I believe that it was Owen Barfield that made the point in Screwtape Letters it is said, “Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.” Barfield went on to say that Lewis was so unlike that description and unified of thought that what he thought about everything was included in what he said about anything. Oh that we would be so consistent in our thinking. Unfortunately for most in the western church we fall far more in the area Screwtape would have us, and it undermines us at every turn.
This was brought into specific relief for me a few Sundays ago, when a well meaning chap, was invited up during the announcements to invite men to join him in his ministry that helps men and women overcome addictions to pornography. A laudable goal, but one that was undermined by what I knew of him. Every week he sits two rows in front of me with his family, and his daughter attends in clothing that would be considered risqué at best. This reveals three inconsistencies that in my mind disqualifies him from ministry in general, but particularly this specific one. 1. He is unqualified to teach because he clearly hasn’t been able to teach his own daughter. Wether out of a blind spot or willful ignorance, or he lacks authority in his own home so he shouldn’t have authority outside of it. 2. If he can’t care enough about the holiness of his daughter why would he care about my holiness? Clearly his priorities are out of whack. 3. How could he claim to honor women when he is participating in the cheapening of his own daughter.
The point is that the fraught topic of modesty does matter. While it might not be the big E on the eye chart it is still plain to read in Scripture in both Testaments. But it is also important because it is the first most observable form of obedience to Christ that a person can register. Throwing the topic to the side because it is difficult to parse and apply without license or legalism is not a solution. Likewise simply because many in the body have no problem is not an excuse either. It reveals a lack of clear teaching, it shows failure.
Christians are accustomed to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside their heads. It is time for pastors and elders to bring some cold, clear, clarity surgically remove the cancers, and unify the body. even if it means some prideful people will be upset because the Almighty God, it turns out, has opinions about how they dress. And he holds those opinions for His glory, and their joy.