Tag Archives: dressing modestly

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.

Revisiting the Question: What Is Modesty Really?

First published July 2011

When my husband and I first got married, I owned this cute little black skirt that showed off my personal best asset — my legs. I had bought it on sale at a store where I didn’t usually have the money to shop, and I loved the way I looked in that skirt.

My hubby asked me to get rid of it. What?! Are you kidding?! He said that it was too short, and he didn’t like other guys seeing that much of me. Hmmm.

Frankly, I’d always thought of myself as being relatively modest. I never wore a bikini; always a one-piece. I didn’t wear low-cut blouses, even if I didn’t have the cleavage to spill out anyway. I didn’t squeeze myself into clothing two sizes too small or wear dresses with cut-outs on the sides. But I had to take his word for it–his male perspective on what draws a man’s attention in an inappropriate way.

When I look around now, I sometimes can’t believe the eye candy that we dangle in front of men’s eyes and then expect them to pay attention to our inner goodness. I was at a church luncheon once (I repeat, church luncheon, for heaven’s sake!) and saw a woman lean over to get her food, drawing up her blouse and giving a peek at the black thong coming out of her skirt. She probably had no idea.

And that’s the point. We ladies are not always great at gauging what is appropriate to wear publicly. The newest fashions come out, everyone’s wearing them, they make us look good, and we buy. We are often not even aware that the micro-mini reveals too much when we sit across from a male co-worker or that a loose blouse is giving a glimpse of our lacy bra to the waiter at our table. We don’t even think like that.

So we have to start thinking like that. We have to pause and ask whether what we are wearing is going to encourage temptation to lust for men around us. Yes, I know men lust anyway. My father swore that young men can find a way to lust after women wearing potato sacks, but we should make it easier for guys to focus on what is most important.

SOME THINGS MODESTY IS NOT.

Modesty is not backward. Modesty is not dressing like you are from past century in a fruitless attempt to turn back time and keep things on the up-and-up.

Modesty is not frumpy. Wearing sweat pants and crew neck t-shirts all the time will cover everything, but that is not a look that presents the best you.

Reverend fun cartoon

Modesty is not old. A 30 year old need not dress like her grandmother to maintain a modicum of modesty.

Modesty is not gender-neutral. Straight clothes that hide that you are, hello!, a woman is not modesty.

WHAT MODESTY IS.

Modesty is covering up skin best reserved for your spouse. If you aren’t sure whether it’s appropriate, ask him. Do NOT ask, “Do you like me in this dress?” He might say, “I LOVE you in that dress (and out of it).” Ask where the dress makes him look. Does the dress draw attention to areas best left for his eyes only? Ask if he is comfortable with how much of you will be revealed to others.

Modesty is dressing like the beautiful woman you are. You are a woman with a womanly shape; it is okay to wear something that demonstrates that you have a figure. But fitted and tight-fitting are quite different. Don’t get hung up on the numbered size of a garment (sizes vary so much by manufacturer); find what fits you right.

Modesty is fashionable. Yes, you can find styles that are fashionable and modest. Teenagers in particular may have to treat clothes shopping like hunting an endangered species, but it is possible.

Reverend Fun cartoon

Modesty is keeping your underclothes under your clothes. For some reason, I feel the overwhelming compulsion to state this. I don’t think it’s backward to presume that bras, panties, etc. should not be as visible to the public as your brand-new haircut.

If you struggle with what makes you look beautiful and fashionable without falling into inappropriate styles, I recommend going online and looking for tips on dressing your body type. Frankly, in the few episodes I’ve seen of What Not to Wear, the experts did an excellent job of dressing women in clothes that highlighted their best parts and kept everything tucked in as it should be. (Mind you, I cannot speak to the series as a whole since I don’t get that channel!)

Pause and think about what you’re wearing. Think about whether it’s honoring your husband. Think about whether it’s helping another woman’s husband keep his eyes on his own wife. And then go out there and be the fashionista that you are!

Remembering, of course, that your inner beauty is what matters most.

Thanks to Warrior Wives for bringing this post to my mind again. Join the conversation with Let’s Chat: Discerning Modesty Standards with Your Husband.