Friday, August 10, 2012

Magic Mike and Male Modesty

 Recently a film by the name of Magic Mike opened to rave reviews.

The film is about male strippers.

The audience for Magic Mike? 73% female

Cue thinking face.

"Well if that don't just speak for itself."

Let's look at Genesis chapter 3, verse 21.

"And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam's wife, Eve, but told Adam that, since Eve didn't struggle with lust, the principle of modesty didn't apply to him, and so he could continue to wear his fig leaf."

Wait, what? Your translation doesn't say that?

*searches madly*

OK, so where'd we get the idea that girls need to, you know, wear clothes, but guys can show off their sculpted physique with impunity?

I don't know, but I don't think that we got it from The Bible. We hear plenty of exhortations directed to Christian girls, warning them, pleading with them, to be modest, to embrace purity, to think of their brothers, to, you know, wear clothes. Rightly so, for Scripture directs exhortations to modesty directly to the ladies (1 Tim. 2:9), while nature testifies to the powerful attraction that the feminine form has to men- for good and for bad. Furthermore, our culture viciously pulls women towards "strutting their stuff," so the exhortation to remain covered rarely comes amiss for young ladies in my generation.

But when was the last time that you heard a sermon on the way guys dress? It seems that for some reason we have assumed that girls don't struggle with lust. At a deeper level, it seems that while we know that the Bible has something to say about how women dress, we somehow conclude that It is silent on the male wardrobe. This is a glaring inconsistency in our orthopraxy.

We all know that men and women are different, that we struggle with different things. I believe that lust, however, is not a gender-specific crime. While we may struggle with different kinds of lust (I don't remember hearing any man say that it was his wife's muscular physique that first drew him to her), I see no Scriptural justification for saying that anyone is free from the temptation of lust.

This would, it seems, contradict the common idea that most girls don't wrestle with lust. It's a widespread perception, but I've been reassured by multiple sisters in Christ that this is simply not the case.  If there's any doubt left, I think the 73% female audience of Magic Mike speaks for itself. I've seen plenty of conversations on the internet about [insert name of handsome actor of choice] which, if spoken by men about women, would be at the very least a toeing of the lust-line which Christ forbids us to cross.

Guys, our sisters in Christ do struggle with this, and it's time that we man up and start loving our sisters in Christ by the way we dress.

The Biblically-informed masculine wardrobe is important for a deeper reason even than consideration for our sisters who struggle with the same sins that we wrestle with: that's what we see in God's Word. God clothed Adam and Eve with the same thing- there's no distinction made there that I can see. 

Other Scriptural principles should also tie in to our understanding of the way we dress. What are we drawing attention to by our clothing choices? Are we finding our identity in our physique, or in our relationship with Christ? Are we loving our sisters in Christ by keeping them pure and encouraging them to focus on their Celestial Husband and their future husband?

The bottom line for me is this: whence cometh this double-standard? What is the Biblical foundation for this distinction? Or is it signed with the classic signature of humanism- arbitrariness?

"Did we make this up?"

Guys, Keep Your Shirt On 


I tease, but I'm serious. Next time, before you rip your shirt off and show your sculpted abs to the world, take a moment to consider what God thinks about your clothing choices. When you squeeze yourself into that compression tee that emphasizes those pects of steel, stop to look in the mirror and see what your attention is first drawn to. Before you put on those skinny jeans (why in the world are you wearing skinny jeans?) think about the message that you're sending.  When you slip into your Speedo, please don't. I'm just sayin'.

Just as it's not my place to tell a girl which skirt is too short or which top is too tight- that's between her, her family, and God- so it's not my place to dictate your poolside attire.  If this post succeeds in making you stop and think for a moment about what Scripture has to say about men's fashion, I'm more than happy.

It's not easy. I'm not exactly disappointed when someone compliments me on my physique, and I can tell which shirts best showcase the gun show attached to my shoulders. Just as lust isn't something that only guys wrestle with, so vanity isn't a women-only crime. We may not spend an hour fellowshipping with our makeup kit, but how many hours have we spent with our dumbbells?

(This from a guy who loves to work out and spends an average of an hour and a half exercising daily- sometimes more. My problem isn't with fitness- it's with priorities. I'm making confessions here, too- investing too much time in my temporal body to the detriment of Kingdom pursuits is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.  But if our exercise is done with a Kingdom focus, to better prepare us to serve Christ, and in such a way as wisely makes use of God's time, I'm all for it.  If it's a matter of doing curls for the girls, we'd be better off kissing the dumbbells goodbye.)

This shouldn't be a burden for us.  It shouldn't be something we're paranoid about.  It shouldn't steal our joy.  Nor does it mean that we need to look like unkempt wimps. Scripture says that "The glory of young men is their strength."  It's good for us to be strong, capable, ruddy, even handsome.  Intentional or apathetic ugliness is no virtue, and learning how to dress well and carry ourselves attractively is a worthy pursuit- insofar as we pursue it to honor Christ with our bodies.  But we must do this to call the focus of others to Him- and not ourselves.  Can we not look firmly strong and masculine without highlighting every muscle and sinew?  Isn't this what we have asked the girls to do for so long- to look feminine without accenting every curve?

Come on, guys. We're men. May it not be said that we were too weak to conquer our own vanity- that we weren't willing to wear a looser shirt out of love for our sisters and obedience to our King- that our identity went no deeper than a layer of muscle just beneath our skin.  

The body will pass away.  Being the sexiest man of the year lasts for exactly one year.  It's really no achievement to catch the eyes of girls- plenty of guys can do that.  In fact, being a "heart-breaker" is exactly opposite to the exhortations of Scripture.  If we really love our sisters in Christ, our desire will be to help them focus on Christ- not to get them to focus on us.

Girls, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Do you agree with my premise?  If so, what are some of the specific ways that guys can be more thoughtful of you in the way they dress?  What are your greatest stumbling blocks?  Maybe some examples of movie characters or public figures who did or didn't act in a modest way, and how they did or didn't?

Guys- man up.  God's Word has something to say about everything, and our clothing is no exception.  Do we have the strength of character to set aside the temporal pleasures of the praise of men and instead strive to please our King?  Or do we love ourselves too much to make that sacrifice?

Just For Fun

Explain in one paragraph or less why one may, when surrounding or inhabiting a body of water, wear (or not wear) clothing which one would never consider appropriate in another context, and which indeed might be referred to, in other contexts, as underclothing?


David W. Hamilton said...

Good post, Gabe. I have a set of those stretchy A-Shirts (basketball style) that I only wear around the house or out int he hay fields. I wore them once or twice during the county fair when I was in the barns all day long, but noticed it looked like a friend or two was having some difficulty. That's what really got me thinking about the whole issue even for guys.

Thanks for writing that.

Gods Country Boy said...

So I am not the only guy who thinks this way. I was just talking to somebody on this very subject the other day, and made almost an identical comment on skinny jeans and the such - for guys. We rave about girl modesty in the reformed world, but for guys it seems like the topic fell off the deep end. Like you said, girls may not struggle as much visually as guys, but who ever said that you can sin if it never offends anybody? I am a firm believer in loose jeans and loose shirts (military t-shirts and rustler jeans are excellent things) for the same reasons I like girls in skirts or super-non-tight jeans. It doesn't draw attention to yourself. If you have to wear a tight shirt guys, throw on a light button up shirt over the top to make it more modest.
Good stuff. I wish I had more time to put up long posts like this....

Gabriel Hudelson said...

David- yeah, I certainly believe that different clothing is appropriate in different contexts (though different levels of modesty are much less so).

I.E. a suit would be appropriate for a wedding but not a workout.

(Alliteration... it's in my genes...)

I sometimes work out (so it's pretty much only my family that would see me) in a sleeveless shirt and shorts. Right now that's where my convictions lie as the bare minimum (pun intended). I wouldn't want to go sleeveless in the general public, though.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I look forward to continuing to discuss this with y'all- and any future commenters.

RE Parker said...

I nearly died laughing! Sorry, I couldn't help it. I LOVE it :) Gabriel, you sure make these serious issues funny and enjoyable to read...

First: "We may not spend an hour fellowshipping with our makeup kit, but how many hours have we spent with our dumbbells?"
This REALLY cracked me up. Especially since I'm not your typical girl who loves her make-up. I wear it for church and special occasions and that's it.

Second: "Girls, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree with my premise? If so, what are some of the specific ways that guys can be more thoughtful of you in the way they dress? What are your greatest stumbling blocks?"
For me...when guys wear pants that are too tight across the rear--that bothers me. Much more than no shirt. A shirtless wonder isn't exactly novel...particularly if the fella has no hair on his chest...I come from a line of hairy men so a non-hairy chest is just nasty ;) (And sorry if I just stepped on some toes...I know it's not 'sexy' to have a hair on your chest.) I know a family with 6 boys--they will not go shirtless even when swimming...I see no problem with guys swimming or occasionally working with their shirts off. (I will add here, maybe this isn't a problem for me because I have worked day in day out with an old man who often didn't wear a shirt while getting his shoulder stretched out.)

Oh yes, and I don't need to see that you have on a nice pair of Haines blue plaid boxers...

So...did you get more than you asked for? (By the way, I will not be watching Magic Mike...)

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Heehee, thanks for the feedback, Racheal! And as to Magic Mike- you and me both. :-b

The Apeslugger said...

This was an excellent thought provoking post (especially where working out and swimwear for guys are concerned). Well put Gabriel.

amy said...

Awesome! I shall comment on here...

But I can't do it now. I need to go spend an hour fellowshipping with my makeup kit before our family picnic tonight.

Talk to y'all later!


*just kidding*
But I do have stuff to do before a family picnic tonight, so I don't have time to comment.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason that you don't hear about it, is because its rare.
Like really rare. Girls just don't lust after men. Its not an issue for us. At least I've never heard about it. Like, ever. I've never had to deal with it, no matter how muscular the dude is. And no matter if he's wearing a speedo... (Which actually, is absolutely revolting, not attractive...)
So, this article made me laugh.
Me and some of my friends read it together, and you guys flatter yourselves... Not to be insulting, in the slightest. Its just mislead.

Magic Mike... Actually the persentage is an older audience...
Like mothers. Which should say something.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous says
"Like really rare. Girls just don't lust after men. Its not an issue for us. At least I've never heard about it. Like, ever. I've never had to deal with it, no matter how muscular the dude is."

Girls don't lust? You are mistaken. Perhaps women aren't as likely to lust when a man has his shirt off, but there's a reason the book 50 Shades of Grey is so popular. Women lust differently than men, but they still lust.

As for your question about swim attire my personal rule for myself and our kids is 'if you wouldn't wear it to church then don't wear it...anywhere!"

There's lots of great points in here particularly about male vanity. Good post!

Gabriel Hudelson said...

"Women lust differently than men, but they still lust."

Excellently said. Amy, I look forward to hearing your post-picnic ponderings.

Thanks to all my new readers for stopping by!

Bailey said...

THANK YOU. I don't get this double-standard:

-- Girls, don't you dare TOUCH those skinny jeans. Don't THINK about it. STOP! And dude with the naked beer belly hanging out? Just keep right on mowing that lawn.

I don't get this one either:

-- Guys, DON'T lust after girls. DON'T objectify them. And girls? Keep right on drooling over Channing Tatum.

It bothers me when guys go shirtless and wear nothing but Speedos. If they're ripped, it's distracting; if they're not, it's just gross. But bottom line...nakedness belongs behind doors, not in public. For guys and girls. It's a display of something nobody else needs to know about. And it spawns a slew of girls chanting "yummy" over human beings.

So guys, please don't.

(Interestingly, it doesn't bother me when guys wear skinny jeans...maybe because I've only seen them on skinny guys.)

Jacob Pennington said...

Thanks for that, Gabriel. I appreciate you sharing your meditation on this side of the issue.

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to challenge a brother in Christ on one of those points. Why is it okay to go shirtless when you're swimming if it's not okay to do so otherwise? There's nothing magical about water than makes all things modest.

It's probably for the same reason that immodest dresses are somehow appropriate for weddings and formal occasions even though wearing them casually would not be okay.

Anyway, keep up the good work. Continue to sharpen your brothers and sisters in Christ through your diligent hearing and understanding of the Word.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

"And it spawns a slew of girls chanting "yummy" over human beings."


What you said, Bailey.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Jacob, very true.

Daniel Romanowitz said...

YES. I am so glad that there are other men who understand this. I've thought about it seriously and totally agree with your perspective--- your handling of Genesis 3:21 is spot-on.

This is something that I think every guy probably struggles with at some point-- I know I do, esp. if we've got muscles. We want the world to be able to see it-- and that desire has to be crucified with the rest of out self-seeking.

One good point is that we don't dress modestly just so other people don't lust. I've often heard it said that if guys would just stop lusting, girls could dress, or undress, anyway they wanted to. Not true, I think. There's still a wickedness in our hearts that wants to draw attention to ourselves. At this point someone may point out that it is possible to dress modestly and still have evil desires.

To which I would respond, True. A wrong heart can try to make itself look right, BUT a right heart will not purposefully assume the appearance of evil.

I think the most important thing for guys is to think seriously about why they do what they do in the light of Scripture, and align their motives accordingly. Working out is great--as long as your goal is to become a more capable Kingdom builder, not a bodybuilder.
If you've got muscles, put them to use for the kingdom of God, but don't flaunt them. You don't have to carry that stack of chairs right in front of her nose.

Finally, I don't think a case can really be made that it's appropriate to lessen our standards around water. Public nakedness, Biblically defined, is always shameful. Of course modesty may be more difficult to maintain in the water, but it's not totally impossible--or difficult enough to warrant the discarding of any and all standards.

While I'm not going to dictate all the specs of everybody's poolside attire either, I think it's safe to take the principle of Genesis 3:21 to the bank.
I suggest every guy who doesn't have a swim shirt or rash guard for swimming get one(preferably dark or disruptive). I have a Nike one--and it's really comfortable in the water, too.

Varon said...

Quite a funny time reading this, I had. See it like this, I do.
If people think Tom Cruise can look good in wear a pilot's flight suit. I can look good in a a t-shirt and jeans.

I don't go shirtless anywhere, partly because I wouldn't want to scar anyone's eyes, and partly because of sunburn. That, and a t-shirt makes a good bandage in case of emergencies injuries. So does a bandanna, so I try to have one of those around as well.

As for vanity, I'd say I'm more along the lines of arrogant to a Tony Stark level with a nastily low dose of self-esteem. It makes for a hard combination to fix.

I don't work out with dumb-bells.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Kingdom-builder vs. Bodybuilder- love it, Daniel.

RE Parker said...

"You don't have to carry that stack of chairs right in front of her nose."
I wish! Closest you get is darling 7-year-old Sam wrastling chairs bigger than him :D Of course, he's not showing off, he's just trying to be helpful because that's who he is...I love Sam (I've hauled that kid around since he was a year old); he's a sweet little guy with a lot of potential.

I guess what I'm trying to say Daniel, is I myself would appreciate some male muscle put to work at church occasionally...even if you did carry a stack of chairs by my nose, I'd be rejoicing that some bucko is being a gent :) (I've been watching too many Western's lately...)

Of course, I get your drift about heart attitude...and I agree.

Daniel Romanowitz said...

@ RE Parker.

Yep, you're right. I think all guys should work on their muscles and put them to servant use. Can't stand it when all the young guys are chatting and leaving the ladies to do all the work.

I'm not saying that guys should be thinking, "OK there are girls in the room, I shouldn't help out with the chairs (or whatever). That's not an attitude of genuine love.
I'm just encouraging guys not to be ostentatious about it when they do, because that can be a temptation. Be a servant and a *good example*, not a stumbling block.

Flame of Jah said...

You hit the nail on the head brother, this is really good, and funny, rofl.

Flame of Jah said...

Oh, and a note on swimming, my sister and I have always swam with our normal clothes on. Me jeans and T shirt, (not to tight,) and her in her dress. Oh, and we had friends that did the same thing, and their daughters weren't slowed down a bit by long dresses. Although I haven't swam for ten plus years, if I were to do it again, I would wear the same thing. My sis would too. You can swim and be modest, you needn't even buy special stuff to do it.

Baily I love your comment, right to the point.

Kyleigh said...

I've never been quite sure what I think about shirtless guys. I KNOW it can be a stumbling block when their pants are too tight or showing underwear.
But when it comes to shirts, a lot of times it depends on the situation. Most often it's not an issue of stumbling for me as much as it is that I respect a guy who keeps his shirt on a lot more, and it's easier to be around guys when they have a shirt on - just for comfort, not stumbling. I'm usually fine with it when we're in the water, but if we're playing soccer or Frisbee, please keep your shirts on. I think this is because for me it would only be an issue with contact, which isn't generally a problem in a pool but could be playing mixed sports.
Maybe that's a double standard, but for some reason it's a problem for me outside of the water but not in it, though I wouldn't say modesty changes based on context, so I don't really know how that works.

Bush Maid said...

Thankyou for sharing those well constructed thoughts, Gabriel. I agree with you. A lot of my thoughts go along the lines of what most of the other contributors are saying. Skinny jeans on man just plain disgust me. They scream "SOFT!" in my head, along with murmurings of wimpy and unmanly. (no offense to any skinny jeans wearers that may be present)

As to shirts, it depends on the situation for me. However, whilst pondering over what situations would actually warrant removing a shirt, I can't actually see any obvious benefits (aside from emergency bandages). Swimming shirtless, for example, only provides you with a toasty sunburn. Removing your sweaty shirt whilst you're working hard doesn't allow the wind to blow through it and cool you down. The only place that doesn't bother me at all is when my siblings and I finish swimming and my brothers remove their shirts to hang them on the washing line. In Australia though, most outdoor workers wear navy work singlets under their shirts, so even then it's not going entirely without some covering. I have been around families with boys who have gone shirtless swimming, whilst others haven't. I agree with Kyleigh in that contact makes a big difference. Those who keep themselves covered make games with possible contact a lot easier.

As for swimming attire, I have had plenty of discussions on the topic. I don't wear anything in the water that I would be ashamed to wear outside of it. Generally I wear a loose fitting solid coloured shirt *over* the "undergarments", and loose fitting board shorts that stop above the knee. I want to be able to swim unimpeded, and yet still be able to jump out of the pool and run around our backyard for the water bomb/mud fight without feeling self conscious. Which, in my chosen attire, I can do with ease.

On the subject of tight shirts, it could also be called a manner of pride, not just vanity. As a fit young man, he would know in and of himself that he is strong and well sculpted for the purpose of having the strength to lend a hand, so why advertise it? A young man needn't prove that he is capable or strong by wearing a shirt that reflects his physique. A fit young man should have the confidence in his God given strength to wear modest loose shirts. For what is modesty, but another word for humility?

Anyhow. I shall leave off my lengthy ramble there. :) Great article, Gabriel. I appreciate you bringing these thoughts to the table in order to make your siblings in Christ think.

J. Grace Pennington said...

Thank you for this, Gabriel! My brothers have always gone swimming with shirts, and I too think it's strange how many people think it's okay not to. As one of the (apparently few...) girls who does struggle with this, it's really encouraging to see some guys thinking about this, and talking about it. :) God bless you!

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Grace- you aren't alone, trust me!

Aussie- great point about pride. Ouch.

Everyone else, thanks for the help!

I'd also like to throw another topic out for discussion:

Sleeveless shirts. What are your thoughts on those? The kind that gapes open down the sides? The kind that is tight around the arms so that it's just sleeveless, not sideless? Does context weigh into the answer?

Abbey R said...

I've been thinking along these lines lately as well, what with the Olympic Games going on. I've wondered why everyone is huge on the girl modesty issue, and rightly so, but I don't believe I've ever come across anything about modesty for boys.

Girls struggle with lust in a different way than guys, so I think maybe that's why the clothing issue for boys has been somewhat neglected. I'd venture to say most girls do their lusting hidden under a blanket with a romance novel, or worse yet, a nasty book like 50 Shades of Gray (nope, I've never read, and don't plan too).

Having said that, we girls do still have a pair of eyes and a head that can be turned. Why else have I been hearing so many comments by girls who are drooling over the male Olympic events and competitors, from speedo-ed men to the ring gymnasts?

Personally, skinny jeans are super-non attractive to me. A few years ago I questioned the sexual orientation of skinny-jeaned guys, but now it's "just" the style. It still has a feminine look to me and to put it simply, is not flattering at all. As to the no-shirt attire, modesty is an issue of the heart. So, what bothers me more than seeing the sculpted abs of the guy next to me, is the reason behind his showing off, which I may not be able to discern. I liked Daniel's sentence: "A wrong heart can try to make itself look right, BUT a right heart will not purposefully assume the appearance of evil."

Very good post, Gabriel. I enjoyed reading it and smiled more than once, not just at your humorous way of putting things, but also with how absolutely true and right on you are. Thank you for making it so I now can no longer say I've never come across the issue of modesty linked to boys.

God bless!

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Hey Abbey! Great thoughts. Today we (my family and I) were talking about the difference between male and female lust- that while guys lust for physical satisfaction, girls lust for more of an emotional, protection-and-value kind of fulfillment. Both are lust, both are wrong, but it seems that we usually in our culture only think of lust in the former sense.

RE Parker said...

"Sleeveless shirts. What are your thoughts on those? The kind that gapes open down the sides? The kind that is tight around the arms so that it's just sleeveless, not sideless? Does context weigh into the answer?"

I think context does have a place here...but before I go into that, if you're going say guys can't modestly wear sleeveless, then neither can a girl. I wear sleeveless, not because I'm trying to show off my arms (which aren't all that attractive to begin with), but because they are cool and practical (i.e. they don't bind cross by upper arm--I hate having to constantly jerk my sleeves up so I can do something shoulder level. Though actually I've been wearing a lot of long sleeves rolled up past my elbows; they fit better than short-sleeves.)

I don't like the sideless shirts--those in particular give the appearance of 'hey, lookee me!' which a regular ol' sleeveless shirt doesn't. (Generally accompanied by a saggy pants--blah!) This may sound really, really weird, but for me, a guy with a tight shirt (sleeveless or not) draws my eye more than does a shirtless dude.

Okay...context. If you are doing some kind of activity where you need unrestircted movement (say exercising), then no problem. (Back to practicality--long sleeves rolled up are basically just as effective.) Propriety is a question...

Overall, I won't say yea or nay on this one. I think it depends on the person and the situation. (Thing is, legalism can crop up out of some of this...) I have a brother in my church who has a problem with girls wearing I have almost entirely quit wearing sleeveless to church. If you know a girl has a problem with sleeveless shirts, don't wear them around her. (Hmm, sounds like Romans 14 doesn't it?)

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Great thoughts, Racheal, and you're absolutely right about legalism. I hope none of us here are looking for black-and-whites with which to bash other believers over the head. Great reference that you pulled in, as well (Romans 14).

May God give us wisdom!

Taralyn Rose said...

Interesting conversation going on here :-) Thanks for the article, Gabriel.

I believe it's good and considerate to think of others when it comes to clothing choices. And it's important to think activity/situation related. Like, shorts are ok when playing volleyball, but would I wear shorts to church? I don't think so :-P I'm a believer in personal preferences, and I agree that when it comes to swimwear, it always gets tricky! My mom says, "Dress appropriate to the situation," which, I believe, is the key. The look: Appropriate Dress isn't self-explanitory. It's determined by many different things: culture, company, discretion, consideration, situation
...Oh boy, this is a big topic (I think each of us could write a book on it), so maybe I'll stop here ;-)

Another thought- Maybe I'm wrong, but I think most "stumbling blocks," as people like to call them, come from outside our christian community, 'cause- forgive me- when was the last time you saw a bikini on a girl from your church (which is not un-likely, just rare-er)? Maybe...maybe we should all stay at home and lock our doors and turn off the computer (and DON'T, whatever you do, go to the grocery store)! (sorry)

I don't want to create contention, just throw some more ideas out there to you lovely cyber people :-)

RE Paker- I had a thought. What if a guy at church has a problem with calf-lenght skirts, too, or t-shirts? Just curious what you'd do.

Happy discussing!
Always, in Christ.

P.S. As to the original topic, Gabriel, guys without shirts, or with tight shirts, or with sleaveless shirts don't bother me much- but that's just me. Naked girls bother me more :-)

Ok, actually guys with pants too low, as to show their groin- that bothers me.

Taralyn Rose said...

RE Parker- To clarify, I think I am trying to understand if you mean that you dress according to situation and with discretion, which is biblical, or trying to keep someone from thinking sinful thoughts, despite your own (and your father's) standards of dress. No biggie. Just thinking.

Gabriel- I agree, legalism is something to try and stear away from.

In Christ.

Anonymous said...

Tight jeans?
Good for neither and painful for both (hey, let's just admit it).

And also, I think we should quit blocking our consciences so we can show off (or how much we can get off).

Do we really want to dance on the cliff-edge of sin? Are we afraid of the consequences?

I think this comes down to a lack of godly fear and godly love.

Great stuff, Gabe.

Bailey said...

Personally, I don't think sleeveless shirts are a big deal, on guys or girls.

Muscle shirts make me laugh. They're ugly, they seem to impede motion more than normal sleeveless shirts, and since we can see the entire torso through the ripped side, why not just go without the shirt? It's not really a "stumblingblock" thing, just a "Seriously, dude, you are not cool" thing.

Taralyn Rose said...

Bailey, you're totally right about muscle shirts. That's what I think: "Grow up." lol

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Taralyn, hey!

I think actually male immodesty is in some ways more prevalent in "our circles" than female modesty- or at least more accepted.

And naked girls bother me more too.


Bailey- love it.

Kyle said...

Gabriel, thanks for this excellent post.

If I can add my two cents: I personally wear a t-shirt under my loose-fitting rash guard for modesty issues. When your shirt gets wet, it obviously clings to your skin, somewhat defeating the purpose of wearing a shirt in the first place, in my opinion. The t-shirt effectively further disrupts my physique (or lack thereof) from showing through. I also keep my undershirt tucked in so it doesn't float up (also defeating the point of wearing a shirt).


RE Parker said...

"RE Paker- I had a thought. What if a guy at church has a problem with calf-lenght skirts, too, or t-shirts? Just curious what you'd do."

That is a good question Taralyn....a very good question. For starters, I don't wear t-shirts to church (or if I do I wear a blazer or some other jacket-like shirt over the top.) Also, I don't wear really tight T's (I actually don't like t-shirts.)

Calf-length skirts. That one is much harder since I tend to look frumpy in long skirts and I don't even think I have one in my closet that is decent for church. I think on that one, I would not be so easily bent. I might try to position myself where my legs couldn't be seen as much, but I don't think I'd go exclusively to wearing long skirts. (Knowing me and the way I chase the kids around, I would probably step on a long skirt and fall :D) There is a limit to how much wardrobe changing one can do...I think my family's standards would trump on this one.

As it was, I immediately rebelled at the notion of not wearing sleeveless to church. In fact I got furious (don't ask me to explain--that would take another paragraph ;), but I came to see that if I wanted to love this brother in Christ, I should try not to bother him (I don't know exactly what his issue is--his best friend's wife told us that he didn't think sleeveless was appropriate. I have never asked him about it, I just took action.) I still do occasionally where sleeveless to church and I've never felt/seen said brother looking at me askance or not about it...

And I know some of that might seem let me just say, if actually confronted with the issue I don't know exactly what I would do. I think it would depend somewhat on the person and situation.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I really, really liked the post.

I think it's awesome that you still wear sleeveless to church, RE, even though your brother in Christ doesn't like it.

Let me explain. If we are to be modest enough for everyone, we might as well dress in Burkas. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for modesty. I layer camisoles under my shirts, my jeans are not skinny jeans (ick), but neither do I wear clothes that are baggy and don't fit. Some more conservative people may not like that my band shirts fit me quite well, but they're not a second skin, and I feel comfortable in them without worrying that they're too tight or reveal too much.

It's a thin line, but one we have to be careful on when deciding what to wear. I've decided that as I feel no condemnation in my spirit that I dress appropriately, even though most of my shirts are capped sleeves. (just down over the shoulder, with no inside viewing like can happen with baggy sleeveless) If I met someone who was extremely bothered by capped sleeves, I would do my best to avoid wearing them around him, but as most of my wardrobe consists of these it would be somewhat difficult. And you know what? I would probably wear them most of the time anyway.

Gods Country Boy said...

As for the whole sleeveless shirt for guys topic, you'd have to be careful. After all, if you are wearing it around the house when nobody but you is around, I suppose it doesn't matter, since immodesty doesn't matter if there is no-one around. After all, we take a shower don't we? But as for wearing a sleeveless in public, I can't think of a good reason to do it unless you are just trying to show off some shoulder firepower.
But then you say, you can see just as much guns on your forearms and biceps in a t-shirt. So do we always wear long-sleeves? That might be pushing it a bit far, but I think sleeveless might be a bit to little fabric, imho.
As far as I am concerned, I would have an issue with me wearing a sleeveless shirt, and would have to reevaluate my motives.
Keep up the good stuff!

Bailey said...

RE Parker --

I appreciate your loving spirit toward this brother in Christ. That's rare...and beautiful.

I just wanted to offer an observation on something I've been thinking about -- the difference between offending someone and causing him to stumble.

It's not a sin to "offend" someone, in the sense that he's personally affronted that you do not adhere to his standards. So if this brother in Christ simply believes that sleeveless shirts are wrong without actually being tempted by the ones you're wearing, you're within Christian liberty to wear them. The brother who is weaker must make allowances for the stronger brother/sister -- that is his part of upholding Christian unity.

However, if he expresses to you personally (or if, in a roundabout way, it comes back to you) that your clothes are causing him to struggle, then you, the stronger Christian, ought to give up your rights in order to help this weaker brother out.

Just my two cents to this sub-discussion. But again -- beautiful, beautiful testimony of Christian love and unity. Keep up your fantastic attitude. :)

RE Parker said...

Thank-you, Bailey!

I really don't know whether it causes my brother to stumble or whether it just 'offends' him. Since he has never personally commented on it to me, I just pretend that I don't know, while trying to keep the offending portion of arm covered up :D

Kelsianne said...

Thank-you for posting this, Gabriel!

I've always felt uncomfortable around guys missing their shirt, but have never given the subject much thought.

It seems to be yet another one of those things that is just so normal in our day and age that we don't even think to bring it into question.

Great post.


Gods Country Boy said...

Well, I retract my statement slightly. Immodesty does matter, even if no-one is around, because even if no-one is around and you are immodest, it still means you have a heart problem.
If you are struttin yo stuff when no-one is around, it means you have just as much of a heart problem as if you did it in public, you are just afraid to show it.
Just I thought I would clear that up. :)

Daniel Romanowitz said...

@God's Country Boy
Thanks for the clarification, David - agree with this, and also understand your original point.

Regarding the issue of sleeveless shirts, I think it would be interesting to figure out the implications of Isaiah 52:10 and Ezekiel 4:7. At face value, in these verses baring the arms, or rolling up the sleeves, if you prefer, appears to be indicative of vigorous, or at least martial, action.

Thoughts, anyone?

Anonymous said...

This. just this.

excellent article.

Anonymous said...

This. just this.

excellent article.

{melody} said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. *applause* Finally, someone who's speaking the missing message of male modesty. {unintentional alliteration!}

From a girl's perspective, I also think muscle shirts are childish. When guys wear them in public they look foolishly prideful, not cool. I have little problem with shirtless guys at the beach, because they have to deal with my tankini too. And underwear showing is just disgusting, not a stumbling block. : )

The problem is, as you said, the heart attitude and not the clothing. I have some excellent Christian brothers who work out--and it shows in whatever they wear--but their dedication to God is what defines them, not their {albeit attractive} physique. It's the same with women who adorn themselves with good works.

About clothing in different situations...typical male cluelessness about fashion. : ) {If that sounded feminist, I apologize, but God gave the realm of fashion to us females, and the realm of physical strength and vigor to you males} I would not wear a formal gown to the grocery store anymore than I would wear a bathing suit to church. Where different levels of physical activity are required, different clothing is required. Even though the very same levels of clothing may not be worn, the same modesty of the heart and the attitude behind the clothing should be the same.

Thanks again. We all need to hear this message.

KGG said...

Here's another stat that speaks volumes:

Cue thinking face again. :)

Brad said...

Hey Gabe,

Good article buddy!

I wear sleeveless shirts (mostly in summer) when Im doing manual labor, working out and around the house. Pretty much just because its more comfortable for me. Also like RE Parker said,"if you're going say guys can't modestly wear sleeveless, then neither can a girl." You have to define what "covered" is(what needs to be covered).

Until about 3 years ago, I really didn't like to wear a shirt at all, especially at the beach or at a pool. I used to(because of my insecurity) be real into taking my shirt off during those times and I would(sometimes) do 150 - 300 situps before just so I "looked good" when my shirt came off.
I seriously had the wrong motives and Im blessed to say that I no longer live to take my shirt off.

Skinny Jeans: No I Don't like them, but I would say that I believe its really because they are excepted as something girls wear that people think its disgusting. (not saying a girl can never wear jeans) but If woman never started wearing jeans at all I really doubt we would have such a problem with it(not blaming woman). And yes I think alot of guys dress like that to be more feminine because that's how culture has ingrained them.
*it is kinda funny to watch guys waddle around in their jeans sometimes though*

If a guy dresses to attract girls then he is being unfaithful to his future wife in that area.

I believe that you do need to have the right motives before God in what you wear, I like to dress a certain way, I like to wear things I think look good and are comfortable, but if it makes my brother/sister stumble its better that I am uncomfortable than that he/she stumbles in their walk with the Lord

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Kyle- thanks for the two cents! They're always welcome. :-)

Rachael and Taralyn, that's an issue that takes plenty of prayer. I think that we must be careful of giving too much weight to the weaker brother- to where we progress into foolishness. On the other hand, I love it that you're coming from the perspective of desiring to help the weaker brother. That's encouraging, and when we can do that it's certainly a good thing to strive for, within the guidelines of Scripture and your household.

Which is kinda awesome, because you girls are under the headship of a husband or father, so he can take it to The LORD and override, confront, or agree with the weaker brother as needed, and you don't have to worry about making that call.

I would like to stress again, though, the importance of starting with the perspective that "if God wants me to wear a burqa, I will gladly do so! I want to help my weaker brother at whatever cost."

If we start there and then back up according to Biblical guidelines, I think that's good. Erring on the safe side, you know.

David, I would say that being alone doesn't eliminate the heart problem, but that being alone does allow clothing options that wouldn't be allowed in public. :-D

Daniel- great point! Thanks for bringing that up. Right now, I have a sleeveless shirt that I like to wear when I'm working out, and that seems to match that same idea.

So it seems that, in those contexts, at least, sleevelessness is appropriate.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Melody, thanks for commenting! I'm glad to hear that we, overall, agree, but I would like to respond to a few things you said and get your feedback.

"I have little problem with shirtless guys at the beach, because they have to deal with my tankini too."

This strikes me funny. Isn't this reasoning like saying that two wrongs make a right?

In other words, aren't we doing things backwards if, instead of saying "hmmm, they struggle with my tankini/shirtlessness, maybe I should throw a shirt on" we say "well, they struggle with my tankini/shirtlessness, so I may as well put up with theirs"?

"Where different levels of physical activity are required, different clothing is required."

This is absolutely true. I wouldn't work out in my wedding suit. But while the standards of appropriate clothing will change, I don't see why the standards of modest clothing would. Does that make sense?

KGG - very thinking-face-esque. And rather disappointing... :-b

Thanks for sharing.

Brad- about the sit-ups- good idea! I'll have to try that!

(Just kidding. Don't hurt me.)

I do think there's a slight difference between sleeveless for guys and sleeveless for girls. I hear the shoulders of Olympic swimmers admired far more often than the shoulders of Julia Roberts. Know what I'm sayin'?

I wouldn't be comfortable going around sleeveless as a general rule. Like I said, I do like it for workouts, though.

Beyond that, great stuff, and I agree.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

(Oh, that last comment isn't to say, by the way, that a woman's bare shoulders can't be... enticing. They certainly can. I just find the distinction interesting.)

Daniel Romanowitz said...

"I would like to stress again, though, the importance of starting with the perspective that 'if God wants me to wear a burqa, I will gladly do so! I want to help my weaker brother at whatever cost.'

"If we start there and then back up according to Biblical guidelines, I think that's good. Erring on the safe side, you know."

YES. This is the attitude that we need to have.

Bailey said...

Hey, Gabriel, sorry to interrupt the party -- could you take a look at my article on 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and the ensuing blog conversation? I know we don't see eye to eye on many of these Biblical womanhood issues, but I wanted to hear your thoughts -- especially since you have a commitment to upholding Scripture and are very familiar with it (something my fellow debater just doesn't and isn't). That passage is something I'm personally struggling with....I'd appreciate it if you'd help me out here. ;) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

As a heads up - if you don't mind, I'd like to reblog this post on my blog sometime in the next few weeks. Of course, I will link back to this post, as well as your blog's homepage.

This is simply too good not to share.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Growup, please do!

Bailey- I'm honored by your kind words. I'll certainly check it out.

rubythursdays said...

What can I say? I'm biased.

But, besides that fact, I completely agree with you.


K.L said...

Thank you Gabriel for writing this article!
Sadly, in this world, modesty isn't thought of much anymore.
I've always had a problem with people showing too much skin, both men and women.

As for men,I appreciate it when you wear shirts when swimming(As mentioned and christian image)
Skinny jean- just wrong.
Muscle shirts- why even bother? your practicly shirtless anyway. :P
Speedo- one word... trash it( actually thats two words.)along with the short-shorts and bikini.
Sleeveless shirts- For me,it depends on the place.
If you are in a public place I would say no.
If you are at home,working or working out-at home(inside) its fine with me.

(I always wear something else over top of my sleeveless shirt at church to cover my arms)

The thing that I hate the most is when guys pants are falling to the floor(don't you own a belt?.. or suspenders?) its dicusting, I REALLY don't want to see 'more' than I should.

Every ones comments are very interesting, and I look forward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

"Girls, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree with my premise? If so, what are some of the specific ways that guys can be more thoughtful of you in the way they dress? What are your greatest stumbling blocks? Maybe some examples of movie characters or public figures who did or didn't act in a modest way, and how they did or didn't?"

Oohh! I love giving my opinion!

Can girls lust? The answer, sadly, is YES. Girls are more likely to lust over a man's manner, attitude, and scoring on the Romantic IQ Test than his physique, as other commenters have noted, but while it's different for girls, we can also feel physical lust. Any girl who says otherwise is kidding either you or herself.

Personally I find shirtlessness confusing and either revolting or far too attractive. Either way, please don't do it. I don't know where to look, and if you have anything like a physique worth looking at, I will either be staring in the opposite direction or travelling in the opposite direction depending on the circumstances.

Don't wear shirts that are too tight. On the other hand, if you really are that well-built, don't resort to tents to try and hide that fact. I can still be distracted by your forearms. Honestly, “healthy” and “clean-cut” already puts you ahead of 80% of the population at large. Biceps won't be a huge additional stumbling-block.

Skinny jeans are not remotely attractive. They say “self-absorbed hipster” not “self-sacrificing knight-errant”.

Stand up straight and tuck your shirt in. Wear a tie occasionally. Nothing to do with modesty—this has to do with looking sharp instead of trashy. Guys that never soar above jeans and a hoodie, or who affect those horrendous slim-cut shirts with darts in them, or think Converse sneakers perfectly acceptable footwear for all occasions, are dressing carelessly and trashily.

It's hard for me to think of a man acting immodestly in a movie, or in real life, because men so rarely strike me a being immodest. That said, there are two easy guidelines:

Never be underdressed in the company of a lady not related to you by blood; and
Never invade her personal space, especially when underdressed.

“Just For Fun

“Explain in one paragraph or less why one may, when surrounding or inhabiting a body of water, wear (or not wear) clothing which one would never consider appropriate in another context, and which indeed might be referred to, in other contexts, as underclothing?”

This isn't a reply to this question so much as an observation. Myself, I'd go for less coverage in such a situation than I normally would, but I don't believe that to be a violation of standards of modesty. Rather, I dress with somewhat more coverage than I consider modest, for reasons other than modesty, so I don't mind being a bit less covered while swimming. So, you'll never see my knees unless you follow me to the beach. And then there are the shoulders-covered-only-by-straps. I don't have a double standard; rather, my standard is on the loose side of what I actually feel comfortable wearing most of the time.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Great thoughts, Anon!

Thanks for sharing.

Jemimah said...

Good post, Gabriel.

I believe that as long as a guy is not dressing to make girls notice him, then it doesn't matter what he wears.

Believe me, Christian girls will notice a guy more not by his clothes, or physical strength, but by his faith in God, and spiritual strength. Non-Christian girls notice guys a completely different way.

As with girls, what guys wear should be between him and the Lord, not between him and girls.

Keep loving and serving Jesus.

Andrew Eaton said...

Great post Gabe! I Do like to wear tight shirts and sleeve-less shirts, but ONLY for running/exercise. Any other time is just showing off. (Even though for me there isn't much to show off!)

I do not swim without a shirt either. I can understand being shirtless for competition, but that only.

Taralyn Rose said...

I like what you said there, Jemimah, that it's between him and God. Not for us girls to decide.


(I know that our oppinions can be helpful, I'm not condemning that!)

I like reading the comments on Gabriel's blog. I was talking about that with my friend this morning. Gabriel, your blog invites intelligent discussion :-) It's refreshing. I appreciate it.

God bless!

Jemimah said...

@ Taralyn Rose

Thanks! I completely agree with you about Gabriel's blog. I really enjoy talking about stuff with other knowledgeable people, and learning valuable things from them.

Anonymous said...

excellent post!

I have been wondering why this topic has not been discussed for quite some time.

Before I was a Christian I was very promiscuous and you could say that I was borderline addicted to sex. I was in major bondage to lust. That being said, I was saved 3 years ago and I still have to be very careful and practice self control.

I agree that a lot of women lust after men's actions, or character but we can just as easily lust after them physically. Personally I have to guard myself when it comes to rough hands(a man who does manual labor) I know that sounds strange! Big shoulders or arm muscles don't really affect me, but stomachs and visible underwear do.

Lust is something that I have had to continually hand over to the Lord and sometimes repent of full on daydreaming. Yes, it would be helpful if guys were mindful of the way they dressed, but for the most part my wicked heart needs to be continually purged.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Jemimah and Taralyn, I agree that we should be seeking to please God, not to please others.

That said, I also think that part of seeking God is obeying Him in practical, real-world ways.

A girl who says she's just wanting to please God and isn't worried about what others think and therefore she can wear her bikini to the youth volleyball trip- wait, why are we having a youth volleyball trip?!?

But you get my point. :-)

Also- yes, I love the discussions!

Anonymous- praise God! I'm so glad to hear of His work in your life.

Jemimah said...

@ Gabriel:
I get your point, and I totally agree. :-D

Taralyn Rose said...



Bria said...

Wow, you got really brave posting on this highly sensitive subject.

It is very true. Your post kind of made it dawn on me. Women's modesty is always addressed and fought over, while men's is hardly ever thought about. Obviously. :D

I thought this was written with great tact and humility Gabriel.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Thanks, Bria. Praise God. Glad you stopped by!

Caitlin Nicholas said...

Gabriel, I read your post and I think it's really great. In fact it's what I've been talked about for awhile. I have my own column.
Here's my article I did on modesty, I think you'll like it.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Hey Caitlin!

Thanks for stopping by, and for talking to others about this important issue!

Derek Reis said...

Hi there Gabriel!

I love your posts. I wanted to know if I could sort of challenge (for lack of a better word) you. Would you be interested in writing a blog post about the card games (Yu-gi-Oh!, Pokemon etc.) I know of alot of young men who are very much into these games. I think a post about these games could go along with your other Biblical posts about entertainment.

God Bless, and thank you for your Biblical posts. It's nice to read something online that is for the Glory of God! :)


Marjo.....B. said...

The articles and discussions on your blog are really good. Thank you! I thought this post very interesting since I just realized within the last couple years that modesty is important for men as well as women! I know it sounds strange, but before,I hadn't realized that it was wrong for boys to show off their muscles. But as my brother grew up and gained amazing muscles himself, he explained to me how it's not wise if boys wear tight shirts, very short-sleeved shirts, etc. to accentuate their muscles. I never had a problem with it, but now I don't like it when I can tell that a young man is deliberately dressing to show off. (of course!) I am proud of my brother (almost 19) because I don't believe anyone but his family know the muscles he has in his arms. ;)

As for swimming atire. I totally agree. We should always dress in real clothing! Happily, I can say that my brothers wear shirts and good shorts (Land's End is a great source) for swimming! My brother does wear sleeveless shirts for working outdoors because whether in our yard or at work, absolutely no one can see him. :)

Keep up the good work! It is good to hear from men who care.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Interesting point...but I really don't see where fitted clothing is a problem. But maybe I like them alittle to much...and it's my personal problem not your. I don't careful not to confuse liking something with lust. You might think something looks good doesn't really mean it's lust.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Hey Derek, thanks for the suggestion and for stopping by! I don't know too much about those card games, and I don't know that I'd be the best person to address 'em. :-)

Anonymous, glad you enjoyed the post! My issue with fitted clothing is that it basically gives the profiles and shapes of the body underneath, under the guise of covering up the body underneath.

However, I definitely agree that there are plenty of ways to be attractive without being immodest!

Kaekae said...

Women do lust. We just don't seem to have a big an issue with it as men because we typically start connecting the dots later.
There is nothing wrong with finding a guy/girl attractive or even commenting on it. (in moderation of course - I get really annoyed by nieces going "he's so cute" all the time). God makes pretty things and pretty people.
I dress modestly. Think Duggars without the polos and with fewer jean skirts. I'm trying to find a way to put this without drawing a mental picture... I need to wear looser shirts then some women to remain modest because of the way God made me.
This story hammers in why I dress modestly.
I was on the phone with a coworker one evening when he told me he wanted to date me. In the course of the conversation, he said this "I thought, wow She's really got a great figure." It was brand new shirt (1st and last time I wore it), and I hadn't taken a close enough look before going to work that morning.
I was humiliated. I was on the phone, but I literally crossed my arms over my chest in embarrassment. He couldn't see anything - the damage had been done already. That shirt had a high neck, but it was just too tight for me. So I should have paid more attention and he should have averted his eyes. No, we never dated; (he also wasn't a Christian - so it was never going to happen). Unfortunately, Society is teaching young girls to take such comments as a compliment; and for men to give them.
If the man had told me, "She's pretty", then that would be a compliment. (I would have called him a liar tho) Or if he told me he "She's smart", that's also a compliment. Instead, that comment just made me feel dirty.
The reverse is also true:
For some men, wearing a tight shirt or jeans wouldn't be an issue. And some women wouldn't have a problem seeing it.
What is modest varies by person. My sister probably could have worn that shirt without a problem (I actually gave it to her).
And let's not forget that for the most part, men become hormones go wild at a younger age then women.
My niece has the bad habit of calling guys hot. She thinks it means attractive or cute. It doesn't. She is corrected when she uses it. Society and the media has conditioned people to think that being sexy or hot is the way to be. Whatever happened to handsome, cute or pretty?
God made us to find the opposite sex attractive. It is how we act that is the problem. If we allow our mind to wander and focus on what shouldn't be then we are sinning. However, if we dress in a way that encourages peoples minds to wander then we are also sinning.
Water or sand doesn't mean you need to show what everything you've got. I won't wear a typical bathing suit in public; so I bought a modest one. I've actually got dresses shorter then the swim suit because the leggings are calf-length. My modest bathing suit looks weird (but it is pretty), but it serves two purposes - it keeps me from feeling dirtied by guys looking where they shouldn't be, but it also allows Christian men the ability to see me without being a stumbling block.
Now some men (and women) are just going to lust no matter what. That isn't my problem. My problem is to dress and think in a way that pleases God. And I'll be frank, even as a woman sometimes it is easy to let my wander into bad territory. I'm a sinner like everyone else, and that is all I'll say on that.
For the record, I think Tebow is handsome (for a kid), but I think he needs to keep his shirt on (literally). Now i've only seen one picture of him shirtless, but i've got to wonder if he didn't know the stumbling block he placed in fellow Christians lives. Women (not all) seeing that could easily go from "he's handsome" into territory they shouldn't be in.


I don't care who you are. As a Christian, we should dress modestly and guard our thoughts.