Last week, La Shawn Barber’s “Girls: Beware what you wear“ soared in popularity on Facebook and Twitter, and was the most-read article at WORLDmag.com. Her well-received observations of two teenage girls at Sea World got me thinking about my own views of modesty.
As a Christian who spent most of my homeschooled days sporting handmade skirts, dresses, and turtlenecks, I understand the need for modesty. I have a brother who reports the effect underclad women have on his male mind. The farm boys working alongside me during my tractor-driving days confirmed this to me. I get it.
But all my devotion to modesty did not keep me from waltzing one spring day into my college’s weight room wearing a cute little tank top. It was really a skin-tight, black spandex workout thing I usually wear as a camisole. The sweaty football players all noticed.
I turned to my boyfriend, Marshall, who was working out next to me, and whispered, “I feel like I’m getting a lot of stares.” He responded, as I recall, “Yeah. You’re kind of hot.” Embarrassed, I resolved to wear T-shirts to the weight room from then on. I told Marshall this as we left together, explaining how I feel responsible to not make guys “stumble” by showing too much.
Marshall thought I was being silly: “You weren’t as uncovered as a lot of people I’ve seen in there.” Still, I have a fierce loyalty to my homeschool values and wore a T-shirt the next time I worked out. And yet, if a columnist had observed me that other day in the weight room and criticized me, I would have felt angry, hurt, humiliated.
La Shawn’s column made me sigh with relief that no one condemned me for wearing my spandex top. It also brought to mind unwelcome memories of my judging nature: shuddering when people use profanity, staring in horror at men walking hand-in-hand, and picking up my own stone for throwing when authorities catch a pimp.
I remember Jesus’ response to the harlot some men brought and threw at His feet. As they stood accusing her, Jesus pretended not to hear and bent down and started to write in the dust. When he stood up, he said to the men, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” The men left. Then Jesus told the woman, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
The phrase “He who is without sin among you” always cuts me to the dividing of soul and spirit. And although the world may cause cringing, Christians ought to look to Jesus’ example of how to confront and love the perpetrators.