by: Dannah Gresh
Respect is at the heart of God’s intention for sexual expression. Lean in while I unveil to you one of the best-kept secrets in the Bible: a single word. The Hebrew word for sex. The Old Testament uses the word yada for sex. It means “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.”
God’s very definition of sex transcends the physical act and emphasizes emotional knowing and an exchange of respect. Respect of others, and even of ourselves, requires self-control. This is one, though not the only reason, that our sexual lives must be characterized by self-control.
Morality aside, sex thrives in an atmosphere of control and respect. A study referenced in Sex in America found those having both the hottest and most frequent sex were not college co-eds with a variety of sexual partners but middle-aged people who embraced mutual lifetime monogamy out of respect for themselves and their partners. Another study concluded having more partners in their lifetime actually predicted less sexual satisfaction for men. Sexual self-control makes sense for both moral and practical reasons. You wanna have a great sex life? It’s got to begin with self-control.
This self control begins with the delicate power of modesty.
I’m often accused to promoting rape culture when I teach modesty in America. Does teaching modesty promote “rape culture”? A better question to begin with is this: does “rape culture” even exist?
Last year, a TIME Magazine article declared that it was “Time To End Rape Culture Hysteria.” Writer Caroline Kitchens championed the report of the nations leading anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN, which rebuked the overemphasis on the concept of “rape culture” as a means of preventing rape, citing that 90% of rapes on college campuses are committed by 3% of the male population. RAINN argues that rape is the product of individuals who have decided to disregard the overwhelming cultural messages that rape is wrong.
The fact is rape crime is on the decline. The National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that rape occurrence in the 1980’s was 2.4 per 1000 people. Now it is .4 per 1000. Even RAINN reports that sexual assault has fallen by more than 50% in recent years. That makes it no less vile, but it does mean we aren’t living in a rape culture.
The “modesty promotes rape culture” idea is a feminist dogma. It is scripture that should be informing the Christian conversation on sexuality, modesty, purity, and sex crimes; not the leading voices of third wave feminism.
There’s nothing wrong with teaching Christian young women that God wants nothing they wear to distract from the good works they do and the great minds God’s given to them so that they can be respected. In fact, from a biblical perspective it’s very right. AND…God directs the teaching at women.
The Scriptures only address modesty directly four times. I Peter 3:3,4 and I Timothy 2:9,10 are the hallmark verses and these God-breathed scriptures address women. Teaching on modesty is primarily addressed to women in the Scriptures and that is why we teach it primarily to women.
Does that mean men are off the hook?
This might be where I should suggest that men dress modestly, too. So, let me say this: don’t dress like the Abercrombie guy and for the love of all things decent pull your pants up over your boxers!
But that’s not what God’s word instructs me to say.
The feminine modesty texts are about sexual allurement and direct a woman to demonstrate self-control and respect in the way she presents herself. But does this mean men are off the hook? And am I saying that: If women dress modestly, men will not lust?
Guys, if you’re peeking in to our little blog world—Your lust is your responsibility. Period.
Because women could all dress in burlap saks and if you are training yourself to think of them as sexual objects, you will. Here is your modesty verse gentlemen:
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 (ESV)
Guys, you are responsible for how you look at your Christian sister…and any other women.
I understand that you live in a culture that feeds you a constant IV drip of porn and sensuality! Your grandfathers did not struggle with lust in the same way that you do because they did not have to drive past Hooters or walk past Victoria’s Secret posters.
But that means you cannot be complacent.
A woman who is unaware of these Scriptures on modesty should able to walk across campus wearing anything and find herself PROTECTED by an army of godly men who have been feasting on the word of God so faithfully that their desire rises up give himself up for her.
Instead of “What can I get out of her?” A godly man will say, “What of myself can I give to protect her?”
It’s all a matter of mutual respect.
Photo Cred: Charlie Foster
Dannah is a best-selling author and sought-after speaker. Her best-selling titles include And the Bride Wore White and 2010’s best-selling CBA youth book, Lies Young Women Believe co-authored with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and most recently Six Ways to Keep The Little in Your Girl and Six Ways To Keep the Good in Your Boy. She has long been at the forefront of the movement to encourage tweens and teens to be modest and to pursue purity. In addition to Pure Freedom, which hosts live events for teens and creates resources for individual and group use, she is the founder of Secret Keeper Girl, a live tour event for tween girls and their moms.