Since the rumor is that I don't read the posted comments here, I will quote (with permission) an email I received from a reader. Writing initially to comment on my magazine essay "Control That Tongue," this man went on to say:
"Now I wish you'd write something about control of the eyes. I don't know how it affects women, but men need some inner backbone on this subject, too. And someone needs to point out for women the desperate need for modest apparel. Too low at the neck, too high at the hem (if there is one), and too tight up and down---it all cheapens the woman ("strutting her stuff," so to speak), and makes men's lives miserable. . . ."
It was the word "miserable" that got to me. I hadn't heard that adjective used in connection with women's attire in so long that I thought it wasn't true anymore. I thought that society had evolved beyond all that Cro-Magnon stuff and now it was merely benignly pleasurable for men to see the "décolletage" that has become as common as ear buds. Reality check!
"I'm in my mid 60s, and I fight this battle every single day, and it is not fun. It's warfare, and not only in the secular workplace. Even my dear Christian sisters in the Lord are for the most part clueless! And there's no way to educate them that I know of, because the reaction would be to cry bondage or legalism, or worst of all, 'What's wrong with you, man?' There is nothing wrong with me. I am just a man, struggling every day to keep myself pure, just as the Bible says, 'The holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.'
". . . I'm not sure I speak for all men in these matters. I suspect I'm describing the great majority; but it seems as if some are calloused to it, and others may have actually 'taken their sins into their hearts' and are living in more or less low-level lusting as a matter of course. I don't want to get into the ditch of painting all men with the same brush, or the other ditch of excusing ungodly (mental) behavior either. My battles are my own. But having talked with other men, I know that most if not all are similarly affected. In fact, with my counseling of young men, I sometimes tell them the 'good news' that there's victory; but follow it with the 'bad news' that it never gets easier, whatever one's age."
Note to my gender: We have not cared enough about men, and our guilt is great. "For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes" (Matthew 18:7). If we thought plunging necklines were harmless, a cultural fad; if we sold ourselves the notion that ubiquity made for desensitization; if we deceived ourselves into believing that the game of "entice and deny" was fun for them---let us be sure that this one man's letter represents thousands. What was lust for thousands of years is still lust. What was cruel for thousands of years is still cruel.
A word from the Lord may suggest just what the doctor ordered:
"Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity"(1 Timothy 5:1-2).
Sanctification begins in the mind. Next time we're standing by the water cooler, sisters, and engaged in conversation with a colleague of the male persuasion with whom we are tempted to flirt and preen, how about if we pretend that he is our brother, or father. I would not be surprised if this new mental habit proves enormously helpful in curbing the cruelty.
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