The Practical Side of Modesty
In another scientific confirmation of what you already knew or thought to be true, researchers at Indiana University found that men pay more attention to a female news anchor if she’s dressed attractively, but remember less of what she said. So what does that say about how we train our sons? Quite a lot, actually.
You can read the formal abstract of the study from the report in Communication Research, or a more colorful commentary in Salon.
The Bible doesn’t say too much about how men dress, but it has some specific guidance for women — 1 Peter 3:1-5 tells wives in the church not to focus on outward beauty but inward. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 adds the issue of modesty and appropriateness. I think it’s because men are such visually-oriented creatures, the appearance of the opposite sex impacts us much stronger than it does women.
Men pick up on cues that most women aren’t even aware they are sending. That’s the key point for us as parents of sons (and husbands of wives). The critical point for men is what to do with that notice.
Like we say in the book, you can’t stop birds from flying overhead; occasionally one will drop something on you. It’s a different matter if you hang around under the bird’s nest, eagerly hoping for bird droppings, and rubbing them happily into your hair when they come.
What we have to teach our sons, and remind ourselves, is to guard our eyes and our hearts, too. Don’t go looking for temptation, and don’t let your eyes wander where temptation might be looking for you. In the first case, you stay totally out of the “adult” section of the magazine rack; in the second, you avoid the tabloids on the grocery store aisles.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the *path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!Psalm 1:1 (NASB)
Ask yourself – is this the pathway that wicked men follow, one they’d like to lead me down? Or is the narrow road Christ wants me to tread?
Online, use some filtering or accountability software. Our favorite is Covenant Eyes (We’ve used them for years for our family and recently partnered with them so you can get a free month trial. If you try it out and like it, it helps support our ministry, too). Some things that don’t get filtered, like sidebar advertisements on news sites or certain “sports” stories – I don’t need to know the latest about NFL cheerleaders, thank you – we need to discipline ourselves to avoid.
We need to remember our first love – Christ – and strive to be the kind of men He wants us to be: HOLY. And we need to remember our other commitments – to purity before marriage, and fidelity afterward. Don’t go shopping for things you can’t, or shouldn’t, “buy”.
And we need to recognize that advertisers, or newscasters, or other media providers, may be selling us something other than a car, or a news report, or any other product. Focus on the content, and not the messenger – even if she’s pretty. Especially if she’s pretty.