Monday, June 8, 2009

Modesty Monday--#23

More thoughts from men:
These are opinions from Godly guys. I may or may not agree with them completely.

For me, modesty falls under the category of Transformation. I will start with a preface and then explain more later. When the Christian church was beginning to state its purposes after the reformation in the 16th century, they asked the big questions. Martin Luther, when asked what is this life all about, said it was about, "Coram Deo". A latin phrase for being always before the face of God. This is how we are to live our lives. Christ even told us to Seek First His Kingdom and righteousness. To do what is right and seek to be in the presence of God. Subsequently, we are also to live in this world (physical) but not be of this world (following the systems of the times). The Germans have a great term for the systems of this world that they call "Zeitgeist". It is translated, "spirit of the times". Niche, the atheist philosopher, even recognized that people should not be following the zeitgeist and he was looking for the "ubermansch" or Super Man. One who was in this world, but did not conform to it. Christ prayed in John 17 that even though we were in the world and we were called to Christ, that we were not to be taken from the world, but to be helped in this world. So if we are to be in this world, but not of it, how do we not do what the world does? The danger here is that we can pull away from the culture all together, leaving us totally isolated and miss the opportunities to witness to others who are in the world. We can look at the Essenes who wanted to search for the Messiah so much that they pulled themselves out of the world and hid in little caves by the dead sea...they missed Christ all together because they separated themselves from the world. Modesty, if taken to an extreme, can separate us from the world. Covering one's whole body is removing yourself from the world and puts up a separation for communication to take place. We have all seen the Muslim women in their complete coverings and it basically says, "I don't want to talk with you" (see On the other end of the spectrum, we see the nudists who do not have any modesty. This also says that they do not want to communicate with you and puts up a wall of separation. So where is the middle ground? Paul exhorts us in Romans 12 to practice the following when it comes to Coram Deo: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:1-2

We see two words in Paul's instructions about this matter. Conform and Transform. The word "Con-form" is translated, "With Structure". In other words, following the structures of our society. Paul is saying here that the structures of this world are not what guide our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. It is the Word of God. The Supreme Court does not make our decisions for us on how we are to seek righteousness, it is only to govern this land. This also can go for the systems of "trends". The "trends" of this world should not tell us how we are to live, but the Word of God should direct us. Coupled with that, Paul said that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The word, “transformed” is translated, “above and over the systems”. So here is where we can talk about modesty for a moment in light of this passage. The transformation of our modesty comes when we set our virtues above that of the world's virtues. I believe that modesty is a virtue, but it is not the only one. Virtuous living follows the patterns of righteousness. Righteousness is right living. For us to be above and over the systems of the world does not mean that we alienate ourselves from the world (as a culture), but that our virtues go above and beyond that of the world's. Do we do what is right even if it means we sacrifice our time and money to do it? Do we do what is right if we give when others are hoarding? What is different about our character that others are seeing there is something different about us besides just clothing? So modesty, yes, is a virtue, but like all virtues, it must be placed on the spectrum of too much or too little. Does our modesty take us out of the world all together, or does it bring us into the world, and through our other virtues, people see Christ in the “whole package” of our being as we present our bodies as living sacrifices? What I am asking then, is modesty the only virtue that we offer the world as setting us apart or do we expose our compassion, benevolence, service, hospitality, sober-mindedness, etc. with others? Modesty should be a part of our sanctification and house the very truths of God within us to be exposed to all the world.

Smart Anonymous Guy, age 35

I don't think that dressing more modestly will solve the world's problems with lust, but I do think that it helps significantly. I struggled for years with lust issues when I was in high school. As I entered college and was battling my addiction, I appreciated women that were respectful enough to dress appropriately. This was a huge help for me, as it has been for many men. I have talked to several men since those days, that have had similar struggles, and I know modesty is something each of them can appreciate. Whether it be walking through a grocery store line, or down a busy street, a man has to always keep his guard up. All that said I also agree with Smart Anonymous Guy, that there is a balance. I am not suggesting women need to be covered from head to toe, but I think it can be pretty clear that the way "cover girls" dress is not appropriate, and does not help men keep pure thoughts. I know for my girls I will be teaching them the great importance of dressing modestly!

Anonymous Guy, age 30

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