Girls, we can’t wear anything we want. God’s words says that if we love him, we will obey him and he wants us to wear certain things and not others. And HE...not the guy...is the ultimate reason we live modestly. I realize that all too many books on modesty & purity risk suggesting that if you’re just a good Christian girl who wears her chastity belt and a silver ring on her left index finger, your prince charming will come. Without even realizing it, you might make a deal with God: I’ll give my heart to You, and You send a husband my was. But RESPECT FOR GOD, not a guy is the goal. The point of modesty and purity is not to showcase yourself for a godly guy, but to showcase GOD to the world!
The feminine modesty texts are about sexual allurement and direct a woman to demonstrate self-control and respect in the way she presents herself. But does this mean men are off the hook? And am I saying that if women dress modestly, men will not lust. Girls, it's great if you read this, but today I want to talk to guys. And moms of guys. And girlfriends of guys. And sisters of guys. And any woman that can influence one. If any guys happen to be reading this I should probably start with this: don’t dress like the Abercrombie guy and for the love of all things decent pull your pants up over your boxers! (Imagine deafening eruptions of cheers from the women reading this!) But that's not what I really want or need to communicate today. Because it’s not what God’s word instructs me to say. Here's what I really have to say, guys: your lust is your responsibility. Period.
Is Christian culture sometimes formed more by secular lines of thinking than by biblical truth. Third wave feminism has posited the thought that teaching purity and modesty is a form of misogyny BECAUSE it is largely directed at women. They have even gone on the record that teaching modesty promotes rape culture. Does teaching modesty promote “rape culture”? A better question to begin with is this: does “rape culture” even exist? Last year, a TIME Magazine article declared that it was “Time To End Rape Culture Hysteria.” Writer Caroline Kitchens championed the report of the nations leading anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN, which rebuked the overemphasis on the concept of “rape culture” as a means of preventing rape, citing that 90% of rapes on college campuses are committed by 3% of the male population. RAINN argues that rape is the product of individuals who have decided to disregard the overwhelming cultural messages that rape is wrong. The fact is rape crime is on the decline. The National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that rape occurrence in the 1980’s was 2.4 per 1000 people. Now it is .4 per 1000. Even RAINN reports that sexual assault has fallen by more than 50% in recent years. That makes it no less vile, but it does mean we aren’t living in a rape culture. The “modesty promotes rape culture” idea is a feminist dogma. It is scripture that should be informing the Christian conversation on sexuality, modesty, purity, and sex crimes; not the leading voices of third wave feminism.
Respect is at the heart of God's intention for sexual expression. Lean in while I unveil to you one of the best-kept secrets in the Bible: a single word. The Hebrew word for sex. The Old Testament uses the word yada for sex. It means "to know, to be known, to be deeply respected." God's very definition of sex transcends the physical act and emphasizes emotional knowing and an exchange of respect. Respect of others, and even of ourselves, requires self-control. This is one, though not the only reason, that our sexual lives must be characterized by self-control. Morality aside, sex thrives in an atmosphere of control and respect. A study referenced in Sex in America found those having both the hottest and most frequent sex were not college co-eds with a variety of sexual partners but middle-aged people who embraced mutual lifetime monogamy out of respect for themselves and their partners. Another study concluded having more partners in their lifetime actually predicted less sexual satisfaction for men. Sexual self-control makes sense for both moral and practical reasons. You wanna have a great sex life? It’s got to begin with self-control.
"I’m just not seeing the message of grace presented in these purity and modesty movements," a woman recently wrote to me. "Why did Jesus die on the cross? We are righteous because of Jesus, not because of our works. ... I am all about ...waiting to have sex until marriage and using common sense in dressing in a manner that is respectful to yourself and those around you. But these are conversations that play such a minor role in the fabric of our lives. The Gospel is about Jesus and God’s grace, it’s not about purity." Her inquiry is deserving of consideration. Frankly, I was deeply troubled by it and wanted to right myself if I've been wrong. My heart pondered this question: "Is the way I teach modesty and purity—or the way you teach it or live it out— in contradiction to the powerful grace of God?" After a lot of prayer and study, I have an answer. Let me start with the ugly part...
"Get your rosaries out of our ovaries," chanted a group of topless feminists as they sexually assaulted and spray painted Catholic men who were peacefully praying outside of a cathedral in Argentina. When I first heard about it, I thought "Yeah, right! The religious right has found another story to exaggerate, dividing the lost from the saving grace of our Lord." Then, I saw the video footage. Before I show it to you, I want to carefully navigate through another sexual myth because I believe the video footage is the logical conclusion if we allow this myth to become rooted. Myth #3: Teaching Modesty Promotes Rape Culture.
In the past thirty days, CBS has issued a modesty code for celebs attending the Grammy's while Christian websites and blogs have decried the modesty movement. Has the world been turned upside down? I encourage you to look at this very graphic visual showcase of just what caused CBS to become so "conservative." If a picture paints a thousand words, these five might paint a few million! The Daily News' pictures of Lil' Kim, Pink, J-Lo, and Toni Braxton are all the reason we need to speak of modesty to our daughters. (In an ironic twist, Lady Gaga is the most modest of them all in this photo review of breasts, bellies, and buttocks.) Meanwhile, some Christians are saying out loud that the modesty movement might be harmful to women. I'm reading what they have written and seeking God's heart so that I can learn from them. In fact, I'm even fine-tuning the language at my Secret Keeper Girl website to reflect some thoughts in their critique. (I so appreciate the good thinking of writer's like Jonathan Merritt who walks the fine line of embracing truth and demanding grace. He is posing questions, not casting undue and untruthful criticism.) My heart is aching at some of the things I'm reading from other writers: "Dannah Gresh's "Secret Keepers" is teaching girls to hate & be ashamed of their bodies. Absolutely deplorable, esp under the 'good xian' guise." Since my name keeps popping up, may I speak in to this?