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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.

Categories
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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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!

Categories
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.

Categories
woman

BEAUTY MARKS

Neal Pollard
God made women as one of His crowning achievements of beauty, and I am blessed to be married to one of His finest samples of this. They are called the “fairer sex” for obvious reasons. This was obvious from the first generation of man (Gen. 2:22-23). While Solomon extolled the physical beauty of his wife in Song of Solomon and King Lemuel’s mother extolled the intellectual beauty of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, Paul, a single man, and Peter, a married man, are led in their writing by the Holy Spirit to identify three distinct beauty marks of God’s ideal woman.
“Good Works” (1 Tim. 2:10). This mark is set in contrast with the immodesty of ungodliness in 1 Timothy 2:9. Whether overdressing or under dressing, the ungodly woman accentuates her outward self. This is not true beauty. Paul says being adorned with good works covers her with true loveliness. When a Christian lady is engrossed in good works, visiting, teaching ladies and children in Bible classes, soul-winning, or as context emphasizes (2:15), fulfilling her role if possible in the home raising children, she is a rare beauty. There are countless good works in which she can be engaged for Christ and the church. In doing these, she reveals remarkable beauty.
“A Gentle And Quiet Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:4). In 1 Peter, Peter makes some statements quite similar to Paul’s. Notice first that Peter, like Paul, preaches a message that could not be more different from the world’s sermon. The world tells a woman to allow herself to be a sexual object for men, to flaunt what she has, and to be provocative in her dress and manner. Peter tells her to accentuate chaste conduct and fear (3:2) and the “hidden person of the heart” (3:4). This is “incorruptible beauty,” literally not subject to decay. One thing I have observed through the years is that the godly woman grows more beautiful with age, the wrinkles and other marks of age not marring her appearance one bit. Her godly disposition, disciplined righteousness, and spiritual greatness beautify her in a way Cover Girl or Oil of Olay absolutely could not! Her friendliness and tranquility attract in an ageless way.
“Holy And Trusting” (1 Pet. 3:5). Peter mentions another beauty mark in his description of God’s stunning woman. She is like Sarah and other Old Testament women of righteousness. She is holy, meaning she lives near to God and far from the world. What truer beauty is there? She hopes for God, suggesting that she counts on Him and puts her confidence in Him. The world’s ideal woman boasts of her self-sufficiency, self-reliance, self-confidence, and self-making. Selfish persons of either gender are decidedly unattractive. But, the Christian woman appears beautiful through her dependency upon God and His ways.
Paul reminds us that despite our “beauty products” and cosmetic surgeries, the outward person is running down and wearing out (2 Cor. 4:16). There is nothing wrong with keeping in good physical shape (1 Tim. 4:8) or taking care of our physical appearance. However, let God’s woman be convinced that the things mentioned by Paul and Peter in these verses cause her to win the beauty contest in which God the Lord is the judge.

Categories
character Christianity youth

News Headlines Of The Prom Season

Neal Pollard

  • “Alcohol Enforcement Stepped-Up For Prom Season” (wowt.com, 4/7/14).  Why?
  • “Prom Season Can Be Dangerous Time For Teens” (www.martinsvillebulletin.com, 4/11/14).  Just one statement in the article reads, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website adds that statistics indicate alcohol-related peer pressure is strongest at prom time, due to the large number of parties in a short period.”
  • “Some Schools Prohibit Party Buses For School Buses” (tbo.com, 4/7/14).  A principal in the Tampa Bay area interviewed in the article said, “…the most common discipline-worthy incidents at school dances tend to be drinking alcohol before or during the event, fighting, trespassing and inappropriate dancing. ‘The dancing is not like it was when I was in high school,’ he said.”
  • “Prom And Wretched Excess” (Chicago Tribune, 10/23/05).  A Long Island, New York, principal, Kenneth Hoagland, interviewed for the article says, “Twenty years ago…seniors went to the beach after their prom dance and then to someone’s house for breakfast. Now, he says, prom is a weekend-long orgy that every year has become incrementally more excessive, with small fortunes spent on ostentatious attire, stretch limos stocked with liquor, and ‘booze cruises’ from a local harbor.”
  • “It’s Your Prom! Make It Safe, Healthy, And Fun” (www.cdc.gov/family/prom/index.htm).  The information page includes cautions about the pressures teens who attend the prom feel to drink alcohol, use drugs, and have sex during the weekend’s activities.
  • “What Happened To Modest Prom Dresses?” (CNN, Carl Azuz, 5/9/12).  The article reveals that 35% of prom dresses sold by David’s Bridal are from the line called “Sexy,” a style defined by “low-cut backs, high-cut hemlines, and skin-showing cutouts.” Houston Chronicle blogger Mary Jo Rapini, interviewed by Azuz, says a shift in parenting values where parents allow their kids to wear on such occasions what their own parents would not have explains some of what has happened to “modest prom dresses.”

Headlines like these are to be found ad nauseum.  They demonstrate that even the world acknowledges that Prom Night promotes immoral behavior.  I cannot help but ask why we as Christians either encourage or permit our children’s participation in an event with so many elements clearly “over the line.”  Why we would want to associate with something that involves a fundamental compromise of what is right in so many areas of Christian living?

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Paul teaches us that our bodies and minds belong to God.  That means that there are circumstances where the world will urge and pressure us to do things and go places that are worldly.  Let us carefully deliberate and always strive to be transformed rather than conformed.  Distinctiveness can certainly be unpopular with this world, but it may well give us the opportunity to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”