What’s the Big Deal About How I Dress? (The Corinthian Conclusion)

FBD BannerFirst let me say I’m excited about the Digging Deep podcast. It will be this Thursday night at 7 CST. I hope you are liking the new format and I hope you can be with us this Thursday. It’s Family Bible Day prep week at West Huntsville. That means the building will be abuzz (literally) with saws cutting out props and artsy Bible backgrounds being painted. We are practicing presentations and there’s just lots of noise everywhere. Our theme this year is God’s Creation: Digging for Answers and there are rumors that the dinosaur room is pretty amazing. I know personally that the “Life” room is going to have a very special guest! Anyway, if you’re in the Huntsville area, come join us this Saturday (July 27th) from 10 to 2. You can let us know if you are coming on the West Huntsville website.

In the midst of the chaos, we are going to find a quiet room and take an hour to talk with you about Sanctification from I Corinthians. Emily Anderson, who has three little boys, has just done some major wedding participation for our great friend Heather, and is in charge of one of our Family Bible Day rooms is taking time out of a really mean schedule to co-host. I’m grateful to her for time-crunching for us this week. I hope you will join us at http://new.livestream.com/whcoc/for-women.

Speaking of Sanctification from I Corinthians, the conclusion of this month’s modesty series comes from that very book. A couple of years ago, my good friend Lindsey VanHook made this point from I Corinthians 8:13 in a West Huntsville women’s class. I’ve been sharing it since, because, to me, her perspective made a lot of sense. Here you go:

We must be concerned about modesty because of the danger of causing our brothers to sin. Matthew 5:28 makes it clear that when a brother looks on a woman to lust after her, he commits adultery of the heart. Who can deny that women who are mostly undressed in public are promoting this sin? It is ludicrous to think, in a world in which the majority of our young men struggle with pornography by the time they graduate from high school, that scantily clad cheerleaders, volleyball players, larger-than-life photographs of almost-nude women in mall stores and women in swimsuits at the beach and public pool sites do not contribute to the frequency of the sin of lust. Further, when women dress in short skirts, low-cut attire, leggings beneath short attire, and skin-tight clothing to attend services, we make it extremely difficult for men who are attempting to worship God without worldly and sinful distractions to do so.

I Corinthians 8:13 finds the apostle Paul pledging to abstain from eating meat, so long as the world stands if it offends a fellow Christian. Eating meat was a matter of judgment. The wearing of immodest apparel is implicitly prohibited by the command to dress modestly in First Timothy two. How much more should we give diligence never to offend by violating, for selfish purposes, this clear command?

Conclusion:

Because of both the command that we be modest and chaste in demeanor and dress and the seriousness of the consequences when we fail to do so, Christian women had better be “worried” about both being modest women of God and about following the Titus two admonition to teach younger women to dress and behave discreetly. May we never be guilty of being a partaker in another person’s sin of impurity in thought or action (I Timothy 5:22).

What’s the Big Deal about How I Dress? (Part 2)

LookingClothesWe must be concerned about modesty because of clear Biblical teachings. I Timothy 2: 9-10 uses the following words (KJV) to instruct women about clothing. Definitions are taken from Strong’s.

Modest— kosmios (kos’-mee-os) (in its primary sense); orderly, i.e. decorous:–of good behavior.

Shamefacedness–aidos (ahee-doce’) (through the idea of downcast eyes); bashfulness, i.e. (towards men), modesty or (towards God) awe:–reverence, propriety.

Sobriety–sophrosune (so-fros-oo’-nay) ; soundness of mind, i.e. (literally) sanity or (figuratively) self-control:–soberness.

Becometh–prepo (prep’-o); apparently a primary verb; to tower up (be conspicuous), i.e. (by implication) to be suitable or proper (third person singular present indicative, often used impersonally, it is fit or right):–comely.

Godliness–theosebeia (theh-os-eb’-i-ah); devoutness, i.e. piety.

So here are a list of words that should come to our minds when we make wardrobe choices:

Orderly   Reverence toward God
Decorous   Shamefacedness
Of good behavior   Propriety
Modest   Moderation
Bashfulness   Soundness of Mind
Modesty toward men   Self Control
Awe toward God   Soberness
Proper   Suitable
Right   Comely
Becoming   Devoutness
Piety   Godliness

It is not difficult to use this terminology checklist when making wardrobe decisions. When we additionally examine the meanings of the terms chaste and discreet from Titus 2:3-5, we are equipped with Biblical guidelines for our dress in today’s American culture. When we examine the reason given in Titus two for teaching and heeding the directives of verses three through five (so that the Word of God will not be blasphemed), we understand the serious nature of the Holy Spirit’s apostolic admonitions.

Part 3 next time!

What’s the Big Deal about How I Dress? (Part One)

woman_looking_in_mirror_trying_clothesThe following is a portion of a lecture I was asked to give at the Southwest School of Biblical Studies in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. It first appeared in print in the book called “Why Do We?” printed by Southwest School of Biblical Studies in 2013.

Introduction and Purpose:

Of all of the topics I address, the issue of modest dress among women is one of the two most controversial, even among audiences of Christian women. There have been several times, in my public teaching about this topic in which I have been sharply challenged about the things I have taught concerning this topic–things which I still teach and believe to be practical truths for our time based on principles espoused in the Word. The last part of the previous statement, of course, is why I believe we should “worry” about being modest as women of God, both in deportment and in dress. It’s the purpose of this discourse to expose principles from the Word which would require modesty among women of God today. I would further state that any time we find God’s “rules” for our daily living to be grievous or difficult, we should remind ourselves that He is our Creator and He knows what will ultimately bring us happiness and fulfillment. His prohibitions are always stated for our own benefit.

Key Principles and Scriptures:

• A meek and quiet spirit should characterize women of God today (I Peter 3: 1-4).
• Modesty is specifically commanded. (I Timothy 2:9; Titus 2:3-5).
• Agape requires doing what will help my brothers go to heaven (I Cor. 13:5; Mt. 5:28; I Cor. 8:13; Mt. 18:7).

Practical Applications:

1. We must be concerned about modesty because it is inherent in the spirit of meekness. Meekness, a synonym of gentleness, involves having a cause that is bigger than myself. Gentle people are such because they are not wrapped up in self, but rather are devoted to some engulfing cause. The cause of Christian women is service and evangelism.

I often ask women to list the reasons for immodesty in our society today. The most frequently stated reasons for dressing and behaving immodestly are as follows:

• To draw attention to self.
• To be stylish.
• To be comfortable. particularly in hot weather.
• To fit in with peers.

As I contemplate those answers, I often ask myself, “Which one of those reasons is not about me? Which one of those reasons is born of a desire to evangelize or serve others?” The reasons for immodesty are clearly selfish.

Titus and Facebook

EyeFacebookRecently, several women have asked questions (worded in all kinds of ways) about Christian women, facebook, modesty and discretion. Questions like “Do you think we should be publicly posting things about the color of our underwear?”… “What do you think about these pregnancy photos of bare tummies?” …”My friend takes photos of personal tattoos and posts on facebook…”…”Do you really think women need to talk about bra sizes in a public forum?”

Well, first off, let me say that I think, in almost every instance, when these questions are brought to me, that women are probably not looking for answers as much as they are looking for back-up support on a position they already hold. After all, there are lots of people you could ask and most probably already know what I’m going to say about discretion and purposeful chastity. And those who want an opposing view could always ask Lady GaGa or, in most instances, their next door neighbors. Of course I am going to say I believe we should refrain from talking about subjects that bring pictures of women in underwear, or less, to mind. But just because you already knew what I would say doesn’t mean there’s not some logic/scripture in back of my judgment.

Three words in Titus 2:3-5 come to mind quickly when I think about facebook and “underwear talk”. The words, in English are “discreet”, “chaste” and “good.” The first of these words has to do with having passions fully under control, and thinking rightly… judging passions the way they, in reality, are in their effects. The second has to do with purity of heart and life. The third has to do with just what you would think…being good to the core. These are things that older women are to be teaching younger women. The reason given is pretty important: that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Such a powerful motivator for teaching makes me really want to be sure I do it, if given the chance. So, let me clearly say, I believe, we should take great care in public (and facebook is pretty public) to be sure we are extremely protective of purity, particularly purity of thought. I do believe that “underwear talk” or “tattoo pics” can tempt men who may run across such on their news feeds to impurity of thought and possibly, for those tempted by pornography, to impure actions. Is such a sin on the part of a man the fault of the one who posted the comment? No. It is his fault. He will give an account for that sin. But what woman, who wants to please the father, would seriously want to have any part in that temptation? Not me. Not you either. And then comes the question, why? Why would I risk impure effects of a posting when it’s just so simple to NOT post.

And then there’s the teaching of I Timothy 2: 9,10. Modesty is really called into question when I start posting about my shower or my undergarments or my tattoos. Am I drawing attention to my physical self in a way that may violate the principle of “having the ability to blush,” as is the literal meaning of the KJV word “shamefacedness” in that passage? My opinion is yes. Perhaps lots of us, starting with me, need to reexamine our postings and be sure they are not self-serving in an even larger sense…not boastful or self gratifying.

Perhaps just asking a few questions before I hit that post button on that picture or comment will help:

  1. Will this, or can this, harm anyone spiritually?
  2. Does this sound boastful or self serving?
  3. Am I ashamed for the Lord to read this?
  4. Would it be uncomfortable for one of my elders in the church to comment to me about this next Sunday?
  5. If the answer to any of the above is “yes”, do I have to post this?

For me, I want all of the answers to be “no”. Facebook is a social network. Social means “interacting with community.” May all of our interactions with community as His women be unquestionably good, chaste and discreet. If I would be uncomfortable saying it to ANYone at all, may I be uncomfortable posting it…because posting is just like saying it to EVERYone!

And besides, God is just so good to daily load us with benefits. Facebook is a great avenue through which we may glorify the Father. So many really good things to post…so little time!

FHU Cheerleaders Will Wear Cheer Pants Next Year

The announcement made by Dr. Joe Wiley, University President, last week in a “Town Hall” meeting on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University merits kudos in this blog conversation and anywhere Christian women are concerned about the available choices of higher Christian education for our college-bound high school graduates among churches of Christ.

I contacted Dr. Wiley to verify the accuracy of his statement to the students and he said the following: “Yes, two weeks ago I directed our athletic director to increase the scholarship level for our cheerleaders and inform the cheerleader coach that they would wear cheer pants next year.”

May I just say that this kind of concern for modesty is unheard-of in recent years in any of our universities? May I add that I am extremely proud of Dr. Wiley and FHU for making plans to insure that the cheerleaders, who, along with the ball teams, are the “face” of FHU as they host athletic events on campus and travel to other campuses, are distinctively modest in dress?

You may not view this decision as such a “big deal.” Aren’t cheer uniforms a relatively small thing, considering the many departments, decisions and directions of a University? Let me tell you why I think this is a “big deal.”

I’m a proud alumnus of Freed-Hardeman. I am thoroughly convinced that its academic programs are among the best of our Christian universities. I am most proud of the spiritual environment at FHU, much of which I credit to the influence of a Bible faculty that is second to none among our colleges. I encourage students regularly to attend Freed Hardeman and work with the FHU Associates as well as with a private foundation to secure scholarship funds for students to attend FHU.

For years, though, it has been difficult for me to be consistent as I teach on women’s spiritual issues such as discretion (Titus 2:3-5) and modesty (I Timothy 2:9,10), while encouraging moms to send their students to Freed-Hardeman. Moms have sometimes suggested that I am sending a contradictory message when I teach their girls to make good decisions about modest clothing, while promoting FHU, even as these moms were seeing immodest cheerleading uniforms in photos on the website and on facebook. I am very happy to say that this “cheerleader” controversy will no longer be a problem of inconsistency for me.

But it’s bigger than that. I’m very thankful for this decision because its enforcement shouts a good message from that campus in Henderson, Tennessee. It says, “Even if the whole world is doing something that violates a Biblical principle, we still don’t have to do it.” It says that Biblical principles still mean something at FHU. It makes me believe that Dr. Wiley and others who may be responsible for this change are more concerned about adhering to standards that promote purity than adhering to standards of the cultural norm.

I’m very thankful for this decision because it is unusual. Have you ever noticed that institutional standards– in companies, schools and even in homes–have a way of easily sliding from the stricter end of the spectrum to the “looser” or less conservative end, but rarely ever does it happen in the reverse? Generally speaking, once a moral standard has been loosened, the regulation is never regained. It’s just difficult to reinstate a stricter policy, no matter how good it is, after it has been changed in the direction of leniency. To see FHU go in a difficult, but godly direction is a very refreshing thing.

Next fall, there will be a noticeable difference in the clothing worn on the sidelines of the ballgames at Freed-Hardeman. It will be noticeably different from recent years at the university. But it will also very likely be noticeably different from that worn at Faulkner, Harding, Lipscomb, Abilene or Oklahoma Christian. It will be distinctive in a very good way. I believe there are a lot of distinctive families remaining in the body of Christ who will take note and be positively impressed. I believe there are some families who will be influenced to send their children to FHU when they notice this seemingly small, but yet very public difference.

I believe that there are many of you who are parents of students, grandparents of students, potential friends of and donors to Freed-Hardeman University who would love to thank Dr. Wiley for this new policy. I have already done this. If you would like to do so, you may contact him at one of the following addresses. Let’s make these letters encouraging. Though there may be some other policy that you would like to see changed at the university, let’s not make these letters reflect our dissatisfaction. Let’s make these letters be notes of appreciation for a policy of which we can be proud. When it is time to say something good, let’s do it!

Once, while our daughter Hannah was a student at FHU, she invited a non-Christian friend to watch the homecoming game with her. This young man looked over at the cheering squad and commented to Hannah, “But I thought you told me this was a Christian school….So why are they dressed like that?” Our son and several other male students have commented to me that they were hesitant to attend the basketball games because of the scanty cheer uniforms. I am very thankful this day has passed. May God bless Freed-Hardeman University. May we all realize that, while we enjoy and benefit from athletic programs, principles of modesty, morality, and spirituality are far more important than the games.

Now here are the addresses. I hope you will take the time to send your kudos! It would also be a great time to send your contribution, large or small. (But even if you can’t contribute, let him hear from you!) Go Lions!

Dr. Joe Wiley, President
Freed-Hardeman University
158 East Main Street
Henderson, Tennessee 38340

jwiley@fhu.edu

The World “Gets It”

I’ve thought a lot lately about how there are some things that seem obvious to people of the world, but somehow elude people of the Kingdom (or at least we sometimes act as if they do). If you listen to the radio, it won’t be long until you hear a song about a man buying a woman a drink to weaken her defenses, yet there are those in the church who refuse to admit that social drinking leads to sinful behaviors. The movie industry is subjected to a ratings system that “strongly cautions” parents about movie content, but I routinely see “Christian” parents ignoring those warnings and purchasing the tickets for their children to see those movies.

Another example of the admission of truth by the world, while it is often ignored by the people of God, is in the way we view immodest dress. Recently, some pretty potent words were included in a speech given at the Nashville Lads to Leaders Convention by Song Nicholas. In order to make her point, Song dressed in a low-cut top and a short skirt in that room full of girls. Here is a portion of her speech:

And we might need to look at our looks. But, you say, God doesn’t look at our outward appearance; He looks at our hearts. That’s true. But in 1 Timothy 2:9, God makes it clear that I need to work to make sure that my dress reflects the godliness that is inside. Look at me. Are my looks consistent with my message? Could I look at Jesus and honestly say, I believe this outfit reflects my godliness? (By the way, I only put this outfit together after I got here with just us girls).   Let’s don’t cop out on the modesty command by acting dumb as if we don’t understand what immodesty is and does. The world gets it!  Think about music. The song “Starstruck” that features Katy Perry says “low-cut, see-through shirts that make you want to whistle.” I looked up the video and the entire clip features 2 guys dreaming of girls in low-cut tops. California Girls describes “Daisy Dukes.” Then it says, “The boys break their necks to get a little sneak peak at us.” Tim McGraw’s song, “Something Like That” says, “You were killing me in that mini-skirt.” He wasn’t talking about a literal murder.  The world admits that immodesty causes guys to lust. Why don’t honest Christian girls admit the same? With just a little extra work, sometimes shopping, and sometimes just by layering, I can get rid of the tight jeans, low tops, mini-skirts, and Nike shorts. I know this is a room full of girls who want to be what God wants us to be….Lets not focus on being hottest, but on being modest.

I love the fact that Song, aged 14, at the time of this speech, was honest in examining the issue of scanty clothing from the popular media’s point of view. The entertainment industry inundates the media with provocative clothing and lyrics about it. But at least those lyrics are generally transparent. They are not hiding the fact that scanty clothes excite the male mind. The industry admits it! It’s most often parents, even those who wear the name “Christian” who love to have the blinders on about revealing clothing or lack thereof. I don’t hear moms saying, “Let’s go shopping and buy something that makes the guys whistle,” yet that’s often what they buy. I don’t hear dads verbally encouraging any guys to try and get any sneak peeks at their daughters, but they encourage them just the same when they allow their daughters to move seductively in front of the crowd at the basketball game while dressed in scanty cheer uniforms. I don’t hear any “Christian” teen girls say “I think I’ll go kill him in this mini-skirt.” That’s just not what we say. But what are we thinking? We learn what the world is thinking when we listen to popular lyrics. Just what are WE thinking?