Tight Shirts & Smooth Talkers

Tight Shirts & Smooth Talkers

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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.

20 comments

  1. I really appreciate your article. I would like to get the book you read Theology of the Body but noticed there are several books with this title when I did a search. May I have the name of the author. Thank you

  2. Melodie VanderWal

    Hi Doug. ‘Really good article. I agree with everything you are saying with regard to modesty – for both males and females.

    One thing about your commentary that I do want to comment on is your emphasis on promoting your daughter’s character over her physical beauty. I’d like to suggest that you remember to tell her she is beautiful – often. That is a flaw in women that goes right back to Eve and if we women of all ages don’t hear that from our earthly fathers, we’ll go looking to hear it elsewhere. When we find it elsewhere it usually comes in the form of ‘hot’ or ‘awesome’ or ‘gorgeous’ or ‘sexy’ or some other counterfeit of the true meaning of beautiful. If anyone doesn’t believe me, just check out how many women are putting ‘selfies’ on facebook and then read the replies.

    Our Heavenly Father thinks we are beautiful (possessing true beauty) and we need to hear that message through you, our earthly fathers. May the Lord continue to bless you and strengthen you as you raise your family Doug. Continue to speak words of life over each one whenever and as often as possible.

    • Thank you so much for your response. I can assure you that is not a problem in this house. My lithe girl is always in a princess costume and we always gush over her. In fact, one of the reasons we keep having kids is because they are all so darn good looking. In my experience, getting to know someones’s character can either enhance or completely destroy a person’s beauty. I agree with you 100%. Trying to keep these things short makes it hard to get your whole view in there.

  3. Just a truth most men do not know. Most women do not dress for men. We dress the way we do because we like it. What we have to learn is that it is our responsibility to dress modestly.

  4. thanks for writing this!! i am so blessed in that my hubby has what he calls “tunnel vision” — he only ever has eyes for me, so even though before i met him i was very insecure about my physical appearance, he changed all that for me. but i am surrounded by men who aren’t like him, so i know we have a long way to go as a society, to bring back modesty and practice custody of the eyes. i want my daughters respected, and i want my sons to give women the kind of respect they deserve, that’s why i’m so grateful for the example my husband has set in our own home. God bless you and Abby and your family in all that you do.

  5. This is so great I am blessed to be able to read this. thank you for spreading truth and hope to this dark and dispairing world.
    What you said is all beauitful and true I’m glad I am able to read things like this on nights I cannot sleep as opposed to spending time in chat rooms like you had mentioned. Keep it up! I’m praying for you and your family everyday. God bless.

  6. Really nice article, Doug. I too am very impressed with Theology of the Body as a way of living a godly life. I have one marriage that ended in divorce because I didn’t know how to live a godly life–it was the result of a mixture of learning Catholicism early and then allowing the culture to take over too much. The idea that we can make a difference and are called to advocate in assisting someone in getting to heaven is an awesome responsibility that we share when we are in relationship with others. We all need to respect and encourage holiness contrary to what our overly sexed culture promotes. We need to be able to discern the myths and lies from the truth– transcend the ordinary, and ascend to the divine.

  7. You never know when your words will affect your daughter, Doug, so I salute you for starting early. I had two great parents, both of whom understood modesty – but it’s Dad’s remarks that have stuck with me through the years. He never lectured about it. It was just one thing here, another there, and it all added up. Turns out I was listening even when I didn’t realize it.

  8. I’m a mother to three girls in their forties and have 8 grandchildren, ages from 3 on up tp 25, I am blessed with 3 wonderful sons in laws and I want you to know I appreciate your views and keep writing your blogs. Always remember when you follow Gods rules you can never go wrong, and on those days you feel like your the only one out there with these views, or someone comes against you, please remember there are many of us moms, grandmothers praying and thanking you for letting God be the head of your house. May our Lord keep you strong.

  9. I’m interested in Theology of The Body, but am finding several different versions in my by title only search. Can you give me the version you read and author please? Thanks in advance and props on the article. Great stuff there! Keep it up, just be careful not to alienate your non-Catholic Christian and secular audience. Everyone needs to hear this and know it applies across the board. 🙂

    • Theology Of The Body For Beginners by Christopher West.
      I don’t think I will end up alienating anyone. I intend to start posting more stuff that is just for my I own entertainment. I haven’t talked much beer and movies yet. Time to start.

  10. As a new breastfeeding mother you hear people talk about modesty a lot. A person can be completely covered male or female and behave immodestly but a nursing mother with or with out a cover over the baby will garner more cries of shock and judgment than a woman whose tube top is practically falling off. You can see Mary depicted around the world feeding Jesus in the same way. I wish people would honor true modesty instead of most who pay lip service and try to force a false sense of modesty on mothers. (I know that you focused on a real idea of modesty it just always upsets me that mothers are being emotionally harmed in the name of modesty by so many people)

    • Abby would agree with you 1000%. And so do I. Working breasts should be free to do their job without shame and judgement. Tube tops should just go back to being head bands.

    • Absolutely agree with your comment there Ella. I do not understand the mentality around breastfeeding ?

  11. I thoroughly enjoy reading your commentary Doug but you are so spot on! As a person who wasn’t raised in a Christian, or really even a moral, home I completely fell victim to dressing promiscuously believing that my self-worth was somehow tied into my physical/sexual attraction. I had this idea shoved on me literally in elementary school. It led to many bad choices; premarital sex, drugs, alcohol, depression, self-mutilation etc. Our culture had me so brainwashed into thinking this was alright until I was maybe 22 or 23 (to put that into perspective, I’m only 25 now.) and met my now-husband. Finally I had a MAN who was able to give me an honest MALE perspective, just as you did here. Woah! Talk about a huge eye opener, although I do suppose I always knew the male side on some level. I had to in order to act how I was acting. I just never wanted to acknowledge it and after I did it made me feel incredibly shameful. I fully agree, this l starts in the home. Children follow the example set by parents. Praise God for outspoken parents like you and Abby who aren’t ashamed to tell it like it is.

    • I appreciate your story. I hope you are over that shame you mentioned. Just look forward, and it sounds like you have a great testimony to share with young men and women.

  12. I really appreciate this article, love your honesty. Its refreshing to see this issue tackled from a male perspective….

  13. Well said. I SO wish I had been able to teach my own now adult daughters this. God bless you and Abby and your lovely family.

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