Monthly Archives: March 2016

Modesty–yep, again!

Why do I get so worked up about the modesty debate? So much ugliness and misogyny!
It is one thing to say that we should teach our daughters to dress like daughters of the king, loved by Christ and honored. It is quite another to teach them that they are responsible for the lust of men’s hearts. One lifts up and encourages. The other leads to the date rape mentality.

If she is responsible – even a little – for my lust, why can’t I say that she is responsible when I attack her? Oh, that’s right. WE DO! God, though, is not mocked. You stand alone before His judgment throne. I would URGE you to quit griping about Jezebels in your midst and deal with your own ugly hearts!

I hate abuse. I hate blameshifting. I hate the despising and belittling of women and children. And I really, really, really hate the idea that women are responsible for the lustful hearts of men.

If we continue to blame man’s lustful thoughts on how women are dressed, nothing but oppression, guilt, lies and destruction are left. If salvation could come from stricter dress codes, Jesus would not have had to die.

Further, do we really want to say that women are incapable of dressing themselves without the church telling them how?

I’ve been asked if I would confront a woman’s attire in my church.
Please tell me how you envision that conversation. “I noticed that you are causing me to lust. Could you please cover up.”

Really? This is what you think a minister of the gospel should do?
What about “sending your wife to do it?” Really? You want our ministers’ wives to go to young women in the church and actually say to them, “By the way, I notice that you are causing the men in the church to lust. Could you please cover up?”
I worry about the state of our church!

The answer is, “No. I really don’t see having that conversation with a daughter of Christ in my congregation.”
I DO, however, see myself encouraging men to repent if they are lusting after the women in my church! In fact, I probably would command them to repent.

Here’s a better idea. Preach the gospel. Talk about how Christ came to die for sin and misery, and to free the oppressed. Talk about the beauty of holiness. Honor all. Respect all. Learn to look people in the eye and see human beings in God’s image. Quit thinking about sex all the time, and quit blaming today’s society if you do. We aren’t any more sex-saturated than ancient Rome, or ancient Israel, or any other culture. Knock it off.

Victorian morals have nothing to do with Christ, and didn’t do anything at all for the mortification of the flesh.

Instead of laying down the law to the women or ranting about Jezebel, follow Job and make a covenant with your eyes!

Seriously, people??

Why do we get so jumpy when it appears as if our women are going to get “uppity”.

Do we really believe that man’s problem is that he is seduced by Jezebel? Jezebel has her sins. But our hearts don’t need any prompting.

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My experience with abuser-enabling misogyny in the church

Exactly.

A Cry For Justice

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, (Proverbs 2:16)

And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. (1Kings 16:31)

God’s Word in Holy Scripture is pure, right, life-giving, and true. Whenever and wherever scripture is cited to support evil, we can be sure that its real teaching has been distorted. Verses such as the ones quoted above have been very frequently twisted to misrepresent the fundamental nature of women and…

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The Modesty Debate Follow-up

I recently blogged about the Modesty Debate. For the most part, it garnered a great deal of support, and I thank you all for that.

But I have also received some rather interesting negative comments, and I would like to make some observations.

First, I never claimed that women should dress like harlots. In fact, I never commented on HOW women should dress at all (other than the statement “Dress like a daughter of the king.”) My ONLY point was that blaming the attire of a woman for the thoughts of men’s hearts is unbiblical, unhelpful and wrong. Perhaps I wasn’t clear.

It seems a bit strange that there were so many who took issue with that. Some said that since we still live in a fallen world, guidelines for dress are necessary, just like law in general. I find it interesting how little men understand their daughters and their wives. The assumption, again, is that if we men don’t lay down the law, our women will just rush right out to Backroom Boutique and buy stilettos and fishnets.

But this doesn’t seem to be the case. I don’t think that we will have a rush on miniskirts and tankinis any time soon, at least not from the readers of my blog. Those women that feel the inkling to do such might be better encouraged to examine their motives than to have someone lay down the law to them. The gospel goes to the heart. Should we not be interested in the hearts of women?

Second, please look at this masterful analysis of the modern trend towards “baring it all.” By connecting this sin with shame, the author hits the nail on the head. We as church leaders cannot assist women to overcome their shame by heaping on the shame! We must go the heart of the issue and direct them to Christ as human beings with dignity and worth. Too often, we simply get out the tape measure and start measuring skirts and think that the Holy Spirit is somehow impotent when it comes to the hearts of women. It’s the shame of the heart that must be dealt with, not the exposed ankle or knee! When shame is dealt with according to the gospel of Christ, the physical manifestations of shame will take care of themselves. Jesus told the Pharisees to clean the inside of the cup and the outside will be clean.

But we don’t stick around long enough to speak of these things because we are scared to death that the devil will get into us through an exposed cleavage!

Third, I was in no way saying that we must NEVER speak of how a woman dresses. Certainly we must speak to our daughters about appropriate and inappropriate attire. My beef was telling them that the way that they dress would lead men astray. THIS is what is unbiblical and wrong. Nowhere is the adultery of men’s hearts excused in scripture because of the seduction of the woman. The adultery is our own, gentlemen. And the only way to overcome it is by acknowledging that, taking full blame, and laying it at the foot of the cross.

1 Timothy 2:9 comes up a lot in these discussions and is relevant for how a woman dresses. But this text doesn’t mean what people think it means. It really isn’t speaking of exposed body parts at all. It is talking about dressing with respectful, well-ordered and beautiful clothing, appropriate to the occasion. Even if it does apply to covering body parts, notice that Paul does not say that the reason for this is to keep the men from lusting in their hearts.

The next passage used is 1 Peter 3:1-6. Just like 1 Timothy, the point is NOT that women should cover themselves up. This takes care of itself if the spirit is healthy. The point is that the adornment of the woman is NOT ultimately how much time she spends fixing her hair and jewelry, but in her good works. It is speaking of a godly woman’s true adornment, as opposed to outward show.

Notice also that Peter assumes that wives are big girls and don’t need their husbands to tell them how to dress. He assumes something that we men have a hard time with: that our wives are co-heirs of eternal life, are led themselves by the Holy Spirit, and can get themselves dressed all by their lonesomes without us laying down the law. If your wife starts putting on the stilettos and fishnets and heading to the bars at night, I might suggest that you could have a problem that a long denim skirt may not be able to fix.

So neither text really speaks to the issue that I was raising. In a short blog, you can’t address everything. I was ONLY speaking of the argument that women should cover themselves up to keep men from lusting.

To this, I stick by my original assessment:

Piffle.

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What’s Inside John Piper’s Geodes?

Here’s a true story: A man I once knew traveled during his youth to Colorado with a friend who was a knowledgeable mineralogist. They stopped at a field to take in the view, and as they walked the …

Source: What’s Inside John Piper’s Geodes?

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The Modesty Debate

This is a post that I’ve been meaning to write for a while now. And since it keeps coming up, I figured that I wouldn’t procrastinate any longer, but just put up my thoughts and let them fall where they may.

I’m talking about the modesty debate. You have heard it in Christian circles. I’ve heard it. My daughters have heard it. You really can’t send you kids off to a Christian camp during the summer without it.

It’s this. “Girls, listen up! These guys are your Christian brothers! When you dress immodestly, you are putting stumbling blocks in their way to purity! They are always tempted to lust, and you girls have to understand that, and dress accordingly.”

This sounds good on the surface, and many don’t give it a second thought. Except, of course, for the girls.

The problem with it is this. It’s degrading to women. It’s degrading to men. It’s degrading to Christ and his work. It’s thoroughly unbiblical, and therefore of no use whatsoever to salvation, purity or holiness.

Here are my problems:

First, it is degrading to men.

The assumption of the modesty debate is that men are creatures of lust who can’t help it – especially if a woman is dressed immodestly. Really, it’s her fault. The woman that you put in front of me, Lord, she gave it to me and I did look.

Piffle. Men, get this through your head. If you are in Christ, then you are being conformed to his image. Are you really saying that Jesus would have looked and lusted if a scantly dressed woman approached? The Bible teaches that each one is led away of his own lusts and enticed (James 1:14). The problem is your heart, not her skirt. Further, the Bible teaches us that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

In other words, we men do not need modesty laws to have a pure heart. What we need is Christ. We need to stop blaming the girls, the advertisers, the catalogs, the TV shows, and point the finger right where it belongs. At our filthy, corrupted, sinful hearts. We need to fall on our knees and beg God again for the Holy Spirit to create in us clean hearts that look on women as creatures made in God’s image, worthy of honor and dignity.

The strongest modesty laws of all are in sharia law, and those who hold it the most strictly are so consumed with lust that they keep slaves…

Second, it is degrading to women.

When we teach “modesty” laws to our daughters, what do we say, “Dress modestly so that you won’t cause men to lust”? Or do we say, “Dress as a daughter of the king. You have dignity, beauty and worth as a greatly loved daughter of God. You are made, body and soul, in his image and belonging to your faithful savior, who died for you.”

Unfortunately, I fear that we too often do the former. The message that we send our daughters is that their bodies are NOT good, and made in God’s image. But something shameful with no other purpose than to arouse men’s desires. I would ask at this point is this is really the message that we want to teach our daughters, but unfortunately I have met too many of their fathers who don’t seem to see anything wrong with that. But there is something greatly wrong with it.

It teaches women that their only purpose is to be lusted after, to gratify their husbands frequently so that he won’t lust (I have another post to write about THAT one), and to keep their opinions, with their legs, carefully hidden so as not to cause a fuss.

Let me use an example. I just finished watching a very moving video here. It got me thinking. In Christian circles, we have been shouting about too much sex and scantly clad women in advertising for years, to no effect. But what reason is given? Because you are causing men to lust. Our boys are being led astray. Sexual enticement everywhere.

Yeah. I agree. It still works, so they’ll still do it. But why are they finding so many of our daughters willing to do that? Because we have taught them that it is the only thing they are good for!

We see our sons’ eyes glaze over when the model comes on the TV and we blame the way she is dressed, rather than teach our sons how to guard their hearts, and seek Christ and his Spirit. We miss a perfect opportunity to teach them that this singer on the music video is a human with dignity and worth, with value as a human being. Instead of teaching them that sex is a tremendous gift of love that God has given to us for the holy state of matrimony, we teach them that it is a dirty thing, to be ashamed of and never spoken of, except with contempt and disgust.

I have never heard anywhere a Christian pastor, mega-pastor, conference speaker, or Christian author talk about what message these advertisers are sending to our daughters! I may have missed some, and I hope that to be the case. But their voices are being drowned out by warnings of seduction! But seduction wouldn’t even be a problem if Christian men dealt with the heart issue (above), but I digress.

What is the message that they are sending to our daughters? It goes right along with the message Christian summer camp is sending to our daughters. You aren’t worth honor and dignity. All you are is a pair of legs designed to entrap and entice men. At Summer camp we tell them to cover up. And the advertisers tell them to use it to sell. Either way, the heart of the issue is the same.

I know that I’m going to get some flack from certain circles for linking that video, but I did it anyway. If your hearts aren’t crying out for these girls locked in a cycle of abuse; if all you are thinking when you see it is sex and seduction, then your heart is desperately in need of cleansing, and only Christ can do that.

I’m very sad to live in a world where we talk about thigh gaps.

Why is it, to sum up this rambling post, that whenever we see sex used to sell a product, that we immediately start to think about the effect it has on “innocent” men, rather than the horrible effect it has on our daughters, who are absorbing the doctrine that their bodies are only for the purpose of arousing lust; that they aren’t good and created in God’s image, but they are something to be ashamed of, hidden away, lest a good man stumble?

Sorry for the ramble. It’s late. But the worst part of it all is this:

It is degrading to Christ

Whenever we shift the blame for our sins upon a woman’s dress or mannerisms, or even on her sinful behavior, we have unwittingly confessed that salvation lies in getting these women under control. But this is really idolatry, isn’t it?

Isn’t salvation reserved for Christ, and Christ alone?

I also was once a teenage boy, and needed no help from anyone to lust in the heart. I went to a school where dress codes were strictly monitored. We didn’t have any of those “hippy clothes” when I was growing up. No mini-skirts, no bikinis, none of those kinds of thing.

And I still blush in shame at the thoughts of my heart, and the conversation of my friends about girls that were created in God’s image. I didn’t need a monastery. I needed Christ. And I still need Christ, every day.

These girls that the Christian church looks down on as tramps or harpies are made in God’s image. They probably have sins of their own. They may indeed be dressing to attract undue attention from men for reasons of their own.

But they are broken sinners in need of redemption; not tramps to be despised and avoided, to be shamed and ridiculed, and certainly not to be used to sell clothes or beer.

Jesus looked at the multitudes with compassion, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. They had no protection, no one leading them to quiet water and green pastures.

Instead of looking at the world with disgust and self-righteous contempt, maybe we should pray for a heart to view the world with that kind of compassion.

We must be careful not to bless God with our tongues, while at the same time calling down curses upon men and women made in God’s image, no matter how they may be dressed. We must seek to know, to understand and to speak to all people as human beings of dignity and worth – whether the world understands it or not. The danger is in our filthy hearts, not in the length of the skirt.

For more on this topic, please see my follow-up post here

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