In my last post, I brought up some observations about how modesty culture in many churches has been negatively affecting both men and women. My goal was to expose some twisted messages that have been traveling around in far too many circles about lust, responsibility, and women’s clothing.
This week, I want to talk about good news for women around the world, in light of everything discussed in the last post!
Women need to hear these positive messages, because they’ve been forgotten for so long. The amount of women who are suffering unnecessary shame about their bodies and their sexuality because of twisted ideas is heartbreaking.
If you didn’t read last week’s post about modesty culture, you can check it out here to get the fullest picture of what we’re talking about today!
For a basic recap, I discussed how:
In this highly conservative church “modesty culture”, thoroughly covering women's bodies is meant to be a safeguard against men’s struggle with lust.
Lust is not the same as attraction and normal sexuality. It is actually a heart issue that takes desire to an unhealthy level.
Unfortunately, the majority of emphasis for lust prevention and lustful-heart-treatment has been given to women, asking them to hide more and more of their bodies to protect men's hearts.
Asking women to hide their bodies this way is hurting men - feeding them the lie that a woman’s body is making them lust, and they can’t help it, because of the way they’re made.
This message is also hurting women - by feeding them the lie that the way God designed their body is dangerous to men.
These are tragic messages that are hurting men and women, and giving us a false idea of the reality of lust, responsibility, men's brains, and women's bodies. But many of us simply had no idea that these messages weren’t true.
So it’s time for some good news! This is going to be another Christian-y post. I'm going to make references to God and the Bible, but even if you don't believe the same things I do about God, this messages are for everyone and I think you will be glad to hear them!
Women.... especially those of you who, like me, have felt so much shame and confusion about your body, your sexuality, and your design.... please know that:
1. Your body shape is not a problem.
God designed women’s bodies to look the way that they do. In fact, Scripture refers very positively to women’s appearance and body shape several times! You will not find Scriptures that blame a woman’s body for anything. On the contrary, God is very clear that what really matters is what is in people’s hearts - their character! (1 Samuel 13:7 is just one example that demonstrates this.) This goes for both men & women.
If you want some specific references to look up to see the Bible praise a woman's appearance, see Song of Solomon 4:7, Esther 2:7, Genesis 24:16, & Psalm 139:14. These are just a few examples!
Women, you do not need to worry that the shape of your body is dangerous for anyone. Only an unhealthy heart will lead someone astray, and your existence isn't to blame for that!
Are you worried about being promiscuous or sexually provocative? Then you need to know that sexual promiscuity and provocation come from you heart. You cannot be unintentionally promiscuous. Your heart is where you should be putting your attention!
God designed the female body to have appeal, to have unique curvature, and to be lovely! And he made your body to have the exact design you have been given. You do not need to be ashamed of it! You don’t even need to be ashamed of desiring to be attractive!
If you're still worried you might end up accidentally looking more sexual than you meant to, I'm going to talk about the part personal discernment has to play in your decisions in my next post! Make sure you read it!
Spend time on your heart, your motives, your beliefs….. And then take all the time you’ve been spending fretting about whether your perfectly normal outfit draws "too much attention to your chest" and put it to better use!
Your body shape (yes, even if you have a culturally "highly appealing figure") was on purpose and it is good!
2. If a man is physically attracted to you or your body, that’s not a problem. At all!
Sexuality is a God-designed human function. It is normal. He actually meant to make humans be attracted to each other.
Remember, physical attraction is not lust. It is not a sin if someone finds you attractive. And conversely, it is not a sin for you to find someone else attractive!
Did you know that it is 100% possible to see someone, think they're attractive, and then move on with your life without doing anything inappropriate in your mind? This is normal. And yes, even men can do that! They are actually designed to be able to do that, just like you are.
(I know some of you think this is super obvious, but trust me - there are so many people who don’t actually realize that this is true!)
Attraction is normal and good. (Remember those Bible verses I mentioned earlier that spoke positively about women’s attractive bodies?)
3. Your looks cannot change your worth.
If someone tells you that you are cheapening yourself by wearing certain clothes, they’re wrong.
Your worth is not determined by what you look like, or by other people’s opinion of you! Your worth is determined by who you are.
Do you know who you are? You are made in the image of God. Whether you are a Christian or not! And hopefully you can remember, in these days just after Easter, that you are worth dying for! You need to know that you are worth a lot. And your clothes will never have enough power to change that.
4. You can stop fretting about attracting a “pig.”
Have you had someone tell you that the more immodestly you dress, the more bad men come after you? Their logic is that good men go after modestly dressed women, because they care more about what’s on the inside than the outside, but undesirable characters flock towards the most sexually appealing, attractive, or scantily clad because they are shallow and only care about looks.
The truth is, your clothes are not at all a reliable filter of a man’s character. And if someone decides who to go after based purely on their clothes, modest or not, they’re still judging you by the outside.
Clothes are not a reliable way to get to know anyone's character!
Will you attract more “pigs” if you look more physically appealing? I would say that you may attract more of everybody, because humans tend to gravitate towards anything they find attractive! Just because unsavory characters are attracted to you does not necessarily mean you should be different!
And remember, being beautiful on the outside is NOT A BAD THING.
You can stop worrying about having appeal! There is no reason for you to actively try to dress yourself in a repellent way.
This is all good news! Because you are a lot more free in your choice of appearance than you think! You get to use your own discernment to decide what you feel is appropriate, in all sincerity.
Your appearance can be an incredible way to allow the outside of yourself reflect who you are on the inside. But it shouldn’t be used as “bait” to catch a partner. This goes for skimpy outfits and full coverage clothes!
I’m sure some of you are concerned that embracing these freedoms means that you are being heartless towards men who are struggling with lustful thoughts. Shouldn’t we try to help them? Surely we shouldn’t disregard their struggle! What about “becoming a stumbling block to the weak”? (1 Corinthians 8:9)
There are absolutely ways we can help men who are struggling! And we're going to talk about those next time. If you've been heavily immersed in modesty culture, you're going to want to make sure you read the next post!
Have you experienced the joy of these wonderful truths in your life? Have you experienced the shame or sadness that comes from not believing these things? Men and women - let’s talk in the comments!