rebelling against low expectations

(Mis)Interpreting The Modesty Survey


This is just a quick post to clarify several confusing issues that may have been misunderstood by a small number of our audience:

1.) The statements that compose the survey are not “our” statements or the survey results. They were submitted (as questions) by 215 girls from around the world.

2.) Whether a statement calls something modest, immodest, or “a stumbling block” does not necessarily reflect the view of the girl who submitted the question or the view of and the survey team. It is only designed to elicit an agreement or disagreement on the part of the participants.

Please refrain from judging the modesty survey based on the statements the participants are evaluating, since they give little indication of the actual results of the survey.

3.) The survey results (which are not yet available in any form) are not laws. We expect young people to make intelligent, loving, and responsible choices. To equip them to do so, we’re simply facilitating a discussion. No one controls how the guys respond to the different statements and none of the statements have complete agreement or disagreement.

Participants have complete control to agree or disagree (even strongly) with any statement. They also have the option to remain neutral on any of the questions posed. Finally, they can offer as much explanation and clarification to their answer in a text box below, even after they have submitted their response.


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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • I think that this talk about modesty has really gone too far. It’s not as complicated as some seem to make it. I’d like to address some things.

    1. If you’re born again, you ought to know that we are not to be stumbling blocks to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
    2. We obviously know what is provocative and what isn’t, this is not hard. TV is a good example, if you’re wondering if what you’re wearing is provocative, turn it on. If you look like them you’re probably dressing provocatively. I say this in humor but in all seriousness, it isn’t hard to figure out.

    If you’re searching for the heart of God, then you will know what you ought to do, and you will want to do it, because you will want to please Him. Don’t make it so difficult. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16

  • I think it will be useful to see what guys consider to be modest/immodest – sometimes it’s amazing how differently guys and girls can think. But I think Megan has a point too. Many times we girls dress in a certain way because it does draw attention to ourselves. We like to feel attractive, even if we would never take to its fullest extent the statement our clothing makes. I know I’ve been guilty of hardening my heart and thinking “I don’t care”, only to regret that choice later.

    It doesn’t need to become an issue over which we obsess, or become paranoid. To some extent things will vary from guy to guy (and girl to girl!) as to what is a problem and what is not. We need to be responsible to one another but also to God over our thought life. Let’s keep our clothing as a celebration of the goodness of God, so that we can enjoy each others’ company as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

  • I think alot of the survey was really great/ insightfull. But I saw alot of inconsistancies. For instance: Girls should NEVER show cleavege vs. Cleavege is ok with a swimsuit. I know it’s alot of different guys sumbitting their opionions, but it seems a little unclear at times. Will there be percentages included in the final survey results?

  • Good point Megan. I heartily agree with what you wrote. We know that there are certain things that we ARE to do- and we know that there are certain things that we are NOT to do. We who are believers have been given the Holy Spirit, He will guide us into ALL truth. (John 16:13) I believe that He will show us what is inappropriate- and what is appropriate. Perhaps by drawing lines in the sand, so to speak- we can begin to live in bondage, therefore not follow the Spirit- rather rules. If you see what I’m saying- the crux here is that we need to follow the HOLY SPIRIT – not the whims of people, who, as we know- are unholy. (Rom 3:10-18)

    I firmly believe in true modesty both for men and women. Yet I still think that there comes a point in time that we need to keep our standard of modesty strictly to what the Lord has prescribed- and just follow God- despite the majority. As if there was not enough in scripture already on this issue- why add to what the Lord has said?

    As Paul said, “I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “Do not covet.” (Rom 7:7) By thinking about and analyzing this issue too much, we can begin to make law out of, and complicate an issue that should be very simple.
    It may be that after someone finishes this survey they will be exposed to “covetousness”, so to speak- that they obviously disagreed with before, but now they will begin to notice things that make them “covet”, that before they were not necessarily as aware of. Put differently, we can know that something is wrong and disagree, and not know all the details. But why go into details that may expose the reader to things that aren’t edifying to the reader- for the purpose of getting the reader to admit he disagrees with it?

    As we can see from scripture- the law is made for the lawless. 1 Timothy 1:9
    “Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane…” So why make law- unless we’re lawless?

    I sure think that the motives and heart behind this survey is right- however, sometimes the end is greater than the means. God bless you guys! I have a tendency to come across bold sometimes, but trust me, it’s in love.

    In His grip,


  • Thank you both, Paul and Megan, for your input. Perhaps I can clarify the purpose of the survey a bit, as well as how we see it being used. Our reason for conducting an anonymous discussion on modesty is found in Romans 14, where it reads:

    Verse 13: “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”

    Verse 20: “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.”

    Verse 21: “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”

    The purpose of the Modesty Survey is not to create the “laws of modesty,” but to help Christian girls who desire to protect their brothers in Christ. Some girls have brothers and fathers who assist them in this way, but many more do not. This survey is especially intended to help those girls.

    There is more that could be said, but I trust this is enough for now. We are not replacing love with law. Rather, we are facilitating love through a godly, safe discussion. God gives us the Holy Spirit, but He also gives us pastors, teachers, books, parents, and one another. They are all means of His grace.

  • Thank you Alex for responding and giving me some more insight as to why you are doing the survey.

    I understand that some girls really are clueless when it comes to modesty if they have no father-figure or older male who can guide them. If I didn’t have a dad I probably would be one of those girls.

    Since you aren’t using this as a basis for some kind of Christian law, that dispels some of my misunderstanding.

    God does give us pastors, teachers, parents and the like, but doesn’t the Holy Spirit take preeminence over all those mentioned? There can be false teachers, pastors, and wrong teachings in books. But the Holy Spirit never lies, and never goes against scripture, because the Word and the Spirit are truth: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 And 1 John 5:6-9 says: “[i]And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.[/i] For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. [i]We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son[/i].”

  • The truth is that many girls, in the past myself included, simply do not get the way guys see things. God hardwired us differently and often times we think we are wearing a really ‘cute’ or ‘attractive’ outfit and that is truly all we see. That same outfit can, however, have an entirely different impact on the men around us. Not until God brought a man into my life who was candid with me (and is a wonderful husband and father) did I even begin to realize how some of my choices in clothing, behavior, etc. were unkowingly tempting the men I came into contact with. None of us have arrived at the place where we simply have no room for growth in insight and the only way to really know what men think is for them to tell us. Since all of these questions came from girls, obviously they all deal with areas that are not clear to at least some people. We can’t all be in the same place at the same time and are not all blessed with strong Godly leadership and counsel from those around us. This is something that should be taken in the spirit that induced it and not viewed as a personal attack. It was obviously intended to help girls better understand a manly perspective and the truly wise woman will realize we always have more to learn.

    My family is very thankful for this opportunity. My eldest son is in the midst of answering the survey and didn’t even get half way through it before letting his sister know that she really ought to read the answers all the guys shared as they would really help her understand many things so much better.

  • Thanks for clarifying!!!
    I too took a look at the statements and was left scratching my head at the apparent contradictions. This is going to be really helpful. 🙂 Thanks for doing this!!!

  • I have a statistics question: where are you getting your respondents from? Is it just anyone who happens to sign up? If so, how can you use this survey to generate any meaningful results without a random sample?

  • The survey is awesome. At first I was a little confused, but this post helped to clear up some questions I had. Thank you guys!

  • I must say, as considerably as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a good grasp around the topic matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from much more than one angle. Or maybe you shouldnt generalise so a lot. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just going for a gut reaction to the subject. Think about adjusting your own believed process and giving others who may read this the benefit of the gold

  • Thanx Rudedog , I think the problem seems to be with the black seal’s in the elbows, and also the fact that I used a saw instead of a pipe cutter, it means the end of my pipes are a bit course and jagged, I think I need to get back to the drawing board !!

rebelling against low expectations

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