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Saturday, March 10, 2007

It's Not Me, It's Them

Recently, I found myself waiting in a doctor's office. I also found myself in the presence of three probably college age young women. To my eyes, they were provocatively dressed. To society's eyes, they were probably dressed somewhat moderately. One of the girls had shorts that didn't cover much, and the other two were wearing jeans, but their tops did not exactly do much to conceal their figures, nor did they come down far enough.

Since I've been out of college, I'm not around this type of dress very often. I initially thought "What's wrong with me? Why am I being tempted more than I was before?" I thought that since I didn't get out into society much, I must not be used to this style of dress anymore.

I quickly realized it was not ME that had the problem, it was THEM. It was everybody else who chooses to dress in a way that's meant to provoke. It should not be that I "get used to" seeing people dress like that. There is no reason for women to be dressing like that outside the presence of their own husbands, if even married. I consider it a good thing that I am no longer numb to seeing women dressed in provocative ways.

Of course, it is not entirely their fault that I was tempted by flesh. Rather, I think the burden lies with both genders; women to not dress in a way to get attention, and men to keep their own thoughts and temptations in check.

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8 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Myfriendconnie

    Grrr! It makes me mad to see things like that. I always want to tap them on the shoulder and say, "Excuse me, I can see your ______(fill in the blank...undergarments, chest, stomach, etc.)"

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Get over yourself. You live in Georgia, no? It's hot, right? So as long as her tank top isn't shooting white hot flames at you, it's not hurting you, it's probably keeping her cool, and therefore you should mind your own business. Get your mind out of the gutter. Everyone should dress in a manner that makes them feel comfortable and is appropriate for the situation they are in. And the person wearing the clothes gets to decide, not you.

  • Alan

    Well, they get to decide, but they will be held accountable. I wonder if this scripture crosses their minds when they decide what to wear in the morning?

    Luk 17:1 And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!
    Luk 17:2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

  • JunkMale

    Anon,

    According to weather.com, the high for that day (March 8, 2007, circa 1500 hours) was approximately 70F.

    Having the freedom to choose whatever clothes you want doesn't necessarily make your choice Biblically correct. Do you disagree? If you think I'm being uptight about what other people wear, then you are most certainly correct! I have no apology for my beliefs, which are derived from the Bible (when a direct command is not present) or taken directly from the Bible.

    Personally, I think it is rather self-centered for a woman to "dress in a manner that makes them feel comfortable and is appropriate for the situation," without a thought to how it might affect the men around them. If some girl is wearing some skimpy tank top, how do you know it doesn't hurt me? Sure it doesn't physically hurt me. But it tempts my flesh. If I'm not careful, that temptation could lead to lust, which is a sin. If you think there is nothing wrong with women dressing immodestly when it's hot outside, then I must clearly state that I believe you are wrong. Just because it's comfortable for the girl doesn't mean it's her right. Christianity calls people to a higher standard than always doing what our bodies tell us to do.

    Perhaps the title of the post should've read "It's part me, part them." I must do my part to control my thoughts, and they should do their part to not dress gaudily, in a way that provokes. If you'll the last paragraph of the post again, you'll see that I said these exact things.

    If you'd like to respond, you'll have to do so in a decidedly in a less anonymous fashion.

  • Sara

    I posted anonymously last time because blogger was acting up- let me respond to your points:

    You said: "Having the freedom to choose whatever clothes you want doesn't necessarily make your choice Biblically correct."

    Although I'm not a Christian, and therefore don't use the Bible as a guidebook as to what to wear, I do know that there are lots of different interpretations as what is "Biblically appropriate dress". Your interpretation is very different from the interpretation I've heard from other Bible-following Christians. But if you use the Bible as your excuse for being put out with total strangers for their choice of dress, I guess you (or your wife) are also as welcoming and understanding of criticisms from, say, fundamentalist Muslims who believe that women should be covered from head to toe. It's the same thing, in my book. Religion dictates a particular style of dress for its own followers, who can choose for themselves whether or not to follow those mandates. I'm not Jewish, so I eat pork. I'm not Muslim, so my hair goes uncovered. And I'm not a Christian who believes that it's a womans responsibility to prevent men from lusting after me, so I dare to expose my elbows :) Perfect strangers don't get the right to tell me, or anyone else for that matter how to dress (within the bounds of law, of course) so as to not offend THEM.

    You also said "Personally, I think it is rather self-centered for a woman to "dress in a manner that makes them feel comfortable and is appropriate for the situation," without a thought to how it might affect the men around them."

    Personally, I find it self-centered when men I don't know feel that their comfort level is more important than my own. If you're uncomfortable, avert your eyes, focus your eyes on your lap, your magazine, or imagine your own beautiful wife.

    "If some girl is wearing some skimpy tank top, how do you know it doesn't hurt me? Sure it doesn't physically hurt me. But it tempts my flesh. If I'm not careful, that temptation could lead to lust, which is a sin."

    My fiancee is a Christian. He worries about sin. He is a man, with normal instincts and urges (not unlike the normal instincts and urges of women, I might add). Somehow, he manages to get through the day without dissolving into a puddle of lust. And the women around him, in tank tops and jeans, skirts and shorts, hair covered and uncovered, elbows covered and exposed, aren't the deciding factor. He decides. He looks at them as people, not as sex objects, and manages to get through the day a-ok. I'm a woman. I find men very attractive. I can watch men play lacrosse bare-chested and avoid walking into walls or imagining doing sinful things to them. Really. If you fill your mind with other things, rather than spending all day worrying about whether a bra strap or two is exposed, you can manage this just fine.

    "If you think there is nothing wrong with women dressing immodestly when it's hot outside, then I must clearly state that I believe you are wrong. Just because it's comfortable for the girl doesn't mean it's her right."

    Fortunately, your belief isn't the law of the land. My right to be comfortable and your right to be comfortable don't have to come into conflict. But it seems that you feel your need to avoid all temptation is more important than my need to not be weighed down by 5 lbs of excess clothing, uncomfortable, fussy skirts, and constant worry over protecting myself from the male gaze.



    "Perhaps the title of the post should've read "It's part me, part them." I must do my part to control my thoughts, and they should do their part to not dress gaudily, in a way that provokes. If you'll the last paragraph of the post again, you'll see that I said these exact things."


    Ok, so we've made some progress. Personally, this whole thing makes me sad. If something bothers me or upsets me, it's important (for me, anyway) to determine whether or not it's worth my time to continue to be bothered or upset, and ask myself if I can change the situation. You can't change what women wear (thankfully!).
    But you can change what you think about it.

    There's a fantastic blogger named HappyFeminist who deals with the whole modesty issue- she discussed the Rebelution Modesty Survey a few weeks back and says much more eloquently what I've been trying to say here.

    Anyway, thanks for responding.

  • JunkMale

    I don't know where you think I made progress (from your viewpoint) on that last paragraph. I reiterated what I had said in the last paragraph of my original post. If you recall, I never said that it's a woman's sole responsibility to prevent a man from lusting. It is true what you said; perfect strangers have no right to tell you how you should dress. But God's Word has every right. It still applies to you, even if you do not call yourself a Christian. It is the standard by which we will be judged when we die. Of course, you have free will, so you can do as you wish.

    And by the way, this might be a bit of an unusual stance, but my wife is not against burkhas. She is (by far) not advocating that they should be law, but she and I do not at all mind the (complete) modesty they provide. We fully believe that Islam is a misguided and false religion, but they do have a modesty thing going. I'll bet you think we're really crazy now, huh?

    We believe that the Bible contains the words of God. The Bible is not an "excuse" for us, thus I ask that you not say things like that on our blog. Thank you very much ;)

    This blog is a Christian blog, and we make no apologies for espousing Biblical virtues. There is no area in our (me and my wife's) lives that we ourselves deem "off-limits" to the Bible. We follow the Bible, and you follow your own moral code.

    Anyways, I was a bit uncomfortable, so I did avert my eyes and bury them in a magazine. I do not look on women as sex objects. I do not dissolve into "a puddle of lust." However, men process things differently than women, namely visually. My wife can look on another generally-accepted-as-attractive bare-chested man and not feel a thing. She is a woman, and not as visually stimulated as I. If I looked at a what is generally deemed a scantily clad woman, my reaction is different. It's not like I'll seek out the woman and have an affair, but it could spark more sinful thoughts in my mind. I most certainly am uptight about avoiding lust, because Jesus said lust is committing adultery with a woman in your heart. My marriage is a sacred covenant before God, and I'll do what I can to keep it healthy.

    I debated for a number of hours whether or not to include this last part. In the end, I decided I had to at least say something. For intermarriage between Christians and non-believers, I refer your fiance to 2 Corinthians 6:14-16. That's the Bible speaking, not me. I won't indulge any flaming or otherwise incendiary comments posted here, but if you wish to discuss it humanely, please do it through e-mail, or ask me to address it in another post.

  • Sara

    Oh, yes, we've NEVER read/been referred to that verse of scripture before :)

    I don't think I've said anything incendiary, and I have no qualms arguing publicly. I realize this is a Christian blog, but it is also a public blog. If you don't want to debate things you posted publicly, my recommendation would be to make this site password protected or not allow comments at all. Why put yourself into the blogosphere if you can't handle a bit of debate?

  • JunkMale

    I was not meaning to imply that I can't handle debate. My last paragraph was referring to debating the topic of non-Christian intermarriage on this particular comment thread, since it would be getting a bit off-topic.

    That said, I don't allow any unrequited or inappropriate personal attacks to remain posted. The fact that all of your comments are still on there indicate that you haven't crossed that line. And I thank you for debating this topic in a decidedly humane manner. Perhaps we can find something to agree on now? ;) I really like Reese's peanut butter cups, how about you? (so much for staying on topic)