I posted this a while back on Twitter and Facebook.
It’s a take on Matthew 5:27-29, where Jesus teaches:
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
The picture/meme I came up with is about where to put the responsibility: on the one doing the lusting, not the one who is the object of lust. It became one of the most widely distributed memes I’ve posted and garnered a lot of comments, especially on the Facebook pages of people who shared it with their own readers.
A lot of those readers missed the point, like this comment: “If her body is showing, it puts a stumbling block in his path, she is the one who opened the lustful door.” This person and other commentators can’t help putting the blame on women, even though Jesus placed it solely on the man doing the lusting.
The point is that if you sin it’s your responsibility. No one made you do it.
It’s not that the Bible never mentions modesty. It does. But that does not change the point of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5. And it also does not really answer the question of what amount of clothing would the “modesty police” accept as sufficient to take all blame away from the woman and leave it solely with the man in their opinion.
From what I’ve read over the years, one person’s idea of modest clothing is another person’s striptease act.
What skirt length: Above the knee, below the knee, ankle length?
Sleeves: capped, short, long?
Neckline: above collar bone, below collar bone, allow a slight swell of breast? (Gasp! I used the word breast! At least I didn’t write “cleavage.” Oh no! I just wrote “cleavage!”)
It doesn’t matter what women wear; men will still lust after them. All this effort to decide what women should wear, in order to keep men from lusting, misses Jesus’ point: If you lust, stop it!
For broader application: if you’re sinning, stop it.
And don’t try to deflect the conversation away from your own sinful behavior by shifting the blame onto someone else. Blame shifting didn’t work for Adam in the Garden (“The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it”) and it won’t work with your lust, men.
Besides, you can handle it.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13.)
It’s about what you are doing in your relationship with God; not what other people are doing in relationship to you. If you belong to Jesus, you always have a way out of temptation.
So don’t pluck your eye out and don’t tell women to cover up. Instead, do as the Bible tells you:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:14.)
That’s the way to dress modestly. Be clothed in Jesus.