Imagine if you will an average, college-aged Christian man. Let’s call him Bill. Bill faithfully attends worship and is involved in a campus Christian group. Nice guy, good knowledge of the Scriptures, striving to be a better Christian. Everybody at church thinks highly of him. Sadly, like the majority of Christian men his age, Bill struggles with lust and is fighting an addiction to pornography.

In this sex-saturated society a triggering image can pop up at any time and force him onto the battlefield of temptation, so he’s doing everything he can to avoid such imagery. He’s got internet filtering software, he’s in an accountability group, he steers clear of places like pools or beaches where he knows he would have a difficult time… and then he logs onto Facebook and sees a Christian sister sharing her pictures from her trip to the beach, where she’s dressed in little more than underwear. Or he goes to worship on Sunday and takes his regular seat, only to end up behind a sister showing too much cleavage and with skin-tight pants. That doesn’t mean Bill automatically sins. And if he does sin, they didn’t make him do it. But they sure made his battle more difficult. 

Though Bill is a made up character in this story, there are literally thousands of Bills in the world today who are fighting that battle and trying to do what God wants from them. They are fighting as hard as they can to overcome a deadly sin problem, one that is not all that unlike a drug or alcohol addiction in the way it gets its hooks in a person. As a male I know just how much internal fighting one look can cause in the heart of one who is in the heat of that battle. 

That’s why I take such issue with articles such as this one where the church’s long-held ideas about modesty are essentially mocked and pushed aside. The author concluded, 

“I hope today that you my sisters feel free to dress with both charity and charm, with dignity and dazzle, to adorn yourself in a way that makes you feel beautiful and confident, in a way that allows you to experience solidarity with other women of different bank account and/or breast size, to make your clothing choices based on the values of God’s kingdom (which includes wearing clothing that is ethically manufactured), and to feel free to let men take the responsibility for their own right eyes/hands and figure out how to be respectable men who treat all women, regardless of cleavage or legs for days, with dignity and respect.”

Basically, women can dress in whatever way makes them feel beautiful and confident because the responsibility is entirely on men not to lust. Show cleavage, bare your legs, because women have their rights! If guys have a lust issue, that’s not the woman’s problem!

It’s a viewpoint I’ve seen before, and to be honest it’s heartbreaking to see so many embracing it. How can somebody do that a fellow Christian? How can a person be so insensitive to another person’s struggles? How can you be so unloving?

While there’s a desire to label the Bill’s of the world as men who are just looking for a chance to lust, the truth is that there are so many in that situation who are fighting tooth and nail to win that battle and need all the help they can get. Regardless of our struggle, we’ve all been in battles with temptation and sin. What we need most in those moments are Christians who will help us through that battle, not Christians who will take a holier-than-thou tone, look down on our struggle, and make our burden heavier.

When a person becomes a bondservant of Christ they no longer have rights. Instead, we’ve signed our lives over to God and as such He has asked us over and over to put each other first to help each other stay faithful. Paul said that he’d stop eating meat altogether if it would keep a brother from stumbling. But what about his rights?!? It’s not his fault if they stumble, right? Instead he said that we should pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another (Romans 14:19). He also pointed out that something as silly and insignificant as eating meat is not worth a brother’s eternal soul (14:15). How about a piece of clothing? 

In Philippians 2:3 he said that Christians should “regard one another as more important than yourselves,” and to “not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Why, though? That’s their problem and I shouldn’t have to change my ways for them, right? That comes from a heart of pride that says our wants are more important than what others need from us, and Paul absolutely obliterated that argument in the following verses by pointing out that Jesus – who didn’t owe any of us anything – left heaven to live a humble life, serve us, and get beaten and tortured on the cross for us. Who are any of us to refuse to be humble enough to help our fellow Christians?

Finally, Jesus slammed those who would be stumbling blocks in Luke 17:1-2. “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

Though modesty inspired the article this time, the issue is so much bigger. It’s about holiness and our desire to do things the way God would do them vs. our flesh which tells us that we don’t have to change for anybody. It’s about dying to self for the sake of others versus putting ourselves first at everybody else’s expense. And, it’s about how we view our Christian family. At stake is the Christian community of support, one of the reasons for which the church was designed.

Are we going to be the kind of people who do as Jesus did and wash each others’ feet in service, or are we going to tell people to handle their own problems and leave us out of it? I beg of you, put your Christian brothers and sisters first. Their souls and yours are the only things in this world that matter. Sin wants to devour each of us, and we have to help each other fight through it and stay faithful. “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

The qualifiers necessitated by online discussion these days:

– Men are responsible for themselves. It’s not a pie chart of blame in which we’re trying to decide who gets what percentage of the responsibility. A man who has a lust/pornography problem will give an account to God for His own sin and can’t pass it off on anyone else. However, she’s also 100% responsible for herself, too. He has to refrain from lusting. She has to refrain from helping him sin. The alcoholic is 100% responsible for every sip they take. But what kind of Christian brother or sister would crack open a beer and set it in front of the alcoholic?

And, despite what most who make this argument would lead you to believe, lust is addressed in the church more and more all the time. Men are absolutely responsible for their actions. Just know that many, many of them accept that responsibility and are fighting that battle every day and need your help.

– Yeah, there are limits on what we can expect of Christian women. They can’t bend their wardrobe to every single thing that could ever possibly be cited as lust-inducing. But there’s a reason they don’t put women in reasonably loose, full-length, full-neck dresses in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. It’s neither ridiculous nor oppressive to uphold the traditional “neck-to-knee, not skin tight” standard that’s been used for both men and women in the church for decades.