The complexities of modesty

Modesty is a complex issue, especially when we fail to understand all the pieces of the puzzle.

Paul mentions modesty in the context of women who dress to provoke envy and desire (1 Timothy 2:9). However, Christians must display pure lives and flee fornication and lust, which begins in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28; Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 15:19; James 1:14-15).

David was drawn into sin by a nude woman (2 Samuel 11) and God condemns women who flaunt themselves sexually (Proverbs 5).

If we take this subject apart, we can become more knowledgeable and prepared.

First, men must dress modestly because women struggle with lust, as well.

Second, sex and desire are wonderful if enjoyed within the confines of marriage (Song of Solomon). For the sake of marital love and procreation, we’re sexual beings, attracted to the opposite sex.

Third, we have freewill and must face the consequences of our choices (Ezekiel 18:19-23).

Fourth, the clothing industry is obsessed with sexual desire so finding wholesome clothing is challenging. However, sewing machines are available and modest clothing can be purchased.

Being a Christian means that we must rise above the sinful world (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Our bodies are to serve a higher spiritual purpose, not carnal desire (Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 2:16).

Fifth, we’re to live for God and that supersedes comfort, context, insecurity or laziness (Ephesians 4:1), because God is always watching (Proverbs 15:3). God’s Word can’t be overlooked to fit our style.

Sixth, we’re commanded to look out for one another (Philippians 2:3-4). Lust is a powerful force. God gave sexual desire to everyone to use properly. A man isn’t a pervert for finding women desirable.

Ignoring an attractive, nearly naked person of the opposite sex is exceedingly difficult for most everyone. What’s more, we’re bombarded with measures of it everywhere we turn, even in worship.

A man bears the responsibility to not feed the fire by pornography or fantasies. Everyone has their own struggles and weaknesses and we should help our brothers and sisters in Christ as best we can.

By the way, all Christian men, regardless of their place in the Lord’s Church face the same struggles as other men. Being in a leadership position doesn’t mean we lose our humanity.

If Christian men struggle with lust, what about men who are non-Christians? Unless they have inner boundaries, they’re limited by law. If they eschew that, they’re left to their animal instincts. We circulate around all types of people and we can’t stop how they think. Modesty is not only Christian, but in some cases, protection.

Women who think that they can dress immodestly because men aren’t supposed to look are dangerously naïve. The man’s battle is completely separate from the woman’s actions. The freewill of men doesn’t vanish because of a woman’s stubbornness and preferences.

Moreover, men don’t always openly display what is in their hearts. They must do all they can to control their sexual desires and lusts (Job 31:1). However, like a recovering alcoholic, they will continually struggle.

We’re commanded to live spiritually. How others live and think has no bearing on our command. God’s will is our boundary, not man-made law. Legal by society’s standards doesn’t mean it has God’s approval.

We live on a separate plane from the world. What they do and how we respond are separate issues. Whining and complaining won’t change the law of God or the minds of people.

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