Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Especially for young Mormon men

What Not to Wear.

Ensign March 2014Discussions of modesty and immodesty in the last week have prompted me to direct a special plea to all of the sweet young LDS brothers among us who may—even unintentionally!—be leading our daughters of God astray.

My young brethren, let me speak plainly: it is your responsibility to ensure that what you wear does not cause your sisters to stumble (1 Cor. 8:13).

  • Away with shoulder-baring tank tops during your pickup basketball games in the church gym.
  • Away with low-slung jeans that drive girls crazy wondering by what defiance of physics your pants don’t drop to your ankles.

You must never exploit your great power over girls. Your life’s purpose is to attract and hold the attentions of a mate, certainly, but you will get the type of woman you dress for. I know you hope to meet the kind of sister who will value your mind and help you fulfill your eternal destiny as a father. But how can you expect to find her if the first thing she notices about you is your protruding biceps?

You may think you’re engaged in harmless flirting, but the choices you make here can have devastating eternal consequences. How would you feel if, when you get to the celestial kingdom, you first have to pass by all the sisters whom your dress had tempted into sin? As you prepare to enter those gates, what if you learn that your actions had caused once-pure sisters to drift away from the very kingdom you stand poised to enter?

sexy guyCan you see them in your mind’s eye? Look: there’s the sister who became addicted to pornography, so enticed was she by the glimpse of that Hanes band peeking out of your jeans. There’s the one who failed to serve a mission because of her unworthy thoughts after your “shorts” proved short indeed.

As young brethren in Zion, it is your divine privilege to stand as revered objets d’art on a lofty pedestal. But with great power comes great responsibility; some females who perceive you will be tempted beyond what they can bear.

Since it is a scientific fact that girls are constantly struggling with lustful thoughts, why drive them toward impurity with your wanton disregard for their heroic daily battle against sin? So strong in every other way, those of the female gender are rendered incapable of rational or spiritual thought whenever you flaunt your wares.

You must safeguard these sisters. Their very souls are in your power.

So I beg you to heed God’s standards, and not lengthen any tentacles of the adversary:

  • Cover your shoulders at all times.
  • Be sure your swim trunks extend to your knees and that you always wear a t-shirt when swimming in mixed company.
  • In fact, bring several additional t-shirts as well so that your drenched clothing will not be all you have to wear for a day at the beach; sometimes the mere outline of your six-pack can be just as arousing as your uncovered skin. Just look what happened to Elizabeth Bennet when she saw Mr. Darcy in his pond.

I plead with you, my brethren, to put away all clothing that will ensnare our good young women and divert them from their noble purpose in serving the Lord. Amen.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

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