Recently, David Hayward (aka nakedpastor) published a cartoon about God and yoga pants. Now, you may not be aware of this (I know I wasn’t), but yoga pants are a big issue in evangelical circles. Why is that? Because yoga pants are “revealing” and “very attractive to men”. This is a problem because, apparently, men are basically animals and incapable of controlling themselves sexually.
Actually, yoga pants themselves aren’t the problem; it’s that whole modesty craze, again. Conservative Christians (specifically evangelicals) are pushing the idea that women must “dress modestly” so that they don’t tempt men into lusting after them. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about it. I mean, these folks believe God created men to lead. How strong a leader can you be if you get distracted by a pair of pants?
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against modesty. Hell, I think dressing appropriately for the situation is a good thing. But, let’s be honest, this isn’t really about appropriate dress; it’s about control (i.e. “slut-shaming“). Don’t think so? Read this quote from the article that inspired David’s cartoon:
“As we walked into the estate store Mr. M glanced at my outfit. The pants I had found in my harried search were workout capris—otherwise known as yoga pants. “You know … ” he said. “You are dressed a lot like those girls you always comment on at the gym.”
We had talked about this before. Mr. M has requested, not commanded, that I refrain from wearing the pants to the gym, and really not in public at all. But I’d ignored the request, and here I was walking down the sidewalk in them.
“I was kind of surprised you wore them,” he said sadly.
I picked at the tag on a buffet table, glancing at myself in a mirror in the corner. It was just one request he had made—a request based on what he knew of his own male mind and the minds of the men around him. But I wanted MY way, so I ignored it.”
Not only is that shaming, it’s shameful. And, when I say “shameful”, I’m talking about his behavior, not her pants. What kind of man makes his wife feel that way? Especially over a pair of fucking pants.
And, there are problems beyond the shaming aspect:
- It declares lust a sin and confuses it with objectification. Lust is, according to Merriam-Webster, “a strong desire for something” and is a normal human emotion, which is not a sin. It is not ogling a woman’s body, reducing her worth to her naughty bits; that would be objectification, which is a sin. When that happens, the sinner the person doing the objectifying, not the one being objectified. In truth, this particular idea of “modesty” is a perversion of scripture that does much more to objectify a woman than man does when he looks at her on the street.
- As a man (and a decent human being), I am solely responsible for the thoughts that pass through my head and no one else. The idea that what a woman chooses to wear can cause me to see her as less than fully human implies that I’m an animal incapable of controlling my sexual urges and, frankly, I resent that.
- As a (progressive) Christian, I take the charge to love my neighbor with the utmost seriousness. If I’m objectifying that neighbor (whether it’s ogling their body or blaming them for my “sinful” thoughts), I’m not loving them. And, that’s the real sin, not the pants they choose to wear.
I’ll close this with a crazy idea: instead of trying to control women by telling them how to dress, men should just respect them no matter what they’re wearing.