Gender, Morality, and Modesty

Posted By on September 5, 2010

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 sure 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 Part 1 (Reducing the Human)

Gender, Morality and Modesty Part 2 (Utilitarian Ethics)

About The Author

Stacy is the wife of Pastor James McDonald of Providence Church and Family Reformation Ministries. She is the mother of ten precious blessings, and the grandma of 3 1/2 treasured cuddle bugs, so far! Surely, she is and does other things, but these are the most significant to her. Stacy is also a conference speaker, the author of Raising Maidens of Virtue, and co-author of the popular book, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God.


5 Responses to “Gender, Morality, and Modesty”

  1. Dianne says:

    Stacy, that was a great article! It’s something I’ve always “felt” but never really vocalized. I’m saving this one for future reference!

  2. This is a good article–and it makes sense–those who are modest value themselves more, not less. Being modest and chaste doesn’t necessarily mean you are hiding yourself or are ashamed of yourself, it means you value those things that are to be kept only for your husband. Wonderful article! So this is a book or a blog article? Anyway, I’d like to read the whole thing.

  3. I would highly recommend reading the whole thing! It is very worth the effort.

    Parts 1-6, linked above, are blog articles from Robin Phillips’ blog.

  4. Proud_Feminist says:

    I believe that my body is not for common use. Just because you have sex before you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t CHOOSE who you are intimate with. I believe love is what is needed before sex, not marriage.
    Just because I’ve had sex doesn’t mean I’m going to hell. I don’t believe in hell, and I don’t think God would judge me. He has more important things to worry about.
    If there are those who wish to see me as, what was it… an “adulterer” and a “fornicator” go ahead. Haters gonna hate. I can’t change your minds, but you need to know that there are other ways of life rather than the ultra-conservative one.

  5. No one here on LAF says you are going to hell or that we hate people who pursue sex outside of marriage. You are not reading this site–you are making assumptions based upon a knee-jerk reaction to what you have skimmed over. (I recommend reading our Theme Articles to start.) It is simple fact (backed by medical science–not just religious belief) that having multiple sexual partners increases your risk of disease and even sterility. And that’s not even mentioning the emotional and mental toll such a lifestyle exacts. I recommend the book Unprotected by Dr. Miriam Grossman, which provides an in-depth look at the real life, long-term results of promiscuity. And how is “love” defined? If it is just a strong feeling of attachment, then it’s no wonder young people go from one “love” to the next in succession. Feelings can change. A deep, abiding love is based in mutual respect for one another, an enjoyment of each person’s mind, an appreciation of the other’s goals and plans, and a desire to work together over the long term in a stable family relationship–sex is a wonderful benefit that cements all of this together. Every single research study demonstrates that long-term monogamous marriage is the safest and best environment for bringing up the next generation (click HERE for just one example; there are hundreds more). We have a nation of troubled children who have struggled through divorce, abandonment, serial “fathers,” increasing poverty, and more because of the disintegration of marriage and the loss of committed parents who love and care for them.

    This is not about being “ultra-conservative” and having our heads in the sand. The shoe is on the other foot. It is liberal organizations that push sexual “freedom” at younger and younger ages without regard for the consequences (both physical and emotional) that are turning a blind eye to the needs of young adults. If you’d like a real research project, I’d urge you to “follow the money” and figure out why Planned Parenthood pushes birth control and abortion on young girls and uses taxpayer funding to force-feed its own version of sex education through America’s schools. There is big money to be made. Teaching children self-respect, respect for others, restraint, self-control, and long-term commitment is a dead-end for those pushing pills and abortions.

    We’re not interested in condemning those who choose to follow that path; we are urging them to stop and look carefully before jumping into a lifestyle pushed by people who are profiting from the results of the consequences of “free sex.” We know all about other lifestyles outside of conservative, monogamous marriage. That’s why we’re here. To give people the chance to see the other side of the story. Have an open mind. Read. Be willing to question what the textbooks tell you. Consider the views of others who differ from you. That’s the only path to learning. And it is well worth the effort.

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