LCN Article
Young Men and Modesty

July / August 2024

Mark Sandor

As a history teacher, one of the biggest complaints I ever heard from my students was about the school’s dress code, and these complaints sometimes caused me to think about the relationship between female modesty and male thoughts. Students had been told that boys are easily distracted by female dress—hence, at least one of the reasons to have a dress code. While the students did not like to acknowledge that connection, the Bible also points out in 1 Timothy 2:9 that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel” and focus more on “the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:1–6).

But this article is for young men: When you think of modesty, do you think it only applies to the ladies? That can be a dangerous trap, for two reasons.

First, it is also very possible for men to be immodest. Some men can focus so much on working out that it seems they idolize their bodies. While exercise and activity have great benefits for our physical and mental health, some men clearly work out primarily to look good. This is usually revealed in how they act outside the gym. Have you ever known a guy who seems to be looking for every opportunity to take his shirt off, as if he’s Chris Hemsworth? That guy is clearly not just after health benefits. He wants to display his body—a blatantly immodest act. Working out can certainly help men look better, but that does not give us an excuse to be immodest about it.

The second lesson about modesty, though, has to do with the connection I mentioned at the beginning of this short article: Do you let a woman’s dress determine your thoughts? Yes, young ladies have specific verses in the Bible to follow, and it goes without saying that women who take the Bible seriously will take those verses seriously. But what about those women who do not? What is the likelihood that you will come across women dressed immodestly at the beach, the gym, or even Walmart? Pretty high. And if they are dressed immodestly, does that excuse your thoughts?

I hope the answer to that question is obvious to you. We men are without excuse.

Galatians 5:22–23 lists “self-control” as one of the fruits of God’s Spirit. Men must learn to control their thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5) regardless of their circumstances—and we should not think we can hide our own sins behind someone else’s. When Jesus told His followers to not even look at a woman to lust over her (Matthew 5:28), He did not give any kind of loophole based on how she was dressed. If you lust after a woman, you are committing adultery. Whatever she is wearing does not excuse you.

Numbers 25 gives us a strong warning, telling of how the women of Moab seduced Israelite men. Both the worldly women and the Israelite men sinned by committing sexual immorality and idolatry—so, both groups were punished. The Israelite men suffered a devastating plague, while Israel later wiped out their seducers (Numbers 31). The Israelite men were not spared because the Moabite women were immodest—they were expected to know better and avoid sin, regardless of how the world around them acted.

Brothers in Christ

For young men in God’s Church today, there are “Moabite women” aplenty. And pornography is a horrendous sin that can easily become addictive for those who choose to go after these modern “Moabite women.” Our society encourages young women to sexualize themselves and dress immodestly. Even in God’s Church, we must often revisit the concept of modesty, as society puts so many pressures on young women. But you, young men, are under just as many sinful pressures to think of young women as sexual objects rather than as sisters in Christ. From these pressures, the Bible exhorts you to flee (1 Corinthians 6:18).

Your sisters in Christ can serve you, young men, by dressing modestly—but you can serve them by controlling your thoughts, words, and actions toward them. Do you treat them like sisters in Christ or like Moabite women? Do you dare sin by asking them for sexual pictures? Who would ask their sisters for such things? If you have committed this sin, you need to seek forgiveness from God and from the women you have wronged.

Instead, men in God’s Church should respect our sisters in Christ by being a brother to them. In fact, strive for that relationship with every woman you meet. We hope that most of you will have one wife, but aside from her, you must treat “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2).

So, young men, do not think that modesty is only for the ladies to worry about. You, too, must avoid becoming vain about your appearance. And you must not shrug off your need to grow in self-control by blaming women for your lack of character. Even when a man meets an immodest woman, he has no excuse for developing a debased mindset. Let us look instead to the instructions and examples within Scripture, which allow us to have fulfilling relationships with all women as their brothers in Christ.

Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted from material found at, where you can find other items of interest to Church youth and their families, such as the Living Youth Podcast.