The post: Seeing a Woman: A conversation between a father and son got me thinking about how daughters should be taught about modesty and personal responsibility. Nate Pyle nailed the fact that boys need to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions with regard to women regardless of how the women dress.
I would say that girls need to be taught that modesty is not about how they dress so much it is about how they act and how they view themselves. Not only that, they should be taught that while boys need to be responsible (and be held responsible) for their own thoughts and actions, girls who wish to be wise with the bodies they have been given need to recognize that their manner of dress and action will affect which type of men and boys will take notice of them. No matter how much we hold men responsible for their actions, the most basic common sense requires us to acknowledge that when a girl is treated as an object she will suffer from that treatment (regardless of whether there are consequences to those who inflict such treatment on her). Thus if she wants to reduce the chances of being ill-treated she should be careful about the way she acts, the way she dresses, the places she goes, and the people she chooses to associate with.
Besides, the kinds of boys that a decent girl wants to associate with will generally avoid the same kinds of places that she should be avoiding, so there really is no reason for her to frequent such places. Also, the kind of boys that treat girls with respect may find themselves avoiding girls who don’t seem to treat themselves with respect in their manner of dress, grooming, and manners as a way of avoiding the trap of starting to see all girls the way those girls treat themselves.
After mulling this over for a while I stumbled upon Jesse Jost’s post In Defense of Modesty and found that he expressed better than I did the idea that modesty goes far beyond dress. Then to cap it all off, Jesse wrote The Modesty Talk for Men where he again gave better voice than I could to my thoughts on what men need to understand about modesty being more than a matter of how they dress or how women around them dress or a way to minimize their opportunity for lust. I love this statement:
…modesty will not solve the problem of lust! I am ashamed that we Christian men have let this problem get so far. We need be more ruthless in attacking lust and take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. It is ridiculous to blame the Christian girl in your circle for your lustful thoughts. If you lusted after her, she is not the problem. If she was completely covered up you could still find a way to lust…
Another great article on the topic is by Wes McAdams called Modesty: You still don’t get it do you. He explains that modesty is about whether we are trying to call attention to ourselves through our dress and behavior.
I don’t know that I have much to add to the posts I’ve cited. I would simply encourage people to read those posts and think about modesty and how we teach it in a more comprehensive and healthy way.