Strike a Pose

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In a culture filled with twitter, Instagram, facebook, blogs, and other forms of social media, we are much more a visual culture then we were even 15 years ago.  People can take and immediately post pictures of everything: the food they eat, their babies playing or sleeping, and a group of friends at a push of a button on a phone.

In this world of visual demand, what does our body language say about our modesty and our hearts.  Modesty is more than what we wear, it is a posture of the heart.

Romans 6:13; Do not present your members (your body) to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked the question about why all the girls now pose in pictures with their hands on their hips.  I had grown tiresome of these similar poses, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  There were several answers and more questions in her FB feed.  Earlier this week as my husband and I were flipping through channels late at night, the answer became immediately clear.  We stopped on the last 10 minutes of America’s Next Top Model, the wanna-be model reality show hosted by Tyra Banks.  I used to watch this show every week, but just don’t anymore.  When the final contestants were chosen, they all pose in the same way: hands on the hips, and tilted somewhat sideways (usually not straight on because it’s not a flattering pose for most women), and chests out but tilted back.  This is a very provocative pose no matter what shape you are (or how much you weigh, or how many clothes you have on).  It highlights the God-given curves of females.  God did make our bodies the way they are: with chests and hips.  But, how we use them need to be for God’s glory.

Usually when we talk about modesty, we are referring to the length of our skirts, or the shirts we wear.  This post is more about our posture.  I’m not questioning any of the motives of the girls I know who are taking pictures like this, but just want to highlight some of what the outward appearance appears to say.

1.   Men are visual creatures.  They are drawn to the sexual – many of them are at least.  When we wear modest clothes, but stand in such a way that draws attention to our hips and our chest, or our butt (stiletto heels do just that, but also our stances), it doesn’t serve our brothers in Christ at all.

2.  Postures can say much about our hearts.  I can stand in such a way that says I’m not approachable, I don’t want to be here (the folding of arms, scowl on my face, etc).  What does what I’m doing or how I’m sitting or standing say to those around me?

This past week I was in a breakout session at a Christian conference, mostly men there.  There was a lady a few rows ahead of me with an almost sleeveless shirt on, arms folded behind her head, chest out, leaned back, playing with her hair.  She may have just been hot or bored, but it was distracting to me (her stance) and I’m sure it was also distracting in a more dangerous way to the men sitting around and behind her.  Was she aware of this?  I don’t know.  Just saying what her stance communicates.

If we want to stand like the Top Model models, then we communicate: look at me, here’s my body, look at these clothes.  If we want to stand in a flattering but different way, then maybe we could communicate what we want to communicate: gentleness and meekness, quietness, adorning of a beautiful spirit not clothes and curves (1 Peter 3)

A great resource that compares these two (Woman of the Word vs Woman of the world) is Mary Kassian’s Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.

A great sermon to listen to on the Soul of Modesty is by CJ Mahaney – the best sermon I’ve ever heard on the subject.

Mahaney on What is Precious

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One of my top ten books of all times…look forward to going through it with a sweet friend this year:

“Remember that we vowed in our wedding ceremony to love and to cherish till death do us part?  Do we even understand what we promised to do?  To cherish means to hold dear, to care for tenderly or to nurture, to cling fondly to, or treat as precious.”

(Carolyn Mahaney, Feminine Appeal, pg 44)

Living the Gospel: Marriage, Adoption, and the Rest of Life

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This is me thinking aloud…
There are some focuses right now in Christianity/churches that focus on being living, breathing examples of the gospel. These focuses are biblical and needed, and true. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these emphasises. One is marriage and the other is adoption. Marriage, for some (and I don’t believe this view is right) allows you to better display the gospel than being single. I think it may give a you different way of displaying the gospel, but not better. I am, in my singleness, just as much a portrait of the gospel of Christ as if I were me, only married. Adoption, many times I here (and rightly so), is “living the gospel”. You are, yes, praise the Lord. But, again, like marriage – adoption isn’t the only way to “live the gospel.”
With so much emphasis on both marriage and adoption – which single people can’t do either of (obviously we aren’t married and not many adoption agencies will let a single person adopt a baby) – are we not living out the gospel. This post isn’t just for singles, it is for everyone.

Marriage is a great way to live out the gospel. I love the Ephesians 5 passage where clearly it says that marriage proclaims the mystery of Christ and His church. We are the Bride of Christ. I love the picture of Abraham and God in Genesis 15 about God walking through the sacrificial blood. His promise kept. I pray that your marriage is an amazing mirror of God, Christ, the Spirit – and the Church. I pray that husbands will sanctify their wives, and wives would respect, honor, and submit to their husbands. This is unique and special and privileged way to portray the gospel.

Adoption. This is probably the newest “fad” to hit the church. I don’t use fad in a bad way, but why has this emphasis not been in the church before the last 5 years? Have we been ignoring the commands of “true religion” in the Bible for over 2000 years. I hope it isn’t a fad. I hope the trend of seeing adoption come to life in American families, and families all over continues long after I’m gone. I wonder if you see Italian Christians adopting American children. I wonder if the trend of adoption is an American Western Christianity thing right now. To some people, if you haven’t adopted, then you just aren’t living in obedience. At least that is what it seems like. But, there are other ways to live out the command of true religion – to take care of the orphans – without actually adopting. You can give to mission trips that support orphanages, you can donate to families who are trying to raise support to adopt their own babies. It seems the trend now in my emails, blogs, facebook updates from across the world – hey, give to me, we’re adopting. Family of believers? Hopefully, mostly, being the body of Christ. There are girls out there who don’t want to have their own children because adoption is better. Motherhood is great, and if God allows you to have children, please do. If God calls you to adopt, please do. But, one is not better than the other. I hope this isn’t a passing trend in American Christianity, much like the WWJD bracelets and FAITH Evangelism strategy.

Now, what about for the rest of us. I hope I do get to live out the gospel in a marriage one day – but I’m not going to settle for an average marriage. I want the most God-glorifying marriage I can possibly have. one that will be hard, but joyful. I know marriage is hard – not perfect – just God-glorifying.
If God impresses on our hearts to adopt, then I will (hopefully, walking in obedience), but until then I can give to missions to orphanages and support those adopting. I can love on those adopted children.
But, I can live out the gospel every day too. I can give grace where grace is needed. I can live in the love that Christ offered me at the Cross. I can do my work diligently. I can submit to authority. I can…. the list goes on. I am Christ’s friend – obey my commands (John 15.14).
Marriage and adoption is not a better picture of the gospel. We can live out the gospel without doing these specific things (being married, adopting an international child). But, these two ways and living daily life in the grace of God are wonderful ways to live out the gospel.
“What about the practical stuff? Surely there comes a time when we move on from the gospel just a little, so we can focus on the everyday issues of our relationships with other people. This is tempting to believe, but it’s just not true. Regardless of your relationship to others, whether you’re single or married, a husband or a wife, a father, a mother, or a grandparent, your faithfulness and effectiveness in your relationship are directly tied to your understanding of the cross.” – CJ Mahaney