The Very Last Modesty Article Ever2:00 AM
I thought this sound reasoning. After all, we are called to be modest and the New Testament pounds in that love, love, love for the weaker brother always trumps Christian liberty. On paper, it works out perfectly. In real life, not so much. Which brother do we dress for?
The brother who grew up in a beach town where women wore next to nothing and never let it bother him? The brother who insists that pants outline certain areas that should not be seen? The brother who admits that skirts make women more attractive and thus cause him to stumble? The brother who declares open-toed shoes, hosiery and high heels stumbling blocks? The brother who says mid-thigh is okay, the brother who says the knee is okay, the brother who says to the ankles only?
Which one? And how am I to know which? Do I don a burka for the men who severely struggle with lust? Do I have the freedom to wear flip-flops and knee-length skirts and jeans, since it's impossible to know what man I will come across?
Who do I dress for, anyway?
Ironically, a Christian brother of mine made the strongest case for ditching this line of reasoning altogether. He never understood why leaders took the women aside in a group and told them the dire consequences of their dress code, while saying less to the men whose eyes and lusts caused the problem in the first place. He didn't advocate women wearing whatever and sticking it to modesty; but he did advocate the freedom for women to dress for the glory of God without fear of causing a brother's sin.
Modesty is both a neglected and an overused hot topic. Standards, convictions and dogmas thrive in this controversy, everything from skirts vs. pants to tank tops, skinny jeans and how tight is too tight. I can't think of anyone I met who has the same standards as mine, yet I've never had a Christian friend with no opinion on the subject. Almost everyone has a set standard on what he thinks is modest and has a slew of friends he deems either grossly immodest or grossly conservative. In one modesty talk, it is quite possible to be offended by too-strict rules in one area and shocked by the loose standards in others.
Can I say enough? Can I call I truce? Can I wave a white flag and point out that obviously this is where the rubber meets the road on giving grace to the weaker sister and going easy on the stronger one? We have the one verse where Paul tells women to adorn themselves "with respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control" (addressing flaunting wealth more than flaunting cleavage) and we know from Scripture that it is a shame to be naked in public. We do not have a commentary on today's fashion, on tank tops, on knee-length skirts, on jeans. It isn't there. The proportion of Scripture to modesty articles is skewed -- to put it nicely.
Yes, we must be loving toward our men. Yes, we must cover up our private parts. Yes, we must submit to authority figures who have a say in our clothing choices. But we cannot dress for men or be responsible for their sin. There are too many men and too many different opinions. We cannot dogmatically make numbered lists on what's modest and what isn't. There are too many women and too many different opinions. We cannot go beyond Scripture and cause hubbub over articles of clothing. There is only one Scripture and one opinion that counts.
This is the issue: Does my clothing befit a professing woman of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ? If it doesn't, get rid of it, regardless of who says yea or nay. If it does, keep it, be open to criticism but free in spirit. If you have to exercise your Christian freedom by giving up a certain article of clothing because a certain brother in Christ asks, be radical and do it. Otherwise do not live in fear of causing the general populace to sin if you are dressing for God's glory. Be humble, search your heart, be vigilant and remember the rest of the Bible.