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Are Shirtless Guys Okay to Look at?

By: Kristen Clark

Our culture teaches us that men with six packs, muscular arms, and tan abs are the sexy ones. It’s becoming more common to find movies with a young male actor on the screen who is constantly taking off his shirt and displaying his abs for everyone.

I was actually convicted about this on a personal level last year. I was engaged to a wonderful and godly man named Zack (whom I am now married to), and our wedding day was only three months away. Out of desperation to get fit before my big day, I purchased an intense workout video serious.

After watching about thirty seconds of the first workout video, I realized that most of the guys on the screen were ripped out and were shirtless. I knew this probably wasn’t the best thing for me to be looking at…but after all, I wasn’t really “watching” it – I was just following the exercises.

They didn’t have shirts on. 

Several days later my fiancé asked me a question out of the blue that totally caught me off guard. “So, what kind of outfits are the men in your workout video wearing?” Zack asked me out of curiosity. My heart sank. I had to be honest. “Well…they’re kinda wearing athletic shorts…and…well, ya know…not really a shirt…for most of the time.”

I waited for his response. He paused for a moment in thought, then asked me what I thought about that. I immediately became defensive and told him how I wasn’t really having any “struggles” with the guys on the screen and that I didn’t think it was a huge deal.

Girls have to guard their eyes too. 

We ended up getting into a deeper discussion about it and over the next few days I came to understand something very important. I was expecting Zack to have high standards of moral purity by guarding his heart and mind against lustful thoughts about other women, and then here I was doing the opposite for him!

The struggle of lust is usually talked about as a “guys problem” and us girls feel like we’re off the hook. Our culture is putting shirtless, half naked, ripped out men in front of us and nobody is telling us not to look. Well, if you’re like me, then you know that lust and fantasies can be just as much of a problem for girls as it is for guys.

As girls, we need to guard our hearts and minds against lust and immodesty just as much as guys do. Those workout videos were not helping me achieve that goal. God says it very clearly in his Word.

“Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18a).

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).

We have lust problems too. 

I came to realize that I was being unfaithful to my future husband by allowing my eyes to gaze on the half naked bodies of other men. It wasn’t helping me maintain a pure mindset. Thankfully, Zack was bold enough to ask me about it.

How about you? Have you ever considered the fact that guys without their shirts on could be a stumbling block for you? Do you find yourself fantasizing and dreaming about the perfect muscles and abs on a guy?

This is definitely something us girls need to consider.

For me, looking at a guy without his shirt wasn’t helping my thoughts and my mind stay pure. With God’s help, I believe we can conquer the lust in our hearts – but it needs to start with where our eyes are looking and what we’re putting into our minds. The places we choose to look with our eyes will directly affect what happens in our minds and hearts.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net – mrpuenGuys Clothes Hanging

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4 Responses to Are Shirtless Guys Okay to Look at?

  1. DA says:

    Yes, I’ve recognized that lust is a problem for women as well as men. In many cases, when I see a shirtless guy (in the media or in public) I look away. I’m trying my hardest to avoid looking at anything that causes me to stumble.

  2. Kay says:

    Thanks so much for sharing about this. I’ve always had this in the back of my mind, being uncomfortable with seeing shirtless guys (mostly at the beach or pool), but had never really been verified until now. When I was younger (I’m almost 16 now), I decided that if I have a son once I’m married, that he will always wear a shirt out in public. 😉 Thanks again!!

  3. Richard Paulson says:

    Hi Kristen,
    Actually I have to disagree with you concerning you having had a “lust” problem “because” of seeing men without shirts. I am not denying that you had “carnal thoughts,” but that can happen anytime to anyone under circumstances where there is no suggestion of the flesh whatsoever, because the devil will tempt us or put thoughts into our minds. So it is just a matter of rejecting the wrong thoughts when they come, namely, the thoughts that are really focusing wrongly on one’s own flesh/appetites. But regarding you in this instance years ago, that is not because the body of a man has the power to cause lust just because you “see” it. The lust arises by a “law” in your mind or in this case even a false law (or a superstition) that men should not be topless. Paul in the Bible says that the strength of sin is the law. The more rules we of ourselves try to keep, the more strength sin can have in our flesh. Also, if you “think” something has the power to cause lust, then it will, just because you think it does. But there is no law in the Bible stating that a man (or even a woman for that matter) should not be without a shirt or that you should not look on a shirtless or topless man/woman. The Bible in fact states the opposite in pointing out that breasts are not lewd to see. The Song of Solomon (inspired by God) even sings of the female breasts as ornaments made for display. In the Authorized King James Bible Ezekiel 16:7 states that female breasts are “excellent ornaments,” and that without them the woman would be naked! God is speaking here figuratively of Jerusalem, however, it is clearly stated that a woman’s well fashioned breasts and long hair are “excellent ornaments” which “cover” her nakedness. There is no Scripture that states that seeing any part of the human body can even in itself “cause” lust.
    Lust defined is a desire to satisfy one’s own appetites that are in the flesh. It is to gratify oneself. But if you are really “seeing” a man for the purpose of appreciating what you consider to be “beautiful,” then that is an appreciation of God’s creation, and not a sin. That is not dishonouring to the man. Rather, it is respect for the masculine creation. I have also discovered that if a person really appreciates “beauty” he or she cannot by the very nature of it, lust. Because appreciation for beauty is contrary to lust. Appreciating beauty is a godlike quality and not a selfish thing in satisfying oneself. It feeds the emotions, not the flesh. It can lift your spirit up to heavenly minded thoughts. Thus if you rejoice in what God created or in the thing itself, then your mind is renewed and you are “free” from lust. In fact, the very opposite to lust happens in appreciating beauty. You kill the lust by doing so. I have noted that by experience, it isn’t just a theory. And also the Scripture tells us that it is not the Law, especially not any law we make up, but only knowing the truth that makes us free.
    Regarding being “lewd,” that is the motivation to manipulate another with one’s flesh into sexual desire. But it is not seeing the body itself that causes lust. But a person has to do sexual things to be lewd. It isn’t just the natural appearance of the body that is lewd. What I think was really happening in the experience you related years ago, was not your desire for anything evil, but simply your wanting to appreciate what looks good to you. And that in itself can be edifying. Our spirits have a desire for beauty, and even need to see it in whatever form represents the truth.
    Well, God bless you, and I hope you get something out of what I have shared.

  4. Richard Paulson says:

    Hi Kristen,

    Actually I have to disagree with you concerning you having had a “lust” problem “because” of seeing men without shirts. I am not denying that you had “carnal thoughts,” but that can happen anytime to anyone under circumstances where there is no suggestion of the flesh whatsoever, because the devil will tempt us or put thoughts into our minds. So it is just a matter of rejecting the wrong thoughts when they come, namely, the thoughts that are really focusing wrongly on one’s own flesh/appetites. But regarding you in this instance years ago, that is not because the body of a man has the power to cause lust just because you “see” it. The lust arises by a “law” in your mind or in this case even a false law (or a superstition) that men should not be topless. Paul in the Bible says that the strength of sin is the law. The more rules we of ourselves try to keep, the more strength sin can have in our flesh. Also, if you “think” something has the power to cause lust, then it will, just because you think it does. But there is no law in the Bible stating that a man (or even a woman for that matter) should not be without a shirt or that you should not look on a shirtless or topless man/woman. The Bible in fact states the opposite in pointing out that breasts are not lewd to see. The Song of Solomon (inspired by God) even sings of the female breasts as ornaments made for display. In the Authorized King James Bible Ezekiel 16:7 states that female breasts are “excellent ornaments,” and that without them the woman would be naked! God is speaking here figuratively of Jerusalem, however, it is clearly stated that a woman’s well fashioned breasts and long hair are “excellent ornaments” which “cover” her nakedness. There is no Scripture that states that seeing any part of the human body can even in itself “cause” lust.

    Lust defined is a desire to satisfy one’s own appetites that are in the flesh. It is to gratify oneself. But if you are really “seeing” a man for the purpose of appreciating what you consider to be “beautiful,” then that is an appreciation for God’s creation, and not a sin. That is not dishonouring to the man. Rather, it is respect for the masculine creation. I have also discovered that if a person really appreciates “beauty” he or she cannot by the very nature of it, lust. Because appreciation for beauty is contrary to lust. Appreciating beauty is a godlike quality and not a selfish thing in satisfying oneself. It feeds the emotions, not the flesh. It can lift your spirit up to heavenly minded thoughts. Thus if you rejoice in what God created or in the thing itself, then your mind is renewed and you are “free” from lust. In fact, the very opposite to lust happens in appreciating beauty. You kill the lust by doing so. I have noted that by experience, it isn’t just a theory. And also the Scripture tells us that it is not the Law, especially not any law we make up, but only knowing the truth that makes us free.

    Regarding being “lewd,” that is the motivation to manipulate another with one’s flesh into sexual desire. But it is not seeing the body itself that causes lust. But a person has to do sexual things to be lewd. It isn’t just the natural appearance of the body that is lewd. What I think was really happening in the experience you related years ago, was not your desire for anything evil, but simply your wanting to appreciate what looks good to you. And that in itself can be edifying. Our spirits have a desire for beauty, and even need to see it in whatever form represents the truth.

    Well, God bless you, and I hope you get something out of what I have shared.

  5. Anonymus says:

    This is very helpful, thanks. Is it okay to watch movies where guys don’t have shirts on, even though it is a great movie and I don’t focus on them? Is it an excuse to say “I focus on the movie, not the characters or their immoral relatiinships”? I try to avoid these movies, but the person I am in a relationship with, whatch movies like these. He mentioned that if you have strong faith, that those things would not have an influence on you? How can I tell him that we should avoid ALL forms of immorality, even when there is only for a short time an immoral scene?


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