Monday, July 1, 2013

Will Longer Skirts Protect Our Sons?

I wrote a post recently about modesty entitled "Will Longer Skirts Protect Our Daughters". An interesting conversation ensued regarding our young men and their struggle with immodestly dressed women in our culture. Sadly, many notions about this topic are are so ingrained in us that it's hard to get outside of them and see the gospel.

First - A Disclaimer

I have written about how I would like to say that I raised my son differently (here), but the truth is I fell into this thinking myself. Immersed in Christian culture, I had a right desire to train up my son but wrong theology with which to go about it.

I made secondary things primary and the primary thing (the good news of Jesus Christ) I made secondary.

I was the mom who faithfully taught the principle in this cute song we all know:

O Be Careful, Little Eyes
O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There's a Father up above
And He's looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see

The principle goes like this: Knowing that God is watching you, you should watch what you look at. That's called fear based behavior modification. I should know, I was pretty good at it. But,

using God and the bible to get kids to straighten up and fly right always ends in pride or despair.

Some kids can do it for a while, or at least pretend. They are the self-righteous obnoxious kids no one at youth group wants to be around. Other kids are crushed by the weight. They either don't try at all, or give up exhausted and burned out. These are the kids at youth group who are actually refreshing to be around.

There are two beliefs that always seem to float to the top of this discussion.

1. Many Christians have bought into the lie that young women are responsible for causing young men to stumble because of their immodest dress. This is a huge burden that women were never meant to bear, and sadly, the church has done an excellent job at crushing young women with this ridiculous notion. The bible makes it clear we own our sin. Making women responsible for a man's sin is like saying the way I display my jewelry in the front window of my store is responsible for the robbery a thief committed the night before.

2. Young women cannot (and were not meant to) protect our young men from the onslaught of sensual images found in our culture today. The way a young Christian woman dresses is the very least of their worries. Young men in the world today will get an eye full from billboards, movies and magazines. Just stand in line at your local grocery store and take a look at the magazine racks. Not to mention that just a click on their phone leads to all things immodest on the Internet. [Sidebar - if you are raising young children, the truth is that they will view pornography at a surprisingly young age. It is not a matter of if, it is just a matter of when. Deceiving ourselves into believing that "our kids" won't do those things is just that - deceit. They are no different than every other kid on the planet - curious, tempted sinners.]

If you are a woman reading this, please know that you are not responsible for how others react to you - period. The.End. This is a hurtful, burdensome lie that crushes and shames hearts. I am sorry if you have been on the receiving end of that crap.

One True Protection

So often when the subject of modesty comes up, the gospel is nowhere to be found. We end up offering a list of rules to follow or a reminder of the ones we've broken. Neither holds any power for real change. Our young men will sin in this area - that's a fact. Trying to keep their eyes from seeing bare legs and shoulders is not the solution. Giving them the good news of the gospel is.

When (not if) they sin they can know that "As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12).

When they are overwhelmed with guilt or temptation remind them that "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8:1)

When they are struggling with questions about God's love for them and their own salvation, tell them that "Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1)

They can know that because Jesus was perfect for them, they are free. Free to love and to live in the righteousness of Another on their behalf. "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Gal 5:1)

Reassure them that in moments of struggle and temptation Jesus is praying to the Father at that very moment on their behalf. "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." (Rom8:34)

Jesus walked this earth and faced every temptation known to man and yet he was without sin. He knows our failings and our weaknesses. 

He is our brother and our friend who sought us out at our worst in order that he might bring us his best. 

We have forgiveness, peace and reconciliation with God. Jesus has saved sinners - rescued us from the dominion of darkness and raised us to newness of life with him. This great power that raised us from death to life is the same power that protects us now and always.
Power, protection, comfort and mercy is ours, in Christ.

Give your young men that gift of freedom. Point them to who can save them. People, clothes and boundaries are powerless. 

They don't need more rules, they need a Savior.