My name is Lyndon,
I have a confession to make:
I have a heavy burden regarding the level of theological schlock that is regularly dumped upon my sisters in the Lord. Many of my female friends struggle, far too hard, to find reliable theological resources that deal with issues of concern to them. Because of this, I want to write some women’s-ministry-related literature that has some theological substance.
I have a second confession to make:
I’m male. I wish that I could somehow turn that part of me off for addressing this topic, but I simply cannot.
That means, I suffer from typical male proclivities, aptly illustrated in the following:
In other words, I’m can’t write theological literature addressing a woman’s perspective from a position of understanding.
I have a third confession:
I’m not really even going to try. I won’t pretend to have any experiential understanding regarding the struggles that women face with this issue, and I’ve learned that any efforts to empathize generally appear either insincere or downright ignorant. I’m a guy who is skilled in research and biblical interpretation, and in effort to respect women and not appear condescending, I’m going to try my best to stick there. I’m going to just write as straight-forwardly as I can, giving the facts as best I can, and hope that some relatively unvarnished and objective treatment of a topic will be helpful. Hopefully my “just the facts ma’am” approach will work well enough.
So what is this all about?
I’m going to write some more stuff about modesty. It’s not like young women don’t already have an absolutely overwhelming mount of options when it comes to literature addressing the topic of modesty. What could I possibly add to the innumerable treatments on the topic?
Well, I hope to surprise many of you.
I’ve made some rather interesting discoveries on the subject, and I’ve written a short series of articles that I’m going to post here to try and share those with you all. Hopefully it will help sort out some of the confusion that many of us conservative evangelicals have about modesty. Today, I’m going to lay out four categories of Christian women with regards to the subject of “modesty.”
1. The women who want to be biblically modest.
These woman recognize that the standards of contemporary fashion are abysmal but don’t think the solution involves dressing like someone from the era before electricity. They are usually well-intentioned but get overwhelmed (or totally annoyed) at all the confusing and contradictory teaching on the subject of modesty. These women recognize that more often than not, “women’s ministry” books are written by other women who don’t really know what they’re talking about…but try to distract from their vague or errant ideas via flowery fonts and pink/toile/teacups on the covers. These women struggle to find good stuff that sufficiently answers their questions, find themselves frustrated and just try to dress respectably by the standards of the day.
In this series, I hope to give these women a substantial biblical exploration of the issue. I hope to answer some of their big questions, dig deep into some of the key texts, explore the history relevant to the issue, and give them a framework to deal with the innumerable little questions that follow.
2. The women who want to be historically modest.
These woman look much like the first group except that their understanding of modesty is far more rooted in history than the pages of Scripture. They often have arbitrarily selected a standard of dress from a period of time from recent history (i.e. the 1950’s or 1980’s) and have used that as the standard of “biblical” modesty. These women tend to be rather sentimental about a previous time when people acted more “Christian” and want a return to those good old days. You know...when legs needed warming and shoulders needed padding?
In this series, I hope to give these women a similar understanding as the first group. Also, I hope to give them some freedom to understand that modesty allows a whole lot of diversity of clothing, but also would likely condemn some things that they assume pass for “modest.” I also hope that this any newfound understanding will result in increased influence with younger women who don’t share their tastes in fashion.
3. The women who want to be culturally modest.
These women don’t want to be seen as “immodest” but still want to dress “fashionably” as judged by the abysmal standards of the day. They tend to react with aggression against the teaching on “modesty” that condemns how they already dress and claim to want to be thoughtful of their brothers in the Lord…but tend to blame hormonal and googly-eyed Christian guys as the sole reason for the existence of the issue in the first place.
In this series, I hope to help these women in similar ways to the first group. I hope to help them by re-orienting their perspectives on fashion to be more in line with the Scriptures, and to also give them a healthy understanding of just what’s at stake in their fashion choices. Knowing that many of the women in this category tend to dismiss most of what a man says about this topic, I also hope that the women in the first and second category may take this information to the women in the third category, and inform/encourage them with it.
4. The women who want to be Christian hotties.
These women are somewhat like the previous group except that they go a lot farther; instead of wanting to dress fashionably, they tend to want to dress “sexy”. For some reason, they don’t seem to clue in that “sexy” means “dressing in a way that purposefully stimulates (in others) a strong desire for sexual intercourse.” These women constantly have problems with Christian guys who don’t “act very Christian” and end up regularly dating non-Christian guys because “they act more ‘Christian’ than the Christian guys…” I’m not really addressing the Christian hotties. If they somehow end up on here they’ll likely dismiss this whole series immediately because it’s written by a guy, and because their main problem involves spelling…
In this series, I still hope that these women will be helped in a secondary way. I hope that they’ll be helped by the women in the first three groups who will possibly talk with them and pass on the biblical information that they’ve gleaned from this series.
Truthfully, I’m guessing that some in all the groups may have trouble stomaching what I’m going to write as well. This series will, without a doubt, overturn a few apple carts and challenge a few traditional understandings.
So what’s first?
In the next post, we’ll explore the Biblical terms related to modesty.
I’ll do my best to be clear, but be warned: I’m going to dig deep and get into some legitimately difficult bible study; it will require a little patience to slug through but I promise to pull everything together at the end. Also, I’ll say in advance that this series will be quite a few posts, but it’s a thorny issue and I want to treat it with some seriousness. The posts will be kept fairly short to make it readable, and I hope it’s ultimately helpful.
I welcome suggestions in the comments!
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “So how many enemies did I just make?” Unger