A Modest Question

Yesterday on Twitter and Facebook I asked this question:

Do you think it’s possible to “redeem” the idea of modesty? Or has rape culture rendered it useless/harmful?

The responses were just wonderful. Here are some of them:

Leaning towards “not possible”:

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Leaning towards “possible” with qualifications:

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Finally, this iced Americano fueled string of tweets from Amy Martin:

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Also see this post today by Rachel Held Evans over at Q Ideas. It clarifies a lot of the muddiness surrounding the modesty issue, especially from a biblical/Christian standpoint.

And stay tuned for our next Smokin’ Hot Conversation, posted by Melinda Cadwallader on this very topic from a slightly different angle, dropping Friday morning!

And feel free to add your answers to this question right here in the comments!

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About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter was released in 2012.

  • MarkADemers

    Rachel Held Evans’ piece is a breath of fresh air, placing responsibility exactly where it belongs – on women to dress comfortably for the situation and culture, and for men to learn the difference between “attraction” and “lust” and accept responsibility for enjoying one and resisting the other.
    A number of years ago our youth pastor was working with teenage boys when the question came up: “How long can we look before we commit the sin of lust?”  (PAUSE: The boys had internalized the scripture assigning the responsibility to them, not the girl.  I wonder if that stuck with them as they’ve grown up …)  A grace-filled, honest, humorous discussion ensued.  The guys came up with “The Five Second Rule”.  Walking down the street, if you see a girl that makes you want to look (attraction), you have five seconds.  Look.  Enjoy.  Then turn away.  They decided that sin (lust) began at the sixth second.  And this essential addendum: No second looks.
    One other story: I recall one day jogging with my 18 year old daughter.  As we jogged I commented to her: “Gee, a lot more people look at me when I jog with you than when I jog alone.”
    And one more thought … Men must hold men accountable for the violence men do to women.  What she wore is never an excuse for violence against a woman.  What she said is never an excuse for violence against a woman.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      MarkADemers agreed all the way around. RHE absolutely nailed it with that post, and I love the youth group story. And yeah, the only person responsible/accountable in any situation like this is…me.

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  • http://www.mugsmettlesandmeanderings.blogspot.com/ frwaynemcnamara

    Modesty does not deserve the bad name many of you give it. I am bothered by inaccurate apprehensions of its meaning and shallow attempts to demonize it. The heart of modesty is truthfulness, to have a proper assessment of who we are, what we mean, and how we can best live in the world as lovers of God and others. It means to be free from vanity and improper promotions of ourselves.  The demonizing of men or women with regard to attraction is improper. The world is broken, sin has unfortunately tainted and ruined a great many things regarding our sexuality. The question is not about ‘whose fault’, but how can we, as sinful creatures, best bring repair, goodness, and wholeness to our reactions and relations as images of God called to holiness and biblical chastity.


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