Dear Women of the World,
Here’s what I have to say about you wearing yoga pants:
Ladies, please, take note. You can wear yoga pants. You can not wear yoga pants. It’s up to you. It’s none of my business. And honestly, I really don’t care.
And yes, I am a male. And yes, I am a Christian male. And I believe that your body is a wonderful and beautiful thing, one that bears the imago dei. And I hope you know that you are wonderful and beautiful as well.
But women don’t cause men to lust. Lust is not forced upon anyone. If you are intentionally trying to seduce me, that’s one thing. But I don’t interpret your ordering a vanilla latte in front of me in Starbucks as an attempt at foreplay.
And it’s not your fault if I see you, in whatever clothes you are or are not wearing, and hold you in my mind as a sexual object the sole purpose of which is fulfilling my desires. None of that = your fault.
Can I be honest? Sometimes I think men are just jealous. Should I chose to don leggings and stroll through the mall with my buttocks firmly, thinly clothed- the only thing I’d be enticing women into is spluttering giggles. Maybe a few vows of celibacy.
The female body is-generally speaking- more appealing to the eye than the male body. And men are also more visual creatures on a physiological level. That’s not an accident. That’s creative design, God’s design. And I’m frustrated with purity movements that attempt to shroud the beauty of that connection, to stifle it. This is not to say that I- or any other husband- should have eyes for anyone other than my wife. Nothing is further from my point. Rather, I should have eyes for my wife, eyes that behold, eyes that absorb, eyes that witness her beauty in a way that prompts worship of her creator. But those same eyes should be able to look into those of another woman and see her as a woman. Not a sexual object. Not an object of lust. Not a threat. A woman, made in God’s image, made with the intention that one day she and I would live in perfect, heavenly community.
The answer to lust is not unplugging our computers, putting on blinders and demanding that all women wear sweatpants in public. Such denial of beauty is akin to burning poetry and shattering priceless paintings. Nothing could be less Christian. For the only god who demands such things is the one named “Decency.” And he would have felt pretty awkward in Eden.
Rather the answer to lust is looking at women, in whatever they’re wearing, and acknowledging their beauty in an attitude of worship for their Creator. Is this natural? No, because we are fallen creatures. Do most men act as such? Heavens, no. But- going back to my previous analogy- don’t burn the novel because you can’t grasp the plot.
And so I say that we, as Christians, have a higher calling than prudishness, covering and hiding anything our evil nature could possibly corrupt. We have a calling to worship. Within this calling we must learn, accept and believe that the beauty of a female body is not ours to possess (which is what makes pornography so vilely unChristian while nude depictions in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is of the highest art). And sometimes God grants it that one woman’s beauty may be a man’s to behold, intimately and in a wonderfully exclusive and heightened manner. That’s sex. That’s marriage. And it’s the physical foundation for love, love that foreshadows a new creation, a new Eden, in which yoga pants won’t be allowed because of everything they’d hide.
Men need to learn to see that beauty. And we ought to all be striving for the ability to see beauty without lusting for it’s possession. The gospel is not about denial of the goodness around us; it’s about adopting the proper eyes with which to see it.
So women, hear me you, if you want to wear yoga pants then it’s between you and God. Personally, I’ll spare the world. But I don’t care what you wear. What I care about is growing in my ability to see you not as a thing to be owned or possessed, not as an object or means of arousal, but to see you as beautiful, wonderful and sacred.
I hope and pray that Christian communities can focus on exposing beauty, not hiding it. I hope that men pursue the eyes to see the beauty in women. Eyes not for pornography but humanity. Eyes for neither lust or puritanical purity but for the imago dei that’s in all of us. Yoga pants or not.
It probably won’t happen in this life. But hey, a guy can dream.
The man in the Starbucks line