"Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom?" –Marvin Martian

Which is more important: protecting women from shame or men from lust? Is it better for a woman to be plagued by anxiety and guilt for her dress, or for a man to be plagued by anxiety and guilt for his thoughts?

I’m not trying to be confusing…

I’ll fully admit that I’m still a bit reactionary about things like dress / modesty codes given my fundie upbringing.

That’s what you said. I literally have about zero clue what that means. Especially since you’re a straight guy and you have daughters.

What I mean is that, having seen a teaching abused or pushed to a point of absurdity, my first reaction when the topic comes up is in the opposite direction of the abuse. When I catch a whiff of something that even smells like hyper-literalist Bible interpretation, my first reaction is to oppose it. Same sort of thing for topics like consumption of alcohol and modesty/dress codes.

I think that a lot of the current trendy evangelical progressives are pushing back so hard against their fundie upbringings that they haven’t figured out when they’re unwisely pushing back way too far. And I recognize that tendency in myself at times, so I’m trying to own it and not let it run away with me. That’s all I’m trying to say.

If we accept the testimony of many of our sisters that they have been saddled with guilt and shame about their bodies because of the dress/modesty codes that the church has endorsed

I’m not sure I accept that. And more importantly, you’re going to have to explain me what that even means.

In that case we’re clearly not reading the same things. I don’t have time to go dig up links this morning, but there have been a number of Christian women who have been sharing their stories about growing up feeling an intense sense of shame about how their bodies were shaped thanks in large part to the fact that the church’s teaching focus was mostly on how women should cover up so that men aren’t tempted. I’ve heard similar from personal friends, so it isn’t just (at least in my world) random blog crazies telling these stories.

still confused

I’ll fully admit that I’m still a bit reactionary about things like dress / modesty codes given my fundie upbringing.

That’s what you said. I literally have about zero clue what that means. Especially since you’re a straight guy and you have daughters.

If we accept the testimony of many of our sisters that they have been saddled with guilt and shame about their bodies because of the dress/modesty codes that the church has endorsed

I’m not sure I accept that. And more importantly, you’re going to have to explain me what that even means.

This conversation reminds of a very bizarre interaction a friend of mine had (many years ago) with his new bride. His wife got the Victoria Secret catalog in the mail. And she kept them. Not just the latest issue, but multiple copies neatly stacked with the other magazines. After a while, my friend got tired of the temptation and threw away all but the latest issue. When his wife discovered the missing catalogs and queried as to their location, he explained. She responded with tears and was very upset that this was any way a problem. And thus the education of a naive woman learning about the nature of male sexuality began…

 

All this straw… where are the Tin Man and the Lion?

Jaredd, I never accused you of saying biology was the only consideration. I agree that was more FP‘s point.

You basically said (and I paraphrase, forgive me) “hey, guys aren’t allowed to show their private bits, and girls aren’t allowed to show their private bits, so everything must be fair.” I proposed that the issue is more complex than that, and the original article that spawned this discussion also suggests that it’s a complex problem. Hence, I termed your reduction of the topic to be a straw man. I still believe it to be.

I’m not even sure what your point is, Chris, in total honestly. You had a fundie background. Therefore asking girls to not show cleavage or wear overly short shorts and skirts bothers you because…?

Now you’re putting words in my mouth. I haven’t said a thing about the details of what I think would be appropriate, other than to agree with Matthew that some sort of guideline is appropriate. The original article noted rules beyond “don’t show private bits”, and asked some good positive questions, including this one which dovetails nicely with a point Matthew made a few posts ago:

While gender neutral on paper, are dress code guidelines being implemented evenly? Do they take into account what’s practical, what’s comfortable, what’s affordable and what’s available at local stores?

Now I’d like to ask a positive question from the other direction. If we accept the testimony of many of our sisters that they have been saddled with guilt and shame about their bodies because of the dress/modesty codes that the church has endorsed over the years, how do we go about making changes that will help undo that shame and encourage them in their identity as real, embodied human beings, women, and our sisters while still maintaining some level of appropriate “guardrails”?

(I’ve got three daughters, guys. This isn’t a theoretical discussion for me.)

straw too

Now you’ve made a straw man out of my argument. I never said that biology is the only explanation. Although FP‘s argument was centered more around that aspect.

Boys love baseball hats. They are generally banned from wearing them. On that basis alone, I’d say boys feel the sting of dress codes as much as girls.

I’m not even sure what your point is, Chris, in total honestly. You had a fundie background. Therefore asking girls to not show cleavage or wear overly short shorts and skirts bothers you because…? I don’t know if you want to care if you call it biology or the way God made the world or something else entirely, but the simple fact remains that there just isn’t a simple analog for that in male wardrobe. Except for sagging pants, which is generally banned.

You have yet to give me a positive reason to believe that these dress codes are in some way unfair.

Obviously we aren’t privy to a lot of what has been going on, but this is how it looks to me. MD built an empire, began devastating it, and now leaves it in ruins while walking away with a too good to be true severance package.

I’m astounded though, by how quickly those who believe in hope and the redemption of all things become insistent that the only reasonable answer on this question is one based on the premise that we’re all basically animals ruled by base instincts who should therefore be governed accordingly.

We believe in the redemption of all things, but we still put police on the streets and guardrails on the side of the road. Likewise, anyone who isn’t an idiot or a feminist (but I repeat myself) understands that dress codes serve the same purpose: they protect us from the consequences of sin. Sex is redeemed in marriage, not by a bared midriff.

MH: the whole situation sort of stuns me. I mean, I was there when a lot of these things occurred, and it feels… strange…. to have them suddenly become the reason for Mark to resign, ten years after the fact.

I hope that this doesn’t mean that MD is just running away from discipline.

Bill, the sadly funny thing in this situation is that Mars Hill and many other churches of its ilk will specifically restrict folks from resigning membership if they are under church discipline.

Of course, the “stay at your own church and work on your own issues” rule apparently didn’t apply to Mahaney, and now it would appear it’s not applying to Driscoll, either.

When the church discipline is appropriate and lovingly applied, then yeah, it’d seem to be rather rebellious and unrepentant to resign your membership rather than submit to it. When it’s draconian, though, leaving may be the best option. Of course, the perception of appropriate vs. draconian is often highly dependent on your perspective on the matter…

Here’s a question: If I am a member of a church (whether in leadership or not) and I am found guilty of some particular sin(s), something egregious enough that I am formally charged and investigated, and I simply quit the church, have I been held accountable?

In other words, could quitting the church without submitting myself to church discipline in itself be sinful? Should we consider quitting the body to be a sign of repentance?

Ah, the power of one little tweet…

Dress codes are not sexist, by simple inspection. Boys cannot show their butt-cracks and their penises or their bellies. Girls cannot show their bellies, tits, cracks or vaginas. Seems fair to me.

That’s a nice straw man, Jaredd. If it were that simple, we’d all be done with the discussion already. No one, including the article I RTd, is suggesting it is so simplistic.

Quoth FT:

I think it’s absolutely laughable how the same Christians who chide others for their backward, antiquated beliefs on evolution simultaneously disbelieve in everything biology teaches us about sexual dimorphism and mating instincts.

[three paragraphs about how it's stupid to not just make rules based solely on biological imperatives]

OK, I’m confused here. Are we mocking Darwinism and biological imperatives here or are we embracing them? Because it sure sounds like you’re trying to do both within the space of four paragraphs.

Quoth Matthew:

you can bet your bottom dollar my daughter has and will have a dress code under my roof.
Also, do you know how hard it is to find normal fitting jeans and shorts for girls?

I’ve got three daughters. So: yes, and yes.

I’ll fully admit that I’m still a bit reactionary about things like dress / modesty codes given my fundie upbringing.

I’m astounded though, by how quickly those who believe in hope and the redemption of all things become insistent that the only reasonable answer on this question is one based on the premise that we’re all basically animals ruled by base instincts who should therefore be governed accordingly.