Monday, June 24, 2013

An Open Letter to Men: Lust is YOUR Fault, Not Hers

Wow, the Christian internets are on fire right now with women discussing bikinis. (Does this happen every summer, or is this summer different? I’ve never noticed this before, or at least not at this volume.)  There are women arguing that the bikini is inherently immodest, and those arguing that it is not. As for me, I am not a woman and so I don’t feel I should get into that part of it at all. I think it would be wrong for me to jump in and act as though I somehow had some ground to speak from. Each of the two links above present their sides very well, so feel free to look into those and come to your own conclusion.


What I can speak to, however, is the men.

Men, let the women argue about if the bikini is okay or not. Because you and I, we have something we need to talk about.

It seems to be taken for granted by both women and men, on both sides of this argument, that men are nothing but hopeless sex addicts. Perhaps it is no surprise that this is the culture that we have, for it is how we have raised our boys. We perpetuate the long-held myth that men think about sex every 6 seconds. Every TV sitcom at some point tells us that men want sex far more than women do, and that if they don’t there is something wrong with them. We tell young men that they need to have condoms handy because it’s just “unrealistic” to expect them to keep it in their pants as hormone-raging teenagers. And our young men overhear us teaching young ladies that their immodesty is what leads to rape or objectification of women or lust. Evolutionists agree, telling us that men are evolved to spread their seed as widely as possible, so once we see an attractive woman our response is nearly uncontrollable—so much so that some even recommend adultery or “open” relationships.

That’s what our culture teaches. Men are basically one slight step above animals in heat, unable to control ourselves. We can’t say “No,” so it is the woman’s fault if we have lustful thoughts. And this is not a new thought: it has been used as an argument against women for centuries.

This view—that men can be “forced” into lust by others and that, therefore, it is the woman’s fault—is both insulting to men and very unbiblical.

It is of course true that a woman is responsible for being modest—but not for the reasons given on either side of this bikini debate. A woman is responsible for being modest because immodesty is a sin. Not because of what it might create in others. (And again, I will let the women decide whether the bikini counts as immodesty or not—this is not my topic here, so no comments about that!)

A woman is responsible for modesty in and of itself, regardless of whether that does or does not inspire lust in men. Men are responsible for our own lust. (And vice-versa, by the way: men are responsible for modesty as well, and women are responsible for controlling their own lusts.)

I wrote about this topic over four years ago, and again two years ago, and tangentially this year...so I guess this will just become a recurring odd-numbered-year topic. As I have said before, there is absolutely no logic in the “women dressing like skanks caused me to lust” excuse: if an ugly woman dressed immodestly and you are not turned on did she not sin? Or if an attractive woman dresses in a burka and you still lust, is she now guilty of sin?

Men: we are responsible for the sin of lust when it happens in our hearts. Not women. I don’t care if the hottest woman in the world parades around nude, you are responsible for not lusting. If you sin, it is your fault, not hers. She will be held accountable for whether or not she was trying to be seductive or immodest…but that is between her and God. Your lust is your own sin, and your own responsibility—she is not forcing you into anything.

Jesus said that it was our responsibility to avoid lust, even taking drastic methods if possible—He did not blame it on the woman (Mt 5:27-29). Paul said that lust was part of our earthly nature, to be crucified along with other evil desires (Col 3:4-6). Paul also said that we are responsible for controlling our sensual desires (1Thes 4:4-6). Peter says that lust is a lifestyle we choose, just as the pagans do (1Pet 4:2-4). And we see this principle throughout Scripture in the Old Testament as well. Eli’s sons are responsible for the own lust (1Sam 2:22-24); Solomon is the one blamed for being led astray by his lust for women (1Kng 11:1-3); and it is not Esther who is sinning just because she was dressed in a way which the king found provocative—she is not said to have done any evil by not choosing death instead of the primping of the harem. In none of these situations is the woman and her dress blamed for the man’s lust. Indeed, the Bible talks much more to men about controlling their lust than it does to women about how they dress.

Furthermore, this “women’s immodesty made me lust” concept frankly does not fit real life—at least not in my experience. I cannot speak for all men, but I can speak to my experience as a man who lusted a lot as a teenager and who (thanks be to God!) has grown to be able to control lust much more effectively. I have found that in my life, it is not always the most provocatively dressed person who inspired lust in my heart. I have been on beaches in Europe and seen women topless and been completely un-lustful, yet seen women walking down the street in a full-length business suit and had to battle lust.

Why? Because the sin of lust is not theirs, but mine. When my heart is wrong, my flesh will find a reason to lust and when my heart is right I am immune to it. I am not absolved from guilt even in the slightest—nor can I blame women—because of seeing an opportunity to sin: the sin of lust only happens when I choose to dwell on it and/or act on it.

Consider any other sin, and ask yourself if this argument holds water. If I walk in a restaurant and see a wine list, is the restaurateur guilty for my alcoholism? If I drive down the street and see an attractive home, is the homeowner guilty of making me covetous, because he has fresh paint and a nice lawn? If I really want a Viper, is Dodge guilty for making me materialistic? If I embezzle money from the company, is the company guilty for not having appropriate controls in place? If I punch someone in anger, is it really their fault for having such an obnoxious face?

Of course not. Sin bubbles up out of the place of our hearts: when we get our hearts right, the self-control follows. As such, the sin of lust is independent of the temptations presented us. We are responsible for our own actions.

Men, you cannot help that you will see something which causes a sexual thought to occur. That will happen from time to time. And it’s not just recent either: it has happened in every generation of history, no matter what the standards of dress were. Even the Egyptian kings found aging Sarai attractive and lusted—and she would have been wearing robes, while most Egyptian women at the time wore makeup and were often topless. Lust is about the condition of the luster’s heart, not about the things his or her eyes see.

However, you can train your brain to not lust. The brain is not something that you just receive and it works as a meat-machine independent of our willpower. Neurology has shown us that our brains rewire constantly based on our focus and desire—that quite literally, your actions can rewire your brain to avoid lust. Indeed, the secular site, www.yourbrainonporn.com is dedicated to teaching people to do exactly that: to “reboot” your brain and free you from porn addiction. And they have had wonderful success with many men, and are recommended by pastors from time to time to help with people in their congregations. Because it is controllable—despite what modern society wants us to believe.


In conclusion…

Women:  continue to debate whether or not bikinis are immodest. Modesty is important, and I hope you can all come to an agreement. But please leave out the argument about “inspiring men to lust”—this is an argument which causes great harm, for it lets men think that they are somehow off the hook for their own sinfulness. Whether or not bikinis (or one-pieces, or dresses, or pants, or makeup, or jewelry, or whatever) are modest needs to be debated without this falsely low expectation of men.


Men: do not allow our culture to continue to tell us that we are mere machines, animals incapable of controlling our lustful thoughts. Do not give in to the misogyny of low expectations which says that rape and lust and treating women like objects are the fault of the women. They aren't. It is your fault if you do such things. Just as you can condition your mind to exhibit the other fruits of the Spirit (love, peace, patience, etc.), you also can condition your mind to exhibit self-control. God will help you do so. But the first step to recovery, men, is admitting you have a problem. So stop blaming the women and embrace lust as primarily your problem.


23 comments:

  1. Always love the perspective you give. I'd read a few of the articles on this issue too and also found it interesting the volume of this debate. Kind of neat that it is happening and people care, but your point here does seem to be missing from most of the things I've read too.

    Also, thanks for the challenge. I hadn't really thought of actively renewing my mind in this way before. It seems like everything tends to come back to a "heart issue" or "condition of the heart" these days that I've kind of forgotten about the influence of the mind. I don't know how that is the case with verses like Romans 12:2 that say to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

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    1. Yes I think it's a really healthy debate, but just find it strange that perhaps 95% of the discussion is about women's choices regarding modesty, while perhaps 95% of the sinfulness occurs in the men's choices to be lustful.

      It's time we start realizing that--as you say--we actually have the ability to renew our mind and that we aren't just mindless robots driven by neurological chemistry. That seems to be the latest way to excuse sin in our culture today.

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  2. Hi Michael -- it is a healthy debate. There is no question that men ought not to blame women for how they dress, but it is not really helpful to say that how women dress doesn't cause any offense. I think you overlooked the Bible part where it says, "[when you are] sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ." (1 Cor 8) That is: recognizing the places where others are weak (and ignoring those weaknesses for our own liberty) is, to say the least, wounding them.

    I think a far deeper cultural root which gets exposed in this debate is individualism -- that is, I mind me, and I am only responsible for me. The Bible has a different ethic which is based on the idea that believers are in a household together, and that we are a new kind of family. When we forget that, we start to wonder either how someone else can serve me or I can serve me. When we remember that, we can start to think, "how can I serve someone else," which, as a tonic against sin, is at the center of Christ-likeness. In this specific case, if men considered how they could serve their own wives and sons, and fellow men, and their wives, and their daughters through fighting off lust -- and then women considered how to serve their own husbands, and their sons, and their own daughters by being examples of modesty and purity -- the whole approach changes from self-fulfillment and accomplishment to self-denial, self-offering, and in fact the discipleship of others.

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    1. Frank, your point is valid but it completely misses the point of this article. Michael is pointing to one aspect of the issue in particular, one that is often overlooked. We certainly shouldn't take all responsibility off of women, but its wrong to put all the focus on them. As Michael said, lust isn't always a matter of skin... A woman can be in all business attire (covering everything except the head and hands) and us still have lust in our hearts. Men's brains WILL find a way. When we put the focus on women, we/they get into declaring "markers." We start talking about where the clothing line should be drawn, and then judge others according to the lines we drew for ourselves (I do believe a few notable people have referred to that with the word: Pharisee). You get ladies from some times giving younger girls a "talk" because their skirt falls above the knee, when they are just as controversial/hypocritical to someone else down the street or in another country. Michael's article is fighting the common assumption of men to shrug off lust as the direct fault of women and the way they dressed. Let the women deal with their hemline and you and I deal with our eyes lingering on that hemline, regardless of where it falls around their knees/ankles/hips/breasts.

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    2. Frank, Dan pretty well sums up what I would have said, too. If I were writing to the women I would probably say something similar to what you said, because I think it is valid. But frankly that gets said a lot in this debate. Rarely does anyone simply hold the man accountable. So like Dan said you make a good point but it's really out of scope for what I wanted to discuss.

      I just can't help but notice that when Jesus and the apostles talk about specifically about lust, it is almost always to the men about how to deny their urges and have self control: yet when we discuss it, we almost exclusively speak to the women about how not to tempt us.

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    3. PS Dan--I like your last line. I might steal that one day!)

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  3. When a man lusts it is definitely his fault. If that was your only point, then you would have nailed it. I recognize that you are focused on that aspect, but you made some serious errors in order to make that point.

    My two critiques:

    #1 Modesty is not determined by a general consensus or a vote among women. Modesty is not for the women to figure out and decide upon. Thats just ridiculous. Truth is not up for a vote. If women don't know that men are more visually stimulated than women, who is going to tell them? If they are debating it and want to do the right thing by their brothers, why hinder that?

    There are certainly outfits that are more tempting than others. There may be a guy who is turned on by knit sweaters, but that does not discredit this simple fact: seeing a woman naked is overwhelmingly more tempting than when she is wearing a knit sweater. Bikinis are the next step up from naked, so how is there even a debate on this?

    #2 Christians are called to be like Simon of Cyrene and help each other to carry the cross. Everyone struggles with something. When you know that you are tempting your neighbor and you decide to proceed anyway, you are responsible for that temptation. When a guy is struggling to overcome lust, he is Christ scourged. You don't go and throw salt on his wounds just because his sin is his own fault!

    I encourage you to continue to push men to man up and do battle with their lust. It is true that men do not take enough responsibility for it. Men cannot do it without the help of women. But when guy decides that he is going to fight to overcome his lust, it will be a long and difficult road. If every 5 seconds he sees a half naked women, then his journey will be significantly longer and more difficult. Similarly if you know your buddy is an alcoholic and trying to recover, you don't have him go hang out at bars.

    You said that since you aren't a woman you can't get involved in the modesty debate. If your brother is falling left and right into lust and you know that the women in his life are dressing half naked and tempting him unintentionally, are you really going to just stand there? You either help him get out of that environment or you man up and let those girls know they are hurting your brother. Obviously he is responsible for his lust, but seriously, he shouldn't battle alone.

    Just address them men. Hold them accountable. But don't write off the power of temptation.

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  4. 10% what happens, and 90% how you deal with it. Obviously its your responsibility to deal with it properly! You wouldn't need to deal with it though if it didn't happen.

    Men don't just start lusting. There was some point when there was an image or a person that tempted them. Even if that image or person is from 30 years ago. So this is all a cycle that you cannot trace back to men or women. You have to deal with the immodesty and you have to deal with the lust. Not one exclusively!

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  5. Dan and Michael. I am surprised to hear you say that holding men accountable isn't a common conversation! I have been dealing with this issue for years in many different settings and it has been very much the opposite. I think its pretty straight forward for the men. Lust is wrong. Lust is a sin. For women there is cause for debate because it can be grey.

    Also women have a pretty big interest in this subject because lust is destroying marriages left and right.

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  6. Anonymous...I hope you don't mind but I'm going to respond in three parts, because I exceeded my limit. (Maybe four...we'll see how long they go!)

    First I will respond in general (A & B), then specifically to the claims you make in C and possibly D.


    1A. GENERAL RESPONSE

    Thanks for proving my point. :) No offense but that's exactly what you've done. My entire point here is that men seem incapable of taking ownership for their lust without blaming it on women and talking about immodesty. And here you've done exactly that: said, "Yep, lust is sin" but then spent almost every word of three comments talking not about lust--the purpose of the article--but rather about immodesty and why that is REALLY the cause of lust.

    If you would like to read my thoughts on immodesty and comment on them, please go see here (http://rebootchristianity.blogspot.com/2009/02/cardinal-virtues-ii-temperance.html) or here (http://rebootchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/08/modesty-and-vanity-in-church.html).

    This post isn't about immodesty. It is about lust. The only part of it that touches on immodesty is that I am tired of Christians constantly pivoting a discussion about lust into a discussion about immodesty. You claim in your last comment that this is not common, but you did precisely that in your prior two comments.

    My point is that when Jesus and the apostles discussed lust, they talked about self-control and actively seeking to avoid temptation and mastering your thoughts. But when WE talk about lust, we talk about how men are such dumb cavemen and if we see a woman in a bikini we are just impossibly burdened.

    I truly believe that this "men are so visually stimulated, and women are the cause of our lust" comment is an active excuse that makes men more likely to lust, not less. It lets men off the hook. It lets men revel in their weakness.

    Jesus, Paul, and Peter lived in a WAAAAYYYYY worse sexual culture than we do: a culture of orgies and temple prostitution, of pederasty and adultery, of infanticide and homosexuality. And yet...somehow they talked about lust as though it was the man's problem, not society's. As if the man actually owned his own brain, and was not a slave to the world.

    We need to be teaching our men to have self-control, not to blame everyone else when they fail. That is not Biblical. That is weak--it is a weak argument, and it is (though on the surface sounding very spiritual) actually an ENABLER of lust.

    When I teach women, and we talk about modesty, I will be glad to discuss. But I'm not talking to them. And I'm not talking about modesty. I'm talking about men controlling lust--and the dangerous teaching that the majority of the "battlefield" is about the state of women's hemlines instead of the state of men's hearts. You are perpetuating this--though with good intentions!--and it only makes men weaker. It teaches our youth that they are victims of the world around them, and their lust is not something which they can control until the world around them provides fewer temptations. (And that is a losing battlefield, I can assure you!)

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  7. 1B. GENERAL RESPONSE (CONT.)

    I will continue to teach lust as Jesus did: I will teach men to own up for their lust, and not let them off the hook just because someone else is sinning. I will teach as Paul did, that we are responsible for our own sexual purity, regardless of the world around us. I will teach what Peter did, that we have the choice of what our lifestyles are.

    And I will continue, as always, to point out that God GIVES US self-control. 2Pet 1:3 tells us that God gives us all the qualities we need for a holy life, including self-control (v.5). Paul tells us in Gal 5:22-23 that self-control is one of the things that the Spirit gives to us. We need to be focused on building these disciplines with our men, when in reality most men's discipleship advice on lust comes down to "avoid temptations." (An impossible goal, in our society!)

    In short: other people's sins HAVE NO ABILITY to remove the self-control the Spirit provides. We do, in fact, have the ability to control our lust. And Jesus commands us to do it. We have the ability to disciple our men to take their thoughts captive and meditate on spiritual things and live lives of prayer and focused on Christ. We have the ability to teach our men that while avoiding temptation is a part of a healthy self-control, it is not even close to the major part of it: you can't 'shortcut' the discipline of learning self-control, and once you have it, no temptation can shake you.

    So please join me: stop letting men off the hook. Stop worrying about what others wear, and start worrying about cultivating self-control and mastering of your thoughts.

    Because if you don't--if instead, your focus is to try and talk Christians women into wearing a one-piece instead of a two-piece--then you've already lost the war. Even if you win that battle, all you've done is teach the men that they are mindless meat machines who can't control themselves around visual stimuli...and so when they are confronted with the next immodesty (which will happen every day) they fail.

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  8. 2C. SPECIFIC RESPONSES TO COMMENTS YOU MADE


    In general, I would have to say that with all due respect most of your comments are less about things I said, and more about things you were reading between the lines and THOUGHT I was saying.


    YOU SAID:
    "Modesty is not determined by a general consensus or a vote among women."

    I never said it was. I said that I was not going to get into the debate about whether a BIKINI counted as modest or immodest, and pointed to good arguments on both sides made by Christian women. The points you are making were very well addressed in one of those links.

    I didn't say that it was up to the women: I said that the women had this topic covered, and I didn't see that I would add value by jumping in that they had not already addressed.

    YOU SAID:
    "Bikinis are the next step up from naked, so how is there even a debate on this?"

    I specifically said that this post was not about bikinis, and that this was well covered in the links, so please go to them. Comment on their pages if you want to discuss. Not my scope here.

    YOU SAID:
    "Christians are called to be like Simon of Cyrene and help each other to carry the cross."

    Minor quibble: Good thought, wrong reference. Simon was forced by Roman sword (Matt 27:32) to carry Jesus' cross when He could not do so. The Bible doesn't use him as an example for us as fellow Christians to carry one another's burdens of temptation. I think you're thinking of Gal 6:2, which is on point. But still out of my scope.

    YOU SAY:
    "When you know that you are tempting your neighbor and you decide to proceed anyway, you are responsible for that temptation."

    Totally agree, which is why I said in the post, "She will be held accountable for whether or not she was trying to be seductive or immodest" and also, where I said, "A woman is responsible for modesty."

    YOU SAY:

    "When a guy is struggling to overcome lust, he is Christ scourged. You don't go and throw salt on his wounds just because his sin is his own fault!"

    I don't think asking a man to own up to his own sin is throwing salt on his wounds.


    YOU SAY:
    "It is true that men do not take enough responsibility for it. Men cannot do it without the help of women."

    I respectfully disagree. Men cannot do it without God. 2Pet 1 and Gal 5 both tell us that God gives us self-control as a fruit of the Spirit and will help us grow in it. If we're man enough to admit it is our fault and seek Him, instead of blaming others.

    YOU SAY:
    "If every 5 seconds he sees a half naked women, then his journey will be significantly longer and more difficult. Similarly if you know your buddy is an alcoholic and trying to recover, you don't have him go hang out at bars."

    I agree 100%. And I didn't encourage any women to be immodest or try and lead men astray, anywhere in my article. But also I would say that you do your alcoholic friend no favors if you keep telling him, "Sure, you shouldn't be alcoholic...but the real problem is how much beer is easily available! You can't help yourself once you see a beer!"

    Prohibition--which was based on this concept--failed miserably. AA on the other hand works wonders, and it is focused on personal ownership, reliance on a higher power, working with wise sponsers, and training one to have self control.

    Not blaming beer companies for making such tempting brews.

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  9. 2D. SPECIFIC RESPONSE (CONT.)



    YOU SAY:
    "You said that since you aren't a woman you can't get involved in the modesty debate."

    Respectfully, no I didn't. I said that since I'm not a woman I'm not getting involved in the bikini debate, and then said that the topic was well covered already and provided links to those interested in more information. I specifically said I was avoiding this because it wasn't in my scope.

    Again, with all due respect I think you're replying more to what you THINK I meant than what I actually SAID.

    YOU SAY:
    "But don't write off the power of temptation."

    I'm not writing off its power: I'm writing off the belief that its power is OVERWHELMING and UNBEATABLE. Because that isn't what the Bible tells us--the Bible doesn't say that men cannot control their lust. It is within our power.

    YOU SAY:
    "You wouldn't need to deal with it though if it didn't happen."

    So your strategy for avoiding lust is to try and create a world where men will never see anything which inspires lust? That way they don't have to deal with it?

    Not a very realistic goal.

    (BTW--I'm really a nice guy, and I fear this is coming across too confrontational (totally not my style, if you read much). But these are specific points, so I feel I should address them one on one. So I hope you read this with a conversational and light-hearted tone. I'm serious about it, but I'm not angry. Hope that's coming across!)

    YOU SAY:
    "Men don't just start lusting. There was some point when there was an image or a person that tempted them."

    I'm sorry but I just 100% disagree on this. Men DO just start lusting. It happens quite biologically. We are in a sinful world and we are depraved, and we sin. We don't have to be taught to do so.

    Answer me this: if your theory is right, why is it that brutal rapes are so common in Iraq, Iran, and other Muslim countries where all women wear burkhas? Why is it that, say, Spain with its nude beaches doesn't suffer the same?

    Lust comes from a heart that desires sin and no amount of locking women up will change that. Read history books about sailors: in the absence of women, lustful men will turn to men or just fantasy. Lust DOES, in fact, just happen. Regardless of visual stimuli.

    YOU SAY:
    "I have been dealing with this issue for years in many different settings and it has been very much the opposite. I think its pretty straight forward for the men. Lust is wrong. Lust is a sin."

    And this is really probably the biggest thing that you and I disagree with. You are really obviously a good person who wants the best for our men...so do I. You and I clearly want the same goal, and so I sympathize with you. Ten years ago, I might even have written almost identical statements.

    But what I hope you come away from this with is an honest assessment of where we are. Any preacher will say exactly what you said: "Lust is straightforward, it is a sin." But then they will do exactly what you did, and pivot the conversation to be about immodesty.

    Sure immodesty is more of a gray area. And I suppose that makes for more interesting discussion.

    But I submit that you're seeing it the wrong way around. You're hoping to create a world in which we aren't tempted, instead of creating a people who are immune to temptation.

    When you say, "Lust is a sin. We all agree. Now let's move on to the women..." and then you talk about immodesty for 30 minutes, you have sent a message. It may not be what you believe, but you send the message that you think immodesty is the root sin, not lust. That men can't help themselves and therefore it's on the women.

    And that's where I disagree (see GENERAL answers above). And I submit that the Bible is firmly on my side, here.

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  10. Brother,

    "There are women arguing that the bikini is inherently immodest, and those arguing that it is not. As for me, I am not a woman and so I don’t feel I should get into that part of it at all. I think it would be wrong for me to jump in and act as though I somehow had some ground to speak from."

    "Men, let the women argue about if the bikini is okay or not."

    My point:

    I agree: Men MUST take responsibility for their lust. Lustful men cannot blame women for their lust.

    I disagree: Women need to support their brothers in this struggle. No this is not just for women to decide. Men have ground to speak on because we know what men struggle with better than women do.


    I hope that was proportional enough for you! I spent more time talking about the importance of modesty not because I think it is the root cause of lust, but because you wrote it off at the beginning of your thought. I focused on the one part we disagree on.

    With all the scripture you quoted and all the dissecting of my individual sentences as if they were isolated thoughts, you missed my point entirely. My disagreement came not as a guy trying to justify lust, but from a fellow brother discussing the issue.

    I really don't think that solid Christian circles are sitting around blaming women. I think solid Christian men's groups are stepping up and holding men accountable while solid Christian women are discussing how they can help their brothers. Both are necessary. Both are good.

    The men's groups I am familiar with are calling men out. They are challenging each other. They are setting up accountability groups and internet filters. They are getting into scripture together... the very scripture you quoted.

    The women's groups are debating how tempting their bikinis are and why it is important to not only be modest to help the men, but to be modest because it is good, true, and holy.


    About Bikinis specifically:

    Bikinis are only popular because men want to see women's almost naked bodies. Bikinis are the ingenious invention lustful men created to have easy non-nude sexual stimulation. Men somehow found a way to make them popular enough where they are mainstream. Men like me and you need to speak up and tell women that we are serious about eliminating lust from our hearts and therefore we don't want to objectify them in bikinis. At the same time men need to take lust seriously and root it out.

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    1. I'm not certain how to respond here.

      First let me say that I am certain we are in agreement on 98% of our view of lust, and that your points are important, valid, and worthy of discussion.

      However...

      At least 12 times in the article and the comments, I have said that I am not talking about the definitions of modesty and whether a bikini fits in that category. I keep saying it and keep repeating it. And yet...you keep talking about it. I don't know another way to say it to remove whatever the confusion is: modesty is something I've written about before and feel free to read it and see what I think. (It's probably not so different from what you think!) But that is not my topic here and it feels like you keep hijacking the discussion in that direction.

      Please understand how frustrating that is for me. I put thought and prayer into an article about a particular topic, and specifically exclude a tangential subject (even saying, "whether the bikini counts as immodesty or not—this is not my topic here, so no comments about that"). And yet you keep talking about it as though I not only was discussing bikinis, but in fact you are acting as though I was DEFENDING bikinis!

      It is as if I started a post by saying, "I'm going to talk about Pentacostalism, but let's exclude the topic of speaking in tongues for now--that's not my point." And then you continue to argue about speaking in tongues in the comments anyway!

      As Dan said to Frank above: your points are valid, they are important, and they are worthy of being discussed. But they are only tangentially related to my topic here, and it is a shame (to me, as I felt I had something of value to say) that the bulk of the comments have so massively diverged from the purpose of my article. Now anyone reading my post will spend 90% of their reading time hearing about something I specifically mentioned was not the purpose of the article!

      My point was simple: because the most common response to the problem of lust is to focus on women's apparel, we have taught men to see themselves as sexually helpless when confronted with anything alluring. This insidious lie seeps so deep into our subconscious that we are repeating it even to our youth in Christ, with the result being a morally-weak generation of men who are easily led to lust by the slightest hint of something sexual.

      My point is that this inordinate focus on dress code as the "cure" is actually making the disease of lust WORSE, not better. It is weakening men far faster than it is improving the dress code of women.

      If you wish to argue THAT point--namely, that you think it is more helpful than harmful--that would be fantastic. But right now you are basically arguing against points you think I was trying to make, but that I wasn't actually trying to make (namely, that(a) men should NEVER have anything to say about immodest dress, or (b) argue the merits/demerits of bikinis).

      Now I am refusing to address those out of pure stubborness, and will continue to do so. :) But if you'd like to argue the merits or demerits of the "men are weak so let's obey a dress code" approach, then I'd be glad to continue.

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  11. Jesus never said, "Bounce your eyes at women." He said not to look at them as targets for sexual self-gratification (Matthew 5:28).

    When God says don't lie, steal or murder, He expects obedience, not excuses. How silly to blame lust---which Jesus says comes from the heart (Mark 7:15,20-23)---on something as flimsy as what today's world calls "immodesty"? Both Paul and Peter taught true modesty as adorning the soul with humility rather than dressing up the body for show. Victorianism redefined it in terms of covering up skin.

    The dysfunctional cycle that weds clothing to lust in modern mental processing desperately needs a shut-down. The data of history offers a healthy "reboot" by telling how our ancestors in Bible times took full baths in broad daylight, used mixed-gender public latrines, knew swimming only as skinny-dipping, and often worked outdoors clothing-free. Unless a user had a lustful CPU---as King David did in the case of Bathsheba---there were no glitches in routinely seeing friends & family or neighbors & strangers half-dressed or naked.

    But body-friendly programming locked up when the church downloaded the prudish virus of Victorianism and baptized its dress code as part of the Gospel. For that last bit of cultural idolatry we ought to repent, reform and make restitution, ASAP! Let's spit out the forbidden fruit and REALLY get our eyes open. A legalistic trust in clothing to morally hide the body memorializes the very first act of the sin nature after Satan got humanity's eyes open to moral independence from God. Do the math!

    We can't go back to Eden, but we shouldn't maintain a back-up of Satan's twist on human anatomy implied by God's question to Adam, "Who told you that you were naked?" As an OB nurse who's worked with female nudity more than half my lifetime, I know that a holy, Creator-honoring "body acceptance" is the conceptual "reboot" American Christianity desperately needs.(pastordavidrn.blogspot.com)

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  12. I am late to this argument, but THANKYOU for this reasonable and logical and scriptural article. I am so pleased to be able to read something like this from a man. It is heartening to hear a sound and edifying argument put forward by somebody who has obviously read their bible and gotten the message of the whole rather than focused to the exclusion of all else on the one or two verses.

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  13. Broken Hearted Woman13 July, 2014 07:04

    Thank you, as a wife of a lustful looker, for FINALLY holding men accountable for their CHOICE to look and do with "the look" whatever they want~at our expense. For once, a man has stood up and put the blame where it needs to be and not on us wives who keep themselves nice, fit, in shape, appropriately dressed, and have a good self-esteem to CHANGE, WORK on OURSELVES so we "capture" our husbands eye! AMEN to your article!! Men need to understand just how much they hurt us when they look and then deny it. We are not stupid either!!! I have almost left my husband soooooo mannnnny times because it is easier to just be ALONE than to endure this. Thank you again for this WONDERFUL article.

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    1. Broken Hearted woman---I am right there with you. I am still married to my husband, of you can call what we have a marriage. The pain is unbearable at times & it has been over a year since I caught him on porn sites. Prayers for you.

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  14. That is the reason I will remain a single Christian man, vast majority of "Christian" women to Pharisee like toooo judgemental. Christian women should not judge because many of them prior to being born again had abortions, and Christian women hide their sin better and they know thats a fact , so Christian women God dose.know your secrets, fact Christian we omen hide their "baggage" better.

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  15. Michael, that was theologically brilliant! You are very clearly simply saying both sexes are responsible for their own sins, not each other's, as sin is first an offense against God. To be fully responsible for one's owns sins is the way we support one another in brotherly love.

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  16. Im also a broken hearted woman, who always felt that my husband only had eyes for me, but was sadly mistaken as he had been looking at scantily clad women on the Internet. I feel my world has altered and I am struggling with it.
    When questioned, he informed me that"every man he knows does it, even the Christians". This disheartened me even further as it seems he thinks it's absolutely normal, and that I am just overly sensitive. I have been scouring the web, searching for help. Unfortunately, the information available is overwhelming squewed toward the world. This article gave me a bit of hope. Honestly, I was beginning to think that love, devotion and, yes even marriage was all a sham, designed to get women in bed but one day, when the bloom is off your rose, hasta! If not physically actually leaving you, by all means at least lusting in the heart after others. It just makes me want to cry or throw up or something.
    It's my new reality.
    But, I sent this to him and he seems responsive. Maybe we have a chance.

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