Poolside Purity & Bikini Battles

Here we go again. It’s summer time, which means at any given time, in any number of churches nationwide, pastors, youth pastors and leaders are giving their kids (read: their female students) the “one-piece” talk.

A few years back at our church, some students actually petitioned our pastor to include Tankinis. It was a big win for preteens everywhere. I imagine they sat by the pool that summer in their tankinis and drank virgin daiquiris to celebrate.

We have all been there for that dreaded talk. It’s painful for everyone involved and it smacks of legalism. As one student recently said to me, “It just feels like another instance of the old people at church telling people to behave because you’re at church.” It’s absurd, I know. In case you are unfamiliar with the one-piece talk, it goes something like this:

Ok, ladies, it’s summertime, and we’re going to have a lot of events where water is involved (or we’re going to camp, or to an amusement park, or your event-du-jour). You know, guys are visually stimulated, and can’t help but think about sex a lot of the time. We wouldn’t want to make them stumble. So swimsuits should be one pieces only. No exceptions. If you show up in a two-piece, you’ll be asked to sit out.

It’s sad but true. What are you going to do? Those hopeless, slobbering, drooling neanderthal boys are just going to be hopeless, slobbering, drooling neanderthal boys.


Lately, that thought is giving me more and more trouble. I can’t get around the idea that somewhere in the jungle of one-piece swimsuits and hormones, we are missing the true message of the Gospel. Here are three MAJOR overhauls that we need to apply in the way we talk about purity with our teens.

1. STOP giving boys a pass.

I saw a man wearing a TShirt at the grocery store today that proudly boasted, “World’s Okayest Dad.” Hilarious. Men are bumbling idiots. Watch any show on TV and you will find manhood defined as boyhood, but with a wife instead of a mother. Who screws things up? Dad. Who is there for comic relief? Dad. Who can’t even perform “dad” kinds of tasks without ending up in the hospital? Dad. Mancaves. Nagging wives demanding attention (how dare they? Don’t they know there’s a game on?). Homer Simpson. Peter Griffin. Al Bundy. Fred Flinstone. The list goes on.

It’s time we take back our view of manhood. Boys chase one girl after the next. Men treat them with dignity and respect. This message has to be reversed and it starts in our homes.

Fathers: It’s not a “rite of passage” when you take your kid to Hooters. It’s not funny when you nudge them when pretty girls walk by, and give them “the wink.” It’s not funny when you encourage your kids to carry on the stereotype that the first and only thing a man is supposed to think about when he sees someone of the opposite sex is how physically appealing she is.

Every time we do that, we send the following message to our young, impressionable sons: “Look for the skinny girls. Look for the girls with big chests and tiny waists. Check out anyone that walks by with high cheekbones and a perfectly-manicured look. The ‘ugly’ ones aren’t attention-worthy. And don’t give ‘the nudge/wink’ for an overweight girl unless you’re making a joke.”

MAN. FREAKING. UP. The first step to changing the poolside-purity culture in our churches is to stop participating in treating women as if they are objects to be attained.

Instead, we need to teach our young men to honor women for what they are: God’s creatures, created in his image; a gift to man so that we wouldn’t be alone; companions; sisters in Christ; people with feelings, and thoughts, emotions and aspirations.

Putting all the pressure on the girls to “protect” the hopeless boys is a biblically backwards way to look at gender relationships, and is degrading to the boys. If you want to change our poolside-purity culture, change the message you give to the young men, and start it when they are young boys. 

2. Stop putting so much pressure on young girls.

Let me get this straight: On top of keeping up with fashion trends, and social stigmas around dressing right, and on top of parental concerns about modesty, and on top of body image issues and concerns like “that weird mole that I hate on my arm” or “my hair won’t lay flat” issues, you’re telling me that you want to add to a teenage girl’s morning routine, “Is there any possible way this could make any boy I will see today lust?”

Why do we keep telling them that protecting the boys’ struggles and temptations are their problems to bear?

Every guy finds different things attractive. Different guys will like the “dolled up” look, while some may be more attracted to the “relaxed” look, complete with sweatpants and ball caps. Even when girls aren’t “trying” to be “sexy,” men may still lust after them.

But the girls don’t cause that. That’s on the young men.

But here’s what really bugs me about this approach. If we are honest, it’s only a meaningful conversation when discussing “attractive” girls. I mean, we address everyone, but when chubby girls wear tight pants or short shorts, society’s reaction is rarely “that’s inappropriate” and more often “that’s gross, no one wants to see that!” It’s disgusting, I know, but I’m just pointing out where we are as a society.

Make no mistake, when we tell girls that it is their responsibility to keep boys’ lust in check, we are asking them to run through a checklist of their body asking, “Is my butt lust-worthy? What about my boobs? Do I need to cover those, or are they not lust-worthy enough? Maybe I’m just inherently ugly enough that it doesn’t matter what I wear…” And the monologue meanders on.

If you want to change our poolside-purity culture, stop telling girls that they need to judge for themselves if men would find them sexually desirable or not.

3. Teach girls a biblical view of modesty.

One of the things that is missing in our conversations about “poolside purity” is that we often overlook or brush over a biblical view of beauty. Our teaching shouldn’t stop at, “Barney the dinosaur Jesus loves you just the way you are,” but rather we should be teaching what Godly beauty really is. Turns out the Bible talks a lot about that.

God designed women to be beautiful in a specific way. Men who are real men (not sitcom men) will be attracted to this.

1 Peter 3:3-5—”Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves,”

1 Timothy 2:9-10—”Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

These passages teach that women shouldn’t seek to be called beautiful because of their outward “adornments.” Proverbs talks a lot about how great it is to find a wife or woman of noble character. Never does it say, “A hot wife who can find?!” Just like we should be teaching boys to look at girls with dignity and respect, we should be teaching girls to be modest and gentle, and to view themselves with dignity and respect. That’s why I love this video:

Dressing immodestly objectifies the woman. It makes her an object to be ogled rather than a treasure to cherish. A young woman who is developing Godly character and a Godly view of beauty will have no desire to objectify herself, but to make people see her true beauty, the kind of Beauty God delights in seeing in her.

Ladies: the point of modesty is not to “protect those drooling, heathen, teen boys,” but to draw them in, to make them seek your true beauty that lies in the person God created you to be.

If you want to change our poolside-purity culture, spend more time teaching women what Godly femininity looks like. 

Those are three thoughts on the dreaded one-piece talk. Here’s a parting thought: the church should be the safest place in the world for a girl to wear a bikini.

I’m not advocating bikinis, and I think modesty is a far more godly way to go. To say it as clear as I possibly can, I don’t think girls should want to wear bikinis, but if they so desire the safest place to do so should be the church. So let me say it another way: the church should be the one place where women don’t need to fear being objectified and made into sexual objects.

In our over-sexualized, boobs-on-every-channel-and-in-every-SINGLE-movie, sexual-humor-everywhere, “That’s-What-She-Said,” Hugh-Heffner-is-the-image-of-a-real-man, “every-guy”-has-a-hidden-magazine-and-movie-stash, “I-just-go-there-because-I-like-the-wings” culture, the church should be the one place where we can give women respite from the constant inner monologue that tells them all about how their non-airbrushed bodies aren’t good enough.

It should be the one place where sex—every single aspect of it—is between a man and a woman inside the confines of a marriage.

It should be the one place in our ever-losing-its-mind world where we can separate sexuality and personhood.

So consider this an invitation to join me in changing the culture.

UPDATE: This post has gone WAY beyond where I thought it would go, so if you have read it, or shared it, or commented on it, THANK YOU! It’s been fun to see something I wrote circle the globe. I’d like to take a second and briefly cover some of the common comments I’ve seen. I do read every comment, even if I cannot reply to every one. Here are my responses to the most common of them:

First, there is a common line of thought that quotes Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul says not to put a “stumbling block” in front of your brother or “make him sin.” On the surface this is a very valid concern, and—and I can’t emphasize this enough—I am confident and grateful that such a position comes from peoples’ genuine concern for seeing God’s kingdom lived out in this world. But I don’t know that this is a proper parallel to the situation Paul is describing. I’ll post more about this soon. It seems Paul is condemning behavior that flirts with idolatry, and Christians who try to pressure other Christians to go against their conscience to participate. It would be like a girl saying she really wants to be modest and another Christian sister pressuring her to not be. This is a poorly-refined response right now, but I wholeheartedly believe Paul’s intent was not to say, “Don’t ever do anything that anyone could ever see and where that person could struggle in that area, thus forcing them to sin.”

Second, to those skeptics who feel this was classic Christian “double-speak,” I am aware that I both seem to encourage a more open view and also come down somewhat anti-bikini. Modesty is a tough issue, but I believe it is a virtue taught in the Bible, nonetheless. The difficult aspect of it (as with most areas of Christian living) is that it is a delicate balance somewhere on the spectrum between “no-holds-barred freedom in Christ” and “legalistic rule following.” My contention is that striking that balance must come out of a positive affirmation of living in God’s will (teaching girls the joys of modesty, teaching boys the joys of honoring women, hoping they choose well), not a negative condemnation of behavior, especially when that is shaming girls to just cover up because otherwise it will be their fault if boys sin. I attempt to strike that balance here. Perhaps my efforts satisfy you, and perhaps you fall further to one side of the spectrum or the other from myself.

Third, the concluding comments were strong, and intentionally so. I understand there are sinners in the church. I understand that pornography and lust and sexual sin are real struggles for men. I have struggled with these myself. And yet my intention was to cast a vision for a church that does a better job teaching men so that the men in the church are different from the men elsewhere in society. Of course it would be distracting if all the women in the church showed up in bikinis on Sunday. But hopefully because it breaks social norms for bikini wear, and not because the men would be ogling. Realistic and idealistic are at war. I chose an idealist’s vision.

227 thoughts on “Poolside Purity & Bikini Battles

  1. I’ve been a Christian since I was a child. I also wear a bikini if I’m going swimming. I’m not a small woman and I wear a bikini because it makes me feel good about myself. I even wore one at my church’s youth activities and no one ever said anything. I don’t think that it’s a huge problem, boys and men need to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions. I also know that even if you wear a one piece men and boys will still think inappropriate thoughts.

    • Heather is right. Men need to take responsibility. I am a male who struggles daily with inappropriate thoughts. Hour after Hour even, And I will pay the price for this when I will be at the judgment seat. Jesus said, he who even looks at a woman inappropriately (lustfully) is guilty of the act itself. I’m beat. Why does Christ not give females the same measure – do they not lust after men ? are men more accountable ? David certainly did not attempt to defend himself against God, and ask why was she on the roof, naked and bathing – carrying on ? – He could have – it was not written for us to see. The point is he paid a price for that. And it cost the life of another man, and he fornicated. He was beat.

      And ultimately our thoughts – appropriate or inappropriate they may be – should not deprive freedoms of women. Our lack of mental discipline will cost us. If there was some way I could block it out when they are in a 2-piece or there is so much skin showing – I would buy it off the shelf right now. I would love to have mental peace from this. And if more men just turned the other way when young girls did this or paid no regard. Just like topless beaches in Europe – most men there from what I observed anyway – do not give a second glance, let alone a first one – because it is abundant and there is no “taboo” associated with the act. And if girls here decide to be offended when we look at them with a 2-piece bathing suit – they have every right in our country to feel that way. All I want to say it affects me more than it hurts them. It hurts me that I stumbled again – and how weak my flesh is.

      • Alex, don’t beat yourself up like that. We were made to be visually stimulated. It is possible to appreciate beauty and not be lustful. God will help you in the spiritual disciplines where it counts. The mental and physical disciplines will always require work.

      • You need to look at that passage about David again. First it starts with ‘at a time when Kings were usually at war’ and you have David at home in his palace. Second, he slept all day so now he is on the roof in the middle of the night when he should have been sleeping. Third, it was the custom of the times in the hot summer to bathe on your roof. Remember there is no indoor plumbing and no air conditioning. They often slept on the roof in those times. The woman, although living in a house lower than the castle would have no reason to even think the king would be hanging out on his roof.

    • Please watch the above video and realize boys and men think more than sexual thoughts. It also brings out the abusive side of men…just sayin.

      • Laurie, how is what you’re saying any different from blaming Heather for men who have failed entirely at developing self-control? Shouldn’t the first and strongest response of a church seeking to grow these men be to encourage their own development beyond their current juvenile state?

  2. Seriously? Look at your topic and then you use the title “Man Freaking Up” for one of your points? “Freaking” is nothing but a pseudonym for another “F” word and now even pastors are using it “because it really isn’t cussing”. I strongly disagree. By using that work the way you did, you are perpetuating the very thing your article is trying to over come. Please, Pastor….clean it up. This is a good article, it’s not necessary to make your point valid.

    • Michael,
      I am very sorry you were offended by my language. It was strong, and I meant it to be. We probably differ on an appropriate stance on the issue of cursing, but if you read through the rest of my blog, I hope you’ll find that my heart is pastoral, and I do try to say things tactfully and with grace.

    • One of the main points here is about removing the legalism from our actions as Christians and then you get legalistic over language that isn’t even considered swearing by most people.

      I’m just sayin’….

  3. Reblogged this on Beauty in Brokenness and commented:
    This makes some really great points. I love how he focuses on taking out the legalism, and focusing back on the Gospel. I am not sure I completely agree with the whole thing. But I definitely agree with some concepts. Its a very interesting read.

  4. This is overall a very helpful and balanced piece. My one concern was this sentence: “Even when girls aren’t ‘trying’ to be ‘sexy,’ they could CAUSE a man to lust after them with what they wear” (my emphasis). In the very next sentence, you go on to say girls do NOT CAUSE lust. But I was left scratching my head. If we want to stop the burden placed on girls, how we frame arguments matters. A small revision would clarify (and not on the sentence level undermine your argument): “Even when girls aren’t “trying” to be “sexy,” a man may still lust after them based on what they wear.” Just a thought from a mom of a tween girl trying to make it a safer, saner world in which to become a woman.

    • Laurel,
      As someone who tries very hard to be precise in his language, I appreciate your comment. Your revision does hit more accurately the point I was trying to make. Thanks!

      • Nick,
        In my thinking, part of your article is correct, in that I don’t think it’s a female’s responsibility to control a man’s lust. But, I think you completely missed the mark and really threw away a good modesty lesson here in that wearing a bikini or short shorts or midriff baring top or tight, tight shirts or tight, tight shorts, or a tight, tight dress; not only dumbs down a man, but it also dumbs down other females around you. God made it part of our being that we want to be pretty, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, as long as we’re more concerned with honoring God and being pretty to God. God made us with hearts and minds that are stimulated by pretty things and that is part of the difference He gave us that sets us apart from men. I like it when pretty girls walk by just like say a man would, but I am NOT thinking lustful thoughts, I’m thinking envious thoughts of how I wish I looked like her. So that’s a battle I have to fight in my own brain. Also, I completely disagree with you in that Church should be a safe place for a female to wear bikini, as you act like being a Christian somehow makes us have everything together. There’s nothing about a bikini, including the origin of the name, that says modest. And that’s a fact

      • Judi,

        Thanks. Admittedly, the final part of my post was hyperbolic in nature. It should be the safest place, in my view, but of course there are imperfect sinners there. My intention was to shine a light on exactly what you pointed out, that it is not a woman’s job to control a man’s lust. As for your thoughts on beauty, I also love beautiful things. I think that is innate in all of us. How many people aren’t rendered speechless at the first sight of the Grand Canyon?

        I think my point in this article, though, is to challenge the question of what makes short shorts the guide of immodesty, especially when they are fashionable? Or certain tops? Should Christian missionaries go to Jungle tribes with denim skirts and long-sleeve blouses, telling the indigenous women to “cover up?” I don’t think so. Fashion is cultural, which means it is dangerous to call certain things “sinful” because they might lead others to be “sinful.”

        Finally, I wish to gently question the line of thinking that women should try to be “pretty to God,” implying that physical beauty is the way to that goal. The biblical teaching on beauty (of which I gave a brief sampling in the article) is that beauty in God’s eyes is based on character, not physical things like clothing, makeup, jewelry, etc. I don’t want to vilify a woman for desiring to look nice. But I also don’t want people to think that such attention to physical detail is what God finds beautiful in his daughters.

        Thanks for reading and posting! I hope to hear from you again sometime.

  5. Romans 14:13 says, “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” I recognize that this verse is discussing food and not looking down on others because of what they eat, but the heart of its teaching is applicable here. I understand the heart of this article. Men should be much more godly. In many cases, men have become sensually driven, compulsive, and utterly lustful. It is awful. I agree as well that it is unfair to put the entirety of the burden of this issue one women to be more modest. Women should learn first, foremost, and most imperatively that women are to adorn themselves with godly actions, not beautiful clothing. With this said, I believe there are some very important facts that must be realized on this issue.

    There is an odd concept that what is acceptable to wear to the pool or beach is different than what is acceptable to wear to the mall. This is mind boggling to me. I understand from conversations with my girlfriend that to girls, “it’s just different.” Somehow this is widely accepted as some sort of fact. Here are some facts: men go to both the mall and the pool and they will see women at both the mall and the pool. If a man happens to see a woman at the mall in her underwear I cannot imagine anyone saying that it is not straining on the man to not lust. If a man is at the pool and sees a woman in a bikini, the coverage is the same, or less. How is it that when at a pool, a man is supposed to flip a switch in his mind that he is at the pool now, so even if women are only covering their chest and butt, I cannot lust and it is not the women’s fault if I do. I am sorry, that is unreasonable. I believe that this is absolutely within the context of Romans 14:13. Bikinis are a stumbling block, even for righteous, godly men.

    Personally, I strive to be godly even though I fall short everyday. I completely admit that lust is a struggle for me. Because of that, I don’t like going to the pool because no matter how much I want to be godly, I am still a sinner, confined to this fleshly body that falls short. I understand that culture and fashion is difficult. Every media outlet seems to be screaming to women to show more and be skinnier. I know that the pressure is difficult, but in the end, Jesus did not call us to an easy path. Jesus did not call us to do what most of society accepts. Jesus did not call us to be popular. Jesus called us to holiness, to purity, to godliness, and to be set apart because we are His. I can’t help but think that any woman standing before God would choose something other than a bikini to wear. Even if they were at a pool when they met.

    • From the opposite side though, if the whole don’t-cause-others-to-stumble is going to be out there, it should go on both sides. I’ve seen some lust-worthy guys at the pool that I know were trying to get noticed, and it worked. So both genders, out of respect, should not go out with the intention of getting someone’s sexual attention. If you’re just walking around in normal clothes someone might get totally turned on – that’s not your fault and you’re not responsible for it. I’ve seen some seriously good looking guys whose jeans fit just right & nobody ever stopped them & told them to wear less flattering pants. Let’s all just go out there with our hearts in check & do our best. Ok?

    • Rob,

      It seems to me that you and others here have confused attraction with lust. Attraction at some level is biological and unavoidable! How you handle attraction is what can turn it into lust, which as you know I”m sure, is a heart issue where you do not appreciate the wholeness of a person that God has created in their image and instead you only appreciate their body and use it to fuel your own imagination or actions. I appreciate your desire for greater holiness, but it seems to me that you are carrying around a great load of guilt for something that may not be a sin (I’m not qualified to judge your thought life, but it is an educated guess) and because of that guilt, you are looking to outwardly control either your situation (ie not going to the pool that often) or shame people who you feel are “tempting” you. May I humbly offer a third way? How about seeing a beautiful woman and giving thanks to God for who she is. All of her. Her beauty, her brains, her heart, her family connections, the people she loves….even if you don’t know her, She is created in God’s image just like you. I’m sure you want on some level to be attractive to other people, even if you’re not in a relationship with them. I know I do and I pray everyday that God helps me keep that desire in line with the desire to please him, but it is a tough line to walk. I find guys in well tailored suits VERY attractive, but rather than ask them to wear something I find less attractive, I practice seeing them as whole people not just eye candy. I think you can see the correlation, I hope. Anyway…this comment has gotten long, but I hope something I’ve said here makes sense. Grace and peace.

    • While I have often wondered at the differing standards of appropriateness in dress in varying situations, as you mention in your response and am utterly baffled by it, I am confused by your last statements. I don’t think I would be concerned with what or if I was wearing to stand before God… am I missing the point?

    • I have to say you quoting a Romans 14:13 with the word Bikinis in it made me LOL. I guess I have read a different Bible because I NEVER read the word Bikini. That is ridiculous to have in any BIBLE. If the Bible is suppose to be the word of God or Jesus and written in Biblical times the word bikini was NOT in their vernacular. That is a MANS version of the Bible, written by a MAN who took the words of the original Bible and twisted them to fit his initiative.

  6. My youth group required absolutely everyone to wear shorts and a t-shirt for all water activities. It may have seemed a little extreme, but it was the best way they could think of. There were no exceptions and it made sure we were all equal and modesty was no issue.

    • This is awesome! Keep doing what you are doing! Our youth group claims the “shorts and t-shirt over a one-piece” rule during water events, but unfortunately, they do not enforce it, and of course the kids push the limits as far as possible. So what the adults are really doing is making themselves out to be liars who don’t stick to their word. How is the church supposed to grow if the students actually learn NOT to trust the word of their authorities?

      I pray that the desire of both guys and girls is to have a high standard of modesty and purity not just at the beach, but even in church (and elsewhere) too. I don’t know how short shorts and tank tops, or clothing of that nature, have become an accepted norm WITHIN THE CHURCH?! Somebody, stand up for what is right!

      • Wait, shorts and a T-shirt over a one-piece bathing suit? Are the shorts and T-shirt actually meant to be worn for swimming? That’s not really safe–street clothing can restrict movement in the water, and loose T-shirts can billow over a person’s head when they submerge.

  7. I saw this in Facebook and decided to read it, and there is still a problem with the whole “one piece” thing. Why is it that a one piece is considered the most modest of swimsuit options? I myself am a 17 year old girl, and have bought many swimsuits, and honestly one pieces aren’t super modest. Nowadays they are low cut and have cutouts on the sides and low cut backs. I prefer tankinis because you can find not tight fitting tops and you have the option of shorts and skirts for your bottoms, instead of super fitted one pieces. Just a thought I had.

    • Alex, I’ve noticed this as well. Working with youth, our church has needed to add addendums to the “one piece rule,” because so many do have those things. The video in the post really exposed that modesty in swimwear lies somewhat in the eyes of the beholder. My goal would be to see people choose a modest mindset for more positive reasons, rather than in fear and shame.

  8. Dear Sisters in Christ and to my Brothers in Christ, also,

    If there is no God, then there is no such thing as good or evil or modesty or sensuality. But if there a God, AND THERE IS GOD, then those who profess to be Christians have a duty and obligation to “present their bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).

    Now, please look at these several scriptures, and then I will make some comments.

    Galatians 5:19-21 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, “sensuality”, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    1 John 3:6-9 Whoever abides in him does not continue sinning: whoever continues sinning has not seen him, neither knows him. 7 My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that practices righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous: 8 he that practices sin is of the devil; for the devil continued sinning from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever is begotten of God does not practice sin, because his seed abides in him, and he cannot continue sinning, because he is begotten of God.


    When we become Christians if we “practice” “the deeds of the flesh” that are “evident” in Galatians 5:19-21, “that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    it says in 1 John 3;6-9, that if we “continue sinning”, “practice sinning”, when we should “practice righteous”, we will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.

    One of the sins that is mentioned above is “sensuality” (the opposite of being modest). So if a girl dresses in a sensual way, and that is her life style, something that she continually does on a regular basis, will she inherit the kingdom of God? The answer is NO.

    When she stands before God, she cannot plead ignorance. Anyone who has a Bible and is really seeking God’s will, will pray to God and read and study His word to find the answer. You ask, “How do I figure it out? How do I know what is sensual and what is not sensual?” Well God’s Word says:

    2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

    2 Peter 1:2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

    Your answer is in the Word of God, for the Bible says that Christ has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness and that it will equip us for every good work.

    I use “e-sword” software to do my studying. It is free software and very easy to use. You can download it from http://www.e-sword.net. There are many Bibles, commentaries and dictionaries that are free. Be sure to get both the King James Version (KJV) and the King James Version + (KJV+). That way you will be able to do searches on the Greek and Hebrew words even though they may be translated by different synonyms.

    You say, where do I start? Well, look up the word for naked and nakedness in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Look up the word modesty and see where that takes you. You will find other words to follow, too. You will find your studying interesting and fascinating and it will take you on a ride you never expected.

    You can listen to what other say, but find out for yourself what the Bible says. This could really a heaven and hell matter if you happen to be dressing sensually.

    And, just to encourage you, there are really, BUNCHES AND BUNCHES AND BUNCHES, of thoughts, scriptures, commands and principles in the Bible on this subject. By the time you are through, without too much exaggeration, when you get through, you will have written a book on this subject.

    Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

    Are you noble minded?

    2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive “the love of the truth” so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

    It is essential that we love the truth more than anything else. If we do love the truth, then we can be saved.

    God bless you as you STUDY God’s truth on this subject.

    Yours in Christ,
    Wayne K Cobb

  9. Yes, the safest place for our girls is to wear bikinis is church… were it not for the fact that all are sinners there lol. As a parent of three teens (1 boy, 2 girls), this is a relevant issue. Things that have helped us: 1) We have educated on modesty and purity since really young, there was no surprise rules issued at puberty. 2) They all wear long sleeve sun shirts when out in the sun (Queensland Australia is one of the worlds top spots for skin cancers) and modest shorts/skirts. Some of their friends wear the same sun protection and some of their friends wear bikini’s/short shorts. We approach it from the perspective that the sun damages (show photos of prematurely aged skin from sun does wonders) as well as modesty. 3) We as Dad and Mum also wear modest clothing. 4) It starts within: regular dad and daughter dates and mother and son adventures and learning to really listen helps them establish a healthy self love and esteem and encourages individualism. Helps them shift from ‘me’ mentality to ‘others’ mentality. 5) find at least one like minded friend/family that has similar views and intentionally encourage those friendships to go deeper 6) pray like crazy for wisdom and the right words, and for their spiritual growth. Thanks for your article.

    • This is awesome! I am blessed by your intentionality in raising strong, godly, modest, and pure children! While you are going to have the blessing of seeing the fruits of your labor, many of the parents around you are going to be regretting their decision not to enforce purity and modesty more in their children.

  10. Finally someone who is brave enough to say what I’ve wondered about for a long time. As the mom of a 16 year old, it feels like her small Christian school and youth group has made her fellow girl culture feel like “a bunch of whores,” (their words, not mine) because their uniform skirt showed their knees! It’s a joke that the only time modesty is discussed is when summer time rolls around and it’s the annual poolside party for the youth group. The legalism pours out when girls are made to cover everything but the boys show up with their perfectly toned abs and bulging biceps. And girls don’t find that attractive?! Hang on…let me go ask my daughter.

    She wears a two piece–good luck getting her to wear anything else. I struggled for years with what the other parents would think of me for allowing that. Now I monitor exactly which two piece she can get and have stopped worrying because all her other friends wear two pieces as well! It think it’s truly our society (lest I forget the two pieces I had to wear??!). I wish she WANTED to wear a tankini but it’s not going to happen just yet. I do, however, notice the times when she puts on a shirt that’s gotten too small or tight that she decides on her own to change. Her desire to be modest is in there and I trust it will come into full fruition one day!

    I must say that I like the fact that church pool parties ask the girls to cover up b/c it feels one of the few times that they can have fun in a large group without the boys ogling over all the boobs. I just wish youth pastors would consider the label they place on girls while allowing the boys to let it all hang out (down their their American Eagle boxers showing precariously at their waist under their trunks). I do laugh though when that same group of kids decides to have a pool party the next day but at someone’s house and they all wear what they want.

    Unfortunately it becomes one more “rule” girls add to their list as to why it sucks to be a Christian in the summertime.

  11. See, I struggle with this attitude and I’ve seen several articles along this line. I struggle bc, in this crazy, boobs everywhere world, the author thinks this is the one place girls shouldn’t have to worry about wearing a bikini, whereas I feel like I’d like church to be the one place I don’t need to worry about my husband and son seeing everyone’s skin. They’re inundated enough. It’s ironic that the author puts it all on the guy then has a video that explains that guys brains are wired very differently and respond very specifically to sexual stimuli. It’s how God created them and it is a constant struggle to keep their thoughts pure. Paul says if he knows someone is going to have that hard of a time over something, he’s not willing to be the cause for that just because he feels allowed to do somerhing. Why can’t that be our approach? I think girls do need to be reminded that they’re worth more than putting their bodies on display and sending incorrect, sometimes impure and degrading messages about themselves, who they are , and what they want. I believe everyone has the right to do whatever they want, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best choice.

  12. Reblogged this on My Life is a Romantic Comedy and commented:
    It’s time we start putting the onus on boys, rather than forcing girls to shoulder the blame. I’m glad people are finally realizing the need to combat spiritual sexism. There’s a long way to go, but at least this is a start

  13. Wait, so at the beginning of the article you say girls should be able to wear what they want because men shouldn’t be drooling neanderthals. But then you finish by implying something is wrong with a girl if she wears a bikini and…men are still drooling neanderthals. If you get rid of about the last 1/3 of your article, I’d say it’s spot on. But you completely contradicted yourself by the time it gets to the video that also implies men are drooling neanderthals with no self control and that women should wear a one piece because…I don’t know, actually. Skin is scary? I mean, what is this skin stuff we have all over our bodies?!?!?! It’s so weird and bizarre. It’s like…not all humans were created with skin or something.

    • Sparrowchild, I wasn’t born with skin and it’s actually a sensitive topic. Thanks for bringing it up…
      Just kidding 🙂 I hear you. My intent was that modesty is a virtue we should teach, but not simply to protect the boys. I know it’s a fine line. I don’t think it would be right to go into a tribal culture where women wear only grass skirts and demand they cover up. But as Christians, we are called to drive people’s attention past us and to God’s Kingdom. The focus of modesty should be be to highlight character, not because you are “hating your brother” if you show any skin. Does that make sense?

  14. Nick, have you ever heard of/read any of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body? It is a collection of 129 General Audience Addresses (think a sermon outside of a liturgical context) on what it means to be human, what it is to be male and female, etc; and your article touched on some of the things that he spoke about.

  15. When I was a teenager here’s what I learned at church about appearance: it was a fashion show on Sunday mornings, if you wore pants the older ladies of the church would make comments and give the young girls rude looks, attractive thin girls and cute boys were popular and were treated as though they were better Christians, dancing was wrong, two piece swimsuits were wrong, shorts were wrong. Yes indeed I learned so very much there. I learned that I never measured up, I wasn’t cute, I wasn’t thin enough, I was a less than because my family did not attend, and it was very much a lonely place where appearances determined if you fit in and were accepted by adults as well as teens.

    • Leigh,
      So sorry to hear about your experience. Sometimes, in an effort to help people along toward making Godly choices, churches put rules in place that can run rampant if not kept in check. I am sorry that the Church was a place of lonliness for you, but I assure you: That is not Jesus’ intent for his church or his will for your life. I hope you’ll keep seeking him, and looking for a church with a less legalistic view of the Gospel. God bless.

  16. I find it hard to believe that there is something that permits people from being involved in activities through the church just because of what they wear. Yes I understand that it isn’t the place to wear your most revealing swimsuit, but I know if that were me, I’d never be able to attend anything because I can’t wear one piece suits. They don’t fit everybody which makes it hard to agree with regulating the apparel.

  17. I’ve enjoyed reading this post and the comments; this issue is quite relevant for me. I’m 17 and a Christian and a girl. I definitely appreciate your point about teaching boys to treat women and girls with dignity and respect. My teen brother often talks with me about the upsettingly low standards TV and culture create for men. On television, everyone laughs at incompetent men as they mess up; it’s portrayed as natural and good for men to objectify women, and it’s considered harmless fun when women get the best of men with wit that can turn harsh. Perhaps a god-fearing man should have humility about his weaknesses, but it seems he should also have higher standards for his own behavior and be able to exercise self-control. I think another issue with those TV men, though, is that TV women freely laugh at the TV men and/or treat them disrespectfully in order to show the women’s superiority. Christian men should hold themselves to higher standards than TV men, but Christian women should also have a more respectful and optimistic view towards men, unlike TV women. I struggle with this in how I relate to my dad– I can turn disrespectful so easily, but I have to remember that my dad wants to be treated with respect just like I do.

    That may have gotten off-topic. Anyway, I also like how you talk about the need for girls to value modesty. I think some of the commenters have delved into this idea well when they talk about how modesty is a heart issue. Without God’s changes to our hearts, I think it’s very hard for us girls to embrace the idea of modesty. You originally wrote that you believe girls shouldn’t want to wear a bikini. Well, I agree– if a girl knows that God loves her, created her, and has good plans to give her a full life, then she shouldn’t want to choose a bikini in order to get boys’ attention (assuming that’s why she’s choosing a bikini… that’s another can of worms). A godly woman should be so filled with God’s love that his attention is all she needs. But just as many have mentioned that girls struggle with lust, another thing girls struggle with big time (in my experience at least) is wanting to be lusted after. I want guys to notice me. Even though I have accepted Christ and experienced God’s love, which continues to change my life, I still am tempted by the possibility of bikinis more than I’d care to admit. I want guys to like how I look– maybe it’s partially because that’s what I see in every movie and read in books, online, etc., but it also could just be something about women and how we desperately want to be treasured. It seems like a good number of us want male attention, which motivates us to go along with the trend of the bikini, and so I think this is an important facet of the one-piece issue. God’s love is ultimately the only love that will satisfy a woman who seeks someone to care for her forever. And God has also given us marriage, where we can experience love the way he wants it to be. Those things should help Christian women to have a modest heart attitude: as Christ-followers, we should direct our desire for attention toward godly things– seeking a relationship with God and saving intimacy for a godly marriage– instead of pursuing physical attention from men in public. Looking forward, the attention we get from God is the only love that will forever fulfill us.

    So, while I agree that young men could do well to learn how to better respect women, I also believe that girl should examine the way they dress enough to see whose attention is their priority. Focusing on God and the beauty he values will fill us up more than focusing on the physical.

  18. I’ve heard the one-piece talk given in many different shapes and sizes in my youth group, and over time I’ve come to a pretty definite conclusion. My leaders will say things like, “boys will be boys,” “don’t make it harder on them,” and “the right guy will find it more attractive!” All of which i personally have problems with.
    The point of this whole gift of living thing, really, is the chance to overcome human nature and reach our divine nature. So “boys will be boys” is no excuse for those same boys drooling over any bikini-clad teenage girls. Don’t make it harder on them” sends the message that its all OUR fault when they already have it sooooo bad. And the last, “the right guy will find it more attractive!” is true in its own right, and at the same time rings so NOT true in our ears when we girls are told so. Because everybody knows the average girl in a bikini is going to attract more attention (regardless of whether its negative or positive) than the average girl in a one-piece. It’s just. Fact.
    As a girl who goes through this and sees this “battle” as you say, close up every year (I’m 17), I want to add in my (probably already argued) opinion that this is a delicate situation in need of balance. Despite what it seems so far, I actually full-heartedly believe in modesty and do not wear bikinis for any occasion, nor do I think anyone should. I just think the way people go about telling girls is ignorantly, and sometimes doctrinally, wrong. But to put it (more) shortly, things need to go both ways. Boys should be taught not to lust after what their eyes see, and not blame it on the girls who are wearing little. I’ve heard sooo many guys saying they “wouldn’t look if she covered up, but since she’s being immodest I have permission to stare and mentally undress her.” WRONG. Horrible mindset, entirely revolting way of thinking. But kind of enabled with how people are handling the idea of modesty these days. Like its all on us females. And for the females, it really should be about HER, and why being modest is something she should do for HERSELF. Not some drooly boy who can’t keep his eyes to himself. It honestly shouldn’t be about hiding yourself away, because your body is shameful, something that creates sin and temptation.
    I am modest because I am a daughter of God, and my body is the opposite of shameful–its special. And beautiful and unique and mine. And if I’m wearing something longer, or higher, or simpler, its because I want people to look at me and see, me. Not how much of my legs there is to slide up and down your eyesight, or how much of my chest you can peek at, or how little there is to imagine with seriously only the bare essentials covered (bikini=bare essentials–If that). I am most certainly not doing it for you so I’m not “making” you sin, because I wouldn’t be.
    Modesty is about the individual. If you’re a guy, don’t let the lack of it get to your head. Don’t keep looking. Don’t lust or fantasize or obsess. If you’re a girl, do it for you. The end.
    There’s my rant-ish, ineloquent two cents on the matter.

    • Jess, many of your sentiments hit at the heart of my writing this post. I appreciate that you point out that bikinis garner more attention, be it sexual or not, positive or negative, lustful or in mockery. Modesty is a virtue we should teach, but I don’t believe we need to blame women for men lusting. It should be taught affirmatively, as a way to highlight Godly character. Well said, and thanks for sharing your personal story!

    • Jess I agree w/ & this page. I have grown up being super modest (people tell me I’d make a good nun) which is so hard, due to clothing options that are getting worse every day.. but I have make it work. No matter if I have a longer top tankini or 1 piece bathing suit, I’ve always had to buy some fabric & sew/safety pin it in to the V of the bathing suit front. I still do at age 27, married w/ 2 kids (b&g), wear only modest clothes & bathing suits. I’ve asked my husband on numerous occassions does he ever wish I wasn’t so modest? (It wouldn’t take forever for me to find a bathing suit or shirts) He says “No I love how modest you are! You are not tempting your brothers. No one else can see what is all mine.” I know it is hard, ecspecially when family members make fun of how I am being modest(my fabric in bathing suit) & not understanding why I won’t buy certain shirts/bottoms. It is hard to tune out the world & bury yourself in The Word, because you will be blessed in little or big ways by obeying Him. If you find it hard to dress modest or have a modest mentality, pray about it God knows what you are struggling w/.. find great Christian surroundings, people that build you up not tear down. This issue has always pressed me, thank you for typing about this :]

  19. First off, I appreciate and agree with the stance you take on this issue; however, my opinion is that the solution is unfortunately not quite as simple for more reasons than I can count.
    One of the main issues is connected to the way human perception works. I am a single man with a strong faith and desire to live with Christ-like perfection, but like all of us I fall short of this goal on a daily basis. Modesty for women is very important just as discipline for men is, but the ugly truth that we are avoiding is that no matter what our mindset is as humans, the first thing that we notice is appearance. This means that when a man sees two women he has never met- one who is dressed modestly and another who isn’t- he is going to notice the second. This is not necessarily because he does not value the inner beauty of women but simply because a person’s personality isn’t as conveniently accessible. The same situation can be applied to women. This scenario is not meant to be an excuse to render lust as ok, but instead another obstacle that must be acknowledged.
    In the world today where so much of “social” life involves meeting new people whether in person or through forms of social media, that first impression becomes a high priority. Now i am very picky when it comes to dating meaning that a girl’s personality and inner beauty is extremely important to me. But unfortunately I must still admit that when meeting new people, the first thing I notice is appearance. Sadly, the less modest a girl is dressed the more likely she is to draw my attention. I am not proud of this and it is not right, but this does not mean I am the type of guy not to respect women or want a woman with an inner beauty. Likewise, i have learned that dressing provocatively in today’s world doesn’t mean that a woman lacks inner beauty. This puts a “burden” on both men and women knowing that appearance alone can determine your chances at meeting someone who could be worth knowing. I’ve often heard rants to the tune of: if he/she is going to judge you for your looks then he/she is not worth your time. Today, this is not always true and an over generalization.
    Now the simple solution would be to say all girls should cover up and guys should control themselves. This would be great if ALL girls and ALL guys had the discipline to do so. But the reality is that those girls who do attempt to dress modestly feel at a disadvantage (rightfully so) to those girls that continue to do everything to attract a man’s attention. (Now you can say that men should just control themselves and women could where whatever, but this is just not true for the most part. Like it or not, the reason behind the bakini was to expose and attract men. its sole purpose was to provoke lust.) One of the original reasons behind dressing provacatively is the idea of a competitive advantage over other women. The hard thing is working for that advantage without crossing the line of modesty when so many other girls do. None of this excuses lust or indecency, but it puts these problems in a perspective other than lust just because of the temptation of lust and indecency just because of the temptation to dress indecently. Until we address the problem that we determine so much about new people by our perception of their appearance, there will always be the internal struggle between modesty and being overlooked by valuable members of the opposite sex.
    I don’t mean to place the issue more on one gender than the other, I am just speaking to one problem. I am not naive enough to assume that this rant encompasses this entire issue. Like I said, I agree with this article completely (as well as with many other comments on this page), I just think there is much more to it, which is why this issue is so hard to solve. I do not claim to have an answer to the problem I spoke of (or to even completely grasp it for that matter), but if someone finds one, I think it would go a long ways towards a solution.

  20. Great post! Definitely worth the fight. It’s possible that dressing immodestly may reveal more about you than just your body? Insecurity? Vain? Needy? Females need love and admiration not gawking attention.

    Thanks for sharing.

  21. Thank you SO much for this. In a similar post on bikinis (but naturally, focused on preventing women from wearing them and “protecting” the helpless, oversexed, visually stimulated men) I pointed the same thing out- that men need to be held responsible for their own sinfulness as well, and not given a free pass. When I pointed out that my husband, a former porn addict (along with myself- men are not the only visually stimulated ones) had so submitted himself to Christ in this way that I had no fear of him seeing anyone in bikinis- he had made me, his wife, his only “standard of beauty”, and now no longer even viewed other women as sexual objects, but simply as people, and/or, sisters in Christ- I was viciously attacked by other women, asserting that I was obviously deceived because no man can help himself, that all husbands lust after other women, and the ones who say they don’t are lying.
    I was horrified that this is the view that Christian women have been taught to expect of their husbands. My husband and I have gone through a lot, and become totally honest with each other through an affair (mine, not his!) and porn addiction (his and mine). He would tell me if he was still lusting after other women, and it wouldn’t cause a problem- grace has covered a lot more. What kind of nonsense philosophy are we teaching men in the church, allowing them to get away with lust in this way? They CAN and SHOULD be fighting to conquer this, NOT conforming to the world’s standards of “you can look, as long as you don’t touch.” It doesn’t have to be this way!
    Because frankly, even if Christian women don’t wear bikinis, the world’s women will. So instead of being attracted to Christian women, they will simply be lusting after worldly women… is that really what we are trying to accomplish???
    Thank you for being on of the ONLY males to take a stand on this. I am assuming the others don’t because they, too, have not been held responsible, nor have they really sought to battle this in themselves.

  22. My thoughts both differ and align with yours. First off, yes, guys need to man up and not lust. However, I have always likened this situation to a precious diamond that someone has left unattended and in the open, which was subsequently stolen. Should the owner have taken better care of it and protected it? Yes. Does the lack of care and protection make it okay that it was stolen? No. In a similar vein, should the woman have dressed more modestly? Yeah, probably. Does the immodesty make it okay to lust? Absolutely not. I like to say that it is the woman’s job to dress herself, and if she dresses modestly and gives us guys a little help, that’s great, but it is still our job to not lust. As a guy in his early 20’s, all I’m asking for is a little help. When walking to class at college (on my Christian campus, mind you), most of the trek is spent with my head down so as to avoid seeing things I need not be seeing. To me (and my girlfriend, with whom I have had conversations on topics such as this), it comes down to caring for one’s brother. To give another analogy, if I have a buddy who is recovering from or in the throes of an alcohol addiction, I am not going to drink around him. Is it my job to not drink around him? No. If I drink around him, does that give him a “free pass” to drink? No. Is it his fault if he chooses to drink? Yes. However, no matter how difficult it may be for me to not drink, or the social stigma I receive from not drinking, I am going to refrain, because I care about my buddy. This goes both ways, I must add. Men need to be fostering an environment that encourages women and girls to be dressing modestly. In a culture that focuses so much on the outward appearance, the church should be a group where women feel they don’t need to go through all of their getting-ready rituals to be accepted and loved. Heck, I personally hate makeup. God made you the way you are, why hide that? And if nothing else, have you looked at the prices for that stuff lately? I went to get some nail polish for my girlfriend the other day and I was blown away at the cost. You’ll save money and time by passing on that.

  23. I almost understand what you are trying to achieve with this article. But while you can criticize the method, and you can criticize the motivation, and you can criticize the gender double standards in our society, the fact remains that purity and specifically the lack of it is a huge issue in our culture. Ignoring that fact to nitpick the messenger is like straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. At the end of the day, my purity is still my responsibility. But any woman who is revealing her cleavage in a bikini or any other skimpy suit is not looking out for my purity, and that is not in keeping with the royal law of love.

  24. You’ve made two exceptional points that I totally agree with: first, that we need to teach our young men to man up and take responsibility for their lust and to get it under control and second, that we need to teach our young women about modesty as it relates to their relationship with Christ.

    I said “totally agree”, and I have to recant that briefly. I mostly agree with you. My disagreement is in the presupposition that all of the kids in the youth group are Christians. I work with a youth group in my church, and I’d take a guess that roughly half of them are not Christians. My group is sort of the “outcast haven” in my community – kids come here from all walks of life because it’s a safe place for them emotionally. We certainly give them the Gospel at every turn, and it’s our prayer that, above anything else, they come to know the saving grace and love of Christ. With that in mind, telling someone who isn’t concerned with the idea of pleasing Christ that they should be modest because of Him is sort of self-cancelling. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t address the issue from that perspective, and I intend on starting that this Wednesday, but it’s important to keep the spiritual state of the kids in mind.

    My second minor point of contention is this: it’s one thing to encourage the guys in the group to get ahold of their lust and so forth, but the realization needs to exist that these kids won’t be changing that overnight. They’re still going to struggle and fight the situation as it’s presented to them, and they’re going to fail sometimes. That is, sadly, how human nature works.

    If I can use an analogy from my own life: I’m a recovering alcoholic.I struggled with that for years, and I’ve finally gotten it “under control”; ie, I don’t drink, I don’t WANT to drink, and alcohol has no more control over me. The reason I’ve reached this point is because I avoid alcohol. I don’t go to bars, I don’t eat alone in restaurants that serve alcohol, I don’t attend social functions that would serve it. I realize that I’m weak in this area and that my flesh will do its best to override everything else. At the same time, I’ve got a wonderful group of friends who will not serve alcohol at any function that they know I’m attending. They don’t see the sense in putting that temptation in front of me. They’d rather not partake themselves then tempt me to fall.

    To me, it’s the same thing here. It’s not trying to let guys off the hook or objectify the young ladies whatsoever, but why put temptation in front of someone who, by the very nature of their human body, is subject to lust and fall? And, as you so rightly mentioned, we don’t know what a particular guy finds desirable. I’ve seen some odd couples spring up over the years, and I’ve realized that I have no clue who will be attracted to what quality in someone else. I guess what I’m saying here is that it’s better safe than sorry for me. I certainly will approach the talk differently with the kids, and I will certainly emphasize many of the points that you’ve made here, but when it comes to the kids in my group, I will always err on the side of caution. I think it’s the wisest course – “To him who stands, be careful so that he doesn’t fall.” (I Cor 10:12).

    All that having been said, thank you for a very well thought-out article! It’s given me a lot to think about and a lot to work with. Much appreciated! God bless you, and keep up the good work!

    • Thanks! Keep doing what you’re doing with those kids. The drinking analogy is a good one. Thanks for your kind words and for reading. I’m humbled that I may have actually helped your ministry in some way! God Bless!

  25. I just want to point out that Jessica Rey incorrectly interprets the results of the study. The study indicates that men who do not have a high “hostile sexist” score do NOT see women as objects regardless of the women’s apparel. In other words only “hostile sexist” men saw women as objects when they wore bikinis. I would advise reading the study yourself http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/jocn.2010.21497#.U8E-epRdXHk for those who would like the scientific version. Otherwise, this website summed up Jessica’s incorrect interpretation of the study fairly well. http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2013/06/sorry-jessica-rey-that-bikini-neural-imaging-study-says-almost-exactly-the-opposite-of-what-you-thought-it-meant/?fb_source=pubv1 I will be wearing my bikini in Hawaii without remorse or reservation and have my husband’s blessing.

    • Jeniece,
      A couple of commenters have also criticized Ms. Rey’s usage of the study, or in some cases the study itself. I will be reading it in the near future. Thanks for pointing that out.

  26. Pingback: Nail hit right on the head :) | This Mama's Fit

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  28. Has anyone considered comparing this to what a teen boy could do to a girl in regards to her feelings? Most girls are vulnerable to tender words spoken, being told she’s special and set apart from other girls, given gifts maybe or helped with school projects or other activities she’s wanting to be involved in. If a young man were to give quite a bit of this attention to a girl, she might find herself opening her heart to him quite a bit. If she does and she begins to believe he likes her more than just as a friend, then finds out later, he was just being exceptionally nice, she may find herself shedding some tears. That would be sad. Boys should be careful, respectful of the tenderness of a girl’s heart, just as young ladies could choose to be careful with the tenderness of a boys makeup and vulnerability to seeing girls in swim wear that resembles what we’d call in the USA bras and underpants. They’re meant to worn under clothing-so when seen in a different fabric, it would be normal for a boy or anyone to see her as undressing. Most boys don’t have the opportunity to see a live girl undressing in front of them every day as a normal function of life, so-they’re vulnerable to the feelings of arousal when they see a girl in her “bikini” or even tight one piece. No one likes to see a girl’s heart broken over a boy who says, “We’re just friends” and no one likes to see boys struggle with normal desires caused by seeing “just a girl” undressing. Both have feelings and the God’s creation of both should be cared for or callouses may form.

  29. There are so many things “right,” and several things “wrong,” with this article. I understand that the overall intent here was to say that we need to stop shaming the young girls of our churches into some false sense of responsibility for others’ thoughts/actions and start educating both sexes equally on treating their bodies with respect. There is one thing I want to say though: everybody has a body. Everyone has arms, everyone has legs, everyone has a chest, everyone has a bottom, everyone has a stomach. God designed us this way because he wanted us to be made in his beautiful, perfect image. Our bodies are a work of art to be displayed as a testament to God’s beauty and might. I feel like I would be doing God’s work a disservice by covering myself up shamefully every day instead of looking in the mirror and saying, “Wow, God took the time to design me!” This doesn’t mean I am going to dress in a way that purposely might lead to unwanted attention, but if I have a body that some dude can’t stop looking at, that’s not my fault. Sorry about it, but that’s on him. If I’m treating my body in a way that honor’s God’s creation, my job is done. Now it’s up to everyone else to make sure their thoughts honor God as well.

    I really loved this article overall, and the comments have been very enlightening!

  30. Pingback: Women under grace. | The Mind That Wanders

  31. So true, we do not need to keep letting others off the hook for their actions. Mutual respect is what we need to teach from a young age.

  32. What is this legalism you’re all bashing to peices? You realize that you are ASSAULTING another Christian’s stance on the issue. It appears as tho these “legalistical(I guess that’s a word) maniacal judgmental people” you hate so much are those who believe in dressing a certain way. Is there a problem with their stance? Why do you hate them for it? Why do you all hate their stance? This is the first article I’ve read here and I thought the article was neither her nor there as to how good it was, but the ongoing assault in the comments is what turns me off from ever wanting to come back here to a “pastor” and following of judgementalism. (I do know that’s a word)

    • Confused,

      I am so sorry you’ve been hurt by comments here. The “legalism” that I think people struggle with in this particular topic is going beyond “those who believe in dressing a certain way,” and ventures into questioning one’s faith because of their choice in clothing, or making a very subjective definition of modesty a test of Christian faith, or calling sin what the Bible doesn’t condemn as sin.

      I am all for your choice to be modest, but this article was more pointing to the route we take to get to modesty which is too often degrading and damaging to boys and girls alike. I hope that helps, but if not, I am very sorry to have offended you with either my own words, or the conversation that I have allowed to ensue on my website.

      Your Brother in Christ,

  33. Pingback: Poolside Purity & Bikini Battles | mynameisskygem

  34. Great article! As a young woman raised in a conservative Christian home where modest dress is definitely a must, this has been an issue that I’ve given much thought. I’m not sure I’d call it legalistic to ask the girls to only wear one piece swim suits to an swimming parties and such. Everyone has the right to set certain standards for their events. For example my pastor and his family have a pool and they do ask everyone (guys and girls alike) to dress modestly in their pool. As the owners and hosts, I believe they have a right to ask this. That being said, I heartily agree with you that there is too much emphasis on dressing modestly to protect the men around us (I even wrote a blog post about it a few months ago: http://contentedseamstress.blogspot.com/2014/03/its-not-just-about-them.html ). Fact is I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere in the Bible where we are told to dress modestly so we don’t cause the men around us to lust. As Christians we’re called to live in such a way that brings glory to God. THAT is why we should dress modestly. It’s all for and about Him, not about those around us, or even just about caring for ourselves (though both of these ought to be part of it, I think).

  35. Pingback: Good gravy, raising humans | my EVERYDAY [ordinary] life

  36. Thank you for such great thoughts on this issue! My 16 year old daughter was trying to figure out why it didn’t seem right when her dad told her she couldn’t wear a bikini (his reasoning was because of how boys think). Your article articulated it for her perfectly! The timing was incredible. And on top of that, it was my 13 year old son who found your blog! What a great perspective for my boy to have as he begins his teenage life!

    • Right! The reason is because God tells us to dress modestly, & we want to bless Him!

      And we can also speculate on why God wants us to dress modestly. Understanding that I do have an impact on others (men & women), even though it’s not my *fault* if they lust, also has been helpful to me.

      But ultimately, if we women can choose to dress modestly in order to glorify God & worship our wonderful Saviour with our obedience, then we can do it graciously & humbly, rather than in resentment.

  37. Interesting article. However, if the former idea you are addressing smacks more of legalism, what you are proposing stings more like feminism. Neither social movement is Gospel.

    The main problem with this article is the subtle assertion that Church culture happens in a vacuum– men need only to “man up” to stop objectifying women, and women should eliminate the questioning of their wardrobe to stop sexual judgment. In an all-encompassing Church environment, perhaps what you are suggesting is possible. Yet this idealistic world does not exist and as such, the messages we tell ourselves, Biblical or not, are not enough to change our sexually-broken culture.

    This conversation only further exposes the heart of the issue: the Church has failed to address the culture surrounding/informing it. Our fallen opinions of sexuality and purity do not only originate within ourselves, but are fed from larger social constructs that are non-Christocentric; the Church has been content in simply responding to these secular ideas, but not addressing them against the Word of God. The well-intended fear of past saints is the reason for some of these traditions that seem inadequate as time has gone on. Our failure to have strong apologetic reasons for the way we act within the church, as we observe the world around us, continues old issues rather than resolves them.

    I do not fault the absolute rule of tankinis/shirts for youth group outings and certainly not the teaching of what Godly femininity looks like– however, if either of these methods are the summation of the “sex talk”, I do not agree with these methods either. More so than blame-shifting to different genders for the problem of lust, we need to be actively intentional in dissecting and inserting truth in the world’s messages of sexuality. Teaching what God says as truth is one thing; preaching against the lies of other social deities is another.

  38. Pingback: Boys, Bikinis, and Modesty | I, Pandora

  39. I enjoyed this article for the most part. What’s awesome is that our ultimate reason for dressing modestly is simply because God tells us to. As you (the author) explained in the “Update” it’s not about legalism but about blessing the Lord. We do it for that reason; then, we use our minds (& other Biblical passages) to understand why the Lord wants us to do it. Not to argue pro or con, but to further the understanding of our minds.

    Now, you said:
    “Of course it would be distracting if all the women in the church showed up in bikinis on Sunday. But hopefully because it breaks social norms for bikini wear, and not because the men would be ogling.”

    I am a woman. Let me just say ~ & it may have already been said, so I apologize if this is a repeat ~ that if women showed up in bikinis at my church, I would find it very distracting. And not just because of the context; I find bikinis on a beach very distracting, personally. I also find cleavage & revealing clothing on women very distracting. I am not entirely sure of the primary reason, but here are some possibilities:

    1. I am wondering if my husband is going to be sexually-stimulated. He’s a very godly man who loves the Lord mightily, & I feel 100% secure in his devotion to me. But he gets sexually-stimulated by seeing women in revealing clothing. He goes to God for strength around this & does everything possible in his life to avoid these images. He is not reveling in this stimulation, he is battling it. He does not blame women for his thoughts, but he would prefer an environment in which he’s not bombarded with these images. We don’t do public swimming for this reason, & church is a haven in which he can just think about the Lord instead of wrestling.

    2. I start comparing myself to other women. I don’t want to do it, but it still happens. Like my husband, I find myself battling this.

    3. I used to be a lesbian. I still from time to time find myself sexually-stimulated by women in revealing clothing. I don’t actively lust ~ I don’t have any interest in actually being sexual with women. But it’s still a distraction.

    4. I simply find myself curious about other people’s bodies; the more skin, the more distracted I am. I don’t want to be. It’s such a sigh of relief for me (as it is for my husband) to go to a church service & just hang around people who value modesty.

    As an aside, I find it really distracting to be around men without shirts on. Whether I find them attractive or not, it just feels intimate in a way that is uncomfortable for me.

    I would LOVE to be in a world in which men & women dressed modestly, in a way that did not draw attention to their sexuality. I would love to go public swimming in a place where everyone was wearing very modest swimsuits. I’m not blaming other people for my experience; I’m just saying it is such a breath of fresh air when I don’t have to deal with this issue.

    I choose to dress modestly, because the Lord commands it, but it also brings me joy to dress in a way that people will not have to be averting their eyes all the time to avoid seeing my cleavage or my midriff, in a way that I believe glorifies the Lord rather than myself.

    Lastly, I don’t think that being a stumbling block means that you are the *cause* of someone’s sin. Clearly, if a sister were egging another on to dress immodestly, it would not be the fault of the inciter that the other conceded. We are each responsible for ourselves. But it’s not kind, it’s not godly, & it’s not scriptural to incite another to sin, so the inciter is at fault for her own transgression.

    And if I dress in a bikini, it’s not my fault if men (or women) lust; but I have still sinned against God.

  40. Pingback: A Church Filled With Boys | Three Extra Minutes

  41. Pingback: Thank you women of Oceans of Fun, you inspire me | A Simple Life

  42. I have 6 daughters and our biggest fight is the one about what to wear. I tell them that boys are visually stimulated and girls are stimulated by touch. If I had a boy I would encourage him to be very careful with how he hugs girls and touches them. Sometimes what seems very innocent to a boy is NOT to girl. If he wants to be supportive and loving to his “sisters in the Lord” he needs to be careful. On the same token I tell my daughters that being careful about what they wear not only gives them a chance to show who they are on the inside but is supportive and loving to their “brothers” in Christ.

    • “I tell them that boys are visually stimulated and girls are stimulated by touch.”

      Where did you learn this, and do you know it to be true? I’ve come to learn, talking to my wife and other women and men, that this simply is not true: They appreciate men visually (how do so many women have crushes on actors they’ve never touched unless they are capable of being visually stimulated?) and I and other men enjoying touching our women.

      Telling your daughters that it is normal for them to be stimulated by touch and abnormal for them to be stimulated by sight, you’re setting them up for confusion and misunderstanding of their sexual selves.

      In other words: be careful what you teach, make sure it’s true.

  43. I once mentored a girl who had been raped and sexually abused multiple times, each by a different man. She began to believe that God didn’t love women, that everything was their fault, and that she would never find a man who truly loved her. I spent a year mentoring her on the subject and pulling examples from the Bible of the Lord’s view towards women. Through this article, I see that you greatly understand Jesus’ tender heart for women and model it yourself. Thank you for being one of the men that too many women believe are a myth. No matter the negativity that came in response to this article. It is clear you view women how God would and how God would want men to.

  44. Pingback: Poolside Purity & Bikini Battles | EQUIP

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