PODCAST: Can We Please Put the Lust and Modesty Debate Behind Us for Good?

by | Dec 3, 2020 | Podcasts | 54 comments

Don't Be a Stumbling Block is a Bad Modesty Message
Orgasm Course

I am very, very tired of the “don’t be a stumbling block” argument when it comes to modesty for girls.

I know that this is a very widespread debate, and I have talked about it before in two main posts:

In our recent survey of 20,000 women, we found that when girls are made to feel responsible for boys’ sin, very bad things happen in those girls future marriages and sex lives.

And recently on Facebook, I shared a few thoughts that blew up quite big. The support was huge, but at the same time, the arguments that 13-year-old girls can cause adult men to sin are still very widespread. And so today, in this podcast, Rebecca and I would like to put that to rest once and for all.

We got kind of heated, too!

Watch on YouTube, too!


Timeline of the Podcast

0:45 Let’s talk about lust in a non illegal way, please.
5:30 Noticing isn’t bad, facts aren’t bad.
8:45 Lusting for adolescents is not normal
11:40 Mixed messages about lust & modesty
17:20 We’ve confused men with their sexuality!
29:05 The Bell-curve Modesty Rule
34:20 But what about the dangers with clothing choices?
42:04 Research on gender visual stimulation
47:43 RQ: Help with my son growing into sexuality?

Main Segment: The Lust Discussion and the Modesty Discussion Must Always Be Separate

Why? Because if you say, “Men are 100% responsible for not lusting after 13-year-old girls, but 13-year-old girls are also 100% responsible to be modest and dress appropriately,” then you don’t really mean the first part. Yes, we need to teach girls to dress appropriately (and I have a way to do that at the bottom of my stumbling block post), but it’s never, ever about not causing someone to sin.

This discussion came up because of the response to these Facebook posts:

Post 1–on how we should think a man lusting after a 13-year-old girl is a major red flag

Post 2–on how if you believe all men lust, even after teenagers, you’re likely in an unhealthy church and your husband may have a problem, because MOST men do not struggle with not lusting after young teens

The comments are rather interesting–and some are rather depressing. Hence the need for this podcast!

I won’t go into all our arguments here, but you need to listen to this one!

Even listen to it with your teenage daughters and teenage sons, and start the discussion going!

You’re telling me WHAT goes WHERE?!

Talking about sex with your kids doesn’t always go smoothly. 

That’s why we created The Whole Story, our online course that walks parents through the tough conversations and does the hard parts for you!

Reader Question: How do I prepare my 9-year-old son for the lure of porn?

A woman writes in with this question:

My husband has struggled with porn since he was a kid. We are trying to heal during recovery. We’ve been married 10 years. My son is 9 and he’s coming close to the age my husband was exposed to porn by his father’s addiction and his carelessness. I am repulsed still somehow as I grew up very conservative, by the fact that men are sexually attracted to women, but I have always understood that it’s one of the glues that bind a marriage together. I bought your course the whole story and I still have yet to read it, but I am thinking about my reaction when I see my son fight his attraction to ladies. I’m afraid I’m gonna just be so mad at his natural impulses because I’m maybe bitter still at my husband’s past sin and his potential to fall again into lusting for other women. I don’t want to make my son distance himself emotionally from me because of how I handle his learning to be a man, so please have you heard pointers to be prepared and not react but be proactive in guiding our sons’ minds and souls?

A lot of issues going on here!

  • Porn has damaged their marriage
  • She grew up feeling disgusted by sexual attraction/men’s sex drive
  • She doesn’t want to transfer shame onto her son

I do think The Whole Story will be able to help her husband have those conversations with his son, or help her have them, so that’s going to be a big help, because it does open up the pornography conversation in a safe way. And it also tells boys that it’s natural to feel sexual feelings. These aren’t anything to be ashamed about. Very important!

But it also sounds like she has some healing to do with the messages she heard growing up and with the problems in her marriage. I wish The Great Sex Rescue were available now, because it would be great for her, but you can still pre-order it (which helps us immensely!).

I think the key here, though, is communication. Be honest about how you feel. Tell him the truth even if you struggle with the truth, too. It’s okay to struggle. It’s a difficult subject. But most shame is transmitted by not talking about it.

What the Research Says: Women are Visual, too

Over the last few months so many readers have been sending me links to new studies showing that the idea that “men are visual” is actually being disproved by science–or at least the idea that men are visual and women are not is being disproved! And the readers are right. Over the last 2-3 years, more and more studies have come out showing that the idea that men’s brains react more to visual stimuli than women’s brains do is not nearly as straightforward as it’s made out to be–and in many cases may be simply wrong.

Today we pointed to a meta-analysis that came out recently (a review of 61 studies) that shows that women are also visually stimulated. Read the study here. Here’s the summary:


Neuroimaging studies suggest differences in the underlying biology of sexual arousal associated with sex and sexual orientation, yet their findings are conflicting. Following a thorough statistical review of all significant neuroimaging studies, we offer strong quantitative evidence that the neuronal response to visual sexual stimuli, contrary to the widely accepted view, is independent of biological sex. Both men and women show increased activation in many cortical and subcortical brain regions thought to be involved in the response to visual sexual stimuli, while the limited sex differences that have been found and reported previously refer to subjective rating of the content.

Neural substrates of sexual arousal are not sex dependent

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2019

Things Mentioned in This Podcast:

On Stumbling Blocks, Lust, and Modesty Podcast

What do you think? Will we ever be able to talk about modesty and lust well? What messages were you given as a teen? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Ylva

    I remember one modesty message (on a blog or sth like that) about how not to bend down to pick sth up because it might emphasize your butt (and also a real gentlemanTM would pick it up for you anyway).
    I can really relate what Rebecca mentioned about some girls not dating guys that grew up in the church. Guys that grew up with a super repressive mindset, to some, you can’t even talk about sex properly and boundaries because they lack the maturity or are super uncomfortable. And so many have porn issues. They either got the terrible purity message or no sex ed, no talking about it at all so all of their knowledge comes from porn or that “women cause sexual thoughts by being women” or a combination of both.
    And I think porn just reinforces the message that women are objects that they already got from the purity message or vice versa. And there’s so many Christian guys that are only celibate/waiting for marriage due to lack of opportunity! Like those opportunists you mentioned. They have never been taught proper self-control. And their parents and pastors basically rely on the girls to be 100% in charge of purity.
    Like, “if he asks you to compromise, crosses boundaries or pressures you, that’s normal. that’s being a guy. it’s YOUR fault if you don’t say no enough, don’t pray enough or might lead him on by being nice and not super rude”. But if it’s your boyfriend/fiancé or even just a good friend or respectable person, you don’t want to be super rude. Actually, if a girl calls a man out for being slightly inappropriate, they are being told they are exaggerating, not understanding a man’s sexuality and totally not Christlike, they should forgive and forget.
    If something slightly more inappropriate happens, it is her fault for not blocking/leaving him at the slightest hint of inappropriatness.
    And if it is full blown rape that happens or grooming, she probably “asked for it” or even seduced him and now only wants to “have a clean conscience”.
    There is no moderation with the lust and modesty debate. As a woman, you always lose. The only way is to separate it, like you said, and stop connecting modesty messages and lust as well as sexual violence prevention.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Ylva! You’re absolutely right. In this debate, women always lose. So let’s just separate the two, because after all–Jesus always did, too! 🙂

      • Jason Brent

        New book coming soon: The New Face of Hatred of Men: The Mother-Daughter Misandrists Sheila Wray Gregorie and Rebecca Lindenbach.
        Get ready!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Once again, thank you for showing why we’re needed! Comments like this are helpful to show that the evangelical church does have very sick elements that need to be rooted out.
          Interesting that you would call us misandrists, when in this podcast we went out of our way to say that men actually DON’T all lust; most men are honorable men; and this lust message hurts guys because it makes them feel shame when they shouldn’t. If you find that a misandrous message, then that says a lot about you.
          Basically, what you’re saying is that it’s wrong to say that most men are honorable and most men don’t lust and most men are good guys; you would rather that we say that all men lust and can’t help it and that it’s not men’s fault if they lust after 13-year-old girls. You’re saying that’s a better message.
          So what you’re really saying is that you’d prefer to have cover for lust and excuses for lust, rather than be told that you’re actually capable of being an honorable human being; that you’re made in God’s image; and that you can be called to more. You’d rather just have an excuse to sin and hurt women.
          See, we’re not the misandrists. You are.

    • Bekah

      This comment is EVERYTHING!!! You hit so many nails. It’s true that these messages on sexuality always ends with the female losing. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

      • Ray

        As a guy, I find that this message does not bash us but frees us from such a low child like standard that has been taught often by the church.
        I literally thought for the first 5 years of my marriage that I had this incredibly impossible lust desire that I couldn’t manage and expected my wife to give me sex and avoid women or scenarios that would tempt me. But now I feel more like an actual adult and can manage my emotions when I don’t have my desires met instantly and have no problem dropping off a female co-worker of from work when she has car trouble with out it being all weird for me. I truly think that Shiela’s message is empowering for men equally as it is to women.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          thank you, Ray. I’m so glad. That’s honestly our intent. Men are not made any less in the image of God than women; women are not holier than men. We are all capable of acting with respect to others and of pursuing Christlikeness. We should all be freed from shame or from the idea that sin can control us. That’s not compatible with the gospel.

    • Laura

      I just listened with my 13 year old and 15 year old girls. They love your podcast!! Thank you for this!

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        This makes me so happy that teens are listening in on this one, too!

  2. Active Mom

    Great podcast. This topic is a hard one for me. It was one of the main reasons I feared “raising” my children in the church. It seems as though we will never get past the – “It”s not her fault he is lusting but she can make it harder.” mentality. Leggings, skinny jeans, two piece bathing suits, workout tights and fitted shirts are all worn in our house by both myself and my daughters. Our rule has always been that what you wear needs to be appropriate for the place you are going to and you should be comfortable wearing it no matter who shows up. So, if you are going to the beach, a two piece is fine. Would you be comfortable seeing your grandpa in the bathing suit you choose if he surprised you? If the answer is yes than you probably made the right choice.
    Thank you for being willing to take this topic on again. Your patience with some of the comments is amazing. Hopefully we can see this mindset change.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love that grandpa analogy, Active Mom! And I’ll just reiterate something we said in the podcast: we’ve been in churches that shame girls for their bodies (we were in those churches when the girls were preteens and teens, and they got a lot of it). But we’ve also been in churches where that’s not the case at all. So I’d just say that if it’s like that in your church–maybe it’s time to find a different one! Because healthy ones are out there. They really are.

    • Meghan

      Yes, clothes appropriate for the occasion! I sometimes take my shirt off when I run outside during the full heat of a Texas summer,and I don’t feel uncomfortable doing that because the outfit is still appropriate for exercise. And it’s also a safety issue because when it’s 105*F, overheating is a big concern and you do everything you can to prevent it.

  3. Madeline

    Thank you so much for this. I especially loved Rebecca’s input as a mother of a son! You both really nailed this one.
    I feel like when we talk about men lusting after young girls and people bring up the “But what was she wearing? We have to teach girls how to dress!” It sounds like if I told you my husband was walking on the sidewalk and a car drove off the road and hit him and you responded, “That’s terrible! But was he paying attention or walking and texting? It is very important we teach people to pay attention while walking on the sidewalk. He may have been able to jump out of the way had he been more aware of his surroundings.” Um WHAT? Yes, what you’re saying is true, but so situationally inappropriate! This shouldn’t even be in the same conversation!

  4. Nathan

    When I was a kid, I went to a church that carried the message that girls are responsible for the lusting of boys and men, especially in the way they dress.
    Our current church is much better about that. Their only real stumbling block is that they tell people “wives, have sex with your husbands so they won’t lust”.
    While those two are different topics, it’s interesting that both still blame women for the sins of men.

    • Angela Laverdi

      That is such a stupid thing to think that having sex with your husband will prevent him from lusting or cheating. Many women try to have sex with their husbands EVERY DAY and the guy STILL cheats on her (I’m a prime example of that). If hes gonna do it, he’s gonna do it. theres no stopping him or preventing him.

  5. Bethany#2

    Hi! I’ve been busy with life and no longer read every single article as it’s released. But I never miss a podcast and I usually talk about it to someone. You revolutionized my marriage at it’s start and I’m very glad! My parents have a good marriage and both came from secular backgrounds with bad examples of marriage. So they read all the popular marital books, mainly “care and feeding of husband’s” and the “love and respect”. So they still have the beliefs that had me believing that marriage was volunteer slavery for wives. And now we’re in opposing camps, and If she has an idea that we are having an issue, she’ll low-key remind me to “care for my man’s needs”….I haven’t mentioned yet to them that I’m a higher drive wife.
    So now I make it a mission to share about your blog and books everywhere. And maybe eventually she’ll actually start reading your material.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Ha! That’s awesome, Bethany. And thank you so much for the encouragement! I appreciate it. And that’s great that you’re able to stand up to your mother-in-law as well.

  6. anon

    Thank you, this podcast was amazing! I was recently talking to someone who asked if I had been sexually abused by my father. The answer is no, but based on a lot of his comments I KNOW he has had (still has?) creepy, sexual thoughts. (commenting on my sister’s large chest, my other sister’s flexibility/ability to “please her future husband in bed”, my shoulders in a sleeveless dress, teenage friends (“sluts”) in normal bikinis – this was all in our early teens). He’s also told us if we’re ever raped the first thing he’d ask is what we were wearing since, you know, it would probably be our fault. I’m definitely not comparing myself to anyone who has been sexually abused, especially by a relative, but it’s so creepy to think about how “normal” this is in church cultures.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that is terrible! I’m so sorry.
      And you know what? He may not have sexually abused you using his body, but he did using his words. When you sexualize your daughter and make it clear that you see her in sexual terms, it is a form of abuse, too. And that takes a lot to untangle. I’m so sorry you grew up in this!
      And, yes, it’s awful that it’s normal in some churches. My prayer is that some women will hear this and realize that their churches AREN’T normal, and that they don’t have to put up with it.

  7. Dani

    Several of my friends on Facebook shared this post recently, and this girl worded it so much better than I could, so I’m just pasting the original post. I’m sure, based on previous comments, that most of you won’t agree with this thought process, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
    “Why do I wear skirts/dresses all the time? I get asked this question SO much.
    The topic of “modesty” is such a trigger to so many. So please, hear me out, don’t just scroll by & roll your eyes, please read it all and truly try to hear my heart. This also isn’t a judgment on anyone who chooses to dress differently.
    Modesty isn’t just a dress code, but rather a character. It’s about values, not rules.
    So many of you were forced to dress a certain way growing up. I was not, I was allowed to wear whatever I wanted; short shorts, mini skirts, tight jeans, bikinis, etc. No one “made me” dress modestly. I came to the realization at 15 that I was dressing immodestly. I was trying to get boys to think I was sexy and trying to get their attention. When I got saved, I understood that the Holy Spirit was living inside my body. I felt that God wanted me to be set apart and dress differently than the world. My life verse is 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s” My purpose on this earth and all Christians’ purpose should be to glorify God.
    I felt like what I was wearing and my motive behind it was NOT glorifying God. I fought this “conviction” for a while because truth be told, I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be “hot” and normal-looking.
    But we’re not called to be like the world, we’re called to change it! I don’t believe modesty will look the same for everyone, but I do think when the unsaved looks at you and talks to you, they should be able to tell something is different about you.
    I love skirts & dresses. I love femininity. I love being able to represent the King of Kings. Move over Kate Middleton, I represent a much higher King! “

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Dani, in my post on my 40% Modesty Rule I wrote about how being TOO modest can actually be a stumbling block to the gospel for many unbelievers, and actually is in line with the heart behind Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy 2 as well. I don’t think normal dresses or skirts fall into that category, but it’s also something to keep in mind about the whole debate.
      I also feel extremely uncomfortable when people focus on the fact that the way we distinguish ourselves from the world is how we dress. I have no problem dressing appropriately. But I do feel like the emphasis here is in the wrong place. Jesus said that they will know us by our love. He came to set the captives free. What is our focus, though?

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I think that if someone is personally convicted to dress a certain way, that is the way they should dress.
      If someone has a history of using clothing in a way that was unhealthy, then they may feel it is necessary to create boundaries for themselves. Similarly, if I have an issue with gluttony I may decide that for me, all-you-can-eat buffets are unwise.
      The problem is when we then take our own areas of weakness and say “Because I have this rule for myself because of my unique areas of sin, I am holier than others who do not have this rules for themselves.”
      The same book of the Bible that is quoted, 1 Corinthians, also is the book where Paul says that we are to become as much like the people in the cultures around us as possible, so as to win as many for Christ as possible. 1 Cor 9:19-23 reads: 19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
      The way we are separate from the world is by our hearts. By the fruit of the spirit. John 13:35 says: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It’s not about how we look, it’s not about what we wear. In fact, we’re told to blend in as much as possible so that the only real thing that separates us is the HEART change, not the outer appearances that are simply religious dressing.
      Only wearing skirts and dresses is a valid personal choice. But it is not a sign of holiness, nor is it a sign that one is a better disciple of Christ. When someone who is unsaved talks to you, they should definitely be able to sense something different. But it should not primarily be your hemline.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Ha! I didn’t see your comment first, but we both ended up talking about the same Bible verse!

      • Dani

        Thank you both for responding! I have really enjoyed reading the articles on this blog about modesty and also listening to your podcast. It has been enlightening.
        I did have one more question, I don’t think it’s really been addressed here. When I was growing up, I heard quite a bit about being ‘ladylike’. “Don’t sit like that, it’s not ladylike,” “don’t do that, it’s not ladylike,” etc. How would you go about teaching your daughter ‘appropriate behavior for a lady’, without making it feel like you’re bringing in the lust message? i.e., “Don’t spread your legs, guys will get the wrong idea.” Or something like that. I hope this makes sense!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Great question, and maybe others will chime in! I think we take the focus off of gender. It’s not about being ladylike; it’s simply not polite to sit with your legs wide open when you’re wearing a skirt. It’s like how we have to tell boys not to stick their hands down their pants. It doesn’t need to be a gendered thing or a sexual thing; a simple, “we keep our hands out of our pants in public, Jimmy!” or, “We keep our legs together when seated, Beth!” It doesn’t need to be about not being ladylike, but simply what’s appropriate. Does that make sense?

        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          I’m glad you’ve found them helpful! 🙂 I second what my mom said, but can I also say that men sitting with their legs far apart is also very uncomfortable for many people and is super rude, especially on public places like buses where it means guys take up 2 seats?!? Maybe we all keep our legs shoulder-width apart or less and everyone will be much more comfortable! Haha!!

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Exactly! I think when it’s not a question of skirts, then men and women should both keep their legs about relatively closed. It’s not a gender thing; it’s really more a clothing thing, isn’t it?

  8. Jane Eyre

    I’ve probably mentioned this before: years ago, early evening, nice lobby bar, I’m waiting for a friend, drinking water or iced tea or something. Dressed in a Ralph Lauren sweater, khaki skirt, ballet flats, doing a crossword puzzle. Overheard a conversation between a patron and the bartender about how to make a drink; I looked up, rattled off the ingredients, and went back to my puzzle. Bartender asked to sleep with me.
    What the (expletive) else was I supposed to do to telegraph “do not ask me for sex”? Is that a Jane problem or a him problem? What else would ” modesty” do to improve the situation?
    Modesty isn’t so men can decide to respect me instead of lusting after me. They will lust, or not, regardless of what I wear. I have a very weird feeling that when I’m 70, almost nothing I could wear would provoke men to ask me for sex; at age 25, nothing could stop it.
    I dress modestly because I am worth it. I don’t need to advertise my body to get attention. Likewise, I try to not shove my accomplishments down other people’s throats, make people feel bad if they aren’t as educated or earn less, or get rude with smarter, more successful, or more attractive people – being rude to them over their good lives doesn’t make mine better. If other people are obnoxiously immodest (not limited to clothing and it never has been), I just find someone else to hang around with.
    This stuff isn’t hard. Turning a discussion of “modesty” into a policing of hemlines and hand-wringing about “stumbling blocks” misses the point of modesty, IMHO.

      • Jane Eyre

        Thank you.
        I just can’t even express how weird it it: in my twenties, anything short of a burqa may have prompted lust in men. Thirties, all over the place. Postpartum, I might actually be able to walk around naked and not get attention from men. The variable is my age and physique, not what I’m wearing.
        So it seems particularly cruel to harangue young women about it.
        Also, I might be more than a bit cranky after the latest round of people being nasty to me about my body (stomach muscles haven’t healed since the baby, so someone thought it would be fun to start a rumour that I’m pregnant again). At this point, I just feel like being an adult means being able to handle your own emotions about other people’s bodies. And if you can’t, get therapy instead of being awful to people about their bodies.
        The modesty thing might have “Biblical” roots, quotes intentional, but it’s the same problem of not being able to manage your own feelings about someone else’s body. (General you, not Sheila, Rebecca, Keith, Connor, etc.)

      • Andrea

        To Jane Eyre’s second comment, there was an excellent article in The Guardian written by a woman in her 50s who said the best thing about aging was that she no longer had to feel unsafe around men. A more recent article was written by a woman who said how much she enjoyed the mandatory social distancing in the covid era because men could no longer invade her personal space. So that’s what it takes for women to feel safe — old age and, if you’re not that old, a pandemic.

  9. Ruth R.

    I really relate to the reader question this week. I also have a hard time separating “men being naturally and healthily attracted to women” and “men lusting after and objectifying women”. The lust messaging I got in the church and through books growing up was definitely part of it. Weirdly enough, I became aware of it when I started watching Outlander and literally broke down in tears watching the main couple engage in a healthy, mutually-respectful, tender relationship that, yes, did include lots of sex and attraction. I realized that I didn’t even have a frame of reference for something like that, and my default perspective on sex and attraction had been “Man lusts after woman, woman gives him sex, maybe she enjoys it too but it’s mostly for him and it’s devoid of intimacy, at least on his end”. Seeing a story about a couple that was written and directed mainly by women and acknowledged the emotions, humanity, and need for intimacy on both sides was revolutionary for me. Now that I’m aware of these mental blocks, I’ve been working through them in therapy, and I’m glad I caught them so early! It boils my blood whenever I see the same kind of ideology that messed me up so much being spread recklessly in Christian circles.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I totally get where you’re coming from. The Outlander series is all about healthy sex but always in marriage. And Clare is portrayed (especially in the books, which is my frame of reference) as having a very healthy sex drive. Brianna had to learn, but even her relationship was filled with intimacy and longing and love and desire. It’s too bad we don’t think that’s normal.

  10. Bekah

    I appreciated Rebecca’s comments as a mom of a little boy. It was the birth of my first son that changed my perspective on this.
    People are quick to say, “That teenage girl is a danger to my teenage son.” But, not quick to recognize that what we teach our baby boys is what makes our SONS a danger to their DAUGHTERS! It’s amazing how quickly I realized this “men lust because they’re men, and women better help them,” message is a prison sentence to men after the birth of my son. As a mama to 3 boys I want better for them. I want them to be free indeed in Christ, not held in bondage to sin. Bonus, I’m less crazy uptight/ridiculously conservative about their older sisters’ clothing choices, now too.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I love this, Bekah, and I completely agree. I have become so much more passionate about helping men have healthy sexuality since becoming Alex’s mom.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s awesome, Bekah! I’m so glad that today’s moms are really changing on this!

  11. Kristen

    Well, I should’ve been working on my final essays this morning, but instead I listened to your podcast for a change! Really good stuff, ladies!
    A lot of what you said reminds me of a conversation my brother and I shared. He said that our dad had told him it was completely possible for a Christian guy to see a woman in a bikini and not lust after her — it was all about the guy’s decision with what do with his thoughts AFTER he sees the woman and notices that she’s attractive. (I guess it’s weird that he and I had this conversation lol, but my brother and sister have always felt like they can be open about otherwise awkward topics with me.) I know I carry my own scars from growing up in the church, but this is one thing I definitely think my dad got right!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very wise dad! And I love that you can talk about this stuff, too.

  12. Rachael

    I posted this podcast on my Instagram story today and I had several women respond to my post saying, “About time someone said this!” Or, “What is this?? This looks so good, I’ll need to listen!”
    I live and was raised in the Bible Belt so the modesty message was perpetuated. I remember starting to wear leggings and long sweaters in college not too long ago and my dad getting super upset with me. He was only trying to protect me because of the vile things he heard his coworkers saying about women but I finally just had to say, “I’m not going to walk around in a potato sack just so pervy men won’t look. And if they’re pervy, then they’ll still look even in a potato sack.”
    Again… I look back at my developmental stage of my life wear an older family friend eyed me up and down and I was simply wearing a t shirt and jeans. My mom made me get rid of the t-shirt even though there was nothing inherently wrong with it. This podcast/episode is such a good conversation starter.

  13. Rose

    Seriously, thank you so much for speaking more on this! I had always held the “it’s not your fault men lust, BUT you have to be careful not to be a stumbling block” message and it wasn’t until finding your blog that I realized how harmful that message was and especially how it negatively colored my view of men. I’m realizing now, I think subconsciously, I felt I could never really trust men, because “men can’t help but lust,” so that would always cloud their relationship with me – even, or especially with men in the church. There have been so many gross moments too, where my anxiety over causing men to lust, has triggered gross, unwanted sexual thoughts in my own mind. I specifically remember hearing that when men see an attractive woman, they automatically picture her naked and or having sex with her (from Shuanti Feldhahn) I was mortified after hearing this and could not get the thought out of my mind when men looked at me! Was that older man picturing me naked? Was that pastor? And then any possible image I fear they might be imagining would flash through my mind! It made me think, that while these men might be fighting off unwanted sexual thoughts of attractive women in the church, because of this all men lust message, I was now fighting off unwanted sexual thoughts of any man I feared might find me attractive, including those I found incredibly unattractive, even repulsive (like the older men in our church). Yet this message is still so prevalent in the church!
    I was mortified to hear recently, that a teen friend of my younger sister, had experienced an incredibly inappropriate modesty talk from a church elder, where he, a man in his 70’s, went into graphic details about men’s to a room of girls, saying things like “don’t announce if you need to use the bathroom or say you’re going to go pee, because then you’re putting the image of yourself with your pants down in their heads” like Eww eww eww! Thankfully our young friend had the sense and confidence to speak up the her family and the rest of the staff that this was wildly inappropriate!

  14. L

    Growing up, I didn’t know what to do with my sexual urges. I wished we were back in the ages were both men and women married much earlier! Can you point me to resources that help us manage our sex drive? I want to be able to guide my kids better than just say don’t look or say no.

  15. Matt

    Well, as a guy in my 50s this really gets me angry.
    My 29-year-old daughter recently told me about her first experiences, at age 11, of being wolfwhistled, etc. There are, it appears, so many, many, many men who never grew out of jr. high school, dangerously so.
    Given that we live in a non-burka-wearing society, can you imagine how they live throughout the week?
    I never was one who would’ve wanted my daughters to obtain a concealed carry permit before, but perhaps I was wrong.
    Guys: if you are like this, seek help now.

  16. Renae B

    This podcast was SO GOOD. I cannot overstate how refreshing you and Rebecca are. I never skip a podcast! Always the highlight of my week❤️ Thank you, ladies, for what you do.

  17. Rogue

    I wish I had you as my mother growing up and was told what you and Rebecca were talking about. Especially when you were talking about the messages parents and the church send to their boys about their/female bodies and how to process things. I wish there was someone who could have told me, that what my body/hormonal responses were doing I was ok and that I didn’t have to be scared of women or my sexuality, then maybe I could have avoided a lot issues.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry, Rogue! I hope thinking through some of this and seeing it differently now can be healing now, even if there were a lot of problems in the past. And if it’s any consolation, Rebecca and I definitely had problems, too. But we worked through them as well. So it’s not like we had it perfect from the start. But you can get healthy afterwards. You really can.

      • Rogue

        I guess the good that’s come out of this is a lot more empathy and understanding to people who’ve been burned by the same things. I also probably wouldn’t have found your blog and would have been living a not so emotionally mature fairy tale life with a rather shallow view on gender equality and still be promoting purity culture dating books/ideals. 😛 But I will take being a little sadder and wiser if that’s the trade off.

  18. Ben Tebbens

    My heart breaks yes for you and everyone Mrs. Shelila at your ministry, I pray these things don’t overwhelm you…I can barely imagine you hearing, dealing with these things day and night. God please, please protect their hearts from hatred and bitterness, these things just…just shouldn’t be…we’re in such a screwed up world. God keep you all and thank you for speaking up and standing up in every way you guys do. These things are evil and not to be in any way imagined to be ok. Thank you. Please, oh Lord keep their hearts. I’m simply overwhelmed trying to imagine the attacks on your hearts in so many areas. Thank you Lord, thank you, your so amazing. Please keep these amazing, kind folks hearts to everyone who is in pain. God strengthen our friends and continue to encourage them and keep filling them with your grace to share your amazing truths. Protect them not to grow weary in well-doing, I sometimes can hardly imagine. Thank you guys and gals, thank you so much, your reward awaits you guys for all your doing in every area of your ministry for helping hurting people, thank you.


    This podcast made me feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I grew up in denomination with very legalistic views on modesty and have had so much guilt and shame regarding how I dress. I can remember when the pastor of the Christian school I attended told my male science teacher to tell me my knee length shorts were too tight. I definitely cried in the bathroom after that! Now I see that maybe the pastor was the one with the problem, not me!

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Oh Candace! Yes, the pastor was the one with the problem, not you. Matthew 23:4 is so seen in this: “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”
      They could take ownership and deal with their own temptations and lust problems. But instead they put the burden of their own sin on young children, the burden of a sin they are not willing to actually part with because it has become an old friend: a reassurance of their masculinity through uncontrollable lust. It’s so sad, and I’m so glad this was validating for you and freeing because that was never OK.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad it helped you! And I cry for little you, too. I hate that girls have to endure this.


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