Your Body is Not the Problem
“Those high-school girls . . . they dress so slutty,” she said and then casually chuckled and added, “It’s a battlefield for men out there.”
My entire body felt tingly and hot, as I sat quietly. I didn’t quite know why her words prompted such a strong response inside me, but I excused myself to the restroom. When I came back, the subject was changed, but I continued to mull over her words. She was on staff with a high-school ministry and was referencing the girls she tried to save, help, counsel, whatever. I didn’t say anything about her comment because it’s not my goal to go around pointing fingers, but you know what I wanted to say?
“Excuse me, ma’am. Stop it right there. Those slutty-dressing girls?
Battleground for men? What about the battle that women face—with the church and many telling us we are causing men to stumble?
What about the struggle for us to believe we are worthy of love after losing our right to choose? What about that battle?! What about all the shame that is heaped on WOMEN from the church about our bodies? Are we really in a battle over bikini’s and low-cut tops? What if we as Christians started fighting the real battle against shame? The shame that is pervasive throughout our culture—the voice that tells women they are dirty because men are stumbling over their bodies.”
Enough with the modesty talk that in my experience often leads to blaming women for men’s lust. Sure, it’s important to dress in such a way so a man is looking at your eyes, not your breasts—BUT it’s not your responsibility to walk around worried about everyone else (Emily Maynard wrote a great article on this). If Christians or youth leaders or anyone for that matter has ever made you feel dirty because of something you wore or didn’t wear, I’m terribly sorry.
You aren’t dirty and your body is not a problem nor is it a burden. It’s a gift, a beautiful gift, one God gave you.
And if we are to love as Jesus loved, the word ‘slutty’ should not be a part of our vocabulary. Remember how Jesus responded to the woman caught in adultery? If you’re in ministry and stressed about how your girls are dressing, why not relax and remind them of their beauty? Why not tell them they are worth loving and see how it changes their need for every man in the room to notice them?
What if at the next church gathering, all the women dressed in loose-fitting turtlenecks and baggy pants—would we win the “battle”?
Would lust disappear with every v-neck tee and pair of skinny jeans? Yes, I know what a struggle lust is for men and I understand the importance of modesty. But do you what else I know? That calling women’s clothing and especially choices slutty hurts, especially when it comes from Christians who are supposed to love radically.
I had a long drive on Sunday, and thought about my own experience. I remembered the coffee shop where an older woman in the church regretfully informed me that I wouldn’t be allowed to come to the beach with the Christian group. Why? I asked, confused.
She mumbled out a few incoherent sentences and then said it would be too hard for the men, especially the married ones, to see me in a bathing suit.
I don’t even think I blinked.
I’m the girl who generally knows what to say and doesn’t shy away from confrontation. But the thing about that conversation was, her concern about me and my ‘boundaries’ with men, confirmed what I believed about myself. I was bad. I was dirty. Disheartened that I couldn’t go on the trip with all the “good Christians”, I cried on my bike ride home. How I wish I could sit down with my younger self and say, “You aren’t dirty. You aren’t bad. God made you beautiful and you have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Since I can’t go back and tell myself, I’m telling you. Your body is not a problem. You are beautiful, not dirty. You are worthy of love. You have a beautiful body to glorify God. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
Have you ever felt your body was a problem? Has anyone ever blamed you for making men stumble? Speak up!
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