Freedom of speech is under attack. However, it may not be in the way you might think. While many church attendees would be justified in believing their free speech is under attack, most believe this problem is the direct result of the administration in Washington, DC. Few would assign this charge to those who profess belief in Christ. Unfortunately, as with many of the issues faced within evangelicalism, the church is taking its behavioral cues directly from the world. Professing Christians recently took to Twitter to demonstrate their outrage aimed at award-winning Christian music artist Matthew West’s song “Modest is Hottest.” Matthew West’s response to the backlash was disappointing but not surprising. In light of the cultural feminism invading the church, far too many men would remain quiet rather than take a stand on this issue.
West explains, “I’m blessed to be the father of two amazing daughters. I wrote a song poking fun at myself for being an over-protective dad, and my family thought it was funny. The song was created as satire, and I realize that some people did not receive it as it was intended.” The song has since been taken down by the artist and is no longer available on media platforms. While the lyrics were light-hearted and amusing, the backlash West received was not.
Audrey Assad, singer-songwriter and former Christian artist (recently left her faith), took to Twitter to express hatred of the phrase “modest is hottest.” Referencing the song by Matthew West, Assad stated, “‘Modest is hottest’ still centers men and their preferences in how women should look—still sets being found hot by men as the ultimate goal for women—and positions all men as creeps who can’t handle seeing a woman’s bare skin without turning into out of control monsters.” 
In 2016, Audrey Assad spoke to women about the dangers of pornography during her concerts. As one who struggled with pornography addiction as a teen, Audrey used her platform to warn women to seek help. Now, it seems her ideas about the subject have changed. Assad went on to say, “…I think women should be able to dress however they wish, and that certainly includes dressing modestly.”
Like Audrey Assad, many men have battled with pornography. They feel impotent or hypocritical when taking a stand for modesty, believing there may be some truth to the charges aimed at them. At the same time, we have to take an honest assessment of where things went wrong when we have a church culture that tells a father he’s being creepy and controlling when he tells his daughter to dress modestly.
While Assad wasn’t the only person to express outrage, her sentiment was echoed by a large majority of women and sympathetic men who believe women should have the freedom to dress in whatever manner they are most comfortable as an expression of their “truest self.” However, for the Christian woman, the idea that she can dress in whatever way she desires to express her “truest self” flies in direct contradiction to what scripture has to say about the matter.
As we open the pages of Scripture, we will notice they are not silent about these issues. Paul would address the church at Corinth regarding the idea that we are free to do as we please with our bodies when he writes, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Additionally, in the letter to the believers in Rome, Paul writes, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) Again, Paul writes, “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” (1 Timothy 2:9).
Unfortunately, the conversation turns away from what Scripture teaches, as many women, informed by cultural feminism, begin to fight back. Much of the response from these women is aimed at what they believe to be perverted men who desire to keep women from expressing their God-given beauty. The issue then shifts from modesty to run the gambit of body-shaming, purity culture, and includes creepy men and their lustful intentions.
Men are indeed responsible for controlling their lust, and women are not responsible for what a man does with his eyes. Furthermore, the idea that women have a responsibility to help their brothers by not causing them to stumble is a good thing. However, Scripture points to a greater motivation for modesty. Peter writes, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) The motivation for a woman’s aim toward modesty should come from a heart that desires to please God.
While the modesty debate is not new, the dynamics of this conversation have shifted as cancel-culture and the #metoo movement have gained ground. The church, once a predictable voice against sexual promiscuity and sensuality, is slowly being shamed into silence on this issue. What we’ve witnessed in this most recent exchange on this issue is the ability of progressive Christian culture to silence those with whom they disagree. The cost of taking a stand against this growing coalition is too great for some. While this may not be seen as a direct attack on one’s free speech, the implications are far-reaching. As with other apposite cultural matters, critical race theory, LGBTQIA issues, and egalitarianism, the church must not capitulate. The issue of modesty is not simply an argument between what men think and what women believe. The issue is whether those who claim the name of Christ will demonstrate their love for him by doing what he says (Luke 6:46). For some, doing what he says, includes speaking about what is right, regardless of the costs. It also includes honoring God with our bodies for His glory.
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