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Defining Modesty

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by StatusQuo, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. StatusQuo

    StatusQuo New Member

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    First, I apologize if I don't qualify as a baptist - I assume I do, my doctrine is pretty much the same.

    Anyway:

    What is our dress standard? I was prompted to question this for a couple of reasons, and a major reason is I read that until 1937, it was illegal for men to be topless. Now, society in general and I think most of the church is okay with it.

    First, I won’t accept 1Ti 2:9 because of the context, and the greek. Regarding the context: “modesty” is defined in the same verse: not with gold, pearls, etc. It’s not about the amount of skin showing, but about excessiveness. The argument for clothing could go both ways, if we use this verse. First, dressing with too much on (relative to who/what’s around) could be immodest because it draws attention to us (i.e. if you don’t show enough skin at the beach.) However, it could also be argued that showing too much (shorts that are very short at walmart) is immodest. In any regard, that’s not the primary context of this verse. Second, the greek word that people argue from is not translated as modest, but as apparel (of course, I’m not going to argue from what the translators did.) Apparel is the word καταστολη, and the standard argument is that the prefix κατα on στολη means long/cast down/flowing. Perhaps it does in general, I don’t know greek that well. But first, what would that mean? The στολη was already long, so this serves no purpose to the argument that our clothing must be long (and well-covering.) More importantly, though: καταστολη didn’t have the meaning they make it to. Καταστολη was a specific article of clothing, worn over the στολη, and it only came down about to the waist (see Clark’s commentary, I believe he’s the one that addressed this.)

    Second, causing others to stumble … This is a reasonable argument, but I don’t think it applies. Of course, we’re not to sin and teach others to do the same. We’re also not to tempt another to sin against his conscience by his seeing us do the very thing he thinks is wrong. However, I don’t think this extends to dress standard. For comparison: if I buy a Gallardo Lamborghini and then invite my brother to ride with me, have I tempted him to stumble and am I guilty for doing so? Because, of course – he’s likely to be jealous. Now, if my goal is to incite that – my heart is evil. But, if I’m merely sharing this beautiful creation with him, as I would if I invited him to visit the grand canyon with me during a sunset, I haven’t sinned even though I know he’ll be tempted to covet.

    Third, Genesis 3 … This is the strongest argument, in my opinion. Adam and Eve ate, and then they knew they were naked and they made themselves loin cloths. So, their initial (now ontological, you might say) reaction was to cover their genitals. However, after making these loin cloths, they still considered themselves naked (the reason they hid from God.) In addition, God clothed them with both tops and bottoms. I don’t see the tops being required as clear-enough, because there are other possibilities still. They covered themselves with fig leaves, and it’s possible (even probable, I imagine) they weren’t very well covered. I’ve seen videos of primitive people who cover their genitals with similar things, and if they bend forward -it’s not a pretty sight (this correlates well with the priests who had to wear relatively long bottoms so the people underneath them wouldn’t look up and see their genitals.) They may have seen themselves as still being in a relative state of nudity; as Saul was naked because he wasn’t in his kingly attire, or Isaiah because he was in his underwear (supposedly.) Also, God’s making tops for them may have related to the curse: now there would be thorns to cut them, etc. In any case, these counter arguments relate ONLY TO WHETHER A TOP IS REQUIRED. I think this verse is very clear that the genitals must be covered (and considering the priests wore long bottoms *in order to* hide the genitals shows that this region is either solely sinful to expose, or especially sinful to expose, in my opinion. I’m not sure which of those two, though) and I think that Rev 3:18 (I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.) implies that full nudity is not merely shameful, but also sinful. However, I acknowledge that it’s an implication and I might be stretching. In closing on this point, I’m not stating that Gen 3 is insufficient to prove tops must be required, but I’m throwing out ideas I’d like to have challenged. Right now, I’m not bold on this section one way or the other – and I’d like to be. Help me to understand it rightly.

    Note: I’ve seen no justification for men to be allowed topless and not women. I’m fine with whatever the scriptures teach, I’m fine with banning both men and women from being topless, but none of my studying has shown discrepancy to be allowed here. Either both men and women need to cover their chests, or neither do. Some people quote verses about breasts, but they’ve always been non-sequiturs. Or, they’re taken entirely out of context: a woman’s breasts are fondled and they use that to prove they shouldn’t be displayed.

    Second note: Please do not take our culture into account. That is: don’t tell me that men should be allowed to go topless in our culture but not in a more modest one because it offends the sensibilities of that culture. That may be true, and it may be a correct answer: but it’s not what I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to learn whether the scripture has a minimum standard that applies to all cultures, and what that standard is.


    I was also going to ask about defining lust, but I realized my post is very long. I hope to address that another time, in another OP.
     
  2. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    I'll let others go into the scriptural points.

    My wife and I both are pretty much covered (sweat pants shirts with sleeves) when we go to the beach - Hawaii for instance, right out of the 20's )

    Not so much Scripture but - ?? don't know :)

    HankD
     
  3. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    This may be an issue because Scripture often sets forth principles which are then interpreted within individual cultures.

    First, what don’t mean. I don’t mean “subjective truth”, and I don’t mean that God’s commands are to be interpreted by each culture. But I do mean that when Paul spoke of women having long hair the topic was not long hair but the principle of submissiveness. What makes some things “lustful” can depend on the culture. I, for example, have never been drawn into lust because a woman walked by with exposed ankles.

    And if a woman saw me mowing the lawn without a shirt, I can guarantee you that she would not be tempted because of my toplessness (which is why I don’t mow the lawn without a shirt :Biggrin ). In fact, if it were a matter of lust....I should probably never wear a shirt :( .

    When we start getting caught up in thinking that Scripture describes exactly what we should wear then we are missing the forest for the trees.
     
  4. StatusQuo

    StatusQuo New Member

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    JonC, I'm caught primarily between your view and the view that we should cover our torso and legs about to the knees, because that's what God clothed them with in Gen 3.

    Your point is a good one. I think that it's unclear perhaps for the reason you stated. However, I'm hoping someone can come along and make it clear. If not, your interpretation may be the best one there is. :)
     
  5. saved41199

    saved41199 Active Member
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    I believe modest means "not sticking out". In other words, dressed and/or acting in a generally accepted manner. 1 Timothy 2:9 says a lot for women, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;" I personally will not wear a bathing suit in public...praying that we soon find a house with a pool in our back yard. I normally wear skirts, they're usually no shorter than the bottom of my knees, and most of them go down to my ankles. Tops...I'll wear sleeveless but they are not normally low cut. If they are, I will wear another tank top underneath it. My hair is long and in the summer I'll wear it on top of my head (it's HOT on my neck on days when it's 100+ degrees), In the winter I'll wear it down or in a French braid. I rarely wear jewelry except for my wedding rings. I don't wear make up either (I'm allergic to it). I see no need or reason to show off in any way. Of course, it helps that I'm old and chubby and long past any desire to show off.

    Fortunately, I live somewhere that my particular clothing choices do not stick out either. Skirts are much cooler than pants or even shorts here in the desert. The tops I wear are also pretty common to see around here too. So, I blend in with everyone else while also wearing clothes that I believe are modest, comfortable too!
     
  6. Bro. James

    Bro. James Well-Known Member
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    The lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life are still rampant on planet earth--presented by the god of this world--all the way from Eden.

    "Who told you you were naked?"

    Check out the dress of the Amish. The Moslems stay covered up in public too. No sharia law please. One can get stoned in Turkey for wearing Bermuda shorts in public--it is considered homosexual--worthy of death.

    "If your eyes offend you, pluck them out." Ponder that one. Selah.

    We love to rationalize our depravity.

    Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

    Brother James
     
    #6 Bro. James, Jul 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  7. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    If we accept what the bible says we don't have to get bogged down in "this is what I think modest means" verses, "no, it means this to me."

    The Greek word translated "modest" in 1 Timothy 2:9 is κοσμιω. It is the Greek word from which we derive "cosmetic" which is a word that deals with appearance.

    The word has the meaning of "decorous" or "with decorum." The word speaks of propriety. For instance, "modest" clothing is clothing that is appropriate to one's station in life. "I drive a modest car and live in a modest home." They are appropriate to my station in life. They are not flamboyant or extravagant.

    The same applies to our clothing. Our clothing should conform to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals.

    Ladies: Don't dress like a hooker.

    Gentlemen: Don't dress like a pimp.

    Problem solved. :)
     
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  8. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    When I first surrendered to preach, I drove a pickup that looked like this (plus toolbox on back and gun rack in back window). I remember later a preacher said that when you buy a car, think about what it will look like in a funeral procession!
    [​IMG]
     
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  9. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    An International Pick Up! They were great old trucks!

    I always drove luxury cars (I made good money prior to full time ministry). Back in the 70s I settled on Lincoln Towncars/Continentals for my wife and for when we went somewhere together. For myself I preferred Mercedes Benz SLs or SLKs.

    When I went full time in the ministry a pastor friend of mine asked me how many of our church members drove Lincolns, Cadillacs, or Mercedes. I had to honestly answer "None."

    So I switched to Mercury Marquise. It was the same car, it just didn't say "Lincoln" on it.

    After wearing it out I began looking for another one. My lead deacon came to me after church one Sunday and said, Pastor, come outside, we have something for you. There, in my reserved parking space, was a new Lincoln Towncar, bought and paid for by the church members. My heart was touched. But when it was time to trade it off I switched back to Mercury Marquise, which I still drive, the more "modest" choice. (Not sure what I will do next time as Ford stopped making Mercuries.) :(

    Oh well. :)
     
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  10. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    I like the big ones :) Buick Park Avenue Supercharged Ultra.
    Not exactly a luxury car but a nice ride, power and lots of bells and whistles.

    Not made anymore and hard to find a used one in good condition.

    HankD
     
    #10 HankD, Jul 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
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  11. Reynolds

    Reynolds Well-Known Member
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    When they quit making Mercuries, they started offering platinum or limited edition Ford's. Basically a top end Mercury package with a blue oval on it. Problem is they quit making the Crown Vic. So now its Taurus. Get you a Charger Hell Cat. You will love it.
     
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  12. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Yes, can't be beat. Only had one small problem with it, that has a curious story to go with it. Got a lot of good out of it, but needed a car after the first child arrived and we traded it in.
    We own a Mercury Marquis -- got it second-hand from my father-in-law. It has been a great car, but is on its last leg with nearly 400,000 miles. Probably could go a good while longer, but I'm not sure how much money I want to put into it.

    Sorry to StatusQuo for sidetracking the conversation. Just got to reminiscing about my modest old pickup with the flashy side dressing.
     
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  13. Bro. James

    Bro. James Well-Known Member
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    Do not forget the Little Nash Rambler. Beep Beep. It is till on youtube.

    Bro. James
     
  14. Reynolds

    Reynolds Well-Known Member
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    International only had one real problem, rust. The powertrain was solid as a tank. The bodies literally rusted off. I am talking about in the South. I would hate to see how they fared in ice country.
     
  15. saved41199

    saved41199 Active Member
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    unfortunately, my car is far from modest...a 2004 Mustang GT in race red.
     
  16. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I knew an old roofer who had an old pickup truck that must have been 30 or 40 years old. You could not tell what color it might have been, because the only color I had ever seen was rust color. But it was still takin' a lickin. and still tickin'.
     
  17. OnlyaSinner

    OnlyaSinner Active Member
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    During my summer doing field research at U. Maine (1975) we had some Internationals, and the bodies were so rusted they shimmied like a Slinky.

    Do not forget the Little Nash Rambler. Beep Beep. It is till on youtube.

    Used to sing this to the kids for travel entertainment, always finishing out of breath. Given the preponderance of automatic trannies, I wonder how many young folks would understand "second gear"?
     
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