Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What is modesty?

The word "modesty" is thrown around in Christian circles today so often and with no thought at all to its real and deeper meaning.  It is most often used to describe how a woman dresses.  But there is more to modesty!  Modesty is defined as "behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety and indecency"....ok, if you don't like word studies, stop right here because I'm about to bore you to the point of grabbing a stiletto and hitting yourself in the head with it.  But if you are like me and love, I say love word studies (read that as Foghorn Leghorn), then please read on!

Modesty is behavior.  Behavior is the way in which a person acts or conducts oneself.  And so Modesty in behavior is to conduct yourself in a manner that will avoid impropriety and indecency.  Well...what does that mean?  Impropriety means rude or immoral behavior, unbecomingness.  Indecency is a morally or sexually offensive quality, obscenity, filth, smuttiness.  So if we are to conduct ourselves modestly we probably shouldn't dress up as a smutty pumpkin for halloween.  We also probably shouldn't tell sexual jokes.  Have you ever said, "that's what she said" after someone said something?  I would say that would be immodest behavior.  Besides, the Bible is very clear about the use of the tongue.  Ephesians 4:29 says, "let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  What about being rude?  Have you ever been rude to someone?  That is acting in an immodest way.  

Modesty is our manner.  Manner is an outward way of behaving towards another person.  If we behave towards others in a way that is morally or sexually offensive or if we behave rudely or immorally than we are being immodest in our behavior.  I think if we stop and think about it we can all say that we ALL have a problem with this issue even more so than our manner of dress.  Do you ever glare at a person?  Do you ever roll your eyes, or cross your arms, or slam a door, or cupboard?  Do you ever cut someone off while driving?  Do you ever give someone "the finger"?    These things and things like it are immodest. 

Modesty is our appearance.  Can your appearance be sexually offensive?  Can it be rude or unbecoming?  Most certainly.  In our day and age (and the reason for all the talk on modesty) it is easy to see how a persons appearance can be sexually offensive.  But have you ever wondered about your appearance being rude or unbecoming?  You probably have not.  But I would say that according to the definition of modesty that our appearance can be both sexually offensive and rude!  What about that person who walks down the street with his pants belted around his knees and his boxers hanging out?  That is rude, unbecoming, and sexually offensive.  Why do we laugh at the jokes about how people dress when they go to Walmart?  You know the pictures I am talking about, and if you don't, go to pinterest and type in "walmart people" and you will see what I mean.  These are people whose appearance is rude and unbecoming, but not sexually offensive.

I would venture to say that most of my readers have never thought of modesty in this way.  I recently read an article on modesty that was suggested to me by someone and I walked away thinking the only thing wrong was the persons behavior and manner.  We can be immodest in our actions as well as our dress.  Let's remember to not become carried away with one aspect of modesty to the neglect of every other aspect.  Don't be as "whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27)".  You can wear the most "modest" apparel and still be immodest in manner and behavior.  Which do you think our God is more concerned with?  Luke 16:15 says, "And He (that being Jesus) said to them (the pharisees), 'You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts..."

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A slight rant on Modesty

As I'm preparing my posts on modesty, I am also doing other reading from my enormously long reading list.  I just finished a book review on Alan Conner's book Covenant Children Today, Physical or Spiritual.  It was an excellent read.  Then, I picked up An Orthodox Catechism by Hercules Collins.  If you don't know, it is an edited version of the Heidelberg Catechism, which I find to be a monumental blessing.  And, as the Lord frequently does, there was a gem...just sitting there in the first few pages of the book.  If you had been reading the book you may not have noticed it, and I don't know if I would have if my mind weren't also engaged in thoughts about loving our sisters in Christ, particularly regarding this issue of modesty.  But I will get back to that in a minute.

Why is modesty such a hot topic now?  Well, first of all it is because our culture is over-sexualized.  But secondly, because it is easier to blame our sister in Christ, than to address our husband's lustful and imaginative eye.

But, I don't want to borrow from a future post, and so I will move on.  

I hope we can all agree that the majority of the issues on modesty, the prescriptive ideas on exactly what to wear, is nowhere in the Bible.  We are at liberty here as long as we do not purposefully wear blatantly sexual clothes.  So why all the anger and hostility if it is a liberty?  Why the glances at another woman in if we can read her heart!  We can't.  And we can't become her master or we usurp God.  And aren't we supposed to love our sister?  (1 John 4:7-8; John 13:34-35; 1 Peter 4:8 and more)  But where is the love when we judge and put motives that are not really her's onto her.  Who gets to decide if she is "dressing for the eyes of God" or for the eyes of men.  (again, blatant sexual clothing is not what I'm talking about).

Have you ever looked at a woman's shoes and said they were "hooker shoes"?  (Actual comment made to a young woman!)  What does that even mean?  And furthermore, what do "hooker shoes" look like and who gets to decide that?  That is not a helpful statement and in fact is hateful and harmful to our sister in Christ.  I'm so thankful that God looks at our hearts.

But again, I get back to the book I'm reading...

Hercules Collins says, in his preface, "Now albeit there are some differences between many godly divines and us in church constitution, yet inasmuch as those things are not the essence of Christianity, but that we do agree in the fundamental doctrine thereof, there is sufficient ground to lay aside all bitterness and prejudice, and labor to maintain a spirit of love each to other, knowing we shall never see all alike here."

He was not talking about modesty at all.  He was talking about things pertaining to the way the Bride of Christ is organized and run!  If we are to have this attitude to "lay aside all bitterness and prejudice and labor to maintain a spirit of love each" in regards to the Bride of Christ, how much more should we have this attitude over a matter of liberty such as modesty.

I realize someone is going to say, "but some women ARE immodest".  Yes.  And I will get to that in future posts.  But let us examine and address our own hearts first.  Please remember modesty is not the "essence of Christianity".    

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Make sure you believe what you believe.

I believe I have mentioned before that I am a confessionally reformed baptist and that I gladly and willingly am a member of an Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  The Duchess of Hips is in the same boat as I am.  We were discussing infant baptism, and she had some really good questions.  While she is studying through it I was reminded that we should always make sure we believe what we say we believe.  I'm a Credobaptist, but have I studied both sides?  Well, actually, I have.  Several times.  But am I willing to have my mind changed by scripture?  I sure hope so.  In light of that, when I stumbled upon a book called "Covenant Children Today:: Physical or Spiritual", I was intrigued.  And when I saw that it was written by Alan Conner I couldn't resist it!
Alan Conner was my Pastor at Northwest Bible Church when we lived in Oklahoma (many moons ago).

This book is only 122 pages long, and has 15 chapters and 4 Appendix.  I find this interesting because after the 15 chapters it was like he couldn't stop and just kept thinking of one more thing to add.  It reminded me of my series on Modesty with all my preface's.

Anyway, he had so many well thought out arguments that I had never even thought of, or come across in my studies before.  He also had the normal ones about household baptisms (ch 14) and circumcision (ch 10).

Pastor Conner brings out the beautiful contrasts between the Old and New Covenant and urges his reader to not bring the "old, worn-out skins of the Old Covenant" into the New Covenant.  He does this by doing a wonderful word study (I did just call a word study wonderful, I LOVE them!) on the word New.  It does not mean Renewed.  He also brings out passages of the Bible to show what God said about the New Covenant, such as Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:13.  The latter verse says, "When He said, 'A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete.  But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear."

This book is not a highly academic book that only a Pastor or student in seminary would read.  This is a book that is chalk-full of scripture, and it is a book for the masses.  I was so very blessed and renewed in my belief that the Bible does in fact teach a credobaptist view.  And if you are a Presbyterian, I would share with you two things about the book::

  • Pastor Conner starts the book with a Preface in which he makes clear to his reader that he does have love for his Presbyterian brethren.  I think this is important because he is realizing that these views, while important, are not a cause to break fellowship!
  • He does use the word "obviously" a lot.  Why do I bring this up?  Because for someone disagreeing with where he is coming from, it is NOT obvious.  Please, still read the book, just go into it knowing it will be there and don't take offense where it wasn't meant.
You can find the book here for only $9.00.  A great value, and I guarantee you will learn something!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What is the goal of your life? Part I

*This post has been edited for clarity.

What can I say...I have a thing for multiple posts.

My last post was pretty taxing on my little 'ol brain...this is how I felt after all my research into it...

So here is something a little more simple to dwell on.  

Heidelberg Catechism Question 49:: How does Christ's ascension to heaven benefit us?

A:: First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of his Father. 
      Second, we have our own flesh in heaven -- a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, his members, to himself in heaven.
      Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee.  By the Spirit's power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God's right hand.

Colossians 3:1-4  "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory..."

Did I say this was a more simple post?  Oops!  Misleading much??  BWAHAHA...

What is the goal of your life?  Are you dwelling on earthly things?  Or are you dwelling on the One who sits at the right hand of God the Father.  Seek the things that are above.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Introduction to Modesty Part II

*If this is your first post of mine you reading, head on over here to read Part I.

As promised my posts on modesty will be beginning soon, however, I feel I need a few more Introductory posts before I can get there.  In the next few posts I will be dealing with certain passages from scripture that are frequently wrenched out of their context and used as proof-text.  My goal is to nestle these little gems back into the context and then we can go from there.

I want to first of all give credit for this post to all the people I looked to in order to form my views.  The Bible, Calvin's Commentary, Matthew Henry, R C Sproul, and Alistair Begg, and most importantly the Father of the Queen (my daddy).

Romans 14:13 "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way."

This passage deals with a plethora* of ways that we can cause our brother to stumble  One of them would be for a man or woman to blatantly dress immodestly.  This passage tends to be over-used and abused.  But it does clearly deal with how we are to treat each other in areas of non-essentials to the Christian faith.  I hope that we can all agree that matters of dress are an area that would be a non-essential to the Christian faith.  There is so little in the Bible that deals precisely with how we are to dress (an outward thing) that it cannot be an essential.  So, in the sense that it is a non-essential that people in the church are disputing over, then yes, this passage deals nicely with that issue.

In the context, Paul is speaking about holding to days and eating meat offered to idols (both are non-essentials to the Christian faith).

Romans 14:2-3 "For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.  Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him"

So there were arguments in the church over eating and observance of days and Paul is saying we need to not despise or judge in these areas.  So we are to accept each other in Christ BECAUSE they were first accepted BY GOD!

That's the first thing.  We are to accept one another in Christ.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue of outward, clothing related modesty we are to accept one another in Christ!  Do you despise your sister who holds to a more strict view of how she dresses?  Do you doubt your sisters salvation because she isn't dressed according to your standards?  If so then let's move on to the following verses::

Romans 14:10-12 "But why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you show contempt for your brother?  For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written: 'As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us shall give account of himself to God."

Paul is telling us that we are wrong to judge and show contempt because ALL of us will stand before God and give an account for ourselves!  Alistair Begg put it this way, "I will not have to answer for the position my brother may have held, but I will have to answer for the position I took on the position that he held."  You will have to answer to God for judging your sister for not holding to the standards that are man-made, that you have elevated to the standards of the Bible.  And your sister will have to answer for the contempt she showed to you for holding to those standards.  Is that a scary thought to you?  It should be.  It should make you simmer down just a bit in your zeal for things that are not central to the Christian faith.  But I will not shy away from the next verse so let's scurry onward.

Romans 14:13 "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore,"

EEK!  Right at the beginning of this oft misused, and almost never quoted in its entirety verse it REPEATS that we are not to judge each other!  I think that means it is a pretty important concept to grasp.

Romans 14:13 "Therefore let us not judge on another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way."

We are to RESOLVE!  Resolve means a firm determination to do something, and here it is a firm determination to NOT put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in anyone's path.  here is where it is useful to remember that Paul is dealing, not with things of the heart, but with outward indifferent things, or as some are often called, liberties.  The way this verse gets used in the case of modesty is that the man who is lusting is the weaker brother and therefore the stronger? sister should dress herself in accordance so that he does not lust.  Do you see how this does not fit with the context?  First of all, lust IS a sin.  It is not a matter of liberty.  Secondly, lust is a heart issue that is not discerned by a person unless you share that knowledge with her (which by the way is inappropriate, and I will go into why in another post).  So the sister, so long as she is not knowingly dressing immodestly CAN NOT purposefully put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in her brother's way as is the case in the passage here.

So then if the scripture is not discussing this subject, but it IS discussing how we are to love one another even though we differ on non-essentials, how are we to live at peace with all men?  Here are some thoughts::

  • Galatians 6:4 "But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another."
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 " But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside and that you may lack nothing."  I find it interesting that he includes to mind your own business.
  • Galatians 5:13 "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."
  • Colossians 2:16-17 "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is Christ...Therefore if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations, do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with the using, according to the commandments and doctrines of men?  These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh."
  • In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, diversity; In all things, charity.  This quote seems to be attributed to many, but through my research I have decided to attribute it to Tom Chantry.  
                                Are you remembering what the actual essentials are?  

*word used for the sake of all the Duchesses along with the Father of the Queen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Confessing Baptist say wha???

Now I check a lot of blogs a lot.  ...wait, did I say that right?  Oh yes, I did.  I check them usually more than once a day to see if there is something awesome I missed.  And I missed something over at The Confessing Baptist.  They apparently know I exist!  You can see that blog post here.  They also mentioned a few other ladies, Reformed Baptista who I have had grace my blog before and Amanda over at Counting it joy, who by the way made me want to pull out my arsenal of weaponry and take her shooting (even though she says she has only shot twice).

But not only do they know I exist, they sympathize that I am not actually a Queen, and I can tell that because of the frowny face emoticon next to that statement.

And before I forget to mention it, I really must get that pink copy of the 1689!  It will go nicely with my new tiara.

Entertaining or Hospitality?

Do you know the difference between hospitality and entertaining?  Did you know there IS a difference?  Would it surprise you if I told you that while there is a place for entertaining, and it can be a part of hospitality, you should reflect more on which you are more concerned with?

So here it is.  Entertaining is the act of providing amusement or enjoyment.  This is more about you than them.

Whereas hospitality is generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests.  That means it is about them not you.

Does one of those sound more doable to you?  I personally love to provide amusement, just being myself does that!  And my husband says I'm really good at being generous and friendly to our visitors.  Well that's great!  I'm done here.  I've mastered both.  The end.  Good Day.

OH WAIT!!!!  So, I was reading this book I may have mentioned before called Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd.  She has a chapter on hospitality and there she says, "yes, please clean your house, but let your guard down too.  I'm talking about sharing in living, not making an image."  This hit me hard.  I like having everything exactly right before having anyone over.  I even go so far as to vacuum and sweep RIGHT before my guests show up.  Now, there is nothing wrong with this, but there are two problems (maybe more, but I'm dealing with two, mmmk?)::

  1. Am I acting in a godly way before my guests arrive?  Or am I running around stressed because my house didn't get vacuumed a second time that day.  Would something terrible happen if I didn't vacuum a second time, right before they are there?  Would it be terrible if there was a toy left out or an item sitting on my counter?  No.  Of course not.  And yet I act like it would be the end of the world.  I become short-tempered, impatient, and just plain grumpy. 
  2. I'm trying to create an image.  That I am perfect.  That my house is perfect, my kids are perfect, and look how put together we are.  I am not being real am I?  I am not letting my guard down with my guests.  I'm not going to sugar-coat this.  I am sinning, and so are you if you are creating an image you want your guests to see.  I am feeling pretty proud of myself when I can get my guests to think of me highly.  Proverbs 11:2 says, "When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom." and 1 Corinthians 13:4 says, "Love is patient.  Love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."
So, what can I change?  Well, ultimately my heart.  But that doesn't happen by itself, but with much prayer and spending time in God's word.

But also, I would say taking the focus off myself...which brings me back to what am I doing?  Am I entertaining?  or being hospitable.  Well, since the focus is all about me I would say I am not being hospitable.  I have two little children, and if there are some toys on the floor that is fine and detracts nothing from being hospitable.  I don't need to stress about it, and I don't need to apologize to my guests for it (this again puts the focus back on me and will make my guests feel awkward). 

It turns out there is more to being hospitable that I originally thought.  

Also, here is a little something for the Duchess of Garbage Sinks since she is the littlest Duchess.