There is an issue close to my heart which I don’t talk about much.
It’s young men in the Church today.
While I’m deeply thankful for all that has been done over the past fifty years or so to affirm the dignity of women, I am ashamed and concerned at the way men, particularly young men, are treated both in society and within the Church.
What have recent popes and magisterial teachings done to address the nature of man and masculinity? How would the men of our parishes and in our pews be different today if John Paul had written the encyclical, say, On The Dignity of Man—Viri Dignitatem? How would men today be more able to live out their own unique discipleship and role in both the world, and in the Church, if we were able to articulate how men embody the Christian vocation to holiness in exclusive and particular ways?
There can be no New Evangelization unless there is a New Emangelization, creating generations of Catholic men who are on fire for Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.
But what can ordinary Christian women do? Obviously, we can’t just write an encyclical…
I believe that as young women we can help foster a culture that honours men as men. This doesn’t mean fawning over or kowtowing to guys simply for being male. It does mean finding godly ways to affirm the goodness of masculinity and the inherent dignity of every man as a son of God.
But I don’t want to assume I know what that looks like or how to do that. (Wanting to do something is very different to knowing how to do something!)
I want to know what young Christian men actually think and what is actually helpful. If you’re a Christian male aged 18 – 35, please consider taking this survey.
A young man recently emailed this question in to the Ask Pastor John podcast:
Pastor John, I want to propose to my girlfriend, and as I prepare for marriage thoughts of my past mistakes come to mind. I think back to women I slept with before I was saved, and mistakes I made with my current girlfriend who I will, Lord willing, marry. People often speak of the purity to be saved for marriage, and how terrible it is to squander that. What truths do you have to share with a man or woman such as myself, struggling with regret related to past sexual mistakes and their current consequences in the context of marriage and engagement?
In all my years I have seen nothing come close to the visual beauty of the female form… not the Grand Canyon, an Irish castle, a Ferrari F50, or a bald eagle with a butterfly halo riding a gazelle through a vast meadow of lilies at dawn (although tweeting that pic would certainly get more likes than my sister’s last bathroom selfie).
It’s safe to say that most guys feel the same way. You women are so breathtakingly beautiful that it can be very difficult to pay attention to anything else when you’re in the general vicinity. I once slammed my car into the garage door because I was mindlessly gazing at my beautiful neighbor on her mountain bike.
Is that clear enough ladies? You’re beautiful.
BEAUTY IS POWER
It is commonly known that, on average, guys are more easily visually stimulated than women. And if a woman provides the pinnacle of visual stimulation for us guys, it’s easy to see just how much power you ladies actually posses.
Physically beauty is a powerful force. But with great power comes… great responsibility (and another irresponsible Spiderman sequel).
That’s where modesty comes into play.
Because of our fallen and sinful nature, bodily beauty and lust often get intertwined in the male mind. This means that women have the power to make men weak. While this may be an exciting idea for woman in a male-dominated society, a weak man is not a Godly man. A weak man does not make a good leader, husband, father, or priest. The world needs strong, virtuous men. And while us men must cultivate our own virtue, woman have so much power to help us along by practicing modesty.
KNOWLEDGE LEADS TO VIRTUE
All men and women should dress and conduct themselves with modesty because, most importantly, modesty reflects the dignity of person who is created and loved by God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man.” (CCC 2524)
But that doesn’t mean modesty is easy or alluring in our hyper-sexualized culture.
Sister Helena Burns writes: “Men’s temptation is to lust after women, and women’s temptation is to want to/let themselves be lusted after.” This is a simple, but profound, truth. And it means that women can be drawn to dress immodestly to receive wrongful attention; and men can be drawn to encourage this to receive wrongful gratification.
If men and women are acutely aware of our inherent weaknesses, we can not only help ourselves, but also help each other in love. In fact, we have a Christian duty to lead each other to greater virtue. Real love cares about the eternal destiny of our neighbor, so real love encourages the practice of virtue to keep each other on the path to Heaven.
Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Christ made the ultimate sacrifice of love for His friends by dying on the cross, but we can “lay down our lives” for others in smaller ways by giving up comforts, conveniences, time, money, and even the latest fashion trends.
“Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.” (CCC 2523)
SERIOUSLY, MEN NEED SOME HELP
For many guys, modesty can be the difference between thinking, “wow, she looks amazing right now” and, “wow, I want to see her wearing nothing.” As a woman, how would you rather have a man view you?
But let me be clear that women are not responsible for the sexual sins of men. All women deserve to be treated with love and respect no matter how they dress or act because they are daughters of God. A woman can tempt a man, certainly, but if that man sins it’s his fault and responsibility.
That being said, I want to love the women in my life well enough to lead them to greater virtue. And I hope the women in my life would love me enough to lead me to greater virtue as well.
Knowing that us guys are weak, and choosing to love us, means being conscious of your beauty’s tremendous power in our fallen world. Asking the simple question, “am I helping the men in my life by how I’m dressed today?” could do a lot of good in helping both sexes grow in virtue.
Men, we should be asking that question daily about the women in our lives as well – and also include speech, and action. Because modesty is not just about clothing:
“Modesty is decency… It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.” (CCC 2522)
Living a virtuous life is not easy, and we can all use a little help for our fellow brothers and sisters. Ladies, you have the power to help us become better, more virtuous men… even if you can’t save us from denting garage doors.
What can i respond when my friends ask me why I don't use a bikini? Like I don't use one because I want to be modest but I want to have an awesome answer that will make them question why THEY wear one. Thankyou for your help!
Chastity Project has some great articles that say it better than I could! Additionally, here is a great video from Jessica Rey on the history of the bikini… very thought provoking! God bless and good luck :)
A few years ago, I ran a period drama blog - “Enchanted Serenity" it was called. It was a wonderful experience to be able to share my love of period film and my fascination for eras gone by and for the wonderful fashion that was part of each historic period. One…
The Guy You Date: Thinks about what you have to offer him. He loves you because you give him your undivided time and attention, you’re attractive, and you share common interests and hobbies like playing tennis or obsessing over Fall Out Boy. He is hoping you will be a good match for him.
The Guy You Marry: Thinks about what he has to offer you. He loves you because of who you are- he appreciates your quirks, your flaws and strange sense of humor, the way you snort when you laugh and read Charles Dickens every winter, and everything he’s come to know about you. He is hoping he will be a good husband for you.
The Guy You Date: Is quick to become jealous when you’re around other guys. He gets angry easily, which often ends up in long, petty arguments. He is possessive over your time, and although that can be cute at times, it can also become just downright annoying.
The Guy You Marry: Places his trust in you, and gives you the benefit of the doubt. He tries to understand your point of view before asserting his own, and is willing to give you space when you need it. He is always open to talking things out, and continues to exercise patience that you may not always deserve.
The Guy You Date: The guy you wear make-up for. You spend hours preparing for a date because you want to impress him. You want him to think you are pretty and you hope he will give you a kiss at the end of the night, reminding you that he’s yours.
The Guy You Marry: The guy who you are no longer self-conscious around. He tells you that you are beautiful with or without makeup, because he loves you for your heart, mind, and soul. You don’t need his kiss to affirm his affection, but he gives you one anyways, which still sends butterflies fluttering around inside your stomach.
The Guy You Date: He’s a mystery. You like that he is a puzzle for you to solve, and you try to be enigmatic around him as well to keep him interested. You’re afraid that eventually, you may grow bored of each other.
The Guy You Marry: You know him like the back of your hand. You let down your guard around him because you feel comfortable with revealing all your secrets to him. Although there are times when you are bored out of your minds together, you are still happy just to be in each other’s company.
The Guy You Date: The guy you have fun with; the guy you are with because you have feelings for him.
The Guy You Marry: The guy you have fun with, but also cry with, laugh with, fight with, love with, and will be with for the rest of your life. You have feelings for him, but you are not with him solely because of your emotions. You are with him because you will love him apart from how tired, depressed, or angry you feel. He understands that loving you denotes sacrificing his time, energy, and other aspirations, and is still more than willing to make the commitment. He loves you not with a selfish or envious love, but with a patient, enduring, humble, faithful and selfless one.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “
“Can I say something to young ladies here? I’m trying to pick my words carefully here. Your husband, whoever he is, single ladies, will have an unbelievable amount of influence over your sons and daughters in regards to spiritual things. If you want your children to love Jesus deeply, hold out for a man that is Godly. And let me tell you this: I am well aware that Godly men are rare. Lots of neat Christian boys, not a lot of Godly men. And we’re working our tails off for you to try to develop some into that. But don’t settle, because it’s better that you be lonely now than you be married and lonely later. Are you tracking with me? It is better that you be lonely now than for you to get married to a man that will teach your kids everything but the way of Jesus.”—Matt Chandler (via amandaandinteriors)
Marrying young is not the end of my freedom. It means I want to travel and see the world, but with her by my side. It means I still like drinking in bars and dancing in clubs, but stumbling home with her at 2am and eating pizza in our underwear. It means I know that I want to kiss those lips every morning, and every night before bed. If you see marriage as the end of your ‘freedom’, you’re doing it wrong.
“Love is not a bargain, but unconditional giving; it is not an investment, but a commitment come what may. Lovers are people who exceed their duty, who look around for ways to do more than is required of them. If you love your job, you don’t just do the minimum that is required; you do more. If you love your children, what would you not do for them? If a wife asks a husband to do her a favor, and he declines on the grounds that he is really not duty bound by the strict terms of the marriage contract to do it, that marriage is all over except for the paper work. Rather than rigorously defending their rights, lovers readily put themselves in the wrong and take the blame for the sake of preserving their love. Love, St. Paul said in his stunning hymn to love, is patient, kind, not puffed up or boastful; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (I Cor. 13). A world without love is a world governed by rigid contracts and inexorable duties, a world in which – God forbid! – the lawyers run everything. The mark of really loving someone or something is unconditionality and excess, engagement and commitment, fire and passion. Its opposite is a mediocre fellow, neither hot nor cold, moderate to the point of mediocrity. Not worth saving. No salt.”—John Caputo (via bemusedbibliophile)
The priesthood seems foreign to our postmodern world. In a culture obsessed with sex, celibacy seems strange. In a culture of “independence,” obedience seems a burden. And in a self-centered culture, in which self-fulfillment is deified and worshiped, a life of radical charity seems impossible and naïve.
The priest is a sign of contradiction, a living witness to the love of Christ himself.