First of all, I want to thank all of you who have stuck with me, in spite of my sabbatical. I just checked my December stats, and it is, surprisingly, not that much lower than usual. You all touch my heart.
Now, on to the main event.
I want to talk to you about something that's been on my heart for about the past 6 months. I mean, truthfully, it's something I've thought about a lot longer than that, but it's progressed to something that's been stressing me out lately.
I want to talk to you about Modesty and Respect. This is such a big topic, and I'm overwhelmed at where to start. So I'm just going to go, and I hope you will stick with me. I'm not usually known for being succinct when I'm passionate, so I'll try to bold and enlarge the highlights for you skimmers out there. Furthermore, if you want to read the posts that finally spurred me to write this, you can look here and here. (Warning, they're also not short.)
Modesty has nothing to do with guilt. This was a big lesson for me to learn. I may not have been the most Amish of dressers growing up, and I still am not, nor do I think I ever will be, but that is nothing for me to feel guilty about. I didn't always believe that, though. I bought into the lie that we tell our girls: "It's your responsibility to keep your brothers from sinning by dressing appropriately." I'm sorry...What? I want you to read that over again a couple of times, because, on first pass, it may be hard to catch what's wrong with this statement. So read it again. The more I read it, the more sad I become, because we've been deceived. It is not our responsibility to prevent anyone from sinning. I want you to read that very carefully. Put frankly, it's idolatry to think that you can stop anyone from sinning. There's only One person that can step in, change us, and turn us away from our sins, and that's G-d. The issue of lust is a much deeper issue that goes beyond what any person is wearing. I'm sure you've heard people talking about leaving room for the imagination in your dressing, while talking about how much they love sundress season a couple weeks later. People who are going to lust are going to lust. What a person wears isn't going to change that. So let's stop pointing the finger at the dresser and start praying for healing for our brothers and sisters.
Which brings me to my next point. Lust is not just something men do. It feels like everywhere I turn, I see women gushing over pictures of topless men, or even men wearing less clothes than that, and, in some bizarre turn of events, this has been deemed "okay." I can't help but be disgusted and deeply saddened by this practice. If men were constantly posting pictures of topless or underwear-clad women on their Facebooks and commenting on how sexy they found them, the female community would be outraged. We'd crucify them. So I don't understand. What's the difference? But don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm immune. If this is thrown at a person constantly, it's nearly impossible to stay above it, whether they are male or female. I get that it's hard not to lust; believe me, I do. If a man has strong hands or has paid attention to his upper arms in his workout routine, I'm having to work my hardest to keep my thoughts pure.
So what can I do? Do I ask him, "Excuse me, sir, but would you mind wearing gloves? Your hands are really distracting me from G-d right now." No. Of course not. First of all, that's pointless. Him covering his hands is not going to change the fact that my mind has headed down that path. Him changing is not going to cure my indiscretion. The only way I can stop my sin is by working with G-d to change me.
But that doesn't mean that we need to ignore the clothes issue entirely. What it does mean is that we need to be dressing to honor G-d with our bodies. G-d is judging us by our hearts, so I think that it is important to know your heart, even as you are picking out your outfit in the morning. Why are you wearing what you are? Are you thinking, "Oh, I'm going to turn on all the guys by wearing this outfit"? I think we can all agree that that is not honoring G-d. You're dressing for men and your sexuality, making them the center of your thoughts as you're dressing. I'd dare to take this as far as questioning if I dressed with the right thought life this morning when I dressed with one thought: "What is going to keep me warm?"
The most important part is that you're honoring G-d. Honor G-d with your body. Honor G-d with your thoughts. Honor G-d with your actions.
I could keep going on down this rabbit trail. I could double or triple the length of this post by bringing rape, assault, pornography and pedophilia into the mix, but I think that at this point I've give you enough to go on to guess what I would say, so I'll leave that for another impassioned day.