There is a certain kind of woman that has made my upcoming conclusion like unto shooting fish in a barrel. She professes Christ, dresses in a such a provocative manner that might get him to tell her, “Get behind me Satan.” and is N-95 masked up to the nines out of love for her neighbors (she also is insisting you diaper your face too). And this is what the old school would point to in making the point that the church is full of hypocrites.
There is a definite cognitive dissonance in this kind of behavior. And it is on multiple levels. One being that no man should control what she wears, lest his name be Fauchi. All others know where to shove their patriarchal “it.” Second, she loves her neighbor in so far as it makes her comfortable but if he were to fall into lust because Hooters waitresses wear more to deliver the wings than she does to the Lords table, it is his fault for being a pervert and she had nothing to do with it. Finally, the obvious misconstruing of authorities, in placing government over God.
The Land, How She Lays
It should be noted that in the modern evangelical church there is a vast minefield of disobedience that runs so broad no Pastor would dare try and cross it. It is fortified with charges of legalism, being backward, authoritarian, abusive, toxic, the list goes on. What most pastors have managed to overlook is that these are not real objections. They have flash, but no bang. Because at the end of the day truth is not on the side of the person defending a sin. Pastors may, with weasel words, chide their people for prioritizing their children’s sport over church attendance, but they never call it sin, and God forfend a rebuke for idolatry. That kind of thing is just asking to have to word fundamentalist slapped all over it. But the problem is there is a forth commandment, not a forth suggestion, and it is proceeded by two commandments on idolatry. It would appear that all of the theological ducks are in a row but they are frightened off by a paper tiger.
So modesty is in Scripture, it is undeniably plain. And for some time now it has been ignored because it was part of that holy kind of living that severely curtails sitting at the cool kids table. And pastors end up bing like the nerdy younger brother who wants to ride his licentious sisters coattails in while somehow keeping his own virtue and moral superiority and seamlessly blending in. This kind of theological work tends to resemble a pretzel after all is said and done. The nuance being used to explain away offending texts gets stretched tighter than leggings on a yoga teacher.
Fortunately the gaff has been blown. Those straw man arguments we have been accepting on how Christians are not actually required to be modest have been blown over by the headwinds of hypocrisy. And it is kind of nice to see those breezes blowing in that particular direction for once.
My Body My Choice
Stupid can not last and its current manifestations are imploding in the kind of spectacular fashion that leaves me giggling like a school girl. Points one and three are closely related but have a few distinctive. It is understood that no one should control a woman* or her body. A pastor should never touch the third rail of modesty. And a husband should never have a say in how his wife dresses. It is understood he is an idiot about fashion anyway. Even though it might be that he knows what he likes and would like to see her in. The matter is concluded. Women know better than anyone about how they should dress and to think otherwise is sinfully controlling if not downright abusive. Names like Bill Gothard come up and how he insisted on women’s hair styles (long and curly), the Bob Jones University dress code is alluded to in a manner of flippancy that would make Screwtape proud.** Simply put no man should tell a woman what she should wear, ever…. Then along came Fauchi. And she submitted. Again and again, mask upon mask. If the problem all along was men controlling what a woman wore the irony is as thick as margarine that many of these women were more than happy to cover their faces because a man said to.***
Those Immunocompromised Neighbors
I can not wrap my head around the indignation that gets expressed over the reasoning that women christian women should dress modestly so they don’t lead their “brothers” into lust. I’ll grant it is not a mic drop argument. The objection runs that he should be fleeing lust and showing self control. Granted, the problem is that is only half the equation. There is not just a lecherous hump and a perfect innocent women. There is a hump and a harlot (As Proverbs would describe) Guilt runs 100% and 100% in that scenario he is totally guilty of lust, but she is completely guilty of immodesty. The typical rejoinder is that this guy would lust if she were dressed like Laura Ingall’s, bonnet and all. And sure there might be a guy who is so messed up the victorians would not have been wrong to put tablecloths down because the supple legs of the dining room furniture would get him going. But let’s just be honest we have moved to the exception, not the rule. Scripture is always more interested in the rule, the exceptions are rare. So a woman does not have to consider the spiritual state of her neighbor and how she might affect that with what she wears. Until The Rona…
How is a young christian man any less a neighbor because he is at risk of sin, due to a failure to cover up. But in this one case of a novel virus neighbor love is required above all?
As I mentioned point one is connected in that all of this boils down to authority. And let’s be honest here, the only authority that is acknowledged by this kind of woman is a government one. The problem is her pastor and Scripture is very far down on that list. A government official tells her what to wear, she is onboard, Her pastor simply exegetes a plain text of scripture and he is a patriarchal tyrant. Above I wrote about the sins pastors won’t touch with a thirty-nine and a-half-foot pole, such as shacking. Why are they nervous to be clear about homosexuality in the church? They didn’t hold the line on premarital sex or no fault divorce. Obviously they don’t want to go anywhere near modesty because they know they have lost their authority.
It would be easy here to go on a tangent on pastors. But let’s not do that, instead let me simply hold you the reader by your own confession. If you believe in Christ you signed on to these things. He is conforming you to his image. Christ did not save you to leave you you in the City of Destruction, and yet how easily did your heart grow cold? What caused you to cease running crying “Life, life, eternal life!” was it the enticements of this world? The approval, and its attentions, it’s ease and refinements? But you are not of this world any longer, you have been redeemed, adopted and your new family has a resemblance. Where is it that you have rejected that family resemblance in order to conform to the spirit of this age? Why are you trading the inheritance from a king for the eyes of men? Repent and return. If all around you continue to Vanity Fair, remember your calling, you who were chosen to be a child of the King before the foundations of the earth. His word is your authority, do not reject it, it is life itself. Christ bore a cross for you, it is not too much of a burden that you submit to his authority.
*Query: Why are controlling wives or girlfriends never rebuked in the church. They dress their men, determine their sex lives, their schedule, their diet, and he is also shamed for not “manning up” or being more of a “servant leader.” Could we consider that if she gets to make those kinds of decisions for him that he should be able to make them for her. I know one guy whose wife makes him stay home from church and watch the kids so she can go and network for her ministry unfettered. And while, yes, he should grow a pair and just show up with the kids every week regardless, no one in that church is willing to rebuke her for controlling where he can go and when he can go. But she has her body so she has her choices…
**”But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armor-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy: it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it.” – Screwtape Letters XI C.S. Lewis
***an interesting can to kick around is Paul Washer’s formulation of what female modesty looks like in the era of the mask. Washer posits that if your mode of dress draws the eye and attention to the body it is immodest, if it draws the eye and attention to the face it is modest. A mask covers the face and removes it from the equation almost entirely. And since this is about a kind of woman who wants attention drawn to her body there is something to ponder about the easy and permanent adoption of the mask.