Okay, I’ve written about Christian ladies and modesty before, but I’d like to touch on something again. What sparked this was this blog post from A Quill and an Inkwell. I was particularly troubled by this section:
#1 Myth of Modesty: ‘It’s His Job Not to Look’
It’s true, lust is a sin, and men shouldn’t entertain it.
But if we give them nothing to look at, how often do you think they would be tempted to lust after us?
The article I mentioned earlier said women have been unfairly singled out concerning modesty. While men are responsible to honor us with their eyes and minds, when we dishonor ourselves by what we wear, the real unfairness is to the men. Do we really expect to wear whatever we want and then tell them not to look at us? Do we really expect to fit in with the latest (often sexually promiscuous) trends and NOT be viewed as an object of sexual desire?
It is not just his job not to look: it is our responsibility to provide nothing provocative to look at. We cannot blame men for what we instigate, and it is time for women of God to start acknowledging our responsibility in this matter, taking up our cross, and honoring God with our dress.
Now, I would just like to clarify before I go into this that I do believe it is a Christian woman’s duty to dress modestly. If we love our brothers in Christ, then we certainly don’t want to make their struggles with lust any harder. If one of the simple ways we can make things easier for them is to dress modestly, then we need to do it for their sakes. It’s a matter of laying aside our desires to dress a certain way in order to help our brothers out much in the way we might refrain from throwing a wine-tasting party for a former alcoholic’s birthday.
However, if a man lusts, it is 100% his responsibility.
The fact of the matter is, even if given nothing sexually enticing to look at, men and women will still lust. Why? Because we’re sinful. We are born into sin. Through the power of Christ’s work on the cross and his continual sanctification, we can certainly see victory over issues on an individual level. But even if every woman in the world dressed in a burka, there would still be men who had lustful thoughts.
I know this because, otherwise, children would never be sexually abused.
I know this because, otherwise, sexual harassment in the workplace would be incredibly rare considering most business’ dress codes.
I know this because sin is a part of our very nature and, without Christ, we love it.
The aforementioned blog post crosses a dangerous line. It’s the same line that is often crossed in courtrooms when rape victims have to justify the clothing they were wearing when they were attacked. It’s the same line that allows and even encourages men to be passive in their fight against lust because, dang it, if only she hadn’t worn that halter top, lust wouldn’t be an issue.
This is like a reformed kleptomaniac blaming the shopkeeper for putting items on display. He can’t possibly not steal them when they’re sitting out. Absurd, right?
Let me make something really clear:
Men: You are responsible for your sin. I do not care if a woman is prancing down the street in lingerie, it is your responsibility to run to the Lord with your temptation. If you lust, that is on you.
Women: With lust being such a common problem, we should dress modestly out of love for our brothers. But, once again, you are responsible for your own sin, they are responsible for theirs.
I’d like to wrap this up with the words of Jesus regarding the issue of lust.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right handcauses you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)
Jesus clearly holds the individual responsible for his own sin here. He doesn’t say that it’s okay to lust if a woman is dressed in a certain way, nor does he blame shift. The one who lusts is the one at fault and is the one who needs to resist temptation. Period.