or Understanding the Male Mind (for Females)

by Tom Kraeuter

Have you ever watched a dog when someone he knows, but hasn’t seen for awhile, comes into the room? The tail wags a hundred miles per hour. Or, better yet, have you ever watched a dog chase his tail? That’s weird, isn’t it?

We can’t fully understand dogs, because, as human beings, we’re made differently. Even if a dog could somehow communicate with us why he does what he does, it would still fall short because we’re different. We just could not fully grasp it.

The same is true for males and females. As a female, you cannot fully understand the problem that males have with lust because you are different. You think differently. You act differently. You’re wired differently. You just don’t get it. It’s that simple. If you’re female, right now, say these words out loud, “I don’t get it. And I’ll probably never fully get it.” There. That’s a good way to begin.

Most women, especially young, unmarried women, cannot even mildly comprehend how the male mind thinks when it comes to the complementary gender. Even the majority of older, married women, who occasionally think they have begun to understand, are still usually a million miles from reality.

Relationship experts John Trent and Gary Smalley talk about a survey of married couples. The husbands and wives were each asked to list in order their favorite activities to do together. I don’t recall the exact statistics, but for men, sex ranked either second or third. For women, sex rated number thirteen, right after gardening together. Every man with whom I have ever shared that story has stared at me in disbelief. “No way… Behind gardening?!” For the average male, there is just not much that rates higher than sex. Certainly not gardening.

Please don’t misunderstand. The fact that sex is so important to males is not necessarily a bad thing. If men and women both had the same attitude about sex as most women have, the population of earth would be much smaller. However, the other side of that coin is also true: If men and women both had the same attitude toward sex as the average male, earth would have run out of room and resources long ago. So I am not suggesting that one is right and one is wrong. I am suggesting that the two are so completely opposite that one trying to fully understand the other is nearly impossible.

So why am I telling you this? Because the way you dress says something totally different to a man than it does to you.

If you could spend just ten minutes inside the mind of the average male, it would forever change the way you dress. Best selling author Joshua Harris says it would only take one minute. Personally, if there was actually a way to do it, I’d rather you had the shock treatment: ten full minutes. I’ll guarantee that just that short time inside the mind of the average male would forever change the way you dress.

And please understand that I am not talking about that guy you always thought was a little perverted anyway. I’m talking about that nice elderly gentleman who lives next door. I’m talking about your pastor. I’m talking about your husband. I’m talking about your father. Make no mistake about it, just ten minutes is all it would take.

You see, men in general are stimulated by sight. That’s different from women in general. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. There are maybe a couple of magazines that are published depicting men in various states of undress. Most women just don’t find such things all that exciting. On the other hand, there are literally scores of publications showing women with little or no clothing. Why such a huge discrepancy? Because men, not women, are stimulated through the eyes.

When you put on that tight shirt, those very snug jeans, that low-cut dress or sheer blouse, you don’t think much about it. Of course not. It’s stylish. Guys, on the other hand, usually don’t even notice whether your clothes are stylish. When they’re that tight or sheer or low-cut, the only thing the average guy notices is what’s underneath. I’ll almost guarantee that if you wear clothes that show your undergarments (whether they can be actually seen because of sheer fabric or can be “seen” because they are visible beneath tight clothes), the majority of males—from adolescence up—have noticed. They notice something as “uneventful” as whether your bra straps cross in the back and we won’t even talk about what they’re noticing in the front. At this point you may well be thinking, “They’re all sick!”

In one manner of speaking you’re right. But so are you. Sin has made us that way. It’s just that it often manifests somewhat differently in men than in women.

Some years ago I attended a Christian men’s retreat. There were about thirty men in attendance, ranging in age from sixteen to near seventy. At one point the retreat leader asked everyone to stand. Then he asked those who had never had a problem with lust and masturbation to sit down. These were good, Christian men. No one sat. Not one person. The look on some faces told the real story. There was a sudden recognition that, “It’s not just me.” This is a nearly universal problem among the male gender.

It should be understood that this is not meant to give license to guys to think and act any way they want. Scripture is very clear about how males should think in regard to this subject (Matthew 5:28) and that self-control is something for which we, by His power, should strive toward (Galatians 5:23; 2 Timothy 3:3; 2 Peter 1:5-8). For the guys reading this, let me be perfectly clear. I am not offering permission to think lustfully. It is sinful. Repent and ask God (which may mean through the help of other men to hold you accountable) to bring about change in your thoughts and actions.

It should also be understood that not one of us has asked for the problem. We didn’t consciously desire to lust after women. Most men who have this problem would like to find the switch to shut it off. But it’s just not that simple.

You see, God Himself apparently began the process. No, He didn’t cause us to sin, but He did put within man a desire and fondness for the female form. Kept in proper context, that’s part of God’s plan. Men should desire their wives in a sexual manner. God created sex to be enjoyed in marriage. But when sin entered the picture, everything—including this act that God designed to be a good and pleasurable experience—was corrupted.

Consequently, many men look not just upon their wives with desire but upon other women as well. Of course not all men have the problem to the same degree. But nearly all have struggled at some point.

Now, back to you. I hope you realize by now that I am not suggesting that your attire is the reason that many men have a problem with lust. Certainly not. However, there can be no doubt that the way you dress can escalate the problem. The problem itself is clearly not your fault. However, your brothers in Christ need you to help. Don’t make the problem worse by wearing clothing that would cause your form to be viewed more than necessary.

One author offers these suggestions:

  • If your body contours are obvious, it’s too tight.
  • If you have to put your hand over it when you bend over, it’s too low.
  • If you need to pull on it when you sit down, it’s too short.
  • If you can see the pattern of your undergarments, it’s too thin.1 (And by the way, that colored bra beneath the white shirt might be really fashionable, but it draws attention to your breasts.)

I realize that giving guidelines like these could cause us to become legalistic. That’s not my goal. Your brothers in Christ need your help and these are simply practical suggestions of how you can help.

Here’s a thought you need to carefully ponder: I believe it is possible to be both fashionable and modest. However, if you ever need to choose one over the other, from an honest Christian perspective, it would be far better to choose modesty.2

Let me close by saying this. Now that you’ve read this, you think you get it. You don’t. Multiply what you think you understand by about 10,000 and you might be getting close. The female mind cannot comprehend the male mind (and vice versa!). Don’t try to fully understand. Just take my advice and choose modesty.

1. Adapted from the book, Worship 101 by Andrew Robbins, Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2004.
2. 1 Timothy 2:9 “…women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty…”  Romans 14:13 “…decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
Addendum: I recently read a powerful, biblical book on this topic. It is entitled Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America by Jeff Pollard. The publisher is Vision Forum, San Antonio, Texas. I recommend the book.

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