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etimodnar

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And Then There Was Silence


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etimodnar

Legalism and Modesty

There was a link that I posted to Facebook protesting about the whole bra colours thing to raise awareness for breast cancer. I didn't participate in the colour update meme partly because I remembered an incident a while ago with Josh. Josh and I had talked a while ago about the appropriateness of my bathers because I didn't want to cause him to sin. He said that for him, bikinis were fine. A few weeks after that conversation, we were going to a party and we made 2 t-shirts with some iron-on transfers on them to fit a theme. In the process of ironing them on, I whipped off my top, and put the other on to see if the transfer was in the right position, then swapped my tops again. Josh spoke to me afterwards and said that given the different context, what I did was actually unhelpful to him - something that I hadn't been aware of.

But adding to that incident is just a general desire not to have people know my bra colour. Sometimes a bra strap will poke out from underneath a dress or top and that's hard to avoid. But if I can avoid it, then I will. I just don't think it's appropriate or helpful for people to know.

This isn't a blanket rule applying to all women everywhere. I will always maintain quite firmly that modesty starts in the heart and women should be talking to their brothers about what's appropriate when. But if I want to draw some lines about what I think is appropriate for me - and maybe that gets people talking about the modesty issue in a helpful way, and gets women thinking about it too, then how is that wrong?

I deleted the whole thread on facebook because there were some very unhelpful comments on it posted by my own Brothers, saying that I was verging on legalism. How is this legalism? Because I think that what I'm doing is getting me right with God, that because of it I'm going to Heaven? NO! Rather, from the very beginning, it's motivated by love. It was incredibly frustrating to get those kind of comments from the very people I was motivated in helping. It actually made me rather angry and I responded in anger. So I decided it was best to delete the entire thing.

I know these waters are murky. That they're rooted in context and culture because as Christians, that's what we're living in and engaging with. That I cannot help every man with every problem because we are ultimately sinful to the bone. I know this. But should the overwhelming nature of the problem stop me from engaging with it? Should I give in either way to dressing like a whore, or wearing a burqua? Are you kidding me?

To anyone who will respond, consider this: I am trying to be motivated by love, care and concern for my brothers. I'm not taking on what men should be responsible for in themselves. But I am trying to help them fight the good fight.

Mark, this is in response to one of the other men who was commenting on that link. I am more than happy to continue to engage in this discussion with you, because you listen and care. I find that your comments are motivated by love. Unlike this other fellow who was more interested in talking at me. But you did say that this reminded you of legalism, so maybe this entry can help you understand my motivation in wanting to be modest and draw some lines in the sand for myself :)


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I really love the spirit and heart you have that shines so clearly in this entry. (And related to the actual topic on facebook, but this one even more so.) You have got a great level of wisdom and maturity here, and let me say it again, such a lovely heart and sweet and gentle spirit relating to others, especially brothers where sometimes there is more miscommunication than there is between sisters. I also think you ought to be extremely proud of yourself for this, but I recognise that the very humility that prompted the entry means you won't be. So allow me to be proud of you on your behalf, you really are a wonderful, wonderful example of everything I ought to be aspiring to, and I hope that blessing upon blessing falls upon you and that understanding and love only continues to flourish from your brothers back to you my dear.

Awww, thank you so much for that encouragement Katie! I really don't have anything else to say - I'm (apart from what I've already said) speechless!!

Awww!

You do what you believe is right :)

Heya Kat!

Whew, I've been thinking this weekend about how to respond.
It's heartening what you say in your last paragraph here, so I've been trying to think of the right thing to say in response.

I guess I was surprised when I read that boundless article (I think it boundless?) about the facebook bra thing, because it seemed to me to be a bit of an unnecessary moral panic over something was probably just meant to be silly in order to raise awareness for something serious. Having said that, I think that the actual exercise was probably quite pointless and probably didn't do anything to help with cancer research, and like you said, donating money to cancer research would've been much more helpful.

So while pointless, the bra colours thing was just silly and harmless. That's how I saw it. So it did surprise me when I read in that article where some guy was quoted as saying about the bra colour thing something like you women are killing us men with it. That just seemed like such hyperbole to me - a fuss about something that should not have been necessary to fuss about - and it felt no different to that guy from my church that I mentioned on my lj last November who was horrified that mutual female friends of ours from church were wearing singlet tops where he could see their cleavage. All I could think was, "seriously? Oh come on!"


"we were going to a party and we made 2 t-shirts with some iron-on transfers on them to fit a theme. In the process of ironing them on, I whipped off my top, and put the other on to see if the transfer was in the right position, then swapped my tops again. Josh spoke to me afterwards and said that given the different context, what I did was actually unhelpful to him - something that I hadn't been aware of."

Hmm, that's interesting, and I find that a little strange on Josh's part. I'm not sure how it was 'unhelpful'. Maybe he got aroused? I don't see that as a negative thing. He was dating you after all. I'd find it strange if while dating you he wasn't turned on while seeing you with your top off wearing just your bra. I guess Josh and the guy from the boundless article think very differently on this matter to me. Kristi whipped off her top in front of me to change her t-shirt every now and then, and yeah, I was turned on, but, I didn't have a problem with that as I was dating her - it was God given sexual attraction. *shrugs*


Getting back to the bra colours and modesty - I'm of the opinion that 99.99% of the responsibility lays with the guy. It's like when Paul talks about Christian women covering their hair so as to avoid being mistaken for a prostitute. Now in the context of our society, this is unnecessary because no one is going to confuse you for a prostitute in our society for having your hair uncovered. But if you walked down the street wearing this...



...then they might :p


So it's a matter of context within our culture and it can be difficult to know where the line is. I personally think that saying your bra colour in your facebook status update (as pointless as that is for cancer research/awareness), wearing a bikini at the beach, and wearing singlet tops don't cross the skanky line. And if any guy thinks that they do and can't keep it in his pants because of one of those things then he needs to learn one of the Fruits of the Spirit - self-control, and take responsibly for his own actions.

So yeah, that's what I think.
I hope it wasn't offensive, I'm just saying what I think. I know a lot of Christians (especially ones like Josh or the guy from my church) would disagree with me.

I think that the actual exercise was probably quite pointless and probably didn't do anything to help with cancer research, and like you said, donating money to cancer research would've been much more helpful.

The women are supposed to perform a self-examination after posting their bra colours on Facebook. This was lost in translation somewhere.

that really was lost in translation! The message I received from some people on fb didn't say anything about it. LAME!

I was ranting about this to James before I posted it on LJ. His simple summarisation of the issue is this. When I say bikini, he thinks beach. When I say bra, he thinks bedroom. Which comes down to context.

But I don't want to be like that friend of yours. He seems to go too far. As I commented in that post:
Wear sensible clothes people!! [insert rant about slutty clothes] [...] Just... have love, concern and consideration for your brothers, that's all we can be responsible for.
I don't want my desire to be modest to go into extremes. I honestly don't give it terribly much thought. But the ONE TIME I posted something publicly about this thought process and motivations, it gets SO MUCH attention. Regardless of whether the bra thing is killing him, or only causing a brief moment of stumbling, it's a very small action on my part that I'm happy to do.

Unless it requires great amounts of effort which'll tell me one of two things:
1. I'm a complete slut in the way I dress and didn't realise
2. He's a total prude who can't go outside ever.

I'm still not sure how it was unhelpful to Josh though, considering you were dating at the time. *shrugs*

Hi all

I didn't get to read the thread that was posted on fb hence I would not be able to comment on that but only on what I can gather from this post and its comments.

In summary I believe in this case it has all to do with:

1. Context
2. Personalities.

==CONTEXT==
I totally get why it was unhelpful for Josh when Kat changed T-shirts, and yet why bikini bathers was fine for him.

James' explaination also backs up what Josh probably thinks too.

This reminds me of the Trumpet ice cream add that was quite popular a couple summers back. See the youtube link for refresher.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brg_zHXIHC8


==Personality==
As for personalities, we all have different sins that some people handle better than others. Some people get more tempted on different things. Talk to the coffee addict. If you're not an addict of coffee then you wouldn't get why they HAVE to drink their coffee before they start their day..like why can't they just start cutting back and train their body to not rely on it?

As for not getting why some people kick up a fuss about some things, it comes down to their personality.

Reading 1 Cor 8 I understand that one thing can be awesome but suck at the same time.

Nothing wrong with eating food sacrificed to idols because it's just an idol, not God.

To think it's wrong and eat it, the person sins. However for the person who knows it's not wrong and eat it, they don't sin.

BUT Paul warns the Corinthians not to "exercise..your freedom (such that it)..become a stumbling block to the weak" (vs 9)

"When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ" (vs 12)

==conclusion==
"Knowledge puffs up but love builds up" (1 Cor 8:1b)

Being aware of what (when, how, context) causes people to stumble and also being aware that it comes at different levels for each individual.

Under God's love only will be able to serve each other accordingly and appropriately.

Thanks for your input Jun. I think the bit about personalities put a helpful perspective on the conversation. Meaning, the guys who spoke up in the original thread said things to the effect of, "I don't struggle with this, therefore the extent you're going to is silly because it's not an issue". And even though other men would say it were an issue, they were accused of hyperbole which made their point invalid.

Good work bringing in the Bible to the conversation too! :D

Kat, I'm afraid that I can't help lusting every time I see your hair in photos on Facebook, so you could make sure you don't show any photos of yourself online with your hair in them... you know.. to help your brother in Christ?


(obviously I'm kidding! But that is equally how ridiculous and full of hyperbole the "you women are killing us with the bra colours" thing I read on that article seemed to me from my perspective as a guy) *shrugs*


"I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen."
-Martin Luther

I think you're right in saying it comes down to a matter of individual conscience. different women will apply different standards, and as long as they do so out of love then it is something to be applauded.

"In the process of ironing them on, I whipped off my top, and put the other on to see if the transfer was in the right position, then swapped my tops again. Josh spoke to me afterwards and said that given the different context, what I did was actually unhelpful to him - something that I hadn't been aware of."

I must admit as a man I would find this disconcerting. I've had to get used to it though, it is unavoidable if you spend time in the theatre (quick changes leave no room for modesty). And I think the point about context is very true. There is also a difference between seeing someone in underwear, and seeing them actually disrobe in front of you.
I'm glad to see you thinking this through, it is a hard issue for women to think about, and particularly hard to discuss in a public forum.

There have been a number of times I've gotten angry about people telling me how I should dress and [blah blah blah rant]. But I'm glad that they have (even though occassionally it's someone going to extremes - women should only wear skirts for example), because it's made me think more seriously about it and has softened my heart to hear it in the future.

As an aside, I like wearing skirts and James has told me he prefer me in skirts and so I'm happy to wear them. But I will staunchly defend wearing pants! They're practical and appropriate - often times more so than skirts.

yeah I've never really understood the whole 'skirt' argument. If anything pants are more modest than skirts. Stating that skirts are more 'feminine' is just ridiculous. It's completely subject to the culture. Should we demand all men start wearing togas? The Romans thought they looked pretty manly...
(that said, skirts are pretty ;)

The thing that gets my goat, is that this issue is very rarely addressed to men. We're living in a culture that more and more objectifies men as well as women, and yet men never pause to the think what it may mean for their sisters to walk around shirtless, or worse, budgie smugglers! I'm not saying men shouldn't do these (except the budgie smugglers, that's a strict no-no), but we need to be thinking about this too.

oh budgie smugglers, they're so hot! *vomit*

I'm glad you see that as an issue, Jason! Personally, it isn't one for me, but I think it would be for some women out there. It has been an issue in the past. Generally, women are less visual though.

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