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: