One afternoon just after I became a new mom, I was visiting a friend. Laura, her five-year-old son, and I were watching a home improvement show, when a commercial came on. A woman in a bikini came on the screen. The son sweetly looked at his mother and smiled. They exchanged a loving look, and then the commercial was over. He looked back at the screen and it was as though nothing happened. I sat in awe.
Later I asked Laura to explain the situation to me. Basically she had taught her son that if he ever saw a woman who was not properly dressed, he should look away and give her privacy. I tucked this nugget of gold away for when my newborn son grew up. Well, a few years later I have three sons, and I am forever grateful to Laura for this tip. Using her example, I have simply told Lincoln, “Please look away, she needs privacy.” He is developing a wonderful practice of protecting his eyes. Occasionally we will be in the grocery store and he will look up at me with his big eyes and say, “Mom, does that lady need privacy?” I will bend down and kindly respond, encouraging his wisdom. I love that he is engaging me in the discussion. At some point, Travis will explain to our sons that God has a wonderful gift for us. In the context of marriage, this “privacy” will be celebrated. Because we are not shaming our sons on this topic, they will not be confused on God’s intent for the context of this gift.
In this day and age it is hard to know if we should even take our children to shopping malls anymore. How do we escape the larger than life photos of women in their undergarments? We have chosen to park at entrances that avoid these stores, but the photos are coming at them from so many sources; we can’t just ignore the topic. At some point we need to train them to win this war. They’ll have a much better chance at winning if they learn godly habits as young children. It is risky to wait to teach them anything about modesty until they are in high school. Don’t misunderstand me--we are not getting into all the details while they are this young, we are just beginning the training. Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” This ensures me that God is calling young men to enter this training.
I love that this method teaches children to have great respect for the way God made women. Perhaps the woman doesn’t know she needs privacy. That’s okay. As believers, we know she does and we will honor God’s creation of her and look away. That lesson will never grow old. Ashamedly, I must admit that for a season in my life, I did not respect myself as God created me. I was a teenager with quite serious acne, and a tiny waist, and I showed my midriff as a way to distract from the flaws I couldn’t fix. Honestly, never for one second did I intend to make someone stumble. I was horrified the first time someone explained the possible consequences of my choice. I share this because I know there are many young women out there starving for attention, and they are seeking it in unhealthy ways. I want my sons to know those ladies are valued by their Creator, and to value them by turning away their eyes. There will come a day when my three boys will begin looking for a spouse. I pray that each of them see the beauty of a pure heart, and are not distracted by a scantily clad female. (For older sons, going through the book of Proverbs — specifically studying the types of women the Bible warns about in chapters 5 and 7 — could be a powerful lesson!) Entering this training when they are young is a wonderful blessing and opportunity.