If you’re still on twitter, you’ve probably seen either that tweet from Brian Sauve or the latest “discussion” about modesty it ignited. Naturally this modesty kerfuffle looks like every other recent one: Men point out that women should dress modestly because God commands it and it helps them deal with temptation. In response, women wonder how men could dare tell them how to dress–let alone attach God’s name to such presumption.
So I’ve decided to write a pair of blog posts on the subject–one for men, and one for women. This is the one for men. Ladies, read it if you want and think what you will, but it neither asks anything of you nor offers anything to you. Men are the audience, and I’m not even trying to appeal to you or persuade you with this one. Yours can be found here.
If I were to pick one Bible passage to summarize my take on the Modesty Wars, it would be Luke 17:1-2:
Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.
Yes, the many willfully immodest women you encounter every day stand under Christ’s curse here, for they are the very ones through whom your temptations come. Thankfully, you are not in their shoes. But that also means you only need to focus on the first part Christ’s statement: Temptations to sin are sure to come. Therefore, you need to learn to handle it–without women.
The brute fact of the matter is that most Western women–even ones calling themselves Christians–have less than zero interest in helping you. They would rather you fall into unchastity a thousand times over than lift their little finger in assistance. Men are on their own in this. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that we really can learn to handle it. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, but will always provide a means of escape.
To be sure, part of that escape is cultivating internal self-control. As a fruit of the Spirit, self-control requires the Word and Sacrament by which the Holy Spirit acts in us. So make sure you regularly attend a church which faithfully and rightly offers these things each week. It also requires spiritual disciplines like prayer, mortification of the flesh, private confession, and so forth. Avail yourself of these.
Self-control is also an earthly virtue, and that means training and discipline. For example, if you find it difficult to control your libido, you need to do everything in your power to find a wife so that you may satisfy your God-given sex-drive as He intended. Or if you’re dealing with a pornography addiction, you need to connect with people who know how to handle addiction. There are a lot of practical ways to help develop the various skills involved in self-control, and we need to avail ourselves of them as well.
But that’s only part of the issue because self-control is not merely internal. The other part–the part we experience everyday–is that the temptations to lust in Western society are among the worst in history. But that historical disparity in temptation also means that it doesn’t have to be this way. And since women aren’t going to spontaneously become reasonable, fixing it means men doing what men do best: building civilization.
We need to work to create a less tempting society–and that means actual work. None of this will remove temptation, but socially corralling it is part of that earthly skill of self-control. Thankfully, there are many different approaches we can take on this–and they aren’t at all mutually exclusive. These are just a few examples to consider:
Create more male-only spaces in society.
One of the most difficult aspects of avoiding temptation is that there are few places to go to where you don’t run into exactly the same thing. Women demanded entrance into every institution in the West, and men foolishly said yes. So now, the fact that so many women are immodest means that you’ll find immodest women pretty much anywhere you go. Even many churches are replete with temptation, as this very battle over modesty demonstrates.
But if women will not suffer correction, then segregation remains an option. The various rules of propriety and sex-segregated institutions that we let feminism destroy didn’t spring fully-formed from Zeus’s forehead. They were built by men; and men can do so again. Anti-discrimination laws can make this difficult, but not insurmountably so–particularly for informal, private, or religious institutions. From Boy Scouts to church leadership, women gained access by social pressure far more often than by lawsuits.
And this goes for roles and products as well as institutions. Feminists clamor for things like leadership positions in organizations or concessions/representation in entertainment aimed at men for two reasons: 1) because these things help establish the norms in society (include appropriate dress) and 2) they need to co-opt them because women tend to be inferior at creating such things on their own.
Churches are a good place to start with establishing male-only roles because faithful ones already have the office of pastor as an example. What would happen if, instead of haggardly defending this last bastion of male-exclusive leadership, we actually started suggesting or creating other roles which would be served exclusively by men?
But it all depends on men being able to tell women “no” and put up with the pique that follows. They can’t help us with that.
Bring back slut-shaming.
And just as a caveat here, I don’t specifically mean name-calling or bullying. I mean the open expression of distaste and even contempt for female unchastity. Bullying is unnecessary as pretty much any reminder of the moral law written on our hearts will naturally result in feelings of shame (and the shrieking women use to cover up that feeling.) The simple truth is enough to hurt.
I’ve written more extensively about the importance of cultivating an appropriate sense of shame elsewhere, so I won’t labor this point. But many women who would never willingly help you remain chaste would nevertheless dress modestly simply out of worry that normal people will think they’re dressed like a whore. But they’ll never worry about that unless normal men give voice to it from time-to-time.
Women react so vehemently against the prospect of slut-shaming precisely because of how powerfully it affects them. Hence all the efforts to either erase or defang those kinds of words in common language. But once again, those efforts amount to nothing more than social pressure which men do not need to cave to.
The trick, of course, is that “normal” qualifier. Nobody really cares if an outcast questions a woman’s virtue, which is why they try so hard to label men incels when they do. But the unavoidable reality is that men’s preferences on sexual integrity are God-given and nearly universal. Simps and white knights will pretend otherwise, but since women literally cannot help but despise such men, their words can only go so far–even in an age of social media.
Men value virginity. Normalize expressing that value openly and unashamedly in both words and actions. The more we do so, the more women will avoid openly signaling their lack of integrity.
It really doesn’t matter if 95% of women learn to be modest if you’re going to be watching the other 5% online. There always have been and always will be women who sell themselves. Men will always need to resist them. But modern technological delivery mechanisms make that harder.
Can it ever be extinguished completely? No. There’s no law on earth that completely prevents what it forbids. But the harder we can make it to access, the better because the most insidious thing about pornography is how easy it is. Men have powerful sex drives to motivate us in the difficult task of finding a bride, attaining marriage, and having a family. Pornography defuses that drive and redirects it towards easy and meaningless facsimiles that consume real life.
Work hard to get it out of your life. Work hard to get it out of your home. But the more you can succeed in those, the more you will be prepared to find ways to start getting it out of your community–or at least drive it into hiding.
So by all means, proclaim God’s word about modesty because it’s God’s word and women need to hear it for either instruction or for judgment. But stop looking to women for help and get creative instead. God created us to be creators as well–and to take dominion. Women merely make that job easier or harder. It’s ok to try and fail, but don’t defeat yourself by waiting for a woman to save you. She can’t; she’s just a woman.