Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Conversation With Kate On Modesty & Lust

I've been writing and tweeting and Tumblr'ing a bit about modesty and how we dress as women, and I'm taking some pretty awesome heat for it! I've been really disheartened about it but today I realized that this is a really huge, on-going conversation that must always be present, and not simply a "let's find what is Right with a capital R." I had an amazing chat with a girl I will call Kate, and she is letting me publish it on my blog!

So, for all of you who have been confused by or disagreed with my tweets or posts about modesty, maybe give this a skim through and see if it clarifies a little bit for you. Much love to all, and please, let me just say again that I am trying to figure this out as best as I can, just like we all are. Thank you for the graciousness that you have shown me. <3



Kate: I know we have somewhat different views on modesty and I'm really just trying to understand where you based some of your views from. I do agree that a woman can not be responsible for a man's sin, however, aren't we not supposed to be stumbling blocks?

Me: Okay, so what's super important to remember is that there are NO "rules" in all of this, regarding modesty & how we dress. So, what you wear can never "be a sin." That's nowhere in the Bible. There is no Biblical outline for types of clothing or square inches of skin that is right or wrong. That being said, how we dress is all subjective & our own responsibility, as it reflects our heart and our motives. It's really this whole "what are the rules" that people get hung up on. If you tell someone there are no rules, then we get really uncomfortable and realize that we aren't really "being righteous" or "sinning" by what we wear, and we can't judge anyone else for it either. And it's a natural human response. Trying to play a game without rules is really unnerving at first. Rules are way safer than just walking in freedom and love. Make sense so far?

Kate: Yes, I completely understand that.

Me: K. So if I say, "Dude its not a sin to eat cheesecake!" I'm not telling you to eat cheesecake for all 3 meals every day of the week. I'm just saying cheesecake isn't inherently sinful. But if you've been told your WHOLE life to never eat cheesecake because "its a sin!!" then you'll really freak out. And then you might think that my saying "cheesecake isn't a sin" means = eat cheesecake all the time for all occasions! It's a human nature fear-response to suddenly being told there is no black and white. We become personally responsible, and we lose our ability to judge others. So yeah, that can be scary.

Honestly, this is just straight up common sense. And common sense is what Paul was talking about in the Bible when he talks about not causing others to stumble. But unfortunately, we try to make everything in the Bible some sort of rule or command - which is WHY Jesus came - to say, "Hey. I'm fulfilling all the laws and commands by simply paying for all of your sins and giving you a new command: to love one another." So, a Christian man (Paul) encouraging his friends to not be a stumbling block to one another, has turned into = "if you are involved somehow in someone's sin then you are also responsible and this is a sin therefore NEVER DO ANYTHING that might POSSIBLY resemble sin because it's selfish!" And that's a consequence of choosing religion over Jesus. We turn principles and love into rules and commands. And we start trying to figure out if we're guilty by association, too.

For example, lots of people use the alcoholic/beer analogy to talk about not being a stumbling block. If you're going to a friend's house who really struggles with drinking, you're not gonna show up with a six pack. Now, even if you do, and that friend gets drunk, it's not your fault 'technically' because everyone is 'technically' responsible for all their actions. But still, out of love, and since you know this person, it'd just be dumb to spend the night drinking in front of him. But we take that analogy and spin it to "we should never take a drink anywhere because someone might see us and stumble." Which is just flat out ridiculous. So, as a result we have all these Christians having a beer with dinner behind closed doors terrified that someone else in their church will find out they drink and then "Stumble" as a result, or that they'll get called out for doing something somewhere that could possible cause someone to stumble.

The exact same goes for how we treat modesty in the church. And this is a wildly dangerous metaphor - because a woman's body is nothing like a beer. So, we start saying that the human body in and of itself leads to sexual sin, instead of correlating LUST with sexual sin. And we start saying things like "don't wear a v-neck because it will make your brother stumble!" when in reality what we shouldn't be doing is handing him a subscription of Playboy. And I don't see girls in church doing that, so we're pretty okay I think.

Kate: Yeah, I totally get that. I get that ultimately you're responsible for yourself. But at the same time, using that same analogy, men as a whole struggle with physical things such as lust... so wouldn't it not be in their best interest for the Christian sisters to wear things that would cause them to stumble?

Me: Okay so, as a generic statement, yeah I would agree with that. The problem is, what are you ACTUALLY saying when we say that? Let me say this: If I'm hanging out with guys from church at a church event, I'm probably not gonna wear the most revealing top in my closet, because that would just make me uncomfortable. It personally really annoys me when guys look at my boobs instead of my face. And for sure, if your neckline is revealing 75% of your breasts, a guy will look and see it and be drawn towards that. It's interesting to note that this is just "usually true" not universally true. Really revealing tops make me stare at women sometimes, primarily because I was raised in an environment where I never saw a woman wearing anything but turtlenecks. I understand completely the "not being able to look away" phenomenon that happens sometimes. So yeah, there is an element of novelty that causes staring. But it's really important to clarify that staring/a distraction is not equal to sin or lust. It's when we start mentally and emotionally interacting with something that isn't ours for the having, does it become a heart-problem. So, when I make the decision to not wear a deep v-neck to get coffee with a guy friend, it's because I'd just flat out rather not have my boobs be a distraction to the human being that I'm trying to hold a conversation with.

Kate: Haha, having 34A's, that's never really been a problem for me...but continue.

Me: I absolutely encourage everyone to just flat out have common sense when they choose what they're wearing. The problem is that we have a generation of people who WILDLY disagree on what "causes men to stumble." And then when we disagree, we judge women - and judge them hard - for having a different understanding of what causes men to stumble. And this, exactly, is the whole entire problem with "rules." I mean, my mom thinks me wearing skinny jeans causes men to stumble, for example. In highschool I was 5'7" 110lbs and my mom made me wear size 10 jeans to hide my butt and legs because they are "distracting to men." So obviously, you and I look at that and say, "Well your mom is just crazy, I can wear skinny jeans" - but for her, she GENUINELY believes I am sinning by thinking of myself before being considerate in front of other men (and women) and shamed me privately and publicly for, I felt, just existing. And THAT mindset/behavior is what I am trying to debunk. (It's important to note that because of my mom's intolerance of my body, I was convinced for years that all men saw in me was sex, so I didn't know how to treat them as genuine people with real personalities. This is why we as women need to be REALLY careful what we're teaching and how we're teaching modesty.)

Kate: I do believe a lot of it amounts to common sense and a lot of it is personal preference. My sister is Muslim, wears hijab by choice, but she's a huge advocate of men "lowering their gaze" which is a very common thing in Arab/Muslim culture which I haven't really found anything similar to in America or Christianity. But its based on the idea that men are ultimately responsible for themselves so even if a girl is walking around the mall in just her bikini, it's ultimately the guy's fault if he sins because he can "lower his gaze". So anyway, when I read some of the things you were saying regarding modesty I felt you were somewhat attacking people like my sister who do practice what some people would consider extreme forms of modesty. I totally get that's not the case now... but when I was reading some of the things you were saying, it felt that way.

Me: fascinating.

Kate: Then, about two weeks ago I reread everything and started to rethink my thoughts on "modesty" and sex and just everything in general. I've always been ostracized in my church for the most part because I have tattoos and piercings. It's not considered "modest". So it really got me thinking on how judgmental I am towards what girls wear.

Me: Well, I'm really sorry you felt that I was attacking that idea. :( I didn't mean to imply that at all. Personally, I really respect women who dress modestly because they themselves choose to. (There's a difference between a true personal conscious choice and a religiously instigated guilt-decision.) Look, if you value your body and really want to save your beautiful assets for one man, then PLEASE go and do so in peace. I can really admire that. Just know that because another woman is "flaunting what she's got" or showing more skin than what you are personally comfortable with, does not mean she's a slut or a terrible Christian or a participant in sexual sin. Half the world thinks I'm too modest and the other half thinks I'm scandalous. Modesty is entirely subjective, and this is what we keep forgetting.

And yep I've been realizing I'm super judgemental too. :\ I'm working on it. Ok, so here is an interesting question for you. Have you ever looked at a girl wearing something revealing (to any extent) and thought "dude she is suuuper sexy." And then moved along with your day?

Kate: No, unfortunately, I've been trained to look at her and think "what a whore" and feel really sad for her the rest of the day.

Me: Ah. Well there we have it. That's what I used to think too. :( And when it's that black and white, we can all agree that's 100% judgement and not love, which is the OPPOSITE of what we're asked to do by Jesus. And it's also seeing her outward appearance, and not for who she is.

Okay so now, lets hypothetically say you're at the stage where I'm at, where I see women sometimes and think "man shes really sexy" or "wow she's beautiful" or "wow, she has a great body" and then move along. Thought ends.

Kate: I think the word "sexy" is what I'm struggling with.

Me: So, there is nothing inherently wrong or sinful with me observing how attractive I think another human being is. Women do it. Men do it. We both do it towards same sex and opposite sex, despite all sexual orientation. It's strictly natural observation, without having ACTUAL sexual thoughts (IE. lust). I'm surprised to find how rare this is among people raised religiously, although it makes sense because we've been raised w/such fear of the human body and of sex.

Kate: I think that's where it gets murky for me. I never thought it was possible to see things like that and not think lustful thoughts.

Me: RIGHT. Traditional Christianity has tied together the human body with lust, and ALL attractive people with sexual sin. I can look at a woman and acknowledge that shes really attractive or hot or sexy or WHATEVER word you want to call it, and move right along, and be totally fine. If anything, that's a positive thing for me to be able to do. But LUST is thinking about her body for the next 5 or 30 mins (or the rest of the day) and fantasizing about her, and thinking about fucking her, etc etc. THAT. is what the problem is.

So, once people understand WHAT lust actually is, it becomes much more understandable that the way a woman dresses is pretty much unrelated to how a man thinks of her, and how a man chooses to allow his thoughts to continue or end immediately.

Kate: I think that's what I really didn't understand. What I have ingrained in my head is that lust is that 1-2 second thought when you see a woman. It doesn't even have to be a full second. But seeing her and thinking she's sexy, you've already committed a sin.

Me: yeah :\ A lot of people think the exact same thing. And yeah, that is totally not true.

Kate: That's why I really struggle with the word sexy. Not so much anymore but in the beginning, I used to cringe at how freely you used it, ha.

Me: I mean just sit on that thought for awhile and think about how ridiculous it really is.

Kate: Oh I totally get it's ridiculous. Trust me, ha. I just don't have anyone that I can openly say it's ridiculous to. In my church women would say things like, "you're really pretty" and my natural thought would be to smile and say "thank you" but then I realized it wasn't a good thing, they weren't meaning it in a good way. I even had one of our leaders tell me that I'm going to struggle with my beauty because men aren't going to be able to "handle it". That pretty much devastated me and that was the last time I went to church. And I spent months after that thinking there was something wrong with me. I never wore makeup until a few week ago because I thought that would just make things worse/harder for men.

Me: oh myyyyyy goddddddd

Kate: I don't know how to de-program my brain basically.

Me: Yeah :\ Well, it takes time. Don't be afraid of trying. You don't have to be scared of anything. Give yourself time and the freedom to sit down and write down on a piece of paper what you believe, or what you used to. And write out why, and what you believe, and what you want to believe. Look, here's the deal. God made you. And he made you a woman. So he inherently made you beautiful. God doesn't make things a certain way without a purpose. So you know that you are beautiful for a very specific reason, and that it's a GOOD, good thing. Never feel like you have to hide your beauty because it's a "bad" thing.

And whenever you're unsure of what you believe, or what's right and wrong, just remove yourself from trying to figure it out and try to focus on getting to learn more of who God is. Because who God IS, helps us understand what he MEANS.

Kate: Ah, yes. Thank you.

Me: joy, love, worth, value, encouragement, freedom, life. Those things are from God, and of God. Shame, guilt, hiding, dark, secrets, fear. Those are not.

63 comments:

Cara said...

UN.BE.LIEVE.UH.BOWL.

Thank you. Gosh darn it, thank you. I realized that I was on the outside looking in; that I've always lived with an accurate view of modesty when it comes to MYSELF but I've had such a hard time looking at what I've been trained to consider a slut or a whore, and find her heart. SO challenging. Thanks again, Lauren.

Sara B said...

Thank you for this Lauren. I feel like it helped clarify things in my mind as to where you were coming from and it makes a lot more sense now. Kate's line of having to "de-program" her brain hit me because I think ultimately that's what a lot of us in the Christian community need to do in regards to modesty/lust/sexuality/etc. Definitely a difficult challenge to tackle. But thankful for a God who is one of beauty, truth, and grace. Thank you for all you do! I've been loving your blog, GWP, and your tumblr lately :)

Eleanor said...

Love this. And you. You always bring such an open and honest message and I think that this is such an important message for our young women and men to be hearing.

You're amazing.
Lots of love from across the pond.
Eleanor

Juli[e]a. said...

I go to a private Christian university and last week on our school's 'Post Secret' page someone submitted a "secret" that said the following: "I apologize on behalf of all the women at APU (myself included) that dress and act in ways that cause you to stumble. I am sorry for making it so difficult for you to be the pure men of God that you strive to be."
There were so many responses to it, my own included, and someone linked your previous blog post on modesty, and I am so glad they did. Both that one, and this one, are SO GOOD.

PREACH IT, SISTER!

Melissa said...

Thank you for this so much <3. I think that sometimes it is a huge woman problem, in that it is an easy way for women to put other women down. I know where my standards of modesty rest and I try to rely on those and not judge other people, but even still, there are sometimes where I look at a picture or a person and I will think that is immodest (but I'm going to resist from naming an example here because I don't think that will be helpful). But I know what it's like to feel badly because someone insists that skirts are more modest than pants (I am fine with people who think that - it's their choice) but then when I am made to feel like I am somehow less modest because I don't think that women have to wear skirts to be modest it just makes me feel awful, because it is something that I care a lot about because I don't want to share certain parts of my body with the world.

Alece said...

what a beautiful, honest, transparent conversation. thank you for bravely sharing (both of you)...

sweetasnzgirl said...

Great conversation Kate & Lauren!

Lauren - I understand where you're coming from heaps better now.

Kate - I know how you feel...totally been there as I too grew up in a very strict "sex is bad" type of environment. But God will lead & guide you into his grace & love. It's a journey and I'm glad that you're being open to a new way of thinking. I understand what it's like to feel like it's 'bad' to be beautiful or attract attention. But I have come to trust my brothers in Christ heaps more and have realised that not every single guy who admires you're beauty is lusting/sinning. Be brave & stand tall. xx

iheartvegetables.com said...

Lauren, you are truly an amazing person! This is such a great take on the whole "modesty" thing because I HATE how people try to make it some blanket rule, when it's different for everything. There is nothing wrong with feeling beautiful, but I feel like sometimes, that's what we're told. You have such a great perspective on this stuff and I'm so glad you're sharing it.

Mathew said...

I agree with your major points but have two questions/considerations. In your analogy about drinking infront a friend who struggles with alcoholism, it seems Paul's idea of loving your weaker brother/sister must come into play. However, it does presuppose there's a relationship/community developed so that you know the individual struggles w the issue. That protects us from walking around wondering if someone will see us and stumble (I grew up in a similar background where we were afraid of doing anything lest someone stumble). I don't know if this would directly come into play as far dress is concerned. or how it would.

Second, Although the Bible doesn't give us a dress code, I don't think we should argue that nothing can be said about dress. Here's an example. Would you agree it would be immodest for a woman to walk around topless? Or for a man to walk around in a g-string? If so how can state that if the Bible doesn't speak against it directly. The problem is the Bible provides the principles and we must apply them that does leave room for interpretation and should also leave room for grace where we disagree but it seems wrong to go off the other end and say bc the Bible doesn't mention X specifically then there's no point to be made.

I agree that sexuality is good; the body is good but we must also realize we live in a fallen broken world still groaning for its full redemption which is why we are still walking around w clothes and nothing going back to Eden fashion. This truth must also be considered in the conversation in my estimation. Thank you for your thoughtful posts looking fwd to your response!

Emelina said...

<3 you girls so much. Thanks for having the courage to have this conversation in the open.

Keep building and growing.

Emelina said...

Also, I think Lauren, you point out something really important when you say we can totally notice attractive people and move on my with my day.

One thing that has helped me is use those moments where I notice an attractive body to immediately think "Hey, I still have a sex drive! That means my body's working like it's supposed to! Wooohooo!" and then I take a moment to adore Jesus and thank Him for making me. As someone who has had a LOT of health struggles, the fact that something is working correctly is a huge cause for praise! When I do this, my focus isn't on that sexy made-in-gods-image person anymore, but back on the One who made each of us beautiful and significant!

Find the little ways you can train your own mind and heart to reflect on God's goodness rather than judgment, fear, or lust!

Bethany said...

Can I just chime in along with Matthew? You're right about the way that traditional American Christianity has tied lust to human body instead of sin. However, I feel that your beginning argument seems weak and idealistic, an attempt to distinguish yourself from years of confusion and pain with which many of us identify, but you've swung too far to the other end of the pendulum.

Just because Scripture doesn't say, "thou shall not wear g-strings or go topless" doesn't mean that there aren't clear do's and don'ts. This is where I feel a distinct frustration with people of my generation that say there is no black and white. There are definite gray areas, but there is still right and wrong and we have to own up to that and pray for discernment. In James 1:22-25, it is called God's law, and it talks about knowing the truth :

"For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. (24) You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. (25) But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it."

In this Scripture James, and even in some passages God Himself, calls it "law," and what makes up law but guidelines, dare I say rules? At the very least, He's saying, there is a right and wrong way to doing life.

We still have to wear clothing, because we're this side of paradise, and as Matthew said, we live in a world that's still broken, that's still ravaged by shame and addiction.

If we claim Christ has renewed our souls, our outward appearance should reflect that. We don't wear the latest trends that barely cover our asses and breasts, that leave too little to the imagination. You can be sexy without being revealing.

It's complex, and there is no "thou shall not wear" passage in Scripture, but modesty is God-given instinct. He gave us a need and a yearning and an ability to sense boundaries, to sense when it's right to protect intimate parts of ourselves from the outside world.

I think if each of us are truly in-tune with the Holy Spirit, we know when how to demonstrate this instinct with how we dress and portray ourselves to others. It's the reason that you know you shouldn't wear that low-cut v-neck to coffee with a male friend. It's the reason I know that even though I have a favorite jeans, I can't wear them because they have holes too close to my ass. It's the reason I don't wear short-shorts unless I'm within my own back-yard and I don't have guests over.

I just don't feel that your statements about leaving the world to it's own problems and "wear whatever you want" mentality is healthy. It's sacrifice and service to others. It's confidence that your beauty is communicated through your measure of grace to others and not whether you get to wear your favorite outfit to church on Sunday without being judged.

kjust09 said...

All I can say is wow! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have inspired me and made me realize this distinction between modesty and lust. :)

Abby said...

I want to respond to this real quickly, and not in much depth as I have to run. haha.

But, really- modesty is completely cultural. In certain African cultures, women DO run around topless, and it doesn't cause the men to "stumble" cause they're used to it. Women there have to cover up their legs, and only their husbands are allowed to see them. My honest thought is... that which is a mystery is what causes fascination, lust, however you want to phrase it. Also, nude beaches? If you went everyday, you would be totally desensitized to that because it's cultural.

At the same time, Paul does make mention in several of his letters that if it's not directly against scripture, then there's nothing wrong with participating in your culture's traditions or tendencies. If I had a few more minutes I'd look those verses up.

If you want to be "biblically modest" and look at scripture in black and white, then as a woman you need to be covering your head, not braiding your hair, and never wearing jewelery. But I think we can all agree that Jesus was not a black-and-white guy, otherwise we WOULD see less braided hair. :)

Listen, I'm not suggesting we all run around naked. But I so appreciate Lauren's guts to stand up against these ridiculous standards and fight for women's rights to be confident in their own skin. Bottom line, Jesus still talks to people. If you're really struggling with modesty, whether or not an outfit is okay, etc, why don't you consult him?

Love love love to you all!

Katie Pederson said...

"It's important to note that because of my mom's intolerance of my body, I was convinced for years that all men saw in me was sex, so I didn't know how to treat them as genuine people with real personalities. This is why we as women need to be REALLY careful what we're teaching and how we're teaching modesty."

Agreed. So. Hard.

Anonymous said...

I would like this article a lot more if you didn't say oh my god. It makes me completely think that you aren't living what you believe. One of the ten commandments is thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain. Please don't say that.

Bri Poster said...

I decided to post a response blog on my personal blog. Feel free to take a look. It is not a stance against you, Lauren, just my personal views on the issue of modesty.

http://www.briposter.com/2012/03/response-to-modesty.html

-Claire said...

This post made my day. The things women go through in the name of religion and the church are so damaging...Thank you for showing you can love Jesus and still be an empowered woman. As someone who survived going to a "Christian college" and the multitude of judgement therein, thank you for looking at this with intelligent, grace-filled eyes.

Philip said...

As a man, I totally agree with this post on so many levels. I have been through phases in life where I was distracted by a womans cleavage, and at other times can walk past a nude picture and barely notice. The simple truth is that some men will lust just looking at a womans face. You can't control that.

Usually, the women that have distracted me the most have been the ones who project an air of seduction, which can be indirectly related to dress. I'm not referring to flirting. Thats a whole other topic which Lauren has discussed in the past. I'm talking about women that look at men like they want to rip their clothes off and then wonder why men come on to them.

As long as you are chasing Jesus with your whole heart and feel comfortable, don't worry about everybody else, and certainly don't feel responsible for their thoughts.

Mathew Sims said...

Abby,
Thank you for your response. I don't think we can condone topless women bc people in Africa don't wear clothes. It seems many people who advocate would use the same line of argument that we just need to desensitize ourselves but I think the bible does specifically prohibit this kind of thinking. Part of the curse was that Adam and Eve were naked and ashamed. Part of the curse means we must cover up bc we live in a fallen world.

If you read Paul and come away with the idea that Paul advocates for anything goes, then you may be missing his point in speaking of Christian freedom. The gospel frees us from slavery to the body of sin and saves us to the body of Christ. We are free now to obey Christ and love our bros/sis. What's more the Bible doesn't explicitly condemn taking meth but we cannot in good conscience recommend that for people to enjoy. Why? bc we apply Biblical principles and use discernment. In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Paul addresses those who say anything goes:
12 “‘All things are lawful for me,‘ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Tom Holland has a wonderful discussion of this passage in his Contours of Pauline Theology. You can download a PDF for free here (http://www.tomholland.org.uk/contours-of-pauline-theology/). Chapters 5 & 6 address the passage. Paul always asks what's more expedient in spreading gospel truth and what speaks truth about God. In the case of what we should wear, we should be asking men/women both, what does what we wear say about God and sexuality (since God created sexuality).

Lastly, you reference 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Timothy but again you've misread Paul. He's not saying never braid your hair or wear jewelry. He's saying don't make that what you're known for. You should be better known for your good works than your good looks.

Amaka said...

Lauren, girl, I have SO much respect for you for coming out and posting this. I'm in agreement with much of what you said. Some of this may seem a bit repetitive towards your post, but I wanted to address a few things I noticed in the comments.

While I completely agree, that our outward appearances should reflect our redemption in Christ, I still bristle at the fact that it seems like some still want more defined rules, when really all this talk of lust, modesty, etc are deep, heart-felt, one-on-one issues we just need to take up with God.

If someone wants to lust after me, they're going to do it whether I'm wearing a turtleneck or a bikini. You would think they'd be more drawn to all the leg and cleavage I was showing in a bikini, but they could just as easily be turned on by the turtleneck fitting along the curve of my hips or my breasts (no matter how endowed -- or not -- I am). And a turtleneck is pretty modest form of dress, is it not? You can be as modest as you want -- if someone wants to sin against you, they're going to do it regardless of what you're wearing. They're the ones who are breaking God's commandments.

On the flip side, when I first started grad school, I wore some pretty sexy clothing when I went out with friends. I showed a lot of leg in short skirts and cleavage-baring tops. Why? Because I wanted attention. I wanted everyone to notice how I hot I thought I was. My security didn't come from the Lord, it came from the attention I was getting from the men around me. It didn't even matter what they were thinking of me -- I made men and my body my idols, which is a sin against God. Regardless of what they thought of my legs or my breasts, I was the one who was breaking God's commandments.

Amaka said...

(continued from above!) I can't control or prevent or am responsible for what someone else thinks of me. We all know this and have experienced this in some way. We might do everything right, everything by the rules, everything by the book, but we still receive judgment from others, and that applies to all aspects of our lives, not just how we dress. Jesus was a direct example of this; despite all the healings, all the miracles, all the love he showed on the people, the Pharisees had their agenda, and the still had the nerve to call him a drunkard, a law-breaker, and a blasphemer. Jesus couldn't stop them from thinking those awful things and he certainly wasn't responsible for their behavior.

I might choose not to wear that V-neck shirt to the coffee shop with a guy friend for fear that he might peak down my shirt -- that doesn't mean he's not going to check out my butt when I get up and walk to the restroom. Even if he does look and observes that I have a nice butt and decides that I have a nice butt, what sin has he committed? What "thou shalt not look" commandment has he broken? Now if he wants to obsess over and sexually fantasize about grabbing and squeezing said butt, he's crossed a line. But you know what? It's not between me, him and God -- it's between him and God alone.

Amaka said...

(last part I promise!) And the truth is, I still like to play up my favorite body parts. I have nice legs, so I like to wear shorts. I have toned shoulders, so I prefer strapless dresses. I love my collarbone, so I actually almost always wear V-neck T-shirts, at home and in public. But though God's grace, I've learned I don't have to idolize my body or seek out anyone's attention and that I don't have to deprive myself of what I love to wear to prevent someone from fantasizing about me. In Him, I can embrace what beauty He has given me, and I am forever thankful for it.

If we would spend more time on our hearts and more time in consulting God about our convictions, struggles, and lack of wisdom and truth in certain areas of our lives, I am convinced we would spend less time wondering how we can attract men with our bodies or about what on earth that girl was thinking when she wore those really revealing short shorts.

We would spend less time trying to define and police modesty and spend more time showing our neighbors the same love God shows us whether or not they meet our definitions of modest or Godly.

Tatuu said...

Interesting conversation and I love the truths that come with it thereof.

Being an African girl and a Kenyan for that matter, we have also been raised with such ideas as not dressing in a certain manner, because well...the men will stumble. It was a sin to wear trousers in our house and I had to do it out of rebellion. I made up my mind that the men have to take responsibility with their salvation. Of course I don't go around wearing hot pants et al, but I wear what I feel comfortable in in a particular day.

Great thought Lauren and lotsa love to you.

Kelsee said...

As a woman, I am created in God's image, to reflect all that is beautiful, emotional, and feminine about God (and all of His other qualities that He has bestowed upon me). One of those gifts that He has given and created in me is my physical beauty. God created my body and cherishes it so much that He is going to resurrect it and make it new when He returns. I refuse to think that God made a mistake in creating me. I like to wear short skirts, shorts, and dresses too because my God gave me sky-high legs! Hooray! I think, scratch that, I KNOW that my Lord knows exactly what He's doing and what's going on and it isn't my job to judge anyone: for their dress or un-dress or anything else. It is simply my job to love God and then love others and extend to them the Grace and freedom that has been extended to me through my father. And you know what? I am not a whore or sinning for valuing the beauty created in me.
Lauren, once again, I am blessed to have stumbled onto your blog way back in the fall.. You continue to speak the Truth in love and with so much grace.. Thank you.

Abby said...

Hey Matthew!

I'm definitely not asking for women to start going topless in America. Haha. My point with that is simply that in other cultures, the "laws of modesty" are completely different or nonexistent, and those people love Jesus with good hearts and clean consciences. And by no means do I ever want anyone to be desensitized to their sex drives (cause sex drives are awesome), I just think that dressing modestly and lust are used in the same sentence way too often. Sorry if I didn't communicate that well :) My point with saying that you are "desensitized" to your surroundings is that in a lot of cultures, that is a way of life. Just like in America, we don't blink twice if a woman doesn't have a head wrap, where in the Middle East that same woman would be killed. It's a matter of culture. If you look at the bible as a whole, God has a whole lot more to say to men about lust than he does to women about their clothing.

As far as your example with meth goes, I couldn't agree more. The reason I agree is because meth isn't beneficial in any way, and Paul clarifies that "all things are permissible, yet not all things are beneficial." It also makes you lose control, and a fruit of the Spirit is self-control. In my opinion, that is a pretty cut and dry interpretation of applying biblical concepts to a current-day issue. Modesty is a little more grey than that. I definitely don't believe that "anything goes", but the modesty thing has just been taken too far for something the bible doesn't directly command woman to participate in. Do I run around in skimpy clothes? No. Part of that reason is because I'm still recovering from being raised in an ultra-conservative home, and thus haven't ever had the chance to wear shorts above my knees until recently. The other part of that reason is simply because it doesn't generally fit my lifestyle/ job. But I don't have a problem with it, and come summertime, I'll probably be on the beach in a bikini because it's way more comfortable.

I totally think you're right in that we should honor God with our entire beings and express our God-given sexuality. The rules, however, that the church alone has put on this is where my problem lies, because they are not rules that Jesus Himself gave. They are rules that say, your clothes (or lack thereof) need to change before we consider you a good person. And that is superficial and wrong.

What I meant by those scriptures is that we shouldn't be looking at it in black and white... that was kinda my point :) If we don't read more into it, then we take it at face value and never get the heart of the message (which is exactly what you stated... don't be known just for your good looks, but it's better that you be known for having a gracious heart and good deeds).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Abby said...

OH, and Amaka? I have a feeling we would be friends. I read your entire post thinking, "YEAH! EXACTLY!" Well said, girl, well said.

suzy said...

question:
{this isn't an attack, just an honest question}

will your stance change down the road when you have your own daughter and she's sixteen?

i always think about that. i think about how, no, the things that have happened to me, the things that men have done to me or thought about me are {in many instances, because i have to confess i've not always been acting out of pure sweet innocence} NOT my fault. but i can't change the fact that there are men out there thinking those things, doing those things. i've learned that i can't control others' reactions to me, but i definitely can play a part.

it's not just a religious thing, it's a fact of life. i mean, really: why do women go to clubs with their boobs hanging out? ask them. i had that conversation the other day with a friend. we weren't talking about modesty, & she wasn't a Christian, she was just telling me how she knows that if she shows cleavage, she knows it will cause men to think of her in "that" way. she knows it, seinfeld knows it, my husband knows it, most of the world knows it. i'm not sure why Christians think they can dress the same way and not be thought of in the same way? i'm not saying you can't, i'm just saying...why would you fight for that?

i guess my point is that if i ever have a daughter, i will want to protect her from those things as much as i possibly can; i won't want men to think of her in "that" way. and as "restricting" as it may seem, part of it is going to be asking her to cover up.

NOT because i won't think she's beautiful, or because i want to be a prison warden, but because i'll love her and i'll want her to dress in a way that asks men to respect her.

my husband feels the same way about me. he doesn't want the 57 year-old guy at the gas station looking down my shirt; he doesn't want the 15 year-old guys at the grocery store staring at my legs. he's a guy; he knows. and i don't fight him on it because i know that he's asking me out of respect and love, and protection.

Erica said...

Dear Lauren,
I am writing to thank you for the many posts and links you've put up on this topic here and at the good woman project site. I've silently read along so far and would like to share the following thoughts.

I was actually unaware that there we groups within the Christian umbrella who taught such a strict modesty doctrine as has been revealed to me by your writing and other authors to which you linked. Whoa! I'm 42 and somehow have managed to live a life of following Jesus without all that malarky being shoved at me with such violence. My dear sister in Christ! May God bless you and heal you and protect you and comfort you and any who have had their self worth and image so battered and maligned. Thank you for the education. I will say, given my experience drifting through a variety of denominations, that there seem to be many places in Christianity where a more balanced, gentle view must be held, since I managed to make it this far with blissful cluelessness (Also a family trait :) ).

Secondly, as the parent of a young daughter, I will admit that my husband and I have had several puzzled, nervous conversations filled with deep sighs about how to broach the issue of dress well with her. How to help her delight in her fashion choices while also loving her neighbor as herself, how to let her know the tragedy that is possibly not communicating the right kind of welcome or invitation by certain outfits when her motivation may only be social acceptance, it's a struggle, I'll tell you. Neither one of us cares much for dressing beyond what's comfortable, and we worry about this a lot. The articles and posts you've written and linked to have helped me develop my thinking SO MUCH in this area in such positive ways in the past week. I feel like I have solid words and ideas with which to craft a truly Godly message, dress so you feel comfortable attractive, appropriate, and honoring to God as one created in God's image ...if we're shooting for those values, if she can articulate back to me how her choices meet those values, if I can teach and defend those values to her as we continue to grow together, then I feel like I'll be consistent with Jesus' own creed and how I'm trying to raise her.

So, thank you. And hang in there. Remember, god is the one who defines your worth, not what us commenters say. The Lord bless you and speak his love to your heart. may he give you a heart that can receive his love and blessing.

David Mallett said...

I ended up here on a random trail through an old friend (Rachel from http://sincerelyrachelchristine.com/ ) and have really enjoyed reading what you have to say. I have constantly struggled with many things involving the Christian church, primarily because I grew up in a non-Christian household and became a Christian in a wonderful church. However the high school group I was a part of came from strict Christian households and i felt the constant pressure/judgement of a holier than thou attitude from them because I could not connect what the bible tells us to the archaic rules their parents passed down to them. Don't get me wrong they were some of my best friends, we just didn't always see eye to eye.

To the point of why I am writing this, one time in a guys bible study one of the "holier than thou" guys said something that I'm not sure where he heard: "You can't stop a bird from flying in front of you, you can however keep it from nesting on your head" I think this speaks directly to what you said above in that there will always be pretty girls/guys dressed in a variety of ways that you will see, and its okay to notice them or their attractiveness but it is up to each of us what we do with that thought, either let it end there or lust.

Maddi said...

Totally agree with this. I think another point to make would be personal conviction. I have a strong conviction to dress on the modest side because I feel like it's an appropriate way to honor God. I also think that in my own heart, if I were to dress less modestly, it would be for attention from guys which just builds up my pride. Personal conviction is really important in all these difficult topics where there is no clear definition.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. Romans 14:22

Dianna said...

I got here from Alise Wright's blog, and I just want to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

I've been saying for ages that there is a big difference between "oh, hey, she looks good" and actual lustful thoughts. The church is really not good at making the difference stark, so we end up with brothers telling their (literal, biological) sisters to cover up because it's making them stumble (true story!). It is so wrong, on so many levels. We've been taught to be afraid of our own body, of our own natural reactions - ie, we're taught "you don't have a sex drive and having one means that you're sinning." And that is so messed up.

Anonymous said...

I'm really inspired by Lauren's dedicated and passionate faith. However, I could not respect myself as a Christian and dress like Heidi Montag. That is just sooo not for me. Doesn't God call us to act differently than the world? In today's American society, if a girl is walking around w/her boobs hanging out and her shorts so teeny that they look like pieces of ribbon tied around her upper thighs, the connotations are (a). she gets her sense of fashion from the media, namely this generation's Hollywood (b). she's waiting for others to validate her sexiness w/comments or just the way they look at her (c). [sorry, but it's true] she's insecure w/herself, so if all else fails, at least she looks good. I follow Jesus, but I have great legs. I'm not a legalist, but I'm also not stupid. I am a strong woman who respects herself enough to keep the private parts of her body private. If I dressed the way magazines, movies, and television encourage, I'd look just like the rest of the world. There's nothing unique about attracting that kind of attention. P.S. I'm banking on this comment being deleted.

Maria said...

Forgot about 1 Timothy 2:9 "And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes."

IT'S ALL THERE! So yes it surely is mentioned in The Bible

Anonymous said...

I can't separate sexy from sex, and I can't separate sex from a spouse so I won't separate sexy from a spouse either.

You can probably just read that first line and the last two paragraphs, the rest is detail...

I'm a man. I have a body type that puts on muscle and not fat and I'm still about as athletic as I was during my time as a collegiate athletic.
Basically, I'm ripped. (I know, that's not for everyone, I recognize I won the societal lottery... and please just humor me here, I also think I'm pretty kind, wise and loving (praise God) ... moving on.)

For a while, I was concerned that I could be causing some women to stumble with what I was wearing or not wearing, as well as the men around me with feelings of inadequacy.
I actually stopped lifting weights for a couple months, then I realized what you realized - this is stupid, I love exercise and I don't workout to look good, I enjoy the time to myself, the challenge and the science side of exercise. But I still don't want anyone to look at me and think I'm sexy - I choose to reserve that for my wife (should I ever marry).

I've received plenty of attention in my life, and I've dumbed down my character, intelligence and athleticism to blend in, or even "protect" others (you know, from my awesomeness). But there is a difference between being sexy and being impressive. I've been learning not to hide things I consider impressive in myself.

I still clean up well, and even buried beneath looser clothing I've been told I'm quite handsome - but in my mind there's a fine line between handsome and sexy. And (in my mind) in public, one is classy and one is trashy.

The only person I want to think I'm sexy is someone I am having sex with (within marriage). I only want to be sexy for my wife, and I want the same from her. When we choose to we will both be classy, cleaned up and put together (God-willing), but in private we will be sexy... together.

I can't separate sexy from sex, and I can't separate sex from a spouse so I won't separate sexy from a spouse either.

RYAN said...

As a guy I have to admit there are plenty of beautiful girls and women, but when I see them I'm inspired by their beauty. Maybe I'm unique, but there is a reason for beauty, fun, smiles, love. These are inherently good things that should never be thought of as bad. When I see sickness, injuries, ugliness I also realize there are reasons for this as well. I think we are in this life for each other to witness both good and bad as it affects us and our relationship/dialogue with God.

Kelly D said...

Great post!

I completely agree that a woman is never responsible for a man's lust. When a man lusts after her it is his sin to own, and a temptation that he needs God's help controlling. Also, I agree that we shouldn't feel the need to only wear lose baggy clothing or unattractive clothing. I have been stared at even when dressed this way, so if a man is going to have lustful thought our clothing often isn't responsible.

Here is where I am struggling with this stance on modesty and that is with teenage and younger girls. I am one of the leaders in our church's high school group, and often the clothing choices they make are ones that I feel they should be cautioned against. Not because they cause men to lust, but because it isn't glorifying to God. I might be missing your point, but shouldn't we be encouraging these younger women to cherish their bodies in a way that is glorifying to God? Sometimes that does mean wearing clothing that covers you up a bit more.

Christina said...

This was wonderful Lauren! I think the nature of the heart is the most important thing here. A woman walking with the Lord speaks louder and clearer than the clothing she wears. I know who I am in Christ regardless of my hemline or neckline. Our focus should be more on sharing Jesus and reaching hearts for Christ, than on teaching rules. Rules turn our relationship with Christ into mere religion.
And as far as skinny jeans and v-necks go, why can't we wear them because we have awesome legs or a great neck? My best asset is my bottom, and you bet I get jeans that make it look cute. Because I like to feel good about my body just like working out and eating healthy, and even wearing make up for that matter. It breaks my heart that we as "Christians" feel so guilty about taking pleasure or feeling good about anything.

Anonymous said...

Personal opinion: This post is about half what it should be and half what it shouldn't be.

I agree that when we think in terms of "causing a brother to stumble" - conventional thought may be a bit harsh and off-base. I also agree that the church's views on modesty are a little too strong at times - I went to a church that frowned upon people wearing shorts to Sunday services.

While I agree with about 50% of the post and your ideas behind it, I find issue with the delivery and overall follow-through of the concepts you discuss and believe.

Honestly, I kept getting this "I mean, oh em gee, like, my bff Jill!" vibe... Then your "oh myyyyyy goddddddd" comment pushed it over the line. It's a product of a materialistic culture that degrades language and the power of words until things like that are acceptable.

To me, the other 50% of this post is justification of a poisonous way of thinking.

For instance: The word "sexy" is obviously rooted in the word "sex." Calling a person sexy then implies sexually explicit thought. Then again, contemporary culture has changed to the point where sexy = beautiful, and the words are interchangeable (for the most part).

That's the problem that parents have with things like this, I think. They grew up with different meanings to words. Their children heard these words and grasped at the connotation without fully understanding the meaning of the word itself and its connotation. Now, the word means something different than it did say 20 years ago.

A few simple examples would be ass (donkey) v. ass (butt) & gay (happy) v. gay (homosexual).

Somewhere along the line, connotations begin to shift... and its because the culture allows it, justifies it. Just like this post is doing for things like "sexy." It's permission to change the connotation of the words. Conversations like this are what create new dictionary entries.

We are to be in the world but not of it. I think part of that is gaining societal understanding of language and words, and not trying to be too innovative and creative when we use them because let's face it - it would be awkward calling a beautiful, curvy church building a "sexy church."

Great post. Great conversation. And I commend you on your bravery for sharing these thoughts, but be wary of how your words are effecting the next generation of young men & women.

Case in point: The gentleman who very vainly created an entire comment centered around how he finds himself attractive, and he thought that he should dumb himself down to be "normal" but now he realizes that "I'm sexy and I know it" instead of being modest and humble about his "blessed" body.

This treads down a dangerous road of thought full of self-obsession and vanity... If we aren't careful.

Steve said...

Would a shopkeeper be blamed if someone stole their goods? Should he have keep everything behind a locked case, so as not to tempt shoplifters into sin? No, of course not - the thieves themselves committed the crime. So why are women's clothing blamed for men's indiscretions?

I'm a man. I have control of myself, my thoughts, my eyes. I don't always control them as I should (or as God has directed me to do), but that fault is my own. That sin is my own and I need to reconcile it.

Lust happens in our own minds and hearts - the object of that desire has no knowledge of the sin. The lusting can happen without the other party being present, as well. So whatever a woman wears doesn't impact the lust that directed towards her without her control. Men's imaginations are strong enough to "fill in the blanks" if they choose to do so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren,
I've been reading the GWP for a month or so - and I love it! You and your contributors write so honestly and biblically and just keep hitting the nail on the head on so many topics that the Christian social circle I'm in don't like to address (and I know you understand how tough that can make the Christian walk).
I so relate to the way you were raised and where Kate is at with this. Your explanation is deep and well thought out and intentioned. Here's where I struggled with the article:

1. I have a christian dad that has cheated on my mom numerous times and is addicted to porn. I have also been addicted to porn/masturbation and thank God every day for the freedom he has given me over this stronghold and for the articles I have recently found through GWP that explain the real reasons for those addictions so well.

This background makes me very sensitive to girls that flaunt it in front of very vulnerable men and brothers in Christ. I KNOW AND BELIEVE that men have a choice to make about looking away and not fantasizing on what they see, and therefore as you say it is not the girl's fault. But let's honestly admit that our society is deeply messed up, and even men that want to live as Christ calls them to, are constantly bombarded by the stress that the western lifestlye produces in many people (due to being workaholics, not spending enough time in right relationship with God/people). This increases their vulnerability because they can easily fall into the trap of coping with their stressful life by always looking for the fastest release they can find (I know this is wrong, but it's a situation that many of us find ourselves in). Being aware of the culture we live in, we can't pretend we're in the perfect world or even that of the 60's for instance (With less of these outside factors affecting purity decisions), where our decisions are completely independent and do not affect our ultra-vulnerable brothers (I know they need to work on getting their priorities straight).

If we were living in the garden of eden before Eve took a bite, then your argument is perfect, and I know we should "live in life", but we have to be obedient to God in the world/culture we do live in. There are so many stumbling blocks for our brothers in this world, that if we are slightly aware that they are affected by them, we shouldn't make ourselves another one for them (not talking turtlenecks here, but also not itsy-bitsy string bikinis).



Also a little bothered/shocked by the use of "oh my god" and "fucking" in this article. I can struggle with my language and know what James has to say about this. I know your use of fucking was in the context that it perfectly described the issue fantasizers have, and wasn't a blatant curse, but it is a touchy one.
Trying not to be too legalistic here, but it's not always easy:)

Would love to dialogue with you on this.
Kristin

Anonymous said...

I understand an issue with "Oh My G**" ('Thou shalt not use thy Lord's name in vain anyone?) But fuck? damn? shit? ass?

Hahahahahaha

to the above commenter who was offended by the word "fuck" I say:

|congratulations; you give cuss words power they don't deserve|

some people need to remove their asses off their legalistic high horses!

Sincerely,
Real Talk

im1funmom said...

I am a nearly-50-year-old mom of daughters. I was raised ultra-conservatively.

I have been very deliberate in creating my own ever-evolving opinions over the years of what modesty is for me. I encourage my daughters to develop their own thoughts/opinions along with a healthy body image while learning how to love God with all their hearts. I give them guidance, but eventually, they will have to decide this for themselves.

It's tricky business... but I think that is the best part. Every woman has the ability and responsibility to figure out what she thinks modesty in her life.

I appreciate you tackling this subject and want to thank you for your openness and honesty. Blanket statements and rules don't work as your children mature. This is truly something everyone needs to figure out their own stance on with an open mind that is seeking God's heart.

Thanks again for taking this topic on. If you were my daughter, I would tell you I am proud of you for being so brave!

christin. said...

this required me to write my own blog in response: http://thisrecklesslife.tumblr.com/

as always, you are a blessing lauren.

Megan said...

Lauren I totally agree that each person should be held accountable and I hate it when guys blame girls for their sexual sin. However, I've had guys say to me things like this: "when we're talking to a girl, we really want to concentrate on her personality and listen to her as a human being, but if you can see her cleavage it's really hard." I know that you would say that it's OK for us to dress modestly to help guys like this, but I think the difference between us is that I think that all girls should try and help guys to be able to treat us like people- they're trying to do a good thing.

Also, and I really don't want to be rude or judgmental here but whilst there are no 'rules' in the bible about modesty there are about swearing on God's name and about using profane language (most people take this to mean swearing.) It's not my place to judge you on this but it kind of takes away from what you're trying to say. I'm sitting here thinking 'oh OK, she has a point on modesty, wait- she just swore on God's name (alarm bells! - if she thinks it's OK to do that (which it's definitely not) then maybe the same goes for what she thinks about modesty.' Do you get what I mean?

Anyhow, thanks for all your posts- I love your blog :) Love and prayers.

Megan said...

Also to anonymous who says he has 'won the societal lottery'- there is nothing more unattractive to me (and a gazillion other girls I know) than arrogance. And false humility doesn't cover arrogance up. Trust me on this.

The reason: if a guy knows he's hot then girls constantly feel like they're not good enough around him. I would like to marry a human being, thank you very much :) Besides, good looks/beauty fade- it's character that will stick around when you're old and grey.

ladaisi said...

Hey ... a recent follower of yours. ;) I found this post inspiring because, after years of people trying to force their ideas of modesty onto me, I basically came to the same conclusions ... and it is SUCH A RELIEF!

- Lauren

Flowerchild Post-Cards

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more with your post. I have been the man who tells the girls around me to cover up because it makes things harder for me. I have also seen how much that line of thinking has hurt my wife. I have finally come to see that it is absolutely not the responsibility of women to keep the men around them from lusting.

There are many Christian men who deal with their lust by constantly averting their eyes. For these men the way their sisters dress is a serious problem. However, it is only a problem because their hearts are reacting in lust to what they see. This reminds them that their heart of lust is still alive and well, which is a rather uncomfortable thing to realize.

So here is how I now deal with it. I am a man. I have a sex drive. That sex drive likes to get geared up when it sees good looking women. I live in a world full of good looking women, many of whom show it off. Furthermore, I live in a world where I can see a nude, sexualized image of a woman anytime, anyplace thanks to the internet. All of this means that it is a fools errand to try to hide my lust from myself by never exposing myself to stimuli that will reveal it. Thus the only possible way to deal with my lust is to constantly repent of it and throw myself on the provision of my Father. He alone can change my heart, and my heart is what needs changing.

So the truth of the matter is that if a man tells you that your manner of dress is making it hard for him not to lust, in reality your beauty is just reminding him that he is lustful.

Anonymous said...

really enjoyed and appreciated your post.

I've had some church leaders or even peers who've approached me on how i dress and it's disturbed me on some level. I've never felt as though I dressed immodestly, especially in a church setting, and so hearing what they said made me feel extremely judged.

i guess i felt it was ironic that my friends outside church could speak to me while i was wearing shorts or a sundress and interact with me as a person... while it seemed like people in church were just obsessed with the fact that I was showing another inch of leg.

anyway, just wanted to say thanks for writing so frankly. it's allowed me to realize i'm not alone in what I feel.

Emily said...

Wow. I am totally "Kate". Couldn't get through this without crying! I'm making a point to read this several times a week. It's water for a dry heart who thought it was a shameful thing when people positively noticed my body, or genuinely feel ashamed to feel beautiful. Dang it. Sounds so lame just typing it out. [But it's the way us homeschoolers were taught to live.] Thank you, Lauren, for treading a different path!

John Telgren said...

Everything God created is GOOD, that is what the Bible says. Everything, including your body, is a reflection of the goodness and beauty of God. God made man and woman for each other, the attraction is not a bad thing. That is how we are wired. Read Song of Solomon, it is a beautiful poem, or song, of romantic and erotic love. Eroticism is not a bad thing. God invented it. It has its place in God's creation. As far as lust goes (from the Sermon on the Mount), here is a proverb I received from a Bible professor that I have never forgotten - "You may not be able to keep a bird from landing on your head, but you sure can keep it from building a nest there."

B said...

I won't be raising a family in traditional church because of many reasons, but this is one of the foremost in my mind. I'm not passing along the dysfunction to the next generation, even if it means withdrawing from most churches.

Anonymous said...

just one thing....THEOLOGY OF THE BODY!!!!! http://www.christopherwest.com/
Don't write off religion because of a bad experience. My family is Roman Catholic, (not nominally) and though I'm fairly certain that I show less skin than most girls at my college, my four sisters and I love to shop at anthropologie (major sales only haha), h&m, gap, urban outfitters and all the places that sell classy and fashionable clothes. My parents were always concerned with the way we dressed because they knew it was a sign of how much we value ourselves, especially if they knew we were not dressing with pure intentions (which is different than having conflicting standards), but never did they make us feel that being attractive, beautiful, and confident were things to be ashamed of. I'm sure there are many people who have been made to feel that way--I may even know some!--but because my family has been so clearheaded and not taken an extreme view on either side, I can love my religion, my faith, Jesus Christ, my fellow Christians (and non-Christians too!!), AND my body with equal fervor. ....And sex is a good thing! of course it is, God gave it to us.

Anonymous said...

and also i want to share some honest comments about dress affects men...by men..
http://theevangelista.com/post/28976525987/clothing-is-communication-the-free-responses
"A woman should be able to dress in a way that makes her feel beautiful. Who could ever say this form of self-expression isn’t important?! Yet, she needs to delicately balance her own sense of style with an understanding of what outfits increase her chances of being objectified. To ignore this is like going to the beach for a few hours without sunscreen and expecting the clouds to protect you from sunburn. Sometimes they do. Sometimes you just burn."

"I like a girl’s dress habits more if she…wears something appropriate for whatever weather is happening, and something that isn’t so short, revealing, or uncomfortable that she has to change the way she walks, sits, or stands just to cover-up or not be in pain."

"Elegance and understatement are a thousand times more alluring to men of value, and repel the men of little/no value, all without compromising your femininity."

"If nothing else, I think the biggest problem among virtuous spouse-material women is that make-up is somehow [seen as] too worldly and [these women think] that good future husbands will appreciate only those women who demonstrated non-worldliness vis a vis no makeup. This is wrong."

"Immodesty isn’t just about the amount of skin exposed. It has more to do with what attracts our eyes and what a woman’s appearance “suggests” to our very susceptible and “visual” imagination. So for example, skinny jeans cover plenty of skin, but also outline the entire female form from the waist down. This draws the male eye and gives the male imagination a type of content to draw from in order to objectify the woman wearing them. The thing is, it’s not intentional…A Christian man who wants to keep his heart pure will look away and deny his imagination the opportunity to continue, but this makes for an uncomfortable relationship."

"Don’t get too neurotic about modesty...I appreciate the effort but honestly, most current fashions are not going to be problem for my eyes (as long as you are staying this side of Jersey Shore)."

"All dress/cosmetic stuff should be a window into the woman’s beauty (a concrete sign of her true beauty). It should not be a cover or distraction for her insecurity. MEN PICK UP ON A WOMAN’S INSECURITY VERY EASILY."

"It’s best if a woman is herself. Don’t worry so much about what we might like; you have pretty good taste yourself. And I mean you, not necessarily your favorite store. Your gut is better then the latest fashion. Our culture is totally focused on objectifying you. Don’t let them please, because it makes our lives harder."

"The more you respect yourself, the easier it is for us to respect you. Trying to be too different isn’t always attractive, but neither is trying to be like everyone else. Find your own style, but be sure that it is classy."

I encourage you to read all the responses, and to look the rest of the survey as well..

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EX PORNOSTAR SIMONA PREMOLI. EX AMANTE LESBICA MARINA BERLUSCONI. said...

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EX PORNOSTAR SIMONA PREMOLI. EX AMANTE LESBICA MARINA BERLUSCONI. said...

MASTODONTICA LAVA € MAFIOSI MARINA BERLUSCONI .. ( AND VERY HOT LESBICO-N-AZISTA... PUR, COME DICEVO, E NON MI STANCHERÒ DI RIPETERLO, SE DI TIPO VISCIDAMENTE "OCCULTO") HA PER MARITO 1 ASSOLUTO SOLO E SEMPRE OMOSESSUALE PURE: MAURIZIO VANADIA. ED IO, EX PORNOSTAR SIMONA PREMOLI (NOW IN WOOPLY), SONO STATA AMANTE SOLO E SEMPRE LESBICA, DI MARINA BERLUSCONI! PER 12 ANNI! BASTA IPOCRISIE SCHIFOSAMENTE MUSSOLINIANE, PLEASE!

CIAO A TUTTI. SONO L'EX PORNOSTAR SIMONA PREMOLI
https://www.facebook.com/simona.premoli.7
https://www.facebook.com/simona.premoli.96
http://it.linkedin.com/pub/simona-premoli/25/786/a54

IN ARTE E NELLA VITA, PER UN CERTO PERIODO, ANCHE SIMONA PREMOLI MEJIA. PER 12 ANNI SONO STATA L'AMANTE LESBICISSIMA DI MARINA BERLUSCONI. INDIMENTICABILI LE NOTTI PASSATE NEI SUOI UFFICI DI FININVEST, CHE MEGLIO DEFINIREI MA-F-ININVEST ( ALIAS: "DA SEMPRE FINANZIATA DALLA MAFIA": FININVEST), A FARE ORGE LESBICHE SU ORGE LESBICHE!!! CON DEBORAH PERAZZOLI CHE COMMENTA QUI http://mondodonna.blogosfere.it/2009/06/agenti-della-gf-stuprano-prostituta-a-roma.html
http://gaetanolopresti.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/fedele-confalonieri-i-cimiteri-sono-pieni-di-persone-indispensabili/, MARIA GRAZIA CRUPI https://www.facebook.com/mariagraziamari.crupi, SARA TOMMASI
https://it-it.facebook.com/pages/Sara-Tommasi/35193659002 CHE NON PER NIENTE, GIUSTISSIMAMENTE, PARLÒ DI GIRI SQUALLIDISSIMI, ANZI, CHE SUPER GIUSTISSIMAMENTE, PARLÒ DI MARCHETTE IMPOSTE DA FASCIONDRANGHETISTA MARINA BERLUSCONI
http://infosannio.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/sara-tommasi-basta-con-le-marchette-nel-giro-di-marina-berlusconi/, ERIKA NERI http://www.pornostaritaliana.com/pornostar/erika-neri/, LAURA PEREGO http://www.pornostaritaliana.com/pornostar/laura-perego/ E TANTISSIME ALTRE PORNOSTARS AMATORIALI O PROFESSIONALI, MA SEMPRE NAZIFASCISTE, COME TUTTE QUELLE CHE HO APPENA RIPORTATO. LA SEMPRE E SOLO LESBICA MARINA BERLUSCONI MI HA COSTRETTO A LECCARGLI LA VAGINA ANCHE PER 6 0RE, DA MEZZANOTTE ALLE 6 DI MATTINA ( IN QUANTO NOTORIAMENTE FRIGIDA). NEGLI UFFICI DI MA-F-ININVEST, SI, PROPRIO LI!!! HA COSTRETTO ME E MARIA GRAZIA CRUPI A SCOPARE, SCOPARE, SCOPARE, FARE TANTISSIMO SESSO ANALE ( TANTO VERO CHE HO DA ANNI IL NICK: « SIMOMA PREMOLI MEJIA, A FAR SESSO ANALE, SEI SEMPRE A MEEEEEJIA »), CON TANTA GENTE DI CENTRO SINISTRA ( VINCENTE, QUINDI, TEMUTA DAI DITTATORI NAZICAMORRISTI BERLUSCONI) " DA INFILTRARE, DA SPIARE" STILE MATA HARI ( SPERIAMO DI NON COPIARNE LA FINE, ORA).

EX PORNOSTAR SIMONA PREMOLI. EX AMANTE LESBICA MARINA BERLUSCONI. said...

E ADESSO... CI HA SCARICATE. NON CI PARLA PIÙ. FA FINTA DI NON CONOSCERCI. PRENDE LE DISTANZE. CI MANDA SOTTO "BERLUSCONIANISSIMI" MAFIOSI, CAMORRISTI, NDRANGHETISTI CHE CI METTONO COLTELLI ALLA GOLA E CI DICONO " SE PARLI DEI TUOI ANNI COME AMANTE LESBICA DI MARINA BERLUSCONI QUESTA GOLA LA TAGLIO". SON DOVUTA ANDARE A VIVERE PER OTTO ANNI IN REPUBBLICA DOMINICANA PER NON FARMI AMMAZZARE DAI SICARI MANDATI DAGLI ASSASSINI, VI ASSICURO, SI, ASSASSINI BERLUSCONI. ASSASSINI!!!! E PROSSIMAMENTE ENTRERÒ IN MOLTI DETTAGLI A PROPOSITO ( I BERLUSCONI HAN FATTO AMMAZZARE CENTINAIA E CENTINAIA DI PERSONE... FAN I FURBASTRI... FAN PASSARE TUTTO PER FINTI SUICIDI, MALORI, INDICENTI, MA VI ASSICURO CHE SON TUTTI ASSASSINII DA LORO ORDINATI, E DA LORO SERVIZI SEGRETI FASCISTISSIMI E PERSONALI, ESEGUITI)! IO, EX PORNOSTAR SIMONA PREMOLI, CHE ORA MI STO RICOSTRUENDO UNA CARRIERA NEL SETTORE DELLE LINGUE, VIA WOOPLY http://www.wooply.com/simonapremoli20 ( FATEMI FARE UNA BATTUTA, PLEASE: A FURIA DI LECCARLA PER SEI ORE DI FILA ALLA FRIGIDA MARINA BERLUSCONI... ORMAI.. DI LINGUE ME NE INTENDO), SÒ BENISSIMO CHE ALLA NOTTE L'OMOSESSUALE MAURIZIO VANADIA DORME CON, ANCHE, TRE UOMINI ALLA VOLTA. E CHE L'OMOSESSUALISSIMA MARINA BERLUSCONI FA LO STESSO, ANCHE CON CINQUE DONNE PER NOTTE. NIENTE CONTRO I GAY, CI MANCHEREBBE, ANCHE IO, SIMONA PREMOLI, SON PIÙ LESBICA CHE STRAIGHT. MA ODIO LE IPOCRISIE. IO AMMETO CHE SONO MOLTO SON PIÙ LESBICA CHE STRAIGHT. MA LA DEPRAVATA OMOSESSUALISSIMA MARINA BERLUSCONI SI FINGE ETERO, A FINI "NEONAZISTI" ED É DA SEMPRE SOLO LESBICA! I SUOI DUE FIGLI VENGONO DA ASSOLUTISSIMA INSEMINAZIONE, NON PER NIENTE! ODIO QUESTE VISCIDE "RETORICHE DI REGIME NEO MUSSOLINIANO-HITLERIANO" E PER QUESTO SCRIVERÒ, ORA, SU MIGLIAIA DI SITI DI TUTTO IL MONDO. HO FATTO ORGE LESBICHE, ORGE CON VECCHI BAVOSI BERLUSCONIANI PER ANNI, HO FATTO SESSO ANALE A TONNELLATE, E ORA, FAN FINTA DI NON CONOSCERMI? MI FARÒ GIUSTIZIA DA SOLA. A FRA NON MOLTO PER TANTISSIMI ALTRI SCRITTI. EX PORNOSTAR SIMONA PREMOLI, EX AMANTE LESBICISSIMA DI MARINA BERLUSCONI. E PER 12 ANNI, DICO, 12 ANNI! MINACCIATA DI MORTE DI CONTINUO, SU ORDINE DI MAFIOSA, NAZISTA, MEGA LAVA SOLDI MALAVITOSI, MEGA MANDANTE DI OMICIDI MARINA BERLUSCONI.
https://www.facebook.com/simona.premoli.7
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http://it.linkedin.com/pub/simona-premoli/25/786/a54. E PROSSIMAMENTE SCRIVERÒ ANCHE DEI TANTISSIMI RICICLAGGI DI SOLDI DI MAFIA, CAMORRA, NDRANGHETA, "LL -LEGA LADRONA", "PDL -POPOLO DI LADRONI" E BERLUSCONI PEDOFILO, CHE LA "LESBICA OCCULTA DA OGNI PUNTO DI VISTA" MARINA BERLUSCONI FA FARE PER LEI, ALL'AVANZO DI GALERA, GIÀ TANTE VOLTE CONDANNATO AL CARCERE, PURE ASSASSINO, PAOLO BARRAI (MERCATO LIBERO, NOTO IN TUTTO IL MONDO COME "MERDATO" LIBERO)!!! PRESSO SPAZZATURA DELLE MAFIE DI TUTTO IL GLOBO TERRESTRE, MALAVITOSISSIMA FINTER BANK LUGANO DI COLLETTI CRIMINALI FILIPPO CRIPPA E GIOVANNI DEI CAS!

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