Opinion | Sexuality

Modesty: A Female-Only Virtue?

Scripture suggests that modesty means more than keeping the right parts covered.

About this time four years ago, Calvin College students, ready to enjoy the long-absent Michigan sun, spent hours each day on the campus lawn, "studying" for finals and playing Ultimate Frisbee until dusk. Calvin, affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church (and—I must say—a contender for the "Christian Harvard" label long held by Wheaton College), has no written policies on student clothing, though staff and students have debated that decision. But as tank tops and skirts began appearing on campus every spring, RAs and staff would somberly remind female students to mind our hem- and necklines, lest we let a brother stumble. "Women don't realize how visually wired men are," the reasoning went. "We shouldn't wear things that lead their minds to impure places."

Sexual immorality, of course, is a serious matter, Scripture attests, and research abounds on real chemical differences between men's and women's brains. Further, a thriving Christian community requires its members to think beyond their own preferences, about how personal decisions impact others. But, as I watched hoards of my male peers bounding across the lawn wearing nothing but flimsy track shorts—think Juno's Paulie Bleeker—I wondered if they had received any wisdom or direction about their dress. Is modesty a virtue only for women?

This question arose in a personal way this Easter, which is a days-long celebration at the church I attend. A single friend asked if he could sleep on my roommate's ...

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