By: Tom Westerholm
Mattie Montgomery is the lead singer of a wildly popular heavy Christian band called For Today. Obviously, many people liked the status, while many others criticized him for being “too judgmental.” Most of the people who called him judgmental missed the fact that rather than telling women with provocative pictures on their Facebook to stop calling themselves Christians, Mattie was calling for Christians to stop posting provocative pictures. Bit of an important difference. But the argument got me thinking about how modesty fits into the Christian lifestyle.
The easy solution that is often presented to the problem of modesty is to ask women to dress less provocatively. After all, it’s not like we men would be looking if you weren’t giving us something to look at, amirite bros? Women, right? Always acting crazy. *elbows other guys in the ribs in a manly way*
There are two major problems with this line of thinking. First, we are blaming women for our own shortcomings. If I was on a diet and you were eating a doughnut, I might appreciate it if you didn’t eat it in front of me, but if I yelled at you for doing so, I would be blaming you for my own lack of self-control, which wouldn’t be fair. Also, I would never ask a stranger not to eat a doughnut in front of me for the sake of my diet. After all, it’s my fault that I suck at denying myself sweets. In the same way, I might appreciate it if a woman didn’t wear an incredibly low-cut shirt or post Facebook pictures in her swimsuit, but if I yelled at her for doing so, I’m blaming her for my crappy self-control rather than holding myself accountable.
Second, by asking women to cover up, aren’t we actually objectifying women in a different way, telling them that their body parts tempt us so they must cover them? Rather than taking the focus off of a woman’s sexuality, we are continuing to focus it, but in a reverse way. “Hey girl, I like your boobs, now cover them.” By saying this, I’m still objectifying women, and worse, I’m trying to control them, only I’m doing it under the guise of Christianity.
And yet, the fact still remains that if women underdress, men will continue to stare and lust. We have been brought up in an over-sexualized, over-stimulated culture in which everywhere men look we see a billboard with a swimsuit model or a Facebook picture with a ton of cleavage or those spam internet ads that you see on
sites where you illegally download your music perfectly legitimate websites that you use for perfectly legitimate reasons. I don’t know if men are wired to be more sexually visual, but we are certainly nurtured to be that way by the visual images in our society.
So I guess my point is that for men to ask women not to dress provocatively, they are objectifying women, while if women do dress provocatively, men will be more tempted to look. I don’t have a real solution to this problem. I’m just pointing out that the whole thing is a giant, uncomfortable mess.
I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject. Feel free to call me a sexist pig, present your own solution, or offer other ideas in the comments. Let’s have a discussion.