If you’ve been on Facebook at all this week, you probably saw this article.
I’ve got to tell you — I agree with this mother 100%. My girls aren’t old enough to even be on social network sites, but they already know how to strike a flirty pose and really enjoy hearing that boys think they’re pretty. When they’re of an age to act out on those natural, God-given inclinations (God-given so that they can be put into practice in a God-ordained marriage), I’m going to be watching out for them, helping them to make wise choices online, and intentionally continuing to build God-honoring, virtuous character in them.
That said, the mother writing this article seemed to miss her own point when she posted pictures of her shirtless, teenage sons posing for the camera to go along with her article on modesty. As many of the commenters on the article tried to argue, it’s all good because women aren’t visual like men, so half-naked man-boy pictures shouldn’t cause anyone to stumble like Facebook pictures of seductively posed teenage girls.
Except actually… they do!
That the mother missed this entirely and focused instead on how girls are dressing and posing and how it’s affecting her boys… well, it points to a bigger issue.
I feel compelled, in response, to write my own letter.
Hi there. I’m the mother of two very young little ladies. And when I call them little ladies, I mean that I’m working against the culture of our day in teaching them what it means to be a lady. They’re only seven and six years old, and already, they’re getting subtle messages about how their worth is tied to the attention they can get, especially from men. I think their worth is in Christ, of course, but I think it’s by God’s design that girls are wired to crave affirmation from men, as God has ordained them to grow up and one day trust one man enough to build a future with him. That’s all in due time, though, and our culture has taken something very right and perverted it. The world is really messed up like that, and when everything around them seems to answer their inherent need to be affirmed by men by telling them that the best way to feel like someone is to be as sexy and attractive as possible, it’s nothing short of a work of God to build in them a character that rejects the lies and believes the truth.
That said, I’m teaching them that when it comes to modesty, they’d better honor the Lord, respect themselves, and respect the men around them, taking care to watch how they dress and behave. I want them to be accountable to Christ, first and foremost, and mindful of others.
However, at no point will I teach them that the primary purpose behind the drive to be modest is to “help a brother out,” to save it all for a future husband, or to be the kind of girl that mothers flipping through their sons’ Facebook friends’ lists want them to be. If I taught them to pursue modesty for those purposes, I’d be feeding them the lie that the behavior of men, even godly men seeking to honor Christ, is entirely contingent on their behavior, or misbehavior, as young ladies. If you look at my daughter and want her because she’s dressed like a skank — she’s not culpable for YOUR sin. She’s culpable for HER sin, which grieves the Lord as much as any other sin, and that is certainly enough reason for her to repent and change her behavior. I’m teaching my girls to keep themselves modest, pure, and holy FOR CHRIST, not for boys, because He is the one they answer to, live for, and belong to.
I can already hear many of your mothers gasping. I know, right? My girls are going to totally run out there and turn your heads, and it will be THEIR fault, won’t it? Though I don’t believe the mother who wrote this article truly believes that (because I do really agree with her)… those pictures point to a double standard. “Boys will be boys,” “men are visual,” etc, etc. You bet, boys will be boys, and sure, men are visual. But when we begin to place a higher standard on women when it comes to modesty and purity, even going so far as to make them the unofficial keepers of chastity (as we do, especially in our Christianese culture), we’re shortchanging our men and reducing them to less than God intends for them to be. The world (and some of your mothers, likely) are convinced that as teenage boys you only think about one thing and that if a girl dresses immodestly, you just can’t help but ALWAYS see her like that. And darn it all, you just CAN’T always be expected to control yourself, to get your mind back to where it needs to be, and STOP LOOKING!
But you can. And you should. And not because your mother has this grand vision of you finding a woman who’s kept herself as pure (or purer) than you yourself have been kept. You should do it because Christ demands holiness, and you should want to please Him. The same standard I call my girls to — purity and holiness for the Lord — is the same standard you yourself should be pursuing. And not in spite of the fact that you’re growing into men in a perverted, messed up world that will try to turn you down the wrong path at every turn in the road but BECAUSE you’re growing into GODLY men in this perverted, messed up world.
We’ve got to stop pointing our fingers at girls when it comes to the issues of modesty and purity. Both men and women are culpable for sin in this area. BOTH. EQUALLY CULPABLE. And as my daughters (and I myself) answer for our own immodest transgressions, so you will answer for yours as well. Not because our sin has wronged another but because our sin has grieved the Lord.
So, in other words, boys, please put on a shirt for Jesus.