“Things I learned watching the #VMAs2013: If the goal is to not look creepy onstage w/ an underage twerker, a striped suit is not your friend.”—James Van Der Beek
“I will always have this version of Miley. Let's live in the past and heal.”—Judd Apatow
“Poor Billy Ray …”—Andy Roddick
“Officially diagnosed with PTSD after watching Miley's tongue wiggle waggle. #ThanksALot”—Adira Amram

These are just some of the tweets that went out over the twittersphere when Miley Cyrus performed with Robin Thicke at MTV's Video Music Awards this past summer. I think we are all a little shocked at what Hannah Montana has grown into, but then again, our kids have been exposed to the MTV culture for so long now. Why are we surprised?

Then there was the blog post on GivenBreath.com by Kim Hall of Austin, Texas, that went viral and was shared more than 10,000 times. Her piece asked girls to watch what they were wearing when they posted on Facebook or she'd make her sons unfriend them. She writes, “If you think you've made an online mistake … RUN to your accounts and take down the closed-door bedroom selfies that make it too easy for friends to see you in only one dimension.” Hall seemed to put the onus squarely on the girls for what they were wearing and how it affected her sons and their ability to keep their thoughts pure.

In response, RedLetterChristians.org author Kristen Howerton wrote that, while she sympathized with Hall, she clearly felt her perspective came from a place of fear and anxiety. She also suggested Hall's boys were themselves responsible for any stray thoughts they might have had after seeing a scantily clad girl. Read the post here.

Sometimes I wonder how I'm going to sort through the messages that are out there and help guide my boys to grow into men. There's a lot of pressure in the Christian community for girls to be modest. As the mother of two daughters, I understand how it feels when too much skin is showing and the urge to tell them to cover it up is so strong. Trust me, it doesn't change even when they're grown and married.

I want to make sure that my boys don't grow up to objectify women. How do I do that?

First, keeping the lines of communication open and having honest conversations with them is important. When we hear statements about girls that place blame on them, we can challenge that and remind our sons that what they think when they see a girl is their responsibility.

Second, we need to make sure we challenge what our teens are watching on television and in movies. When we see women being objectified, we need to caution our children and change the channel. At the very least, we need to have a conversation about what we saw, what was wrong about it and question whether we should have watched it.

What we say to girls about this issue also has great importance. While I don't want my girls wearing skimpy clothes, that's because I'm a protective parent. I know not every parent of every boy is teaching their son not to ogle my daughters.

However, making rules about what girls can wear in certain situations shames the girls. It forces them to subordinate their preferences to the unhealthy thoughts of men and boys.

For example, girls who attend a Christian camp may see a sign that says “No Bikinis.” But at a public beach, you'll see girls in bikinis all the time. Why is it out of context to wear a bikini to a swimming pool in a Christian camp? Though you wouldn't wear a bikini to a mall to go shopping, wearing one to the beach or a swimming pool is in context—it's for swimming and sunbathing.

How do we follow God's teachings and live holy lives in a world saturated with unholiness? The most important thing is to bring Jesus into the conversation in a natural way. If we're keeping God at the centre of our lives and bringing our uncertainties before him in prayer together with our children, he'll help guide them through the tumultuous teen years.

Major Kathie Chiu is the executive director of Victoria's Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre.

(Photo: © Shutterstock.com/solominviktor)


On Monday, December 2, 2013, Donald adams said:

I agree whole heart with the above as my dad was a minister .Yet had close friends in the Salvation Army .
No better way then tell the of GOD'S correct ways to act and above dress just ask any officer or
trust Christian friend and they will help you .

On Wednesday, November 27, 2013, D Jefcoat said:

I know of a situation in a Church where the teen girls were creating quite a stir based on how they dressed. They were the object of many men's conversations and glances. It was getting pathetic. I as the children's worker could at time address the youth group. So I pulled the pastor into a youth meeting and addressed the girls. The typical defenses arose: "They shouldn't be looking at us", "Its our business what we wear" So I simply said wrong ladies when you come out of your home and join the public what you say, wear, and do is public. When you come to church dressing like a cheep tramp the men see this and that's all they think of you. But if you respect yourself you wont want these men thinking less of you, If you think about the men you wont want them sinning in their hearts. How would you ladies feel If I came to church with short shorts, mini tops/skirts. After our little talk The girls realized what I was saying, that I wanted them to be treated like they deserved. I think all people should dress with some modesty and decorum. I don't like seeing men running around half naked either. I have made a point of ensuring that I wear decent clothes, that my shorts are at least knee length, that my t-shirts are not tight, and my white shirts are thick enough to not be see through. I don't run around my home topless. Why? Because I hold to this position. Yes this body is mine, it belongs to me BUT people can see me I am not invisible and I need to respect them as well. I teach my congregation this also. I don't care if girls wear dresses or jeans, I don't care if people wear suits or sweat clothes. Just be respectful of others as well as your self.

On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, Simon in London said:

A bikini is not a swimsuit, it's fashion wear, designed to look alluring. And no, men and boys do not have full control of what they think when they see an underdressed woman; it's partly hardwired in. They do have control of how they *act*- apart from the momentary 'brain freeze', which has caused accidents eg sexy billboard images causing car crashes.
If you don't want to encourage a sexualised atmosphere, 'no bikinis' is a sensible policy. And, people are responsible for how they dress. So are their parents.

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