Modesty Culture Creates Weak Men
Was gonna blog about this when it was actually relevant but… anyway TL;DR: Utah Pastor Brian_Sauve is triggered women have bodies and sometimes post pictures of them online (even while pregnant), the sight of which is too much for his Christian flesh to handle.
So why is Pastor Brian following women who are posting bikini pics online?
Second, of all the issues in the world pertaining to women he could, as a man speak up against, such as the prevalence of domestic abuse in the church and elsewhere, sexual assault/harassment so widespread in the church alone it created a #churchtoo movement, rape, human trafficking… it’s bikini pics this guy decides to be righteously upset about. I’m sure the fact women have breasts (that God Himself gave us) would definitely top the Lord’s “what am I flipping tables over today?” list.
Tellingly, Utah Pastor Brian quotes nay a scripture anywhere because the Bible never instructs women to cover up over a man’s lack of self-control. Rather, lust is an issue of the heart, not an issue of what one wears, and Jesus said, “[a]nd if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell,” (Matthew 5:29, KJV).
Scripturally (and I assume as a Christian pastor, he has read and believes in the Bible), if Pastor Brian Sauvé can’t handle seeing women in bikinis, he should gouge his own eyes out. Or perhaps less violently, stop going online. Get rid of a smartphone, personal computer, and social media, and like maybe stop following women online who post these sort of pictures? Living a Christian life often requires radically changing the way one lives – just look at how Jesus lived. Yet swaths of Christian men seem to believe in a gospel that says there’s no need to pursue holiness and cultivate discipline in themselves, or radically alter and inconvenience their lifestyles in order to live a Christian life, particularly in the area of male sexuality.
But this is simply untrue. Christian men are more than conquerors and nothing is impossible with Christ. Furthermore, Timothy entreats men to “treat younger women as sisters with all purity”
but only if they’re covered from the neck up and Galatians says to put down your flesh and walk in the spirt except in the area of male sexuality. Believing men are incapable of leading as the Bible commands diminishes the confidence God has in a man’s ability to lead in all areas, including that of self-control and self-discipline.
There’s nothing inherently sexual about the female body anyway. In Genesis, it was only after sin that Adam and Eve realized they were naked. Modesty standards vary widely across cultures and have changed throughout history – even today, in certain places only prostitutes wear sleeveless shirts.
Society has so oversexualized the female body, men can scarcely look at young women (because I doubt Brian cares if 80 year old Grandmas post bathing suit pictures online) any longer without lust, even when that woman isn’t doing anything particularly sexual. Disturbingly, Christian men seem to struggle in this area even more than their secular counterparts, which should be a giant red flag over how successful purity culture has been. Modesty rules are like putting a Band-Aid over gangrene. No matter how much gauze one uses, there’s still a dying, rotten limb under there that needs to be cut off. Brian’s attitude here, while at first glance seems harmless enough and even reasonable for Christians, insidiously reflects the church’s attitude overall. A church that has been unwillingly to deal with lust from a spiritual perspective, shifting the blame on women, and even children, when men fail to have self-control around them.
Now, lest anyone actually read my blog and call me a heathen, there is something in not intentionally causing others to stumble and that can apply to how one dresses. Paul in 1 Corinthians 8 talks about eating idol meat sold at the markets. To some, this meat is cheap hamburger, so they feast and are #blessed. To others, weak in their faith, it makes them think of sacrificing to idols and they should avoid eating it entirely. Paul goes on to say that a Christian who eats this meat and causes his brother to stumble, is sinning against God and therefore Paul would never use his freedom in such a way (and neither should we).
But the caveat here is these idol meat eaters are weak Christians and Brian is a pastor. Someone so weak in their faith that the mere sight of a woman’s stomach leads him astray really ought to not be leading any church, anywhere, in any part of the world. Like every other day some pastor is caught in some form of sexual sin ranging from cheating to child abuse. And no wonder when we keep putting men still battling their flesh so badly they can’t even look at midriffs online up on pulpits, directly in the path of all sorts of spiritual attacks. Self-control is evidence of a walk with God and certainly every tree that doesn’t bear good fruit should be cut down and thrown into the fire, or at the very least not propped on a stage every Sunday.
Certainly, as Christian women we should be sympathetic towards Christian men navigating today’s hypersexualized world, remembering that our bodies are temples and also the internet is forever. However, women are not responsible for men’s sexual purity, nor is there a Biblical basis to demand women hide themselves because men are physical/lustful/visual/etc. First and foremost, we do all for the glory of God not man. Also, I have hormones and think men are hot, yet I don’t see him advocating men stop posting topless pics of their abs online to help my virgin self remain pure.
On a serious note, this attitude sets men up to believe they’re victims of their mindsets and biology, helpless to do anything except hope they never see cleavage not belonging to their wife in their lifetimes. It diminishes a man’s ability to remain pure within themselves for themselves, but we know that God would not task men with the burden of leadership if they were truly incapable of leading in all areas. Following Christ often requires radical change and even discomfort, something men like Brian rarely advocate for. Those seeking true freedom should be willing to inconvenience themselves to live as Jesus did, setting aside their desires and picking up their own crosses. Men are fully capable of leading in areas of purity, patience, and self-control. Believing otherwise is not believing the very Bible upon which Brian’s faith is built upon.
Anyway, Brian went on some tangent I couldn’t be bothered to read fully, where he said “Christian, you are no longer totally depraved.”
Men are Christ’s workmanship, tasked with spiritual authority and are fully capable of walking in purity without the help of women. This isn’t some poisonous, feminist, anti-patriarchy agenda or whatever he’s whining about, this is straight from the Bible.
Christians ought to be sober minded and alert, and especially aware of what the Bible really says so we’re not swayed by those posting hot takes on social media for retweets. Turn to the Word of God, not wannabe Christian influencers. Test everything with scripture, not culture, tradition, or opinions.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a bikini, taking a belly pic of your growing child, or wearing leggings. The female body isn’t something women should be ashamed of, nor a thing that needs to be covered up and hidden out of fear because God has not called us to a spirit of fear. As women, we are created in the image of God with much care, thought, intention, and beauty and if God found something inherently sinful about how He created us, He would’ve covered us with fur or crocodile skin. So whatever you wear, wear it for the glory of God not man. And if that happens to help your brothers in Christ not stumble, *thumbs up*.