Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Whatever happened to modesty?

"Summertime and..." just don't know where to look anymore. Some time ago I was talking to someone from an Amish background. He had turned away from much of what he regarded as 'legality' but he and his wife and family still used the Amish dress code. I asked him 'why?' His answer unsettled me. He said 'we believe clothing was God's plan for modesty not a means of attraction'. What do you think about that? I think the theology is pretty much flawless. That doesn't mean that the next time we meet you will recognise me by my braces (suspenders for the US market) and an Abraham Lincoln beard, but it certainly had me thinking, and still does. It is so easy to follow patterns we see around us without thinking and without considering what kinds of problems we are creating for others.

It brings to mind a question I was once asked by a teenager. "Is it wrong for me to want to be attractive?" I asked her, gently, what she wanted to 'attract'.

You will notice I have got this far without talking about 'the world'. I think 'the world' is such a misunderstood concept that I usually try to avoid it unless there is time to really consider what the phrase signifies. The old complaint is that Christians generally avoid being 'worldly' by the simple ploy of being 'ten years out of date', but there is much more to the biblical concept of 'the world' and those who 'love it' than being slow to jump onto the next band-wagon fashion.

Am I my brother's keeper? Yes, I am and I am my sister's keeper too, and my sister is my keeper too. That doesn't mean that I imprison them in a cage of my own fashion design but that I am 'watching out for the well-being of others'; Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus... Phil 2:4-7.

I came across an old blog today that started my thoughts in this direction. It gave me my title for this blog; Whatever happened to modesty? It is a gentle piece from a man with five daughters and well worth reading. It concludes with...
"Four Guidelines for Modesty".
1. If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
2. If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.

3. If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
4. If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.

I like the way is focuses on 'guidelines' rather than 'rules'; it has the gentle touch of a father.

Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. 1 Cor 8:11-13.

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