The band was performing with gusto, lights flashing, fog fuming, guitars screaming. The lead singer rotated between unintelligible hollering into the microphone and racing around the stage with his companions. But it wasn’t his voice – nor his sick guitar skills – that caught my eye. His pants were, quite literally, center stage.
Not only were they skin tight on his large man-thighs, they were awkwardly skinny at the ankle, making him look something like a Thanksgiving turkey. And he definitely didn’t pick Curvy Fit, because the waistband was in a terrible state of gappage. I could see the better half (worse half?) of his plaid boxers, and I was more than a little grossed out.
In defense of female immodesty, some say: “Why are we only talking about women? What about the men, don’t they have to be modest too?” This argument is, at its core, invalid and fallacious; an ignoratio elenchi (ignoring the actual refutation) that shifts focus from the woman’s responsibility by drawing attention to the responsibility of the man. It never deals with the issue itself. Modesty, as pertains to women, is a dual responsibility, one that requires men keep their eyes to themselves and women to show self-respect and love for God by how they choose to dress. The 5 Myths of Modesty post deals with the female side of this equation.
But do men need to be modest? That’s what I’m addressing today.
Modesty is simply humility of mind worked out in dress. As the 5 Myths post concluded, how we dress is a direct reflection of our personal choices of behavior and worship of God. It is by no means the ONLY reflection – but it is one of them. Therefore the same attitudes, actions, and responsibilities that apply to women and modesty also apply to men. (If you haven’t read the 5 Myths post, those attitudes, actions, and responsibilities are outlined there.)
1. Modesty is humility of mind in action (Phil. 2:4-6). A humble man will not flaunt himself.
In Philippians, Paul encourages us to have the ‘mind of Christ’, a mind made up of three things: humility, unity, and love. Modesty is humility. A humble mind is the starting point for all modest actions, whether those be our words or our clothes.
So just as women should seek a humble heart so their dress reflects God’s priorities, men should seek humility for the same reasons.
A humble man is more concerned with ministering to those God has placed around him than impressing those God placed around him. He is not boosting his self-confidence by marketing his body to chicks on the street. His priorities are Jesus’ priorities, who came not to ‘be served, but to serve’ (Matt. 20:28).
2. Immodesty, at its core, is pride and self-glorification (Matt. 23:12, Jas. 4:6). A modest man will not make his body/self the central focus.
Pride and self-exaltation are temptations for us all, but this can look different depending on our individual weaknesses.
There’s a difference between self-confidence and self-glorification. Confidence comes from contented acceptance of where we are and what God has for us in this moment. Self-glorification is emphasizing my body/self/skills for attention and approval.
A man should be conscious of these attitudes when he is getting dressed. Does he love to wear his shirts skin tight to show off his ‘bod’? Why? Who is he glorifying – himself, or the God he claims to worship?
Covering ourselves is not ‘body shame’. It’s body respect and body glorification. Things reserved, hidden, and understated are much more valuable than things easily accessed by the public. A man or woman can be so confident and content with their body, they don’t need accolades for affirmation. A person living this way has found the real ‘no shame movement’.
What we wear reflects our personality, our priorities, and our beliefs. If what we choose to wear is worn for self-glory, and we revel in the attention we receive from that attire, we’re dressing for the wrong people and the wrong reasons.
A modest man can remain confident and happy with his body while keeping God as his central focus.
3. Men should be setting an example of the kind of modesty they need from women (1 Tim. 3:1-16).
Men, if you want us to help you in the battle against lust, you’ve got to stop endorsing it.
I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard to turn your eyes away. It’s hard for some of us, too. But when you whistle, flirt, and stare – when you make us feel as if our bodies are the currency of our value, when you manipulate our insecurities so we give you more than we intended – you’re feeding into our own sin and multiplying yours.
Not only do we need you to stop participating in female immodesty, we need you to be modest yourselves. Show us what it means to be a humble Christian. Show us what it means to let humility make your life choices.
I do my best to encourage Christian women to recognize our part in this battle, and I don’t deny our responsibility. But as you set yourselves apart when it comes to lust and modesty, good women will rise up to support you. And you will be the kind of good man we can reference as an example of Christ’s humility of mind in action.
4. Modesty requires God’s strength and reaps God’s blessing (Prov. 3:34). Modest men are strong men.
Choosing humility is always difficult. It would be much easier to choose pride and self-glory.
That’s why women and men who choose modesty as a means of worship are stronger because of it.
It’s very easy to be status quo. It’s very easy to go with the flow, justify ourselves, and take no responsibility for our actions. But Christ calls to a higher and harder road.
Men, by choosing a humble heart that does not flaunt your body and your self, you prove yourself strong enough to subdue self. For you, it can be tempting to market your body in comparison to other men in the gym or to the cover of Men’s Fitness. Maybe you like how girls look at you when you walk down the street.
Modesty doesn’t mean you’re ashamed of your body; it means you are so confident in it that it’s a non-issue. Your body is a vessel of God’s glory, not an instrument of your own. When you live that way, you’re living with an internal strength that age and time cannot take away from you.
5. The antidote to immodesty is true worship. (Rom. 14:11) Modesty is a reflection of a humble, worshiping heart.
Worshiping God literally means emphasizing His worth. When we are busy emphasizing the worth of God, we aren’t focused on our own.
A man (or woman) whose heart is full of humble worship will not make immodest decisions in word, deed, or dress. True worship is the antidote to immodesty.
Want to be a modest man? Want to set an example for the women around you? Worship God. Worship fully. Worship wholly. He will do the rest.
As I stated in the 5 Myths of Modesty post, when I choose to be immodest, I would rather be hot or Pinterest-y than prove to the world that I worship God.
So let’s reframe the modesty issue: let’s use modesty as a way to channel our hearts into true worship. Let’s allow modesty to convict us of our pride and self-exaltation. Let’s make the modesty issue a heart issue, and it will work its way out in what we wear.
When the hearts of men and women are transformed by humility, the battle against lust will be an overcoming fight. Men and women have fought long enough pointing fingers at each other. By recognizing each our own responsibility, we can be a powerful force against the implications of lust in our Christian lives and the lives of those around us.