Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hyper-Modesty in the Church, Part 1

 Do You Have Modesty Police in Your Church?


Before we came to the church, our family had general guidelines on modesty.  It wasn't a big deal.  There were no rules, but I shared with my daughters to generally try to wear clothes that didn't draw attention to female body parts or cause distraction.   I tried to show them clothes that exemplified beauty.   It wasn't set down as rules, but was discussed as we experienced life, while shopping and trying on new clothes, maybe while watching something on television, or perhaps watching a situation where a young lady is dressed provocatively and we can see how others look at her, or rather her body parts instead of looking at "her", etc.  This worked well for us then. 

God gave us His word for guidelines.  His Holy Spirit works in us as we read His word.  Here's one such verse that talks about modesty - - - wait, I just checked - it doesn't say modesty.  It's talking about holy living.  Imagine it, God doesn't need to spell it all out in detailed fashion, but let's the Holy Spirit work in us:

 So think clearly and exercise self-control.  Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children.  Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.   But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.   For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:13-16

What does holy dress look like?  We don't have it clearly spelled out before us, but we know that God wants us to be holy.  Is God breathing and living through His word in our lives?  If so, then I believe He is able to speak to us and guide us.  

 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

At our former church, we were instructed to stay away from public swim areas and places where people were dressed immodestly.   I wondered how we would have dealt with that issue if we had those same rules while living in Virginia Beach where we lived years ago.  I thought back to that time.   Because Virginia Beach is a touristy beach town, it is normal for people to be wearing beach attire as they walked in town and shopped.  By beach attire, I am referring to cut-offs and bikini tops, etc.  We dressed in shorts, sleeveless shirts, etc, (no bikini tops for this mama).   I don't think this kind of pastor or church would have been able to co-exist in that town. 

From the pulpit, men/boys were instructed to look the other way if they saw a woman jogging on the sidewalk or side of the street.  This was brought up a number of times.  I did not like the results I saw in my family and others.  It almost became a game to look for female joggers so they could quickly look away and act holy.

Another rule was about swimming.  There was to be no mixed gender swimming - unless they were very young children.  The Smith family disobeyed this rule.   We go to a Christian family camp each year at a lake and we had been going for several years before attending this church.  I remember the first year we went to camp after attending this church and tried to imagine if we obeyed all of these new rules, what it would be like for our family at this amazing lake camp.  I remember struggling with this modesty issue while there at camp, knowing that our pastor would be greatly displeased knowing that the Smith family was participating in co-ed swimming with their parents' approval.  We didn't discuss this obvious conflict with the kids, we just did what we had been doing for the previous years - we swam and had a great time.  The camp has their own basic dress code, such as no bikinis and they preferred one-piece suits for ladies.  It had always worked for us. 

However, in the church environment and out of the church environment, we became Modesty Police.  If we saw sexually explicit magazines in the grocery aisle checkout line, we turned those magazines over so that people couldn't see the front cover.  Our children were trained to be on the lookout for inappropriately dressed people whenever we watched shows on tv or movies.  If something inappropriate showed up on the screen, someone immediately got up and turned the channel or fast forwarded the scene.    If we saw inappropriately dressed people in smaller confines, ie, Baskin Robbins, it would be safer to wait outside until those people left before entering the store.  Those are the kinds of things we did in order to avoid immodesty in the world around us and "protect" our children.

I wonder how many of us remember taking our boys to the mall or strolling through department store's lingerie section or walking past Victoria Secret.  How many moms covered our boys' eyes so they wouldn't see the mannequins in their sexy bras and thong panties.   How many of you former BGBC members just cringed reading this?  Did Julie Anne really type "sexy bras" and "thongs"?   Yes, I did - lol!  I might be pushing that comfort line for some of you.    I wonder how our boys felt when we physically covered their eyes with our hands?  Did they find it embarrassing to have their mother's hands across their eyes in front of pure strangers?

Modesty was a bid deal at church.  On one occasion, a young lady came to the church during a time we were having Praise and Worship practice.  This was after hours on a Saturday.  The pastor answered answered the door, but quickly excused himself and got a woman from the Praise and Worship team to talk with her because he claimed she was dressed immodestly.  I wonder how she would have felt knowing the pastor did not talk to her because she was not dressed properly?   I now wonder what the lady from the Praise and Worship team told her as to why the pastor didn't want to talk to her.   Is this not sending the message:  "I can't talk to you because your outward appearance does not measure up to my Christian dress code standards?"  Ouch!

Try to imagine why a stranger might come to the door of a church?  Perhaps she was someone in dire need of help - maybe a financial situation, perhaps emotional or maybe she just someone to talk to.  If someone got the impression that they wouldn't be accepted because of their attire - I wonder how that would make them feel loved and welcomed?

One year a very new Christian came to the church camp in WA.   This sweet young Christian was cognizant of the church's modesty issues and asked her friends if what she was wearing was appropriate for the camp out.  Her friends told her she was fine.  When she got to camp, she was given an obvious stare down by a prominent woman in the church.  She was puzzled.  Eventually, she went up to the woman asking if there was something wrong with the way she was dressed.  The woman told her she was dressed very immodestly.  This was the same outfit that her other friends had said was fine.  Imagine the shame and guilt this young Christian felt at being scorned for dressing "immodestly".   There are many, many more stories like this of Modesty Police issuing verbal scornful citations to church members.  You get the idea.


 . . . . to be continued . . . .

57 comments:

  1. I am LDS. We are encouraged to dress modestly for many reasons. My mother always told me that it was so we can help ourselves and others keep their minds just a little purer.We believe it a commitment to a Christlike life and shows respect for self, for fellow beings, and for God. In our homes and in the Church, we are taught that modest dress has a positive effect on both self-esteem and behavior.
    Personally, I think men and women are show WAY more than they ought to these days. I like to show my curves but I can do that in a nicely cut blouse or dress, I don't have to go out half naked. In fact I find myself looking at the fashion from the 50's and 60's. When I drive by my local high school I can't believe that mothers and/or fathers let their kids look that provocative or just plain trashy.

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    1. Julie Anne's post is about policing, not the merits of modesty which she embraces. Policing what others do for the sake of image management in a church is a different topic all together.

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    2. You've got it, David, image management!

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  2. This reminds me of the classic movie "Splendor in the Grass," in which normal teens who were simply developing in the way God/Nature intended, are made to feel guilty for... well, for just about everything! The more adults identified any behavior or thought as a sin, the more intriguing it was for the teens, the more guilty they felt about it, and the more a "big deal" it became. Ultimately it messed some up for life. We always let our kids know our opinions about influences that were bombarding them (media, peer groups, etc.), but told them that we trusted them. (And we did.) This meant some cringing and worrying on our part, and yes, they dabbled in some stuff that made us nervous, but ultimately they have emerged as responsible, mature, and independent young adults who have forged their own paths. It wasn't easy to have only TWO major "rules" (don't have sex without protection until you want a baby and NEVER get in a car with anyone who's been drinking), but ultimately that seemed to give them the latitude to count on themselves to use wise judgement and to stay emotionally, physically and, I'd say, morally/spiritually safe in a crazy world full of people who are told to judge others.

    Rules are good; we all need some. TOO many, and especially too many irrational rules that seem to be solely for the purpose of control of one person or group over another, just make people (young and old alike) want to see what they're missing. We see it in over-regulated teens, we see it in adults who were never taught to think for themselves, and we unfortunately see it too often in the religious community.

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    1. Carol - I have always thought you seemed to have a good sense of balance and common sense in your parenting and have respected that in you. Of course, you and I strongly differ on certain aspects (ie, ok for teens to have premarital sex, etc), I go by Biblical standards and you do not share my Christian beliefs, so it absolutely makes sense that we do not share these standards. But I have always enjoyed respectful communication with you over the 14 yrs I have "known" you and I appreciate your comment. I absolutely agree with you that too many rules only complicates matters and they forget to learn to think for themselves. The religious community needs a wake-up call!

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    2. Has it really been 14 years?! Yes -- back to the AOL childbirth message boards!?! We really DO need to meet in real life one of these days! I do love how, over the years, you and I have had many a debate about religion, parenting, and a bunch of other topics -- almost all of which we don't agree about -- and yet, somehow we've been able to remain civil, compassionate, and even friendly in our debates. Maybe Pastor Chuck could learn a few things about behaving like a Christian in watching you behave with grace and tolerance toward an atheist for 14 years! Huge hugs to you, Julie Anne. Keep on doing what you're doing. You ARE helping.

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    3. She may be behaving with grace and tolerance towards you, but certainly not towards her pastor. Are you kidding?

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    4. Anonymous 2:02: I have no tolerance for what I call abuse.

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    5. Well, Julie Anne is in good company because Jesus had no tolerance for hypocritical pharisees either! See Matthew 23 for confirmation of that fact.

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    6. Anon, just like she has every right to post a scathing review of a restaurant or a show or anything else, she has every right to post whatever she feels about this church and pastor. Pastors are not above rebuke or criticism and I applaud Julie Anne, a devout Christian, for standing up when she -- and apparently a whole community of scared and scarred souls -- are scorned, abused, and belittled. I hope the jerk is examined for inappropriate, if not illegal, behavior within the confines of his church. Just my own theory, but why else would he instruct those who stay to shun those who leave? Because they might TALK? Good for Julie Anne for talking! The whole world is hearing her, and listening intently.

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    7. Carol, you are a very insightful lady. You have hit the nail on the head.

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    8. This is a problem that I see with churches that are not connected to a larger denomination in some way... there is no oversight, and no one to whom the pastor is accountable. The pastor's flock often feel, as you did at first Julie Anne, that the pastor's theology MUST be right, and what he (or she) says MUST be true, because that person is THE PASTOR... and as members of the flock, many times they do not feel it is proper for them to judge their pastor... With such power given by the congregation, the pastor who is not accountable to anyone, who is under no one's authority (but God's), can easily slip into abusing his/her congregation, all in the name of the Lord... and who will question it?

      Be encouraged, Julie Anne... You have done right and well to continue on in your Christian faith, while you stand up against abuse and call to account the one acting as an "abusive shepherd".

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    9. Thank you, trekkerjay! Having no accountability was one of the big red flags I saw.

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  3. Colossians 2:20-22
    Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

    I have a friend that is Pentecostal. I have been to his church. The women dress like they are in the 1830's. I have another friend that is a Jehovah's Witness. He is forbidden to grow a beard, and their women must wear a covering.

    The only reference in the bible that discusses dress is:

    1 Timothy 2:8-10(KJV)
    I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

    AND

    1 Peter 3:2-4 (KJV)
    While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

    When you really get to the spiritual side of reading those, it shows that beauty (GOOD WORKS) needs to show forth from the heart, and not the outward appearance. Godly appearance is in good works.

    It has nothing to do with enticing the men to lust, which appears to be the main reason that these dress codes were incorporated into the different churches.

    Doctrines of men have been invented in order to quell the lust in men.

    Jesus said that you will know them by their fruits, not their dress code.

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    1. White hanky comment right here, folks!

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  4. And just for the general public's knowledge, today's post is an utter lie and/or exaggeration of the truth. Lady, get over yourself and your pathetic grudges. I will not be returning this blog, because I think you're quite the trouble maker with the manner that you are going about this, and I will not contribute to your little ego booster, errr I mean you little visits counter anymore.

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    1. You've been to BGBC for any length of time to know this for a fact?

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    2. Anonymous, You sound like you are an elder in Chuck's church. Sounds like you have a stake in the $500,000. Sounds like you already know that Chuck is losing. Sounds like you are upset that he won't get his money, thus you won't get yours...so that ticks you off in ungodly anger.

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    3. Good. All people are a blessing on this blog, some when they come, and others (like you) when they leave. You may go now!

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    4. Anonymous 1:00, hmmm...

      I was in this church for 2 years and can attest to the facts of what Julie Anne has posted.

      The last story she mentioned happened to a family member of mine and I could give many other stories. If anyone would take the time to listen to several of his sermons they would hear for themselves what Chuck is teaching.

      Galations 5:22-25
      22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

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    5. That is beautiful that words can bring life and healing. I attended this church and after one of the modesty sermons had an elders wife turn around right in church, she put her hand on my chest and told me that she was told when there was any flesh below the hand it was immodest. There was a scathing 1/4 of inch of flesh below her hand. I am a middle aged woman who was shocked and embarrassed she would do such a thing in church in front of everyone. Modesty is a matter of the heart, the Holy Spirit gives conviction, not embarrassing and 'holier' than thou behavior. I was mortified. I laughed it off but was very embarrassed.
      This is my perception of course, hoped she was just being a friend who was 'concerned' but after leaving there I see it as judgemental. If she was acting in love, she could have come to me later in private. AND I still to this day do not feel I was being immodest...
      So yes, these things did happen. It isn't pathetic grudge holding, its called speaking the truth.

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    6. Meaghan - I've never heard this story before.

      What I find interesting is that we all were not treated equally. I remember a middle-aged woman who came week after week wearing low-cut tops and showed cleavage.

      It seems that not all got that kind of "personal attention" that you received. And that only made the environment more confusing. It's okay for some, but not for others.

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    7. If anon 1:00 just called Julie Anne a liar, (when what she said was true) wouldn't that mean Julie Anne could sue her for defamation under the same "rules" that chuck uses?

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  5. Sometimes in churches were there is an abnormal emphasis on modesty, you find that the leader/leaders have real issues with lust.

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  6. I work for the phone company, and we are required to speak with the customer prior to doing work on their property. I've seen some women answer their door wearing a skimpy bikini, bath robe, or practically naked. To say they were "dressed immodestly" would be an understatement. Do I tell her to wait there while I go call a female coworker to come and talk to her? No, because I am expected to represent the company in a professional manner, to discuss only the task at hand, and to treat the customer with courtesy and dignity while maintaining eye contact. What about a Christian cop that has to pat down and arrest a prostitute, or a doctor treating a patient? For goodness sake, who does this pastor think he is to refuse to even talk to a woman, possibly an unbeliever, at the door of his own church because of her supposedly immodest clothing? What a pharisee! He's putting a higher priority on his own dress code than on loving his neighbor. Instead of holding everyone in his field of view to his personal standard of dress he should gouge his own eyes out. Unfortunately, he will only be left with a dirty mind.

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    1. Yes, this!

      He also had rules about being along with a woman (which I think is healthy), but he could have done what I recently did with my pastor: we met in his office and he kept the door wide open. There was privacy, yet accountability.

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  7. Oh I don't know, Anonymous 1:00, I was going to a church that had VERY VERY Similiar attitudes towards 'modesty', in fact, my own nieces went there, too, and they had been invited to go to another childs birthday party at a water park; my nieces father gave them an ok to go, bought them long t-shirts to wear OVER their one piece bating suits, PLUS SHORTS to wear under the long t-shirts; the girls were extremely covered and behaved themselves very properly and becoming to a christian.. well, the next Sunday at their church, their preacher accused them of 'parading around a water park HALF NAKED'.. the girls ranged in age from 12-16 yrs old and had taken great pride in going above and beyond, in every way possible, to make double sure that they dressed modestly.. the preacher did a fantastic job of losing their attention after that; the girls realized that nothing they did that was ever going to be met with HIS approval, so when they told their dad what the preacher said, the dad talked to the preacher, informed the preacher that he (the girls dad) had given them his permission to go and that it was his job to correct them if they needed it..well, the preacher comes back at the dad and informs him that he (the preacher) is the 'spiritual guide' and that it is HIS job to call out anyone whom HE believes is in error, LOL..
    The family left the church for 3 yrs then went back.. things aren't any better.. we went for a while, saw the nonsense, realized that we weren't idiots uncapable of making the right kind of healthy choices for our own family, so we never went back..
    OH, the preachers own daughter had a child out of wedlock at 14 yrs old, and his son has had numerous DWI's and totalled cars.. the preachers wife openly admits that her own husband picks and chooses who and when he will 'bury his head in the sand' for.. guess you have to be the preachers pet of the week to escape his wrath..
    I could go on and on with many other things but I know Anon 1:00 isn't an idiot, he/she KNOWS this kind of kooky stuff DOES go on out there, otherwise, why is he/she here in the first place?!
    Unless Anon 1:00 is actually a SPY for the other side?!?!

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    1. Someone definitely has issues there! Crazy.

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  8. That Anon 1:00 is able to educate the general public with the information that Julie Anne is, in fact, lying and/or exaggerating indicates that he or she must have first hand knowledge of the events as they actually occurred in order to be able make that claim. This, combined with the defensive tone, lack of grace or love consistent with the Beaverton Grace Bible Church culture, leads me to conclude that Anon 1:00 is likely a BGBC member posting in defense of said church. If not a BGBC member or attender, then credibility is lost because he or she was not there to observe these events. Fortunately, Anon 1:00 will not be returning to this blog.

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  9. I went to an Independent Baptist Church, where most of the women wore dresses. When my wife and I started going there, we specifically asked the pastor if he minded her wearing slacks. He said he did not have a problem with it at all. Then about a year later, when he wanted to stop a different woman from working with the children's church department, he told the church that it was because "she wore pants" to church. He then preached on the EVIL of women wearing pants for the next 2 months. My wife sitting there with pants on that he said was ok, was humiliated by his pulpit rantings about pants, all because the pastor was too big of a coward to say what he really had against the other woman (because her family was a rather large family in the congregation). Even after the young woman and her husband left the church, the pastor never did apologize for A- lying to us about how he felt about pants on women
    b - causing my wife to endure his temper tantrums from the pulpit
    and just generally being a dictator and lording over God's heritage.

    When I went to talk to him about this, he quickly dismissed my concerns about my wife and began to question me about the fact that I had missed a night of a revival service because I went to one of my children's graduation from school. These guys have no guts, no glory, and no shame. Jesus well described them in Matthew chapter 23.

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    1. Please tell me you are no longer at this place!

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  10. This is the same mindset that keeps women in the Middle East covered in burqas. It is a sin to tempt the men-folk, so we must keep the women covered up.

    Women should dress appropriate for their time place and environment. But they shouldn't cover up just to keep men from "stumbling". Trust me, men can lust just fine no matter what a woman is wearing. We're special like that.

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    1. Justin, your honesty is delightful. And worth a healthy laugh. Thank you.

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    2. Yeah...it does feed into the whole, "women make us sin" farce, instead of a man taking personal responsibility for his own thoughts and actions.

      Check this out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sparker/daughter-inappropriate-outfit-school_b_1539939.html

      This girl's attire (shown in the picture), especially in this day and age, is downright *saintly*. Here's my issue - the Principal who told Mom to come and get her (none of her other teachers had any complaint), in my opinion, is a filthy-minded little man. There is nothing revealing or scintillating or otherwise about her attire.

      Just trying to demonstrate the extremes this can produce.

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    3. Thanks for sharing the link, Mike. I, too, don't see anything wrong with the outfit. It's cute (IMHO), the skirt is loose, the top is just a basic ladies t-shirt. I don't get what the problem is. No cleavage is showing. Yea, I would have to agree with you that someone else has the problem, certainly not the young lady. I'd buy that outfit for daughter.

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  11. Anon 2:13 said it best when he said 'lording over' Gods...
    It is exactly that, the lording over, that is where preachers & pastors began to get off on the wrong path. God does not need them babysitting everyone or smothering everyone with what 'they think' is right or wrong. God gave everyone a brain, 2 eyes, 2 ears, and a mouth, which to me is plenty enough to communicate info AND receive info with!

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    1. Exactly - and let's not forget that He gave us His Holy Spirit.

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  12. I have always thought that the modesty police are insecure about their own salvation. I think that they have to show how holy they are by putting other people down for not living up to their "standards". Growing up, my family modesty focus was making sure our cloths fit. Our shirts could not expose our tummy when we raised our arms, our shorts and skirts had to be at two inches above our knee, we could not see outlines of undergarments exc. They were easy guidelines that also lead to modest dress. There was never any need to bring in bible passages. We knew how our clothing should fit, if it did not fit then we had no one to blame but ourselves.

    We were never told that our clothing would cause men to sin. I think that the notion that a women or girls clothing causes men to sin comes from a lack of self control. The men who decided this could not control their thoughts. They took the easy rout and decided to blame someone else for their short comings. In the end, God will judge all of us accordingly. I am not perfect, but, I do take full responsibility for my actions. I think that is an important quality to have.

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    1. I have to agree. Speaking as a Jew, the whole focus on women (as opposed to men) sinning or "causing men" to sin is something I expect out of the Haredi Jews in Northern Jerusalem. It is the behavior I expect from zealots and fanatics who are otherwise adherents to the Abrahamic faiths. Otherwise, its a good example of cherry-picking from our respective scripture what we choose or don't choose to follow.

      Jesus openly engaged and respected women, in a cultural society that regarded them as barely above a sheep or camel.

      And by the way, rape statistics, such as they exist, due in fact that we still live in a culture that still blames the woman, show that mode of dress has *zippo* to do with being assaulted, and everything to do with *control*.

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    2. Exactly, Mike! Rape is about control.

      I don't know if you caught the comment by someone who said that spiritual abuse is rape of the soul. Wow, that's powerful. It, too, is about control. That is what we experienced, one person trying to control so many aspects of our lives - - - even after we left the church. I question the phrase that $$ is the root of all evil. Perhaps wanting to be in control is the root of all evil.

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    3. except that it's not a phrase. It's a scripture. And it's "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." The world just loves to misquote it.

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    4. I think you missed my point.

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    5. uh no. I understood your point, but misquoting the Bible, even loosely, or even sort of kind of saying something like "I question the phrase that money is the root of all evil" starts leaving you wide open for attacks...it starts sounding like you question scripture, or that you don't understand it - whether you want it to or not. Just use your words with caution - free speech or no.

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  13. This excerpt by Charles Stanley is so good, and really deals with what comes to my mind when I read this post. The sin that you are trying to avoid becomes elevated in your mind. This part can be found at about 4:30 on the video. But the whole thing is so good, and really speaks about the whole church issue in a legalistic church. What we want elevated in our mind is Jesus Himself! When our hearts and minds are focused on Him, He is our source, and the Holy Spirit is faithful to convict and enable us to overcome. When we are trying to avoid, we take the whole thing on in our own strength. And we don't have what it takes in our own strength. We are not focused on Him, and like Peter walking on the water - we will fall. Anyhow, give this a listen. Stanley nails it here. The whole thing. http://youtu.be/f-N_HueFxMI

    From Beloved in Recovery

    P.S. Some people seem able to post a name without linking to a url or other website. How do I do that?

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    1. You don't have to put in a URLMay 24, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      When you go to "Select Profile," choose name/URL. Then just put a name in - you don't have to fill in the URL part.

      Jackie

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    2. Beloved in RecoveryMay 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      Thank you Jackie :)

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  14. I went to a christian high school (operated by a really bizarre baptist church) where most of the teachers were from BJU. They would staple paper around the girls dresses if they were too short (literally extending the length with paper). Then at summer camp they had girl swim time & boy swim time. You also couldn't go to movies, just rent them and watch at home like a total pharisee.

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  15. While I believe in dressing modestly, I also don't feel that there are scriptures that describe our physical dress. I do see scriptures that speak of adorning ourselves with our "good deeds" and know that the Holy Spirit working in our hearts convicts us to represent ourselves as godly vessels.
    I attended BGBC for several years and at one point I brought into my home a young girl whose lifestyle was full of promiscuity and addictions. She was attempting to leave that behind her and press forward in her search for God and how to walk with Him. She was unemployed and did not have any financial resources. At that time, my household budget was also severly limited and barely supported my family. The clothes that she brought with her really didn't fit my idea of modesty either, but it was all she had. I did give her an extra blouse of mine that she could wear over the "halter-style" tops that she had. So, she wore the same outfit week after week. Inevitably she was called into chuck's office for the shame to change lecture, aka modesty meeting. Chuck was well aware of both her situation and mine. She came out humiliated and confused. She was trying to change her ways and accept the Lord's leading in her life and really what she needed was others to come alongside her to help her out. Wouldn't it have been more loving if anyone (chuck) could have given her a $30 gift card to Ross or had someone take her shopping for a few new tops? Instead of condemning her for what she didn't have. The whole story is sadder. I had brought her into my home to mentor to her, study scriptures daily, be an example, and (I thought) take her to my church family to love on her and be examples of who Christ was to them. She left my home after a few short months, feeling that she was never going to measure up to all of the rules and expectations at the church. She promised that she would still read her Bible, but she didn't want to go to church. Since that was one of the rules of my home, she didn't feel she could stay. I have tried to stay in close touch with her and continue to pray with her and encourage her. Unfortunately, the temptation of going back into the same environment she had been trying to leave behind simply re-opened all the sinful relationships and opportunities back to her. It has been a couple of years now. She is now the unwed mother of several children, after losing 2 others to miscarriages. She is living with the father of her children and they are getting married "sometime in the future". She feels less judged by her current drug using friends, than she did at church. I can't help but wonder, as I pray over her daily, would it have made a difference in her life if she had been surrounded by love instead of judgment?

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    1. One simple question comes to mind: Where is the love? You obviously showed her love, but she was trampled by the church. So let's go out and evangelize and share the "love of Christ" on Friday evangelism night and forsake those in the midst right under your nose. I feel the anger rising withing me. I better stop typing . . . . .

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  16. This reminds me of something that the principal of my school once said. I attended a private christian school, just saying that brings to mind the idea of children wearing uniforms and listening to brainwashing speeches. Luckily it was nothing like that. Our principal got up to speak at a chapel and he said something very profound. It went something like this.

    "As a school, we don't really have a rule book. There are a couple of things written down as policy for our students, but for the most part we don't have a big long list of rules. Why is that?" He then brought up his Bible. "We have God's word."

    I don't remember the rest of what he said, but I remember the general idea. Basically, if we are actively pursuing a relationship with God then we don't need to worry about the rules, because chances are we are probably not gonna be breaking any of them.

    But don't we want to know what the rules are? Believe it or not, it is our human nature to crave definition of rules. We won't to know exactly how things work so that we can order our lives around them. God actually obliged us with this by giving us the mosaic laws. But if you are any kind of Bible student you will recognize that before there was a mosaic law, there was... Well... nothing. Abraham believed in God, and that was considered righteousness.

    How exactly does a guy with no clearly defined rules attain the status of being righteous? He was clearly a sinner. he lied about his wife being his sister twice, and even doubted God about the birth of his children. But he was considered righteous. Why? Because he pursued God. He followed God, and that is ultimately what God is looking for. The Law was made to define sin, and ultimate it's purpose is to point out the damnation of man's soul. But thank God that not only is he righteous and holy, but he is also gracious and merciful. God sent his Son to die for us. Because sin had to be punished. Sin HAD to be punished. Christ was punished for our sin. So now there is nothing between us and God. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm gonna worry less about the rules and more about my relationship with God. Hallelujah and Amen.

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    1. Oh my, that was beeeeeeeautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this comment. YES!!! What a wonderful principal you had.

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  17. Wow - your old church sounds a lot like a cult. In reality, the modesty checklists, rules and regulations like the ones you posted that come down from the pulpit causes a multitude of sexual issues (that the members have) for those that strive to follow the rules.

    I look forward to reading part two.

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    1. "In reality, the modesty checklists, rules and regulations like the ones you posted that come down from the pulpit causes a multitude of sexual issues (that the members have) for those that strive to follow the rules."

      Julie Anne's head is nodding in agreement.

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  18. I assume the end goal of all this "helicoptering" of people's lives is to prevent unwanted pregnancy (sex). It is interesting to note that the U.S.; which has the most oppressive system of underlying societal modesty principles; and some of its churches like this one even more repressive; has the highest rate of teen and unwanted pregnancy in the world. And the countries where modesty is the least worried about have the absolute lowest rates. Dynamite placed in a box has much more destructive power than when it is allowed to just remain in the open. The covering of little boy's eyes in the mall when passing lingerie only really says "just look better later when no one is around". But this is not just about sex and modesty. Many religions feel it must confine the human soul in small boxes in many ways but when it does so it only causes life to eventually explode from its confinement. Trust me….I was raised and lived in a hyper-repressive system and kept my kids in tiny boxes. They eventually escaped and I am sorry I placed burdens on them too heavy to bear.

    I do wonder what this pastor has to say about Isaiah walking naked (naked!)and barefoot for three whole years by God's command (Isaiah 20), or Jesus throwing off his garments when he washed feet or... Well, there are a good many stories like this in the Bible. I’m not suggesting we throw off our clothes but…a swimsuit in my book is perfectly fine at the beach or the pool; despite the eleventh commandment prohibiting them. And heavens it seems there were women of the night too who were not turned away but were provided shelter in many instances in the Bible. (At Jericho for one--Joshua 6:25) Seriously, one only need look back at how people lived in pre-modern times. Small houses, public watering holes for baths, no state of the art shower rooms with running water at the pool. Loin cloths? Seriously, man makes more of an issue of this than God or Jesus ever did. I would be interested to see how this pastor explains these words of Paul:

    Col. 2:20 since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

    Certainly he was not exactly talking about swimsuits but the false modesty being represented falls into the same category he describes.

    I grew up in an extreme Pentecostal household where even make-up and jewelry were considered immodest and sinful. To some even Chap-Stick was questioned. I see nothing in the Ten Commandments or Jesus teachings about where these lines are actually drawn. Certainly much of it is cultural norms and not spiritual law and we have no right to be adamant.

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  19. JULIE ANNE! That was profound. very convicting. you paint a disturbing picture of bgbc. you may have very well inspired me to tell my story of Graceful Modesty vs a Legalistic Mentality.

    i sniffed bgbc in seconds. i know the signs and sickness of fundamentalism. i'm reminded again why i once remarked: 'the Devil is a fundamentalist.' Legalism is far more harmful to the body of Christ than any other vital alternative to being and doing church.

    [Note: I am not at all suggesting that legalistic fundamentalism is a vital option. it kills and brings death. it chokes and binds people in the most spirit-crushing form of bondage. it is everything the Gospel has set us free from.]

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