The companion topic to this would be: What can our sisters do about their attitudes and behaviors to help us men guard our hearts and emotions?
This is the inverse of the stereotypes that we always hear. Christian sources all gravitate to the idea that men’s sole problem is with our eyes/lust and women’s sole problem is with emotion/attachment. Not everyone fits this, and it can be frustrating when looking for help. Men can be hurt by flirtation, and women are very capable of lust. What about my heart? What about her eyes?
I want to know; am I dressing modestly? Why does no one talk about this?
Obviously the stereotypes exist for a reason, but not all of us are helped by them. Some of us are hurt by them. We fall through the cracks. Those of us who are hurt aren’t getting any help. I don’t want to cause my sisters to stumble into lust by the way I dress or keep myself, and I would appreciate someone pointing out to our sisters that men are not emotionless robots and that, without care, they can hurt us greatly.
I would like help for those of us to whom these generalizations do not apply.
I see your point. I suppose when the topic of modesty comes up, we generally think of how women dress or present themselves; and maybe, too, we think of male behavior when we caution against “toying with another’s heart.” Although, I think I hear that as much about women as I do about men. I imagine the varied emphasis toward genders on these issues is because God wired men and women differently, and they generally tend to struggle with one of these issues greater than the other.
Either way, though, you’re right; neither of those biblical imperatives is exclusive to one or the other gender, and both wrestle with them at some level.
Think of it this way: One of the first things a racecar driver does before he takes off in a race is buckle his seatbelt. He’s driving at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, and his seatbelt could mean the difference between life and death. I, on the other hand, drive an old truck that rarely tops 65 miles per hour, but I buckle up, just like the racecar driver, because even at 60 mph, it could mean the difference between life or death.
Do girls physically “see” guys the same way guys physically “see” girls? Well, maybe not exactly, maybe not at 200 miles per hour. Maybe more at 60. But whatever the speed, it’s there. So a guy needs to think that through when he’s around girls (or before, actually). What does that mean in practical terms? Probably not much different than what it means for girls. Don’t dress in such a way that leaves little to the imagination.
Both of these, though, are issues of purity. One is primarily physical, and the other is emotional, but I think purity is at the heart of each, and yes, it comes out in everything about us, that includes thoughts, clothes, words, actions and a hundred other things.
If we want to be a person who is serious about making the Lord our primary love and about loving others from a pure heart, then we, guys and girls, filter every decision through that lens, including what we wear, what we say (to whom we say it) and a thousand other things.
So should a guy be thoughtful about what he wears even though he’s not a girl? Absolutely! Does he need to think in terms of modesty and purity when he’s getting dressed? Of course!
The same goes for how a girl should handle a guy’s emotions. Does loving God mean she should be thoughtful about how a guy’s heart might respond to her actions and words? Absolutely! Does she need to think about modesty and purity when she interacts with his heart? Of course! Do she and he travel at the same speed in the emotions department? Not always, but that doesn’t make the reality of emotions any different, nor does it diminish the importance of carrying oneself in a way that honors the Lord and others as it relates to someone else’s heart.
Does purity in appearance mean frumpy and purposely ugly? No. It means to present yourself in such a way so that it’s not a distraction. Does purity in emotions mean a cold and closed heart? No. It means a heart that is alive to God and draws others to His warmth in you.
The point in all of this is for us to become less so that He becomes more, doing that hard work of turning the spotlight away from ourselves (and our concern about what people think of us) and on to Christ. That kind of lifestyle will affect words, actions, thoughts, clothes and everything that makes us who we are, making them all pure and beautiful because that’s what He is.
Copyright 2012 John Thomas. All rights reserved.