15 May 2007

Modesty

by Frank Turk



Dan has shut the comments off on his post from yesterday, but he inspired some thoughts which I wanted to share.

First, consider the picture to the right. Many of you will see this woman (the actress Jeri Ryan) and recognize her immediately. And I don't think any would point to this picture of her and say, "wow. That's really provocative. She shouldn't be dressed like that in public." (Well, maybe our Mennonite readers in southwest Missouri -- but what are they doing reading a blog?) She looks good in this picture -- and we should all grow up to look this good when we grow up.

There's nothing wrong with her outfit there -- and it's hardly a burkha.

Now, before we go to the next photo, let's think about something: 1 Cor 12. This is not a passage of Scripture about how to dress in public, but a passage about how to behave in church vis a vis daGifts, right? But what's the example Paul uses to explain how to act in church? Why, it's how to dress in public! He says explicitly:

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.
See: the virtue of modesty is about treating "less honorable parts" with "greater honor".

So in that understanding of modesty, take a look at the photo to the left. Same actress. No skin exposed, for the most part (hands, face; nothing else out of bounds), but this costume leaves nothing to the, um, honorability of clothing. It is designed specifically to obey the letter of a law about nudity but violate the spirit of that same law.

So modesty is not about how many yards of cloth you wrap around yourself: it is about how we honor our bodies with the few yards of cloth we have. Honor your own body -- and I'll bet you receive honor in return.

And if you can't see the difference between the former outfit and this one -- which is not a matter of color or coverage but of honoring the parts of the body which require modesty -- don't start up the organ grinder music until you know where your monkey is.

Dan will have a post later today. [Dan here. Mm... not so much, sorry. Negotiating with Frank about tomorrow. —DJP] Consider this post eminently bumpable.









147 comments:

Daryl said...

Frank...

What are you talking about??? Those 4 outfits are identical!!

(Whaddya mean, "go back and read the post...")

On the other hand, methinks you couldn't've made the point any more clearly.

donsands said...

Excellent thoughts on modesty.

LeeC said...

So you are saying burkhas for everyone because you can't stop eating potato chips.

Got it.

I would like to point out that in my first post in that other thread I mentioned a case where I was in church. Before anyone else in my congregation starts speculating It was that weekend where I was away, at another church and I aint telling where.

Dwight W. said...

You said it well. I'm a 27 year old single male and leave it up to Hollywood to "corrupt" young mens minds. This just goes on to prove more that Eccl. 1:8 is true, "the eye is not satisfied with seeing".

See ya

Booklover said...

Case in point. The one who posted this article searched out an immodest photo of an actress. Some men complain about women's attire in church, yet they are totally familiar with actresses' immodest photos from TV and movies, and they know exactly where to find them on the internet.

That's like the man who complained about the tight spandex on women who work out at the local YMCA, yet he watched hours of Star Trek re-runs. What do the Star Trek women wear? Tight spandex!! (What should we wear while working out?? Ugly sweats and a boxy t-shirt??! How feminine!)

I'm sorry, but I really do believe all of this stems from the man blaming a woman for his own lust. Adam said, "The woman made me do it." After 6000 years, it hasn't stopped.

I could easily lust after my pastor's solid chest and broad shoulders. If I let my mind wander, it would not be his fault that he hadn't worn a padded tunic. It would be my own sin.

I only posted in the first place because of the direction the posts were going. I do believe that a female should not wear her underwear as outerwear. (I also believe they generally do not look sexy when they do that--just fat.) But some of the posts were saying women should not wear pants (they outline the crotch), and over-40-year-old women should not wear any clothing that hugs the body. Give me a break! After years of bearing children, it was so wonderful to be and look fit again!

Men, give us a break. If female attire is causing you to sin, SHUT OFF the TV, MOVIES, and INTERNET, and go volunteer at your local rescue mission.

LeeC said...

Booklover,
You still haven't read DJPs article have you?

You are arguing against things not only not said here, but openly denied from the start.

Me?
I could have done without the spandex photo. But you don't see me going Cent is sinning! And wagging my finger anymore than ANYONE here has even implied (except perhaps you) that we are blaming women for our sins.

Go listen to the links I put up in the other thread if you will.

Daryl said...

...here we go 'round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the...

...you have to be sexy to be feminine??? Gimme a break...

Leec, you nailed it. As have Cent and Dan.

...there is nothing new under the sun...or maybe..the are no new objections under the blog...

Daryl said...

Better close this one quick Cent...

(or just clip in the whole last thread and call it even)

I sense an avalanche coming on.

:)

C.T. Lillies said...

I agree with most of this and Dan's post. Yes of course its America and women can dress however they want. It is a 'free' country. The question isn't 'can you'...its 'should you?'

Amd please, can we just leave the pictures alone? Anyone with access to Google--Re: ANYONE--can find pics like that in something like two seconds.

Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

steve said...

In reading the comments, it becomes pretty obvious who has actually read Dan and Cent's posts, and who hasn't.

threegirldad said...

Is there any sort of blogging technology that would force people to pass a Reading Comprehension test before posting? Just wondering...

centuri0n said...

Bring the avalanche.

Booklover:

My friend, you are deeply confused. Dan's original point was (if I may paraphrase) that christian women ought to behave like christian women and have a high sense of modesty -- without having to wear tents which only allow them to walk and to see out the front.

In that, Ms. Ryan is a non-Christian who has been known to dress modestly and immodestly, and in her spectrum of clothes-wearing, we can think about what's right and what's wrong -- without having to link to centerfolds or other such trash.

This is not about movies: this is about the public behavior of Christian women (and men). Men should do well to keep their eyes to themselves; women should do well to, well, avoid Victoria's Secret and Brittney Spears as role models when the Bible gives us other clear and useful definitions to go by on this subject.

If you want to make it about wearing pants, you can go blog that someplace else. The focus here is not on whether pants are appropriate or not: it is about whether there is a standard in Scripture or not. Because there is, let's stick to that.

centuri0n said...

Josh -- I actually had to go to page 9 of Google image search to find a picture of Jeri Ryan in something other than her Star Trek outfit which passed for modest.

So let's please make a big deal out of THAT. THAT would certainly advance this discussion, right?

centuri0n said...

3GD:

Unfortunately, no. It makes me sad every day.

Steve:

Thank you. I appreciate your support.

DJP said...

threegirldadIs there any sort of blogging technology that would force people to pass a Reading Comprehension test before posting?

Oh, my. If only!

Maybe even a short quiz on the post itself.

threegirldad said...

>centuri0n said...
>
>3GD:
>
>Unfortunately, no. It makes me sad every >day.

I realize that. The question was meant tongue-in-cheek. I guess I should have either put a winkie at the end or something.

HOOKEM said...

The root of the issue is that unfortunately we find ourselves amidst an epidemic both inside and outside the church of sexual addiction. I am sorry but do not trivialize this issue by trying to reduce it to preference of clothing. Families are being destroyed each and every day because we have a society that feeds sexual hunger and teaches that it's o.k. And as both Dan and frank have illustrated, the standard in the church has become increasingly LOOSER!

The following is an excerpt from a post I wrote on this exact subject. Please forgive me for violating blog etiquette here by pushing my own blog, but very few people truly understand the nature of this beast. People need to understand the chemical make up of a man's brain and what takes place when a man sees something, intended or not, that stimulates his brain. A chemical process begins that can not be stopped.

"Let’s be real, a brother can’t even go to the grocery store without being bombarded with sexually explicit magazines and advertisements. Unfortunately we as men find ourselves smack in the middle of an epic sexualization of society. So, if we are keeping it real, every one of us finds ourselves on the proverbial “Bell Curve” of sexual addiction. As a point of reference, those on the far left of the curve are winning the battle and have instituted a game plan to protect against unwanted images and thoughts being processed and held captive in their minds. Those on the far right of the curve are the heinous lifeless criminals we read and hear about that have committed rape, molestation ect. My point is this, sexual addiction is unequivocally devastating, and it ALWAYS starts on the left side of the curve."

The remainder of the article can be found at : http://seeksignificance.blogspot.com/2007/03/men-of-honor-1-of-3.html


Frank Said "it is about whether there is a standard in Scripture or not. Because there is, let's stick to that" Bro, sorry but the second photo, granted vividly makes your point, would not meet your proposed standard of scripture on many levels and frankly is not appropriate for this blog.

Scott Bailey said...

I started talking about this last week...

http://scotteriology.wordpress.com/2007/05/04/jesus-loves-you-in-that-outfit/

Tom Chantry said...

This seemed like an intriguing thread, so I skimmed the original post, and I was shocked - SHOCKED - by Cent’s legalistic censure of Mennonites who read blogs. Missouri Mennonites are as much within their rights to read blogs as any other Mennonites, and Cent’s heartless singling-out, as though they are to blame for the online struggles of men with twisted minds and wicked net-surfing habits, is unconscionable. It all goes to show how sanctimonious and legalistic Team Pyro really is. What’s next? Are Missouri Mennonites allowed to play computer solitaire? I suppose he thinks they should just wrap themselves in neo-Luddite obscurity and junk their PC’s. It’s all his fault anyway. If he hadn’t posted about Missouri Mennonites they wouldn’t have googled their way into this blog in the first place. Cent should really pay a little more attention to his own heart and quit picking on the poor blog-starved Anabaptists!

OK, I’m done venting now. I’m going to go back and read the post thoroughly.

centuri0n said...

Hookem:

No question. The second picture is not modest. No question at all. That is exactly the point.

centuri0n said...

Tom:

it's nice when the readers really catch me point exactly, and I'm glad you did. Nice work.

centuri0n said...

3DG:

Yes -- my comment was one-upping your snark. Yours well played.

Sewing said...

Where is the Holy Spirit in the holier-than-thou attitude that certain commenters are displaying? We have one commenter implying that all other male commenters are skeezy pervs who can't stop leering at women—whereas he, of course, is above all that with his admirable self-control—and another commenter accusing certain authors of enjoying looking at pictures of actresses in tight-fitting costumes.

Man, oh man. I think conservative Christians and '60s feminists could actually agree that women should feel free to dress how they wish, in a way that's not designed to allure men—in other words, modestly; but evidently, 40 years on, feminism means a woman's being allowed to lay claim to her sexuality and do with it what she will and men—being, of course, the ignorant, unenlightened creatures that we are (except for that one male commenter) just have a problem if they notice it.

Please forgive me for this somewhat un-Christian lashing out, but I can't believe the tone that's emerged in the last thread and this one. I'm kind of blown away.

I agree with leec, though, that we could have done without the second photo.

art said...

Sewing:

commenters are skeezy pervs who can't stop leering at women—whereas he, of course, is above all that with his admirable self-control

Perhaps you should have actuallly read what I wrote:

I am not keeping myself out of this. When I lust after a woman I am being a skeezy perv too. I take responsibility for that, repent, and continue on with the battle with help from the Spirit.

centuri0n said...

Back to the original question I aked you, Art: is it wrong for a woman to be naked in public?

Rather than dodge that, you might want to walk it off for us so we can understand what exactly you're saying.

jsb said...

I'd just like to add one little item here, a point of great confusion and pain for many Christian men. The physiological response we get when we see, e.g., something like this second photo is NOT a sin. James 1:14,15 is a crucial verse to understand in this regard. It is a key to understanding what Jesus meant when he talked about lusting. He meant an intentional lusting after a specific target, not the mere optic nerve in operation. To believe the latter is to take a step toward madness.

That being said, the key point Dan and Cent and so many others make still stands. "Consideration of others" is a Christian virture, and it applies to both sexes. This should not be controversial.

HOOKEM said...

I am confident that God is not confused by male and female sexual attraction to one another. Therefore He created each of us with a WOW factor. Our WOW is not sin, skeezy, or perverted.... It's our HMMMMM....that breaks the code of conduct.

Sewing said...

Okay, my apologies for taking the tone that I did. And I agree—and all the men who have commented here would agree—that it is not right to look at women like that. It is something I am aware of and am working on every day. But to pick up on what Hookem wrote, we do live in a society with a hyper-sexualization of popular culture, which is considered quite acceptable to many people, evidently. We all—men and women—need to work together in our Christian communities to create desexualized (sorry for the blunt word) oases as safe havens from the onset of secular culture all around us.

Sewing said...

My last comment was a response to Art.

centuri0n said...

Hookem:

Feel free to read my post now.

BTW, your advice was good and I have updated the second pic for the sake of modesty.

Now if I can only get her eyebrow to twitch ... dude ...

art said...

Art: is it wrong for a woman to be naked in public?

Rather than dodge that, you might want to walk it off for us so we can understand what exactly you're saying.


In our culture: yes. In other cultures: no. Obviously. Not sure why you would think that I would dodge that question.

The original point that I was attempting to make before being sidetracked by people questioning my salvation and belief in the authority of Scripture was this:

Men, also, need to take into account the fact that they are sinning and should not push all of the blame on the women. We should focus on that as well.

The other point was that modesty is going to look different based on the context. Tribal regions in Africa: naked is not risque. Grocery shopping in America naked: definitely out of line. Culture and context play a big role in what is considered modest. Which means that every culture and context needs to flesh out the issues that you wrote about today...and that is going to look different in different contexts.

Not sure what why that is so crazy to think.

rickB said...

What?

Now you have to read before posting?

Now you are making another standard!

DJP said...

Art, trying to fault Frank for not reading him carefully.

I've died and gone to Ironyville.

Jeff said...

Good post Cent! I like the way your made your point. There certainly is a way of being covered and yet being immodest. However, there is no way of being uncovered and yet modest (publicly of course).

Frankly (no pun intended), I have never understood the arguemnt: It's the lusty man's problem--he shouldn't be looking. I willingly grant that men bear responsibility for their eyes, thoughts, etc. But, I have never understood how that excuses or otherwise relieves the female of any and all responsibility. One last thing on this subject, it is not only Christian men that see immodest Christian women in public.

art said...

I never said that he didn't read me carefully. I was just staying what my original points were.

centuri0n said...

Art:

That's lovely. So the reason that there is modesty at all is because of human cultures and not because of the Gospel culture. That is, either the Bible doesn't tell us anything about what human modesty ought to be, or we don't have any obligation to follow that standard.

Thanks. No reason to argue against that. Let me know if you need any help getting out of that hole.

Daryl said...

Art,

Let's not follow this bunny trail by the way...but...the culture thing could be a bit of a red herring for 3 reasons.

A)You & I don't live in the African Interior.

B)What my experience in western non-north American cultures shows me is that in the "west" the standards of modesty are pretty much the same across the board.

C) Culture is just as fallen as anything else so it's a pretty bad standard to go by, even in Africa.

Back to the topic at hand...

Everything else you said in your last post has been said and re-said by virtually everyone since the beginning. (Including, most importantly, original blogs by both Dan & Cent)

NOBODY HAS PUSHED ALL THE BLAME ON THE WOMEN!!!
(I'm sorry, did I shout?)

art said...

So the reason that there is modesty at all is because of human cultures and not because of the Gospel culture.

I never said this...I did say that the principles that you talked about today (i.e. the Biblical principles) need to be worked out in context. No where did I say that the entity of "modesty" comes from culture and not Scripture. What modesty actually looks like is affected by context and culture, but what modesty actually is comes from Scripture.

Your sarcasm and tone is a great example to us all.

C.T. Lillies said...

So let's please make a big deal out of THAT

*chuckle

Exactly.

I keep expecting someone to bring up the issue of Christian liberty in clothing or start parsing the Greek word for 'being modest' or something...

Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

Janet said...

This is just absurd.

I took the original post as a gentle reminder to women and young ladies to love their brother in Christ enough to dress so that our clothing can help them along in their walk with the Lord, not be a distraction. I was not offended in any way by Dan and now Cent's posts.

Gee, what a concept, love your neighbor more than yourself. It is a small sacrifice to pay.

Both men and women are responsible here. It's called holiness PEOPLE!!!

Snarky, I know.

LeeC said...

Art said:
"Men, also, need to take into account the fact that they are sinning and should not push all of the blame on the women. We should focus on that as well.

The other point was that modesty is going to look different based on the context. Tribal regions in Africa: naked is not risque. Grocery shopping in America naked: definitely out of line. Culture and context play a big role in what is considered modest. Which means that every culture and context needs to flesh out the issues that you wrote about today...and that is going to look different in different contexts.

Not sure what why that is so crazy to think. "

It's not, and thats why it was thoroughly covered in the original post. Hence also Dans comment to drop it as a dead horse not germain to the authors intent.

If that is what you were saying it was drowned out in what read like a self righteous proclamation of everyone elses perversion.

Please note the words "read like".

As for challenging your salvation I saw no such thing. Are we to assume everyone here is saved?
Is it loving to make such an assumption?
Furthermore the nature of a response (just like with what we should wear) is predicated on that very thing. It is different for Christians than non.

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Assume the best whatever is right true ect.

Tom Chantry said...

Back when I taught school I had a student with a short temper. Upon sensing mockery he would yell and shout, stamp his feet and throw paper and pencils wildly about. His temper was sinful. He needed to be admonished for it frequently.

Of course, there were other students who found this all quite humorous. They would go out of their way to provoke him, because, sadly, that’s what kids do. They would try to subtly insult him so they could watch the fireworks. When they succeeded, he would sin in his anger, but they, too, had sinned.

If a man lusts at a woman, he sins, but if a woman sets out to drive a man to lust, does she not sin also?

OK, so far this may seem on topic, but it’s not quite, because Cent and Dan haven’t necessarily been talking about women who try to entice. A woman may unknowingly dress in a way that any man (or more mature woman) could tell her is provocative, but she herself doesn’t see it. Did she sin? Probably not, but should nothing be said to her?

To return to my tantrum-throwing student - one of his worst outbursts was directed against a classmate who clearly hadn’t meant to provoke him. He made an unguarded but not unkind comment which predictably elicited the anger of his already-smoldering friend. What now?

I later pulled aside the boy who had unintentionally created the pretense for an explosion and said, “Look, you need to understand that you can’t talk that way to so-and-so. You can joke with your other friends that way, or even with me, but not him. He responds badly, and you know it.” Of course he defended himself by pleading, “But I wasn’t trying to make him mad!” I said that I understood that perfectly, but that it is wise to understand the weakness of others. After all, we had to coexist peacefully for a year, and it would be best to avoid stirring up wrath, no matter how inadvertently. Of course, if he really was trying to be cruel, I trust his conscience convicted him of it, but I suspect he was innocent. Nonetheless, there was a lesson to be learned.

Team Pyro has done nothing more than offer a similar, non-accusatory bit of advice. The fact which has been abundantly attested on these threads is that men - all men - are powder-kegs when it comes to this issue. This is because they are sinners. No one is more responsible than the man who lusts. It is, however, an area in which both prudence and charity dictate that the sisters among us not attempt to toss in a lit match.

My reading of these posts was that Dan essentially drew aside our sisters and said, “Listen, I’m not suggesting you mean to do it, but did you realize that some of the clothing some of you wear creates a problem? Have you considered what prudence and charity tell you about your clothing?” Then, after much hooting and hollering, mostly from the people (men) Dan wasn’t talking to, Cent added a further word, also without any accusation and without shifting the blame away from the men: “Have you closely considered your own heart? Does your clothing suggest that you honor your body, which is a precious creation of God?”

Now, if only he hadn’t dragged in those poor Mennonites…

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

...But thanks to Tom Chantry for speaking up for the Mennonites. The Anabaptists got enough grief from Calvin himself, they don't need any more from Frank. ;)

(Original sarcastic point taken.)

Sewing said...

Sorry for that complete non-sequitor to Tom's spot-on comment. I for one will stop commenting now.

Touchstone said...

tom chantry,

Those are good points you make, especially with regard to the distinctions about a woman's *intent*. And for what it's worth, I didn't take Dan or Cent's words in a particularly accusatory tone.

The problem isn't that it's accusatory, but that it saddles women with a moral conundrum: If my wife is to take Dan's words to heart, and I think we all agree it's serious issue, worth sober contemplation, then in order to comply with Dan's appeal ("Give us guys a break!") she has no identifiable stopping points, and ultimately slides into wearing a burka, or not going out in public.

If the plea is: help us men by covering up more, then isn't it less helpful to cover up less than more. My wife thinks that it would be maximally helpful to just not going out in public for helping with this problem for men, or covering up completely if you must.

She wants to be maximally helpful in response to Dan. What should she do?

-Touchstone

DAD said...

Scripture is clear - to be truly modest women must wear no clothing whatsoever:

1Pe 3:3 Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing--







Sorry - couldn't help myself. ;)

Tom Chantry said...

Sorry Touchtone, but I completely reject the insinuation that an absense of absolute specifics somehow invalidates the advice Dan and Cent gave. It's just not so.

Of course we could play the "what-hem-line-is-acceptable" game and try to pin these guys down. In doing so we could demonstrate that they can't find a specific chapter-and-verse argument for any particluar hemline. We could further drop broad hints that this proves that the Lord doesn't care about hemlines.

But we would be wrong, and we all know it.

To urge our sisters to employ charity and prudence in this matter is not legalism. Nor is it insufficiently specific to be helpful.

We could all deconstruct this post's language until it becomes hopelessly muddled, but why would we? The meaning was clear, and it was correct. I hope that your motive is not to eliminate all standards of modesty, but that is a direction in which your reasoning could tend. I trust none of us want to live in a church in which that has happened.

Gummby said...

TStone: for starters, she could read this, and then do some Spring Cleaning. This is good, practical advice of the type some may be looking for as a result of the principles mentioned here at Pyro.

LeeC said...

Touchstone,
There are several very helpful suggestions and links already here.

As I said earlier our church sends out a survey to men to ask them what bothers them in this regard, then some of the ladies look it over, and compile a basic list merely so that ladies can take these things into consideration.

My wife has asked me to tell her if something she is wearing is provocative in any way. She wants to be pretty, but she does not want ot be "sexy" for any man but me.

The main issue that has been pointed out repeatedly is "Am I others minded in regards to encouraging them to good deeds?" When I look at that blouse do I ask myself "Is this exposing too much of me?" Lets not be coy, yes there are cultural variances in time and place, but every culture knows what is made to attract those of the opposite sex.

There are jeans, then there are jeans that are specificaly made to entice. Use common sense. As a fashion oblivous man it seems very obvious to me what garments are meat to accentuate parts of the anatomy that are only to be shared with a spouse. Sweatpants with the words "Juicy" across the backside are out. ect.

There is no hard and fast rule, the thing is to simply care enough to think about it, and to show biblical love to the brethren in every instance of our choicemaking.

That may just mean being careful how you sit or bend over. I have often been in the embarassing situation where I have had to get whiplash to avoid being flashed by someone bending over with a cowl neck blouse.

And sometimes things like that just happen. men don't get all Taiban about it, just try to avoid looking, and if you do look once then DON'T look twice, tell your wife and move on. And women don't run yourselves nuts till you are wearing a burkha, just try and think of others and be pretty, without being alluring. Thats for your husband.

Lee

Libbie said...

I wasn't going to post further on this, but I feel compelled to do so...


Gummby, that is one top and excellent avatar.

farmboy said...

What I'm looking for is, how shall I say, an Art-ful application of rule 4.

Even So... said...

Jerry Falwell is dead...

centuri0n said...

TStone:

For the record, when I swim at a public pool, I wear a "shorty" wet suit which covers me from neck to upper thigh, as does my wife, and my children also. Whether I am an adonis or a michelin man, there's no sense in parading my body around like no one will notice.

So she should read 1 Cor 12, and treat her less honorable parts with greater honor and clothe them appropritely -- in the same way I do the same for mine.

Let me give you a class-A example. I was on a walk with my family this weekdend, and coming the other way was a rather obese fellow -- and he had his shirt off because it was hot for the rest of us whose weight did not have to be measured in tons, so I imagine it was outrageously hot for him.

Having his shirt off exposed his chest. I'm not going to be any more specific than that -- that's plenty, maybe too much. I was embarassed for him, and for my daughter who couldn't help but stare in shock and amazement.

I really don't care how hot is was: he should have kept his shirt on. It was extraordinarily immodest of him to do otherwise.

That's completely black-and white. But on the other side of that same b&w fence, if a woman who is exactly the same height and weight as this guy came out in public in spandex or tight cotton, or if this fellow did such a thing, it would be equally immodest.

The question is not, "what will other people think?" That's a relative standard. The question is, "how do I show the right amount of honor to my parts which require more dignity than to be bare to the world?"

Do honor to your own body. Why is that so hard to grasp? If it were Jesus' body, would he treat it like it was for sale, or would he treat it like a temple of the Holy Spirit?

If you change the subject, I'll only bring you back here. Don't try to change the definitions here so that you can spank legalism.

centuri0n said...

JD --

Holy Mackerel.

I was just reading that he was in the hospital.

I'm closing the blog comments down until tomorrow.

centuri0n said...

The comments are back "on" here, and I thank you for taking a day off from the fight in memory of Rev. Jerry Falwell.

As you were.

philness said...

Art,

Hypothetical Question here: Some ladies in your church approach you and tactfully tell you that your attire is both sexually provocative and distractive to them and suggest you wear more modest clothing to church in the future.

Will you heed their admonishment and change your attire by next Sunday or will you tell the ladies that they need to take into account the fact that they are sinning and should not push all the blame on you?

Loving Statement here: I pray the Lord will not take you to task concerning this subject, lest you become even more stubborn and require even more of a severe spiritual whipping.

candyinsierras said...

Well, in my opinion, not only should we dress modestly, but I say we rise up as women of God and rid the world of tie-dye and shiny polyester.

UinenMaia said...

Thanks! Providentially enough, I read your post last night. So this morning in my 10th grade English class, when one of my students asked me if spandex were against the dress code, I was able to deliver an answer worthy of my calling to be salt and light.

Had I not read you, I would probably have focused on the "ick factor" of spandex when applied to many a person. That would have made the point, but I would have missed the oppportunity to share the deeper meaning. And although I have no clue as to the spiritual status of most of my students, I could see that it made some girls and guys think a little about their wardrobe choices.

My thanks and appreciation for your excellent discourse on the subject! (That goes for both this post and the previous one that got the ball rolling.)

Gummby said...

Libbie: thank you.

He is, after all, one of the greatest sidekicks in history, and I was indeed inspired by your floating Dalek of days gone by.

Libbie said...

Yeah, Blogger ate my Dalek. :-(

Bike Bubba said...

Actually, regarding the "see those pygmies in Africa don't see nudity as immodest," it's worth noting that their neighbors in nearby Christian villages are clothed, and that reports (e.g. those cited in Dabney's volume of systematic theology) exist that even the "pygmies" see European nudity as immodest. So I don't know that we can really say that any place where 'cloth' is available sees nudity as modest.

And a gentle hint for those striving for modesty; visit a good quality men's clothing store and listen to the guy selling the suits. A lot of immodesty is simply clothes that don't fit; pants and skirts that hang on the hips instead of the waist, shirts and blouses where the sleeve seams fall too high on the shoulder, and shirts worn so tight that one can see around the buttons.

Listen to the salesman and apply what he says, and you're likely to be very modest--and look great!

art said...

Philness:

I pray the Lord will not take you to task concerning this subject, lest you become even more stubborn and require even more of a severe spiritual whipping.

I pray the same for you.

Carrie said...

So I guess the moral of the story is that a Christian woman can never join Starfleet. Or do you take issue with Chikotay's uniform also?

centuri0n said...

Yeah, that's it Carrie. That was exactly my point.

Thanks. I'm glad I opened the comments back up.

:-(

Reformed Hero said...

The entire issue is problematic, in that while there is certainly such a thing as modesty and a Biblical foundation for approaching the subject, it is nonetheless inseparably joined and relative to a particular culture.

To deny this or downplay it brings to the forefront the traits of fundamentalism that most people -- including people of good will -- find distasteful, abusive and overbearing.

In short, Legalism. And that's exactly what it is -- placing as moral law something which is simply not clearly defined in the Bible.

For example, the photo of Jeri Ryan, which is used as a good example, would be considered quite flashy and provocative by some people; the example of the Mennonites was used in a mocking tone, but I can assure you that most people -- intelligent, reasonable persons of good will -- would find this post and its "concern" to be just as good a target for mocking and just as quaint and "out of touch" as you do the Mennonites....

Were the Puritans Biblical? Were they serious and well-educated students of Holy Scripture? I believe so. And I also know that they would have found Miss Ryan's attire, make-up and hair-dye to have been outrageous, reeking of self-vanity and to be of a totally wanton nature. Yet you provide this as a good example.

Same Bible. Same general worldview (i.e., conservative Protestants). Different culture. And that's what makes it relative. And that's also what makes it reek of fundamentalist legalism. It's just one of those subjects.

Indeed, Miss Ryan and most of your wives would, in all due respect, be most likely be viewed as whorish in appearance by the Puritans and they'd make a good argument, knowing the Puritans.

That there is "nothing wrong" with Ryan's attire is totally a subjective, relative opinion. Why is there "nothing wrong" with it? Because you say so? Her legs are showing. In 1890 in polite American and English culture that would have been positive indication that she was a dancing girl whore, if not a prostitute out and out.

And the way most of your wives go to the beach or even look at a church picnic when wearing shorts....scandalous!

Frank, it's totally a subjective thing, totally relative to culture. Your example is wanting and the entire things drips with legalism.

Matt said...

I can sympathize with Frank's disappointment. Here he makes a wonderful post about my Mennonite brothers in Missouri, and this entire thread gets hijacked and goes off on a tangent about clothing and modesty.

Some people just miss the forest for the trees.

Matt said...

Reformedhero,

you posted while I was writing, so I just saw your comment now. Look, nobody here is saying that there is no such thing as context when it comes to appropriate wardrobe choices. I made the comment on Dan's thread, though, that when the basic premise of an argument is irrefutable (such as the plea for Christian modesty), people such as yourself revert back to making such ridiculous, specific applications in order to discredit the arguments general point. Nonsense.

This is a plea for common sense. There was no legalism to be found in Dan's post or in Franks. They did not give a specific dress code of measurements and colours (I'm a Canadian), etc.

Any sincere, praying Christian with a concern to obey the Word, both Living and Written, is able to discern modesty from immodesty if they are willing to apply a little good old common sense.

threegirldad said...

Reformed Hero says:
"In short, Legalism. And that's exactly what it is -- placing as moral law something which is simply not clearly defined in the Bible."

Dictionary.com says:
1. strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit.

2. Theology.
a. the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.

b. the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more not less."
- Through the Looking-Glass

Daryl said...

Is there tag-team non-post-reading going on? Cent pretty much ended the day yesterday by shutting Art off for was reading legalistic requirements into an article that never mentioned it and up pops another...

I think Matt's second last post pretty well sums it up...

I feel your pain Cent.

Daryl said...

3gd...

Humpty Dumpty got pushed off the wall just after he said "Well it depends what you mean by scrambled..."

Tom Chantry said...

Cent, how dare you. You read in the Bible the word "modest," and you thought it meant something. How pedestrian.

Here's my addition for the blog-screening wish list. We need some software that scans a poster's entire output and checks for two details. If any poster at any point argues against the perspicuity of Scripture (suggesting that a word in the Bible can't possibly carry any meaning without violating Scripture would be an example) and claims to be "reformed," the software would automatically insert a "quasi-" immediately before each occurance of "reformed."

Sewing said...

Totally OT (as if that mattered any more), but Matt: From a Mennonite Brethren to a Mennonite, post something on your blog so I can comment on it. We have the same taste in music, too (although I also like Classical).

mensa reject said...

What is so difficult about doing a little reverse engineering to see if this applies?

As I see it, this specific issue can be boiled down to a couple simple questions for the ladies out there:

"Do Christian men struggle with lust?"

Check.

"Am I doing anything to make that struggle more difficult?"

And if so, "What steps can I take to aid the Christian men around me, and be a blessing instead of a hindrance?"

It's really just that simple.

No one is trying to foist a particular dress code on anyone else. All we should be talking about here is how to aid and assist each other’s spiritual growth through our outward appearance (and in particular, how to aid believing men, who were formerly skeezy pervs, lost in their sins). Figure out the nuts and bolts of how that applies to you on your own time, between you and the Spirit that resides within you.

Frank and Dan have not placed the full weight of any believing man's struggle against lust--much less the guilt for their sin--on the shoulders of Christian women. They're simply calling on those Christian women to examine themselves lest they be part of the problem.

And frankly, I have strong concerns for any believers who can't (or refuse to) see that this is an issue where they need to put the interests of others above their own freedom, sense of style, pride, etc. (Phil 2:3,4).

threegirldad said...

Grrrrrr. "...neither more not less" was supposed to be "neither more nor less". Oh well...

Matt said...

Sewing, I hate selfless self-promotion, but in the spirit of Romans 7:15, here goes :-).

I have not been posting up to this point, because, frankly, I don't feel adequate to be trying to "teach" others. Tim Challies had a good post about the impacts of Christian blogging today on his own blog.

In the last few days, however, I have seriously considered starting to blog on theological issues. I believe my first entry will be on soteriology. I have had an extended (friendly and irenic) debate on soteriology with Randy Brandt from the contend4thefaith blog. I'll be putting it up once we're finished. If I like the idea of blogging, you can look forward to my thoughts about neo-anabaptism and the liberalism that is unfortunately creeping in to some of the mainstream Mennonite denominations. Keep visiting my blog if you're seriously interested. I'll have something up shortly.

I feel so dirty. Was I being modest here?

ps - I also like classical music! Mozart and REO Speedwagon are my favourites.

centuri0n said...

Reformed Hero:

That is maybe the worst version of that argument I have ever heard.

If you e-mail me, I'll tell you why.

centuri0n said...

Mensa:

You only say that because you're afraid your Mom is going to read this. Without her as your moral compass, you'd be like me -- or worse.

Sewing said...

Matt, thanks for referring me to contend4thefaith, and I'll keep an eye on your blog.

Yeah, I like Classic Rock as well—considering some (most) of the lyrics, something I may have to rethink now that I'm born again.

I have sinned and led my brother astray in encouraging your immodesty. I've also sinned in all these OT comments, so please forgive me, Frank and Dan, and I'll refrain from further commenting (for now ;)).

centuri0n said...

Matt --

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus. At least ONE person read my original post and didn't lose his marbles.

Sheesh.

Reformed Hero said...

Matt wrote:

"This is a plea for common sense."

One thing that was a common refrain during my master's in philosophy (and not unheard of in the more apologetically oriented lectures during my doctorate program at the University of Edinburgh) was "one man's common sense is another man's nonsense."

The fact remains the entire issue is solely subjective and relative to culture. What was stated concerning the very godly Puritans (and even polite society of the late 19th century in England and America) stands. What most conservative Christians view as quite nice and acceptable casual wear and beach attire would have been labeled whorish -- or worse -- by those godly, Biblical, devout people. They would have also told you to simply employ "common sense"!

"There was no legalism to be found in Dan's post or in Franks. They did not give a specific dress code of measurements and colours (I'm a Canadian), etc."

Don't be so obtuse. One doesn't have to spell out specifics, the piece was nothing but a missive on legalism. It even brought out real-world examples and included photos, for goodness sake!

"Any sincere, praying Christian with a concern to obey the Word, both Living and Written, is able to discern modesty from immodesty if they are willing to apply a little good old common sense."

Rubbish. No argument or meaningful statement there, to say the least. "Just use common sense".....doesn't exactly equate to anything of substance. "Common"? That means a referral to what is *common* (hence the word, common....) among the populace.

Is that Girls Gone Wild common or what goes on in the typical American university (secular and "Christian") on a Friday night common? Or just the common nightclub?

Lawyers refer to the "reasonable man criteria," which is all the same thing. This doesn't help you at all, as all that is simply appealing to is....the subjective, relative cultural tastes of the time. Nothing more, nothing less. Which is precisely my premise in the first place. You're rowing with one oar in the water.

threegirldad c&p'd:

"b. the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws."

If I appealed to..."dictionary.com" in reference to legalism or legalistic tendencies in my ethics lectures it would have caused some derision. Regardless, even using such a generic source the premise still stands.

It was precisely asserted that certain forms of dressing, especially by women, was causing men (good grief) to sin...and the women (this is 2007, correct?) should therefore watch what they are wearing by being more....Biblical. In other words, the judging of conduct (in this case, how one dresses) in terms of adherence to precise laws.

Those laws don't exist. Hence the meandering in the piece, but that it meandered in the realm of an attempted legalism is clear. Which is why it is characteristic of American Fundamentalism -- meandering around in legalistic fashion about subjects that have no clear Law mandate in Scripture. Bob Jones University did it with race....denied it was "legalistic" but nonetheless appealed to a "common sense" so that you adhere to the non-legal legalism. Others at different times applied it to dancing (of any kind), others to card playing, others to going to movies, others to the wearing of any makeup by women. All "common sense" appeals. Ad nauseum.

The Bible doesn't provide any indication on what is proper attire for women in the New Testament. "Common sense" doesn't say a word on the subject, nor does any appeal to "principles." As stated, godly, highly educated Christians from the past would label most conservative Christian women's attire today (specifically summer casual and beach wear) as positively whorish.

I can assure you, American Fundamentalism is saturated with a species of legalism that shouts loudly that such petty man-made rules/codes/principles/"common sense" are not necessary for salvation -- but you had better adhere to them or else you are not faithful to the Gospel and/or are causing others to sin.

Legalism -- regardless of the label one wishes to place upon it.

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

Okay. Once upon a time, long before I was born again, I attended services at a United Church of Canada (equivalent to the United Methodist Church, but even more liberal—I have since seen the light, though ;)) congregation. The female pastor was well versed in feminist hermeneutics, and in general was as far away as possible from being a Fundamentalist as one can imagine, and certainly no legalist. (She was also a Hebrew scholar and gifted Old Testament exegete, which is why I continued going to that church—but that's another story.)

She also dressed with deliberate, exceeding modesty, to the point that it was clear that all attention was to be placed on God and on the words she spoke, not on her physical appearance. (And yes, I noticed.) Is modesty a relative concept? Does it vary between times, places, and cultures? Perhaps. But is this really a hard thing to figure out? And you (Art, Reformed Hero, et al.) are not really setting out a decent or plausible critique of what Dan and Frank have written, even though you seem to think that you are.

And Reformed Hero, was it really necessary to use the wh-word, particularly in the ad feminem way you used it in your penultimate comment? Anyhow, the Puritans were obsessed with witches, not wh***s.

Daryl said...

To repeat an oft mentioned refrain...when a plea for kindess in dress on behalf of the guys goes out, and it's the women who chime in the loudest in agreement...I just don't get what some people don't get.

I re-read the post (as I'm sure many have) to see what I missed. Don't think I missed anything. Certainly didn't miss any legalism.

As someone who lives on the same continent as Dan & Cent (although Canadian...lucky me) I suspect that part of the difficulty in the church is the reverse of what is being claimed. Yes, legalism is a problem...somewhere on some topics, but isn't the REAL problem that the N.American church HATES to be called to account and Cent & Dan have called (gently) a certain part of the population to account.

Anyhow, that's how I see it.

Daryl said...

I said "...I suspect that part of the difficulty in the church is the reverse of what is being claimed..."

Lest I be misunderstood, I meant "is being claimed by a precious few bloggers (not referring in anyway to the original post...)

Matt said...

Reformedhero,

you seem to insinuate that because we can't draw specific, precise, legal boundaries (if we did, then we WOULD be guilty of legalism), then there is no basic principle which carries any merit.

Clearly, the Bible teaches NOTHING of modesty, right?

Further, if a native African woman came into your church to do a special number, and she wore absolutely nothing but a loin cloth, that would be perfectly acceptable?

You set up a classic false dichotomy: either 1)you have to enforce specific legal requirements and become fixated on the letter of the law, OR 2) there is no general principle, and certainly no spirit of the law.

michelle said...

I have been watching this conversation unfold, and I guess I am a bit mystified...

Why do we have a problem with seeking to love our brother in the way that we dress? What is the big deal? Does not the Scripture state that we are to esteem the other as higher than ourselves? Are we not to defraud our brother or sister by not advertising what we cannot offer them? And why, given the overly sexual nature of our culture, would we as Christian women seek to wear things that are designed to entice and allure and encourage wrong thoughts about us in the men we encounter? I mean, if we all wear burkhas (did I spell that right?) or a potato sack and a man still wants to think wrongly of us, well, there is not much we can do for that poor fellow. Or, to be a little less extreme, if we wear a nice pair of slacks with a highcut, tasteful blouse, and he STILL wnats to think wrongly of us, well, we've done all we can do...but to wear something that is designed to be suggestive...why would we want to do that? Why would we want to be seen in this light? I just don't get it.

Perhaps I am missing something...

Oh, and one more thought...the whole argument of "everything is relative" is a sort of smokescreen in my view. So what if everything is relative? That just means there are no hard and fast, black and white "thou shalt nots" in terms of specific articles of clothing that are off limits...that means we actually have to think about what we wear, what kind of message it sends, and whether or not it may or may not send a wrong message. In our culture we can point to certain things that are immodest and say, "Gee, perhaps I shouldn't wear that". These things may or may not be the same in other cultures, but that does not negate the basic principle being set forth here. The principle itself transcends those various cultures, and is relevant to each and every one of them. That is may look different from one place to another does not make the principle null and void.

I suppose I am repeating what others have said, but I just had to vent for a few moments. Please carry on with your conversation. :o)

michelle said...

And here's another thought (sorry, I'm on a roll...)

To flip the script a little on this whole "everything is relative to culture" thought...

Fashion is a product of culture. Certain styles communicate certain things in a given culture. There are fashion statements that are designed to be sexual, enticing, alluring...we all know what they are in our cultural context. So, why can't we apply our cultural savvy in THIS sense, and seek to avoid those things we know will communicate the wrong message in our particular culture.

We don't live in a vacuum. We are affected by our cultlure. Men and women alike. We are a visual lot - TV, Internet, print media, massive billboards on the side of the expressway...we are bombarded with images that are designed to encourage certain emotions. We don't become robots when we are saved; these messages affect the sinful nature that still lives in us all.

So, in the name of love for our neighbor, should we not take things cultural messages into account when we decide how we present ourselves and seek not to be a part of encouraging those emotions?

And yes, unfortantely, the burden fall disporportionately on the shoulders of us women, for we are the ones that are exposed and exploited the most in media. So we do need to think deeply about these issues and how culture has affected the way we think about dress.

Okay, I'm done...going bed to now!!

As you were... :o)

Joseph said...

If the hijab was good enough for Virgin Mary (as all good artists know), it's good enough for all Christian women. Just because some guy in Arabia made it a rule for his wives 600 years later doesn't mean that that headpiece should be abandoned. Hard to get more modest than that, no?

threegirldad said...

reformed hero wrote:
"If I appealed to...'dictionary.com' in reference to legalism or legalistic tendencies in my ethics lectures it would have caused some derision. Regardless, even using such a generic source the premise still stands.

It was precisely asserted that certain forms of dressing, especially by women, was causing men (good grief) to sin...and the women (this is 2007, correct?) should therefore watch what they are wearing by being more....Biblical. In other words, the judging of conduct (in this case, how one dresses) in terms of adherence to precise laws."

I used Dictionary.com simply because it offered a definition specific to theology. At any rate, what I was responding to was the phrase "placing as moral law something which is simply not clearly defined in the Bible" in the previous post.

I invite everyone following this discussion to consult whichever dictionaries they deem authoritative and judge for themselves. So far, I haven't found one that defines "legalism" in a way that bears any resemblance to the statement I object(ed) to.

wordsmith said...

If establishing some sort of standard is "legalistic," then does that mean that insisting that the believers have the obligation to abide by the Ten Commandments is legalism?

Or does the it-smacks-of-legalism crowd want to rename the Decalogue "The Ten Suggestions"?

If a woman's attire contributes to a man's committing adultery in his heart, is she not guilty of causing him to stumble? What did Jesus say about causing someone to stumble? "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea." Regardless of intention, causing someone to stumble is a very serious matter. This isn't rocket science - if you are causing someone to stumble, STOP IT.

Our legal system acknowledges this general concept with the charge of "contributing to the deliquency of a minor." How much more should we as Christians be careful that we do not contribute to the fall of a fellow believer?

Gummby said...

You Pyro guys have the best trolls ever.

MaLady said...

Guys (and gals), I cry over this one. I can't tell you how much this subject has affected my life...it haunts me.

(I read the original posts! They were not offensive! My closet passes the "list"!) Yet I STILL experience stress over it, and here is why:

I realized through various experiences within my church, that not only am I not an object to be desired, I am also not an object to be avoided or hedged around. I am simply not an object. I am a soul, with a spirit. I have learned that there is nothing I can do to avoid being seen as an object first through carnally minded eyes. This includes jealous, judging women as well as lustful men. I do have God-given attributes that are kinda hard to miss, and maybe the one commenter in the last post is right, that modest clothes is extra attractive because I can't seem to get away from it no matter what I do... I'm sure it would help if I were at church with a man of "my own".

Ultimately, I think this is what Art was originally trying to get at. Objectifying a woman is objectifying a woman no matter if it is in the positive (mental grabbing lunge) or negative (mental shrink and hide). Neither is first perceiving that woman as a soul of great value to the Lord, His daughter, and both are less than what God wants for the entire atmosphere as well as the man's soul.

In short, OF COURSE no woman should intentionally dress to draw attention, but it isn't always simple to gauge correctly or pull off(cultural context and awareness and cost...I could go on and on...). And really, clothing and appearance are ULTIMATELY beside the point of the Holy Spirit's goals for our community, thus the vagueness in Scripture. (I know, the original posts didn't say otherwise) I think it has to be said, though, because if we don't keep the goal in front of us we won't get there...and I for one am eager for that day because it hurts me now.

Reformed Hero said...

Sewing wrote:

"She also dressed with deliberate, exceeding modesty, to the point that it was clear that all attention was to be placed on God and on the words she spoke, not on her physical appearance."

In your culturally conditioned opinion. There were times throughout Christian history, Western Christian history, where what she wore may have been considered scandalous or improper. Did she ever wear any type of makeup? Did she ever wear "slacks" (trousers)? Did her legs -- even her ankles -- ever show?

"And Reformed Hero, was it really necessary to use the wh-word, particularly in the ad feminem way you used it in your penultimate comment? Anyhow, the Puritans were obsessed with witches, not wh***s."

Whore. It's a legitimate word -- it's actually in the English Bible. And yes, it was the appropriate word used in the context of what I was writing. And the Puritans were not "obsessed with witches" -- you're just repeating popular nonsense, you don't know what you're talking about.

----

matt wrote:

"you seem to insinuate that because we can't draw specific, precise, legal boundaries (if we did, then we WOULD be guilty of legalism)"

That is not "legalism" in any sense, certainly not from any reasonable parameter within historic Reformed orthodoxy. The Ten Commandments are binding and applicable, and I can assure you that "specific, precise, legal boundaries" are most positively able to be drawn regarding stealing, murder, adultery, etc. It is not legalism to require obedience where the Law is clear; it is when culturally relative customs are passed off as Biblical.

matt continued:

"Clearly, the Bible teaches NOTHING of modesty, right?"

You're either a poor reader or don't have much stock in the Commandment to not bear false witness. I never wrote such a thing or alluded such a thing. Out of charity I will grant you the former error and not the latter.

I wrote, "in that while there is certainly such a thing as modesty and a Biblical foundation for approaching the subject".

matt, remember, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. That is not a suggestion and it is spelled out in the Law.

----

wordsmith wrote:

"If establishing some sort of standard is "legalistic," then does that mean that insisting that the believers have the obligation to abide by the Ten Commandments is legalism?"

Of course not. As a man committed to orthodox Reformed theology I uphold the Law of God as binding. But that's it -- it's the Law of God. The piece in question wasn't predicated upon anything other than culturally conditioned customs and presented as if it was derived from the Law of God. It is legalistic when cultural customs are presented as "Biblical standards." I provided a number of examples.

"If a woman's attire contributes to a man's committing adultery in his heart, is she not guilty of causing him to stumble?"

No, that would be to take that passage and really hack it up. She didn't cause him to stumble. He caused himself to stumble in that case. He should look the other way, excercise some maturity and get his mind out of the gutter. Moreover, in today's culture in the United States (at least in my city) such a man will be "stumbling" all day, every day. He can't be blaming all the women walking around for his lustful heart.

And again the point is missed -- what "attire"? Most "modest" Christian fashion today would have been considered scandalous by many Christians throughout history. Why? Because it is largely relative to culture. It simply isn't spelled out in the New Testament. In some cultures, past and present, a woman's leg showing at all is considered provocative; in others, a woman's breasts are not any issue at all and it would be considered extremely immature to make a fuss about it -- it's just for nourishing babies, they would (correctly) comment. The difference is culturally conditioned, not Biblically specified.

Moreover, how far do you take this burden for women? Some men have an erotic fetish for feet -- should they never wear sandals or flip flops in order to not make their brother "stumble"? Others have a strong reaction to a woman wearing lipstick. Is that provocative? In the United States in the mid 19th century the answer from good, godly, Christian women would have been a loud "of course!" What about leather -- some people have an erotic reaction when people wear it -- where is the line drawn? And there are thousands of people with such affinities, so it can't be brushed aside as if it doesn't matter. The same holds true for the man that gets lustful simply for seeing a woman in a pair of shorts and a tank top on a hot sunny day in Florida. He needs to take account of his own thoughts, get a grip and grow up.

wordsmth continued:

"Our legal system acknowledges this general concept with the charge of "contributing to the deliquency of a minor."

Faulty analogy. Minors are not considered competent in the eyes of the law and are not responsible (for the most part) for their actions. Adult men (presumably) are responsible for their actions, before God and man.

MaLady said...

"In short," ha! I tried...I cut out so much...

I hope it helps bring peace and understanding, late as I am to the comment stream.

MaLady

Tom Chantry said...

Does anyone know whether Reformed Hero has ever worked on an advanced degree? (I'm also wondering if anyone ever heard tht Lou Martuneac wrote a book. Regulars should follow the connection.)

Matt said...

tom chantry,

reformedhero very graciously alluded all of us to the fact that he has a masters in philosophy. I suppose that should have been information enough to silence all of us lowly serfs who are evidently, barely literate.

reformedhero,

you're still contradicting yourself. You affirm that modesty is taught in scripture, as are the 10 Commandments, but then you still insist that it is not legalism to obey the 10 Commandments, but it is legalism to encourage modesty! What is it - legalism or not legalism to obey scripture? You also insinuate that the 10 Commandments are clearly measured. How can we measure objectively if you are coveting your neighbours posessions? How can we objectively measure if you are honouring your parents?

Let me be as clear as I possibly can - modesty as a prinicple is irrefutably biblical. The specific application of that principle will vary from one place to the next, or over time. This fact does not nullify that the modesty principle exists.

Everyone - did art change his name to reformedhero? This sounds so painfully familiar.

Daryl said...

My thoughts exactly, Matt. I wondered that a RH's first post.

Carrie said...

Moreover, how far do you take this burden for women?

It is not a burden for a Godly woman to dress modestly.

And I appreciate my brothers in Christ holding me accountable to that.

michelle said...

MaLady,
You bring up a wonderful point. We are not objects. I tend to think of this whole modesty issue as a way of helping others along in seeing me in that sense. By seeking to not draw attention to that which would make me an "object" in their eyes.

As far as it depends on me, as a Christian woman, I want to help my brothers in Christ to avoid that trap of looking at me as an object and see me as the child of God that I am - their sister in Christ. This, I feel is what is important in this whole issue of modesty - seeking to remove the stumbling blocks where possible...as far as it depends on us. Beyond that, we can do nothing more than be faithful to the Lord.

Carrie - I agree with you as well...it is not a burden to dress modestly. It is a burden, however to live in a culture that is constantly objectifying women. As Christian women in such a culture, we should be encouraging one another to fight against that. The pull of the world is strong...we need each other to resist it.

Blessings.

wordsmith said...

So, are we to avoid contributing to the fall of a fellow believer? Do we avoid being a stumbling block and figure that Jesus didn't really mean it to be such a big thing? Or do we just tell him to deal with his neuroses, because we're just going to do whatever we please, regardless of what effect it has on him?

Yeah, that's prudent use of Christian liberty.

DJP said...

Tom ChantryI'm also wondering if anyone ever heard tht Lou Martuneac wrote a book

He did?

I wonder if you can get it anywhere.

Odd Lou never mentioned it....

Tom Chantry said...

I could be wrong, but I think you can order Lou's book at his blog.

Did you know Lou has a blog, too? And that Reformed Hero studied for an advanced degree?

opinion-minion said...

I don't have a paticular problem with people posting on modesty. I simply get tired of the one sided part of it.

When someone points out that women struggle with visual lust as well, it is conceded, but I have never seen a post anywhere on men, and how they should keep their sisters in Christ in mind when they buy clothing.

Also, people talk about how this is a 'phenomena' a strange new thing, that women are struggling with visual lust---that, OMG, it's normal for the guys, but you can really tell that society is rolling downhill when the women are? That is simply using women as a standard to measure where society is going, and letting the men off the hook.

I have no problem with saying that, generally, men struggle in that area more. That's a general statement. However, the women who struggle just as much are constantly ignored, or labeled as being even weirder or worse then men, because it's "unusual" for a women to do so.

And, again, modesty is extremely subjective and cultural. The guy who goes to Africa where Mom feels fine to breastfeed her child without any covering---and he lusts---where is the problem? It's sure not Mom. It's the guy and his cultural upbringing.

America has sexualized women. That's a simple fact. Before I am a person, before I have a name, I'm legs, behind, stomach, thighs, I'm a collection of body parts.

You cannot tell women/men to be modest, and ignore the root issue. It's much easier to urge modesty then to address the root issue, which is a sexed up, sex crazed culture that looks at everyone through the lens of lust.

Modesty is surface, it's "easy" to moniter, you can make up a bunch of rules around it (and yes, I know the OP didn't make ny rules, I'm just saying that people make rules) and it's much easier than addressing a sick society, and realizing that a lot of lust is created by the society, it's a culture issue.

I need to go.

Reformed Hero said...

matt wrote:

"you're still contradicting yourself. You affirm that modesty is taught in scripture, as are the 10 Commandments, but then you still insist that it is not legalism to obey the 10 Commandments, but it is legalism to encourage modesty!"

Matt, I don't think you are able to grasp the distinctions and nuances. I never once stated that modesty itself is legalism -- of course it isn't. However, it is legalism for some guy to arbitrarily put up a picture of woman and say "this is modest" and then put up another picture and say "this isn't" based upon nothing but his own personal whimsy. Frank should worry about what Frank wears and stop worrying about what women wear. Is he their father? Is he their minister? Doubtful on both counts.

Modesty is an abstract construct that is manifested quite differently in different cultures. What was presented in the piece in question was not some objective, rigorously provable exegetical demonstration of "modesty" but just some guy's unqualified personal opinion based upon nothing but his barely contained sexism. Period. And though he attempted to show that he really is 'up to date' and not stodgy by taking a shot at those "real fuddy duddies" the Mennonites, it was just good old fashioned Fundamentalist legalism. Principle, fine; specific examples based upon nothing than subjective, culturally conditioned opinions, bad.

Unless Frank can demonstrate from a rigorously exegetically based argument from Scripture that the first picture of Ryan is good and the second is bad. I'm not holding my breath. I personally think she looks fine; but there is a great "cloud of witness" of thoughtful, intelligent Christians throughout history that would find her appearance scandalous....the skirt doesn't go to her ankles (she is showing the shape of her legs! Why?? Oh....we know why!). She is wearing high heels. Her stockings are showing (only dance hall girls and prostitutes showed their stockings in the not so distant past). She is wearing makeup (not that long ago historically only ladies of the oldest profession wore makeup, and that was the considered opinion of many Christians not much more than 100 years ago). She has long painted nails. She dyed her hair. Etc.

The picture presented as the "good" example could easily be presented as an example of a wanton whore in certain cultural contexts -- and that's the point. It wasn't a Biblical example it was just some subjective, relative opinion from some guy. Period.

Matt continued:

"How can we measure objectively if you are coveting your neighbours posessions?"

You exhibit your confusion and your lack of contexual understanding, Matt. "We" can't measure if someone is coveting another's possessions. You'd have to be able to know another's thoughts and desires in order to objectively do that.

It's simply not your place at all to be wondering if your neighbor is coveting. It's being a busybody and it is the very milieu of (here's that word again) legalism. Again, it is one of the bad traits of American Fundamentalism.

Some aspects of the Law are quite objectively measured -- when someone shoots another person in the head with a .357 magnum because the victim said an unkind word, that is what is known as murder. It can be recorded on a video camera. A prosecutor can use good reasoning and argument and apply the law. Coveting? Don't be a busybody and concern yourself with your neighbor's thoughts, Matt. It's bad form.

Matt continued:

"Let me be as clear as I possibly can - modesty as a prinicple is irrefutably biblical. The specific application of that principle will vary from one place to the next, or over time. This fact does not nullify that the modesty principle exists."

Mazal Tov! Matt, we're agreed. If you had actually read in context and in a thoughtful manner you could have realized that is exactly what I have consistently maintained. Teach the premise, don't put up culturally conditioned photos and say "this is good" and "this is bad." It's sophomoric and open to be blasted apart.

Matt closed:

"Everyone - did art change his name to reformedhero? This sounds so painfully familiar."

Matt, you're being a busybody again and looking to muck up trouble. I am not "art' (whomever that is) and really what matters is the content of my statements. Don't turn it into a focus upon me and then segue into an ad hominem attack so you can pat yourself on the back and get cheers from the "me too" regulars. It displays bad character.

Tom improperly provoked:

"Did you know Lou has a blog, too? And that Reformed Hero studied for an advanced degree?"

Tom, aside from the fact that you're a Baptist minister, you should conduct yourself in a more proper way simply for the fact that you're a man. Stop making me the focus and taking cheap shots (especially by the convenient location of your keyboard where a coward can pretend to be a lion). Restrain yourself, Sir.

Daryl said...

At the risk of being sidelined for being a supportive regular...

Reformed Hero, your long wordy answer betrays you, as does your original post. Had you read Frank's post and the previous post to which it relates, not to mention the comments preceding your own in both cases...you would have seen that your observations had been made, discussed, made and discussed ad nauseum and that no further discussion in that direction was needed.
Why should the readers not assume that you were A)stirring up trouble or B)parading your own qualifications, when you offered no other original material to the discussion whatsoever?

As has been reiterated so often around here (and no doubt will be again) please, please, read what has been written and consider one thought "Have I anything worthwhile to offer which has not yet been offered?".
Upon such consideration, feel free to post to your hearts content.

Clearly you had failed to do any of that, hence the frustration level you have encountered.

Daryl.

Reformed Hero said...

opinion-minion:

I had to read your comment twice. Everyone, read what he or she wrote (actually read it, not skim over it in a huff looking to find what you can mock and then turn the focus upon him or her as a person). This person gets it.

What's so difficult to understand? Someone mentioned the wearing of a Hijab for women. Well, the literature I'm familiar with seems to suggest that is what Mary wore and probably every woman of the faith in the Holy Land. How much more Biblical can you get?!

At least there is excellent historical support for such a thing. Did Mary get it wrong? Did she go overboard? If so, why? Let's see a poll of all the women that are going to be following the most excellent example of womanhood from the Bible. Or is Mary not a good example? Or was what she wore simply culturally bound and not determined by Scripture?

I'm not holding my breath. We don't wear hijabs anymore....the culture has changed for Christians. It would seem weird and overboard. However, she was a modest woman, blessed among women, and I can say categorically that the way most women here probably dress when going to a picnic or the beach (or to the market) would have been reason for controversy in a Christian church in Palestine in A.D. 68. Or a Christian church in Pennsylvania in A.D. 1858.

Sewing said...

Reformed Hero, have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? Reread Jesus's conversation with Nicodemus, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, and repent for the sin of your disruptiveness and pride in trying to defend a woman's right to objectify herself.

Sewing said...

I meant to add that it is pointless continuing this circular discussion with someone who so utterly lacks understanding.

As for Opinion-Minion, she makes some good points, and one of them is exactly what many of us have mentioned or alluded to—that we live in a "sexed up, sex crazed culture that looks at everyone through the lens of lust," a culture where many women seek self-affirmation by objectifying themselves in their clothes and appearance. How can we hope to eradiate this problem in the wider world if we won't even confront it in our own churches?

Reformed Hero said...

Daryl curiously wrote:

"Reformed Hero, your long wordy answer betrays you, as does your original post."

When your own answer betrays you (wordy or otherwise), it's bad. Who can you trust? lol.

Daryl continued:

"Had you read Frank's post"

You are making a completely unqualified assumption, Daryl. Of course I read Frank's piece (I even looked at the pictures).

"and the previous post to which it relates,"

And I read that, too.

"not to mention the comments preceding your own in both cases..."

I read those, too. It's like the piece in question, it is arrogant in its assumptions for you to write in such a condescending tone.

"you would have seen that your observations had been made, discussed, made and discussed ad nauseum and that no further discussion in that direction was needed.

Not exactly, Daryl. The vast majority were in the "me too" cheerleader squad exhtoling the great wisdom of the piece. A few disagreed. I lended my support to the critical examination of the faulty premise of the piece, offering my own (wordy....cheap shot) observations and take on the issue. Sorry you couldn't see that. Did you actually read what I had written?

The fact remains that the piece was a shoddy, sophomoric attempt and it was open to be blown apart. It attempted to present subjective, culturally bound (and largely sexist) personal opinion as if it were Biblically exegetical in nature and objectively true. The posting of pictures as concrete examples makes this conclusive. It was childish and incompetent. It is meaningless that the "me too" crowd chimes in with Orwellian monotones.

Reformed Hero said...

Sewing said...

"Reformed Hero, have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? Reread Jesus's conversation with Nicodemus, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, and repent for the sin of your disruptiveness and pride in trying to defend a woman's right to objectify herself."

Sewing, that has to be one of the most pride filled, arrogant things I've read in a while. Presuming my state of salvation. You are a very arrogant person. No argument, no thoughtful response -- just the Fundamentalist blast that I "obviously" can't be saved and don't know the Savior. It didn't take long.

I didn't know it was "disruptive" to disagree. Orwell, where are you?

And I offer to you that you should not bear false witness against your neighbor, as not one single word I have written argued for or lent support for a woman to "objectify herself." I don't know you or your emotional/psychological state so I will not put too much stock into what you have said and simply extend pity toward you. I hope you are well. I'm not going to question your salvation but simply conclude you're an emotionally volatile person that has difficulty restraining themselves when confronted with disagreement.

threegirldad said...

reformed hero,

If a fellow American Christian, man or woman, came to you in all sincerity asking for practical examples of how to attain to the Scriptural principle of modesty, how would you reply?

michelle said...

Sewing wrote: "As for Opinion-Minion, she makes some good points, and one of them is exactly what many of us have mentioned or alluded to—that we live in a "sexed up, sex crazed culture that looks at everyone through the lens of lust," a culture where many women seek self-affirmation by objectifying themselves in their clothes and appearance. How can we hope to eradiate this problem in the wider world if we won't even confront it in our own churches?"

Amen, amen, and amen!!

Reformed Hero said...

threegirldad asked in seeing what he might catch me saying:

"If a fellow American Christian, man or woman, came to you in all sincerity asking for practical examples of how to attain to the Scriptural principle of modesty, how would you reply?"

I would tell them to esteem others greater than themselves. What would you do, show them before and after pics of Miss Ryan?

Daryl said...

You win RH.

How foolish of Frank to write such a legalistic article about how Christian women must follow the biblical dress code if they want men to go to heaven.

Oh, he didn't say that? I guess I just picked that up from reading the comments. I assumed they would be related to the post. My bad.

Sewing said...

It is possible to disagree without being disruptive. Opinion-minion demonstrated that. You have instead chosen to drag this thread out in trolling comment after trolling comment.

I am not a Fundamentalist. In fact, I grew up despising and mistrusting everything I thought born again Christians stood for. (It turned out my understanding was highly limited.) In my earlier illustration, in fact, I was trying to demonstrate that this concept of modesty—culturally relative though it may be—is understood implicitly across the board, even by a liberal feminist female Christian pastor I once knew. No fundamentalism there.

The reason I asked if you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit is because I used to see things exactly the way you see them. I would have resented the audacity of some guy on a blog daring to tell women how they should dress. After I was born again, however, things that had previously been folly to me became crystal clear. I had never been able to understand a word that Paul wrote, but suddenly everything he wrote made sense.

I hope and pray that you will think about the way you have conducted yourself here, and just reflect on whether you have been serving God or your own pride and arrogance.

Gayla said...

I've been reading along, in both threads and the in the comment sections. I have to ask, where's the grace? Especially toward Reformed Hero?

I am a woman, a conservative one, reformed in theology, and i consider myself a stylish, yet "modest" dresser. And I certainly agree with what the ladies, such as Libbie, have said. Biblically and theologically speaking, though, I agree with Reformed on this. I think he's articulated the point quite well.

Why are people reading into what he's saying things that just aren't there? And why would anyone question his salvation, for pete's sake? I certainly don't see that occurring with anyone else.

I'm a simple layperson, holding no degrees in theology. But since God opened my eyes to His soveriegnty three years ago, I have learned/am learning to search the Scriptures to see what they actually say.

I don't see that there are any hard and fast meanings for modest. I don't know, I could be wrong...

Sewing said...

Perhaps I was being un-Christlike in writing what I wrote. This may be a weaselly excuse, but my purpose was not to question Reformed Hero's salvation, but to inquire whether he had received the gift of the Holy Spirit to read Scripture with understanding.

Maybe this is no excuse, but rather than simply disagree (which is fine), RH has set out to bait other commenters and make insinuating attacks on the intelligence of the men and the virtue of the women, and evidently, some of us have taken his or her bait.

threegirldad said...

Reformed Hero:
"threegirldad asked in seeing what he might catch me saying:"

Half a moment, please. That wasn't my intent. I understand why you think it was, but it wasn't. I don't know how to convince you of that, though...

"I would tell them to esteem others greater than themselves. What would you do, show them before and after pics of Miss Ryan?"

OK, "esteem others greater than themselves" is one sense what it means to be modest, but not the sense that has been under discussion. So, again, if someone comes to you for counsel regarding modest dress, would you not give some practical examples of what you understand that to be (along with caveats that the examples aren't universally applicable, and no one should just take any one person's word for it)?

If this hypothetical person asking the question is a 21st century American, wouldn't the pictures of Jeri Ryan be useful examples - even if they bear no relationship at all to the views of modern Christians in other countries, or the Puritans, or 1st Century Christians?

I thought I finally understood the point you were trying to make, but perhaps not.

Reformed Hero said...

Sewing said...

"Reformed Hero, have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? Reread Jesus's conversation with Nicodemus, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, and repent for the sin of your disruptiveness and pride in trying to defend a woman's right to objectify herself.

11:09 AM, May 17, 2007"

Then added later:

"This may be a weaselly excuse, but my purpose was not to question Reformed Hero's salvation"

You're a liar. I don't mind being patient but I don't have to put up with such blatant, dishonorable conduct and pretend it isn't happening. You wrote: "have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit?" and immediately followed it with, "accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour".

To tell another person to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior means they haven't done so. You know full well that's exactly what you wrote and you know what those words mean, your lying and back-pedaling notwithstanding. When taken honestly in its immediate context, you know full well that when you asked "have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit?" it had nothing to do with my "understanding" of Scripture (I have devoted my entire professional life to it) but were making a personal attack against me and publicly calling my salvation into question because to stick to the topic, and deal contextually with the facts, you are empty handed and have nothing to offer.

Ironically, considering your bearing of false witness, malicious nature and blatant lying maybe you should go look in the mirror and ask, "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?" Because right now your repeated unrepentant sinning does not constitute a credible profession of faith.





I didn't exegete any Scripture, but I challenge you to write clearly and intelligently where anything I've written is wrong, historically, culturally or Scripturally. What I've written -- not what you project onto me, not what you wish I had written to justify your lying and hatred, but what I've actually written.

Instead of personal attacks against me and my person, make your case. Simply saying in Fundamentalist fashion that I don't "understand". How many times I have heard Armstrongites and Watchtower followers whip that show stopper out! "You have no understanding...." after I exegetically and historically explain to them the basis of the Trinity or the bodily resurrection; no refutation, just a brush stroke arrogant statement and then a bearing of false witness against me -- just like you have done.

Sewing said...

Well, I did say it may be a weaselly excuse.

Reformed Hero said...

threegirldad wrote:

"Half a moment, please. That wasn't my intent. I understand why you think it was, but it wasn't. I don't know how to convince you of that, though..."

Thanks, considering I've been under constant attack. Everything from my background, training, to my salvation has been targets. It was really a refresher course in what makes much of Fundamentalism so unsavory.

"OK, "esteem others greater than themselves" is one sense what it means to be modest,"

That is exactly what it means; a person that truly conducts himself in such a manner will not dress in a way that they know is meant to make them the center of attraction, a way that is meant to make them the object of lust, a way that adores and exalts himself within their cultural context. And yes, dressing modestly is a culturally relative issue. The principle that is drawn from the Bible isn't, but actual examples such as posting pics of Miss Ryan as "good" and "bad" examples? Total nonsense.

"but not the sense that has been under discussion."

I disagree. See above.

" So, again, if someone comes to you for counsel regarding modest dress, would you not give some practical examples of what you understand that to be (along with caveats that the examples aren't universally applicable, and no one should just take any one person's word for it)?

Unless they are mentally deficient I don't see the need to instruct adults on how to dress. Dressing modestly isn't an exclusive domain for professing Christians, whether Fundamentalist or my own tradition, Reformed theology. Adults already know what it means to dress modestly; if they asked me to explain the hypostatic union then I'd consider it an honest question. But how to dress? Adults? Please. They already know. I certainly won't give them culturally-relative (and personally relative, for that matter) pictures of Miss Ryan that may in fact be too provocative for some, even today.

Daryl said...

I'm tired...this whole thing if out of control...

In any case, it just occurred to me that reformedhero (who is probably no more reformed than many if not most of the others around here...) seems to have missed the point of the pictures way back at the beginning of all this.
Perhaps I missed it but it sure seemed to me that in his blog Cent was saying "be modest, be kind in your dress and for those who claim that you you can't identify modesty, here's a photo...have a look...now try and tell me that you can't identify which is modest and which is not" Seems like he anticipated the very objections that Art and reformedhero would come up with and posted a couple of photos to prove a point.

I admit my tone towards reformedhere has been at bit edgy, I'm sorry but this is getting silly. The original blog was clear.

(By the way, "Fundamentalist??" who is that supposed to be describing??)

Daryl said...

oh sorry, one more thing...

rh..."adults know how to dress modestly"...if that's true, then way too many are just ignoring what they know and putting themselves on display on purpose...even in the church.

Reformed Hero said...

Daryl wrote:

"In any case, it just occurred to me that reformedhero (who is probably no more reformed than many if not most of the others around here...)"

Well, I'm confessional and subscribe completely to the Westminster Confession of Faith. I am completely Reformed and covenantal in my theology without any qualifications. Maybe you're not using the term in its normal, historic theological definition?

It is likely, from what I have read from throughout this blog, that most here are not Reformed but simply Calvinistic. There is a difference. There is more to Reformed theology than Soteriology.

In short, one cannot be a dispensationalist and Reformed; it is simple confusion. Can one be a "Reformed Baptist"....well, no, though I know that name has stuck. Baptistic doctrine is rooted in the Anabaptists, and they were not Reformed at all, and indeed, were mostly not even Christian. Moreover, Reformed theology is Covenant theology, so, again, that rules out Baptists and dispensationalists. Though, happily, some of these folks do hold to some of the truths contained in Reformed theology.

I know they don't want to have their "Reformed" title questioned, but it is nonetheless the truth. So, a dispensationalist, baptistic person that claims to be Reformed is a real misuse of terminology. They should just say they are (somewhat) Calvinistic in their soteriology.

Daryl added:

"(By the way, "Fundamentalist??" who is that supposed to be describing??)"

Many of the persons chiming in on the thread, the author of the piece. If I'm not mistaken, MacArthur's non-denominational church belongs to the IFCA denomination. The Independent Fundamentalist Churches of America. It is typified doctrinally by dispensationalism, baptistic polity and an emphasis upon things that are novel as if they were historic orthodoxy (premillennial dispensationalism, for example).

However, it is also a psycho-social movement. The frequent holier-than-thou attitude, a very insular attitude, the calling into question the salvation of those with whom you can't understand or interact with on an intellectual level, the malicious attack of character, the setting up of extra-Biblical rules as somehow being Biblical, these are likewise typical of the social traits of American Fundamentism.

Reformed Hero said...

Daryl wrote:

"rh..."adults know how to dress modestly"...if that's true, then way too many are just ignoring what they know and putting themselves on display on purpose...even in the church."

I agree completely. I must add that, and I am not attempting to read hearts, but from my experience many people that attend church on a regular basis are simply religious. I do not detect any concern for or knowledge of doctrine and this spills over into their conduct. They are malicious, bearers of false witness, liars, abusive, and full of self-glory. They mix and dabble with all sorts of notions and parade it around as Biblical; they are immersed in post-modernism; they mix New Age tendencies and humanist practices and pretend it's Christian. So the attire problem is no surprise and is the least of their problems.

Adults -- non-Christian adults -- know how to dress modestly (devout Muslim women, for example), if they want to dress modestly.

Tom Chantry said...

the calling into question the salvation of those with whom you can't understand or interact with on an intellectual level

OK, I'm going to say this and be done with this thread. I meet some but not all of your definition of "Reformed." That doesn't bother me. And I don't see any reason to question your salvation. But I pray God will preserve me from ever adopting any position, theological or otherwise, which requires me to incessantly denigrate the intelligence of anyone who differs with me.

May God teach us humility.

Sewing said...

Okay, I'm just going to try to understand your argument, Reformed Hero. No confrontation, no subterfuge, no desire to draw out. I'm just curious, and hoping for some semblance of reconciliation.

Are you saying, when all is said and done, that you agree with everyone else here; that your only disagreement fundamentally (so to speak) is that people know how to dress modestly, so if they don't do so, it's because they choose not to do so, and it's not anyone's place tell others what modest dress means as if they don't know?

If so, couldn't you just have made that clearer in the first place? That would have been a legitimate point of argument, and this whole confrontation could have been avoided.

Reformed Hero said...

Tom wrote:

"OK, I'm going to say this and be done with this thread. I meet some but not all of your definition of "Reformed."

Tom, it's not my definition of Reformed (not quotes, as it is a real theological term that represents a quite well-defined branch of the Christian church). That is post-modernist infection creeping in on you.

Reformed and covenant theology are synonymous. As R. Scott Clark (D.Phil., Oxford University), professor of historical and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, CA) succinctly put it:

"Covenant or federal theology is so of the essence of Reformed theology that to revise its covenant theology is to revise the substance of Reformed theology.
Classical Reformed theology teaches three covenants: the covenant of redemption (pactum salutis), the covenant of works (foedus operum) and the covenant of grace (foedus gratiae). Theses Theologicae

Tom added:

"But I pray God will preserve me from ever adopting any position, theological or otherwise, which requires me to incessantly denigrate the intelligence of anyone who differs with me"

I truly appreciate those words, as I have suffered a great deal of abuse here, from misrepresenting my position, to character attacks, to low-level mocking (like you did to me), to outright denying my salvation! I'm glad you are coming around to what you and others have done.

God bless.

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam Pohlman said...

After finally reading through all the posts and the comments I feel ready to say a couple things.

RH said "What would you do, show them before and after pics of Miss Ryan?"

I think it was clear from the post that the author was not trying to set a standard of modest and immodest, but to show how certain forms of dress bring more or less attention to parts of the body that tend to be the major objects of lust in this American culture. He has admitted over and over that there are some cultural differences, but the point of the post was to encourage dress that is sensitive to framing the parts of your body that tend to cause lust, not setting a legalistic standard.

Something else that came to mind when the "naked Africans" argument came up was the idea that Adam and Eve were naked and were ashamed. Then God Himself covered them with animal skins (I am sure he used a larger animal like a lamb and not a couple of squirrels for covering either) ;). Just because some cultures think it is okay to be naked, doesn't excuse Christians in that culture from trying to cover up as much as possible.

Please let me know if I haven't offered anything intelligent to this conversation and I will discontinue my posts. God bless.

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

Reformed Hero, what I wrote earlier today—asking if you had been baptized in the Holy Spirit—was a stupid and sanctimonious thing to write. I'm sorry for my presumptuousness, and the judgemental nature of my comments. Furthermore, what I wrote are my words and mine alone; please do not hold them against anyone else on this blog. And please consider my last comment (just after Tom Chantry's) for what it is: a genuine attempt to understand your argument.

I'm no less blown away, though, by the slash-and-burn critique you've unleashed on this blog, and in light of your more recent comments regarding Reformed theology, I'm left wondering if you commented here at all, simply for the sake of picking on Reformed Baptists (which not all of us are, to boot—nor are all the folks on this blog Dispensationalists).

Matt said...

Matt continued:

"Let me be as clear as I possibly can - modesty as a prinicple is irrefutably biblical. The specific application of that principle will vary from one place to the next, or over time. This fact does not nullify that the modesty principle exists."

Mazal Tov! Matt, we're agreed. If you had actually read in context and in a thoughtful manner you could have realized that is exactly what I have consistently maintained. Teach the premise, don't put up culturally conditioned photos and say "this is good" and "this is bad." It's sophomoric and open to be blasted apart.


So we're agreed that modesy in the abstract is a biblical principle. Is there any way whatsoever to *apply* modesty in the real world? In other words, is it possible in 21st century North America to practice modesty at all? Or is "modesty" something that we profess with our mouth and do nothing about? I'm still not following your logic. My understanding of what you're saying is that we should believe in modesty in the abstract, but any concrete *practice* of modesty is legalistic, fundamentalist, intellectually shallow and dishonest, arbitrary, etc. Please tell me how you solve this dilema.

Reformedhero then wrote in a later post:

Baptistic doctrine is rooted in the Anabaptists, and they were not Reformed at all, and indeed, were mostly not even Christian.

and in the very same post:

However, it is also a psycho-social movement. The frequent holier-than-thou attitude, a very insular attitude, the calling into question the salvation of those with whom you can't understand or interact with on an intellectual level, the malicious attack of character, the setting up of extra-Biblical rules as somehow being Biblical, these are likewise typical of the social traits of American Fundamentism.

Some things don't need to be refuted, merely shown! The irony is much too rich!

Let me get this straight, Reformedhero, in your quest for Christian open-mindedness, and in your crusade against theological rigidity, you've taken out:

Anabaptists
Baptists
Dispensationalists
Fundamentalists
Credobaptists
Reformed baptists
Premillenialists
Baptist polity

How many people are thinking Christians other than yourself? Your plea against rigidity has been crushed in by its own weight.

Back to the original topic - is there any way to *practice* what we believe without being legalistic? Or is Christianity just about intellectual assent without a change of life?

lawrence said...

Why has it become such a trendy thing to answer concerns from people by alluding to the fact that they "didn't read the post" and now even the "comments"? Why don't we give an honest answer to the concerns EVEN IF THEY'VE ALREADY BEEN STATED SOMEWHERE? It used to be that the Pyro's would tell people to go read the post if the person was totally missing the entire point...now if someone disagrees there's like 30 people ordering the disagreer (ok sorry that's not a word) to go read the post.

That being said, Reformed, while I agree on some of what you said and while modesty is an idea that is not given specific rules in Scripture...you cannot deny that the concept of modesty manifests itself, usually, in physical, material ways (clothes, makeup or lack thereof etc.) Therefore people , like it or not, are going to, in their own context and culture-influenced ways, attempt to at least loosely define what modesty looks like (in the opinion of this blog, it doesn't look like the second picture.)

By attacking this, it sounds as if you are attacking the idea of modesty (which I know you're not.) The post is about not intentionally causing our brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble. Perhaps it was not made, in your opinion, in the most humble, Scripturally based way. Is it worth it to attack this noble exhortation simply b/c it does not conform to your idea of modesty (speaking of allowing postmodernism to creep in)?

Reformed Hero said...

Matt:

You're looking for a fight. In any case, you wrote:

"Some things don't need to be refuted, merely shown! The irony is much too rich!"

This mocking comment is in reference to my properly stating the historical fact that the Anabaptists were largely a non-christian, vis., heretical, movement. So were the Arians before them. This is not "calling into question" the salvation of another Christian but simply making an objective historical statement. As such there is zero irony and zero contradiction on my part. Just entrenched ignorance on your part.

Regarding the other groups/movements you listed (including its redundancy, i.e., Baptists, Baptist polity, credobaptists....), I never once stated or alluded they were not Christians. You are bearing false witness. Repent.

I stated that it is not proper to refer to some of those groups as being under the aegis of Reformed theology as they simply don't fall under that category if the term Reformed is used in its normal historic and doctrinal context.

Regarding the Anabaptists, if you are ignorant of the history of the radicals (i.e., the Anabaptists), then so be it.

Matt continued:

"Let me get this straight, Reformedhero, in your quest for Christian open-mindedness,"

I never stated that I'm on a "quest for Christian open-mindedness." You must be thinking of someone else or yet again you're bearing false witness. You're on a tangent and simply making stuff up as you go along.

Matt continued:

"and in your crusade against theological rigidity,"

I'm not on any "crusade against theological rigidity," as I am staunchly committed to conservative, historic Reformed orthodoxy. As a Reformed and wholly Calvinist man and scholar I am wholly committed to Biblical doctrine. Indeed, it is my insistence on maintaining "theological rigidity" (i.e., Biblical orthodoxy) that I reject all man-made, arbitrary concepts like posting pictures that supposedly are examples of proper modesty when they are nothing more than subjective personal whims based upon cultural affinities -- period.

matt continued:

"Anabaptists
Baptists
Dispensationalists
Fundamentalists
Credobaptists
Reformed baptists
Premillenialists
Baptist polity"

Matt, you are bearing false witness and you are as such a liar. Not good. Ten Commandments ring a bell for you? I've never "taken out" the dispensationalists, the Reformed Baptists, the "premillenialists" (I referenced premillenial dispensationalists, not historic premillennialists -- a huge difference), the Baptists, etc.

I simply stated that to use the term Reformed in relation to any of those groups was technically not accurate. I clearly stated that "Calvinistic" would be more accurate as there is simply more to Reformed theology than soteriology. I know I wrote that as I just went over it.

I did write that the Anabaptists were largely not Christian -- they weren't! It was an heretical, radical movement that was not part of the Reformation proper -- you should read what Calvin had to say about the fanatics (his word) -- and all of the Reformers for that matter. Or any serious Church history.

Phil Johnson (of this blog) dubbed them the "lunatic fringe" of the Reformation at his Hall of Church History web project.

And due note that Phil Johnson is sympathetic to the Anabaptists, yet he must concede the following points: "Anabaptists rejected the Reformed understanding of justification by faith alone. They denied the forensic nature of justification and insisted that the only ground on which sinners can be acceptable to God is a "real" righteousness wrought within the justified person."

So Matt, is rejecting sola fide a central issue or not? Can a group of professing Christians deny justification by faith alone and still remain in the pale of orthodoxy? The Anabaptists taught a works righteousness because they incorrectly thought justification by faith alone was antinomian (just like Rome). Are you considering the swim across the Tiber?

The Anabaptists refused obedience to the civil magistrate; many of them openly practiced adultery and bigamy and "open" marriage; many of them denied the Trinity; a number of their leaders claimed direct revelation of the Holy Spirit and no need of recourse to Scripture and sound Biblical exegesis; moreover, they practiced a form of socialism and may properly be deemed proto-communists.

The history, beliefs and practices of the Anabaptists were in far too many things vile and bizarre. In other words, "the lunatic fringe."

So, out of your list of 8 categories (it was redundant) you only got one correct in reference to anything I wrote. In all the others you are publicly bearing false witness against me and openly lying in your attempt to mock and belittle me.

All you've demonstrated is that you are without personal integrity and are ignorant of Church history, nothing more.

Matt said...

Reformedhero said:

Regarding the Anabaptists, if you are ignorant of the history of the radicals (i.e., the Anabaptists), then so be it.

All you've demonstrated is that you are without personal integrity and are ignorant of Church history, nothing more.

Speaking of irony, maybe you didn't read my blogger profile, but if you had, you'd see that I am myself an orthodox Mennonite (read: Anabaptist). I am aware, Reformedhero, that there are lunatic-lefy Mennonites out there, but to say all Mennonites are lefty heretics is to brand all Reformed people by the PCUSA.

If you'd like to close your ignorance gap about the Anabaptists/Mennonites, I'd refer you to Balthasar Hubmaier and Menno Simons (the man from whom we have our name). Of course, given your air or humility, I'm sure you know more about Menno Simons' theology than even he did, so there's probably nothing for you to learn.

Back to my question, which you dodged, is there any way to *practice* what we believe to be true without becoming legalistic? Or is Christian faith primarily (or exclusively) about giving intellectual assent to doctrines without any change in lifestyle? How can we ever practice modesty, in your view? (honest question, not looking for a fight).

I look forward to your response, and will add that I will not continue this any further. Once I've read your answer, I'm done on this thread. We've gone far afield enough as is.

Reformed Hero said...

Matt uttered:

"If you'd like to close your ignorance gap about the Anabaptists/Mennonites, I'd refer you to Balthasar Hubmaier and Menno Simons (the man from whom we have our name)."

I've had more than enough of your abuse. I don't have an "ignorance gap" concerning the Anabaptists. My lectures on Church history were rigorous and detailed, at one of the finest universities in the world.

The Anabaptists were a bad movement by any measure. Your founder, Menno Simons, denied the incarnation of Jesus Christ, perpetuating the ancient heresy of Valentinus. He actually denied that Christ received his human body from Mary. He also was a sort of proto-Herb Armstrong with his repeated false prophecies on the "imminent" return of Christ (not eschatological speculation, but false prophecies).

Regarding Balthazar Huebmaier, Zwingli demolished his aberrant position (i.e., "rebaptism") as it amounts to recrucifying Christ (Hebrews 6:1-6).

The Anabaptists were a messed up, sub-Christian and in many, many cases, outright non-Christian aberrant movement. I recognize (along with Zwingli, for example) that some of the Anabaptists were Christians, but as a movement, the things that made the Anabaptists Anabaptists (anti-trinitarianism; rebellion against the civil magistrate; rebaptism; denial of the incarnation; extra-biblical 'revelations' and false prophecies; communism; bigamy; "open" marriages, etc.), amount to it being a bad thing. As another writer put it, "What was good in them, did not originate with them. What originated with them, was not good."

Regarding your other "questions," based upon your repeated bearing of false witness, arrogant condescension and abuse, and refusal to learn, I stand upon Matthew 7:6.

Daryl said...

Just curious Cent,

Was this guy (Reformed Hero) a made up personality to see how people would react? Like an object lesson in what happens when you feed trolls?

What did Paul say? "Knowledge puffs up..."

Wow.

Matt said...

Reformedhero, I said I wouldn't post again, but your allegations about Simons are over the top! Have you ever read Menno Simons? Or have you just heard his (uninformed) critics? (BTW, you probably know that an argument based on an appeal to your degree or place of learning is in fact a logical fallacy.) I would sincerely refer you to his Complete Writings, available through Herald Press.

Never in my life of studying Mennonite theology have I encountered the following:

anti-trinitarianism
rebellion against the civil magistrate
denial of the incarnation
extra-biblical 'revelations' and false prophecies
communism
bigamy
"open" marriages

If you want to brand all Anabaptists by Hut et. al., then you may be on to something. But to do that would be the same as me branding all Reformed folk by PCUSA or all evangelicals by Brian McLaren. Have you ever studied Mennonite theology *first-hand*?

As far as rebaptism is concerned, only the first generation of Anabaptists were rebaptised as they viewed their Catholic baptism as invalid. Since the Reformation, the rest of us Mennonites have received only one baptism, that being upon confession of faith. If you want to see the Statement of Faith of my denomination (Evangelical Mennonite Conference), here's the address:

http://www.emconf.ca/

Your use of Matthew 7:6 on myself seems to indicate that you yourself are guilty of the very charges you put against me. If your depiction of Menno Simons is not bearing false witness, not sure what is. I will assume that you have no answer to the modesty question.

Lastly, where my tone has been uncharitable, I apologize in Christlike humility. I am sorry.

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
opinion-minion said...

Quick note, I posted a kind of sort of response post that, hopefully, managed not to attack anyone personally, or give anyone a headache for the rest of the day. (Can we get Teampyro customized bottles O' Aspirin goodness?)

http://muddlehouse.blogspot.com/2007/05/modesty.html

Sewing said...

Opinion-minion, bless you for disagreeing with graciousness and sincerity. Are those Aspirins extra-strength?

opinion-minion said...

If it's teampyro, you gotta believe it's gonna be extra whatever you've ever had before.

Reformed Hero said...

matt wrote:

"Reformedhero, I said I wouldn't post again, but your allegations about Simons are over the top! Have you ever read Menno Simons? Or have you just heard his (uninformed) critics? (BTW, you probably know that an argument based on an appeal to your degree or place of learning is in fact a logical fallacy.)"

I read the primary sources and scholarly secondary sources while sitting for my Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. You asked, I answered. The answer is a "logical fallacy" (lol) and is "puffed up". Insanity! I'm thankful I never based any arguments on where I attended university. You're bearing false witness again.

One of the "uninformed critics" is Harold O.J. Brown (Ph.D., Harvard University), in his classic scholarly work, Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Dr. Brown writes:

"A number of the radicals, including not only Thomas Munzer (ca. 1489-1525) and Melchior Hoffmann (ca. 1495-ca. 1543 but also Kaspar Schwenkfeld (1489-1561) and Menno Simons (1496-1561), both of whom founded churches that exist today (the Schwenkfelder Church and the Mennonite Church), advocated the concept of the heavenly flesh in order to spare the deity contact with our sinful human flesh. Menno spoke of Jesus as born "in" Mary's body, but not "of it". Brown continued, "To have done so would have made him part of Adam's sinful race, an intolerable thought (although precisely the point of orthodox Christology and the orthodox doctrine of Christ's vicarious atonement!)." (Harold O.J. Brown, Heresies. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984, 1988, p. 328).

Other "uninformed critics" documented:

"Fortunately, Menno's teaching on the incarnation did not abide long with his followers. Seventy-one years after Menno's death the Dutch Mennonite Confession of Faith (1632) dropped the explicit affirmation of the celestial flesh but this component of Menno's Christology continues to embarrass modern Mennonites." (Carrigan, "Menno Simon's Incarnational Christology." see also, John C. Wenger's introduction to "Menno's Incarnation," in The Complete Works of Menno Simons, Scottdale: Herald Press, 1956, p. 784.).

Matt continued:

"If your depiction of Menno Simons is not bearing false witness, not sure what is."

I realize such a comment is simply a product of the depth of your ignorance of the subject.

Matt, you are ignorant of Church history and even the foundation of your own sect. But that is not your central problem, as no one is omniscient and laymen outside of the field can't be expected to be masters of these subjects. Your problem is repeated, unrepented sin and abusive behavior. I am finished with you.

Matt said...

While Menno certainly did speak of Jesus becoming a man "in" Mary, nowhere does he deny the orthodox view of the Incarnation (ie-fully human AND fully divine). Maybe you are aware that Menno himself wrote a critical response on Arianism? He also wrote the following:

We believe and confess that this same eternal. . . Word, Christ Jesus, which was in the beginning with God and which was God. . . born of the incomprehensible Father, before every creature. . . did in the fullness of time become. . . a mortal man in Mary Complete Writings, 492

and:

he was truly human and not a mere phantasm CW, 794

You are finished with me, and I'm thankful that a man of your calibre should even spend time with a lowly person such as myself.

Your example to humbly teach those less intelligent than yourself, your scholarly reserve, and above all, your clear answer to my question about how to practice modesty have been instructive.

Sorry Cent, I guess I forgot to read the "Don't feed the trolls" sign. Duly noted for next time around. What a turkey trail, although to my defense, I always tried bringing it back to modesty, and never received an answer. I suppose there never was one, just a desire to needlessly display credentials and generate controversy.

Enjoying the return of your series! Keep up the good work, all of you.