A Modesty Proposal

By Calista Bethelle (Rated G)

The issue I have with the modesty argument is its feminist attitude. Sound ironic? Let me try to explain. Even among conservative Christian circles, what is the most common argument for women dressing modestly? Men’s lust issues. “If you could help him fight temptation, wouldn’t you?” The issue is, essentially what we are saying is males are the problem, because they deal with lust. Nothing wrong with you, sweetie, you’re beautiful – but your brothers need help. Won’t you be unselfish and help them? Aka, men are bad, so women have to bend over backwards to take care of them because women are good. Sounds awfully close to the underlying attitude of much of the feminist rhetoric – which is hilarious and ironic considering how much feminists hate the idea of modesty. 

So what are we overlooking? Honey, women have just as much of an issue with lust as men do, that’s what. The reason we don’t acknowledge this is because the way females in general respond in lust is different than the stereotype we have put on what it looks like to lust. As a general rule (leaving room for exceptions of course) male lust causes men to want to act. However, as a general rule (again, with exceptions), female lust causes women to want to attract. We are attention seekers. And one of the ways we do it (all while almost never acknowledging the fact) is the way we choose to dress. We argue we should be free to dress however we want, but we never admit that we want to dress certain ways because of pride and lust and a need to be noticed. THAT is why modesty matters. Modesty matters because of a woman’s own heart, not a man’s (although, as is usual, when we seek to honor God, it benefits not only our own souls but those around us as well). 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Paul and the other New Testament writers never once mention that women in the church should be modest for the sake of men. What do they say? Women should dress as is fitting for someone who claims to be godly. So one, this doesn’t apply to women who make no claim to be godly, and don’t be surprised when they don’t do it – they have no reason to. But two – and this is my main emphasis – the reason godly women dress more modestly is because their lives are consumed with honoring and glorifying God, rather than seeking honor and glory for themselves. There is no place in their devotion to God for seeking attention and admiration. They adorn themselves with the good works they invest in for God’s glory, rather than arguing and fighting about their right to wear whatever they want because they want it. 

So the argument for modesty? Forget starting with men having lust issues. Start with women having lust issues. Start with women having pride issues. If we as Christian women want to pursue godliness, those are issues that we have that we need to own and work on rooting out by God’s grace, because those are in direct opposition with godliness. They can be overcome. And in overcoming them, the actions they spawn will change over time. Modesty is not the issue, and men’s lust is not the cause. Modesty is a byproduct, and the cause and the issue is our own hearts. Let’s quit blaming men for something we don’t want to do because of our own stubborn pride and attention-seeking lust, and recognize that the idea of modesty is first and foremost a heart attitude towards God and one’s self. Who do we really try to glorify outwardly, compared to who we claim to want to glorify?

What do you think?

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