I came across a young woman’s blog the other day who wrote about how much she appreciated and was impressed by the guys in her group asking that all the girls be careful about the way they dressed so that they wouldn’t cause the brothers to ‘stumble.’ And with great endorsement, she exhorted, ‘To all my sisters out there: dress responsibly.’
Back in the day in my youth group as well as my college fellowship, I heard the same kind of rhetoric being promoted. In talks about purity, it was always the girls who were called out. Fingers were wagged at the girls to be selective about what they wore in order to keep guys pure. And the message was clear: girls, it’s your responsibility to keep the guys from lusting, and if they do end up sinning (lusting), it’s your fault for not being careful!
What does this do but give a girl an inaccurately negative concept of her body and her sexuality?
Yes, it is true that women should dress responsibly (I, in no way would dispute avoiding scandalous, revealing clothes), but at the same time I would add to this young woman’s blog, ‘Boys: look away and stop lusting!’ She failed to mention this as do many youth pastors and counselors (and sadly, I must confess, even me in my complementarian days as a youth advisor).
In every message about purity to young people, it needs to be made clear that it is not the girls’ responsibility to keep their brothers from stumbling; it is the guys’ responsibility to keep themselves from stumbling. It is the brothers who need to avert their eyes and control their passions.
Have you heard similar one-sided teaching? How is sexual purity taught in your church? How can it be improved?