It’s likely that you’ve been told before that you should dress modestly to help the men in your life not lust. I know I was told was that if I was wearing something that was too “revealing,” men would just be picturing me naked automatically. It was presented to me as a reaction that they couldn’t help but have. So, if I didn’t want men picturing me naked, I needed to make sure they didn’t see anything that would allow them to do that.
Oftentimes there’s an underlying assumption in the modesty debate that keeping men from stumbling is women’s responsibility
(at least partially). If you wear the wrong thing, someone WILL be staring your butt down. To be honest, women do have a responsibility to be respectful and modest (see Modesty Part 1: Women), just like every other human being, female AND male. It isn’t modest or respectful for a man to be staring at a woman’s butt, no matter how much she’s showing, and we women shouldn’t be trying to selfishly grab the attention of others for any reason. Instead of being self-focused, we all should be others-focused. If a girl is walking down the street in shorts and a man lusts after her, is that the woman’s fault? Absolutely not. If women in Paris are suntanning shirtless and a man lusts, is that the women’s fault? Absolutely not. The equation isn’t “female skin + male onlooker = man lusts.”
I feel bad for men, I really do. On top of that, I can relate to them because of my own struggle with lust. For a lot of them it can be a constant battle with their minds and eyes just walking down the street. It’s not like everything can be covered up, either. There are magazines and posters and women everywhere. If you look away from one thing, there’s another to take its place. There’s nothing to do but constantly fight, and that’s extremely tiring! Requesting women to cover themselves more doesn’t address the issue any more than putting a filter on the internet addresses a pornography addiction. It might help by removing some things from the line of vision, but it never fixes the root of the problem.
What is the root of the problem?
Not surprisingly, the root of lust is selfishness. It’s pure and simple selfishness and self-focus. It’s funny how that’s the root of pretty much every problem in life, isn’t it? When people lust, they are stripping a valuable human being of his/her entire personhood in order to satisfy themselves. Women shouldn’t be selfishly attempting to grab people’s attention (catch the word “selfish” there), but the root of a man’s lust is not woman; it’s man. If a woman dresses so that nearly nothing on her is showing, men still lust! The root of a man’s lust is himself.
Men, the only way to battle this is to combat the selfish objectification of women’s bodies through an entire shift of perception.
This is not a battle you have to fight on your own. Habits are a part of our flesh, and changing habits takes time, but if it were up to you to change who you are, you would most certainly fail. The only way you can truly have your mind “renewed” is by asking God to change it. He loves you and is a good father; if you ASK him persistently to change your mind and heart to be selfless, he WILL. He can and will give you the selfless foundation for the changes that will start to take place. This doesn’t mean that your mind will be changed instantly, or that suddenly you won’t struggle anymore. Habits change over time, so don’t be discouraged when they don’t change overnight.
When I was younger, I struggled a lot with lust. It was something I felt as if I had to combat nearly every moment I was awake, and it was tiring. Someone gave me some practical ways to change the habits I had created in my mind, and I would like to share some of these with you. Just like in sports, winning this “habit battle” requires a defense AND an offense. When those selfish thoughts rush into your mind, it is imperative to habitually kick them out with prayer and all your might; but that alone would never be enough. Not only must you kick the rear-end of selfishness with selflessness when it creeps into your mind, but you need to take the offense and score before temptation is even in your mind. Appreciate women. When you see women, remind yourself CONSTANTLY that these are human beings with individual purposes. God has an amazing purpose for each one of them, and it’s a smack in His face to strip a female of that purpose for your own pleasure.
The next time someone makes it sound as if it’s solely women’s responsibility to “keep men from lusting,” remember that it is not woman who makes man lust; man makes man lust. That said, ladies, this is not a free pass for us to run around selfishly refusing to adhere to cultural standards for propriety. I’m not saying that we women don’t need to be respectful of the standards around us – not at all! We are ladies, and as such should selflessly respect the standards of appropriateness in our communities and culture for the sake of propriety, not thinking that it will somehow prevent men’s (or women’s) inherent selfishness. Being modest will not stop men from objectifying women.
This entire modesty discussion comes down to one concept, regardless of your gender:
Respect and serve those around you with selfless love.
Men, respect and serve those around you with selfless love. You know those girls whom you pass on the street without contemplating more than what their butts look like. Each of these women is a human being with a life and value. They all have pain and they have joy; they have pasts and they have futures; they have ideas and plans; they have personalities and unique “quirks” that no other human being possesses. They each have a unique purpose that’s been woven into the tapestry of humanity since the beginning of time. They are companions, and they need companions. They need love. They need people who will view them as the beautiful-souled, valuable and lovable made-in-the-image-of-God human beings that they are. They need you.
Men, we women need you. Are you up for the challenge?