Modesty: Are Women Responsible for the Thoughts of Men?

Nontie from A Victorious Woman of Faith, asked me to write a guest post responding to the below comment:

“Why should a woman be responsible for the actions and or thoughts of men? Why can’t we as women be able to go on living our lives without being pegged as moral brigades for our “brothers”? Galatians 6:5 for each will have to bear his own load.”

This is a common objection I’ve heard given in response to those who champion modesty, but is this a legitimate concern? Are women really supposed to be responsible for the thoughts of men?
Short answer: No, of course not. We are responsible for what we allow our minds to dwell on. While I believe modesty greatly benefits those who practice it, and the others around them, in ways that go beyond merely protecting men from temptation, it is still the case that we are each responsible for our own actions. If a man sins due to immodest dress, that is his problem.  However, that does not mean the immodestly dressed woman is free from responsibility.
Ideally, when a man encounters a woman dressed immodestly, his spiritual development will be to the point where giving into sin in that situation holds no allure. Rather than feeling temptation, perhaps instead the man will feel compassion toward the woman who has chosen to represent herself in a way that communicates disrespect to herself and others. A woman dressing immodestly is never an excuse for sin on the part of a man.

Long answer: First all, the verse this particular commenter cited to defend her argument is taken out of context. If you read back just three verses prior, Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2.
What? Paul is contradicting himself in the same paragraph? No, not at all. This is why context is key. I would encourage this commenter to go back and read Galatians chapter 5 (or just reread the whole letter). In the larger context, Paul is telling us to “love” and “serve one another,” Galatians 5:13.
Leading into chapter 6, Paul is telling us to put the good of others above our own needs and wants. This is why it makes sense when Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens,” and a few verses later when Paul says, “For each one will bear his own load,” he is saying that—while we are to help one another—ultimately we are all accountable before God for our own actions. Bear the burdens of others, but don’t be a burden.
So while this commenter meant this verse as an argument against having to be concerned about others, this passage actually supports the concept of modesty and the idea that we should care about the good of others more than what we want. So in that respect, women do share some of the responsibility if others stumble as a result of their clothing (or lack thereof). Everyone has their own burden; don’t make carrying it harder on people.  

Click here to read the rest of my post on A Victorious Woman of Faith blog. 

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  1. Yup. “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!” Luke 17:1

  2. Excellent. Thank you, brother. (I left a longer comment over there with the full article.)

    God bless you!

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