As a father of three fine young ladies and a handsome young man, I know the challenge of teaching modesty when the message from the media, friends, and sometimes other Christians encourages them to dress inappropriately. Modesty is not a “girl” issue since young men, as well as young women, must be taught to dress in ways that do not provoke lust or send a wrong message. Girls lust too and guys need to be careful how they dress and act so that they glorify God in their bodies and not draw the wrong attention to themselves, 1 Corinthians 6:20.
Considering the biological fact that men are more visually stimulated, young ladies must pay special attention to how they dress so that the lack of clothing, revealing nature of clothing depending on the angle of sight, or tightness does not reveal what should be hidden. A woman who dresses in revealing clothing but blames lust on “dirty minds” is naive and, perhaps, arrogant. Often men have to force themselves not to look at what is being revealed because the woman did not exercise prudence in her choice of attire. Our eyes are drawn to look and through exercise of will we must look elsewhere. Don’t blame the fish for being caught when you put the bait on the hook. In discussion between young men and women in various situations, young men have begged young women to help them in this battle by dressing in ways that do not put them into difficult situations.
Among Christians the problem seems to be getting worse. I never thought that I would have to create the policy I now have for doing weddings for Christians: I will not do a wedding in which the bride or the bridesmaids are showing cleveage or wear high split dresses. Brides, if I may be blunt, your body belongs to you and your husband (1 Corinthians 7:4) and should not be shared with me, in whole or part–visually or otherwise, and especially not on your wedding day.
In an article that Michael Hyatt wrote on modesty, he outlined four guidelines that he shared with his daughters that made a lot of sense (though I would eliminate “probably”):
- If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
- If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.
- If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
- If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.
There is no reason for guys to be running around with their shirt off around girls or otherwise emphasizing their bodies either. We’re all in this together to dress in ways that do not promote lust and help each other get to heaven. If this makes you mad and you wonder why you should have to dress carefully in order to prevent others from lusting, please humbly and carefully read what Paul had to say in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (though it talks about meat offered to idols, he is explaining a principle that is relevant).
David Hartsell did a great presentation on modesty at the 2011 Alabama Winter Camp that you might want to consider as well.