I wasn’t expecting much response to what I wrote this week. I figured it would get a couple looks at best. Either way, I enjoyed the responses and conversation. A few people mentioned that I failed to mention the men when it comes to the modesty debate. I have to admit they were right. It wasn’t on purpose, but I figured to be fair, why not take a tiny crack at the men.
Just to be clear, I want to say Abby and I are by no means a couple of prudes. We do not have a conservative agenda that we want to push on everyone. We do have a standard that we hold our family to. We do hope we are able to set an example for others. We are not going around telling everyone to cover up. (Well, actually, Abby does it at Church all the time. I can’t do it because it would be a tad creepy.) Modesty doesn’t have to be about covering our bodies in shame. It would be great if we could let it all hang out. The truth is, we just can’t.
I also want people to understand that I am coming from a place of personal experience and observation. I am by no means an expert on the matter. The link between modesty and promiscuity is a multi layered conversation that I do not have the expertise to ramble on about. All I am giving is my perspective as a married, Catholic father who has dealt with my own issues on the subject.
Until a few years ago, modesty was not much of an issue for me. To be honest, it was a non issue. The only time it came up in a negative light is when Abby would catch me looking or I would make the exact wrong comment at the exact wrong time. Growing up, I was just like every other teenage boy, and still am in some ways. I have done my fair share of cat calling and pointing out the ladies to my friends. Even after I got married, it barely slowed down. Having a daughter barely made a difference either. (Not sure why I am being so honest here. Let’s call it confession time.)
Over the years of being married, Abby made it very clear that my lustful eye was not to be tolerated. It was a slow road with lots of cold shoulders and Hmphs. I guess for me, the whole modesty thing became a concern when I read Theology of The Body. At that point, Abby and I had been married close to 5 years and Grace was 3. I wish I could say it started sooner for me, but it didn’t. Theology of The Body completely changed my way of thinking. Not just about modesty, but also about sex, marriage, abortion, birth control, art vs pornography, and the whole purpose for having a body. As much as I want to say it was a 180 turn and I never looked back, I can’t. I have been trying to reset my teenage brain ever since.
I understand the whole thing about men being “wired” different. Yes we are mostly visual. But that doesn’t mean that the entire responsibility falls on the ladies. That also doesn’t mean that women aren’t visual as well.
Maybe not all, but some women are driven by visual stimulation. Or at the very least, that’s how it starts. Eventually some sort of talking has to take place. So when it comes to men dressing modestly, it boils down to if you are dressing to attract women on purpose. I think there are way too many meat heads walking around with their shirts one size too small. Not too mention these guys that can’t wait for an opportunity to take their shirt off to show off what they have been doing in the gym. I think it’s fine to stay healthy and take care of your body, but don’t go out of your way to flaunt it. Let’s save it for the wedding night or when aliens attack and those muscles come in handy. Men are just as guilty of trying to attract sexual attention through their dress.
With that silly rant out of the way, I would say one of the main ways that men need to be modest is with their words. Considering that most women addicted to porn are spending their time in chat rooms just shows that words and emotions matter most to women. It doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing. A man usually has to do some talking to get her out of her clothes, modest or not. When it comes to movies and TV shows, what is the one thing most men who get the ladies have in common? They are smooth talkers. They all know exactly what to say. Have you ever seen the movie Crazy Stupid Love? That’s what the movie is all about. Being a well groomed smooth talker so you can get the girl into bed. (And the movie includes the handsome fella in the in the pic at the top of this post). You don’t even have to do it on purpose. As a married man, just talking about how much I love my wife and kids can get me into trouble. I have to be very careful what I say and know when it is time to excuse myself from a conversation.
As a father, another way I need to be modest with my words is around my kids. Fathers that only validate their daughters based on their looks are doing their daughters no favors. It’s fine to tell them they look pretty and complement their attire, but make sure you spend more time complementing their brains and personality. We also must be careful that our sons and daughters don’t hear us cooing over random women we see walking around. The boys will think its ok to expect women to dress a certain way for us, and girls will grow up thinking that is what men want.
We live in a culture that is terribly over sexualized. Women dress a certain way because they think that’s what men want them to do. Men think that’s what they want because they haven’t been taught otherwise. The whole process needs to start when our kids are young. Otherwise we have to spend the rest of our time rewiring our brains. I want to teach my daughter to respect her body and to know she has more to offer than the physical. I want her to be virtuous and seek a man that knows how to guard his heart and eyes. I want my boys to be respectful of women. I want them to get to know people without worrying about physical attraction. I also want my boys to be mindful of their words and not to waste emotions meant for the right woman. I don’t think I have a great solution for what ails our sex soaked brains. What I do have is a wife that agrees with me that it all starts at home. We have an obligation to raise our kids to be better than us. Hopefully the next generation can improve upon that.