Relevant Magazine is a cutting edge, all about culture with a Christian view online/published magazine. Anywhere from politics to music to movies to personal attitude – all of these are discussed in this magazine.
Each week I get an email with what is new, this week’s definitely made me want to read it. Ed Gungor is an author, pastor, father, husband. He wrote an article for this edition of Relevant entitled “Does Modesty Really Matter”. I will attempt to respond to two things in this article.
Here’s where I agree:
“The apostle Paul wrote that Christ-followers should “dress modestly, with decency and propriety” (1 Timothy 2:9). Inherent in Christian thought is the notion of “modesty” (for both men and women), which implies a kind of reserve about how one dresses, along with a humility that willingly owns the fact that our actions and choices do affect others. Whether we like it or not, we can dress and carry ourselves in ways that illicit inappropriate and lustful reactions in others. But this opens up a proverbial can of worms—when is it, “I lusted and it’s your fault,” and when is it, “I need to be responsible for the fact that I am a lustful person”? The “who-is-culpable?” question is full of subjectivity and complexity.”
I have had many people over the years use the “I can’t help it if men stare at me and lust” excuse. You are right – you can’t help what the other person does. I love it though here where Pastor Gungor uses modesty also in the sense of the attitude/body positioning/eye winking mode. Two other books I’ve read recently, Carolyn McCulley’s Radical Womanhood Mary Kassian’s Girls Gone Wise both speak on this topic and would be worth your read. For women, especially, not only do the clothes matter but the heart matters as well.
Here is where I didn’t agree:
Fashions come and go. Skirt hems go up and down; clothing gets tighter in some seasons and baggy in others; sometimes necklines plummet to depths that leave little to the imagination—somewhere in the milieu of the fashion waterworld, believers need space to think through what they believe modesty, decency and propriety are. But you need to be honest about what constitutes inappropriateness within your particular cultural context. This is an issue that demands careful reflection in the heart and honest discussion with the community one is called to be a part of. (That being said, don’t necessarily let prudish church people tell you where the center on this issue is. In the fear of sin, church folk tend to overprotect and over-sanitize their views on just about everything.)
Bottom line? I think you can get away with being as fashionable as you want, as long as your heart is clear and clean and you don’t have patterns of complaints from those you love and trust. If your heart is clear and clean, you can confidently tell the occasional accuser who makes the “you-make-me-lust” accusation to go look in the mirror for the source of his or her inappropriate desires.
I just won’t go that far. If what is fashionable is a halter top and a mini skirt – whether you have a good attitude about it or not – is not appropriate. If Madonna’s or Lady Gaga’s style is what is fashionable, or even Miley Cyrus or anyone else we watch on TV or see on stage, than I don’t believe we as believers, as women of God, seeking to build up the body of Christ and make God famous – can wear this – no matter what our conscience says.
Hear the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the young pastor, Timothy: “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”
Not that I don’t want to be fashionable, but if it comes down to being fashionable or “proper for women who profess godliness” – I hope I always turn to the latter.