I came across the Modesty Survey which was reviewed on another's blog page. Now I realize this survey was done in 2007, but I honestly don’t think things have changed much in the message that is being presented via many of the Christian books, media forums and pulpits to our Christian teenagers. The message that I am hearing is “Girls present yourselves modestly in dress, manner, and deed because you do not want to be a stumbling block for your brothers in Christ.” To be fair, I have heard several talks that have included the reciprocate: “boys don’t be a stumbling block to your sisters in Christ…”
Okay, so that doesn’t sound unreasonable now does it? I admit, as a mother of two teenagers, one of each sex, I don’t want to see my daughter with the dress slit up to her hip and the front cut down to her navel just to go to the mall. Likewise, I would have something to say if my son was heading out the door with his jeans slipping way down to the top of his thighs showing off the state of his undies! So don’t get me wrong, I agree that it is good for people to present a certain amount of modesty in their dress and attitude within its appropriateness in a given situation. Such situations range from going to the beach, to a wedding, or out on a date to the movies – and every other life event in between!
So of the message "Present yourselves modestly in dress, manner, and deed because you do not want to be a stumbling block for your brothers in Christ", I do agree with the first part and equally given to both sexes regardless of age: Within the context of a given situation, be modest in dress, manner and deed.
It’s the second part of the message that I am thinking about: “… don’t be a stumbling block…” What does that mean? What does it mean, “to stumble”?
This Modesty Survey was answered by 1600 young men (12-19) throughout the world, but mainly within America. The general framework of the questions was “is it immodest for a girl to…” or “is it a stumbling block for you when a girl…”
Here are just a few of the results:
- Nearly 64% agreed and strongly agreed “A girl bending over and exposing her lower back is a stumbling block.”
- 75% agreed and strongly agreed “The way a girl walks can be a stumbling block.”
- 71% agreed and strongly agreed “Seeing even an inch of skin between the bottom of a girl's shirt and her pants is a stumbling block.”
- Over 70 % agreed and strongly agreed “Showing any cleavage is immodest.” (read: “stumbling block”)
- Over 76% agreed and strongly agreed “Seeing a girl's chest bounce when she is walking or running is a stumbling block.”
- Nearly 50% agreed and strongly agreed “Lifting a long skirt any higher than the knee in order to step over something is a stumbling block.”
Okay wow. Here is my question again: What does “stumbling block” mean??
My guess is that many of these young Christian men define any amount of sexual arousal with “stumbling block”. And I think that is tragic. These poor guys are being slapped down with a message of “don’t you dare even think that!” or “you are sinning because you feel that!” And our daughters are hearing a message of "don’t cause your brother to stumble" which can often translate into a wrong message of “it’s your fault if the boy 'stumbles'."
I fear that we are sending a destructive message to our Christian young people: that it is wrong to feel any amount of sexual attraction until you have found your life-partner.
The message I’d like my kids and their friends to be hearing is this: 'You feel sexual arousal? Welcome to the human race! Now continue to exercise self-control.'
And they already are in most cases. When these young men find themselves noticing something attractive about someone else do they immediately have to jump up and leave the room in order to masturbate or view porn? Do they jump on top of her and start fondling her? Can they no longer function, unable to speak because they are “playing out” some scenario in their head? No? Well then I say ‘Well done man, you are exercising self-control!”
It’s not temptation that is the problem, it’s how it’s acted upon. Self-control.
What if the survey read more like this:
This is a survey on Self-control. If you find that in any of the below given situations you would have to leave the room in order to masturbate, go look at porn, or comment to the girl “Oh yeah baby!!!” then please mark the question as “Agree”.
But if you are able to maintain control and continue to view the girl as a human being worthy of respect and dignity then please mark the question as “Disagree”.
- The way a girl walks can cause me to lose self-control. Agree or Disagree?
- A girl bending over and exposing her lower back causes me to lose self-control. Agree or Disagree?
- Seeing even an inch of skin between the bottom of a girl's shirt and her pants causes me to lose self-control. Agree or Disagree?
- Girls showing any cleavage causes me to lose self-control. Agree or Disagree?
- Seeing a girl's chest bounce when she is walking or running causes me to lose self-control. Agree or Disagree?
- A girl lifting a long skirt any higher than the knee in order to step over something causes me to lose self-control. Agree or Disagree?
Fortunately I don't see any of the young men my kids hang with dashing out of the room when one of the girls bends over to retrieve something.
Again, it’s not temptation that is the problem, it’s how it’s acted upon. Self-control.
Let the Modesty Message be a message of Self-Control.
What do you think? Agree or disagree?
*click here for my other post: Respect & Cooperation