Can "modesty" change with the times?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by ktn4eg, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. ktn4eg

    ktn4eg
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    If you check out the dress codes in some Bible colleges' student manuals or catalogs that are considered by some as being "very strict," often times you will find modesty as defined by such institutions as having hemlines on women's apparel as extending at least one inch below the knee.

    I've got no argument with that, per se, but at the same time, I just wonder if some of the great Christians of bygone years that such Bible colleges as these extol as role models (e.g., D. L. Moody, C. H. Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, etc.) were to visit these campuses of "very strict" Bible colleges today, would not these same men be SHOCKED at the indecency of what these "very strict" Bible colleges would define as "modest."

    So, my question is this: Is "modesty" a concept that changes with the times and can be re-defined every 75-100 years?

    If these gentlemen had a certain criteria for what they considered to be "modesty" in their day and age, do we have any right to re-define the criteria of "modesty" for our day and age?

    If something was ever a sin, should it not forever be a sin?

    Were these gentlemen wrong to consider modesty in women's apparel that which would not even expose the ankle when, in fact, modesty as defined by these so-called "very strict" was in reality the true Bible standard? ...... Or are these so-called "very strict" Bible colleges wrong in the way they define modesty in women's apparel?

    Both of these groups cannot be right, can they?
     
    #1 ktn4eg, Jul 26, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2006
  2. Hope of Glory

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    Well, on the one hand, there are places that require burkhas (sp?)...
     
  3. NateT

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    If something was a sin, it will forever be a sin. But the question is, how are you defining this as a sin? For example, IF nudity is a sin, then it is a sin in the shower as well as at the beach. However, if nudity before someone who is not your spouse is a sin, then a shower is okay, but the beach nudity would still be sin.

    Is a hemline a sin? I don't think so. If it is, what is the difference between 1" below the knee and 1/2" below the knee?

    If modesty standards don't change, then why would we only go back to Spurgeon, Edwards and Moody? Why not go back to Moses? Joseph? Abraham? Noah?

    Also, I think we can see that modesty is cultural. The Muslim men in Afghanastan have a completely different understand of modesty than the dean of Bob Jones University.

    We must be careful about our standards. They are setup so that we don't transgress God's law. However, that is also what the Pharisees were doing. They were imposing standards that made it impossible to even get close to the limit God made.
     
  4. Scarlett O.

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    I don't have an answer for the original question that will please anybody here.

    Let me say that it never ceases to amaze me that "modesty", in the Baptist world, only applies to women....

    ....and it is men who deem it to be so.
     
  5. Ophelia

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    This is true - whenever the topic of modesty is brought up, women are the target. Dare I say it is quite possible for a man to be immodest too!
     
  6. NateT

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    [sarcasm]
    we'll let you know when we want a woman's opinion
    [/sarcasm]

    That is a good point.
     
  7. Steven2006

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    I think modesty probably does change over time, at least to some extent. I think attire is immodest when by wearing it, the clothing overly draws attention to the persons physical traits. If someone wears something that is designed to enhance the area of the body that would cause another to look and focus on things that would easily lead to lust, that has crossed the line. The question is has that line changed? I think it has There is modest clothing today that doesn't cross that line, but worn a hundred years ago no question would have. So the responsibility to be modest is not in some law or rule. It is not how many inches below the knee a dress might be, or if a woman is wearing pants or not. But rather it is the style of the dress or pants. It is in being aware of the affect you might have on others.
    That being said, of course much of the decision is personal. If a person feels for example that pants on a women is immodest, then for them it would be, and that should be respected.
     
  8. Joseph M. Smith

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    Who did the measuring of all these hemlines?!?!
     
  9. Baptist Believer

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    The essence of modesty is found in a person's character, not in arbitary rules regarding hemlines, straps, or how a garment fits.

    I worked at a private K-12 school a few years back and a number of the high school girls made the exceptionally "modest" clothing look like cocktail dresses by the way they subtly altered the garments (still within the official rules) and they way they wore them.

    There's nothing wrong with having some basic guidelines, but I still have to go with Jesus' teaching regarding lust as primarily a problem with the person who is lusting, not the person who is lusted after. Certainly those who intentionally dress provocatively invite others to lust, but those who take them up on the invitation must be responsible for themselves.

    My wife, who dresses very modestly, is attractive and bosomy by nature. No burka, mu-mu or heavy coat will hide that fact. There is no way that she can possibly dress that will avoid upwanted stares and lusting from men. It frustrates her that quite a few men tend to look her in the chest instead of her lovely eyes, but there's very little that she can do other than occasionally shaming them by confronting the most egregious offenders.

    And among my male friends, we work to develop enough character in Christ so that we won't instinctively lust against women anymore. In large part, it has been very successful since we are actually interested in changing our desires and behavior instead of just blaming women.

    So when I hear of men complaining about women being "immodest," I have to question what the men are doing about their character and their Christian walk. If you are properly devoted to Christ and your wife (or future wife), and you follow up that devoted with practical spiritual disciplines to produce godliness, then lust won't be a natural part of your character anymore. Certainly, it will still be possible, but it won't control you.
     
  10. gb93433

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    There was a time when it was illegal for a man to not wear a shirt. There was also a time when men wore a suit and tie to college classes.

    Some people can dress the proper part and be very immodest in speech and other things.

    Some farmers did not like it when I asked them about their employees working on Sunday while they were in church for both services.
     
  11. gb93433

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    The hemline checker who was focused on hemlines.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    The sin of immodesty cannot be judged with tape measures. It has to do with the way a person possesses their body.

    Creating a legalism that keeps the hemlines low does nothing to change the real problem in the hearts of humankind and only creates a deadening Phariseeism.

    Certainly there needs to be some appropriate standards (for instance, "business casual" attire for a college classroom), but most of the time there seems to be obsession with whether or not women wear slacks or the length of the hemlines.
     
  13. Deacon

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    Modesty changes depending upon cultural norms.

    I recall that David danced in praise to God in his undies.
    Of course Michael was embarresed about it.

    The typical "trousers" of a fisherman in Christ's time would shock most women today.

    Rob
     
  14. gb93433

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    Wasn't it less than that?
     
  15. Purple Lady

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    Genesis 3:7
    And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

    OK, so let's all get fig leaves....oh it might be a bit cold.

    Modesty is cultural.
     
  16. IIJohn7

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    I'm not too sure how old you are, but it sounds like it's a long way removed from 20. :tongue3: I'm 35, and, as a single man, I can tell you that lust is a factor every day in my life. I don't think a day goes by when I don't ask God to forgive my lustful thoughts as I try to focus on what I'm doing and not on who's around me. I try not to dwell on it, but it's constantly there, like a sprained ankle in a marathon.

    Hey, I'm with you 100% for married men. However, lust and modesty don't only apply to couples. When you're single you have no "object" (for lack of a better term) to focus your physical desires upon.



    Ladies, the reason why women are singled out for dressing provocatively is that you have no idea whatsoever what you do to men. Oh, I know some of you think you do, but you don't. By design and culture men are more ...driven (again, for the lack of a better word).

    Women are trained to sit back, listen the adoration of men, play coy, and make a subtle-as-you-possible-can acknowledgement if you wish the men to continue.

    Men are trained to take every possible sign as an indication that the woman wants you and to be as agressive as possible. From the genetics God gave us, to the cultural norms we live in men are driven to lust. You may not understand how showing a bit of leg, or chest, or wearing pants that are a bit tight, etc. can be a bad thing. But just about every male knows why.
     
  17. Scarlett O.

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    Hmmmm.....I must have missed that particular "training session". :tongue3:

    If that's true....that women are "trained" to sit back, listen to the adoration of men, and play coy, then no wonder we are in the passenger seat of life!!

    You have described the mythical Scarlett O. of Gone With the Wind. The Scarlett O. of the BB doesn't believe in being "coy" nor "sitting back". Adore me if you so choose, but don't expect me is sit around and wallow in it while winking my false eyelashes at you. :smilewinkgrin:

    And as for men being more..."driven"? Think again. You say that you are 35 and single? Well, I am 45 (in Sept.) and single. I have you beat by a whole decade!! :thumbs:

    Women lust every single day of every single week of every single year. Women are very "driven". It's just that men are driven primarily visually and while women are also driven somewhat visually, we are more balanced in that we are "driven" also by emotions, touch, sense of security, conversation, and even thought processes.

    Our "drive" is a little more complex. Not better, not superior.....just more complex. You all and your "drives" are a tad more simple to figure out. :saint:

    So, now that you are trying to establish that a man's visual drive is why a woman must be careful in how she dresses, let me say this.

    Some men would lust after a woman if she were in a sack cloth dress. In places where women are forced to wear burkas and the like, I guarantee you that the sex drive of the men in those countries is no different than men in places like America.

    With that being said, I am NOT saying that since men have the "problem" that they should just shut-up about it and leave women and their clothes alone....

    What I am saying is that modesty issues get redundant in their "helpless men - sleazy women" stance.

    Women should dress modestly for their own self-respect FIRST. They should dress modestly for the respect of others, secondly.

    You can't expect a woman to show self-respect when the men in her life show her no respect and when society around them shows them no respect.

    It's just a vicious and unending cycle. Women are objectified by the media and male dominated society......women view themselves as objects and learn to "use" their sexuality to gain control of their environment .........women are objectified even more and more vulgarly by society.........younger and younger women learn to "use" their sexuality to gain control of their environment........women are objectified more.......

    It's just very, very ugly all the way around. Both men and women share in the blame for it.

    And it just isn't as simple as saying, "Well, men have a visually driven sex drive, so women must cover up their bodies.....". That attitude, dear brother, objectifies women in the worst way of all.
     
  18. Salamander

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    Since "modest apparel" is from the very mouth of God, inspired in the days of the Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, a young pastor, I would have to say "modesty" in God's eyes hasn't changed.

    If you ask any liberal, then, "Of course it has changed":rolleyes:
     
    #18 Salamander, Jul 27, 2006
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2006
  19. Baptist Believer

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    Well, I’m 40, but age doesn’t make as much difference as you might think. :D


    Yep. That’s really common, and I’ve lived in that condition for many years. But you don’t have to live that way.


    Before we go any farther, let me tell a little more about my life.

    I married at 25 and I filed for divorce at 28, after my wife had renounced her faith, cheated on me repeatedly and disappeared one day while I was at work, cleaning out my bank accounts and running up nearly $12,000 in credit card debt. I divorced her out of self-preservation since Texas is a community property state and I was responsible for any additional debt she might incur (and she was buying all sorts of things on credit).

    For the next 12 years I was single, although I began dating a Christian woman on a steady basis about 9 years ago. We married last December.

    I know what it is like to be single. I’ve been single the vast majority of my adult life. When I talk about lust, it is primarily coming from the perspective of a single man who had had sexual experience, but was unable to legitimately fulfill those natural urges. (And here’s a little secret: when you get married, you don’t get to treat your wife as a sexual plaything, so you still don’t get to act on your impulses all the time.)


    Modesty does not apply to couples within the privacy of their relationship together, but it certainly applies to how they dress before others.

    As far as lust goes, it definitely applies to couples. Just because you have the a potential legitimate outlet for sexual desire doesn’t mean that the temptation to lust is significantly reduced. Lust is the desire for something you cannot legitimately have. If you develop, nurture and sustain your heart toward lustful thoughts, you will have the same troubles when married. There will always be other women to look at and opportunities for immorality.


    Oh, I think quite a few of them do. Remember, women are no strangers to lust.


    I won’t disagree, but just because men are more intensely prone to lust doesn’t give men any excuse. In Christ, we have the means to escape the control of lust and live as sexually-fulfilled people – even if we are single.


    That’s quite a stereotype... one that is less true every year.


    That’s certainly not a respectful attitude for women. Frankly, that’s one of the places where change needs to begin. Women do not exist for the sexual gratification of men. They are created in the image of God, just like men, for the purpose of bringing glory to God through their character and works. When you reduce women to sexual objects, you’ve already lost the battle against lust.


    I really have to strongly disagree here. From what you wrote, it appears that you have confused healthy sexual desire for lust – a common error often taught in our churches.

    God has created men and women with strong sexual desire, in men the desire is often greater than the simple sexual desire of a typical woman. But lust is simply sin. And the power of sin can be broken if we enter into the disciplines of Christ – that is, simply live our lives according to Christ’s example (prayer, fasting, scripture memorization, good works, solitude, etc.) and teachings.

    I strongly recommend anything written by Dallas Willard on the subject of spiritual transformation for further reading on the subject. His books, Renovation of the Heart and/or The Great Omission, provide a solid introduction to this subject.
     
    #19 Baptist Believer, Jul 27, 2006
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2006
  20. Salamander

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    The fig leaves were to hide each other's personals, but also, the fig leaves are theologically looked at as the first induction and attempt of man to have religion.:flower:
     

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