modesty, arrogantly trying to force an erroneous world view, upon LDS doctrine and make a sow's ear out of a silk purse.
It should be clear to both the spiritually enlightened and the intellectually honest, that Elder Callister was not advocating anything even close to the false doctrine that how a woman dresses, might justify her becoming a victim of rape or any other assault or sin. That huge and twisted leap, that intellectually dishonest claim, perpetrated by the so called psychologists, indicates much more about their own
lack of spiritual understanding, than it does anything about Elder Callister or the Church.
Here is the true doctrine with regard to modest dress. I am focusing mainly on the dress of Young Women for reasons that will be clear, but I acknowledge here that the standard of modest dress applies equally to both men and women, as do the reasons that young women and young men must choose modesty.
1. It is an undeniable truth that how a person dresses, affects both themselves and others who see them. The natural man is part of the makeup of all humans, and while it is also true that it is our quest in this life to overcome that natural man, who is and always will be an enemy to God, it is similarly the case that such action is a demanding and difficult pursuit. One in which as brothers and sisters we must do all we can to help each other. The subtle irony in all this is that it truly is those men and women who purposely choose to dress immodestly, that are actually surrendering to the natural man within themselves, giving in to narcissism without care for the possible consequences to others that their choices might bring.
2. It is also an indisputable fact that most Young Men who reach puberty are wired to be attracted to the female form. (The exceptions to this fact are not young men who somehow are super moral young men, who just immediately overcome the natural man without trial or test, but rather an acknowledgment that there are some whose attractions are to the same gender, which is also a
difficult thing for them to fight against.) What's more Satan waits with delight for that time of physical change in our young men, because he knows how powerful the sex drive is and how much of a struggle it can become for Young Men to overcome it, to master it. It is not just evil thoughts and where those thoughts may lead, that are challenging for our young men, but it is also the fact that immodest appearance has a direct and physiological effect on them, which then increases the drive and thus the difficulties they face in controlling it. (See "To Young Men Only," by Elder
Many of those who are critical of standards of modesty seem to want to turn a blind eye to the truth. It seems as if they think that the massive popularity of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition is mere innocent human fascination with swimwear. Worse, they seem ignorant to the fact that pornography,(the ultimate immodesty) is based in and thrives on the same lusts of the natural man. It is ubiquitous and destructive to far too many of God's children, some of whom were exposed to it while extremely vulnerable and in their tender years. How foolish it would be to seek to absolve the pornographers, porn actors/actresses, webmasters, etc, of their moral accountability, based in the claim that the addicted youth are the only ones who can be ccountable for their choices.
3. NOW it is true that the MAJOR responsibility rests with the individual to fight, pray, study, ponder, fast, and do all in their power to become the master of their thoughts and to keep those drives within the bounds set by God. Young Men are indeed ultimately responsible before God for how they react to temptation, as well as for how much effort they truly put into their goal of achieving control. It is also the case that no matter how a woman dresses, her manner of dress NEVER justifies the Young Man in assaulting, demeaning, lusting
after or hurting her in any way. HOWEVER, the foregoing facts DO NOT absolve young women from the moral duty to assist the young men to be successful in conquering lusts. In fact charity, the true and pure love of Christ requires them to help these young men in their crucial battle for self mastery.
I have counseled with so many good young men who have tearfully expressed a hope for that glorious day, when they would never again have evil thoughts or be tempted with lust. They humbly express a longing for absolute purity of thought and to be beyond Satan's power to tempt them. However, until that day, they need help, and Paul's teachings to the Corinthians suggest that it is the responsibility for young women to assist the young men in their efforts is clearly part of that.
The Apostle Paul was surrounded by wickedness and even those, who like the psychologist mentioned before, were frequently trying to bring their own human based and corrupted doctrines into the church. In Paul's day the Saints were forbidden to eat meats that were sacrificed to false gods. Paul, recognizing the principles of agency and accountability, makes it clear in his letter to the Corinthians (1 COR, Chapter 8) that for him, a true and faithful servant of Christ, it was not enough to just abstain from meats offered to idols, but rather that he had to be careful to avoid even the appearance of eating such meats. He humbly expresses the selfless desire to never be a stumbling block to any less mature or still struggling Saint. He recognized his moral, love based
obligation, to NOT do anything that might cause them to stumble, even if the action was not in fact a sin to him.
I remember as a young missionary realizing this as we would often stop at Venezuelan bars for
ice-cold Malta, a non-alcoholic malt drink which was sold in bottles very similar to beer bottles. One day it hit my companion and I that people passing by, watching us down the Maltas, could easily mistake it for beer. Now it was obvious to God, and us, that we were not sinning. It is also obvious that any such misjudgments would be the fault of the misjudging parties; however, it was also clear to us that we did not want to be a stumbling block to anyone, even if we were justified in our actions.
So, while it is true that God through his prophets has urged Young Women to dress modestly, and that rejection of those directions would thus constitute the sin of rebellion, Paul provides us with another deeper, loved based, reason for Young Women to make the right choice to dress modestly. That is so because Paul's love based doctrine teaches us that: even if there was absolutely no accountability to a young woman for how she chose to dress, and even if total responsibility for the reactions that her dress caused were always to dwell with a young man……. the true woman of Christ would still want to avoid even the appearance of evil, or the possibility that her action might be a stumbling block to another precious soul for whom Christ had died. Thus
the doctrine of love truly compels all of Christ's daughters, to choose to dress modestly.