I am very, very tired of the “don’t be a stumbling block” argument when it comes to modesty for girls.

I know that this is a very widespread debate, and I have talked about it before in two main posts:

In our recent survey of 20,000 women, we found that when girls are made to feel responsible for boys’ sin, very bad things happen in those girls future marriages and sex lives. 

And recently on Facebook, I shared a few thoughts that blew up quite big. The support was huge, but at the same time, the arguments that 13-year-old girls can cause adult men to sin are still very widespread. And so today, in this podcast, Rebecca and I would like to put that to rest once and for all.

We got kind of heated, too!

Watch on YouTube, too!


Timeline of the Podcast

0:45 Let’s talk about lust in a non illegal way, please.
5:30 Noticing isn’t bad, facts aren’t bad.
8:45 Lusting for adolescents is not normal
11:40 Mixed messages about lust & modesty
17:20 We’ve confused men with their sexuality!
29:05 The Bell-curve Modesty Rule
34:20 But what about the dangers with clothing choices?
42:04 Research on gender visual stimulation
47:43 RQ: Help with my son growing into sexuality?

Main Segment: The Lust Discussion and the Modesty Discussion Must Always Be Separate

Why? Because if you say, “Men are 100% responsible for not lusting after 13-year-old girls, but 13-year-old girls are also 100% responsible to be modest and dress appropriately,” then you don’t really mean the first part. Yes, we need to teach girls to dress appropriately (and I have a way to do that at the bottom of my stumbling block post), but it’s never, ever about not causing someone to sin.

This discussion came up because of the response to these Facebook posts:

Post 1–on how we should think a man lusting after a 13-year-old girl is a major red flag

Post 2–on how if you believe all men lust, even after teenagers, you’re likely in an unhealthy church and your husband may have a problem, because MOST men do not struggle with not lusting after young teens

The comments are rather interesting–and some are rather depressing. Hence the need for this podcast!

I won’t go into all our arguments here, but you need to listen to this one!

Even listen to it with your teenage daughters and teenage sons, and start the discussion going!

You're telling me WHAT goes WHERE?!

Talking about sex with your kids doesn't always go smoothly. 

That's why we created The Whole Story, our online course that walks parents through the tough conversations and does the hard parts for you!

Reader Question: How do I prepare my 9-year-old son for the lure of porn?

A woman writes in with this question:

My husband has struggled with porn since he was a kid. We are trying to heal during recovery. We’ve been married 10 years. My son is 9 and he’s coming close to the age my husband was exposed to porn by his father’s addiction and his carelessness. I am repulsed still somehow as I grew up very conservative, by the fact that men are sexually attracted to women, but I have always understood that it’s one of the glues that bind a marriage together. I bought your course the whole story and I still have yet to read it, but I am thinking about my reaction when I see my son fight his attraction to ladies. I’m afraid I’m gonna just be so mad at his natural impulses because I’m maybe bitter still at my husband’s past sin and his potential to fall again into lusting for other women. I don’t want to make my son distance himself emotionally from me because of how I handle his learning to be a man, so please have you heard pointers to be prepared and not react but be proactive in guiding our sons’ minds and souls?

A lot of issues going on here!

  • Porn has damaged their marriage
  • She grew up feeling disgusted by sexual attraction/men’s sex drive
  • She doesn’t want to transfer shame onto her son

I do think The Whole Story will be able to help her husband have those conversations with his son, or help her have them, so that’s going to be a big help, because it does open up the pornography conversation in a safe way. And it also tells boys that it’s natural to feel sexual feelings. These aren’t anything to be ashamed about. Very important!

But it also sounds like she has some healing to do with the messages she heard growing up and with the problems in her marriage. I wish The Great Sex Rescue were available now, because it would be great for her, but you can still pre-order it (which helps us immensely!).

I think the key here, though, is communication. Be honest about how you feel. Tell him the truth even if you struggle with the truth, too. It’s okay to struggle. It’s a difficult subject. But most shame is transmitted by not talking about it.

What the Research Says: Women are Visual, too

Over the last few months so many readers have been sending me links to new studies showing that the idea that “men are visual” is actually being disproved by science–or at least the idea that men are visual and women are not is being disproved! And the readers are right. Over the last 2-3 years, more and more studies have come out showing that the idea that men’s brains react more to visual stimuli than women’s brains do is not nearly as straightforward as it’s made out to be–and in many cases may be simply wrong.

Today we pointed to a meta-analysis that came out recently (a review of 61 studies) that shows that women are also visually stimulated. Read the study here. Here’s the summary:


Neuroimaging studies suggest differences in the underlying biology of sexual arousal associated with sex and sexual orientation, yet their findings are conflicting. Following a thorough statistical review of all significant neuroimaging studies, we offer strong quantitative evidence that the neuronal response to visual sexual stimuli, contrary to the widely accepted view, is independent of biological sex. Both men and women show increased activation in many cortical and subcortical brain regions thought to be involved in the response to visual sexual stimuli, while the limited sex differences that have been found and reported previously refer to subjective rating of the content.

Neural substrates of sexual arousal are not sex dependent

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2019

Things Mentioned in This Podcast:

On Stumbling Blocks, Lust, and Modesty Podcast

What do you think? Will we ever be able to talk about modesty and lust well? What messages were you given as a teen? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find BIBLICAL, HEALTHY, EVIDENCE-BASED help for their marriage. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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