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modesty purity

MODESTY AND THE MEDIA SEXUALIZATION OF OUR GIRLS

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

In 2008, M. Gigi Durham wrote a blunt book entitled: The Lolita Effect: the Media Sexualization Of Young Girls And What We Can Do About It. Durham is not at all writing from a Christian worldview, being a militant, secular feminist instead. In the book, she writes about several myths created by the media and the culture.

  • The “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” myth: Fashion magazines and media urge girls to dress in a way that’s “hot” and as such sets up the danger girls will attract harmful sexual attention.
  • The “anatomy of a sex goddess” myth: The runway model or the Barbie doll is projected as the ideal body, but both are unnatural.  They are genetic anomalies.
  • The “pretty babies” myth: “Ideal sexiness is about being young—very young it seems.”
  • The “what boys like” myth: “The ideal spectator is said to be male and the image of the woman is designed to flatter him.”

Durham is definitely on to something, even if it serves her own and different agenda. She is not alone in the secular world, worrying about the unhealthy consequences of the sexualization of our girls, even at the youngest of ages (Read more here).

Christian families, who believe and follow the Bible, already had these warnings in place. Consistently, God calls women (and girls) who profess godliness to reflect that by how they project themselves (cf. 1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:3-4).  Many preachers and Bible class teachers through the years have taken great pains to try and define and describe modesty, but what we have observed above would have been indisputably immodest in most people’s eyes in the world just a generation or so ago.

Too many parents, including Christian parents, have been swayed by the world’s fashion standards.  Even girls being raised in a Christian home have at times been encouraged and allowed to dress in ways that can easily produce lust. Jesus says that those who lust after a woman are committing adultery with her in their hearts (Mat. 5:28).  Men, young and old, have a responsibility to combat lust in their hearts, but Christian love would seem to dictate that women, young and old, would make that as easy as possible for them.

Fashions that are marketed as hot, sexy and daring, that reveal the body in a sexual way, are immodest!  The world, even without the Word, sees and understands that. We dare not rationalize it!  The world sexualizes everything from Cheetos to plant food and everything in between.  God commands purity of His people, but His Word must inform our standard of purity rather than what we think is pure.  Proverbs 30:11-13 says, “There is a kind of man who curses his father and does not bless his mother.  There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his filthiness. There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.”

It’s important for us to ask, “What kind am I?”  Fashion choices and body obsession that say “if you’ve got it flaunt it” must be honestly examined and carefully avoided. God bless our homes which thoughtfully consider and decide with hearts set to honor Him.

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clothing modesty Uncategorized

PEWAUKEE’S DRESS CODE

Neal Pollard

Pewaukee is a small city in southeast Wisconsin, home to a high school whose most famous alumni is probably Houston Texan NFL superstar J.J. Watt. But the high school is not in the news due to the recent philanthropic gesture of Watt in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but for another decision that resulted in a media tidal wave against the Waukesha County school district. Specifically, reaction is against a school policy “requiring all ‘dress-wearing’ students and guests to send photos of their attire before they can buy tickets to the Pewaukee High School homecoming dance next month” (Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/15/17). Though the policy actually was enacted in 2015, the email reminder to families  last week created a backlash from some students and parents. One mother complained, “The girls are essentially being held responsible for the wayward thoughts (administrators) think boys have” (ibid.).  There are policies aimed at boys, too, but the school superintendent “said it was girls who forced the district to impose the pre-dance check by pushing the boundaries of appropriate attire at school formals” (ibid.).  While some parents seem upset that the school district is not trusting their judgment, others seem not to want to be told what to do or to have arbitrary boundaries set.

Pewaukee High School has boundaries about clothing. Dads and moms, have you taken the time to consider what that is for yourselves and for your children? When Paul speaks to women about clothing and uses such words as “proper,” “modestly,” and “discreetly” (1 Tim. 2:9), have you thought about what that will mean within your family? We have such a golden opportunity as stewards of influence, godliness, purity, and modesty. The world benefits from distinctive Christian living that reflects itself in a variety of ways, including modesty. “Dress code” is a phrase often used in a pejorative, contemptible way, but all of us have one. May ours reveal a thoughtful premeditation toward reflecting the glory of our wonderful Redeemer.

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anonymity faithfulness Memorial Day modesty obscurity Uncategorized

THE LITTLE GRAVES THAT HAVE NO NAME

Neal Pollard

Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge, a 26-year-old Irish soldier, was one of 10 million people killed in World War I.He died July 31, 1917, in Belgium. He was a poet, and he wrote the following before the war:

And now I’m drinking wine in France, the helpless child of circumstance.
Tomorrow will be loud for war, how will I be accounted for?
It is too late now to retrieve a fallen dream, too late to grieve
A name unmade, but not too late to thank the gods for what is great;
A keen-edged sword,a soldier’s heart, is greater than a poet’s art.
And greater than a poet’s fame a little grave that has no name.
(Gilbert, Martin. The First World War, Holt & Co., NY, 1994, 353).

Ledwidge sounds neither devout nor decent, but his last stanza rings loudly. This poor, fallen man glorifies the soldier, prolific even in anonymity. Glory rather than shame is to be memorialized in an unnamed grave.

Greater far than those whose spirits departed on plains and beaches of Europe or Asia or even Canaan during Joshua’s days are those who lost their lives in service to God. In the great memorial of Scripture they are mentioned, but without their names. One day, in heaven, their identities will be known as the Lord reads the names of those written in His Book of Life.

The writer of Hebrews speaks about many such unnamed heroes of the spiritual war that endures generation after generation. Among those are unnamed prophets of valor (Heb. 10:32-34). Unidentified women are remembered for their faith (35).

Following them, the writer holds up the generic others–children of God persecuted and even killed (10:36-38). Together they form that multitudinous throng of witnesses in Hebrews 12:1. Under centuries of dust, sand and silt lie their unmarked graves. God does not even reveal their names to the reader. But they sacrificed and persevered in hope of eternal life. They gained approval through their active faith (11:39). They stand as an example and a motivation for Christians today (12:1).

Throughout the world there are scores of Christians toiling in obscurity. For every big-name preacher and high-profile teacher and widely known missionary, thousands of godly mothers are training their children to follow Christ and running their homes with grace and virtue (Ti. 2:5; Pr. 31). Without recognition, elders are praying for, shepherding, defending and feeding lambs in places as far away as India and Africa and as close as Indiana and Alabama. Hidden from the watchful pens of our sharp-sighted editors and authors are saints, as soldiers, fighting Satan without ceremony or earthly commendation. One day their bodies will fail and fall into graves, known only to family and friends, but unmarked in the graveyard of brotherhood greats.

Too, in the church, day by day great things are done by saints that never make the bulletin, announcements, or bulletin boards. Masked by their modesty, they brighten many lives by walking in the light. The elders, preachers, or deacons may never know so much of what they do, but God sees and will reward them. When they lay their armor down, they may sleep in an unmarked plot in the cemetery of church history, but with God they will have greater fame than those who etched their mark in the annals of the world.

So, fight (1 Cor. 9:26)!

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Categories
clothing fashion modesty seduction sexuality

Dangerous Clothing!

Neal Pollard

Have you ever heard of clothing that puts you in the hospital?  A 35-year-old woman in Adelaide, Australia, had to be treated at the Royal Adelaide Hospital for loss of circulation.  She was on an IV for four days! Why? The official report used scary words like “hypoattenuation,” “oedema of muscles,” and “myonecrosis.”  The bottom line was that her skinny jeans were too tight.  Coupled with squatting frequently while helping a family member move and wearing these overly compressed pants, her legs and lower extremities were so numb that she could not walk (via jnnp.bmj.com).  The truth is truly stranger than fiction.

Is there any dangerous clothing in your closet or wardrobe?  Especially as summer weather heats up, some reveal clothing that could be dangerous to themselves and others.  Consider this.

  • Clothes may be too tight.
  • Clothes may be too short.
  • Clothes may be otherwise too revealing.
  • Clothes may contain provocative words or sexually suggestive phrases.

Frustrating for both those trying to defend or condemn immodest clothing is the fact that Scripture does not give specific guidelines for clothing God finds either acceptable or unacceptable.  True, we can point to how God clothed the first couple in the Garden of Eden, but they had the right to see each other completely unclothed.  We can talk about the priests’ garments under the Old Law, but they wore it doing things, offering animal sacrifices and worshipping with mechanical instruments, that keep us from binding that as a pattern for clothing today.  New Testament passages about modest clothing (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4) seem to primarily address over-dressing, though the principle about clothing which can easily produce lust may be applicable.  Yet, especially clothing that strongly resembles lingerie and undergarments, extremely short-shorts, clothing that clearly outlines parts of the body that should not be publicly seen, and the like can be dangerous for the wearers and the observers. God made men and women sexual creatures, and clothing that “feels” and “looks” sexy can stir feelings in people toward people they do not have the right to feel.

As we assess the clothing in our wardrobes, it is good to ask some important spiritual questions:

  • Does it help me present my body as a sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1)?
  • Does it reflect that I am conforming to the world or being transformed by God’s will (Rom.12:2)?
  • Is it an “anything” that causes my brother to stumble (Rom. 14:21)?
  • Is it “lust-producing” (cf. Mat. 5:28)?

Frustratingly, this requires some common sense and some thoughtful examination.  Individuals must use propriety in the absence of a “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not.”  Yet, neither should we feign ignorance in a world where fashion designers tout clothes that are “hot,” “sexy,” “dangerous,” or the like.  No preacher or Bible teacher can force their personal standards of modesty on anyone else, but he or she can appeal to the heart and ask that Christlike love for the souls of others be exercised.  After all, clothes can be dangerous even if they don’t land you in the hospital!

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blogging clothing modesty

Veronica Partridge’s Proclamation

Neal Pollard

On January 5, Veronica Partridge, “Christian Blogger,” posted an article entitled, “Why I Chose To No Longer Wear Leggings.”  Her essential answer was that she did not want to dress in a way that would potentially make someone other than her husband to “think lustfully about” her body (www.veronicapartridge.com).  How do I know about the blog?  I did not even know who she was until I was running on the treadmill this morning and Good Morning America was running a story about it.  Then, in Googling “Veronica Partridge Leggings,” I saw that such websites as “Huffington Post,” “New York Daily News,” and “The Inquisitr” have written opinion pieces about her words.  Just what is visible from the Google result reveals that they do not necessarily appreciate her point of view.  What is her point of view?

She spoke to her husband and asked if an attractive woman in form-fitting pants was in view, did it present a potential heart struggle for him.  He said it did, and at the end of her post she wrote, “And at that moment, I made a personal vow to myself and to my husband. I will no longer wear thin, form-fitting yoga pants or leggings in public….I also want to set the best example of how to dress for my daughter. I want her to know, her value is not in the way her body looks or how she dresses, but in the character and personality God has given her” (ibid.).

The commenters in response to her blog said some of the same things I’ve heard people say in response to sermons I’ve heard preached or that I’ve preached on modesty.  “It’s not the woman’s fault if the man chooses to lust.” “If a guy’s going to lust, it doesn’t matter what the woman is wearing.” “Who defines modesty?”  Truly, this is a difficult matter to preach or teach well.  Why?

  • People have different standards of what is modest and immodest.
  • Some women are unaware of how revealing or provocative some items of clothing are for most men.
  • Some men may pressure or persuade their wives and daughters to dress in such a way.
  • Some women may like how certain men look at them when they are dressed in such a way.
  • It is human nature to place what we see as our own “rights” over how our exercise of such “rights” negatively effects others.

Those not interested in pleasing God will not be moved by biblical passages and principles.  For those who are, here are some things to consider.

  1. 1 Timothy 2:9 calls for the Christian woman to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly.  In context, she violated this with ostentatious clothing that blinded people to her adornment of good works and claims of godliness.  If “overdressing” does this, can “underdressing” do this?
  2. 1 Peter 3:2-4 ties together chaste and respectful behavior with clothing that draws attention not to the external but to “the hidden person of the heart.”  Is there ever a line where one’s clothing leaves the realm of the chaste (not have sexual nature or intention) and enters the realm of the immoral?
  3. Matthew 5:28-32 says that a man who looks at a woman with lust for her has sinned.  This is the man’s responsibility, but is it ever possible that a woman can so clothe (or not clothe) herself in such a way as create a stumbling block for him in this regard (cf. Mat. 18:7).

There are some items of clothing that are definitely chaste and modest.  Surely, most everyone would say that there are some items of clothing that are definitely not.  What God’s people must do is give serious thought to such things and do that which gives them the best chance to promote Christ.  This is but one area, but it is one area.