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An interesting take on "modesty rules."

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Hey guys, 

 

So I ran across this article today (http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-male-equivalent-to-modesty.html). It's certainly got an interesting take and even one I might agree with. I'm putting it up for discussion, and I'm tacking it in the debate room since, well, discussions on modesty tend to go debatey.

 

What do you guys think? Is this a new way of thinking about it? Does it change your view? Does it make you upset? What are your thoughts? And I don't mind if you debate.... of course :)

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That's a pretty interesting article that gives a different view point. My problem with it though is that the writer mistakes modesty as an attack on beauty, which is not what it is at all. Modesty is trying to defer revealing clothes (such as extremely tight clothes that show everything and leave nothing to the imagination, tons of skin, etc). What the writer doesn't seem to take note is that revealing =/= beautiful. You can be beautiful and not be revealing. Modesty doesn't mean that you're being less beautiful, it just means you're not revealing every detail of your body underneath those clothes.

 

The writer also seems to think people want women to be modest because they think they're a threat. That is not the case at all and would argue that most people don't think that. The reason why there are so many rules for woman modesty is that fashion designers tend to make women's clothing more revealing than men's. It's just the way it is in the fashion designing world and many fashion designers have admitted to making women's clothing as revealing as they possibly can. With that being said, naturally there will be more modesty rules because of that. Now, if men's clothing was equally as revealing and women were just as visual as men, we would end up having a lot of rules on modesty as well. 

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While I am not entirely sure where I stand on some issues of modesty, but this analogy isn't great. Fear is not, like lust, inherently sinful, nor is it as easy to scare girls through normal activities as it is to arouse guys. Still, it was an interesting thought experiment.

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I feel like the central argument here was guys wouldn't want to live under rules for non-creepiness (the article also implies that they do not have to) and therefore, since girls don't want to live under the cloud of modesty, they shouldn't have to. 

-1 for over-extended analogy.

-1 for poor argument from a sense of equality (there is no reason to assume that because 'modesty' is a burden to women and because men do not bear a similar burden, then, therefore, women should not bear that similar burden. Modesty is simply living in a manner which does not draw attention to oneself. This is as applicable to men as to women although different effects of modesty may be observed in intersexual and intrasexual situations. I felt the article had more grounds to criticize the sexualized gender dichotomy in Western Culture than it did to criticize modesty which it seemed to be doing.)

-1 for initial premises based on ambiguous terms.

-1 for being difficult to follow.

+1 for for noting that someone's body, presence, and existence are not threats to another person.

Overall score -3. 

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I think it was criticizing modesty "rules" more than the concept of modesty in itself. When you think of the large number of "rules" that girls get told they MUST follow, in order to avoid being immodest, it becomes overwhelming and exhausting, in addition to incredibly guilting due to the vagary surrounding the "rules.: Just because you're a girl, now you MUST be very VERY careful about every single thing you do and wear because otherwise YOU are the reason that boy is lusting and YOU are the guilty one. Even though people don't mean it this way, the way it comes across to young women is that it is entirely their fault if a young man at a church group lusts after them.

 

The point of the article was to to come up with a set of "rules" that provide the same feeling of guilt, shame, and self-hate for simply being a member of your gender. Not to go and say that guys should follow these rules or that the "creepiness rules" are somehow equivalent in respect to sin, or that fear = lust, or anything. It's entirely a "what-if" scenario.

 

Also, since you're speaking as guys, I don't think you have any idea how terrifying it is to be alone with even a well-dressed man on the street late at night. 

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I have never taken an external approach to the issue of modesty, but rather an internal approach (and I think that is what this article misses entirely). In other words, I am not very concerned with how the form of dress makes other feels, but rather how it makes the one wearing the attire feel. Obviously there is overlap, since the individual internalizes the external social world, but the internal is nonetheless the dominant moment. So my concern is not so much, "How revealing is this girls' outfit?," but rather "What is the intention of wear said outfit?" Boys often take their shirts off when doing work outside. Many girls have told me that they were short, skimpy attire on a warm summer day because it feels comfortable.

 

Also, since you're speaking as guys, I don't think you have any idea how terrifying it is to be alone with even a well-dressed man on the street late at night. 

 

 

That was probably my favorite point in the article. Most males do not step outside their own perspective and do not realize what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the male gaze. The Big Bang Theory exists as a rather good example. The main screenwriters are males and they do not seem to realize how creepy Howard would be in real life. He is a full-blown sexual harasser. 

Edited by Wesker

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I think it was criticizing modesty "rules" more than the concept of modesty in itself. When you think of the large number of "rules" that girls get told they MUST follow, in order to avoid being immodest, it becomes overwhelming and exhausting, in addition to incredibly guilting due to the vagary surrounding the "rules.: Just because you're a girl, now you MUST be very VERY careful about every single thing you do and wear because otherwise YOU are the reason that boy is lusting and YOU are the guilty one. Even though people don't mean it this way, the way it comes across to young women is that it is entirely their fault if a young man at a church group lusts after them.

 

The point of the article was to to come up with a set of "rules" that provide the same feeling of guilt, shame, and self-hate for simply being a member of your gender. Not to go and say that guys should follow these rules or that the "creepiness rules" are somehow equivalent in respect to sin, or that fear = lust, or anything. It's entirely a "what-if" scenario.

 

Also, since you're speaking as guys, I don't think you have any idea how terrifying it is to be alone with even a well-dressed man on the street late at night. 

 

This was the same read that I got from the article - addressing the double standard around modesty, and how modesty "rules" for girls seem to be pretty much centered around "You're a girl, better hide all of the evidence of that before a guy figures it out and thinks lustful things about you." As far as I can tell, behavior is a much more important factor in modesty than looks or clothes or any of those kinds of things.

 

It's sort of the same thing with being alone with a guy ... his behavior makes all the difference. I wouldn't say it's terrifying just to be around a guy in that situation (alone or not), but if he's doing things like giving me those little sneaky glances, or staring at me like he's imagining everything that's under my clothes, that's more than a little unsettling.

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To clarify: I wasn't trying to downplay her portrayal of the fear that a male can inspire nor was I trying to downplay the ridiculous way that the evangelical community has a tendency to defend its all-American, ultra-successful, all-wise young men. Rather I was specifically referencing the fact that the primary argument seemed faulty. 

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Article make me chuckle at times, and gave food for thought. I enjoyed it. 

 

I don't dress modestly for men. Sorry, chaps, but you're not that important in my life. I dress modestly because it's a commandment from my God, the Father Almighty, for my benefit. We need to stop thinking about modesty in terms of "tempting our brothers/sisters" and start thinking about it in terms of a heavenly commandment that is as much about the way we consider other people and ourselves, as it is the clothes we put on. 

 

Also, a little grace goes a long way - instead of guys thinking that girls are out to tempt them, maybe consider that she might have thought the outfit ok before she left the house, or God hasn't worked on her heart about modesty yet, because He's dealing with her pride, or anything else she struggles with, or any of the other innumerable reasons that a girl is wearing something you consider to be immodest. 

 

Basically, my post from another thread sums up what I think:

 

"God does not need you to be modest. He's seen you enough times in your birthday suit; He made that birthday suit, for goodness sake, it's nothing new to Him. He's seen you naked, clothed, half-clothed, in your swimwear - He doesn't bat a divine eyelid at the human body. He looked upon it when He made it and called it good, because it is in His image. 

 

God's appeal for modesty in Scripture is for our benefit, not His. Modesty is about changing the way we view people, and changing the way we view ourselves. What we wear is just one effect of a heart that has become attuned to modesty. 

 

A modest heart asks us to view people for who they are, not how they look. It asks us to see past how many inches their skirt is, or whether we can see their boxers, or whether their shirt is too low-cut or their swimwear too tight. It asks us to view them as a whole, in their entirety, with all their good bits and their bad bits and to love them as we love ourselves, because they are valuable. A modest heart does not condemn others for their modesty or lack of it, either verbally or in our thoughts. A modest heart strives not to lust after a person, or objectify them, or pass judgement on them, even when their clothing makes it difficult. A modest heart asks us to be radically different to the image-centred society we live in. 

 

In turn, that means we view ourselves differently. When we become accustomed to modesty, we acknowledge that we are valuable. We acknowledge that our bodies are temples of God, and that modesty means a variety of things: in short, though, it is balance. It is moderation in what we wear, being comfortable and appropriate whilst also striving not to tempt our brothers or sisters. It is moderation in what we say, how we act, how much we drink, where we go, what we consume, how we balance work and play etc. etc.

 

Modesty is about humbling ourselves before an all-loving God and acknowledging that He's got a good and glorious plan for how we can best fulfil our roles as heirs to His Kingdom, as His holy priesthood. God asks for modesty not because He needs it, but because an attitude of modesty is part of our toolbox for being a light for His Kingdom, along with charity, faith, gentleness, goodness, self-control (which is arguably what modesty is), patience and so on. 

 

Modesty is a part of the journey to sanctification, but it is not the be-all-and-end-all. A modest heart will do far better work than a prideful one in "modest" attire. "

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Article make me chuckle at times, and gave food for thought. I enjoyed it.

I don't dress modestly for men. Sorry, chaps, but you're not that important in my life. I dress modestly because it's a commandment from my God, the Father Almighty, for my benefit. We need to stop thinking about modesty in terms of "tempting our brothers/sisters" and start thinking about it in terms of a heavenly commandment that is as much about the way we consider other people and ourselves, as it is the clothes we put on.

Also, a little grace goes a long way - instead of guys thinking that girls are out to tempt them, maybe consider that she might have thought the outfit ok before she left the house, or God hasn't worked on her heart about modesty yet, because He's dealing with her pride, or anything else she struggles with, or any of the other innumerable reasons that a girl is wearing something you consider to be immodest.

Basically, my post from another thread sums up what I think:

"God does not need you to be modest. He's seen you enough times in your birthday suit; He made that birthday suit, for goodness sake, it's nothing new to Him. He's seen you naked, clothed, half-clothed, in your swimwear - He doesn't bat a divine eyelid at the human body. He looked upon it when He made it and called it good, because it is in His image.

God's appeal for modesty in Scripture is for our benefit, not His. Modesty is about changing the way we view people, and changing the way we view ourselves. What we wear is just one effect of a heart that has become attuned to modesty.

A modest heart asks us to view people for who they are, not how they look. It asks us to see past how many inches their skirt is, or whether we can see their boxers, or whether their shirt is too low-cut or their swimwear too tight. It asks us to view them as a whole, in their entirety, with all their good bits and their bad bits and to love them as we love ourselves, because they are valuable. A modest heart does not condemn others for their modesty or lack of it, either verbally or in our thoughts. A modest heart strives not to lust after a person, or objectify them, or pass judgement on them, even when their clothing makes it difficult. A modest heart asks us to be radically different to the image-centred society we live in.

In turn, that means we view ourselves differently. When we become accustomed to modesty, we acknowledge that we are valuable. We acknowledge that our bodies are temples of God, and that modesty means a variety of things: in short, though, it is balance. It is moderation in what we wear, being comfortable and appropriate whilst also striving not to tempt our brothers or sisters. It is moderation in what we say, how we act, how much we drink, where we go, what we consume, how we balance work and play etc. etc.

Modesty is about humbling ourselves before an all-loving God and acknowledging that He's got a good and glorious plan for how we can best fulfil our roles as heirs to His Kingdom, as His holy priesthood. God asks for modesty not because He needs it, but because an attitude of modesty is part of our toolbox for being a light for His Kingdom, along with charity, faith, gentleness, goodness, self-control (which is arguably what modesty is), patience and so on.

Modesty is a part of the journey to sanctification, but it is not the be-all-and-end-all. A modest heart will do far better work than a prideful one in "modest" attire. "

Too perfect for words.

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This article has some good points, but it also plays into one of the worst things about "modesty rules". Denying that women are just as sexual as men. I found that men scaring women thing to be a very weird analogy. A better analogy was men being told they were causing women to stumble with their clothes, body language, and/or attitude. But even if men were more visual than women and even if that was the only reason for modesty it wouldn't change that men would have to be equally as modest. Which brings us to one of the other worst things about "modesty rules" it assumes everyone is only attracted (or attracted at all) to the opposite sex. 

 

And then there is the whole double standard thing. But it needs those other points (all women are close to asexual and all men are hyper-sexual and everyone's straight) for the double standards to exist in the first place.

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Article make me chuckle at times, and gave food for thought. I enjoyed it. 

 

I don't dress modestly for men. Sorry, chaps, but you're not that important in my life. I dress modestly because it's a commandment from my God, the Father Almighty, for my benefit. We need to stop thinking about modesty in terms of "tempting our brothers/sisters" and start thinking about it in terms of a heavenly commandment that is as much about the way we consider other people and ourselves, as it is the clothes we put on. 

 

Also, a little grace goes a long way - instead of guys thinking that girls are out to tempt them, maybe consider that she might have thought the outfit ok before she left the house, or God hasn't worked on her heart about modesty yet, because He's dealing with her pride, or anything else she struggles with, or any of the other innumerable reasons that a girl is wearing something you consider to be immodest. 

 

Basically, my post from another thread sums up what I think:

 

"God does not need you to be modest. He's seen you enough times in your birthday suit; He made that birthday suit, for goodness sake, it's nothing new to Him. He's seen you naked, clothed, half-clothed, in your swimwear - He doesn't bat a divine eyelid at the human body. He looked upon it when He made it and called it good, because it is in His image. 

 

God's appeal for modesty in Scripture is for our benefit, not His. Modesty is about changing the way we view people, and changing the way we view ourselves. What we wear is just one effect of a heart that has become attuned to modesty. 

 

A modest heart asks us to view people for who they are, not how they look. It asks us to see past how many inches their skirt is, or whether we can see their boxers, or whether their shirt is too low-cut or their swimwear too tight. It asks us to view them as a whole, in their entirety, with all their good bits and their bad bits and to love them as we love ourselves, because they are valuable. A modest heart does not condemn others for their modesty or lack of it, either verbally or in our thoughts. A modest heart strives not to lust after a person, or objectify them, or pass judgement on them, even when their clothing makes it difficult. A modest heart asks us to be radically different to the image-centred society we live in. 

 

In turn, that means we view ourselves differently. When we become accustomed to modesty, we acknowledge that we are valuable. We acknowledge that our bodies are temples of God, and that modesty means a variety of things: in short, though, it is balance. It is moderation in what we wear, being comfortable and appropriate whilst also striving not to tempt our brothers or sisters. It is moderation in what we say, how we act, how much we drink, where we go, what we consume, how we balance work and play etc. etc.

 

Modesty is about humbling ourselves before an all-loving God and acknowledging that He's got a good and glorious plan for how we can best fulfil our roles as heirs to His Kingdom, as His holy priesthood. God asks for modesty not because He needs it, but because an attitude of modesty is part of our toolbox for being a light for His Kingdom, along with charity, faith, gentleness, goodness, self-control (which is arguably what modesty is), patience and so on. 

 

Modesty is a part of the journey to sanctification, but it is not the be-all-and-end-all. A modest heart will do far better work than a prideful one in "modest" attire. "

I couldn't agree more.

 

Guys, I don't think you realize that I'm not posting this to be anti-modesty but rather anti-legalistic stance on modesty. This is probably the best way I can describe it, and it's not rules-centric at all -- it's about how we live. 

 

The point of the article was not to say that guys being creepy = girls being sexy, but to point out what the "modesty rules" the way we currently address them in the church does to women's psyches. It does to women's minds what the "creepy rules" in the article would do to men's minds. It's calling for a change in the way we approach modesty, not in a removal of the concept entirely. We need to approach modesty in a way that doesn't vilify women for being women. 

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Heehee :) I gotta admit I laughed.

 

I'm going to rephrase the analogy in terms of chivalry, because I think that's a more direct comparison.

 

For me the baseline of modesty is not purposely trying to turn the other gender on. That would be like picking out clothes for comfort or style, with no thought to either attracting or deflecting attention. Out of consideration for the guys around me, I usually cover up a bit more than would be ideally comfortable.

 

The baseline of chivalry would be not purposely trying to creep out, threaten, or harass the other gender. If a guy wants to go above that baseline and go out of his way to avoid creeping me out (i.e., giving me personal space), or even to offer me protection (i.e., to walk with me if I'm out late), I take that as a courtesy.

 

So the baseline either way is to avoid purposely offending the other party, but as Christians, we should go above and honor the other person as far as practicable. So it's not a "I won't dress like a prostitute and you won't make lewd remarks on the street" bargain, but considering others as better than yourself.

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The point of the article was not to say that guys being creepy = girls being sexy, but to point out what the "modesty rules" the way we currently address them in the church does to women's psyches. It does to women's minds what the "creepy rules" in the article would do to men's minds. It's calling for a change in the way we approach modesty, not in a removal of the concept entirely. We need to approach modesty in a way that doesn't vilify women for being women. 

 

Exactly.

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Women should dress modestly because God made our beautiful bodies JUST for our husbands' eyes. We are to honor God with our bodies. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) When I'm deciding if something is modest enough, I think of what would go through my mind if I saw someone else wearing it. Men constantly wear long sleeves and long pants, and correct me if I'm wrong, but they are warmer than women. So in my opinion, it's totally fine if a guy wants to take his shirt off because that personally does not make me lust.

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