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Modesty Rebounding; Boing!

A couple weeks ago I was peeping at some of my favorite missionary wife blogs and read and interesting post over at Sarah Joy's blog. It's called Modesty Rebounding; Boing! It was so well written and timely that I asked if I could share it with you all. She sweetly agreed, so here it is. BTW, make sure you check out her blog, she has a great family and honestly the cutest little girls I've ever seen.


Modesty Rebound; Boing!
I'm amazed by how much confusion has been blowing around Christian circles in regards to modesty.   I've read lots of different articles posted to social media criticizing legalistic notions.  These posts have made me take a long look at my own traditions, and also at these trends in the community of believers who call themselves by the name of Christ.


One thing I've noticed is what I call "rebounding opinions".  Joe or Jane Christian decides that someone else has a problem with something they do.  So they take a defensive position against this error, as far from it as they can.  Boing!  The other person is offended.  They react by making their own bounce in the opposite direction. Boing! Others take sides, and soon you have a regular Church battleground where everyone thinks they are fighting the good fight of faith, but no one actually consulted their Bible or their prayer closet in forming their opinion. In fact, the deciding factor is often hurt feelings. All of these people are hurting the name of Christ, and they are usually hurting His Church as well.

My brethren, or sisteren,  these things ought not so to be!  God's Word, and His Spirit are enough to guide us into the truth. These will never guide us to attack or despise another Christian.  If you feel intense negative feelings in regard to the topic of modesty, where ever you plant your flag, I plead with you to recognize that those feelings must be dealt with biblically before you can be objective about how God wants you to honor Him.
 I would be more than happy to cast off a tradition that is unbiblical, unwise, and harmful.  I will have to be convinced through scripture, though.  Someone being rude with a standard does not mean the standard is bad; it means someone reacted in the flesh and used their separation from the world to boost their pride.  This is what the Pharisees did, and we know Jesus took a dim view of it.  But He said things like, "...these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone...."*
 Here are some statements I believe misses the point, leaving undone some spiritual essentials:
 1.  Modesty isn't about how much of your body you cover with clothes.  It's about your heart being humble.  Actually, this statement is true.  The problem is that it is usually followed by the idea that, because modesty isn't only about the outer covering, therefore the covering doesn't matter very much.  A reference to God's admonition to Samuel that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart is common.  Step, step, leap!  (That's a reference to logic flow.)  I feel a bit silly saying this, being obvious, but it's a huge leap in logic to conclude that, because God is more concerned with heart, He doesn't care about what man looks at.  Jesus wasn't advocating for people to drink out of cups that were clean on the inside and dirty on the outside. It's just to say that if we only care about what man looks at, we are ignoring our relationship with God.
 Let's talk about the word, "modesty".  A quick search gives us a good definition:  1. the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc. 2. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc. 3. simplicity; moderation.
 When the Bible talks about being modest, it is a message to women.  (I Tim. 2) Men are also admonished to be humble and meek, so they count too, but women are told specifically to adorn themselves modestly.** You might say that this includes not showing off one's riches.  Some have said this has nothing to do with showing off one's body, but is talking about wealth.  Don't you think that is pushing it a little?  Of course it includes showing off one's wealth.  It also includes showing off.  Women shouldn't show off in their dress.  Period.  Body, wealth, and all.
 Seriously, people!  Rebellious little kids try to restrict their parents' admonitions to get away with more of what they want all the time!  Any wise parent knows that if they play the game of words with their kids they will lose.  "Clean your room" becomes, "Go into your room and pick up every single thing that is not where it belongs and put it exactly where it belongs, and that does not mean to stuff it all under your bed, or shove it into your draws and then say that this is where it belongs, because it is not where it belongs, but put them in the exact place where I want them to be, and where I put them when I put things away, because if you try to find a new home for them, they will not be where they belong and your room will not be clean."  (deep, slow, cleansing breath) God doesn't play those games.  He said what He said, and you want to please Him, or you don't.  If you don't, you will find some way to interpret the Bible to mean something else, and no amount of detailed descriptions will be enough.  If you doubt this, see what the Pharisees did with Leviticus. (They butchered the spirit of the law and focused on the details.  There are two extremes that do the exact same thing to God's Word.)   See also, non sequitur argument.
 Speaking of Pharisees, here's another one:
2.  People who have strict standards are Pharisees who are judging me all the time.  Again, this could be true, but it might not be.  If you assume that someone is judgmental based on what they are wearing, aren't you being judgmental?  Hm?  I have some close friends who have different standards than I do, some of them much stricter than I, but it would be unchristlike to judge them.  I've also found many who have taught me and inspired me to make changes in my life, based on their wise deportment.  I don't always change things, but it's never bad to objectively look at your life and ask God if He wants to make any changes.  See also, ad hominem  argument.
 3.  Men are responsible for their own hearts and minds before God, so a woman has no responsibility in the way she dresses.  This one usually comes with a description of a very out-of-balance church, and someone's deeply hurt feelings because of unfairness.  Ok, feelings aside, let's be honest about fashion.  It objectifies women more than men for a reason.  That reason is nothing less than perversity.  Why does a man's summer fashion involve loose-fitting, comfortable clothing, but a woman's summer fashion involves tight garments with much more skin exposed to the damaging rays of the sun? Men who wear peek-a-boo holes in their garments and translucient, or skin tight clothing are not trying to attract the attention of women.  I'm not saying that a man is perverse by nature, but in our culture, perversity objectifies what men want, and it's obvious by just looking at styles and listening to what worldly people say about them. A Christian who wants to please God will not wear styles that objectify her.
 The truth of that statement, that a man is responsible to God for his thoughts, should not change how we view ourselves as women.  I am repulsed by the expectation that I need to show my sexual nature to the world in order to be a complete woman, and I will set markers in my life that will not change with with fashions in order to avoid doing so.  Those, I call standards.  They do not increase my personal value, but they do show how I value myself.
 I see this statement as a red herring.  Yes, God will receive an account from Christian men for their thoughts.  What does that have to do with women obeying God's direction to be modest?  Why would a Christian woman dress provocatively and despise a man who struggles with his thought life?  Is that the spirit of Christ? To disregard a weaker brother who struggles with his thought life is like a wealthy person bragging about and flaunting his goods in front of the poor, and blaming them if one falls into covetousness.  This is where the word "modest" really comes into play.  Will you push your assets into the notice of others, or will you honor what God blessed you with by using it with meekness and control, respecting others and yourself?  (Of course a perverse man will think perverse thoughts no matter what you are wearing, but that's a diversion from the point.)
 Finally, much is said about liberty.  I love my liberty in Christ.  No one tells me what to do, outside of God's basic line of authority, and we are all subject to scriptures.  This is incredibly freeing to a Christian who has felt judged, and it is humbling to the Pharisee who takes unwarranted responsibility over the lives of others.  Therefore, pastors don't get to dictate what their members wear outside of church functions.  If a pastor feels like he needs to do that, he should look for that line of authority in the Bible.  (He won't find it.)  Such a person is out of balance.

 
Regardless, I do not need to determine how I live my life by rebounding away from such people.  If I do, I'm going to end up doing something harmful to the body of Christ and His testimony!  I have to find how I live and how I think in the Bible, if I want to have the mind of Christ.  He put His liberty aside and humbled Himself to serve others.  I am honored to do the same.

*Mat_23:23  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
**1Ti 2:9,10  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

Again, make sure you check out Sarah Joy's blog, it'll bless you!


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3 comments:

  1. Interesting post. Immodesty is drawing attention to oneself. I think it is good to ponder whether we are doing that inadvertently or intentionally.

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  2. Great post to ponder on!! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. What a great post! Thanks for re-posting this Tori!

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