Modesty: Asking Not Telling
Jesus plus anything is busted
You can find Emily’s article here.
I was trolling twitter today and I found someone retweeting a blog post from the wonderful Emily Maynard which caught my attention. The Portland loving Emily has be wrestling with this idea of modesty and what women wear. Automatically, men are jacked in this converstation. A) Women rolling around in seductive clothing biologically and spiritually sends us spinning and B) the legalists come out screaming Romans 14:13.
13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
Unfortunately, the exegesis of that particular passage starts out with some judgement. This isn’t to say that the stumbling block shouldn’t be ignored, but rather to discuss this matter from both points of view.
Emily points out a perceived root of the Modesty Rule as a legalistic approach to controlling women:
I often hear the critique that my energy should be redirected to only the “legalistic” appropriation of these rules or that “modesty is important as long as it’s not legalistic” but I’m calling foul. There’s no such thing as a non-legalistic approach to Modesty Rules, and that’s not the point. Applications vary, but the root of the Modesty Rules is controlling women.
This is where I would cordially and lovingly disagree. Modesty at the root is not a control mechanism for the control of women, or is it a coup out for dudes not being responsible for their active response to the Gospel. Let’s dive into this argument on a biblical level and see if we can’t find the root of the Modesty Conundrum.
When we look at the exegesis of Romans 14:13 we are going to find that Paul is speaking out to his brothers in Rome. It is vastly important to look at one chapter back in Romans. Here we find Paul dropping any legalism arguments by pressing the new covenant (read Gospel) into the situation.
10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:10-14 ESV)
Let’s break that down, quickly. The Great Commandment reads:
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40, ESV)
On the fly lets roll this out into a nice fitting package. Romans 14:13 calls us not to pass judgement and to not cause our brothers to stumble. We do this because we love them, which is what the Great Commandment commands to do. Love your neighbor (not just brother or sister in Christ) like you love yourself. Romans 13 tells us that love is fulfillment of the Law, which presents the Gospel perfectly. Jesus’ substitutionary death was the perfect sacrifice for our sins, legally fulfilling God’s requirement for the wages of sin, because he loved. It’s the Gospel to love our neighbors and dressing modestly shows a level of commitment you have to the family. Truly loving your brothers should drive you to wanting them to succeed in growing and maturing as a Christian. Here’s the kicker Romans 14:10-12
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess[b] to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
The Holy Spirit will roll deep in your heart and make changes as He sees fit. You ultimately are responsible for the choices that you make. Grace covers all, Jesus’ blood is sufficient. It’s not a control mechanism at all. It’s a sign of love. Let’s continue….
1 Timothy 2:9 points out that women should wear (adorn) respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.
9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,
1 Peter 3:3-4 points to the key to this whole discussion.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
If we can agree that our lives are paid for by the blood of Jesus and that they are no longer ours, it should be evident that we should strive to glorify God in everything that we do. What we wear, what we say, how we act are all encompassing in the Great Commandment.
This post is already rolling a bit long, Emily if you would like, I’d be more than happy to lace out men’s responsibilities in the Modesty Rule in a similar manner that I have here.