Modesty Survey no image

Published on April 25th, 2007 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Joshua Harris On The Modesty Survey's Modesty Survey: RevisitedHow should a godly young person respond to The Modesty Survey? That’s a huge question — one that Alex and I have been striving to answer for the past three to four months. Leave it to our older brother, Joshua, best-selling author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl, to succinctly and powerfully answer that question — turning our eyes away from ourselves and to Christ.

Joshua Harris’s Take On The Modesty Survey

My brothers, Alex and Brett have accomplished something very unique with The Modesty Survey. In an appropriate and tactful way they’ve facilitated a conversation between men and women on a most delicate issue: modesty in dress. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think of it when I first saw it. Some of the statements on the survey struck me as really funny, even odd. I kept waiting for a statement like, “It’s a stumbling block for a girl to be pretty” — 95% of men agree!

But this is where it’s really important to understand the concept. Alex and Brett are not editing the real questions of girls or the real opinions of guys — they’re just giving them to you straight without commentary. So you may or may not be able to relate to the statements made or the majority opinions in response to certain statements. That’s okay. Alex and Brett aren’t telling you what to think. But they are asking you to think for yourself and prayerfully consider before God how your life and actions effect other people around you. And that’s what a thoughtful perusal of The Modesty Survey should lead you to do — evaluate your own heart and life.

I wish we didn’t need this survey. I wish that fathers and brothers in local churches could serve their daughters and sisters and that each home could provide loving direction on its own. But obviously that’s not possible for everyone. And for those who lack that kind of godly counsel and input this Survey is a useful tool.

As you review it, don’t forget to pray for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Ask that God would help others around the world to honor Him and love each other sincerely. And remember that ultimately the most important survey is the Survey of One — what God thinks of your heart, motivations and actions. I pray that this survey will remind you that regardless of what others think, pleasing Him in all you do is your highest priority.

– Joshua Harris –

Read: From Alex and Brett / From Fred Stoeker / From Joshua Harris

About the Author

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.

  • Mercy Joy

    Very good! That hopefully will help clear some of teh problems people have with it. Thank you!

  • Amen.

  • Rochelle

    My thoughts exactly!!

    Thanks again for the survey; it was really helpful and made me realize just how easy it is to be the stumbling block to our brothers!

    ~Your Sis in Him

  • Mariah

    Wow, this is great. Like Marcy Joy, I hope that this will clear up some of the problems.
    I loved the survey. I also like this artical. Thanks for writing it.

  • Annaka

    I really applaud you guys (Alex and Brett) for doing this! I keep you in my prayers.


    ( P.S. I just wanted to put in a little note that a really appreciate you for writing the books that you have Joshua! May God richly bless you for it!! )

  • At first I was a little wary of the survey…I knew there would be issues. But then I came to the realization that, just like Joshua pointed out, there are Christian girls out there that do not live in Godly homes or have Godly examples in their lives.

    What if you biggest role model for this kind of thing, your mother, dressed immodestly all your life, and you didn’t have any one else to look up to? What if the all men you were surrounded by thought better of you because you dressed immodestly? You would have no idea were to start or stand.

  • Jordan Diann

    I grinned when I saw in my email box “Joshua Harris On the Modesty Survey” because I have always loved your brother’s words, thoughts and the way he expresses them. I could not agree with him more! None of us is perfect, neither male nor female and we are here to help each other in this race to the Kingdom. We are here on earth, among other things, to bring glory to God! If men and women, boys and girls can help each other in the high calling, then why shut them down?

    Thanks Guys! May God bless you always!
    Your Sister in Christ,

  • Fathers and brothers do need to give direction!!!! Godly men need to rise up!!!!Who will call out the men?

  • Joshua’s insight is both a welcomed and insightful presentation of what this survey was for. Thanks for this posting!

  • Brie Campbell

    Hey—this website is so helpful when I’m not sure whether something is modest or not—Thank you for helping me to not be a stumbling block to my brothers in Christ at my church or where ever I am! It’s great to hear what GUYS think about the way we dress—girls don’t care as much—Thanks again!!

    Your Sister in Christ!

  • Bethany

    Hey, I just want to say that it is so awsome that you guys are stepping up to the plate in this area. As young women it is so hard to remain modest and pure. Sometimes there is only condemnation waiting for us when we remain virtuous. Thanks for the encouragement! ~Bethany~

  • Andy D

    Modesty is a topic with a history of long debate. A friend of mine just sent me a link to a blog entry of a guy pleading for mercy from the girls. I’d never heard of this blog before, and have no idea who the author is, but found it interesting nonetheless:
    Yes, this blog entry doesn’t add anything new to the debate, but it does a good job of recapping where Christian men often find themselves. I encourage you to read it.

  • AgapeAddict

    Wow! I just found this! Finally someone says what needs to be said! My brother struggles with impure thoughts all of the time, and I just thought it was all in his sin-filled head. Now I realize it is in my sin-filled body, too. If it takes borrowing a cue from the Moslems (as deluded as they are), I think girls should at least adopt the headscarf, and maybe even the thing that looks like a showercurtain that only shows your eyes. I want to save my brother, and I want to save myself, because I’m saving ALL of my Luv4Jesus!

    1Cross+3Nails=4Given :-)

  • AgapeAddict: The problem is not a sin-filled head or a sin-filled body, but a sin-filled heart. Both men and women can be selfish or lazy, wanting the other gender to change so they don’t have to. There are ditches on both sides of the road. Women can want men to completely stifle their sexuality so they don’t have to control their wardrobe. That’s wrong. But men can want women to completely hide their figure so they don’t have to control their thoughts. That’s also wrong.

    With that said, I’m not sure your jesting deserved a serious response. 😉

  • AgapeAddict

    Actually, my post wasn’t really in jest. It was an apagogical argument, and a pretty sophisticated one, if I do say so 😉 I started with the premise, “women should cover their bodies to help men keep impure thoughts under control”. This premise assumes: 1. the female form in and of itself is arousing; 2. men responding to the visual stimulus are having impure thoughts; 3. women have the responsibility/ability to control men’s thoughts. Thus, the conclusion “we should adopt Islamic styles of modesty dress for women”, while admitedly extreme, is the logical endpoint of the “modesty survey” premise, since these forms of attire cover the entire female form expressly to thwart male impure thoughts. Your own survey proves men may be stimulated by virtually any body part- so covering them all is the best support of the original premise. Thus, the Law of Non Contradiction would state that either the premise is true, and by extention, Islamic modesty dress is an appropriate choice for women, or the premise is false.

    I obviously argue for the latter. 1. The female form, while a contributor to arousal, is not always the sole factor, nor is it even a necessary factor in male arousal; 2.not all response to visual stimulation is impure (It is normal and good for males to have a sexual response to some stimuli- it’s part of what allows for pair-bonding and the perpetuation of the species); 3. women have neither the responsibility nor the ability to control men’s thoughts.

    On a secondary note, the inclusion of the incest reference in my post serves to reinforce the Law of the Excluded Middle- either immodesty is the cause of impure thoughts (brother is aroused by sister), or not (some other pathology is at work behind brother’s taboo response to sister). I, of course, am arguing that under no circumstance could sister’s mode of dress be responsible for brother’s response. Incest is an extreme impure thought, but what holds true for the extreme should also hold true for the less extreme.

    Covering women is not the answer to the problem. Love- radical, nonjudgemental, and forgiving- that’s the answer (hence “AgapeAddict”). Men need to love themselves enough to accept, understand, and positively direct their sexual urges. Men need to love women enough to refrain from objectifying or scapegoating them. Women need to love themselves enough to believe they have more than just sex appeal to offer. Women need to love men enough to expect more than just a sexual response, and put the lie to the old chestnut “boys will be boys.”

    Or- it’s no coincidence Jesus didn’t call for new rules for feminine modesty, but rather, universal love.

  • To be honest, I’m not really sure what there is to discuss. We agree with all three of the premises you listed. It is true that the female form, while a contributor to arousal, is not always the sole factor, nor in some cases even a necessary factor in male arousal. It is also true that not all response to visual stimulation is impure. God made men and (to a lesser extent) women to respond sexually to visual stimuli. That natural reaction, in itself, is not wrong. Finally, it is true that women have neither the responsibility nor the ability to control men’s thoughts. A man is wholly responsible for his own thoughts and actions and will stand before God to give an account for them. The immature “she was dressed immodestly” or the foolish “boys will be boys” excuse are just that: immature and foolish.

    Understanding the (great) extent of our agreement, I must ask you to discontinue arguing. If you have further thoughts you would like to share with my brother and me, I encourage you to email us. As it stands, your two comments have been almost entirely unrelated to the purpose and message of the post and seem to demonstrate that you have not actually read much of what we have already written explaining the Survey and our position on the issues of modesty, love, and responsibility.

    Thanks for understanding. God bless!

  • Modesty is so important. It makes me so sad to Christian girls looking just like everyone else. Thank you so much for bringing that up! GOD bless you all!

  • Alyssa Lehman

    I would like to make an observation that some of you may not have thought of. I think it’s great that so many guys joined in the modesty survey and signed the petition. But I have to confess, I’m still cynical. Guys’ actions speak louder than words. And I see guys–not just the rebellious ones–going for immodest, flirtatious girls. What am I supposed to think? I know they would tell me that they would support my decision to dress modestly, but then why are they dating girls who are very immodest? I know I don’t fully realize the power a girl holds over a guy, but I think something is wrong here.

  • Alyssa: You are absolutely right. Signing a petition isn’t enough. You should read what Fred Stoeker (best-selling author of Every Man’s Battle series) had to say to challenge the guys who participated in The Modesty Survey. =)

  • Robin

    Thank you, dear brothers, for your humility and honesty. As a young lady seeking to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respecets”(Col. 1) , my heart rejoices to see a turning away from immodesty toward purity and holiness. Young ladies do have a responsibility to love our brothers in such a way that we examine extensively our own hearts( Psalm 139:23-24, Matt. 12:35, 1st Chron. 29:17a) and strive to present ourselves blameless and pure, exemplifying the characteristics of 1st Peter 3:3-4 and 1st Timothy 2:9-10 in our actions, attitudes, and dress. To look inside ourselves as we gaze into the mirror of God’s word, ready and willing to learn, repent, and submit, praying for more grace that we might glorify God and live in a way pleasing to him is seemingly the most crucial point upon which our wardrobe is formed, as well as every area of our lives. Thank you for reminding us of this truth. May God richly bless you as you seek to dwell in the deepest recesses of Him.

  • Kirsten Gruber

    AgappeAddict– While your zeal to see female modesty happen in our culture is good, it seems that there are a couple things you may have mistakenly failed to think about:
    It is not ALWAYS the woman’s fault when a man stumbles and looks on impurely. We can try to cover up as much as humanly possible, and some men would still lustfully look like that. That is not our faults. Just like if we dress modestly and someone still looks at us like that. However, if the woman dresses in a way that is immodest and scanty, it is both the woman and the man’s fault (the woman’s for encouraging the lust; and the man’s for not looking away).

    And secondly, I feel you are using logic incorrectly. You are using it in a way that you define your own terms. The goal of logic is to learn the art and science of reasoning well. This cannot be done if you are using your own terms and manipulating them to fit your opinions (such would be described as persuasive definitions, would they not?). True, the Law of Non Contradiction is two statements can’t be true and false a the same time. True, the law of Excluded Middle means it is only true or false (no grey areas). But your premise of “That is the modesty survey’s logical endpoint [for women to dress islamic style].” But the fact is: THAT IS NOT THE LOGICAL ENDPOINT. The logical endpoint is for women to dress modestly. Your error in logic cause you to come to a different conclusion. You’re assuming that the definition of modestly is to “dress islamic style.” But the definition is to dress in a way pleasing to God. Is it not? Thus the correct conclusion is to dress in a way pleasing to God. And that is exactly what the modesty survey was about.

    I am sorry if that may have felt like a slap in the face. It is nice to know someone else likes logic, but logic is only useful if it is used to come to the correct conclusion. Thank you!
    In His Service,
    ~Kirsten A. Gruber

  • Hannah

    I also, like Alyssa, hate to see that alot of times guys go for the girls who are very flirty, and dress in a way that has the same meaning. while you want guys to like you, you don’t want to become like that, but it’s hard to get the response you naturaly want to get from guys (for them to like, and pay attention to you) and yet, not be immodest or impure just to get guys attention. in the end it should be, that the guy that god planned for you, would love you for who you are and not what you dress like or look like.
    because, what you want all along, is probably for a guy to like you and for it to be “real”.
    i think that, if you dress immodestly and act in a way, just to get guys attention, it would be easier for it not be real, and just something that came because of the way you were dressing and acting, and be something that wouldn’t last.

  • Anonymous

    i agree with Kirsten, It is nice to see the desire to want females to dress more modestly, but, AgapeAddict, I hate it when men say that it’s all the woman’s fault. In this modern day world, it is VERY HARD to dress modest….(note: i didn’t say impossible..just hard) even just the normal t-shirts are usually very tight. The men are at just as much fault. While 95% of the modesty issue is pointed at the females, men can dress immodestly too. Take for example, shirts that are too tight to show off the muscles underneath, or pants that ride low. I wonder if some people realize that just as the females body can arouse a man and cause him to stumble, a man’s body can do the same for a woman. So, yes, women need to put more effort in dressing modestly…but so does men!!!

  • Lora

    Amen!The Modesty Survey has been a big blessing in my life.Keep ur the good work!!!

  • Tierney

    Hey! The Modesty Survey is a huge blessing to me. I’ve been struggling with accepting my appearance and withstanding the pressures of immodesty. Reading the results of the survey cheers me up and helps me realize how important it is to persevere in my struggle to stay pure and modest to uphold God’s will.
    (I’m not saying I’m trying to be perfect, cause we all know only God is perfect, I’m just saying I want to be a good strong Christian who shines with God’s love and character through my attitude and my modesty ^_^) Thanks again, Alex and Brett!

  • Kelley

    Hello. I was wondering for how young you would recommend this website for. For instance I would NOT want my kid brother (who’s 11) to read all the parts on The Rebelution. I am 13 and reletively new to the Rebelution way of thinking.

    I am a Christian and was recommended your book by a Christian friend.

    Anyway, how young would you approximately say is the limit for this site,

    Thanks, Kelley

  • Kara

    Hi Kelley,
    I’m no expert and I’m not sure what Alex or Brett would say, but this is mainly a site for teens. Obviously, there are some things that could apply to younger/older people, but most of it applies to teens, so 13 and up would be a good guess.
    That was a reasonable question/concern. I hope that you can find a lot you use on this site.

    God bless!

  • great work :)


  • it was very helpful :) :) :) :)


  • Mallory F

    Thanks you so much for the modesty survey. Modesty has never been an issue for me but the survey is nice for getting the guys perspective, as well as reminding me to always be careful about my clothing. The modesty survey is also an encouraging reminder that guys do notice when a girl dresses modestly. That in a culture where half-naked barbie girls are glorified there are many guys out there who care about our character, about our minds more than your bodys. Who want to protect and respect us. Who want us to save ourselves for our husbands. That’s very nice to know. Thanks again.

  • lorraine

    hey joshua i READ UR BOOK AND LOVED IT!!!!!!!!! both of them r works of art plez write some more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Candice Ford

    Hey! Thank you sooo much for the modesty survey!It is very helpful except that I couldn’t find a answer on what is appropriate to wear. So if you have any answers they would be greatly appriciated! Thanks.

    • CassidyVance

      Well, the facts with the modesty survey is that there is nothing that absolutely everyone will give and ok, so you’re probably pretty safe just to dress the way the majority of the guys say is ok.

  • Mo

    Brett and Alex,

    Thank you for adding the modesty survey to your blog! I first found out about the survey in “Do Hard Things”, and I found it to be very helpful. Yes, outward modesty is hard, especially when just about every store that sells clothing caters to immodesty, but this survey gave me peace of mind that I’m doing all right. Even more so when I asked the opinions of my best guy-friend on simmilar issues. Some things surprised me, like when applying lipgloss was a stumbling block for some, but a face full of make-up was not. (?)

    It’s nice to have something to look at as a quick reference, not just the basic “dress to look GOOD” policy that tempts people into immodesty. After all, when even Christian guys tend to seek immodest women, the road gets rough. Rough, but do-able.

    Thank You,
    Your Little Sister in Christ

  • Valerie

    Just don’t wear anything that is too revealing,too short, too low. The sad thing is that the so called conservative asians in my country are starting to dress immodestly:(

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  • liz

    Wow! This survey really opened my eyes! I had no idea how much guys are affected by immodesty. Sadly, I now have to throw away the swimsuit I just bought, but Id rather that than an uneasy conciense :)

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  • Tessa

    Please bring back the survey! I realize it’s controversial, but it is so helpful! Thank you.

  • Girl

    What happend to the survey? I fall out of my modesty standards sometimes and need to remember why I dress modestly- right now I am feeling iffy about part of my outfit, and I wanted to read the modesty survey responses for the particular article of clothing I’m having issues with- if the survey has been taken down, please put it back up, not every girl can ask her brother or dad (I don’t have a bro, and my dad isn’t comfortable talking about my clothes with me). Why was it removed, if I can ask? What’s the point of doing hard things if you hide them away when people’s feathers get ruffled? I don’t mean to be rude (and I could be totally wrong- maybe I just can’t find it, or maybe you took it down for a ligit reason) but the survey has just been so helpful to me.

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  • Jessica

    Where did the survey go? It was SO helpful and I would love to continue to share it with my fellow sisters in Christ!

  • CassidyVance

    Please bring back the survey–I have no one to ask for clothing advice except other girls, and most of their advice is just “that’s cute”, which really doesn’t help. The modesty survey never struck me as legalistic or insulting, but very practical and helpful. Please put it back up!

  • I agree, please could you bring it back.

  • Becca

    That survey changed my life! It has helped me in so many ways. If it taught me anything, it taught me that my body is more powerful than I ever imagined and I’m so honored to be a women. I want to protect that power! Please please please put the survey back. I would love to share with my girl friends to help them as well.


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