...and Then I Wore Pants8:00 AM
Yesterday I wrote about how I got over modesty issue #1: what the Bible says about modern modesty issues. (Answer: nothing directly.) Since I'm writing about modesty in relation to causing men to stumble, it made sense to ask my boyfriend what he thought about the controversy. I asked if I could interview him. He said, "Tell them an open back is fine, and the front can be cut as low as it can go, but anything not covering the ankles is unacceptable." Then he started explaining how giant spiders in the police force could stop crime. Translated, this means, No way are you interviewing me.
I'll carry on without him.
I last left off saying that I started developing the desire to wear something other than skirts and that I didn't believe the Bible said wearing pants counted as cross-dressing. But I still refused to wear pants because they outlined my form, and my form would cause men to stumble. (Poor Bailey. I actually thought guys paid attention to me. Sadly, I was misinformed. They liked me only for my brain, not my body.)
The issue got complicated when I learned that not all men felt the urge to objectify women. Not all guys lusted after bikini-clad girls. "Why?" I asked these seemingly aberrant creatures. "Why does a woman baring nearly all not cause you to stumble?"
"You just don't think things like that," these noble creatures told me. "It's not a big deal for a girl to show skin. I grew up around women in bikinis, women in tank tops, women in pants. I don't even notice." One guy really blew my mind: "Guys know that women have legs, too. You don't need to hide them."
I initially felt like the entire internet problem of modesty -- the passionate YouTube pleas from struggling guys, the open letters to sisters in Christ -- was a big con. Did people tell these sheltered Christian boys that they would and should struggle with a bikini-clad beach girl? Did this entire issue arise because guys pulled their sons aside at the beach and said, "Son, you see that bikini-clad beach girl? That's immodesty. Don't ever marry someone like her"? (Fun fact: I learned the word "clad" from all the stuff I read about modesty. It usually was modified by "bikini," as demonstrated above. You can't say "bikinied," because it's not a word, but bikinis are a euphemism for immodesty, so the modest is hottest gurus needed a hip adjective: "bikini-clad." Moving on.)
|How many twisted ankles did it take for high heels on the beach to go out of style?|
Getting serious, I realize that this issue does not arise purely from a female conspiracy to make women conform to standardized jumpers. From the small sampling of family and friends I know, no guy has mentioned their lady friends' clothing choices as a stumbling block. Nonetheless, the internet tells me that many men indeed do struggle with this problem. What do we do about those brothers in Christ?Erich, do you like the way I dress now?Yes. Unless the right answer is no. Maybe? You're always pretty!
We teach them to guard their eyes.
Austin Carr puts it in a way I never heard explained before: "Lust is a choice, not a reaction." If a guy gets short-of-breath because a gorgeous girl walks by, he needs to know that feeling attraction does not equal lusting. That's a reaction. If a guy turns his head to watch that gorgeous girl and imagines some things that he should not, that's lust, and that is solely his problem. As I mentioned in "The Very Last Modesty Article Ever," men find different articles of clothing more of a stumbling block than others -- one man admitted that a pretty skirt makes a woman more attractive to him than jeans do. Instead of trying to reduce a woman's wardrobe to clothes that no man can ever lust after (i.e. you can't), we need to teach our boys to deal with lust. Lust is a choice, not a reaction. Even when faced with straight-up porn, a man must still discipline himself to turn away and choose purity of thought.
This thinking led me to wearing pants, tank tops, shorts, skinny jeans...everything that I currently wear now that I did not wear back in the day lest I cause anonymous males on the internet to stumble. It's not that I went on an anything-goes shopping spree. I just no longer dress to avoid causing men as a general category to lust after me. "Men in general" and their struggle with lust is not my problem. It's theirs. After a lifetime of conditioning myself in the modesty culture, that sounds harsh, but it's true. That's not to say I run around naked with no consideration for other people. I dress for good reasons, some of which involve other people's opinions...and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!
Erich, seriously. Have you noticed that I dress differently than when you first met me?
Yeah. You went from grandma-style to odd-fashioned.