Why Christians Should Care About the Backlash on Matthew West’s “Modest is Hottest”

Modest is Hottest.” It’s the theme of many “purity talk” nights in youth group, and it was the title of a satirical video Matthew West made last week as he sang about wishing his girls would be “a little more Amish, a little less Kardashian.”

What started as a light-hearted video quickly turned into a typhoon of backlash against the singer. The criticism? That Matthew was perpetuating the dangers of purity culture by putting all responsibility for men’s behaviors on how women dress.

I want to start by saying that I truly don’t believe this was Matthew’s intent. When he first posted the now-deleted music video that featured his daughters, he captioned it by calling it his “ridiculously silly way of reminding them that their appearance doesn’t define them.” He’s a dad to teen girls, and he’s fantastic at coming up with songs for anything. The song almost wrote itself, and I’m not here to criticize Matthew for posting it.

What I do want to focus on is why there was backlash and why “Modest is Hottest” can be problematic, regardless of intent.

When I was in high school, my Christian school divided the boys and girls up for a little purity chat. The girls went into a classroom where a school administrator rolled a giant mirror across the front of the room to show what the view was if we weren’t sitting “properly” in our skirts. We were lectured on how we presented ourselves to the world so that we didn’t cause our brothers to stumble.

I later asked a male friend what the boys talked about in their session.

They played hacky sack.

If you’ve been baffled as to why there’s hurt around “purity culture” or why Matthew West faced backlash for a lighthearted song, that’s why.

It’s because there’s always been a double standard.

It’s because I’ve heard so many female friends tell stories of feeling violated by a man only to get the question, “What were you wearing?” or, “What did you do to encourage it?”

It’s because for some reason, men’s lust has been blamed on how a woman dresses or acts.

Men, I think more highly of you than that. I believe in you to control yourself, no matter what’s put in front of you. I don’t think that there’s a monster lurking beneath the surface that has no option but to come out if a bare shoulder crosses your field of vision.

I already hear the arguments, “But you don’t know how guys think! Guys are visual creatures! God made us this way!”

If we’re going to go that route, God (Jesus) also said to gouge out your eye if it causes you to sin. (Matthew 18:9) You and you alone are responsible for your sins, sexual or otherwise.

It’s not crazy that dads like Matthew West want to teach their daughters to respect themselves and others. That’s a good thing.

The problem comes from a lot of hurting people who are victims to the one-sided messaging. At the end of the day, both men and women are meant to respect ourselves and others. We’re all responsible for our own actions, and each have the ability to practice self-control.

We’re more than our clothing, and what we wear isn’t to blame for someone else’s misconduct. And that’s a message that should go out to our daughters and sons. 

Because in a world where more people are stepping away from the church because of church hurt and perceived hypocrisy, it’s time to examine all the areas where we’ve let double standards live for far too long.

Jesus Gives More Grace Than We Realize | Matthew West
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Retta
Retta
June 30, 2021 2:47 am

It’sa good thing. He’sa good dad then. If it steps on toes, you can either take it or leave it. Everyone has the freedom to choose their own beliefs and let others have their beliefs instead of trying to say their wrong. What if you’re wrong!

Robert Lightfoot
Robert Lightfoot
June 30, 2021 8:08 pm

We are all special, not because of how we act, but because of Whose Image we carry. That said , we live in a culture and age when sexuality and individuality are first and foremost. This is about as far removed from God’s plan for man as we can get. I grew up in a strict parochial setting and many times reaped the wrath of those who were trying to guide me in controlling my sinful nature, rather than helping me learn to live by the Spirit. I took Matthew’s song for what it was , a light hearted attempt… Read more »

Abby M.
Abby M.
June 30, 2021 11:27 am

I definitely agree. Matthew West is protecting his daughters and wanting them to be pure and godly. That’s what every Christian dad hopes for their girls. He’s also a hilarious relatable artist who knows how to get his point across. In no way did he mean to offend anyone. Plain and simple! Thank you for posting this! 💙

Glenda M Hanway
Glenda M Hanway
Reply to  Abby M.
July 2, 2021 3:23 pm

I totally agree with you. I had boys and they learned how to respect themselves and the girls they dated. They chose to go with the modest. I am so proud of them. I loved that little song of Matthew West it was meant to be cute. Its a shame that people take it the wrong way. If I would have had girls I would want them to dress and act accordingly Modest

Lori Sharpe
Lori Sharpe
July 2, 2021 12:17 am

There is, very much, a double standard, when it comes to teaching purity to our children. To combat that, I taught my son and daughters the SAME concepts. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The reason WHY, is because God tells us, “to raise our children, in the way they should go, that they won’t depart from it, when they are older.” We are not to be stumbling blocks, in any way, that would cause any to fall, whether we are men or women. When we teach our children to dress modestly, it shouldn’t be, simply… Read more »

Terry
Terry
July 2, 2021 9:15 am

I agree with every word of your post …yay, Matthew! Boo one sided conversations. But if either gender dresses like a prostitute assumptions are made. I believe this to be much of Paul’s intent in his various “dress” instructions …our clothing is culturally framed and sends signals to everyone around us. My concern in this controversy is that parents end up failing to instruct their kids. My son and daughters have each had the same “Passport to Purity” weekend experience. If we failed, it was in adequate follow up conversations. Parents, there’s a world of hurt that comes from bonding… Read more »

Lou
Lou
July 1, 2021 8:57 pm

Opinions don’t matter. The only thing that matters is what the word says. The word tells women to dress modestly and men not to raise the passions of women. Purity isn’t just for women. We are both responsible to dress and act appropriately to keep each other in purity. We are our brothers and sisters keepers.

Last edited 2 months ago by Lou
Joel
Joel
Reply to  Lou
August 18, 2021 3:17 pm

AMEN

Tammy
Tammy
June 29, 2021 6:24 pm

I am one who has stepped away from the church – not because feelings were hurt- but due to betrayal. And the leaders of the church worked so hard to protect the pastor and his unrepentant sin, and drive us out. And we aren’t the only family done this way.

Sally
Sally
Reply to  Tammy
July 2, 2021 9:59 am

“The Church” is all Christians not a building or denomination. In today’s world it is getting harder to fine a Spirit Driven place to worship GOD and have fellowship with other Christians. I pray you continue to look for that place and let GOD guide you. If you can’t find one look for a group of Christians to interact with.

Joe
Joe
July 1, 2021 8:27 pm

I believe if a person dresses scantily, that gives a message. Just like if a person dresses in ratty clothing or a suit and tie. Expensive designer clothing or a uniform. Opinions are made regardless. If a person wants to be regarded with a level of respect, than I think they should dress respectable. Just another unimportant opinion.

Sally
Sally
July 2, 2021 10:06 am

Matthew West Should also do a video on Boys being modestly dressed. GOD made all of us to be modest because GOD knew that most people are driven by the way a person looks. It is time for Christians to live as GOD intended us too and not follow the Worldly views that Satan is running. Remember there is no such thing as “a little white lie” and there is no such thing as “it’s okay to wear short, tight clothes” that shows the world what you have or don’t have. This goes for over weight people as well as… Read more »

Laurel Bazen
Laurel Bazen
July 2, 2021 8:59 pm

I totally love the song and the meaning behind it. We are responsible for our actions as a Christian woman I agree 100 percent with modest is hottest.

Jimmy
Jimmy
July 3, 2021 9:20 am

Well the Bible does says that women should dress modestly. 1Tim 2:9

April
April
July 5, 2021 2:40 pm

I take issue with the whole backlash. What kind of a society do we live in when a protective father suggests his daughters dress modestly and gets attacked over the issue? Why does rape always become the focus in the topic? NO ONE should ever be raped We have a problem in our culture sexualizing our daughters ..even at a young age. Have you shopped for little girls shorts lately? I won’t even mention bathing suits. I take issue with the way “purity” was presented to you AND the boys! This is where the church as a whole has failed!… Read more »

Jan
Jan
July 6, 2021 8:21 am

As a mother of grown daughters and now grand daughters I related this song to the choices that women and even little girls are given by designers of clothes. It is SO hard to find full length shirts and dresses. One of my daughters is 5” 11’ and she has so few choices when she shops. Even “regular” t shirts are shorter than she likes and “dresses” are even worse.
I really wish young girls were given more choices and got to dress like the littles they still are.

Marcia
Marcia
July 17, 2021 6:33 pm

Though I did not see the video, I wholeheartedly agree with Matthew West teaching his young daughters about modesty. It is his responsibility as their father to teach them to honor God with their body as well as their heart, mind, and soul!! I applaud his efforts and I’m sure they know their father well enough to get the message he was trying to convey. With regard to teaching purity, Bekah, I’m sorry your “Christian” school missed the mark (by a mile) by not addressing the issue with the boys at all (#shameonem) and by emphasizing that the girls bear… Read more »

Joel
Joel
August 18, 2021 3:28 pm

This is a serious problem. I see young girls following culture and hip hop.
I was so glad to here that song because it is true and people are tired of it.
We have to complain and Mathew West had the guts to do it. His song was taken down while trash is played more and more. Satan is winning. Thank you for writing about this. However, you quoted no scripture in you writing. The truth is found in the Word. I have to complain that song should not be taken down.

1 TIM 2:9-10

Theresa
Theresa
July 7, 2021 11:08 am

Excellent article 🙂
Men and Women’s brains ARE different, high time men started to take responsibility for theirs 😉

Teri
Teri
July 5, 2021 4:55 am

Agreed with Everyone here. Matthew West is being a Dad and putting his spin on modesty, so it’s not “a lecture ” persay. We as Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus are to: 1. Commandment- Do not Judge, Lest ye be judged. ( Anyone who judges , anyone else is in for a Godly teaching) 2. We are many members of one body, that is Jesus, and that right there says it all. 3. Marriages have been through more evilnes attacks that Satan Tries to do through any means possible, We have the Godly Right to Rebuke Satan off our… Read more »

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Last edited 2 months ago by Teri
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