Why “modesty” won’t protect your family

September 24, 2017 Rhonda Schrock Rhonda's Posts

It came during a good and productive discussion at church. We were sittin’ in the middle of a sizable Sunday School class where the topic was “fighting for our families,” a message we’re all needin’, for sure.

Point by point, we were workin’ it through. “Awesome families have fun together.” How do we have fun? How’s that look? And here, ideas came flowin’.

“Awesome families encourage growth.” So talk to me. How are you teachin’ your kids to grow? Again, more healthy discussion.

Then this. “Awesome families protect each other (I think that’s how it went).” Now. How do we fight for our families and protect?

It was one word and then the sentence that came out next which sent alarm bells clanging like klaxon horns. The single word was this: “Modesty.” And the sentence that followed was this: “I had a man tell me he can’t go to (our third service).” By implication, “Because of how the women dress.”

Ye gods. We are in trouble.

We’re in trouble, not because of what any particular woman is or isn’t doing. We’re in trouble because of a great and terrible lack. Perhaps Hosea said it best, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” And this lack, coupled with a terminal heart disease (diagnosis, sin) is killin’ us.

So much suffering, turmoil, and, yes, slavery (i.e., addiction) has been based on a certain key principle; that being that the body itself is sexual, first, foremost, and almost exclusively. The world certainly thinks it’s true. That’s why it uses bodies to market its products. To sell its wares. Pornography is a huge money maker because it plays on this fallen view of the body. Of God’s creation.

The church has swallowed this whole. Thus, the “modesty culture” and its attempt to control and regulate and restrain lust through behavior modification and outward measures. Which (haven’t we learned this yet?) never work. Not for long. And so the church and the world, they agree.

We are in trouble.

But what if there is a simple truth that would set us all free? What if the human form as designed by Papa isn’t itself pornographic? What if simply seeing someone of the opposite sex, no matter what they are or aren’t wearing, is not a sexual experience? What if that?

A loving Papa like the one I’ve got could never give me a form or a physical dwelling that would only ever cause men to sin. That is not His nature. He can’t do it.

A loving Papa like the one I have would never set up me or my husband or my sons or your daughters; He could not possibly set us all up for failure by making our spirit-houses stumbling blocks and temptations to sin.

It is insanity that we’ve fallen into. That we’ve believed. We have eaten the apple from the wrong, terrible tree, and it’s made us blind and diseased.

The heart of the matter is…

The heart! If a man has lust in his heart, then staying away from third service is not going to heal his heart. Trust me. The proof of that is the abundance of lust and sexual abuse in the most modest and covered-up of Plain circles or in the strict Arab lands; in fact, some of the worst of it’s there.

Asking your daughter or wife to wear certain clothing won’t protect them from a man who’s heart is lust-full. It won’t protect my husband or sons, either, if they should choose such a heart. It can’t.

“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” That’s what Jesus said.

It was my Mr. Schrock who offered a cogent example. After he’d had some time to think about what we’d just heard, he said, “You know, if my car has engine trouble, waxing it and polishing it and taking care of the outside…

“Won’t fix the engine. Won’t make it run better.” Exactly. And keeping it garaged will not touch the engine trouble, either. Even keeping all other cars off of the road can never repair a broken engine.

Same with hearts, with bodies, with anything that tempts us to sin. For the one who struggles with gluttony, then forcing everyone else to eat only salad is irrational. Banning the rest of the world from eating a DQ Blizzard is, too.

For the one who struggles with envy, it isn’t reasonable to demand that no one else build a fine house. Or take a vacation. Or anything else you’d like to have or do. It won’t work.

Neither will “modesty.” And neither will removing oneself from the world.

There is a beautiful, free, and liberated way to live and move and have our being in a dark and fallen world without being infected. I know, for I am living it, and my husband is, too. It’s called Truth, and He has set us free.

With all praise and glory to the Truth, the Life, the Way,


15 Responses to “Why “modesty” won’t protect your family”

  • Carrie says:

    Yes, yes, so much yes! Thank you for sharing so eloquently what I have believed, but never been able to put to words.

  • Judy McPhail says:

    Great words of truth!

  • PMiller says:

    This article does not seem biblical. Certainly having Christian females will not necessarily protect them from those intent on lust and sin. However, church and being among Christians ought to be a safe place for those who are fighting lust. I doubt that the author of the article would write a similar one about not having alcohol out when someone fighting alcoholism is visiting. We would not say that it is the alcoholic’s problem, so it does not matter if we have alcohol out. We need to be concerned for the weaker brother and sister–not condemn them and excuse the immodesty we see so often among Christian females, who often ought to be ashamed of how they dress.

    • Anonymous says:

      The church ought to be the safest place for girls and women to be, but often it is not. The biblical approach to this problem, if one insists on being literal, is found in Matthew 18. “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” It is not a piece of clothing that offends, it’s the eye and mind of the one who sins. Trying to place blame on others for your sin is the real shame.

    • David Martin says:


      The fact is that it is the modern church’s idea of “modesty” that is completely unbiblical.

      Think of all the things that “modesty” teaching tells us:

      * Keep your ______ covered for everyone but your spouse.”

      * Form fitting clothing will cause men to lust after you.

      * Clothing will reduce the incidence of lust in men.

      * Women bear partial responsibility for a man’s sin of lust.

      * It’s “OK” for you to allow your doctor see your otherwise-covered body parts.

      That’s not a complete list of course, but you can add any other “rule” to the list that you like.

      My point is this… do you know how many of those points are found in the Bible? Exactly none.

      Let me say it again… there is no rule of “modesty” (as taught by the church today) that comes directly from God’s Word.

      In fact, if you read 1 Tim. 2:9 and its context carefully, you’ll find that the only sort of “modesty” the Paul was writing about was the kind that avoids displays wealth. I live in a “modest” house. I drive a “modest” car. I wear “modest” (not expensive) clothing.

      And if anybody wants to really go deep on a careful review of the true meaning of 1 Tim. 2:9, I’d suggest you read this article about the true meaning of the words Paul used in the passage:



      • Anonymous says:

        Thankyou. People say they are no longer under bondage. Neither am I. Christ has made me free from sin and I love Him enough that I choose to obey His Word. His commandments are not grievous.

    • Not Biblical? Sadly, you and others of the same opinion haven’t carefully contemplated the huge difference between the Biblical concept of “modesty” and the modern re-definition learned culturally in growing up. Central to the former definition of Peter and Paul (1 Pet 3:3-4; 1 Tim 2:9-10) is the holiness of the heart, manifested in dressing up in virtues, like humility and good deeds, and avoiding luxurious adornment that attracts attention to self. The latter definition’s focus is on hiding skin, based on a sexualized view of the human body. We culturally inherited that latter view from the Victorian period, but even as late as 1828, Webster’s Dictionary said nothing about the use of clothing to hide skin or body parts to create a condition of “modesty.”

      The key to ending the lust connected to seeing God’s “fearfully and wonderfully made” “temple of the Holy Spirit” that embodies “God’s image” is a heart issue—as this blog article is biblically correct in stating. The biblical solution is not to trust in culturally-devised, externally-focused strategies to prevent the body from being seen but to obtain a renewed heart. Christians need to have God’s heart in their hearts and to look at all creation, including the bodies of the opposite sex, with the eyes and mind of Christ.

      It WOULD BE biblically immodest to dress up or posture the body with the express purpose of attracting sexual attention, but without such intent or motive, even fully undressing can be entirely modest. I, as an L&D nurse, and millions of other healthcare workers, have routinely seen such nonsexual nudity without lusting. How so? Seeing reality (the naked truth) sabotaged the fantasies from the sexualized view of the body fostered by a culturally and religiously adopted, non-Biblical re-definition of modesty. So, who is causing the “weaker brother” to stumble and stay “weak”? Is it the human anatomy itself, which shows forth the glory of God’s praiseworthy creativity better than any other part of creation? Or is it the religious teaching of a false modesty’s sexualized view of the body that focuses on externals as a remedy for lust? I know by experience that a stark view of the former can very quickly undo the years of learning the latter. Why? Because truth easily banishes deception.

  • Noah Lattin says:

    1 Corinthians 8

    • David Martin says:

      Noah, please expand on why you think 1 Cor. 8 applies to this issue.

      • Noah Lattin says:

        I fully agree that a man is ultimately responsible for his own sin, just to get that out of the way. On the balance, the way women (and men) dress should show that they care about their brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve far too often seen men and women who don’t feel that they need to be concerned about what they wear being overly concerned with being appealing to the opposite sex, having no regard for modesty (as Paul used the word), or decency in not causing their fellow believers to stumble

      • Cat says:

        I’m following this, and I think he may be referring to Paul saying that it’s okay to eat any meat, but if eating meat offered as a sacrifice to idols would tempt a weaker brother, then he would abstain when in this brothers presence. And I agree.

        Matthew Henry says this: “Injuries done to Christians, are done to Christ; but most of all, the entangling them in guilt: wounding their consciences, is wounding him. We should be very tender of doing any thing that may occasion stumbling to others, though it may be innocent in itself. And if we must not endanger other men’s souls, how much should we take care not to destroy our own!” (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/mhc/1_corinthians/8.htm)

        • David Martin says:


          As good as Matthew Henry’s comments are, we must be very careful how we apply them.

          We are quick to say, “we should not cause a brother to stumble,” but we are not nearly as quick to shun man-made rules for righteousness (Which Paul clearly rebukes Christians for following in Col. 2:20-23).

          Sadly, many in the church have used the “cause a brother to stumble” argument as a basis for establishing man-made rules for righteousness. The idea is that if you do something (like wear a bikini) and a man sins in response (lusts in his heart), that you have sinned because you bear at least partial responsibility for the man’s lust. But that’s not at all what Paul meant.

          If you recall, Jesus caused a LOT of the Pharisees to “stumble” when they heard His words and watched His actions. Jesus spoke or acted, and they responded sinfully. And Jesus did not measure His words or actions at all to mitigate against their having that sinful response.

          Clearly, that’s not what Paul was talking about when he told us not to cause brother to “stumble.” Jesus never sinned against the Pharisees by causing them to “stumble.” Rather, His words and actions *revealed* the sin that was already in their hearts.

          When we carefully read Paul’s words in Rom. 14 & 1 Cor. 8, we find a very different defintion of “stumble” is being used. It means that the strong Christian participates in an activity that the “weak” Christian does not yet have freedom in his/her conscience to do, but when they see the “strong” Christian do that activity, they decide to go ahead and do it themselves, even though their own conscience still objects to the activity. THAT, and that alone, it what “stumbling” is in Paul’s writing (for the record, Jesus used a different definition in Matthew 18).

          In other words, if a woman wears a bikini, she is only causing a brother to “stumble” if he hasn’t yet concluded that he himself has the moral freedom to wear a bikini, but after seeing her, he decides to wear a bikini, in spite of his own conscience telling him that he shouldn’t.

          Of course, that example is ludicrous, but that’s the ONLY way that Paul’s words on “causing a brother to stumble” can be correctly applied to a woman wearing a bikini!

          Matthew Henry is right to say that when we sin against a brother, we are sinning against Christ. But we should not be calling something sin because we are misapplying God’s Word to a situation.

          For a more indepth treatment of the ways these passages are misinterpreted and misapplied to create man-made rules, see this article: https://www.scribd.com/document/239460986/You-Can-t-Do-That


  • David Hatton says:

    Thank you for writing this, Rhonda. I will be sharing it on FB. Some dysfunctions—like the modern concept of modesty that has re-defined the Biblical one—take generations to die out of a culture. But that demise is assisted by such articles as this. If a critical mass of Christians realize the bankruptcy of the non-Biblical “modesty” they have been teaching all these years, we may live to see the church return to the Bible’s idea of modesty.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for getting to the real heart issues.

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