Thursday, May 3, 2007

What is Male Modesty? One Woman's Perspective

As we navigate through the topic of modesty, I felt that it would be helpful to devote one post to the issue of male modesty. I am not a man, and so I do not propose to think like one. But, just like immodest women affect men, immodest men likewise affect women. Though it is true to say that lack of discretion with regards to clothing on the part of men is inappropriate, I think the much more important aspect in relation to male modesty deals with protecting the hearts of their sisters in Christ.

First, as a disclaimer, it must be said that women have the primary role of taking steps to protect their own hearts. When in our friendly interactions with men, we take kindness to mean declaration of undying love; we are not being proactive in guarding our hearts. Part of serving the opposite sex is seeking to understand where he or she is coming from, what his or her struggles might be. Women read into things. A lot. Too much actually. This is not a cop-out for our tendency to be overly analytical. But we are wired, by God, to be responders to initiation, and a guy should understand where a woman might be coming from before he asks her to go home to his parents house for Easter dinner, just as friends.

So, as men interact with their female friends, they must be asking themselves what messages their actions are sending. What a man might see as casual conversation, a woman could see as interest. Does this mean that a woman should be angry with the man for never going beyond friendship? No. It is unfair to our brothers to read into a friendship and then expect more than what it truly is. But part of male leadership is examining what message your actions send to your sisters in Christ. If you are spending an excessive amount of time with a girl friend, talking late nights on the phone, sharing your deep thoughts, or even treating her differently than you would your other friends, and you have no plan for the future with her—you are not protecting her heart and you are not exercising your God-ordained role as a leader. Friendship with women should not be a substitute marriage—it should be a pre-requisite.

Elisabeth Elliott tells the story of Jim in her book Passion and Purity when upon finding out a girl friend likes him, he goes to her and sets the record straight, leaving no room for confusion or wrong intentions. Friendship with women is not wrong, ambiguity and ignorance to a woman’s perspective is misleading and hurtful to a fellow sister’s heart.

Modesty on the part of men and women requires much discernment, accountability, prayer, and work. It requires that we live for the benefit of others, and not ourselves. It might mean forgoing a cute outfit, or even forgoing the weekly coffee date with your good friend who is a girl. As we seek to live as biblical men and women, may we think outside of our own desires and feelings, and serve our brothers and sisters so that Christ may be glorified through our friendships.


Steven said...

Agreed. Well put, Courtney.

cdt said...

Thanks, Steve

Vantixs said...

Hi Courtney,

That's really great stuff.

I have seen the above mentioned problem before, but have never really seen it out in writting.

And I've never thought of it as male modesty, but it truly is.

Thanks for the insights.