Saturday, June 28, 2008
Is She a Hotty?
Who are we dressing to please? Two recent posts, Kim writing, Is There a Happy Medium? at the Upward Call blog and Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs with his excellent repeat article, Sister...show Mercy! were inspirational for mine. I'd been thinking of writing about an experience I had not too long ago and they have encouraged me to go ahead with it.
Our Church (at that time) Praise & Worship team had 3 or 4 teen girls, some of whom dressed more provocatively than others, but all were at least borderline. Pastor issued them a request to modify, modestly, their dress. However, one young lady continued to wear, Sunday after Sunday, very "dressy" clothes that were at the same time, tight, way above the knee, belly button showing, etc. And, I knew men in the congregation were struggling. Finally, after one service I approached the girl, mind you apart from the others, as an elder woman, on Church Council, and spoke very gently and diplomatically, I thought. I told her that she was not dressed appropriately for a Church Worship team (or anywhere else really - but I didn't mention that) and that men shouldn't have to struggle with impure thoughts, to have that sort of temptation in their face, in church of all places. And, up on a stage where our attention is focused for the duration of what is supposed to be a focus on worship of God.
Well, she mumbled that she didn't understand, that her grandma had said she looked just beautiful that morning before they left for church. I told her she did, but that wasn't the point. Fashionable, yes, she was. Dressed up, yes. Sexy to the max as well. She cried a bit and went off to tell her family.
And then, all hell broke loose. I got a call at home shortly after church from her father, using obscenities, racial slurs, cursing... and mother could be heard in the background chiming in.... to think that I would have the nerve to tell their daughter how she should dress! Well, THEY surely weren't doing it. And, nothing changed.
To make a long story short, we ended up leaving that congregation, for a number of reasons. She went on to have a baby out of wedlock shortly after. I don't know if anyone ever learned anything. I came to the conclusion that if a father doesn't explain clearly to his daughter what effect dressing provocatively has on men, with ideally his wife backing him up, and if he further, doesn't enforce a dress code, girls just don't get it at that age, I certainly didn't, and often they won't until much later. The responsibility is clearly with parents, biblically speaking. Though, in the absence of that, in some situations, a pastor or church elders should be able to come alongside. What about a sermon once in awhile? And, what are they doing in their "Youth Groups", aside from having fun and games, if a basic teaching like this cannot be communicated?
In an earlier age I suppose they erred in over-dressing competitively and expensively. In our time it's under-dressing, sometimes competitively and even expensively. Is it to please God, our peers, members of the opposite sex, the family cat, who??
I have been recommended an excellent little book on the subject, Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America by Jeff Pollard.