Tim Bunting is a Fundamentalist Bible teacher at the West Harlem Church of Christ in New York. Earlier this year, Bunting wrote a post for the Downtown Demure website titled, An Open Letter About Modesty From a Brother in Christ. Here’s an excerpt from Bunting’s letter:
Okay, before I begin, I get it. You’re tired of talking about modesty. You’ve put forth some effort to conform to all these different standards being thrown at you, but no one ever seems to be satisfied. I know what you must be thinking. “Don’t they know modesty is a hassle? I’m just trying to look fashionable and attractive. People at church continue to stress the importance of modesty while the boys give more attention to the girls in more revealing clothing. Not to mention the fact that no one seems to have any standards of modesty for them anyways.” All this confusion, legalism, hypocrisy, and double standards is just about enough to make you stop caring about modesty all together. What’s the point anymore?
Well let me tell you, I’m tired of talking about modesty as well. I understand. However, we have to keep talking about it as long as it continues to be a challenge in this sexually saturated society.
Keep in mind that immodesty gets so much attention because it’s a visible sin. As saints trying to please God, we can’t ignore sin (I Corinthians 5:2, 12). As long as immodesty is around us, we will continue to have to deal with it. “But aren’t there much deeper problems to worry about? Isn’t immodesty just a physical external thing?”, you might ask. Yes! I concur completely. However, even though immodesty is external, the way we choose to present ourselves is directly connected to our hearts and has great significance on our souls. My hope in this letter is to get to the heart of the matter. I want to thank you for all efforts you’ve already made to be modest. I want to clarify some misconceptions about modesty, and I want to remind you of the real reason you should be concerned about modesty.
But why does God care about modesty? God cares about modesty because He is a holy God who calls us to be holy as well (I Peter 1:16). Sexual perversion is unholy, and it’s [sic] participants are unholy (I Cor 6:15-20). Sexual perversion includes any sexual activity outside of a marriage relationship (Hebrews 13:4). That includes lust (looking, thinking, desiring sexual things outside of a marriage) (Matthew 5:27-28). We are also told that anyone who is a stumbling block to others is also held accountable (Matthew 18:6-7). This principle is used to condemn the man for divorcing his wife and tempting her to commit adultery (Mathew 5:31-32). So if there is someone lusting after a person who has presented herself in a sexually appealing way, both parties are guilty of sin, whatever side of the equation they may be. Proverbs also illustrates that one who draws others into sexual sin is condemned along with the one drawn into sexual sin (Proverbs 2:16-19, 5:3-6, 6:24-29, 7:6-23). God wants you to be modest, because God wants you to be holy, pure, and free from sin. God wants you to be these things because this is how He can have a relationship with you, and if you want to have a relationship with Him, then you should care about modesty as well (Psalm 15:1-2).
Still, I know what you might be thinking: “If a guy wants to lust, I can’t control that! No matter what I wear, some creep can think sinful thoughts about me. So why am I held responsible for that?” Those are fair questions. Allow me to clarify something. Lust is a choice. Lusting is the choice to indulge yourself with sexual thoughts. God can demand a man to abstain from lust because, regardless of what any person might be wearing, we can choose to not indulge in sexual thoughts. Sexual attraction, however, is not a choice. A man will be attracted to sexual things because God made him that way (He made women that way too). However, a man needs to be led by the Spirit, and not by his fleshly desires (Romans 8:13). A man will be attracted to the many sexual images that surround him on a daily basis, but he must choose to not indulge in lusting over them.
Let me provide an analogy. Imagine you see something cute. A puppy or kitten. A newborn baby. Or perhaps newborn baby taking a nap with a puppy and a kitten.
What happens? You swell up with warmth, and an involuntary “awwwwww” escapes your mouth. Why? Because that’s what happens when you see something cute. You didn’t decide for that puppy or kitten or baby to be cute. They inherently are. You couldn’t stop thinking it’s cute even if you wanted to. Imagine if that warm fuzzy feeling of cuteness is sin. Imagine you are sinning every time you squeal in adoration over something adorable. What could you do about that? How could you stop? You can’t help but think it’s cute. That’s not even a conscious decision. You’d have to look away. You’d have to stop going to pet stores. You’d have to avoid new couples at church with their newborn babies. Cuteness is all around, but you have to make sure you don’t lust after it.
This is kind of what it’s like to be a guy. We didn’t decide for you to be so appealing. God did. God made both sexes to be that way. And it’s a blessing that he did! However, it’s a blessing that can only be enjoyed in marriage. So, a man’s responsibility is to not lust over the things he is sexually attracted to by keeping them from his eye sight. Your concern is to make sure you aren’t one of those sexually appealing things his eyes have to avoid. Here’s the conclusion: you aren’t in sin because someone is lusting over you. You can’t control that. You are in sin if you are presenting yourself in a sexually appealing way. You can control that.
Let me summarize Bunting’s “loving” letter to Christian women:
- No one seems to have any standards of modesty these days. What those standards should be, Bunting does not say. I will assume then, that Bunting’s standard of modesty is his personal opinions and that of his church. The Bible say little to nothing about modesty other than to say women should wear modest apparel. The Bible does not define what is modest/immodest, so Christians make up the rules as they go. What is considered modest or proper attire is culturally driven, often changing from generation to generation.
- Immodesty is a visual sin. In other words, women who violate Bunting’s dress code are sinning against God. This means that no immodestly dressed woman is a Christian. That’s right…follow my logic here. Christians say that people who habitually sin against God and do not repent are not followers of Jesus. A woman who regularly dresses immodestly is habitually sinning against God and no habitual sinner will inherit the kingdom of God. Imagine a conversation in Hell one day between a man and a woman. The man asks the woman, why are you here? She replies, cleavage. The man responds, me too.
- Immodestly dressed women are responsible for the lust of men. In other words, women are culpable for how men think.
- Women dressing modestly leads to holiness, purity, and freedom from sin. Evidently, in churches that follow Bunting’s dress code, men don’t lust and they never fuck anyone they are not married to.
- Sexual attraction is not a choice. Men are wired by God to want what they see, and to fuck their way indiscriminately through the fair maidens of the church. The only way to keep these horn dogs in their place is for women to dress in ways that don’t lead to lust or boners.
- Women are like puppies. When people see cute puppies they say “AWWWWW.” And when men see immodestly dressed puppies, err I mean women, they do the sexual version of “AWWWWW“– whatever the hell THAT is. Make sense? Didn’t make any sense to me either.
- Women are sinning against God if they present themselves in sexually appealing ways.
I know, nothing new here. Bunting is just one of a countless horde of Christian preachers who think God has given them the duty and responsibility to police how women dress. Bunting tries his best to not blame women for what he calls male lust, but he ends up talking out of both sides of his mouth. If how a woman dresses can cause a man to lust, then she is responsible for the man’s lust. This is a classic case of laying blame on someone else for one’s own actions.
Bunting says that he plans to keep preaching the gospel of modesty until women heed his words and put their breasts and legs under the cover of oversized feed sacks. And I plan to continue to preaching the gospel of freedom and personal responsibility. Both men and women are responsible for their sexual behavior. Men, in particular, need to learn how to responsibly handle sexual desire. It is normal and healthy to see an attractive woman and sexually desire her. In my gospel, such thoughts are normal. Not in Bunting’s. Desiring any woman sexually besides your wife is a big sin against God, the very God who supposedly wired men to sexually desire women (and for gays, men). Makes perfect sense, right? For weak, pathetic Christian men who are driven to Pornhub by seeing too much cleavage on Sister Sue, the answer is for women to dress modestly. However, wouldn’t it be better if men grew up and owned their sexuality? Wouldn’t it be better if Christian men learned that it is never right to leer at or sexually harass women, and it is most certainly not permissible to touch women without being invited to do so.
According to my gospel, personal responsibility and accountability are paramount. Both men and women are responsible for their own sexual behavior. Christian morality cripples people, making others or outside forces responsible for bad sexual behavior. If church women would just dress modestly, men would be able to sit through the sermon without engaging in lustful thinking. And if women outside of the church would dress as Muslim women do, why Christian men would be able to go through the day with their only stirring being the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful world, one without sexual want, need, and desire; a world where sexual intercourse only takes place within the bonds of marriage and only in the missionary position. Of course, such a world, thanks be to Eros, does not exist. Sexual attraction is here to stay, regardless of how women dress. Clothing, as past human history shows, is not a barrier that protects people from wanting or desiring others sexually. All any of us can do is act decently and respectfully towards others.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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I took a friend to hospital yesterday and whiled away time there watching so many staff in gender-neutral scrubs and thought ‘I guess if you’re a very fundy female, you can’t work here as scrubs have trousers, not skirts!’ Whilst examining my friend, a handsome hunk of a young male doctor bent to pick up something he’d dropped on the floor and I had a rear view of well, his rear, as his scrubs obviously needed new elastic in the waist. (It was his last shift before moving on…so hope they don’t get assigned to anyone else!)
Ah, this again. Men are animals who can’t be expected to control themselves sexually and women are totally responsible when men don’t control themselves.
Not all churches are fundamentalist in the sense of being Creationist and literal but this attitude has poisoned most of them and is one reason why I am not a Christian now and will not be going back. The harm that this attitude has caused and continues to cause!
This old chestnut. Rather than men having to exert control over their sexual desires, it’s so much easier just to blame women.
Funny that, because us women manage to control ourselves.
What I hate almost more than the “all women are basically tarts and I’m not responsible for my actions” line is this implication that women don’t have sexual desire – or at least not in any comparable way to males. Whereas one quick look at the myth of Tiresias gives the lie to that one.
Exactly. The whole view of sexuality underlying this is grossly ignorant.
Hmm, perhaps this guy has some sexual misdeeds hanging in his closet, and he’s trying to get a jump on the “it was her fault” line when the skeletons eventually fall out? I will be keeping an eye out for this guy’s name to crop up in your Black Collar Crimes series, Bruce.
Ah, the good old modesty push again. I mean, you can’t expect men to keep from committing thought crimes of luster when you are walking around without a sack completely obscuring your body! We all know women are all just seductive tarts out there to lure poor unsuspecting men to commit sin! While at the same time women have no visual sex drives so men can pretty much wear whatever they want, no restrictive clothing for them that hinders their mobility. Nope, women are the problem. And if they happen to dress in a way that’s outside whatever moving target of modesty there is and cause some horn dog man to sin and are attacked, well, they are at least partly culpable! Ladies, gotta make sure you are completely covered head to toe in loose and shapeless clothing because you can’t expect men to keep their eyes and hands off you! No sir, not when God made men to take one look and want to attack!
“Modesty is a visible sin.” Sorry, but I just couldn’t read any farther past that minister’s bs.
The image mentioning Bathsheba irks me greatly. The story of David and Bathsheba has NOTHING to do with immodesty.
Bathsheba was performing rights required of her as a Jewish woman by submerging herself in mikvah, or ritual bath, to cleanse herself seven days after her menstruation ended. The Bible explicately states this is what she was doing in 2 Sam 11:4.
The water in a mikvah must be gathered naturally, which in the city typically meant leaving them open to the sky to collect rain water. While there were of course walls around the bath, David was standing on top of the tallest building in the city and, as the story indicates, could see into the bath anyway.
No part of this has Bathsheba luring David in with feminine wiles.
The way Evangelical Christians are constantly twisting the story to suit their misogyny is appalling. There is enough anti-women content in the Bible already. Why must they insist on fabricating even more of it?!
Gday Ladies. “enough anti-woman content in the Bible “…lets say, the Bible is anti-woman. Apparently when I look at a rainbow, its god’s beautiful work. But if I appreciate the beauty of a woman, I have sinned, already undressed her…..& ,well you know all the rest…..apparently Eve is the reason for all sin to. A virgin mother?
I am a bewildered that women dont BURN the Bible. Who wrote this Femalephobic babble?
Its as if the real miracle, reproduction, creation of new life, is totally neglected…..but we cant do it WITHOUT YOU.
We all need motherly love, the divine “mother cow” feeding the newborn, ……..and we have heard that behind a good man,is a good woman, and usually true! Compassion, love , and understanding are the gifts of women, and I can only geuss that maybe this is a major reason……and why women are denigrated in the book.
Who actually doesnt LIKE women?….Seriously. Or dare in this day, Who isnt ATTRACTED to women?
Being brutally honest and politically incorrect, it is Gay men, some detest everything female. But the other end of Gay men, actually want to be females, and even in the macho fundies, one of them plays the ‘wife’. LOL :):):)
The answer , is in the Bible itself. MATTHEW 19:12. Eunechs for the Kingdom? or Celibate for the Kingdom? What does your version of the book have written?…..this is Jesus on marriage & divorce mind you, but transgenders?
Who today wear yellow frocks, jewellry, mitres, are celibate for the kingdom, love angelic choirboys, a blood sacrifice mortification of the flesh ritual, a sacrificial lamb, and a temple full of cherubims?
Isnt it interesting that in Jesus times , these were known as the Greek GALLI priests, from the land of Pontus Galatia,and the Seven Churches of Revelation……and we know the Septuagint was written by the 70 Greek Scribes, the OT. The NT written by the likes of ORIGEN, another eunech priest.
** Not today surely? Have a look at B&W group photos of nuns…….Do they look like women to You? Brides of Christ? Or has the sanctity of the convent been the refuge of these effeminate males…..its still called the GALLICIAN church in many places….and we have all heard of that man from GALLI lee. What do these celibate priests get up to in an all male monastery apart from reading texts, that put down women and the act of love?
Was it any wonder they took in ORPHANS to reproduce the next generation…and become teachers hiding their secret….Accept this if you can
As a student, my first wife stayed in a residential block attached to a convent for three years. As a result I interacted regularly with nuns, often ‘taking sherry’ with them and they mingled quite openly. I have to say that, for nuns (my own expectation of nuns anyhow) they were a friendly and open group of women. They were all ages and were perfectly comfortable in the presence of men, for example when the local clergy called. None of them were men dressed as women.
The Galli priests, the Galli cult, had nothing to do with anything significant in Christianity, and there is no connection with biblical ‘Galilee’. The coincidence of names is only when you translate into English.
Gday GeoffT, please dont take offence, I am not saying ALL nuns. …..many are ‘saintlike’, But nuns are celibate…….
how quick we all forget of those tyrant nuns in boarding schools, wielding the cane or ruler or physical belting, the wrath of God & Hellfire Damnation!!
Having done some construction renovation work in a nuns convent yrs ago, the porno & sex related items we found down the back of cupboards and drawers,and hidden under floorboards, ……..well, I wont even describe here…..lets just say it indicated a gay male persuasion.
Unfortuneately, this was the “dirty little secret” I found, hiding in the crevices of their “box”, when dismantling it for repairs. A reality that was meant to be hidden, yet we found by accident……. I am merely the messenger, please dont shoot me. (yes, my expectation of nuns, was thrown into disbelief, especially as I expected them to be female)
My homeless experience and eating at Nuns Charity Meals, has confirmed doubts too. Both old B&W photos of those founding “Sisters”, and the firm handshake and adams apple , of a few, when NOT wearing their face enclosing “Habit” has not convinced me that ALL of them are women…….
All I am saying ,Is it possible,that some of the nuns are men hiding under a habit, pretending to be women?
Dressed modestly? A Christian Burka? Or a disguise hiding mens legs and feet, and adams apple and 3 day growth?
I had never even heard of the cult of the Galli, the eunech Attis, or the great mother Cybele, until I researched “Early Christianity”. These early church fathers, greek priests,desert fathers and monks is how I found the eunech connection>ORIGEN + others.
It was Jesus who even mentions “Eunechs for heaven”, that I actually searched and found a pagan cult, a greek myth, a cult in Jesus times actually doing this~ the Galli.
The coincidental connection is “CELIBATE for heaven”…Why are priests and nuns linked to this concept? Its obviously significant to some for in modern bibles they have changed Eunech, to Celibate or renounces marriage, to explain a different meaning and hide the original.
Please keep your comments on point; you know, in response to post content instead of railing against the Catholic Church at every opportunity. I get it, you think Catholics are to blame for many of the ills throughout the last 2,000 years. You’ve made your point. I totally disagree with you, but I’ve allowed you ample opportunity to make your point.
I hope you will respect my wishes.
Lovely skirt 🙂 HOORAY for her.
Bruce was NEVER saved, never knew the LORD of the Bible; easy to see!!
Oh my, Jackie boy, I have never, ever heard THAT before. By all means, explain to me and the readers of this blog how you know I never was saved. You say the evidence for this is easy to see. Time for show-and-tell. I think what we will find out is that my John Holmes-sized faith out measures yours in length and breadth. As one former congregant said, “If Bruce wasn’t a Christian, nobody is.” You can’t point to one significant thing in my life as a Christian and Evangelical pastor that remotely suggests I was anything but a true-blue follower of the LORD of the Bible. Sorry, Jackie boy, you are pissing into a hurricane on this one.
Thanks for preaching.
Jack, no one is saved. There is no Lord to know. No matter how fervently you believe, your fate is identical to the fate of non-believers: Permanent insentience, and the irrevocable loss of literally everything you knew and believed.
Stop wasting your one precious and irreplaceable life on fictional promises of life after death.