As always, another good article by Anthony Esolen which can be read at the link below. Do read the whole thing, because there is a lot of good content.
Here are some of the highlights that particularly stood out to me…
The following line made me laugh at the image he conveys
…we cannot talk about sexual modesty without the prudes of vice fainting away, for fear that “theocrats” will sweep them to some faraway castle, there to terrify them with gifts, poetry, and courtship…
Boys ought to temper their aggression, even their happy aggression, around girls. That includes off-color talk. To do otherwise is to say, “I am in charge here, I do what I want, and to hell with you.
So also with immodest dress. A woman who dresses to show off her form in a provocative way is saying either, “I want you not to look at my face but at more important things lower down,” or “To hell with you.”
Yes. We have a lot of that “to hell with you” attitude in our society today.
If I see a woman whose dress seems like a strip of plastic wrap, to be used once and taken off, thoughts of sex come immediately to mind, which is what the woman intends unless she is a fool. So I check myself and turn aside. I don’t want to think those things.
Right. As a Christian he has an obligation to self-mastery even when others aren’t displaying it. The woman has an equal obligation to modesty which, if she’s Christian, she should know better. If she’s not, we do have to deal with living in a fallen world that we should try to influence as best we can. However, I think that even non-Christians can see the reasonableness of the Christian position which affirms obligations for both sexes to be considerate of the other.
It won’t do to say, “Don’t think them. ” [sexual thoughts]
As humans, we will have thoughts and images come to mind in response to our environment. The key with the Christian is to not entertain those thoughts but to turn your mind away from them. Once you choose to entertain them, you have engaged your will and have now sinned. [But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28] This principle is not just for men either. It’s for women too. Christ may have been addressing men when he spoke but there’s nothing special about women in that they are not prone to this sin. Although, the temptation will be less or more easily overcome generally for women.
Every human strength also betrays a weakness. A woman’s sensitivity to feelings – sensitivity without which the human race could never have survived – is also a temptation to choose just the right word to hurt the most. A man’s inclination to roughness against the stubborn resistance of the natural world – roughness without which the human race could never have survived – is also a temptation to violence.
Right. The strengths and weaknesses of both male and female have an effect on civilization and both can have either noble or disastrous ends.
Charity, forbearance, an honest admission of one’s susceptibility to sin, and consideration for the susceptibility of others, particularly members of the opposite sex, whose feelings are sometimes quite different from ours, should govern our choices in dress, speech, and physical deportment.
That’s the key right there. Getting most people on board with it is another matter.