Monday, March 23, 2009


Within conservative Christianity, young girls and women are frequently told that they need to dress modestly so that their “brother will not stumble”.

First, I have an argument with this reasoning as it puts all the responsibility on the female. As if, men would never “stumble” if women just dressed the right way. I could be wrong…but I don’t think a man even needs an actual woman present in order to fantasize and lust. And even, in conservative clothing, it's still apparent that women have breasts, hips, etc. Unless we're going to require women to wear ponchos or burqas....and do we really want to go there?

Let’s not blame the female body for men’s sin. The female body was created as a good thing and the fact that men like it is also supposed to be a good thing. The fact that men struggle with lust over the female body is because of the sinful nature of human beings. Don’t heap that responsibility on women, making them think how they dress is the soul cause (or even a leading cause) of why men sin.

Men are bombarded everyday by pictures of airbrushed, scantily clad (or un-clad) women in the media ALL THE TIME. They have plentyyy of opportunities to stumble. And we all struggle with sin. Unfortunately, there is no way to completely safeguard ourselves against temptations to sin; it's just a part of life. We need to learn to deal with it.

I am not against women dressing modestly…but not because their brother won’t stumble. Women should dress modestly out of respect for themselves and other women. No one wants to be defined by one thing. Women don’t want to be defined 100% by their sexuality. Women are not just sexual creatures to be used by men. So it makes sense, to not just play up that one part of yourself…or to reveal too much of it. When you first meet someone, or when you’re out in public interacting with strangers, you don’t tell them your whole entire life story, from start to finish, including all the nitty-gritty details.

Likewise, with strangers or acquaintances, you shouldn’t wear clothing that allows them to see A LOT of what you have to offer physically. Just as you wait to reveal more of yourself emotionally…you should wait to reveal more of yourself physically. When you put on a shirt, think, do I really want everyone I am around today to be able to see this much of my boobs/thighs/whatever? No? Put something else on.

This is a complex issue, involving the power women feel from their sexuality and men’s responses to it, and I’m just barely brushing this topic. The main reason I’m writing this is to express a confusion I’ve had for a while now….

What do “modesty so that your brother won’t stumble” advocates do with the SWIMSUIT?!?!

I’ve heard of a very conservative Christian school in Florida that doesn’t allow its male and female students to go to the same beaches…in order to prevent them from seeing each other’s bodies. Or there’s always this option…

Although I’ve never seen anyone wearing one of these in real life.

I’ve known some Christian girls who chose to wear more modest swimwear – like the swimsuits used by swim teams – the high necked ones that show no cleavage, but even those are more revealing than the modest clothing you’re supposed to wear on a daily basis.
Most Christians that I know don’t shun swimming; they embrace days at the beach, lake, or rivers. Singles groups have events at just these kinds of places. Most girls want to wear cute bathing suits that inevitably reveal some amount of cleavage and usually quite a bit of leg, and maybe even a little (or a lot of) stomach.

To me it would be like saying, “don’t be materialistic, don’t go to any shopping malls, so that you won’t stumble into materialism” and then saying, “but this weekend we’re having a weekend retreat in the Mall of America, there will be lots of shopping opportunities, have fun!”

I’m not against swimsuits. Not at all. And I’m not against modesty either. But the two seem diametrically opposed to one another and I find that to be a very interesting conundrum. One that conservative Christianity (outside of the fundamental realm) has not seemed to address.

(I don't really think there is an answer to this, it's just something that I've always thought was interesting.)

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