Men, we need more frank conversation about sexual temptation.
Job said, "I made a covenant with my eyes, how then should I look lustfully at a young woman?" (Job 31:1 WEB). Christian men, this is our ideal. But Jesus also challenges us in the Sermon on the Mount with the words, "but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28 WEB).
Any honest man past puberty will have to confess that we have broken Job’s covenant with our eyes. The hair trigger on our lustful thoughts plainly exposes us to be sinners. Though women may never fully understand the mind of a man in this department, experience the powerful effects of testosterone, or face the challenges of being a Christian male in our fallen world, Jesus Christ understands, and also any man filled with his Spirit.
I do not intend to belittle the great challenges that our sisters in the Lord also face, but I do not implicitly understand those struggles and in this piece I write to men.
Unfortunately because women do not understand our battles implicitly, many never really understand. Among unbelieving women physical beauty may be their biggest asset and seduction their most powerful weapon to reach their goals. Yet sadly just as believing men are still sinners, so believing women are also quite capable of seducing with physical beauty whether wittingly or unwittingly.
There are various reasons that even Christian women can fall to indiscretion. Christian women may be ignorant of the facts because they have never been taught by their dad, mother, brother, pastor, or friend. It is a difficult subject to address with young girls becoming young women or with women newly converted to Christ. It is difficult because men feel quite uncomfortable explaining the problem. For example, who will speak to a young woman with her skirt is too short or her neckline too low? If something is said she will be embarrassed to tears. If nothing is said she may enjoy the bees swarming to pollinate, but will she be stung (or sting) instead? God help us speak with grace.
Women may have been taught, but by a rebel who views immodesty as a stand against hypocrisy. Some husbands and dads actually encourage their wives and daughters to show some more skin in the effort to put a wide gap between themselves and unreasonable dress codes. Or by contrast women may have been taught, but by a hypocrite who views dress codes as a guard against his lust. Women may be just as glad to throw off yokes such as this, but will they leave modest clothing on afterward? Or women may have been taught, but prefer to risk the standard of the world or a standard just a bit closer to the world. Or women may have been taught, but are in rebellion against wisdom to their own hurt. Unfortunately, we have ALL chosen that course more than once.
For this reason we men need to remind ourselves that a woman is not automatically prudent just because she is a Christian. I once observed my daughter watching a music video with Christian musician Stacy Orrico and a gang of attractive women aerobic dancing to her latest hit. Maybe I am alone on this one, but I did have the thought that watching Stacy dance was not helpful in cultivating singular attraction to my wife. I know Stacy sings, "Don’t look at me," but frankly I have looked at her, and I imagine that others have as well. I recommended to my daughter that we skip that music video in the future.
This is a challenging subject for Christian men and women to understand and respect one another in this department. The Scriptures purposefully avoid any mention of hem lengths or neck lines because modesty at the foundation is a heart issue, a personal and public issue, and a very complicated cultural issue. As soon as we would define a hem length, we would still find away to strut our stuff while meeting the letter of the law. We should remind ourselves that modesty is about calling attention to Jesus Christ and others instead of ourselves by our words, actions, and yes, also our clothing choices.
Finally, even if a few more men and women are persuaded to modesty we can be sure that indiscretion, temptresses, and sexual temptation will always be with us. And so men, with God’s gracious help we will accept our responsibility to be gentlemen, keep the ideal of Job, and admit our shortcomings. And perhaps God will then help us to be ladies and gentlemen once again.