Identity Crisis! Part Two: Female Modesty and the Primal Male Beast

It’s Springtime. Flowers bloom, weather warms and all God’s creation revives in beautiful splendor. Yet, it is a most dreaded time of year. More than just the weather heats up. Spring and summer yield a sumptuous visual feast for the primal male beast. Barely-there shorts, bikinis, spandex and spaghetti straps or no straps at all. Temperatures are climbing. Oh yeah, it’s hot. And lust is in full bloom.

Yes, it is a dreaded time of year. Not that winter is without incident, thanks to the vilest offender and new everyday casual –  yoga pants.  There’s no escaping the flesh parade, no matter what season. It is widely available continually on TV and internet, but those venues can be turned off. Warm weather brings it up in your face whether you like it or not.

Raised on heavy doses of self-esteem and girl power, young women are proud of their bodies; bodies yet untainted by the force of gravity and other body altering realities of life. They dress provocatively without concern, imitating celebrity pop culture.

A little itsty bitsy fashion history…

Many of us can remember the so-called sexual revolution of the sixties, those days of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Perhaps you also recall those ditsy beach movies with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. That’s when the bikini was mainstreamed into American culture, following its European beginnings. In this presentation, Jessica Rey gives a quick history of the bikini and tells how it was created to empower women. She does a tremendous job and I couldn’t say it any better. Please watch this video to uncover (pun intended) the real power of the bikini.

Girl power. Bikini power. Where is all this empowerment taking us? Here is the true demonic power of the bikini – it has the power to shut down the man’s ability to see a woman as a person. Instead he sees her as an object, something to be used. The primal male brain sees tools to be used when viewing a scantily-clad female. Is that the female identity – a tool? An object of man’s lust?  I don’t know Jessica Rey’s theology but I certainly applaud her for her efforts.

But wait…this is nothing new under the sun. Bikinis actually arrived much earlier than 1946. Here’s the ancient Roman version from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository:

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? We certainly do as the Romans did, and more!

May I digress a bit?

While we’re on the subject of bikinis and ancient Roman debauchery, permit me to blast the bread and circuses of our day: sports. Many years ago as a young bride, I wrote a letter to the editor of Sports Illustrated after my husband got his swimsuit issue in the mail. I wrote something like: Are winter sports so dull that you have to compensate with some pornographic diversion? Yes, that’s precisely why the swimsuit issue was created. Sports are perfect breeding ground for wooing the primal male beast. Just look at the TV commercials during a sports broadcast. First of all, note the products being pushed. Beer, cars, and Big Pharma’s solutions to sexual dysfunction. Greed, sex and intoxication. The tools used to sell these products? Women. Especially scantily clad women. Married people, the flesh parade is an assault on your marriage. Your Christianity doesn’t exempt you. There are stats out there that declare this flesh-lust fest is devouring Christian marriages. I don’t like to think about how many men sit in church hiding their secret sin of pornography addiction. A word to wise men: get off the couch. Get your real tools in the garage and fix something for your wife.

So what are godly young women to do?

As believers in Jesus Christ, what do we say to our daughters when they choose their clothing? Is it a sin to have a beautiful body and show it? Should everything be covered? Should she wear a box over her body?

You might say the Bible is unclear – what exactly is being said about modesty in 1 Tim 2:9?  In 1 Peter 3:3-4? You might think there is nothing about tempting men here. John Piper explains in Is Feminine Modesty About Sex? when he ties these verses in with the text of Revelation 17. He says:

“Revelation 17 seems to settle it — 1 Peter 3:3 and 1 Timothy 2:9 are concerned with misusing clothing to flaunt sexuality in public. The language of Scripture links the two modesty passages with sexual promiscuity. Further, based on the evidence of Revelation 17, it seems reasonable to correlate the immodesty of the first century (in its excessiveness), to the immodesty of our culture (in its skimpiness).”

There is far more biblical proof than this. Look at Proverbs 11:22:

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”

This is a perfect analogy relating to female modesty. Matthew Henry’s Commentary states:

It is taken for granted here that beauty or comeliness of body is as a jewel of gold, a thing very valuable, and, where there is wisdom and grace to guard against the temptations of it, it is a great ornament, (Gratior est pulchro veniens de corpore virtus—Virtue appears peculiarly graceful when associated with beauty); but a foolish wanton woman, of a light carriage, is fitly compared to a swine, though she be ever so handsome, wallowing in the mire of filthy lusts, with which the mind and conscience are defiled, and, though washed, returning to them. 2. It is lamented that beauty should be so abused as it is by those that have not modesty with it. It seems ill-bestowed upon them; it is quite misplaced, as a jewel in a swine’s snout, with which he roots in the dunghill. If beauty be not guarded by virtue, the virtue is exposed by the beauty. It may be applied to all other bodily endowments and accomplishments; it is a pity that those should have them who have not discretion to use them well.

I think we could go even further when we see so many Biblical references to nakedness. Isaiah 47 is a great example of God’s metaphorical language using nakedness together with shame. Isaiah 47: 2, 3 says:

“…uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.

Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.”

Throughout His Word, God metaphorically uses the harlot exposing her flesh when speaking of ultimate idolatry. In simplest terms, people, if it were such a good thing, something to be so proud of (prancing around almost naked) God would have used different language!

Brian Schwertley, in Modesty in Apparel: Bringing a Believer’s Attire Into Subjection to the Word of God delves into the biblical concept of nakedness in depth. I love what he says here:
What modern American woman today regard as attractive, sexy and stylish (i.e. bathing suits, mini skirts, hot pants, short shorts, etc.), God regards as a form of nakedness that ought to be humiliating and shameful.

Spring and summer reveal the proud display of nakedness.

The lie exposed: Exposure is not empowerment. Exposure is shameful. She was afraid to come out of the water (with her itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini). Why? She was naked! What happened to Adam and Eve in the garden? When they realized they were naked, they hid from God. They were ashamed. They covered up. Nakedness is the body exposed but also symbolic of sin and our need for covering for that sin. When our Lord went to the cross with our sins, he hung there naked. It was the ultimate humiliation.

But, you say…

  • My Christian liberty allows me to wear whatever I please. God doesn’t regard externals, He looks at the heart. 1 Peter 3:4 explains how women should dress:

“but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

Like everything else, this is a heart issue. The hidden person of the heart can be a whore or a saint. Dress accordingly. That’s all that’s required. There is no dress code. Examine your hearts first. Then you’ll choose the proper clothing. We don’t need rules. We don’t need to fall into legalism. You don’t have to dress like you’re starring in Little House on the Prairie. In your heart of hearts, you know what’s enticing. Wearing provocative clothing is brazen, and the only empowerment given is to the enemy. Our adversary goes about like a roaring lion. Deliberate flaunting makes it easy for men to lust and we are not at liberty to cause our brethren to stumble. Do you like being seen as an object, a tool? That is not your identity.

  • But it’s hot and I’m sunbathing. Itsy bitsy is fine as long as I’m at the beach.

Would you go across the street to retrieve your mail in your bra and panties? A different environment doesn’t make it right. Hot sun, sand and crashing waves don’t legitimize indecent exposure. I confess that I don’t know what the beach solution is. Even one piece swimsuits can stir up lust in a primal male beast.

  • It’s all her fault/his fault!

I am really sick and tired of the way so many Christians put all the responsibility on the female in this matter. Yes, she should dress modestly. But what about the men, those primal male beasts? Their problem is that they almost legitimize evolution when they oogle over the female body and lose all sensibility over it. The primal male beast can undress a pretty woman in his mind even if she wears a potato sack. The primal male beast needs to die. Of course you understand primal male beast is another way of saying natural man, unregenerate man, carnal man, etc. I’m not bashing men here, just their sinful lust.

On the other hand, we can’t blame men for looking when it’s all out there. That’s simply not fair. Men and women share equal responsibility. I know yoga pants are comfortable; I have a few pairs myself. But my husband is the only one who sees me in them.

Back to the beginning…

I am not saying sexuality or sexual desire is wrong. I am not saying our bodies are evil.  God created male and female. Remember our theme verse, Genesis 1:27 for this blog series on Identity. Also recall that God declared all of his creation to be good, and after mankind was created it was very good (v.31).

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 

 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

What happened after that is the problem. Both Adam and Eve sinned. Adam blamed ‘that woman you gave me’ and he still blames her for being eye candy. She, in turn, blames him for being such a primal male beast. Here is God’s remedy for the blame game:

The One most important ‘clothing’ to wear:

Romans 13:14 – But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Men – Your true identity in Christ is not that primal male beast.There are so many portions of scripture that deal with lust and sexual immorality and guarding against this particular sin.

In a way, men are entirely responsible in the issue of female modesty. Simply put, it’s all about God’s order of creation. Assuming the man is saved by grace and covered by the atoning blood of Christ, he has Christ as his head. Man is head of the woman and is her protector and provider. He provides her with spiritual covering. Which would, in turn, teach her about covering her body properly according to God’s Word. Fathers, teach your daughters. Protect them. I fear most churches have let society’s immodest culture infiltrate its pews. I pray that Pastors and elders will teach the young women in their congregations. And ladies, please, dress to kill (the beast).

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