace and a skirt. Nothing more! And Joseph, seeing that, couldn’t just stand there and not fall to temptation – instead, he ran from her presence. Another man, David, did not run from the presence of an immodestly dressed woman – Bathsheba. If you know the story, you will know that David committed adultery with her. This is important! If David, the MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART could not stand before immodesty, how are men of today supposed to do so?! Maybe it would help if we Christian women were willing to help them out and dress modestly??!! I know it’s not popular!! I DON’T CARE!!! It matters much more that Christ be glorified in the lives of the Christian men around me than that I be popular!!
            I personally know men who have told me that they have fallen to sin because of immodestly dressed women. I do not wish to make more Godly men fall in their ranks because of me. It’s important to me that I do everything in my power to uphold them. I pray that it be the same for other people following this blog.

          • http://www.findingmyvirginity.com/ Belle Vierge

            Bathsheba was bathing, without realizing David was voyueristically spying on her, and then David raped her. I blame David for this one, not Bathsheba’s “immodesty.”

          • sarahoverthemoon

            “what I wrote here wasn’t an opinion, but a defense of a Biblical understanding of modesty, not the secular understanding you have imposed on what the word means in Hebrew.”

            Preston is my hero.

          • olivia

            That’s dangerous. If Preston’s your hero, then what are you going to do if he disagrees with God? Brilliant fellow, maybe, but being attached to a person can lead to some dangerous situations.

          • DrMichael

            That goes a bit far, doesn’t it? My brother is my hero. My dad. Others I have met with strong standards and intelligence, etc. That doesn’t mean I idolize them or think everything they do is dead on. OR that I would put tn front of God’s…

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            [shoves fingers in ears] lalalalalalalalai’mnotlisteninglalalalala

        • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

          Also, I’m calling it Scripturally foul to suggest that people are “entitled to their opinions” … St. Paul didn’t think that was true. Nor the apostles. If it was within the Church, to those already converted, when ignorant things were said, people were taken to task for not knowing the Scripture and misusing it.

          • PW

            “Scripturally foul?” Really? Are you the Bible ref? You take yourself way too seriously!

          • http://twitter.com/TinyandFierce__ Cassie Chang

            And way to resort to personal attacks without actually engaging with what Preston said.

          • PW

            Are you kidding me? Have you read some of Preston’s other posts? He’s stopped just short of calling people heretics, false teachers, sexists, and inherently flawed!

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            @PW – Well, if it looks like a duck, and it sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, and objectifies women like a sexist, it’s probably a sexist duck. ;)

          • PW

            It really surprises me that you agree so much with what Preston has to say! The spirit in which he writes things is so contrary to the spirit in which you write things. He is hateful and demeaning while you are conversational and invite response. I’m not man crushing on you or anything it’s just that you don’t seem like the “I’m the Bible police” type of guy that Preston comes across as.

          • Hanna

            I just came into this, and I didn’t find him hateful and demeaning, but educated and spiritually convicted. Yay Preston!

          • http://twitter.com/einfarben xander

            That’s because the things that they are saying are heretical.

        • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

          “Modesty can be defined as…” yes, it can be defined however we want from our particular cultural perspective, but I believe the point that Preston was making was that if we are going to have a discussion about what *Biblical* modesty is, then we should probably start by looking at what the *Bible* says about modesty itself.
          Dang it…Preston responded before I finished. He’s Just. Too. Fast.

      • PW

        This argument is terribly flawed. To suggest the only proper definition of modesty is what the Jews understood it to be is silly. Does this also mean the only proper definition of a Messiah is what the Jews understood a Messiah to be? Is the only proper definition of a Sabbath what the Jews understood a Sabbath to be? Your argument makes no sense!

        • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

          “Does this also mean the only proper definition of a Messiah is what the Jews understood a Messiah to be? Is the only proper definition of a Sabbath what the Jews understood a Sabbath to be?”

          …………..Yes?

          Check out NT Wright for more details.

          • PW

            Another thing about your point is that it is actually the NT that suggests that a woman’s dress also relates to her modesty! I Tim. 2:9.

          • PW

            And if your understanding of Sabbath and Messiah is what the majority of the Jews understood them to be, I’m sorry!

          • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

            … You really think “the majority of Jews” were the scribes and Pharisees? That’s leaving out huge chunks of the Gospels.

          • PW

            Brother, even the disciples misunderstood the purpose of their Messiah! It wasn’t just the scribes and Pharisees!

        • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

          PW, my brother, you have derailed.

          • PW

            What do you mean derailed?

          • PW

            I believe the derailment occurred when Preston suggested the only meaning for modesty was found in defining the Hebrew word used most often!

      • abe

        Preston, you’re way too complicated in your defense for an “opinion” piece that quotes one scripture and takes that out of context. I understand what Emily is saying. The way she dresses is not solely responsible for a man’s lusting. got it. But your “lofty” response:”It seems prudent, then, to consider the Jewish understanding of modesty, which is a loose translation of the Hebrew word tzniut.” is just ridiculous! She’s not Jewish. She’s not writing as a Jew. She’s not writing about living in the old testament times under the law. She is giving her opinion on why she shouldn’t be solely responsible for another man’s lust…today….2012. What is the definition of modesty today?

        1. the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.

        2. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.

        3. simplicity; moderation.
        Another definition: designed to prevent inadvertent exposure of part of the body
        You did a great “word study” on modesty but it seems very irrelevant to the overall question. Is a women responsible for a man’s lust?

        Of course people need to check their own lusts and sinful desires and workout their own salvation…but Jesus did say not to cause another to stumble. AND what sorrows await the one who does the tempting. Matthew 18.
        So, should women be held “totally” responsible for a mans lust? Of course not. But should there be some accountability? Most certainly! Not just for women, but men also. The same principle should apply to all Christians.

        • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

          [sigh]…and around and around we go. Here’s a simple question: if the Biblical proscription against tempting others matters, then why doesn’t the Biblical concept of modesty matter? Seems there’s a bit of picking and choosing going on here…

          • abe

            Again, it was a great word study. But only focusing on a hebrew definition of the word “modesty” is not addressing the question. Again, Emily asked is a women responsible for a man’s lust? We could also ask the question: Could a Christians freedom to drink alcohol be the cause of an alcoholic’s relapse? Could the way a man dress’s cause a women to lust? The answer is yes. Are we to walk around covered up and not be proud of who we are or not be free in Christ? no. But we have a responsibility to be encouraging and sensitive to the growth of other believers. If your surrounded by those who would fall into sin because of your “freedom” then it is your job to either hang out with different Christians who can handle your lifestyle or become a “slave” to Christ for the sake of those that are watching you.

          • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

            I’ll kindly ask you to stop misusing Scripture now, please. You’ve alluded to a number of passages, stripped them of their context, and reapplied them how you see fit. That, by the way, is why “lofty” word studies matter. Because these words do matter. Because these words are His and they are holy and when we throw them around like they can mean what we want, we dishonour Him. So, sure, I’ll make “lofty” arguments about sticking to the meaning of the Text, because Jesus said that it was written that not by bread alone shalt man live, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Every word. Not a few passages strung together to say what you want them to. Every word. That’s why I will not abide misuse of the “causing to stumble” passage, among others. Which is disappointing, Abe, because you’d actually notice that most of what I had to say about the Hebraic understanding of modesty is affirmed in your comments about deference to others. Actually, it’s the whole point of Emily’s article. You just want to blame her, at the same time, for causing lust. That’s not right. That’s shameful. That’s where we veer off and I start getting aggressive with defending what the Bible actually says from what we’re kind of sort of pretty sure this one English translation thinks it means.

          • abe

            Preston, you are still not focusing on the question that emily asked. You are pounding your pulpit and blasting everyone who doesnt agree with emily’s perspective with your “deep” definitions and bursting knowledge of scripture and so-called “context”. (that, by the way, you portray yourself as being the only person that knows the proper context). Answer this: Does anyone have any amount of responsibility for causing someone to lust or not? Because that is the heart of the issue that everyone is discussing. Tell me, all knowing Preston! Cause the article suggests that those that cause others to lust, have no responsibility whatsoever. I don’t blame emily for another man’s temptations. But emily is naive to think that she has no influence.
            And please explain to me how I used the scriptures out of context…geez. You make it sound like your the only one that can quote scripture dude!

          • Hersh, or is it HARSH

            Abe…I agree with you Preston missed the point and seems focused on lofty nonsense rather than the simple point. When Paul corrected people regarding proper word usage he corrected them based on their own cultural understanding of the word(s) in their own language. That’s exactly what I think most of us are trying to do… explain it in our own cultural /language/understanding. Trying to define this discussion by taking it back to the language of Paul is nuts… OH in my opinion of course. Simple put… if people are trying to care about others the way Jesus has asked us to… dressing modestly is a given. Otherwise its a free-for-all…

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            Hersh, if trying to understand the context surrounding the Biblical notion of modesty is focusing “on lofty nonsense rather than the simple point,” then I fear for whatever church it is that you’re “leading.”

          • Hersh, or is it HARSH

            Luke I’m a pew polisher not leading a church (thankfully huh???)

          • Hanna

            I think to answer Emily’s question, which was “Is a WOMAN responsible for a MAN’S lust?” you have to look at the BIBLICAL definition of modesty. And since it seems you haven’t taken the time to dig into that, yes, Preston is the one who knows what he’s talking about. He’s not being “deep” or “lofty.” He’s seeking the truth in the only place you can find it. The Word. Not the opinions of the general public.

          • abe

            Hanna, why don’t you consider the countless other scriptures that deal with modesty AND the responsibility we have to the “weaker” Christians?
            I loved the word study on modesty; “tzniut” was very refreshing, honestly. But lets put it in action! If you know that “jim-bob” at your church, has “heavy eyes” and can’t seem to keep focused above the neck line, what would “tzniut” do? If “Linda-lou” went gaga over my “26-in pythons” (biceps) how would “tzniut” react? Would that “habit of being” say “who cares how they react, I have (or am) “tzniut”

            NO!!
            We would be the better person and DO OUR BEST to avoid being an “object” to them.

            Wisdom is THE APPLICATION of knowledge. Its great to know “tzniut” but even better to apply it.

            Even Preston said “The primary use of tzniut in Scripture is humility. It is the word to
            describe Moses in Exodus, the way of wisdom in Proverbs, and the call of
            the faithful in Malachi. Modesty is linked, directly, with an act of
            deference and abasement. While this MAY INVOLVE NOT CAUSING OTHERS TO STUMBLE, it expects the same from them.”
            Let’s be realistic please…

          • J

            for freedom Christ has set us free. my goodness I hope it’s freedom from this “no child left behind” version of christianese modesty culture. the way we can “DO OUR BEST to avoid being an ‘object’ to them” is by refusing to see ourselves the way others do. I will not take sole responsibility for what someone else has going on in their mind. I recognize my ability to influence and saturate the people around me, but refuse to take ownership for their sin nature. It would be a great example to the “weaker” christians to act our age in Spirit. a.k.a. fruit of self-control, not other-control. if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out. Locate the deception, and cut yourself off from it. If you think the deception is breasts & not your own sin nature… do what you need to do to grow from the situation. Redemption from shame- oh how I await the day!

          • abe

            LOL!!! J, did u really just advise the weaker Christian to “gouge out their eye”? I hope no one goes to you for counseling or we’ll start seeing a bunch of blind, mute and limbless “mature” Christians. But hey, at least they learned “self-control”, right?
            I would rather refrain from a little “outward freedom” when AROUND the weaker person, than go to have them mutilate themselves!
            You never know, they may need that tongue later on to tell the next guy of how they overcame their struggle with lust!
            Greater love, guys….greater love John 15:13

          • Amanda B.

            Abe, Jesus Christ was the one who advised people to “gouge out” their eye if it was causing them to sin (Matthew 5:29). That is profoundly biblical advice. Consider also that this was given specifically in the context of lust, where He lays the indictment squarely on the one doing the looking, and not on the one being looked at (Matt 5:28). While of course we could discuss the nuance of what Jesus meant by “gouge out your eye”, J’s citation of this verse is directly applicable.

            The behavior Paul admonished the “stronger believer” to forego in 1 Corinthians 8 was a clearly-defined action (eating sacrificed meat) in a clearly-defined place (an idolatrous temple)–much like your example of drinking beer in front of a known recovering alcoholic.

            The type of modesty that gets preached to most women, on the other hand, is much more nebulous, vaguely affecting their entire public life as a human being who would much prefer not to be seen as purely a sex object. Different subcultures have different lists of rules of modesty, and any individual person might offer a different opinion on whether or not a woman’s clothes are too lust-inducing (or too trendy, or too colorful, or too masculine, or too dowdy, or too [insert criticism here]).

            As a woman, of course I believe it is my responsibility to the Lord to dress appropriately, even erring on the side of caution, in relation to my culture. But am utterly incapable of anticipating or preventing anyone else’s lust problem. Discussions of modesty fall apart when they are centered on men’s lust–because when it’s all over, women are still being expected to dress primarily for the tastes and pleasure of men. God is my judge, and He is the only one I can rightly and realistically seek to please with the way I dress.

          • http://www.facebook.com/alee.franklinwillis Alee Franklin Willis

            Abe, the problem with your assertions about female responsibility to “weaker” Christian males is that it is unlikely that most women have been specifically told by a man, “I struggle with lust, and it isn’t helpful to me when you dress in that way.” What you’re assuming (when you relate this to taking an alcoholic to a bar or taking a glutton to a buffet) is that women are supposed to know which men are unable to take captive their thought lives with respect to lust. Or perhaps you are saying that women should always be aware that there COULD POSSIBLY be a man that might come into her presence throughout the course of the day that has an inability to control his thoughts and that she should be extra careful on the off chance that she runs into him and he is tempted? I believe that we as men and women have a responsibility to not contribute to the overly sexualized culture in which we live, where women are treated as nothing but sexual objects to fulfill a man’s desire. And I think part of this responsibility is for men to step up and say “We aren’t going to support the objectification of women anymore, and the first step is taking responsibility for our own thoughts and actions and owning up to the ways in which we have used women as scapegoats for our own disrespect for them.”

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            Abe, again, it’s a great deflection, but answering the question that was actually asked would be most helpful here.

          • abe

            Luke, I dont know how much more clearer and simpler I can make my answer. It sounds to me that you and preston are determined at all costs to try and defend emily’s poorly explained opinion. In a way, I understand her point. Women shouldnt be held totally responsible for a man’s lust. But you, preston or emily cant ignore the responsibility that we have for the encouragement and growth of other believers that the bible teaches. Especially the “weaker” christians. Instead you and preston would rather call everyone else’s other scripture reference “misquoted” or “out of context” or “twiste”.Its kind of funny that you respond so dogmatic when trying to sound so free or open-minded or enlightened. Its not as complex as you make it sound luke….

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            Abe – Well, you could probably make your answer much clearer and more simple by actually answering the question that was asked? I don’t know, I’m just throwing out ideas here.

            The question was why you choose to highlight the scriptural proscription against causing our brothers to stumble and ignore the rich textual and contextual history of the scriptural notion of modesty.

            As far it being “kind of funny that [I] respond so dogmatic (sic)” I will simply say, my friend, that is oh-so-rich. Asking simple questions and actually expecting answers to those questions isn’t being dogmatic, it’s simply arguing in good faith.

          • abe

            Luke, I was giving an answer to Emily’s article question. You are trying to question everyone’s use of scripture in answering the question that Emily asked. I enjoyed Preston’s tangent into the word “modesty”, but Emily asked “is a woman responsible for a man’s lust?” There are countless comments on here that have shared scripture that would give the impression that there is some responsibility for causing others to sin. It doesn’t matter if it is a woman causing a man to sin or a man causing a woman to sin. Yes, some people will sin no matter what you do. But it is a Christians responsibility, if in their power, to not be a stumbling block to others…male or female. The question of why I choose to ignore the “rich textual and contextual history of the scriptural notion of modesty” is a ridiculous question considering that (what is and what isn’t modest) is not the main point. Modesty will always have a different meaning to different people, but sin is sin. You sound like you just want to argue…

          • Hanna

            It’s so telling that we focus SO much on modesty, so that we can point fingers at women for causing men to sin, and we don’t put a magnifying glass on oh, say… men pressuring women to have sex? Which would be men leading women to stumble. Or even men exaggerating their “Christian” qualities so that a godly girl will like them. Or the many sins of men that cause women to also partake in sin. WHY is the focus on the “immodesty” of women?
            (Sorry I keep commenting after your posts, Abe. It’s not really on purpose, and I don’t want you to feel like I’m attacking you specifically. Your posts just happen to be there when I think of something to write!)

          • abe

            Hanna,
            I don’t see the lop-sided finger pointing to women in the church the way the writer claims. This article paints the church as misogynistic, sexists and that’s not right. There are issues that need to be addressed differently, but not because males want to bash and hate on females. That’s victimizing.
            Two things that keep me posting about this article:
            1. Modesty, in our culture is definable. It doesn’t need to be strict, but it can’t be careless either.
            2. We do have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters. PERIOD. Not just to help keep them from stumbling, but help when in need. To help grow strong. To be a friend, to encourage their gifts and talents and so on….

          • Pam

            With respect, abe, you don’t see a lopsided finger pointing at women because you aren’t a woman. You haven’t spent years being told that what you wear can corrupt poor innocent men. Discussions of modesty and dress often don’t even mention men as having any responsibility – yes, this really is true.
            I think this might be why you can be dismissive of Emily’s piece – it hasn’t affected you in the way it’s affected so many others.

          • abe

            I couldnt post to your last comment: “Abe – No, I’m simply trying to understand where you derive your notion
            of modesty from. Preston was trying to develop a scriptural definition
            of modesty, which is why I asked about it, because you seem to base your
            authority for the responsibility of women to be “modest” on scripture,
            but fail to ground the concept of modesty itself in scripture.
            It’s not a tangent. It’s central to the discussion. And you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t rely on dictionary . com to be the end-all and be-all for understanding concepts that are used as justification for sweeping moral claims.”

            Luke, your still moving away from the point of the article AND twisting my answer with your sarcasm that sounds a little childish. There have been tons of biblical references posted by others that have clarified a biblical definition of modesty. I didn’t think a sharp guy like you would need me to re-post those. Especially since you and Preston seem to “refute” and dismiss others use of scripture as “out-of-context”. Still, others have given their own opinion of what they feel being modest is. I shared with you a simple generally accepted definition that people who have access to dictionary . com would be able to find. And if you were to go to a third world country they would have yet another definition that is completely different than the others.
            None of the definitions are good enough for you. So, AGAIN…a definition of modesty is not as important as ALL Christians knowing that they have a SENSE of responsibility to their other brothers and sisters for their spiritual well-being. Do you think that the way that you act, speak, think, dress, love, etc. has no influence on others??? We are to be the example to the world…yes the WORLD. No, we don’t have to be the same cookie cutter Christian as the next guy. We are unique, individual, extraordinary…but we do need to realize that what we do will affect others. good or bad.

            That seems to be the most important issue that you, Preston and Emily are trying to avoid.

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            You couldn’t post to it because the host censored it, and I’m not really interested in continuing a discussion in a forum that is hostile to opposing viewpoints. I wrote a blog post in reply to these comments, so if you’d like to continue the discussion there where there is no censorship of opposing viewpoints, I’d love to have you.

          • abe

            Your reply posted below…it was because the web address you posted. Its not a hostile forum. I kinda like posting here so the others (that you, Preston & Emily are bashing with self centered opinions, comments, irrelevant tangents and misguided scripture essays) can keep updated on the topic. Although, you didn’t post your blog location….

          • http://www.gatebeautiful.ca bekka

            Just a quick note: Emily’s question is one of responsibility. The questions you ask in comparison are questions of causation. Not responsibility. Each person is responsible for their own actions. If an alcoholic chooses to drink because someone around him/her is drinking, it is still his/her choice to do so. No one else is responsible for that decision.

            Or, if we were to equate the question of the alcoholic’s decision with a man’s lust due to a woman’s attire, we might have to assume that alcoholics are completely devoid of self-control (which I know to be false), or that men in general are completely devoid of self-control (which I also know to be false).

            What is this obsession some men seem to have with insisting they don’t have self-control by assigning blame to anyone other than themselves for their lust, or any other sin for that matter? Why are some men so keen on limiting themselves, debasing themselves, belittling themselves?

            Because, that’s really what it comes down to. If men automatically lust after women because of their attire, they must be animals with no self-control.

            I was taught differently than that.

            That being said, I believe that as Christians we are called to help each other with our struggles. Just because a woman is not responsible for a man’s lust issues does not mean that she cannot assist him in his efforts to overcome it – or help him find assistance.

            Ultimately, as Emily mentioned, it is God who will deal with the root problems of lust (and other sin), but we can still do our part to come alongside struggling brothers and sisters.

          • abe

            bekka, i pretty sure that you and I agree. I dont mean to imply that if someone sins by looking at a woman, that I think its the womans fault. I dont! Especially if the woman has no idea that someone else may have a struggle. what I wholeheartedly believe is that if I or ANYONE (male or female) knows that someone struggles with something that I or ANYONE (male or female) do, then it is my responsibility, as a Christian, to be the better/stronger/mature believer and withhold my “freedoms” for their sake. The bible teaches that throughout the tons of scriptures that I and others have referenced to throughout this comment section. Emily’s wishy washy article, Prestons lofty rebuttals and Luke’s irrelevant questions do nothing but encourage others to live selfishly and recklessly.

        • Hanna

          The original meanings of words in their Biblical context, no matter if they were written in Hebrew, Greek, or Arabic, are SO SOOO important to understanding the Word! People complain about “inconsistencies” in the Bible, or if it’s inerrant, because the Bible has been translated so many times. So why not go back and find the true meaning of the words to better understand what you’re reading and what the writer meant? I LOVE looking up definitions of words from the Bible in their original language!

          • abe

            Yes, but application is even better. We have to apply what we learn and use it TODAY. We don’t live in OT times but we have to apply the unchanging principles today. And even more so, try to apply all of the Word of God.

    • Ann

      I am a woman and I totally agree.

    • Hanna

      I’ve just been scrolling through comments, and one thing a lot of people
      don’t seem to realize is that modesty isn’t just about the way you
      dress. Modesty being equated with dress just shows how much we’ve placed
      the burden of modesty solely on women. Male modestly would be fairly
      unassociated with how men dress. Women don’t care if you’re wearing saggy pants, and quite frankly probably WOULDN’T find it attractive. Men know
      this, and don’t usually try to dress “provocatively.” But they DO
      often: lead women on to get attention, talk themselves up, put others
      down to look better, say things they know women want to hear…
      Christian men are guilty of this often. So let’s talk about modesty as a
      whole, if you want to define modesty as behavior that causes the
      opposite sex to desire something that doesn’t belong to them.

    • http://www.findingmyvirginity.com/ Belle Vierge

      I am a curvy woman, and literally, the only clothes that don’t “show off my body” according to ultra-conservative standards, are oversized sweatshirts. I might not wear deep V-necks to church, but my curves will still be visible under my blouse or sweater. This does not mean I lack respect for myself or for my Lord. Rather, it means I accept the body God gave me, rather than trying to cover it from shame.

  • Ben

    I totall agree with Billy, while one is not responsible for someone’s lust, the bible admonishes us to dress modestly. The way one dress can cause another brother who might be a new convert, who is still trying to overcome the flesh to stumble. I totally diagree with dressing according to culture. To me there is only ONE Culture, the culture of the Kingdom.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      Except there is not “ONE Culture”. The Kingdom is not a culture in the way you have used it here. It is one culture in the sense that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” but we also confess that taking Luke 10:8 and 1 Corinthians 10:27 into account. We affirm that there are many different ways in which the Kingdom is realised, that it does not always look the same in the same places, and to suggest otherwise is to be both culturally cut off and to disdain the unique perspective that foreign missions must bring to these situations. The mantra of “ONE Culture” is what causes Western Christianity to fail in other parts of the world. Jesus is just as beautiful, just as holy, just as Lord, here and abroad, for it is all His. His kingdom. Now and forever. But the practice of that Kingdom may look different from time to time. Women do not cover their heads in worship in many places now. Do we balk? Or do we understand that the culture of the Kingdom demands all be done in love and grace, that out of that heart true modesty comes. This, of course, being the whole point of what Emily has said.

      • Hanna

        LOVE your post.

      • John Peters

        “Women do not cover their heads in worship in many places now.” Head covering is normal in the church I attend. And my mother and sisters always covered their heads in church, even when we were attending a church where that was not normal. And we should balk at the fact that we have so strayed from the Bible that head-covering is just ignored.

        • DrMichael

          Head covering is understood as “long hair” not a hat or scarf by all interpretations I have seen. But yes, that should be the culture, not the location’s “values”. That being said, it is not dependent for salvation, and I would think is more a concern between the individual and the Lord. It is done not because it is required, but because it is pleasing to Him.

          • John Peters

            If you look up the history of head-covering in original manuscripts by the students of apostle Paul, or early church fathers, you will see that actually head covering really was a literal piece of cloth. But I respect your opinion. It’s funny for me to be arguing this point, because at our church, the argument is about whether head-coverings are allowed to be see-through or not. LOL!!!

    • TPH

      What about a “sister” who might be a new convert? Someone who checks out a church while dressed “immodestly”…? Would you ask her to change before entering? Because to me that seems to be the exact opposite of how Christ calls each of us into his kingdom.

      • Ben

        TPH, hi, I have been where a women come to church dressed as described. I was uncomfortable having a bast of sexuality however i was quick to judge her dress, this was all she had. now the to your question to do right and not do it to you is sin. Ben

    • Hanna

      So I can’t wear boots with socks!?!?!??!?!?!!

      • Flinux Penguin

        I don’t normally look inside boots to see what socks folks are wearing or the lack there of. But I do find that since Christ has taken me as his servant, modestly dressed women are much more attractive. Interestingly enough I find it easier to respect them. Dress as you wish though, it does not make us the better if we do or don’t. The reality is in Christ. No matter what I think or do not think. We all stand before Him.

  • Maria

    Emily, I think you may miss the point. Paul says “Don’t stumble someone weaker than yourself” He said if it does that he would not continue to do what stumbled another. Do you think your sensitivity may have contributed to things being said as you grew up? One good thing about becoming an Adult is the ability to forget the things of a child.

    • kk

      @Maria,thats very true.Some people are weak and in this issue at hand,we normally talk about dressing.I also think the writer might miss or has missed it somewhere.The Bible said we are the light of the world and if we say we are not responsible to anyone or our behavior,character including our dressing does not have any effect on anyone,we are missing it.We are to dress modestly,the Bible says so.Sometimes we try to speak using the Bible but alas we may end up against it.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      Another, hopeful, good thing is being able to read the Scripture in context and to not take St. Paul out of that context to twist how you would so will.

  • ePHraimAg

    I actually like what emily has said and she is correct… yet I will go as far to state that Lust is not a Sin..because Your sex life with Your Partner would be dead if You had not the desire of Lust for Her. Yes.. I have noted they who love to control people and try to press Home their perceptions Of a Christ-like Life… yet We are not the Christ for He made us to Be free in Him and to be instilled with freedom and good judgement in all spiritual growth. Personally .. I have Found that Agape Love & Phileo Love, temper what is Eros Love (so-called Lust). Do not forget that Temperance is a fruit of The Spirit that excercises self control. I am not Dead … I AM Alive!

    • Sowee

      This conversation has gone on for a long time and I am happy about the interest it has generated. Don’t wear anything your Lord will not wear. Let the Spirit of God control our lives for a good balance to be struck between mercy for weak brethren and the liberty Christ has given us. A temple well adorned will be a delight for all, a city on hill. Modesty is modesty in all cultures.

  • Jg

    I wonder if you’ve ever read “A Return to Modesty” by Wendy Shalit? A great, sensible treatment on the subject by a Williams grad?

  • Joh

    There is an African saying “You are who you are because of other People” or to simplify it “you become somebody because of your good responsibilities to other people”. Emily if you would live in a world where what you do or say does not affect others for good or bad- then it should not be this world. Its Good to speak up- but learn what you speak and how you speak- You are still responsible for propagating the gospel through your person.

    • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      right, her *person*–and she/(we) are people, not merely outfits or breasts. and at no point does emily advocate for dressing immodestly or against representing Jesus.

      • sarahoverthemoon

        YESSS

    • Hanna

      That’s not what that saying means. Just saying.

    • Pam

      Find me a single person who has been brought to Christ purely by seeing someone dressed ‘modestly’.

  • Andrew March

    The next person you invite home because you feel the scriptural injunction to be hospitable is an imperative, will be a pyromaniac. The friend arriving with him will come alongside you and quietly mention this fact. So unobtrusively you move the matches out of sight and maybe the candles too because you don’t want to be the source of temptation that nudges him over the edge into enacting his pyromania. That’s a kind and loving thing to do isn’t it? Ladies choosing to be careful how much flesh they show by choice is in the same league; surely.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      As a baker and one who exercises hospitality often, I have to tell you, if a pyromaniac was coming over, she could take her pie to go.

      Or have I misinterpreted your inherently flawed, condescending, and sexist analogy to make a funny point about it being inherently flawed, condescending, and sexist?

      • PW

        Bro, You’re just nasty!

    • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      so men are helpless pyromaniacs, and it’s a woman’s nature to enflame and destroy all that is whole and holy about them?

      wow, i am more powerful and terrible than i ever imagined (and guys are raging sex-oholics, impotent in the face of temptation?). no wonder we require so many culture-based rules to cage and protect us all (in kindness and love, of course).

      • John Peters

        No, no, no!!! Please, please, please, listen, listen, listen. Sorry. Andrew is just giving an example. Men are not utterly helpless. And men, and men alone are responsible for their sin. HOWEVER we are asking women to help us. We are responsible, but why make it harder than necessary for us? Why wear revealing attire when you have the choice of making the Christian life easier for brothers?

  • pastor x

    Let all you do be done in love 1 Cor 16:14 Love does not only think about itself, but thinks of myself in light of others, for their good. God the Father and Jesus thought about what clothes to he would wear before coming to earth….he covered himself with flesh so he could die. He then clothed his flesh with earthly garments which caused no controversy. If our “choice” of clothing is causing controversy, we should sincerely ask the Lord if we are loving our neighbor with our choice of clothing. No rules, but the rule of love.
    For the glory of God, for the good of his people, and for the Gospel among the nations.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      ………….
      …………………………
      …………………………………………………………………
      Anyone else picking up on the part of this which is somewhat heretical concerning the Incarnation? Also, shame the Holy Spirit wasn’t involved!

  • MGM46

    I would say the writer is looking at their side of a two sided issue and is obviously biased. We should not cause another to stumble.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      Just out of curiosity, if I told you I had a cat fetish and that your cute little kitten avatar was causing me to stumble, would you take it down?

      • PW

        So do you? I mean have a cat fetish? Cause that’s just weird!

      • MGM46

        You probably almost ruptured yourself straining at that one – if you will come up with one that is apples to apples I will most assuredly answer you.

        • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

          It’s going to be really difficult to come up with…oh wait, no it’s not. How about dudes? Why is it the we, as the dudery, are the ones who A) make the rules regarding modesty and B) are excused from following any similar set of rules?
          The biological responses are functionally equivalent (in that men see X and are aroused and women see Y and are aroused), yet we make no claims on the behaviors of men in general. Why? Couldn’t the behaviors of men similarly cause women to stumble? Why are we not concerned about this two-way street? Maybe because it’s less about protecting our brothers and more about controlling our sisters.

          • PW

            My friend, if you attend a church that makes no claims on the behaviors of men, find a new church! That doesn’t mean you get to stop making claims on behavior altogether, because the Bible is very clear that there are certain behaviors that accompany the Spirit of God living in someone’s heart…one of those being modesty!

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            I should have been more specific. We make no claims on the behavior of men with regards to this issue of modesty and stumbling. The point I was driving at is that the way that we assess these behaviors is qualitatively different when we’re talking about men’s behavior versus women’s behavior. While the underlying biological frameworks are functionally equivalent, the ways in which we attempt to make normative claims based on those underlying frameworks couldn’t be more different. There is much talk of the claim that “men see X and are aroused and subsequently lust, so women should avoid X for the sake of men.” Where are there similar arguments being made that “women see Y and are aroused and subsequently lust, so men should avoid Y for the sake of women”? That’s the problem as I see it. If we were *really* concerned about the spiritual health of believers in the body, then issues of male modesty would be addressed in tandem with issues of female modesty, but they’re simply not. And we can make anecdotal claims all day about how this church or that church does address these issues, but those claims lose their force in the face of Culture of Christendom that nearly universally eschews the topic of male modesty. The question then is why? Why the focus on female modesty but not male modesty? Why the lopsided set of requirements on female behaviors and relatively lax requirements on male behaviors? To me, the answer seems obvious – it’s about control, and perpetuating traditional gender steretypes that maintain male priviledge, but I’m certainly open to any other plausible explanations.
            Dude, you had to get me all serious! :)

          • PW

            Man you and I could get along well! Here’s the only point I would make to the point you just made (which, by the way, I barely understood!) I have been a part of and was a pastor of a church that put a lot of stuff on ladies that they didn’t on men. I saw that and God is growing me past it. But it’s dangerous to go to the other extreme where nothing outward is important! Your posts are challenging, but light-hearted and I appreciate that!

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            Totally agree, brother. Fruit matters. Actions are a reflection of the heart. I just think in this case, we might be questioning the wrong set of actions (female behavior) instead of the root of the problem (male priviledge). Ya dig?

          • PW

            Now that I get! Totally! Why don’t you write a whole article like that?

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            Good call. I think I will. Actually, I think I just did. ;)

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            Fiddlesticks. Sorry for the wall of text. Line breaks didn’t transfer through for some reason. I blame Harry potter.

          • MGM46

            Who said men were excused? Certainly not I – are you excusing the men – shame on you.

            _____

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            You asked for genuine engagement. I obliged. If you honestly care what I think, see my reply to PW. If you’re simply interested in caricaturing my position and throwing out zingers, have a nice day.

          • MGM46

            I had hoped you would take a look at the other side of the position but obviously not – you have the side of responsibility down as it should be, but until you honestly look at both sides I don’t guess we have anything to say.

            _____

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            That’s the point. There is no “other side of the position.” There simply is no responsibility if that responisbility isn’t universal. You can’t simply create a post-hoc rationalization for “responsibilty” based on a morally lopsided proposition.

          • MGM46

            Not sure what you are using for your authority on this but I would suspect that self has entered into your reasoning and certainly there are two points to be considered. Until you see that you won’t progress on inch.

            _____

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            Excellent deflection. Also, kudos for the attempted dismissal by feigning some kind of superior objectivity. That fact of the matter is that “self” is a necessary and integral part of any reasoning process, without exception. It’s what makes “us”, “us”. Without self, there is no reasoning, so I’m really not sure what your point is. You’re right on one thing though, I think we’re done here.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Just out of curiosity, if I told you I had a cat fetish and that your
        cute little kitten avatar was causing me to stumble, would you take it
        down?

        I’d invite you to a Furry Fandom con.

  • Bob

    Good Article Emily. The Holy Spirit has done a great job of keeping people that I pastor in the realm of modesty and He sure does a much better job than I could ever do. On another line – ePHraimAg says that lust falls into the realm of my relationship with my wife – well, last I checked lust is “evil desire”, my passion for her (body, soul, and spirit) is righteous and pure and has nothing to do with lust.

  • JLW20

    I knew instinctively by the title and intro that the author was a female. The modesty Rule was abandoned years ago and there is almost no distinction from street clothes and church clothes. If a woman is overexposed in public she is likely to be overexposed in the church. It’s criminal seeing fully exposed breast with a cross dangling between the cleavage. I would encourage you to rethink why it is that being a Christian and overexposed is not a serious enough issue to be concerned about in God’s house and while representing oneself as a child of God.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      Was it instinct or the *picture of her at the bottom of the page*? I suppose we’ll never know…

      • PW

        That’s hilarious!!

    • Pam

      YAAAY sexism!!!! Women are whores, gotcha.

  • lenchito

    Hey girl, appreciate your passion, but I think you ventured into an area where you really don’t know what you’re talkingt about, can I lovingly ask what planet your on?

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      What an entirely unchristian response. Shame on you and anyone who “liked” this.

    • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      ahh yes, what could a woman possibly know about the ways the Church shames women’s bodies and sexuality? what could she know about freedom in Christ? what could she know about the difference between sexual attraction and lust (an important distinction we rarely speak of)? what could she possibly know about dressing herself or hearing the voice of God?

      (also, Fundie Misogynist Ryan Gosling? #memefail)

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      For the love of sweet baby Jesus in his little golden fleece diaper, it’s *YOU’RE* can I ask what planet *YOU’RE* on!!
      If you’re going to troll, the least you can do is proofread, brosef.

      • PW

        Dude, have a little patience for those who may be new at this discussion thing. (Don’t stop posting though! You’re killing me!!)

  • Not Bound

    Hey thanks for your insight, I was friends with a great missionary to africa and there were areas there that thought ankles or necks and various other parts of the body we would deem “Non Sexual” in our culture. So i do appreciate that being addressed. Our salvation message is so biblical. But we tend to add more to it than needed. We scream what jesus whispered and whisper what he screamed…o btw they wore no tops in the bush…agian culture is everything. Our most Holy women of todays cultire wld never been allowed in the temple. Culture does change. Deal with it.

  • Vern Smathers

    “In fact, nothing you do or do not do can influence lust in someone else.” Is there any scriptural basis for this statement? While I agree that a rule based approach to modesty is not what Jesus taught, we are members of one another in one body. We are indebted to love one another. Love has many responsibilities. We all have an anointing from the Holy One and should walk accordingly. To walk and stumble others is not to walk in love. If the statement I quoted above is true, why did you write the article? Recommend the book? Obviously what we do, say and write can influence lust in others. To think otherwise is like thinking advertising doesn’t work.

  • Billy 2

    Not being half naked is important. I used to believe the modesty rule but since meeting my fiancee who wore short shorts and a v neck Ive realised we have stretched the modesty rule to mean girls aren’t allowed to look attractive. Its up to us men to not judge girls on what they wear. We shouldn’t set a standard for dress. We need men to follow the standard of their thoughts and eyes. Just because a wallet is there doesn’t mean you steal it. Just because a girl is attractive doesn’t mean you lust. And I know I’ve compared a girl to an object but its the sentiment that counts.

  • Billy 2

    A girl dressing so that she feels beautiful and in a way that she is comfortable in isn’t for the purpose of stumbling. As a man. I am not stumbled by women on the street dressed inappropriately as much as I am stumbled by being alone with the internet or by allowing my thoughts to wander about a modestly dressed coworker.

  • Dutchman

    Girl did your dad ever lovingly tell you not to wear something? He would to protect you, not to limit your creativity or desire to look attractive. Reality is that we live in a world gone terribly wrong. Jesus never judged someone’s appearance, but warned against the deceitful heart of men. Naturally men go places with their eyes and yes they should be selfcontolled. All I would say, daughters be aware! More than that, fathers please love your beautiful daughters well.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      Jesus also never disrespectfully referred to a woman as, “Girl,” followed by a entirely condescending comment.

      • Dan Syrcle

        Preston, just wondering why every comment you make to anyone you feel so scripturally and intellectually superior to the poster? What sort of credentials do you have when it comes to proper exegesis of a given passage? What is your hermeneutical background? Just wondering….

  • al

    One word– lascivious. It is a willful and done with purpose. It does not fit into living a life of “holiness”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.l.brown.39 Darryl L. Brown

    I want to speak as a man, The bible says that women should dress in modest apparel. Why would God use those terms if he didn’t understand the chemical reactions he placed in His creations at the beginning for an wholesome reason. As a man when I am confronted by the absolute nakedness of women today I have to fight with my chemicals and bring them under subjection everyday! When Adam first saw Eve the same thing happen to him. He did not think spiritually he thought fleshly, He was created to produce and replenish the earth. He said “Know this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” I believe man was created to only view his wife’s nakedness. When I go out anywhere I will see breast, backsides with tattoos pointing downward saying here it it boys come and get it! belly buttons, skin tight see thru pants maybe with a shirt hiding a little of of what God designed for a wife to lure her husband not 90% of all that see her. Men and women both have to take responsibility. Men must learn how to control himself and the temptation of the second look. And the women must learn that she only attracts Lust not love when or if she thinks she dressing to fit the culture of her environment. I think that some women think that if they can just catch him with their bodies then maybe they can chance him later down the line, well the opposite always happens, He loses respect for her but he wont say it yet until he is satisfied himself with her body and especially the parts you showed him when he first met you. He will thinks to himself that if you showed the world all of that, then he can not trust you to be his wife but he can trust you to give it up when he decides to come around again at his leisure.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      I’m speaking as a man, too. You say, “The bible says” … fine. Please quote those places in the Scripture, along with adequate understanding of the context, setting, and intent of the passage. Let’s not throw out, “The bible [sic] says,” unless we are going to quote the Bible in context.

    • Pam

      My Bible says that Adam and Eve were naked and felt no shame. Not sure what copy you are using to come up with your ‘Adam lusted after Eve immediately’ argument.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bethany.vancamp Bethany Richetti

      But the Biblical injunctions about modesty for women seem, with their discussion of not putting on braids or gold, to discuss a kind of humility and non-ostentation, rather than being about revealing wear. And regardless of how people dress — perhaps schooling your mind not just to counteract sexual urges, but to pray for and think of the people whose forms you encounter daily may help.

      • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.l.brown.39 Darryl L. Brown

        No, the bible is not saying not to wear gold or costly array. It’s saying not to decorate the outside so much and leave the inside untouched.

  • Tracy

    Car magazines put a bikini clad girl on the top of a car because…? Sports Illustrated has a swimsuit issue because…? Why don’t women’s magazines put those same women draped across the coffee table of some decorating magazine? The world recognizes it but the church wants to cover it up (no pun intended). Women really cannot objectively write an article like this because they do not understand the DNA, if you will, of men. Not that women cannot lust, but they are turned on by the things they hear or read, which is why women like slutty romances (i.e., “50 Shades of Gray”). Men, on the other hand, are very visual. It is true men must learn self-control – they have a greater responsibility. However, it is sad when Christian women think more of themselves and their bodies than they do the struggles of Christian men. Emily, I’m sure you are a nice person, but this is a very selfish article.

    • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      humans are visual. and a person can lust over a woman in a burka. you are misreading emily’s piece.

    • Hanna

      Taking issue with a couple things here. Women really cannot objectively write an article like this” – And a man COULD? “…because they
      do not understand the DNA, if you will, of men” – Men understand DNA better than we do?
      “Not that women cannot
      lust, but they are turned on by the things they hear or read, which is
      why women like slutty romances (i.e., “50 Shades of Gray”).” I weep for women who like this book. This book is the EPITOME of the culture Emily is trying to clue us in on. Women are told they are objects to satisfy men, that they don’t know what they want, and that they are good for very little. Women who believe those lies induced by culture are the women who, their poor poor souls, enjoy those books.

    • kontessa

      Bulldooky lol. Men are not the only ones who can be visual. Who made up this rule? Please post any scientific evidence or Biblical passages which support this theory. All men are not visual. And a lot of women are. If they were not, the theaters would have been mostly full of homosexual men to see Magic Mike.
      On modesty: I’ve been through Christian schools and college, so I know all about “dress code”. However, I have found a happy medium and I believe modesty means that my character makes more of a statement than my outward appearance. I am responsible for the intentions of my heart, and the Holy Spirit does not fail to convict me if I am wrong. The modesty rules are a wash because we all carry different standards. Many people like to hide behind the guise of loving admonition, but if you don’t know the intentions of my heart, then are you not simply judging me based on your own interpretation of Scripture?
      Side-note: If a man murders his wife, is she responsible in any way? A man can be “genetically hardwired” to become a murderer just as much as he is hardwired to lust… and if sin is still sin here… let me stop here.

    • Pam

      So this article is selfish, but men dictating to women what we can wear isn’t?
      Also, you might want to ask some women about physical attraction before making blanket statements about women not being visual.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Sickler/100000643034456 Robert Sickler

    You have told us all about how you think, now how about telling us how scripture influenced the way you think. What teaching of the bible caused you to take such a casual approach to the way people dress in public?

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      We forget, I think, that Jesus taught by many apparently secular stories. Not everything that doesn’t quote the Bible is secular.

    • Jenn Baerg

      While I will not/cannot speak for Emily, I will say that scripture does make two things clear, which are related to the article. One as a woman, I am made in the image of God, my body has been fearfully and wonderfully made and the only being I am ultimately responsible to is my Creator. This responsibility means that I act with respect towards my body, with healthy boundaries and clothing appropriate to environment, but I do not do this out of shame or fear that I might lead a man or woman to stray. Modesty language comes from and centres around an objectification and ultimately subjugation of women as other, as deplorable, and provides men a free pass if they “were to stumble” and that is not the message of Scripture. Yes we are to consider the rest of humanity in our actions, but those actions noted, like head covering, were about social equality and not about sexuality. The NT provisions and even the OT provisions where about a greater message of what does it means to live in the world and be define and apart from it in our actions. And while there are those who claim that wearing a shirt that is form fitting is not “defining” myself apart from other women in this world and while I don’t agree you are entitled to that position. My only caveat is that the same applies to men, as we too are capable of stumbling (shocking as that may be), so no cute glasses, skinny jeans or anything remotely form fitting would be appreciated and if you’re smart and funny you can’t speak… Ridiculous? Yes, of course and so is this idea that modesty is defined by modern male standards apart from the whole teaching of Scripture.

      • olivia

        Wow! Finally somebody hit the point right on. We use the argument that women are to dress modestly to keep their brothers from stumbling only because it is the only one that most people will understand. Most people don’t understand that a proper relationship with God will lead to modest dress. Because you desire to dress in a way appropriate to the son or daughter of an awesome and fearful God.

  • Pati

    Good topic, and every comment here is relevant. There is beauty in a woman who knows her power and yes Emily, that power includes influencing thoughts and actions. Our Father taught us to use the power responsibly. Think for a moment about the veil principle. It is originally Jewish, go to numbers 30 and discover how God sheltered a woman from exposure while she was unmarried and even when she is married. Our so called freedom is actually rebellion, defying the law of protection over us. I am against any distortion of truth where females and clothing are concerned and we should not use the world standards to bring the noose in the Body of Christ. Cover yourself…

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      Shame, considering that interpretation of Numbers is a distortion of truth. “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1) See? I can misuse Scripture too, with the same damaging and condescending effect.

  • Shane C

    Agree with @ffd5b094af9cb61c993f91fb16aa0985:disqus. A guy, if he truly loves Jesus, need to learn how to control his lust. A woman, if she truly loves Jesus, need to learn how not to cause the eyes to wander. Job makes a covenant with his eyes not to wander (Job 31:1). I often use the “1 Corinthians 6-8-10″ test on issues the Bible not explicitly talk on: 1) Is it beneficial? Will I be mastered by it? (1 Cor 6) 2) Does it cause others to stumble? (1 Cor 8) 3) Does it bring glory to God? (1 Cor 10).

  • paul

    I deeply respect your your opinion but you fail to drive your point home. you can dress ant how as christian male or female and dress will always be an attraction, so you must watch the way you dress. I greed with other comments.

  • LDonald

    It seems Emily is reacting to the notion that by the way women dress they are solely responsible for the responses of men. I appreciate this. However we must not forget that it was Cain who who retorted, “am I my brother’s keeper?” Yes we ARE our brothers’ keepers and our sisters’ keepers for the sake of Christ. As with all behaviour, learning to dress with consideration of one another IS important.

  • Shane C

    Emily wrote: “I don’t think you dressing according to a set of modesty rules will ever stop another person from lusting”. True, dressing according to a set of modesty rules will not stop another person from lusting, but not dressing according to a set of modesty rules will increase the likelihood of another person to lust. I don’t lust watching Disney’s Bambi.

    • Pam

      Is that why levels of sexual harrassment and assault are higher in cultures that are very strict on what women can wear? Real world evidence shows that ‘dressing modestly’ doesn’t have an impact. What has an impact is respecting others.

  • Hersh, or is it HARSH

    WHOA PEOPLE…have a little GRACE :-P Seriously… Emily most men could see this coming a mile off. It seems you didn’t, though I hope you did. I can quite quickly undress a beautiful wearing sackcloth. Now that’s clearly my problem and I understand it. What most everyone here is saying is it’s a Christian woman biblical responsibility to help her brother in Christ, within reason, be victorious and most mature Christians understand using the world’s standard(s) as a guide as how to walk in Christ (do one’s biblical responsibility) is not going to work well. WOW now that was a run-on statement…. The world’s is in the hands of satan and he uses it to damaged and destroy Christians. You are correct in that men’s lust should not control your dressing choices… but consider, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck how then can the duck called itself anything else. Use the Bible to control your dressing style not this culture and you will help set a godly Prov 31 example and “help” us men who struggle with lust. Emily for the last ??? years or so Christian men having been falling and failing the Lord in the sin of lust. REAL women of Faith are willing to help us, not throw rocks in our paths to help us stumble. The world already is doing a great job doing that…

    • http://acheerfulheart.wordpress.com/ abby

      Are you saying Emily isn’t a “REAL” woman of faith?

      • Guest

        I stand corrected…. I should have said “Mature”… sorry….

      • Hersh, or is it HARSH

        I stand corrected… I should have said… “Mature”… sorry.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      And REAL men of faith don’t blame women for their own…inadequacies.

  • ServantHeart2012

    All these “experts” espousing their version of ‘modesty’ for women. How about men who go to the gym or park wearing outfits that reveal every drop of perspiration and muscular ripple, or who stroll the beach wearing nothing but a tiny piece of fabric that only covers what would be cause for arrest if uncovered? (crickets chirping)

    • Leeann

      Men should be modest as well- remember it was God who provided the appropriate covering in the garden after Adam and Eve sinned. We don’t know what type of covering but apparently He didn’t like the fig leaves! God also spent some time defining what would be worn in the temple in the Old testament, and since we are now the priests, shouldn’t there be some attention to what the modern day priests clothe themselves in? I love dressing up for a date, I love dressing up for a party- I love dressing up for God.

  • John

    Ok, I have a question for all of you. Are you God’s creation? Why are we supposed to marvel at everything else that God created but our bodies? I’m not saying walk around naked. But, we have gotten to hung up on our bodies are ugly, or make sure your covered up. When God talks about our flesh He’s not talking about rejecting our bodies. HE created YOU! HE did it for a reason.
    By the way, if your a so called Christian, stop judging what others feel God has revealed to them.

  • Leeann

    I see this type of throwing off inhibitions by women who felt “controlled” by their parents or culture and their new found “freedom” by denouncing the values their family tried to instill. Emily I think you missed the point of those values- it’s not bondage for me to dress modestly and it’s not something I hate- I love dressing with God on my mind and not ONLY what’s the latest fashion trend(although I find very stylish modern clothing that is both modest and new- it’s a challenge but I like being challenged!)- I am in love with Jesus and anything that reflects more perfectly my devotion to all that He desires for my life is good enough reason for me. I don’t believe that God is pleased with certain things- whether inward or outward behaviors. God said “man looks on the outward” He is stating the fact that you cannot change where people form their opinions of you starting with the outward- rarely do you see older women dress showing a lot of skin, it is younger women who feel the need to reveal their bodies in that way and dare someone not to “judge” them. If I wear something revealing- I knew it when I put it on, that both men and women would look at me and form an opinion. This is 2012- there is no reason why godly women should dress immodestly and abandon godly principles in this area ESPECIALLY in our culture. 1Tim 2:9-10 “In like manner women should adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broided hair or gold or pearls, or costly array, But(which becometh women professing godliness) with good works”. We should stand out of our culture, not blend in to this culture that has such a lack of character and class. We can be conscienscious and wise with higher class conduct as well as fashionable. I choose modesty because I choose Jesus and I want to reflect Him in every part of my life.

  • Paul Schindler

    Emily, I agree that women should not live in condemnation but in freedom through Jesus. It is that freedom that should develop how and what they do (including dress). This is a two sided issue and always has been. Men that struggle with lust do so not just because God created the chemical reactions in them, but because through their choices their chemical sexual reactions are mis-wired. And our cultures standards (as well as cultures past) do their best to keep that mis-wiring in place. It is wise to not look (ever) to culture as our standard for morality, love, forgiveness or modesty.

    You stated this… (In the book of Matthew, when Jesus said, “If you even look at a woman with lust …” he wasn’t condemning a physical sexual response as sinful he was lifting up the inherent value of all women and men.”)

    Gotta disagree with this…This is what Jesus said in bigger context… “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) That is sin and it started as a seed of lust in the heart.

    This instruction from our Lord was directly dealing with this cultural issue that you write about, messed up sex standards. Back then the standard was physical interaction, sin supposably only occurred when you had sex with another women while married. Jesus raises the standard and told them (and us) that God looks on the condition of the heart not just on the outward appearance. If a man can’t look away…he has a heart issue of lust, if a woman can’t dress with style and modesty she has a problem with lust and it’s also a heart issue. (James chapter 1 gives us the path of sin…starts in the heart ends up external)

    Jesus was exposing the headwaters of this sin that so easily plagues people and cultures so that we could see how we misplace our priorities and instead grab ahold of God’s standard. It’s a big stretch to say He was only lifting up the human biological reaction when he tells us that adultery has already been committed. He was talking about the physical sexual response that had gone sinful here.

    I am sorry your experience on modesty was driven from man’s rules instead of God’s grace (Colossians chapter 2) Good intentions gone wrong often come from people trying to address sin from their perspective.

    It’s the mans responsiblity to be Godly and submit their lustful problems at the foot of the cross, yet it is equally responsible for a woman to consider who she is in Jesus and how she is to dress to impress the two men in her life…Jesus and her husband or (future husband).

    Thanks for writing this Emily!

    • Ellis

      Hear, hear. Don’t forget the witness aspect. By His grace we choose to be different, so as to lovingly express who He is and what He does for us to others.

  • Chip+

    Sorry, young lady, but you are 180 degrees off course. Totally wrong. Completely unscriptural. To the editors–if this is the best you can do, I need a different source of edification as a Christian minister. Far more liberal than Scriptural. The fact that Emily likes Harry Potter should tell the editors of the digest something…sugar-coated occultism.

    I see no credentials here to commend her thoughts to church leaders. Why exactly is she proffered as a spiritual or leadership source? Pure op-ed, with no developed Christian spiritual guidance or leadership techniques, so why shared here…or at all?

    And what about her logic? “…we have confused biological sexual attraction with lust and called it sin.” Well, the Oxford dictionary defines lust as “strong sexual desire.” That’s “biological sexual attraction” left unchecked by the Word and the Holy Ghost. Certainly we’re all born with it…but, like our other works of the flesh, we can trump it by the washing of our minds by the water and the Word. Oh, and the Scripture wouldn’t buy it either…Galatians 5, 1 Thess 4, St. James 4, St. Matt 5, Proverbs 6…and the beat goes on.

    Sadly, this article smacks more of rebellion than a desire to be a doer of the Word…and seems more inclined toward the World and the Flesh than to walk by the Spirit. In short, if a woman in our culture wants to dress seductively, it’s the men’s problem, not hers. She has no responsibility. The Word tells us otherwise–that, in fact, we are responsible for those around us. We are, in the Body, in each other’s care.

    I think if there is confusion, it’s with those who confused this piece with serious journalism targeted toward Christian leadership and edification. I think this young author needs some time in prayer and the Word, asking the Holy Ghost to give her more insights. She clearly needs them.

    • http://www.wineandmarble.com/ Hännah

      I dare you to read Harry Potter.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Or play Dee & Dee. (Before Harry Potter, that was the Say-Tann-ic Threat all Good Christians had to Culture War Crusade against.)

        Or read old EC horror comics. (Before Dee & Dee, that was…)

        Or watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (Which is in the running for becoming the next… Now that Harry Potter is fading into history, Christian Culture Warriors/Kyle’s Moms have to cast around for their next Holy Crusade.)

    • Dan Syrcle

      Chip, I too am a pastor and I have to ask what your stance is on the J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings? Tolkien was a Christian and a contemporary of C.S. Lewis. As are the Narnia books are full of magic yet neither is condemned because they were both Christians and in the case of C.S. Lewis, prolific Christian authors. J.K. Rowling on the other hand would not comment on her faith so for some reason her books are inherently evil. Yet, her story lie very closely parallels both Narnia and the Lord of the Rings. I would suggest before you condemn, you first educate yourself on that which you are condemning….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Dude, I have read My Little Pony fanfics with more echoes of the Gospel in them than anything you’ll find on the shelves of a Jesus Junk store.

  • http://www.churchaccomplished.com/ Dave

    Emily, thank you for your courage in writing this. It is very true that everyone is responsible for their “own” reactions to others, whether it be lust, jealousy, anger or contempt. No woman is responsible for any sin in a man.

    The negative responses so far reveal just how much our culture wants to place blame for lust on the one objectified, not the objectifier. The reason nobody is quoting the NT verses on modesty is because, well, there are problems for every church goer. Here it is: 1 Tim. 2:9 “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire”

    If we applied “modesty” codes without cultural context from this verse, almost no women would be allowed anywhere in public because gold, pearls and braided hair are now considered classy not crass and immodest. We’d be moving towards a Amish view…and who wants that? As well, the verse before tells men they must lift up ‘holy hands” and that seems difficult when we know our own wicked deceitful hearts.

    Finding the “modest” attire while maintaining we are all responsible for our own sin is challenging. But those claiming all women must cover up to their standards (whatever that is) to protect the weaker brother is a statement that all boys are weaker brothers and never manage to “grow up into Christ” as Romans 14 demands.

    Keep preaching grace and love!

    • abe

      what about luke 17:1-3? that seems to put alot of responsibility on the person who causes another to sin. No one should have to dress or talk or act according to another persons standards, but we as christians do need to have standards. We have a sense of responsibility to others. Granted, people need to take responsibility for their own lusts and actions, but we cant just be careless in the way we act. Read romans 14

      • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

        Ironically, Luke 17:1-3 falls on the heels of the end of the text of Luke 16, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Given that above you refute references to the Old Testament as being beside the point of the article, this use of the Gospel seems to be out of your favour. And wickedly ironic, to boot.

        • abe

          Preston, are you serious? Luke 16 has nothing to do with 17. Its kind of odd that a seemingly studious person as yourself would try and equate the two chapters. Luke is recounting lessons that Jesus had taught…they didn’t happen one right after the other as you are trying to imply. Sounds like you’re misusing scripture dude. Why havent you “called out” emily’s poor use and explanation of Jesus’ sermon on the mount? That made no sense whatsoever! You and luke harms sound biased!

          • Daniel Fiester

            The Bible isn’t a collection of fortune cookie statements randomly put together. It’s a narrative. One event leads into the next event. Of course, Luke 16 has something to do with Luke 17.

          • abe

            I understand narrative. are you reading the all the comments? They’re different teachings for different situations. Of course, the bible goes together! I understand that 16 has “something” to do with 17…but your telling me that I cannot apply the lesson in Luke 17:1-3 to a situation because Luke 16 talks about something else? really?? Please explain why….

      • http://www.churchaccomplished.com/ Dave

        Abe…good question. I thought Lk 17:1-3 was more about the sort of enticement discussed in Prov. 1:10 where evil doers invite you to do evil with them. But if a person’s dress invites others to lust is what Jesus refers to, then those who serve good food (gluttony), ask hard questions (lying), serve alcohol (drunkeness), or tell us their innermost struggles (gossip) should all fear that millstone. What you say, people have a choice in they eat too much or gossip? Same with lust. It is not what is worn that causes lust…it is the lust of the flesh in the one sinning that carries him or her away (1 Jn 2:16).

        • abe

          Dave, great response. But this is what I am saying. If I know that someone struggles with gluttony…why would I take them to a buffet? If I know I’m with a gossiper, why would I share struggles of my own with them? And if I’m with a person that I know lusts over my awesome biceps (there not awesome, by the way) why would I deliberately wear a sleeveless shirt? I shouldn’t do these things…for their sake! Yes, they need God to free them from those struggles…but some are not there yet. We should also apply the same “grace and Love” for the weaker christians.
          If you are around those that have NO LUSTFUL ISSUES and can wear bikini’s or Speedo’s and not be tempted then (theoretically) you are probably able to dress as free as you like! I wouldn’t do it (or recommend it for that matter), but that would be up to you.
          Its about where you are at and how you influence those around you. Those that you are aware of. Taking responsibility for your influence and being mature about it. Not careless.
          And of course, God will also hold responsible the one who sins too. I don’t think they are exempt from their own actions as well. Each side of the issue has a responsibility. I cant go to a beach and expect everyone to have a dress or suit on because I might lust. That would be wrong.

          And in response to the actual article, I do think that throughout Christianity, leadership has, many times gone overboard. But applying grace and love doesn’t mean that we don’t take responsibility for our actions.

          • Hanna

            I’ve just been scrolling through comments, and one thing a lot of people don’t seem to realize is that modesty isn’t just about the way you dress. Modesty being equated with dress just shows how much we’ve placed the burden of modesty solely on women. Male modestly would be fairly unassociated with how men dress. Women don’t care if you’re wearing a speedo, and quite frankly probably WOULDN’T find it attractive. Men know this, and don’t usually try to dress “provocatively.” But they DO often: lead women on to get attention, talk themselves up, put others down to look better, say things they know women want to hear… Christian men are guilty of this often. So let’s talk about modesty as a whole, if you want to define modesty as behavior that causes the opposite sex to desire something that doesn’t belong to them.

    • PW

      Because a response does not agree with a premise does not make that response negative. Are you not failing to show grace to those who disagree with Emily’s article by just writing them off as negative?

      • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

        I don’t think it’s the fact that the comments disagree that makes them negative, but probably the fact that many of them are misogynistic, condescending, and just generally disrespectful. But I could be wrong. I’m just spitballing here.

        • PW

          I thought you were hilarious till you started piling on me! ;-) I just think sometimes that anyone with grace-guided standards is lumped into the legalist camp! All I’m saying!

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            I get that, I really do, but I think one can have grace-guided standards (and even be a legalist) without being a turd. And a lot of the comments on here are pretty turd-o-riffic, reinforcing archaic gender sterotypes and perpetuating patriarchy. There are a few examples of comments that are reasonable and graceful and still disagree with Emily, and I don’t think that I (or Dave probably, but I don’t want to speak for him) would consider them negative at all. However, the majority of the comments here…well, let’s just say they decidedly do *not* fall into that camp. All *I’m* saying! ;)

          • Amanda B.

            Had to give this a positive vote for “turd-o-riffic”. :D

          • DrMichael

            That would be great if some of what you call patriarchy wasn’t biblical.

          • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

            If you think that patriarchy is Biblical, then I would question either your grasp of the concept of patriarchy or the veracity of your hermeneutics…or both.

          • DrMichael

            It is not my grasp of either that is the problem here. When hermeneutics are used to “reinterpret” sound theology, the intent of the interpreter becomes suspect. Contextually and by all sound interpretation, men and women were created differently (though no less equally), and have been, in some manner, assigned different roles scripturally. You can call that Patriarchal if you like, but that doesn’t make it any less Biblical.

      • http://www.churchaccomplished.com/ Dave

        PW, you are absolutely correct that disagreement does not have to be negative. Yet, I think you’d agree that numerous comments were dismissive, condescending, and impolite. Showing grace does not mean I ignore others bad behavior, it means I choose to forgive, remain engaged and pray for God to be at work in all of our lives lest I do the same things. (Gal. 6:1-3)

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Thank you, Dave.

  • Standonword

    The fact that she likes Harry Potter took all my interest away from all else she had to say.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      Cool story bro.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      This is honestly the best reason ever for someone to reject my work. Thank you!

  • PW

    It’s struck me that Emily had so much negative to say about her culture while she had so much positive to say about herself! For instance, her culture continually lied to her, but she labels herself as the “diligent” one who tried to always follow through on what was placed before her. Odd! Men are absolutely responsible for their own hearts, but to suggest that our actions have no affect on others is naive at best and unscriptural at worst!

  • Chip+

    Pop culture and rebellion presented as serious Christian journalism…unScriptural and ungodly. Unworthy of being submitted to Christian pastors for their daily formation. The fact that Emily likes Harry Potter should tell the editors something…it’s sugar-coated occultism and witchcraft.

    Concerned about the value of this publication if this the best they can do.

    Noticed my last post was deleted. Not sure why.

    • Chip+

      Apparently not deleted. Please forgive my double-post.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      You’re concerned about the value of this publication if this is the best they can do…
      And I’m concerned about the quality and character of Christian men, especially those who claim to be “leaders”, if the responses here are the best they can offer.
      P.S. Seriously? Harry Potter? That’s the hill you want to die on?

  • Debbie McFarlin

    I completely understand what Emily is trying to say. I don’t believe SHE has missed the point, I believe a lot of you have missed her point. My take on this article, written with passion and conviction is, holiness is not based on your hemline, your judgement of another’s hemline, or worse, your control over another’s hemline. God said, “Be holy as I am holy!”. When love reigns in our hearts, and our desire is to be pure and holy, we will be modest! Whether man or woman, our actions do affect others and other’s actions affect us, but the bottom line is are we striving to please God with our actions, our dress, our morals, our integrity, and in every other way possible? If so, then God gives conviction, direction and insight for our daily living as well as our standards of dress. I believe that those convictions also cover how we interact with other people and whether we “eat meat or don’t eat meat” so others do not stumble.

    The difference is, in my opinion, how we push our own convictions on others. That is condemnation, not conviction. Let God deal with the person whom you feel may be inappropriately dressed. Obviously if you are a church leader you won’t allow immodestly dressed persons be on the worship team or teaching young children etc, but that goes back to personal training, prayer, love and mentoring without condemnation. I have been on both sides of this fence and regret trying to sit in the judgement seat as that has wounded others, not served to help.

    Holiness is in the heart, and that will show up in your conversations, your work ethic, your moral standard as well as your outward appearance. THAT is where God sees, after all.

    • PW

      I greatly appreciate how you close out your comment. Holiness in the heart will show up in our conversations! Right on! The one place I guess I slightly disagree is that because I disagree with Emily does not mean I’m trying to push my convictions on her. I mean, after all, she posted the article on a sight that invites response. Great thoughts though!

    • Uche

      Debbie, so graciously you are made. Out of the abundant of heart your hands has written. Your heart is full of grace and may this grace never depart from you. just wish Emily and her likes reads through your comment.

  • http://dlmayfield.wordpress.com/ D.L. Mayfield

    Hi Emily, I appreciate your thoughts here. One thing that I would love to see explored (although this doesn’t seem to be the best forum for it) is a non-Western centric discussion on modesty. I find myself in the strange place of being a Christian girl hanging out with a bunch of Muslims (in urban America). Let me tell you, this places a whole different spin on the subject. I find myself dressing (and interacting) in entirely different ways, out of love. While I too grew up with an undue burden on my shoulders (quasi-fundamentalist youth group girls unite!), I am finding myself dressing more “modestly” than ever (although I always thought I kept it classy). The western world is so skewed with body image/lust/shame dynamics that I wonder what our brothers and sisters from other cultures can tell us?

    • PW

      This question will read sound very condescending, but I don’t intend for it to be. It’s just something I’m really wondering. Why is it that what you wouldn’t do out of love for the leaders in the church you grew up in, you will do out of love for the muslims you are around now?

      • http://www.shaneyirene.com/ Shaney Irene

        You are right, the question does sounds condescending, mostly because it assumes some things that D.L. did not say. Nowhere did she say that she didn’t dress modestly growing up (in fact, she says quite the opposite by saying “I always thought I kept it classy”), she only says she dresses “more modestly” than ever thanks to interacting with the Muslim culture. And it’s true that what passes as “modest dress” in most American churches wouldn’t pass as “modest dress” for Muslims. It’s not about loving the Muslims and not loving the Christians, it’s about recognizing that the cultures are different.

        In general, if a question sounds condescending, it probably is. Especially if it contains any assumptions about the heart attitude of another person.

        • PW

          You are right Shaney! I did assume and thanks for pointing it out to me! Humbly rebuked!

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hey D.L. I’d love to hear what you say or write that explores that idea! I haven’t had any experience with it, so it’s all yours. :)

      I absolutely support anyone dressing as conservatively as they feel works for them and their social context. What I don’t support is any spiritually or emotionally manipulate arguments to get other people to have the same standards that you do. I dress conservatively compared to some people, liberally compared to others. But I do this because I have the freedom in Jesus to live in my unique body and social and relational context as a whole person. Living this way always requires us to go beyond “the rules” that in practice limit or oppress one entire people group (in this case: women)

      Hope others with a non-western view point feel free to join in!

    • Hersh, or is it HARSH

      Great point!

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    i appreciate this post a great deal, especially your distinction between sexual attraction and lust, something we almost never talk about, and the source of much dysfunction, shame, and frankly, gnostic heresy in the Church.

    as for folks complaining about emily’s “credentials”–here they are: she is a Christian, made in the image of God, receptive to his Spirit, and fully capable and equipped to engage the Word, culture, and Kingdom. we are all the Church, and women’s perspectives matter just as much as your professional ministerial class.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      PFFFFFFFFFFT you are great. Thank you. I love you.

    • olivia

      Sorry. The question’s not (or shouldn’t be) about whether women’s opinions matter. As a matter of fact, women’s opinions don’t matter, and neither do men’s. Neither do preachers’, etc. What matters is the Word of God, and the problem I have with many of the posts is that they are always trying to explain away the Scriptures, rather than letting the Scriptures speak for themselves.

      • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

        our perspectives and stories matter a great deal, and we interpret scripture in community. it wasn’t written in our language or context, and it’s worth wrestling with well. modesty in scripture is generally refers to not using one’s wealth to make other’s feel less than. the spin we’ve out on such passages (which despite the Holy Spirit’s help, rarely speak for themselves) are specific to our own evangelical american context. we’ve fashioned them into our image and dress code.

        which is not to say that the way we dress doesn’t matter–it does, of course, and so do the ways we treat and speak of one another. currently, christians talk about modesty, sexuality, and each other’s bodies in a manner that sends terrible messages that do not align with the scriptures i know or the Jesus i love. please don’t be so quick to assume that those who desire to reframe this conversation love the bible any less than you.

        • olivia

          No, I didn’t say that they do love the Bible any less than I do. I’m just saying that people are too focused on their own opinions. I understand that some people have abused modesty. And honestly, I’m sorry! But most people who are taking the fact that it has been abused as an excuse to just let loose. They are over-correcting. And that’s what I’m reacting to. The trouble is that now it’s all about me, me, me. *I* am not responsible, no man has the right to consider *me* public property, *I* can dress how *I* like, how *I* feel beautiful. And then we go the the Scriptures to back up our *me* focus. As I pointed out in a comment above, the true secret to JOY is to put Jesus first, Others next, and You last. Besides – what do 80 years on earth living a life that is “uncomfortable” matter compared to eternity in heaven?

          • DrMichael

            Actually, we are instructed to treat others AS ourselves, not better than…

  • Kev

    This article is naive. To say a woman or a man who dresses immodestly isn’t partially responsible for enticing or tempting others is crazy. We are all reponsible for our actions whether being sexual in dress or actions and for lusting at those who are showing it all to the world. God expects more from all of us. Quit passing the buck to rationalize bad behavior or to transfer guilt

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      Pretty sure the buck lies squarely in the lap of the luster. Let’s talk about that bad behavior/guilt, shall we?

    • http://www.lambpower.com/ Steve Dawson

      Please define immodest.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Whatever YOU do that *I* don’t. What else?

  • http://twitter.com/einfarben xander

    I just felt like I ought to say that I really appreciate what you have written here. Thank you for offering this to us.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Thank you, Xander. I’m privileged to share my story here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

    I’m appalled that no one seems to understand the point of this article. We shouldn’t be arguing about what needs to be covered and what doesn’t, but whether we should be objectifying women this way in the first place. Women in the church are told constantly, and from a young age, that their bodies are sinful and dangerous and should always be covered up. When you hear that day in and day out, it’s damaging. It teaches you that your body is only good for sex, but if you inspire the desire for sex in someone (even through no fault of your own) you’ve sinned and your “purity” is being chipped away bit by bit until there’s essentially nothing good about you.

    I think a lot of men would disagree that this is the case. I can promise you though, as someone who heard this for years, the modesty culture perpetuates sexism and hurts women. People say over and over that men need to learn self-control, but when the blame is always placed on the women, there’s no reason for men to control themselves. They get away with objectifying women, and that’s disturbing. The length of my skirt or the size of my chest don’t give anyone the right to judge my character or worth or to consider me public property, but that seems to be the standard attitude of evangelicals, and that is frightening.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Lauryn, thank you! “The length of my skirt or the size of my chest don’t give anyone the right to judge my character or worth or to consider me public property, but that seems to be the standard attitude of evangelicals, and that is frightening.” Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      • Billy Tang

        This article has stirred up a bit of discussion. I think this point trumps them all.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

          Thanks. I appreciate the affirmation :D

      • Stan

        Get rid of the arrogance ladies, and follow the Bible and in particular Paul’s teachings on how you should dress and what your conduct should be in church. He also says if you have any questions..ask your husband..who is supposed to be the spiritual head of the home!

        • r krueger

          Then again, in other eras, the Bible says that Tamar veiled herself so that Jacob would think she was a prostitute and have sex with her. In that time, covering up was the opposite of what was a problem in Ephesus. Paul was dealing with a local issue. Jesus also said that if your eye causes you to sin, (lust?) just pluck it out! Control yourselves, gentlemen. Women are only forced into burkas by relegious zealots but not by Christian men.

          • John Peters

            Um, Sorry. It’s not a question of the time. When it says that Tamar veiled herself, it was referring to the *type* of dress, not the fact that she was covered. Otherwise, go to Joseph. He was faced with immodesty in Potiphar’s wife. Without going into graphic detail, suffice it to say that fashionable women of that day dressed far from modestly. What did Joseph do? He fled! If Joseph couldn’t stand before the temptation of an immodestly dressed woman, what are our chances if women in the church dress immodestly? Are we to run away from the church because people are dressed immodestly? I honestly hope not! No, rather, Paul exhorts that women are to dress modestly, so as to prevent their brothers from stumbling.

          • Anne

            Paul exhorts that women are to dress modestly so that they instead display a quiet and gentle spirit. Find me the verse that says it’s to prevent brothers from stumbling. (Please Note: it doesn’t exist).

          • John Peters

            You’re hiding behind the fact that the verses don’t speak directly to that issue. If you’re going to use the reasoning that you used, find a verse that says that I can’t eat poison every day. Please Note: it doesn’t exist. However, the Bible does say that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that I should treat it as such. Therefore, consuming poison voluntarily on a regular basis would be wrong for me as a Christian to do. I could give other examples – ie: find a verse that says that I shouldn’t look at pornography online. Or that tells me not to get so angry that I smash my wife’s china plates to bits and pieces. To all these things, the Bible speaks not in specificity, but in principle. Same way with modesty. The Bible says, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:21) It’s not a matter of precept. It’s a matter of principle. And if you disagree with that method of living, then don’t take poisonous flowers or pills away from your child, because the Bible says nothing to it specifically.

          • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

            Nope, actually this isn’t what Paul says AT ALL. You are using words from the Bible and then creating them into entirely difference sentences. So technically, you’re “using the Bible” but you might as well be using a NYT crossword puzzle.

            Paul’s ONLY reference to “modesty” and females has nothing to do with sexuality or covering up, only to flaunting wealth.

          • John Peters

            How am I doing that? I honestly don’t want to twist the Scriptures. But if I’m doing that, then you’ll have to show me more specifically how I’m doing it, because I honestly don’t see it. What I said was that the Scriptures say that we are not to do anything by which our brothers stumble or are made weak. But please don’t lets become enemies over this. We can agree to disagree, and we can agree to debate this issue without fighting. But we both have to decide to take that position. I’ve already done so, and I would encourage you to do so as well.

            A question – how do you get the idea that Paul was talking about flaunting wealth?? I don’t see that in any of the texts mentioned. Sorry, I can’t make any sense of your post. You said some things without backing them up.

          • Ann

            Hi John,
            I’d like to point out something about Joseph though. He fled. He didn’t succumb to the temptation. He didn’t sleep with Potiphar’s wife, and then place all the blame on her saying that it wasn’t really his fault because she seduced him and as a man, he just couldn’t resist. He fled. He took the high road and controlled himself, rather than let his actions be controlled by someone else. I do believe in modesty myself, but I will say that I would like to end up with a man that has the self-control and morality that Joseph had. You could trust your heart to a man like that, knowing that he will be as faithful to you and you will be to him!

          • John Peters

            Thanks, Ann. There’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying – especially what you said about men should have self-control and morality. As a matter of fact, I’m preaching on that tomorrow, incidentally.

            What I was saying with my comment is that there are some men (by the grace of God I pray that I am not among them) who cannot stand to temptation – or maybe I should say that they have not learned self-control. That’s one of the reasons I appreciate a woman who is willing to dress modestly – in respect of that person.

            Also, for myself, when I am around immodestly dressed women, even if I do not fall to sin, it’s a constant drain. In other words, I have to be always on my guard. I appreciate it so much when women are willing to give me and other Christian a “safe place” where they don’t have to be on their guard all the time.

            Again, thanks for your comment – you’ve got a lot of things straight.

          • Ann

            Hello again,

            Likewise, thank you for your response. I truly do appreciate it when a man does admit his responsibility in this issue as you have done. It is an issue that can be complicated for someone of either gender to deal with. You mentioned it is a drain on you to be around immodestly dressed women, and I imagine many Christian men would probably say the same thing. For some women and girls it is saddening and disheartening to see the men paying so much attention to someone who is immodestly dressed and to ignore the ones who are not immodestly dressed. In essence it is dress modestly like you should and then get ignored. Granted, men like that are probably ones you wouldn’t want anyways, but for some young girls, they still may not be mature enough to realize that. Also, for a women who dresses modestly out of what she feels is respect to Biblical principles, and then to see or know that her husband/boyfriend is or wants to ogle other women is disheartening too. In principle, the issue is simple, but in the real world (as in almost everything lol) it usually is a bit more complicated. At the end of the day though, I do believe in modesty, and think the world would be a better place if more men were like Joseph ;)

          • John Peters

            Sorry, I tried to post earlier… technical problems, I suppose… Good points, Ann. I realise that a lot of girls feel the way you described – “dress modestly and then get ignored.” That’s a problem. A major problem. Which is why I believe the problem with Biblical modesty is that men are “preaching” at women to be modest, and then treating them like slave, essentially. That’s not good. At the same time, that’s not the case everywhere. I think I can safely say that that is not the case in our church… (Actually a small unregistered home-church of about 30 members)

            So what I’m saying is, to men, get your act together. Enough of this lording modesty over women’s heads just to prove your the boss. Focus on your relationship to women rather than theirs to you. I’m not saying that preachers should ignore modesty as a topic, but I’m talking about personal life. I’m also saying to women, Don’t throw modesty out the door just because some men are abusing it! I’ve read story after story after story on this site about men who abused modesty. The trouble is, a lot of people are reacting to the concept because somebody in their lives used it badly.

            So on the one hand, I’m calling out to girls, “Don’t throw your modesty out the door!” But what I want to do more is to come right up to men, and tell them, “You know, you have responsibilities in this area too. It’s time for us men to start acting like men, not like little boys, which seems to be the popular spirit.”

          • Stan

            You going to pick and chose what you follow in the Bible…typical!

        • Juanita G Ricard

          A woman is still responsible for her own actions and will answer for her own sin. Some husbands, sad to say, cannot be trusted to lead their wife or children aright.

          • DrMichael

            Nor are today’s women likely to submit to their instruction. We must do our sole best in Spirit and conscience, and not worry about judging others.

        • http://www.humblewonderful.com/ Tony C.

          I call sin on this… and the dangerous idea that if you crawl up inside the pages of your bible and follow every instruction in it you can’t sin. You’ll be safe if you just do everything Paul said. He put your daddy, sorry hubbie, above you (well, Paul sorta did, sorta) for the difficult bits too.
          Did the Pharisees not know their scriptures? Did Jesus send them back to bible college? Umm no. Look for the justice issues that Jesus spoke to.

      • lady_di1959

        Good article Emily!

      • Benny8

        As the writer of this article, how can you affirm such a blanket statement against the attitude of all evangelical Christians? That’s pretty judgmental. On the contrary, the vast majority of evangelicals would agree with Lauryn that “The length of my skirt or the size of my chest don’t give anyone the right to judge my character or worth or to consider me public property”.
        That sounds more like American Idol and America’s Next Top Model talking.

      • TtfnJohn

        Add to that objectifying women means objectifying men as well. It logically has to. God didn’t create objects on this Earth, He created life. If that isn’t clear enough any other way the statement in the first creation story in Genesis which insists that when humans were created men and women were created at the same time. If you prefer the Adam’s rib story it still means that men and women were created to be beside one another and in support of each other not one more valued than the other.

    • Hersh, or is it HARSH

      Lauryn, if you are hearing that stuff day in and day out and are not being taught your value in Christ to balance the stuff you are hearing(whether it’s coming from inside or outside of the church) I would suggest changing churches. When Christians realize the ONLY thing that counts is your position before God… the rest is really unimportant. Friends opinions, people’s here… even your own really doesn’t matter. I have found once that is understood properly…. true maturity is found, peace is felt, laughter abounds and life becomes wonderful. When one can honestly say, “Who care what others feel, say or think about me” it is then you are free from this world’s nonsense and that can only be found in only caring about your position before God. God loves you just as you are and if you love Him…you’ll start making changes towards Christ-likeness… it’s that simple. Even an ignorant soul like myself can figure that out…Hersh (sometimes spelled with an “A” instead of an “E”)

      • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

        Okay, let me break this down:

        1. I did not specifically say that I was currently hearing those words day in and day out– I’ve already left the Evangelical church for a place that I find far more affirming, accepting, and healthy.

        2. Here’s why point 1 doesn’t even really matter: You said I should leave if I wasn’t being told enough about my value in Christ to balance out teachings of the purity culture. What I don’t think you (or a lot of other people) understand is that it doesn’t always matter how much you believe that your worth comes from Christ. When your parents and pastors and Christian writers and speakers are all telling you the same thing, nothing “balances” that stuff out. These ideas that we push are harmful. They don’t need to be moderated, they need to be completely re-examined.

        3. You talk about the idea that what matters is your position before God. That’s great, in theory. In practicality, if I was out in public in short shorts or a tight dress, a lot of Christians would question “my standing with God”. Rules and legalism are alive and well, I promise you.

        4. I appreciate what I assume are your attempts at a loving correction. However, I want you to know that I don’t appreciate being condescended to, nor do I appreciate the insinuation that I lack maturity or Christ-likeness. For the record, I’d consider my wardrobe pretty classy and clean-cut. However, I reserve the right to wear a crop top or a short skirt or anything else I feel like, and that doesn’t make my Christian life any less valid than anyone else’s.

        • Hersh, or is it HARSH

          Back to my point “Who cares???” Anybody can find some reason to ???? have their feelings hurt, or feel condescended (which seems to be used a lot around here) or taken advantaged of, or abused, misunderstood, or fill in the blank. I have found that life became a whole easier when I stopped worrying about what others says or think of me, and THAT my friend, shows maturity. Sure it’s important to consider one’s feelings… anymore though, “Feelings,” and the need to be concerned about them is nothing more than a manipulation tool that lots of people use to attempt control others. The book Boundaries addresses things of that nature. Quite frankly… again who cares what people think or say. Do you actually think I care what anyone here thinks of me???? If you care what anyone here thinks of you… lady/Miss you need to re-think your priorities. Our lives was designed by God to bring glory to Him… it’s not about us feeling good about what others think of us. How do I say this gently… I’m wasting my time here.

          • J. Collard

            If you grow up in a Christian community and those that you love and respect are in that community, you try with all your might to emulate the values of the community. You’re not trying to be overly sensitive; you’re trying to do what you believe is right based on what the community around you says.

            When you get older, you begin to realize that some of the things you learned were not only inaccurate, they were damaging. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but it does happen to a lot of people. Oftentimes, realizing what was helpful and harmful from your community of origin is part of the growing up process.

            All this to say – I don’t think that many of the commenters here are trying to be overly sensitive. I don’t think “feelings” are being used to manipulate others – at least not in many of these posts. People are doing the strange and difficult work of working out what to do with the values and ideas they were taught as children.

            I’m not entirely sure I agree with everything in this article. But when one person voices something of concern, shouldn’t the community be able to listen? Shouldn’t the community be able to say to those who don’t hold the main point of view that their voice still matters? This article and these comments may not be as self absorbed as you think. Why not learn to genuinely listen?

        • Annie

          Wow, you have a chip on your shoulder the size of a giant redwood tree…not sure why you keep accusing people of being condescending when they are trying to be loving and encouraging to you?

          • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

            I’m sorry if I come across as angry and accusatory. Rather, I think that a lot of times, especially in Christian circles, we have this tendency to say “I’m trying to be loving and encouraging so you shouldn’t get upset by anything I say,” and I’m not cool with that anymore. Everyone has the right to determine what is encouraging and loving TO THEM. As I told Hersh, I appreciated that he was making the attempt to be loving in his argument, but, being on the receiving end, it came across as though I was being talked down to– it sounded like I was being blatantly told that I was less mature than he was and so my opinion was worth less.
            It wasn’t said argumentatively (although I realize that typed words take on unintended tones sometimes), I was just establishing my right as a human being to be talked to in a way that I deem respectful.

          • olivia

            Wow – “Everyone has the right to determine what is encouraging and loving TO THEM”???? Really, now, that’s taking it a bit far! In other words, if someone says something in a way that you don’t like, you have a right to reject the truth in what they say on the basis of “I don’t like it.” It’s no wonder you believe the way you do about modesty if that’s the case – you and many others on this blog have fallen for the moder trinity – Me, Myself, and I. Honestly, those are the words I have seen repeated the most often by those who take your stand. That’s sad. We’ve all heard the SS lesson about JOY (Jesus first, others next, you last) but it seems that a ton of people have forgotten it – and along with that, I might add, have forfeited true joy for something called “feeling good,” which is no joy at all.

        • JG Ricard

          But does it glorify God? Are you freely able to tell someone about God’s Love dressed in low cut clothes? Does that not seem incompatible? I have a daughter who loves the Lord tremendously, and she has some clothes that I do not quite approve of, but I feel God will deal with her on that. She treats folks very kindly and cares about their souls and their needs. Then there are others in the church who dress “correctly” but treat folks bad. So who is the better Christian here? I say the one who treats folks good, regardless of how they dress. Be kind if you talk to someone as to how they dress. Make compliments like I like that dress better than the other one, etc. Nothing derogatory but positiveness will go further. Let God convict someone as to what they need to change. Do you not agree?

      • DrMichael

        I disagree that you should not listen to others, however, especially if they are mature Christians whose walk you are relatively sure is earnest and real. When 3 or more Christians rebuke you for public sin, should you not examine the truthfullness of that, and, if true, be repentant and work to change that behavior?

        • Hersh or is it Harsh

          Dr. that was a “given”… my point is, if you are walking closely with the Lord who cares what others think of you. So I stand corrected or at least clarified. Thanks for bringing this point up.

    • abe

      Lauryn, I think a lot of the people commenting understand the article. I understand that “rules” shouldn’t be “lop-sided” and that a woman should not be have to take the blame for a man’s lust. But a woman should know that she needs to have standards for dressing in this day and age. AND SO SHOULD A MAN, for that matter. The problem is not so much that the church that doesn’t understand the beauty of our bodies and sexuality but that it “tries” to address those who “flaunt” themselves and cause others to sin. Granted, blanket rules never really address the specific issues and many times cause more problems that answers. But more importantly, people need to realize that its the world that has PERVERTED the human body and sexuality to the point that we are no longer “free” to display it. Remember, before the fall? Adam and Eve were naked and had no shame…until what? Satan twisted God’s Word and “CAUSED” them to sin. (which by the way, THEY ALL tried to blame the other, but yet THEY ALL were held accountable for their actions). Sexuality and the human body is not “sinful and dangerous” but has become a source of sin and danger because of the way our world has become perverted and twisted. Blame the devil for not being able to be free with your body!
      But do know this, that any action that you take (whether innocently, lustfully, boastfully, or humbly) you will be held accountable for. We are to consider others, before we are to consider ourselves. Jesus himself said that he came to serve, not to be served and to give his life for many. I know it seems a little restricting…but hey, Jesus did it. He actually gave up a lot more that what he wore for the benefit of us sinful, rebellious people that he loves a ton. Blessings!

      • http://twitter.com/einfarben xander

        If the people here who are derailing the discussion do, as you claim, understand the post, then they are intentionally moving the conversation away from the point of the article.

        Beyond the derailing though, goes this consistent condescension, which drives the discussion even further away from reason and civil discourse.

        • abe

          yea…honestly, the article itself was very “lopsided” I don’t what kind of response Emily was expecting…but she got a response! It is a great discussion. I learned from a few of the posts. Gained new perspective a woman who carries the blame of others and will be cautious in how I teach modesty to both male and female. But the article has no solid foundation to back up the perspective. That’s why I think there was such a ruckus!

          • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

            I think it’s also probable that there was a ruckus because we’re drawing attention to the systemic misogyny present in the Church.

          • abe

            The hatred of women? really? The majority of Christians I know would be offended…you must of went to a horrible church! We have a husband and wife as the pastors, they rotate preaching & teaching. Our administrator is a woman, the worship leader is a woman, the biggest ministry in the church is the womens ministry. And I guarantee, that all of those awesome ladies disagree with the idea of so-called “systematic misogyny” in the church. that’s going overboard.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

            I don’t mean to say that all churches and all Christians believe in subjugation of women, only that we exist within a cultural framework that DOES promote sexism consistently, and the American Church as a whole is both affected by that and contributes to it.

            I grew up in a church with a husband and wife pastoral team, and the last two churches I’ve regularly attended have been led by wonderful female priests. However, I don’t think you can discount the fact that we are still having arguments over what is okay for women to wear, when it’s okay (if ever) for women to speak or teach or lead, and what the “proper” gender roles for both men and women are today. There is evidence of rampant sexism, and the Church plays into it.

          • abe

            I think there are issues but it isnt rampant, as you and others claim. Some of the “ruckus” is from people not wanting to have any form of boundries in their life. Some are from people who really did have an awful experience in regards to modesty. But there are some that understand that life is, many times, about moderation. I think that this article came off as blasting every pastor about their honest efforts to raise up Godly men AND women. It didnt give a full perspective of how proper and relevant and proven teaching in modesty should be done. But instead, it encourage many believers not care about the weakness and faults of others. That is just careless

          • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

            abe, it’s telling that it is so easy for you to dismiss the stories and experiences of sexism, patriarchy, and oppression of women in the church. you may not think it rampant, but you are not a woman.

            it seems like you’re looking for easy answers for how these lessons *should* be done. the “easy answers” of our past are part of the problem this article addresses. do talk about modesty. work it out in your family and your community, certainly. it matters, but the answers won’t be cut and dry, and our standards may vary. if we’re gonna talk about making “weaker brothers” stumble, let’s also talk about “taking every thought captive” and how it may look to live out freedom in love within community. no one is arguing against caring for one another, but in this new conversation, it will be crucial to talk about how we can care for women as embodied people who bear the image of God.

            it’s not that we don’t want boundaries or aren’t seeking to honor God with our bodies and sexuality–quite the contrary. rather, we don’t want to be chained to *your* boundaries. there is a distinct difference.

          • abe

            Suzannah, I love your post! I don’t dismiss the stories & experiences at all, though! Sorry for that impression, I would never try to do that. In the limited time that I have to post, I try to convey that but I know that my time to write makes it hard to do so.
            My main issue I have with the article is painting the entire church or all church leaders or all men who struggle as sexist and/or oppressors and/or misogynists. There are 2 sides to the story. And I can understand how you feel that the woman’s side hasn’t been told, but a lot of what I see going on in the Christian culture is women rising up, Giving word to the Church, leading tremendous ministries and being a force in the kingdom of God. And that has been happening for a while. All of which is a blessing!
            Your right, addressing issues of modesty is not cut and dry. But it isn’t unapproachable either. If we’re gonna bring up problems, lets also bring up solutions too. And saying “what I wear is my issue and no one else’s” is not a solution. well, I guess it is, but not a very good one, in my opinion.
            A better question for the church would be: “What are some good, fruitful, biblical methods to teaching modesty AND integrity for both male and female?” That is the question that should be asked, not, “is a woman responsible for a man’s lust?” The only response that that kind of question will have is…well, you know. ;-)

          • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

            abe, when you insist that emily is asking the wrong question, it still sounds like you are dismissing her difficult story and perspective. this is a blog not an instructive dissertation, the start of a conversation, not the final say.

            identifying patriarchy and oppression is vital. people often operate under–and benefit from–patriarchy *without knowing it.* emily isn’t arguing that the church is full of men who hate women–we may sincerely desire to love each other well and STILL our language betrays damaging, sexist, and body-shaming messages. when we talk about privilege or oppression, we are not painting every man in a bad light–we’re naming something dark (even sinful) that needs to be mourned and actively worked against, not defended or explained away.

            look at it this way: i benefit from other invisible privileges as a white, straight, able bodied person. when friends talk about racism or the ways they’ve felt silenced or excluded, i’m learning to assume a posture of listening. if i just say “well, i’m not racist and i love gay people” without recognizing the unfair ways i may actually benefit from a system that oppresses them, nothing changes–and i’m part of the problem,

          • John Peters

            Good points, Abe. It really boils down to that. What are some Biblical methods of teaching modesty? I love your comments! And I just wanted to say that I agree – you’re not alone.

          • Juanita G Ricard

            Yes. some churches and so-called Christians criticize what Christ commanded us to do. Whether man or woman, if one is called by God to do something, others should support and pray for them, not try to knock them down. Whatever a person’s ministry is, male or female, they should obey God regardless of how others feel about it. Let God deal with the criticizers.

          • Aleta

            Amen to that! Let God deal with the criticizers! God is sovereign in a Christian’s life if that Christian’s eyes are truly focused on Christ… Other Christians need to “Let God be God” in other Christian’s lives…

          • Hersh, or is it HARSH

            I AM offended… not really…. because her perspective is her entitlement. I can think everyone hate me…me…me…. it doesn’t make it true and when people fall into that manipulative trap they have a wonderful opportunity to learn things… like who cares what people think.

          • African Masala

            Lauryn, that’s the truth!

      • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

        I agree that rules shouldn’t be lopsided, and that men should be held to the same standards women are. That said, my point is not that men aren’t held to high enough standards, but that the standards to which women are held are too high. For example, you say that those who “flaunt” their bodies cause others to sin. I’m not sure what qualifies as flaunting, in your mind, but I can assure you that lots of times (especially as a teenager, I got in trouble for flaunting things when I was wearing clothes that fit. I’m curvy and relatively large-chested. I wore tent-like t-shirts for several years because I was anxious about the negative attention wearing something IN MY SIZE would get me. I wan’t trying to flaunt it, and I certainly wasn’t trying to tempt anyone to sin. Our standards are too high. They lead to undue stress and anxiety and place far more attention than necessary on policing human bodies.

        Also, for the record, the condescension and the implication that I am selfish and rebellious is unwelcome and uncharitable. I’m putting my opinions out there. I (and probably anyone else) would ask that you respond with the basic respect that any human being deserves, and not treat me like an ignorant child. Thank you.

        • abe

          Apologies, I wasn’t trying to be condescending. And I definitely don’t thing you’re ignorant. I understand the wrongs of the negative correction in your past. I see what your saying. I know that as a youth pastor I would be very cautious in how I address a youth in your shoes… I would actually have my wife figure out how to address it…If necessary. I mean, like you said, some people are made with “more” than others. No one should make someone else feel bad for that. Its not what you have, its not even what you do with what you have, but more importantly, WHY do you do what you do with what you have.

          But that issue isn’t solely the churches fault either, it also belongs to those who produce music vids and movies & tv shows that plaster sensuality, lust, etc all over the place. They are ingraining our youth to look at the “package” the “six packs” “racks” or whatever else is perverted in the media. So, I do think we need to teach guys and girls how to look AND behave different than how the world does. But we shouldn’t crush them while teaching them either.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

            Thank you. Apology accepted.

            I absolutely agree that the majority of the cultural understanding of sexuality is warped. One important thing to keep in mind, I think, is that Christians aren’t the only people that think that. There are easily as many secular people that have problems with this are there are Christians that do. That said, yes, we absolutely need to teach people to think of themselves and others as people, not objects or pieces of meat. We’re on the same page.

          • Sean

            Lauryn and Abe, thanks for one of the most adult and Christian exchanges I have seen on any discussion board.

          • ElP

            WOW!! ”No one should make someone else feel bad for that. Its not what you have, its not even what you do with what you have, but more importantly, WHY do you do what you do with what you have.”
            Thank you!!
            As children of God we are called to glorified our Father in all our lives, including aspects such as what to wear, to think, etc. I could understand your WHY, that’s exactly the point: motivation. Laddies, if God’s being glorified through your life, the way you live it just doing that because He deserve all the glory.
            Once again thanks.

        • Jim Watson

          “Our standards are too high.” Really? According to God, they are NEVER high enough. “Our standards are too high.” This sort of statement reveals pride in the individual , not submission to the will of God. Respectfully, we are all ignorant children who should be seeking the will of our Lord instead of being offended by it.

      • Hanna

        To this, I would say: Jesus calls us to LIVE IN FREEDOM. When we fully realize our salvation through grace, the things that this world has perverted do not affect us. It’s an essential part of the Gospel that most of us have yet to realize.

        • abe

          Are you never tempted? Because that is what you’re saying. That perversion doesn’t affect you. We are not yet perfected until we get to heaven…until then, guard your heart!

          • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

            Actually, that’s not what she’s saying.

          • abe

            it kinda sounds like it…
            Again, your article has brought up a great discussion, bravo! But it was very one-sided. And from your perspective, I can understand that. But to say that the entire church is misogynistic and full of power-hungry males because some churches went overboard, is wrong.
            A major factor to this issue is the influence of evil in our world. You say that that’s a “cop-out” excuse, but it isn’t. Its biblical.
            Let’s take Eve…in the Garden. A place of utter perfection with ZERO perversion.
            In this Garden, in the middle, was something that she had seen time and time again with her soul-mate, Adam. Something beautiful and mysterious. Yet she knew she wasn’t supposed to touch. Because if she did, she would die. But one day…you know the story. She saw this Knowledge and while admiring it, someone (or something) whispered…..”take it”.
            Immediately she knew that it was forbidden. She knew the consequences. And knew the wisdom in following instructions, but Satan kept talking, and twisting and lying. Until….She did it. She took it and she “objectified” it. She degraded this wonderful thing to a piece of fruit. Why? Because she “fell” into temptation. And not only did she do it, so did Adam. And then God had “cover” their shame and couldn’t allow them to live, any longer, in this “perfect world”
            So, in the midst of this beauty and freedom and shamelessness and virtual bliss, not one, but two people were tempted and sinned.
            And from that point, Emily, shame entered into the world. This is why we cannot just be “free” and “careless of our actions” because of this sin that started from the first two “good” children of God.

            I know that through Adam, came the bondage of sin and through Christ came the freedom from sin. But just because we are free from that bondage of sin doesn’t mean that there is no sin in this world. We still live in a depraved world where sin abounds and the devil is still whispering in the ears “take it”. Yes it’s ugly. But it’s real….
            sorry, no time to finish and sorry its so long…gotta go!

          • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

            Abe, I think you mentioned something before about how I was refereeing what people had to say about Scripture. Well, here I am again.

            “Yet she knew she wasn’t supposed to touch.” … That’s not Scriptural. Nowhere in Genesis 1-3 does God say not to touch. Eve interjects this phrase to the serpent. In a sense, there’s already a problem in adding to God’s instructions. Also … What? WHAT? Would you please show me any actual source where this interpretation of the Fall is maintained as orthodox Christianity?

          • abe

            My friend, Preston…the ref.

            Don’t you think that to “eat” the fruit, you have to “touch” the fruit? There is now way to eat something without touching it. I understand what you’re implying…”it isn’t recorded in Word, that God told her not to “touch” the fruit.”. But that would be like saying that whatever portion of instruction that St. Paul gave us on Godly living didn’t really come from God if that conversation isn’t recorded in scripture. That wouldn’t make sense, would it?
            Either way, if God told Adam and Eve, not to eat it, they new better than to touch it. For example: If I told my son “don’t eat the cookie” Then I wouldn’t expect him to be touching it and playing around with it or anything. I think, if God never actually spoke those words to them…they new better.
            Either way, that’s not the reason I recited the story. You like to “strain the gnats”, don’t you?
            It was to explain to Emily and Hanna why no matter how “free” and “perfect” in Christ we are there are temptations in this world.
            What, exactly, was inaccurate about the story of the fall? I actually refrained from calling the fruit an apple!! LOL. but for real, what was heretical about it?

            Again, it seems the bible police won’t allow some principles to be learned from the first sin in the bible!!!

        • Jonathan

          Hanna, completely agree with living in the freedom of Christ…We are called to be free Paul says, but then he says, the only thing that counts is faith (which sets us free) expressing itself in love. We were set free, not to do whatever we want to as islands unto ourselves, but to love one another and seek each others interests above our own. So in Christ, we are free to love and in some cases this means we limit our “freedom” in order to love, which in turn really sets us and those around us free indeed.

          That being said, i also think the stereotype of men being out of control sex addicts has done a lot to dismantle the beauty God created when man and woman live together in unity… and men themselves get a distorted view of how God has made them and said it is good. There is much shame around this side of the issue as well.

          • Juanita G Ricard

            True, freedom does not mean free to do wrong. True freedom is to set an example of Jesus Christ as He directs.In doing this, we are “free” from every worrying if we did right or wrong. We know what is right. And we do it. We don’t have to worry about the consequences. We are “free” in Christ. Oh what JOY there is in this type of freedom!

        • Flinux Penguin

          Trouble is that the culture does effect us on a daily basis as we walk around in this world. We learned many things as we grew up and they still effect our thinking if we do not make an effort to subdue them. Christ does not always for everyone erase everything we “learned” as we grew up in a perverted culture. God has created us with desires and needs that are legitimate indeed. “Renew our minds” is the call. In my estimation the most important part I play on this stage is to “unlearn” some things. The Woman’s liberation movement that began when I was a child and grew up with has only served to “degrade” women in the eyes of men. Our job as men is to renew our minds. That is a tough call. I have trouble with it on a daily basis in the career I find myself in. The call is to all of us. The response of men was to create in their minds women as objects of lust. We are “Human beings” and we have to train ourselves to “esteem one another as more important than our selves”. I don’t know what to say sometimes in conversations such as this because we seem to gravitate toward the blame game as some have said. My only response to those here especially the women is to say that I try my best living in a sex saturated culture to view you with honor and the dignity that you should have. It is tough sometimes but as the years go by I have been able to turn my face away when the temptation is too much more than I was able to years ago. I am renewing my mind. I will tell you…it is tough.

          • JG Ricard

            You will succeed as you keep your mind on Christ. You have my prayers. Women admire men like you.

          • DrMichael

            Then pray for me as well. I believe this is true for more men in the church than most would care to admit.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dessie7447 Dessimira Combs

        We should not make each other stumble, but what makes a person stumble? sinful nature without the grace of God in Christ is unpredictable

    • Shi W

      Emily, excellent post!!
      And Lauryn, your point is spot on!!
      Thank you, ladies. It’s refreshing to know I’m not the only one who feels like the modesty card has been played wrongly (having been raised very conservatively myself).

    • Paul

      I fully agree, but I do feel that a woman should show respect to herself and to cover herself appropriately to the standards God approval. Not the approval of man or critics

    • Pastor Dave

      I don’t know who on earth was telling you that your body is just good for sex, but I know this. If someone were to look at my wife or daughter in the way that men tend to look at immodestly dressed girls, my immediate reaction would be to slog them. Of course, as a Christian, I wouldn’t do that, but I can tell you that I would rather my wife and daughters dress modestly than have them mentally abused by unscrupulous men.

      • DrMichael

        Then what if it is that oh-so-modest clothing that is in effect the instigator of the unwelcome attention? Honestly, can’t this be thought to death? Perhaps we should heed biblical instruction and refrain from adding our own input. For instance, we know men should keep short hair and uncover their heads when praying, and that women should keep hair longer, and cover their heads when praying (their hair counts as cover). Why? Because NT scripture says so. The Pharisees were famous for adding rules that weren’t scriptural, and Jesus called them on it. We should be careful NOT to follow their example.

    • Dave Stanton

      Women and esp young women need to be conscious of what they are advertising when dressing is it simply beauty or is it sexy – There is a line.
      Even Jesus says “but Wow to the one who does the tempting” .

      • Billy Tang

        I don’t know what you mean but your pun was very funny.

    • Benny8

      Lauryn,

      I think most of us (evangelicals) are taught to cover up our bodies, not because our bodies are “sinful, dangerous, and good only for sex”… but because there are people out there who are sinful, dangerous, and only want sex. I think most of us are taught that our bodies are wonderfully and beautifully made in the image of God, but that sin’s presence in this world requires that we cover up so that we don’t draw the attention of sinful people who would look to abuse, misuse, exploit, and humiliate their bodies and the bodies of others. I think most of us were taught that covering up certain parts of our body is NOT a matter of legalistic laws, but rather that it is a matter of graceful protection from the lawlessness of others. I can only imagine that this is a small part of what God had in mind when he covered Adam and Eve with the fur clothing He made Himself, right after sin took hold of this world.

      • http://www.findingmyvirginity.com/ Belle Vierge

        I’m glad that you had a more positive upbringing in modesty, but for many of us, our Christian communities objectified us in the guise of Christian modesty. Based on the number of articles and blog posts I’ve discovered, I’m not the only one who felt damaged by the burden of preventing the sins of my Christian brothers.

    • Mattie Lee

      It is so true that we (Christians) are taught from a very young age that our bodies are sinful and dangerous! I have never heard it said quite like this and I really appreciate your all out honesty about the way you feel about this subject. I am only 16 and my mom and I used to always fight over how low an undershirt was and why I wasn’t allowed to wear tank tops and silly small things about the way I dress. I never dressed immodestly, but maybe my clothes didn’t fit just right and she always thought it all had to be perfect so I wouldn’t cause men to stumble. I like this approach on modesty. It isn’t our duty to make sure men don’t stumble. Dressing tastefully for the culture you’re in makes a good bit of sense, but we shouldn’t burden ourselves with thinking we completely control how men think about women. Men shouldn’t me excused from the equation. They are and should be held responsible for their thought process.

  • http://twitter.com/TinyandFierce__ Cassie Chang

    I feel like this whole article needs a sign that says: “Please read this thoroughly before you start writing comments.

    Also, if you don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, do not type. Don’t even think about putting your fingers within a 20cm radius of a keyboard.”

    • PW

      And you commented on me making personal attacks?

  • http://twitter.com/TerynOBrien Teryn O’Brien

    This is a good, balanced view on modesty. Lust and physical attraction are different things. Thanks for pointing that out. And yes, although I do believe we should respect ourselves and our brothers by dressing respectfully, I do think Christians are inordinately obsessed with the Rules of Modesty. It is not only whether a girl has a particular skirt length. It is also the self control of a man to treat women with value and respect DESPITE whatever they might be wearing.

    If you think about it, even women who dress inappropriately shouldn’t always be looked down on (with or without choice). Think of women being sex trafficked, for instance. Yet what kind of witness are we when we simply look at a woman, judge her as being HEATHEN or ungodly for wearing something, and walk away. Jesus calls us to love, not just judge. Jesus himself spoke with prostitutes and sinners, not just the perfect women with the perfect hemline in a squeaky clean church aisle. Women shouldn’t be judged solely for their outward apparel. Often times, women who dress very inappropriately do so for a reason (be it not their choice, or wounds from the past, or a need to get attention).

    Yet a woman who is beautiful needn’t be ashamed of hiding it (respectfully, might I add) simply because she might cause a man to sin. If that’s the case, we should wear burlap sacks or be another religion–where a woman’s beauty IS something to be ashamed of and hidden because the men are in complete control (and can’t control themselves one bit).

  • DaveEkstrom

    Some excellent points were made. The old rules our sister refers to were legalist and sexist. I think they had more to do about control on the part of preachers than about modesty. However, we have a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Paul commanded women to adorn themselves in modest apparel. No, a woman walking around naked doesn’t make men lust, but it sure provides a temptation. Paul also said that no one lives to himself and no one dies to himself. Our sister has chosen to define lust in her own terms and then based her teaching on that definition. The biblical word for lust is simply desire. It, in itself, is morally nuetral. In context, we find if the desire is “lust” or not. “Lust” is when our God-given desires are directed outside of God’s will. My sexual desires become lust when they are directed toward women who are not my wife. No one makes me lust; I have to take responsibility. But the law of love in Christ certainly should direct others to avoid putting a stumblingblock in my path.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharideth Sharideth Smith

    First, well done, Emily. You made your points with thoughtfulness and grace. Second, I want to echo what seems to keep being ignored in the comments. Men, are fully capable of lusting after an attractive woman who is covered from chin to toes. They are also capable of looking away and moving on from a woman in a bikini. It just depends on the man. There is no “protecting” men who struggle with lust from themselves. I am a curvy woman who would have to wear a burka to even take a stab at modesty that would satisfy everyone. Not only is that impractical, it’s unreasonable. If I have a friend who struggles with a specific issue, I’m going to do what I can to minimize their discomfort. i.e. I won’t drink front of someone with a drinking problem, but I also won’t hide the fact that I indulge in an adult beverage on occasion. But ultimately, I have no control over the choices people make. Neither does Emily, as she clearly points out. Neither do you.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Thanks, Sharideth! I love what you write and I’m so glad you decided to dive in here. Although I sort of have an issue with the modesty/alcohol analogy. I think it perpetuates a few negative ideas. Can we come up with a new analogy? You’re like the queen of funny, insightful stuff, so I believe we can do it. :) I talk about that here: http://emilyisspeakingup.tumblr.com/post/35722097557/modesty-and-alcoholism

  • Steve Adesoye

    Honestly speaking,ur opinion about the subject matter is genuine but I want to submit that modesty is a thing of the heart that Christ controls

  • sinner saved by grace

    This opinion is interesting. But as an old judge once told a young lawyer making a creative argument, “Counselor, you can stir the elements of this thoughtful concoction as long as you want, but it will never turn into ice cream.” Biological, spiritiual, regenerated, born again, men- all men- respond to visual stimuli. I wonder what David’s response to Bathsheba would have been had she been fully clothed and that was all he saw when he glanced over to her roof top. See 1 Tim. 2:9. Women have been, in large part, the guardians of the gatepost of morality. I am responsible for my actions but the fact is the sight of a provocatively clad attractive woman often leads to thoughts other than how beautiful a creation she is. Men, keep your powder dry, drink water from your own well. Fellas, these days its best to make a convenant with your eyes not to look at all. Job 31:1

    • sarahoverthemoon

      David wouldn’t have raped Bathsheba if she had been bathing WITH HER CLOTHES ON? Oh, okay.

  • Tevita

    I fully agree with Pastor ‘X’…………Freedom must come with Responsibility !

    Tevita

  • sarahoverthemoon

    I remember being in a Christian college and during an all-girls dorm meeting, the hall director’s husband came in to tell us how we (literally, we, the women at the college) were responsible for HIS porn addiction. It was supposed to encourage us to dress modestly for our “brothers in Christ,” but I just felt so dirty and and violated. I felt ashamed of my body. Every time I saw that man (or any man) on campus I wanted to disappear. Sometimes I think that’s the point of these “modesty” teachings–to make women feel dirty, afraid. To make them want to keep quiet, stay unnoticed, and invisible.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Thank you for sharing this, Sarah. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m so proud of you for finding your own process of recovery and the way you open up that story for others who want to heal. You do great work!

      • sarahoverthemoon

        Thank you! Gah, I’m sorry for all these ridiculous comments. I can’t even process some of them. This is a great piece. Keep speaking truth.

  • Lu

    Thanks Emily for your article. I’m sorry that so many people have twisted your words and trash-talked your “credibility” but know that your words have found open ears and are encouraging others to think differently on what is generically taught about “Lust” and “rules” in the christian life!

    Many people are talking about women being responsible to be modest, to which I agree, and I believe you agree as well, but not in the way they have been using it. Obviously, I am not going to show up to church or heck anywhere without a shirt on. And, the whole running around naked comment has come up a lot too, but if they read your article…you did address that! “Before you start assuming I think people should be walking around naked, let me say this: I would absolutely encourage men and women to dress in a socially acceptable manner, but not because they are responsible for other people’s reactions.”
    Forgive me if I misinterpret anything you said, but it seems like you aren’t addressing so much the modesty side of it (which you do agree; we should dress as we feel is a godly representation to our Lord) but more the judgmental side which puts pressure and blame on women to conform to the pharisee-like rules in our society today that takes away from God’s beautiful gospel! Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). In John 4, Jesus does not condemn a Samaritan women for being “unclean” or having five husbands, he gives her what she really needed and that is the water of eternal life, the ability to truly “worship the Father in the Spirit of truth” (v 23). (This is just one of many examples where Jesus shows that he came to save, not condemn) So let us take off the shackles put on us by this world and focus on what is truly important!

    I won’t talk on the subject of “lust” just because I think Emily and others have done a great job in explaining it in a biblical light. I just want to encourage everyone to truly read the bible, and read up on the meaning of the Hebrew, Arabic, and Greek words, because they can mean so much more than our English translated words can express! Also, understanding the context: people, time, culture, etc. in scripture, as well as our own context now, can bring a better understanding of what the scriptures preach to us! (I do apologize for my long run on sentences! I have always had a problem with that! :D )

  • GT

    Ever since I was a kid until now, I have heard hundreds of times if not thousands… women wishing they were beautiful, feeling insecure about how they look, and even feeling the need to wear cute revealing clothes just for the sake of being cute or getting a compliment… After reading the majority of the comments… we have the natural tendency to try and justify our actions both men and women… Men point the blame that women dress immodestly and women pressing the right to where what they feel culturally able to. I would venture to say that if we have truly accepted Christ into our heart allowing the holy spirit to transform our minds which would in turn transform our actions, we would begin to see each other as God sees us… beautifully created in His image… Men would begin to long for him and him alone and women wouldn’t feel so compelled to wear revealing clothing that is unnecessary to show that they are beautiful. There is nothing wrong with wearing cute clothes but if it is revealing parts of your body that God never intended to be revealed, except to your husband than I believe it should be covered up. We all must remember that we will one day stand account for everything we do and say. Therefore we must take responsibility for our own actions, motives, thoughts, insecurities, habits, etc… and put them subject to Christs authority and allow the holy spirit to convict us if need be.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      The problem with “if it is revealing parts of your body that God never intended to be revealed” is that this has always been culturally, nationally, and socially decided. Cleavage was no big deal in the Victorian era, but ankles were absolutely inappropriate.

      We have to go with socially appropriate/professionally appropriate/situationally appropriate/personally chosen standards here in order to avoid abuse of other people’s responsibility for their own body before God.

      Judging a woman’s inherent value, motivations, morality, or story simply by her attire is just as much of a tragedy as lust is. Both actions remove the value, autonomy and responsibility of a person before God and try to take it for ourselves.

      • Benny8

        I have counselled many men addicted to porn. I lead a ministry called Celebrate Recovery at my church. These men, desperately need women who are WISE about how they dress to lead the way in their churches. Dressing modestly isn’t legalism in action… it is grace in action!

        Emily, I am not trying to be argumentative for the sake of being argumentative here, but I think your article is mistitled. You asked a question “is a woman responsible for a man’s lust?” THAT is the question many are attempting to answer, along with you. And I think the concensus is almost unanimously that “some” misguided men have devalued women and treated them wrongly in the church. And that each man is ultimately responsible for his own actions.

        But just because some men have percerted the rules doesn’t mean that women should ignore the standards some men need to be set in the church. Paul discussed how to handle contraversial issues like this one. Always put the needs of the weaker person above your own. If that means covering yourself up better… then do it… for the sake of those men.

        I Cor. 10:23-24, 32-33 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others…….Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

        • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

          “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

          And does this not also apply to the needs of women in the church? When we have women sharing stories of spiritual abuse and life-long body image issues resulting from the shaming mechanisms of Christian culture, our response can’t simply be “Well, I guess you’ve just got to take one for the team.”

          We, as men, are failing half of the church, and perpetuating that failure by shifting the blame from where it should be, which is squarely on our shoulders. It is we who must do better.

          • Benny8

            Of course it applies to the needs of women in the church. I haven’t read a post in this forum that suggests otherwise (maybe there is one or two that I haven’t come across). I admire your desire to champion the cause of women. It is very much needed today.

            What many of us are suggesting is that this article needs to be careful to be BALANCED. Are women responsible for a man’s lust? No. But should those women who are mature in their faith use wisdom and discretion when they consider what they should wear? Obviously, yes. It is good for women to be out from under the legalistic restrictions of rules and laws, and rather to make their choices based on love for Christ and his church rather than on self-interest inspired by the cultural styles of this world. Scripture speaks constantly of mutual edification. That, I think is the goal of most who are raising cautions in this forum.

            I pray that every woman reading this article gets free from the guilt and condemnation about how they dress and I also pray that they use discretion and that their choices are edifying to the men they will be around in church, some (not all) of which are weak in their flesh.

  • abe

    My answer to the original question: Everyone is responsible for their own lusts…just as every Christian should be responsible in how they dress (as you all know, men are not the only ones looking at women and women are not the only ones that need to mindful of how they dress).

  • Thomas McDaniels

    Some points have value, I think most of the post needs scriptural clarity. I hope you ask for a male’s opinion before writing this. I suspected that is was written from a female. I appreciate your freedom and conceptually your points have some human value, but little value to the the Body of Christ. However, as a whole this post needs more thought about the body as whole and not one individuals right to do whatever they desire. Thanks.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      1. “I hope you ask for a male’s opinion before writing this.” Why, did you ask for a female’s permission before writing this screed?
      2. ” I suspected that is was written from a female.” Your powers of deduction are spot on…oh forget it, we’ve already gone down this road.
      3. “little value to the Body of Christ” No sir, what is of little value to the Body of Christ is this kind of attitude, that **DISMISSES THE CONCERNS OF HALF OF THAT BODY** because you are unwilling and unable to face your own priviledge.
      Thanks.

    • Hanna

      …And when you say “the body as a whole” what you really mean is “you should consider how men feel.” When the point of this article was, “While everyone is concerned with looking out for men, why is no one standing up for women?”

  • Rodney

    I do think that one can “bait’ another to lust if they so choose to lust. For instance, no one can make me angry, but they can “bait” me to choose to be angry. If a person’s aim is not to “bait” another, then they do not share responsibility for the other person’s response.

  • sistert

    I agree and disagree. I agree that we aren’t responsible for everything someone else thinks/acts on. I agree that modesty rules have been over emphasized in some groups. However, I disagree because some people have become so “free” with their dress that it’s distracting. If you’re trying to witness to someone or even invite them to your church and all your “stuff” is hanging out, staring them in the face, it’s going to be extremely hard for them to hear what you’re saying. The bible says to “come out from among them and be ye separate.” That means to be different than the world. Not all “worldly” styles are bad, but when you wear something that exposes more than it covers, you’re going over the decency line. I personally think it’s demeaning not only to the one wearing it, but to the one that is forced to see it. As with any “rule” there are extremes on both sides of the line. The key is finding balance.

  • JS

    So I’m confused…should I NOT be telling the girls in my youth group to cover up their breasts in that low cut shirt or to put on shorts that are longer than underwear? Is that considered negative for them? I’m interested to get a woman’s perspective on this taking the article into consideration. I don’t want to do anything to damage them, but also, where is the line? Or is there one?

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hi JS, I appreciate your desire to talk about these issues in a manner that doesn’t hurt people. I think it’s a difficult topic because it asks us to encounter patterns of behavior and myths about male and female sexuality that are so engrained in the church that we rarely see beyond them. (see these comments for many examples.)

      That said, I’d love to chat with you more about this if you’re serious. There are some great resources I’d be happy to share with you. But ultimately, know that even a girl in a youth group is responsible for her body, not you, not any of the boys. Shame is really effective, but it’s an absolutely destructive motivation tactic. e @ prodigalmagazine . com if you’d like to connect more.

  • Jim DeFrancisco

    Since the first half of the headline for this article has been sufficiently debated if not beaten to death, let me focus on the second part, i.e. is a woman responsible for a man’s lust? The answer should be obvious. Madison Avenue knows the answer. So does Hugh Hefner. So does every woman who ever sought to seduce a man. The essence of lust is an inordinate desire for someone or something (often treating the someone as a thing) that one is not entitled to. We could look at Torah, the Writings (especially Proverbs), or the teachings of Jesus and Paul and the answer would always agree. The focal point is whether or not the presentation (clothing, speech, make-up, gestures, etc.) are designed to and/or would lustfully attract or seduce someone (male or female) other than one’s spouse. Both Jesus and the rabbis built fences (boundaries) that prevent one from getting too close to a sinful act. Pulling the fashion police and dress codes momentarily aside, let’s ask this simple question: what type of reaction will the presentation stimulate in other people. If lust makes the list the approach should be obvious. A prostitute would know the answer, a wayward wife would know the answer, a righteous woman would also know the answer, but would a church-going women in a convoluted pluralistic pagan culture know the answer?

  • cfs

    It is unfortunate well-intentioned young ladies have no concept about the raging desires within the male. How you dress, regardless of your heart, makes men desire you for illicite purposes. Telling them otherwise is lacking understanding. Walk down a street flashing a fistfull of money and see how far you go before someone takes it away. What you possess is far more valuable than money. You need to hang around with the guys and listen how they talk about girls before you think how you dress is acceptable or not. And this is even among Christian young men.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      I refuse to believe that rape (which is the only sexual act that relates to your analogy about stealing money) has ANYTHING to do with modesty. I refuse to accept responsibility when men cannot control themselves and rape women. I am utterly disgusted by how many of these comments suggest that Christian men are so depraved that they would rape women on the streets just because they are dressed immodestly. Disgusted. Literally, physically sick.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      Hi, I’m reality, and if someone got robbed, even if they were flashing a fistfull of money, IT STILL WOULDN’T BE THEIR FAULT THAT THEY WERE ROBBED. Yes, guys are douchebags, but that is NOT A PROBLEM FOR WOMEN TO SOLVE, it is a problem for men to solve. Stop blameshifting.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Hi, I’m reality, and if someone got robbed, even if they were flashing a
        fistfull of money, IT STILL WOULDN’T BE THEIR FAULT THAT THEY WERE
        ROBBED.

        Though flashing a wad (especially in a rough neighborhood) is not the most brilliant thing you could do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

      That is rape apologism, and nothing else.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      I hope that you understand that you’ve basically said men are inherently rapists. Considering that fistful of money would be, well, stolen. And then you take your metaphor where it’s going and … yup.

  • Jim DeFrancisco

    Modesty and lust can be treated together or separately. Focusing on the second half of the headline (lust), it is important to agree that both the object and the one perceiving the object have responsibilities. The Holy Scriptures describe seduction which is also well known, although defined differently, to all cultures. Unless presenting herself to her husband, the woman must not dress seductively if she is following the values from Holy Scripture: Torah, the Writings (especially Proverbs – contrast with Song of Solomon), as well as the teachings of Jesus along with Paul, Peter, and John. Likewise, the man must guard his heart and mind from lust. Neither party is off the hook and, as some others have already commented, e.g. D. L. s comments relative to Muslim culture, culture norms need to be taken into consideration.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      Convenient that men singularly hold the power to define what is “seductive”, no? And I wonder, what about men who dress seductively? Are they held to the same standard, in theory or in practice?

      • Jim DeFrancisco

        Yes – absolutely.

        • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

          Yes to which question?

  • Jeds brother

    Christian brothers and sisters arguing over who is right and who is wrong, didn’t Paul say something about endless arguments.
    Love each other until Jesus brings revelation to the another brother concerning your differences.
    Trust God to do a finish work in us all.
    And when it comes to immodest dress AVERT YOUR EYES

  • don

    notice the clown nose in her profile picture. I think we are being punked. And, Harry Potter and new information on anything!

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hey Don, I can assure you that you are not being punked! This is a tree story about how an attitude towards women and women’s bodies in the church hurts me and hurts the countless men and women that I’ve talked to.

      I sincerely hope you reread this article with that understanding and think about this topic differently than you have before.

      • Leeann

        No I think this is the 21st century American church-watered down, lacking sound doctrine, “feeling” and not following, young women who have drawn this confused culture into their hearts instead of convictions. I guess that word “conviction” is unacceptable in this new 21st century American church. Anyone who has to be “persuaded” to look at how they dress along with how they speak, their actions, etc., is lacking knowledge and some maturity in God. Our thoughts should be so opposite of everything we see around us, not forcing the people inside the church to accept the sensual and sexual culture we live in and embrace it into the holy of holies. I think you forget that we SERVE God- He doesn’t change and my actions are not subject to my own interpretation or wants. I have been bought with a price and I’m no longer my own, I am not a slave to sin any longer and women who wear provacative clothing misrepresent the holy God they desire to serve. It’s self evident and honestly the reactions here have been just as foolish as the premise itself that women or men should be able to dress as carelessly as they want to and there should be no consequences, judgment, shouldn’t result in any reactions, etc and that just isn’t reality and isn’t fair to tell such a falsity. I would just ask “why would you dress in such a way as to even elicit a thought much less a look?”. It’s just immature as dying your hair pink and tons of piercings expecting to be hired for a high profile job as president of a bank or wear a superman costume and be upset that people don’t take you seriously. If your opinion represents today’s young women, do they still believe in a holy God? or just a loving God. An exalted God, or just Jesus my friend? How about a “just” God who judges, or only a merciful God. Is He a terrible and mighty God, or just a gentle God. Is He a God who is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle, or just a “come as you are” God. When you consider all that He is, do you fear God enough to not let this sexually charged culture creep into His holy place? Is there nothing that is still considered sacred or holy? Why is there no reverence for the house of God that you treat His temple as nothing special? And by His temple, I mean both the building and the body- can we not yield anything anymore? Do you fast and pray or has that gone by the wayside also? I am different than the world I live in- I show it by my words, my actions and that includes my dress and I believe we are called to higher heights and deeper depths than this. The fact that we’re having a discussion about this is sad.

  • debra roland

    The author is right, and this scares men. Men want to blame women for every single thing. Lust is a human condition, normal; it is how one acts on those feelings that matter. I once went to a church, and the pastor went on stage, dressed nicely in a dark suit, and I immediately felt interest. Was that his fault? No. He just fit what makes a man attractive to me. Did I act on those feelings? Of course not. This is how God made us, and men who always blame women for “how they dress” never stop to consider that the human feelings of what attracts us goes both ways.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Debra, thank you so much for acknowledging the novel idea that women experience feelings of attraction, too! We have to move beyond the simplistic idea that “only men are visual therefore women should cover up” and build safe communities for ALL people to talk about attraction, sexuality, and grace.

    • Hersh, or is it HARSH

      Debra…. I’m troubled by your comment. Christian men or should I say MATURE Christian men do not go around blaming women for every single thing… It sounds to me (my opinion) you may have some issues to work through possibly.

      • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

        I fear, brother Hersh, that on this view, we might be forced to question your maturity as a Christian man, because your comments all over this thread have been doing a whole lot of blame-shifting…

        • Hersh, or is it HARSH

          Blame-shifting…hmmmm because I understand Paul’s point regarding stumbling people???? Again opinion are like ……… everyone has one and “I DON’T CARE” Since you are reading my posts… hopefully you’ll get my humor. If not, “I STILL DON’T CARE”

    • abe

      Debra, I agree with everything except your first 2 sentences. The author brings up good topics to discuss but that doesn’t mean that they’re right. And it doesn’t scare all men. And not all men want to blame women for every single thing.

      I do feel that if a MAN OR WOMAN is not “advertising” their “accessories” to get unnecessary/ungodly attention, then he or she should be able to wear what they see fit. WHILE ALSO, doing their best to not encourage the lust or sin of another. It’s not easy, but it is scriptural. Lk 17 and Rm 14 to name a couple passages

  • PO

    Does this article strike anyone else as embittered?… I approach cautiously when the tone is “my way versus theirs.” Plus, I don’t see any Scriptures or other support for the suggestion that, “Clothing choices have and will always be culturally relative decisions. Please, make good choices for yourself, whatever those are!” I also think the statement, in and of itself, is problematic. Be culturally relative, yet make good choices… good choices based on whose cultural standard. I applaud Emily for challenging a tradition (it’s hard to speak up against tradition), but I would have liked to see at least one Scripture on which she’s basing her thoughts.

    • r a

      ” Plus, I don’t see any Scriptures or other support for the suggestion that, “Clothing choices have and will always be culturally relative decisions. “”

      Why, should we also consult scripture or other references to conclude things that are blatantly obvious?

  • Benny8

    Dear Emily, I think you are trying to make a good, valid point here. You are encouraging women not to walk around under the dogma of legalism and under condemnation over the opinions of others. This is a part of the “modesty” equation that often gets left unaddressed and it is unfair to women especially. But in the middle of a great idea, I think you lost sight of a few important things.

    (As they say — Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!)

    Let’s face it, we live in a world that is filled with sensuality and seduction. Television commercials, magazines at stores, movies, and media of all types are attempting to seduce our culture into sin. And the church especially is often at fault for condemning people who struggle with either side of the equation on this issue. The “tempter” and the “luster” both get judgment rather than grace heaped on them. But just because someone (especially in the church) executes judgment “wrongfully” doesn’t mean their opinion about an issue is mute. On one hand, I totally agree that all individuals are responsible for their own choices… their own sins — and no one else. But that doesn’t make it’s right or wise to knowingly do something that puts someone else in harms way.

    My big problem with your article is this. If YOU KNOW that low cut V-neck shirts cause some men to be “tempted” to look at your breasts and lust (and you clearly do know this because you said it in your article — then WHY WOULD YOU WEAR IT? (especially to church?) — Would you offer a beer to an alcoholic? No! If you did, everyone around you would think you are an insensitive jerk (no offense)!

    The Church in particular is “supposed to be” a hospital, a safe-house, a refuge for all kinds of sinners. And guess what? We all know that people who struggle with lust will be there!!! So, why not do our part to make it as safe as possible? Why not dress in a way that prevents them from be tempted?

    It seems many people in this forum spend a lot of time defending their own need for freedom, rather than championing the freedom others desperately need! (on both sides of the issue) YES — it is 100% true that any man who doesn’t look away when tempted to lust is responsible for not looking away. But every woman who ignores the predicament they put the man in by wearing revealing or provacative clothing, is just plain immature in their faith… and is actually in a sense withholding “grace” from him by thinking of her clothing choices over his need to be in a safe environment to heal and find freedom.

    You said in your article:
    “…let me say this: I would absolutely encourage men and women to dress in a socially acceptable manner, but not because they are responsible for other people’s reactions. And certainly not because one way of dressing is more “godly” than another!”

    Since when did “social acceptability” become the standard by which Christians are called to live? Actually, scripture makes it clear that there are actually more godly ways to dress than some others.

    1 Peter 3:3-5 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.”

    1 Timothy 2:9-10 “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

    Many of the so called “Modesty Rules” are just plain wise advice from any good dad trying to protect his sons and daughters from a tremendous amount of heartache.

    • Hersh, or is it HARSH

      I believe most guys would agree with you… THANK YOU!!!

      • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

        That’s because most guys are cowards, looking to blame their bad behavior on someone else.

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      “It seems many people in this forum spend a lot of time defending their own need for freedom, rather than championing the freedom others desperately need! (on both sides of the issue)”

      Men will never be free of issues with lust if they don’t own up to their own responsibility, and stop trying to blame women for their shortcomings.

      “YES — it is 100% true that any man who doesn’t look away when tempted to lust is responsible for not looking away. But every woman who ignores the predicament they put the man in by wearing revealing or provacative (sic) clothing, is just plain immature in their faith… and is actually in a sense withholding “grace” from him by thinking of her clothing choices over his need to be in a safe environment to heal and find freedom.”

      Who defines what is provocative? How do we arrive at these objective standards of “modesty” that will save our poor, struggling brothers from their lustful appetites?

      Here’s a thought experiment: Statistically speaking, every largish church probably has at least one person (though likely more) with some kind of paraphilia. Foot fetishism is one of the most common. In this case, if an individual decides to wear open-toed shoes, is that person “withholding grace” as well in doing so?

      • Benny8

        Luke, I’m sorry I never got back with you (settings weren’t set to notify me). I’m sure much of my opinions on this issue got lost in the 100’s of comments that have been posted in the last few months. And I’m probably a bit late, but…. I want to clarify my point of view and also answer your experiment. So here goes…

        ROMANS 14 is the gage we as Christians must use on how we conduct ourselves in “disputable matters”. When I read this passage of scripture, I see two sides rising up to judge one another. Those considered “stronger” in their faith and those considered “weaker”. They are both asked “why do you judge?” and “who are you to judge?” and “why do you treat them with contempt?”.

        Paul uses the examples of their disputes at the time — whether one day is more sacred than another or whether certain foods are off limits or not. In the same way, we are addressing a dispute among Christians — what is appropriate for a woman to wear or not in worship settings. The problem Paul pointed out is that people were getting way too caught up in the rules (The Law) to understand what was really happening. And by doing so, both sides of the argument made themselves The Judge of others. The weak and the strong faith alike, forced their opinion on the other party. And in doing so, they began to destroy each other’s faith and the unity of the church.

        In our case, one side is saying, it’s not wrong to wear certain clothing. The other is saying it is wrong, or at least it is not “wise” to wear certain clothing. I am urging both sides of the dispute to consider this:

        When people argue over “disputable matters”, BOTH SIDES ARE WRONG if they push their opinion on others as if it is God’s view. Paul instructed us to keep what we believe about disputable matters between ourselves and God (Rom 14:22).

        And Paul instructed both sides this way concerning issues like this (NIV – ALL CAPS added for my own emphasis — parts in parenthesis added by me too), Romans 14:13-21:

        13 Therefore let us STOP PASSING JUDGMENT on one another (he was speaking to both sides of the issue, not just one side). INSTEAD, make up your mind not to put ANY STUMBLING BLOCK OR OBSTACLE in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then FOR THAT PERSON it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat (or wear), YOU ARE NO LONGER ACTING IN LOVE. Do not by your eating DESTROY SOMEONE for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (or clothing), but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ IN THIS WAY is pleasing to God and receives human approval.19 Let us therefore MAKE EVERY EFFORT to do what leads to peace and to MUTUAL EDIFICATION. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food (or clothing). All food (clothing) is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat (wear) anything that CAUSES SOMEONE ELSE TO STUMBLE. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or TO DO ANYTHING ELSE that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

        Hmmmm… vs 21 again “It is better not… to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

        Dressing a certain way is clearly a part of “anything else”.

        And so our problem is the same as Romans 14. For the person who says, my faith allows me to dress, guilt free, in a V-neck shirt with my cleavage showing because I am free from the law. — That’s fine. But for the other person, “their faith” leads them to believe that it is wrong… so you are no longer acting in love toward your brother in Christ when he pleads with you that it is a stumbling block.

        So Luke, as for your experiment — the same principle applies. If THE FAITH (<— key word) of one man leads him to believe that wearing open-toed shoes is sinful and wrong, and that it causes him to stumble in his relationship with Christ when people wear them, then we are called to act in love toward that brother. Now, obviously we can't act in love if we aren't aware of his challenge. But, if we are "made aware" and "clearly know" that someone with a foot-fetish is worshiping with us and finds it difficult and distracting to stay focused because of open toed shoes —– we can demonstrate Christ's love by putting aside our personal feelings on the issue and meeting that person where they are at. Better that we remove obstacles for them, than force them to "get over it" because "Jesus set me free from this issue". In the end, the issue is the maturity of those believers who are "stronger in their faith" and their ability to love others in what they choose to do.

        The challenge with this article is this. Some people genuinely believe (because of their faith in Christ) women/ladies/girls should dress certain ways (long dress, cover your cleavage, etc.), because it is provocative to do so. Some people genuinely believe (because of their faith in Christ) that they can wear whatever they want, without condemnation. Both sides are right. But the one with the more mature faith, and clearer conscience has more responsibility in the matter—- they need to do what brings peace and mutual edification.
        And so, I urge all readers to consider both sides of the argument.

        – If you believe that showing cleavage (or something like that) is wrong when in church – be careful that you don't judge those who do not believe what you do. Act in grace and pursue purity.

        – And for those that believe that it is fine to show cleavage (or something like that) in church, be careful that you act in love and not in judgment. Consider how many people have said in this forum alone that their faith leads them to believe it is a stumbling block. Consider, your brother/sister who is stumbling — who is "weaker" in his faith concerning this matter. Is it more important to do whatever you want?… or is it better to do what edifies the church and brings peace? We are called to be countercultural. Our dress should not be determined by our culture, but rather by what honors others and honors Christ.

        So in the end, I believe the issue is simple, on "DISPUTABLE MATTERS", and this is one of them… act in love rather than in self-interest.

    • sarahoverthemoon

      My wearing a v-neck is not “offering” men my boobs, any more than me enjoying a beer on the weekend is me “offering” a beer to an alcoholic. If I went up to a “struggling” man and was “Oh, here are my boobs! Want to grab them?” that’d be one thing. But men, you need to get over yourselves and stop thinking that every clothing choice a woman makes is about you.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

        YES. This, this, this. WE ARE NOT PROPERTY. None of our body is ever up for grabs unless we say so.

  • AMOS8

    Miss Emily, thank you for the article. One of the greatest struggles of fallen humans is to be accurate when it comes to responsibility, and you have picked a pertinent topic. I appreciate your desire to do so and the time and heart you put into this, but I must point out a few concerns. You said,

    “…we miss out on God’s heart for all people: INFINITE VALUE. In the book of Matthew … Jesus … wasn’t condemning a physical sexual response as sinful, he was lifting up the INHERENT VALUE of all women and men. The Sermon on the Mount repeatedly describes THE WORTH OF EACH PERSON, no matter their circumstances.”

    I don’t know exactly what you believe, but the notions listed in the quote above are pure pop-psychology that has infiltrated the church. I know it was not your intention, but what you wrote (and what Christian pop-psychologists teach) actually cheapens God’s grace and love (not to mention that it is not accurate). In fact, much of the problem is a confusion about what love is (and value, of course).

    “All people” do not have “infinite value.” There is nothing to support this, and everything opposes this in Scripture. Furthermore, our “inherent value” is little, at best (do a word study on “worthless”). The more inherent value we have the less amazing God’s grace is. If He died for wonderful people, then that is one thing (a MUCH lesser thing), but if He died for sinners (Rom 5:8) who are “enemies” and “worthless” and “evil” with hearts that are deceitful above all things …. then that is amazing, that is love. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount Jesus condemns the love you are alluding to: “Why do you love those who love you?” It is easy to love the lovable, be around those who are of infinite value, BUT it is profound to love those who are not so lovable.

    I don’t know who told you that the Sermon on the Mount is about OUR worth, but he or she has some explaining to do? Where did they get that idea? I know where a lot of people today get that idea, but it is not in the Word! The sermon is about (among many things) our responsibilities to live in certain ways, no matter what our circumstances are. It is not about how good we are!!!! In fact, Jesus calls us/them “EVIL” in chapter 7!

    So, Miss Emily, please reconsider what you have so confidently asserted. A lot is at stake, mainly God’s glory, His truth, His character, and the truth about us and the gospel.

    By the way, we do have worth AFTER it is given to us, through faith (not our performance, not our circumstances, not what people think of us) in God and His finished work. We have all the worth IN HIM that we need, so we never need to be concerned after that.

    Our flesh tends to fall for the lies of:

    1. The better we perform, the more we accomplish, the more rules we obey (and the more others think well of our performance and circumstances) then the more acceptable or valuable we will be to God (and others).

    2. Our worth comes naturally, and/or through our inherent value (e.g. we are basically good and/or we are of extreme value). This comes mainly through liberalism and pop-psychology (Rogers, Maslow, Fromm).

    Take the above, and the following, for what it is worth (btw, this is what I do for a living, but you may or may not find value in it) but one common error I find is over-reaction. When people have been exposed to one extreme (e.g. too strict or legalistic, or too liberal or lenient or chaotic) then they often over correct (and become subtly bitter) and go too far in the other direction. I am deeply sorry this has been your experience, but please make sure you are centered on the Word to find correction.

  • Ellis

    While I concur with Emily’s contention that we are made according to the expressed will of God, Jer 1:5, and that, that should be an awareness cultivated in all. It would seem that the real issue or debate centers on how we should exercise the freedom that we have as new creatures in Christ. Phl 4:5 says:

    “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” KJV

    I use the KJV for a specific reason. The word moderation is used, many versions would incorporate “gentleness” or “reasonableness”, which while they impart the flavor of what Paul was saying, don’t carry the same more definitive exhortation to exercise other-directed self control. Strong’s defines the word, “epieikes”, as seeming, suitable or equitable, fair, mild or gentle.

    We are his creation, subject to his service as well as called to remind ourselves that we are made for His glory and good pleasure. When creation was completed, He said that it was VERY good. And ours’ should be a celebratory relationship with Him for what He has done and continues to do.

    But we are called to witness, in submission as well, little deaths, daily, to ourselves. We have liberty in Jesus, responsibility as well. Which is why I particularly appreciate Emily’s reminder, in closing, to make good choices, not only in wardrobe or conduct, but in who we are, bought by blood, a sacrifice greater than we can now comprehend.

  • Fred

    Women quit whining, and follow the teachings of Paul in his epistles…remain silent, cover your heads, and dress modestly…period end of story…if you have any questions ask your husband after….this is because as Paul says..woman was made from man..

    • http://lukelivingthetension.blogspot.com/ Luke Harms

      Oh Lord, tell me this is a parody account. Tell me this is satire…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Can’t afford to. In an age of extremes like today, It’s my experience that as off-the-wall and crazy as you get for satire, there’s going to be some True Believer out there twice as crazy and Dead Serious. Especially when God is invoked.

    • Ellis

      You do realize that covering heads refers to coming under headship don’t you?

  • tamtam

    I was reading all these arguments which I was running out of patience of. I’m just curious & pardon me, for I am certainly not a Bible scholar. But I just want to know – does this mean that girls don’t have to care if they show cleavage, their butts or wear a bra? If something happens to them, eg, if they were raped BECAUSE they dressed in such a way that made it easy for men to lay hands on them, do they not have to have responsibility & blame everything on the perpetrator? Should worship leaders, stand on stage with provocative clothes & claim that women can wear anything as it is our choice? What about men who are struggling with sexual sins, who is having trouble with women who dresses seductively?

    I’m sorry if I sounded rude or anything. I am really asking. I am a woman & I believe that women as well as men have their responsibilities to play. If a woman dressed deliberately pushing up her cleavage to church, I tend to believe eyes will be on her. Even women will look, let alone men. It is up to the men not to do anything about it, but then does it mean we can keep pushing it (pun unintended)?

    • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

      Important point: women don’t get raped because of what they’re wearing. Women get raped regardless of whether they’re naked or fully, modestly clothed. Rape is never the victim’s fault.

    • http://twitter.com/einfarben xander

      People get raped because rapists exist. There is no other cause of rape. Rapists continue to exist primarily because of the systemic misogyny in our culture (in politics, education, media, and yes, even in the church).

  • Uche

    I see, there’s no end to this discourse. We all could justify our points just as sorts us, but I ask wouldn’t you prefer travel on a smooth road to the same point another travels on road ridden with potholes? As Christians Jesus should be our standard. Looking at HIS life here on earth, He could have chosen to come as a king and still do that which HE came for, but no, HE choose modesty. HE was neither the richest nor the poorest. HE cares about what people say and think of him, hence HE asked Peter who do people say I am. HE cares how people feel around HIM. Jesus didn’t came to live for HIMSELF, but for us, and HE urges us to do likewise. We are having this gospel today because the disciples lived for us and they did it exactly the same way CHRIST did. Now let assume, what one does, has no effect on what the other does or will do. Did you inquire from God before doing that, since all you cares is your relationship with God? Please don’t get me wrong, one’s relationship with God is all that matters but i don’t think that’s all you should care about. Did you remember that portion of the bible Jesus said depart from me ” when I was hungry and had no home you did not cared for me”……. when you did not care or help your fellow man you see, it was me you rejected. This can be likened to what we are discussing, when you careless about what your action/inaction might cause others, in the pretense God is not complaining. Then you are just like the man Jesus was talking to. One last question to Emily and her likes, would you welcome a request to share bible studying from someone only on his/her undies? Don’t say it won’t get that far, cos it would if we allow what you are suggesting.

  • cml

    Wow healthy debate and great insights Emily, Preston, Abe, Dave, PW. God bless

  • Robert Agbahia

    I think Emily got it wrong. She is pushing too far her extrovertic tendencies and new found freedom beyond the christian border. Her grammatical defnition of lust is complicated. it is weird. it is simply not the truth. Lust is a contrlolling desiire for what you are seeing,feeling, imagning and or control. This is why there is lust of the eyes,lust of the flesh and pride of life. These are of the world, not of God.(1John2:15-17)

    Emily wrote that ‘nothing you do or do not do will stop somebody from lusting’. this also is not true. We preach the gospel to help those believe but are full of lust to get their delverance. Can you be honest when you say; ‘you can’t make someone sin or not sin’? Are you in this world? Trying to defend liecence in living should not make Emily, a ‘christian’ go beyond scripture acceptable limits. There are limits to freedom in the bible. Jesus is LORD in evry culture, tribe or race.

    What can be in the mind of a person– man or woman that wears a near-nude or revealing clothing if not to seduce the onlooker? Seducing is of the devil. There is something that worldly women call ‘dressing to kill’.It’s inspiration is from Satan.

    Beloved, there is a way of dressing that is more godly than another. Emily’s later advice.that one should dress in a way culturally acceptable is nice but she has already done the damage by her earlier wrong definition of lust and proposal for limitless liecenc.Self-control is a fruit of Holy Spirit filled life. A friend described it as ‘the control I put on myself, by myself and for myself to the glory of Christ.

    Let Emily read her article again and she will see it’s not serving the purpose of Christ but the enemy. My advice: withdraw it from the net. Let me close with this scripture Luke 17:1-2 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin(NIV)

  • sfdemo

    “I beseech you,” says Paul, “present your bodies a living sacrifice.”
    The point to decide is this – “Do I agree with my Lord and Master that
    my body shall be His temple?’ If so, then for me the whole of the law
    for the body is summed up in this revelation, that my body is the temple
    of the Holy Ghost. To be under Gods Grace requires self abandonment so it is not about how we feel but what God intended, so many are still focusing on the lower story when the Upper story truly defines how we should live here. I wonder what it would look like if we just took the scriptures for what they said and didn’t “lean on our own understanding”

  • ServantHeart2012

    Wow! Emily, you have apparently discovered the holy grail of hot button issues! Too bad so many of the comments are prideful tit-for-tat nonsense, but there are some constructive and enlightening ones along the way. Gotta take the good with the bad and give thanks to God for opportunities to share with other believers. Thank you for taking on this issue.

  • Greg

    I was raised conservative and am an ordained minister in a conservative organization The United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI)

    There are a few thoughts I have concerning this…

    1. I have never heard anyone teach, preach or tell a lady that her body was sinful or dangerous. Maybe in some other circles this is common practice. I am also a PK and wow just never heard it before. Having a sister, being a student pastor, leading our District Youth Department for 7 years and currently speaking throughout North America I have never heard it from any source whatsoever.

    Unfortunately, this article to me is an example of the prevalent mindset of a generation that knows ABOUT the word of God but doesn’t KNOW the word of God. It sounds spiritual & enlightened but in reality is simply repackaged deception.
    I am not here to cast stones simple submit my opinion to this article of which I did not disagree with in its entirety.
    For example…
    I expect I will borrow this in future teachings. “Lust is forming people in your own image, for your own purposes, whether for sexual pleasure, emotional security or moral superiority.”

    However…The problem i have is that the premise of the article is flawed. It’s all built around an “I’m only responsible for me” mentality which flies in the face of scripture. She needs to read 1 Cor 8:13. There must be balance – we can’t do everything to please others but we also cant live on an island & blame others if our negative actions offend them.

    I take issue with this statement as well
    “If anyone tells you that you are responsible for the hearts or minds or actions of any men or women…don’t accept!”

    Has the author an answer for the following

    Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17 ESV)

    Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 ESV)

    How bout 1 Corinthians 8 where if we are a stumbling block & we sin against the brethren & wound their weak conscience we sin against Christ.

    Is the following only relevant to food?
    But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:9-13 ESV)

    Finally, I do get the whole idea that a person has the final choice to sin or not but to say we bear no responsibility to others or that we don’t influence others to sin is just not theologically accurate nor does it even show much common sense.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hi Greg, I’m not able to respond to the entirety of your post, but I would encourage you to be open to the idea that just because you haven’t heard anyone “teach, preach or tell a lady that her body was sinful or dangerous” doesn’t mean this idea doesn’t exist. It is perpetuated by many church cultures in very real but subtle ways. There are countless stories like mine if you are willing to listen instead of merely throwing out scripture against the stories we are telling.

      • Greg

        Emily thanks for your reply…please note that I did say that in some circles this may be common practice I am not all knowing and I would believe you to be a person of integrity and I’ll take your word for it. God forbid this to be a widespread issue in Chrisitianity of course if it happens to one individual that is too many. As a lead pastor I spend much time working to direct people raised in “church” and in the world to overcome past hurts and problems and just commenting they I have never heard it in counseling or conversation. (that women’s bodies were sinful or dangerous).

        The scriptures I “threw out” cannot be apologized for and scripture is the basis for everything we do. I agreed with the spirit of what you were trying to communicate but just because we are well meaning in what we do doesn’t mean that it is theologically correct.

        I’m willing to listen to anyone and even at times when hurts are deep I’m not gonna rush and throw the scripture to hurt or tear down and especially not going to use it out of context but in this forum and discussion I feel we can’t ignore God’s Word.

        • abe

          Greg, I agree! This article did not highlight the countless pastors & ministers that encourage women and men, while teaching modesty as a Christian. There are tons of phenomenal churches that can teach modesty, using God’s Word at the same time value and respect others. It only made the church look condescending, sexist and misogynist…maybe some churches are like that…but not all of them. But honestly, I enjoyed the topic and the perspective that has come from the article and the comments….some of them at least!!!

    • John Peters

      Thank you! I’m starting to get fed up with people who are shying away from the real point – that we are responsible to God for the ways that we knowingly cause our brothers & sisters to fall. If we are knowingly (I use that word intentionally) causing our brothers and sisters to fall, then we are simply demonstrating a lack of love! (See ICorinthians 13)

  • Leslie B.

    How many men will stand before God and explain their lust by saying, “’The woman you put here with me – she’ caused me to lust.” (Genesis 3:12 adapted) What causes lust? What should guide how we dress?

    No matter how a woman dresses, a man is fully responsible for his own lust. In Proverbs 6:20-35 and 7:6-27 a warning is given to the young man about the woman who is “dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.” Even so, he is given the responsibility for his own response to her – “do not lust in your heart after her beauty” and “do not let your heart turn to her ways.” She dressed the part; he chose his own response. Men are not “naturally” carried away into lust by a woman’s clothing or lack thereof. They naturally have a desire and interest in women, yes. But lust is desire that has gone beyond that desire (this is a matter of context). Lust shows what we have in our hearts
    (compare Mark 7:20-23). A man needs to take responsibility for “his own lust” (James 1:14-15).

    The way a woman dresses, then, is not based on what might happen within the minds of men, but in her desire to please and honor her Lord and Savior. The modest dress of I
    Timothy 2:9-10 connects to who they are (“women who profess to worship God”) not on the impact they might have on others. (Should women wear burkas out of concern for the men in the church?) We need to encourage women to see what God values in them (such as “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” I Peter 3:4) and to realize that God created them female – and it was (is) good.

    As to causing another to stumble – One cause was eating of meat that had been sacrificed to idols. The weaker brother saw another eating and took away from it that it was okay to serve Christ and to serve idols at the same time. (Romans 14, I Corinthians 8, I Corinthians 10:18-33). Another focuses on those who actively seek to draw another away from Christ (Matthew 18:1-10, Luke 17:1-3). There are women (and men) who fit these situations, but the discussion here doesn’t fit well. The idea that a woman causes a man to lust by her dress is very close to the thought that by her very existence as a woman she tempts men (some have come to that conclusion, sadly).

    Grace be with you all.

  • Billy Ford

    Emily, thank you for your article. It makes me sad to think of young women being made to feel bad about themselves in the name of modesty. Churches can do a lot of harm and as a pastor myself I have to wrestle with how to teach the people in my congregation. As I think through these things, I’ve had some questions arise. Here’s one thing I’m wondering about: I’ve never heard the idea of lust being more about control. I’m curious to know whether that’s true or not. I just studied the Greek word that Jesus used and it seems like in the New Testament it is used to mean “deeply yearn for.” For example, the wayward son in Luke 15 “longed” to eat some of the pig food. The Greek word used there for “longed” is the same one Jesus used for lust in Matthew 5. There are many other examples of this so it seems to me that Jesus is saying that if your passions are aroused for someone so that you desperately want them (sexually), even though they are off limits, that is a form of adultery in the heart. But maybe I’m missing something? I’d love to hear your comment.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hey Billy,

      Thank you so much for engaging well with this topic. I’m grateful for your kindness and attention to my story. I’m still very much involved in church and Christian ministry with young men and women, and I believe there IS a healthy way to discuss these issues. But maybe it requires more listening, more stories, more space, more giving up control than we’re used to allowing?

      I had never thought of lust from this angle until my pastor preached through Matthew about two years ago. He talked about the Sermon on the Mount for several months, and part of it was from the angle of Jesus valuing people who were typically under valued or dismissed. It blew my mind that Jesus was lifting up the poor, the hurting, the grieving, in such a powerful way, even to point out that they had something that rich, religious, “put-together” people didn’t have. It made me love Jesus so much! And it made me love people so much, to see the way that God loves us and values us.

      I’ve found it helpful to examine and seek to understand scripture in multiple ways, both word by word and in terms of story narrative. I’ve studied Greek, but not this word in particular, so I think there’s definitely a place for understanding this passage in smaller bits. But this piece did focus more on the story aspect of my story and the application of this scripture in a new way in my own life. I understand that that take is not sufficient for some people, but I believe it’s an important piece!

      Your exploration of the Greek word is helpful and I’m so glad you shared it! If Jesus uses the same word used for the wayward son’s (shout out to http://www.prodigalmagazine.com) longing for food, it would imply taking, consuming, using for our own sustenance, meeting our own needs, etc. It’s not a sin to have needs, but the way we fulfill them matters. The problem comes when we use people (women, in the case of the Modesty Rules) for our own purposes (whether that’s sexual satisfaction, moral superiority through judging their attire, etc) without their consent. This denies the precious Image of God inherent in each person. That is an act that offends God. Jesus talks about this again when he said that calling someone “idiot” is just as abusive as actually murdering them. It is not necessarily abusive to their body the way murder is, but it is as abusive to their soul, their inherent personhood, their value in God’s eyes.

      There is of course, much more to explore on these topics, many stories to tell, and countless books to write. I don’t believe my story is definitive or my scriptural interpretation of this passage is the only valuable one, but I believe it is important.

      Thank you again, for being willing to encounter something different than your understanding in this, Billy. That openness will serve the people you pastor so well and I’m grateful you commented here. I’d be happy to discuss the topic of modesty and better conversations by email as well, so feel free to pass on my email. I’d especially love to talk to people who work with young men and women in the church. e @ prodigalmagazine.com

      Emily

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hi Billy, I replied to this post at length, but it hasn’t been approved yet? Thank you for sharing. I’d love to discuss this more at e @ prodigalmagazine.com

  • http://www.dani-kelley.com/ Dani Kelley

    Thank you for this. There’s so much that I want to say, but emotion prevents it for the moment. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      You’re welcome, Dani. When you’re ready, I’d love to listen to your story. Keep in touch.

  • Sheryce

    I think a lot of guys (not all of them — some guys’ responses have been awesome) really, really do not get what it’s like to carry the shame the Church applies to women. One night I was at a youth meeting and the Speaker said “And women who wear short skirts and complain that all guys want is sex? Well that’s all you’re advertising!”

    After the service, I left and stopped for food. As I got out of the car some guy I didn’t know started yelling at me from his car, calling me a “slut” and several other unpleasant, body-related names. I was wearing a jeans and a t-shirt, certainly nothing that could be construed as immodest.

    If I was going to go by that Pastor’s logic, I was advertising sex and that’s why I was objectified. Please consider that. Consider the guilt and the shame I’m supposed to carry.

    Society objectifies women and teaches men to objectify women. I, as a woman, could be walking outside in a garbage bag and still be objectified. And to be told that I’m “causing my brother to stumble” makes the whole thing manipulative and shameful, rather than making the church a safe place to go to when I’m told I’m a slut because I’m wearing comfy, casual, modest clothes.

    Please, please, please try and understand this and understand why the current view of modesty is so hurtful to women.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Sheryce, I am SO sorry you’ve experienced this. It is so wrong and it just breaks my heart. You are so valuable. I’m sorry that speaker in church and that guy yelling at you didn’t reflect that back at you.

      I wrote about my own experience with Street Harassment (on both sides) on Prodigal Magazine and I hope you’ll find a safe place to talk about your experience: http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/his-words/

      You are not the problem, Sheryce. You are not alone. Your body is not inherently open for criticism or harassment. Your very existence is not an offense against any person. Love and peace to you.

      Are you listening, brothers? Your sisters are speaking. We are asking you to stand with us instead of against us or blaming us.

      Are you listening?

      • Sheryce

        Thank you Emily and Lauryn! It makes me feel very validated, seeing more and more people able to see the problems with (what I refer to as) The Modesty Movement.

        Abe, I understand you’re coming from a desire to live Biblically, and I think that’s great. However, I disagree with your point. I especially disagree with you, a man, telling me, a woman, what is and is not misogyny. Tell me, Abe. How many times do I need to be called a gendered insult? How many women need to be blamed for their own rapes? How many times do I have to hear youth leaders telling young girls “you are causing boys to sin!” How many times do I need to hear female friends revealing that as a child they were approached by older men who told them “You shouldn’t wear what you’re wearing. It’s causing me to lust”? How many times do I need to hear about young girls who hate their bodies because they can never, ever win? How many times do these things need to happen before it’s misogyny? What’s the magic number? Because I promise you, it’s been reached, and then some.

        • Sheryce

          Oh! Sorry, I also meant to say, thank you so much, Emily, for writing this piece! It very eloquently put into words what has always bothered me. Also, Harry Potter is awesome!

          • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

            PREACH! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/lauryn.marton Lauryn Elizabeth Marton

      Thank you. Thank you for saying this.
      Grace and peace and love, sister.

    • abe

      sorry this post is so long…

      wow…that’s not cool….how the speaker made you feel is not cool at all. I don’t agree with devaluing someone to teach them a lesson. Shame is not a good tactic at all. I believe good teaching will always encourage, grow and motivate someone to do better and better!

      But let’s be real, in our society, there are lots of other girls who do wear short skirts and show their bodies FOR THE PURPOSE of “advertising”. Those are the kinds of people that contribute to the “objectifying” of women! Not JUST men. And you know what, there are lots of men that try to get ripped and flash their cut biceps and their “washboard” abs to “advertise” also!

      But how many times do you see a man walk into a church with a tie and no shirt on? Or wearing a halter top or spaghetti strap? I mean, if one of the deacons walked in on a Sunday morning wearing wearing a workout tank-top with his arms all “lubed” up doing the “pec pop of love” you would know that this dude is not just being “free in Christ”!! He’s trying to get attention! lol! And for the most part, guys don’t do it quite like that. They do other wrong things in the church to make up for it, but its not as VISIBLE of an issues as it is for women.

      Is it misogynistic? sexist? sexual repression? I don’t think so. I think that men and women are different and have different struggles and temptations. Different thoughts and mindsets.

      Church leadership has always told male ministers and leaders to do your best to never be alone with the opposite sex. To have integrity when dealing with single or married females through counseling, advice, working on a project or in ministry together, having meetings, etc. Why? Because we don’t to convey the wrong idea and spark unintentional feelings and cause the other to sin/lust. We are told to be cautious in how we do ministry. Is it because we are the evil ones? No. (the majority of the time) Are they? No. But temptation is temptation. And we as ministers (and Christians) have to use restraint in our lives for the sake of others. We must control our actions, how we say things, how we touch, and how much time we spend with another person. It’s restricting. but it’s necessary.

      I don’t get mad because the other person “doesn’t know how to control their emotions and lust” etc. I understand, I have grace and do my best to have a healthy relationship while at the same time not being a source of temptation.
      Yes, ministers need to learn how to speak to women to not shame them or devalue, but the modesty in all areas is very necessary. Even the way you dress.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I mean, if one of the deacons walked in on a Sunday morning wearing
        wearing a workout tank-top with his arms all “lubed” up doing the “pec
        pop of love” you would know that this dude is not just being “free in
        Christ”!! He’s trying to get attention!

        Or he’s Mark “Bee Jay” Driscoll showing off to everyone what a Manly Man he is.

  • Fred

    What about the teachings of Paul in the epistles regarding the conduct and attire of women…seems today’s women do not want to follow his teachings…why not?

  • Shadow Spring

    There is no hope for reform in the church. Men love power, and men have acquired a lot of power in the American church. They will not give it up to follow Jesus. If people want to follow Jesus, they will have to stop going to church, because the church in America stopped following Jesus when the fundamentalists took over.

    • AMOS8

      If only we could start a more forgiving religion, one where everyone goes to heaven, and without all those rules and fundamentals and principles. Those people who insist on fundamentals are the problem. Let’s just follow Jesus … in whatever way we deem best …

  • Tom Saali

    Excellent insights!

  • AMOS8

    To the degree our theology is influenced by pop-psychology, how accurate can it be? (Col 2:8)

    Will we not have a distorted view of God and inaccurate notions about life, etc when we sit at the feet of those who rely on man’s wisdom? (Ps 1:1-3)

    Do we not have a responsibility to avoid the world’s “wisdom” and “refute” it? (Ti 1:9)

    The worst part of all of this how many gladly put up with this ideology (2 Cor 11:4). Instead, many here rely on personal attacks and mockery and avoidance. And then we blame those who dare “contend for the faith” for the serious problems in the church.

    • Ragnarok

      We meet again, AMOS8. Another way of addressing the subject you obliquely raise in this comment would be to ask whether or not you’re willing to allow facts to influence your faith? At one point in our history, we didn’t have a great many facts we now take for granted. We used to believe the world was flat. We used to believe the Earth was the center of the universe. We used to believe that spermatozoa contained all components of human life. I could go on, but suffice to say we’ve believed a great many things in our history which were later proved to be inaccurate. The Church not only defended many of these mistaken notions but also enshrined them in doctrine. Over time, though, all of Christendom (well, almost all) has come to realize that these once strongly disputed claims are facts and adjusted accordingly. You can call that accepting the world’s wisdom, and you can refute those facts if you wish. But you can’t change that they are facts, and they remain factual regardless of whether or not you believe them.

      Considering your earlier reference to those who “live the anorexic life”, I am forced to question what you believe qualifies as pop psychology. What are these inaccurate notions about life and this distorted view of God you reference? Are you contending for the faith, or are you contending for your faith. There’s a significant difference between the two.

  • ashley

    Such a great article!!!!
    “Clothing choices have and will always be culturally relative decisions. ”
    Finally, someone that understands me! I’ve lived in two different cultures and it was so confusing to me that the way I dressed in one culture was acceptable, but then in the other culture it was not and I had to make the hemlime way longer. It made me insecure & definitely made me feel like a Jezebel when that was NOT my intention. How was I supposed to know that there is no universal rule to modesty? I thought I was dressing modestly when I first moved to this other culture only to learn I wasn’t. It was definitely a hard process but I also learned that men will lust after you in a turtle neck or with a v-neck the same way. So no, I’m NOT responsible for those that lust after me.
    I’m responsible to dress in a way socially acceptable that does not de-value women.

  • Raven Forrester

    Thank you Lauryn! I needed to read this…It was comforting and refreshing and I wish more people agreed. But, maybe you can’t understand until you grow up in the same situation. I know I did. And every point was exactly right.

  • Female Southern Pastor

    Love that Emily’s article has caused a stir. Perhaps everyone will think now. No where are strict modesty rules more well enforced than in the Islamic religion. They believe a woman “causes” men to have sinful drives that they are then not responsible for. Get a life (with Jesus) gentlemen. YOU alone are in control of your thoughts & actions…not God, not the devil, & surely not another human being. Adam passed the buck to Eve *this woman YOU gave me), Eve to the snake. & the beat goes on. Sexuality has been repressed for way too long in Christianity. Funny how many people reading THIS post will think immediately of sex when the word “lust” is spoken. Perhaps if Christian men were more enamored with their own wives rather than their imaginations the world may see something beautiful in Christian marriages. Just a thought! btw I’ve been married to a faithful man for over 40 years. No repression on ANY level. Happy people do good things, unhappy (repressed) people do bad things.

  • Gamer_Czar

    We are all born into sin (original sin). Sin causes irrational feelings and thoughts, and I think the more we can do to minimize others to sin, the better! I am really sorry that women feel that they are somehow responsible for someone else’s sin. They only need to feel responsible to God. The human body is not sinful just as money is not sinful. It is what people do with the body and with money that can be sinful. If a woman wears a form-fitting dress and I look at here and think inappropriate thoughts, I am the one who is sinning. But, if the woman is wearing those clothes in an attempt to purposefully incite lust in other people, then she is causing others to sin. I think the real problem is that people think they know what is in other people’s hearts. Only God knows what is in our hearts.

  • Hank

    I get where the author is coming from, but there is responsibility on both sides. There are plenty of places in Scripture where a man like myself is reminded to be pure, but there are also places in the Bible like Romans 14 and Philippians 2 where we need to look out for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t know all that Emily had to deal with. It sounds like she may have faced a lot of legalism and sexism. Its not a big deal to my wife to wear modest clothes. She doesn’t lose sleep at night thinking about if she is going to wear something immodest. There are many fashionable things to wear that do not reveal too much. I am not going to use Scripture to back up what one should ware or not ware. I think the overall principles of loving our brothers and sisters in Christ can help a woman decide on her own what is modest in the area of clothing. We can’t lash out at one another and judge people by what they wear either.

    Let me be frank here. As a man I am responsible for my own actions. When I see things that can make me lust I need to look away. It is not easy for me though. At one place I worked it was a day to day struggle. So when I am around Christian women who do not flaunt their bodies (I am not saying that Emily thinks people should) it is a better enviroment for me and less of a distraction. Don’t get me wrong, guys can lust after women clothed head to toe. I’m just saying that when there is lots of cleavage, lots of leg, tight pants, short dresses, ect… The natural response is “wow look at that!” and the Spiritual response is telling the flesh “don’t look!”. Non-Christian men don’t have this problem. They can just look and lust and say “check her out” while they drool on the floor.

    I mean its the little things that help. Like when women put their hand on their chest when they bend down. My wife does this all the time. Some things in our culture are fine, but is it necessary for women to wear tight pants with words on their butt? I mean they might as well have the words say “look at my butt”. Idk maybe other guys don’t struggle with this as much as me and it doesn’t affect them. I am sure though that I am not alone.

    Is this fair to women? No. Is it their fault that men struggle with this? Of course not. It is what it is. Men will struggle. So women can make it more difficult for men or they can try to make it a little easier on them. Why make it easier on them? I mean its their problem and their sin choice right? Yes it is. However if you apply the principles to Romans 14 and Philippians 2 you may see why being watchful of what you wear is not a burden, but an act of love to others.

    Women should not be paranoid about every little thing they wear, but I know my wife has no problem asking herself “Is this going to cause others to stumble?” I say others because other women who may look up to my wife may look to her as an example for modest dress. My wife doesn’t stress over this. She doesn’t really think about it. She has her standards and buys her clothes according to those standards. I understand that these standards will be different for everyone.

    So yes, men need to have self control and no matter how provocative a woman is dressed the man takes full responsibility of his actions. I love the story of Joesph. He ran! There is no excuse for men to say well it’s her fault because of what she was wearing. Regardless of choice of clothing or if the woman is a believer or not I take full responsibility and put no blame on her. All I am saying is women, please help us out a little? I wish I could just turn off my lust for the day until I am home with my wife but it doesn’t work that way. Have some mercy on us.

    • Jed

      What a politically correct bunch of drivel……read Paul;s epistles on the subject, regarding womans conduct and attire….must be modest, and women should be quiet in worship meetings, or Bible studies…period..if they have any questions ask you husbands after………end of story….(feminists love Paul’s teachings I bet lol)_

      • Hank

        Are you reacting to what I said or commenting on her article?

    • John Peters

      I think you’re the first one on this site who has got the point very well down. The responsibility is the man’s, but women can certainly help! Thanks.

      • John Peters

        Wow! I just re-read Hank’s comment again, and it is absolutely awesome!!! Many thanks, Hank. EXCELLENT post. Really well don, and it represents all my beliefs on the topic. THANK YOU!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700298530 Linda Ruthvin Stanhope

    Interesting. I just facebooked this, looking for comments! I found this article refreshing and to the point. No, we should not “lead” another into sin, and if we are dressing inappropriately, then we should stop. But, that is not what the article is about this time.

  • AMOS8

    How much responsibility do false teachers have, and how much responsibility do those individuals have who are deceived by false teachers?

    How much responsibility do those “pro-anorexia” websites have, and how much responsibility do the individuals have who are living the anorexic life?

    Accurately assigning responsibility can be challenging, but, to some degree, it is our responsibility to discern what it is, at least what our responsibility is before the Lord. Also, it can be an exceedingly loving action to (accurately) hold another person responsible for their actions and attitude.

    However, we live in a society dominated by antagonism toward accurate responsibility.

    • Ragnarok

      Let’s take a closer look at your analogies here, AMOS8.

      First, you draw a parallel with false teachers and those deceived by them. In that situation, the teacher is offering lies and, therefore, would be responsible for all the deception that accompanied them. That’s not an especially challenging conundrum. Being deceived is only the fault of the deceiver. That’s why we don’t prosecute victims of fraud for the fraud in question.

      Next, you talk about websites that promote anorexia in the context of how much complicity those who suffer from anorexia nervosa bear for those sites. Honestly, I have no idea why you would even try to introduce this topic in the current context, but even more puzzling to me is your reference to “individuals who are living the anorexic life”. The implication inherent in that clause is that people who are anorexic are living a particular lifestyle. As in, they have chosen to be anorexic. Anorexia nervosa is a widely recognized psychiatric disorder. Nobody chooses it. It’s not a lifestyle. The people who put up and maintain websites glorifying it are exploiting people who are profoundly ill. As such, they are solely responsible for the harm such sites do.

      Restricting myself to your examples, I have absolutely no trouble determining who is responsible in each. There’s no challenge at all. Those who undermine, exploit, and oppress others who are either incapable of, or not allowed to, speak up for themselves are the only ones responsible for their actions. The victim never is.

  • SJ

    Modesty is relative. In the Fiji Islands, a woman could run around topless and who would notice (except an American tourist)?…it’s their culture. A neighbor woman, her daughters and I got into a discussion years ago about which is more modest…a halter top or a form-fitting stretch top without straps? I don’t even remember what was decided.

    I do know that in the Old Testament, the priests were instructed to wear britches under their robes when they went up the steps to the altar, to cover their “nakedness”. And because God covered Adam and Eve with coats, whereas they made themselves “aprons” out of leaves trying to cover up their nakedness, God likes us to be covered also. But I am certainly not into forcing necklines to the chin, long skirts, sleeves to the wrist, never a pair of pants on a woman…or burkas..off onto women.

    It is difficult for a woman who is “blessed” to always prevent some cleavage from showing, I’m sure, but it’s quite another thing to just “let it all hang out” with no care…not in American society anyway! I once visited a church, and a woman I was chatting with bent over, and I thought it was all going to fall out of her top!

    As for men, I made my son put on some gym shorts over his form-fitting bicycle pants when he lived in my house. I didn’t particularly want to look at his private parts all day. I changed his diapers when he was a little tyke and gave him baths, but now he is a man, and he can be responsible to be modest around his mother…

    I will also say his, when you have lived with a sex addict, it changes your perspective somewhat. And Emily is right…it doesn’t matter what a woman wears or doesn’t wear…some men are so full of perversion, they would lust after a nun. And I have gotten the wolf-whistle in the church parking lot, dressed in a simple dress. (It was an inner city mission church, and the man whistling was not exactly one of the church crowd, but you get my point.) On the other hand, if you are not a “ho”, then why dress like one either. They don’t dress that way for no good reason. Followers of Jesus Christ do need to remember that they represent HIM and that we are admonished to glorify God in our bodies.

  • Maggie

    BRAVO. Maggie

  • P. Jack Driscoll

    When a woman chooses to display herself in immodest dress, clinging, low cut blouses, mid thigh skirts she is responsible before God and yes, she will cause men to lust.1 Timothy 2:9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, All men are not mature Believers and perhaps have struggle with pornography in the past. Every man, in fact, can be drawn in too lust if he does not guard his heart. Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman. That does not take away from the man`s responsibility to guard his eyes and heart. 1 John 2:15-16. In my opinion the church is like the frog in the pot. It does know the water is getting hot until it is too late.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      P. Jack, thank you for commenting. I have to be clear, though, that the best way to help someone who is struggling with pornographic or sexual addiction is a longterm recovery plan for that person involving things like individual counseling, structured group meetings for addiction recovery in the model of AA, sponsor accountability, and spiritual guidance. I truly grieve for individuals struggling with addiction diseases and hope they get the support to help them in recovery.

      However, guilting the small percentage of the population that you think you can control (Christian women) into covering up to an ambiguous level that you or other men determine will NEVER help someone dealing with an addiction. It may very well perpetuate abusive behavior by preventing the addicted person from admitting that they are powerless over their disease and their lives are unmanageable, and choosing to enter into a recovery process.

      • hannah

        Um… There’s something missing. Yes we only have a small percentage of the population in our control, but it could well attract those who are struggling with those addictions and really do want to stop to come to us and even get saved because of it. God has used the modesty of some women to lead people to Christ. I know it. I’ve heard stories about it. So your comment brings us back to the point – Don’t cause your brother, or even non-Christians to be tempted.

  • Jed

    Why not jjust follow Paul’s epistle on the subject of women’s conduct and attire in religious meets? It is very clear..they are to be silent, and if they have any questions ask their husbands after for explanation, and modest dress with head covering….not too difficult to understand is it? Also Paul says this is because woman was made from man in the beginning, and is therefore subservient to man..man is the head of the home, at least in spiritual matters, and is to treat his woman with respect, and protect her pyschologically, physically and emotionally….the feminists, those man hating five percent of women, who abort babies and support homosexuality, have too much power and have caused the gender lines to be blurred in the last half century…men have become effiminate, which Paul warns about!

  • http://twitter.com/Cberry21 Celisse Randolph

    You know…I am going to just say that I love this post. Growing up as a Christian woman in a pastoral family, I have felt the shame of my body and of being a sexual being. I have been through many of those meetings where the guys were taken to a different room and were talked to about sex, pornography, and masturbation. The girls…all we talked about was how we could cover up to prevent boys from stumbling. I am tired of thinking that my purpose in life as a Christian woman is to keep guys from sinning. Seriously? Christian guys need to have enough self-control to be able to look at cleavage or an ass and not get aroused. I love when you talk about the things that we were being taught about modesty were lies. We have to love our bodies. God does. He celebrates us. He doesn’t shame us. He cherishes us. We need to do the same.

    Emily, you are awesome. I love all that you stand for!

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Thanks Celisse!

      I love this especially: “I am tired of thinking that my purpose in life as a Christian woman is to keep guys from sinning.” Great insight!

    • Ginklestinker

      Celisse, its a jungle out there ! If you don’t believe it, join the army ! Please play your part in protecting yourself and other innocent victims.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.l.brown.39 Darryl L. Brown

    O.k. Since The temptation for attention is stronger that what men are trying to tell you. Lets go to the scripture, 1Pe 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

    1Pe 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

    1Pe 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

    1Pe 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

    1 Tim 2:9-10

    9. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

    10. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

    Please here me, Compromise is the weapon of choice to weaken and dis-inherit Gods people in these last days. I had a woman tell me that a lot women are hurting and desperate. And I would have to agree, you would have to be deaf, blind and dishonest to believe that an exposed body does stir up lust! Modest women attract modest men. The word modest in this text means (well behaved clothing) . Real men are looking at the soul of a women the body is second. And when they come in contact with a woman who shows off way to much of her shape he will not trust her. He will say in his heart that she might cheat on me, even though that might be the farthest from her mind.

  • Hannah

    Emily! Thank you so, so much for this article. It (and a lot of other things I’ve been reading lately!) is helpful in rebuilding the way I view my body and my sexuality–as something beautiful that God created and designed for a GOOD purpose. I grew up in an evangelical community in the South, so modesty and purity were ALWAYS the goals. I’ve wondered though if the lack of honest communication about sexuality and healthy sexual desires caused more youth (and later on adults) to “stumble,” as we say. Because sex and ANY sexual desire (outside of marriage) is viewed as completely sinful, there’s a lot of shame surrounding those natural and normal parts of being human. And that means we don’t talk about it, which can lead to personal & private sin. I am sure this isn’t true for every evangelical community, but it is certainly my experience. And I have so many friends anywhere from high school to college graduates who have had similar experiences.

    So ANYWAY. Thank you, thank you for speaking out! :)

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hannah, thank you so much! I agree with a lot of what you said here, especially about shaming discussions being a huge part of the reasons so many of us are stuck in addictive cycles.

  • heather

    I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head. Mostly, I want to say that I grew up in the Christian church…a very great church in fact. One summer I went to church camp as I did every summer. One afternoon a male high school pastor came up to me and said my t-shirt was too see through and he could see my bra through my t shirt and that wasn’t showing modesty. (It wasn’t a bra it was a bathing suit and it was damp from swimming in the lake earlier) He asked me to go up to my cabin and change because I might be a temptation for other guys there. I was SO embarrassed and felt SO ashamed. My self confidence was crushed. I am a strong minded, independent healthy girl raised in a very loving and stable family and I had NO response to him. I just hope everyone who works in the church remembers that they are in positions of extreme power and influence. YOU are held to a higher standard because YOU are a religious leader and influencer of so many people. Be careful with your words. Use wisdom in approaching subjects of modesty with pubescent girls. You have NO idea how those words will stick with young people. I still have issues to this day when I put on a shirt and wonder if it is too tight, or too see through or too low cut or too whatever! Thankfully I don’t think about it as often as I used to due to my wonderful and loving Christian husband who loves me for who I am and who loves my body and isn’t insecure about every little thing I wear out and because my relationship with Christ is solid and thriving. Although we have a daughter ourselves, I am raising her to respect her body, wear appropriate clothing for her age and to view her body as the incredible creation God made her to be. I have never once felt compelled to teach her as a maturing girl that her clothing choices could possibly cause boys to be tempted. We shop together for clothing and I don’t believe she should be burdened with worrying about how every little decision in her life might affect someone else who is struggling with something because that diminishes her beauty and self confidence that God has given her and placed the power in boys/mens hands. Of course I wouldn’t allow certain outfits to be purchased or worn but that isn’t because it might tempt some man struggling with porn or lust, but simply because it isn’t respecting herself and her body. I think if more Christian teachers who have extreme influence over young people would take the approach of “respecting your body and choices” instead of the “using your body to seduce men” it might be a healthier way to allow kids to choose modesty for themselves in a self respecting way instead of choosing it out of guilt and shame.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Heather, this is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective! I’m so sorry that a counselor told you that. But I’m so excited for the way you’re trying to help your daughter learn to make good decisions. It’s beautiful. Again, I so appreciate what you said here. Thank you.

  • Tiffany

    Another part of the discussion that I feel like is never held is to help girls and women figure out why they’re dressing immodestly. I wish that instead of being told these rules, women were taught how beautiful they are. I think sometimes women objectify themselves when they dress immodestly because they thrive off of the male attention they do get. It’s a lack of self-esteem and wanting to find worth in the way other people see them, which is THE part of modesty that is unbibilical. I think this is why we do struggle with the issue; there is something wrong about it. I feel like the church has just been choosing the wrong battle all along. We need to teach our girls and teach each other as women how to find our identity and self-confidence in Christ. I feel like I, on the other end, hid my lack of self-esteeem behind the modesty rules. It wasn’t until i was able to realize that dressing like a sack of potatoes wasn’t what modesty was about that I was able to embrace more fully how God made me beautiful.

  • Bob Hamp

    I assume Jesus did not make prostitutes cover up before He would converse with them. I assume He simply took responsibility for the management of His own soul. Great post EM.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Thank you, Bob! Interesting point. I love that Jesus doesn’t cover up women, he invites us in to full participation in the Kingdom.

      • olivia

        So your putting yourself on the level of the heathen? Jesus didn’t make the heathen cover up, but unless you plan to put yourself on that level, which I don’t think you do, you’ll have to go to some other verse or story for backup.

    • John Peters

      You’re right, but we’re not talking about our relationship with non-Christians. We’re talking about the way men and women should act and dress so as not to offend their brothers in Christ.

  • RevTim

    I have to say that I am amazed at this article. Read this section again…

    “I would absolutely encourage men and women to dress in a socially acceptable manner, but not because they are responsible for other people’s reactions.

    And certainly not because one way of dressing is more “godly” than another!”

    Do you really believe that we should base our standards of dress on what is “socially acceptable”? Whatever happened to the Word of God as our standard? God began to establish His standard of dress in Genesis with Adam & Eve when He told them their idea of what was “socially acceptable” didn’t pass the test!

    Also, has the writer forgotten that God has declared that there is a way of dressing that is considered Godly? Did He not declare that we must be modest? Yes, He did! Live what He commanded and you won’t have to worry about being responsible for a man lusting!

    Lastly, I am amazed at the lack of knowledge of Gods Holy Word! Absolutely every person has a responsibility of how every aspect of their life influences other people!

    This article and the comments about it have been very revealing as to why the Church is in the condition it has fallen to! It is sad! I pray that somehow God will stir the Church to a revival of Biblical purity!!

    Look at the book of Revelation and find the Bride of Christ described. She is dressed just like God wants His Church to be dressed!! Modestly! After all, isn’t the Church to be the Bride of Christ?

  • Tesfom Melake

    Thanks Lauryn Elizabeth Marton, I totally agree with you. we need to change our perverted attitudes and we need to come to the mind of Christ kind of attitude which values both men and women equally in the image and likeness of God.

    “Women in the church are told constantly, and from a young age, that their bodies are sinful and dangerous and should always be covered up. When you hear that day in and day out, it’s damaging. It teaches you that your body is only good for sex, but if you inspire the desire for sex in someone (even through no fault of your own) you’ve sinned and your “purity” is being chipped away bit by bit until there’s essentially nothing good about you.” Thanks for this awesome idea.

  • Tesfom Melake

    Emily Maynard

    Good new perspective!

  • ANonYMous

    Am I my brother’s keeper?

    Yes, a man is responsible for his reactions to what he sees, but if
    he comes across a woman that is naked he is going to have a hard
    time having clean thoughts no matter how badly he wants to be pure
    because a man is aroused by sight. If only nudity aroused a man
    then indeed a woman could dress anyway she desired and as long as she
    was covered she would not cause arousal in a man. However, sometimes
    a woman can be as arousing in her attire as she is naked. Even her
    movements and positioning can evoke sexual thoughts if they are
    common sexual movements or positions.

    Worldly women know this and use it to their attract a man either for sex or to start a
    relationship that might lead to marriage. Godly women often complain
    that even Christian men stare at them. If you are attired in much of
    what the culture deems appropriate you will set off triggers that
    will cause sexual thoughts. Once you have engaged in sexual activity
    there are more triggers since your experience will be greater than
    your imagination or at least more accurate. Clothes designers and
    cosmetic people know this and use it to great advantage.

    I really do not what to go into any great detail on the subject in this forum as the
    descriptions would provoke lust in some and sadly give some women new
    ideas for their wardrobe. I will quote one wardrobe designer. I do
    not remember her name, but the designer of the mini dress said that
    she created it to let a man know she was ready anytime and any place
    for sex. Did and do Christian women wear such attire? You betcha!
    I saw pictures from the sixties and one of my former Sunday School
    teacher’s wife was with a group of ladies and several had
    mini-dresses. Would they be wanting to make such a statement?
    Hopefully not, though I fear when society accepts public nudity some
    Christian women desperate for a man may well participate.

    If a man sees a woman immodestly attired and has a lustful thought does that make him a
    pervert? No, as he might not have had the thought in the first place
    has she been more modestly dressed. I remember being told about a
    pastor in his 80’s that was preaching at the church where I was saved
    during one of the times mini-dresses were in style. At one point in
    the message, he had to pause and tell the ladies that though he was
    eighty plus the way some of them were sitting and how they were
    dressed was making it very hard to concentrate on his sermon. A
    flurry of pulling down skirts and closing of legs allowed him to move
    on. Were the ladies trying to incite lust in the pastor? No. Did
    he get up there hoping to get a bunch of up skirt views? No. Yet,
    he had to ask for help from them since it was their skirts and
    careless positioning that caused him trouble. Guys, it also shows it
    is something we will have to struggle with until our last breath
    since even though the body may lose interest or ability the triggers
    will still be in our minds.

    It is indeed a two way street. A woman should not dress to provoke and a man has to seek the Spirit’s control of his thoughts. It is tough enough to run through
    this world of blatant immodesty, but a man ought to be able to find
    an oasis in church and in the midst of godly women. Yet, I have seen
    attire in church that if I saw it on a woman on certain streets or
    certain times of the night I would have wondered about her
    occupation. Church should be a refuge from such things.

    We can argue to we are blue in the face about some aspects of what is deemed modest and what apparel is truly modest, but as good theologians we should use a
    historical-grammatical interpretation of what modest is and discern
    from that. Adam Clarke was a Methodist minister who died in 1832.
    He wrote a commentary and he describes the type of attire that was
    back in the days of Paul when he wrote 1 Tim 2:9. Imagine my
    surprise when one of the attires he described matched what was the
    current fad and a problem at my college. One advantage of being able
    to read men long dead is that they are not affected by the flurry of
    debate and fad today and they can’t change their minds later after
    being subject to great peer pressure or deacons threatening to remove
    them.

    I would suggest that you read his description and ask if we have some of the same attire today and if it was considered immodest when God inspired the passage would
    He still find it immodest today? If so, then we at least have some
    solid biblical evidence to avoid that particular piece or pieces of
    clothing and silence arguments over that. Then, we should examine
    the spirit of the passage now that we found some idea of what the
    letter of the passage meant. We could also compare scripture with
    scripture and be exegetical looking at Peter’s reference to female
    attire and adornment. We could also look at references that speak to
    ungodly women in both Testaments and research on what kind of attire
    and accouterments they had to ply their trade. Jezebel might be at
    least one place to start as well as the adulteress described in
    Proverbs.

    Ah, but that would be too much work, I suppose. Much easier to look at societal norms as we live in such a godly culture where designers look to enhance virtue
    and purity when designing clothing and cosmetics. They would never
    promote looking hot over looking chaste. Our own personal desires
    and what we think makes us look good or feel better about ourselves
    should be a prime factor in our discernment because after all I am
    under grace and God wants me to feel good about myself. In my
    freedom, I should be able to do whatever I please and those nasty men
    just have to deal with it should be a major consideration in
    determining modesty. Yes, a bit of sarcasm becuase it is indeed frustrating that in an age with so many tools to figure out things we are so confused and want to walk in gray areas and the like. We want people to believe that we have God’s light about spiritual things when we can’t come to agreement about earthly things.

    I would love to have a room with one way mirrors where I could put a lady in her favorite outfit where she could hear what the men think when they see her in that. Knowing some of the favorite outfits that I have seen the woman would blush and be
    mortified or smile knowing she was achieving her goal. I would get
    some godly men as well as some ungodly ones. It would be a wake up
    for the truly ignorant, though I have great doubts that in this age
    women can be that ignorant, and conviction for those who don’t care.

    Men, if your wife’s attire
    gets you thinking in a way that wants you to remove her clothes you
    can be highly assured that it will provoke that thought in others.
    If you were a boy your daughter’s age and you would be thinking
    impure thoughts about her in that outfit you best not let her go out
    with one in it. Mothers, you should know what men think by now so
    protect your daughters in their time of transition from child to
    woman. Her hormones are raging as well as the lad’s so protect her
    from herself as well as him. Why dress her in a red flag when she is
    going to be with a raging bull?

    Yes, lust is a thing of the heart and I think the author means well, but she is off kilter just a bit as there is a tie between what a man thinks and what he sees. Besides,
    if you know there are men out there who are not trying to control
    their lust why feed it and also cause a struggle for a brother?

    Would you drive slowly through a high crime neighborhood in a Ferrari
    with the top down so everyone could see all your bling on neck and
    fingers and your Rolex expecting no one would accost you? I highly
    doubt it. Therefore, realize the times that you are in and
    reconsider if your definition of modesty in your interpretation of
    grace might need adjustment for the age you are living in as well as remembering that
    you are to help your brother maintain pure thoughts not be a test of
    his maturity level or a trigger for his weakness. I am in no way
    suggesting burkas. I am suggesting that we have followed the world’s
    fashions and definition of modesty for too long. Just a few thoughts
    to ponder.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Okay, so, just to clarify, what this person describes is spiritual abuse with some significant sexism, misogyny, and victim blaming thrown in. It perpetuates the myth that women are ignorant, men are not responsible for their behavior, and graphically details putting a woman in a room with a group of men voyeuristically judging and verbally abusing her. It encourages abusive behaviors. If anything like this happens to you or someone in your life is perpetuating these ideas or scenarios, please please seek help and safety.

  • pastor vm

    i would like to agree with you on one part that, culture has a lot to do with our dressing. as much as you would want to say that we are not responsible for the next person, i beg to differ. no matter how you look at it WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NEXT PERSON, MAN OR WOMAN, unless you are not a Christian. First, and most importantly, we first love one another as Christ loved us (John 13:34). This means that our love for each other must be constant, SACRIFICIAL and unconditional (1 John 3:16.17). Our love must not be self-serving, but Christ-like in its dedication to the betterment of others. the responsibility to act in love regarding our differences should not be left for the “other guy” to initiate, but is ours to pursue – no matter where we find ourselves aligned in any issue involving Christian liberty. This means that if you consider yourself to be the stronger brother you are not to despise such a weaker brother, nor to cause him to stumble against his troubled conscience. In fact, as the stronger brother, you must be willing to freely forego that which you consider to be within your liberty in Christ if such a sacrifice seems necessary to minister to that weaker brother (Rom. 14: 3). men are made different from women some have weak minds it is up to you help them keep their minds clean.

    • http://www.lambpower.com/ Steve Dawson

      men are made different from women some have weak minds it is up to you help them keep their minds clean.

      Sorry, it is NOT up to a woman to keep my mind clean. It is up to me. Somewhere, somehow men have tried to get off of the hook for their lust. No one except for Christ can actually work with me on lust. Lust occurs even when no one is there. So, how can someone be responsible for lust when they aren’t even there? Notice that during the Sermon on the Mount, the responsibility is firmly placed on the person. It’s the thought of lust and the thought of murder that Christ refers to. Please tell me how a woman is supposed to dress when some men are so weak? To what extent should a woman adapt her dress?

      Instead of all of the blame game, let’s teach men how to deal with their lust. Hint: telling them that they are weaker doesn’t work.

  • fireflyeyes

    Thank you for writing this. I grew up in the same culture and have seriously come to be believe that this philosophy on modesty we are taught is responsible for the culture of rape apology (“she was dressed like a tramp so she was asking for it…”) that is so prevalent in the same circles.

  • Beakerj

    I have to be honest & say that much of the conversation about modesty really paints men as uncontrollable sexual beasts who can’t be expected in any way to take responsibilty for their thoughts/actions. I’m not saying that women’s clothing can’t be provocative, what I am saying is that the line can be drawn so far from anything extreme, i.e. anything but the Christian equivalent of the burka is provocative, that it becomes ridiculous. Women are being made to carry the burden, whilst the men (who are not helpless raving beasts) seem to be being excused their responsibility of dealing with their own sexual responses. I’ve been in groups where both females & males have been asked to cover up in certain situations where someone has had a problem with, for example a young man taking off his top while playing volleyball, but it was within reasonable limits. Some of this pressure on women reminds me of nothing more that sharia law & the Taliban, where men are never expected to show respect or self-control. Let’s all grow up a bit.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I have often said that when Christianity goes sour, it curdles into something resembling Islam.

  • Janielle

    I attended and then worked in a youth ministry from ages 13 – 21, and I can’t always recall exactly what was said to me or taught to me about modesty, but I remember vividly how I felt. I remember feeling that heart-burn like tension and anxiety from the implication that being a pretty girl meant I was trying to get boys attention – I remember many of the decisions I made about clothing and modesty and really beauty in general being guilt-motivated. What I’m sure were well-meaning distinctions and rules, I as an above-and-beyonder would take as be-all-end-all factor deciding whether i would be sorted by leadership on to Team Saint or Team Slut.
    The most effective and beneficial [read: made me love Jesus more] approach was when leaders affirmed that I was responsible for my own heart before my Father, that I would honor my body before my Father because He asked me to and He was always for my ultimate joy. [Instead of a view of God as up in heaven looking down worried about my shorts and afraid I would break the men He created].

    I think Emily’s view has pointed out a key shift in responsibility I felt as a young woman, instead of walking in blame and shame, walking in freedom. Because, ironically, once that shift took place and I started rebuking the guilt and anxiety that came from feeling responsible for all men’s lust, I was able to hear small, still heart-checks from the Holy Spirit when my behavior and/or demeanor was actually lustful or not honoring to my brothers in Christ. [Apparently you can't hear the Holy Spirit over the sound of your own guilt and shame and religion.]

    Also, I remember hearing that boys couldn’t help but lust because they were visual creatures and being confused that Jesus would ask men not to lust, but then leave them utterly helpless.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      YES. All of this, Janielle.

      Thank you for sharing your story of a shift in your view of your body and your view of God. When we are so focused on trying to please the god who worries about the length of our shorts or if we notice that someone else is attractive, we can miss out on the very God who loves us as individuals and gives us the ability to see beauty in others.

  • cath

    If dressing in ways that the church calls modest is necessary to keep men from lust, what does that say about men??? If men are that foolish and weak, they should certainly not be leading the church! Leave that to us women, who are so powerful that an undone shirt button can drive God right out of a man! :)

    More seriously, though, I question the whole modesty thing and why it’s applied to women only, apparently. I blush easily, so I admit to preferring folks to dress in ways that don’t draw attention to certain parts of their bodies. But whether you dress as I consider modest says nothing about your character, your goodness, your worth and value as a person, or your personal holiness. I’ve seen some pretty unholy behaviour from guys covered every which way from pointy hat to red pointy shoes.

    In so many respects, our religious upbringing has focused on **details** instead of the main event, those two pesky Great Commandments.

  • Eva

    Thank you for this article, Emily. I emerged from the world you referenced at the beginning and know well what you are talking about. As I read your article I realized, for the first time, two ways that this modesty mindset has stolen joy from my marriage.

    First, growing up being told that your clothing is the cause of a man’s lust leads a woman to believe that all men (including one’s own husband) are lust maniacs, which, for me, honestly, has brewed a deep sense of jealousy toward any attractive woman.

    Second, any time I see a woman who is wearing something that flatters her figure or accentuates her body, I am immediately jealous and thinking about what it will do to my husband, because she is going to cause him to lust. Clearly, there are many beautiful woman who wear clothing that accentuates their bodies! I am amazed at how much energy I waste feeling insecure about who might cause my husband to lust and jealous of any woman who might potentially cause that. Thanks for this article

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Eva, thank you for hilighting how this modesty mindset sets us against one another rather than promotes relationship. I used to be so jealous of any girl that looked better than me, and constantly suspicious of men who paid any attention to me. I’m so grateful that I’m moving away from this way of thinking and able to have healthier relationships with both men and women!

  • Phillip

    I am a pastor. I am joyfully married for now 22 years to an amazing and strong woman whom God has used to shape and improve my faith life and character many times and significantly. I am a father to 7 children, 6 of whom are daughters.

    Our girls are raised to know their character in Christ is their most important slice of identity. Their abilities, joys, hurts, accomplishments, and bodies are part of their life. All should be cared for as God’s Word instructs in lots of places.
    They are being raised to know that modesty matters. Their choices of clothing are a single aspect of how they present themselves. So is their vocabulary, work ethic, selection of close friends, and much more.
    All are affected by iniquity. How we behave, speak – and dress – communicates to all those we’ll cross paths with – intentionally and unknowingly.
    They also hear how beautiful they were created – all 6… who have about 5 different body types among them!
    But we focus far more on their times with God, places of service, aspirations, daily interactions, latest creative endeavors, friendship troubles, funny moments… You get the picture.
    They are told to consider their choices in presenting themselves physically because we want people – regardless of gender – to notice who they ARE more than how they look.
    They are told this will OFTEN not work.
    People will do and say plenty of stupid things.
    Those stupid things are not the definition of their value.
    And people – even men – who are people of character and fellowship will compliment them for all kinds of things; sometimes even their hard-fought hair do or their newest outfit. And those who only notice that… Well, they’re missing the best (dozens of) parts of your life and character.

    My son – and the men of our church – hear often and loudly and clearly that we have an amazing opportunity to be servants and sacrificers and heart-lovers of the people – even the women – of our church. Husbands are reminded to be servant-leaders after the model of Christ. Our teens and young adults are reminded that their practices of respect for their moms, sisters, girls in the nursery and women on our stage are ‘practice’ for their life and marriages and fatherhood – so practice well.

    I agree that the clothing, hair, and makeup choices of my beloved wife and daughters cannot and will not create right thinking or behavior in all mankind. But I also believe that those same choices can indeed reflect the content of their character – and the creativity and self-expression they enjoy.
    Mine too.

    Praying – again – for my family and for the people I can directly affect to care more for their relationships with Christ and people than their own wants.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Phillip, thank you so much for telling this story. Thank you for telling it in a way that supports the humanity of all the people you describe: yourself, your family, your friends at church, etc. Thank you for focusing not on whether someone meets or doesn’t meet a human standard, but celebrating the Image of God in all people.

    • abe

      Very balanced…thanks Pastor Phillip!

  • Jen K

    Love this article – thank you for having the courage to write and point people to the real issues!

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.ferris1 Steve Ferris

    Men blame women for their lust to rationalize it, or avoid responsibility for it. Blaming women is another form of degrading them, making them a sex object rather than a person.

    Men have also been misled by the church in the modesty issue. I was taught in a church as a teen if I admired a woman’s legs, butt, breasts, curves, etc, that was sexual lust. So if a womans body caught my eye, even if there were no overt sexual thoughts, I thought it was sin. When men are taught that, they believe anything that draws attention to a female body is also sin. So the lust distortion is taught to both men and women.

    I have been on topless beaches in Brazil and did not lust, although sometimes I did notice the beauty of some of the breasts. I have sometimes lusted about women in a long dress and no cleavage exposed. The attire, or lack of it, does not cause lust. Lust comes from our own mind.

    Men, man up, and take responsibility for your own sexuality. Never leave it up to a woman to try to control it for you by the way she dresses.

    • John Peters

      Are you married? If so, I wonder how your wife would feel about what you have written here…

  • http://www.facebook.com/alee.franklinwillis Alee Franklin Willis

    This article highlights some of the most hurtful parts of American Christianity and the comments certainly show how deep and subversive misogyny runs in our culture. I have experienced the same type of body shaming from Christian culture, and it is presumably the source of a lot of my own insecurities. It’s hard to be a liberated woman in this kind of culture, when people like Mark Driscoll are telling the masses that if a woman isn’t sexually available to her husband or if she “lets herself go” she is partially responsible if he commits adultery. We’ve got men telling us not to be so sexy that we cause brothers to stumble, but to be sexy enough that we aren’t driving our husbands to porn or adultery. We’ve got to give women a break and realize that women are human beings and more than just bodies, makeup, jewelry, and clothes. If the men in our lives are seeing us as objects just waiting to be used, it is their problem, not ours.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      “We’ve got to give women a break and realize that women are human beings
      and more than just bodies, makeup, jewelry, and clothes. If the men in
      our lives are seeing us as objects just waiting to be used, it is their
      problem, not ours.”

      Amen, Alee!

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Though the trappings varied, the lectures and conversations were
    always essentially the same: People talked about what girls were wearing
    and how the act of putting on clothes in the morning could radically
    change what boys were thinking.

    There were endless options for violations and validations in
    Modesty-land, depending on the exact situation and circumstances. It
    didn’t take long for me to absorb the idea that I wasn’t a person with a
    body—I was an outfit with the power to control the morality of men.

    Isn’t this the exact same rationale used by Extreme Islam to justify the burqa, the locked harem, and honor killings?

    • Jed

      Bring on sharia law, clean up all this garbage…this will make womens’ roles in society clear, and their attire clear…at the same time this will clean up the homosexuality, abortions, feminists, pornography, and other filth that makes western society a cesspool!

  • Nev

    Well articulated article.

  • kirstizoe

    While most of the comments below give me a stomach ache, because it seems like the point of the article is lost on many, I want to say how much it hit home for me. I too grew up conservative (conservative conservative) where I wasn’t allowed to wear a spagetti strap tank top, or show even an inch of flesh if I bent over. Good lord I’m an adult and my mom still comes and pull my top up if she thinks I’m showing too much cleavage. But it took me a long time to get past the message you are talking about and the message my church threw at me with force. It took me a solid liberal arts education (that some might call sinful) to wake me up to the patriarchy and intolerance. But I still fight small battles with my body and my sexual desires because of how I was raised. Only time and God can heal those wounds committed by men in His name.

    • Jed

      wow what a piece of feminist garbage you spout…having trouble conducting yourself according to the Bible..pray and it and seek counselling!

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Kirstizoe, I first want to apologize for Jed’s response to this comment. It is inappropriate, dismissing of you as a person, and I’m sorry you experienced that here. I will stand with you against Jed’s ideology and his attempt to control you.

      Thank you for sharing your story here. A liberal arts education was vital to my healing, too! I’m proud of you for being willing to keep fighting small battles against the harmful ideas you were raised with and I trust that you will heal. You are amazing and I’m so proud of you!

  • poityu

    If women need to dress modestly to prevent “stumbling,” then what should a woman do in this hypothetical situation?

    Anne is an Amish woman who lives along a lane that she walks down every day to get the mail. There are two properties on the other side of the lane, both owned by bachelors. One of the bachelors struggles with lust every time he sees female knees. He is relieved Anne’s dresses cover her knees. The other man struggles with lust imagining the knees women hide under their dresses. He is angry that Anne wears dresses instead of shorts, because he never stumbles into lust when he can see and dismiss a woman’s knees, because there’s no mystery.

    Is Anne obligated to make sure the wind doesn’t raise her skirts in front of the first bachelor and is she equally obligated to hike her skirts in front of the second bachelor? What is she supposed to do when the two bachelors are talking across the fence between their properties when she walks by?

    Does this example help anyone to understand that prescribing female clothing choices is all about telling women what to do, not about telling men to control their impulses?

    • Jed

      When did you dream this fairy tale..lol…just dress modestly in accordance with the Bible, and Paul’s teachings, and conduct yourself in accordance with this teaching also..and rest is the problem of the “bachelors” in the lane….

      • http://www.facebook.com/steve.ferris1 Steve Ferris

        Jed, you are a classic troll! You might read scripture about how to respond to people.

        • Algoria

          At first I disagreed since Jed’s latest comment seemed within the bounds of reasonable discourse, but then I read some of his older comments and changed my mind. Sometimes it’s good to read more than just the most recent comment.

          • Jed

            You should always pay attention to your own to see if they provide “reasonable discourse” Algoria……do you understand?

          • Algoria

            “Bring on sharia law, clean up all this garbage…”
            What you said wasn’t very reasonable. The cure would be worse than the disease.
            Why would you say that?

  • SRH

    Good article. It is only recently that I have been able to stop judging others by the modesty standard I was taught but did not believe. It takes a long time to retrain you thoughts. The freedom of enjoying how God made people is wonderful. The standard itself can make a person lust because the truth that God made the human body beautiful is denied. Acknowledgement of what God made is not sin.

    Guys you say your friend has a beautiful car and describe all you like about it that is not lust or jealousy your just a car guy who love beautiful cars. You could take it to lust if you want or you can just enjoy the great things about your own car. Should your friend paint his car all black and put a few dents in it so you don’t lust? No if you lust after his car that is your problem not his.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bethany.vancamp Bethany Richetti

    I really appreciate that you’ve been writing about this. I’ve really enjoyed reading it and thinking through many similar things I heard growing up. The responsibility question is still a big one for me — I do think it is important to think of others in our actions/choices, but there has got to be a different way to do that than the harmful, toxic even, way that it is often done — making women’s bodies the forbidden ground that it is natural to look at only in a lustful, objectified, possessive way. Not only does that do women no favors, and much harm, it is bad for men. It gives them no agency, no room to overcome WAYS of thinking about women that have become weirdly normalized in Evangelical culture. So, way to go.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Bethany, thank you for reading (again!) You make an excellent point that the way we’re currently running this conversation is preventing so many from moving forward in healing and agency.

  • becky

    Emily,
    If we as women have the power to cause a man to lust by how we dress, then we would also would have the power to stop it…hmmm – might that make me God?
    Great article and I agree that the beauty of desire has not been talked about in ways that honor us – body, mind and spirit – instead we have sought to define desire through the eyes of sin, rather than through the eyes with which it was created, love!
    Keep up the good work.
    Side note: I just finished book 6 of Harry Potter…A-MAZING!

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Becky, thank you for this encouragement! Also, I am SO excited you are enjoy the HP series. Hope you don’t know too many spoilers and can just soak in to book 7. You will love it!

  • Ruben Canez

    Who is in charge of screening these articles? This one in particular is off completely. the point is not whether someone judges women with the way they dress. What a pity that a sister should feel responsible to us, they should be responsible to Christ. (just like any other christian). The may point should be whether I’m honoring Christ with the way that I dress. The better question to ask myself is Am I attracting attention to myself or directing it to Christ with the way I dress, with the way I live? be holy…for I am Holy….

  • Louise Kwan

    Rape isn’t about temptation or modesty; It’s a form of violent control, a game for predators. Studies have shown over and over again that stranger rape is rare and that it’s most commonly committed by someone that the victim knows and trusts; women who are dressed provocatively are no more likely to be raped than those who dress modestly. I believe that men can control themselves but the few that can’t are having a blast because we have a culture that makes it so easy for them to justify their actions (the girl was dressed like a slut so it’s her fault. men never say no to sex and are strong, so he can never be raped by anybody). No one wants to think that someone close to them is going to hurt them, and people especially don’t want to think that men can be rape victims too. Making rape about female modesty and male lust control gives people a false sense of security.

  • Delicatesse

    I’ve nerver think about that this way. I’m in shock, but in a good way. I think God wants me to understand and distinguish what He created and what He didn’t. And your article is helping me to go into that process a little deeper. I have been living with these thoughts for ages ! I was feeling responsible for all the men’s behavior in the world and it was really heavy on my little shoulders.
    Now I won’t feel sorry for men anymore. Because let be honest, we, women, have to deal also with hot guys shirtless during summer — and God knows that I’m not a girl who loves muscles— but sometimes this can be REALLY disturbing as it can be attractive. But we have to deal with that. Moreover we are not saying out loud things like “He wants to be raped” or “He is a gigolo”. You know what I mean ? Anyway that’s all I’m going to say.

    I’m thankful to you for writing this article. You have no idea how it’s changing my way of thinking. Seriously I feel free.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Delicatesse,
      Thank you so much. This comment brought tears to my eyes. You ARE free.
      I’m grateful you’re learning and sharing what you’re learning. It’s beautiful.

  • james

    modesty “rules” are important. unfortunately, every man is not fully spiritually mature and able to handle all situations without temptation, and not every woman is fully spiritually mature to know what is proper attire. there are a few women at my church who could afford to have a conversation with the holy spirit about their attire, they have been members for well over 10 years yet still consistently wear clothing fit for a night club. i am an ex bouncer, i was in the club scene for about 10 years, when i say fit for a night club, im not talking about a nice formal dress, im talking about a skirt about mid thigh and tight enough for the panty line to be seen, “stripper boots” and tight shirts.

    yes, there is a difference between men and women. men ARE visually wired. this is not a disputed fact. we are drawn to the erogenous zones on a womans body and womens clothing is often designed to assist in the capturing of male attention to those zones. men DO need to battle and do all that we can to maintain covenant eyes, but sisters, do YOUR part in not being a stumbling block to the weaker brothers. if you are a christian, you ARE your brothers keeper, contrary to what this article says, you DO have a responsibility to not be a stumbling block. this concept is very clear in scripture.

    no, you cant stop everyone from lusting. there are men who will lust if you are wearing a carpet from head to toe under a muslim berka. but then there are the regular average joe men who are battling daily with the sexual imagery on TV and the internet (sex sells folks, you women dont realize the effect it has on men, but the companies who spend millions of dollars on sexy women to sell their products do.) if there is ANY place a man (a normal man, not the lust bucket) should be safe from a sexual visual battle , it should be his church. new converts and visitors have an excuse, they are new and dont know God very well if at all, but saved and delivered spirit filled believers have no excuse. be a good christian, consider your brothers when you put on clothing. ask yourself, “is this “culturally acceptable” outfit “sexy”? if so, why am i wearing a sexy outfit to church?”

    the purpose for rules is because not all women DO have enough spiritual maturity do do this on their own. so, things like, no mini skirts, no cleavage, no spandex, no daisy dukes, etc are GOOD things.

    idk what kind of modesty codes ms maynard came from, but to throw the baby out with the bath water claiming “freedom in Christ from any responsibility to my brothers” is not a biblical concept.

  • ezk

    Jesus never said If your eye causes you to sin, then make the other person wear more clothing….

    • John Peters

      No, and we don’t say that either. We’re just saying, it would be great if women could help us out by dressing modestly.

  • Algoria

    Does it have to be one extreme or the other?
    No, women are not responsible for the lust a man may be allowing in his life. I don’t think the church should make life miserable for women by policing their clothing.
    However surely it’s possible for a woman to encourage lust in men by dressing too sexily. There’s a reason why hookers dress the way they do. It advertises their wares and attracts men.
    Isn’t there a middle ground between being oppressed and intimidated by prudes and their rules in the church and dressing in a way that is overly sexually alluring.
    Perhaps it isn’t a huge deal because by now people in our culture, including us Christians, are used to it. But since we ask God to help us be better people in other areas of our lives, shouldn’t we also have some input from Him as to how we dress.

  • Mr. don’t understand

    Good article but I was waiting for some scripture to back up your argument but only saw one that talked about lust. That did not help your argument but rather hurt it. The question must be asked “why do women want to show off their bodies”. Many of the clothing must be unconfortable so why would a woman want to wear them if it is not to cause men to look at them? If a women knew that that could cause a problem for some men why would see want to wear that article? My wife says it bothers her when men stare at her, so are some women not bothered or is it that they want men to be attracted to them in this way. Why not be a godly women in modest clothing so godly men would be attracted to you? Thanks for reading this.

    • African Masala

      James 1

      12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.13Let
      no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God
      cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.16Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

  • African Masala

    Fantastic article! The truth is that we’re tempted by our own lusts, not by other people’s actions.

    • Ernest Wamboye

      But can’t other people’s actions fuel other’s lust. You can’t see it one way

      • African Masala

        In that case most things should be banned because they can cause temptation.

      • African Masala

        By the way, I was quoting James 1:14, and unless you don’t think the Scripture is the ultimate authority, then you can’t rightfully make claims about seeing it only one way.

  • Matt

    Emily,

    First I want to say, as firmly as possible, *thank you* for sharing your story, for being willing to challenge the tacit (and often not-so-tacit) misogyny and anti-women’s-bodies rhetoric that plagues evangelicalism. Reading through almost all the comments (I had some free time!), I can only say that you are incredibly brave to write and post this, probably aware of the criticism you would receive, especially as that criticism has served as the playground of acidic and tragic lies. You are, in a word, amazing. And *I* think the clown-nose is a great idea, and just received a wand from the Harry Potter theme park as an early Christmas present (if you haven’t gone, you must!!).

    Your definition of lust is, I think, excellent. It took me (a male) a looong time to understand that, though maybe for different reasons. When people told me to rejoice that my body worked, that chemicals fired and did what they’re supposed to, I wanted to throw myself in a dumpster because *I* was attracted to men, and had ingested the belief that every time I was attracted to a guy I was inherently lusting/sinning. I was miserable. It wasn’t until I learned to understand sexual attraction (in general) as normal/natural and lust as the act of reification or possession, a violation of their worth before God, that I understood the REAL weight of lust and my perception of my own body was liberated.

    I agree with you that modesty is culturally defined (your victorian example is quite valid, and I think it’s important to remember that in Jesus’ day, hair was considered, to a degree, to be a sex organ). I’m certainly NOT about to go tell tribal African Christians that the women need to cover their breasts. I guess my one critique of this article would be that, at times, I feel we are too selective of which cultural boundaries we reject. As enculturated beings, I don’t think it’s so simple to say “modesty is culturally/socially defined (usually by the male hegemony) and therefore arbitrary and able to be largely disregarded as such.” Cleavage-as-immodesty may be a social construct, but modesty as a virtue isn’t.

    I’m pretty sure you’d agree with me, and my critique is just that I wish you would have put forth a constructive perspective on how we should approach modesty (not just as a topic for women, of course). I liked what you wrote, but found myself a little unsatisfied, because Paul certainly seemed willing to declare certain ways of dressing to be immodest. Just because cultural modesty was transgressed didn’t make it any less of a transgression. And yet, you’re right, the way the American evangelical church has been enforcing cultural modesty has been deeply harmful and violent to women (and the men it paints as sex-obsessed animals).

    So how do we move forward? I’m fine, for now, focusing on deconstructing the lies and listening to the wisdom of women who have been ignored and stigmatized. But, eventually, something needs to be built on the foundation of human worth and mutual responsibility.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this. You’re the greatest; it was something that needed to be said and you said it well. Sorry if I something I said was unhelpful or wrong. Feel free to disregard it.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Matt, thank you so much for sharing here and supporting me. It’s certainly been an interesting process, but I’m overwhelmingly grateful to be heard by many and to have so many people share their own stories.

      I’d love to read an article about your thoughts on modesty as a virtue for all people. I agree that the conversation can and should be radically different and I’d love for you to start it! I think the key point is that each person should be able to participate fully as an equal, regardless of gender or their particular attractions. When we tell our own stories and work things out in safe communities where each person has a voice, that’s when we can mature.

      • Matt

        I’ll try to write something up and email you the link. I blog pseudonymously (for now) about, generally, being a conservative gay evangelical, and I’ll probably post it there. We’ll see.

        I agree with you, I think it begins with forming safe spaces for people to tell their stories and be listened to. Otherwise, what is the church doing?

        I hope you are well. Thanks again for everything.

  • DrMekaButler

    Great read. this is an issue that always causes a huge discussion. I remember once, when I ran a home for single women who were homeless there was a young girl and her sister who were both well endowed. Both these girls accepted christ in my livingroom and wanted to go to church the following sunday. However, at that time I attended a church that was extreemly modest: head coverings and skirts for girls and suits for men. At any rate We didnt have enough money to buy a wardrobe for them so I lent them my clothes. At that time my skirts were all ancle length and my tops were all colar amd button ups. They looked great to me, but when we got to church, because they were curvey amd I wasnt people and even some leaders found falt with what they were wearing….IT WAS THEIR FIRST TIME in church ever! Nobody knew their situation or that they were wearing my hand me downs because they were homeless all they focused on was the clothes! (of course I ended up leaving that church eventually.) But I think sometimes people are too worried about the outside and not with the inside. Surprisingly these girls maintained their faith through the persecution of church folks. Eventually they moved to another churc. actually many new people ended up leaving

    • DrMekaButler

      Sorry about all the typos and spelling errors, I am commenting from my tablet….and I dont know how to use it lol

    • John Peters

      This comment points out the problem that I have with so many of the comments on this site. The problem is, we tear down the idea of Biblical modesty because there are some people out there who hold that position and are extremely bad witnesses for Christ with the position that they hold. I can’t believe that a church leader would do what he did in the church you used to attend. Frankly, I’m horrified. But that doesn’t change the truth. If there is an earthquake coming, I don’t refuse to evacuate my house just because the person who warned me that it was coming is a criminal, mass-murderer or adulterer. I check out what he’s saying. I look out my window to see if other people are running from their house. I don’t discredit his word just because I dislike his person or he has done so many things wrong in his life. But I certainly will be a lot more careful about listening to him than to my best friend.

      That what we’ve got to do here. Check out the idea of Biblical modesty. And the Bible does support modesty. And don’t discredit the idea just because there are some real freaks holding the position. Just check it out all the more thoroughly. Thanks.

      • DrMekaButler

        I’m sorry that my comment “points out the problem that you have with so many of the comments on this site”. I was just sharing an experience. Not trying to tear down biblical modesty. I am FOR biblical modesty. I am against the radical and judgmental blindness that SOME leaders show. However the comment that you made is the reason why I rarely comment on this site. I thought it was a place for church leaders to share and gain encouragement from each other, but the more articles I read, the more attacks I see in the thread. If I have misread your intentions, I openly apologize in advance.

        • Algoria

          “I thought it was a place for church leaders to share and gain encouragement from each other…”

          There was your mistake. It’s a site where liberal viewpoints are published in articles on controversial topics. (The condoning of same-sex marriage is one of their pet ones.) Then conservative evangelical Christians write comments disagreeing, not always, but usually, in a reasonable manner, with the liberal (and generally unbiblical) premises.

          Next liberal Christians write in to attack the other Christians as “haters” “bigots” “pharisees” “ruthless” “self-righteous” etc. ad nauseum. They present themselves as caring sensitive souls but they are usually the ones doing the name-calling and attacking. They have no sense of irony about this at all.

          John Peters hasn’t written a lot of comments but they’re always fair and considerate from what I’ve seen.

          • DrMekaButler

            i think you are correct, Algoria, That was my mistake. Ahhhh well …got any suggestions for sites for church leaders to gain encouragement and share experiences? Something positive? I’m not looking for liberal viewpoints, homosexual agendas or anything like that …

          • Algoria

            Let me clarify a little. (Remember this is only one person’s observation.)
            On “controversial” issues (like same-sex marriage) the articles all seem to be from the liberal viewpoint. Also the “staff writers” often appear to be liberal no matter what topic they write about.
            However there are many other articles by middle-of-the-road church leaders as well.
            Just realize that there are often arguments between liberals and conservative evangelical Christian commenters on certain issues. The liberals are quick to try to put their opponents on the defensive and do a lot of name-calling – “bigots”, “ruthless” “fundamentalist” etc. yet also often like to say “amen” and “bless you”, little realizing how phony this then sounds.

            There are also a number of irrational commenters on both sides, as on any site with comments. It’s best to ignore these, although I don’t always follow my own advice.
            This place at least can give you a sense of what condition the church in America is in. I would say it’s not good.
            I don’t know of any other site for church leaders.

        • John Peters

          Sorry. I misread your comment. And you were right at the end, I didn’t mean to tear you down, sorry. But what I was saying in my comment was, that so many people, (not yourself) try to take stories like yours above, and attack Biblical modesty because there are some people who say they support it and do it all wrong. But sorry for misreading your comment – I was kind of in a hurry, and didn’t read it too thoroughly. By the way, you might be able to find some less controversial threads on this site – this one seems to have provoked a fair amount argumentation, unfortunately. But I have posted on some where there really is a spirit of love.

          Sorry once more – I think you hit the point spot on.

  • Deidre

    I think its also important to separate the issue of modesty from chastity. I used to teach highschoolers in Sunday school. One Sunday I wore an above the knee skirt, black boots and patterned stockings. (you can all judge for yourself whether this was modest or not). A parent complained to the youth pastor that I was dressed inappropriately. The youth pastor (a very good friend of mine) was very conflicted about having to talk to me about my attire. So his lovely wife told him she would handle it. He was relieved and she never talked to me, until years later when she told me this story. Her reasoning was that she knew I had an attitude of chastity and that if someone disagreed with what I wore every once in a while, that was their issue not mine. Chastity is a universal character quality modesty is culturally defined. That’s my favorite story about modesty. Having grownup in the church I have alot of not so favorite stories. Thankyou emily for your beautiful post.

  • Brenda

    I can agree with this article to some extent. But I also seriously disagree with one strong point. The idea that women in the church – at least extremely conservative churches – have made the “rules” for covering up ridiculous as well as placing the responsibility strongly – or solely – on the woman and making them essentially feeling guilty for being at all physically attractive. Yes, men need to be held accountable, too. But, note, I say “TOO”, not “instead of”. I can’t agree with the implied idea here, that the woman isn’t responsible at all. Men and women should both be responsible – women should be making responsible choices about the way they dress, men should be responsible in keeping their thoughts captive instead of giving them free reign. To say a woman can dress in as short a skirt as they want, or a belly shirt, or show off as much cleavage as they feel like is kind of ridiculous. We’re all responsible for ourselves and for how we affect others. No, we shouldn’t be constantly on the edge of our seat worrying about offending someone or causing them to sin, but we don’t need to do whatever we feel like just because we “can”. We CAN do alot of things. It doesn’t mean we SHOULD. And before we say that men just need to control themselves better and they lust no matter what a woman is wearing, well, I don’t think that’s entirely true either. There is a reason that a stripper doesn’t wear jeans and a t-shirt when she’s working. Lust may be a problem that men need to work at to keep under control and shield his thoughts from, but women SHOULD be responsible for what they’re wearing. If a guy sees a pretty girl wearing a belly shirt and short shorts the response will probably be a form of lust. If a guy sees a pretty girl wearing something that’s nice but covers them up, the response is alot more likely to be attraction. Emily says herself that there’s a difference between the lust and attraction that gets confused and I agree. That being said, I don’t think that takes away a woman’s responsibility. Just my opinion. For the record, I’m in my 20’s and certainly wouldn’t consider myself a prude.

  • Beth

    Hey.

    Thanks for this article.

    Even though I grew up in a conservative evangelical Christian home, I practiced a different definition of the phrase “responsible for” than the one you talked about. My parents did not ever use the phrase to guilt-trip me, but rather to place a “responsibilty” in the honorable sense to dress with modesty (think “respectable” not “jean jumper”). I thought of my choices about what I wore as an opportunity to show guys respect based on thier real desires and needs. I’m blessed, however, to have grown up with that definition, without being told someone else’s sins are my fault.

  • Stan

    Pick and chose “christians”…pick what parts of the Bible they want to follow, and those they don’t..lol……Paul’s writings are very clear on the role of women in the church, as to attire and conduct…just try following it, instead of fighting it..

  • Angel

    The question you raise, is a woman responsible for a man’s lust? The answer is No! She can only be a temptation to allure and entice a man for such a seductive attire, body language, sexy talk like Potiphar’s wife of Genesis and for sure as an object for man to be enticed….but it is not her responsibility, it is man’s responsibility if allow himself and drawn to it. Just as simple as that no quarrel or any disagreement to all commentators. Let as simplify the article don’t complicate it, amen! James 1: 14 to 15 but every man is tempted when is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

  • cary

    The reason this is such a hot topic is because from day one, man has struggled with his eyes. Job wished to make a covenant with his eyes that he would not look upon a woman. The implication was and lust. It doesn’t matter what a woman wears or doesn’t wear, men are going to struggle with lusting after them. Women are not responsible for man’s lust but should be aware it is going on all the time. So don’t expect them to appreciate the beauty of your face or inner person when something they desire is capturing their attention.

  • Valerie Barlow Horton

    wonderful article!

  • AMOS8

    Miss Emily, I know you don’t have to respond to what everyone is writing here, but please take to heart what I wrote before.

    I am not against the goal of this article. Nor am I against you, quite the opposite.

    I liked a lot about your article, and I see the destruction every day of people who were taught falsehoods, and/or those who take on too much responsibility (and those who take on too little).

    I work every day to help people gain an accurate understanding of their value. I work a lot with both men and women to understand the worth/value of their own gender, but also helping them to appropriately and Biblically value the opposite gender (especially in marriages).

    Please reconsider what you have been taught and what you taught in this article about our worth, and about Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.

    The more “inherent value” we have then the less glory goes to God.

    We should not love someone because of their value. If so, then that is not love. This is precisely what Jesus condemned in, ironically, the Sermon on the Mount! (Matt 5:43-47) Should we not love someone, no matter what their value? Especially, perhaps, those who seem to have less value? Is that not a more accurate understanding of love? Is that not what Jesus was teaching?

    Also, did not Jesus call his loved ones–in the Sermon on the Mount–“evil”? Evil is void of value–or perhaps a great deficit in value. To refer to someone as “evil” is to say quite a bit about their value. Was Jesus trying to lower their self-esteem? Or was He trying to teaching them truth about who they really are?

    The more inherent value we believe we have the less we tend to seek value–especially in seeking God and our value that He alone gives us through faith and grace. Why should we seek value when we have–according to your view–“inherent value”?

    What about being creating in God’s image? Yes, we were BUT there was that major problem of Genesis 3. Notice how quickly God destroyed almost everyone (a few chapters later). Why would God kill 99.9999% of the population if they had such great value? This would not be wise, or loving! Furthermore, He said that “EVERY inclination of his heart was ONLY EVIL ALL the time.” That is not a resume of value.

    They beauty comes when the truth comes, which is God gives us value APART from whatever we bring to the table! That is the gospel which teaches that “a righteousness FROM GOD” and not from ourselves. This is profoundly freeing, and produces great blessings of joy, peace, security, etc … all of the things I believe you are looking for, and want your readers to have. We are in agreement in this goal, but it can only be achieved through biblical accuracy.

    There is so much more that I can say about all this, but please reconsider. If you truly want those people to be blessed then I believe you will rethink what you have been taught.

    Clearly–theologically and Biblically speaking–God did not love us because of our value (Rom 3:10-26; 5:6-10; Col 1:21) “They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.” (2 Kgs 17:15)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.kelly.543 Jason Kelly

    Thanks–I will not take someone to “chapter and verse” but I will say that yes, as a man, (I can’t relate to this article any other way), sisters have made choices which did make being in certain services, etc difficult and distracting for me. I think there CAN be responsibility if we have no regard for “stumbling” blocks we may put up before others. Rather than a “right/wrong” paradigm, maybe one should just ask questions of their own “intent”. While the “intent” may be honest and pure enough–maybe the unintended “effect” does matter. Why not just love a brother (or sister for that matter) and not even make this an issue.

  • Douglas

    Watch out now! Jesus sent us into the world, true. But He also taught us not to be like the world. Like it or not call me what you will but we can usually tell a lot about a person by the way they present themselves, clothes and all. How else does anyone tell us apart from those who serve Christ and those who do not believe. I’m not implying that we should be prudes or pass judgement on others but I don’t see anything wrong with being a fruit inspector either.

    By what authority do you found this idea on to dress
    like the rest of society ? Do you not know that men were created to be visually stimulated and that both male and female are subject to the lust of the eye. People loose all sense of the consequences when they are over whelmed with passion. The News is filled with it. The Bible teaches modesty not just to present ourselves holy but to protect our selves from temptation and from others by using wisdom and moderation. God inspired the apostle Paul to write thirteen books of the Bible and I do not rely on my own understanding but trust in His. I am my brothers keeper but that doesn’t make me codependent .

  • hannah

    There was once an ancient king who needed to take a perilous drive in the mountains. The trail went right next to an enormous cliff. The king wanted to arrive safely, so he called his three chariot drivers. He asked them how close they could get to the cliff without falling off.
    The first one replied, “Oh, king. I can drive the horses at top speed within 2 feet of the cliff and not fall off.”
    The king was impressed, and called the second man, who said, “Oh, king. I can drive the horses at top speed within half a foot of the cliff and not fall off.”
    Again, the king was impressed, and called the third. He replied, “Oh, king. I love your majesty so much that I will stay as far away from the cliff as I possibly can!”
    Guess which chariot driver the king hired.
    The point of the story is that we are so often trying to get as close to the edge as possible. We say, “I can dress in shorts and sleeveless shirt, and still not sin.” And another says, “Well, I can wear a bikini, and still not sin.” But the person that God is looking for is the one who will say, “Oh, God. I love You so much more than popularity, comfort, or anything else, that I will dress as modestly as possible so as to follow Your Word as closely as possible!”

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hey Hannah, I definitely don’t want to discount that God and you have made a decision that you shouldn’t wear shorts and a sleeveless shirt or a bikini. I don’t advocate people make decisions that aren’t healthy for their conscience or relationship with God. What I’m asking for is that you trust that I have a relationship with God and I’m making good decisions based on that relationship, whether I end up wearing a bikini to the pool or not.

      Also, you imply that women who don’t wear certain articles of clothing are “following God’s Word as closely as possible” but the Bible never gives any specifics on how much skin to cover, etc.

  • Erin Gentry

    I never really heard modestly preached from a perspective of self-respect for the God-given sexuality my body grew into during adolesence. It always seemed to come from a place of fear and misplaced responsibility, as you reference here, placing the onus for male behavior on women.

    In watching “The Invisible War” documentary on the til-now hidden rape/assault sub-culture that exists within the military, I was reminded again of the unfair amount of responsibility placed on women/victims. So little responsibility is placed on the perpetrators – it’s all about “have a buddy with you, because you might be raped!” or, “Be careful about your drinking, you might get raped!” There’s something to be said about conducting yourself in a way that is safe and appropriate for the setting, but where are the strident laws that will prosecute those who prey on others? Where is the public shame for those who assault others, where is the jail time? Etc etc etc.

    Tying that in with what you’re writing here, you are absolutely right in that modesty cannot be just about sexuality. If it is, then the women will always be the ones to have the crushing burden of responsibility placed on them, and no amount of covering up will please the strictest of the modesty police. There’s a fear, I think, in telling young men they are responsible – if girls are no longer blamed, then they’ll dress like skanks and sluts, right? Wrong. Teach those girls about appropriate settings for different styles of dress, teach them about their value and the goodness of their sexuality; help them see themselves as far more than breasts and thighs or a dangling piece of meat.

  • Clay

    check out Proverbs 11:22

  • Born again

    So what is wrong with lust? What u do with it might be wrong but that’s with every emotion when left totally unchecked by intelligence

  • Tevasa Iakopo

    I’m Tevasa Iakopo lives and grew up in the sinking Paradise of Tuvalu in the middle of the South Pacific. as of the above, the culture I up is exactly of the above but This is what we believes in. woman does responsible to that man lust, in the sense that what ever the eyes sees it trigger the mind to fall into, and it has become as our every day living on the Island. just because we were created on communities basis, we turn to see the benefit of it on the Island for it not only seeing as a everyday forms of respect in terms of families gathering, the communities but it also wide out the mean thinking of promoting the lust for rapes.

  • Phillip A. Foster, Ph.D.

    As a Christian psychologist, I have worked for many years with males who struggle with their sexual attraction to women. As I work with these men, I attempt to confront them whenever they tend to place blame or put responsibility on someone other than themselves for their sins. I applaud your effort to help women to be free of feelings of guilt and shame over how they look or dress, or to feel responsible if a man commits a sexual sin. I also work with women who struggle with this problem. I try to help them to make the distinction between being responsive and being responsible.

    I believe the Scriptures are very clear about considering others and their interests, and not only our own (Phil. 2:1-4; I Thess. 4:11-12). While we do not need to submit to “modesty rules” or any other form of legalism, we would do well to consider the example of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (I Cor. 9:22).” The truth is we can “influence lust in someone else.” While we are not responsible for what someone does with our physical appearance, we can be sensitive to the fact that many Christian men are struggling with the sin of lust and are trying to overcome it. Many of them have told me how difficult it is even to go to church, and to be around their sisters in Christ, because of the temptations presented there. Again, while we are not responsible, Paul encourages us to, “Be careful…that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak (I Cor. 8:9).”

    I repeat, women are not responsible and we do not have to submit to rules and laws. But, while, “everything is permissable for me–not everything is beneficial (I Cor. 6:12).”

    Godspeed, Dr. Foster

  • Cheryl

    Adam chose to know evil he is the one who invited it in when he ate what he was commanded not to. Evil is in the mind not in the body. The New Testament says that the body of the believer is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a place God dwells once a person has entered into the plan of redemption. Sin and evil start in the mind. Cain in Genesis is a good example of wrong doings starting in the mind. Read Genesis 4: 7. Sin stood at the door of the mind of Cain, he is the one who had a choice to reject it or invite it in. Man was created in the image of God and God isn’t evil He is good. Woman was made of the bone from the side of man. Woman came out of the image of God. God is pure and Holy. Sin and evil are the nature of this world and soon its time will be fulfilled and it will be no more. People are not evil unless they choose to be. People are born into sin and that is what qualifies a person to have a nature to do so. This is why God made provision for His creation that was made in His image. He wants to see His people grow and blossom in the beauty of His Holiness, His definition, not the definition that people of the world define it as.

  • pastorb

    I’m appalled that Christians are debating this issue. Satan couldn’t have written this article better. Why do Christians have to try to redefine what sin is? That’s exactly what Satan did to Eve in the garden. What was his reasoning? God doesn’t really want what is best for us? God doesn’t want us to enjoy all He has? Lust is desiring something that we shouldn’t or don’t have. It doesn’t have to be sexual. Lusting after a new car can be sin as well. Why are Christian women trying to be like the world? We are supposed to be a peculiar people, set apart from the world, not imitate the world, regardless of what “society” says. Who are you dressing “sexy” for? Why? You are trying to entice men. That is putting a stumbling block before men. Any man who claims he is not tempted by a woman is a liar. Yes, God made women to be pleasing to the eyes, for their husbands, not every man. Men who are commenting on this article, saying women should be able to dress how they want, you are putting your own lusts above what you know God would have to do. We should be pleading for women to dress modestly to minimize our temptations, not increase them. No, it is not a sin to be tempted, but it is a sin to “continue looking” (lusting). Women, when you wear clothes that reveal, you are doing more than you realize. Preachers see more from the pulpit than you realize, especially preachers that move around the stage or even the floor. It is a major distraction that throws off a line of thought, etc. Is that what God wants or Satan? Who are you dressing for, and why? Why dress like the world unless you are trying to cause someone to desire you, sexually? It has nothing to do with “freedom” in Christianity. As Abe(I believe it was) put it in one of his comments. If I have a friend that is a glutton, why would I take him to lunch at a buffet? If he is an alcoholic, why would I have a beer in front of him? We are supposed to help each other, not hinder. Women dressing to show ample cleavage, short skirts, etc, cause men to be tempted, whether you like it or not. When the woman revealed herself to Jacob so he would have sex with her, it wasn’t a good thing, she caused him to sin. The Bible says that whoever does this is also guilty of sin. Women, it is a sin to dress in a way that you know will cause men to lust after you. You can’t change God’s Word simply because it’s not fashionable or different from what “society” or “culture” says. Look at it this way. Would you wear the same outfit to stand before God? Would God find it “sexy” or provocative? Or, would He say: “what are you doing wearing that?” Modesty is not about keeping the woman hindered. It’s about trying to help men (who are weak in this area), to grow strong and focused in God’s Word, not be sidetracked with temptations. Women, help us out, please.

    • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

      hey pastor, could you please stop comparing women to bottles of beer? we are people with bodies, created in the image of God. we are not objects existing for your gaze, folly, or destruction.

      • Prion Indigo

        I love what you said!!!

    • http://dsimmer.com/ Dean P. Simmer | dsimmer.com

      Sir, it’s extremely out of line to say to a sister in Christ, “Satan couldn’t have written this article better.” That’s out of line, and unbecoming of Church Leaders.

      “When the woman revealed herself to Jacob so he would have sex with her, it wasn’t a good thing, she caused him to sin.” Agreed. And 100% irrelevant to this thread.

      It’s been made extremely clear in the original article and through follow up posts, explanations, etc. that the topic is not women who are trying to entice men to have sex with them. That topic has nothing to do with modesty conversations in the church.

      You’re making the comparison that all men are looking at women solely to have sex with them. The glutton/alcoholic comparison doesn’t work here. Your logic, carried out, would suggest that a man might just have sex with a woman right there because he has an addiction that he cannot control. That’s what happens with alcoholism, right?

      Let’s elevate the conversation and get past, as Suzannah said, treating women as “bottles of beer.” They aren’t objects, they are people, and we have to stop projecting our own brokenness onto other people and playing the victim.

      Yes, we are called to love and serve each other. So let’s start by sitting down and asking how we’re harming our sisters in Christ by our accusations, condemnations, and victimizing ourselves based upon what they wear.

    • Prion Indigo

      Your “logic” or lack thereof could be used to justify rape.

  • Joe

    The problem with modern Christianity has been tied to looking for clever ways to satisfy the flesh and still retain the cloak of holiness. I do agree that Christian men and women should allow the Holy Spirit fill their hearts to avoid lust.
    Agreeing we are all filled with the Holy Spirit, I suggest that women and may be men should wear whatever they desire to make them free people. A Christian man or woman that desires to go naked with all the bras, breasts, inner wears and all the private areas showing should not be disturbed as that depicts modern Christian freedom! We waste our time arguing over obvious issues settled in the scriptures. If you are a Christian indeed, man or woman, the scripture is there for you. Pretensions as to what is right or wrong are just mere excuses to belong and be approved by the world. If we are Christians indeed, we should allow the Holy Spirit to flow into our hearts and help us walk in the path of modesty. If walking about naked as Adam and Eve did with all private parts bared will make one more of a Christian, the person should go ahead! No quarrels as we are all accountable to God in the end.

  • Steven Leapley

    Thank you Emily for writing this…. I have swung back and forth on this issue over the years.. I have come to the conclusion that the only time it is truly ‘a women’s fault for mens behavior’ (and even loosely faulted) is when a lady wears nothing into a bar and teases with a man…..and that was only really swayed by the head on a large city rape crisis center (who was a women and said ‘ladies if you dress like a slut, and act like a slut, guys will treat you like a slut”) – a little off point – anyway.
    You are correct in that women are not responsible a man’s morality! I teach my kids that they are responsible for only 3 things in life….their thoughts, their words, and their actions…. we all have fallen back once in a while to the old saying “if your friends jumps off a cliff are you gonna follow?” Yet we seem to place blame on anything that takes blame off of individual responsibility. Christian circles do it all the time…..
    Thank you again for sharing your insights!
    Steven

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Thank you for sharing here, Steven. I’m glad you’re raising your kids with a healthier understanding of boundaries and responsibility than I learned.

      I am shocked and surprised by what you heard from the leader of that rape crisis center, however. What you describe is called “victim-blaming” and it’s simply awful. I’m appalled that this woman told victims of criminal abuse that it was (or will be) somehow their fault or their clothing choice’s fault that they were abused. That is complete and utter BS and it’s a lie that shows up in many forms. NO ONE ever causes, entices, or deserves verbal, emotional, spiritual, or physical abuse, no matter what they are wearing.

      We can have conversations about socially appropriate clothing and the messages that clothing communicates without this sort of shame, victim-blaming, and perpetuating abuse.

  • Sean

    There have been some great posts on this topic. I agree that each person is responsible for their own heart, but we must be careful not to swing the pendulum so far that we are implying that we dont have a scripturally implied responsibility to not be a stumbling block to others.
    It was the apostle Peter in Act 15 who argued against the majority (Paul agreed with him), by saying that these new Gentiles did not have to be circumcised to be saved. Only one chapter later in Acts16 we see Paul making poor Timothy get circumcised. Why? He was deferring to a group of unsaved Jews, he did not want Timothy being a stumbling block in their mission effort.
    You can say that Timothy took one for the team and that is the philosophy by which very child of God should be living by. I could and it wouldn’t be a sin, but I restrain myself for the good of others.

  • Juanita G Ricard

    A woman IS responsible for the way she dresses and how she conducts herself. If she is modest and does how she knows God would have her do, then she is not responsible for what another person thinks. Knowing that the body is sacred, why would she dress in a manner not becoming Christ? Yet many who claim to be Christians do, both men and women alike. They need to remember that we, as Christians, are in a foreign world while on this earth. We should conduct ourselves in a manner that makes the leader of our world (Heaven), God proud of us. So many misinterpret the verse in the Bible about a woman is not to dress like a man. It was not talking about slacks, etc. The men is the Bible wore long garments, not slacks. The Roman soldiers wore short skirts. Slacks are more modest at times than dresses: climbing ladders, playing ball, going swimming. Did you know there are churches and schools who will not allow their girls and boys to swim together? There are churches who do not allow their girls to put on slacks to play ball. I have had more than one child to ask me to talk to their parents and tell them that the girls feel so immodest playing ball in shirts. This is not “holiness”. This is legalism. Churches should avoid legalism at all costs. And let’s face it, no matter how modest one might look and live, there will always be some immoral person out there to think bad. So just be what God wants you to be, dress like He would want you to and “be ye holy” as He is holy. Let God deal with the others. Remember YOU represent Christ and you may be the only Bible some folks ever read, so be “perfect” in God’s eyes and you will win souls, and others will be put to shame. Pleasing God and winning souls is all that matters.

  • Average male

    Thanks Emily, but could you please define “Healthy sexual attraction”?

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Seriously?

  • Laura

    I also believe that this mentality hurts men and hurts marriages. While women
    take the brunt of being “responsible” for men’s actions, men are being told that
    they are basically sex-driven animals that can’t control their minds or their
    bodies around a woman in shorts. That’s pretty degrading as well. I think that
    letting go of these rules is a matter of respecting both men and women as
    complex beings who are responsible for themselves.

    Additionally, in my own life, this type of thinking has hurt my mentality
    about men and about sex. If I am taught from a young age that a man can’t look
    at an attractive woman without lusting, then I will firmly believe that there is
    something wrong with me if I DON’T incite that lust. I lose either way, becasue
    I am either sinning or I am ugly. And being ugly is also sinning because I am
    supposed to look like a porn star for my husband for the rest of my life,
    because that is his rightful reward for waiting until marriage to have sex. I
    think that the messages we give in talking about sex and “waiting” are the other
    side of this problem that needs to be addressed.

  • Roger

    My question always is not whose responsible for who’s lust, but why we want to dress in a seductive manner to begin with and then get upset if someone looks be it men or women? I believe the Bible teaches modesty and we don’t have to have another rule book to figure that out. For too many in our world today when a couple marries if they somehow kept their virginity till marriage, there’s very little left to uncover on the wedding night.

  • Gary S Colville

    Hi Emily. I understand where you are coming from in terms of not being controlled by a bunch of rules. Absolutely. This is where many Christians have got it all wrong. Rules ot Laws as per the OT proved don’t change a person or their attitudes and they don’t help people process what is right. When I met my wife 38yrs ago she had no idea how much affect her mini skirts were having until I told her how much we could all see and that it was not helpful for me or other men. You see we men are pretty vulnerable on the female temptation issue but most women don’t understand how differently we think.
    To take it away from just this issue the Scripture addresses the dangers of alcohol and witchcraft and that we should not even think about such things but many people will imbibe because it is their preference. My rule of thumb based on Scripture is that I will not do anything that would be a stumbling block to anyone else.

    Ro 14:7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone…………………………………
    Ro 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
    Ro 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

    Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
    May our Lord be your Grace.

    Gary

  • Rodney M

    Am I my brother’s keeper?

    how you respond to that question will determine your view on this issue.

    If it is a matter of women’s rights, I’d look to Jesus who, for the sake of our salvation surrendered His right to heaven. The issue is not on modesty, it’s in the heart, can we surrender our rights to wear/talk/ do whatever for the sake of our brethren?

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      The problem arises when one group of people demands and manipulates another group of people into giving up “their rights” for them. This is called oppression.

      • Mark

        Emily, do you honestly believe that in today’s society women are “oppressed” to wear certain modest clothing? I think you hit the nail on the head so to speak. If we’re seeking “our rights” then has Jesus truly conquered us in that area? Love for others comes from the heart, from Him. It’s not really our choice, then, is it? It seems you’re much like me when it comes to dying to my rights – I’m going down with a fight :-) Oh that we all would die quietly LOL.

  • Stan

    The Bible and in particular spell out the conduct and dress of women…why not just follow what the Bible says and quit fighting it?

  • Beaver

    There are many innocent, unsuspecting men in our churches who are easily aroused sexually by women who dress wantonly. There are women who know this, and with times changing , more and more women dress as though they are out intentionally to seduce the men with their scantily dressed clothing. These women seem to have no sense of good taste, manners or shame in the way they provocatively expose themselves. One would expect such obscene and indecent clothes from a two bit hooker, but not from a responsible woman of class in the congregation. Men associate these lewd women with the cheap types to be found pasted on pornography sites. There is not a pastor or a doctor that has not been propositioned by these loose, scarlet women, the wicked Jezebels and Potiphar wives of this world. Indeed. the female of the species can be more deadly than the male ! I am sure Emily Maynard is not one of these, but she should consider the unintended consequences on society of discarding the Biblical wisdom of modesty, chastity and consideration, in favor of her new found freedom to defend female exhibitionism.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      I believe that women are intelligent, socially aware, and capable of making good choices for their lives. I also believe that men are intelligent, socially aware, and capable of making good choices for their lives.

      • Algoria

        Emily, you believe women and men “are intelligent, socially aware, and capable of making good choices for their lives”?
        Not apart from Christ and His teachings, we aren’t.
        We have great potential but the whole of human history shows we seldom live up to it.
        “For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all. The man who does not share my life is like a branch that is broken off and withers away. He becomes just like the dry sticks that men pick up and use for firewood.”
        Speaking of “choice” more than 55 million babies have been aborted by intelligent and socially aware men and women in America alone since 1973. These were not good choices.
        This should be a shocking reality for Christians at least, but it has just become a dry statistic and America now has a pro-abortion President.
        For a larger example the tens of millions slaughtered by their fellow man in the last century by war and totalitarian madness shows how far we humans are from being capable of good choices, apart from God.
        This is why we need God’s Word as a guide for all that we do. None of us live up to it, but let’s at least try to not be squeezed into the world’s mold.

  • Male Reader

    Hey Emily,
    Thanks for the article. I think this is important for many people to understand. I also I wonder tho, how much as Christian brothers and sisters do we hold a certain responsibility for one another? I’m not saying a judgmental kind of responsibility or a preoccupation about “what is ____ going to think?!” but more like “Is the way I dress (and act, and work, and eat, and so on…) serving my brothers (and sisters)?” The whole “loving your neighbor as yourself” thing, but applied to the way you dress. Obviously, if it’s leading to the kind of self-abasement and loss of personhood your talking about, it’s probably not so much a good thing. And again, it’s typically been a one-sided issue where women must not dress such and such a way to protect men (placing the responsibility for lust/sexual sin solely on the woman). Not good things.
    But let’s not throw it all out and say that we don’t have any responsibility to our brothers and sisters – this responsibility and accountability in love is one of the most beautiful aspects of Christian fellowship, and I would hope that as I present myself to people, that I am serving them in love in everything I do.

    • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

      Hey Man,

      Thanks for reading my story. I’m really curious where exactly you got the idea that I want to “throw it all out and say we don’t have any responsibility to our brothers and sisters.” Because I certainly wasn’t intending to communicate that.

      There is a difference being responsible “for” something and “to” something. I don’t believe I am responsible for anyone other than myself. However, I encourage my readers to be responsible “to” social and cultural customs of dress, in the best way they can, for the unique situation they are in. I definitely don’t think I’m better qualified than they are to make the decision HOW to do that “responsibility to” thing for themselves.

      Another thing that I find troubling is this labeling of coercive, shaming, sexist action as “serving.” In my experience, one group of people is commanding the “service” of another group of people in a manipulative way that keeps everyone involved from maturing in relationships, sexuality, and spirituality.

      Thanks for reading!
      Emily

      • joybells

        To sum all this up is to do what the Bible says: …”in word and in deeds, do all to the Glory of God” if God is not being Glorified in what you do, or what you wear then don’t do it, or don’t wear it. “Bottomline” if He wanted us to expose certain parts of our bodies to everyone then he never would have made clothes for Adam and Eve to cover themselves. (Their nakedness). “Let our adorning be that of the heart, and not so much as putting on of apparels.”

  • Dave

    When Adam and Eve sinned, the Bible says their eyes were opened and “they knew they were naked.” Immediately, they sewed fig leaves together in an attempt to cover themselves. Later, God clothed them with skins. Since the fall, man has had to battle the lust of the flesh. The battle is intensified if members of the opposite sex wear clothing that are designed to draw attention to certain portions of the body. Even fashion designers who do not claim to know God are aware that certain clothing styles are designed to create certain responses. Ladies who desire to please God in their clothing styles must take these matters into consideration.To disregard reality is naive.

    • Moderate Dude

      and that is why there is separation of church and state

  • martha.louise

    I grew up in a church that didn’t allow women to wear pants, or short sleeves, or lace and a myriad of other prohibitions – so I can speak with a little bit of experience. . . . all in the name of modesty. . .

    We were never taught that it was because the body was sinful, or even that sex was sinful. I really can’t say that I have heard this in any evangelical church – and in my young adulthood, I explored quite a few churches trying to escape my childhood/teenage one. It was always presented with the idea that a young woman’s body is beautiful – and men know it . . .thus the problem. . . the lust of the eyes, the temptation of the flesh, It was the sexual activities outside of marriage that were presented as sin. My body was beautiful, created by God and sex was a wonderful thing that was to be reserved for my husband.

    Having said that, I admit that I remember many times changing in the bathroom at school into “less modest” clothes because I knew EXACTLY what kind of an effect they would have on the guy whose eye I was trying to catch. And it didn’t have anything to do with marriage – I knew he would think it was hot and all my friends confirmed it. I might not have wanted to have sex right then but I sure wanted him to think about it.

    Motive is absolutely the factor that should be considered most – but unfortunately, the motive isn’t really because we think it’s cute – it’s because we have been taught that others think it’s cute (or sexy, or cool, or whatever word we want to insert) and so that influences us to the point where we think we are making that decision ourselves.

    Having been to both sides of the spectrum and now finding a place in the middle, which is where Emily probably is, I can see that there is no use tempting people who do not have the moral constraints that God has given me. A thought that comes to mind is that if I am in the tigers cage, I am obviously not tiger food – especially if that animal has been raised in captivity. And yet, dare I tempt the natural reactions of an un-domesticated animal?

    Pornography is FILLED with images of women who have “asked for it,” and there are LOTS and LOTS of men out there who feed into THAT lie, believe it, and sadly act upon it. I’m not talking perverted people who perform horrible rapes, I’m talking college guys, men with a little too much to drink, old guys who still have urges, men who are bored with their marriages so they spice it up with a movie or two. People that we know and work with, ride on trains with, sit by at a coffee shop. Pornography is STILL the largest money-bringer on the internet – and unfortunately, it has many men believing that “deep down, women want it – or they wouldn’t dress like that, walk like that, smell like that.”

    I don’t believe the lie – but they do. I’m sure you don’t believe that lie – but they do. Some of the men who are responding here may not believe it and I thank God that you have not succumbed to the lie. But you are not the majority. As a marriage counselor with my husband, 4 out of 5 men struggle with impure thoughts regarding women and they all involve a visual aspect. My husband says it’s actually 5 out of 5 but I like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    The length of your skirt or the size of your chest doesn’t give anyone the right to judge your character – but if they are a red-blooded man, who is not governed by the Spirit of God, they will. THAT, I think, is what the church is trying to say. If it’s not, it should be.

    • Stan

      It’s pathetic when older women, who probably cannot get it wet anymore, try and dress scantily and provocatively..actually it is good, it turns men off so bad….younger women who dress scantily,…well thats a different story…they should cover up, as beauty is better when a lot is left to men’s imagination..

      • Moderate Dude

        this comment is why we can’t have good things ^^^
        you objectify women so much that you want them to dress modestly for your own sexual desires: so that you can imagine their beauty…
        why should women cater to your particular ideas of beauty and not be able to dress how they want to?

  • Rivka

    I dress very modestly and, riding public transit a lot, have had a lot of really creepy guys trying to pick me up. Believe me, I did absolutely nothing to encourage them! Thanks for the article, it’s true and enjoyable.

    • Dave

      There are a lot of pervs (creepy) people out there, and they aren’t all “christians” lol

  • http://designersgate.com Rafael Vila

    I’m fully agree, I grew up in the very strick pentecostal church and when I was a teenager I look the long skirt sisters with lust, skirt does not matter, our vivid mind is our problem, our desires is our problem, the devil cannot tempt you with a short skirt woman if you really don’t mind this… The Bible is clear, we are tempted because our own sinful nature. Men’s vivid imagination is enough to tempt him even when there’s no woman, with skirt (short or long), around.

    I, as a christian man, have the obligation to take control of all my thoughts, saying that the problem is caused by other person is not believing in God, his Grace and Mercy… We all fall short of His Grace, says the Bible. We should learn to take resposiblility of our actions. And we all, including myself, we have to always take control of our thought and Trust God to help us overcome this sinful nature.

  • AmazingByTheResponse

    Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 1 Corinthians 8:9. Is a brother struggling with lust weak? Should I dress in such a way to avoid the weak from falling? Is Part of my Autonomy and responsiblity to God is how I impact my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Before we say hey, don’t take that verse out of context because its just talking about food. Here is what Jesus says,”How terrible it will be for the world due to its temptations to sin! Temptations to sin are bound to happen, but how terrible it will be for that person who causes someone to sin! Matthew 18:7″. Thus yes, you are right a lustful person will lust regardless but let it be not because you were a trigger because you intended to dress sexy but despite dressing to please Jesus they still lusted.

    • Shadow Spring

      Poor weak Christian men. I feel so sorry for them. The Holy Spirit creates self-control in Christian women, so we don’t have those problems. Maybe if you guys started walking in the Spirit things would get easier for you in many ways?

  • MTP

    How come there arent any bible verses being quoted in the article? I think “AmazingByTheResponse ” has the right idea on this topic.

  • Mallory

    We’re not responsible for each other, but we are responsible to each other. I think it’s respectful to dress in ways that aren’t provocative–whatever your definition of that may be.

  • Mattie Lee

    Modesty is not about women controlling mens thoughts. It’s about social awareness.
    Modesty should be based on mindset, culture, and circumstance.
    Mindset:
    Why are you wearing what it is you are wearing? If you are wearing it in hopes to glean
    attention in the wrong places, that’s pretty selfish. But, if your mindset is
    to feel beautiful not for others but for yourself, than you’re good to go!
    Culture:
    All cultures have different mindsets on things. There are cultures around the world where women don’t even wear shirts! This is not viewed as immodest or ungodly. The
    men in that culture aren’t always walking around lusting, because they have
    been trained to think that there is nothing wrong with that.
    Now, if I were to just walk into town not wearing a shirt, that would be considered very
    immodest!
    It all depends on your culture. The Christian culture has taught its women that our
    bodies are sinful and dangerous and that God has programed men’s minds to think
    of women’s bodies as such. Now I have a question. Does that sound like a very
    loving God to you? Does that sound like our loving, compassionate, all powerful
    Father to you? Do you really think he would program men’s minds to “not be able
    to control” whether or not he thinks lustfully about women when in the Bible,
    God says lusting is a sin??! No way y’all!! God has programed all of us to
    desire affection from the opposite sex. That is not a sin. But to take a
    person, and entertaining inappropriate thoughts about them and dehumanizing
    them in your mind to where they are just an emotionless, personalities objects
    for your pleasure only, that is a sin. God wants us to value other humans as
    they are created in the image of God himself! Just think of this… If we are
    created in the image of God, lusting is doing all of that ^^ to the perfect
    image of God.
    So you see that desiring affection and lusting are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT things.
    Back to women’s part in modesty, Christian women should be able to dress in a beautiful, tasteful way and not be worried about controlling the minds of the men around
    them.
    If a man struggles with lusting, he will struggle whether you are wearing a bikini or
    Jeans and an oversized sweater.
    Women do not control the sinful act of lusting in men.
    Circumstance:
    This part of modesty is pretty much all about the women.
    What may be a completely modest bathing suit for the beach, would be immodest
    to walk into the grocery store in.
    Dress tastefully for your culture and circumstance and be mindful of the reasoning
    behind what you are wearing.
    That, is modesty.

  • TtfnJohn

    Congratulations on a fine essay, Emily. You are perfectly right in describing lust as controlling and and excuse to be judgmental and to feel superior. It has nothing to do with the attraction one person feels for another and once the feelings grow to the bonding we call love the desire we have to be with them and to celebrate that time we spend together. These are all gifts we were given by God and blessed even further by Jesus. We have the capacity for great love between couples and families. Repression of our God given and blessed feelings, bonding and the comfort we find in them.
    And no, no woman is responsible for what a man does in response to her clothing the man is entirely responsible. And yes, no does mean no under any and all circumstances.

  • Michael

    Emily, you have to remember that what a culture sees as socially acceptable has changed over time. What used to be regarded as too “showy” or “revealing” in the past has now been regarded as somewhat normal in many of today’s cultures. An example is the wearing of tight clothing and short shorts.

    To me, it seems as if you are dangling in the middle between truly wanting to be modest, but also compromise. How can you tell people to dress in a socially-acceptable manner, when clothing styles only worsen year after year?

    I believe women need to be careful, coming from a man, because although we purpose in our hearts to see women in the way Jesus would see them, we also come to you women with the deepest sincerity and ask that you help to honor us brothers by choosing to dress modestly, not just what is socially acceptable.

    Socially acceptable is a very broad term and it usually includes short shorts for everyday wear, tank tops, skinny jeans, and the list goes on and on.

    It is not merely about a woman or man thinking that their conscience is clean when they dress, but they ARE responsible to present the most modest and God-glorifying attire every time. So actually, both men and women are responsible for how others will see them. If other people see them and still lust, that’s not their problem, but if those people can find a reason as to why they lusted after them especially in what they wear, then they are still accountable.

    1
    Corinthians 12:23 “And on those parts of the body
    that we think less honorable, we must bestow the greater honor, and our
    unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty.”

    1 Timothy 2:9-10 “Likewise
    also that women should adorn themselves in modest apparel, with decency and
    self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but
    with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy
    Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were
    bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

    Proverbs 31:30 “Charm
    is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

    Proverbs 11:22 “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without
    discretion.”

    1 Peter 3:1-2
    “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not
    obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
    when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”

    Matthew 5:28 “But
    I say to you, any man who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery
    with her in his heart.”

    Romans 14:13 “Therefore
    let us stop passing judgment on one another, Instead, make up your mind not to
    put a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

    Galatians 3:23-25 “Now before faith came, we were
    held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be
    revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we
    might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer
    under a guardian.”

    1
    Corinthians 7:3-5 “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal
    rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have
    authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does
    not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one
    another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote
    yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt
    you because of your lack of self-control.”

  • Mark

    Emily: thought provoking article. Can we look at some words?

    Entice – “to attract by arousing hope or desire.” Synonyms: allure; beguile,
    decoy, lead on, lure, seduce, tempt.

    Lure – “an inducement (moving by persuasion or influence) to pleasure or gain; enticement; appeal.”

    Tempt – ““to entice (to attract by arousing hope or desire) to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain; provoke.”

    Modest – “neither bold nor self-assertive.” Synonyms: humble, unassuming, lowly, meek, pure.

    You wrote, “In fact, nothing you do or do not do can influence lust in someone
    else.” If a person had a problem with overeating or smoking, if I set in front of them junk food or a cigarette, would that influence lust or lure them to sin? Would it not tempt that person? What if I unintentionally set the food or cigarettes in front of my brother or sister?

    American culture (the world) loves to push the limits on most desires, lusts and appetites. Modesty seeks unassuming, lowly and pure things. It really is a death to self
    (which is a huge counter American culture idea), laying down our lives for
    others, picking up the cross and loving others. Simply put, we die to self by
    living in Jesus. We love others because Jesus loved us.

    If God doesn’t tempt any man, shouldn’t we be seeking to avoid tempting
    (enticing by arousing hope or desire) our fellow brother (or sister, as this
    cuts both ways with different lusts) by remaining modest?

    I think men and women both shoulder the responsibility of lust. The stronger of the two (i.e. the person, regardless of sex who has the most faith) must patiently endure the one with the weaker one in faith while leading and teaching the higher calling Jesus gives to all of His loved ones.

  • http://emilyisspeakingup.com/ Emily Maynard

    I have no idea who you are, but I love you. This comment made my day. Thank you.

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