Leer and Foaming in Las Wendy’s

Oh yeah, THAT poster...The three of them stood at the Wendy’s counter. Eyes would flit off in one direction, then the guy closest to me would look me square in the face for a nanosecond before returning to that object of fixation.

My son and I had stopped for lunch at this Wendy’s on our way home from a visit to the doctor. Eerily quiet place. None of the customers said a word, though at least fifteen people sat at the tables.

I finally followed the blank stare of those three young male employees after one overfilled a drink, his attention shattered. What consumed their thoughts?

A table of four 50-ish men, a table of two teenage guys, then two construction guys over in the corner, a table with a stunning example of the female of the species, a table of….

Oh. Oh my.

That male instinct kicked in and my head immediately swiveled back a table for one brief second. When I snapped back around to pick up my food, the tallest counter guy greeted me with one of those smiles.

She was about 19 or 20, a gorgeous young brunette, shades of Jennifer Connelly at about that age. Wearing a pair of loose bell-bottoms and a peasant blouse, she munched casually on her meal, oblivious to the stares she drew.

Her choice of outfit was perfectly acceptable on the average woman. The church pastor’s wife could wear that same outfit to the church picnic and no one would think twice. But on this young woman, the ensemble bordered on obscene.

My son, of course, picked a table right next to hers. He seems to have that affinity for beautiful women, so I positioned myself so she wasn’t in my field of view. This left me with the perfect chance to watch the other men in the restaurant—and besides her, it was only men.

The 50-year-olds, all of whom could have been her father (as could I), stole glances like kangaroos popping up to scan for predators. The oldest of them gave a leering chuckle every so often. The table of teen guys practically foamed at the mouth and stared…and stared…and stared…. A man sitting by himself with what looked to me like a Christian book, finally spotted her, then raised his book over his eyes, only to drop it surreptitiously twice every minute to steal a peek. The construction guys said nothing and, believe it or not, appeared uncomfortable. A few guys sat behind me, so I couldn’t watch them, but I could guess their behavior.

No one said a word.

When she finally dumped her trash and walked out, an audible sigh rose up among every guy there, and they started laughing and talking among themselves for the first time since we’d sat down ten minutes before. The table of 50-year-olds proved to have Aussie accents. Two of them looked my way with one of those “Did you see her?!” expressions that’s universal among men.

A whole host of posts on modesty have sprung up in recent days on Godblogs everywhere. Everyone feels compelled to comment on the fashions worn by women today, especially as the weather heats up and the clothing shrinks to beanbag-sized swaths of fabric strategically placed.

No matter where you turn, someone pontificates about modesty and which fashions are wrong and which are right. Lists of approved styles are posted, and everyone feels better about being the modesty police.

Useless. All of it.

Modesty isn’t necessarily in clothing. That young woman in Wendy’s could’ve been in a burlap sack and men would’ve gaped at her nonetheless. We could give her Godblog fashion advice till we’re blue in the face and she’d still be slaying guys in her Gothard-approved denim skirt, formless white blouse, and flat, white tennis shoes.

Modesty begins in the heart of both the clothes wearer and the watcher. You can put a prostitute in a tasteful evening gown, but she’s still a prostitute. Clean up the inside and the outside changes by default.

People complain about today’s sex-soaked culture. However, I lived through the 1970s, and I can vouch that the summer fashions then were far more lascivious than the standard attire of most folks now. But even then, not all of the standard modesty advice worked. We modesty police can recommend that women spurn bikinis and go with the tasteful one-piece, but I recall that Farrah Fawcett wore a maillot in her famous ’70s-era poster and that didn’t keep a gazillion teenage boys from plastering her poster up on their walls.

No, the outside is not the source of the problem.

The biggest lie in American Christianity consists of 30 percent of Christian men admitting they’ve seen pornographic images. The truth is that the other 70 percent are too ashamed to admit it. Our entire culture is pornographic, so how can anyone say they’ve never seen such a thing? Or just as bad, thought such a thing?

No matter what we preach about modesty, too many of us are running around with unclean hearts. Sure, your pastor’s heart may be 99 percent clean, but God’s still concerned about that remaining one percent.

Most of us would long to be 99 percent clean inside, but our shame over only being 15, 27, or 45 percent becomes the hidden secret that no one lets on. Instead, most of us are like the guy in that Wendy’s who hid behind his Christian book, but made sure he didn’t lose out of the fun, either.

I suspect that more men will read this than women.  To you, I ask: What is it going to take for us to move beyond where we currently are with respect to modesty? Given the society we live in, we’re at a supreme disadvantage with regard to modesty, but that’s still no excuse.

To the women, though, I want to ask how we got to this Girls Gone Wild culture we have today, where so many young women act like hookers. Is it solely the fault of lousy fathers? What’s more sad than a 40-year-old woman with a strategically placed tattoo who dresses like her teenage daughter? Shouldn’t modesty accumulate in the heart over time? At least a little?

I feel for a young woman as physically attractive as that one in Wendy’s because she’ll inevitably attract jerks and probably scare off the kind of decent guy she deserves. But regaling her with the kind of clothing we approve is not going to change her lot unless those of us around her change on the inside.

Yes, put a modest young woman in some Frederick’s of Hollywood get-up and she’ll lose some of that modesty. But clothing is not the only issue here.  It’s the simple answer, but not the one that strikes at the heart of the matter.

by Dan Edelen

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51 Comments

  1. Posted July 12, 2006 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    In a Bible study, we were discussing 1 Timothy 2:9 and the need for modestly dressed women. My wife spoke up, saying that modest eyes in men is just as important and was rebutted a bit. The text doesn’t go into that aspect, but I believe Tina was right.

  2. Posted July 12, 2006 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    I agree with you and disagree with you. Yes, we shouldn’t just fault the clothing for the lust that ensues. But I think we should still discourage the kind of immodest clothing seen today. Especially for young girls. Especially for Christian girls (and women).

    I think you are mixing a couple of different. worlds here, though. Christian men shouldn’t lust after scantily-dressed women whether they are Christan women or non-believers. Christian women should not dress immodestly. If non-believing men want to lust and non-believing women want to dress suggestively, well, there isn’t much we can do about that except try to be good examples if those situations.

    As to why women today dress like this? I guess my concern more, is are Chrisian women and girls dressing like this. My answer would be yes, some Christians have fallen into inappropriate dress, mostly young girls/adults. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe they have passed off “how to dress” as legalistic.

    • Posted July 12, 2006 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Carrie,

      But what is the point of drawing up approved lists of clothing? That’s one of my main complaints here. I’ve read at least ten articles recently on this subject and all got into the standard “wear this, don’t wear that” trap. That girl in the Wendy’s was wearing something that would be considered modest when worn by 99% of women. But not on her. In fact, given the way she looked, I’m not sure I could recommend anything to her that wouldn’t garner stares.

      And that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?

      I also agree that too many young “Christian” women dress like hookers. But again, that’s a problem that begins in the heart of each of those young women. The clothing is only a manifestation of a deeper issue.

      • Posted July 12, 2006 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Sorry Dan, I think I missed the point of your post a bit.

        I am NOT trying to promote a list of approved or unapproved clothing. And I absolutely agree that immodest dressing is an issue with the heart, but I guess my concern is more around young girls. I was not saved as a teenager but I can only imagine that being a Christian teenager must be very, very difficult. And if a young girl is faltering in the area of dress, do you just let it go? Wait for her dress to catch up with her heart? Do we take the outward sign of dress as sign of inward trouble and work on that?

        And just so some guy doesn’t chew me out later- I’m not saying not lusting is easy. But it is the “right thing to do and I was just mentioning absolutes.

        As far as your Wendy’s example, it sounds like there is nothing much that woman could do. Sarah seemed to have a similar problem.

        • Posted July 12, 2006 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          Carrie,

          No we don’t let it go when a Christian girl wears inappropriate clothing.

          One of my big beefs against men saying they’re bored in church is that it’s the responsibility of the men to safeguard the young people in the church. That’s a heck of a job, so how can anyone possibly be bored when entrusted with that role?

          I think men let down young women when they fail to address their clothing choices. Men should protect the modesty of women, especially young women, but too often we’re the ones saying, “Whoa, get a load of her!” That’s a crime before God, frankly.

          I’ve said things to young women in church about what they’re wearing. There’s a brand of clothes called “Pornstar” and I actually used to see young women wearing those “Pornstar”-labeled clothes at a church I used to attend. I told them that wearing anything that labeled them as “pornstars” was an affront to holiness and demeaning act for a true disciple of Christ.

          I had to wonder about any parent who would let a daughter wear such trash. Even if it wasn’t revealing, just having something that read “Pornstar” across the chest was immodest.

  3. Posted July 12, 2006 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Good post!

    In our multi-cultural, emerging church world the dress codes of modesty are not always taught, either by home or church. This does present a problem. However, I believe you have hit on the core of the matter — male or female — our inner life is what will govern our expression. If we are in constant struggle with this, it indicates a lack of communion with the Lord at a level deep enough to effect the core. We so love to deal in surface matters that do not address these very important heart-issues. “Let me be right in my doctrine, but do not expect me to be a more than conqueror in my flesh” — this is huge in our church world.

    I am so grateful for His grace, and have discovered that grace teaches the heart Spirit discipline. May we as His, become more entralled with Him — enough so our inner man is addressed, disciplined and ordered effectively.

    Bless you for thinking and writing.
    Iris

    • Posted July 12, 2006 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Iris,

      Good thoughts. I agree with everything you wrote. Thanks.

  4. Posted July 12, 2006 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    “Christian men shouldn’t lust after scantily-dressed women”

    We shouldn’t but believe me it’s difficult not to. I know that sounds like an excuse and it isn’t meant to be one, but this isn’t like speech or watching the wrong movies. Temptation is quite literally in your face 24/7.

    And as far as getting women to dress modestly and having some sort of dress code goes, that’s really all subjective. Who decides what’s “modest”? The clothes that the majority of women wear today to the office would have got them burned at the stake 200 years ago. Do we go to burkhas?

    • Posted July 12, 2006 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Scott,

      I think there’s a healthy appreciation for feminine beauty and then there’s wanting to nail someone. It’s taken me a while, but I think I understand the difference. I’m not sure most men do.

      My wife routinely suffers trying to find appropriate work clothing. She looks about ten years younger than she is, but doesn’t want to dress like some little cubicle tart. Truthfully, I buy most of my wife’s clothing, and I’m disgusted with my options. Too few people are designing appropriate clothing for a 40-year old woman executive. It’s all hooker-in-training stuff designed by homosexual men who ultimately hate women. That’s my theory and nothing’s dissuaded me from it since I arrived at it about fifteen years ago.

      Like I said in the post, going to burkhas won’t help because it’s a heart problem.

      • Posted July 12, 2006 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        Not exactly on point, but The Cubicle Tarts sounds like a name for a band.

  5. Posted July 12, 2006 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Okay, not 24/7 since I do sleep, but you get the picture.

  6. Posted July 12, 2006 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I have lusted after women. I have entertained thoughts I should not about the opposite sex. I am a married man who has allowed certain ideas to creep into my head. Should I do this? That is sort of a stupid question. Will I do this? That is an even stupider question. But like ALL things we classify as “sinful” there is an amazing reality that not many of us honestly dwell on… it comes in two parts. Part One – Christ died for my sin of lust (and for all those other sinful areas of my life.) Part Two – because of His death on the cross, and His ressurection from the dead, I AM FREE!!! I am no longer bound by the guilt of my sinful tendencies. I will continue to sin in my life. I don’t want to – it’s not my aim upon waking up in the morning to go out and sin. But I am also not stupid and I know that, unless I wear a blindfold, earmuffs and keep a cork in mouth, chances are I am going to entertain some sort of “sin” during the day. And, if I allow myself to remain in a state of “guilt-ridden” living, I will have pretty lousy days. If, on the other hand, I ACCEPT and OWN the depth of what Christ accomplished on the cross, life takes on a whole different tone…

    I am never quite sure WHY this sort of post shows up on blogs… it’s kind of like someone blogging about gravity… is there anyone out there who is clueless about man’s (or woman’s) bent towards sexual sin? Do we all live in a cave? Of COURSE this is something we all deal with – and, to be honest, seeing that image of Farrah (a poster I hung on my wall as a teen, by the way – without the black boxes) seems to be more of a stumbling block than a “helpful image.” Perhaps a better image would be something like – The Elephant Man… and you wouldn’t need the black boxes, either…

    Nuff said on this – Christ died for me and when he died, I died with him. When he rose, I rose with him. I am no longer bound by sin or the guilt of that sin. I am free! Totally, completely, fully and eternally.

    I think I’ll go to Wendy’s today for lunch……………

    • Posted July 12, 2006 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Dan,

      This post showed up on this blog because I read about ten other blogs talking about modesty and it always came down to what people wear and not issues of the heart. Obviously, someone’s missing the point. That girl in the Wendy’s could wear every stitch of Godblog-approved clothing and men would still have their tongues hanging out of their mouths should she walk by.

      While no one will endorse freedom more than I will, freedom does not equal license. Unfortunately, some take it that way. We’re still called to watch our thoughts and deal with our sinful hearts. Should I sin more so that grace may abound? We know the answer to that question, don’t we?

      In the same regard, I believe we’ve made it hard for men to deal with this issue because we’ve made a bogeyman out of it. We can allow a man a slip of the tongue and move past it, but if he’s harboring impure thoughts, no one wants to talk about it. Things sexual get our blackest black mark in people’s lives, but other sins like pride or jealousy are merely gray marks. This causes people who are dealing with sexual sin to hide it. That only perpetuates the problem and makes it more insidious.

    • Posted July 25, 2006 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Dan McGowan regarding replacing the picture, I would love to send a link to my husband to read this post, but don’t want to because of Miss Farrah’s photo.

      Great commentary. It’s been really helpful for me as a woman to better understand men’s hearts (and eyes) regarding the sin of lust. As a newlywed, I am trying to better understand how to pray for my husband and come alongside him, rather than reacting emotionally or accusingly.

      The reason I love this post so much is that it discusses the heart of the issue, rather than lamely trying to set standards and regulations for how women should present themselves. Thank you for asserting that men’s wandering eyes are not necessarily a result of women’s wardrobes.

      I know that part of men’s fear in discussing this topic with women is their feeling that women don’t understand, or that women react to lust as a huge sin beyond all other sin, thereby causing men to want to retreat and hide more. I know that for me, my reactions to knowing that my husband struggles in looking at other women roots in my own insecurities of being loved and valued. God is working on my heart, and my husband and I are seeking to establish free and graceful communication about our sins to prevent hiding.

      (here’s an excerpt from more thoughts on my blog)

      But all of these fearful questions that flood my mind all boil down to one thing: Am I loveable the way that I am, despite my looks? It is scary to think that this question can only be fulfilled by My Lord alone when I so desperately want your full attention.

      1 Peter 3.3-4 Your adornment must not be merely external†“braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
      Being precious in the sight of God – is that enough to satisfy my heart, despite where your eyes linger on curves for a second too long, despite what thoughts you entertain, despite your desires? Can I be confident that HE considers me precious and therefore solidifies that I AM precious? In my heart and my mind – yes. It’s just taking my emotions a while to catch up with the truth that I believe.

      • Posted July 25, 2006 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Hannah,

        I don’t want to take the image of Farrah down because it’s part of the commentary and speaks just as much about this subject as the text does.

        If a man (or woman) has a lust problem with this picture, then that person has a serious problem with virtually every image of a woman depicted anywhere, regardless of how clothed or unclothed they are. Again, we’re talking internal problems of the heart here. The lyrics to the song “Anything Goes” reinforces this point:

        In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking….

        That’s an unclean heart issue right there. We make our own sin. Like I said in the post, nothing that woman in the Wendy’s wore was going to keep the men there from ogling her. How much of Farrah do I have to obscure before she’s acceptable? Do I—like the Cheshire cat—leave nothing but her smile? Or is that akin to “a glimpse of stocking”?

        We’ve made this a clothing issue, but it’s not just about clothing.

  7. Dee
    Posted July 12, 2006 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Boy, Dan, I sure hope you find a solution to the lack of modesty in women. Once you do every parent of a teenage daughter will want to hear about it. Nothing I have tried has worked. Maybe it is the drive to NOT be like her mother…

    • Posted July 12, 2006 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Dee,

      I’m sure if you look back, a couple things in your teen wardrobe probably drove a few guys crazy. The late 70s and early 80s were the era of jeans so tight (for both sexes) they looked like they were painted on. Am I right?

      I think part of today’s problem with young women’s fashions is that not enough evangelical Christians are objecting to what is being offered. It took the Mormons complaining to big chains like Target, Sears, and Penney’s for there to be any real progress in retailing less tawdry clothes. (However, I’m not sure even their efforts reaped a huge change, though I do see less navel-baring stuff for tween girls than I did just a few years ago.)

      Honestly, it’s still a heart issue. Young women who dress provocatively have got some issues deep inside that need to be addressed. We’re not helping them by trumpeting sleazy fashion, but still.

      In our day, men also wore more provocative clothes during the summer (I’m perpetually embarrassed when I think about some of the short pants I used to wear!), but young men today are more likely to dress like frumpy slobs than boy toys. I’m not sure I understand that trend, especially since women’s fashions are so rooted in ’70s styles (although I remember there being a lot more tube tops in the real 1970s than what’s been resurrected for the 2000s. Thank goodness that one’s not caught on again!)

      • Dee
        Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        Hmm. Mostly what I remember about my personal wardrobe concerns from high school and college was how to make my lower middle class wardrobe compete with the upper middle class wardrobes of my classmates. And the fact that I grew so fast that things became tight in short order. But you are right, tight was the fashion. I wonder how we could even breathe back then! And I laugh when I look at the styles in the old high school yearbook.

        Truthfully? There were times when I wanted to be SOMEWHAT provocative. There was always the awareness of changes in my body and I wondered if others noticed it. I am certain todays teens experience similar feelings. If it is inappropriate for me to say this in this forum, please feel free to delete my comment.

        Part of it was that I wanted to be noticed. I don’t think I ever stood out in a crowd. I’m pretty average in most respects. In fact, I would be surprised to hear that more than a handful of classmates even remember my name. That isn’t important anymore, but it sure was back then.

        The difference between me and my daughter is that I was very sensitive to what others thought of me. And this is not a negative thing. If someone told me my dress was inappropriate, I might have been insulted, but I would have changed. My daughter doesn’t care what anybody thinks. If she likes it, she will wear it. But the fact is that she wants to purchase clothing from the junior department when she is not built like a junior. She has trouble finding trendy clothing that fits and that doesn’t look sleazy. So I do understand your point about what is offered in the stores. And forget about suggesting I make her clothes.

        I am so lucky that I work from home in my jeans and t-shirts (sometimes still in my pjs), because the thought of having to go shopping for real clothes for the workplace (especially dresses and panyhose) sends cold fingers of dread around my heart!

  8. Posted July 12, 2006 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Doug,

    Jesus said that adultery started in the heart. That’s pretty hard to ignore.

  9. Posted July 12, 2006 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    A great article, thanks!

  10. Posted July 12, 2006 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Edelen,

    I think I get what your trying to say, and it explains my own journey to modesty so much better. I think, knowingly or unknowingly, the way a girl dresses reveals a lot of where her heart is at. A girl cannot profess to love her brothers in Christ more than fashion when she is sporting some skimpy clothing.

    I find this post interesting becuse I have recently taken a rather large step in raising my own standards for modesty. (I’ll try and keep this short becaus I do tend to ramble. =P) Over the least few years I have become increasingly uncomfortable with how form-fitting girl’s jeans were, and began wearing them a few sizes too big, and even wearing some guy’s jeans. But the more I myself changed the higher I raised the bar, until my mom and I could go to three different thrift stores and could not find anything for me that I considered “modest enough,” and I was down to only 2 pairs of jeans.

    Among other reasons, but with modesty being the topmost motivation, I have begun wearing loose, down-to-the-floor dresses and skirts all the time, and also making sure everything up to my collarbone is covered. Just about every girl I have so far disagree with my decision, and about half the guys. But the other half of the guys are thankful, and that makes it worth it 1000 times over. Oh and because of this decision I have been learning how to sew. If something absolutely requires pants to be modest then I will don them, but other than that I have resolved to stick with my decision.

    In Joshua Harris’ book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” he stresses the point that purity is a direction you travel in, not a line to avoid crossing. I think the same is true with modesty, which is, in fact, an expression of purity. That’s why forcing all girls to go around in burlap sacks would not get to the root of the problem…because they would see it as a line, a boundary, and not a direction to take their lifestyle.

    I agree with the girls who disagree with me that guys need to learn how to control their eyes and thoughts, but honestly they have enough practice with the world…they shouldn’t have to struggle so much around Christian ladies as well. The biggest arguement I hear from other girls is that just because I dress modestly doesn’t mean guys don’t lust after me. My response: that may be true, but at least it makes it easier on them to decide not to.

    But yeah….in answer to your question, I don’t think you can blame it all on the fathers, although perhaps many of them are partially to blame. I mostly blame it on the fact that our culture values fashion and fitting in more than modesty. It’s difficult for a young lady to break out of that mold. But then again, to Christian young ladies, are we not called to be different from the world?

    I’m not saying that every lady needs to switch to wearing floor-length dresses or skirts allt he time, because againt that would be placing a boundary. Boundaries are either crossed or not crossed, but direction doesn’t change its course. My direction of purity led me here.

    However, I think there’s another issue within this issue that needs to be addressed: and that is a “hollier than thou” attitude among girls who are generally very modest. We tend to go around telling girls that they shouldn’t be so immodest, and pride puffs up faster than love can push it down. With this new step in my own modesty I find myself struggling with this attitude, and it’s not pretty. I’m realizing more and more that although the choices of a person generally display the condition of their heart, just like the Pharisees the outside of the cup can be clean with the inside still dirty. I think girls like me who strive to me modest need to continue to remind ourselves that it is through God’s grace our hearts were changed, and we should still have compassion on our not-so-modest sister, while still speaking the truth in love.

    There I go, this has become another overly-lengthy comment. The Lord bless you, and thank you very much for the post!

    • Posted July 13, 2006 at 1:53 am | Permalink

      This is a very interesting topic. And it always stirs the pot a little.I like the way you put it “going in a direction”… We all know that being completely covered is (sexually) modest. We all know being completely nude or perhaps even covered only in lace or sheer material is not (sexually) modest. Then the modest becomes immodest is like trying to determine when a heap becomes a pile if you take dirt away slowly, one spoon at a time. Or in the positive when the pile becomes a heap when you add dirt to it one spoon at a time.

      Personally, I have trouble with leers from people and i wear floor length clothing myself. I am aware of them for some reason and I’ve taken to glaring back which usually puts a stop to it. But I’ve always wondered why. I mean when I was a size 5, size 9 on top with a nice hour glass figure and finely shaped legs I could see it. Now I’m medically classified as “morbidly obese” and apple shaped, and I still get those looks. I don’t get the whole “lust” mechanism in men and never will. And evidently your shape and clothing are a very small part of it. but I have to wonder now, since I’m not even remotely interested in a relationship of any kind much less a sordid romp anywhere…what exactly is it that causes those stares. I donn’t have a pornstar wardrobe, I don’t flaunt my body, my body is less than the normative sex object standard at the moment and I’m not “oozing” a sexually charged personality. What gives???

    • Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Heidi,

      Humility is always humbling, right? I think that modesty and humility go hand in hand. And just as we can be “impressed” with how humble we are, we can do the same with modesty. I think the trick to all this is to come to a point where it’s no big deal all around. We don’t think about it; we just become like Christ and see everything differently to begin with.

  11. AlieraKieron
    Posted July 12, 2006 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Dan,
    I really liked the turn you took with this post – I want to make that clear before I go on. But I’ll feel a lot more sympathy for the “poor Christian men” when I see posts about how *they* dress modestly. Because believe me, when I’m driving down the street and see a well muscled young man mowing the lawn in shorts and no shirt, lust is suddenly an issue for me, as well. Too often it gets turned into yet another way to criticize women (which I fully understand you *aren’t* doing) rather than an opportunity for *men* to talk about *their* responsibility.

    • Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      AlieraKieron,

      I believe that things have changed for women and they’ve been thrust into the same “lusting with the eyes after the opposite sex” problem that has plagued men since…well, forever. But I don’t think it has always been that way, though now it’s so easy for women to fall into that trap. I believe that some of that is the rancid programming encouraged by the feminist movement that has culminated in our current Girls Gone Wild culture.

      Don’t get me wrong; this is not about you. It IS about how our culture is programming women to be as sexually aggressive as men are. That’s a big problem since I believe it goes against God’s programming.

      I have no problem with married women being the aggressors in the bedroom from time to time, but I don’t think God wired them to be like that ALL the time, like men are. The Girls Gone Wild culture’s sold this idea that young women can consistently out-fornicate their male counterparts, and that’s an ENORMOUS problem on a hundred different levels.

      • alierakieron
        Posted July 13, 2006 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Dan,
        I, respectfully, think you’re wrong on several counts here. For one, I don’t think women have suddenly started becoming more lustful, or that men have always been seen as the sexual agressors. A study of Ancient Greek literature shows that in many ancient cultures, women were seen as the aggressors, while men were supposedly reserved by nature. See, for example, Lysistrata, the Odyssey, or, for that matter, Potiphar’s wife. (Although she is, admittedly, monstrous, and her aggressiveness can be seen as a part of that.) The “girls gone wild” problem is, in many ways, an extension and perversion of old ideas, rather than their overturning: it’s not about women being the sexual aggressors in the same way that men are, but rather, aggressively putting themselves on display.

        I have a great deal more to say – it may well turn into a post over at my place later this evening. If so, I’ll post a link. :)
        Thanks for the thought provoking!

  12. Posted July 12, 2006 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Dan,

    The heart is the problem for sure. Too many men think “I can look as long as I don’t touch.” But didn’t Jesus say something like “If you’re going to look like that you might as well touch because it’s the same thing as far as I’m concerned.”

    There’s also something else at work, and that’s a lack of appreciation on the part of many women for how men’s sexuality works. God made us visually stimulated, while women aren’t built that way. I think that many women cannot understand how the sight of a provacatively dressed woman can send us in places we don’t want to go. I think if they knew what thoughts that immediately tried to enter our minds when the wear that ‘cute little outfit’, many wouldn’t. They think in terms of their own perception, attractive not sexual. but,as you said, most men don’t see any different between attractive and sexual and even if they do, it can be hard to not go from the former to the latter.

    Now, when I say that ‘God made us this way’ I do not mean to give men a ‘that’s just how I am’ out. On the contrary, we must work hard to uphold the standard for purity & to protect God’s daughters. What I am saying is that women need to listen and understand that we see the world differently than you. Ladies, think about the time your husband did something that just made you want him. Now, think about if every man could do that to you just with a cut off shirt or a pair of shorts.

    When a husbad says to the wife “I don’t think our daughter should wear that.” the wife ought to listend well. I think to many women dismiss Dad as a fashion knucklehead when he’s seeing his daughter through the eyes of a teenage boy and he does not want any boy thinking that about his girl. And ladies, if a brother goes out on a limb like Dan has suggested and indicates that perhaps you ought to change your attire, he’s seeing God’s daughter through the eyes of a worldly man and he does not want any man thinking that about God’s girl.

    • Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Doug,

      Some women will roar if I say this, but if a woman dresses like a hooker, then men will assume she is one. Their behavior will follow up on their assumptions.

      • Francisco
        Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

        Dan,
        Now if you see a sister dressing like that. What would you do?
        1. Bounce your eyes, pretend she is not there. Forget the whole thing. Nobody will care
        2. Tell her she is going to hell because the way she dresses. She might give you some lessons on antinomianism as she label you a legalist.
        3. Tell her she is becoming an stumbling block to the brothers. Since that moment she would regard you as the weak brother or even worse tell the other girls about it.
        4. Tell her to address the issue of her heart. She might say “how can you know my heart! you judgmental!”
        5. Recommend her some books so that she becomes more captivating…

        To be captivating does not mean that you have to give up on modesty. And as the Savior said: where your heart is your treasure is too.

        • Posted July 14, 2006 at 12:15 am | Permalink

          Francisco,

          To the girl in Wendy’s, I don’t know what to say. She’s got a tough row to hoe no matter what she wears. The typical advice doesn’t work. inapporprBut I do know that she helps point out the problem in the hearts of those who gawk at her.

          To a young woman obviously dressed in inappropriate, provocative clothes, I would probably pull aside a woman who knows her and suggest that the woman say something to her about it. Ordinarily, I don’t directly confront on this issue. I did on the girls wearing “Pornstar”-labeled clothes because the clothes themselves were not revealing, and didn’t put me in a possible position of being seen as weak because I couldn’t personally deal with lust issues caused by what the girls were wearing. However, if I can convince another woman to say something about revealing clothes, then the caution comes from another woman and doesn’t make it seem like I’m the one who can’t control my thoughts under the circumstances.

          Make sense?

  13. ccinnova
    Posted July 12, 2006 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Dan,

    Thanks for another thoughful post. I agree with your point regarding a change in men’s hearts. I wish I could provide an answer regarding your question to us men, but you’ve given me some food for thought.

    A few weeks ago, I was perusing another evangelical blog and came across a post urging brides to dress modestly on their wedding day. I scanned the comments and found a comment by a young woman disagreeing with the original post followed by a lot of comments which could most charitably described as “piling on” the young woman. I’m not sure which was worse, the young woman’s worldly attitude or the other commenters’ judgmental attitude. To be honest, those commenters did the body of Christ no favors, and I hope they didn’t forever repulse the young woman from ever considering Christianity.

  14. Posted July 12, 2006 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    A very thought-provoking post! It is hard to live in this world, that’s for sure, under a constant onslaught of sexuality from every conceivable media source. I think it comes down to the very unpopular statement of Jesus asking us to deny ourselves and follow Him. Denying ourselves for women may mean choosing a moderate style of dress. For men it may mean not taking a second look. It may mean not viewing R-rated movies. Denying ourselves is just not fun in today’s culture, even for Christians.
    One other observation – many commenters agree men are designed to “look,” and women should be more careful. I know many Christian single, attractive women who dress modestly, and they continually get passed by in favor of the “Wendy’s girl.” Men really can’t blame women for dressing immodestly if those are the only women they notice.

    • Posted July 13, 2006 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      Well, my dad used to say that if he wanted a party girl to go with he’d go to a bar, if he wanted a good wholesome woman he’d go to church. He wasn’t telling me that to make a joke, he was telling me that to get into the mind of a man just a bit. He wanted me to think in the reverse, knowing this what should my train of thought be? Thus, I learned that if a man approached me at a bar, what was he looking for? How should I then react? (There are times, like work functions, where a woman might innocently be in a bar). Obviously I’d want to keep in mind that he might not be looking for the type of person I wanted to be the rest of my life.

      IF the Christian men are seeking the “Wendy’s girl” or women who decided to dress to attract based on lust…would I want them? Do I want a man who is going to compare me to that all the time? No… So I for sure am not going to attempt to dress to attract those types of men.

      Of course *I* am momentarily attracted to a man in shorts and no shirt mowing the lawn, displaying his muscles for all to see, so I’m not saying that all the men who notice and are momentarily weak are beneath me. However, if they routinely choose this type of person over me, then I’m sure I’d be miserable if I ever fell for one of them.

      Women who feel they need to *complete* for the attentions of men in that manner should ask themselves if they won such a man would they really want him in the end?

  15. Posted July 13, 2006 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Just filling out some corners in my head.

    Paul points out that Women are to dress modestly and goes on to describe jewelry, braided hair and costly clothing. The point being more that these things aren’t discreet but rather call attention to the gal. Maybe, once upon a time, men would go crazy if they saw an inordinate amount of ankle. Like you said, the solution isn’t only in the exposure of the ankle but in the men who are looking for ankle.

    Conversely a man who is immodest isn’t one who solely shows off his body. Some agricultural societies you can’t help but have men working and showing their muscles–and that sort of thing might be naturally attractive but it’s just a fact. You work the field, you’ll have tight muscles. But if the person starts calling attention to themselves in some sort of way (I don’t know…a sign somewhere that says “Hot Agricultural Worker!”) then I start to wonder.

    So, I would take Paul’s admonition to point at those who dress in such a way as to call an inordinate amount of attention to themselves. That may be expensive frumpiness, bling, whatever. Jesus would also point to people who fast and look it–they’re unshorn and weary. You want to fast, keep it between you and God. You want to be a person who exemplifies Godliness then you can’t be a person that exemplifies yourself–you have to diminish.

    Or I’m wrong. heh.

    • Posted July 13, 2006 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Rey,

      Sometimes the way a person thinks makes a difference beyond clothing. A person who believes herself to modest projects that belief. Works the other way, too.

  16. joe
    Posted July 13, 2006 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I think what women wear is VERY important. Of course most will inevitably stare at a beautiful woman. But I think there are 2 kinds of stares. First, there is the “Wow, she is absolutely gorgeous!” stare. And then, there is the “I would like to take her and …” stare. The latter is shot throught with lust, while the former is marked by a lingering appreciation of the female form and not necessarily dominated by lust. Of course, if entertained for quite some time, it may very well develop into the latter.

    • Posted July 13, 2006 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Hey, I’m an artist and I’ve used the line “I’m just appreciating the female form” as an excuse. I haven’t looked at guys and thought “Wow, he’s absolutely gorgeous.”

      Oh wait, I forgot about Orlando Bloom as Legolas and Brad Pitt in anything. Nevermind…

    • Posted July 13, 2006 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Joe,

      I’m not sure most men know the difference or understand it from a spiritual viewpoint. Only as I’ve aged and gotten a tad bit more wise can I discern it.

    • Peyton
      Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      Joe, I gather that the biggest “problem” with this young woman is that she is inherently a “looker.” Clothes were not the issue. The “problem” is, how truly to appreciate one of God’s well-endowed creatures; how to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5b) Sounds like Dan’s son, in his blessed innocence, has the right idea:

      My son, of course, picked a table right next to hers. He seems to have that affinity for beautiful women …

      No, to rail against the clothing industry, fathers, men, women, is to miss the point. “The fault, dear Brutus, is … in ourselves …” Thoughts come and go, but we have the choice of entertaining them or no. And most of us are just too lazy to dismiss the thoughts!

      • Francisco
        Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        or lazy to pray when temptation knocks our doors…

  17. Posted July 13, 2006 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I think you are totally right. Modesty isn’t just about what women wear, but what men do. The more men give in to their lust, the more women desire to commit pornography. Most men say it would be easier if women would dress easier, but men need totake responsibility and seek to serve their sisters.

  18. Julie
    Posted July 14, 2006 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and for your commitment to help correct your sisters who dress inappropriately. When I went to a Christian college (a few years back!), I can’t count the number of times my male friends would comment on the inappropriateness of a girl’s outfit, and I would begin comparing it to everything in my closet. Often they directed their comments at clothing that I wouldn’t consider sexy or provocative. How are we supposed to know when the outfits we consider comfy and practical are becoming a stumbling block to our brothers, if they don’t tell us? I’m not trying to direct anyone back to the “rules,” but those comments made me more aware of how I dress and how it affects the men around me. Prior to that experience, it was always my intention to be modest — I just didn’t always know how to go about it.

    I work in a public high school, and what I see frightens me. The girls who dress to provoke lust are successful, and they get lots of male attention. But they don’t get respect, from the boys or the girls. The girls who don’t dress like tarts don’t get the stares — but they have real friends. The guys don’t talk garbage about them. Their girl friends speak well of them behind their backs. Yes, modesty is an attitude, and it goes far beyond a person’s clothes.

    I’m just grateful I went to junior high and high school when the grunge look was popular. We all wore baggy clothes that didn’t reveal anything, and half a girl’s wardrobe could come from the guy’s department. I used to wear my t-shirts so big that I’ve passed a few of them on to my husband. Think we can lobby the trendsetters to bring this one back? ;-)

    • Posted July 14, 2006 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      How are we supposed to know when the outfits we consider comfy and practical are becoming a stumbling block to our brothers, if they don’t tell us?

      Julie,

      The answer to your question is that you can’t. And you can’t because the core of the issue goes beyond clothing, makeup, or whatever fashionability you want to throw in to the typical mix on this issue. It’s still a heart issue.

      If a guy’s heart is not right, nothing you wear as a woman will make a difference. In the same way, if your heart isn’t right, you can wear the most modest clothes in the world and still be sending “boys, come and get it” messages.

      We’ve got to move beyond modesty being a clothes issue. Clothes are a symptom, but not the disease.

  19. Posted July 15, 2006 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Good post Dan – you nailed it. I liked your comment too about women taking girls aside and giving advice.

    When I was a new Christian there were a bunch of us as new converts in my church. So we all went away for a few days together – a sort of church retreat. One of our meetings was split into two different groups gender-wise – and the pastors wife talked to all us ladies. She explained to us about how we can defraud a brother – in the sense that how we dress and the attitude with it can in a sense defraud a brother because it’s giving him a dishonest picture of our sexuality and availability. She didn;t give us a list of what not to wear. She was gentle too – because the truth is that for new Chrisitians it isn;t crystal clear. So much changes all at once and some things need some direction. What I really liked about what the pastors wife said to us was that she didn’t just focus on what some-one wears – she talked about the heart. She talked about not having it in one’s heart to defraud a brother, and also about how God gives us dignity.

    I have always preferred that women talk to women on this because we know each other – in the same way that you knew what was going on with the guys at Wendy’s – we know stuff about each other too. We might find it hard to comprehend exactly what was going on at Wendy’s, and you might find it hard to exactly comprehend some of our stuff like that too.

    I hear you on the woman at Wendy’s. I don;t really understand it like you would but I get it – because we ladies know that we can project something. We know that. In fact a lot of advertising majors on that – it’s not all about revealing clothing to sell stuff – it’s as much about what is projected.

    You are right – a woman can wear non-revealing clothes and still be projecting a “look at me and desire me” message.

    I agree with Rey too – men can project a “look at me and desire me” message also.

    Excellent post.

    • Posted July 15, 2006 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Catez,

      I appreciate that women can relate to this post.

      I should have said this in my post (because it goes back to the girl in Wendy’s) that the following are issues that muddle the whole topic of modesty because people can’t separate them:

      1. What a person wears
      2. What a person projects
      3. What a person looks like

      We can do something about the first two, but number three is really hard. That girl in Wendy’s wore clothes that most women would wear without any issues being raised. I didn’t sense that she was projecting any “come and get me” waves. Her “problem” was that she was exceptionally pretty AND also quite curvy in a way that catches men’s attention. She wasn’t even wearing any makeup from what my brief glance could tell.

      At that point, the issue moves outside of her and onto the guys watching her. That’s when they need to clean up their acts. That’s why I have no answers for that young woman. No advice is going to help keep the wolves at bay. Men are going to stare at her regardless of what she does, and the “normal” modesty advice of #1 and #2 above fail.

      Does that clarify things a bit better?

  20. Posted July 15, 2006 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I will clarify something – when I say I prefer women talking to women about it I was not referring to Chrisitian teenagers with Christian parents. I was thinking of adult women in the church – particularly new Christians. Because it’s about growing in sanctification and sometimes when they are new they don;t realise. A gentle explanation from a sister goes a long way.

  21. Posted July 17, 2006 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Yes it does clarify things Dan. And for the record – every so often there’ll be a man that has a similar effect on women. It’s not a gender-specific thing – but I think men are more visual.

    Sometimes a guy just looks drop dead gorgeous regardless of what he is wearing. I don’t think women have the issue to the same degree (I could be wrong though) – but for sure if Wendy’s was full of women and one drop dead gorgeous guy walked in – the women would notice. Some would notice a lot.

  22. Posted July 22, 2006 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    i love this post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Anonymous
    Posted July 31, 2006 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I’m certainly not the girl you described seeing in Wendy’s or even anyone who looks remotely like her, but I’ve felt like her before. I am 24 years old and generally quite well-covered. Yesterday, I was wearing a t-shirt with a very-slightly scooped neckline (collarbone exposed, nothing more) and a full, flowy peasant skirt that reached my ankles. I was almost literally covered from head to toe, and yet I still met with a couple of unwelcomed lascivious stares — AT MY CHURCH. I have heard the modesty lectures and I have bitten my tongue and taken quite a bit of the blame for your lust struggles. I am doing my part, gentlemen. I am thinking critically while I shop and while I get dressed. I am respecting you. When will you start respecting yourselves… and me?

  24. Catherine
    Posted July 31, 2006 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    That last “anonymous” was me… didn’t mean to be anonymous. Also, I wanted to clarify that my challenge for men to respect themselves as well as women was for all men, not any one man in particular. As I reread what I wrote I realized it might seem as if I was upset with the author, but I didn’t intend that at all and I really think he makes some great points. I just wanted to add the voice of one of “those girls” who are making efforts and just simply not able to solve the problem unilaterally.

4 Trackbacks

  1. By Quieted Waters on July 12, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Busy Here and Yon…

    If you haven’t already seen it, I would encourage you to read Dan Edelen’s post on modesty and pure hearts….

  2. [...] on clothing, modesty and lust. The comments (about half from women) make interesting reading. Comments(0)Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend Michael Lawrence has great advice about dating in Stop”dudes,” but don’t let that distract you from his solid insights. (Sighted on Between Two Worlds.) Comments(0)How to concentrate on writing Matthew Stibbe has a helpful list of suggestions for How toneed to stop reading blogs and get some work done on my dissertation! (sighted on Blogging Pro) Comments(0)How Christianity is Changing China World Magazine has an insightful article on How Christianity isnormally link to article that require a subscription, but this is a magazine well worth reading.) Comments(0)View more News andNotes… [...]

  3. By Half Pint House » Modesty Revisited on July 24, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    [...] I’m not even sure how I found this post, but Dan from Cerulean Sanctum has written a pretty great piece on modesty and the discussion in the comments is pretty interesting too… [...]

  4. [...] Leer and Foaming in Las Wendy’s [...]

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