The Mind Of The Beholder…

It’s been said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and in the 38 years I’ve been alive I’ve found it to be true.  So true in fact that men go out of their way to consistently behold women…

and rank them…

placing them on detailed lists…

from top to bottom.

While the women at the top of the list are celebrated, and the women at the bottom are ignored, they’ve all been degraded.  Whether they know it or not.

In some places this isn’t publicly allowed, the viewing of women is restricted to their husbands and family members.

This week, in an unpredictable move, hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refused to support a nationwide “Islamic dress code” for women.

You can imagine that this maneuver prompted open hostility from the other conservative members of his oppressive regime.

A prominent cleric reacted by complaining that President Ahmadinejad should “open up a nightclub.”  He was then quoted as saying that the president’s views on the Islamic dress code allows women, directly and indirectly, to dress in a way promoting “sexual provocation.”

“They have actually allowed sexual provocation… and now, they should think of opening nightclubs and cabarets,”

In case you are wondering what he was talking about, he went on to expound on the immodest attire that the women were using to “provoke” the men of the nation.

“Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie have promoted a situation in which girls now “wear (in public) trousers, and coats that don’t cover the knees…”

In the mind of the cabinet member, the indecency of pants and knee length coats are a provocation towards indecent and sinful behavior by men.

I understand that modesty is a difficult issue to tackle, mostly because because modesty is largely a cultural issue.

What is considered immodest in certain parts of the world can be completely acceptable in others.  In certain cultures a woman ought not to bare her legs, but remains shirtless, while in others a bare legged woman is ignored so long as her chest is covered.

I’d suggest that the issue here isn’t about cultural modesty.

Could it actually be about responsibility?

While I agree that a woman has the responsibility to honor herself and her family by presenting her body in a respectful fashion, making the assertion that a man’s mental and physical purity is dependent on a woman’s ability to maintain modesty actually removes a man from taking responsibility for what happens in his mind and his heart when he comes into contact with a woman.

It’s actually always a man’s responsibility to behave honorably,
regardless of what is happening around him.

Not only does forcing women to cover themselves from head to toe make women responsible for the behavior of men, it also only demands that men live at the level that women call them to… as opposed to the level that God calls them to.

When a woman dishonors herself by dressing immodestly does this give the man a right to consume her with his body or his eyes?

Because that’s what happens when you make a man’s purity a woman’s responsibility.

The developing world is filled with “she was asking for it” stories in the same way that America was, until the story of Cheryl Ajuao came to theaters as recently as 1988.

The truth is that mankind does have the ability to stand in the presence of sin and not be defiled by it.  We actually do have the ability to not “give it” to somebody, even if they actually are “asking for it”.

Imagine what would have happened if the Biblical Joseph had agreed to take advantage of Potiphar’s wife?

Would the fact that she was provoking him have made a difference to God?

Sin doesn’t happen after stumbling into a situation that you want to remain innocent in.  Sin happens when we walk into something we weren’t expecting and then choose to live below the level of God’s high expectations for us.

Sin isn’t admiration.

Sin isn’t appreciation.

Sin is degradation.

Sin is taking the extra step to defile someone in your mind, and that happens everyday… regardless of what someone is wearing.  Immodest presentation, by dress or in attitude, simply makes crossing that line easier.

By dressing modestly, a woman can help a man win a battle that he is fighting to win.  It’s a battle about honoring God and respecting women, regardless of how they choose to present themselves.

Women aren’t responsible for the behaviors of men, only their own.

 Immodesty isn’t safe, because men can be wicked and dishonorable.

It also isn’t an excuse…


…because sin is in the mind of the beholder.

3 Responses to “The Mind Of The Beholder…”

  1. Sharon O May 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Wow … SO good. I am always amazed at how you can take a topic and just nail it… you are so right!

  2. Jon May 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    Thanks Sharon, really appreciate it!

  3. Mike Maxwell May 31, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    We must take our thoughts captive … or they will capture us. Remember the saying “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”? I have found that if we don’t have a plan for choosing and controlling our thought life the world is constantly bombarding us with thoughts it thinks we should have. If we don’t consciously, with intent and awareness engage in the renewal of our mind and resist the onslaught we will find that we have been captured before we even know what happened. This is not just with “beauty” but covetousness in general, anxiety, worry, depression, fear,lack or love for our fellow man…etc.

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