Originally Posted in Rabyd Theologian 2.0 on May 20th, 2009. It has been edited.
Caught you looking didn’t I? There is something about cleavage that gets everyone’s attention, men and women both.
OK, what is a Christian man to do in the culture we live in where skin and sensuality is in? Now as I write this particular post I am a man addressing men, so if you women want to give your perspective I would welcome it.
Number One – Realize this, that you are not alone. Not in history or in the now. Paul in his ministry, particularly in places like Corinth, Rome and Ephesus, would have seen nudity, sensuality and sexual content on a grand scale. Between the temples dedicated to them, the Greek and Roman art of the time, naked slaves, temple prostitutes and skin of the free class, He would have been bombarded with these things by his culture much the same as we are now, and he dealt with it. Not by passing laws or calling the government — he controlled his lust an his heart through relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Today, you are not alone in your struggle either. Many men like me are beginning to realize that not every woman is going to just cover up because we ask them to, a different solution is going to have to be developed in discipleship so this temptation can be overcome, not just avoided. I work with the public in both my jobs (Ministry and Retail) and I cannot just look at the floor or close my eyes all the time. It would be dangerous and disrespectful.
Number Two – in practicality men are going to have to engage extreme measures on themselves (Matthew 5:27-30), not their world, and develop different perspectives on nudity and modesty in order to overcome lust in their own hearts. Jesus in Matthew 5 is saying take measures on yourself to rid yourself of sin — lust in particular. If lust is in our hearts, even if every woman in the world covered up and no porn existed — lust would still exist. Three young Amish women visited where I work one time. These ladies were dressed modestly, but understand that even in their ankle length dresses they had pretty faces and their hourglass figure was still visible. If lust existed in a man, he could still lust after these women. Their dress changes nothing about that.
Number Three – Men need to realize that the lust they need to flee from is in themselves. The battle needs to be fought in your mind and heart. You are going to be exposed more and more to nakedness and sensuality — by accident or on purpose — and you are going to have to open up to God to change you. The temptation is to blame the woman — but the problem is you.
That said, let me leave you with an example of a situation I faced once and how I handled it:
At work (my retail job), I was coming out of the bathroom and a little toddler came running around the corner and saw me at the last instance and stopped right at my feet only a foot away. She looked up at me and grinned. The child’s mother came around the same corner in a hurry, but I kept the child in view to make sure we didn’t run into each other. Mom bent down and grabbed the child. In that moment, the mother’s breasts covered the child from view right where I was looking. This young mother was wearing one of those spaghetti strap tops that is supposed to have built-in support. Unfortunately, she had bought one that was probably two sizes to big. Solomon said of his love: “Your two breasts are like two fawns,Twins of a gazelle which feed among the lilies.” That is what I saw, and not just part, but the whole pair including the stuff you can’t put on magazine covers (Yet.). This mother didn’t mean to do what she did, it is one of those things that happen. To make matters worse, they looked great because she was a young, shapely and beautiful woman.. How should I react?
If I was a typical Christian male, I would attack her in my mind – “She should know better than to wear something like that!” or I could decry society – “Man, this is just another proof of the degradation of our society.” But neither of these observations are accurate and they are not helpful either because neither one of them address what is going on in my mind and heart.
When a man sees something like this, his mind takes as snapshot or video of what he saw and begins to replay it over and over in his head. The female form is visually attractive to a man and there is no way around it as this I believe is God’s design. The devil brings the temptation as the movie is played. There is a way of escape, but I am not going to do it by willpower or doing the typical American Christian blame game.
1. The first thing I need to realize is that I am not alone. Many others have faced this issue and I am not unique. Christian men have faced this before and triumphed. I can be like them.
2. The real issue is my perspective – I realize from my studies of the Bible that what I have seen does not technically constitute the mother’s nakedness. I have seen her breasts and it is our culture that says this is nudity, but in truth God’s Word does not present it this way. Rather, I need to change my attitude. I am not seeing a temptress, but a concerned mother who loves her child and has accidentally showed me her breasts. She is a person deserving my respect and I need to change what I have seen from a temptation to lust after her to an admiration of her person hood and her beauty.
3. Lust will develop inside me and try to overcome my Spirit if If don’t re-conceive what I have seen. So as the image plays in my head I change my thinking to “Those were beautiful and they are attached to a beautiful mother who loves her child and I should respect that. I have no right to diminish her person hood by lusting after her just because I have seen her breasts.” By changing my perspective, I have shifted what I saw from what could be mental porn and fantasy to part of the mother’s beautiful body that does not belong to me. I can admire what I saw, but not lust after her. It is not magic and it may take a battle of the mind for a good length to time, but the result is good if I stick with it.
I know a lot of Christians would disagree with this, but I have found this is the only way I can open myself up to letting the Spirit keep me from the temptation to lust. I am not always successful, but in this case, I went back to work appreciative of God’s creative handiwork and not lusting after a woman I didn’t know. The image in my head is still there (according to people who study these things, such images can stay in a man’s head for up to two years), but I have no thoughts about possession of that mother’s sexuality for use for my personal gratification — it does not belong to me. God showed me the way of escape from the temptation to lust and I took it.
Next: Practical Advice to Christian Women