August 27, 2010 by Stacy McDonald

Gender, Morality, and Modesty

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I realize this is a very backwards way to post an article, or even link to someone else’s article; but, sometimes I do things backwards. Maybe it’s rebellion. Or maybe it’s because Gender, Morality, and Modesty: Liberated into Bondage by Robin Phillips is so good that I’m hoping you’ll want to read the whole thing once you read Part Six. It’s an excellent read, and the series is worth it, but it’s long. So, here are a few great quotes to get you hooked:

“The reason men in our culture are becoming less gentlemanly towards ladies is not simply because there has been a general erosion in manners and basic decency, though of course that has been a contributing factor and is something I have explored in Appendix C of my book The Decent Drapery of Life. But it is also because of a subtle shift in worldview of which most people are not even aware.

“Chivalrous behavior, like modesty, presupposes certain things about our humanity. It assumes, for example, that women ought to be treated in a special way because they are women, just as feminine modesty proclaims that women ought to dress in a certain way because they are women. When a man embraces his calling to look after and protect women, or when a woman embraces her obligation to dress modestly, they are both proclaiming that there is a fundamental difference between the sexes. These very differences are what the Enlightenment began to undermine.” – Part 4 The Gender Benders

Notice how Reich wanted to desensitize men and women from their natural “shyness” (in regards to exposing their nakedness). Do you think this has happened in society today? Keep reading.

The pioneers of radical sexual revolution often understood these issues better than most people today.  In his book The Sexual Revolution, Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957) described the means for achieving a society without any external sexual morals, “a free society” that “would not put any obstacles in the path of the gratification of the natural needs.” The road to the sexual utopia he advocated lay in first getting rid of the shyness and embarrassment surrounding sex.  In particular, Reich believed that before traditional morality could be completely vanquished, a society must be achieved where people “should lose their shyness to expose…erotically important parts of their bodies.”  Reich attempted to facilitate this by asking his clients to remove all their clothes during his psychotherapy sessions.

Reich would be pleased if he could see a European summer today, which is more in keeping with his ideal than what we find in brothels.  In a brothel, women have overcome the natural shyness surrounding erotically important parts of their bodies in order to advertise sex; on a sunny beach, scores of women can be seen who have overcome this natural shyness with no thought of sex at all.  Indeed, by refusing to explicitly acknowledge the erotic implications of minimalistic attire, we are approaching Reich’s ideal of a society in which shyness has been overcome and flattened of its innate potency.

Reich looked forward to a time in which sexuality would be treated as something merely common. “Profane” best describes Reich’s ideal and its realization in contemporary realization, given that the term originally meant “to treat as common.” Part 5 The Disenchanting of Sex

It is good and right for a man to be excited by the body of his wife. But, if society manages to desensitize him by making nudity and sexuality common place (perhaps even boring), then the attack on marriage is subtly effective. God intended nudity to stir a reaction in us within marriage; we are wonderfully created to be sensitive to it. I’ve been saying this for years. But, as nudity becomes common, and sexuality becomes almost mundane, it robs marriage of what is glorious.

Sex: A Big Deal?

Because materialism denied that a transcendent God had revealed himself to His creation, it placed man as the sole arbitrator of morality.  The result was that man turned sex into a god.  It is a biblical principle that whenever a thing is worshiped idolatrously, the original thing is destroyed.  In removing the restrictions placed on sexuality and denying the design God created, the sexual revolution ended up de-valuing the very thing it sought to elevate.  It was observed in The Times that advertisers are finding that sex just does not sell products like it once did.  The reason, reported Cristina Odone, is that the advertisers have made sex so banal it doesn’t entice us any longer.  It has been like taking a picture in color and turning it into black and white.  No wonder young people are now reported as making comments like, “I’m so used to it, it makes me sick.”  Nor should we be surprised that in Denmark, where pornography is unrestricted, people are often quoted as saying that sex is boring. – Part 6 Liberated into Bondage

Ironically, as our senses are dulled, rather than being oversexed, we become undersexed. Not that sexual activity decreases, but the satisfaction of it does. In addition, sexuality must become more and more shocking to invoke a reaction, which introduces perversions of all sorts. God has given the gift of intimacy to a husband and wife to cherish, enjoy, and protect. Its value is clear; especially when one considers the many attacks the Enemy marshals against it.

And according to the Bible, sex should be a Big Deal, and not merely because it makes the experience more fulfilling, though it does. A number of studies have found, not simply that married women are generally more sexually fulfilled than sexually active single women, but that the most strongly religious women are also the most sexually responsive…

Seen in this way, modest dress, manners, speech and conduct need not be indicative of an under-sexed temperament, as is often thought; rather, it is an acknowledgement and preservation of one’s sexuality as a gift from God.  Modesty and chastity are not matters of negation, but of affirmation: affirming the sacredness and beauty of sexuality and committing to preserve the sense in which it is set apart and cherished.   This perspective challenges both promiscuity and prudery…

Central to the very delight of sexual union is the pleasure of being admitted into a place that is not open to anyone else.  Sexual intimacy is a gift from God set apart only for those who have entered the covenant of marriage… Part 6 Liberated into Bondage

I recall when my husband and I were first married I got “all fluttery” inside at the very thought of him being the “only one.” I think they call that “having butterflies.” That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Intimacy in marriage is a precious gift; and part of its beauty and thrill is the fact that it is set apart. It’s a secret thing between the two who have mysteriously become one. When that oneness is violated, either within marriage or within society, sex becomes a vulgar thing – it is reduced to a bodily function that crudely mocks and insults true intimacy.

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4) Notice here that those who dishonor marriage are not only adulterers, but fornicators also.

In reality, saying that those who pursue modesty are “uncomfortable with their bodies” or “ashamed of their sexuality” is comparable to saying that I am uncomfortable with my expensive silverware because I refuse to use it to feed the pet mouse with. Just as my valuable silver is too precious to put to common use, so the treasure of the human body should be too valuable to use in any but the appropriate context.

C. S. Lewis observed that “when a thing is enclosed, the mind does not willingly regard it as common.”  Thanks to the Enlightenment, sexuality has come to be common.  No wonder we don’t see the need for it to be enclosed any more.

I like the whole concept of “common use.” My body is not intended for “common use,” so why would I imply that it was by “letting it all hang out?” A modest woman communicates that she has something valuable to protect.

Rather than continue to give you sound bites, I’m going to do what I promised, and ask you to read all of Part 6. But please try to take the time to read the whole series from the beginning.

Gender, Morality, and Modesty (A six part series)



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21 Responses to “Gender, Morality, and Modesty”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Great article, Stacy.

    “Reich attempted to facilitate this by asking his clients to remove all their clothes during his psychotherapy sessions”

    I nearly screamed when I saw that part. Monster!!

  2. I liked your insight, ““Ironically, as our senses are dulled, rather than being oversexed, we become undersexed. Not that sexual activity decreases, but the satisfaction of it does. In addition, sexuality must become more and more shocking to invoke a reaction, which introduces perversions of all sorts.”

  3. Stacie says:

    Very good insight. These are all very good reasons to dress modestly. I notice even if I’m going to the post office, if I am wearing jeans, men will not open the door for me. If I’m wearing a skirt, they seem to smile and open the door in a most chivalrous way. Interesting…

  4. Becky says:

    I don’t know…I wear jeans/pants all the time and men open doors for me quite frequently. I think it has more to do with the man and his upbringing/level of politeness than what the woman happens to be wearing.

  5. CourtneyK says:

    I agree with you, Becky…But I also have experienced what Stacie is speaking of. I have noticed the more “womanly” I am dressed (skirt or dress) that men’s responses appear to be different. Almost as though our conduct/dress can serve as a friendly reminder of the conduct that many were raised. Interesting points, ladies.

  6. Barbara says:

    Thanks for posting this, Stacie. I, too, have had men treat me with a more gentlemanly attitude when I wear skirts/dresses.

    BTW, I like the looks of your new website. Keep up the good work!

  7. Jennifer says:

    It’s never mattered what I wore. A gentleman is a gentleman regardless.

  8. Stacy McDonald says:

    I think the point of this particular quote was that men and women are different; and, when a culture embraces a non-Christian worldview – one that rejects the clear (and glorious) differences between men and women, there will be outward signs made evident by the way men and women relate to one another (chivalry and modesty etc.).

    But, ladies, please continue to read through the series. There is so much more there! It’s not simply about the way men treat women. :-) I promise it will be worth your time!

  9. Stacy McDonald says:

    “Ironically, as our senses are dulled, rather than being oversexed, we become undersexed. Not that sexual activity decreases, but the satisfaction of it does. In addition, sexuality must become more and more shocking to invoke a reaction, which introduces perversions of all sorts.”

    Robin,

    I’ve been saying this for years, and your article helped confirm it in my own mind.

    “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions [perversion]… ” (Romans 1:24-26, NKJV)

    That’s another reason why I get so angry with MAGAZINES who insist on degrading women and attacking marriage (which is what they’re doing, whether or not they realize it).

    I think it was James Dobson who pointed out back in the 80’s that men who view pornography are some of the most sexually unfulfilled men around. They are not satisfied with their real-life wives, and some even wind up with sexual limitations because of their own lust. It would be interesting to know how the increase in Viagra ads corresponds with the increase in Internet porn. Makes you kind of wonder.

  10. Kaitlin says:

    Agree with Becky and Jennifer. Besides, I hold doors open for old gentlemen, mothers, young men, people with their hands full, little girls, whoever. It’s just polite.

    Anyway, I’m all for wearing appropriate clothes. It’s common sense. But it’s possible to make dress too important.

    We look at a woman, what she’s wearing, and label her. Jesus looks at a woman, and sees a human being he loves so much he died for. He sees the stuff in her heart–fears, dreams, pain, beauty, scars. The stuff we tend to forget is there.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvnRYte3PAk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IJiWCHpFRs

    Wanted to share the above vids, because I think sex slavery relates to this post. God’s love clothes people in dignity. Stuff that ain’t love, strips it way. Humans become commodities. Vids show this at it’s ugliest.

    As Christians, we’ve got to look at others the way Jesus does, through his love, no matter what they are, or aren’t, wearing.

  11. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Kaitlin,

    Again, I think maybe you’ve missed the point. Could you read the article?

    It’s not at all about whether or not we should judge people by what they’re wearing. :-)

  12. […] is no Victorian idealism in Passionate Housewives. (Anyone who has read Stacy’s recent post ‘Gender, Morality and Modesty’ will see just how strange the epithet ‘Victorianism’ is when applied to her writings.). […]

  13. Danielle says:

    PLEASE! PLEASE! Mrs Stacy reply back to me LOL
    So as a very young 18 year old girl, with all this desensitization going on, how am I supposed to keep my marriage bed and body sacred? You know what I mean? How am I supposed to keep my (naked)body uncommon to my future husband when the rest of the world says nudity is nothing special? I guess I am saying what steps do we have to take to keep our marriage, and bodies sacred? Only look down when we are walking outside and dress in a spacesuit when I’m walking outside lol jk? but seriously, I’d wear that spacesuit if it would keep my future marriage sacred and untouchable. Thank you
    Danielle

  14. Stacy McDonald says:

    “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

  15. Kaitlin says:

    Had read the article. Three times.

    Was responding to the comments above me, really, not your post (well, except for the vids, you know, as an extreme example of inappropriate use of our treasured daughter’s bodies). Bit off-topic, yes.

    As for your article, it made me think of Huxley’s Brave New World. Too disturbing and sad.

  16. […] Your Sacred Calling » Gender, Morality, and Modesty – It is good and right for a man to be excited by the body of his wife. But, if society manages to desensitize him by making nudity and sexuality common place (perhaps even boring), then the attack on marriage is subtly effective. God intended nudity to stir a reaction in us within marriage; we are wonderfully created to be sensitive to it. I’ve been saying this for years. But, as nudity becomes common, and sexuality becomes almost mundane, it robs marriage of what is glorious. […]

  17. William says:

    Thanks for referencing the series by Robin, so well argued and documented, with a clear writing style. When these topics come up, I always think of P.J. O’Rourke’s quote “the sexual revolution is over, and the microbes won”.

  18. bridget Wahl says:

    I have but question. Are you Muslim or Seventh day Adventist?

  19. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Bridget – LOL! We are PASSIONATE Presbyterians! ;-)

  20. Jeff says:

    The part about partial public nudity being one of the causes why real sexual feelings has decreased across theboard is very intriging. I never looked at it that way.

  21. […] Gender, Morality and Modesty […]

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