Articles male_modesty_1

Published on June 22nd, 2013 | by Brett Harris

The Other Side of Modesty


It’s that time of year when the Internet explodes with articles and videos intending to stem the tide of Christian girls headed to the beach or pool wearing “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikinis.”

Of course, many of these resources are valuable. Some of them even offer new insights into the modesty discussion — but even the best of them miss about half the population, and by “half-the-population” I mean the half that wears low-rise swim trunks to the pool. That’s right, I’m talking about men.

Now in previous years this omission might have been lost on me. But I’ve received enough emails from frustrated girls to make me take this double standard seriously: Christian guys expect girls to be modest, but hardly give a second though to their own modesty.

This is strange. Women may be shedding clothes this time of year, but so are men. Why are we only talking about female modesty? If modesty is important then it is important for all Christians. If it isn’t important for men, then why all the fuss about women? If it is important for women, why the silence about men?

Is it because guys can’t be immodest?

Nope. I’m pretty sure the existence of speedos rules out that possibility.

Is it because girls don’t struggle with physical lust?

Nope. Pretty sure Potiphar’s wife wasn’t the last woman to “cast her eyes” on a guy and lust after his “handsome form and appearance” (Gen. 39:6-7).

But by our silence we send the message that modesty is a female issue and lust is a male issue. Guys sit around the pool wearing low-rise trunks and tanning their abs and pecs while wishing the girls would cover up. And girls are left wondering what people will think if they admit to struggling with lust.

I have to confess, I wasn’t modest in college. I got into working out my freshman year and enjoyed showing off the fruits of my labor. My Christian school had a dress code that didn’t allow guys to walk around shirtless, but I probably pushed the limits of what was permissible. It wasn’t always conscious, but I wanted people to see my arms. I wanted my shirts tight enough to show my muscles. I wanted people to see my shape. The only difference between me and the immodest girls on campus was that I had a male shape and they had a female shape.

So what was going on? I felt fit and confident in my body and wanted to show it off. This is exactly what my sisters in Christ have been carefully instructed not to do. So was I doing something wrong? If I’m going to be consistent, yes I was.

But no one ever said a word to me about modesty.

Here’s the conclusion I’ve been forced to make: If girls should be modest, so should guys. If girls should ask their fathers and brothers for input, guys should ask their mothers and sisters. If girls should consider their brothers in Christ, guys should consider their sisters in Christ.

When we apply modesty standards across the board it does two things:

  • First, it transforms modesty from something women do for men into something people do for others. This is far healthier.
  • Second, it puts men on the receiving end of the modesty conversation, which will undoubtedly humble us and make us more considerate.

When I think about my clothing choices in college it simultaneously convicts me of immodesty and helps me understand the struggle girls face trying to be modest. I wasn’t trying to be inappropriate. I just wanted to look good. I was single. I wanted to be attractive to girls and I wanted to be affirmed by other guys. For me to be modest I would have needed to wear looser shirts that I didn’t think looked as good on me. That would have been tough. And making that tough decision would have made me much more appreciative and considerate of my sisters in Christ.

Now, if I’ve learned anything from the original Modesty Survey it’s that these discussions can be dangerous. For one thing, talking about modesty and lust in the same article can imply that immodesty causes lust, which is a destructive lie. No man (or woman) was ever forced to lust by another person’s outfit. For another, allowing men or women to give feedback to the opposite sex makes it look like our modesty is for each other. It’s not. It’s for God. Input from the opposite sex just helps.

The goal of modesty (and my goal in starting this conversation) is to honor God with our bodies, not because they are dirty or shameful, but because they are glorious and holy. To paraphrase Jessica Rey, modesty is not about covering up what’s bad, but about revealing dignity.

When summer rolls around, both men and women should stop and think about what they put on or take off. Both men and women should ask themselves if their wardrobes reflect good taste, respect for their bodies, and humility of heart. Both men and women should remember that they were bought with a price, that they are set apart as God’s children, and must honor Him with their bodies.

So ladies, here’s what I want to know:

  • What ways of dressing and behaving are immodest for men?
  • What do Christian guys do that is as unhelpful and inconsiderate of ladies, as it is for Christian women to prance around in skimpy swimsuits?
  • Where else have men “missed it” on modesty? Are there other double-standards you’ve recognized?

My hope is that by expanding the modesty discussion to both men and women we increase true modesty and eliminate double-standards.


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About the Author

is a loving husband to Ana, a devoted follower of Christ, and co-founder of The Rebelution with his twin brother, Alex. When he isn't writing or blogging he can be found reading, playing basketball, or being an all-around goof ball.



  • Libby

    To answer one of the questions you asked Brett. I think most girls don’t like when guys wear their pants too low; when you can see their underwear. I don’t why guys do that. But most girls think it immodest and kind of gross.

    • Hannah McIntosh

      I agree–it is gross.

  • http://mypieceoftheplanet.wordpress.com/ Sadie Grace

    Answering your third question: one way I think men can miss it on modesty is the way they treat women. If they treat them like another guy it can cause the woman to want to react like another guy and act rougher and more manly like. A lot of women are naturally sporty,strong and confident and there is nothing wrong with that (as long as THEY stay modest) but women always want to be treated with respect. I think some men just need to be more careful about how they “play around” with woman. Woman notice a difference in the ones who treat them like a woman and the ones who get treat them like another guy.

  • teensgotcents2

    “Now, if I’ve learned anything from the original Modesty Survey it’s that these discussions can be dangerous. For one thing, talking about modesty and lust in the same article can imply that immodestycauses lust, which is a destructive lie.” ~~ Thanks for pointing this out. This is a lie that has brought needless shame to young women and seems to be the basis for many of the modesty articles floating around out there.

    • baby76bear

      Modesty may not cause lust but it certainly does fuel it, and for guys OR GIRLS who struggle with lust, immodesty is a HUGE stumbling block. Let’s face reality here, even if a young person is home schooled, goes to a ultra-conservative church and doesn’t own a TV or a computer, even going to & from church can be tempting with some of the Very Indecent billboards that can be found all over the place. In addition, simply going to the grocery or convenience store is an assault on the eyes. It’s hard to miss the scantily clad people on the tabloids & magazines.
      The Reformers Unanimous program uses 10 principles. Principle #10 specifically addresses shame/guilt. “God balances guilt with blame. Accept the blame for your actions and God will remove the guilt.”
      Once we’ve accepted responsibility for our actions & repented, we can KNOW that shame is one of Satan’s tools, NOT God’s!
      For those who seem to think that they have No Responsibility in dressing immodestly and causing others to lust, I’d urge consideration of Matthew 5:28. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
      In a recent “morelikemomma.com” article the author noted that we wouldn’t commit adultery with the grandpa on the street or the teen boy who bags our groceries, but even many Christian women have no problem dressing in a way that INVITES them to go there with us in their minds. Food for thought.
      http://morelikemomma.com/2013/06/14/can-you-be-a-lady-without-being-modest/

  • Lydia A.

    This is probably the most balanced piece I’ve read on modesty for guys (and in general, as you touched on the real purpose of glorifying God through our appearance, and I loved that). Thank you so much.

    The thing that bothers me most, as far as immodesty for guys goes (though I don’t see it as an enormous issue necessarily), is not when boxers are showing but when too much skin is, at the top of pants. Whether it’s with jeans, a swimsuit, or whatever, I don’t like seeing the contours of a guy’s waist leading into the pelvic area, when that leaves so little up to the imagination. I don’t want to be harsh, or awkward, but I know that can be a major stumbling block for many girls.

    And the only thing that comes to mind that feels like a double standard to me, is that it kinda stinks when it’s super hot out and guys can just whip off their shirts like it’s no big deal. Any kind of undressing would be immodest for girls, so I don’t understand why guys don’t think twice before walking around shirtless (I don’t mean for swimming, as it doesn’t really offend me in that setting).

    • Sadie Clements

      I also remember a period of time in our area where it was a popular thing with boys to wear one side of their pants sloping below the hip, whether it sloped in the front or on the side. Where I didn’t struggle with this, I found it immodest and unappealing; I also feel the same when it comes to the jeans that have rips all the way up to the thighs. In the part of the pant legs below the knees, I don’t find it distracting; higher, though, I have found it is.

  • Hannah

    I am so glad someone has finally written about this.

  • Melody Grace Hanna

    As a girl, I think there is nothing wrong with a guy exposing the fact that he has muscles in his upper body: they’re just muscles. If I see a guy shirtless, yes, I will probably enjoy it, but I won’t lust after him. I do agree though that showing boxers is annoying and immodest. Also, if a guy is shirtless and his bottoms are very low-rise, that can be immodest. I have 3 older brothers and see them shirtless all the time though, so maybe it’s different for girls who never see that.

    • Alyssa Stephens

      I agree with you, Melody. It doesn’t bother me seeing guys shirtless (I also have 3 brothers), but it does bother me when I can see boxers or when their pants are too low rise.
      Thanks for sharing this with us, Brett!

    • Sadie Clements

      I would argue the fact that enjoying seeing a man shirtless makes me feel like I’m sinning. Just because you don’t instantly think of having sex doesn’t mean you’re not still sinfully admiring–and coveting–another’s body.

      • Elise Helton

        Are we not God’s creation? God is glorified when we admire the beauty in his creation. So just as we enjoy seeing a beautiful sunset or a newly opened rose in nature, just so we can enjoy seeing an attractive person. We can appreciate their attractiveness as God’s creation. Just as we can admire someone for their talent without envying, just so we can appreciate someone’s attractiveness without lusting.

        • Melody Grace Hanna

          Exactly Elise! There is a difference between enjoyment and lust. Seeing guys shirtless does not cause me to lust.

          • Miles

            Thank you both haha. Something I think a lot of people are missing is the fact that guys and girls are built different. I don’t go around shirtless all the time, but I’m not to start excessively covering up either. I’m not going to start wearing shirts while I’m at the pool or water park. The thing to remember with these discussions is that a lot of what is being shared is merely one person’s opinion. God didn’t exactly say not to go shirtless.

          • Heather Nichole Russell

            Well, he covered Adam and Eve from the shoulder to the knees when all they did was cover their “private parts.” I think that says pretty clearly not to go shirtless!

          • Miles

            You’re making an assumption that is not stated anywhere.

            A) You assume that he covered them from shoulder to knees, but the Bible does not say how much was covered. How do we know it wasn’t head to toes. All the Bible says is “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them”-Genesis 3:21 (verse varies by translation).

            B. You assume that by God covering them that he meant for that to be a command of “Thou shalt not go shirtless, because it defrauds thy sister”.

            In Christ,
            Miles

          • Heather Nichole Russell

            It is not an assumption. Do some study into the Hebrew word used for coat. Also, if he did not have a problem with Adam being shirtless, why did he feel the need to put more clothes on him? Not an assumption, a logical deduction.

          • Jenna Kristine

            No, it’s an awful deduction. How about this: he covered them well as a blessing as he sent them into a painful world with potentially harsh elements. It at least sounds like a more logical deduction than that it was an unspoken command for the rest of humanity for men to never be shirtless.

          • Courtney Blue

            God gave Adam and Eve animal skins. they covered them from the shoulders to the knees. Even if the Bible did not state that you must wear a shirt, think about how you could be hurting your sisters in Christ. This is a huge problem for me and I wish all guys would give us the same respect as we try to give them. Another thing to think about is how you look to ladies when you ask them to dress modestly but you are not willing to wear a shirt this isnt a way to soften hearts of ladies that may be hostile to modesty.

          • Lissy

            That may not be your stumbling block, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t for other girls. I can’t understand why a guy can go around literally half-naked and people say it’s not immodest!

  • Christopher Witmer

    This is a wonderfully honest and open article. Thanks for sharing. What you say is so true…and stuff I have wrestled with.

    One question a friend of mine asked once was: “If it is immodest in public, why is it not at the beach?” To the best of my abilities, especially if I am in a mixed group, when I am at the beach, I try to wear clothing I would feel comfortable/modest wearing in public. Modesty is somewhat impractical when swimming, but it can be done.

    Outward modesty is important, but I think it is an expression of the heart. Do we have a spirit of modesty? We talk so much about trying to remain fashionable…why? Are trying to draw people’s attention to ourselves?

    Thanks again for sharing in such a balanced way.
    Looking forward to seeing the discussion that comes from this.

    • Amanda Pitre

      So true about modesty and swimming. So what if some people think your unfashionable because you wear a shirt and shorts over your 1-piece? What am I more concerned about: what God thinks or what others think? Am I more concerned about my brothers-in-Christ or myself?

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

        Yeah, I’m not really worried about being fashionable. I’m worried about being hot. 100F and 100% humidity? No, I’m not wearing shorts & a tee over my bikini.

    • Sadie Clements

      Balanced–a word I wish I had used. Good points, Chris. I agree whole-heartedly.

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

        Those are adorable. Too bad they’re designed for a limited selection of female bodies. I went through the website after “The Bikini Question” first went viral, and to my dismay (but not my surprise), none of those suits would fit my body.

      • Christopher Witmer

        I agree. This swimwear is much, much better than most. . . But my question is, if someone doesn’t feel comfortable wearing that on main street, than how can they wear that swimming in a mixed setting? (I’m talking beyond the fashion of it. Obviously you wouldn’t don swimwear while downtown.) Changing your surroundings and activities does not change the weakness of your heart. If it is immodest downtown, or at church, or wherever, it is immodest anywhere in public.

        • Amber Eby

          I think there is a difference in settings. Because settings determine our mindset and how much we prepare ourselves. On main street you aren’t prepared to see a half naked person but going to the beach, everyone is and you expect that. Seeing a man shirtless at the beach is not distracting to me in that setting but it would be at school. Do you see my point? Setting does make a difference, just like culture does make a difference. For example, women breastfeeding sit around topless in Senegal west Africa, but showing any of their legs mid thigh and higher would be like being topless in the USA. Setting does make a difference.

        • EMSoliDeoGloria

          Christopher, that’s simply not true. I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing a formal gown to a pie eating contest or a modest bathing suit to a presidential inaugural ball. That’s because clothes are designed for activities. Clothes appropriate for one activity are not necessarily appropriate for another activity.

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

      This is why I have no problem with my guy friends seeing me in a bra. Modest clothing standards are cultural, not biblical.

      • Christopher Witmer

        I appreciate your opinion, Belle. I really wonder, though, if by seeing you in your bra your guy friends aren’t tempted to commit adultery with you in their hearts–lust. Do you really want this? Do you want your husband (either future or current, I don’t know) to commit adultery with other ladies? Then why are you okay with other ladies’ husbands (future or current) doing that with you? Please understand me, I’m not judging you at all, I am just pointing out the probability. You are right, the APPLICATION of modesty is not defined in the Bible but the PRINCIPLE of modesty is very clear. I’m not suggesting that you are sinning, but you may be putting a stumbling block in front of your guy friends. The Bible very clearly says not to do this. It is each person’s responsibility to control their eyes and hearts, but it is also our (your) responsibility to help each other out and encourage purity. It MAY BE 100*F with 100% humidity outside, but you still should consider others in the way you dress. The Bible is a mountain. You can scream, argue, pound your fists all you want…it is NOT GOING TO MOVE. Paul told Timothy that women who want to be attractive should do so by doing good works and should dress modestly and decently, not drawing attention to themselves [I assume guys are to do the same] (1 Timothy 2).
        Even beyond the physical, I think, as many have mentioned in the hundreds of comments, that the more important issue is internal modesty. In reality, I think if we nurture a SPIRIT of modesty, physical modesty won’t be an issue. Why do people have any desire to walk around practically naked? Any way you look at it, it is self-centered. To be blunt. Do we care more about the heat or attention (or whatever) than we do our dear and precious friends?

        Anyways, you don’t need me to preach to you. I disagree with your comment, but I realize your relationship with God is between you and Jesus. But please listen to my words, show respect to your fellow humans by removing any stumbling blocks. This is my desire and I do so bad at it. I need God’s grace. We all do. That’s why He gives it to us, I guess. To me there is something beautiful about covering and saving the glory of our bodies for that one person who we will spend the rest of our lives with. But then again, not very many people even believe that nowadays.
        I’m just trying to climb that Mountain, that won’t move, as best as I know how and Jesus is guiding me all the way!

        Speaking of this, here is an interesting post about modesty entitled “I don’t wait anymore.” http://gracefortheroad.com/2012/02/03/idontwait/
        I wonder what you think of it.

        • Lexie Amann

          I agree modesty is a cultural thing in other countries their standards are different so we can’t base our American definition of modesty on how other cultures dress. In Paris topless beaches are the norm and they don’t see anything sexual about it. We can’t always judge everything from our Western standards and view points as being correct.

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

          “I have no problem with my guy friends seeing me in a bra.” does not equate “I spend all my time in mixed company in just a bra” nor does it equate “I let all of my guy friends see me in a bra” nor does it equate “I like to show off to my guy friends in just a bra.”

          Have you ever backpacked through Europe in mixed company, on a tight budget, staying only in mixed dorm rooms in hostels? I have, and not only is it inconvenient to change clothing in the bathroom, it’s inconsiderate to your roommates who need to use that bathroom. So yeah, I
          changed my clothes in the dorm room, even if that meant guys could see my bra or underwear for 30 seconds. Guess what… so did everyone else.

          Have you ever had roommates? Roommates with significant others who visited? Have you ever tried to get ready in the morning in the large shared bathroom with your roommate’s significant other getting ready as well? Sometimes this involved me doing my hair and make-up in my bra and
          skirt while my roommate’s boyfriend washed his face or brushed his teeth. Oh, and guess what? I talked to him beforehand to see if it bothered him. Not only did he not care, he was surprised I even asked, and he managed not to stare at my chest.

          So, no, I’m not worried about anyone’s future husbands lusting after me. In fact, the aforementioned roommate just married the aforementioned SO, and I was one of their few attendants in their wedding.

          And if some man did lust after me, that’s not my problem. That’s not my fault. Because it is impossible to anticipate the trigger for every man on this planet. http://www.findingmyvirginity.com/2013/08/my-bikini-answer-all-women-cannot.html Asking women to think of men when they’re outside in 100F with 100% humidity is frankly oppressive and controlling. If I’m walking around “half naked,” aka wearing a bikini, it’s because I’m at the beach, or the pool, or the water park. You know, places where it’s completely normal and appropriate to wear a swimsuit. I have no other motivation beyond wearing clothing that doesn’t restrict my movement and isn’t damaged by the water and dries quickly in the sun.

          I’m not a stumbling block. I’m a human being, worthy of respect because I am made in God’s image.

          • Christopher Witmer

            Thanks for clarifying your statement, although I had already assumed that was true.

            Yes, I have traveled some throughout Asia, sometimes in mixed company, staying in hotels and hostels–all on very low budgets. Somehow in it all we managed to have an awesome time without ever sleeping in mixed company, but if we would have had to sleep in mixed company, we would have done it very modestly and discreetly and still had an awesome time.

            I am not AT ALL advocating oppression of women or anything like that. . .I just don’t think you realize how glorious a woman’s beauty (inward and outward) is and how deeply God has placed in men an attraction to that glory (and probably vice versa). I don’t want women (or men) to think that they must dress modestly because they have to cover some wickedness of theirs (NOT AT ALL!)–but rather that they dress modestly to veil the incredible glory that God has prescribed to be unveiled ONLY in the intimacy of marriage (and this applies emotionally and physically). I don’t lust after a woman’s beauty because that beauty is preserved for another man–certainly not for me (unless I happen to be married to her, but I am not). I am preserving, by God’s grace, my enjoyment of women’s beauty and my own beauty (what little I have) for my wife. That will be strictly between her and I–in marriage.

            Do I think women can dress modestly and beautifully? Of course! Modesty doesn’t mean making yourself as ugly as possible. It’s preserving the complete glory of your body for the wonderful intimacy of marriage. (This applies emotionally as well, and also to men). People who take the liberty to enjoy this glory outside of marriage won’t treasure it at it’s value inside of marriage. But you can dress in a beautiful way and still be modest.

            It comes down to submission to God, Belle. This is something I need to do every day. I still find myself resenting God for demanding my worship. But the fact is HE IS GOD! If He is asking you and I to dress modestly even in 100* weather, we either rebel or we obey. And I have found–am finding–that rebellion doesn’t get us anywhere.

            You’re right, a guy’s lust is his own choice, not yours. But modesty is a matter of love and respect toward our fellow humans in their own journeys and struggles. And it’s a matter of obedience to God. When my parents said, “Don’t cross the road” I obeyed–not because I felt like it, necessarily, but because I knew (subconsciously) that they had a better understanding of life than I did. To display the glory of our bodies and our hearts frivolously, is to walk on dangerous ground. Our beauty–your beauty–is worth much more than that. Only one guy deserves to see just how beautiful you are (inwardly and outwardly): your husband.

            You are so right. You deserve the UTMOST respect because you are made in the glorious image of God. Have you noticed how God doesn’t completely unveil the fullness of His glory until we are “married” to Him and have committed ourselves to Him? Food for thought.

      • Pip Wherrett

        I personally would not want to see you in a bra. full stop.
        As a young adult I know that I have struggled with lust, and try to avoid things that I know will tempt me. Not only that, I find it extremely hard, if not impossible to hold a conversation with under-dressed people – a), because I don’t know where on earth to look b). because I have to control my feelings and c). I find it embarrassing and difficult as I am fairly shy. I agree with Christopher, that you may not be sinning as such, but it makes friendships difficult and doesn’t help those who are struggling to keep their thoughts pure
        Maybe you should ask your ‘guy friends’ what they feel about seeing you like that, and work from there.
        Please don’t take offence!
        Pip

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

          I don’t know why my reply to you was approved and then deleted. Some of it overlaps with what I replied above. I don’t feel like rethinking and rewriting it.

          But yeah, making assumptions about people you don’t know is offensive. Worry about your plank. I’ll take care of my specks.

          • Andrew

            Hi Belle,
            I’m very concerned about your response: “Worry about your plank. I’ll take care of my specks.”
            For one thing, that’s not what Matthew 7:1-5 says. It doesn’t say to stop caring about other people and just take care of your own problems. It says to “take the log out of your own eye, and THEN you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. I desperately need people around me to see the specks that I don’t see. I need my brothers and sisters in Christ to care enough about me that they’d risk friendship and perception to help me to kill my sin.
            The tone of your comment is incredibly individualistic and it appeals to me, but I know that I CANNOT do the Christian life on my own and I know that what I do, say, and think is not limited to me. It affects other people. Please consider Paul’s words to “in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 2:3b-4).

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

          You’re 15. And homeschooled. That explains a LOT.

          I don’t know what your church or parents have taught you about lust, but here are some things that are NOT lust: noticing a girl is pretty, noticing that a girl has curves, having a crush on a girl, feeling attracted to a girl, feeling physically attracted to a girl, having an erection.

          One of the most harmful elements of Modesty/Purity Culture is the lack of a distinction between attraction and lust. Many teenage boys confuse their biological responses to sexual stimuli (which, as a hormonal teenager, can be something as innocent as catching a whiff of a pretty girl’s shampoo) with lust, and thus they feel shame and confusion over what is actually very natural.

          I’m going to quote from a great article called Modesty, Lust, and My Responsibility, found here. http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/my-responsibility/

          “Lust dehumanizes a person in your own heart and mind. It is the ritual taking, obsessing, and using someone else for your own benefit rather than valuing that person as an equal image-bearer of God. Lust is forming people in your own image, for your own purposes, whether for sexual pleasure, emotional security, or moral superiority. In lusting, you are creating a world where every other person exists for your approval or dismissal. Lust reduces the complexity of each individual and their story to something you get to manage. Lust certainly can have a sexual component, but when we reduce it merely to sexual reactions, we miss out on God’s heart for all people: infinite value.”

          You say that as a young adult you have struggled with lust. I don’t know you, so I will take you at your word. However, given the confusion over lust and sexual attraction, not to mention your very young age, I highly recommend that you do some prayerful reading of some biology texts on the reproductive system and puberty for men.

          In closing, in regards to both your comment to me and one you made about girls who wear long skirts–look women in the eyes. It’s seriously not that difficult. Eye contact is a crucial part of communication anyway. Then you don’t have to worry about looking anywhere “inappropriate” or whatever. And honestly, you should be practicing now while you’re still fairly sheltered, or you’re going to struggle in the real world.

  • Natalie Trust

    What bothers me the most is that this issue continues to be rule based and legalistic.

    Honestly, I do not doubt your intentions are good Brett, but when you begin by implying that people are problems then it is hard to engage in a conversation about modesty or anything else for that matter.

    • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

      Hey Natalie,

      I’m certainly open to input. Perhaps you could expand on your point?

      For now, let me clarify that I wasn’t calling people problems — I was calling immodesty a problem and saying that we ignore half the immodesty if we only focus on women. Does that make sense?

      In Christ Alone,
      Brett

      • Natalie Trust

        Sure. Thanks for clarifying. In part, what I was reacting to is this statement here: “…Women may be shedding clothes this time of year, but so are men. Why are we only talking about half the problem?” This implies people, not choices are the problem.

        As far as the discussion goes, I’m pretty concerned that conversations which seek to regulate beauty as appropriately or inappropriately displayed further leads to encourage people to objectify one another and not the other way around.

        • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

          Thanks for explaining, Natalie. I think that line may be written ambiguously. I may tweak it.

          In terms of your main point, I can certainly see the danger in making the male or female form taboo/forbidden/dirty/shameful. I agree that it can result in a reverse objectification and causes lots of problems.

          However, I’m surprised that you think this article is rule-based and legalistic. Perhaps you are responding to the Modesty Survey as well and not to this article by itself?

          To be honest, I have problems with the Modesty Survey too. It wasn’t Alex or my idea. We didn’t write the questions or any of the answers. At the time we didn’t have a very mature understanding of modesty or the pitfalls surrounding it. Moreover, many of the young ladies who submitted questions had the dangerous idea that they were dressing for men (rather than for God) and some of the young men who responded had the dangerous idea that immodest women caused them to lust.

          The format of the survey (i.e. evaluating individual items of clothing) lent itself to being viewed as rulings handed down by the largest, most important modesty jury of all time — despite our best attempts to add qualifications.

          All that being said, I’m not trying to promote a rule-based, legalistic view on modesty — despite my baggage (i.e. the Modesty Survey). I want young women and men to dress modestly for the glory of God. I think that will look slightly different for each person and can vary from culture to culture. The attitude of the heart is always the same, but the outward expression might change depending on your body type and the environment you’re in.

          However (and this is probably were we disagree), I still think there is a place for discussing which outward expressions (i.e. dress and behavior) reflect modesty and which don’t. I can’t justify adopting a relativistic attitude on this issue. My modesty is ultimately between me and God, just like every other aspect of my life. That doesn’t give me license to do whatever I want. My life is lived before God, but it touches other people. Provided I don’t start living for their approval, their input can be helpful — even on specific things like, “Do you think I should wear these low-rise swim trunks?”

          I’m not defending all the abuse and shaming that has gone on under the banner of “enforcing modesty.” I hate that stuff. But I’m concerned people want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I think the concept of dressing modestly should be kept and fixed — not tossed. One step in that direction is addressing ridiculous double-standards like the one I’m targeting in this article.

          Thanks for listening!

          • Lexie Amann

            The original modesty survey to me gave off the tone used in rape of she was asking for it because of what she wearing. The comments guys left were downright awful such as a girl who dresses immodest doesn’t deserve respect, is disgusting, etc. These things can seriously cause confusion for a person’s sexuality and spiritual life. I’m glad you admit that it wasn’t a good idea of how it went down and are willing to talk about male modesty which is rarely even talked about.

          • qwerty

            I agree that setting rules is not the right approach, but not because of legalism, because of culture. Culture cues what we consider sexy, and there is enormous variation. I was in a market in Africa and a woman was standing there with her breast flopped over the top of her dress because she hadn’t put it back in after breastfeeding. After all, “everyone” knows that breasts are for feeding babies…it’s hips that are really sexy and to be hidden! This would have been unthinkably immodest in many places in the US, just as our shorts would be unthinkably immodest in a culture where hips are the sexiest part of a woman’s body. Ignoring the role of culture leads to the stereotypical missiological catastrophe of the missionary making the local Christians wear frumpy Western clothes in humid 95 degree heat. In the end, we have to recognize that what is modest on an island in the South Pacific is not modest in North Africa. Each of these cultures can regulate what it means to be modest. The problem with doing the same thing in the US is that we are proudly culturally pluralist, and what is modest in one subculture is totally immodest in another. I have a swimsuit that is conservative for mainstream culture, modest in evangelical circles, immodest in fundamentalist circles, and likely scandalous in, say, Amish culture. What to do? The only way to deal with this it is either to tolerate the enormous gray zone and do your best, erring on the side of love, or to do serious and thorough quantitative sociological research into what a certain threshold of people in different American subcultures perceive as sexually arousing (and well, whether or not that perception is accurate). Then we would know if there is a basis to make hard and fast rules about what would “always” be considered immodest. Regardless, there may be a missiological cost to deviating too far from what the non-Christian culture considers normal on matters that are not clearly sinful. Extreme example–if all Christians went to the beach in a bodysuit, people would get the idea that being a Christian means wearing a bodysuit. And that’s not what we want to communicate.

  • Rachel Keeth

    Wonderful post, thanks for sharing it! I have as well noticed the trend for girls being told to be modest but guys seem to get a “get out of jail free” card. I tend to say in modesty discussions that I think modesty is both for men and women, though never wrote a blog post about it because I feel like a guy could write to other guys on the subject better. I however did write a blog post on modesty and link to y’all article.

  • ElizaHuie

    To answer your questions.
    Guys who wear button down shirts too buttoned down. College guys seem to like to have that “white collar look” of a nice dress shirt unbutton just one botton shy of the normal “dress-casual open collar look”. It feels a little flirtatious or at least temps ladies to look there. Also guys need to be aware of how they sit. There is a social acceptance to guys sitting with legs spread. No problem there, but when sitting right across from a lady…do us a favor guys…close the legs a little please. You don’t have to sit like Pee-wee Herman but a little consideration would be helpful.

    Great article. It is about time I think we start balancing the conversation. Thanks!

    • Cassie

      Yes! Postures is important to us girls. As Eliza said, please close your legs if sitting across from a girl.

  • Seth Peery

    I agree that guys can be immodest with sagging pants, but I feel that for every guy who sags his pants, there’s a girl who’s wearing yoga pants, which are a lot more revealing.

  • Amanda Pitre

    First of all… Brett, thanks for taking the courage to bring this up. It is really encouraging to know that there are some guys who care enough to take a stand!
    Personally, there are some things that will be commonly considered immodest by women, and some things not so much. Yes, when a guy wears really low pants, it does make me uncomfortable; it’s hard to have a normal conversation when you have to keep paying enough attention so you can turn around or look away… and, as some aftershave already said, it’s disgusting and sloppy.
    Shirtless? Personally, I find it something that I know I would naturally be attracted to. I guess, if guys are really concerned about girls’ purity of mind and growth in Christ, will they not be willing to give some fashions and the desire to look overly attracted… just like they ask us women to?
    I can’t – and won’t – judge guys on this, but just want you men to consider this. The best way you can show love to your sisters-in-Christ is by keeping their hearts, thoughts, and focus on Christ… and how you dress WILL help or hinder.
    Brett, you are right: modesty isn’t about what we wear but about the heart – and our hearts will show how much thought we give modesty by what wear. And yes, modesty is definitely a universal issue, for both women and men.

    Soli Deo Gloria: that’s why we’re here.

  • Class of 2009

    If it makes you feel any better, I was at PHC around the same time and none of the girls ever mentioned you in the conversations of hot guys on campus. Of course, there weren’t that many hot guys to begin with.

    • Class of 2009

      Your brother was safe, too. So don’t worry. The guys girls name dropped were generally guys not from your class, since that was a conservative year at PHC.

      • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

        Haha… Good to know I failed to make it into the “hot guys” category. ;)

        And just so we’re clear, I wasn’t implying that I looked awesome at PHC — just that I wasn’t being modest. =P

  • Kristen Killebrew

    Thanks so much for posting this! It’s ironic. I was just talking to a girl friend about modesty. It’s really sad that we, including myself, tend to brush over the fact that modesty is FOR God’s glorification, not primarily our own honoring of one another. But if we honor God in how we carry ourselves, it should flow over into how we treat brothers and sisters in Christ.

    And for me, it is embarrassing to admit that I’m very affected to how guys dress. I go to a Bible college and I feel that if I bring something up about male modesty, I’ll be seen as a pervert of women. I’m sure that has a lot to do with my insecurities… but I do, at least in this environment, feel that pressure. Girls are seen as very innocent and pure, or not.

    In regards to guys modesty… I still have a lot I need to articulate, but I do know that when I guy goes shirtless and he has the body to do so, it’s not helpful for me.
    Instead of saying guys and girls need to find ‘balance’ in modesty… I think it’s better to say we need to find the fidelity in the matter to Christ.

    • Sadie Clements

      I agree, Kristen, with a lot of your comment. I would comment that girls who are seen as very innocent and pure may not be so innocent and pure in their thought life–I know that this is the perception most people have of me. I still struggle–a lot–to have a pure thought life. I like the way you put it in the third paragraph: “I do know that when a guy goes shirtless, and he has the body to do so, it’s not helpful for me.” It’s really true–although some people may not struggle with it, and some may be used to it because they grew up with men in the house(aka, brothers), others are in different situations/circumstances. We all react to certain things differently.

      • Rebecca Stricker

        I would totally agree with Sadie and Kristen different people struggle with different things. I happen to be one of those gals who struggles when a fit guy is shirtless. Yep, I agree that I also struggle to keep my thought life pure as well and praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and brings us back to our Savior Jesus Christ.

        • Sadie Clements

          Exactly! It is embarrassing and scary for me to admit my sin in this area–as a matter of fact, I’ve kept it as secret as I possibly could the entire four years I struggled intensely with this issue. It hurts me, then, when the lust of men is excused as either the woman is not dressed modestly enough, or as ‘boys will be boys’, quoting from Ann Voskamp’s letter to her son. I would call that disrespectful toward women, and I feel hurt that my sins are magnified and theirs are made to look smaller–in God’s eyes every sin is just as big as any other.

    • Jenna Kristine

      Kristen! Did you see the editorial we ran earlier in the semester about male modesty? I can’t remember who wrote it, except that it was a smith girl.

      • Kristen Killebrew

        No! I would’ve been really interested to read it!

      • Courtney Blue

        Me too. Is there a link to this?

        • Jenna Kristine

          http://www.moodystandard.com/help-a-sister-out/

          I don’t personally agree with her, or most of “The other side of modesty,” but it seemed a valid viewpoint that resonated with some students on campus, so we ran it.

  • Laura

    Wow, I am so glad somebody finally addressed this! Maybe it’s ’cause I don’t have brothers, but I find it distracting when guys don’t wear shirts. I have to try really hard to keep my mind on the conversation and not on their pecs. :P

    However, what is more distracting is when guys have a prideful– dare I say flirty?– attitude. Some guys have a certain manner about them that makes me feel very uneasy. It’s something about the way they carry themselves and how they talk. I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but it seems like they assume that every girl who approaches them only does so because she finds them attractive. When I feel that a guy is only thinking about how sexy he is, I start to think about it too. It’s really weird and kind of embarrassing.

    • Sadie Clements

      I can honestly say I haven’t run into any such men as you described in your second paragraph here, Laura, but I would also say that there is a lot in a young man’s attitude that can be off putting to a girl/woman.

      • Laura

        Sadie, there were a few young men like that at my public high school. Other girls would constantly fawn over them, though, so it wasn’t entirely their fault. It’s not an excuse, but the constant attention of those girls was certainly a contributing factor to the prideful attitude I saw in the guys.

        • Sadie Clements

          Certainly understandable–I’m not a stranger to this attitude–we see it on TV quite frequently, where a lot of the time it’s portrayed to be desired in a man.
          I completely understand where you’re coming from with the way the girls fawned over those boys. I have seen this attitude in many young women I’ve known, and it makes me not only cringe for the boy’s sakes when it makes them uncomfortable, but it also embarrasses me as a women as well–when I don’t fawn over a boy, I often get passed by as insignificant and uninteresting. I get ignored, which I think is just as disrespectful as the attitude we’re discussing now.

    • Jennifer

      Exactly. It’s like when a guy thinks he is God’s gift to the universe. Puh-lease…

      • Sadie Clements

        As much as each of us is a gift from God, but that doesn’t mean that you’re a better gift just because you’re fit and good looking.

        • Laura

          That’s a nice balance, Sadie.

          • Sadie Clements

            Thank you.

    • Mikayla Szuter

      Oh, my goodness! While I don’t personally struggle with anything mentioned in your first paragraph, I can totally relate to everything said in the second one. I have no older brothers, and only one younger brother who is 7, so what I think is that I’m just not an extremely visual person. But I’m very in-tune with people’s attitudes and how they act much of the time, and you put it perfectly! Would you mind if I shared what you wrote with some friend? I will make sure to give you credit for penning it :) Or, actually, typing it :) God Bless!

      • Laura

        Oh, wow! I would not mind that at all, Mikayla! I really appreciate that you want to share what I wrote. :)

        • Mikayla Szuter

          Aww, okay, thanks! Awesome, I appreciate it!! :D

  • Sadie Clements

    This is a much different take on modesty as a conversation topic that applies to both genders rather than a specific issue with women. I feel this is a much healthier way to look at it–I only wish I could join the forum discussions on this.

    I would bring up a double standard, and at the moment I can’t remember if you addressed it or not–when it’s assumed that men lust, and it’s not addressed as embarrassing and disrespectful to the women, but when a woman admits her sinful desires for men, it is often looked on as inappropriate and perverted. Women have eyes, too, and they struggle with a lot of the same sin issues. Bringing women into the discussion makes us feel appreciated and respected, so thank you, Brett, for your humility and bravery in posting this article. I am also very pleased and surprised to find no negative or bitter-sounding comments on this post so far!

  • lady sentinel

    Brett–

    In an episode of your “the fabulous life of a teenager” series, you’re featured wearing a sleeveless shirt in the BHC gym, and displaying your biceps while you talks.

    If you’re really remorseful of your immodest behavior, then maybe you should take it down? ;)

    • Sadie Clements

      I would only say, lady sentinel, that though this may be true, this comment did sound a bit harsh.

      • lady sentinel

        I call it like i see it.

        • Sadie Clements

          I don’t know how to respond to that–exactly how do you mean you call it like you see it? Correct me if I’m wrong, but to me that sounds like to you, you’re opinion matters more than the feelings of whomever you’re addressing. The Bible says to do everything in love, does it not? Perhaps questioning Brett’s remorse and repentance of his immodesty was not the best route you could have gone–perhaps you merely could have pointed out that to you in the video he did not appear modest. As I’ve pointed out above, he may not have realized that that was how he appeared in the video.

      • nearermygodtothee45

        Why is it harsh, Sadie Clements? There’s a winky face.

        • Sadie Clements

          I thought it harsh because it sounded like lady sentinel was questioning Brett’s remorse and repentance in the last line–perhaps he hadn’t realized that that was how he appeared on the video. And, what do you mean, there’s a winky face?

          • lady sentinel

            That’s exactly what I was intending Sadie Clemens.

            I am questioning his remorse and repentance.

          • Sadie Clements

            Why would you do that? If you were in the same situation, and really felt remorseful that you had acted in a way that was not pleasing to God, how would you feel if someone questioned you’re sincerity?

          • Sadie Clements

            Where did your comment disappear to?

          • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

            Hey Sadie,

            Unfortunately I had to block her from continuing to comment since she was posting under multiple names to agree with herself and because I felt her last comment was inappropriate for some in our audience. Thanks for standing up for me. =)

            In Christ Alone,
            Brett

          • Sadie Clements

            Brett,
            Thanks. I was getting a little agitated there–and I appreciate your discernment in her comment(s). You’re welcome, although it was only what I would have hoped someone else would have done for me.

          • Sadie Clements

            In Christ,
            Sadie

          • Sadie Clements

            And in that case, I take back my apology for mistaking you as I thought I had–apparently I read your comment in the way you intended it to be read.

        • Sadie Clements

          Oh, I aplogize. I just got you’re winky face reference–and I had not noticed that. My apologies, as well, lady sentinel.

    • nearermygodtothee45

      Excellent point, Lady Sentinel.

    • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

      Dear Lady Sentinel/NearerMyGodtoThee45/Class of 2009,

      Everyone is welcome to comment on our posts — even if those comments include criticism. I certainly accept your point about my video.

      However, posting under multiple names to support yourself and posting comments like your last one (which I had to delete) gets you blocked from commenting on our website.

      In Christ Alone,
      Brett

  • Laurel

    I really appreciate your humility and honesty. I am thankful, and blessed by God’s grace, that this particular area has not been a struggle for me so far. I grew up with 3 younger brothers who only wore shirts when they were forced to, such as at the dinner table. I think the problem comes when guys start to take too much pride in their appearance. I know men who are fairly full of themselves purposefully work out and go shirtless just to gain attention and attract women, and that is more repulsive than attractive. In the men like that who I have been closest with, I noticed that many really wanted respect and admiration, and I think that they were seeking that through displays of strength. I don’t think that it is any more wrong to show arm muscles than calf muscles, though. I think that men should also be warned that like women, they may be more likely to be seen as an object and not a person when they are defined by a part of their body, such as their abs.

    • Sadie Clements

      Here, here. “they may more likely be seen as an object and not a person when they are defined by a part of their body, such as their abs.” A very valid point.

      • Sadie Clements

        I’m not sure how that kind of attitude would get a person respect; admiration, and that not always the best kind, yes. And perhaps respect from your fellow gender. But not from women–I believe by many of the opposite gender, you would be seen as an object.
        I also would say that I’ve noticed in several girls I know a mentality that objectifies men and their attention as a trophy to themselves–an ego boost, if you will. I would warn young men against this–girls’ attention does not always mean they feel admiration for you, but your attention is coveted by them for more reason to think well of themselves. I struggle with young women who act like this–it makes me very indignant that I fell like I am inequal to them just because I am not paid the same attention.

  • Class of 2010

    I remember you as being in good shape in College, but you were really skinny. I know some guys wear really tight shirts to show off muscles, but I don’t think you ever were in danger of falling in that category.

  • Elizabeth

    Kudos for posting this article… I can’t even begin to tell you what a relief it is to know that I am not the only person on earth who struggles with guys dressing immodestly. I know that it is hard for me to go to a concert where some guy is wearing skinny jeans, it is just hard.And, frankly, I think no guy should ever wear a speedo. Ever. Under any circumstances. Ha! Thanks again for this post.

    • Sadie Clements

      Can honestly say that skinny jeans on a guy just gross me out–and I’ve never seen a guy in a speedo–not even on TV. Not to undermine your struggles, Elizabeth–just my take on this subject.

  • Sadie Clements

    I feel also that when you as a woman notice that another woman is dressed immodestly, and in many cases inappropriately, it makes me personally want to protect the men around me from seeing it. If it’s distracting to me as another woman, how much more distracting will it be for the men around her, being even more visually ‘wired’ than we are.
    I agree–modesty should naturally replace immodesty. As our thoughts focus more and more on God and His Son and the hope that Christianity has for us, we have to lose the focus we’d had on the attention of the others around us.

  • Annalyn Alexis

    Thank you for posting this, Brett.

    The biggest one for me is the low rise pants and swim trunks. That doesn’t necessarily stir lust in me, but I have to look away. I’m too visual. Just like guys see cleavage and can easily imagine the rest, when I see the lines on a man’s lower abdomen, my mind wants to follow them. Even though I have absolutely no desire to imagine those pants not being there. Trust me. I really, really don’t want to follow those lines, but my mind’s eye doesn’t alway cooperate, and I end up fighting to fill my mind with something else.

    As far as the upper body goes: that’s not always a struggle for me. I just have to check myself and make sure I know the difference between admiring God’s creation (and your time in the gym, guys) and lusting. Mostly, I just try to look at your faces or somewhere else entirely. Still, I’ll relax more if you’re wearing a shirt, especially one that’s a little looser. I’ll definitely still notice your good looks and strength, but I’ll probably get over my shyness quicker and be able to focus on conversation or whatever else is going on.

    Also, I’ve noticed that, as I’ve been around more media that’s okay with lusting, I’ve struggled more than I used to with images like shirtless guys. When I’m around media and people that encourage more pure relationships, it’s easier to keep a more modest view on the people around me. I’m sure that applies to a lot of people, girls and guys. :)

    • Katie Jane

      “I’ll definitely still notice your good looks and strength, but I’ll probably get over my shyness quicker and be able to focus on conversation or whatever else is going on.” So true. Guys, we WILL notice that you’re strong and have an attractive body! But it’s nice to be able to appreciate that fact without having it thrown in our face. Then we can respect your character as well as your physique. It doesn’t have to be one or the other! We can and will appreciate both.

    • Cassie

      Absolutely right, there, Annalyn! I find a topless guy is most distracting because they also have a tenancy to wear their shorts below the hips, thus exposing the abdomen lines when they go topless.

  • Michaela

    So glad someone has finally written about this! My biggest problem with guys isn’t usually what they wear, but how they act. There are few things more dangerous to a girl’s mind than a flirty guy. Of course some wardrobe choices are distracting as well and some down right awkward, but for the most part it’s the attention-snatching flirtatious show-offs that frustrate me, not particular clothing or styles.

  • Katie Jane

    I agree about the tone of voice and smile. Of course, guys can’t control what they sound like and look like..but I suppose they could smile in a flirtatious/inviting way or flirt in a smooth, “sexy” (like purposely trying to be sexy) voice. That would be a stumbling block. But some of it they can’t help. I know guys that no matter what they’re saying, their voice is attractive. But there’s nothing they can do about it. And I don’t think the feeling of attraction is wrong at all, it’s letting it get out of hand that can become a problem.

    • Sadie Clements

      Absolutely, there are some guys who do have that naturally. And I agree, it’s letting it get out of hand that becomes the problem.

    • baby76bear

      I’ll politely disagree. Guys CAN control, to some extent, how they sound. As a Christian who’s been saved for 30 years & married for 13, I can assure you that there IS at least SOME ability to control how one’s voice sounds. Stop & think for just a second about putting on a particular type of accent or using a higher/lower pitch in your voice. It is possible. Unfortunately, some guys will DELIBERATELY use that “sexy voice” for their advantage. And in the same way that young ladies will try to innocently declare that they had No Idea how a certain outfit accentuates certain body parts, guys will attempt to declare just as innocently that they had No Idea that their voice had such an effect on young ladies.

  • carole

    Well, said! by a gentleman! I assume you treat your wife with the same respect you spoke of. Hope so! My husband was a Pastor to youth in the 70s, 80s, & 90s. We lived in a beach community. He went where the kids were, so we were at the beach a lot. One of his goals of discipleship was to teach the guys how to be at the beach without lusting after their sisters in Christ. He struggled with this & wanted them to know it was possible. [Guys: Lots of board shorts, rarely slung low, & speedos were only for swim meets.] He taught them to view the girls as persons, not objects. Most learned, others quit joining us. If a person’s clothing line (be that guy or gal) is so close to their genitalia (medical talk) below OR above the waist, there is little left to the imagination. I don’t want to see a “plumber’s crack” with “skid marks” or another woman’s breasts. Moms: disciple your daughters by getting them fit with correct sized undergarments. Yes, this is discipleship at its core. In our society, part of a broad definition of a gentleman & a gentle lady is presentation. Who do you respect the most? What do they wear? Even when they’re hanging out? It’s not the expense of what is worn, but how it is worn… The issue of carriage: How do they carry themselves? Who do you take a double look at, AND WHY? I’m pretty. No matter what I wear or where I’m at I want people to see my face first. Sometimes, I can’t get past what a person is OR isn’t wearing to see their face since I usually look away. I don’t want people doing that when they look to me. sermonette for the day… Brett: thought provoking… thanks

    • Sadie Clements

      Well written; I appreciate your comments. And yes, Brett, the article is thought provoking–in the best sense. Thanks, carole, also, for the advice and suggestions.

  • Baylie Wintle

    A big hearty thank you for writing this! I’ve been waiting for someone to address this topic. I get pretty frustrated when guys expect the girls around them to dress modestly when they don’t give a rip to how they are being a huge stumbling block themselves. Guys definitely need to be more sensitive and examine their motives.
    . When I see a cute, buff, tan dude in low cut trunks I’m definitely tempted toward lust. And muscle shirts are very similar. Both girls and guys wear tight shirts to show off what they deem attractive about themselves, and by doing so they stir up improper thoughts in one another. Not only is it immodest when guys do this, but it’s also a huge indicator of deep insecurity. As a Christian woman, I want to be attracted by a guy’s character and godliness, not by what I see bulging under his tee shirt!
    It would be so helpful if guys would be more sensitive towards their sisters in Christ.

  • Mary Elizabeth Land

    I absolutely agree here. Girls are definitely attracted to guys’ bodies and it’s frustrating that we always have to be conscious of modesty when guys don’t seem to be held to the same standard.
    Low-riding shorts or swim trunks and tight shirts are what I’d consider immodest. I’ve seen a lot of comments here about boxers showing, too, and I agree that that’s inappropriate and even disgusting.
    Basically, the same principles of modesty that apply to girls should apply to guys as well. WHAT you wear is always important, but also HOW you wear it and your attitude about it. That makes a big difference. Please just try to treat us as you’d like us to treat you.
    Thank you for this post, it was really great!

  • Robbie Lee

    Something I’ve struggled to articulate for years. Thank you for speaking up!

  • Megan

    I have been thinking a lot about the topic of modesty lately and am very thankful for this great article to add to my thoughts :) . I’ve been wondering about the whole male modesty thing because, yes, when I see a guy without a shirt on or wearing a muscle shirt, I notice. I’m not lusting exactly, but it doesn’t help me focus on his personality and character…
    However, I do not expect all my Christian brothers to wear shirts while they swim, and will not judge them if they don’t. I think bikinis are probably harder on boys than shirtless ness is on girls. I also think it is much more out of the ordinary for a boy to wear a shirt swimming than for a girl to wear a tankini or one piece and don’t want to put that burden on guys when I could solve half the problem in my own brain. However, a couple of my guy friends do wear swim shirts an it really blesses me when they do. It just takes away that awkwardness and makes it way more fun to hang out with them without thinking about half their body being right there.
    I think it is a lot a matter of respect, for guys and girls. Respecting the other and making it easy on them and also respecting their body by keeping our mind under control. It is definitely a heart issue and has to do with loving one another and desiring to serve God with our bodies and thoughts.

  • Lauren Batchelor

    First off, thank you for writing this article.
    Some of my hardest moments have been with Christian males, who don’t seem bothered at all with how they are presenting themselves in front of girls. There have been several young men who I disliked spending time with, because even in casual conversations they would sit and practically *pose*. They act like they are auditioning for male modeling. One even would periodically flex his muscles and stare down at them during the conversation, with a shirt just a touch too tight. It made talking with him frustrating.

    Also, a lot of guys (on mission projects, etc.) get hot, take off their shirts, and I can see way too much because their pants are too big around the waist. I don’t need to see your undies.

    I understand that guys who work out are proud of the results, but if a female were to act the same way, she would be labelled immodest immediately. If more men would stop and ask themselves (and God) what message they are actually sending by acting/dressing in a certain manner, it would go a really long way.

  • Thea-Lise

    Thanks so much for posting this,Brett. It’s a truth that is rarely spoken or even thought of.
    I’m open for discussion and/or correction from anyone, as I’m also still trying to figure all this out.
    But so far I can say: for me, growing up with two brothers (and their friends) who are much older than me, made me view it in a kind of different way. Although my mother was fairly strict on my brothers wearing shirts, they still went shirtless whenever possible. It didn’t make me ‘immune’ to guys without shirts, but I think it just made me see that it’s not always only the outside- it’s sometimes the attitude that goes with it that’s immodest. With that said, I agree to the fact that a shirtless guy automatically makes me focus more on their outside features, instead of focusing on their characters, and more important, their hearts. But I think a hidden motive/ or no hidden motive also plays a big role in conveying an immodest or modest message-you get the guys who want to be shirtless to show their bodies off-but then you also get the guys who’s only reason to be shirtless is because it’s hot and they’re busy working outside. That motive behind it becomes quite visible in how they act,what they say, and their actions- and that in the end for me shows whether they’re modest or immodest.

  • Marissa Dreyer

    Thanks for the article,Brett! I see this double standard a lot. I think guys are missing it by saying that it’s immodest for a girl to wear her sports bra to work out sand they go shirtless or with one of those shirts cut down the sides. I don’t want to show my body like that until I get married. But I think it’s harder for a guy to go to the pool and cover up. I was a swimmer for many years and I’m used to seeing guys in speedos and I can honestly say I had a difficult time sometimes. I was attracted to their abs and girls would giggle if they had cute butts or not. I’m not sure if wearing a shirt at the pool is the answer, but I can say that wearing it as much as possible would be helpful!

    • kash

      why should a guy have to help you??- let him wear what is comfortable to him- if speedos ensure the highest speed and it his swimming is his calling then you are actually interfering with God by trying to deem some things as modest and not others
      also different things can cause lust- some girls are turned off by speedoes and attracted to suits- should men then be banned from suits?- good luck with that

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

        I think this is an excellent point. Asking men and women to dress a certain way to help us with our own sin is even more sinful. Modest dress is a cultural thing, not a biblical one. Your attitude and your intentions are much more important than your dress.

  • TJ

    In the same way that guys like it when girls look femenine but still modest, I think most girls like it when guys look manly. I personally don’t mind it when guys wear tight shirts or “muscle shirts.” I think it’s attractive in a good way. It’s important to remember that modesty is a heart issue. People are always reminding girls of that, and it’s just as relevant to guys in this discussion. Yes, certain clothing items may be more tempting to girls than others, but if we lust, ultimately it’s our problem not yours.

    • Hannah McIntosh

      I agree that most girls like it when guys look masculine (I prefer no pink shirts, although it’s off topic).

  • Amy F

    Thank you, Brett, for getting this conversation going.
    Do you want this to be like the tips guys gave girls on the modesty survey? I have a bunch of advice, so I’ll just kinda get this rolling here.
    Ladies, please feel free to jump in here!

    - A well tailored suit is pretty much to women what lingerie is to men. Sexy sexy. So avoid those.

    - Flannel shirts should pretty much never be worn, especially if you’re going to leave ANY buttons undone.

    - If you must take off a coat or a hoodie, maybe you can find a hallway or something to do so out of sight. One of us women might picture you taking off your actual shirt.

    - Baseball caps are especially flattering on most men, and often draw more attention to your facial features and lips than if you hadn’t worn one at all. Maybe stick to those fisherman style hats if you absolutely need a hat.

    - No taking your dogs on walks. The way you move while you’re holding that leash… mmm. And NO playing with your dog in the park! When you throw a stick or ball, your muscles flex and it’s really distracting.

    - Do not fix things, if you can possibly avoid it, in front of me. Especially if you have to use a hammer or climb a ladder. Draws a lot of attention to your body. And on the subject of tools, what are you thinking, wearing your tool belts AROUND your WAIST? I mean, I’m supposed to be careful about where my seat belt or even my purse strap lays.

    - Tall men: this is an automatic turn on for some women (myself included). Just the fact that you’re tall. Maybe you can slouch a bit when you walk around. Good posture draws attention to your stature.

    - Lifting things: Try to avoid lifting… well, anything, really, in front of women. You looking strong in any way gets me all bothered.

    - Don’t smile at babies. Huge stumbling block.

    Thanks, you guys!! It’s so helpful.

    I am a little bit confused, though. You said that instead of modesty being something women do for men, it should be something
    people do for each other… but not because of lust. And actually for
    God. Not each other. So do it for God because you wouldn’t want to shame
    your body. Would shaming it be by others looking at it? And probably lusting?

    • Roth Trekling

      Sarcasm, I hope… in that vein though…

      Baseball caps, flannel shirts, and smiling at babies… I’ll never stop! In fact, I’ll lift up a baby while smiling at her and rocking my baseball cap and flannel shirt. Then I will throw a ball for a toddler to run after to distract him (and you!) while I fix its truck! Then when the baby spits up on me, I’ll just casually take off my denim jacket and mention that I’ll have to change into my suit later. I’m unstoppable!

      I am kind of short though, so you are safe on that count.

    • Jenna

      I know sort of what you’re talking about here Amy, but I think some of the things guys can’t really help. We can’t stop them from doing everything that we find attractive. Some things are distracting and are meant to grab our attention, like what Brett said about the muscle shirts and stuff. But when guys are doing something as natural as simply taking their dog for a walk or just being tall, they aren’t doing anything wrong. That’s where if we girls can’t handle looking at that, then we need to look away. It’s a team effort, but we need to do our part too. Think about if they thought that your hair was attractive. You would not shave our heads simply because they are distracted by it. You would hope that they would have the decency to control their thoughts and not lust over it.

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

      I can add to this!

      -If you have an Australian, English, Scottish, Irish, or Welsh accent, learn how to speak with an American accent or just stop talking to American women. Actually, if you have any accent, don’t talk to American women, or we might just lust after you. We can’t help but imagine you whispering sweet nothings when you speak with such a melodic voice.

      -Tone down that respect for your mother, especially in front of young, unmarried women. It’s so sweet and endearing and way too much of a turn-on for us.

      -Get rid of any old teddy bears or baby blankets. If we find out about them, we’ll think about you sleeping, and then we’ll think about sleeping with you. The horror!

      • Roth Trekling

        I have an American accent and people either hate, laugh at, or love my many foreign accents.

        I am either unbelievably nice or unnecessarily cruel to my mother by random turns. Don’t know why. Prepare to be confused around me.

        His name is Snugglebunny and he is a bunny. He is about seventeen years older than I am and is falling apart and getting all musty. I am never getting rid of him. >:(

  • Alysa C.

    All people are different, and we all react differently to situations. Saying that all girls will react such-and-such a way to something is a stereotype, and isn’t necessarily true. So the best thing (in my opinion) is to look to God to honor Him in all decisions rather than trying to please all people.

    I am a girl. I am very visually and kinesthetically stimulated, and I have quite the imagination, so if I so much as try to control my brain myself rather than giving it to God, my mind will wander into unwanted territory.

    I think the best way for a person to stay modest is to watch his or her motivations. Frankly, a guy wearing a dirty, burlap potato sack could walk by and pull off a seductive manner. So it’s not quite so much about the clothes on the outside, as much as it is out motivations.

    That being said, there are some specific things that guys could do that would help at least me in my struggles:

    First off, wear a shirt. Please. I’m not saying you don’t look good, and I’m not saying that God didn’t make a beautiful creation. But if you want to have an intelligent conversation with me, come fully clothed.

    Secondly, be careful with the tank tops and tight shirts. I suppose this is similar in reverse with girls wearing them, so just be careful what kind you get and when you wear them.

    Next, this is more of an attitude-related situation, but if a girl walks by, do what you would do if that girl weren’t there. Don’t talk really loudly to all your buddies to draw her eye, don’t break out in your most impressive whatever it is you can do, just keep doing your thing and act as if God is holding her hand. Because if she’s a daughter of the King, He is. And He has an army. (And for you Avenger-lovers, no, you do not have a Hulk.)

    These can really go both ways, for guys and for girls. But these are all my opinions, so take them how you will.

  • Stephanie Mitchell

    It just annoys me when girls have such high standards, yet guys get off scotch free on such issues. My college for instance: They want girls to be feminine and modest. “Leave the guys something to the imagination.” yet girls don’t have one??? It’s like, come on, people! :P

  • disqus_7oCHytKHtm

    Wow, thanks for the great thoughts. The last century’s culture sure has convinced us that sin comes from the outside–meat, alcohol, then immodest chicks (then those preaching modesty). God bless Jessica Rey and her work.

    I may be unusual for a girl, but when guys take off their shirts, it’s like, “Congrats, you are a man. I see you have bigger muscles than I do.” Not that I don’t know what visual lust is–ha!–I just think if you leave nothing to the imagination, the imagination shrugs and moves on. It’s just a bit of a job not to stare, like when someone has a weird wart and you really don’t mind but you don’t want them to think you mind.

    What’s appealing is a proper shirt and good posture, but that doesn’t invite lust. If you have the reasonable goal of looking good to the right kind of young lady, dressing modestly is a good thing rather than a handicap. Don’t go away thinking that gals will only like your build if you show it off. If we’re going to let our thoughts get away from us, you will have done your part at least. I think this is what you’ve been telling us for a long time: be classy, and if anything it’s more captivating. Or have I been listening to a minority of guys?

    We’re all hoping for approval, and if we didn’t get it as kids we’re probably trying to get it compulsively, with midriffs and tight shirts at best. Sometimes all we can do for our pathetic culture is commit to raising our own future kids secure in Christ’s love. Thanks again, Mr. Harris and commenters, for caring about this stuff.

  • WatchTheSparrows

    As a girl, I’ve definitely struggled with this because I want to feel like I look good while still honouring God… It’s not easy! For me personally, it isn’t so much what a guy wears as how he acts. If a guy pays special attention to me or gets really flirtatious, that’s where the problem really lies. A shirtless man with toned abs is going to catch my attention, but I won’t find myself lingering on that thought the way I would if a guy became flirtatious or singled me out.

    That said, that doesn’t mean I think guys can get away with walking around half naked. If a guy isn’t wearing a shirt somewhere other than the pool, beach or some other justifiable location, it looks like he’s trying to get attention. If I can see underwear, it’s not something that might lead to lust, it’s just a little gross and doesn’t seem tasteful or appropriate.

    I can’t speak for all young women, but for me the biggest thing is being careful how you talk and act around us. It’s good to be kind, respectful and chivalrous but try to draw the line before it might be seen as flirtatious. I know that’s hard, but I think most girls appreciate being treated with kindness and respect and can tell when your actions show that you want to honour God and your sisters in Christ instead of flirt. You need to know that we really appreciate when you make the effort, even though we don’t say so. However, unless a girl happens to be your girlfriend/fiance/wife, please don’t single her out or give her any special attention, because, in my experience, those are the things that really get a girl’s attention and cause her to keep thinking about you.

    The pressure on us young women to dress modestly is IMMENSE and it seems sometimes that the expectations for how we ought to be dressed are a bit unrealistic. I’ve had to accept that, no matter how modestly you try to dress, you can’t please everyone. Sometimes it would be encouraging to be reminded that our efforts to dress modestly are appreciated.

    Other than that, I REALLY appreciate this article and am very, very thankful for all the men and women who have made an effort in this area.

    • WatchTheSparrows

      Whoops! Something on my above comment came out sounding very negative! I meant to say,
      * I’ve had to accept that, no matter how modestly you try to dress, you can’t please everyone. So I’ve found that being too legalistic about how I dress will end up hurting me more than it would probably hurt anyone else. Worrying and obsessing does not help at all. It is not the same as being careful because you want to honour God and help your brothers in Christ. Since I can’t please everyone, I make a conscious effort in clothes and behaviour, but don’t lose sleep over it and ask God to guide my choices. I’ve found that to be the most helpful thing there is.

  • Evy Johnson

    One thing I think people need to realize about modesty is that being attractive is not a bad thing. If a person, male or female, is attractive then they are usually in healthy physical condition, which honors God. Being attractive is not a sin. Girls cannot help it if they naturally have large breasts or nice legs. The sin is when people purposefully (or accidentally I suppose) draw attention to an attractive feature, like wearing low cut or tight fitting tops or daisy-duke shorts

    Also, people should be physically attracted to each other. There is a difference between physical attraction and lust. It is okay for a guy to think that a girl is beautiful. In fact, not thinking so is dishonoring to God, for all his creation is beautiful. It becomes sinful when the physical beauty is detached from the person and admired separately. When the person is viewed in a selfish manner, seeing them merely as something you fancy, not as a real person, it becomes sin.

    As far as modesty goes, dress in a way that does not bring attention merely to your body, but accentuates your beauty (for guys, attractiveness) as a whole. This goes for men and women. If a woman has a toned stomach, wearing a fitted shirt displays her beauty. Wearing a belly shirt on the other hand causes all attention to go immediately to her stomach and the rest of her beauty is ignored. If a guy has big muscles, he doesn’t have to wear a shirt three sizes too big to cover them up. However, he shouldn’t wear a shirt a size too small in order to show them off either. A person should dress in order to display the beauty God gave them, but be mindful not to draw attention to their outer beauty only.

    • kii crossroad

      Being attractive certainly is not a bad thing, and in marriage I believe that it is a wife’s moral obligation to keep herself looking attractive, for the sake of her husband…but attractive MODESTLY…

    • Leah

      I agree people should be physically attracted to each other, but if that physical attraction takes away from the attraction to their personality or godliness, it is wrong. Guys and girls should not wear clothing that may draw the mind away from the inner beauty and toward the outward beauty. I think there is a fine line between the two sides that is up to the individual to find their balance with a lot of prayer.

  • Evy Johnson

    Hip bones is a big one for me! Keep them covered, guys!

    • Mathilda

      Yes, definitely!
      This is a big one.

  • Evy Johnson

    Immodesty never causes lust. The sinful mind causes lust. However, modesty can prevent lust. The sinful mind is the root of the problem, not the way a person dresses. The sinful mind is like a gun, lust is its target, and modest dressing is a wall between the two…..it may stop the bullet, it may slow it down, or do nothing at all.

    • cw

      I think you may have missed the point of the reply… I think it is pretty clear that immodesty doesn’t cause lust. However, there has been a recent movement shying away from any type of language that is remotely close to that assumption; that is what I am referencing. Simply because certain people have misplaced the focus of lust on immodesty doesn’t mean we should be afraid to talk about lust and immodesty at the same time; I think we should, carefully. And when each individual’s heart remains the focus of lust in a discussion or article, then it should be no problem that modesty is also brought up as a helpful supplement. In Matthew 18:6 Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin…” I don’t think we would have stopped him to correct him saying, “Well actually Jesus…” I think we can easily understand that his point is not to say that we are “causing” someone else to sin, but more so that we are “encouraging” or “adding to” the temptation. Romans 14:21 and 1 Cor. 10:32 also have Paul using similar language. Again, let me repeat, I understand that immodesty doesn’t cause lust, in the strictest sense of the word (as I said earlier), but it should still be a robust part of the conversation–in its proper place of course.

  • Roth Trekling

    Well, I’m a guy (notice nearly all the commenters are girls!). I’d actually only been vaguely aware of girls perhaps lusting after me (other guys, yes, me, no). More like me hoping I look good, but not necessarily “sexy.” I am a firm believer that what you put out as bait is what the fish (the girls, or if you are a girl, the guys) will bite at. If I put out Mr. Sexybadboy, then girls who want Mr. Sexybadboy will bite – and I don’t want that type of girl. I want the type of girl who wants Mr. Intelligentstablegoofyman, since that is pretty much who I am for the most part (my stability is not across the board, but better than most). So I don’t dress like a bad boy, showing off skin and undies. I dress like me, which, according the loose criteria put forward in this article and the comments, would be modest. I guess while I think I’m quite good-looking, I don’t have the kind of self-image that even considers the possibility that girls might “like” me for my looks alone, however I present them.

    However, someone brought up shirts and going shirtless, pointing out that many guys at water parks and pools wear shirts. The commenter seemed to think that this is a sign of modesty. It isn’t. Nine times out of ten or more it is a sign of insecurity. I’ve talked to teenage guys and was one up until a few days ago. If they wear a shirt in the water, it is because they think their stomach is fat or their chest weak. Personally, I used to wear a shirt at the pool or beach because I have a build that is of average-ish strength but unimpressive looks. My forearm is mostly skin and bone. My biceps are the size of some of my friends’ forearms. Not too long ago you could count my ribs. Again, average-ish strength but packed into a very wiry frame. I turned out to be much stronger than a guy with a more traditional muscular “manly” build just recently, which surprised the daylights out of him. But yeah, I was insecure, so I wore a shirt to hide my apparent weakness.

    Only recently have I gotten comfortable not wearing a shirt, mostly because my chest has finally filled out some and is now a bit more “manly” (my arms are still sticks). I haven’t shed the shirt to attract the girls, but simply because swimming is easier without it and I am now comfortable with my body. I doubt that any girl would go goo-goo over my underweight build and pitted against half the guys out there (or more than half) I would get crushed. The point is that I wore the shirt in the water I to not scare off the girls (or appear weak to my friends) and that I shed the shirt because I stopped caring so much.

    So when people bring up attitude, yes, I think that is the main thing. Of course going around au natural or in a mankini is immodest (and gross). Little European Speedo swimsuits are probably immodest as well (and gross). I think wearing swimming trunks with no shirt is fine (and not gross). But shirt or no shirt, or tight shirt or loose shirt, is beside the point. It seems that the main thing is how a guy carries himself and for what reason he wears or does not wear a shirt to the pool and so on.

    I wore a shirt to be more attractive, to be honest. And I stopped wearing one because I started feeling more comfortable and stopped caring so much. Is either immodest? I don’t think so. Are my reasons for not wearing a shirt to the pool better than my reasons for wearing a shirt? Yes.

    I don’t know, but perhaps a less for the girls could be drawn from that as well. Why wear a one-piece? Why wear a bikini? Why wear that tight but long dress? Why wear that loose but short dress? Is it because it would please God and your sense of style, or because you want to attract the flies?

    As I think Brett said, dress for God, not for the guys or girls.

    There are only two people you have to live your entire life with. God and yourself.

    • kash

      yup- generally guys who cover up around a pool or at the beach are insecure and timid!- guys are not always thinking about girls ( people keep assuming that- especially here) we have our own lives to live- everything is not about girls.

      • LethalAmbiances

        The same is true for girls. There are plenty of girls who are wearing bikinis because they like the colour, or they think it’s too warm out for a one-piece, or because they know their friends will like it, or for whatever other reason. they have their own lives to live too – not everything is about you.

        But that hasn’t always stopped guys from complaining that girls are being “immodest” and “making” them stumble. Of course those claims are unreasonable, but if we expect any level of modesty from girls, we need to have similar expectations of guys. If we expect that girls will take a little time out of their own lives to be considerate of their brothers in Christ, then guys ought to do the same. And for all of us, we should be remembering that our value is in Christ – not in a physical shape, however attractive or unattractive we think it is.

    • Lissy

      But isn’t the point of modesty to dress not for yourself, but for Christ? Even if your intent is to dress confidently, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be perceived as immodest by girls who are visually stimulated, and who are caused to stumble in their walk with the Lord. For example, the boy I’m dating (and hope to marry) is very skinny, and I find him very attractive! I don’t think it’s fair for girls to have to worry about the length of their skirts, or the highness of their collars, in the name of modesty, when guys can just say “I find a shirt uncomfortable” and do whatever they want? God’s law is God’s law, and should apply to both guys and girls!

    • David

      You seem do have the idea that modesty is all about motives. Please try to remember 1 Corinthians 8:9 (kjv) “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”

      • Roth Trekling

        That gets quoted a lot. However, in context it is not so broad brush.
        Referring to food offered to idols…

        Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 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? (1 Corinthians 8:8-10, ESV)

        Read the chapter if you like. I would not apply that verse too liberally as it seems pretty specific to me. After all, pretty much everything might cause “the weak” to stumble in some area or other (including smiling, as someone pointed out on here!). Paul’s talking about a very specific problem though.

  • Roth Trekling

    I will gladly stop washing dishes to support your struggle.

    However, I refuse to give up jeans, smiles, and my wool cowboy hat.

  • Spencer Rothfuss

    I’ve just been thinking about this very thing! Am I (as a man) being modest when I wear my suit?
    Thanks for the post.

  • Jean-Marc Le Doux

    So pro! I think with regards to swimwear, guys can definitely be more modest. I try to wear a swimshirt/rashguard when I swim and it works well.

  • Hannah McIntosh

    Thanks for posting this article–I’m glad to find that I’m not the only one struggling sometimes with this.

    I agree with the commenters who reminded us that modesty isn’t for others–it’s for God. We get off track when we stop going by our convictions and start living the way people say we should. Remember, the whole reason for modesty is to glorify God with our bodies (and lives), not seeking attention from humans. However, I am not putting down modesty–it is important to not be stumbling blocks for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Romans 14:21
    It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

  • williedeutsch

    Is making ourselves feel good about how “Modesty Teachings” have bound women to artificial teachings by blaming men for going around shirtless really the right response? Maybe Brett’s clothing choice broke the spirit of PHC’s dress code, but he would be hard pressed proving it was morally wrong to wear. Creating artificial standards and making them Biblical when the Bible says very little on a topic is the definition of legalism. Sadly people are guilted into thinking they are sinning when they haven’t violated anything in the Bible and merely an arbitrary list of rules made by man. We’d be much better off encouraging people to live all of life including dress Corum Deo, offer a few principles to consider, offer plenty of room for Christian liberty, and be gracious to those who arrive at different conclusions than we do. Just a few thoughts.

    • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

      Hey Willie,

      Thanks for sharing. It’s good to hear from you! I think you make a valid point.

      I certainly wasn’t arguing that wearing tank tops or tight shirts is a black-and-white moral issue. I think some things I wore were inappropriate for mixed company — and by “inappropriate” I mean “inconsiderate,” not “sinful.” My sin wasn’t what I wore, but my motivation in wearing it. I was proud of my meager muscles and wanted to show them off. My clothes were inappropriate. My attitude was sinful. Does that make sense?

      I’m a little surprised you think this article creates artificial standards and calls them Biblical. Perhaps you are responding to the Modesty Survey as well and not to this article by itself? Or maybe you are responding to things other commenters have posted?

      [ Borrowing from a reply to another commenter ]

      “To be honest, I have problems with the Modesty Survey too. It wasn’t Alex or my idea. We didn’t write the questions or any of the answers. At the time we didn’t have a very mature understanding of modesty or the pitfalls surrounding it. Moreover, many of the young ladies who submitted questions had the dangerous idea that they were dressing for men (rather than for God) and some of the young men who responded had the dangerous idea that immodest women caused them to lust.

      The format of the survey (i.e. evaluating individual items of clothing) lent itself to being viewed as rulings handed down by the largest, most important modesty jury of all time — despite our best attempts to add qualifications.

      All that being said, I’m not trying to promote a rule-based, legalistic view on modesty — despite my baggage. I want young women and men to dress modestly for the glory of God. I think that will look slightly different for each person and can vary from culture to culture. The attitude of the heart is always the same, but the outward expression might change depending on your body type and the environment you’re in.

      However, I still think there is a place for discussing which outward expressions (i.e. dress and behavior) reflect modesty and which don’t. I can’t justify adopting a relativistic attitude on this issue. My modesty is ultimately between me and God, just like every other aspect of my life. That doesn’t give me license to do whatever I want. My life is lived before God, but it touches other people. Provided I don’t start living for their approval, their input can be helpful — even on specific things like, “Do you think I should wear these low-rise swim trunks?”

      I’m not defending all the abuse and shaming that has gone on under the banner of “enforcing modesty.” I hate that stuff. But I’m concerned people want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I think the concept of dressing modestly should be kept and fixed — not tossed. One step in that direction is addressing ridiculous double-standards like the one I’m targeting in this article.”

      Hopefully I didn’t just completely miss what you were getting at. If so, just clarify your concern and I’ll try to come back and respond.

      God bless you!

      - Brett

      • williedeutsch

        The post strikes me as the beginnings of a “modesty survey for men.” Which whether the earlier modesty survey was intended as an artificial standard, it sadly definitely became that in many circles afterwards.

        Being considerate of others and thinking about the environment you are wearing clothing is worthwhile. This is a bit different, if how the modesty survey was used is any indicator, people will probably use the comments, or results of this discussion to go, “Here’s what guys should or shouldn’t wear.” based off of responses from people from incredibly different backgrounds and situations.

        Glad you can see the abuse that has gone on in the name of modesty.

        So in that vein, let’s ask what the ultimate purpose is. Is it modesty for modesty’s sake? Or do we ultimately want women to grow up to be beautiful women and men to be gentlemen who are pursuing God in every area of life?

        One of the big take aways for me from Dr. Esolen’s time at PHC was the importance of pursuing the ultimate good. As we become fixated on lesser goals we lose the forrest for the trees, while there are higher goals which the Bible speaks to much more clearly that as we help people pursue, we find areas of dress and other things tend to work themselves out.

        God bless you too bro!

        Willie D.

      • Evan Byrne

        The issue is that you can’t have modesty without victim blaming, so the only way to “fix” modesty teachings is by tossing them. If immodestly dressing leads other people to think and do bad things (as many people claim), then you are placing partial responsibility of those thoughts and acts on the immodest person. Saying immodesty leads other people to sin is a trap. Don’t fall into it.

        • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

          Hey Evan, I don’t think I ever said immodesty leads other people to sin. In fact, I wrote in the article: “No man (or woman) was ever forced to lust by another person’s outfit.”

          However, I think it is possible to sin with our clothing, to dress inappropriately or inconsiderately — but that sin is against God and depends on our heart attitude, not just how much skin we’re showing.

          I don’t really understand your point that you can’t have modesty without victim blaming. Would you mind elaborating?

          • Evan Byrne

            That’s certainly a very interesting position to take. How do you determine that something is wrong if it doesn’t cause harm? Your feelings? It appears as though you are the one in need of offering an explanation, not me.

          • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

            Well, we’d need to define harm. How tangible and measurable does harm need to be before we accept it as harm? Does that harm have to be against another person, or can it be against myself?

            For example, I think being proud is harmful to me, even if it never affects anyone else. To the extent that my clothing reflects a heart of pride it is harmful to me, even if no one else sees what I’m wearing.

            Of course, the main reason I consider pride harmful is because I believe in God and His Word (there are other practical reasons, but they pale in comparison). If you don’t accept that as a basis for morality then you’re on the wrong blog.

            Also, my request for elaboration was an honest one. I didn’t see how the existence of modesty required victim-blaming. After reading several of your comments I can see you are defining modesty something like this: “the idea that how people dress leads other people to do bad things” — which is not how I define or understand modesty.

            Thanks for commenting!

          • Evan Byrne

            By harm yes I do include harm that could come to oneself. Let’s attempt to keep things tangible if possible. I realize that may not be possible though, because we are speaking about morality. You seem to suggest that immodesty causes pride. That certainly appears to have been your personal struggle, but is it fair to say that all immodest people have too much pride? I feel like this all comes down to a very specific definition of modesty that you have.

            I’m sorry that you feel that I’m unqualified to discuss the morality of modesty simply because I’m no longer Christian… I do believe in God, but I no longer make the assumption that the bible conveys absolute truth. Blind faith is OK to have if you keep to your own business, but it’s irresponsible to lead other people with it.

            I know you mean well (as do most people supporting modesty), so I highly recommend that you look into Plato and other philosophy related to morality. You may be surprised to find that some of it supports your beliefs. Perhaps not on modesty, but on other things.

            I’m sorry if I insulted you in any way by with my anti-bible or anti-modesty rhetoric.

    • Joseph Braun

      I don’t think that this is about creating rules but more so just calling to our (guys) attention this overlooked topic so we can correct where we are displeasing God and get input on how to reduce temptations for others. It seems like this is doing what you suggested since the replies are very varied and no set of rules are being decided on.

      • Miles

        But the problem is that in trying to “correct” (which implies that there is something to be corrected) results in the issue of correcting by saying “you can wear this and this, but not wear this or this.” This creates a list of rules that many people want to follow because the rules are said to “glorify” or “please God”, and who wouldn’t want to glorify God? Then the thought process becomes “Oh if I don’t follow this standard of modesty I’m not glorifying God”.

        Let’s take this as a example. Several commentators have said that guys going shirtless is an issue for them. So people say, well this must not be pleasing to God because it’s an issue of temptation for some girls. Then the assumption is that you’re not pleasing God if you go around shirtless, and that’s just not stated in the Bible (unless you can find something that I don’t know about haha).

        Anyways we’re all growing in our faith and understanding, but let’s be careful not to put out opinions as facts.

        In Christ,
        Miles

        • Joseph Braun

          I see what you’re saying. I know legalism can be a big problem and there is the danger of imposing rules that aren’t Biblical. However I still think that it is important to get this feedback to help our sisters in whatever way we can since lust is a really hard continual battle (at least it is for me and it seems by many of the comments, it is for many girls as well) since it seems it really is never won. We should guard from over-correcting but some correcting is needed in the first place. Anyway, this is one way we can stand out from the world and be modest, setting a good example.

          • Lissy

            Thank you, Joseph!

  • Giann

    I have to agree with Erin. Some girls are visual, too. It’s not just a guy problem.

    I have the same problem when a guy walks around shirtless. If you’re swimming in the water/exercising/hanging out alone with your other guy friends, then go for it. But, please, cover up. It’s not appropriate anywhere else.

    • Laura Davison

      I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only girl who struggles with guys who don’t wear shirts. So many of my friends, including my ex, think I’m weird for requesting that my guy friends wear a shirt when I’m around them (most do, thankfully). But seriously, it is a huge issue for so many of us. And if I’m honest, the main reason my female friends think my desire to avoid shirtless guys is because they want to droll over a shirtless guy! So yes, if guys could watch their modesty, it would be so helpful!

    • Amaris Watje

      Oh goodness, I totally agree!

  • Melissa Patterson

    I do not understand this at all, in that I cannot relate. although I can appreciate the sense of a double standard. I don’t know that it is a double standard, just there isn’t much a guy does that is immodest. no shirt? low rise? is that it? there are a million ways for a female to be immodest.

    I think there real modesty for men isn’t so much a physical account for themselves, but a verbal account. They need to be consistent in what they say and how they want women behave and dress. I mean men cannot say about a skimpy dressed girl, “she’s hot” and not expect the girls in their lives to imitate that dress code…to be “hot”.

  • hannah anderson

    Perhaps someone has already addressed this in the comment section, but as we’re realizing more and more everyday, sexual attraction isn’t simply a guy/girl thing. This may be a truth that some feel uncomfortable with, but we must also remember that we have brothers and sisters who are wrestling with SSA. I wonder how the conversation would change if we included this in our thought process and lived in charity toward all around us–regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

    • http://www.themaskblog1.blogspot.com/ Behind the Mask

      Very true, Hannah. It changes the conversation considerably. When you start taking into account the fact that attraction is not as black & white as some like to believe, it starts making some of these rules and principles seem even more extreme.

  • Mikayla Szuter

    Katie, you put this so well! Thanks for your input. I know that many girls struggle with physical lust just as much (just differently) than guys. I have many friends who have tons of pics of celebs shirtless, or in really tight clothes. You addressed this so well! Thanks so much for your godly input, God Bless You! <3 :)

  • Genesis M.

    Most of the time it is really awkward for me if guys walk around shirtless when they are not at the beach, its almost as if they are trying to show off. I also makes me uncomfortable when guys sit with their legs extremely wide open. Really distracting

  • Cezena Clitus

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKfabO9tpeg

    I really want you guys to watch this and comment below. I’m 100% agree with it (but I can’t imagine wearing a swimsuit and running short right above my knee) After watching this videos, I feel like I should clean up my closet. I have struggle with modesty mostly because I leave in Florida( summer is technically everyday for us). Everybody seems to be afraid of teaching about modesty.

  • Liz

    Wow, I just almost cried in the library…

    *ahem* Anyway.

    I think with guys, as with girls, modesty is mostly a heart issue. If you’re wearing something to show off your body, it is more likely to be immodest. Also, common sense. If the clothing you’re wearing would be a problem for you if it was on a girl, consider that on you it may be a problem for girls.

    With that said, here’s a list. *bwahahahaha!* Sorry.

    One thing I think guys really don’t think about because I’ve seen this on men I really respect. You know those nice loose shorts? The ones that tend to come in camo or khaki with a lot of pockets? The ones that have slightly stiffer material so that when you sit in a relaxed manner, don’t conform to your leg so everyone can see up your shorts? Awkward. Not as much a lust problem as really awkward.

    Also, shirts that have the sides cutoff so the eyes are lead to the ribcage, shirts that just plain aren’t there, and tank tops that dip to about halfway down the chest. It would also be nice if all y’all would wear shirts that have enough fabric to wrinkle a bit while you’re wearing them. With the shirts, it’s not as big a deal, you’re probably not causing many girls to stumble, but speaking for myself, it’s just easier when I don’t have to give a guy’s chest a second thought.

    The one biggest thing that has been a problem for me is low-rise shorts. Specifically ones that begin to show where your legs join your torso.

    It’s weird to be on the other side of this. Sometimes the focus on feminine modesty can become very painful, and I don’t want to do that to any guys. So please take this as just some “manners” suggestions.

  • Mikayla Szuter

    Wow, that’s awesome!! Thanks for sharing!! :)

  • Rebekahlee

    I sincerely enjoyed your article. It was so refreshing to hear about modesty talked about from a non-legalistic, non-gender discrim. point of view. And here is the answer to your last questions:

    1. Shirtless guys at the pool never really bothered me. I mean, if I wasn’t a girl, I would totally go shirtless as well. But don’t wear those speedos unless your in the Olympics. Boxers that hang down and show off your underpants just are totally distracting–as is that new pant style that lets the legs be tight and the butt of the jean be loose(I don’t know exactly what they are called). Another thing I found mildly distracting in college was the ‘muscle shirt to the extreme’ or the ‘I couldn’t afford to buy a tank top that covers the side of my body’ look.

    2. Modesty isn’t just on how a person dresses. I find that some guys just ‘act’ immodest, just as a girl parading in a one piece is as immodest as a girl parading in a bikini. Its the heart that really matters. If you are full of yourself, and you want girls to lust after you, girls can tell and some will. Also, flirting is a dangerous business for a girl. I think we are in more danger of psychologically lusting than guys do. (e.g romance novels are extremely lust-causing for most of us.) At least, that’s what I’ve found from my few years as an adolescent female.

    and 3. Yeah, there is a double standard and not a little pressure. Sometimes I feel like it is my job to make sure that guys don’t look at me wrong. For example, I though that if someone “liked” me it would cause them to sin. (I used to dress distractedly ugly to be safe.) Sure, I should dress respectfully, but I’ve now realized when it comes to taking responsibility for other people’s actions that is a pretty big burden to haul around.

    I could go on but I think this is long enough. Your article really, really, really was encouraging to me. I wish more people thought the way you do on this subject.

  • Adrienne

    One thing I find interesting about modesty is how much it changes. A hundred years ago women were being arrested for wearing pants. In Europe today men are wearing speedos and women are ditching swimsuit tops. How soon until this is completely acceptable in the Christian community?

    I don’t exactly know how that fits with the article, but everything I read about modesty brings it to mind. I really loved your post, Brett. It brought forward several lesser discussed points, such as women are not responsible for men’s lust. This is such an important point for many reasons, but especially because the opposite implies that sexual assault is the victim’s fault.

  • disqus_HaWqeclBCu

    why dont we all just get naked?

  • disqus_HaWqeclBCu

    SERIOUSLY… naked would put all us lusters on an even playing field… and i mean “playing”

    • disqus_HaWqeclBCu

      i agree

      • disqus_HaWqeclBCu

        ya me too

        • disqus_HaWqeclBCu

          im a little nervous but im in

    • disqus_HaWqeclBCu

      so smart

  • http://thesetemporarytents.com/ Aadel Bussinger

    The problem comes when we start referring to modesty as “clothes you wear”. The origins of modesty are more along the lines of “balance” in all things. A guy can be fully clothed yet still be immodest by the way he flirts, the outrageous amount of cologne he has on, and a number of other things. Let’s stop thinking that modesty=amount of skin shown. Let’s start thinking of modesty=worth in Christ, which in turn equals security and significance without the need to attract extra attention. It’s a personal journey you make with God, not an external thing.

  • kash

    um- most laborers were shirtless during and before Jesus’s time!!!- just saying,

  • kash

    my comment disappeared but anyways a bigger problem is guys wearing girls clothes and the bible actually has straight forward verses against it

  • Becky Purser

    I read a definition of modesty recently that I liked and made it easy. “Anything that you wear [or don't] which draws attention away from your face is immodest.”

  • Kimberli

    This is honestly the first time I’ve heard anyone speak on the topic of male
    modesty. And I have to say, thank you! I do agree that there is a double
    standard in the Church. And while I think it’s unintentional, it is nonetheless
    there.

    So to my brothers who care:

    Modesty is a heart issue. One of the ways that God has revealed to me that I
    love myself (pride) more than I love God and others (humility) is when I see impurity
    or immodesty in my behavior or dress.

    So here are a few things to help:
    It’s not modest for a man to flirt with a woman who he is
    not intentionally pursuing. For a female this will bring heartache. For some,
    it could be a little heartache and for others it will bring great heartache. An
    action that you truly believe is harmless, will hurt your sister in Christ and
    be a stumbling block to her in her pursuit of loving Christ above all else! If you are truly humble you will seek the good
    of your sisters in Christ and point them to Him rather than yourself and the
    pleasure you feel when you think she digs ya because she is flirting back!

    God has made women with different
    features and aspects of their physicality that is unique, some with larger
    chests or hips or thighs than others. Each woman knows the type or fit of
    clothing that will be sexually appealing on her own body, and its going to be
    different for each woman because there are so many shapes and sizes of the
    female body. It’s the same for men. And I know its been said, but I’ll say it
    again: women are attracted to men physically. I know I am. Here’s just one
    example to help. If you have really nice muscles, don’t show them off, (like
    for women, if she has nice legs she still needs to cover them and not show them
    off). Rather, show your strength by using your muscles to serve the weak. Your humility will bring glory to Christ
    rather than yourself. So show your strength by your service. Use your muscles not to be blessed but to
    bless!

    Like I said earlier, modesty is a
    heart issue. If your fight in this life is to love God and others more than
    yourself then you will care about your purity and the influence you have on
    your sisters in Christ. Please care for us just as we care for you in this
    area. Thanks again Brett for this post!

  • silas

    Im not trying to argue with thentruth of this article-in fact I completely agree with it! I do, however, have somehing I need to say. I am a Christian guy and go to a christian school where we have several girls who are modedt and completely devoted to Christ.However, as soon as an attractive guy walks by without a shirt, my friends, who are girls, immediately begin talking about how “hott” he was or whatever. Now, as a guy, I look at him and think that I need look like him in order to be noticed by girls. Therefore, I begin dressing the same way. My mind starts to think about how I can be noticed by the girls, because clearly what I am doesnt work. Now, if I were to say in front of a girl how hott another girl was hat was wesr short shorts and a belly shirt, I would be considered a pervert. Another thing is that almost every girl I know has a bunch of pictures of celebrity guys on their phone and when I see that, my mind starts to think that I need to dress like that guy. But if I had pictures on my phone of hott girls, One again id be concidered a perv. Im not bashig on girls, but I think that the way you talk abput other guys makes us guys think we have to dress like that because that seems to impress girls. It seems like people think its okay for christian girls to talk about shirtless guys with muscles but that Its not okay for christian guys to talk about girls with bikinis or revealing clothing. If people beig modest should be an equal concern for guys and girls, shouldnt the way we talk about the opposite gender be an equal concern as well? Thats just my thought.

    • Lissy

      Those guys? Who girls think are hott? They’re the kind that women only want one thing from (and it ain’t marriage!)

    • Alice

      THIS is the same exactly why many girls dress immodest, because at the end of the day, like you, see others dressing in a way that may not even be something they think is nice or they may think its tacky, but when they see all the men coming over to that girl, then it makes others want to dress like her. Too we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and both genders do themselves no favors in these shananagains. I don’t like to show my legs and have always had a naturally a very covering fashion sense. Wearing anything too revealing just felt weird to me, no one even had to tell me this. I’m WAY more conservative than my own mother when it comes to my clothes. I’m not saying it like a rule, but unless its a really risty event with family, I don’t wear make-up. It’s just seems like a false-front for my self & don’t enjoy wearing it. But I have no boyfriend and have never been shown interest, even by Christian men, which makes me think most men, despite what they say still want the one with the short skirt.

  • Arron Cook

    Thanks Brett. Really helpful.

  • skies2ark

    I usually avoid reading articles like this. Not because I am against modesty, but because they tend to be very anti-woman and some are downright hateful and backwards. There is no beneficial result in making someone feel as though they are the evil of the world and are dragging down mankind. I like that this article is at least attempting to combat the double standard, but would have liked to see something about people controlling their own minds. At what point does the girl’s/boy’s responsibility stop and the viewers mind start? Lusting is something that begins in the mind of the viewer, yes it can be made very easy to lust when someone is wearing a revealing outfit, however I believe that there is a line of responsibility. Keeping your own mind pure and controlling your thoughts is very difficult to do, but it is essential if you are trying to grow purity in your own soul and mind. I’m not saying this in support of dressing as slutty as possible, and then shame on you for thinking or acting a certain way. I’m saying this because many tend to point fingers and cast blame on others rather than also taking responsibility for their own faults. Blaming others for what is in your mind may make you feel better, but it doesn’t bring you up, or help you become more pure.

  • Eric Dyer

    Great article Brett, very insightful. I want to say that I agree with everything your said! I agree that the way men dress should be to bring honor to God. There are a few points I would like to make for the girls out there, and am posting because this is a relatively new discussion (3 days old). I haven’t really thought about masculine modesty that much, but since I believe myself to have a good fashion sense, I with add my thoughts.

    First, I believe that the way we guys dress should bring honor to God. This is the same with everything we do. We work for the Lord not men. We should dress for the Lord, not men (or women). But correct me if i’m wrong, don’t just argue with me if i’m wrong, but it seems to me like the standards of modesty for men and women are NOT equal. Sure, each should strive after purity, and not have even have a hint of sexual immorality, but men and women are created different. If I was a girl, yea, i wouldn’t be happy about the “Double standard”, but it goes both ways, why aren’t men supposed to shave their legs? (that’s a joke, haha) But isn’t that a double standard? I don’t think i’m lowering the bar on my own purity when I wear a v-neck, but It may not be a pure thing for a girl to wear a low v-neck. What i’m saying is that our bodies are created different but yes, be should both strive for Godliness, holiness and purity. I think if both genders stopped worrying about “the standard” and strive for holiness and purity, we would both be better off.

    I also agree with the shirt in the pool insecurity theory. It’s true, 9 times out of 10 it’s because of insecurity. I’m sure I have done that a few times! The real issue might be lower though, with the swim trunks riding low. I mean crack kills, but the other side of you body can only lead to lust.

    I understand what girls mean by shirt buttons being unbuttoned, and muscle shirts, but just because i’m home schooled, does that mean i have to dress in a suit and tie, or maybe dress pants and polo, buttoned to the top like MONK? I don’t think so! If your muscular, you don’t need a XS t-shirt to prove it, everybody knows that. If your skinny, or as i prefer for myself “trim”, bro-tanks are in style!

    Hope this helps a few people out, maybe my friends will enjoy…. if they read this.
    - Eric, Romans 1:16

    • Lissy

      Are you saying that you don’t care that there’s a double standard? Men and women are created different, yeah, but as you see in the girls testimony above, women are also stimulated visually. If our brothers in Christ ask us to help them in their walk with the Lord by dressing more modestly, shouldn’t they listen to us when we ask for their help too?

  • http://www.wineandmarble.com/ Hännah
  • http://www.themaskblog1.blogspot.com/ Behind the Mask

    Perhaps also missing here is the fact that lust is not an exclusively opposite-sex issue. There are many Christians, myself included, who struggle with same-sex attraction. While committed to living lives of sexual purity (which, for me as a same-sex attracted guy, I believe means either marrying a woman or a life of celibacy), we still struggle with lust just like anyone else. This whole discussion centers around the opposite sex’s response to our clothing choices. But what about me? Is it considered immodest when guys undress in a mens’ locker room? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean the temptation of lust is absent. Am I faced with the choice of avoiding all locker room situations (impractical) or asking other guys to be more modest in the locker room (ridiculous)? Do you see the issue here? As widespread an occurrence as same-sex attraction is (and believe me, it’s widespread), you can’t just think about the opposite sex’s response to your clothing choices (or lack thereof). You never know who you might be causing to “stumble.” If you accept this as a reality (and it is a reality), then by your standards, guys must be careful about what they wear at all times, even around other guys. This starts getting ridiculous!

    I think the complications of same-sex attraction to the modesty discussion shed light on its complications for everyone, men and women. If you really believe the sin lies with the luster and not the lustee (which you say you do believe), then why all the rather ambiguous rules? Yes, we should honor God with our bodies. No, we should not seek to cause others to lust. But we can’t prevent it. It’s not our responsibility to. In my position, I must learn, by the grace of God, to separate innocent attraction from sinful lust. It’s not the guys’ fault in the locker room…that’s on me. By the grace of God, I’m getting there.

    Just another angle to consider.

    • Natalie Trust

      Hey, I just really want to thank you for speaking up here.

    • gaysubtlety

      Oh dude, I was JUST about to talk about this, and you beat me to it. It certainly puts a slightly different spin on things.

      This may sound weird, but one of the things my closest guy friends do (that they probably don’t even think about anymore) is change nonchalantly in the same room as me – something we certainly wouldn’t consider “modest” in fron tof girls! It shows they trust me, that the fact that I’m attracted to guys doesn’t freak them out, and it helps me not feel like an outcast. It seems like the focus of these comments is all about trying to cut out the opportunity to lust (and systematizing what [cultural standard] counts as an opportunity) – but that simply isn’t possible in my life! What I’ve had to do is grow in maturity and the ability to just deal with whatever I may be feeling and to not objectify the guy in front of me. I find it is almost effortless with friends (I hardly think about it) though more difficult with strangers. It’s on me, really.

      There are certainly some things a guy can do in homosocial environments that are immodest and unhelpful, but it has little to do with his clothing (or lack thereof) and a lot to do with how he uses and relates to his body, which I think is closer to a more helpful understanding of the word (i.e. I think modesty is more akin to a humble thankfulness for one’s body and existence and a refusal to exploit oneself or harm others – less to do about systematized clothing options, though it isn’t wholly inconsequential).

      We need to be careful not to oversexualize the body, which can so easily happen with “modesty rules.” I have to believe, and live out the belief, that exposed skin or tight clothing are not inherently sexual, and I think it might be helpful for straight people of whichever gender to reclaim that idea and practice a bit.

      Peace.

      • http://www.themaskblog1.blogspot.com/ Behind the Mask

        Amen. My thoughts exactly, and explained much better. :-) Thanks man.

  • Damien Barber

    I’ve made this point for years and I, as a guy, usually wear a shirt when swimming rather than display my upper body so as not to be immodest (even though I doubt my upper body could cause a girl to lust). I didn’t use to do this, but I got to thinking about how I appreciate girls being modest and how girls can lust too and I decided it was better to be safe rather than do something that makes it harder on my sisters in Christ to keep their thoughts pure.

    • La’Tia Coleman

      Thank you so much Damien. I appreciate your effort (and I’m sure other girls do as well) to think about what might affect us when you are swimming. My dad had my brothers start wearing shirts while swimming (& he started as well) even though they were under 12 at the time. He wanted them to get used to covering up so they would be accustomed to it when they were older. He also didn’t want to set a double standard in our house. We have 3 girls & 3 boys and the girls have been told to dress modestly ever since my parents became aware of the subject. Me and my sister (& now my younger sister) have had to model the clothes we purchased for him before we were allowed to keep them. I didn’t always understand but now I appreciate the many years of raising my arms up and bending over to make sure my clothes stayed put or didn’t rise up to show skin.
      I appreciate it when guys make the efforts to think about us girls instead of thinking “Well I’m not as buff as [insert well-toned male figure here] so going shirtless shouldn’t bother them. Unfortunately, I don’t have any male friends who see any problems with going shirtless. It isn’t that I’m going to start thinking about sex. (Trust me I’m 19 and am just leaving the ‘boys are gross’ stage.) It’s being considerate about others. A shirtless guy, no matter how unattractive or close in friendship we are makes me uncomfortable. I also think if guys don’t think guys have a problem with modesty, it diminishes your authority on how a girl should dress to be modest. I can’t stand hypocrites but that’s what guys sound like when they are shirtless and wearing low-rise swim-shorts while commenting how a girls skirt might have been 2 inches too short.
      I don’t think my body is lust-worthy. I don’t have model-shaped legs or a flat stomach but I cover up because: 1) I want to honor God with the way I dress; 2) I want to set a good example for my brothers so they will look for the right type of girl; 3) You never know what can bother someone. I have very little going on upstairs and could get away with wearing sweetheart or V-neck tops without showing anything too inappropriate but I don’t because I don’t know how that will affect people. I’m trying to live my entire life and present myself (the way I dress is only a small part) in a way that will glorify God and help me to bring others closer to him. Although I might not think my body would cause others to lust over it if I wore a bikini or even a low-cut one-piece , I don’t do it because I don’t see how that can bring them closer to Christ (and because I don’t like looking at half-naked people; guys & girls alike).

      • Courtney Blue

        Well said :)

    • Lissy

      Thank you! Your consideration is both modest AND attractive.

    • Courtney Blue

      Thank you :)

  • Heather Erickson

    “I wasn’t trying to be inappropriate. I just wanted to look good. I was
    single. I wanted to be attractive to girls and I wanted to be affirmed
    by other guys. For me to be modest I would have needed to wear looser
    shirts that I didn’t think looked as good on me. That would have been
    tough”

    Yes and no. I made the choice to buy shirts that were 3 sizes too big so that I would be “modest” in my excessively curvy body. While my 100 pound frame was sporting XL’s, I thought I was above everyone else who wore clothing that fit. That’s not modesty.

    True modesty dresses appropriately out of respect for brothers in Christ. Modesty does not wear ridiculously baggy clothing out of shame, spend hours obsessing over finding the perfect neckline, or judge others for not following the same standards.

    It took me several years, but I’ve finally come to terms with my body. Yes, I have curves that men stare at. If I dress in a way that compliments my figure but does not invite or ask for the leering of others, then I am comfortable walking out the door.

  • Daniel Pandeleos

    I keep seeing this in the comments from people, and I’m confused as to what on earth men can do; how exactly are guys “overly friendly”? What on earth does that look like; how are we meant to act towards our female friends?

    • Jolene

      :-) Welcome the woman’s world. There are a million rules and none of them make any sense.

    • Lissy

      Overly friendly, to me, is when a guy comes into my personal space without being asked, even if it’s just to give me a hug or touch my arm. You can be my friend and not come into my space like you would if you were going to kiss me!

    • Stephanie Russell

      It can mean different things to different girls, but if your focus is honoring and respecting whatever girl you are around at the moment, I don’t think you’ll be in danger or being “overly friendly.”

  • Brandon Buchanan

    My opinion after reading all of these comments, is that modesty is good, and it is something to strive for, for both guys and girls. I don’t think that everyone will necessarily agree with me, but I believe that when lusting occurs, only the luster is at fault, UNLESS the one to be lusted after is trying to be provocative in the way they dress, in which case both people are responsible to God. That’s my understanding on the issue and I’ll be happy to hear any other opinions.

    • Joseph Braun

      It is the luster who is at fault for lusting but it easier to lust in some cases compared to others. That’s why modesty is important: it can help reduce it. Also, it seems that people can be unintentionally provocative also, which the feedback helps with.

  • Rachael Campbell

    First off, I really appreciate this article. This is the first one I’ve ever seen on the subject of male modesty. And as a 19 year old woman (and sister to 3 brothers) I think I can say with the rest of the Christian female population that guys aren’t the only ones who struggle with lust.

    Here are a few things from a female perspective that guys might want to watch out for.

    ~ Lifting your shirt to scratch your stomach…(I’ve noticed this happens most during sports events) Please don’t. I don’t want to see your belly button any more than you want to see mine.

    ~Sitting in shorts. Be careful guys, the legs of your shorts tend to be looser. Watch where you’re sitting and be respectful of the girl across from you.

    ~Sleeveless shirts that have been cut down the arm…not saying that sleeveless shirts themselves are immodest, but do a ‘mirror check’ (yes, guys can do it too) and make sure that you’re covered.

    Thank you so much! You have no idea how much it means to know that there are young men out there who care about the girls side of the struggle and are willing to help.
    ~Rachael C.

  • Rachel Weaver

    Answer to Questions
    1) Men dressing: wearing their pants low or to high.
    When playing sports with girls, please keep your shirt on – it makes it easier to focus on the game and be good competition.
    Acting: “godly men do not try to conquer purity, but give their lives to protect it.” – Eric Ludy.
    It is always pleasant to be around a man who looks you in the eyes and talks to you as another human being and is NOT letting his eyes wander. He is civil, but guarded – not flirty, but friendly.

    2) I find it inconsiderate when men, compare themselves to woman. WE ARE DIFFERENT.
    - When men look down on woman in sports – instead of respecting her. Big egos are not attractive. Woman do not want someone they can worship – but someone who draws them closer to Christ and working to improve, not perfect.

    3) Double standards: Girls are weaker = lesser.
    - “Woman just want to talk” – sometimes my favorite times are when there is peaceful silence. Girls do not want to dominate a conversation, when I give my input it is usually to start discussion, and conversation.
    - Men who believe they understand woman = YUCK – we do not want to be understood, we want to be cherished even if a guy disagrees with us.

    I would love to hear from men:

    *What ways of dressing and behaving are immodest for women?
    *What do Christian girls do that is as unhelpful and inconsiderate of gentlemen, as it is for Christian men to prance around in skimpy swimsuits?
    *Where else have women “missed it” on modesty? Are there other double-standards you’ve recognized?

    • Brandon Buchanan

      Double Standards
      I’m not completely sure I understand or agree about your third point. I believe that God has given guys more strength to protect girls. So, yes girls are weaker. I would not say that girls are lesser people, but the guys is higher in families. Not, better, but higher. In the family (at least in mine and how I perceive families supposed to be in the Bible) the guy should be the one that everyone looks up to, and the one who will stand and protect the family.

      Last questions for guys:
      I personally find that I have to make myself look away when a girl has short shorts. Check out the Modesty Survey:

      http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/

      There have been lots of misunderstandings with it, but I believe that some girls may still find it useful as a guide, not a rulebook.

      • Rachel Weaver

        Thanks! :)

        I believe men were created stronger, but some guys use that against woman, it makes women feel of lesser value.

      • Rachel Weaver

        Thank you! :)

        Guys were created stronger, but some guys use that strength against girls, making them feel of lesser value.

  • Christina Nicole Ward

    This
    was articulate and excellently put; I know as a young woman who has chosen to
    live for Jesus and remain pure for the man I will marry someday, that men not
    being modest can be a distraction. What bothers me is the low-rise swim trunks
    that men wear. I don’t think that God fearing young woman want to see any of
    that. If Christian men don’t want women
    to wear swim tops or shirts that show a lot of cleavage, please cover up the
    hip bones and such related things. Just wear the trunks a little higher, or
    wear a t-shirt when you aren’t in the water swimming. Consider it man-cleavage,
    and please don’t show it; if it is on display, women will probably notice and
    think impure thoughts. Most of us girls do
    not struggle with physical lust the same way men do; we are driven by emotion
    and affection. Fit, attractive men will
    get our attention, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is when people,
    men or women for that matter, extenuate the parts of themselves that should be
    covered up to get that attention that problems start to arise, and temptations
    are foolishly acted upon. It isn’t always the immodestly dressed person’s fault
    either; I know guys who probably think that walking around shirtless is just a
    typical guy thing and therefore not a big deal. The clothing and marketing
    industry is a big part of this; they push immodesty as “the normal thing”. The advertising that dominates the mainstream
    of the media makes the line between modest and immodest a hazy, gray form that
    people can have a hard time navigating. I am glad that you brought to light
    that modesty is not just a girl problem; may we, as Christ followers, keep
    praying and seeking God first to help us with this problem in our culture.

  • Patti

    Well, to tell you the truth, a man’s muscles do not turn me on. My thought may be, “He’s been working out, or he’s in good shape,” and that’s as far as it goes. And as far as tight jeans, shorts or swimsuits: I don’t desire to see a profile of “the family jewels,” and I am embarrassed for him when he shows them.
    While I appreciate your desire to equate the modesty issue here, I honestly believe that men are more visual than women in general, and the weight of being modest lies more on the Christian female in response to her wanting to honor God in the way she dresses, by showing respect to herself, and to her weak brothers.

    • Courtney Blue

      Please do not make light of other women’s struggles.Men already think we are not visual, when you say this kind of thing it reenforces that misconception. I am personally a very visual women, I struggle even when a man wears a sleeveless shirt. So please be careful.

      • Shawn

        Different women are attracted or indifferent to different things just like different men are. I was raised in a family that didn’t care if a guy has his shirt on or not so the most I think of when I see muscles is “Wow, he looks like Batman!”
        So everybody’s different… and that knowledge in itself needs to be taken into account as we seek a thorough discussion.

  • Lissy

    I don’t think it’s ridiculous for guys to wear shirts over their suits. I would never swim topless (talk about immodesty!) or even in a bikini. And if a guy thinks his bare chest and stomach is less of a stumbling block than mine… well, he should spend some time looking through my eyes.

  • Becky

    Thank you, Brett. This article encouraged me a lot.

  • Mathilda

    This is an excellent article, thank you. I have always thought of modesty as a “girl” issue. But, to be completely honest I struggle with lust toward men all the time. I usually notice them for their face, but speedos are definitely something that draws inappropriate attention.

    I don’t believe that shorts cause any problems, but guys walking around with their shirts off, even when it’s hot, is sometimes hard to deal with. Also, guys who walk around with their pants hanging off. For me, that’s not appealing. It just means that the guy doesn’t know how to dress properly.

    In my mind, the reason why a girl should be properly covered, is to protect what is sacred, and only meant for her husbands eyes. Maybe if guys would think along the same lines, they would understand how hard it is to look nice while still being modest.

    Thanks Brett, I appriciate this article.

  • wordofawoman.com

    Quick question, are there any demographic data concerning how many and which denominations were represented in the survey?

  • Meg

    Well that can of worms just got opened.

    I have to start by saying that I have always been a fan of the Rebelution, and an admirer of Alex and Brett and their heart for teens and Christianity. In fact, a letter I sent to them back in the writing stages of “Start Here” was used in that book. Brett, I appreciate that you wrote an open-minded and sensitive article on modesty and there has been a lot of interesting conversation since. But I am troubled. And I have not commented on any of these posts in a while and it’s about time I did.

    What you need to understand about me is that I am a young lady who is badly, badly burned by patriarchal oppression and the modesty/courtship/whatever culture. I grew up ashamed of my curves. Ashamed to even think that a guy was hot. Dressing like a grandma and feeling pity for anyone in shorts and a t-shirt, because they were less Godly. Returning from a foreign country to America and joining our church and youth group was scary and difficult for me. Quite simply, I looked stupid. I dressed stupid. I tried very hard to dress as fashionably as I could within my father’s strict guidelines (no knee bones showing, because that causes lust, no chest, pants that were 4 sizes too big because tightness is of the devil.)

    There’s much much more. I could go on forever about what it was like having every aspect of my life minutely controlled by one man who looked up to no one but himself. But fast forward to the now. Our patriarch abandoned us. 8 and a half months ago, precisely. He lives in a trailer by himself, reading his bible and visiting only his favorite children once a week. My mother, who all her life submitted and humbled herself and apologized for his wrongdoings, is finally learning to wear her hair down (literally) and looking for a job and wearing skirts that don’t quite cover her knee. And so are we all, this houseful of women left with no option except to find our independence, make money, and choose to be cheerful. I wear denim shorts. Guys can deal with it. I make my own money. ATI can suck it. Some of us are on depression meds because the joy of the Lord is not very touchable when life is crappy and you are left completely alone. And yet we are gonna be just fine. Because we don’t need no men.

    I know I’m off-subject…I guess my point is that women like me have been raised in a sub-culture of homeschooling that says we are to blame for the sin that our brothers and fathers commit. And that is wrong. Do I believe in submission? Yes, but my only, and I mean ONLY head is Jesus until I get married (and even then, we’re co-pilots). I don’t go to God through any patriarch. Do I believe in modesty? Yes. Because it is trashy to flaunt our curves, glorious as they may be, in inappropriate ways and especially in church. I don’t want to be ogled and objectified. But I’m not responsible when men lust. And I am responsible for my own sin when I lust after men, which happens fairly frequently, because I am a hormonal and single young women without any men in her life except church folks. Big deal. Thank God for grace. Free grace. FREE grace.

    So you could say I have daddy issues. I don’t blame homeschooling in and of itself. I didn’t become an atheist or a flaming feminist. But I’m tired of legalism and oppression. That’s why I got baptized last month…because there is freedom and forgiveness and justice in Christ. Thank goodness.

    Sorry for the rant.

    • http://www.therebelution.com/ Brett Harris

      Thank you for sharing, Meg. I’m very sorry to hear how your father treated you and your family. Stories like yours make my blood boil. Praise God for Jesus, or else how would we know what a man should be? There are so many bad examples.

      • Meg

        Thanks Brett, and you are very right. Without the perfect Man, I would be utterly lost. I realize my tone sounded very bitter, but in actuality everything that has happened has only worked out for the best because I know Who I really can rely on.
        I really do appreciate this blog and the thought that goes into it. God bless.

    • EMSoliDeoGloria

      You are not alone, Meg.

      Jesus is not like the patriarichalist pastors and fathers some of us have known. I don’t blame homeschooling either. I do blame some within the homeschooling community who used perversions of the Christian religion to enslave people, especially women, to the detriment of both women and men.

      Dorothy Sayers said it well:
      “Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the cradle and last at the cross. They had never known a man like this Man- there never has been another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them as ’The women, God help us!’ or ‘The ladies, God bless them!’; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious… Nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about women’s nature.”

      • Meg

        Thank you very much, EMSoliDeoGloria…I really appreciate that quote (and by the way Sayers is one of my favorite authors!).

        And if anyone else ever reads this…I really should have made it more clear that what bothered me about this post was not really the content, but more so the attitude of the people commenting on it.

        Thanks for the response!

        • EMSoliDeoGloria

          You are very welcome. Separatist and subordinationist perspectives on the genders miss the power of God’s design for the “blessed alliance” (to borrow from Carolyn James) to be better together than apart.

          • Meg

            Agreed!

  • Alice

    – Men modesty is a HUGE issue because nearly most families DON’T teach it or encourage it. It’s my personal belief, but if I were a man, I wouldn’t be taking my shirt off in public, I would not be readjusting myself in public in front of people, i would try my best not to sit so wide legged that it takes up two seats, would not be showing my boxers above the rim of my pants, and would certainly not roam any room etc in just my underwear (as men love and feel obligated to do). Even when men do these things, most Christian women I know ‘try’ to respect them and look away elsewhere, sometimes we mess up but we make the effort. Now tell me if a woman walked in a room with just her underwear most Christian men wouldn’t just look at her eagerly? And the excuse from most men is ‘Well, she’s asking for it.’ What about them? We could make the same excuse 10-fold! Fact of life: every issue that man has ever gone through, women have experienced as well. Lust is most assuredly one of them. Wake up world.

  • Desiree King

    Thank you so much! While I do believe that guys have a much harder time with lust, I have been distracted by how men dress. So here are some things to think about,

    Tight pants or shorts around the “area,” is the biggest problem.

    no skinny jeans,

    don’t sit with your legs spread apart

    Wearing tight shirts to show off your form

    going shirtless is distracting, and it’s not fair, I hate it when guys are wearing practically nothing when I’m standing there in like 3 layers trying to stay modest even when it’s like 90 degrees outside.

    wearing your pants low,

    showing your underwear, It’s not attractive at all “you’re lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground!”

    no speedo’s!!!

    with swimwear, make sure that you can keep them up, and that they are not see through

    and don’t hug girls.. this is really uncomfortable for me… side hugs, a high five, a hand shake all fine, just don’t hug…

    thank you!

    • ODYSSEYLOVER

      So agree about skinny jeans and low pants…

    • Amy Vonk

      …we really need to pray…

  • Alice

    Excuse me Brett, but my question still hasn’t really been addressed fully. Are there also going to be polls for what women find modest/immodest for men or are we just supposed to put everything here? Thanks in advance. :-)

  • ODYSSEYLOVER

    Have you ever considered doing another modesty survey, but for guys instead?

  • Zach

    As I was reading this I thought about one of my male friends at church who is always encouraging all of us guys to look after the women’s hearts because they might find something we wear or not wear in the case of going shirtless to cause them to stumble.

    I appreciate many of the comments here on what cause you girls to stumble. I want to grow in Christ and feel that knowing more of what may cause my sisters in Christ to stumble will help me to have more of a healthy respect and consideration for them and their walk with the Lord. I also agree that it is the attitude of the heart that is most important.

    On that note guys, shouldn’t our attitude be in our dress as in everything else to consider others as more important than ourselves? (Philippians 2:3) I know that we like to look cool and show off what we have. I’ll admit I like to do that although that doesn’t usually involve going shirtless. But I also have to admit that those desires are not godly and are just my pride wanting to take control. If we find out here that something as simple as wearing a shirt even when we are swimming will help a lady struggle less with her thoughts and help her be more pure in Christ shouldn’t we try to help her by wearing that shirt?

    I think so many times the reason we don’t do these things is because of our pride. As the verse says we have to have humility of mind in order to consider others as more important than ourselves. Everybody who struggles with pride, especially me, knows that is difficult. Thankfully God in His grace sent Jesus Christ to die for my sins and sent the Holy Spirit to help me overcome my sin because I could never do it on my own. But in all of our thoughts on how we dress let’s consider the ladies and how we can best present them complete in Christ. (Colossians 1:28) I know the verse says man but obviously it is directed that we should present everyone complete in Christ. Remember, Paul became all things to all people so that he could save some. Now that God has saved our sisters in Christ let us do our best so that we can help them grow in Him.
    In Him,
    Zach

  • Amy Vonk

    I’m so glad that this topic was brought up. When I read this article,

  • http://notjustateen.blogspot.com/ Nathan Tasker

    This is a great article, Brett! There were certainly some points that you wrote that not many people would have the courage to share, but that I definitely needed to hear. Modesty is too often a one-sided topic, and I believe you brought the other side to light extremely well.

    To many of you who commented, I personally want to thank you for your input. As a guy, it is very helpful to know some of the things that I can be doing to portray modesty in my life. Your comments have been very insightful.

    This topic is certainly controversial on many levels. And while I believe the Modesty Survey is still a great recourse, I fully understand the problems it had and it saddens me to know the hurt it inadvertently brought to some.

    Thanks again, Brett, for this well-thought article. I pray that Christ grows true modesty in the hearts of every young man and woman.

  • Soccer4Player

    I find it EXTREMELY distracting when guys wear cutoff shirts that show just about everything that a shirt should cover, also guys skinny jeans are a big no, there tight and attract attention to places that we Christian girls don’t want to be attracted to. And of course being shirtless and wearing low cut shorts have the same effect.

    • Courtney Blue

      Me too.

  • Evan Byrne

    I find discussions on modesty like this to be both absolutely hilarious and slightly disturbing. It seems like every ultra-conservative guy or gal considers something “immodest” that the average person would think is completely silly. For example, someone in this thread said that a guy wearing pants should not sit with his legs open. You have got to be kidding me, right? Then there are other people who would have the whole world swim in baggy pants and longs sleeve shirts, just so they don’t have to be “tempted” by the natural beauty of the human body while at the beach! Modesty is pure silliness that has no basis in philosophy. I’m so glad I got out of this culture of shame.

    • http://notjustateen.blogspot.com/ Nathan Tasker

      Hey Evan,

      I completely agree that people can be highly legalistic and extreme in the issue of modesty. I also agree that many people have used the cover-word of modesty to bring others to shame and make them feel guilty about themselves.

      However you mentioned that modesty has no basis in philosophy. I don’t want to argue with you, but I would like to share a scripture from 1 Timothy 2:8-10:

      “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”

      On a biblical basis, modesty is certainly important for men, not just women. No, it is not commanded. But it is desired. In our pursuit to please God, both guys and girls can walk in modesty to help each other and to bring honor to our Lord and Savior.

      Yes, it may seem silly sometimes, but often we don’t realize that modesty can indeed have a great impact on our fellow Christians.

      I don’t expect to change your mind, nor do I want to start a philosophical debate, but I did want to let you know that we are all trying to please God and help our brothers and sisters in Christ, not bring shame.

      Blessings in Christ,

      Nathan.

      • Evan Byrne

        First of all, bible scripture isn’t philosophy. I’m not sure if you were implying that or not, so just thought I would throw that out there before saying anything else. Either way it’s good to make the distinction that scripture doesn’t prove much of anything to those of us who doubt it. If you want to make strong arguments for moral teachings to the non-religious, then start reading Plato and stop quoting scripture.

        I spent the first 20 years of my life living as a die-hard Catholic virgin, so I understand that people mean well and that they are trying to please God by being modest. However, good intentions are never enough to justify poorly thought out moral teachings. If modesty prevents bad thoughts, then immodesty causes bad thoughts. Why? Because they are opposites. If immodesty forces other people to objectify them, then the dreaded “she asked for it” conclusion isn’t far off.

        Don’t preach the necessity of modesty. It places partial responsibility on victims of sexual crimes, even if that is completely unintended.

  • Evan Byrne

    You are absolutely correct. Enforcement of modesty has caused a lot of terrible victim blaming over the course of history, and continues to do so. Expanding modesty to include men only compounds the issue, rather than fix it.

  • Chloe Harrow

    So does this mean that There’s going to be a modesty survey for the guys? That would be kinda cool.

    Any ways I think that the guys should know that we like them better in suits and ties, not itsy bitsy yellow polka dotted speedos. The idea that if you dress up, instead of down, means that you respect yourself; goes both ways in my opinion.

    If guys respect us girls more when we ‘dress up’ then I think that they should know that the same goes for them, WE LIKE IT BETTER WHEN YOUR DRESS IN SUITS AND TIES!

    Guys you have the society-given privilege to be able to wear a suit for any and every occasion, don’t rub it in our noses! Do you know how much we envy the fact that you can get by with wearing the same outfit for ANY occasion? AND still be modest?

    -CH

  • emlove37

    What ways of dressing and behaving are immodest for men?
    - I think its immodest when guys wear their pants too low, especially swim trunks! I know I have to look away when guys do that..
    double standards/missed things i’ve noticed:
    -girls are ALWAYS judged when wearing inappropriate things, or flirting too much with guys, etc. etc.it seems guys are never talked to or blamed or judged when they flirt or mess around with girls. guys’ attitudes can be “immodest” more than their clothes are.
    on another note, it would be really cool if you guys could make a modesty survey that us girls could do for guys.. let us show our opinions. :)

  • Nikki

    I have talked to my granny about modesty before, and she made a very interesting point. We were sitting in a car at a bank and I told her how I felt about modesty..
    If you think about it, society as a whole wears a lot of the same clothes.. for fashion. Say right now colored short shorts are in. Every where you go, you see women, teens, and girls all wearing colored shorts. Say you’re a 16 year old boy and you see an 8 year old girl wearing colored short shorts. Do you lust?? Why is it fair for an 8 year old to wear them but a 16 year old girl cant? Each person has their own innocence scale. If a really pretty, good girl who makes good grades and is in good shape wears shorts, it doesnt make her “dirty” in my opinion. People dont give it a second thought except, “oh, she looks nice.” Its when you see people who are rude and loud and isnt so..”good” that wear shorts that make you think again.
    Everyone has a reputation to uphold. If youre an innocent person, and you wear shorts, youre most likely to be viewed innocently. The 16 year old boy wont lust for the 8 year old girl because he views her as an innocent person. But if you were to hear that she had a bad reputation.. thats when you have second thoughts.
    Being “christian” isnt about following rules. Its about loving God with all of your heart. You could follow EVERY SINGLE rule anyone has ever given you, and you could have lived in the old testament and done everything perfectly, and still not have gotten in to heaven. That is why Jesus died on the cross. Not only is it impossible for us to be perfect, but because its your heart that gets judged in the end. Its how much you loved God.(Check out the book “The Shack”.)

    So why say, “Guys cant go shirtless and cant have their boxes showing, while girls cant wear shorts and bikinis?” Those are rules, and not rules God has made, but rules we humans are making..
    Have you ever swam in a t-shirt and pants over your clothes?? sound ridiculous?? because it is. You’re swimming. You’re not at a strip club. Its not a big deal to wear a bikini or for a guy to be shirtless. Its when the bikini shows so much that theres nothing left to reveal, and (if you were to lust) to leave nothing left for the mind to even imagine. Wear a bikini..no biggy. People are saying that in California people can go nude and it not be a big deal because everyone else is nude..so why cant people here wear bikinis when everyone else is? im not saying its okay to do things just because everyone else is.. but its when everyone wears a bikini and you go nude that draws the attention to you in the wrong way.
    Honestly? We can be the most Godly person possible, but it wont matter and it wont change anyone else unless we do the “godly” thing in society. For instance..
    There is nothing wrong with having a coed sleepover.(I mean, to say no one does anything impure or unmoral.)
    Sound wrong? Thats because society today frowns upon it and looks down on it. Oh, you’ve slept in the same bed with a guy before? Wow..you must be…(fill in the blank). Whats wrong if you dont do anything? nothing. Whats the difference between that and watching a movie on the couch with your boyfriend and falling asleep? just a few hours. But since our world views teenagers as bad kids who do bad things, then if they were to hear that a teenager had a coed sleepover, they would automattically assume something bad. Im not saying to go and have coed sleepovers,though. Its up to an individual with how much you trust yourself, and the people around you.
    But does the example make sense?? We let society decide whats morally correct and whats morally wrong. God should be the one to decide. But if we are to represent our faith to people, we must act in whats “morally right”. So if someone heard you had a coed sleepover when youre suppose to be a christian, they automatically think you’re a hypocrite and that you dont follow God at all.. So ladies. Dont go nude when everyone around you has bikinis on. :p

    Morals peole have are based off of life and society. It SHOULD be based off of your relationship with God. If it is, only then can you truly be happy and comfortable with whatever anyone will think of you. Because it won’t matter.
    God wants you to have a good life.. Why would He give us life if He expected us to expect to live uncomfortably? Okay. comfortable. There are many things in life that God will want us to do that might make us uncomfortable.. at first. Like in your book “Do Hard Things”, when the girl isn’t comfortable speaking on phones but she does it anyway. Now im sure its not a big deal to her anymore. When you go swimming..dress comfortably.
    I have a friend who is self-concious about himself and wears a shirt when he swims. That’s what’s comfortable to him. I have a friend who wears a bikini to swim in. That’s what she’s comfortable in. Don’t wear something super skimpy because you’re comfortable in it,though. You some-what have to keep in mind what everyone else thinks. Sound dumb? it is. But if we want others to believe we are christians, we must portray it.. Don’t wear something you wouldn’t feel comfortable for God to see you in. You want God to look at you like you’re His beautiful creation. You dont wan’t Him to think, “Wow.. I give my child this beautiful body, and this is what she does. She abuses my gift..”
    I’ll admit. I wear bikinis. I have since I was six. It’s not a big deal.. It just depends what kind of bikinis.
    Last summer I ordered this bikini online that was super cute. When it came in, I tried it on and it revealed a LOT of my bottom. And I wasnt comfortable with that much of my butt showing.. This summer I got a bikini that fits perfectly. My entire butt is covered and I feel comfortable and “safe” in it! I don’t have to think twice about people thinking badly of me.
    On the other hand, it doesnt really bother me when I see a guy with his shirt off.. It might be because I grew up around guys and I have a lot of guy friends, but it does’nt phase me. It just shows me how healthy he is and if he has self-control and self-respect for himself. Someones body can tell you a lot about a themselves.
    I believe that God is amazing and all of His creations are amazing. I’ll workout and run and eat healthy (some-what) because our bodies are temples of Christ. I believe that all of our bodies are beautiful. It’s okay to show other people that you have a beautiful body and that you respect the gift God gave you. It’s not okay if you wear something and the whole time you keep thinking “these people are probably thinking badly of me because of what im wearing..” If you don’t think badly of yourself when you wear it, then why worry? People will think what they think. Yes, you have to show them through your actions and words that you are holy..but people aren’t perfect and they aren’t always going to have the perfect thoughts. You may be wearing something modest and someone might think it’s not modest at all. Well, you can’t change that. You can persuade what they think of you, but you ultimately can’t feed them their thoughts. Its what God thinks of you. Only His pure judgement matters. All I’m saying is that its okay to wear a bikini, but not a super skimpy one. Guys can go shirtless, just no speedos and no “v”s showing. Don’t take it like a rule..take it like a moral. If you do wear a skimpy bikini in front of someone, it just shows that you not a super caring person. As in, you don’t care what they think, you don’t care if it causes them to lust, and you don’t care that, Christ-like, they are considered your brothers (or sisters). It also shows that you don’t care to treat your body like a gift. It’s like displaying the gift God gave you in a rudely manner, and trust me, that won’t earn you brownie points. And maybe you’re only wearing it because you want guys to think you look hot or for girls to be jealous of you… Sooner or later, (hopefully the formal) none of that will matter to you anymore because you’ll realize that you only want to please God and you don’t want to help persuade others to lust and be jealous. How godly are you if you’re helping others do the opposite of furthering their relationship with God? You don’t want to be that uncaring.
    It also depends on the person. What are you comfortable with? Will you be able to accept what others judge of you? Are you giving them the wrong thoughts?
    Back at the bank, we saw a penticostal employee walk in. She had her hair fixed very nicely with thick makeup and was wearing a tight longsleeve and fashion belt with a fitted long skirt and high heels. That might not paint a good picture, but this lady was a VERY attractive person. Everyone has their own opinions on religion, and im not saying anything about her religion, but at that moment it didn’t matter that she was penticostal. It didn’t matter that her skirt and shirt were long. My granny had said she looked just as sexy and promiscous as a non-penticostal. The woman could have been wearing bootie shorts and with her chest falling out of her tanktop and it would have been either the exact same, or less sexy than the hot bank employee. Its about attitude. Modesty is 25% what you dress. The 75% is made up of your personality. Are you a modest and humble person? Your clothes will portray your actions, style, and who you are as a person.
    Modesty is tricky. No one points out why, but it’s because its about trying to please God, other people, and yourself all at once. Hopefully you can kill two birds with one stone by having the same moral as God, but you can’t control other people. You wont get it 100% right all of the time. It’s tough..no one said being a christian is easy, or comfortable, but in time God will make it worthwhile, and give you comfort and strength. Then all of the discomfort and hardness wont matter anymore.
    We need to stop worrying so much about what we’re wearing to make sure everyone is impressed and okay with it. We need to start focusing on our personalities and the kind of person we are instead, because I agree with the comment about a guy’s attitude (thinking he’s God’s gift to women–the concieted guys) and being flirty, making you melt like butter regardless of wearing a shirt or not.
    With clothes, I say trust your instinct. I think God can talk to us through our conscience pretty clearly.

  • http://littlemaidofvirginia.blogspot.com/ Mallory O’Bier

    I was at the beach for all of last week swimming, surfing, building sand castles, playing volley ball etc. I wore swim shorts, and a tankini that covered both my chest, and my whole torso, but was still in a fun pattern. I dressed that way because that’s comfortable for me, and because I believe it honors God. I didn’t have to worry about something “showing,” because I was covered up, but at the same time I didn’t look like a sack of potatoes either.

    Dressing that way for beach you get a lot of curious looks from people, for bikinis are the norm, and some people don’t know girls that wear anything else. I have become accustomed to the stares however, and love my sporty bathing suit.

    I have often wondered about guys though, and whether them going shirtless is really such a big deal. It never bothered me really, but I knew friends who it did bother. Walking on the beach so much I passed a lot of guys in only their swim trunks, and one thing I noticed is that I always looked everywhere BUT at them until they had passed.

    Why was that? I wasn’t really attracted to guys’ bare chests, so what was the big deal?
    I think it embarrassed me! The fact that they were showing so much skin was embarrassing to me, and I didn’t want to look at them for fear they might think I wasn’t looking at THEM, but at their chests! The very fact that I felt the need to guard my eyes suggests something to me.

    Maybe, even though society says it’s okay for guys to go around shirtless, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily appropriate? And if that’s the case, is there a remedy for that? Well, there are rash guards. I wear one when I surf, and it is so nice not to have to put on so much sunscreen! Guys could wear those, if they liked. Just a thought.

    Also, low rise swim trunks are a problem! Not with lust exactly, but for keeping my thoughts pure. So I agree, modesty isn’t just a girl thing!

  • Jonathan Gallaher

    straHey guys,
    First, great article Brett, this sort of thing(modesty for men) is really something that needs to be an open subject and for some odd reason it gets ignored.
    More sexist bias towards women maybe?
    Anyway, I saw some people say that clothing is different at a beach or pool and I want to challenge that.

    I recently returned from a trip to Thailand /Cambodia and in those countries you are looked at strangely if you wear ‘swimmers’. They don’t have market for it outside of tourists. So the idea that we can’t wear a shirt and pants swimming is seemingly ridiculous. One, it is definitely possible, two, it isn’t difficult at all and three, it solves the beach/pool modesty problem.

    In Christ,
    Jonny Gallaher

  • Stasha

    I agree with you! It annoys me so bad that guys can show their stomachs when they stretch but girls can’t and that they can show their underwear and boys can’t! But what really makes me mad and I think it totally unfair is when guys can go running in just shorts no shirt but it’s not ok more a girl to wear shorts and a sports bra when she goes running! I’m just like are you serious? It just makes me so mad bc I am pretty visual for a girl!

  • Stasha

    Yes you’re right! Hips bones! That’s a major stumbling block for me! And that V mussel should never be shown ever!

  • Rachel Rich

    I have never looked at modesty this way; I have always thought that modesty was just a girl issue. But now that you’ve pointed it out, i believe you are right. There are things that boys wear that can be immodest. Not everyone will agree with me on this one, i know, but when guys lift up their shirts a little bit for some “air” just enough for everyone to see their abs, that can be immodest as well as if guys wear to short shorts. That doesn’t happen too often and I don’t think it will make a girl “lust” but I believe it is inappropriate. Also I don’t think guys should be walking around with no shirt on unless if at the pool or beach.

  • Josiah Caprine

    I really appreciate this article! What do you guys think about not a shirt swimming? I guess I don’t think twice about not warring a swim shirt when I swim. Because I find it more comfy with out a shirt and it does not get in the way. But I totally want to respect you guys who struggle with this and not be a stumbling block! If not warring a shirt is too distracting then I will think about warring a swim shirt;)haha Thanks!

  • Kennedy

    I take issue with the fact that even the most reasoned arguments suggest that modesty is for the men. It is because our bodies are inherently tempting and cause them to stumble. Here is my view.

    If a man sees an attractive woman, he might feel attracted to her. That attraction is not inherently evil. In fact, that attraction is God-created and natural. It is how he chooses to think about her- if he simply acknowledges her beauty, that is respectful. When he objectifies her, fantasizes about her, makes her into nothing more than a device for his own pleasure in his own mind, that is lust. To imply that women prevent lust by covering up turns the responsibility for men’s sin over to women. And the purpose of modesty has also been said to prevent objectification of women. By saying that women should “have more self respect” and “stop objectifying themselves so men can’t either,” we are, perversely enough, objectifying her. It implies that a woman’s body, designed by God, is shameful and needs to be hidden.

    Then of course, there are the two most frequently quoted Bible passages in reference to modesty. The one when “Paul told Timothy that women who want to be attractive should do so by doing good works and should dress modestly and decently, not drawing attention to themselves (1 Timothy 2)” as quoted from another comment-er down below, and also the passage about being a stumbling block (Romans 14). Context is everything. So the first verse. Modesty here is actually referring to riches. But don’t take my word for it: “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, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (emphasis mine). This is talking about women not wearing lots of showy jewelry, designer clothing or shoes. This says that in humility, women should worship God, rather than worry about showing up their neighbor with the better label. This is not at all a matter of the body- it is a matter of the heart of the woman worshipping, which we are not to judge anyway. Now, for the second verse. I will need to quote a blogger who is much more adept at this than I am. Bethany at “All that Jazz” (http://bethanypegors.blogspot.com/2013/06/sin-and-temptation-whose-responsibility.html) says: “I think Modesty Culture has misinterpreted Paul’s purpose in Romans 14. While I can see why they may interpret a stumbling block to be certain articles of clothing that women in general “shouldn’t” wear, I don’t think we (most of us, anyway) would apply these same standards to other areas of life. For example, there’s the issue of alcohol. While we know that some people in the faith have trouble with alcoholism and I know most of us would want to respect those people by not drinking in front of them, I would venture to say that for the most part we would not say that Christians shouldn’t drink at all at the risk of offending someone who we may not know has an issue. This may be a broken metaphor, but most Christians I talk to have specific people in mind when they talk about abstaining from alcohol. This doesn’t mean that they never drink or believe drinking is wrong, but they know that a specific person has a weakness for alcohol – therefore they adjust their behavior in order to better serve that specific person.
    I believe the same should be true of “modesty.” It is impossible to please everyone, especially since it’s so ambiguous. I fully agree that if a woman is approached specifically by the man who is struggling [with lust], then she should do what she can to help him. However, if it is not specifically mentioned (not by a third-party and definitely not by another woman trying to tell her what to wear), then I don’t believe that responsibility should be placed on the woman.” [brackets added for clarification]. Also, by Belle Virge on her blog (http://www.findingmyvirginity.com/2013/08/my-bikini-answer-all-women-cannot.html): “…when applying this “stumbling block” logic to lust, suddenly all women must dress to avoid the lust of whatever man is most tempted to sin. [...] I cannot prevent your sin. Furthermore, I am not called by God to prevent the sin of every single person I might ever encounter. I’m going to focus on the plank in my eye and stop worrying so much about the potential specks in the eyes of all men.”
    I hope that this offers some help in thinking about modesty in a new way. I know that it helped me.

  • Lisa Camp

    Wow. Never thought of it that way. But it’s so true! When anyone talks about modesty all the girls shuffle around in their seats but the guys are the ones who wear less! (especially when it comes to speedos) Thanks for bringing this up!

  • Katrina Conte

    I realize I am a little late to this conversation. While I appreciate that you are actually putting some responsibility on boys here, I have to say that I find your modesty project in general to be problematic. Looking through your Modesty Survey and reading the comments was entirely heartbreaking. It points to a big problem, and that problem is not what girls are wearing. It’s how boys are being socialized in our culture to see everything about a girl’s body as sexual.

    There is already a problem in the secular world of girls being told that their bodies need to look a certain way, and they are worth nothing if they are not perfectly pretty. Our society tells girls that they are only as good as their attractiveness. Then you have resources like this that insinuate that girls bodies cause boys to sin, so therefore girls’ bodies must be sinful. Boys, be so thankful that both society and the church doesn’t constantly tell you that your body is the Problem! Be thankful that you aren’t being blamed for other people’s sin! Be thanfkul that you will never know the shame of having people question your character based entirely on the size of your breasts or the style of your jeans!

    I think the creators of the modesty survey need to understand a few important things: They are fueling the idea that the female inherently sexual, and therefore shameful. The idea that the female body must be hidden is wrong and hurtful. (Just look how it’s working out for women under the Taliban!) What this project is doing actually serves to objectify women and girls, not protect them from objectification. They also need to understand the kind of societal pressure that society puts on young women in general, and understand that body-image issues and eating disorders are at an all-time high among teenage girls. To be honest, the modesty project oozes with male privilege. There is no understanding or consideration given to what girls are going through or how they view their own bodies. Telling girls, no matter how indirectly, that their bodies cause problems is the opposite of positive.

    Lastly, and most importantly, the creators of this project NEED to understand rape culture, and how projects like this tie in with it. Blaming girls for their own objectification easily turns into blaming victims of sexual violence for the crime that was committed against them. Expecting girls to be responsible for the thoughts and behaviors of boys easily turns into telling girls that they have a responsibility to not get raped. (Why do you think female rape victims are always asked about what they were wearing?) Absolving boys of their own sexual responsibility is extremely dangerous to girls, not to mention damaging to boys.

  • Hawk

    I personally don’t believe that men need to go to the pool with their shirts on. Have men ever had to do that? No, ever since pools were invented the women were expected to wear decent tops and bottoms, and the men would wear some form of bottom and be shirtless. Granted, I don’t think that ANY man for ANY reason needs to wear a Speedo. Two reasons for this, A. You look like an absolute dumbbell when you wear one, B. Women aren’t expected to show that much leg so we shouldn’t either. As for men wearing shirts or not, obviously women aren’t allowed to go shirtless so why shouldn’t men? In case you haven’t noticed we are slightly different in that aspect. Just slightly. So, summarized in a nutshell? Men have always gone to pools shirtless, including the time when America was actually Christian, and I don’t see the necessity in that changing, just don’t wear Speedos, it’s dumb. Girls, you have a much more difficult road here. We are in an age where women are expected to be “sexy” and it’s hard for you to find appropriate clothing, for pool or not. Plus, men are far weaker than girls with lust, quite frankly, men suck at it, we really do. That’s why we are always asking you to dress nicely, cause we don’t have any self-control.

  • Nicole Potgieter

    Yay! Someone has finally tackled the subject from the girl’s point of view! When guys walk around bare-chested, it makes it difficult for girls to stay pure in their thoughts.

  • Patient Modesty

    Many people falsely assume that women do not struggle with lustful thoughts. I do not think it is wise for men to wear speedos because they are too revealing.

    Brett: It bothers me about how many Christians preach that you should dress modestly, but that your modesty does not matter in medical settings. It is odd that many Christians preach that young women should dress modestly to help men to stay pure, but they see nothing with male gynecologists. This is a huge cultural blind spot. I think that in general, people tend to accept almost anything that the medical industry does because our culture sees doctors as the definitive “experts” on the human body. Often Christians fall into this trap; they submit to a doctor’s methods without questioning, but often doctor’s methods go against God’s nature.

    I do not believe in situational ethics. If nudity is always wrong with the opposite sex except for your spouse after puberty, I believe it is wrong in all settings including medical. Doctors and nurses are humans like all of us and not exempt from God’s moral standards. Many Christians have fallen to the cultural blind spot that opposite sex intimate medical care is okay. I encourage you to check out some articles about this issue at http://www.truthmagazine.com/modesty-and-your-physician.
    Even some female nurses make sexual comments about their male patients.

    Look at how one man’s marriage was hurt by his wife going to a male gynecologist at http://patientmodesty.org/modestycomments.aspx?ID=1.
    It is very easy for your wishes for modesty or same gender intimate medical care to be violated and this is the very reason I started Medical Patient Modesty.
    Misty

  • Rosalie S

    OHyeah. Actually, it’s not really a case of ‘omg he’s sexy’. The problem lies more in ‘that is quite an attractive view (if it’s pecs etc.) and I know what sort of girl I look like if I continue to look at that view.’ If the image ain’t there I can’t look, can I?
    And it’s vaguely frustrating in summertime – guys can go around shirtless and I can’t.
    You mentioned speedos: there the problem is ‘where do I look to avoid being rude?’

  • James W.

    I appreciate that you are willing to discuss this tricky subject. As a young man, I have often wondered what girls think concerning modesty in men. I’ll take your comments into consideration. I appreciate your honesty.

    God Bless,

    James W.

  • James W.

    I appreciate you being so honest. As a guy, I have often wondered what girls think concerning male modesty. I appreciate your honesty. I’ll be sure to take your comments to heart. Thank you for giving me another perspective.

    Signed,

    James W.

  • Liam Siegler

    I completely agree. :) I love to see both sides of the story and like to know the opinions of both people. I will take into account all that I’ve been reading.

  • Trevor Compton

    I know this discussion has been over for a long time, but I wanted to say something. I wrote this huge long thing with nearly 4 paragraphs, and to my utter disappointment I clicked the “Back” button and now it is all gone.

    But I want to say thank you for the Modesty Survey. Many don’t agree with it, but it made me ask questions. I deal with lust frequently, like to the point it pours out my ears. Reading those text responses made me re-evaluate my thoughts as a christian. So even though the designers intended to figure out opinions on modesty, it helped me the other way around and made me realise my sin, and now I am trying to have purer thoughts.

    Thank you.

    • Liam Siegler

      I feel exactly the same way. :)

  • Amaris Watje

    Brett, thank you so much for asking this! When a guy wears low-ride pants with his boxers showing, I immediately think, “What a sloppy, slovenly person!” As for tight shirts, it is not a problem of lust for me, but extremely distracting. I cannot carry on a conversation with a guy that is wearing a skin tight shirt or no shirt at all. But in their appearance, I don’t think there is a lot I can say, because the majority of us girls are not so near as visual as ya’ll guys, so I think that the major problem we have with guys is the way they behave, act, and the things they say.

  • Remi Lambert

    nicely done article

  • Remi Lambert

    For me around girls i’m more or less comfortable, but when there begins to be a little more skin showing that there needs to be,subconsciously my mind wanders and i start to focus more on what they are not who they are.

  • Trent Blake

    You’re absolutely right.

  • D M

    I am a 24 years old guy and grew up in a conservative family that definitely emphasized modesty. As a very skinny teenager with barely any muscles (and I’m still very skinny now), I had very poor body image and even was shy about my body with my parents and brother.

    But I also lived a double-life as I sought out pictures online of men with impressive muscles. It was my coping mechanism for my poor body image and low self-esteem. This developed into an obsession that made me objectify physically attractive men.

    I also objectified women by viewing them as sexual objects. Ironically though, I was quite good at averting my eyes from “immodest” women. I had the terrible habit of thinking of women’s bodies as gross while still fantasizing about having sex with them. I strongly agree with other people who have commented that it is NOT sinful for a man to appreciate the physical beauty of a woman. Rather than turning away from women who are “immodest” I should have learned to view them as people who need my respect, whether I agree with their clothing choices are not.

    When I look back on my teenage years, I realize that I was trapped in sexual brokenness. I had the habit of fantasizing about naked women and I was obsessed with muscular guys who I saw as so much more confident, strong, and healthy than me. I also was lonely and used sexual thoughts as an escape.

    My goal now is to recover in my heart and mind a healthy and biblical view of the human body. I want to be able to appreciate physical beauty in both men and women without objectifying them. I want to be confident and thankful for my own body even though it is not desirable by today’s sex-obsessed standards.

    In practice, I am pursuing these goals in a few ways.
    -I am learning not to feel guilty about appreciating physical beauty while at the same time trying to see people as real people — humans made in God’s image with bodies AND souls that matter immensely to God.
    -I am trying pursue healthy platonic relationships with people of both genders and growing in my identity as a beloved child of God. When I am busy with the work of the kingdom, I can put sexuality in a more Christ-centered perspective.
    -I am learning to love my own body and not be ashamed of it. Personally, I like to run shirtless in a nearby park with running trails, as it builds my confidence in my body. (That said, I make sure to keep my pants up to near my navel so that my hips are totally covered. I also try to wear shorts that cover the entirety of my thighs.) I also hope to exercise more, to be a better steward of the body God has given me.

    My prayer is that we wouldn’t be obsessed with whether women keep their shoulders covered or not, or whether men wear shirts while exercising or not, but rather that we could view our bodies as God does. If we could learn to distinguish between a healthy appreciation for physical beauty and sinful lust, and if we could learn to be sensitive to the needs of others, this would solve so much of these modesty debates.

    Most importantly, we need to recognize that we are beloved children of God because of Christ’s sacrifice. This will motivate us to live lives of extravagant platonic love with both men and women. It will also motivate us to reserve sexual intimacy for the God-ordained institution of marriage between a man and a woman.

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