By now, many people have probably read the article published on the blog The Salt Collective wherein the author wrote about her “struggle” with men wearing suits and how hard it is to keep her thoughts pure around men wearing suits.
Now, the more you read the article the more it became apparent that it is somewhat satirical, meant to draw a parallel in the modesty debate about young women and how their choice of dress affects young men. Traditionally, the modesty debate has been a discussion of what girls should wear so her male counterparts steer clear of lusting.
Now, as I read this article (at the beginning, it’s much less like satire than the closing paragraph), I legitimately started questioning myself. “If this is a real problem, do I have a responsibility to do something about it? Like not wearing suits?” As I progressed along this line of thinking, I realized something. It’s kind of ridiculous. As soon as I considered that maybe I shouldn’t wear a suit to help my sisters in Christ, my immediate reaction to myself was, “Heck no! I love wearing suits; they look great. If a girl can’t handle it, that’s her problem!”
Suddenly, I felt like a girl picking out a swimsuit.
In that moment, I realized the point of that deliciously satirical article. We like to apply a massively one-sided standard to girls about this issue, and we justify it with the, “Men are visual, girls aren’t.” This is true, but as a married man, I can tell you I was a whole lot more sure of the truthfulness of that statement when I was single. When the standard is flipped on its head and applied to us, it seems a little silly.
Now, the point of all of this is not to just throw out our standards on everything modesty related. I myself have even written about “the two piece dilemma” and I (mostly) stand by what I wrote. Attractive women in bikinis can be a temptation. But so can attractive women in burqas. When my wife and I went to a Southern California beach recently, we both prayed that God would help us keep our thoughts pure because it’s a struggle for both of us.
I asked my wife about the suits article and she said, “A good-looking man in a suit is to a girl what an attractive girl in lingerie is to a guy.”
Let that sink in. The article wasn’t entirely satire! There was truthiness seeping from the insides!
I fear with this revelation, we may be forced to examine our own hearts instead of the various clothing choices of our peers. Do we need standards? Of course! But as the author of the above mentioned article said, “Remember: upholding an impossible standard that will never remain static and is subject to the cultural, religious, or societal context within which it resides must ALWAYS trump your comfort, convenience, and ability to exist in a public space in whatever manner you choose.”
We need to be flexible and realistic with our standards, and put the Word of God first. Take responsibility for your own actions, and put God’s glory first. That, after all, is what really matters.
*Note, there’s a TON on this topic that could be said here but hasn’t. So please be reasonably discerning in not jumping to strange conclusions just because I didn’t mention it here. No, I’m not advocating for nude beaches. Relax.