Modesty: Whose Responsibility is it Anyway?

There has been a lot of talk recently in the Christian internet forum about modesty. The main issue, I have seen, is that there seems to be an emphasis on who is responsible. There seems to be total polar opposites: it is the girls responsibility to completely cover up, not let a single inch of skin be seen because guys automatically associate skin with sex; or it is the guys responsibility to not look at girls and immediately associate them with sex and that they should learn to respect women, regardless of what they wear.However, I suggest that there is a middle ground. Not one gender is free from responsibility; guys AND girls should be fighting this battle together, not pointing fingers at the other in attempts to minimize their own responsibility.

First, I want to point out that as a Bible-believing Christian, I look to that for all answers to questions that I have. So, as I turn to scripture I see that modesty is addressed. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:9 that, women are to "adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation..." What does this mean exactly? Well in looking at the original language this was written it, it means: to arrange themselves with modest, attire, with a sense of honor, reverence, regard for others, soundness of mind and self control. Being modest isn't just about what you wear.

As a Christian, being modest is a call to represent Who you belong to. As a Christian, we are called to live according to the standard that God has set forth in His word. When I identify as a Christian, I am saying that I am not my own any longer, that I was bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, I belong to Him. In response, I am to "glorify God in [my] body." (1 Corinthians 6:20) I am to dress in a way "which is proper for women professing godliness" (1 Timothy 2:10).

Honestly the Bible doesn't give us a set rule of how to dress and how not to dress, what is too much to show or too little. We are told to let our adorning not be outward but inward, (1 Peter 3:4), we are told to present our bodies as living sacrifices, not conforming to the world (Romans 12:1&2) and there are multiple stories where nakedness was seen as improper.

So this is MY responsibility as a woman. My responsibility is to dress in a way and present myself in a way that the world would know that I belong to Christ. I am to conform to HIS standards, not the worlds.

Now this doesn't eliminate the responsibility of guys, either. In fact, when Jesus was giving the sermon on the mount, He said if a man looks on a woman with lust, he has already committed adultery with her. (Matthew 5:27&28). He has to take his thoughts, his desires to the Lord in surrender. He should be seeking to honor God in the same way that I as a woman ought to: he is also bought at a price, he also should live in a way to glorify God. The Christian man should have his heart and mind set on the things above, the things of God.

He should do what he can to protect his mind and heart from the things of this world, the overt sexuality that is thrown at him in the entertainment industry. He should be constantly in communion with the Lord allowing Him to change and refine the way he thinks about women. He should respect his sisters in the Lord as daughters of the King. He should respect that they too, belong to God and his actions and thoughts towards her should be as unto her Father.

Modesty outside of Christianity screams: cover everything up, wear bags, don't show skin. If you do, you'll cause men to stumble, you'll cause men to only see you as an object of gratification. It blames guys for the way they think of women as objects to be desired. But that is all that is being thrown at them all the time, from every angle, (TV, movies, music, magazines), how else do we expect them to react? It gives freedom to a woman to dress as she pleases, and then blames men when they desire her.

Modesty in Christianity is a beautiful thing. It honors God. It honors the people we are underneath the skin. It honors each other. It releases us from the expectations of the world in how we are to look. When men and women honor God first and each other second by exercising reverence for the God that they belong to, we leave behind this intense focus on what we look like on the outside, how we dress and how we show off ourselves. We get to realize the beauty in each of us.

Modesty isn't just about the way we dress.
Modesty isn't just about the way a girl presents herself.
Modesty isn't just about the guy and the way he thinks of women.
Modesty is about honoring God.
Modesty isn't the sole responsibility of the girl.
Modesty isn't the sole responsibility of the guy.
Modesty is OUR responsibility, together.

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