Bikinis are not the problem…

Over the past couple of weeks I have seen a couple of blog posts on various Christian websites attacking the bikini. Posts urging girls to avoid wearing bikinis when they go to the beach at the summer, as otherwise guys won’t be able to resist the temptation to lust. I want to take a different angle. I want to suggest that bikinis are not the problem.

I mean, it is a bit crazy when you think about it. If the solution to prevent guys lusting is a less revealing swimsuit, then what makes a one piece swimsuit ok? Speaking as a guy, I have seen people wear both one piece swimsuits and bikinis, with the only real exception being that one piece swimsuits cover the abdomen area. They both cling to the same curves. But if keeping the abdomen covered is going to stop guys lusting, why stop there? Why not cover the arms and legs too? And why stop there? Why not have segregated beaches, so that guys don’t even have to see girl’s faces at the beach. If you really want to cut out lust you’d buy in to that, right?

You see I think the bikini haters, while good minded and well intended, are approaching things wrong. Surely if the problem is guys being tempted to lust, the answer isn’t to force girls to cover up more (as that starts a slippery slope that ends in a burqa). Surely the answer is to address the heart of the issue, which, I believe, is the heart.

We live in a society that tells us the sole reason that God created woman was to be eye candy (actually, that isn’t strictly true, we live in a society that tells us women evolved from monkeys to be eye candy, but that is a matter for another day…). We live in a society in which guys are told to expect, even demand, bodily perfection from women. A society where sexy is used as a sales tactic. A society in which peer pressure and apps like snapchat encourage the spread of intimate photos as part of a normal dating relationship. We live in a society that puts absolutely no value on purity. Many of the most popular movies and songs take the attitude that girls are second rate, and only exist for guys’ enjoyment, to pleasure men. And in the midst of this we expect Christian guys to remain pure, to “Fix [our] thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. [To] think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Phil 4:8. An impossible task, right?

Jesus had this saying for impossible tasks. In Matthew 19:26 he tells the disciples “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” With God, everything is possible. Everything. Even purity of thought. Even avoidance of lust.

In Galatians 5 Paul talks about the battle for control of our lives. There is a struggle going on between our old sinful nature, and the Holy Spirit. When we let our sinful nature control our lives the following evil results are present – “sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure” (Gal 5:19). “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). For Paul, purity isn’t a matter of what your eye sees. Purity is a matter of who is controlling your heart.

If we want to avoid impure thoughts, if we want to “run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22), the answer isn’t demanding girls cover up more. Because that just addresses the immediate cause of the temptation, not the core root. The quest for purity goes deeper than surface level swimwear. It is a battle that needs to be waged in our hearts. We need to surrender to the Holy Spirit. We need to let Him control our hearts, and fill us with new desires. Desires for purity rather than lustful pleasures. As Paul continues in verses 24-25 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

This summer, let’s not blame the bikini when we find ourselves caught up in lustful thoughts. Let’s look to the deeper problem, the heart issue, and focus on addressing that, through prayer and absolute surrender to the Holy Spirit’s power and control. And as lust isn’t just a Y chromosome issue, girls – please follow Paul’s advice too. And you never know – when you have surrender to the Holy Spirit’s control you may even find you no longer wish to wear a bikini to the beach…

Learn more the author of this post:

Pete McM

The original founder of All4God, Pete is 26, lives in Northern Ireland, is a junior doctor, Ulster fan and is passionate about Jesus

  • Tired

    Can we PLEASE stop pretending that lust is something only guys struggle with? Girls do just as much, would have liked to have read a more balanced article.

    • http://www.all4God.co.uk Peter McM

      tried to address that point in the final paragraph, writing as a guy I am not at all experienced in the area of girl lust so it isn’t something I feel overly qualified to speak into. And while I don’t deny girls struggle with lust too, biological wiring means visual stuff is more of a stimulus for guys whereas it is emotional stuff that tends (note the use of the word ‘tends’) to be the bigger (but not only) trigger for girls.

  • Tired

    Can we PLEASE stop pretending that lust is something only guys struggle with? Girls do just as much, would have liked to have read a more balanced article.

    • http://www.all4God.co.uk Peter McM

      tried to address that point in the final paragraph, writing as a guy I am not at all experienced in the area of girl lust so it isn’t something I feel overly qualified to speak into. And while I don’t deny girls struggle with lust too, biological wiring means visual stuff is more of a stimulus for guys whereas it is emotional stuff that tends (note the use of the word ‘tends’) to be the bigger (but not only) trigger for girls.

  • rachael

    well-written response to a video i took exception to earlier this week, which basically stated that women should be basing their whole decision-making process about how they dress around the male gaze.

    as you rightly state, to simply accept that it’s a fact of life and “work around” the problem isn’t right. re the idea that bikinis inspire men to view women as objects – clearly men are the problem here! surely in this case the focus should be on gender equality education / trying to change male perceptions / i don’t know, rather than just excusing men from any responsibility because “it’s their instincts”.

  • rachael

    well-written response to a video i took exception to earlier this week, which basically stated that women should be basing their whole decision-making process about how they dress around the male gaze.

    as you rightly state, to simply accept that it’s a fact of life and “work around” the problem isn’t right. re the idea that bikinis inspire men to view women as objects – clearly men are the problem here! surely in this case the focus should be on gender equality education / trying to change male perceptions / i don’t know, rather than just excusing men from any responsibility because “it’s their instincts”.

    • Olga

      It’s not right to think that it’s only men’s problem and women can wear what they want. Read this “But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea.Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh!” Matthew 18:6-7

      And both genders must “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” Php 4:8

      and finally both genders must “Have this mind …., which was also in Christ Jesus” Php.2:5