We had some WILD conversations about lust on Facebook this week!
But first–the podcast is delayed by a day.
I know today is podcast day, and it’s all recorded, but Katie, who does my editing and uploading, was without internet all day yesterday due to an internet outage where she lives. So I’m just going to switch Thursday and Friday of this week, and we’ll do the social media round-up today, and the podcast tomorrow.
Sorry about the delay!
Let’s talk lust and modesty!
I started a conversation earlier this week on Facebook about lust and modesty, and it kept snowballing as I would post new things related to some of the comments that were coming in. I haven’t seen this much engagement in ages. I think this really resonates!
Post #1: What if legalism about what clothes to wear wasn’t the problem?
Here’s how it started:
I’m grateful that the larger evangelical community seems to realize that the modesty message often given to teens was fraught with danger.
Big ministries and authors are saying, “we can’t be legalistic anymore.”
But are they missing the point?
I’m doing research for our mother-daughter book right now and combing through many big name writers and influencers, and most seem to be critiquing clothing rules—shirts 2 inches from the collarbone, etc. They know that was harmful.
They say, “legalism was wrong!”
Their response? Instead of rules, we’ll say, “Put on the gospel every morning.”
What does that even mean? That opens the door wide to even more judgmentalism. “You can wear that if you want, Brenda, but does it say ‘gospel’ to you?”
The real issue was not the rules.
It was that girls were being blamed for boys’ lust, told their bodies were dangerous, and told that their dress determines whether they will be abused.
THAT is the issue. And dressing it up in new language doesn’t change it.
Post 2: An amazing comment left by a guy on why we shouldn’t talk as if lust is “every man’s battle”
In the original post, a guy was saying that women should have compassion on men who struggle with lust and should change what they wear. So many people chimed in to show how this logic was faulty, and eventually the guy deleted the thread–which deleted some very thoughtful comments, including this one (which was reposted by the author of it). I thought it deserved its own post:
Should women cover up to have mercy on their Christian brothers who find the battle with lust unrelenting?
An awesome comment left by a guy on a post yesterday, responding to a man who was struggling. Seriously, this needs its own post:
“In certain seasons of life especially, cooperating with the Spirit to conquer lust can seem next to impossible. (Even more so if we do not distinguish between noticing and lusting.) You are right, we are all called to be our “brother’s keeper”, and to try to understand how we can best help each other with our struggles.
However, all relationships work best when we esteem others better than ourselves and have compassion on those who seem to be making things difficult for us. Many (Most?) women that Christian men would ask to dress differently in order to help them not to lust after them are in no way intentionally trying to tempt men. And, when a woman is intentionally trying to tempt a man to lust after her, as compassionate men, we can ask ourselves why that may be the case.
Compassion would have us see the many, common, heart-breaking reasons she is looking for attention in this way. Shaming women who are in this predicament will just continue the cycle that has put them there in the first place. Compassion is a useful tool in our battle to slay lust. Blaming and criticizing women and pleading with them to shoulder more of the burden for OUR lust problem furthers the narrative that we are doomed to be slaves to our sexuality, unless women do their part to protect us from ourselves. After all, Jesus didn’t say that we should pluck an eye out if a woman causes us to lust. He said we should pluck an eye out if OUR EYE causes us to lust.
Michael, you have more power available to you than you realize. What are we saying about ourselves and about God’s ability when we plead with women to consider more seriously our lust problem, and when we insinuate they should consult with us more to avoid dressing in the specific way that “triggers” us to sin? It’s a pathetically false narrative about God and about us that so many of us have believed. When we esteem Our sisters and our mothers better than ourselves, we will hear them crying out in forums like these saying “we don’t feel protected by you, men! We feel like you have given yourselves over to your own lusts, and are demanding that we somehow keep your sin at bey for you! We love you, and want to help you, but the role you are putting onto us is not in your best interest or ours! Modesty cannot save you from your sin, but God can!”
Listen, God is big enough to cause us to be able to love women well in the midst of a pornified culture, no matter what anyone chooses to wear or not wear. Let’s believe that God has called us men to be the ones who will allow Him such access to our minds and lives that we will be willing to guard women from our lust even if we perceive that they refuse to see how difficult it might be for us. Let’s stop demanding grace from women, and instead give it to them without any expectation of getting something in return. Once we stop focusing on the grace we think women should give us because of our lust problem, we’ll start to live in the grace God has already provided. It’s God’s grace that is the context for victory over lust, and every other sin. It’s time we take hold of it.”
So many women said they found what he said so healing–especially knowing a man wrote it.
Post 3: Women are sick of feeling unsafe
As beautiful as that man’s comment was, EVEN ON THAT THREAD another man commented about how women were still to blame. And by that time I had just had it. So I wrote this–which went the biggest of all.
Okay, forgive me because I’m going to get snarky.
I published a beautiful comment this afternoon by a man who perfectly summed up God’s grace to both men and women when it comes to the modesty/lust debate.
BUT EVEN THERE, in the comments, another man doubled down on how women need to be careful not to cause these poor men to stumble.
This may be a bit over the top, but I’m really, really tired of this, and I’d just like men to understand how this sounds to women. So hear me out for a minute:
If a man is lusting after me, I’m not sinning against HIM by existing as a female in his general vicinity. He’s sinning against ME. And quite frankly, I don’t feel safe hanging around guys like this. The more men say: “But how can we guard our thoughts around women?”, the more I hear: “I am not a safe individual to be around, and you should likely stay away, warn your friends and daughters to stay away from me, and never, ever be in my small group at church, sit near me at church, or have any interaction with me at all.”
That’s what women hear. And you know what? We’re getting angry. We’re sick of it. And I think you’re going to see women fleeing churches that are putting this burden on them when it should be on the men to deal with it and treat women with respect.
If you’re struggling with lust, I do have compassion, especially because I think we’ve conflated noticing with lusting so much that we’ve caused hyper-vigilance and shame which makes matters worse. But, please, own your own struggle and don’t blame women for it. Because the more you do, the more you simply sound unsafe. And quite frankly, women are ever so sick of feeling unsafe.
I think I’m done on this subject; I won’t post anymore on Facebook. But Rebecca and I have been thinking about this subject some more with all the comments that have come up, and we might revisit in next week’s podcast! And I want to really pick up on that last bit–do men understand how women perceive them when they start talking about how men lust all the time?
Instagram: Are Authors Telling on Themselves about Lust?
While all of this was running through my head, I decided to make a reel (a short video on Instagram) that summed up the issue. When a man says, “all guys are visual and will think sexual thoughts about women all the time if given the chance,” a woman hears, “I am not safe to be around.”
I don’t think guys understand this. So I tried to explain it, with an example:
Or check it out on Instagram! (Lots of comments too!)
On the Josh Duggar trial for possession of child sexual abuse materials
I just had to share this:
Christianity Today wants my take on the verdict when it comes down today (if it does), no matter which way it goes, and I do think I’ll mention this element. Anything else you think I should say?
The Great Sex Rescue
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What if you’re NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?
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Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of Bare Marriage
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