Do Our Yoga Pants Make Men Sin?

Let’s talk about modesty. Wait, wait…don’t run away! I know you’ve already read about this subject, probably many times over, and I saw you flinch when I brought it up. But I want to get real about modesty. In fact, I might even rant a little. So read on.

Title with 5 pairs of yoga pants

Modesty is an ongoing issue in our culture. In case you hadn’t noticed, a lot of women out there show off a lot of their bodies. In today’s world, guys don’t have to step too far out of their house to see images or real women with curves, cleavage, “camel feet,” and cutaneous membrane (aka skin). Given how visual many men are, it can be a struggle for many of them to keep their thoughts entirely pure.

I feel for them. And so, I’ve talked to wives about modesty in the past — how we need to choose stylish clothing that covers enough, the care we should take in choosing swimsuits, even my own practice of sometimes asking my husband when I put something on, “Is this okay?” (I learned years ago that he’s a better barometer for whether a miniskirt is short enough to attract male attention I’m not looking for.) We certainly don’t want to contribute to the temptation for men to lust.

I’ve also been frustrated with women who don’t get it. Like how I was once going through a church potluck line and caught a not-so-brief glimpse of the woman in front of me with her thong peeking out of a low-rise miniskirt. Thank goodness my husband or teenage sons weren’t in line behind her! I don’t want my sons or my husband to have such information waved in front of their faces.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 says: “Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel, but with good works, as is proper for women who affirm that they worship God” (HCSB, emphasis added). Women should be modest, for the sake of the men in their midst and to honor God’s will.

Women should be modest, for the sake of the men in their midst and to honor God’s will. Click To Tweet

However … not too long ago, I was reading a post that mentioned modesty and some blessed wife had as part of her comments something like, “But please don’t take my yoga pants. You have no idea how nice it is to be in something comfortable …” (I wish I could find that comment!) I laughed and found myself agreeing. I often wear yoga pants and a T-shirt while working at home and doing laundry. And then, I need to run out to the store. So am I supposed to change from yoga pants, even when my shirt covers almost the whole backside? Seems a bit silly to me.

And yet you can find entire articles castigating women for wearing yoga pants. In another post written to women about modesty, two men in the comments said they’d basically been visually assaulted by women wearing yoga pants in their presence. Really? Is the prevalence of yoga pants the downfall of otherwise good Christian husbands?

Job 31:1 says, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” And I fully appreciate men who take this covenant to heart. Many Christian husbands are dedicated to keeping their minds pure and avoiding visual temptation.

But my thinking about modesty and lust is changing. Partly because I see so much blame placed on women for men lusting. I’m not letting us women off the hook for needing to use decency and good sense when we go out in public. However, I don’t see men getting the same flack for how they present themselves in public. If you want to see what I mean, read this humorous post on “When Suits Become a Stumbling Block: A Plea to My Brothers in Christ.” Men in suits are attractive. So are men in uniforms. I mean really, how could any man proclaim to be a holy Christian if he’s also a well-built firefighter in uniform? Don’t you know what you’re doing to us?!

We’ve also preached this modesty message so much to teens that some of them probably think Psalm 119:9 reads: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By ‘bouncing his eyes.'” No, no, no. It says: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word.”

What does the Word of God say about modesty?

In addition to the verses referenced above, not a whole lot. Here’s a quick run-down:

The Lord says,
‘The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles
.’”

(Isaiah 3:16; and verses 17-24 explains you how God will punish those women)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes” (1 Peter 3:3).

And that’s it. At least specifically regarding modest apparel. Of course, there are principles of modest and God-honoring behaviors. We also have scriptures that talk about not being a stumbling block to others, about building up our brothers and sisters in Christ, about living with reverence before God. Obviously, if you’re walking around in low-rise shorts with your bum hanging out, that’s not exactly an advertisement for Christianity. (And, by the way, you’re essentially wearing your underwear in public; they might be expensive denim, but you’re in undies. Stop that.)

But you know what else the Bible says? It says to treat people with respect, to look beyond their appearance and see them how God sees them, to purify our minds and our hearts in Christ Jesus.

And I’ve become really bothered by the idea that men are just bouncing their eyes off every woman who shows a little more cleavage than they want to see or who ran up to the grocery store on the fly in her yoga pants to grab much-needed diapers for her infant. Doesn’t that pigeonhole women’s bodies as temptation? As if “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13) is referring to women’s curves or yoga pants. Doesn’t that approach have the potential of objectifying women as well?

Rather, how did Jesus treat women who were immodest in their lives? Jesus let a sinful woman anoint his feet with oil and spoke directly to her to forgive her sins (Luke 7:36-50). He had a direct conversation about faith with the Samaritan woman who’d been married five times and living with a man outside of marriage (John 4:1-26). He refused to condemn a woman caught in adultery and encouraged her to stop sinning (John 8:1-11). Jesus looked past their immodesty and saw the woman His Father saw.

Which makes me think that maybe we’re missing something.

Maybe the problem is only partly what someone’s wearing and more what our hearts are doing. Is the test whether we can look at each other as sex objects or whether we can see the person underneath?

Maybe the problem is only partly what someone’s wearing & more what our hearts are doing. Click To Tweet

This is by no means meant to let women, and men, off the hook for dressing modestly. But you how about we hear a little about how men dress and behave in public? And how about taking responsibility for our own thoughts and hearts?

If you can’t have a conversation with a woman who shows too much cleavage or a guy in your gym who’s muscled and shirtless, you’re going to have a really, really, really hard time in this world. And it’s not entirely the world’s fault.

We have to own our responsibility to not lust. And if it’s hard? Well, being a Christian isn’t supposed to be eating-cupcakes-easy all the time. (What did you think that verse about taking up your cross meant? Matthew 16:24.)

We have to own our responsibility to not lust. Click To Tweet

As for me, you might see in my yoga pants at the grocery store. Not because I’m wanting any guy to get a full-view of my caboose, but because they’re comfortable and I was too lazy to change. However, I will make sure I’m wearing a long T-shirt to cover everything that should be covered. And if I have any doubts about how I might come across, I check with my husband, because he has a better sense of those things at times.

I suspect plenty of other women, good Christian wives even, will be dressed in exercise or lounge attire as well. And we hope you can still have a nice conversation with us. Because that is nothing like the immodesty of the women Jesus dealt with, and He managed to handle it all just fine.

We believe in you guys. We don’t want to tempt you, but we also believe that — with God’s help — you can keep your minds and hearts where they should be.

114 thoughts on “Do Our Yoga Pants Make Men Sin?

  1. Nick Peters

    As a man, I think part of the problem is our culture is so hyper-sexualized. It’s harder and harder to stay pure in it and there are more than enough women who are out there flaunting their bodies and putting men in an awkward spot. Our culture does affect us.

    On the other hand, consider a contrast. Christians can often contribute by being overly-protective and any mention of sex is something dirty. It makes men feel guilty for actually having sexual thoughts, as if there’s something wrong with that. We could consider how in the Song of Songs, before the man and woman are married, the man is complimenting the woman’s body in chapter 4, and he is quite explicit about what he likes.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Good points. And I think about how Jesus was able to look at women—who were likely immodestly dressed given their backgrounds—simply as persons rather than a collection of body parts. So how did he do it? And isn’t that what we should be striving for?

      Now when you’re married to your wife (or husband), you should be totally into appreciating the person AND the body parts. Great package deal, right?

      Reply
  2. Tom

    “This is by no means meant to let women off the hook for dressing modestly. But you how about we hear a little about how men dress and behave in public? ”

    That’s because men and women are different. Men are primarily visually driven. I’m not saying women aren’t to a degree, but it’s hardly comparable. You’d be better off telling men not to be charismatic, rich, or athletic.

    Moreover, there are studies (this one, for example: https://theblog.okcupid.com/your-looks-and-your-inbox-8715c0f1561e ) that show that on average, women find most men “ugly” – whereas men are far more forgiving. So again, assuming all things being equal, I, for example, can wear a stuffy suit all day long and won’t get nearly as much attention from the opposite sex as your average woman wearing “comfortable” yoga pants.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Tom, I clearly established that I have talked a lot about women’s modesty and how men tend to be more visually driven. But I could tell you a lot of stories of men dressing and behaving immodestly in my presence — not to mention the stories I’ve heard from other women. I’m pointing out that the modesty messages of the Bible are not exclusively for women and the don’t-lust messages exclusively for men.

      Reply
      1. Anon

        Yes, J! Just the other day I was reading a Christian blog, and one of the photos accompanying the post was a photo of the authors adult son doing yard work with his shirt off. Was my first thought ‘what a nice young man helping out in the community’? Um, no…my very first thought was ‘hot damn…’, after which I quickly averted my eyes and didn’t even read the rest of post! I shut down that page and moved on to something else.
        In the above example, the issue was not that someone was waving something sexual in my face…it was my heart, and my mind that attached sexual thoughts to that image. So I had to make the choice to change my mind and my heart, avert my eyes and instead of thinking about that image, I intentionally spent some time thinking about, giving thanks for, and praying for, my gorgeous husband instead.

        And this is not just a one time thing…I live in the middle of cattle country (hello, cowboys!) and my personal visual preference is a hardworking man in a well fitting pair of jeans and a cowboy hat. The struggle is real, y’all! But, it is MY struggle, and certainly not the fault of the jeans, boots and hat wearing men I am surrounded by!

        Reply
  3. Mama Rachael

    Yep. Love my yoga pants. I’ve got a 7 month old who is nursing, so I’ve gone from about 200 lbs last Aug to 160 lbs now…. yeah you change 45 lbs in 7 months and see if blue jeans fit! And men in uniforms…. swoon…. my 5 yr old listens and now insists on wearing a button up to church b/c his teacher told him he looked handsome in it. He does look handsome in it. I’m not apologizing to all the other kindergarten girls b/c my son looks so handsome in his button up shirt. 😂

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Ah, the back-and-forth of pregnancy weight. I remember owning a pair of stretchy leggings then, which I wore with a long tunic top. Thank goodness for pants like that! Of course, remembering my young mom daysl, I also wonder if any attraction of yoga pants is balanced out by the repulsion of infant spit-up on your shirt. Lol.

      Reply
  4. Jeff

    I like your comment “I will make sure I’m wearing a long T-shirt to cover everything that should be covered. ” As a male, I see way too many nipples and with the common acceptance of yoga pants as everyday wear, way too many camel toes and butt cracks. Yes, it it my responsibility to turn away and to not lust. I take that seriously, but give me a break. The rest of the world does not need to see that. Cover it up.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Which is why I argue for both: We Christian women should do what we can to lessen the temptation, but Christian men have to take steps to not lust.

      Honestly, immodesty is out there, everywhere, and we’re not going to convince the rest of the world to cover up. So we’ve got to take steps ourselves to learn how to deal with the temptation of lust.

      Thanks for your comment, Jeff!

      Reply
  5. Holly

    I do not wear yoga pants. I am even shocked at some of the women wearing them. Some are ok but there are some that just floored me and I am a woman. I agree with everything you said. I just wanted to add that even women are shocked at what does show through the yoga pants. It is quiet shocking if you catch my meaning esp if they sit in a certain way. 😉 I love your long shirt comment though. My dd has legging she loves to wear however she wears a dress with it or a very long tunic . 😉

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I agree that we ladies can be even more shocked at times to see some things out there (like my comment about the potluck line woman showing off her thong). I know in those moments when a woman very clearly shows herself inappropriately, I feel frustrated that my men (hubby and two sons) are in a world where they have to deal with that. But, since we can’t control what everyone around us wears, we’ve got to go deeper with how to respond to those visuals in our midst. Thanks for commenting, Holly!

      Reply
  6. Cara

    Very good points! I do wear a bikini 👙 (not like that one !! Haha) when I’m with my husband and kids but wouldn’t wear it if we went camping or to the beach with other families. Camel toe- gag. I’m also VERY conscious about my shirts coming up high enough.
    A while back I had gone on a super modest kick. I then realized I was taking on other people’s convictions so that I wouldn’t be judged. My husband asked me if I would wear a bikini when we went to Cozumel (just us) and I realized it really just wasn’t a problem for me. And he likes it. I wouldn’t wear one to the grocery store tho. And I certainly am careful of how I bend over etc.
    although, honestly, I’m 41 and have 4 kids. I work at my figure but it’s nothing amazing. Lol

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Indeed some of this is content and culture specific. For instance, I grew up in a beach town. Our youth group went swimming and to the beach together, and then were were all confused when we went to church camp and were expected to wear clothes that showed nothing below the knees. Suddenly, I think we were all like, “Wait, you mean thighs are sexual temptation? Huh.” Not that the guys didn’t notice the girls in their bikinis and one-pieces (or that we didn’t notice them all shirtless), but these were our friends and we managed to treat each other with respect. So maybe it’s more do-able than we sometimes think?

      Reply
      1. Kay

        Thank you for this “beach town” comment. I unfortunately feel like my husband’s church growing up actually trained him to oversexualize and objectify women. They were the kind of church where girls had to wear colored tshirts (not white because they’re see through) over their one piece bathing suit to go swimming. We live near beautiful Lake Michigan but he refuses go to the beach because it is temptation overload for him. I appreciate his desire to honor me in this way, but to be honest I think that’s a learned struggle. My husband has essentially been trained that seeing IS lusting: if you see it, you must lust; you can’t see it and not lust. I feel so sorry for him. I think the culture he was raised in made the battle harder than it has to be. Does that make sense?

        Not to get into the public breastfeeding debates, but I just find it unfortunate that I can nurse openly in public in this part of the country and no one bats an eye, but I cannot nurse COVERED at church because that makes the elders (all men) uncomfortable just *knowing* what I’m doing under the cover even though they can see nothing; I have to leave the room to feed my baby. I have been nursing on and off for the past 8 years and feel like a leper in my own congregation. I just wish things were different, ya know?

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          I agree with so much of what you’ve said.

          And I nursed both of my children, once at a restaurant, when no one at the table even knew what was going on because I was so discreet about it. I even knew mothers who nursed in the back church pews, and people around didn’t know what was going on. So I believe modesty and nursing can be done together. But if someone figures out what’s going on under that blanket and has major issues, frankly I think that’s on them.

          Reply
          1. H

            Couple of thoughts! #1- THANK YOU for this post, J. Love, love, love it and totally agree.

            #2 – Kay, you’re right; in a lot of churches, we have been oversexualized. The fear that is instilled in so many of us as Christians–due to that oversexualization–inhibits us from even having healthy exchanges with members of the opposite sex because it programs us to constantly think about sex and sexual things…thus dehumanizing the people we interact with into body parts. It’s not normal. At all. And it’s all based on fear, paranoia, and control.

            #3 – The conversation about nursing triggered a memory for me. It’s loosely related to your comments & the blog post, specifically about men needing to do their part in maintaining their own purity. When my daughter was nursing, my husband and I were visiting a church near where we lived at the time. I took the trouble to leave the pew and go into the nursery to feed her so we would have privacy, and not only did a man walk in on me while I was trying to get her latched–another man deliberately turned and stared in through the nursery window at us before I got the nursing cover in place. I was mortified. After church, I approached an elder we knew to let him know what had happened, and he said, “Well, you know, you’re quite a rarity around here.” Basically, he justified the very intrusive gawking as if I were a zoo animal. …Last time I visited that place!

  7. Jay

    As a guy I can say that what women wear CAN be very distracting, but that we men Do have the responsibility to not Lust over a woman. A lot depends on context as well. But Modesty also has a contextual and cultural aspect. THere are places in the world where a long T-shirt and and pants of any kind would be considered criminally immodest. But if you were to grow up and live in a beach community it is doubtful that anything but the very skimpiest swimwear would make you bat an eye.

    I have even seen the argument that if we had a healthier attitude toward ‘social nudity’ that a lot of Lust problems would vanish as we regarded the human form as nothing exotic.
    It is something (lust) that I have struggled with and searched for answers on. Ultimately though I believe the admonition against lusting lies Mostly with the one doing the Lusting. Because what is modest in one place and time would be inappropriate in another and it is the heart attitude that matters most. Not the yardage of cloth covering a person.

    Reply
  8. C

    J,
    Thanks for your balanced approach to this topic! I am an allied medical professional, and I see basically anything and everything there is to see. Obviously context is a relevant component, and I don’t think that I have ever made either a man or woman feel uncomfortable with my exam or intervention. It is sad on the other hand, when women take modesty too far and are unwilling to even reveal anything of themselves to their husbands…. I cannot articulate the hurt to a man when his wife insists on “hiding herself” from him.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks for commenting. Medical professionals demonstrate that it is quite possibly to look at a body without thinking of it sexually. My best gynecologist…was a man. And he was entirely appropriate. Perhaps we should glean something from the example of medical professionals.

      Reply
  9. Mike

    As a man I must admit that I enjoy looking at the form of a woman. I don’t lust after her, (want to have sex with her), but I appreciate the way God created this creature called woman. What a wonderful creation, the most beautiful God ever made.

    My control problem comes on Sunday Afternoon when I come home from church to watch NFL Football. Here I am watching a rough and tumble hit n hard war on the gridiron, when all of a sudden the camera pans the cheerleaders on the sidelines from above. A beautiful sight, but one that is sudden, unexpected, and shocking. I must admit that suddenly the score is no longer important, I am just wondering when that camera is going to show those gorgeous cheerleaders again.

    Sorry for my honesty. (But, I still don’t want to have sex with them)

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Yeah. I still remember the old Cowboy Cheerleader uniforms, which were skimpy enough, and then Jerry Jones bought the team and traded those in for teeny-tiny getups that made me wonder why we put up with that. And I suspect it’s just gotten worse in the last couple of decades. (Admittedly, I’m one of the few born-and-bred Texans who does not watch football. I’m more of a baseball fan. 🙂 ) But they don’t usually pan those women’s faces, do they? What a shame.

      Reply
  10. Libl

    Oh my goodness, I loathe the term “camel toe” and wished it never existed in this context. Gag!!

    Buying yoga pants that fit is important. For some reason, many women think they can vanity size it down because it is stretchy material. No no no. Buy a size that fits snug, but not tight. Black is naturally more modest looking, too.

    My parents kept modesty standards and body taboos so high that even a magazine cover at the grocery store was too much to handle. I once walked in on my brother bathing when we were pre teens and saw his genitals, and I felt like I committed a horrible sin.

    I am trying to teach my children that you respect the person. You see the creation underneathe the type of clothing and skin and body parts. And if they are exposing their privacy, you respect their privacy and take no part in it. I talk up the freedom in the marriage bed, and I let them know that if they are curious about the opposite sex or have any questions, they can come to me and I will tell them the truth.

    We live simply and small so there is a lack,of family privacy with is beneficial, I think. My boys already know what girls look like and vice versa. None have entered puberty yet, but they all already know about menstruation and the basics of reproduction. They see us girls in leggings and yoga pants, swim,suits, even underwear from time to time. They see their father and I being affectionate and grabby. There is no way to hide sex sounds coming from the bedroom. And yet they all learn to respect privacy even when privacy isn’t available. I can respect someone enough that they can change right by me and I don’t look. I don’t even feel tempted to look.

    We need to stop instilling fear into our children concerning sexuality and the human body (without going to the other extreme of being permissive of immodest and pornography…amazing how many Christians see nothing wrong with Game of Thrones but freak out if their daughter wants to wear a two piece). There is a healthy balance of respect and self respect.

    Reply
  11. Will

    Great article! Yes, women should take care with what they wear, but they are not responsible for what a man thinks. Men need to take responsibility for their own thoughts and take them captive and stop blaming women for their issues. Quite frankly, I’m tired of the whole “boys will be boys” motto that men often portray as normal.

    Reply
  12. E

    Thanks for this. It gets very disheartening to hear women constantly blamed for men sinning towards them. I would like to note that, biblically speaking, “The Woman made me do it,” has never worked out well as a defense.

    Reply
  13. Cindy

    I totally agree that women need to wear the appropriate size clothing, and not just yoga pants. A woman can certainly wear yoga pants or pants of any type and still be stylish and modest. My husband prefers that I not wear jeans in public. I personally do not find jeans at all comfortable so I have no problem with that. Kind of makes me chuckle because I am a few months shy of my 58th birthday and I really do not think anyone is looking at my 58 year old bum!!! I am a full-time career woman and usually wear a dress or skirt to work (unless it is really frigid because I walk 10 blocks to my office once I get off the train) but mostly because that’s what I feel comfortable sitting in all day. I wear sweats and legging at home and in public with a tunic top. When I am busy at home on the weekend, I am not going to stop and change into a dress or skirt if I need to run out to the grocery store or run errands. And I am surely not going to work out in the yard in a dress or skirt. That’s ridiculous, although I know women in my church who do that. I also am not going to wear a “down-to-my knees” skirt and layered tops when I go to the beach or a pool. I love the water and wear an age appropriate swimsuit that covers everything it needs to cover and that I want covered. There are many women in my church that go to the beach fully clothed. When our youth group (teens) goes on outing to a nearby beach, the girls wear knee-length skirts or culottes over their swimsuits. Seriously? What are we, Amish? Heaven forbid any inappropriate skin is showing. But, there are young women (married and unmarried) in our church (including our pastor’s daughters-inlaw) who wear skin tight clothing and what my husband refers to as “hooker heels”, but that is perfectly fine. And I know they grab my husband’s attention because he has mentioned them numerous times.

    Our teens (high school age) have a “formal” dinner every year. The daughter of a good friend of mine made a beautiful skirt with netting underneath, and purchased a matching tank top and white lace overshirt. The girls are required to have their outfits approved by our assistant pastor and his wife (our pastor’s son and wife). She was not permitted to wear the tank top and lace overshirt because the back of her armpit showed. Seriously, she had armpit cleavage? So over the top. But, our pastor’s daughter in-law is one who wears “hooker heels” and that is OK. Such a double standard.

    I think way too much is made out of a little skin showing. It is taboo for a little skin to show and a sin to look. I have learned from raising children that the more your forbid, the more appealing whatever you are forbidding becomes.

    Reply
  14. Karen

    I once had a note left on my car (when I was wearing a long, vey modest skirt) that I had “sexy ankles.” You can’t take responsibility for how someone views you, because everyone’s definition on “modest” is different, and men (and women) are all tempted differently.

    Thank you for this well-written article.

    Reply
  15. Some Guy

    Sorry, ankles showing isn’t the the same as a pair of yoga pants that look like they were spray painted on, lol. When the only thing differentiating you between being naked or clothed is a thin layer of cotton spandex that is so tight it outlines every curve on your body, men will have a hard time looking away. I don’t care if you’re the most devout Christian man on earth, it’s difficult. And guys, upon seeing a woman dressed in tight, thin clothes with everything displayed in perfect 4K high-def, pretty much assume she’s ok putting her body out there for all to see. It’s not a matter of whose fault it is or if women should or shouldn’t wear tight or revealing clothing. It’s different wiring, different perspectives. The fact that men and women still don’t understand each other when it comes to this is just another example of how God made us so different. Ladies should be aware of it, guys should be respectful and try not to lust. It’s hard, though.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      But the point here is that WE WOMEN HEAR THIS MESSAGE ALL THE TIME. I’ve spoken this message, I’ve reiterated it, I’ve lived it. I just want some balance on the other side. Honestly, we ladies wonder things like, “Why are looking down in that region? How about moving your eyeballs up to the geometric plane where women’s eyes are?” My own teenage son said to me, “You can’t make everyone stop wearing yoga pants, so you just have to deal with it.”

      I’ll keep talking about women being modest, but 80% of the message right now is “women, button up so men don’t lust,” instead of a 50/50 split of responsibility. Or better yet (and the biblical perspective): Each of us be 100% responsible for ourselves before God.

      Reply
    2. Cindy

      I am a scuba diver. I wear wetsuits. Very body hugging neoprene wetsuits. Guess I should wear a mu-mu over it so men on the boat can’t see my curves.

      Agreed J, everyone needs to be 100% accountable for themselves before God.

      Great article by the way. Very thought provoking.

      Reply
    3. Some Guy

      Where are you not seeing the balance? My last sentence was not about women covering up, it’s about the struggle. “Ladies should be aware of it, guys should be respectful and try not to lust.” I completely agree that men need to take responsibility for their actions, but if you expose your body, don’t get too upset when you notice someone staring. It’s going to happen.

      To the scuba diver, please let me know next time you wear your wetsuit to the coffee shop. We’re not talking about women in yoga classes, we’re talking about women wearing their yoga attire everywhere but yoga class.

      The same goes for men, by the way. I’m a body builder (I’m not, actually). I wear tight, short shorts that perfectly accentuate my ample man package. Deal with it. Is that the message? Tell you what, if I’m with my 11 year old daughter and we see this, I’ll ask the guy to put on something a little more appropriate. But if I were to tell a woman that, I’d be chastised as a misogynistic pig.

      Reply
        1. Some Guy

          So, apologies if I came off too strong in my comments. You know those topics that strike a nerve? This one did. My wife used to dress, uh, less than modest, and the attention she drew and the way she let her guard down led to things that almost ended our marriage.

          You’ve written about building hedges around your marriage. Those hedges look different for different people. We’re all unique with our own set of circumstances. In the end it’s an issue with the heart, not with what we wear or how we react to the person wearing it.

          Nice article, thanks for what you do.

          Reply
  16. Four Under Four

    I will have to disagree with you a little. Of course, no man can blame his lust on anyone but himself, but as women, as humans, we need to possess our bodies with honor. Comparing a man in a suit to a woman in a skin fitting pair of pants is like comparing apples and oranges, so I don’t really follow that one. Like with like here. Compare yoga pants to spandex shorts. And dress suits to fancy dresses. Yoga pants, when the bottom is uncovered, can be very form revealing, and not just the general female shape, but the really specific parts that are notoriously considered sexy. How is that modest? I know there are women dressed scantily all over the world and my husband and sons can’t avoid them, but I hope that Christian women, even busy tired moms, give a thought or two before they head out the door to be sure they aren’t adding to that sphere of temptation. We are, after all, supposed to be a little different from the world. So, my two cents.
    Ultimately, God is our judge, and we each stand before Him separately, so I am by no means judging or condemning. I’m sure we will all be surprised when we get to heaven by the things that mattered vs. The things we though mattered, so I am fully aware I could be taking this too seriously.
    It’s good to read your posts again,J!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I don’t think we’re in much disagreement. The suits post was an interesting take, a funny one. But my basic points are (1) the discussion of immodesty and lust has often landed on the side of “If she would just be more modest, then I wouldn’t lust.” And I think that’s a very poor defense. And (2) sometimes our modesty rules can end up causing men to look at women even more lustfully, because now she’s just a pair of buns in yoga pants. When not every single pair of yoga pants is the problem.

      We each have to do our part in behaving responsibly, in ways that honor our Heavenly Father. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  17. Four Under Four

    I guess I should clarify: I don’t disagree with you, I just wish you had emphasized the fact that yoga pants, like other articles of clothing, CAN be immodest, if discretion is not used.

    Reply
  18. Terry

    Sexy ankles, lol…I did have a male friend in graduate school (after I was married) whose “thing” was women’s calves – the more muscular and shapely, the better. To each his own!

    But on the yoga-pant trend, it seems to me that the fashion industry (and public acceptance thereof) is partly to blame. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to purchase real, honest-to-goodness PANTS with buttons and zippers, because for so long wearing glorified gym duds out in public was the “in” thing and largely all that was available in casual, non-dressy pants. Not a cord or a khaki to be found. Sure, the leggings looked great on the models with a “lightweight” (read: see-through) tee and a pair of sneaks; but for the other 99% of us, not so much. So for a few years it seemed this was what we were limited to apart from jeans, which I don’t wear if I can help it (much to my husband’s dismay :)). Thankfully I had stockpiled a collection of real pants prior to the fashion “drought” which carried me through for the most part.

    Still, I have wondered at the public’s sheeplike acceptance of this trend. A few years back I had to appear in court to dispute a traffic ticket, and in my “casual Friday” pants and button-down shirt I was by FAR the most dressed-up person in the room apart from the judge and the bailiff. People (who presumably had jobs and could afford quasi-professional clothing) were appearing in skin-tight black leggings and t-shirts, apparently without regard for what was flattering to their body types. I didn’t think of the discrepancy so much in terms of sin vs. modesty, but just plain appropriateness. C’mon, people!

    I realize the topic here is modesty and not yoga pants per se; I suppose every decade has had its “harlot”-wear – mini-skirts, hot pants, tube tops, etc. But do we blindly accept what’s in fashion or seek to buck the trends, emailing retailers to ask for other options? I emailed my favorite clothing websites repeatedly to request the return of “real” pants; and it may be that I wasn’t the only one as the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way. In the meantime, a few here have mentioned wearing a skirt or dress (even a short one, which I’ve done) over leggings; and even though I’m 5’2″ I opt for “tall” sizes in skirts and dresses if the regular length is too short. I do have gym pants which outline the part of my derriere that my top doesn’t cover (and a too-long tee just looks sloppy on me); but I wear them to work out in, after all, so I don’t consider myself to be at fault for any impure glances at the gym or the park.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’m just ready for the end of the “low-rise” trend in pants. Might as well call it the muffin-belly trend. Lol.

      Reply
  19. Eric Wiggin

    I think we’ve got several issues going here. First, no woman, not matter how attractive she may be, is to “blame” for a man’s inappropriate thoughts or ogling. Men choose to think what they wishto think, according to Jesus in Matthew 15.

    Vulgarity is a separate issue, which has little to do with lust, but a lot to do with respect. Only this afternoon I was behind a young woman in a medical clinic when she paused, blocking the aisle, then bent to set her baby in its carrier in a chair. She was fully endowed in the rear, and apparently today (70 degrees here in Michigan) was her day to go commando, for her yoga pants slid down exposing nearly half her plush bare backside. I looked away (no place to retreat), and waited while she retrieved her britches and whatever dignity she had left.

    No lust. I felt only pity.

    When my wife and I go out she asks my opinion on what she’s wearing. I want her to look sharp, so I do tell her. A rule I heard years ago from a very successful business woman: a lady executive wears skirts in public, calf length. Skirts above the knee and slacks are for secretaries or for girls who never hope to advance to a top position in their profession. Things have changed, and slacks are now acceptable, to be sure.

    And again, no girl or woman is responsible for a man’s lust, even if she presents herself in public naked. But the issues are much more complicated than this. That woman I saw today gave out a strong message that she really did not care what others thought of her.

    As for “modesty,” most verses on this issue, New Testament or Old, pertain to over-dressing with too much jewelry, silks and furs and have little to do with how much skin the lady shows–if she shows it well. So if a Bikini is your preferred beach attire, get your stretch marks in shape before you go in public in one.

    Another thing–I think it’s time we (women as well as men) got over the idea that nursing an infant in public, even with an uncovered breast, is somehow indecent. Since most Americans aren’t used to this, it will draw some stares, sure. But if kids of both sexes grew up seeing their moms, older sisters, aunts and church friends nursing babies there’d be a lot fewer issues with lust. Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, was a eugenicist, and she also gave the world glass bottles with rubber nipples to replace breasts, right at the end of the Victorian era. Shame on Christian mothers who bought into Sanger’s godless nonsense, based on the atheistic evolutionary theory that nursing (openly or privately) is somehow barbaric and for a lesser-evolved race.

    Eric Wiggin

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks for all your thoughts, Eric. Yes, things do change. Context is part of modesty, but so is the era in which we live.

      (On the nursing front, I’m among those who think, yes, women should be able to nurse in public. But discreetly. And 95% of moms I’ve talked to don’t want to “whip it out” and show it off, but they do want to be able to nurse in public places in modest ways.)

      Reply
  20. JJ

    Can I appreciate the female body without lusting after them? Yeah, definitely.

    But where is the line between lust and appreciation? Does lust mean imagining having sex with them? Or is it simply noting the fine curves and lines and thinking “she’s really pretty”?

    I tend to think that the lingering look, the second directed look starts to border on the edge of lust… but I’m not sure.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      The word used for lust in the New Testament is the Greek word epithumeo , which has been translated as any of the following, depending on context: lust, desire, covet, long.

      Are you noticing and acknowledging beauty? Honestly, if it’s the same thing you’d do with a sunset, I don’t think there’s a problem. Like I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, Hugh Jackman is an attractive man. (Nice work, God.) But then, the question is where your mind goes after that? Mine goes like this: Hugh’s attractive, but I don’t want him. My husband is the one for me, and the only one I want to be with. All the best to Hugh and his lovely wife! If your gaze and your mind linger, if your thoughts desire and covet, if you long to see more, know more, or be more with that person, you’re in lust territory.

      There is both the struggle of defining lust properly, but also being honest with ourselves when it happens. Yes, lust has been defined too broadly — as if you can’t possibly notice that a person of the opposite gender is attractive without risking your soul — but we can also go too easy on ourselves, denying that we’re lingering and longing when we really are. So we have to practice the right approach. And as Ephesians 5:3 said, “among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality,” so I believe it’s better to err on the side of caution.

      Reply
  21. Anonymous

    I rarely see women in yoga pants. However I do admit that I work with co-workers who dress conservately. I also avoid places like a public pool or watching TV shows with women who dress immodestly. I see it’s my responsibility to avoid lusting.

    Reply
  22. Gaye @CalmHealthySexy

    Thanks for taking on this topic, J. I agree that balance is needed, but I too am tired of the constant drum beat in the church that women’s bodies are a problem. Most women have stored up a lifetime of negative comments and thoughts about their bodies. They don’t need the church and other Christians trying to force them into baggy jumpers and long shapeless skirts. It’s really no wonder that so many women have trouble feeling sensual and enjoying sex in their marriages. If a woman hears constantly that her body is bad and needs to be covered, it’s very difficult to just flip a switch in the bedroom and think, “Oh, now my body is sensual and fantastic.”

    Reply
  23. Mike S

    When a woman wears clothing that shows off every crease and bulge in her most private anatomy to all who see her I don’t think that can reasonably be called clothing that “befits a woman professing godliness.” (1 Tim 2:9-10). She is responsible for that wrong. The man is responsible for his thoughts and actions. They will each be judged independently for their own sins.

    Reply
  24. Mike S

    One additional point…. “modest” means “fitting, suitable, appropriate.” It is usually used incorrectly in these discussions to mean that bathing suits are appropriate at the beach, but not at church. Or, it is given a more static meaning of “not revealing, covering up flesh, etc.” Neither is correct in Scriptures like 1Timothy 2:8-10. The word “modest” in that context is clearly defined as “appropriate for a Christian woman to wear.” So the question is what is appropriate for a woman to wear to the beach or the grocery who claims she is a godly woman?
    This has nothing directly to do with her judging a man’s reaction beforehand. Otherwise if she goes to a place nearly naked and the men don’t lust she is ok, but if she wears Christ-appropriate clothing but the men lust, then she sins. That is not a sound position. (It may be indirectly related because it is not appropriate for either sex to egregiously tempt the other sex, and nakedness except in marriage is not a good thing.
    The other thing about the passages in 1 Timothy and 1 Peter 3:3-4 is they are explicitly about “overdressing” and ostentatious, attention-grabbing attire, not skimpy dress. So I know that “modest” does not just mean “not skimpy.”

    Reply
  25. Mike

    J,
    Have you defined “LUST” somewhere? Is there one definition? Is it subjective to some extent?

    If I look at a woman in yoga pants am I lusting. As a Christian I have been made to feel guilty of Lust if I do not turn my head if a pretty woman walks by. Or, if a voluptuous woman enters a room and I take a double take, or a triple take that I am Lusting, and it is just like adultery. Sometimes the reaction is just as red blooded men we look at beautiful women. I think God that he made us that way (thank God most men do not look at other men that way).

    As I am writing this I am watching “Dancing with the Stars” and my eyes are popping out at the sexy attire the women are wearing. Should i feel guilty? Am I Lusting? I don’t want that woman for sex. My feelings range between shock, surprise, sexy, disgust, embarrassment, to wanting to take my coat and cover her up.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I have talked about what lust is! In this post: Lust – The Pigpen or the Feast?

      From that article: “The Greek word epithumeo is translated as any of the following, depending on context: lust, desire, covet, long. Two of those have generally negative connotations (lust/covet) and two are positive or neutral (desire/long).” If a guy looks at a woman and thinks, My goodness, she needs to cover up!, I don’t think that’s longing for her. But if he does that creepy move where he drags his gaze up and down the woman’s body…um, stop that.

      Sounds like you’re doing all right. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  26. Four Under Four

    So, I actually think showing too much skin should be a big deal (don’t hate me!), even if that skin is tightly covered in yoga pants. It bothers me a little bit that mine isn’t the only stomach, bum and pair of breasts my husband sees, not because I’m jealous – I know he doesn’t love the owners of all those other bodies! – but because I think making these things so casual makes them less special. Think about it. If a woman’s bottom is arousing to a man, and he sees them every day everywhere he goes, he has two options: Be constantly aroused, or shut it all down. Imagine how exciting a wedding night was in the Victorian age when all that flesh was a first! Imagine if, as Christians, we could combine a more appropriate sense of modesty (not advocating for a return to Victorian styles, here!) with healthy sex education! I wish….

    Anyway, as tired as we women may be of hearing the message to be modest, it does not change the fact that it is still our job to be modest. Not because of men who might lust, but because we are children of the Most High God, and it doesn’t matter that we might not look as cool as the world. We belong to Christ. We don’t get to do or wear whatever we want. But, we do get heaven, and have His peace in our hearts, so, seems like a fair trade!

    Reply
  27. John

    The more the cleavage the greater the insecurity .
    A lot of great woman out there don’t need to advertise.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Your comment is so brief that I’m sitting here mulling over what all you could mean by it. I do wonder sometimes if men realize that women with rather large breasts really struggle to find tops that don’t show some cleavage; for some gals, it’s pretty inevitable. That said, I think we know the difference between a woman with cleavage and a woman flaunting her cleavage.

      Reply
  28. Debi Walter

    J.,
    Excellent post! I’m so glad I followed your advice and read it to the end. I have heard the modesty message for most of my adult life, and I agree with it that it is my responsibility to honor God with how I dress. It is a matter of my heart.
    But what you point out is not heard enough!!! We have created a church-culture where men can’t look at a woman who is immodestly dressed without lusting and that it’s her fault! Yes, she allowed her body to be a temptation, but he is also sinning because lust resides in his heart!! We always taught our kids that your brother or sister can’t make you angry unless anger is already in your heart. Both were responsible for their son’s contribution to the fight. The old “the devil made me do it” never flew in our home.
    What my husband has practiced for years is realizing that when he sees a beautiful and/or immodest woman he says in his heart, “that’s for her husband to enjoy!” It helps him turn away without blaming her for his temptation. He has found such freedom as a result.
    Great great post, my friend!
    Blessings,
    Debi

    Reply
  29. Anthony

    The Bible mentions also in Titus 1:15
    “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.”

    As a dude, I laugh and fringe at how some women walk out with yoga pants and you can basically see everything. Obviously only one way to look at that. But a women just in yoga pants for the heck of it, that’s whatever. Any discerning dude can tell when a woman is being subtly or overtly extra. And for those who aren’t and the guy is still having issue, dude needs to check his heart.

    Reply
  30. Eric Wiggin

    J wrote: ” (On the nursing front, I’m among those who think, yes, women should be able to nurse in public. But discreetly. And 95% of moms I’ve talked to don’t want to “whip it out” and show it off, but they do want to be able to nurse in public places in modest ways.)”

    Eric sez: I really do appreciate both your post and the mostly balanced comments that follow, in which both lust and sloppy dressing are rightly separated as two issues. My thought on yoga pants is that they are sloppy, especially if the wearer is suffering from a bit of what is sometimes called “middle-age spread.”

    And I mostly agree with you on the nursing issue. For various reasons (some of them cultural) women should cover up while breastfeeding. Recently, at a state-wide Sunday school convention here in MIchigan, two young mothers nursed in the back row during a workshop, mostly covered with a diaper or small towel. Nobody seemed to notice. OTOH, I saw a post on a secular loop re breastfeeding in which an American woman visiting in the MidEast (Israel, I think) spotted a Muslim mom. She had covered her face, but sat on a park bench with both breasts exposed while she nursed her infant. I’ve known since I was maybe 15 (63 years ago) that some American moms do this without shame or no attempt at covering up at home with kids and adults of both sexes present. Yet only a few blocks from where I’m typing this, until recently a Hooters (“Breasts”) Restaurant was doing business, entertaining what Luke (in Acts) called the “lewd fellows of the baser sort.” Balance is surely needed.

    Eric

    Reply
  31. Eric (the second)

    I think the answer to the post’s title (Do our yoga pants make men sin?) is NO. Pure and simple. But there is another question. Can they encourage us to sin (or make sin easier)? The answer to that one is YES. But just like J says, there needs to be balance. As a man, I need to control my thoughts, but I ask you ladies to help as well. AND, you need to control your thoughts (in whatever way that you are tempted), and we men need to help you as well. The hard part for us men is that we are a little easier to attract and even more clueless oft times at to what you ladies struggle with.

    Example: We’ve all seen the Olympics where the participants wear skin tight apparel. I understand aerodynamics and for secular, high level athletes I can understand their lack of modesty in search of 1/10th of a second. But why at local high schools or colleges do young men/women need to be so skimpy? My child went to a small, Christian college (involved in athletics) and both genders wore (IMO) too tight of uniforms. As a man, I would have been so embarrassed to have all my genitals outlined in that way. As Christians, we should say “no, I won’t wear this for my own modesty as well as putting a stumbling block in front of someone.” (I don’t think the stumbling block verse has been mentioned.)

    Yoga pants can be that way as well. But as also has been stated, a longer shirt or mirror check can be the fix. Very simple and not over bearing. Because let’s face it, by their vary nature, yoga pants are meant to conform and (like someone else said) have the tendency to show what is under them. I’m in my 50’s and I remember when the biggest fashion mistake was a gal wearing patterned panties under white pants. Overly tight yoga pants and skimpy undies go to another level entirely. I remember being at an amusement park a few years ago and seeing a woman with much ‘junk in the trunk’ in black yoga pants that were a number of sizes too small. What she had on underneath (thankfully she DID have something underneath), was visible for all to see. I knew to look away, but it was like an accident. You ended up looking over and over. Even my child was like “Dad, did you see that?”

    So I guess my take is to help each other. “Submit one to another” as the Bible says. As a man I want to see you as God’s creation and look upon you with respect and purity. I can appreciate your beauty without lust, but lust is only a step away due to sin nature. I am responsible for my sin, but with very simple acts, you can help me with the initial struggle. (and vice versa)

    Reply
    1. libl

      I quit playing my favorite sport at school when they switched from loose shorts to basically bikini bottoms. I thought there was no way I could play in those …

      Now, as for yoga pants, you can buy black, basic yoga pants that are comfy, even stylish, form fitting, but not painted on.

      As for some of the male comments on women’s figures (stretch marks, middle age spread) golly, gee guys. Lay off!!! Maybe I should argue that men need to tuck in their shirts, but you’d better do something about that beer gut or spare tire before you do! I hate untucked shirts on guys, but belly paunches aren’t attractive and I don’t want to see a shirt stretched over it like a fitted sheet. So sloppy and lazy. And buy jeans that fit and don’t give you baggy “frog butt!”

      Stretch marks aren’t ugly and women don’t need to be perfectly figured models to wear yoga pants or bathing suits. It seems Christian men and political conservatives feel women should pass their inspection concerning clothing. Whereas I notice more and more atheist liberal men don’t give a hoot what the average woman wears and actually interacts with her face and not her body. When I people watch in Target, it is the middle aged men who oogle and stare. The millennial men don’t! One very shapely and gorgeous woman in painted on leggings and rib-length shirt was walking in front of me. I watched the reaction of every man she passed. The men who fit conservative American stereotypes all looked at her, even with their wives or daughters by their side. The millennial guys, the hipsters, never looked. Never broke conversation with their girlfriend or wife.

      Even in services, if I approach a counter serviced by a stereotypical “red blooded American male” I feel uncomfortable and judged and the quality of service received depends on how attractive he happens to think I am. I recently was served by a millennial hipster at a store and I almost went back in to thank him for treating me like a human and not putting off that “my sexual feelers are always out” vibe.

      Reply
      1. Tom Hillson

        Ooh, ooh! (I feel like a kid shooting up his hand in class) I can explain what you experienced libl. There’s a simple reason. The reason why the millennial guys didn’t ogle that shapely and gorgeous woman you saw is because they were likely her age or younger, whereas the middle-aged guys were likely older than her. You see, when a 25-yr-old guys sees a 30-yr-old woman, he often isn’t overly sexually attracted to her, because she’s older. He sees her advanced age compared to 20-yr-old women. And men are generally not attracted to women older than them, or more than a couple years older than them. But for the middle-aged men, they would be highly sexually attracted to this woman, because she is not only shapely, but younger than them. She would have softer, younger skin than women their age, less wrinkles, and in general look better than women their age.

        Wait 20 years and those millennials you’re impressed with will be the middle-aged men you don’t like.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          I might really buy this explanation (because it makes some sense), except that I’ve been around quite a few millennials in recent years. And really, honestly, truly, they don’t look at those clothing choices the same. They grew up in a world where bra straps showing is commonplace, where yoga pants are worn by a lot of girls around them, and where women are far more active in sports and thus wearing exercise clothing. I do think this all has had an effect on how they view women.

          Moreover, while it’s certainly less likely, I know plenty of older women who’ve been ogled by younger men. I think a lot of us older gals look pretty darn good. 🙂

          Reply
  32. K

    Can we take some time to acknowledge the female issue behind modesty?

    I’ve worn yoga pants out before, many times. But I have come to terms that deep down, I love feeling desirable… a bit too much. I cannot be the only woman out there like this, though I have yet to meet another to acknowledge it.

    And men aside, i went to a yoga class at our church’s MOPS group last week. Needless to say, every other girl was in skin tight yoga pants. I found myself battling off thoughts of comparison. Comparison is just always a stumbling block for women… whether we find ourselves feeling badly or proudly about how we look compared to other women.

    If I had to rank the order of reasons for dressing modestly, it’d be as follows:

    A) I cannot handle how satisfying it is to be seen as attractive. This is my main reason. If this isn’t your battle, I could see why you wouldn’t be so hung-up on modesty.
    B) I would hate for a sister in Christ to stumble because of me, because I too know how hard it is to not compare ourselves
    C) I’ve got a husband who struggles with lust, like every guy out there. I know how real the battle is.

    But, I acknowledge everyone’s got their convictions, and you’ve got to go with your own.

    Reply
  33. Paul Byerly

    I’d say this all comes down to maturity:

    A mature man can see a woman wearing far too little and not lust.
    An immature man can lust over a woman who is decently covered.
    A mature women won’t show too much.
    An immature woman can manage to invite lust without showing too much.

    I say all this as a fellow who use to rail about “immodest women”. In retrospect, I see what I was doing. I was the self-proclaimed modesty police and it was my job to find any hint of immodesty. This required me to look at women carefully. I wasn’t lusting, I was policing!

    I my defence, I was young and immature. 😉

    Reply
  34. Anonymous

    If God would grant one wish to me (and many of my married male friends), the wish would be to remove or greatly diminish my (our) sex drive(s). The male sex drive has been so corrupted with sin in our culture, following all our Lord’s commands is immensely difficult (even with the power of the Holy Spirit). So many Christian leaders have fallen due to sexual sins. I wish this was not so…

    Reply
    1. Paul Byerly

      @Anonymous – Yeah, a lot of men would like that. But they are asking God to take away, or reduce, something God intended them to have. I think the problem is we don’t understand sex as God intended. And by “we” I mean the church.

      Reply
      1. Nick Peters

        I remember going through a time like that last year when I had this sickness that incapacitated me for some time. For a time there, I had no sexual desire for my wife and it was extremely troubling and horrifying. It seemed like a nightmare thinking about it wondering if it would ever recover.

        Talk about an awful 24 hours. I thought it would never end.

        Reply
  35. Perseus

    Listen be honest every guy who checks out a mom in yoga isn’t imagining all the wonderful sex he could have in the 3 sex the women booty is in front of him.
    I see a woman with a nice body and beautiful body and keep it moving.

    I was talking to a female buddy at church (in crowd of parents) and said women who dress exposing loads of skin leave nothing to the imagination. But they woman who wears the Pentecostal outfit. Long skirt or dress and non revealing top. She is the guy a girl stares and imagine because she’s not showing anything.

    Reply
  36. Tom Hillson

    J writes: “Because that is nothing like the immodesty of the women Jesus dealt with, and He managed to handle it all just fine.” Huh?? “Nothing like”? Please explain.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      There are several stories of Jesus interacting with women of ill repute. We don’t know how his body responded to such women, or to other women he might have found attractive in his midst, but we definitely see his example of looking past their dress and their reputation and speaking directly to women as daughters of His Heavenly Father.

      Reply
  37. Tom Hillson

    I don’t think this is a 50-50 thing. I feel the burden needs to rest on women more than men. I think the church is correct when it puts the burden on women more than men. Let’s compare the 2 sides. A woman needs to choose once each day what she wears. (possibly a time or two more if she changes clothes). A man needs to choose dozens of times a day how he responds to a woman showing too much. Also, a woman choosing her clothes in the morning does not involve strong sexual hormones. This is apples vs. oranges, or maybe I should say, tiny crabapples vs. huge Granny Smith apples.

    And the blog on suits is funny, but shows how women often don’t “get this”. It shows how women don’t understand sexual attraction. But how could they, when they have so little testosterone?

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Actually, many Christian women are thinking dozens of times a day about what they’re wearing, how they’re presenting themselves, if their cleavage might be showing a bit too much, if their bra strap might have peeked out, if their skirt rode up a little too much, if that leer from the guy in the grocery store means she did something wrong in how she’s dressed, and on and on and on. It can be exhausting to bear that burden.

      Yes, I don’t know exactly what it is like to be in a man’s head, but I have definitely tried to read up, ask questions, and listen carefully when men tell me what it’s like. But trust me when I say that women are hearing quite a lot about dressing modestly, but you really don’t hear as much for men except, “Bounce your eyes.” Which I now think is rather insufficient, because that approach still treats women as just sexual eye candy.

      Now of course I’m not talking about the brazenly dressed woman who really does need to learn something about modesty, nor the man who’d ogle anything with breasts that walked by, but the way the majority of people act. And in that realm, it’s fair to ask that women learn to dress with common sense and men learn to treat women (even the ones in yoga pants, etc.) as people, not just body parts.

      Reply
      1. Terry

        The expression “bounce the eyes” has appeared a few times now. Maybe I’ve been living in a hole but I don’t know what this means. At first I took it to mean bouncing the eyes up and down like a ball, as men often do when they’re checking a woman out head-to-toe (stopping at certain places). This I would agree is inappropriate. But does it mean just taking a glance and no more? If even this is unacceptable, I don’t know what a man is supposed to do. My husband has expressed repeatedly that men can’t help but notice exposed cleavage, a panty line, a bit of extra skin; and their brains are wired to look even if they’re not desiring the woman sexually. I might liken this to my own subconscious “noticing” a brightly-colored leaf on the ground in the fall and my eyes automatically being drawn to it. This kind of unconscious attraction just can’t be helped But for a man, if merely “noticing” and then resolving to look away is still in and of itself objectifying, what is left? As others have pointed out, what he allows his mind to do as a result of what he sees is what makes the difference. Or is this phrase meant to describe a means of sinning-without-sinning, by deliberately taking just a quick peek and then perhaps fantasizing – ?

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          “Bouncing your eyes” is when you see something you shouldn’t, you quickly look away and even more away from the person. And while I do believe in moving your gaze and training your eyes to look at tempting visuals, I think it’s incomplete advice. Because sometimes the answer isn’t bouncing your eyes away from every woman who has a slit of cleavage showing, but rather training yourself to see the whole person before you, to look her in the eyes, to think about her not just as a pair of buns or boobs or whatever, but as a child of God. Yes, let’s do what we must with our eyes to avoid lusting, but there’s a heart problem here too that we need to address.

          By the way, I don’t know anything about this blog (so I’m not recommending it as a whole without further perusal), but I thought this post did a good job of laying out some thoughts on the matter: “Why ‘Bouncing the Eyes’ Is Incomplete Advice” from Borrowed Light He talks about porn specifically, but lust is right there with it.

          Reply
      2. C

        Well said!!!

        I work in Center City Philadelphia, PA so I see hundreds of people every day just as I am walking from and to the train. I never really paid much attention to what people were wearing but I started to this week when this topic was raised. I was stunned at the number of women I saw wearing yoga pants. Most of them are young women who can pull them off and I am hoping they were either on their way to or home from the gym but, who knows? I can now see the temptation that men are constantly subjected to randomly in their every day lives. I pray for their self-control. I find yoga pants totally inappropriate outside of the gym or home and would never wear them.

        Ladies, exercise some common sense, slip a comfortable dress on over top of your yoga pants before you leave the house or gym. We all have comfortable t-shirt dresses or something like it, throw it on.

        That said, I do think the whole modesty thing gets carried WAY too far by the church.

        Reply
      3. Tom Hillson

        I see your point about the burden women have. Ok, it’s not a once-a-day burden. But saying “if their cleavage might be showing a bit too much” – isn’t showing any cleavage too much? Why is it modest to show ANY cleavage?

        Also, men are visual, and I feel that wanting men to ignore a woman’s sexiness is to neuter them. I feel it’s very unfair to expect a man to look at a woman with sexy body parts and not be attracted to those parts. But that doesn’t mean a man is objectifying her. When I see a woman with a beautiful bust, I don’t think she’s just a beautiful pair of breasts – I think she’s a woman, a person, with a beautiful bust.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          “Why is it modest to show ANY cleavage?” So are women supposed to dress in neck-high blouses all the time? Because that’s what some women with large breasts would have to do. I know those women who try very hard to choose modest tops, but because they are so buxom, sometimes a crease shows. They’d have to go turtleneck all the time to avoid it. Moreover, why is cleavage the killer? Why not tell a woman she can’t wear something that shows the shape of her breasts, like no tailored tops at all? Look, I’m actually in agreement that women should dress and behave modestly — that’s biblical — but I’m trying to make the point of how fast this can get out of hand. We can almost become the Modesty Police, and that’s not really the issue.

          As for your second point of seeing a women with a beautiful bust, I actually think that’s fine. In the same way that I can appreciate a man’s muscular arms or chin dimple or whatever. The question is what you do with that information in your head. If that’s your thought and you move on, okay then. But if you dwell on those sexy features, then you’re moving into lusting.

          Reply
    2. Paul Byerly

      @Tom Hillson – Here’s the thing, there will always be women dressed immodestly. So if we put this on women, we will always have men lusting. Let one half naked women walk by and all the men lust.

      However, if a man learns to not lust, then he won’t lust no matter what walks by. A half naked woman walks by, and that one man does not lust.

      Yes, we need to tell women to be careful. We do this because it’s right for them to be concerned. We also do it because there are some men who take immodesty as an invitation and we want to protect women (especially our daughters) from such men.

      But that does not take the majority of the burden off of men. Each man has a responsibility to learn to deal with his sex drive in a proper way. It’s easier to blame women, but God’s not buying it.

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    3. Anon

      I think the main problem with placing the burden on the woman is that there will always be women who are not Christians, or whodont follow your particular set of rules. What do you do when you come across one of these women? Placing the burden on women for YOUR sin problem really opens the door to ‘she wanted it’, or ‘asked for it’, as if that somehow makes it ok. EVERYONE deserves your respect, even prostitutes and tax collectors. like Jesus, we are supposed to love (and respect) all, like He has loved (and respected) us. Wouldn’t it be horrible if God only loved those of us who deserved his love?
      I think the ‘modesty message’ given to women in church needs to be less about ‘not causing a brother to stumble’ and more about respecting themselves, and seeing their body as a temple for the Holy Spirit. I know that that message is much more impactful for me, and infinitely less damaging for male/female relationships.

      Reply
  38. Jess

    J,
    Thanks for writing this! Modesty standards that I grew up with, both in my home and in my church, do not match all body types. I am on the shorter side with very short legs. The standard was that all clothing had to go below the knee. When you put me in clothes that are considered acceptable, my proportions and frame look very weird! Very much like a twelve year old girl wearing a grown woman’s clothes. I ended up feeling like modest meant poor fitting, clothes and I was never going to feel comfortable or attractive.
    My husband was the one who told me I needed to make the change in my wardrobe decisions and that men do not get to use women as scapegoats for their own lust problems. I did not realize how incredibly heavy that burden was until he said that.
    I get a lot of criticism from some family and had several ladies from the church we had been attending “share their concern” with me over my clothing choices and then lay down guidelines for how I was expected to dress (skirts only, all tops had to have sleeves and the necklines two fingers from the collarbone or higher). I am not in anyway immodest either! I just don’t meet their specific rules. This post was a refreshing encouragment. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Jess – Thanks for sharing your story! I’m so glad your husband encouraged you.

      I’ve also heard from long-legged women who really struggle to find shorts that don’t seem to show so much leg. But what are they supposed to do? If Bermuda shorts go halfway up their thigh, that’s just how it goes. There certainly is something to considering your body type when making clothing choices!

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    2. Terry

      @Jess – “…from the church we HAD been attending…” Sounds like you and your husband have elected to look for a less-legalistic congregation! I am also short, and muscular to boot; and the standards you describe wouldn’t fly with me. I wear v-neck tops because crew neck tees emphasize my bulky arms and shoulders instead of my neck and face. And “standard” knee-length skirts hit me mid-calf – the worst possible place – so my only option is to shorten them to just below the knee. I also choose fitted (e.g., princess-seam) shirts because I’d look like a cylinder otherwise. (I actually used to dress in baggy clothes, in part because they hid the bulges I didn’t like; and my then-boyfriend-now-husband told me he hated a couple of my outfits.) A woman can dress flatteringly and still be guarded with her body. Back during the “naked scanner” controversy with the TSA I decided that if I were required to go through one of these I simply wouldn’t fly. But as for church “dress-codes” I’m wondering what my husband and I might encounter in searching for a new church in another year or two after we move to the boonies.

      Honestly, if we were to continually up the ante based upon what incites men to lust, we’d all be going around dressed in burquas. My husband went to Ghana on a mission trip last summer, where he noted that upper-body modesty standards for women – even within the Church – are somewhat lax compared to ours – especially when it comes to breastfeeding. However the genitalia are still very much considered “private” and women dress exclusively in skirts and dresses. On the other hand, another missionary to a predominantly-Muslim part of Africa who visited our church several years ago had decided to start covering her hair when in the field, based upon the reactions of the men she encountered.

      It seems that “modesty” is both culturally and experientially defined, as demonstrated by the millennial males who are accustomed to seeing their female friends in yoga pants and/or bralettes; and it thus does indeed call for a balance of discretion between women’s mode of dress and and men’s sex drives, lest societies – and especially the Church – veer too far toward licentiousness or legalism. And for this to work, it really does have to come down to the individual and the situation. On occasion I do ask my husband if a given dress is too short (here’s where leggings come in handy) or slinky for church, especially as I get older and some styles are better left to the younger generations even if I can wear them; and I realize that both the young men are learning what kind of girl to look for in a mate and the teenage/20’s girls are learning how to present themselves.

      Reply
      1. Jess

        Yes we did choose to leave. Not entirely over dress codes but it certainly did not encourage us to stay.
        I was smiling as a read your comments on your wardrobe because your clothing choices sound very similar to mine. I strongly believe women should know their figure and shape well and then understanding exactly what clothes to choose that are best for them personally. God did not create one body type and I do not understand why man dictates one set of rules to apply to everyone… It baffles me honestly.
        I also agree on modesty being defined differently. My husband is from Florida and I am from Michigan. To him, a woman in shorts and a tank top is normal and back home I have always heard men in churches declare summer the season of nakedness for exactly that same outfit (and I do not mean short shorts and a spaghetti strap… just Bermuda shorts and a sleeveless shirt). So when we would be going out during the summer and I would change my shirt or put on jeans before we left, he thought I was crazy. Took us a while to work through our differences on that one!

        Reply
  39. Bobthemusicguy

    J,
    You have so many comments here, what’s one more? Thanks for a post that showed common sense.

    I’m one of those men who has posted on blogs about feeling, well, assaulted is too strong a term, but certainly barraged daily by virtual eye porn, on tv, online, and in person. And no, yoga pants don’t make a man sin. His sin nature makes him sin, and the only solution for that is the blood of Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

    Having said that, anyone (like most men) who is visually oriented will experience daily so many things that could lead down the wrong road. If (when) I see something that is troubling, I don’t have too dwell on it so it causes me to be sexually aroused. And if it does, I certainly don’t need to follow through in actions. Men who do so are merely trying to excuse their sin.

    But I really appreciate women who use some common sense. Yoga pants can be comfortable, and are by nature close fitting. But close fitting doesn’t mean that virtually every part of her anatomy is on display. That’s not comfortable clothes, that’s meant to display things that should be private. And have some common sense about situational appropriateness. At one school where I once worked, I saw a mom come in to pick up her son for a dental appointment. She was wearing stiletto heels, fishnet stockings, hot pants, and a halter top. And this in a junior high school with boys in the hall who are hormones on legs, at best. I wonder what message about women her son grew up with? How would he treat other women, including a future wife?

    Reply
    1. E

      The song ‘Harper Valley PTA’ came to mind while reading your comment…funny song, but I think the theme behind it is that people should be less worried about outer appearances, and more worried about their hearts. That is what He is looking at after all!

      Reply
  40. Chuck

    Just for fun, I flipped the idea around a little – let’s say a mildly attractive athletic man decided to wear a pair of “compression shorts” and a well fitting t shirt and decided that if women wanted to sneak a peek at his goods or physique, well they just need to control themselves because it’s just comfortable to wear shorts like that and women just need to control themselves and stop looking at him. I mean, who wants to change into dumpy cargo shorts just to go pick up some diapers and eggs, right? So much trouble. Women just need to stop and control themselves!

    Interesting counter argument when you flip it on it’s head like that.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’m fine flipping it, and then it’s the same case that I made here: That he should make reasonable efforts not to show more than he should (that’s modesty) and that women should make reasonable efforts to avoid looking where they shouldn’t (that’s avoiding lust). If anything, I think you’ve made my point that we almost never flip this, so men don’t understand how often and intensely women get these messages about covering up, covering up, covering up. And yes, women also can lust and need to “control themselves.”

      “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28

      Reply
  41. Chuck

    Ponder this tongue in cheek comment: “there is one thing, no two, that the opposite sex will never understand – how easily a man’s lust is triggered and the monthly PMS emotional cycle.

    And somewhat seriously – to dismiss how a woman dresses and say that “men just need to deal with it” (while partially true) is as insensitive as saying “women just need to deal with their PMS and stop letting it affect everyone around them”. Both are just as insensitive as the other and very similar in ways.

    I don’t think that women will ever understand the lust issue that men deal with in the same manner that men will never understand a woman’s PMS cycle and how it affects her. In both cases, both men and women need to be sensitive to each other and act accordingly.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Well, of course women should “deal with their PMS and stop letting it affect everyone around them” if they’re claiming the PMS is causing them to sin. It’s absolutely reasonable to acknowledge the struggles we have and to ask for support from others. Yes, we should be sensitive. But blaming women for men’s lust makes no more sense than a woman blaming “hatred, discord, … fits of rage” (Acts of the Flesh, Galatians 5:19-21) on her PMS.

      Reply
    2. E

      Um, yeah, I do indeed try to control my PMS issues when I get the temptation to react angrily to something that ‘normally’ wouldn’t worry me. I certainly don’t go around blaming my husband/son/co workers for ‘making’ me sin in those moments…if they only picked up their dirty clothes off of the bathroom floor, I wouldn’t need to turn into a raging ranting lunatic, but oh well, they did, so now I can’t control myself??? No, that is not how it goes…I have to hold my tongue, calm down and recognise that my temptation to react is due to those hormones, and, even regardless of that, it is up to me to use my self control (fruit of the spirit) to make sure that I do not fall from the temptation, to actual sinning.

      This whole ‘you don’t know how hard it is for men’ really seems to ignore all the times that Self Control is mentioned in the bible. I mean, Jesus said we’d have difficulty in our lives, and that we need to pick up our crosses daily and follow Him. I don’t think there is anything in the bible that says ‘except for the case of a man lusting, that is just too strong a temptation that he cannot bear’. If you struggle with lust (whether male or female), that is YOUR cross to bear, it is not the responsibility of others. With God, everything is possible, even seeing a woman in a bikini and not lusting after her! Or, finding your husband has tracked mud into the house and not yelling at him at certain times of the month!

      Reply
  42. e2

    I can imagine this topic has to be very difficult for women. You want to look feminine and be comfortable, but you don’t want other men to think about you sexually. I wonder if you ladies are trying to bear an impossible burden.

    Long ago, a woman complained to me that she could wear a burlap sack and still be lusted after. I had to agree. I believe that women are sexually attractive to us men simply because they are women, regardless of what they wear. Anything a woman wears that emphasizes her femininity can have a sexually stimulating effect on a man who wants to be visually stimulated. I don’t say this to discourage the ladies, but to free you from trying to do the impossible, from trying to be feminine without being sexy.

    A man’s lustful thoughts are all about him, not the woman he’s lusting after.

    J, you say you’re trying to make this more 50-50 in responsibility. I appreciate your heart, but I think you’re being too kind to us guys. I learned many decades ago that my thoughts are my responsibility and no one else’s. I learned I could not blame a woman for simply being feminine and I also learned I have no right to tell a woman how to dress.

    As far as I’m concerned ladies, it’s simple. Love God, and wear what you want.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks for your comment! I simply think that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should help each other out. Romans 14 talks about not creating stumbling blocks for your fellow believers, and for some lust is a real issue, so let’s not make things harder than they need to be.

      That said, that chapter is about being gracious to your immature brother in Christ, so when a man has been a believer for a long time and should be more mature, I have to wonder if he’s “copping out” to claim that it’s on the women to make sure he never lusts. That’s not a burden women should bear.

      Reply
      1. e2

        I fully agree about not creating stumbling blocks. I just don’t think that a woman’s attire
        is as much of a stumbling block as we make ourselves believe. For me at least, a woman in a tastefully feminine dress, or even well fitted jeans and flip-flops, is every bit as sexually attractive as Bob’s Miss Hot Pants and Halter Top, even more so because they are more subtle about their femininity. But make no mistake; they still look feminine and that is what is sexually attractive, and you ladies simply cannot escape your own femininity. The only difference (which makes *no* difference to my own thought life) is that Miss Hot Pants wants to be lusted after whereas Miss Tasteful Dress doesn’t. Yes, I think Miss Hot Pants is wrongful in her choice of attire, but it’s *not* because she’s making men stumble; it’s because *she* is stumbling in her own thought life. We men would still stumble even if she were more modestly dressed. I don’t expect women to stop wearing tasteful dresses or jeans because I happen to find them attractive.

        Reply
    2. Lisa

      Thank you!

      I’ve been catcalled (which is never a compliment) while wearing a turtleneck. I’ve had disgusting things said to me while wearing a loose t-shirt and mid-thigh shorts. Granted, these were men who were not even claiming to honor God but the point is that it doesn’t seem to matter what you wear, if someone wants to “go there,” they will.

      I don’t go around dressed in nightclub attire. But I do wear clothes that fit me and look nice on me. I shouldn’t have to scour the thrift stores to find pants that are 20 years out of style just because some men choose to look at my rear when I wear current Jean styles.

      What’s funny is that I don’t ask my husband if an outfit is appropriate. He is much, much looser in that area than I am. There have been many outfits he wanted me to buy that I refused to wear because I thought they were overtly sexy. He would love it if I wore bikinis to the beach. I think they’re no different than underwear and don’t want to wear one in public.

      Reply
  43. E

    To add a bit of lighthearted-ness to a serious conversation, I saw some camo yoga pants on Pinterest today that looked really comfy, but because of the ‘break up’ camo pattern, your eye wasn’t particularly drawn to any area!

    I can just see all the ladies getting their redneck on and wearing a pair of those to the grocery store!

    Reply
    1. Paul Byerly

      @E – I live in a redneck (and proud!) area, and I suspect around here a woman wearing camo draws extra attention from the men.
      J – you need to write “Does wearing camo cause redneck men to sin!”

      Reply
    1. Eric Wiggin

      Rhonda,

      The year I turned 21 and old enough to vote, we got our first hatless President, J. F. Kennedy. And I’d waited all those years to wear a fedora like my dad or Bogie (Humphrey Bogart). Now I can’t even wear a tie without being thought an old fogie. ARRRGH!

      Eric

      Reply
  44. Eric Wiggin

    Re E & J’s comments:
    “I can just see all the ladies getting their redneck on and wearing a pair of those to the grocery store!”

    I found myself this morning in a waiting room when a woman with a huge backside plopped down opposite me. She was in yoga pants with a paisley pattern, and aside from the obvious fact that she was overweight, I did not find my eyes attracted to her anatomy. Then after discovering that this topic has reached the 100-mark, I Googled “Yoga pants.” Honestly, the paisley and cameo ones were decent, Solid colors? Well . . . body paint would not have been more revealing, and the only way a respectable woman would wear them outside her home would be as leggings under a skirt. And I’m hard to shock.

    Eric Wiggin (who ain’t gonna Google THAT topic again)

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Look, it all depends on the yoga pants. Some are quite revealing, others are just your basic exercise wear. I also think that fit matters a lot. It’s true with a lot of clothes generally, though, that we should buy garments that are properly tailored to our size but aren’t too tight.

      Reply
  45. Eric Wiggin

    Not knocking Walmart, but I don’t buy clothes there because they’re all cut too tight. And if I get pants that are a size or two too large, they’re still too tight in the crotch or at the hips.

    My favorite is L.L. Bean (I’m partial to them since I’m from Maine, and I used to work for L.L. Bean’s granddaughter, Linda L. Bean, as a news reporter!). The Bean catalogue lists the same sizes of pants in “relaxed fit,” which I can wear comfortably. Many people (both men and women older than 30) cannot find a fit at Walmart, yet they still get their clothes there. At least once a month I see a guy with a visible crack when he bends over (and occasionally a woman), since they never learned that if you want a decent fit, you’ve got to go to J.C. Penney, or to an even more expensive place. I buy my tee shirts from the “big & tall” section; sometimes on special order, to get a tail that will stay tucked in and cover my tail when I bend.

    Another secret: Goodwill. A lot of wealthy people dispose of their clothes at Goodwill (or a similar store, often run by a church) after only two or three times wearing. I once bought a couple of stylish suits that looked new–$15 apiece–somebody paid $500 each for them, new!

    So whether you’ve a dame or a guy, it ain’t necessary to go out looking like a slob!

    Eric Wiggin

    Reply

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