I was using the treadmill at our local gym listening to my iPod and occasionally glancing at several TV monitors in front me when my eyes caught the tickertape running at the bottom of one of the monitors. It said something like, “Offended by the naked mermaid, Christians are boycotting Starbucks.” I later found out that the whole fuss was about Starbucks changing its logo from the mermaid with a bikini-top to a bare-breasted one. OH MY GOD…

Let’s be honest! How many of you have ever looked at the logo on a Starbucks’ cup? I thought we went to Starbucks for its overpriced cup of coffee, which has to be ordered in Italian—it took me a long time learning how to say “tall” instead of “small”, “latte” instead of “with some freaking cream” and recently, watching my favorite game show, the Cash Cab, I found out that “Venti” in Italian means twenty. For all the years of drinking Starbucks, I had never noticed that the logo on the cup in my hand was of a mermaid with a bikini-top, but thanks to boycotters, now we all will. This brings me to the following question: why in God’s name, are so many Christians so preoccupied with sex???

An overweight friend of mine who worked for a Christian organization went on a diet and lost a lot of weight. Like so many overweight people, she had given up trying to look feminine, so for years she had worn over-sized blouses, skirts, pants and muumuus to hide her weight. After losing all that weight, she bought herself a whole new wardrobe, which fit her slim body. Her husband wanted her to look her best.

Seeing her for the first time after she had lost the weight, I was amazed at how gorgeous she looked. At first, I did not even recognize her. No, she did not look sexy or immodest, just feminine. I never asked her this, but I know she felt great about herself. I am willing to bet that because of the way she felt about herself, her productivity at work or in life in general must have improved. The feeling did not last very long. Within couple of weeks, she was pulled into the HR office and was given a thrashing about her clothes and how a Christian woman should not be a stumbling block to her male co-workers. Apparently some of the men had reported her to the HR. Combined with the death of her mother, the rebuke pushed her over the edge and she gained all the weight back. However, the HR never bothered to pull her into the office and give her a talking on how being overweight is not good for HER health. I guess being a stumbling block to MALE co-workers is much greater offense than dropping dead of a heart attack due to one’s weight.

Have you read the book, “Persepolis”? It is written by the Iranian writer and artist, Marjane Sartrapi who writes about her life in today’s Iran. They also made a movie out of the two book series. It is in French with English subtitles and has won several awards. In a part of the book she talks about the day she misses her bus by just a few seconds. Hoping to catch it she begins to chase after it when she hears, “Hey—blue coat! Stop running!” She stops to turn around and face two bearded revolutionary guards armed with their machine guns. This is how their conversation goes:

“Madam, why were you running?”

“I’m very late! I was running to catch my bus.”

“Yes… But… when you run, your behind makes movements that are… How do you say…Obscene!”

Here is a woman who is covered from head to toe. All any man can barely see is her face and still she is told that when she runs her behind moves in an obscene way. I love her response to those morality policemen, “WELL THEN DON’T LOOK AT MY ASS!”

“Yes!” you might say, “But the Bible talks about women being modest.” I agree. Women should dress modestly. However, my problem is defining the term, “modest”. In Iran, for a woman, modesty means to be wrapped in a black shroud from head to toe, and still she can be accused of being immodest by some men.

No, the problem is more with the men who are so preoccupied with sex, i.e. a male-driven Christian organization that changes the acronym, RAC to ARC because according to its new leaders, the RAC could be understood as RAC, which refers to women’s breasts, although the acronym had been used in prior years without any complaints. Another example is a Christian leader who demands a couple of abstract painting, which had been hanging on the office walls for months, be removed because if one were to stare at them long enough one could see women’s breasts.

If I am not mistaken, our Lord’s mandate on not looking at women with impure eyes was given to MEN. Do you know why? Because He knew that we men are visual, that we get excited just by putting the quarter in the vending machine’s slot. It doesn’t matter how many layers of clothing a woman puts on, her behind can still move in what we men might consider obscene. If this is the case, don’t blame the woman. Do what Jesus commanded you, “Quit looking at her ass.”