Last week we talked about modesty and women, this week it’s the men’s turn.
Ryan: Last week we talked about modesty for wives, but husbands, you are not off the hook. Today’s episode is all about masculine modesty. And you may be asking, “What in the world?”
Selena: “What’s that?”
Ryan: You know what, guys? You’ve been wearing those yoga pants, knock it off. [Selena laughs] Some of you do actually. That’s weird. [both laughs] I’m not say-
Ryan: We’ll talk about that. We’ll see you on the other side.
Ryan: Is that not a thing? I feel like-
Selena: It might be a thing. [Ryan laughs] I don’t know. I don’t.
Ryan: I wouldn’t put it past anyone.
Selena: Oh, for sure. Not today. Not in this day and age.
Ryan: So masculine modesty. Now, Selena-
Selena: I wish you would wear more clothes. [chuckles]
Ryan: You know what? I just gotta let these things breathe. [both laughs] I just gotta let them breathe.
Selena: No, we talked about this.
Ryan: We did. So we’re gonna go into detail. But I love getting Selena off the cuff sort of. It’s just one my favorite things to do. Selena, what comes to mind when you hear the term masculine modesty?
Selena: I don’t necessarily think of clothing. [chuckles] I mean, I do but I don’t.
Selena: I think of, you know, is a guy being accurate about his, I don’t know, his life, his career. Because I think guys tend to like puff themselves up, or I don’t know, make themselves out to be more than there. Is this not where this conversation is going? They’re kinda flashy, they’re peacocking around.
Ryan: There it is. [Selena laughs] [inaudible] to in there. No, I just want to hear your thoughts. Anything goes. Yeah, I think anytime-
Selena: Can we talk about the launch or no?
Ryan: I think we have an opportunity to talk that at the launch. [Selena laughs]
Ryan: Last week, when we talked about it in terms of women, we used this distinction between attractiveness and being an attraction.
Selena: An attraction, yeah.
Ryan: And I think there’s the same way… you may not use the same terms, but I think, men, there’s a way for you to-
Selena: Be an attraction.
Ryan: …be attractive genuinely through how you carry yourself, through your character. There’s also a way that you can use the God-given properties, the character traits, or maybe the skills, the giftings that you have unto your own glory, so that you can become the attraction. Remember we are people of God. We are called to one purpose. One purpose alone. And that’s to glorify God-
Ryan: …now and into eternity.
Selena: Image bearers.
Ryan: We are His image bearers. We are called to glorify Him. If we at any point seek to turn that glory that we are generating and shine it on ourselves, we have gone wrong. And that can be said for female modesty. It also can be said for male modesty. So yeah, let’s talk about it.
Maybe we should define what immodesty looks like. [Selena chuckle] So here’s definition I came up with. Masculine immodesty is this: drawing attention to worldly or fleshly traits with the purpose of gaining affection—you could translate that as glory—with the purpose of gaining affection for oneself potentially with sexual or emotional upsides or benefits. Yes, you’re gaining affection, gaining glory for yourself for some outcome, some desired outcome. Right?
Ryan: And you’re using the giftings, the traits. So what comes to mind is somebody who’s charming. I don’t consider myself to be charming.
Selena: You’re charming for me.
Selena: I’m the kind of guy… Okay, so I’m good friends with John Lovell. He’s Warrior Poet Society. Selena is wearing the t-shirt. He’s this really gregarious guy, really fun to talk to. He just lives life in like gear 10. That’s his personality is awesome. He’s the kind of guy who walks into a room and everybody is paying attention to him. You’re even smiling in a way because you know-
Selena: I know John and Becca, yes.
Ryan: You know them well. And that’s something he’s gifted with. I am not that guy. Like if I walk into a room, I’m more covert. People forget I was ever there. [both laughs]
Ryan: That’s true in some cases, may be untrue in others. The point is, is a guy like John, if he’s so inclined, could use his charm, could use his ability to command a room-
Selena: For the wrong reason, right?
Ryan: For the wrong reasons to manipulate people, to manipulate women, to manipulate anyone to get what he wants. Those guys make great salesmen because they can get somebody to act in a way that they may not act otherwise. So that’s what I’m defining as male immodesty. So-
Selena: John is very modest. [chuckles]
Ryan: No, no, I’m not saying he is. I’m just saying that he could.
Ryan: He’s very humble. John, love you, man, if you watch this. And you know that. But I’m just making a contrast here. But as we go through kind of what… these other… I’m we’re gonna describe what immodest looks like.
Selena: Sure. [00:05:00]
Ryan: But first off is motive matters. We talked about that a lot in the last few episodes. That’s been a buzzword, buzz phrase in our household is that, at its heart, motivation… This issue has at its heart a motivation to use some aspect of a man’s mind, body, language, possessions to boost his ego, to validate his worth, and to get attention, and potentially, like I said, the affections from women. The motive matters.
Selena: Which is interesting. Can I just stop you right there real quick?
Selena: It’s interesting because I think with women, if you say that this is their motivation, if you assign this motivation, that you’re trying to get the attention of men, they might be like, “No, it’s not. I’m not trying to get their attention. I just want to wear what I want. And I’m not in charge of their behavior.” Whereas on the other side, men are trying to get the attention-
Ryan: If they are.
Selena: If they are.
Ryan: It’s the same conversation. Here’s an example.
Selena: It seems like men more often would want the attention though.
Ryan: Well, I mean, again, not to pick on John.
Selena: I guess you’re right. I guess you’re right.
Ryan: Like I said, he’s just like that because he wants the attention.
Ryan: No. I can wholeheartedly say he’s not just like that because he wants the attention. He’s like that because that’s what he’s like.
Selena: No, you’re right. I guess it just seemed like a contrast because I felt like sometimes-
Ryan: Well, I think yeah-
Selena: …women get more defensive about this conversation.
Ryan: That could be the case because you’re dealing with very sensitive image issues. But it is image issues for guys too. So one characteristic of… I’ll use the word peacocking is a great word like – what’s it? PowerPoint. So the peacocks have the business [inaudible] [laughs]
Selena: There it is.
Ryan: The flashiness, right?
Ryan: You know, a guy that’s got like the motorcycle, the car, or whatever, or like dresses in a certain way-
Selena: Now can I talk about the guy at the launch? [chuckles]
Ryan: Yeah, please.
Selena: So we were launching our little boat at this lake and we were loading it up to head out. And there’s this super nice boat, like Mastercraft super upright, $100,000 boat. And there’s one girl holding it. So the guy was backing down this truck, probably $100,000 truck, raised, all the things, black and white and all the super decked out everything. He’s backing it up. I think it’s his wife and there’s like a toddler there and he has half his wet suit off. So you can… He’s clearly fit, right?
Ryan: So I’m gonna jump in because these things in and of themselves, if you have the means to afford these things, we’re not going to say like you’re sinning because you’ve bought a boat and the truck.
Ryan: Now it can be cases made for stewardship and all that. We probably wouldn’t spend that money on a boat.
Selena: We have nots and… well, yeah.
Ryan: Nor could we. But the point is you have this notion of who this person is.
Selena: There’s all these…
Ryan: Rolling up, he’s got the physical whatever, he’s got the boat-
Selena: He’s got the boat, he’s got the truck. I’m sitting here in the boat waiting for Ryan to back down so that I can drive the boat on the trailer and he’s… I’m just listening-
Ryan: And then he opens his mouth.
Selena: And then he opens his mouth and just runs it all, just F bombs this, GD this, yelling at his, I guess his wife, yelling at this kid. It takes four of them first of all to load this boat and I’m just like, “I don’t understand.”
Ryan: We got it down to a science.
Selena: Anyway, it’s not about us. But I’m just sitting here baffled that he’s speaking to her in this manner and that he thinks it’s okay and that it’s actually attractive to be talking the way he was talking.
Ryan: Well, on some level, yeah, it was acceptable. And the volume with which he was yelling.
Selena: The volume [laughing] was so loud.
Ryan: So there’s a flashiness about this that it’s not quiet, it’s not humble, it’s not-
Selena: Because some person could have that exact same setup and still be kind in how they talk to their wife who’s trying her darndest to get the boat on there without bumping into the dock or another boat, right?
Ryan: It was like a 2,000-pound machine and she probably weighs 120 pounds or so.
Selena: It’s a big deal. I got in the car and I looked at Ryan I was like, “Well, if anybody ever wants to learn about communication, just go sit at a boat launch for an hour and watch a husband and a wife, you will learn a lot.”
Ryan: It is hilarious. Go to a boat launch on a busy summer day and you’ll see some things. [Selena laughs]
Selena: But anyways, there was this exact… the whole modesty was just like the peacocking, the flashiness.
Ryan: And the way he was carrying himself.
Selena: …the showing off of, you know, finances or whatnot.
Ryan: And he got the loud muffler and the loud turbo engine. [Selena chuckles] Anyway. So that’s one. Flashiness could be an example of male immodesty. So prioritizing your physical appearance over maturity and character.
Selena: It’s not bad to be healthy.
Ryan: Men, if you’re spending two hours at the gym and zero minutes in the Bible, there’s a problem. Like there needs to be a reallocation or re-appropriation of that time. There’s a priority that’s maybe misplaced. Not maybe. It for sure is if your gym time is taking more of your life [00:10:00] than your Bible time is one example. Or you know, character. I mean, I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve seen at the gym that it clearly is a very vain activity. And, you know, always admiring himself in the mirror-
Selena: Same goes for women.
Ryan: Right. It can go both ways. But you know, this particular type… species of man, I’ll say, very vain. I’m speaking generally. So I’m not judging anyone individually, but very vain and very visual. So women will walk by wearing what women wear at the gym and no hesitation to just stare her down or to make some just stupid remark to her. That’s a certain amount of immodesty.
Another one is showing off your financial position or your position of power in your career. [chuckles] We talked about the car, the truck thing. We were on a walk in our neighborhood… You remember this. And I don’t mean to throw anyone under the bus. But I got to talk to a guy who we met because our kids started interacting on this walk. And he goes, “Yeah, this is my job because I’m a big developer around here.” [laughs] Like immediately had to-
Selena: You gotta say it.
Ryan: If you gotta say it, [laughs] that might not be as big as you think. The point is that’s not modest for a man to do that. Instead, let those things come out over time. You don’t need to prove yourself. I think at the root of this is that we need not prove ourselves, especially in terms of marriage. This could just be an episode on just the Christian life.
But in terms of marriage, like I don’t need to prove myself to any person, any woman outside of you. And I don’t need to prove myself to you because, (a) I put a ring on it and (b) I know you love me and I know that you’re going to call me out if ever I’m falling short in any way that matters, that you’re going to be there to call me out, but also walk alongside me. And so there’s a security that comes from being known by Christ, being known by your wife.
Another one: Showing off your financial position. That’s the kind of what I just covered. But if you’re at work and you’re continually like drawing attention to yourself, the job that you have, the role that you have, the position-
Selena: And I will say I think it’s a hard thing to do to not want to just be like, “Oh, yeah, we do that,” or “We go on the boat all the time,” or “we do these things all the time.” If people are talking about it, and you have some sort of like affinity you guys both have boats or you both have… you’re into like old cars or doing something, I think, like you’re saying, there’s a natural progression, and natural way that these things can come out. But just be careful about your motive of why are you sharing it. Right?
Ryan: Yeah. And you said this in the wives’ version of this, but usually it can be traced down to some insecurity. And I think that’s what we’re getting at is this is maybe not an episode so much about modesty, but about how modesty is a flag showing us our insecurities in Christ… How immodesty is a flag for those things.
Because I will say some of this stuff is inherent to men. Like for example, when I go to the gym with friends or if I’m talking to Ray, who’s great friend, we’re in a healthy way trying to one-up one another, whether it’s in the… There’s a sense of like healthy camaraderie and competition that I think is natural to male-to-male relationships.
Selena: We want men to be-
Ryan: That’s the whole sharpening of the horns, the sharpening of the wedding stone. Iron sharpens iron.
Selena: We want men to be masculine.
Ryan: There’s a full contact nature too. You know, and we push one another. That happens through accountability and character traits and things like that. But it also happens in terms of… Like Ray, the guy is always saying, “Hey, how much did you get written today?” We’re working on books. “So how much did you write?” And I hate it. Because writing is hard and I don’t get to give him good answers very often. Because I will write 1,000 words and keep 100 of them.
Selena: It’s so funny because that does not motivate me at all. I’m like, “I don’t know. Why do you care?” [both laughs]
Ryan: As a guy I care.
Selena: Yeah. Which is good. I’m not saying… Again, it’s just contrasting, I think. You know what I mean.
Ryan: But I’m not parading my accomplishments to the adoring masses just because I want to. There’s a purpose in mind. The motive matters. It’s a sharpening of one another.
Ryan: And this is the final one, I would say, in categories of immodesty. Using charm to gain attention validation and to manipulate. And I mentioned John because not all men can even do this. I don’t think I can do this.
Selena: Oh, I think it’s funny. You got Charles Miner as a joke on here. So on The Office-
Ryan: “I am aware of the effects I have on women.” [Selena laughs] It’s true. It’s Charles Miner. You know, Idris Elba.
Selena: He’s pretty modest because he’s just aware of it but he’s not trying to- [00:15:00]
Ryan: “Yes, Charles, you wanted me.” [Selena laughs] I say that to Selena all the time. “Yes, Selena, you wanted me.” Trying to get that ingrained in her brain. [both laughs] But it could look like this in the workplace, could look like this at church—you’re using charm to get again adoration, admiration, laughs. Some of that’s just part of being in a relationship, but not saying you can’t have interpersonal relationships. But again, what can you say to yourself, I am living out, walking out the humble calling that we’ve received in loving these ways. And even in that, you can laugh, you can jump.
Selena: Well, and with my spouse, question this. Like, if Ryan was standing next to me and I was talking to another husband somehow, like, I don’t know, kids get to chatting… I never really talked to other men. But if for some reason that happened, am I carrying myself and is that man carrying himself in such a way that Ryan could walk over and there’s no questions or flies or anything? Right?
Ryan: Yeah. A rule of thumb for me is I just imagine Selena is standing there. And if anything I said or did was repeated or recorded verbatim, I would want her to emphatically yes and amen. Not just be okay with it, but to yes and amen the things that I’m communicating and how I’m communicating them.
Ryan: Here’s an analogy. We could have used this on the women’s side. You catch what you fish for. Okay? So if you’re using any of these ways-
Selena: What if I am not fishing?
Ryan: No, you’re fishing.
Selena: The truth always comes up. Always does.
Ryan: If you’re using any of these methods, they’re going to catch something. It’s going to lead somewhere and catch what you fish for. So I’ve been fishing off the west coast of Washington many times. And there are times when we use different lures depending on we’re trying to catch. We also use downriggers, we’ll use different methods, we’ll park in different places because we’re fishing for certain things.
And so the question is this, what lure are you dropping in the water? Right? If you’re the guy that’s always peacocking in these ways, you’re going to attract a certain type of attention. Now, if you’re married, that’s extra problematic because you’re clearly-
Selena: Seeking all the wrong attention.
Ryan: …operating extramaritally at that point, yeah. And it’s not going to lead anywhere healthy.
Ryan: What bait are you using? Where are you fishing? So here’s one thing. Bottom fish are really easy to catch. They’re predictable. When we go out in our charter trips, we limit on bottom fish before seven in the morning. That’s like 12 fish a person. It’s literally as fast to get the lure down and up. It’s so easy to catch the bottom fish. You know what’s hard to catch?
Ryan: Wild salmon. [Selena laughs] My delicious salmon. [laughs] Caught me a big one. King salmon. [chuckles] A queen salmon. [both laughs] Sorry.
Selena: Don’t make that-
Ryan: Salmon are really hard to catch because they’re fast, they’re strong. They’re somewhere in the water column. You don’t really know where they are. You have to look around a lot.
Selena: You gotta have the right bait.
Ryan: If they bite, they could bite and just take the bait and go. You have to know how to set the hook. You have to know how to pull them in or you will break a line. Like they’re hard to catch. And boy did I catch one? [laughs]
Selena: Yes, we are. [laughs]
Ryan: [inaudible] catching the bottom fish. Lingcod are ugly too by the way. [Selena laughs] The bottom fish, [both laughs] they are ugly. Eyes pop out.
Selena: So don’t-
Ryan: Don’t go bottom fishing.
Selena: Don’t go bottom fishing is what you’re saying.
Ryan: Yeah. And we’re not just talking about catching the proverbial woman. We’re talking about things in life.
Selena: The low-hanging fruit.
Ryan: Right. Are you going for the bottom-feeding parts of life or are you seeking after the things that Jesus instructs us to seek after? So biblically speaking, what are we called toward as men? And as I’d say it comes down to the heart, it comes down to who or what are we chasing.
And this is the big deeper question is, whose glory are we living for and for whose pleasure are we living? Am I living for my own glory? Am I living for my own pleasure? Am I living for my own anything? Or am I living for the glory of God?
Paul in Acts 20, this is the verse… I would say, if I had one verse that I hope describes my life, it’s this one. It’s Acts 20:24. It says, “I do not account my life of any value, nor is precious to myself, but only that I finished the work that I received from the Lord Jesus Christ to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
I do not account my life of any value. Now, does that mean I go and just sleep in a gutter every night? No. It just means that ultimately I don’t live for this life, I live for him in this life, because I know that I will again live for him in the next.
This is helpful. Look at the Beatitudes. So I’d like to contrast a modesty with the Beatitudes. Selena, do you want to read these? We’re gonna read Matthew 5:3-11.
Selena: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, [00:20:00] for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Ryan: Jesus is not painting a picture of an immodest person made, an immodest man. Blessed are the poor in spirit. It doesn’t say proud in spirit. What does it mean to be poor in spirit? It’s the first out of the gate, Jesus is sitting down to give the most famous sermon of all time. And he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
Poor is pretty obvious. The word for poor just simply means to be poor, right? And there are different glosses here. Universally lacking in anything. Another one is needy. But what got me was the “in spirit” part. So if you look at “spirit,” the word for “spirit” is “enuma.” It’s a movement of air. That’s what’s used typically for the wind. That’s how the spirit is described in the New Testament.
But also in this case and specifically for this verse, it is the second gloss or definition of this word is the spirit i.e. the vital principle by which the body is animated. Look at another definition. It says the rational part of man the power of perceiving and grasping divine and eternal things. So we’re poor in spirit.
We are lacking in this vitality in a sense not that we don’t have it in Christ, but it’s just that… it doesn’t end there. Right? This is “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” because in this life and in this context, I consider myself poor. It’s what Paul is saying. “I do not account this life of any value, nor is precious to myself.”
Pair that with what Jesus is saying. He says, “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That’s the opposite of masculine immodesty. “Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who are meek.” What is meekness? Someone defined meekness as absolute power under complete control. That’s a little bit arrogant to say still. Like I don’t have absolute power. But like whatever power I do wield like it’s under control and subservient unto the glory of God.
Ryan: I don’t need to toot my own horn. All you need to do is hearken the horn of Christ and repeat His glory. Another passage that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 16, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” Do you see how the progression works? Be watchful, be aware, be mindful. Now stand firm in the faith. Don’t deviate from that. Don’t stand on something else. Don’t stand on things you can see-
Selena: Your own accomplishments. Your own… Yeah.
Ryan: Then it say to act like men. There’s an implied strength to that. But then the next statement goes ahead and says it. “Be strong.” And then how’s he end it? Let all you do be done in love. I don’t know that I could do that if I’m cussing up my wife on the boat launch. If I’m not doing that in love, as loud as I can… [laughs] I don’t know if I can do that if I’m bragging about my accomplishments. I don’t know if I can do that if I’m at the gym inordinate amounts of time staring at myself or staring at other people. Like I’m living in a way that is immodest, that does not glorify God.
Selena: Right, right
Ryan: It glorifies myself. So as we close this out, some questions for the men to consider in the verse similar to last weeks for the women. Who are you living working or acting to glorify? Is the glory of Christ your passion in life? When I say passion, I mean in the classical sense, meaning is it the centering goal of your life, not just do you desire it? It is the very purpose that you exist. It’s the reason you take a breath in the morning. Is the glory of Christ your primary passion?
Here’s the thing. I don’t know that any of us can say wholeheartedly yes. That’s why we have sanctification. “God help me. Help me want what you want. Help me live for your glory above all else. Help me decrease so that you might increase.” Next question. Is how you carry yourself honoring to your wife?
Ryan: Hmm. [laughs]
Ryan: Be honest. Ask yourself, have I been consumed with how I look? This came from the ladies one. Guys, it applies for us as well. Have I been consumed with the impressions that I make? Why? Motive matters. Here’s another question to ask yourself. How am I gonna truly find my identity, value, sufficiency, worth, [00:25:00] completeness in Christ? How?
I can think of five ways for myself right now. So as a husband, as a man, as a couple, we’re here to help you think through those. Hopefully this has been helpful to you. We pray that God would root in our hearts the desire above all else to live for His glory, both in this life and in the next. And may that work its way into how we act, how we carry ourselves, the things we pursue, how we present ourselves, knowing that we are not just ambassadors of ourselves, we are ambassadors of Christ, we are ambassadors of the King of kings and we must act accordingly. We must carry ourselves and walk in a manner worthy of the calling that we’ve received.
Ryan: Amen. Selena, do you mind praying for us?
Selena: Sure. [chuckles] Praying for the men.
Ryan: You can do it. [both laughs]
Selena: Okay. Lord, thank you for your wisdom and guidance, clarity and authority. When it comes to modesty for us as women, for our men, I pray that we would see this as a call to lay aside anything that would come between us, between you and I, you savior, you God and us men.
I pray that we would not just lay it aside but demolish it, put it in its place. Lord, that you would consistently be our passion, our center of our universe. God, that we would not waver in choosing to live and adorn ourselves and our lives to those around us in a way that glorifies and brings you honor, God.
Holy Spirit convict us. Holy Spirit, lead us. Thank you for the Bible, the word that instructs us. May we go to it, and be daily, daily washed over by its good, by your words, and by the goodness of your words. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Ryan: Amen. All right, thanks so much for spending time with us. This is the Fierce Marriage podcast. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and subscribe to the YouTube channel. We do the parenting stuff there as well.
If you want to find out more, what does it mean to actually, like you said, walk in a manner worthy of the calling that you’ve received? If you’re hearing this and you don’t know what that means, or you don’t feel like you’ve responded to the call of Christ, we would love to give you an opportunity to do that, to place your faith in Christ.
The place you can go to find out more information is a website we set up. It’s thenewsisgood.com. It’s gonna give you some steps on how to become a Christian and how to walk out the Christian life in the manner worthy of the calling that you have received.
If you’re still watching and you want to partner with us… [Selena chuckles] I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this. Our partners are the reason we’re able to do this. They’re the reason this ministry continues. God has blessed us through you. If you want to be one of those partners, we would love that. We ask you pray about it. If God leads you, go to fiercemarriage.com/partner. There’s details there and there’s some stuff that we’ll give you as well. But don’t do it for that reason. Do because it God is asking you to. Anything else?
Ryan: All right. This episode of Fierce Marriage is—
Selena: In the can.
Ryan: See you again in seven days. Till next time—
Selena: Stay fierce.