Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hyper Modesty in the Church, Part 3

Personal Note to the Young Adults and Conclusion

I know some of the young adults from my former church are reading this blog.  First off, I want to say that I care deeply for you and this message is sent from my heart.  You are part of the reason I keep this blog.  When my Hannah left, I became very concerned for all the young adults there.  You will not get guilt and shame from me.  I just want to personally tell you that if you got involved or are involved in sexual immorality or any other area of sin, I get the "whys".  You don't have to tell me.  There was never a way to measure up to those perfect standards.  It was an impossibility.   What we went through was not normal.  

Still speaking to those young adults:  I hope you will seek out people who show grace and unconditional love -  not the false love that says:  I will only love you if you wear a certain kind of clothes or if you behave a certain way.   That is not true love.  A true friend will stick by someone, even when they sin.  They won't ignore the sin, but they won't hammer it in, either.  They will model grace and offer opportunities to make things right.

Secondly, some of you may have shut God out of your life based on your experiences at the church.  That part makes me very sad and angry.   What you were taught was an impossibility to live day in and day out.  While you were supposed to have a shepherd guide you in your walk toward God, you may have been left wanting nothing to do with Him.   Please do not let your bad experience shape the path of your spiritual walk.  What you heard and saw was works and law, not grace.  It was nothing short of false teaching.  There are good churches out there and there are good pastors who make it their goal to help guide, not lord over you.  When you feel ready, please try again. 

Thirdly, I've been in touch with a number of parents who have since left.  Your parents love you deeply.  And if your parents are no longer at the church,  keep in mind they are probably in the process of coming to terms with what they went through.  They are certainly doing some soul searching as all parents do:  how did this happen, why did I go to this church, why did I stay there, how were my children affected by staying there, etc.  If it helps, please feel free to use this blog post as a conversation starter in your family.   Keep talking.  Keep extending grace to each other.

I have been so thankful for the talks I've had with my adult kids.   They need to know that we were not in a healthy church environment, that we missed the signs.   Showing our kids this kind of humility and giving them grace will be so helpful in the healing process for them and for us.

In conclusion, I want to once again go back to the modesty issue.  Sure, there are appropriate ways to remain modest, but not go overboard into the trap of legalism.  Modesty is a matter of the heart.  

But I say, walk by the Spirit, 
and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 
Galations 5:16

We don't need modesty rules.  The Bible gives us guidelines on modesty and we also have the Holy Spirit to guide us.  God has given us common sense and he's also given us grace.  We do not need to act as Modesty Police to others as was done in our former church, pointing out each error in judgment if we wore something that didn't pass their test.  Living by example works far better. Women mentoring younger women gently and privately works much better than rules from the pulpit by a man telling us details on how to dress.  I remember feeling so awkward hearing a man talking how a female body should be dressed.  What was that all about? 

I remember the modesty issue became so much of a distraction that it was difficult to relax and enjoy time at the beach, or at a swimming pool or lake, or even walking through the grocery store during the summer!   I have five boys at home now.  We don't turn the channel when we see a lady in a bikini.  We don't cover eyes.  They know we are in the world and the world does not have have the same beliefs/standards we have for ourselves.  We live in an area where we swim a lot in the summer and we see a lot more skin than clothes.  It's been 3-1/2 yrs since leaving and we left all of those modesty rules behind.  It's interesting.  I don't see my boys looking at females (and their body parts) nearly as much as I did when we were back at the former church.  I'm sure they notice female bodies - what guy doesn't?  They know about lusting.  But they are not under modesty rules or policing anymore - they are enjoying the sun, the water, their friends - you know, the things that really do count:  people and relationships.

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.  For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;  that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,  not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;  and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.  So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
1 Thessolonians 4:1-8 

I love how this verse focuses on what to do:  we should walk and please God through sanctification and we each have our own vessel in sanctification and honor.   When we focus on sanctification, holiness, we won't easily fall into the trap of sin as easily.   It seems that when we focus on pleasing God, the list of "don'ts" becomes obsolete because we already know how we should behave, how we should dress, how we should treat one another.  It really is simple.  Focus on God and things seem to fall into place beautifully.

I just got an e-mail that our neighborhood pool will be opening this weekend.  Time to pull out the swimsuits and have some fun in the sun!   Have a great weekend, everyone. 


  1. Admin note: Dee from The Wartburg Watch blog notified me that they are having tech issues on their site. it may take a day or so to recover. Hang tight.

  2. "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2

    Julie Anne,

    Going out and enjoying the good weather God created with friends and family, giving thanks to God is "setting your mind on things above." Pointing out every thread of physical material that somebody physically wears on their physical body and the physical skin that is either covered or shown is setting your mind "on the things that are on earth."

    Legalists usually get Colossians 2 and 3 backward.

  3. Julie Anne,

    I've read the series (so far) and in fact the whole blog... While I agree, dressing provocatively is not a good thing (actually it is pretty culturally based but that is a whole different topic) the word we hear translated as this post implies (non-provocative) really has its roots in being more "simply" dressed -- not adorned with jewelry or flashy hair, etc.

    1. I believe that all over the world God is calling His true sheep OUT of the Babylonian religious system with all of its "doctors" of theology, and "reverends" that are trying to build their own worldly empires. And God is using this forum, that thanks to the lawsuit, is now getting national attention to do it. Stop allowing them to get free labor from you Christians that wish to serve the Lord, but have been deceived to serve some hirelings empire instead. Why is it that you must serve the Lord because you love Him, while the pastors (who are supposed to be setting the example) will not serve Him without a salary, a house allowance, and a car allowance? Do they not love Him? You study to teach the Bible for free. Why can't they? You work a full time job and still prepare to teach Sunday School. Why can't they? And why is it that if YOU want to sing in the choir, or teach Sunday School, or whatever, YOU MUST PAY into the system, while those that are supposed to set the example for you, will not serve anyone unless they are paid OUT OF the system??? Get out of her my brethren. God is not in this. He tells you not to be servants of men. The Spirit of God has been telling you these things. You KNOW it is true! You will not grow cold if you leave. You will probably grow much more in grace and truth. That has been the experience of those that have already come out. You will not loose your salvation. You will find sweeter fellowship with the Lord when you stop listening to His enemies in the pulpits. Amen, amen, amen???

  4. I think it boils down to... It's not "What you wear" it's "How you wear it." I've seen plenty of people wearing clothing that might be considered provocative but did not come off as seeking sexual attention. And others still who wear the same types of clothing that... "Strutted their stuff" around so they could get attention. That is immodesty. Common sense, if you are going for modest, that don't be a sexual show off.

    1. I think more modest dress code will be a natural result if someone is seeking God (Gal 5:16 mentioned above).

      Conversely, men cannot expect that all women will be at the same spiritual level seeking holiness and also need to bear some responsibility in diverting eyes if need be. Christians and non-Christians co-exist in the world, it is something that is dealt with on a daily basis.

    2. So true. It is funny how we will hold other people responsible for our own temptation. The woman may be responsible for dressing provocatively, but the man is responsible for his own lust. And some women are, as you say, just naive as to the power they can so irresponsibly throw around. The men cannot tell her about it because doing so is a catch-22... it may very well increase her temptation to exercise control over him by displaying her body provocatively. It's a risk very few men are willing to take.

      It is good for families to discuss this in private. I'm afraid for a while I made my daughter think that men are just ready to accost girls if they make a mistake in this area. This was not my intention at all, but I was merely trying to get across the strength of the reaction that goes on inside their heads! Some men have figuratively described it as a thermonuclear reaction.

      Well, as time goes by she'll learn to understand. I know I didn't REALLY understand until I was married for about 10 years and my husband and I had some really in depth talks about it -- because my parents didn't talk to me that much about these things. I was totally immodest and had no clue because I am kind of a tomboy to begin with and figured I didn't induce that kind of attraction/reaction in anyone.

  5. Thank you, Julie, for a very informative series on modesty. Frankly, I am appalled at the revealing fashions women wear today. On the other hand, as a society we do seem comfortable with seeing body parts partially exposed which is disturbing to me. It indicates an unhealthy focus on the value of body "parts" rather than the value of the individual as a person.

    As a senior Christian, I feel we need to be careful about blending into worldly fashion so well that our dress does not reflect our values. At the same time, women should not be made to feel guilty or shameful of the body that was specifically designed for her by the Lord. Short of a burqa, it's literally impossible to hide a woman's shape/curves and to impose guilt or shame for her design is horribly wrong.

    Common sense and good judgement is the call of the day....but also an understanding that not everyone shares the same amount of either.

  6. "We don't need modesty rules. The Bible gives us guidelines on modesty and we also have the Holy Spirit to guide us. "

    But we like rules! ;-)

    Seriously, you can have guidelines but there are SOOOO many ways to violate the spirit of any guideline or rule while remaining technically within the parameters of said guideline or rule. We want rules because it's easy and doesn't require thought or heart analysis.

    Think about it -- if we were pure in heart, nakedness would not be an issue... that's how it used to be in the Garden of Eden before the fall. The issue is not clothing, but the heart. This is not to say we should not care about our clothing. But every individual has their own weird turn-ons. Next thing you know we can't allow women to wear sandals because we have some people with a foot fetish.

    Please no one tell me that I'm encouraging I'm trying to encourage immodesty. I am doing no such thing. If your heart is sensitive to those around you, you will learn modesty without having to wear a burqa or avoid stuff like swimming in public. (although, it is hard to find a decent bathing suit these days without spending a fortune. I have been actually happy about some they offer at Walmart that are more modest-- although they do offer the skimpy stuff too.)

    We all have the potential for phariseeism. It's natural. This is what it means by putting to death the flesh and its tendency to want to earn righteousness by its behavior. Rebellion against God's standard is not good, but neither is belief that outward conformation to the standard makes you more righteous in God's eyes.


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