Ensign March 2014Discussions of modesty and immodesty in the last week have prompted me to direct a special plea to all of the sweet young LDS brothers among us who may—even unintentionally!—be leading our daughters of God astray.

My young brethren, let me speak plainly: it is your responsibility to ensure that what you wear does not cause your sisters to stumble (1 Cor. 8:13).

  • Away with shoulder-baring tank tops during your pickup basketball games in the church gym.
  • Away with low-slung jeans that drive girls crazy wondering by what defiance of physics your pants don’t drop to your ankles.

You must never exploit your great power over girls. Your life’s purpose is to attract and hold the attentions of a mate, certainly, but you will get the type of woman you dress for. I know you hope to meet the kind of sister who will value your mind and help you fulfill your eternal destiny as a father. But how can you expect to find her if the first thing she notices about you is your protruding biceps?

You may think you’re engaged in harmless flirting, but the choices you make here can have devastating eternal consequences. How would you feel if, when you get to the celestial kingdom, you first have to pass by all the sisters whom your dress had tempted into sin? As you prepare to enter those gates, what if you learn that your actions had caused once-pure sisters to drift away from the very kingdom you stand poised to enter?

sexy guyCan you see them in your mind’s eye? Look: there’s the sister who became addicted to pornography, so enticed was she by the glimpse of that Hanes band peeking out of your jeans. There’s the one who failed to serve a mission because of her unworthy thoughts after your “shorts” proved short indeed.

As young brethren in Zion, it is your divine privilege to stand as revered objets d’art on a lofty pedestal. But with great power comes great responsibility; some females who perceive you will be tempted beyond what they can bear.

Since it is a scientific fact that girls are constantly struggling with lustful thoughts, why drive them toward impurity with your wanton disregard for their heroic daily battle against sin? So strong in every other way, those of the female gender are rendered incapable of rational or spiritual thought whenever you flaunt your wares.

You must safeguard these sisters. Their very souls are in your power.

So I beg you to heed God’s standards, and not lengthen any tentacles of the adversary:

  • Cover your shoulders at all times.
  • Be sure your swim trunks extend to your knees and that you always wear a t-shirt when swimming in mixed company.
  • In fact, bring several additional t-shirts as well so that your drenched clothing will not be all you have to wear for a day at the beach; sometimes the mere outline of your six-pack can be just as arousing as your uncovered skin. Just look what happened to Elizabeth Bennet when she saw Mr. Darcy in his pond.

I plead with you, my brethren, to put away all clothing that will ensnare our good young women and divert them from their noble purpose in serving the Lord. Amen.

50 Comments

  1. So great, Jana. If I could add one thing, we really need to consider whether the usefulness of firemen outweighs the tingly feelings they give so many women, with their muscles and suspenders and such. Surely it’s better that buildings burn than women do.

  2. Jana, I hope you know a good doctor to surgically remove the part of your tongue which is now cemented to the inside of your cheek!

    That said, whether intended or not, much of your commentary here is worthy of serious consideration, because men and women are ofttimes more similar in their reaction to the opposite gender than we are comfortable admitting. (i.e. society generally portrays men as pigs and women as possessing superior powers of decorum, with the truth for both genders probably being closer to the middle position than we generally concede.)

    While I’m not so sure it is necessary to restrict the wearing of tank tops for men participating in certain athletic endeavors, I don’t think it consistent with LDS standards of modesty to otherwise dress that way. And I don’t know any corner of the LDS universe which shrugs off “low-slung jeans” as just another acceptable male fashion choice.

    Jana, you write, “You must never exploit your great power over girls. Your life’s purpose is to attract and hold the attentions of a mate, certainly, but you will get the type of woman you dress for. I know you hope to meet the kind of sister who will value your mind and help you fulfill your eternal destiny as a father. But how can you expect to find her if the first thing she notices about you is your protruding biceps?”

    Whether you meant that in sincerity or as parody, the fact of the matter is that it is TRUE!

    Additionally you wrote, “How would you feel if, when you get to the celestial kingdom, you first have to pass by all the sisters whom your dress had tempted into sin? As you prepare to enter those gates, what if you learn that your actions had caused once-pure sisters to drift away from the very kingdom you stand poised to enter?”

    Again, whether meant in earnest or not, women possess hormones which may be set in motion by the dress and behavior of the opposite gender. Yes, women do become addicted to pornography. Yes, there are women who actually engage in impure thoughts at the sight of a “Hanes band peeking out of your jeans.” And when young women succumb to the temptations to which they are exposed, they may indeed ultimately veer off of a course which might have sent them on a mission.

    As for the pedestal thing, there is plenty of room for all our young men and women who strive to maintain the high standards which are ever so fleeting in our society. I truly have great admiration for the valiant youth of the church in this generation.

    Your final comments, Jana, begin with the generally reasonable and quickly descend into full-blown absurdity. Even before my mission another lifetime ago, I cannot recall owning or wearing very many clothes which didn’t cover my shoulders. While I don’t think anyone expects male swimwear to go to the knees, men can certainly spare humankind of all genders the fashion statement of the Speedo. I guess we’ll have to consider wet t-shirts on a case-by-case basis…

    At the end of the day, men and women are BOTH confronted with the thoughts and feelings which are aroused by the God-given hormones which are part of the human package. We are bombarded by immodesty everywhere we turn. While we can rise above these sensory inputs and develop our powers of self-mastery, men and women can perform a great kindness to each other by practicing modesty in our attire, our grooming, our language, and our overall behavior. Because we probably WILL get the type of man or woman that we dress for, with eternal ramifications.

    Even Rick James understood that there are men and women who are “the kind you don’t take home to mother.” Modesty may manifest itself outwardly, but it is also a personality trait, and I think we should all be the kind of person that our loved ones CAN take home to mother. Because, let’s face it, moms can usually see right through this stuff most of the time anyway!

    • There’s no such thing as pornography addiction according to scientists.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140212153252.htm

      Being highly religious seems to be the primary factor in perception of pornography addiction.

      http://www.parentherald.com/articles/3880/20140212/strong-religious-beliefs-may-drive-self-perception-of-being-addicted-to-online-pornography.htm

      • In fact, scientists have proved that pornography and sex related behaviors can be very addictive. Brain chemistry alters over long periods of pornography use. Animals will repeatedly choose brain stimuli that is the same dopaminr reward system of viewing pornography over eating and drinking. Any repeated neurotransmitter release with a reward behavior such as drugs or pornography will create pathways that lead to addiction. Church culture definitely strengthens addiction through feelings of obsession, shame, depression, the desire to avoid the taboo, and cover behaviors in secrecy. Paired with biological changes, addiction is more likely. Why do you think non-religious individuals have addictions to pornography as well?

        • It would seem that you didn’t read either linked article which each have other references regarding pornography as not being addictive. Instead you offer up rhetoric and unfounded claims. Where are the papers showing pornography is addictive? Do those papers have data behind them? Who sponsored the paper? Good questions to ask, yet you offer nothing but knee jerk reactionary comments.

  3. Sounds about right to me. Both sexes should care enough about the other to not lead them into temptation.

    Sad that this is tongue in cheek because the issue is very real.

  4. Wendy Demandante

    Never forget the article I read by a pscyhologist, I believe, a female who found a doctor to agree to inject her with testerone as an experiment. She wanted to discover whether she would become distracted by thoughts of sex on a frequent basis.

    Turns out she was—at about the same rate that teenage boys are found to be. I have searched for that article for years and have yet to find it.

    Was quite an education for me, a female with low testerone levels.

    • Biological differences do exist between men and women. Men are aroused in a slightly different way with generally more emphasis on visual stimulation than women (although not exclusive to men). The point of the article is that each person is responsible for his or her actions. The widespread idea that women have fault in thoughts and actions of men that can’t control themselves is both demeaning to women and men. As a man, it is no one’s fault but my own for entertaining thoughts and actions no matter how others dress.

    • At least one report of a woman taking testosterone was included on a “This American Life” (NPR) episode, a report that was repeated in the 500th episode of “This American Life” (NPR). “500!” aired on July 14, 2013 and is available through iTunes podcasts. The testosterone changed the way the woman, a feminist, looked at her environment. Funny, thought-provoking story.

  5. Maybe I am just a dense guy, but I can’t tell if you are making fun of someone who has said this same thing to young women. Is there something in the New Era you are parodying? Is this meant to make such counsel seem ridiculous? Anyway, if you are at all serious, I find it ironic that you included the picture of what you are “preaching” against.

    Maybe your blog is just fun and games for you, but this is a serious subject. Young men should be modest just as young women should be. (as well as children and adults). Modesty is for everyone and nobody is singled out.

    Consider the guidance the brethren have given us in the For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet:

    Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? . . . The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

    Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him.
    Prophets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly.

    When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act.

    Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.

    Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. They should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports. The fashions of the world will change, but the Lord’s standards will not change.

    Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings.

    Show respect for the Lord and yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities. This is especially important when attending sacrament services. Young men should dress with dignity when officiating in the ordinance of the sacrament.

    If you are not sure what is appropriate to wear, study the words of the prophets, pray for guidance, and ask your parents or leaders for help. Your dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”

    • Jim,

      You need to read the article in question and then do some serious soul searching to try and look past the words to the message this sends to our young women. It is wrong. This is why our youth are leaving the church. Talks like this make them feel tarnished and unworthy…forever.

  6. Lori Campbell

    Knowledge and information is always beneficial regardless of what you believe or how you feel…. Still gathering!
    CNNHealth.net article by Elizabeth Landau reports that, research presented by Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University found that “…men may depersonalize sexual images of women is not entirely something they control. In fact, it’s a byproduct of human evolution…”
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/19/women.bikinis.objects/index.html?PHPSESSID=5084

  7. This satire would make sense in a world where men were objectified sexually more than women. It happens both ways, but I think it’s safe to say that women have more pressure on them to dress in a way that shows their bodies. A simple trip to the mall to buy clothes for my son and daughters demonstrates this. I am thankful that my daughters hear empowering messages from church leaders (Elder Callister) that they shouldn’t respond to pressure to dress sexually to attract attention from men. I think most men are wonderful, but I want my daughters to be warned that there are men who don’t view women as equal and are content to see them as little more than their bodies. Also, I’m grateful that my son is taught that women are to be respected. Men and women are both taught moral responsibility in the church. If anything, the men are counselled more than the women about this….watch any broadcast of The Priesthood session to confirm this.

  8. I don’t know how Mormon urgings work. I am Catholic and I became Catholic because I saw a crucifix of Jesus that was so homoerotic I just had to start going to church. His six pack abs. The V on either side of his stomach that pointed downward toward his bulging loincloth. The muscles of his biceps and thighs. His small brown areolas and the parted gape of his mouth in exquisite pain.

    I just had to convert. “For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”

  9. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. People who are LDS wonder why non LDS people get annoyed of Mormons or Mormon beliefs, well this article is a perfect example of the church creating that image that Mormons (in this case Mormon Women) are better or have much higher standards than those wicked, evil boys who wear tank tops (obviously I stretched that a little bit to make a point) Mormon girls should avoid these boys because they will tempt them and addict them to porn or some other outrageous circumstance. Are kidding me?! GROW UP! We are all human with the same wants and desires. Clearly LDS standards are way too good for me because I wear tank tops! Please don’t come near me I will turn you on so bad that you may become addicted to porn! I mean don’t even question if the person is a kind, loving person at all just as long as he is modest and wears the right clothes and goes on a mission he is worthy of my Mormon standards…. This article is a joke…

    PS. It looks like BYU basketball will have to “do away” with those TEMPTING BASKETBALL JERSEYS, it may turn on all of those girls in the crowd, and even worse they would have to wear those Hideous sleeve jerseys they’ve wearing in the NBA

    • Jana Riess

      Yes, the article *was* a joke. It is meant to be satirical, with an intentional use of irony. The point is similar to what you are saying here: that the modesty rhetoric is judgmental and out of hand.

      • Jana, what is your definition of “modesty rhetoric”? Because surely the church has an interest in promoting modesty, and while individual members sometimes get judgmental about the attire of others, that doesn’t negate the value of the teaching. I would imagine that most Latter-day Saints could find a measure of consensus on certain “out of hand” remarks which might get quoted here and there, but I’m not so sure that the Ensign, New Era, or For The Strength Of Youth crosses any lines.

          • Care to isolate one or two key items rather than being non-specific about an entire essay?

        • Jana Riess

          Good question. Modesty is an important Christian teaching and certainly not one that I am dismissing.

          What I object to are the consistent and specific directions that suggest “modesty” is a code word for whether a woman covers her shoulders rather than a description of an individual’s humility and economy, regardless of gender. Women are not primarily responsible for men’s sexual arousal (or lack thereof — it’s remarkable how women get blamed coming and going, as it were). They are not through their dress responsible for men’s decisions.

          They are responsible for and to themselves. And, like all Christians, they are ambassadors of Christ.

          • Jana, I absolutely agree that modesty goes beyond the details of one’s attire. I don’t normally run amok quoting Primary songs, but I’m reminded of the brief lyric LDS children sing about reverence:

            “Rev’rence is more than just quietly sitting:
            It’s thinking of Father above,
            A feeling I get when I think of his blessings.
            I’m rev’rent, for rev’rence is love.
            When I’m rev’rent, it shows in my words and my deeds.
            The pathway to follow is clear.
            And when I am rev’rent, I know in my heart
            Heav’nly Father and Jesus are near.”

            So yes, modesty is more than just articles of clothing. It shows in our words and our deeds. And I think that modesty helps us to be nearer to our Father and His Son.

            I know people who freak out over an exposed shoulder. I get why such people, when getting preachy about it, can be an irritant to those who may enjoy a wider variety of tasteful wardrobe options.

            There was a time in the church that we talked a lot about R-rated movies. What I always found particularly lame about that is the fact that movie ratings are created and determined by people who have no concept for nor interest in what might make a movie objectionable to a practicing Latter-day Saint. It is only in recent years, as the church has continued to grow internationally, that talk of R-rated movies has been largely supplanted by the general content guidelines described in the For The Strength Of Youth booklet, which is a far more useful tool in my opinion.

            When it comes to modest clothing, here are a couple of examples of dresses which pass muster with my personal modesty meter, yet would violate the sensibilities of the shoulder censors:

            http://www.bridesmaiddesigners.com/uploads/product/17/17031/plain-yellow-bow-halter-sleeveless-empire-floor-length-pleated-bridesmaid-formal-dress.jpg

            http://www.bridesmaiddesigners.com/uploads/product/19/19094/junoesque-cherry-sleeveless-floor-length-v-neck-a-line-side-draped-satin-formal-dress-with-flower-on-waistline.jpg

            I think often we have a generally good idea about modest attire without having to whip out a measuring tape, or a calculator to determine the fabric-to-skin ratio. Perhaps one day the shoulder thing will go the way of the R-rated movie, where the overall effect of a given outfit is considered more than a few key bullet points.

            That said, I don’t find the general counsel on modesty which is taught by the church to be repressive in any way. We are far from a burqa-wearing people. The individual humility associated with modesty may well include a certain measure of following counsel we might otherwise wish to tweak to our personal tastes.

            When it comes to arousal, men and women are certainly both responsible for their respective individual thoughts and actions. We need to be aware that the way we dress, the way we groom ourselves, and the way we communicate (both in words and body language) sends messages to those around us. Which is why I’ve mentioned before that I think men and women can perform a great kindness to each other by choosing modesty, not just in terms of dress, but also in “an individual’s humility and economy, regardless of gender.”

            Indeed, we are all ambassadors of Christ, male and female. The more we come to recognize the significance of this reality, the less we will probably find ourselves debating the finer points of modesty anyway. It is a natural extension of who we are.

            If the question at hand is really, “are LDS boys taught that they are responsible for their own actions,” and “are LDS boys taught that they too have a responsibility to be modest,” the answer from my experience is a resounding “yes.”

  10. Whoops, sorry Tom W. I meant to link to this specific post:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mormontherapist/2014/02/morality-we-can-do-much-better-than-this.html

    That gets very specific about some of the more problematic elements in the Ensign article.

    • My preference would be that you copy and paste the specific excerpt which merits your concerns so that there can be no ambiguity. Or if you prefer, summarize the objection in your own words. I learned my lesson many years ago discussing religious themes online with an Evangelical acquaintance who would avoid specifics like the plague. He would say things like, “See Ephesians 2″ and you would have to guess what was supposed to be relevant.

        • It’s relevant to the discussion, and certainly your own personal reflections of what you agree with from the link wouldn’t violate anything. There is no point discussing something with someone who does not expressly lay out his point of view.

  11. Would some please enlighten this gentile (who can quite easily recognize tongue-in-cheek commentary when he sees it) as to why a single ear piercing is perfectly acceptable and more than one is a disfigurement? Just curious.

    • If I recall correctly, the counsel for women to limit their piercings to a single one for each ear was a personal preference of Gordon B. Hinckley, who did not give the counsel by way of commandment, nor to the best of my knowledge has it ever been enforced on the general body of the church as one. I think he simply felt that one set of piercings was tasteful, and anything more was less so. There are anecdotal accounts of many young women immediately ceasing to wear more than one earring per ear in the aftermath of his comments, but at no point did it ever rise to the level of something like abstaining from alcohol or tobacco. And let’s face it, we’ve all seen people whose piercings are excessive and grotesque.

      • Tom…”it has never been enforced on the general body of the church…” Have you read the For the Strength of Youth guidelines? And what about Elder Bednar’s talk praising the young man who broke up with his girlfriend because she didn’t immediately revert to one-piercing only? I don’t know of any situation where the earring thing has been acknowledged as President Hinckley’s personal preference.

        • WI_Member, I have read FTSOY many times, and I chose my words carefully. The counsel to “wear only one pair of earrings” is exactly that – counsel. Personally I would even consider it to be wise counsel, even if not hip to modern culture. It differs substantively from actual commands such as abstinence from unmarried sexual activity, tobacco, alcohol, coffee, etc.

          If you ever have the opportunity to watch a video of the talks where President Hinckley referred to piercings, his tone is one of personal pleading, as one speaking from a lifetime of experience and a great love for the rising generation. As prophet, he was completely entitled to offer tender pleadings on such matters. Much if not most of what modern prophets teach is by way of inspired counsel; it’s pretty rare that actual new commandments are revealed.

          As for Elder Bednar’s talk, I thank you for bringing it to my attention. Here’s a link: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1456

          And here’s the relevant passage (three paragraphs):

          “Sister Bednar and I are acquainted with a returned missionary who had dated a special young woman for a period of time. This young man cared for the young woman very much, and he was desirous of making his relationship with her more serious. He was considering and hoping for engagement and marriage. Now this relationship was developing during the time that President Hinckley counseled the Relief Society sisters and young women of the Church to wear only one earring in each ear.

          “The young man waited patiently over a period of time for the young woman to remove her extra earrings, but she did not take them out. This was a valuable piece of information for this young man, and he felt unsettled about her nonresponsiveness to a prophet’s pleading. For this and other reasons, he ultimately stopped dating the young woman, because he was looking for an eternal companion who had the courage to promptly and quietly obey the counsel of the prophet in all things and at all times. The young man was quick to observe that the young woman was not quick to observe.

          “Now before I continue, I presume that some of you might have difficulty with my last example. In fact, this particular illustration of the young man being quick to observe may even fan the flames of controversy on campus, resulting in letters of disagreement to the Daily Universe! You may believe the young man was too judgmental or that basing an eternally important decision, even in part, upon such a supposedly minor issue is silly or fanatical. Perhaps you are bothered because the example focuses upon a young woman who failed to respond to prophetic counsel instead of upon a young man. I simply invite you to consider and ponder the power of being quick to observe and what was actually observed in the case I just described. The issue was not earrings!”

          What I take away from Elder Bednar’s remarks:

          1. The young man in question wasn’t just dating around. He was earnestly seeking his eternal companion. Among the characteristics he valued in a future mate was the kind of devotion to living prophets which would prompt one to act not just on formalized commandments, but also the counsel of the Lord’s anointed.

          As one who has now been married for a quarter century, I appreciate this insightful approach to seeking an eternal companion. I fell in love with my wife for many reasons, among them her faithfulness. The fact that she herself was a returned missionary appealed to me. I can’t say that I can tell you about my wife’s piercings at the time, but she dressed and behaved tastefully. In just a couple of years I will have been married as long as my parents at the time my mother passed away. When my father remarried, he found an absolute treasure – someone who loved and honored God, someone who loved and honored him and the Priesthood which he righteously exercised, someone who strived to live the gospel of Jesus Christ in its entirety, and someone who received counsel from living prophets and apostles with gladness. If I were to be tragically placed under the same set of circumstances as my father, I could never hope for anything greater. I would indeed seek companionship from the kind of woman who would voluntarily comply with prophetic counsel, even if it were not required of her. I would be wary of those whose testimonies are seemingly imperiled every time the prophet takes a stand on a moral issue and asks the general membership of the church to do the same.

          2. The young man did not rush to judgment.

          He “waited patiently over a period of time.”

          3. It wasn’t just about the earrings. There were “other reasons” not cited, but perhaps they were similar in nature or suggestive that the young woman in question – as much as he desired to marry her – didn’t share the same overall values as he.

          I certainly wouldn’t suggest to a young woman to marry a young man whose values weren’t in harmony with her own, so why exactly should anyone not give him the same general benefit of the doubt. After all, we’re talking about eternal marriage, not going steady. Time will tell if he is successful in finding someone more in tune with his desires, and likewise if she will do likewise. It wouldn’t be fair to either party that they change something about themselves which will make them unhappy in the long term. For those who are put off by the young man in question, aren’t you glad that the young woman was spared eternal marriage to him?

          4. Elder Bednar wasn’t born yesterday. He knows that there are those who will immediately cringe at the example he gives, and that it may become a source of controversial discourse on campus. Clearly he thinks the discussion among students would have value. (Might be a quick litmus test for young men and women to see if they both readily like the example or hate it. It could save people a lot of time!) And it is fair to note that he points out his recognition that this particular story happens to portray a young woman as perhaps less responsive to certain counsel given by a prophet, implying that the concept itself could readily go either way.

      • Aaron Petterborg

        Yep. It was simply voiced not as doctrine, but as a counsel from the First Presidency. Here’s the article:

        https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/great-shall-be-the-peace-of-thy-children?lang=eng

        Since then we flipped out as a church and the Correlation Committee stuck it into “For the Strength of the Youth,” which is certainly not doctrine. A lot of people get embarrassingly excited about the prospect of one more criterion by which they can judge someone based on outward appearance. They are confused and are a hindrance to the progress and happiness of many people.

        It is vitally important that we give people the benefit of the doubt, and keep our noses out of each others’ business, especially on matters as trivial as this. Otherwise we will have a massive compilation of made-up commandments that rival the ones followed by the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time. Let’s focus on the basics, folks.

  12. There is some unintended irony in your satire. You were asking men to be more covered up than women on the basketball court and on the beach (probably because it was difficult to think of examples when men are less covered than women). I’ve never heard counsel against female basketball jerseys that are sleeveless and I’m also not aware of girls being told to wear t-shirts and knee length shorts when swimming. I think this underscores that there is more pressure on women, than men, to show skin and that much more female skin is being shown on a day to day basis. I think that the small paragraph addressing modesty in Elder Callister’s talk was addressing this reality. It was not taking responsibility away from men as was shown by reading the rest of the talk.

  13. This is sooo clever. Because I mean, like, everyone knows that men are perceived and portrayed as sex objects JUST as much as women, right? There’s totally no difference between men and women cuz, like, girls in movies are just as sex-crazed as the guys and stuff. Any Mormon feminist knows that ladies are JUST AS LIKELY to get hooked on pornography. So, I mean, it totally makes sense to turn this Ensign article around and make it for guys. Cuz men and women are THE SAME, you sexists!

  14. RIght on Sister!

    When I read that article I came straight to your website as I KNEW you would address it with style and substance. I was appalled that the Ensign would publish such sexist drivel. If there is anything out there destroying our daughters, it is messages like this. In a world wide religion, these comments are unacceptable and irresponsible as one considers the social conditions for women world wide. This needs to stop. The rhetoric needs to change. The rose passed around the Young Women’s lesson that becomes damaged and withered needs to be retired. There needs to be new dialog and a new awareness. Who is going to look after our daughters? Thank you for bringing attention to this. May it go viral in a BIG way!

    • Sexist drivel? Please. I’d be more concerned for my daughters’ exposure to other LDS women who routinely call out the church on whatever gets their dander up on a given day than I am for what they might read about modesty in the Ensign or New Era. But truth be told, I have no need to fear because I already know how my daughters would respond to such hysteria, right down to the eyerolls.

      • Aaron Petterborg

        Blaming women for the actions of men is sexist. The Gospel we teach is based on individual accountability. As men we need to be able to comprehend that obeying the Law of Chastity and Christ’s admonitions (paraphrased, “don’t even contemplate adultery”) in the Beatitudes in a world where we all walked around naked as perfectly feasible. If we cannot do that we are falling short, not women.

  1. […] A few months ago, I wrote a post directed at parents, teachers, and leaders of young women on the topic of modesty. Today, I’ve finally been able to collect my thoughts enough to write a companion post- this time directed at young men, their parents, teachers, and leaders.Now, I’ve never been to a young men’s activity, or sat in on a priesthood meeting before. I don’t know a whole lot about what goes on in those settings. However, I do have a general feeling that modesty isn’t something that’s talked about a whole lot, other than that you should find and marry a girl who is modest, because you want a woman who respects herself, others, and the Lord. Sound about right? I thought so. I’m sure you’ve also been taught that you should avoid looking at girls who are immodestly dressed, as to avoid having impure thoughts about her. I bet you’ve been told that you should surround yourself with modestly dressed young women, and to encourage your female friends to dress modestly. I imagine you’ve been told that young women should be responsible to help you have pure thoughts.And I’m so sorry that you’ve been taught these things. These ideas are so very demeaning to women, making all of us seem like objects for you to try not to sexualize too much… but don’t worry, because you’ve been taught It’s not your fault if you do. These ideas are also demeaning to you! Are you not more than your thoughts? Can you really not control the way that you think about a woman? Are you completely unable to see a young lady who is exposing more skin than you are used to as a person, as a daughter of God?Maybe you can’t. But maybe that’s because you’ve been taught that you don’t have to.I’m not arguing against the idea that young men’s brains may definitely be wired differently. It’s possible that it is far harder for a boy to view a girl as a human being and not a sexual object when she is dressed immodestly. But are we not supposed to overcome the natural man? We were given agency and brains that are able to change for a reason. Why are we teaching young men to just avoid immodestly dressed women, when we could be teaching them to avoid impure thoughts on their own? I hate to be the one who has to say it, but woman who believe in dressing modestly are a major minority in the world. Young men cannot be expected to just stay in their houses for the rest of their lives to keep their thoughts clean, and neither can they claim it is the woman’s fault if they do, because it is simply not. As I stated in my other blog post, a fundamental principle of agency is that you cannot be held accountable for another person’s thoughts or behaviors. You may say that that also means a young man cannot be held accountable for his own thoughts when a womanchooses to dress immodestly, then. Let me try to put it another way:Suzie decided to eat a bar of chocolate during class. Billy absolutely loves chocolate, and goes into a psychopathic rage and kills people whenever he sees chocolate. 3 people died because Suzie ate a chocolate bar. All Suzie wanted to do was eat her dang chocolate, but now she is being held accountable because apparently Billy was unable to control himself. Suzie no longer feels comfortable in eating chocolate, because she has to worry about every single human being who might go into a psychopathic rage if she pulls out chocolate which then sends her into a nervous breakdown about what other things she could be eating that might send someone into a psychopathic rage and so she just stops eating all together.Okay, that may have been a little dramatic, but do you get what I mean? It’s not fair that we are teaching young women to worry about everything they are doing that could potentially cause a boy to have an impure thought about them, while we teach boys that they should be catered to because they can’t help their own thoughts. I feel deeply sad for all the young men that truly believe they are not able to control themselves.You are more than your thoughts, young men, just as young women are more than their bodies.If you want to read an awesome satirical article on this, click here. […]

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