Modest clothing is not the answer if people are trying to maintain a culture that is free from sin.
Modest clothing is not the answer for why women are sexually assaulted.
Modest clothing is not the answer for problems that originate the heart.
Modest clothing is not a remedy for controlling the actions of men.
Modest clothing is not a surefire way to make sure nothing bad ever happens.
Modest clothing, however, is an answer for people who want to respectfully adorn themselves in Christlike manner and who do not want to sin with their bodies.
Cloistered religious groups are not free from the blight of sexual predators, and the layering of clothing does not do away with this phenomenon.
There is also evidence to suggest that in society it is a small percentage of men committing most of the sex crimes.
Rape victims are often wearing an array of clothing choices from what could be considered revealing to frumpy sweatpants and t-shirts.
When I was 15, I was sexually assaulted while wearing a gray t-shirt, red flannel shirt, (it was the 90s) and a pair of sweatpants.
Countries in the Middle East where women are covered more excessively than most people here in the United States do not see a decrease in the occurrence of rape. The numbers are actually higher.
I am not saying to dress scantily, and go hang out at the bar.
I am not saying to not dress modestly. I am saying that there are other factors at play regarding sexual assault, and it is good to be educated as to what these are.
A Federal Commission on Crime Violence Study has shown that in only 4.4% of cases, was there provocative behavior on the part of the victim.
Research has shown that rapists target submissive women and that most do not remember what their victim was wearing.
Other studies show that women in body-covering clothing, long sleeves, layers, and high neck lines, make an attractive target, because they don't believe they will be difficult to overpower -- due to their personalities.
Rapists have also targeted females that are between infancy and their 90s.
A certain percentage of college men polled have stated that they would rape someone if they could get away with it.
Rape is about power, and a modesty culture that exists to deter the sinful thoughts of men can run into trouble in various ways.
It can lead rape victims to blame themselves for not being modest enough, and it can create feelings of undue pride in those who dress modestly. It can excuse the behavior of perpetrators, because people believe that they were 'enticed' by a woman. It can lead communities to look down on women who are victimized as being somehow deserving of it or even asking for it.
It can lead a person to feel ashamed and at fault for something beyond their control.
The intention of not causing brothers in Christ to stumble is a noble one that has some merit, but in the Bible, responsibility for lustful thoughts is put on the shoulders of the one doing the lusting. Young men need to understand that it is not someone else's job to control their thoughts or actions.
How can men who are are in Christians circles expect to possibly train as pastors or teachers and lead one day when they are told that their lust is out of their hands and that women control that aspect of their life.
Are they to passively hope no woman tempts them? Where is this found in scripture?
Do we teach the same things about theft? That you can take what you want, and it is the other person's fault?
Potiphar's wife was not responsible for Joseph's actions. Joseph himself was. In Potiphar's wife, we have an extreme example of a woman who actually is trying to entice Joseph to touch her, and yet, he does not.
Because he is control of his own actions.
In the book of Proverbs chapter 8, a woman is trying to seduce a passerby, and he is told to stay far away from her house. Job is quoted as saying that he made a covenant with his eyes not to look upon a maiden.
Because these men were responsible for their own actions.
Would it not be dangerous to ask women to submit to husbands who are not capable of controlling their own impulses?
David had a son named Absalom and a daughter named Tamar.
Tamar was beautiful, yes, but she was undoubtedly a chaste woman. Her brother, Absalom, was obsessed with her. He told his friend, who, in turn, devised a plot whereby he would feign sickness and lure her into his bedroom. When she came to him per his request, he raped her.
It was his lust, his obsession, and his action.
It was not her fault. Nowhere does the Bible say that her clothing choice caused his action. Nowhere is the fault placed on her.
Please understand that I say all of this to set the captives free and not to bash anyone because of what they do or don't choose to wear. People are hurting, because they believe they are at fault for bad things that happened to them, and people believe, falsely, that something like this could never happen to them.
We need to be vigilant, and know the signs (these include a stranger talking to us, especially in an isolated spot, something feeling off or not right. Rapists are also likely to target those who have used drugs or alcohol, though this still does not mean that rape in these cases are a victim's fault.)
We need to understand the nature of the problem, and stop assigning fault to young girls whose only crime is wanting to look attractive.
We need to be careful for the predators in our midst, and do something about it when they strike. We need to stop looking the other way while assigning blame to the victim. We're teaching everyone that this sort of behavior is alright.
It is not.
It is understandable that we seek to have control over issues that scare us and that I pray never come near our doors. But, dear, friends, we've given modest clothing choices more power than they possess.
We are to show respect for our bodies in dressing in a way that God will approve of, and it must come from a heart that wants to serve Him. It is when we use it as a formula and catch-all for life's problems that modest clothing is not and will never be the answer.
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