Back in 2007 I remember hearing about the Modesty Survey, courtesy of the Harris brothers and their website, The Rebelution. The results outline what 1600 guys (mostly 12-19 year olds) think is modest or immodest.
If I were to follow this advice I would have to:
*stop wearing a cross-body purse
*never partially unzip my jacket
*throw out all my tank tops
*while I’m at it, throw out any t-shirt with words on the front of it
*never adjust a slipping bra strap in public
*quit wearing jeans that have decorative stitching on the rear pockets (mom jeans, here I come!)
I had to smile as I pictured these young men navigating terms such as nylons, tutus, tankini, skort, camisole, empire-waist, cap-sleeves, shrugs, glitter lotion and gauchos. It’s a good thing the survey was photo-illustrated!
Even back in 2007 I thought it was silly that the opinions of teenage boys should have any bearing whatsoever on what I chose to wear! I was willing to heed “godly” older women like Nancy Leigh DeMoss who were able to back up their advice with Scripture (or so I thought!), but I didn’t put much stock in this modesty survey.
Honestly, I think it’s unhealthy for young men to be so analytical about girls’ clothing. I have a 12 year old son and I would never encourage him to analyze women’s clothing, shoes, and makeup to determine whether or not they cause him to lust!
Why put so much focus on what girls should or shouldn’t be wearing when the Bible has very little to say about it? This survey lets the guys off the hook in a sense by shifting the burden of responsibility onto the girls.
Unfortunately some men will struggle with lust no matter what the women around them are wearing. Women could cover themselves from head to toe but it wouldn’t solve the problem, as evidenced by the fact that finding stashes of pornography is common during investigations of Islamic militants.
In fact, Pakistan ranks #1 for porn related, sex content searches on Google, with Iran and Egypt not far behind.
It sounds good to encourage women to do their part and “help” men in their battle with lust. This advice has an appearance of wisdom. Trouble is, external rules have no value in battling sin. If dress codes for women had any value against sin Jesus wouldn’t have had to die–he could’ve just told us how to dress!
So Rebelution’s modesty survey, though well-intentioned, provides the wrong solution to the problem of sin. Girls and women and their lack of clothing aren’t the problem, lust is. Girls and women putting on more clothing isn’t the solution. Christ is.
For more on this topic read Garments of Salvation by Eric Paździora.