So, anyone who has followed me/known me long knows that I have already written and talked and taught about modesty quite a few times. But my perspective has changed lately, and I thought it worth explaining.
When I was around 11, I remember getting ready to go swimming with several other little girls. We were going to change in the same room, until one of my friends mentioned that recently they had been reading (or talking about, I don’t remember which) the story of when Noah’s son looked on his nakedness and encouraged his brothers to do the same–and then was cursed. She said that because of that she didn’t think we should change together, even though we were all girls. We were all still quite young–I was the oldest. We hadn’t even had The Talk yet with our parents. It wasn’t about lust, just about listening to the Bible.
Recently, I read an article on the Rebelution about, “The Other Side of Modesty” (men). I thought it was quite good–and, as one might expect, it sparked some intense “discussion”. One comment especially stood out to me:
Perhaps also missing here is the fact that lust is not an exclusively opposite-sex issue. There are many Christians, myself included, who struggle with same-sex attraction. While committed to living lives of sexual purity (which, for me as a same-sex attracted guy, I believe means either marrying a woman or a life of celibacy), we still struggle with lust just like anyone else. This whole discussion centers around the opposite sex’s response to our clothing choices. But what about me? Is it considered immodest when guys undress in a mens’ locker room? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean the temptation of lust is absent. Am I faced with the choice of avoiding all locker room situations (impractical) or asking other guys to be more modest in the locker room (ridiculous)? Do you see the issue here? As widespread an occurrence as same-sex attraction is (and believe me, it’s widespread), you can’t just think about the opposite sex’s response to your clothing choices (or lack thereof). You never know who you might be causing to “stumble.” If you accept this as a reality (and it is a reality), then by your standards, guys must be careful about what they wear at all times, even around other guys. This starts getting ridiculous!
It kind of threw me for a loop. I hadn’t thought of it from that angle, at least not in depth, and I wondered what kind of implications it held.
And then… I remembered the incident I mentioned at the beginning of this post. And I realized some things about Noah and his sons.
They were all guys. They were related. They probably didn’t (?) have same-sex attraction.
And I realized that modesty is not really about us. It’s not about men doing it for women, or women doing it for men, or anything like that. This is something we do for God. For His glory.
Yes, it has the side effect of us being less of a problem for our fellowman. But that is not WHY. A big part of the why is simply to not distract others from Christ. We can’t stop anyone from lusting, but we CAN be less distracting.
And lust is NOT a problem of clothes (or lack thereof) or bodies or women or men.
Lust is the enemy, the sort-of-opposite of love. The cure is not more clothes or less attractive people or being blind. The cure is LOVE. Love for God, love for people. The cure is to WORSHIP God.