September 29, 2016

Addressing the Dressing II: “Modesty” in the Bible

by Lyndon Unger


Fewer words in Biblical theology have greater potential of moving large groups of professing Christian women to hate you.


Fewer words in Biblical theology have more diverse associations.

Fewer words in Biblical theology have more associated confusion.

Fewer words get serious exploration, since everyone already knows that it means, right?

Not so fast.

So what does the word “modesty” actually mean, like in the Bible?  

If you look up “modesty”in your ESV, you’ll strangely come across only two occurrences: 1 Cor. 12:23 and 1 Tim. 2:9 (there’s zero occurrences of “modest”). Now that doesn’t mean that the concept doesn’t occur more frequently, but rather that the English Bible translates a Greek term as “modesty” only twice.

In case you’re wondering if I’ve stacked the deck because of my chosen Bible version, that’s hardly the case.  The NIV only has those two occurrences of “modesty” as well.  The New Living Translation has 1 Tim. 2:9 and 2:15.  The RSV has all three (1 Cor. 12:23; 1 Tim. 2:9, 2:15).  The NASB and KJV only have 1 Tim. 2:9.  The Message hilariously has none of those but rather has Song of Solomon 2:10-14; Matt. 10:11; Mark 6:10; Luke 9:1-5; John 8:54-56.  Let’s be serious: if your study bible is The Message, you may have confusions about a whole lot more theology than “modesty.”

MSG Study

So let’s look at those two sections of scripture quickly (sticking with the ESV) and unpack the term “modesty” as best we can:

1. Cor. 12:23 – I’m going to set the verse within its immediate context of 1 Cor. 12:21-26.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

So the original language has some related terms in verses 23 and 24.  The term “unpresentable” is translated from the Greek term aschemon and the term “modesty” is translated from the Greek term euschemosyneBoth of those terms occur once in the entire Bible, but they’re both derived from the term that is translated “presentable” in 12:24; euschemon .  Without knowing Greek you can see the common schem component in all those words.  Aschemon is an adjective (the ‘a’ on the front makes it a negative), as is euschemon Euschemosyne is a noun.

The root term of all of these terms is made up of eu (meaning “well”) and schema, which I’d argue should be understood to mean “form/conduct” (schema only appears in 1 Cor. 7:31 and Phil. 2:8 and both times is translated “form”, but it carries a far deeper concept than “shape”).  In 1 Cor. 7:31 the root term schema refers to not just the shape of the world, but behaviour.  That behaviour is spelled out in 1 Cor. 7:32-40, for those who want to dig int that.

In Phil 2:8 the term expands on the Greek term morphe (form/shape) which appears in Phil. 2:7 (“…by taking the form of a servant…”) by adding discussion of Christ’s conduct in the second half of Phil. 2:8.  I actually like translating the euschema family of words with either “courtly” (meaning “befitting a royal court”) or “seemly”, even though those words are obtuse archaisms.

Well, come to think of it, the phrase “obtuse archaism” is somewhat an obtuse archaism.

Still, I’d suggest that the idea of 1 Cor. 12:23 is something along the lines of:

“and on those parts of the body we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our discourtly parts are treated with greater courtliness, which our more courtly parts do not require.”

Royal Family
The idea is one of not just form, but demeanor/deportment. The first clause of 1 Cor. 12: 23 (“those parts of the body we think less honorable”) suggests that those members of the church whom are not generally deemed as important need to be treated as though they were important.  That means that, in a church, nursery workers and church custodians may not be as important to the administration of the church as the board of elders, but they should not be treated in a secondary way.  The reason for this is due to their connection to Christ, not tangible contribution to the church.

The second clause (“and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater  modesty“) deals less with perceived value and more with functional demeanour.  I’d suggest that the idea here is along the lines of treating inappropriately behaving church members as if they were behaving better than they are: being gracious with them and not looking down on their immaturity or lack of church-appropriate decorum.  In other words, when a young “rough around the edges” woman joins the church, treat her as if she was equally befitting of the social graces afforded to the more elegant and stately women of the church.

I’ll say it again: the idea behind “modesty” in 1 Cor. 12:23 isn’t primarily one of appearance, but rather overall demeanour.  To be clear, it includes appearance but is far more than just appearance.

Now it seems rather obvious that 1 Cor. 12:23 doesn’t directly talk about women, clothing, fashion, or anything of the sort…except there is an important conceptual framework that comes out when the term is used in other places.  Knowing the underlying Greek terminology, it’s now worth looking at two other passages where euschemon appears but is not translated as some version of “modesty”:

Acts 13:50 – “But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.

Acts 17:12 – “Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.”

In both instances, the English words translated from euschemon are underlined. One can see the underlying idea of “seemly/courtly demeanour” coming out in both usages of the term.  For interest sake, the term occurs only five times in the entire New Testament, and two of the five occurrences are describing women.  That’s certainly something worth noticing, and that brings us to our next passage…

…which we’ll address in the next post.

If anyone feels short-changed, just remember that shorter posts make for easier reads.

Also, I’d like to state the following:



Lyndon Unger

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Lyndon is a pastor/teacher who’s currently between ministry work and in the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Witness Protection program. If you think you saw him didn’t.
  • Ira Pistos

    A very illuminating cliffhanger. I’m on the edge of my seat.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Thanks! I hope that you enjoy the rest!

  • alexguggenheim

    From reading Lyndon Unger’s tackling of some detailed complaints, it is clear that he has invested substantial time formulating his counsel which clearly shows in his rebutals and prepared responses. I’m thinking that he has been weighing, scrutinizing and refining his postulates for years

    The objections, so far, appear reactionary particularly to his thoughtful responses.

    While we are invited to share comments and/or objections, I believe it is evident, already, that sharp or full-throated objections should wait for the full series to be presented. Excellent introduction and contextual setting.

    • bs

      Is it possible in the meantime though to point out the number of exegetical fallacies that seem to be used?

      • alexguggenheim

        I cannot imagine exegetical objections being raised with counter proofs being seen as “full-throated” or an overeach . I’m not the moderator, of course, just a reader suggesting a full read before rejecting the argument(s)but individual points, as the series continues, particularly exegetical issues, seem most pertinent.

      • Lyndon Unger

        Fire away.

        Did you mean fallacies in the post or the comments?

        Feel free to give me articulate details.

        • bs

          Lyndon, specifically in your post(s) how are you avoiding both the root fallacy (as in the paragraph beginning “The root term of all these terms …”) and totality transfer (as in “there is an important conceptual framework that comes out when the term is used in other places”).

          I am wondering also if your treatment of 1 Cor 12.23 will really hold up. Is this not part of the analogy Paul is using? So how could body parts be described as “courtly” or “discourtly”?

          Also is focusing on the meaning of single words and looking for their uses elsewhere in the text a helpful way of discussing the meaning that a writer is wanting a reader to understand? It seems that as humans we really don’t communicate that way.

          • Lyndon Unger

            As I understand it, a root fallacy is when you break a compound term down into it’s components and then add those component definitions together to artificially manufacture an incorrect definition of the compound.

            In other words, adding micro (‘small”) and scopos (“seeing”) together to be “small seeing” or “small sighted”, and then using “microscope” as an adjective for nearsightedness.

            In 1 Cor. 12:23 we have a really difficult words study since we find two Hapax Legomenas that are part of the same cognate family: The term “unpresentable” is translated from the Greek term aschemon and the term “modesty” is translated from the Greek term euschemosyne. Both are Hapax Legomenas, so I can’t look at their other occurrences in the Scripture. I don’t seem to have any choice but to either look at biblical occurrences of other terms in that cognate family. The second step of study, if that doesn’t work, is to look outside of biblical literature. I obviously didn’t do that, but I’d argue that I ultimately didn’t have to.

            I attempt to not fall into the root fallacy trap by not blindly building a definition on the supposed root, but rather attempt to find some contextual clues to the appearances of the root to allow for a little more flexibility in the compound. That’s why in the paragraph following the discussion of euschemon includes a discussion of Phil. 2:7-8 and the interplay between morphe and schema.

            It’s not perfect, but I’m working with a highly limited data set. How would YOU determine the meaning of two Hapax Legomenas, in the same cognate family, without making an attempt to explore their cognate family?

            If you know some trick that I don’t know, I’m all ears.

            As for your insinuations that I’m making a totality transfer fallacy, I would clearly suggest that I’m not.

            A Totality Transfer fallacy is when you try to force the entire semantic range of a term into every single occurrence of that term.

            A common example of a Totality Transfer Fallacy is when Egalitarians take the term “apostle”, which clearly has 2 distinct usages in Scripture (the general sense and the sense of the biblical office), and apply the biblical office sense to general uses of the term (i.e. Acts 14:14, 2 Cor. 8:32, Heb. 3:1) in order to suggest that there were more than 12 people that held the biblical office of “apostle”…which turns into a huge leap to establish the idea that there are innumerable apostles, including modern ones.

            What I suggest as “conceptual framework” is not being suggested as the meaning of the term in Acts 13:50 or 17:31. I’m fine in leaving the ESV translation of euschemon alone. The idea isn’t one of changing the meaning or translation in the ESV, but rather giving a sense of the underlying dimension of the term. In fact, euschemon has essentially the same meaning across all its uses. Feel free to examine them for yourself:

            Mark 15:43, Acts 13:50, Acts 17:12, 1 Cor. 7:35, 1 Cor. 12:24.

            Let me know if you still disagree.

            As for your complaint as to whether my “treatment of 1 Cor 12.23 will really hold up”, I’m basically using “courtly” as a synonym for “honorable”. If that somehow overthrows Paul’s analogy, I’d love you to show me how that works.

            By all means, help me see whatever it is I’m missing.

            With your final complaint, I’d refer you to the previous fact that we’re dealing with two terms that the author doesn’t use anywhere else in the text.

            Sure, if I regularly used the term “wobblebottom” to describe someone, you might already know what it means…but if I ever said it in passing, just once, and then moved on, you could guess what I meant by it, but if you wanted to know, how could you find out?

            I mean, consider the following sentence:

            “My wife is a constant wobblebottom”

            What does that mean?

            Is it a term of endearment?

            A term of disgust?

            A term of mocking?

            A comment about her shopping habits?

            How would you ever figure it out?

            With people, we can ask them in such scenarios. With Biblical writers, we can’t…but because the inspiration of Scripture acts as a binding element throughout the various Biblical writers, we can attempt to dig through their various usages of terminology to attempt to uncover some ideas.

          • bs

            Lyndon, thank you for your response. A few comments.

            On the root fallacy I think it refers to things a bit wider than compounds. I think it refers to using etymology as a guide to meaning, rather like your references to cognates. So, again, how are you avoiding that fallacy?

            You ask how I would determine the meaning of two hapax legomena. I think I would rely on the knowledge of people who knew that language. Yes, there are probably very few speakers of Koine Greek around now — that very fact, I think, should make us rather hesitant in arguing what the text means. It doesn’t mean that we cannot interpret the text, it simply means that we are often “guessing” at how we are supposed to read it and also to be thankful that we do have translations.

            You say, “The idea isn’t one of changing the meaning or translation in the ESV,
            but rather giving a sense of the underlying dimension of the term.” But what is “the _underlying dimension_ of …[a] term” (my emphasis)? Isn’t this what James Barr was basically questioning?

            My question about 1 Cor 12:23 is that if Paul is talking about “body parts” how is “courtly” a synonym of “honourable”? “Courtly” and a body part simply do not collocate, so how does substituting “courtly” for “honourable” help us to read 1 Cor 12:23?

            How would I find out what you mean by “wobblebottom”? Yes, I would certainly have to infer the meaning. I could ask you what is a wobblebottom. Or I might guess from the context, in the same way as I would interpret my wife saying “Coffee would keep me awake” as either “Yes please I would like coffee” or “No thanks I would not like coffee”. Context is much more crucial in interpreting texts than what we might understand from the “meaning” of individual words. Words are always used to say things in a context. That’s why word studies (even those considered “deep” word studies) may not be that useful.

          • Lyndon Unger

            BS – Using etymology as a guide to meaning isn’t automatically a fallacy; half the words in English have meanings that are related to their etymology.

            It’s only a fallacy when one unjustly builds a meaning related to the meaning of a term, and in biblical studies it’s mostly related to compound words (like the katastole example in the article). Saying “the root term of all these terms” isn’t a fallacy if I’m right. That’s how I avoid committing the fallacy.

            The way you establish that I’m wrong is by providing positive reasons for me to question my conclusion regarding the meaning of the term. That’s not simply saying “You’re using their etymology as a guide,” but rather showing how their meanings somehow are different than the relation to their cognate family or etymological relations would suggest.

            You haven’t don’t this yet. Feel free to do so now. No WAIT. Don’t do that. I have only one question for you, and it’s at the bottom.

            I’m still wondering how you would determine the meaning of two hapax legomena. All you’ve said is that you would try to find someone who spoke the language, but since there aren’t any Koine speakers around, we can’t be sure what biblical terms mean and be thankful for translations.

            Um…so that’s a very verbose way of saying “I don’t know”. well, no worries. No need to respond to this either. I have one question at the bottom I’d love for you to respond to.

            As for your question about the underlying dimension of a term, as well as your referencing James Barr (he’s the murder suspect on “Jack Reacher”, right?), now you’re asking other questions…but not really asking clearly at all. Well, regardless of whatever it is you were getting at, I don’t really need to pick any battle here. I am certainly interested in picking a battle with the final question thought.

            Then you asked that if Paul is talking about “body parts” how is “courtly” a synonym of “honourable”?

            Well, because the body parts talk is a metaphor and in the metaphor the usage of the synonym easily works. The description of them as “honorable” doesn’t have to do with them being yucky looking or something like that, but rather their value and function in the body. The explanation of that, and the answer to your question, is in the paragraph after the picture of the Royal family. I get that you don’t *like* my answer, but that’s my answer.

            My comment about “wobblebottom” was pointing out the difficulty of dealing with terms that an author, or speaker, only uses a single time. We cannot get more context, and here’s what we know:

            “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

            So the original language has some related terms in verses 23 and 24. The term “unpresentable” is translated from the Greek term aschemon and the term “modesty” is translated from the Greek term euschemosyne. Both of those terms occur once in the entire Bible, but they’re both derived from the term that is translated “presentable” in 12:24; euschemon.”

            So after providing that information, here’s my final question; the one you’ve been waiting to respond to:

            Could you please do what I’ve tried to do (meaning show me the meaning of aschemon and euschemosyne without any mention of etymological components or cognate relationships but rather deriving their meaning strictly from the immediate context of the passage) without committing any of my vast and damnable errors?

            Thank you kindly.

          • bs

            Lyndon, I realise some preachers like to delve into etymology — I guess it adds a certain mystique to what they are saying. And I do await with interest what your conclusions from your word studies will be.
            But my question to you would be: why does the meaning of individual words take up so much of your writing space when the meaning of individual words is only part (and maybe a very small part) of understanding what a writer/speaker is wanting to communicate? The message of the text is “carried” (if you like) at a much higher level than individual words and relies much more on context (which is more than the surrounding text). This is the point of the “Coffee will keep me awake” text. You can exegete each _word_ in that text until you are blue in the face — that won’t get your wife coffee (or not).
            There are probably very few (if any) “hapax legomena” in a _language_. I assume Paul expected his readers to infer what he meant from their knowledge of their language. They would also have picked up the word plays. I guess the people who first translated the text into English had a reasonably wide understanding of Greek as well — so they could have inferred what Paul meant from their knowledge of the range of literature available to them. Presumably they also understood that translation involved more than substituting individual (or groups of) English words for Greek ones.
            So, you are right — I am saying that I rely on the MESSAGE translated into
            English words, trusting that the translators have considered the overall
            meaning of the text.

          • Lyndon Unger

            So, that’s a soft “no” on responding to the single question I asked you?

          • bs

            Sure. But I would suggest that you also did not arrive at “the meaning of aschemon and euschemosyne” by way of the Greek text. And my point is that study of individual _words_ is not the better way to understand the meaning of any text.
            But as I said, I wait to see how you apply your study of words to the question you are addressing.

          • Lyndon Unger

            You sure like to throw stones and make demands, and then side-step any requirement of you meeting your own demands.

            Once again, I’ll ask you a single question:

            Could you please do what I’ve tried to do (meaning show me the meaning of aschemon and euschemosyne without any mention of etymological components or cognate relationships but rather deriving their meaning strictly from the immediate context of the passage) without committing any of my vast and damnable errors?

            If you don’t clearly walk through the text, in detail, and establishing the meaning of the terms from the context alone, I’ll just ignore any and all following comments that you toss my way until you jump through your own hoop.

            Either put up or shut up.

          • bs

            I cannot do that Lyndon because I do not know the language even after having the usual seminary training in Biblical languages plus using the Greek and Hebrew alphabets in reading commentaries etc. since then. One of my points is that hearers/readers of the language also do not do that.

            Exegetes often do what you have done. People like e.g. Barr and Carson have pointed out some of the _dangers_ in doing that. My question is why is it thought that referring to Greek words gives more authority to the claims being made?

          • Lyndon Unger

            How about this:

            Could you please do what I’ve tried to do (show the meaning of “unpresentable” and “modesty” by deriving their meaning strictly from the immediate context of the passage) without committing any of my vast and damnable errors?

            Can you walk through the text and help us understand what it means? Can you even do that in English?

          • bs

            1Cor 12:23
            How about:
            Paul is arguing that all Christians in the church are in Christ. They are united together, there is no greater or lesser. He illustrates this from the human body: no part of the human body can separate itself from the body and say it has no need of the rest. Each part of the body has its own distinct role and function. Now we recognise that some parts of the body seem weaker.
            Now v.23
            “and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect”

            In our own culture we clothe some parts of our bodies (our sexual organs) — we therefore are treating those parts , even though we might think them less honourable (and so we cover them) with the greater respect, because we _do_ cover them. An interesting point though not crucial to understanding the text is Paul’s wordplays expressed in the NRSV: ‘less honourable’, ‘greater honour’ and ‘less
            respectable members’, ‘greater respect’, ‘more respectable members’ (v.24)).

            So in the same way as even we ourselves treat these “weaker” parts with honour, God honours all, even those people in the church we might think of as less worthy.

            I don’t know that there is any more needs to be said for speakers of English to understand what Paul is saying here.

          • bs

            Or if you want to be more linguistically inclined:
            Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 12:23 consists of two main clauses:
            [those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour] and [our less respectable members are treated with greater respect]. The second of these clauses could be restructured to remove the passive voice and parallel the structure of the first clause to: [those members of the body that we think of as less respectable we treat with greater respect]. The topic of both these clauses is [those members of the body] which we think are [less honourable] or [less respectable]. This probably refers to the sexual organs. The parallel main verbs are [clothe] and [treat] and the actor in both cases is [we] with the same referent as in the relative clauses, [we think]. The complements of the main verbs are again parallel: [with greater honour] and [with greater respect].
            Thes two clauses are then contrasted with a third: ‘our more respectable members to not need this’ which could be similarly restructured to parallel the first and second clauses. The topic in the third clause is [the members that we think of as more respectable] i.e. our non-sexual parts. and the comment is [do not need [to be clothed]]. The third clause would seem to be a comment emphasising the first two clauses, so contrasting the two groups of members (body parts), those we treat carefully because of our perception of them as less respectable/less honourable (any meaning difference between these is not relevant to the contrast) and those we do not.
            We could of course go on and relate these sentences to what came before…

    • Lyndon Unger

      Thanks Alex. It is honestly hard to weigh how to pace this sort of series. On my own blog, I wrote fewer posts but they ended up being really long. That makes for a lot of “too long, didn’t read” responses.

      Feel free to come back and interact with posts as they come out and I’ll do what I can to respond.

  • Cathy

    Another good article. Based on some comments I read on the last article, it seems some people are very defensive of the way they dress, It seems there might be more going on in their heart than the way they dress. If any of us is reacting to anything in a way that is angry and critical in our speech, we really need to take a step back and examine our heart. That isn’t to say we can’t disagree on things, but, well there are plenty of scriptures that address the way we should treat one another.
    I have found nothing offensive or demeaning in either one of your articles. I do so appreciate your humble heart though, when those that are on the defensive have made a less than loving argument to defend their opinion, that you are willing to go back and examine what you wrote. However, if after examining what you wrote, and your heart behind it, you find nothing that is offensive or in error, don’t go back and change anything to please people. Paul never changed his message to make it easier for people to stomach.
    Also, why do some women think that we either have to dress to attract attention, or look like a dowdy old maid? There are plenty of beautiful women who dress perfectly respectable and wear clothes that are in fashion…look around you will find them.
    Also, you are right, it isn’t only the way we dress, but a flirtatious manner is sinful too! I struggled with this as well.
    Behavior can also be addressed to men, there are a lot of men who have behavior that is meant to have women find them attractive.

    • Jane Hildebrand

      Cathy, I agree with much of what you have to say. And you are right, part of the defensiveness does come from a deeper issue, and I believe that has to do with how women are seeing themselves today.

      What I mean is that between the Victoria’s Secret commercials, the staggering rise in pornography, and what they see in the mirror after having multiple kids, it is no surprise that young women are truly struggling with how they look, to the point it is affecting the intimacy in their marriages. This is what I am hearing in women’s circles. To be blunt, they are ashamed of their bodies given the standards culture is force feeding them. They undress in the dark and hope their husbands don’t see them as they see themselves. That is why so many women’s conferences revolve around trying to see ourselves as beautiful and valuable. It’s damage control from this sex-saturated culture that threatens our marriages and how we view ourselves. (Btw, it doesn’t help knowing that many of the conferences their husbands attend revolve around how to deal with pornography and lust. While we are supportive, inside this is confirming our deepest fears.)

      So yes, it likely goes deeper than being offended by an article addressing modesty. Women are truly hurting today and so are marriages because of it. Husbands, tell your wives they’re beautiful. They need to hear that.

      • Cathy

        Thank you Jane! Good words. You have gotten to the heart of the issue, and it’s the way we women feel about ourselves and that we think we need to be beautiful the way that society defines beautiful. I wish we women would realize though, that dressing provocatively isn’t going to make their husbands stop looking at other women, and it isn’t going to make them feel any better about themselves. It might make them feel better for the moment, until someone prettier comes in the room. It comes down to the fact that it is a sin issue, for both the husbands and the wives. We do live in a sex saturated society and we cannot afford to be lukewarm about it. If moms are dressing to have men look at them, and they feel that’s what makes them desirable, what message are they sending to their daughters…and their sons, about what is desirable?
        The more I write, and your comments, make me realize this is so much deeper of an issue than the way we dress. That what God wants though, a change of our hearts, and not just an outward change.

        • Jane Hildebrand

          Well said! Much of my ministry involves striving to teach women to see themselves in light of Christ’s love and then much of the fear of how others see them slips away. But it is such a struggle! May God help us as we encourage young women to be beautiful in His eyes.

          • Cathy

            Wonderful! Keep up the good work. it is a struggle! I was just at a retreat that dealt with this exact issue. Now that I’m older and my youth is slipping away, it is harder, and if I hadn’t started dealing with my feelings years ago, that my only value was in how I looked, I think I would be in real trouble! Fortunately I had someone in my life that discipled me…so keep doing what you are doing!

      • Lyndon Unger

        Sad but true observations Jane, and good words as well.

        There needs to be a serious and weighty book written on this, and last night, I actually was going through Proverbs 5-7 with a bunch of high schoolers and talking about sexual lust, pornography (with both application to males and females), how guys are supposed to use their eyes, etc.

        I’ll likely be discussing more this coming week.

        Lots of questions, lots of feedback.

        I might post some of that on here after the final post, but that means writing a whole blog post about it. I like to write stuff on my own blog and get feedback there, and then edit and re-post here. It tends to save my hide and I apparently need that!

        • Jane Hildebrand

          Lyndon, for what it’s worth, I enjoyed your first post and was in no way offended. As always, I enjoy how you mix truth with humor, and am grateful for all the time and effort you put into your research. Please know you are appreciated.

          One of The Big Girls of the Cripplegate
          (spiritually speaking that is). 😉

          • Lyndon Unger

            Thanks so much Jane!

            I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s always hard to balance writing something weighty while balancing it off with a little humor to make it easier to stomach for others.

            I always appreciate your interaction too!

    • Lyndon Unger

      Thanks for the kind and gracious words Cathy.

      It’s a hard balance to try to be open to critique and yet write with some apparent conviction.

  • Jason

    This background of the word is extremely interesting. The idea of royal courts (even in countries that are technically still monarchies) is probably not as easily grasped as it once was, but even now we have certain public positions where people try to present themselves as stately.

    I wonder how severely our understanding of modesty has been impacted by who we consider “royalty”. Instead of nobles, we have celebrities. Where leaders have to convey a sense of self-control and high-mindedness, celebrities often gain in popularity as they act out.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Thanks Jason. I’m glad it’s been helpful to you!

      The people that we uphold as “worthy of emulation” have certainly changed, haven’t they? I’m guessing that you’re definitely on to something.

  • Heather

    lol do you own that shirt? That would be AWESOME if you did hahaha

    Wonderful article, once again! Really looking forward to reading the rest. Thank you for all the research (and seriously hilarious pictures) that you are putting into this! 🙂

  • Maranatha

    I never contextualized 1 Cor 12,22 ff. with “women” but with the different limbs and organs of the body of Christ on earth (whereas He is the head in Heaven). I thought these verses mean that e.g. the eye or arm are to be seen from outside like pastors and teachers are but there are as well unseen and non-elegant organs like the spleen and the appendix you even think to be superfluous but important nevertheless in the whole body. Such as a true believer like me (woman).

    I think it should be clear for everybody saved in Christ that God does not see the person but the heart only and that secondly all parts of His body should behave as real “royalties” in the way to which King they belong to (1. Tim 6,15 / Rev 17,14 + 19,16). But I agree, many Christians do forget that constantly. 😉 Kind regards!

    • Lyndon Unger

      Maranatha, I didn’t attempt to say that 1 Cor. 12:22-23 was talking about women. I think I stated that overtly near the end of the article, so you’re right to recognize that 1 Cor. 12:22-23 is talking about body parts, not women.

      I was trying to unpack the meaning of two specific words that ARE used to describe women in other places, which helps to gain a little insight into what those terms mean when used in 1 Cor. 12:22-23.

      • Maranatha

        I didn’t say Thank You first, Lyndon, for your extreme detailed research in biblical Greek which has much more meanings than our language/s today (problem of decline instead of evolution in all spheres of life). I really LOVE going deep like this, there are not many teachers on earth living doing so. Thank God they are, still nourishing the little flock. Transatlantic greetings! 😉

  • Karl Heitman

    I demand to see an entirely separate post dedicated to the topic of “Christian Women and Yoga Pants.” Post on, my [Canadian] friend.

    • Lyndon Unger

      There’s a relevant text in Matthew 9:17. The ESV reads:

      “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

      It’s arguable that as one should not pour new wine into old wineskins, so the antithesis is also true. One should not pour old wine into new wineskins; no, new wine is for new wineskins.

      As Jesus said, “let the reader understand.” – Matthew.24:15.