As I peruse the social media world, it is interesting how often the discussion regarding Christian modesty arises. Whenever someone brings up summer attire, or the lack thereof, or even dares to venture into the discussion of modesty, (or as I like to say, the minefield) there are typically two, true sentences uttered:
“The guys are the ones with the problem”
“I’m free to wear whatever I want”
Biblically speaking, both of these sentences are true. The guys do have a problem and the ladies are free to wear what they want. Men are not to be animalistic in their words or thought life and women are not to be viewed as simply a toy, or personal pleasure object. Sisters are to be highly esteemed and valued for they are created in the image of God and are co-heirs in Christ. Men need to be careful where they look, how long they look, and what they think and say about God’s girls. Like most dads, God is protective of His precious daughters.
Also, it is true that Christian men, who are trying to take control of their thoughts and not slip into lust, do have an almost constant problem. God has designed men to be attracted to and desirous of what they see in the female body. Attempting to walk in moral purity in the male thought life is often difficult when so many ladies are exposing and highlighting themselves in the name of fashion and personal freedom. So, the ladies are correct in stating that it is the man’s problem.
The Scripture challenges the ladies to dress “modestly,” and not focus on the outside, but be more concerned with the inner qualities such as a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in God’s sight. (1 Peter 5:3-4) The ladies therefore are correct in saying they are free to pick what they wear and how they wear it as long as they are attempting to walk in whatever modesty means to them. However, the clothes worn do reflect what is understood about modesty, and seeking a gentle, quiet spirit should be the primary motivation in the choice made, and not how to best show off or highlight the body.
For those who desire to live according to the teaching of the Scriptures, the tension reflected in the two statements above will not ever go away. As I ponder this tension however, I realize that while both of these sentences are true, they are not the whole truth. Simply stating either one of these truths without further thought is not doing the Scriptures justice.
We are free in Christ, but we do not live this life alone. We are to consider one another as more important than ourselves esteeming them as better than ourselves. (Phil. 2:3) We are to be completely humble. (1 Peter 5:5) We are to lay down our lives for one another. (1 John 3:16) We are to limit our personal freedoms for the sake of love. (1 Cor. 8:13) We are not to cause each other to stumble or to become trapped. (Rom. 14:13) We are to love one another as Christ loved us, laying down His life for us. (John 15:12) To answer an age old question, yes, we are our brothers and sisters keepers. God will hold us responsible for how we treat one another.
If our actions or freedoms cause others to struggle we should not do them around those people. We are free, free to serve and love one another with Christian love and deference. We are not free to flaunt that freedom at the expense of others. The bottom line is that men need to deal with their problem under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and women need to submit their freedom to Him as well for none of us live alone. Freedom comes with a cost and part of that price is using it to bless and serve others, and not to simply gratify ourselves.