About me

I'm just a believer that is recovering from my experience at Teen Mania's Honor Academy and I would like to share my journey of healing with you.

May 3, 2011

Women Are to Blame for Men's Lust Problems

Women at the Honor Academy are constantly taught that they should not wear anything that might cause their brother to "stumble" (i.e. - have lustful thoughts.) Unfortunately, once again, Teen Mania takes a seemingly good piece of advice and distorts it into an unhealthy burden that eventually destroys relationships between men and women.

Allow me to explain.

First off, I think its a given that men are visual creatures and that women should be aware of that. It would not be wise or prudent for a Christian woman to flaunt her body. I'm not advocating we all walk around in mini-skirts and mid-riffs, k?

However, women at the Honor Academy are under ridiculous pressure when it comes to having a modest wardrobe and are routinely confronted over ridiculously minor issues. One woman had an ankle length skirt with a slit to the knee. Her CA told her that it was inappropriate and she had to change before going to church. Female interns have been told not wear their purse across their chest because it emphasizes their breasts too much. Front hugs are taboo and even eye contact is discouraged. These kinds of rules are ABSURD!

When women are confronted over these minor issues and told that it "will cause their brothers to stumble" they begin to believe that all men think about is sex. If you can't even wear an ankle length skirt with a slit to the knee without worrying that the men around you see you as a sex object, then how can you relate to any of them? How can you trust them or hope to build even a friendship with them? No wonder so many alumni have relationships with the opposite sex are so strained and filled with fear.

Another blogger from a legalistic tradition described it this way:

This teaching put me in bondage. The more I heard this kind of teaching the more suspicious I became of men. I couldn’t trust any of them.
As time went on, I learned from him that we could no longer hug a friend of the opposite gender. A hug might cause him to stumble and want more than hug. I was taught that we could not look into a man’s eyes for more than a simple hello, because the eyes can lead to temptation in their thoughts. All these rules heightened our suspicions of the men in the church.

Here is the bottom line: at the Honor Academy, many women are made to feel that they are responsible for the men's lust issues. They are told, whether directly or indirectly, that they are the CAUSE of a man's lust problem.

This is just plain wrong.

Women are not responsible for the thought lives of men. Period.

As Sister Lisa said in the post referenced above:
I am a woman and I have a word for all you men who think we need to cover up in order to protect you from falling into sin.

We aren’t Jesus Christ!

If a woman wearing a purse across her chest sends you into a spiral of sex-fueled fantasies, the problem is with YOU, not with her.

29 comments:

As a staff member, I was even confronted by CAs for the length of my skirts or the height of my slits. That's when I knew the crazy had gone too far.

Good grief anon!
I thought it was crazy when I was no longer allowed to talk to people I had spent half the summer with. I remember one of the guys who had been on my trip that summer coming up to me and pulling my super long hair as a way to say hello. His CA (who was actually really cool told us to be careful with that type of behavior and we looked at him like he grew an extra head since we had been saying hello that way all summer. He did that to me and T who was my best friend there. The next day I got in trouble for allowing him to get so close for that long. I was frustrated. Should have been a clue THEN that these people were not right in the brain.

I know something they would just love to implement at the ol' HA. It REALLY cuts down on the men's fleshly temptations, since we all know they just can't handle themselves.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burqa


P.S. I live in Las Vegas. Temptation is all around for men... billboards, strip clubs, casinos full of scantily clad cocktail waitresses, free magazines advertising escorts on every street, and only an hour away or so, the small town legal brothels... and somehow, the Christian men I know haven't vaporized into little mushroom clouds of lust. They actually work at that aspect of their spiritual lives and manage to have meaningful relationships with women, even if said women are wearing shorts a little shorter, or tops a little lower, than what would be "acceptable" in, say, a small Midwestern town.

It goes well beyond modesty. Women should not be taught to feel ashamed of their bodies.

I'd also like to note that this is one of the many ways women at the Honor Academy are treated as second class to their male peers.

" and if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out..." Seems like the burden is on the person looking to control themselves. Jesus was actually for self-control, one of those lovely gifts of the spirit, and against the oppression of women...

I have never had anything to do with HA or ATF, however, in college I was confronted by a roomate for wearing my purse strap accross my chest, and could never figure out where she had heard that (I am beginning to suspect where it came from). There were several reasons I found this suspect:

1. Seatbelts do exactly the same thing, and she didn't object to those, not even when I asked her at the same time she confronted me. She didn't really know what to do when I pointed that out.

2. After some serious skeletal/muscular issues in high school, I had been advised by my physical therapist that wearing my purse crossways causes less structural damage to my alignment than just resting it on one shoulder. It just didn't make sense that God would see something physically harmful to me as a modesty issue.

3. I have a model build and am very careful about my clothing, because if I'm not, I get alot of unwanted attention, while wearing clothing that others don't get attention in. I can't think of a single time that Hollywood or the non-christian guys around me have made any crude comments about purse straps accross the chest. I was at a secular college and the guys didn't hold back in terms of comments.

4. I had grown up with a father who had no problem telling me that he felt something was innappropriate. I knew that if I had told him that one, he would have rolled his eyes like he did several times before when I had mentioned "modesty rules." As far as he is concerned Christian guys have to live in the real world and Christian girls should be dressing in a manner that is modest, but doesn't require great feats, obscure rules, or looking obviously different than the rest of society. There are things that are intentionally provocative, sometimes even manipulative (yes I have seen that side of things), and things that are just the way God made women.

I just realized why I used to move my seat belt into an unsafe position so it wouldn't cross my chest.

Your experiences in the Honor Academy are so VERY similar to that of the Independent Fundamental Baptist circles.

Thank you for linking to my article.

I've been having a lot of thoughts recently about the evangelical community's discomfort with the physical body. Our bodies are so important to the way we perceive and interact with the world, and yet evangelical Christians view the body almost entirely as something to be hidden or ashamed of. Teen Mania is a perfect example of this.

Women are expected to cover their bodies or men will lust after them. However, we're also supposed to be thin, built, and attractive.

According to TM, to experience pain is to experience failure. To be sick is to fail. We should be able to overcome pain and illness, and if our bodies fail, we ourselves are considered to be failures.

Teen Mania's discomfort with the body is unsettling, and I am only recently coming to understand the extent of the problem.

Great comments all around.

Liz, you've made a very interesting connection there....I think you are on to something.

I wonder if The Honor Academy will have their female students wear full length burkas with the niquab to cover their faces, except their eyes? I wonder if this would cause some of the brothers to sin because they would have to imagine what i underneath the burka? Just a thought.

I dated a girl that came from a Pentecostal church and reading articles like this help me to understand why things didn't work out with her and I. She was so paranoid and uncomfortable around me when we dated, and it was probably because she was taught stuff like this about men. :(

Wow. Rape culture stuff right there. 'If he raped you, it's because you did something to cause him to sin!' *shudder* Like we're responsible for the thoughts/actions of others.

There are definitely men at HA who have gotten away with more than they should have because of this very thought pattern and culture.

I know of an HA Staff member who took advantage of women physically, and when confronted he blamed it on the women because he said it wasn't in his "nature" to do that, so obviously it was something they initiated and wanted.

Did I also mention that he frequented the only night club in Tyler and could be found stumbling out of the night club drunk just about every weekend?

last anon - nothing wrong with getting drunk at the ol' Tyler night clubs (in my opinion). But yes, men who blame women for their lust problems are sleezy. Worse, TM promotes this mindset.

I'm surprised that more people aren't outraged by this level of misogyny.

The worst thing about this teaching is how can women who believe it ever trust men? You are being taught that every man, even strong godly ones, is a sex maniac who will be unable to stop himself from taking advantage of you as soon as you wear your purse strap the wrong way!!! How can you ever believe a man truly cares about you if he is so filled with uncontrollable sexual desires? It also makes men seem less godly then women because they need women to help them control themselves!

It also sexualizes innocent things like the purse strap. I was hyper aware of anything that could possibly be construed immodest, which means I was putting sexual value on things that don't have sexual value in the "real." You had to wear a T-shirt over a modest one piece bathing suit, but guys got to run around shirtless. The lesson learned from this double standard is the fact I have a body is immodest. Healthy body image, fail!

Women are expected to be so self controlled we don't need men's help not to lust but they cannot stop themselves unless I'm extremely uncomfortable swimming in a huge T-shirt.

layne - I think the point may have been that TM staff members don't necessariliy follow their own rules.

I actually got this teaching pretty heavily at my own youth group - which is ironic since DH was my youth pastor's RA at ORU.

This was back in the 90s when all us girls wore overalls practically every day - but we were told once during a special "session" at summer camp that we had to be very careful about where the overall strap buttons hit us because if they were too low then the guys would imagine them as being n*pples. Lovely. There were so many whacky things told to us that day that afterwards the girls felt like the only thing we could do was to wear mu-mus everywhere we went.

So when I arrived at TM, I was already well-versed in the art of being overly modest. I look back at pictures of myself from that year and just laugh. If I wasn't in work attire, it was baggy jeans and big tshirts.

I even carried it over to my wedding, making sure that not a millimeter of cleavage was showing on me or my bridesmaids. Ridiculous!!

I still struggle with it to this day - my husband constantly teases me for wearing like 3 shirts layered on top of each other but something compels me to do it. I need to work on that...

Oops, last anon was me. I clicked the wrong thing.

Another problem with this is that when the guys in your life don't end up being crazed, you end up with an even worse body image! When I was in my first relationship, I always expected my boyfriend to be filled with all sorts of uncontrollable desires and /I/ was going to have to be the one to keep the relationship "pure." Come to find out that my boyfriend actually is a mature man with self-control, but it made me feel very unattractive for awhile and even try to provoke this kind of attention from him!

reluctant-intern: "...afterwards the girls felt like the only thing we could do was to wear mu-mus everywhere we went."

I don't know, I can make a mu-mu look pretty darn sexy ^_~

Haha! I was raised to dress modestly, HA took it to the next level. I was so ashamed of my body. But the truth? I have an almost perfect body! I am a beautiful girl! I do wear "short" skirts and tube tops and two piece swimsuits. Ya know what? No one stares at me, no one confronts me. No one has sexually attacked me... Sooo... I agree with not showing off everything you have, but that doesn't mean you should be ashamed or try to hide your body like there is something wrong with it.. God created us to be beautiful. He built us with boobs, and waists, and butts!

"God created us to be beautiful. He built us with boobs, and waists, and butts!"

Haha, yes. This is true... but this thinking can be extended... God created sex. He made it freaking awesome. You won't catch me doing it in public. Haha. I'm not ashamed of my body... even after two kids and the changes that brings... I still go with it. And with my husband... there is no secrecy or embarrassment. But... meh. It's not for everyone to see. The world couldn't handle this much hotness (just kidding...................)

Don't get me wrong... when I get dressed in the morning, I wear clothes that are flattering and make me feel attractive... but I try to avoid wearing things that accentuate my glorious bits. I don't think that all men are sex-addicts and perverts. I'm not vainly thinking that all eyes will be on me due to my sexy clothing. I just don't think it's appropriate outside of my bedroom.

At the root of the issue is... who does your body belong to? If it's your body... you can do whatever you want. If it belongs to Christ... well, that changes things.

I have daughters. It will never be about hiding their bodies because they should be ashamed. I want them to exude confidence, knowing that they are beautifully made.

I think wearing "short" skirts and tube tops and two piece swimsuits is less about confidence and an absence of shame... and more about buying into cultural standards.

I really try to avoid being legalistic as a rule. And I'm not a judgmental prat. But I don't like the idea that a woman's only reason to be modest is that she is ashamed of her body. I'd counter that idea with the idea that a woman who has a full and healthy appreciation for her body would show appropriate restraint.

J - I'm going to disagree with you on this. I'd say that this subject is far more complex than black and white, modest v immodest, showing skin v not showing skin or even showing restraint=healthy v not showing restraint=giving in to cultural standards.

I like to keep covered a bit but not really cause of shame. I have lots of friends who wear low cut shirt and literally spill out when the sit..

My mom is very conservative by nature and she told me that sometimes she likes to know that there are parts of her that only my dad gets to see and that makes both of them feel special. This spilled on to me, I tend to wear modest tops. I like knowing that my bits are for my husband. Lol

Also, I don't think that modest clothes necessarily mean that guys wont lust after you. I've gotten hit on wearing a sweatshirt and baggy pants and no makeup. Guy are guys and its up to them to keep their own hearts and minds pure no matter where they are...and good luck to them on that! Lol

Layne, I definitely don't want to insinuate that it's black and white. I agree with you there. I think I very easily fell into a "black and white" stereotype as a counter to the previous poster's black and white "modesty is for those who feel shame.

I normally avoid the modesty debate... but as a sexually confident woman... something about her comment didn't sit right with me.

Truthinlove... YES. Though if you were wearing a sweathshirt and baggy pants and got hit on... I'm sure it was still your fault somehow (riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight).

I believe that we should not blame women when it comes to men's lust. I also believe that sex is not the problem (lust is).

Dude... I never had any issues with the ACTUAL dress code while I was at the HA. The unfortunate result of a system where peers hold each other accountable (which I'm not bashing, btw... I think it's a good system for the most part), is that the interns who are prone to being opinionated use it as an excuse to force their personal convictions on everyone else. If I had been the girl who was confronted for wearing the skirt with the slit only up to the knee, I would have knelt down and had my CA do the length check that is used for every other skirt. If the slit didn't go above what was stated in the rule book, I would wear it and use the very dress code as my defense. I think the initial dress code that is in place is perfectly reasonable. I understand that there are a lot of men who are highly visual, and as my brothers, I would never want to do anything that might cause them to stumble while in the internship. After all, they were there for the same reason I was, and I wouldn't want them doing anything that might make me stumble either. But individuals tend to take things too far, viewing what is merely a rule as a way of life. The danger in an environment like TM is that people feed off of each other making trends spread like wild-fire. Many times these trends start out as one person's opinion, but as they spread they get twisted and people start to view them as hard biblical truth, which they simply aren't.

I went to ORU, ATF and TM... I heard Gary Smalley speak to a group of men in Boulder CO a few years ago about his struggle with lust. Some men struggle more than others and they build doctrine on it and followers alter their lives in extreme ways. There was a famous monk that tried an extreme behavior to move to the desert away from women flee from lust. However he found even there.. Alone.. He
found a way to lust. Lust is a matter of the heart... Yes men are visual.. But it's the heart and women aren't to blame.

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