Apparently I’m not the only girl who sat in a pew and listened to men explain how her body was causing the boys to stumble. Quite a few moms responded both privately and publically. I am saddened, but not surprised, to hear that this is STILL happening. Obviously this is a conversation that needs to continue.
I would like to clarify. I DO believe that ‘Christian’ women should be modest. I believe that true beauty does NOT require you to be on display for everyone. The way modesty is taught and implemented in the church today is harmful and rooted in something unholy. I merely wanted to share how it made a 13-year-old girl feel.
My thoughts on modesty and sexual attraction are complicated. It’s only recently that I discovered that yes, I could be holy before my God and want my husband to want me that way. Oh, and HE made ME that way. And HE even had the audacity to call it very good. Apparently we humans have decided that God doesn’t even know that he created something evil.
I’m going to take some poetic license with a well-known story. I figure since the church used these same scriptures to support the doctrine used against me I can be forgiven. The story can be found in Genesis 1-3.
Note: I quote the King James Version (KJV) simply because it’s familiar to me.
In the beginning God created a man called Adam. He put him in a garden. A garden that was made to sustain Adam. Adam was to keep the garden. Adam was allowed to eat ANY tree he wanted. Except for that one tree — the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then God gave Adam one instruction. In fact it’s the ONLY thing that God appears to tell Adam he cannot do. “Thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
Adam was the keeper of the garden and the keeper of this rule. But Adam was alone. The animals could not be a helper for Adam. So God took a rib from Adam. He used this to create the woman. Genesis tells this story better than I can.
The Creation of Woman (Genesis 2:21-25)
21And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
But then Eve lusted after the fruit of the forbidden tree. She took a bite and sin forever altered the world. God questioned Adam. Adam blamed Eve and God; Eve blamed the Serpent; and the Serpent was strangely quiet. Relationship between man and woman was never been the same.
Which leads us to the issue that prompted the modesty movement: a male’s physical/emotional/mental reaction to the visual sight of a female’s body.
Again, I’m going to take us back to the garden.
God chose to MAKE THE TREE. The tree with it’s enticing fruit. In the story I don’t read God telling Adam to not LOOK at the tree. I don’t read God telling Adam that because the fruit was enticing, he was to cover it up so he couldn’t see it and be tempted.
James penned a few famous words that I’ve been able to quote since I was a little girl. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (James 1:13)
What the modesty movement is REALLY saying is that GOD created women to tempt men to be overwhelmed by their lust. James addressed this 2000 years ago and yet the church is STILL preaching the same tired lie. A lie that started in the beginning when Adam responded “It was the woman you gave me.”
I get it. It’s easier to tell the girl to just put on more clothes than it is to tell a boy to learn to control his lust. Lust which is NOT the same thing as a boy seeing a girl and his body saying HELLO. (And if you’re wondering…happens to girls too. It’s just not socially accepted).
My son likes girls. This we know. Somehow, despite growing up without any modesty teaching, he is respectful of girls, doesn’t lose his mind when he sees one wearing yoga pants and is committed to being pure the rest of his life. He’s not an over-sexualized animal unable to control his hormones. Why? Because we’ve never allowed him to look at girls this way. His father treats his sisters and I with respect. We are NOT objects that need to be overly-protected nor are we objects that are for sale. Whenever he showed a behavior that was not respectful we had the awkward conversations. It’s possible to have a different outcome.
God did NOT create women to tempt men. Men decided that. Men told women that. Women believed the lie and taught it to their children. The lie became truth.
In our effort to be more righteous, we’ve created a huge problem. One that NEEDS to be corrected. Perhaps it is time for us to go back to the beginning and ask God just what he intended.