Purpose-Driven Yoga Pants and Honest Talk About Sex

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Why do you think it's still so difficult for people of faith to discuss sex and sexuality honestly?

Growing up in church, about once every couple months, the youth pastor would dedicate the Wednesday night to one of Christianity’s favorite topics: modesty.

They’d always try to spin it so us teenagers would think talking about modesty was cool, but it never worked. Mostly, it just felt like a GIANT guilt trip that went something like this …

[I'm paraphrasing ... keep in mind these are filtered through my teenage memories of myself.]

Girls, you dress like floozies … it breaks God’s heart … you should feel terrible … and don’t be surprised when guys act like animals … you’re just asking for it. MODEST IS HOTTEST, AMIRIGHT?!” (Whoever came up with this is probably a monk.)

Guys, you’re a bunch of hornballs … quit staring … I know the girls are wearing those sinful bikinis … and short shorts … and cleavage … but you’re a man … and if you stare too long, that means you’ve just had sex in your heart … and we all know what that means, don’t we?” (We didn’t.)

Then, they’d split us up by gender and pour on as many guilt-and-shame-inducing lectures about sexuality, porn, thoughts and virginity (or 2nd chance virginity, or 4th chance … 5th chance?) as they could.

Basically, however many times you’d had sex, you could rededicate yourself to God and be a virgin again. To this day, I’m not quite sure how that worked, but I think the magic only worked if we signed a pledge card … then, BOOM, you’re a virgin again?

Honestly, as a teenage guy in those moments, there was this strange strength I’d get from the “sex nights” at youth group. I’d go home after I signed my card and believe (even though the Bible was RARELY used correctly during the sermon) that I was indeed called to live the way they told us to.

This feeling would last until the next morning. After that, it was back to the normal feelings of, “but, how do I do all the stuff they said in REAL LIFE?”

Every girl and guy I knew would wake up on Thursday and still long to be enjoyed … attractive … invited.

I’ll often write at a local coffee shop, and the number of women that wear purpose-driven yoga pants combined with the number of men that take notice is staggering. (And they’re not teenagers in youth group anymore.)

What are purpose-driven yoga pants, you ask?

Well, they’re form fitting (and by form fitting I mean FORM FITTING), opaque leggings worn by women who may, or probably don’t, do yoga, worn under the premise of comfort, but really in hopes someone will notice.

Men always notice.

Matt Chambers Matt Chambers is father to 6 (including 1 with special needs), director of SafeWorld, founder of a Gener.us, advocate, speaker, writer, leader, learner. You can follow him on Twitter @mattchambrs or contact him directly chambersmatt@me.com. He writes daily at http://ethoshift.com. He and his beautiful wife, Jordana, are currently raising their village in East Tennessee.

More from Matt Chambers or visit Matt at http://ethoshift.com

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  • steve

    Matt Interesting article. I think so much of the issues come because we (people) gravitate from a life attempting to live with performance issues. We try to win peoples love, affection etc… through attention. From there we give up run to living in self indulgence. We need to be teaching each other and ourselves about grace and truth. I think it then opens doors and lines of communication without condemnation.

  • Felicia AppleofHiseye Hepburn

    I guess I am trying to figure out the point of the article. I DO agree with what you are saying and that was my experience with youth groups I was “temporarily” a part of. I even left because of condemnation it brought. And this does open doors for honest discussion. But what is a solution? Do we simply accept that youth and grown men/ women are this way and hope for the best with honest conversations? Thanks! Blessings!

    • ETHOSHIFT

      Hi Felicia – Matt Chambers here! I believe the solution can be found in community. My struggle growing up in church was that while we felt loads of shame, and felt completely rejected if we had questions.

      • Felicia AppleofHiseye Hepburn

        I totally get this reply! My thought in dealing with the youth I do today, there is no shame, they just tune out. “Everyone’s doing it” is a more relevant reason today than it was when I was a kid. That’s the brick wall we are running up against. Especially those kids who have “grown up in church.” They feel they are entitled, especially when they see adults do it. I do agree though! It DOES start in the community!!

  • Lindsey

    Clearly written by a dude that has never felt the comfort of a pair of cotton/spandex pants with a fold over waistband…haha:) Seriously some of us wear them because they ARE comfortable… Try em Matt… You’ll be hooked!

    • ETHOSHIFT

      Hi Lindsey – Matt Chambers here! For the record, so does my wife :) the point of the article was more about how we engage each other in the church when the need goes deeper than comfort.

      • Lindsey

        TOTALLY get your point…I was just joking:-)…the title really caught my attention this morning! I have a daughter entering middle school next year (she loves yoga pants too..ha;)…as she continues to grow I continue to look for the right words to help her understand who she is and why God designed her the way he did…a challenging thing for any parent ! I have been married for nearly 11 years and also feel like I continue to unlearn much of what I learned about sexuality in my youth. Thanks for your openness…I agree we could use more of it!

  • CB

    OK, put your glass down, although it kind of explains how this article came out. What’s so tough about just saying “personal holiness?” The Church’s divorce and unwed pregnancy rate parallels the unchurched society around us, so, clearly we transmit: “Houston, we have a problem.

    Our Churches won’t–or can’t–disciple. If they insist, people leave. If they try to hold American Christians accountable–they leave. And they find a more permissive congro who will accomodate whatever they want. This includes their sexual lives.

    Do women need to cover it up? You bet. Do guys need to change the channel on their thought life? Yup. The Word tells us so. And they need the Church to BE the Church, which, in Greek, means “called out,” as in not part of the system. Not wallowing it, winking at it, or compromising with it. This means folks will be alienated. I think we may as well belly up to that.

    Jesus told us to enter through the narrow gate–a word in Greek that implies a “narrowness under pressure.” Let’s go there, now. Because when real tribulation comes, I think we’ll see an unprecedented falling away…probably down to 10-15% of our current populations. I say, let’s prepare for that now, focusing on those who will take real discipling and use it as training for righteousness. Call sexually-inappropriate dress, behavior and thought life what it is: sin. Call them out. When they run away to pout and give in to rebellion against the Word, shake the dust off and work with those who will listen. Brother, it’s not cute.

    We don’t need more dialogue about it. Just hose it down with the Word and press on to what’s really important: Evangelizing and discipling–preparing the Body for what’s coming. And let the rebellious go their way.

    • ETHOSHIFT

      “Hose it down with the word”? How, specifically? The idea that “we don’t need more dialogue” is why I wrote this article in the first place.

      If my wife and I tried to face down our differences with stuff like “hosing it down with the word”, or when she brought up an issue with me and my response was simply, “you’re my wife, so we don’t have room for dialogue, this is just how it is…” – things would NOT end well.

      My encouragement in this piece is that the questions, struggles, and issues bubbling to the surface of the church today can’t simply be hosed down anymore. It’s time to open up the floor.

      • Jonathan Crum

        Thank you for actually replying to your post to clear things up!

      • CB

        Alright, since you asked…the term for “narrow gate” points to a narrowed entrance under pressure…like the nozzle of a fire hose or pressure washer. If we, as the Scripture teaches, live and move and have our being in Him, the Incarnate Word, then as we enter His Narrow Gate, we acquire vector and velocity in the Word–direction and force through motion. So we aim the Word at the issues that surround us, like this. In short, for those who claim Jesus as Lord, the duty of the local elders or bishops is to call them to account. If that’s the yoga pants thing, or the miles of cleavage, point them to the Word as their standard. Something I didn’t mention above was the entire Hindu aspects of yoga and how spiritually unhealthy linking ourselves to foreign gods is…but that’s a separate, albeit related, issue.

        The Word enjoins Christian women to “dress modestly” and, oh, then there’s the whole not leading our fam in Christ to areas where they can sin. I know it’s not hip to mention discipline these days, but it most certainly is Scriptural. The flip side of our nobility in Christ is the concept of noblesse oblige, or the duty of the nobility. And ours is to be doers (performers) of the Word, as St. James taught. Anyone who is serious about wearing Christ’s mark has that duty. But it’s just not convenient for our spoiled culture. Our task is to speak the Truth. The dialogue ensues when our flocks ask questions to grasp the meaning and apply it, not to dilute it.

        The compelling and somewhat inconvenient Truth of Scripture never teaches us to lean as far over the border between the righteous and sinful as possible, but to avoid even the appearance of sin. Have a dialogue about that, too.

        There’s just nothing new under the sun. The issues have always been the issues. And the problems are the same: flesh and Satan.

        The solution, consequently, remains the same: God’s unchanging, soul-transforming Word and the Spirit of Truth. If we’re in Christ, it’s His lordship first, then salvation and finally the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. The inside-out change. Not giving in to–or winking at–whatever suits us. Unless I misunderstand, you sure seem to be giving the nod to permissiveness. I take counterpoint to that.

        Please. No more permissiveness in the American Church…too spoiled already.

        We can’t go on with “greasy grace” and expect the undisciplined American Church to be ready for the tribulation that is most certainly coming. God needs us to have backbones, not wishbones. Call sin, sin. And call them out from it. That’s the only dialogue for the initiated and confirmed in the Church. Time for them to come out and be separate, not continue to flirt and wallow in the World. You really ought to hear how we’re percieved in the African Church. They can’t understand our pluralistic, soulish cafeteria approach to our Faith. But then, they face life-threatening tribulation, starvation, war, and incredible diseases, while we sit comfortably in the Land of the Free, and choose what part of our Faith we will extend ourselves to participate in. Our comfort is what makes us weak, my brother. Let’s not encourage that.

        So, let’s not make it easier for our cure of souls, but more challenging. The best coaches challenge. Let’s coach hard.

        We may have to agree to disagree. But I think the real Church may boil down to about 10 percent of its current size when things become difficult, unless we change the way we approach the issues of our time. We could learn a lot from our Eastern Orthodox brothers about parish discipline.

        Forgive me for running on so long about this. Not meant to be a personal attack, at all. Just heartbroken over our lack of singlemindedness.

        • N8

          CB – good stuff. Clear. Simple. Biblical. Rare in this world right now…thanks friend.

        • ETHOSHIFT

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

          While we tend to land in different places hermeneutically and homiletically speaking, I’ll simply add that I believe the church doesn’t operate in single-mindedness because we’ve made peripheral things the main things. I don’t believe God wrings his hands over whether we all agree 100% of the way on issues of sex…but I DO believe he’s created us to operate un Christ as the body.

          Again, the purpose of this piece was the draw out the idea that we DO indeed need more dialogue and interaction. That’s the only way the body can function. While some are quite settled in their perspectives (such as yourself), many are not.

          And while some believe only “10%” will hang tough when difficulty arises, I believe God is big enough to hang on to those who are unable to hang on to him (i.e., he is faithful even when we are faithless – 2 Tim 3).

          The article wasn’t about modesty as much as it was about how flippantly and matter-of-factly we treat something that’s not as cut and dry as some make it out to be. In fact, I wager that the reason the divorce and unwed pregnancy rates are so high within the church is because we are NOT talking openly and lovingly and honestly and forgivingly about sexuality.

          It’s not an open and closed issue. And, no matter how many proof texts are weilded to try and convince people “this is the way things should be”, it’ll simply never be that easy. Because people are broken. Grace doesn’t exist because we “get it”…grace exists because we don’t.

          • CB

            It actually is an “open and closed issue.”

            We’re either doers of the Word…or not. And the Church needs to call out the “called out.” In short, we need a backbone, not a wishbone. Call them to account, and if they won’t hear, press on to bring Good News to others who will. More open dialogue is this: if we willingly sin after receiving the knowlege of good and evil, there remains NO LONGER the sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. Continuing to live in sexual sin is just that. We do them all a disservice by winking at the sin, and making it cute, when it’s toxic, not only for those who continue in it, but for the Body around it.

            Jesus said it clearly: only a few enter through His Narrow Gate. We have to insist they listen about the way they’re living. Period.

            I can’t agree with taking it easy on the Elect. They know better. Let’s hold them accountable. The perception I get from your article is permissiveness and discussion instead of Scripture and accountability.

            I don’t intend this to sound affrontive, but I think the American Church has quite enough dialogue/information to make good decisions. As the presbyterate/episcopate, I think it’s high time to call them to account.

  • JL

    Really good article. As a mid 20’s guy who is trying to live as Jesus did, sex and sexuality is a difficult topic to discuss openly. I have been married for almost 5 years and, honestly, I’m not 100% open with my wife. Part of the issue is that sex has been so demonized (even in the context of marriage) that I’m hesitant to be completely open with her. The stereotypes are so strong that it makes honesty nearly impossible. For me to say, I need physical attraction, often sounds like sex without intimacy. ie- one night stand kind of stuff. Another issue is that its just hard to communicate with someone who you don’t understand 100% and they don’t understand you 100%. I think honesty is possible when a couple has the courage to put a voice to their need and the other partner has a willingness to accept that, even when they don’t understand.

  • Steven Leapley

    Matt, thank you for this article and thank you for inviting us to respond. I agree with you and to answer your question I think it comes down to one thing (in my opinion) mostly: Fear.

    Imagine Stan standing up in front of the church telling the congregation that he was an alcoholic or drug addict for 20 years and God delivered him..he is free from that temptation, in accountability and helping others overcome…. At the end of the service we all tell our little Sally to go give Stan a hug….

    Now imagine the same scenario but Stan’s addiction was sex and porn…. At the end of the service we tell Sally to stay away from him…

    Fear: we try to force every same-sex couple in america to believe that same sex relationships and marriage are bad and our country should not stand for that…..yet if the president said that the national religion of the US was gonna become Islam…evangelicals would stand up and say “freedom of religion.” So why do we do it…fear…..

    We fear that any talk about sex is gonna end up talking about something other than the missionary position..and somehow that is bad…..

    Abstinence is taught as a God thing….. we should teach it as abstinence.. teenagers dont listen to their parents.. so why should they listen to God..who is a father figure…

    If we approach sex talks as a normal conversation (as I did with my oldest) the ‘talk’ then becomes merely a longer more in depth conversation then something we dread… In the church if we talk about the reality of abstinence…..that the less partners you have when you get married..the purer the relationship is… My wife and I were not virgins when we got married,,, each of us (and most of the time subconsciously) came to sex with preconceived notions of what we thought the other would be satisfied with……. lets go with the more partners the greater chance of disease… lets open up and teach our boys how to respect a womens body and treat it as something God made for us and for each other…
    Ok, sorry for that, but I feel as you do (I believe)… Thanks again!
    Steven

  • Always Wondering

    Hmmmm, discussing sexuality has never been a huge deal in our church. In my 50s I have led discussions with middle schoolers, high schoolers, college age right up to my own age bracket. Sure there are the umcomfortable giggles at first with the younger crowd, but once things get rolling it is works ok. I agree with you that the guilt thing doesn’t work well. As a woman who does yoga and loves my pants, the modesty talks become silly. A girl I know was once chastised in church for sitting immodestly and trying to “allure” and a guy. They “guy” was twenty years older than her. Her response was “Yuck! No!!” They guy had one of those male egos . . . and what she was was simply tired.

    Both sexes are called to die to themselves and sacrifice for others, to love the way the cross of Christ taught us to love. If we hold other, especially our spouses, above us, then these things can be worked out under the guidence of the Holy Spirit more easily that some assume. See the first half of Ephesians 5.

  • allan

    As a man raised in the kind of youth ministry you joke about, with a wife I have been faithful too throughout our 22 years of marriage & two young adult daughters > I dislike your article. It sounds young, cool, relevant & hits all the buttons, however, it gives ZERO information and ZERO real solutions in a mad sex-driven world. REALITY: Men are visual and every flippin HONEST study shows a correlation between SIGHT & BEHAVIOR! So I DO NOT raise me glass to yoga pants… CHRISTians ought to dress modestly as the Word of GOD teaches.

    • ETHOSHIFT

      So…just to clarify. You’re saying it’s impossible for Christian men to control themselves until Christian women dress the way you think they should?

  • allan

    1 Timothy 2:9
    And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.

  • Ben

    Good morning Matt, i read your article, it is very interesting, I love an honest conversation,

    and here is where i get my head hand to me. so here we go, when the bible was written it was for that time, women at that time did not have any rights as a human or even less an image of God, just look at the middle east, how that religion treats there women as if they are nothing but for mating, we are living in an other era and a different climate. We have womens right and a constitution that protects us from one another, this is our laws and not the law of Paul and Peter times, yes there is mortal issue but this should come from and be guided by the Holy Spirit, we so called older generation are always telling others what they shouldn’t do. however we did that and much more in are old life. I know we are trying to protect our children as much as possible. your children and mine have the same dna and chemicals that have driving us. Am i saying do what you dame please, i am not, the sinners of this world have to know Jesus and be baptized in the holy Spirit He is the only one who can keep all of us from sin. the chicken littles of this world see every thing as dirty they are the onces who are so mortal they squeak when they walk. We talk about love, but whose love are we loving with, yours or the Lords, Jesus love is forgiving ours is judgmental. its the life and deat of Our Lord Jesus who does the saving and the protecting. Ben

  • Mar Komus

    To answer the big, bold question: several reasons. I’d have to say first, it is VERY personal–even when people try to reduce it to a mere act like eating, bathing, etc. Second, we’ve all failed to keep God’s perfect standard–which skates WAY too uncomfortably close to violation. That is to say that sex itself is a bonding experience. It was, from the beginning, THEE way that a man and woman were united as one–not a religious ceremony; no pomp and circumstance; no dresses or bridesmaids or priests or pastors. The old covenant didn’t even have a provision for a ceremony or a certificate of marriage. As a matter of fact, the only certificate related to marriage is the certificate of divorce, which Jesus said was only introduced because of the bad heart climate of the people. Related to sex is marriage. And adultery. And what constitutes adultery. And the fact that Jesus permitted divorce only in the case of sexual immorality (porneia–a VERY broad term!).

    There are MANY reasons why we’re uncomfortable with talking about sex. Probably the personal factor is the biggest reason. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to discuss my sex life with anyone, either. Then again, I don’t really have much of one (single, never married or “experienced”).

  • Kristy

    Purpose driven yoga pants? LOL. first let me state as a woman not every woman that wears yoga pants wants to attract a man. And another point not every woman wearing yoga pants is attractive. With that being said, only God knows the motives of the hot lady in the yoga pants. And yes I can talk like this because I am a woman. Just because a woman dresses hot and seeks attention does not neccessarily mean that is an invitation for sex. For admiring looks maybe but not sex. Yes women make bad decisions about dress. And “no” many women are not thinking nor caring about what the bible says in regards to “modesty” unfortunately that is true even in Christian circles of christian women. And “yes” women who dress like this are a stumbling block to men, but that never justifies lust or rape or anything else a man might feel “entitled” to do to a sexy woman. My point is both are wrong in their behavior. I agree with one of the following commentors. According to scripture it is a “cut and dry matter” Where Christians feel the conflict is on the inside when the apostle Paul spoke on the inner conflicts between a person’s flesh and their “spirit” . When the Lord showed me this SCRIPTURE I could then understand the difference between my flesh nature and my “Spirit MAN” wanting to be obedient to the word of God. The reality is Matt that many of these women you are seeing that are immodest are not saved, have no KNOWLEDGE of the scripture and don’t care. And the Christian women that are doing it when they know it is wrong have a need to be noticed because they are not getting noticed by their spouse and ulitimately need to get their identity from Christ and not even from their spouse. And “YES” God can GRACE you to endure many different kinds of seasons and circumstances in marriage. Like the vows state for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. The problem “today” is that we have been taught to put ourselves on the throne and not sacrifice in marriage and weather the seasons of good and bad, sickness and health, etc. We have been taught that we have to have what we want no matter what and that if we don’t get it then we are justified in adultery, divorce, etc.

  • Kristy

    Galations 5:16-18

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