I simply had to share this confessional after reading yet another article about the Indisputable Evils of Yoga Pants. These pants are worn regularly by temptresses around the globe, so much so that they require a follow-up article about immodest Christian women.
These were followed by some stern warnings from a male pastor (who is apparently easily distracted) by these Jezebel pants in the gym–where, of course, women are simply looking for sexual attention rather than trying to get in shape.
The articles are old, but it started showing up again on my Twitter feed this week. After reading them, I have a confession to make as a Christian man and minister, one that may be shockingly scandalous to all true Christians:
I allow my wife to wear yoga pants. In PUBLIC, of all places!
Worse yet, it doesn’t really bother me. When she heads to the gym in that oh-so-sexy pony tail, tight pants, and fleece—which is scandalously not zipped up enough to cover her upper chest and neck–I don’t say a word. And I don’t worry that some other man might see and lust after her.
Shame on me for not controlling my household and having such a Jezebel for a wife. She exercises in, you know, EXERCISE pants! I should probably ask forgiveness for this, as well as for letting her wear something with the name “yoga” attached to it.
Silly me…but I kind of think that men are responsible for their own behavior. As in a 1 Thessalonians 4 kind of way: “…each one of you should control your own body…”
I work at a small, Christian university. I can state this as a fact to all the Anti-Yoga Pants advocates out there: You are losing. Not just a little, but massively losing. As in a blowout. As in a Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl type of blowout.
And yet, I can think of very few times where I considered any of the young ladies at our school–and certainly not my wife–to be excessively immodest or subliminally seeking sexual attention.
So, why do I care so much about this article being posted and re-tweeted?
Simple. I have a teenage daughter. The last thing I want her to read/hear/feel is that she is guilty for men behaving badly, because she dressed in a way that sought out sexual attraction and attention. These blog authors deny it, but their underlying theme supports this archaic notion.
One of these authors is a pastor and the other apparently seeks opportunities to speak to young girls and youth groups. (By the way, I find it strange to read about modesty of dress from a lady who professes a passion for red stilletos–because guys would never notice those, right?) I would not want either of them within ten yards of my daughter, and I would prefer that she stay at least that far from their writings.
I don’t want my daughter carrying the guilt that pastors and so-called youth “speakers” have heaped onto young women for years. I’ve ministered to young people for a long time, and I know all the routines. I’ve witnessed the eyerolls from the ladies at the youth retreats, where they get another speech about how “men are visual” and they have to cover themselves out of respect for that…(oh, and respect for themselves, because that’s important too).
I have also counseled many adult women who have carried those hot guilt coals on their heads for a long time. Perhaps it’s time to stop dressing up guilt and blame in the language of spirituality and modesty. Perhaps we could spend more time giving them confidence and value in Christ and less time talking about clothing.
Believe me, as husband of an exquisitely attractive wife and father of a 15-year old daughter, I am all in favor of female modesty. The first young lad who knocks on our door will find our young lady dressed as Joan of Arc, in full chain mail, steel armor and a very large sword. (He may also find me cleaning shotguns and sharpening large hunting knives when he comes into the house–and he will come in, or she will not go out).
However, I am equally opposed to the notion that my daughter should have to alter her clothing because men are too spiritually weak and irresponsible to control themselves. And that this is somehow okay because they are more “visual”.
Let’s dispense with the myth that men are tempted primarily because of what women wear, and that the Bible supports any such myth. Matthew 5:28 tells us that Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Women weren’t exactly sporting outfits like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, or Kim Kardashian on, say, a Tuesday. And Jesus still had to warn the men to use some self-control and stop undressing women with their eyes.
It also does not describe Jesus calling over the ladies and saying to them, “Now, the men are lusting after you. But it’s not really their fault because they’re just more visual. So make sure you go out dressed in swaddling clothes, leaving only room to breathe through your nose. Because they’re too spiritually ‘soft’ to handle it.”
In those links above, the author shares some words from her husband about how difficult it is for men to keep themselves focused and under control when close to a woman wearing yoga pants. Here’s the thing: If you can’t keep yourself focused on your workout and keep yourself from lustful thoughts a sweaty, smelly female next to you is wearing yoga pants, that is explicitly and exclusively a YOU problem.
But the problem goes well beyond some guy who can’t keep his eyes straight in the gym. These articles foster the same attitude that allows counselors at Bob Jones University to ask victims of sexual assault, “What were you wearing?” Or refer to them as “damaged goods”. It allows places like Sovereign Grace Ministries to create a culture of guilt, shame and silence, even as women and children are sexually abused.
Because if you were sexually assaulted, you must have been wearing something that put off a signal…right?
Again, the authors will deny that this is a product of their teaching. But read between the lines, and pay attention to the tone. They’ve softened the language and dressed it up in spiritual platitudes, but the general theme is the same. And it’s not okay.
My daughter learns from her mother and the other women in her family and church. Yes, some of these Delilahs wear those sinful yoga pants. But they also teach her that wisdom, strength of heart and mind, and a desire to seek what God wants her are more important than her clothes. Modesty is more about attitude than attire. She knows that her Christianity is defined by who she is, and that it’s not okay for anyone to make assumptions about her based on her outfit.
We are grateful that these women have given her a Deborah spirit, rather than warning her against a Jezebel spirit.
My daughter makes great decisions about modesty, but not because these women drilled a bunch of legalism into her head or convinced her about the sinful eyes of boys. In fact, she probably makes these decision because we don’t talk about clothes! Isn’t it interesting that teaching strength and character is empowering her to make good choices on her own?
I’m sorry to take up your time with yoga pants—but I see too many people that are paying too much attention to this stuff. I saw it in all my years of youth ministry, and we’re still treading the same water. So maybe it’s time to change our approach rather than repeating the insanity.
Maybe we should teach our girls more about what it means to have a Deborah spirit, or Mary spirit, or Lydia spirit. If we did, then the clothing issue might take care of itself.
Let me thank a few of the Deborah/Mary/Martha/Lydia/Phoebe ladies in our lives: Amanda, Debbie, Leslie, Mandy, Chasity, Dina, Beth, Sissy, Laurie, Shannon, Mickey, Phyllis, Sarah, Mrs. Jo, Aunt Y, Wilma, Tonda, Colleen, Meredith, Liz and especially Kaci…just to name a few. I am grateful and thankful for all these women–and many more–as examples. But most of all I thank my wife Tracy for instilling her with the true values of a Christian woman.