The Cross of Beauty

jackie mirror

This article comes via a brother from another mother.  The working title was:  “Ladies:  Please Put on Some Pants!” and was written in a moment of frustration after seeing the umpteenth girl in the gym with her butt exposed.  She had to adjust her shorts with every single movement she made, like so many other women I’ve seen in the gym before.  But this girl was different. 

This girl had braces.

She looked like she was 14.  And I watched the boys and grown men around her all glimpsing subtly (or not so subtly) at her body parts, as if she were a slab of meat on a buffet line.  I felt this mixture of anger and sadness—anger at the “men” around me, but also sadness for her situation.

 It’s not that she was showing too much of her body, but she was ultimately showing too little of herself.

Women are created for beauty, created to radiate beauty to an increasingly violent and bleak world that desperately needs it.  But beauty can be wielded dangerously.  Beauty can be used as a weapon to manipulate or means to overpower, but we also know that beauty can leave us breathless, can call out the best within fragile men, and can leave us all aching for the Divine.  Women are seemingly gifted with a beauty that must simultaneously be both guarded and cultivated, a fine line that is, in so many ways, a cross.

Men have it easy when it comes to dress: put on some pants, find a shirt that kinda fits, and comb your mustache (comb twice for good measure).  But for a woman to actually dress in a way that protects her beauty can be quite…annoying.  I’ve watched Jackie frequently agonize over the most suitable clothing for an event or grow frustrated with the difficulty of finding swimwear that doesn’t either look like a string or a potato sack.  Yet I know that she is always mindful of guarding her gift of beauty and, as her husband, I know that the only thing I have to worry about Jackie flaunting in public are her New Zealand/Scottish/Wisconsin/Russian/Korean accents.

(The Scottish is the most attractive.  It’s like William Wallace meets Shrek).

We’ve heard the arguments for dressing modestly before, but we seem to be living in an era where wholesome feminine role models are few and far between.  The actresses and musicians young girls look to for guidance seem to shed their perceived morals (and their clothing) as soon as they’re free from the bubble of the Disney Channel.  And in this pornified culture, boys are more than happy to watch the girls around them strip down to as little clothing as possible.  It almost seems like there is an on-going competition—especially at the beach, during Halloween, or any Friday night on the town—for women to dress as closely to a prostitute as one possibly can (and even then, prostitutes seem to have more clothing on).

It’s not empowering.  It’s actually rather demeaning.  You’re reducing yourself to your breasts, butt, etc.  And as a man trying to respect women, it doesn’t help.  It doesn’t scream “respect me as a woman” when all your body parts are on display. While trying to see you as a whole person—a beautiful woman with a stunning soul, mind, heart, personality—a man of God attempts not to reduce you to your body in these moments where little dress is worn, but unfortunately that’s what seems to be most valued. It’s not that these clothes/swimsuits leave nothing to the imagination, but that they intentionally stir the imagination.  And in the brains of men—who are more visually wired as it is—we simply complete the picture.  It would be better if you were actually naked because then we men would be forced to see you as you are, instead of simply calling attention to your sexual values alone.

Now, there seems to be a void of reasonable discussion when it comes to the “modesty” conversation, with some parties swinging wildly from extremes of a Puritanistic worldview (that women should only wear sackcloth and neutralize their femininity) and those who think that I’m suggesting that all women who wear so little are practically asking for rape.

Stop it.  Stop it now.  I am affirming neither of these views.  Virtue lies in the middle of the extremes, and we are called to bear virtuous responsibility for our brothers and sisters.  To settle for any less is to deny our call to greatness.

Women should not be forced to wear potato sacks because of the inability of men to respect their femininity.  I am as equally adamant about men training themselves in the school of virtues to become integrated enough to where respect for a woman will be shown regardless of her dress (that will have to be for another blog post).

But a wildly licensed “I can wear whatever I want and who are you to tell me otherwise” attitude is equally reprehensible.  I cannot wear a Neo-Nazi shirt into a Shabbat service and claim no responsibility for the anger and upset of my Jewish colleagues.  A woman cannot dress like a prostitute and deny all responsibility of the effect (psychological, bodily, or spiritual) she may have on her male friends.  Indeed, St. Paul wrote that we are responsible for the sins of one another:  Then let us no longer judge one another, but rather resolve never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; still, it is unclean for someone who thinks it unclean. If your brother is being hurt by what you eat, your conduct is no longer in accord with love. Do not because of your food destroy him for whom Christ died.”  (Romans 14: 13-15)

Real beauty, rather than the superficial fix, is much more intoxicating.  Real beauty, as Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky famously wrote, “will save the world.”

Pope Benedict XVI, drew upon Dostoevsky’s insight in his letter “Meeting with Artists”:

Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy….

Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence.

Beauty is a force to be reckoned with, whether in nature, in song, or in a person, and a woman who understands the proper value of her beauty knows the great treasure she has received.  She is not an object to be on display to incite the lust of men, but she is truly a light that can bring life and elevate those around her.  Dostoevsky again wrote of the dualistic power of beauty in The Brothers Karamazov: “The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.”

Ladies:  you set the bar.  If you’re aiming for Heaven as your final destination, God will provide you with a struggling saint on this earth to escort you there.  If you’re setting the bar for the fleeting or shallow, well… Robin Thicke probably has a song for you.

 I’m not here to write about the nitty-gritty details of what to wear/not to wear at the gym or on a date…I leave those details to those more knowledgeable…like my wife, who actually knows the differences between heels and stilettos (they equally all take up space in my limited section of our closet).

I’m here to tell you that you are worth it.   You’re worth more than a lustful look, an inappropriate advance, or even a one-night stand.

Yes, modesty in dress is often uncomfortable, annoying, and may be “hottest” only in reference to body temperature.  But valuing your beauty rightly—and your body as the treasure as it is—will bring both you and others closer to authentic happiness and closer to God than you ever thought possible.

Your beauty is a gift, a responsibility, and a cross.  It can save the world.

Carry it well.


  One thought on “The Cross of Beauty

  1. Tammy
    September 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Amen! This is a fantastic post! Thanks so much, Bobby!!!!

    • Ina
      December 3, 2013 at 4:44 am

      Dear Bobby. I think your article is spot on. However I also agree with Hall in his points in the following discussion. A further point, Something in me rebels when I hear men tell women how to dress, although I am a very modest person myself in my oppinion. My issue is this, that its easy for men to tell women how to wear in order to get respect from men. But tell me, how can a woman respect men generelly and not become disillusioned with men – and their advice on modesty – when we know that so many men watch – or have watched – pornography? Men that do such things are demeaning themselves so much. I dont know if Im the only woman who has experienced a loss in respect for men and their oppinions in generel after she became aware of how widespread porn use is among young men. Could you write an article on that sometime. How can a woman or man restore respect that has been lost or hurt?

      • December 3, 2013 at 10:12 am

        Mmm! Great suggestion and insight. I will have to collaborate with the wife on an article for this.

        I agree, I understand that it’s rarely received well when a man tells a woman how to dress (or dictates anything really, without charity). I wrote this really in a fit of frustration, but then shifted the focus to center on the positive force of beauty that all women share (and how beauty can be misused).

        BUT you raise a great point—with the widespread diffusion of pornography in our culture, how can the opinion of men (and men themselves) be trusted. I feel like I need to meditate on this one for a bit.

        For the moment, I would say that the fundamental issue is forgiveness. Men are stupid (I know, I’m one of them). We say and do things without considering the consequences; we hurt others because we’re so focused on ourselves. If you have indeed been hurt by the actions of a man (and I know you are not alone), real forgiveness is the necessary step for healing. This doesn’t mean you are excusing the action or pretending like it never happened. Jesus confronted many individuals over their actions, holding them accountable, but he never allowed a person’s sins to define their identity. The woman caught in adultery was not forever defined by her adultery. A man stuck in pornography, while he may wound countless individuals including himself, can move beyond his sins. But as Christians (this is the hard part), we have to be willing to “loose” and forgive. Otherwise our resentment and hardness will imprison us from within.

        I would also suggest prayer, especially prayer for all men and women caught up in the cycle of porn. It’s toxic for all involved, and many men simply can’t say “no.” Pray for their freedom.

        You used a great word: “restore.” Christ makes all things new. I believe that these bonds of respect can be restored and made new.


  2. Lisa
    September 17, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Bobby (and Jackie)—thank you so much for this post! As a youth minister, encouraging modesty among our teen girls and helping them see their true value is an ongoing struggle. And helping our young men look for the true beauty in women is such a challenge. I will be sharing your post with them!! Thanks!!
    Can’t wait to see you Sunday at St. Bernard’s, Jackie!

  3. September 17, 2013 at 3:26 am

    So true. But unfortunately is so hard to find a modest dress in shops :(

    • Dana
      September 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      I know :( Sometimes I can spend 3 hours in the shopping centre and not find anything appropriate. That’s why layering is key ;)

    • Chloe
      September 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      Agreed! I’ve had good luck shopping in sections and stores I wouldn’t normally venture into given my age… LOVE Talbots, who knew?!

      There are some nice skirts to be had (pants just don’t suit me.) I’m rather tall, so I like the recent “midi” style. I’ve had the best luck with skirts a bit past the knee for purely practical reasons (I like to pick stuff up.) Tops are a little more challenging, as I prefer collarbone-elbow coverage, but they are out there and there are some fun layering challenges.

  4. Ellen
    September 17, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Thank you for this post from a guy’s perspective on the beauty that we women were given to bring glory to God by our bodies.

  5. lori altamura
    September 17, 2013 at 10:30 am

    “Virtue lies in the middle of the extremes, and we are called to bear virtuous responsibility for our brothers and sisters.”
    YES! THANK you!

  6. Hal Cooper
    September 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Bobby, I think you missed one aspect that affects all of what you noted above. Setting matters. If a woman at a bar (ie, any Friday night on the town) wants to dress skimpily, she is intending for her body to be the focus, that’s her purpose. She has no desire to have you see her “stunning soul, mind, heart, personality”, etc. If you, as a man, focus on her body, she will NOT be offended, that is the point. Criticize the lifestyle choice of being out on Friday night looking for male attention if you want, but at the time, the lack of clothing matches the intent. As to the gym, there’s less being shown there than there is at any pool or beach, and again, the point of being there doesn’t match the need for any male to see her “stunning soul, mind, heart, personality”, she is looking to improve/maintain her physical fitness, and to do it with as much comfort as possible.
    So, I guess my point is, you’ve decided that every spot, every activity, should somehow be focused around men, ie, the women should dress so the men can appreciate them in a appropriate way. The two examples I give are two situations where no man should have any interest or desire to get to know a woman in any quality way. While I appreciate your take on the subject, I think it’s a tad foolish, if not sexist, to expect every venue to conform to your Godly form of ;-)

    • Lisa
      September 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      It doesn’t matter the venue and if women will or will not be talking to men…it’s about women dressing appropriately so as to not draw lustful looks from men.

      • Hal Cooper
        September 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

        And when their purpose IS to draw lustful looks?

    • Alan
      September 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Hal… he specifically states “I’m not here to write about the nitty-gritty details of what to wear/not to wear at the gym or on a date… I’m here to tell you that you are worth it. You’re worth more than a lustful look, an inappropriate advance, or even a one-night stand”

      Most times, not all, but most times it appears that a woman is NOT intending for her body to be the focus. Rather, she has the desire to be noticed and to have someone take interest in her. It is saddening and infuriating that our society has taught women to buy into the lie that they need to use their sex appeal to attract the attention of men. While I do believe there are plenty of women who dress to be comfortable at the gym without trying to attract the attention of the men in the room, there are equally plenty of them who DO dress to attract attention.

      And why does setting have to matter? Why can’t anyone dress in a manner in which they feel both comfortable and beautiful without deliberately drawing attention away from their face – the one place anyone should be looking when having a conversation or trying to get to know someone? Who determined that the clothes a woman wears to church to stand before our living God are not good enough to go out in on Friday night?

      • Hal Cooper
        September 18, 2013 at 5:15 am

        Two lines, and then just like bobby, you revert to dress, again, just the symptom. It’s why your message won’t get through to many, because it’s not addressing the woman’s sense of self-worth and where to get it from.
        So, to answer you questions…
        “And why does setting have to matter?”
        A bar is specifically designed to foster connections that are based on less than an appreciation of the whole person. The activity at a gym is based on being able to do certain movements repetitively, comfortably (and get appreciation from others for the shape you’ve worked yourself in to).
        “Why can’t anyone dress in a manner in which they feel both comfortable and beautiful without deliberately drawing attention away from their face – the one place anyone should be looking when having a conversation or trying to get to know someone?”
        Again, based on the supposition that the woman is looking for someone to get to know her, until you ditch this idea, no one who dresses the way you don’t like will hear you, they want others to want them, that’s the thing that needs to be addressed.
        “Who determined that the clothes a woman wears to church to stand before our living God are not good enough to go out in on Friday night?”
        Those who wear the clothes and don’t have a lot going for them, face-wise, those who are in need of male attention now and don’t want to wait, those who want a man to want them sexually! That’s who, until you address those the reasons for the dress, criticizing the dress itself falls flat. Remember, most of these people you see AREN’T standing before your living God in Church, and if they are and are still going out to the bars to get picked up, then they aren’t quite getting the message in the first place.
        So, you can criticize me or tell me I’m wrong, and go back to telling women not to dress a certain way, but until the reason for the dress is actually addressed, you won’t make a lot of headway.

    • September 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      Dear Hal,

      The proof is in the pudding of your response. You call Bobby sexist for telling woman that they deserve more than men lusting after them and yet you nonchalantly suggest situations where a man doesn’t care to know the woman for more than her body parts? Seems like the definition of “sexist” is a little skewed in your dictionary.

      Yes, you’re right that modesty has “context” in the sense of what you wear and the location–e.g. You wouldn’t wear a business suit to the beach or a bathing suit to the supermarket. But one most definitely can be modest in ALL of those places. (And someone who is Christian–by the fact that she calls herself a Christian–is called to live out this virtue). If I go to the beach, I make sure I wear a bathing suit that will show my dignity and not all my “goodies.” If I go to a pub or somewhere to go dancing, I won’t dress like a prostitute, but like a woman who knows she is worth more than a lustful gaze.

      The insecurity of a woman is written in her clothing. A woman who is scantily clad proves that she thinks her beauty is made up of her breasts, stomach, and booty (whether she may or may not realize what message she is sending.) If she doesn’t know, then she’s ignorant (and should read this blog). If she does know, then stay away–that kind of woman is very manipulative and knows exactly what she is doing to the men around her. And yes, that woman is still insecure–because she needs affirmation of others to prove her worth.

      So you’re right in a way–context. Her butt doesn’t need to be hanging out at the gym to help her build muscle–so why the heck is she flaunting her butt around?
      She doesn’t need to show her boobs to get a real man–so why does she?

      Bobby’s point is that her intent in trying to get a guy to lust after her indeed falls short of how she was made as a woman. Why settle for what’s less than the best? Why would a woman knowingly want a guy to lust after her?

      Either she doesn’t know how beautiful she is, or she most definitely knows how outwardly beautiful she is and contumaciously loves to manipulate men. We gotta love both kind of women, but I definitely have more sympathy for the first.

      (Btw, if you want a manipulative woman, congrats and good luck. But if you want a woman who is beautiful all around, then start looking for a woman who knows this or is humble enough to receive it.)

      Peace and joy,
      Jackie (the wife of the ruggedly handsome man who wrestles bears and protects the dignity of women, Bobby Angel)

    • M
      September 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Even if the woman has no intent of being viewed as a person with a “stunning soul, mind, heart, personality”,the Christian worldview would contend that her beauty and dignity is innate. That she has dignity and worth whether she wants it to be seen or not ,and that it is in her best interest as well as the best interest of others to treat her with dignity and respect. This is love then , from the heart of Catholicism , to will the highest good for the beloved and to act upon it. Even if it hurts. Especially if it hurts. Even if a man isn’t seeking to know a woman in a “quality” way he can and ought to recognize her humanity and the awesomeness of her femininity. Not objectify her. He (the Christian man) is called to love her , and everyone whether or not he is sexually attracted to her. But the two sexes are equal. If a man ought not to objectify in love than a woman ought to present herself with modesty in love. In a way that makes visibly manifest her inward dignity and doesn’t make it easier for her to be objectified. As a woman I’ve worn my fair share of less than modest clothing and have been repulsed and confused by the glances of men who look at me not as a person but as a savory steak. I just thought my outfit was cute. I wasn’t trying to seduce anyone.In dressing modestly I help ease the lustful glances of creeps and support those who are trying to respect me. Yes I want to be comfortable. But I’d rather be respected. I do appreciate your take also though. Thanks . PEACE

    • Cara L
      September 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      I think it’s interesting that when half of the content was based on beauty, it’s influence and it’s importance, that you see the other half and then claim that it’s all about dress. This blog focused on women, their beauty, and the effect of attire on how that beauty will be rendered (or hindered). That emphasis was made by yourself, as the blog finished with “But valuing your beauty rightly—and your body as the treasure as it is—will bring both you and others closer to authentic happiness and closer to God than you ever thought possible.”

      That IS the heart of the matter! Our beauty is certainly not weighed by our physical appearance and like Bobby said, skimpy dress can show less of us. Unfortunately, the general consensus is that our clothes, skin, and tattoos are an expression or art from of who we are without actually discussing what those expressions are or the depth and breadth of their application.

      We are so much more than our bodies, but we are also highly influenced by the visual – enter advertisements, neon colours, love of nature, etc. And as much as men need to learn to see past the purely visual, there are many that straight up don’t – and many of them would not be considered predators because it seems to be acceptable to measure a woman by her measurements. The fact remains that many serial killers and rapists target prostitutes, probably because they know that that woman will be less likely to be missed by network of people who care for her, and, sadly, less people will pay attention to what is happening to her to catch an abduction. Regardless of personal beliefs, that sort of correlation between attire and treatment should make anyone discourage dress on Friday night that may resemble that of a prostitute.

      This is about recognizing the statements we are making without words, and if the statement a woman wants to make is that she is strong, loving, kind and that there is more to her than meets the eye, it wouldn’t make sense to have much of her meet the eye. The epidemic of women that have self-image issues or abuse that skews their understanding of love and confuses their desire to be valued, cherished, and protected from hurt is almost overwhelming and you’re right, that problem is at the heart of so much of this, but until we can get a message of love and personal value to that hurting woman, we can try to keep away the men who would happily reinforce her distorted sense of worth in order to take advantage of her (whether she sees it that way or she doesn’t) by influencing the clothes she chooses.

      You are absolutely right that this only addresses part of the problem, but we need to start somewhere, right?

  7. Jamie
    September 17, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Hal- Excuses, excuses, excuses….

    • Hal Cooper
      September 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Jamie – Excuse me? ;-) I offered no excuses, feel free to critique my point, though… I’ll restate more simply, if I can…

      Venue and purpose affect dress. Arguing for more modest dress when the venue and purpose are in conflict with that is not as effective as forming an argument against the purpose itself. Address the disease, not the symptoms.

      ie, Argue “Hey girls, going out to the bars to pick up men only interested in sex might not be the best way to honor yourselves and/or God, how about trying something else on a Friday night?” instead of “Hey girls, when you go out to pick up guys, trying covering up a little more!”. What they wear seems meaningless when the intent is to end up with a man at the end of the night, don’t you think?

      • filumenaetfleur
        September 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm

        Whether or not one should go “pick up guys” is an entirely different debate. I would argue that it is a bad venue to look for a potential mate… like trying to buy good organic food at WalMart.

      • Grace Daigler
        October 30, 2013 at 8:00 pm

        Hal, I do not think that Bobby was saying, “Hey girls, when you go out to pick up guys, trying covering up a little more!”. I would say that is a strong mischaracterization of his points. Talking about looking at women as having “a stunning soul, mind, heart, personality” etc. does not necessitate that the woman’s intent is to engage in conversation/relationship. It does not matter whether the scantily clad woman at the gym does or does not care for interacting with men – either way, whether intentionally or unintentionally (or completely obliviously) she is disrespecting her body by not taking reasonable precautions against objectification, and she is disrespecting those around her by not assuming responsibility for what temptations she is probably stirring up in her neighbors. If a woman shows up a bar with that direct intent, this is even worse! She is showing even less respect for her body and the souls of the people around her.

        I guess I am confused about why you are making the statements you are making. What exactly is the reason for contesting Bobby’s article? You originally said, “Setting matters.” You said it is a “tad sexist” to have women “conform to your Godly” standards in dress in every setting. Tell me if I am wrong, but to me this sounds like you are saying that it is more acceptable for women to dress scantily in certain situations because their clothes are fitting the functions they want to meet. Is that correct? People are disagreeing with you because they disagree with this idea. Women SHOULD have Godly standards of dress in every arena, whether or not this suits the function she desires, and whether or not she wishes to engage in conversation with a man.

        If the only reason a woman decides to be modest is to protect her brothers from sin, then fine. This is not sexist. Just like the Scripture verse Bobby quoted, “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; still, it is unclean for someone who thinks it unclean. If your brother is being hurt by what you eat, your conduct is no longer in accord with love. Do not because of your food destroy him for whom Christ died.” (Romans 14: 13-15) This could be translated, “I know and am convinced that no one’s body is unclean in itself; still it can cause sin for someone who is tempted to sin by it. If your brother is being hurt by the way you dress, your conduct is no longer in accord with love. Do not because of your preference in dress destroy him for whom Christ died.”

  8. Tania Jasmine
    September 17, 2013 at 11:54 am

    “The Cross of Beauty”…thank you for a brilliant blog post Bobby Angel!
    In a time such as these, especially recently in the entertainment industry, and the upheaval that is constantly generated from that aspect of the social world…it is enlightening and a blessing to read what you have written. Thank you!

    God bless you and Jackie always!

  9. Hanna Burch
    September 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Hey, us Wisconsinites don’t have accents! (: Amazing article otherwise!

  10. EJ
    September 17, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

    I do not think anyone has a right to dole out respect based on what a person is or isn’t wearing. As Christians, it is our responsibility to respect and care for all, and to treat all as equals. A man takes off a shirt playing basketball and no one thinks twice. A woman reveals her sports bra in a soccer final and it makes headlines everywhere. To say that men are not capable of respecting a woman based on what she wears is demeaning to men themselves.

    • September 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      To be fair, some of us do NOT find it appropriate for men to take their shirts off in public. My husband agrees. We dress to the same level of modesty outside the home- clavicle to elbows to knees.

  11. September 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Reblogged this on "The one will LIFT up his companion." and commented:
    What a great blog. It is so upLIFTing to here other men and women looking out for souls. Thank you Bobby (and Jackie) for sharing this article.

  12. Shelby
    September 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    As a high school student, I see this problem literally 24/7. I appreciate you for writing this, hopefully it helps young women to see their own self-wealth.

  13. Julie
    September 17, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Preach it, brother! Very well put, and thorough. I have yet to read a blog on modesty so thorough in treating the stereotypical viewpoints, and then giving a fresh and balanced perspective. Keep them coming! I invite you to check out the blog of the FKMissionaries too.

  14. Joseph
    September 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    You should do one on how to be a better man, and how to treat woman.

    • September 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Nice idea. I have a concept floating around on living out virtues (specifically for men), and may have to make it happen. Any points in particular you think should be emphasized?

  15. cakmn
    September 18, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Yeah, so what if she had braces? Oh, she’s young, perhaps 14, so braces define her as young!? Have you never seen an adult with braces? I have. Yes, she’s showing too little of herself – her real self. But, at 14, she doesn’t really know who or what she really is; she doesn’t yet know her true self. She’s just discovering her feminine physicality and sexuality and experimenting with it. Hopefully, she will get good feedback and guidance from trusted friends so she can learn her true, deep inner values and learn who she is, but she’s at least several years away from getting there. Unfortunately, many people never even get close through a lifetime.

    “Women are created for beauty, created to radiate beauty to an increasingly violent and bleak world that desperately needs it.” Yes. And so are men! “Men have it easy…” No, men take it easy and, for the most part, get away with doing that because everyone’s values fall so short of their highest ideals. And that leads everyone to behave in less than ideal ways. In spite of your striving, Bobby, you also have fallen short in this harangue. Men need to learn to take Beauty more seriously; need to learn to live more beautifully, because Beauty is an essential aspect of who and what we ALL are.

    The ultimate ideal for all of us to strive towards is to manifest Love through every thought, feeling and deed. Love as respect, as compassion, as care, support and encouragement for all beings. Because, in reality, we are all one being within the One Being and what we do to any one we do unto our selves. We are all intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent, regardless of how we dress or whether we wear braces. Only through knowing ourselves for who we really are can we become manifestations of Love so we can live together in Harmony and thereby create amazing Beauty in this world.

    So, I agree with Hal’s comments. Situation and intent do matter. The underlying issue with that, however, is that there shouldn’t need to be any intent to attract lewd looks. And it should be noted that some men dress and behave in ways intended to draw lewd looks. And both genders do so to attract lewd looks from either gender, so this is more complicated than has so far been acknowledged by anyone here.

    We ALL have the potential to learn to know, understand and realize* who and what we really are – and we need to help each other with this – then no one would feel a desperate need to dress and behave in a suggestive, provocative or lewd manner. Everyone could learn to radiate divine Beauty through their being – through their eyes, their smiles, their actions – and everyone could likewise learn to see and be nurtured by such Beauty, both in themselves and through others.

    * To realize means to make real; to make this be the core principle that inspires and directs how we operate in this world. It is beyond theoretical or conceptual, beyond knowing about and even beyond understanding what one knows about – it means BEing that; it means Living that from the very essence of who and what one really IS.

    • September 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      If you’re focusing on (and seem rather bothered by) the “braces” portion of this writing, I’d say you’re missing the greater point here. I affirm your points on the necessity or beauty (and our call to participate in it), especially that we are all “works in progress.” What I had issue with was that a 14-year old girl in the gym dressed with the intent to be a commodity.

      She’s 14. Please let that sink in. This is the world she is growing up in: she’s being told to “experiment” with her sexuality (whatever that implies and the destructive results that can come) and not likely receiving any true guidance or understanding on the consequences of her actions. That’s the fact. And when the majority of her male peers are likely caught in the snares of pornography (I work at an all-boys high school and see the poison that it is everyday), she’s probably not growing up with men around her who will appreciate real beauty.

      Absolutely, men share in the responsiblity to grow in virtue and self-control (and that topic deserves a whole blog series or website, as exemplified by Art of Manliness). This is where I take serious issue with the “what if she wants to be lusted after?” cop-out response. Your heart is already in the wrong place if this is you perspective, and you will be unable to see how the problem originates from within. Even if woman “wants” to be objectified, it debases both her and you as a man to take that route. My intent of the article was to affirm that to dress in a way that reflects a woman’s beauty is often a pain for them. I sat in on a conversation that shed light on this for me, and I wanted to let girls know (1) what goes on in a man’s mind when so little clothing is worn and (2) hopefully call out my little sisters in Christ to take a look at how they present themselves. It’s easier to wear next-to-nothing. But are the consequences worth it?

      Maybe being newly married is kicking my paternal instincts into high gear. I saw this girl as my future daughter and found myself very angry with the sleezeballs staring her down. It could also be my years of experience in youth ministry and the witness of countless girls I’ve seen been used by boyfriends or abused by those in authority to know that this girl was likely headed for a similar fate. Let’s hope not. Thanks for reading and responding!


      • Jen Brown
        October 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm

        From Bobby’s post “Ladies: you set the bar. ”
        From cakmn’s post ““Women are created for beauty, created to radiate beauty to an increasingly violent and bleak world that desperately needs it.” Yes. And so are men! “Men have it easy…” No, men take it easy and, for the most part, get away with doing that because everyone’s values fall so short of their highest ideals. And that leads everyone to behave in less than ideal ways. In spite of your striving, Bobby, you also have fallen short in this harangue. Men need to learn to take Beauty more seriously; need to learn to live more beautifully, because Beauty is an essential aspect of who and what we ALL are.”

        You absolutely missed the mark here, Bobby. I’ll grant you that you said that a post on virtue in men is needed, but I think your article still makes women responsible for a man’s lust.

        When you tell the women that they set the bar I just want to scream. NO!!!!! MEN AND WOMEN SET THE BAR!!!!!!!! But in different ways!

        The Christian/Catholic world STILL makes women responsible for modesty. IT is BOTH sexes responsibility, but in different ways. Yes, what you said is true for the women-we can’t just wear whatever, we do need to consider our brothers but MORE SO we need to bring our God given beauty to the world in an appropriate and holy way. But to EVER leave out any responsibility for men is wrong. An article like this needs to address both. Don’t leave it for “another article.” Men are responsible for modesty of their eyes, of their hearts.

        I’ve done youth ministry for over 15 years, have studied many of these issues
        (including TOB before it was even hip-i was reading and writing papers on God, gender, roles, dignity, what makes men men, what makes women women. etc long before) and I would tell the young women to dress appropriately or I had a box of left over tshirts that I’d let them pick an ugly tshirt out of and to the men I would say and you-you look upon these women as your sisters. You look them in the eyes, and you protect them from others who demean their dignity. And those boys stood a little taller being called to task-and even inner city kids really got what I was calling them too.

        We have to break this idea that women are responsible for the virtue of modesty. NO. Women AND men are responsible. BOTH. And it would help if you would write in such a way that brings this idea out and not point to just one gender as the problem. Women are not the problem. Sin and the way it affects both sexes is the problem, so we BOTH need to bring the answer.

      • October 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm

        Hi Jen,

        Why are you so angry? Clearly, there is a deeper issue going on as to why you’re so miffed about this article. The bottom line of this blog is that women deserve better. How could you not agree with that? Are women responsible for modesty? Yes. When they dress immodestly, it is a sin. When they act immodestly, it is a sin. When they dress modestly or act modestly and are STILL lusted after, it is not even close to being their fault. Are men responsible for modesty? Yes. Bobby clearly stated this. Where did he say they weren’t responsible? And why would you put things in his mouth? Men are responsible for their own desires, for their acting modestly and dressing modestly. When Bobby said it was “easier” for men, he meant in “dress.” Christian guys don’t have to think about their own plunging necklines (unless they’re hipsters) or short shorts or skirts (unless they’re well…who knows). Why? Because a woman’s body is inherently MORE BEAUTIFUL than a man’s. Thus, womens’ beauty can be more twisted, more manipulative. If you have read TOB, you would know JPII’s term for woman as “crown of creation.” Thus, a woman’s beauty is MUCH more powerful–whether used for what is GOOD or used for SIN. Do you ever see men in a speedo on a billboard selling beer or selling cars? No. Because that is not nearly as powerful an image as a woman in a bikini. Women are much more used as objects of pleasure than men in magazines, music, tv, and movies.

        Bobby is calling women to more than a lustful glance. In another blog he’ll address the men. So even he agrees both are responsible. You’re on the same page. Why you chose to read into the blog as something more than that is more about what’s in your heart than what’s in Bobby’s.

        But, in closing, if you have a problem with what Bobby said about women calling out the good in men and having a higher standard, then you would have a problem with Venerable Fulton J. Sheen who said,
        “When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”
        ― Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living

        If you have a problem with that above quote, then I don’t know how else to get the point across.

        God bless, my sister. You are good. You are beautiful. You deserve the best.
        Jackie Angel

      • Jen Brown
        October 19, 2013 at 9:10 am

        Wow. Because I have an intellectual argument with your husband’s reasoning you go emo-nuclear on me telling me ” Clearly, there is a deeper issue going on as to why you’re so miffed about this article” ending with words dripping with condescension. Do you take a step back and consider that you are speaking to another human being here? You assume that I have deep issues because I disagree with your beloved husband?! I chose to speak to him on the basis of intellectual honesty and you choose to get ugly about it? What is up with that?
        That’s not love -that’s condescension and a lack of virtue. Just because this is your blog and you get some speaking gigs doesn’t mean you are always correct in your assessment or intellectual understanding. I was proposing that Christians and Catholics TOO OFTEN -far to often- make clothing and women the heart of modesty.
        I think what Kate Marlon wrote on October 18, 2013 at 8:27 puts it very brilliantly and far more elegantly than I could have. There are far too many posts like Bobby’s and too few about men having virtue, custody of the eyes and mind, etc. It wasn’t just Eve who ate the fruit-where was Adam? He did not come to her rescue or defense, and yet we are still blaming Eve.

        Another point to this is that we do not create responses in other people. We are responsible for our own responses. Dr Popcak wrote a really great article that I think you and Bobby should take a look at.

        There are a lot of other references that he makes in this article that I would certainly suggest reading through. And yes, I’m one of the commenters -and he and I were able to follow up in another forum, to which he agreed with my understanding of what he was saying.

        The heart of it is that you cannot lay any sin at the foot of either gender. Bobby’s article was far to slanted on the “what girls wear makes men sin” side of the argument (though, yes, not totally on that side, I read it. Be assured. I read it) and far less on what the Church so often misses and that is calling men to be men of God. Modesty is never just a woman’s issue: it is a Christian’s response to God’s love in our hearts. All Christians.

        My big response was because I fight this kind of attitude all the time. This kind of thinking that my cleavage will cause someone to sin. Do you know I was asked to cover my arms at a Priests Conference I was running because the woman speaker felt that I would incite lust in the priests? What? What about challenging the men to see me as a sister in Christ? THIS woman is a big speaker and it was at a BIG national conference where I used to work. And even where I work now, in a parish/school/diocese the dress code is worded so that women carry the burden of modesty. And we are teaching virtue in our schools. Why not teach the young men to see the young women and their female teachers as sisters?

        I digress. My whole point is that we have to stop telling young women that they are the problem, that what they wear is the problem. We have to own our responses and run to the Lord to heal our histories and fix our vision of one another. I think Dr Popcak’s article is the BEST one I have ever read on the issue. I do hope you will take the time to read it. No need to respond-I just hope you will take the opportunity to learn from another viewpoint that we need to change how we talk about modesty.

      • October 19, 2013 at 11:18 pm

        Dear Jackie,
        (This is relevant only to the comments on this thread, not the blog.) I didn’t see your tone as condescending or patronizing. And since I know that we, as women, are so apt to hear and believe the lies we face… I just want to make sure you hear this loud and clear: Your genuine love for people and the absolute gift of your speaking ministry is real, true, and abundantly blessed. You are authentic, even when digital communication and computer screens make it difficult. And lest you forget, through comboxes or whatever else, “You are good. You are beautiful. You deserve the best.”

        Thank you for your blog, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your heart with your readers, and thank you for being willing to speak Truth even when it might not be received well!

      • Julie
        October 20, 2013 at 9:40 pm

        Dear sisters, Jen and Jackie, and brother, Bobby:

        I would like to affirm all of you for speaking the Truths you did, that you all have in common. Namely, that both men and women are responsible for safeguarding their own and each others’ modesty. Reading your conversations between each other, it really seems to me that you all have the same goal in mind, but just different opinions on how to get there. For example, you all agree that women and men should both be held responsible for cultivating the virtue of modesty. Bobby and Jackie have decided to focus on addressing one group at a time. Jen feels it is important to address both groups in one blog entry. One approach is not objectively morally wrong or morally superior to the other. They are two valid ways of getting to the same good goal.

        So my brother and sisters, let us appreciate the diversity of charisms the Holy Spirit has granted you all in bringing about the united goal of inspiring others to virtue over vice. I invite all parties involved in this conversation to forgive one another for any statements that wounded the other party, whether it was intended or unintended by the person who made the statement. Dialogue is great and wonderful! It can lead us to challenge one another to refine and solidify our “reason for our hope”. But no need to fight with each other over morally neutral details, in this instance.

        Let us instead turn together, united in the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts as one family, to fight against the one Enemy, that is Satan, who prowls about looking for subtle ways to create division within God’s family. This is done through prayer, and through the good works that ALL three of you are already doing in your respective ministries and lives.

        I hope you find my comments to be peaceful in themselves. I hope also that they lead you to peace within each of yourselves, and between all of you. I am very proud to have brothers and sisters who are obviously so very passionate for the Truth and for speaking it boldly in Love to the world, one soul at a time. May God continue to bless each and all of you, his beloved son and daughters.

  16. Lisa De Ruyter
    September 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

    i revised this a little so please post this comment of mine if you do I pray through Mother Mary (our model to Jesus ♥) who is very very offended by certain fashions. . I am sad that you are promoting bathing suits as being modest as Jackie mentions in the comment section. For truly, men will stumble if a woman is dressed that indecent in front of him. Truly, a bathing suit is smaller than most shorts at the gym and miniskirts and clothing worn in bars etc… They are like small nighties and rolling around and laying down on the beach in just about nothing, doesn’t help men not to stumble. Men just don’t go to the beach and say “I am at the beach and therefore I can’t be tempted, so woman can wear less”. Mixed bathing in public places has never been allowed by the church. We had the YMCA and the YWCA for good reasons. I just finished listening to Doug Barry’s talk “modesty a virtue worth dying for” .a few weeks ago. A young guy in the youth group sent me Doug’s talk here on true modesty and wanted me to share it with all woman. We need more men like Doug speaking on true modesty, for he speaks according to the Church’s standards, which has been silenced and Doug goes into detail of what the Pope’s say at the end of this tape. Doug is a hero. Also, Mother Angelica says she fears most the people who silence modesty, (that is true modesty) for that is what happened to Humane Vitae, which said: if we silent contraception, abortion will follow, and if we silence abortion, euthanasia will follow and then Mother said that today we have babies being born alive and killed on the table. Pope Frances just advised the priests of his diocese to beware of both severe and lax priests. “Instead, the merciful priest proclaims that ‘God’s truth is this, so to speak, DOGMATIC or MORAL TRUTH’, but always accompanied by God’s love and patience”, adding “Do not panic”. Planned Parenthood’s first goal (the trailer “Bloodmoney” says) is to break down our children’s natural modesty in the schools. Our first goal should be to spread TRUE modesty according to the Catholic Church’s standards, which is soooo silenced. You can’t make your own standards on what is true modesty for to do so would be relativism and we need the Pope’s words and the Magisterium’s (yes, Doctrines). There is a site with all the church’s teachings and saints teachings. We need the Magisterium and must be in unity with these teachings on modesty. MOST GOOD people do not know what true modesty is, (I once had no clue too) and Mother Angelica says if we don’t tell them, then they will never know. Mother says in her “Modesty’ CD only available through EWTN Viewer services that those who tell you your immodest LOVE YOU, and those who do not, only love themselves. She also says that she thinks today there is a contest going on on who can wear the least and get away with it. (in her “Respect and Responsibility” Youtube video where she also mentions that tight tight pants are gross gross indecent and are not of the Holy Spirit). Please Google it, so you can grow in wisdom. Well enjoy here Doug Barry and God bless you all the more:

  17. Kris
    September 21, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    This was great – I have 4 sons at home and we are trying very hard to raise them to be men of integrity and to celebrate the true, inner beauty of women. But it’s extremely hard in this day and age when girls their ages are dressing so inappropriately. They battle that all the time.

  18. Kate Marlon
    September 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    “inability of men to respect their femininity”…how about the inability of men to respect a women’s agency?
    Women can (and should be) be defined by more than their gender; we are not walking uteruses. Men should be less concerned about what we wear (and whether it respects femininity), and more concerned about how they view women (and whether they’re respecting us as people). I am baffled that men think that the problem is women dressing “immodestly”. The problem is how men view women. Pleading with females to stop dressing like “prostitutes” (your words, not mine) is a temporary, shallow solution that doesn’t fix anything. Speaking as a female, I have have had the same amount of lust-filled gazes, inappropriate comments and semi-harassment when I’m dressed modestly as when I’m covered up. The issue is not what we wear. Instead of policing women’s clothing, how about men take responsibility? This may sound crazy, but try to respect me as a women (and a person), NO MATTER what I’m wearing. Look beyond my clothes. Do not turn the tables and make this into something that women need to fix in order to make life easier on men. Men must take responsibility and actively teach themselves to be around women without diminishing us to a set of breasts. It is much easier for men to clutch their pearls and gasp in horror at the “immoral” way in which women dress than it is for men change how they think and act around females. Funnily enough, I’ve noticed that I, as a human being, am able to interact with members of the opposite sex without lusting over them, regardless of what they wear. Men can (and should) do the same; men are not brainless beasts made of uncontrollable lust, but rather, much in the same way as women, people with agency. When a woman (or girl) is at the gym with her “butt exposed”, the stigma should not be on the girl, but rather on the men who are viewing her as a piece of meat. How a women dresses does not change whether or not a man views women as human. Let’s try and change the way men look at women, rather than what women can or cannot wear.
    tldr; Women should be treated as fully human, regardless of how much (or little) we have on our bodies.

    • September 28, 2013 at 9:51 pm


      it’s like you chose not to read the rest of the article.
      Bobby says pretty much exactly what you’re saying:
      “I am as equally adamant about men training themselves in the school of virtues to become integrated enough to where respect for a woman will be shown regardless of her dress.”

      Responsibility comes on BOTH sides. It’s not just on men OR women. It’s both who are called to lead each other to Heaven and to see each other as persons and not as objects. The sad part (and this is what Bobby is saying) is when girls see themselves as objects. He’s telling them they are much more. This article is less about a struggle of lust and more about the fact that a woman is worth more than her sexual values.

      God bless!

    • September 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Kate men don’t act or think the same as woman. (you know what I mean). We complement each other though. Also, men have a strong sensuality in them and us woman don’t. God wishes men and woman to be modest and it is a most beautiful gift of the Holy Spirit, and is pure beauty from God. This man here, Edward Sri, explains why woman can’t just were whatever they want, knowing that men do have a strong sensuality…. he says: “In other words, a woman dressing immodestly may deliberately elicit a sexual reaction to her body. And she may attract men to view her body as an object of enjoyment. But she doesn’t inspire men to love her as a person.” ………he says this because of John Paul II’s words— then Karol Wojtyla — regarding his book Love and Responsibility………..quote: “But here some women may object: “Why is it my responsibility to dress modestly? If a man struggles with lustful thoughts, that’s his problem, not mine.” But this objection misses Wojtyla’s point. The purpose of modesty is not merely to help prevent men from stumbling into impure thoughts. Modesty of dress is primarily meant to protect the woman herself. It helps keep the woman from being treated as an object for sexual pleasure.
      Wojtyla offers two important insights that help make sense of this. On one hand, we must remember that human beings are fallen. Thus, it is not easy for us to avoid a utilitarian attitude when we see the body of the opposite sex. The attitude of “I shouldn’t have to worry about how I dress — that’s the man’s problem” naively fails to take original sin seriously. As Wojtyla explains, “Man, alas, is not such a perfect being that the sight of the body of another person . . . can arouse in him merely a disinterested liking which develops into an innocent affection. In practice it also arouses concupiscence, or a wish to enjoy concentrated on sexual values with no regard for the value of the person” (p. 190). As a result of original sin, the human will “too readily accepts the sensual reaction and reduces another person . . . to the role of an object for enjoyment” (p. 191). And when this happens, Wojtyla calls it “depersonalization by sexualization.” The woman is not viewed for who she is as a person. She is reduced to a potential object for sexual pleasure. Modesty of dress helps women to avoid being depersonalized in this way.
      On the other hand, Wojtyla goes on to remind us that men struggle with sensuality a lot more than women. Therefore, it is not surprising that women may have difficulty understanding what really constitutes modest dress, for sensuality is not as strong in them as it is in men. “Since a woman does not find in herself the sensuality of which a man as a rule cannot but be aware in himself she does not feel so great a need to conceal ‘the body as a potential object of enjoyment'” (p. 177). Consequently, women often DON’T REALIZE that a certain way of acting or dressing may actually be immodest. And they may have absolutely NO IDEA that the way they are dressing may be setting themselves up to be viewed by a man as a mere object for sexual pleasure. “Very often, a woman does not regard a particular way of dressing as SHAMELESS. . . although some man, or indeed many men, may find it so” (p. 189). …………well the whole article is beautiful …please read and enjoy this whole article♥

    • September 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm


      Thanks for the response. By “femininity,” I mean in a general way the totality of a woman, primarily her inherent worth and dignity, not merely her feminine parts. (A woman is not a “walking uterus” and believe that I couldn’t agree more).

      As stated above, I’m already planning an article directed to men regrading our responsibility to cultivate a heart that can appreciate beauty, even in women who are dressed provocatively. But both men and women bear responsibility for each other. Don’t let women off the hook entirely. Again, there seems to be a dearth in reasonable and patient conversation with the modesty issue—people get inflamed with emotion or jump to uncharitable conclusions. I’m sorry if the deeper point of my writing (that beauty is a responsibility and often a burden for women) was lost.

      But take the quotes off “butt exposed.” I speak with no hyperbole. Literally, her butt was hanging out. I saw a 14-year old’s butt in the gym. And no matter how integrated I may be as a man or however athletic you may be as a woman, there’s no need for that.


      • Kate Marlon
        October 18, 2013 at 8:27 pm

        Jackie – I did, in fact, read the article. My frustration here stems from the fact that this is ANOTHER article on how women should dress modestly. This issue is old, and women have been told to dress modestly since Christianity began. This is not the problem. You say “Responsibility comes on BOTH sides. It’s not just on men OR women”. While Bobby did mention this in his essay, I was disappointed that a writer as capable and articulate as he is spent his time on an issue so well-developed already. Women know, have known, and will continue to know that dressing modestly can be important. I just really wish that we had gotten an article about the man’s responsibility in this situation – because, as we can all agree, it is a VERY important aspect (I understand that Bobby is contemplating writing one – my issue is that he chose instead to write this instead). What I feel, as a woman, is constant blame for inspiring lust in men. What I also feel is that the discussions regarding men controlling their lust are far, far fewer than discussions telling women how to dress. I am just discouraged that this was another article dealing with (what I see as) an imperfect and shallow solution to the problem.

        Lisa – “men don’t act or think the same as woman”. I find this argument lazy and unconvincing. Men and women both share responsibility in controlling lust. Men must LEARN to act in a way befitting Christianity. I believe that they can do so, if time is spent TEACHING them how, and men then PRACTICE what they are taught – which is why I would have loved to see an article on that instead. Furthermore, “Modesty of dress is primarily meant to protect the woman herself. It helps keep the woman from being treated as an object for sexual pleasure” – this is NOT true. One can be sexualized and depersonalized no matter what one wears. Bobby even mentions this: “Granted, even if she [Jackie] were in a brown sack, some idiots would still drool” – even though Jackie dresses modestly, the problem is not entirely solved, REGARDLESS of what she is wearing.

        Bobby – I am not letting women off the hook at all. I just wish we weren’t always the one one’s on the hook. I am not taking issue with dressing modestly. I honestly do think that it is wonderful and can be very important. I just feel the way it is constantly promoted to be the women’s burden is archaic. I feel that promoting men to treat women with respect is far more important, for two reasons: one, as I have noted before, I do not really believe that dressing modestly will solve the issue of women being sexualized & objectified and two, I believe the larger issue here is to teach men to not sexualize and objectify. Of course, in an ideal world, the two would go together – women would dress modestly, and (more importantly) men would treat them as people. I just wish we could have seen an article that went beyond the already stressed notion of women and modesty.

  19. September 29, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Reblogged this on Elizabeth A. Morales and commented:
    I don’t wear shorts at the gym because I felt like guys could see my panties with certain exercises. I’m so glad a man was brave enough to encourage modesty even at the gym.

    • Lisa De Ruyter
      September 30, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Yes, praise God Bobby has the courage to tell it like it is and I pray more men will stand up for True modesty, so silenced today, yet sooooo needed. Mother Angelica said if the world dressed modestly, the world would change overnight. Thank-you Bobby and Jackie for all the good you do ♥

  20. timeofyourlifehuhkid
    October 1, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Hello! As someone who has an interest in feminism and also an interest in learning more about religion (I’m very aware that the two don’t always mix!), I have to say that I really appreciated the way that Bobby wrote this post, namely in encouraging men to be equally responsible for themselves and their actions. Kudos to you!

    One thing though that to me really stood out was this:

    “I’m here to tell you that you are worth it. You’re worth more than a lustful look, an inappropriate advance, or even a one-night stand.”

    To me, while it does try to give women a “boost”, this assumes that immodestly dressed women/women who dress like “prostitutes” (the use of this word really bothers me but that’s a whole nother topic :P) have low self respect and don’t think they’re worth it. But you have NO idea how much a woman respects herself just by looking at her. None. Zip. Zero. I have a lot of self respect, and I’m not above wearing spandex shorts while out on a run. Immodest? Maybe, but less chafe-y and more comfortable. What this says to me is that YOU don’t respect them, for the sole reason that they’re dressed immodestly, and that there must be something wrong with a woman’s self image because of their clothing.

    Just some food for thought.

    • October 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      Thanks! The hardest thing to convey through writing sometimes is that, as a man, I’m on your side. It’s often hard to discern the tone in online blogs. Sometimes we interpret disparaging or insulting inflections when the writer planned none of the above. I do plan a male-directed sequel to this article that emphasizes our responsibility to cultivate hearts that can see a woman’s beauty, no matter her dress.

      Very true point—I have no idea of each woman’s individual story or her level of self-respect by looking at her dress alone. Many confident women wear low-cut or revealing dresses because they are indeed proud of their physique. And yes, women cannot be expected to dress in sack-cloths because of the inability of the men around them to be respectful. A few years back, I started to hate going out on the weekends, mainly because it was just making me sad how many women were being objectified. I wished these women could see what I saw (with the brain of a man)—that men weren’t falling in love with these women for their person, but lusting after them for their body parts. All women deserve better. They deserve love and not lust.

      I think, however, if more women understood the physiology of men (and how quickly our bodies respond to visual stimuli and how this tends to override reason), there would be a bit more discernment when it comes to wardrobe choices. This is less about her confidence or insecurity level, and more about guarding her dignity from being objectified from men. Again, Jackie and I are Catholic Christians who believe that we’re called by God to live out lives of virtuous integration. I’m not calling for utopia. This world will never be perfect. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. And if that means sacrificing comfort for the sake of not wanting to be seen as an object of lust, then it’s worth it. I’ve watched Jackie try to live this out. She is confident and she is (very) attractive. But she chooses to dress in such a way to never willing rouse the lust of men. (Granted, even if she were in a brown sack, some idiots would still drool).

      Yes, making a conscious effort to dress in more modest clothing is usually more annoying, but when willingly taken on, it starts to transform our hearts and subconsciously calls out men to act like men. We’re all learning. We’re all on the journey. Thanks for writing!


  21. Maryann
    October 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I’d just like to respond to one of the quotes that comments that stated “Women know, have known, and will continue to know that dressing modestly can be important.”
    Dressing modestly IS important and just by reading through the comments I can see that not everyone holds the same opinion on that fact.
    While it might be true that you have come across a lot of articles on women dressing modestly, the dress of many women today show that the message is still needed- very much needed.
    Also, gender does not just speak to our “parts” but our souls, our very being. The problem is how men view women. The problem is how women view men. The problem is how men and women view their own selves and sex. The basic problem is a corrupted society because of the ravages of sin. It is a battle we all have to fight and help each other fight.
    Ideally women should be treated as fully human regardless of what they are wearing. But I wonder WHY women do dress immodestly. Wouldn’t it be for the attention? So therefore wouldn’t they be dressing in that way in a sense to draw attention to their parts rather than their person?
    I know that Jackie and Bobby have posted about pornography and other issues which would speak to men’s responsibility not to lust. Kate I would agree with you, it is a responsibility. Again, BOTH are important. As Bobby has spoken to his brothers about not viewing women as objects, I think it is fair and fitting that he also speaks to his sisters about the same thing.
    Look, we can only control ourselves and speak from our own experiences to encourage changes in others in love. Dressing modestly is a women’s burden. Having mastery over their senses is the burden of the man.
    I thought the blog post came from a very honest, balanced, and loving place.
    Also, as a general comment- how you dress DOES help someone respect you or not respect you. A prostitute, dressed as a prostitute has inherent value as a person, equal with the value of all people. A police officer, still has the same value but again, the uniform gives a message. What you wear to a job interview is not the same thing you would wear to the beach. Right? So, ideal or not, at some level, respect and clothing are connected on some level.

  22. Julie
    October 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    For all those who commented on this important topic for men and women, here is another important topic for both men and women: the truth about the wounds of pornography. For all who read this article on modesty but claim that Bobby has not addressed men and their struggles with lusting after women, please be sure to read this post from months ago. Thanks, Maryann, for pointing this out in your comment.

    And like he said, he will be posting another entry on men and modesty to balance out the perspective in this article (you can only fit so much in one article before a reader starts to forget what they read at the top of the post). So I invite all to be patient. He has a full-time job and a new vocation (Miss Jackie!) which, I am sure, consume the majority of his time. If you don’t like his approach about writing to men and women in two blog posts, it is your prerogative to disagree. That’s no problem. But there is nothing objectively morally wrong about HIS approach.

    Until he is able to sit down and write out the entry addressing men and modesty, I invite all to take the waiting period as an opportunity to grow in the virtue of patience. And in the meantime, you can read his entry about men and pornography and contemplate and comment on that subject. See for yourself the proof that Bobby really is not one-sided as some have suggested in their comments. I am also sure that part of the time gap between the entry on women/modesty and men/modesty (besides the fact that he has been busy answering all the comments here) is due to the fact that Bobby is taking some serious prayer time to ask God what he needs to say about men. This is a good thing. So be patient, my friends. All in good time, all in God’s time.

  23. Respectedasawoman
    October 22, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Thank-you for your ministry! and please don’t be discouraged, (I know I can be, it’s hard to live the truth sometimes) “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT” We have already won the battle :)

  24. October 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    sorry if you answered this but where did you get the bridesmaid dresses? They are modest and beautiful!

  25. Amy D.
    November 13, 2013 at 12:41 am

    “and those who think that I’m suggesting that all women who wear so little are practically asking for rape.”

    I find this sentence highly ignorant and victim-blaming. Women are NEVER asking for rape, regardless of their attire–be it bikini or burqa. It also implies men suddenly can’t resist the urge to sexually assault someone when they see immodesty. Clothes don’t cause rape, rapists cause rape.

    Otherwise, a valid and articulate post about women’s personal responsibility to be modest. But it’s not a one-way street. Can’t wait to read the post about men’s personal responsibility to keep their thoughts and actions pure.

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