Believing in a Better Modesty Movement
Respect is at the heart of God's intention for sexual expression. The Old Testament uses the word yada for sex. It means "to know, to be known, to be deeply respected." God's very definition of sex transcends the physical act and emphasizes emotional knowing and an exchange of respect. Respect of others, and even of ourselves, requires self-control. This is one, though not the only reason, that our sexual lives must be characterized by self-control.
A holistic view of the Scriptures reveals that both men and women are called to this standard, and I have devoted my life to this message. At times I enjoy speaking to a mixed audience of men and women, but the great body of my work has been directed at women simply because I am one.
Morality aside, sex thrives in an atmosphere of control and respect. A study referenced in Sex in America found those having both the hottest and most frequent sex were not college co-eds with a variety of sexual partners but middle-aged people who embraced mutual lifetime monogamy out of respect for themselves and their partners. Another study concluded having more partners in their lifetime actually predicted less sexual satisfaction for men. Sexual self-control makes sense for both moral and practical reasons.
I have taught that the deepest sexual beauty of a woman is for just one man, as opposed to many. At times this has been taken out of context as if the purpose of her sexual beauty is to both attract and please a man. That is not true. The ultimate purpose of respecting yourself is not for a man. It is for God.
As an insider of the evangelical modesty and purity movement, I see two ways we can communicate our message more carefully.
Communicate clearly that a woman's body is a masterpiece created by God.
I have two Barbies in my office. The American Barbie wears a mini-skirt and a low, cut tight bodice that pushes her breasts upward. (Incidentally, some psychologists say that girls who play with dolls like this tend to confine role-playing to "seducing the boy," placing them on a "conveyor belt to an early sexualization.") The other, a Muslim Barbie named Fulla, is dressed in a burqa. The only flesh you can see surrounds her eyes.
These dolls create the same end result: a hyper-focused obsession on female sexuality. Both raise awareness of a woman's sexual nature and reduce her to being a mere body.
In some Christian settings, women might as well wear burqas. (It should also be noted that I often see Muslim women who find a way to honor their faith in adorably modest attire that is not repressive.) In those settings where the female body is hidden in shame, men seem uncomfortable. I do not find this same sense of discomfort in environments where women demonstrate a healthy expression of their feminine beauty.
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