Modesty or Prudery? Survey says…

I just surfed over to Emergent Women to catch up on posts. I have a slow morning as I wait for the Help Desk to call me back on why my computer is not connecting with the on-line articles I need….


From a post on Emergent Women, I went to the Modesty Survey site to read up on it. As they suggested, I considered the questions, the responses and used their “filter” to see what the three different groups of guys (homeschooled, private schooled, public schooled) said in their answers. To be fair, let me post a couple of paragraphs from their overview

The Modesty Survey was not intended to serve as a scientific measurement of what the average man thinks about modesty. In the strictest sense, it isn’t a survey, but a discussion between Christian guys and girls who care about modesty. Over 200 Christian girls submitted their questions. In less than twenty days, over 1,600 Christian guys (12 and up) responded. Close to 200,000 separate pieces of data were collected, including 25,000 text responses.

The honest truth is this: We’re not telling you what to wear — we’re just telling you what makes us stumble. It is God’s Word, your own heart and conscience, and your parents and godly friends who should help you decide what to do about it. But, to help you reach your own conclusions we’ve provided some excellent resources that strike a balanced, non-legalistic tone.

This all sounds good. My husband and I do care that my girls are not raised to be 3-D boy-magnets. (I blogged about it here.) We do care that they show a positive testimony for Christ in their schools and community. We want to spare them from some of the emotional harm that comes from being used because of their sexuality. We want them to be WOMEN in every sense of the word when they grow up, not neutered cowering things. If Eve was “very good” then hey – let’s be “VERY” much that!

I think what was the hardest to deal with in the survey was that (a) there is no information on HOW these men and boys were recruited to answer the questions. and (b) there is no comparable information in a secular study. (If you are working on your dissertation, here’s a great topic for ya!) It is a hazard of having training in research and design. They admit it is not scientific. Yet for the results to have any validity, (and believe me, they are pushing the results!) there needs to be more accountability. A big glossy website with bells and whistles has been set up. WHY? I want more details than they are publishing. I wonder at the demographics (more than a map of where they came from… I want denominational backgrounds, how they were recruited, who funded it, yada, yada…)

But the problem goes deeper than this. While there were comments that addressed the boy’s and men’s part of the issues, (the comments are worth reading by the way), there was little content that suggested that any of this was a dual responsibility. There was the disclaimer (“We’re not telling you what to wear…”) One came away with the thought that it was all a female’s fault if a guy had “thought life” issues because of what she might wear. I just don’t buy that.

Of all of the words that gets tossed about and the most misunderstood, it’s “modesty” — which is not a synonym with “prudery.” Learning modesty is part of the process of learning to control our thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions. It is not just what clothes go on our body. It is also more than words.

I understand that immature males have “sight” issues. I know that men are aroused visually. But unless it is your spouse, it is sin. And yes, a female who dresses to provoke sexual thoughts and feelings is guilty of enticement. But the average, every-day female athlete who bounces by is not. And neither are girls with curves, or long legs, or shirts with designs on the chest.

I don’t think this “survey” is doing Christ-followers any favors. I fear for the “see-I-told-you-so” chauvenists who will print out the results and wave them at the women in their congregations, cowing them and shaming them… I shudder at bit at the crass marketing promo materials one can download and a sample “email” as an “Excited” Friend! (Check it out HERE!)

Instead of doing the blame or shame game, how about looking at the men you disciple and say, “these are your co-heirs in Christ – look at them and treat them that way.” And to both “Go and sin no more!”

It is time we stopped looking at each other as potential sex partners and starting honoring the Life, the Spirit who is housed in the Temple of the human body…

Just from where I sit…and pray…

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