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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Modesty is Causing Women to Stumble

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It's that time of year again. The weather is getting hot, people are showing more skin, and other people feel the need to condemn them for doing so.

Guys, I know you just like to be comfortable and tell everyone your opinions about women's clothing, but you need to show some compassion for your sisters in Christ.

First of all, you need to understand that women are visual. This means that we are always judged- by others and by ourselves- against cultural standards of what "beauty" is supposed to mean. We are constantly bombarded with photoshopped images and unrealistic expectations. No matter what kind of success a woman achieves, people criticize her if she's not "attractive" or "feminine" "enough". So women are taught to base their self-worth on whether or not they're meeting cultural beauty standards. That's how they're wired. By society.

It's a battle every day. We want to believe that we are loved and we are valuable just the way we are, but everywhere we turn, there's an advertisement about how we need to improve our appearance and then magically have a perfect life.

You'd think that in church, girls could at least have a break from this pressure. Nope. Summer comes around, and there are always pastors and well-meaning church people laying down more and more rules about how women are supposed to dress. If you don't follow the rules, apparently you are a bad person- prideful, insecure, selfish, manipulative, etc. Again, women are taught that their character and self-worth can be determined by their appearance, by the way they follow your standards of beauty.

How is the church so much like the world in this regard? Why isn't it a place where women can feel safe, where they are not judged on their appearance?

Of course, I'm not blaming the modesty police for women's thoughts. If you say something that causes a woman to stumble- to believe the lie that she's not good enough and she should feel shame because of her body- that's her own responsibility. Of course it's not your fault. Except that it totally is, and you have a responsibility to not contribute to a culture that heaps this kind of shame on your sisters in Christ.

So the next time you want to make a comment on what women should or shouldn't wear, stop and think first. Will my words cause someone to stumble? (Your opinions on what's sexy are good and God-given, but they are meant to be shared only with your spouse, not the general public.) When in doubt, you can ask your mother or sister for their advice.

I know it's a sacrifice to make- not being able to give your judgey opinion about somebody else's life- but didn't Jesus say we should put others first? Is it really worth it to feel like you're an expert on everyone else's clothing choices (and body type) and what it says about their character, if you're hurting your sisters in the process?

Let's show compassion for each other. Let people just be who they are without having to worry about their body being "good enough." And maybe pray that your sisters in Christ would know that God loves them no matter what they wear.

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See also:
The Story of Me and Modesty
The Male Equivalent to Modesty

4 comments:

  1. Ahahaha. I like the post. I remember reading an online survey at one point where they asked a bunch of guys what clothing items were "sexy." Answers ranged from strapless dresses to t-shirts. It basically covered every item of clothing you could ever wear. lol. Apparently human beings are generally attracted to other human beings. :P

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  2. Oh my goodness, was it "the modesty survey"? Yeah, that really screwed me up when I read it. For every possible clothing choice, there were at least a few guys who said it was immodest. The foundation of modesty culture is "men's opinions of your clothes are the authoritative opinions" so even if it was just a small minority, I felt I had to conform to it.

    I wrote about that in this post: The Story of Me and Modesty

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  3. Yeah! That's the one! It got ridiculous really quickly. I'd forgotten about the stretching thing- I used to never stretch back in my chair because I was afraid of it looking "sexy." But then my back began cramping up a lot more over the years, so I went to get a massage. You know what they said? "You need to stretch more, especially when you're sitting down all day in an office chair. These knots in your back muscles are caused by sitting in one position too long without stretching." So you know what? I stretch all the time now. And no one cares. And I feel way better! *throws hands in air*

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  4. Yeah, that modesty stuff was ridiculous. Once you include the idea that "there's literally no limit to the sacrifices a woman should make in order to maybe possibly help a hypothetical guy not 'stumble' (because Jesus!)" there's no way it could lead to anything good.

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