Summer is here, and the temperatures are heating up. As the days are getting longer, the shorts are getting shorter. I can only imagine how nervous this makes mothers. My boys are young right now (only 3 and 4), but I’ve watched your sons cover their eyes or look away when a scantily clad woman walks past. I’ve heard you lament that you can’t take your boys with you into department stores due to all the pictures of women in their underwear on the tags of lingerie and swimsuits for sale. I’ve seen you send your son out of the room when the other mothers start talking the breast aspect of breastfeeding their babies. You say that you can’t even take your kids to the pool because of all the bikinis, “Girls these days…” you say shaking your head. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that the weight of your son’s purity has fallen on your shoulders. That is a weight you weren’t meant to bear.
Allow me to tell you a story: Long ago, in the garden of Eden, God designed one woman for one man. The man’s name was Adam. God took one of the man’s formless ribs and fashioned from it, a woman. He thoughtfully designed all her parts: the curve of her stomach, the softness of her legs, the line of cleavage down the center of her breasts and her lips; perfected to invite. It was not a mistake that Adam saw Eve naked. It was like the big reveal of presents beneath the tree on Christmas morning – Eve in all her splendid glory, God planned for it to happen that way. Do you remember what happened when Adam saw Eve? Did he avert his eyes and suspiciously ask God if this was all a test? Did Adam see her and think, “Boy, she must have a great personality!”. No, Adam’s eyes fell on Eve’s naked body; he stared, gaping at the beauty before him and he broke into song (Genesis 2:23). They were naked and unashamed.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,” Psalm 24:1
Now, I know that women are not respected as they should be these days. To be fair, back in Bible days, women were respected even less than they are now. I know that men gawk and abuse women every day, and I know you don’t want that for your son. I know you want him to be a good man. A man who honors women, who can see their worth as a child of God, who will cherish his wife and daughters one day. But Mamas, the way to teach our sons how to be that kind of man is not by putting blinders on them. Teaching them to look away, teaching them not to see, is not to teach them to be pure in heart.
Before sin, there was skin. Before sin, God designed women to be alluring, captivating, enrapturing. Beauty is designed to inspire. God gave women their beauty as a powerful gift. It is our superpower. It is glory made visible, a foretaste of the beauty of holiness. Sisters, please don’t be afraid of your body. You can’t stumble a man into lusting after you. Lust doesn’t spontaneously sprout at the sight of shorty shorts, bra straps or mid-drift tops. (This is not to say that we women can’t make it more challenging for our brothers, but more on that another day). Let me say this again because it is very important; women do not stumble men. Sin comes naturally to everyone. Lust is fortified in the dark and secret places of our hearts. Nobody can force another person to sin.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. -Matthew 15:18-20
Now for the good news: Two thousand years ago, Jesus, died in our place, on a cross and rose from the dead three days later – securing his dominion over all. Mama, your son is a child of God. He has been given the power to overcome his sin. Your son has been given the power to be free from the bondage of lust. He can strengthen his heart and mind. We cannot protect our sons from lust, but we are not helpless observers. Our job as women is very important. We can reflect God’s beauty. We can speak His truth and in so doing, encourage the men around us to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. The Jesus who spoke to the woman at the well. The Jesus who did not condemn the adulteress. The Jesus who hung out with prostitutes — and did not sin.