Enough Already with the Modesty & Purity Hype

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The other day 18-yr old daughter posted this picture on my Facebook with the comment, “What I tell you every time.”

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It cracked me up. But what was interesting to me was noticing the large amount of Facebook friends, also former homeschool kids, who were clicking the “like” button. It was as if they were saying, “Yea, what she said!” I loved some of the exchange in the comments.

Our good friend who acts like our adopted son, who opens our front door without knocking, and raids our fridge commented:

Was he a beautiful black man like myself?

His comment got a few likes. I laughed. My 23-yr old son replied:

Yet when guys do that it’s looked down upon…sinful…creeper status…et cetera. Oh the irony.

Ouch! I think he’s right. There does seem to be a distinction that it’s semi-okay for girls to look at guys, but not the other way around.

Several years ago in 2007, there was a modesty survey put out by homeschoolers, Brett and Alex Harris (Brett and Alex’s dad is Gregg Harris’ son, homeschooling pioneer and ther older brother is Pastor Josh Harris, of Covenant Life Church in MD).

Here’s an excerpt from the survey page:

The Modesty Survey is an exciting, anonymous discussion between Christian guys and girls who care about modesty. Hundreds of Christian girls contributed to the 148-question survey and over 1,600 Christian guys submitted 150,000+ answers, including 25,000 text responses, over a 20-day period in January 2007. For more information, click here.

It has been endorsed by Shaunti Feldhahn (best-selling author of For Women Only), Nancy Leigh DeMoss (author,Revive Our Hearts radio host), Albert Mohler (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Shannon Ethridge (best-selling author of Every Woman’s Battle series), and C.J. Mahaney (Sovereign Grace Ministries).

TheRebelution.com is the home of Alex and Brett Harris and online headquarters for the Rebelution, defined as “a teenage rebellion against low expectations.”

This survey started out in homeschool circles and quickly spread throughout young teens and adults in Christiandom all over the internet, denominations, states, and even the world. I believe the modesty survey was well-intentioned, but the results have not been all positive. Instead, we have discovered a host of other issues that lie beneath the church’s sometimes over-emphasis on modesty and purity.

In the aftermath of the modesty survey, some young men policed the clothing of their female friends and graded the way she dressed by a modesty scale in their head. The way she dressed became a distraction, interfering with relationships. Young ladies were told that they might cause a man to stumble by the way she dressed and this created a lot of pain for young ladies who were burdened with a responsibility they really had no business carrying. And then we had the issue of what to do with young ladies who had curvy figures and no matter what clothes were worn, the curves could not be hidden. Some young ladies resorted to changing eating habits which led to eating disorders to lose weight in order to minimize those curves. Didn’t God create those beautiful curves? Wow, this modesty thing was now crossing the lines into intentionally altering one’s appearance because of not passing a “modesty” scale.

I don’t want to get into all of the problems that came out of this survey because it is very easy to do a Google search and you could spend days reading blog articles and sometimes hundreds of comments on particular popular articles. I really was hoping that after 6 years and hundreds of articles that this subject would die down.

Wouldn’t you know it, the same authors of the infamous modesty survey at the Rebelution blog just last week published a new article: The Other Side of Modesty, this time dealing with guys and how they dress. Really? Do we need to go there? I suppose maybe the young ladies might appreciate a little pushback or balance from their sisters in Christ, but come on. Can we be done with this already?

At our former church, there was almost an obsession on modesty and the topic of sexual immorality came up quite a bit. This was a common verse we heard and probably most of us have it memorized just because we heard it so often:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28

I think sometimes we confuse looking with lusting. And that is important to note.

I have a funny story from several years ago. Now, this is “my” version because my young adult kids have a slightly different version. But until they have their own blogs, you get to read my version 🙂

20130627-104937.jpg

Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil monkeys I found in Hannah’s bathroom this morning. Perfect! 🙂

My daughter, Hannah, was probably around 19 yrs old or so and driving with her learner’s permit, so I was in the passenger seat, and my other daughter who was around 12 years old was in the back seat. A police officer pulled us over because of a burned out brake light. Let me be straight up. The police officer was a fine-looking human being and while my kids were used to hearing from the pulpit about how evil and lustful our eyes are, after the police officer went back to his patrol car, I said aloud to my daughters that I wouldn’t mind being pulled over again by that officer. If I remember correctly, there was a pause and then some surprised laughter coming from the girls. Their mother, a married woman said that? They were not expecting that comment from me and frankly, I don’t know if I was expecting that comment to slip out, either. Oh well, it came out loud and clear.

Did I cross the line? Some might think so. I don’t agree. You see, there seems to be a fuzzy line that brings confusion and can start to border on legalism, if not into full-fledge legalism. We were created in God’s image. God saw that what He created was good. At that moment, when I noticed that cop, and acknowledged what God had created was good and called it as such, some people have a problem with that because they think of verses like this:

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

Was I looking at this guy with lust? No! He was just nice looking guy. Don’t you think everyone from teens all the way through adulthood know when we are looking at someone with lust? Everybody knows what that feels like — you know – – those feelings we get in our body, the places our mind goes. It’s a no-brainer. My brain did none of those things when I looked at that fine specimen.

I have read of men being physically attracted to women dressed in full Muslim attire with burqa and head coverings. Isn’t that something? We need to realize that women and men, no matter how they dress, will be eye candy for someone. We’ve got two issues going on and I think if we look at these two issues in a non-legalistic way, we can find some helpful guidelines.

  • Looking is not the same as lusting. It’s okay to appreciate God’s creation. The key is to do it without lusting. We all know when we have crossed that line. It does not take a rocket scientist to tell us those signs that are happening in our body. If you happened to cross that line, acknowledge it, ask God to forgive you, and move on knowing that His grace is sufficient for you and me.
  • Dress modestly. I think most of us can figure out what that means and I also think that as we mature in Christ, the boundary lines may change from time to time. We all know when we are dressing with the intent to attract the opposite sex and we all know what it’s like to dress when we are going to see grandma and grandpa. This is pretty simple. We can figure this out.

As a homeschooling mom of 20+ years, I fell into the modesty/purity hype and created all sorts of rules for my kids. I regret that it had negative consequences in my family. I’ve stopped obsessing about hemlines, etc. When I stopped obsessing about my boys walking past Victoria’s Secret at the mall and turning the television channel when we saw a young lady wearing a bikini on television, amazingly, my children stopped obsessing.

So, in conclusion, I hope we can learn to treat one another with love and grace on this topic  . . . . and appreciate God’s creation 🙂

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109 comments on “Enough Already with the Modesty & Purity Hype

  1. We very much appreciate God’s creations at our house! I am in line with my husband when he says that Sofia Vergara is an extremely attractive woman. I would go with Salma Hayek too. There are some lovely Latinas out there! He jokingly told me that I would like the movie Skyfall because not only does it have a story, but Daniel Craig is shirtless a lot. We named our body pillows – mine is Denzel. His switches names.

    When people hear this, they find it strange. It all comes down to this…there are attractive people in the world. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you think someone is handsome or gorgeous. At the end of the day my husband and I are with each other and we are faithful to each other and we trust each other.

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  2. By the time my oldest daughter began the teenage years I was already entrenched in the courtship/modesty teachings. As the years went by (and more kids came along) we relaxed a lot (gave up the courtship stuff too). I found that even though they may “experiment” with different clothing styles, they always went back to a reasonable and normal “look”. I was glad they got to experiment and that we didn’t get overly legalistic about it all. Today they make tasteful choices (if I do say so myself.) I know that’s not the story for everyone, but it does seem that it doesn’t necessarily guarantee good results the more you obsess on appearance.

    In regards to hemlines:
    My youngest daughter was just invited to a homeschool sponsored dance. We had to sign a agreement on dress and behavior. There were very strict dress standards.
    Now, we didn’t have a problem signing it. I understand the need for these. She really wanted to go to the dance. What was kind of funny to me was that there was a mom assigned with measuring questionable hem lengths and some of the shortest hems were those of girls in leadership ☺

    Most of those kids are courteous and polite ~ I can’t see any of them getting out of control ~ I still think the signed agreement was a little much.

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  3. Sometimes I think I really am a total freak. I just don’t get bent over stuff. My 18-year-old daughter wears a bikini and has a really pretty baby blue belly button ring, and she is one of the most God-honoring people I’ve ever known. The girl has wisdom far beyond her years and loves God and loves her family and just generally loves people and life in general. I guess to some I’d be considered a terrible mom for not flipping out over every little choice she makes regarding dress, but ya know, I just leave that to my very wise girl to do for herself–and did even before she turned 18. She is fond of modest dress and doesn’t hang out all over, and most people would never know she has a piercing because she doesn’t wear shirts that show it. But…well, so? I mean, really. Why make such a honking deal out of stuff? How have we survived this long without all the hype? It’s official. I’m a dinosaur.

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  4. JA, good reflections. I deal with this issue in the chapter in my book on sexuality. Legalists, who are always trying to codify behavior and impose it on others (which is what I see what the Harris brothers motivation is), can never allow individuals to police themselves. They need specific codes, in this case, dress and speech codes and the judgment that comes from it.

    In my research, I discovered the Greek word translated “lust” in that passage is the word “covet” in the Septuagint (Greek OT at time of Jesus). You could look at a donkey or woman to covet them. In context, it’s “to desire for oneself what belongs to another” and refers to possession, not simply admiring the way someone looks or appreciating the human body. Just read the Song of Solomon and see if those descriptions don’t make one “lust” after the lover described. Jesus reference doesn’t have to do with admiration but is the heart equivalent of stealing what doesn’t belong to you.

    The distinction between looking and lusting or “coveting” is important. So is the principle of governing yourself under the law of love and not be made to follow someone else’s or a church’s or religion’s code of behavior. Your suggestions make sense.

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  5. First, JA, that is a hilarious story. Lol! You know, I think we should see appreciation of “fine specimens” the way we appreciate a beautiful peace of art work. Nothing wrong with admiring something that’s pleasant to look at. That doesn’t necessarily mean we want to be with said specimens. Before we were engaged, my husband was hit on by young women who I would consider far more attractive than me. But, he loved me, and wanted to marry me. (I guess I should wonder about his judgement. 🙂 )

    I like this statement you made: “When I stopped obsessing about my boys walking past Victoria’s Secret at the mall and turning the television channel when we saw a young lady wearing a bikini on television, amazingly, my children stopped obsessing.” Sometimes we inadvertently create anxiety where it wouldn’t otherwise exist. I’ve seen the holiness standards of my former church completely backfire on young people who either leave or are kicked out of the church. They often dress more risqué, and engage in riskier behaviors than the average young person out there. Young people who grow up in a normal (non-purity) environment seem to have healthier attitudes about this stuff.

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  6. Just a note: Sorry about the sporadic commenting – I’m traveling with my daughter to Dallas for volleyball. I’ll check in when I can. Love the comments.

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  7. BTDT said: ” I’ve seen the holiness standards of my former church completely backfire on young people who either leave or are kicked out of the church. ”

    Yes, that sure makes sense. I have written about this before. The youth really struggled sexually and I think it was because of the obsession on modesty/purity. Black/white legalism usually backfires.

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  8. “At the end of the day my husband and I are with each other and we are faithful to each other and we trust each other.”

    Yea!! Love it, Kathi. Great story.

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  9. People have been brainwashed by modern evangelical christian culture. Beer is bad. Boobs are bad. TV is bad. If you have sex, you will die.

    Point blank, James Dobson.

    Scholars, whom exist nowhere today, would laugh at the pickle christian culture has put itself into.

    It may be hard to believe, but back in the day, talking Biblical times, there was a trend to dress like a whore. Surprise surprise, not much has changed. So when we see things about modesty in scripture, specifically NT, it was because the housewives would not shut their yaps in church pontificating scripture interpretation and bitching about their bum husbands, making it almost impossible to study the Word… and they dressed like sluts to church. What was considered “modest” in those days would be almost comical today, think Amish. So the denim jumper crowd props that level of “modesty” as the spiritual thing to do, and guess what, the denim jumper girls still get knocked up, Amish girls too.

    I lust after remote control cars. See you in hell…

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  10. JA,
    very good topic. its very interesting and I remember some of those things. seems we all have a tendency toward legalistic practice, don’t we. I remember the modesty check-list. yup, got it, check… but there was something good about it too. something that made us all think before heading out the door, or letting our kids head out the door – but not in a burqa… 🙂 he he…

    I reminded of Romans 14.22. “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.”

    There seems to be a reasonableness to a “practice” we deem as Godliness. However, when we think that practice makes us more approved by God, I believe we err. Much worse, I think, is when we deem such practices as approving us toward salvation, especially if we judge those who don’t practice the same things we do… We may call them blind, insecure, immature, etc. The risk now, I think, is having freedom and judging those who choose to continue their practice. I think it is wise to avoid Victoria’s Secret with my sons. Some think wearing a veil is necessary (we don’t). But do we obsess about it? No, we don’t obsess, and I don’t see in scripture where we are encouraged to obsess. I think there is a lot of middle ground and a wise dispensation of practice we can all choose, but without judging the ones who’s practice varies from ours.

    So, as I see in Romans 14, and as we all know, our works will be judged by God. 14.22 is a good reminder, not toward legalistic living, or walking in fear. We are free before the Lord. He has made us free and we should enjoy our freedom, in Him.

    btw, Michael Camp: how do I get a sample of your micro brew? 🙂

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  11. Michael Camp – I just read where you guys live on your web site. I go to Poulsbo a few times a year. Very pretty area!

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  12. That’s pretty much how I remember it. I was so surprised, it showed a different side of you I’d previously hadn’t known was there. 🙂 It was a good thing. 🙂

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  13. I won’t make comments on how attractive other women are for a couple of reasons. First both my wife and I are scarred from our spouses taking that second look at another and committing adultery and rejecting us after so many years of marriage for another who was better looking and younger. So I won’t make a comment like that cause I would not ever want my wife to even have a hint that I might find another more attractive than her even if she might be ok with it, but as many of you know, there are some days when you don’t feel so attractive and the wrong comment at the wrong time can hurt someone. Also as recovering from a porn addiction (thanks to Jesus) many years ago that also helped wreck my first marriage, I never want to go back there, so I have to protect my eyes from those triggers. I also don’t want my step daughter to ever feel her mom is only second best to me. I also don’t want her to think of men as objects. All I am saying is think about where that first look or thought might take you. I hope none of you feel I was judging you cause really I just barely had time to glaze over your comments. But if I offended any of you, I apologize, I was just trying to say why I would not do certain things. God bless

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  14. JA – I think your four lines about dressing modestly sum it up. The millions of words expended on just exactly what modesty means are mostly disingenuous – the vast majority of people know what it means; they just want to stretch the boundaries to see what they can get away with.

    As far as looking and lusting, I suspect that usually they are closer together with males than with females.

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  15. I was raised in family that focused heavily on modesty. Shorts have to have a certain inseam length, straps have to be 3 fingers wide, no bikinis, all of that stuff. But nobody could show me in the Bible what was defined as modest dress. These past couple of years my mom and I finally started researching for ourselves what modesty meant. We started with the dictionary definition of modest: having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one’s merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions. Then we looked at 1 Timothy 2:9-10 “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” What we came to discover was that modesty in appearance could also be seen as dressing so as not to be the center of attention. Or not dressing in a way that would cause a person to receive preferential treatment (ie a huge designer purse that displays to the world your amount of disposable income). Life has gotten so much easier now that I am not stressing over obeying such nit-picky rules about hem lengths and such. Now I simply dress in clothes that are appropriate for the situation.

    Oh, my mom and my physical therapists even convinced me to buy my first bikini top last year. My ribcage is significantly larger than the rest of my body so one-piece suits and tankinis never fit correctly. I always stood out for wearing an ill-fitting swimsuit which kind of defeats the purpose of our new definition of modesty. I know some people will judge me for choosing to wear a bikini but that new swimsuit allows me to continue my physical therapy in the pool in a safe manner and that is far more important.

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  16. Another thought. I really absorbed the modesty teachings as a teenager. I was always told not to cause men to lust. With all of the rules and the many ways I could cause a man to sin with my body, I eventually felt that my body itself was a sin. That by simply being a female I was bound to commit a moral crime and cause another man to stumble. This led to a lot of negative feelings about my body that took years to overcome. When we turn women’s bodies into nothing but objects of potential sin, that is the end result. I refuse to live like that any longer. I am created in the image of God, the same as every other man alive. I also remind myself that God is the author of beauty – He created flowers and birds and all of these wonderful things that bring joy. He doesn’t do ugly. Beauty is not sin. Appreciating beauty is not a sin.

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  17. Darrell, I see no problem whatsoever with your comment. In fact I greatly appreciate your honesty.

    It sounds like someone didn’t have their lust vs look meter engaged to have allowed those looks to get to lust and then inappropriate relationships.

    I’m very sorry you and your wife experienced so much pain in this area. I think your experience justifies more prudent personal boundaries. Good for you.

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  18. Ric said: ” I think it is wise to avoid Victoria’s Secret with my sons. ”

    Oh, let me explain my comment a little more. We were told to shield our boys’ eyes when walking by lingerie departments/stores and so I remember one time actually putting my hand up by my son’s eyes as we walked at the mall past Victoria’s Secret. We weren’t even in the store – just in the main mall area walking by. I think I did that once and that was enough for me.

    Hmm, guess which is going to create more attention, walking nonchalantly past the lingerie department or shielding your teen’s eyes as you walk by? Can you imagie how humiliated boys would feel as mother guards their eyes. ACK!

    I wish I could redo some of my parenting. Good grief.

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  19. Pingback: Crosspost: Enough Already with the Modesty and Purity Hype | H • A

  20. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. ~ 1 Timothy 2:9-10

    I can’t wait for someone to tell us how that has nothing to do with young women wearing less than what is normally worn as undergarments, at the beach. Oh wait, yes I can.

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  21. So, B4B, how do you deal with that kind of situation when you see people dressed immodestly in your eyes? Do you go to the beach? I just arrived in Dallas last night and it was 98 at 8:30 PM. Everywhere I looked there was skin. What can you do about that?

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  22. “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. ~ 1 Timothy 2:9-10”

    The scripture you quoted doesn’t have anything to do with the amount of skin showing. What Paul is talking about here (I think someone else mentioned it above) is not to flaunt your social status or deliberately stand out just to get attention.

    Based on that, at a beach, it would be immodest, according to these verses, to wear a parka, because that would stand out. But wearing a bikini would be fine, because most others would be wearing bikinis.

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  23. Born4Battle seems to have picked the right handle. In all the times I’ve seen his(?) comments (and I have been reading here a lot, just not chiming in lately — insanely busy now), he almost always seems eager to pick some kind of fight. 🙂

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  24. Ric,

    Thanks for the video. I hadn’t seen it before, though I know the song.

    Interesting, the way the story’s put together — kind of like the musical “Merrily We Roll Along”. It starts with the relational ruin of one man’s life, and then goes back through time, looking at all the little choices he made along the way that got him to that place. Oddly enough, that musical is one of the things this song by Casting Crowns reminds me of.

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  25. @ JA~

    We just spent a week at Hilton Head on the beach. Our teen aged (almost 15 yo) son was with us. We spent almost the entire time on the sand, swimming. He/we saw many women in bikinis or two piece swimsuits. It didn’t kill my son, tempt him beyond repair nor make him into a pervert, afaik. I am pretty sure of that. 🙂

    After reading your comment (JA) at 11:33, I just now asked him what he thought about seeing all those girls and women in bikinis. He said, ” I thought about having fun swimming on the beach.” I clarified and asked him specifically what he thought about seeing them in THOSE kinds of swimsuits. He said, ” I didn’t think anything about them. They were having fun and swimming.” That from an almost 15 yo.

    I agree about keeping modesty matter of fact. The more you draw attention to something as evil (Victoria’s secret stores), soul destroying, not to be gazed upon for fear of destroying one’s pure eyes, etc, etc,, the more kids will desire that very thing and may even do so in secret behind your back. If you make it nonchalant and teach (instead of forbid and hide) about why some women/girls might dress inappropriately (not including beach wear here) and teach your sons the psychology behind why she might be wearing something inappropriate….self esteem issues etc., isn’t that much better than just saying…avert!! avert!! danger ahead!! ??

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  26. “So, B4B, how do you deal with that kind of situation when you see people dressed immodestly in your eyes? Do you go to the beach? I just arrived in Dallas last night and it was 98 at 8:30 PM. Everywhere I looked there was skin. What can you do about that?”

    I would like to know what B4B would do as well.

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  27. What was kind of funny to me was that there was a mom assigned with measuring questionable hem lengths and some of the shortest hems were those of girls in leadership ☺

    Rank Hath Its Privileges….

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  28. So, B4B, how do you deal with that kind of situation when you see people dressed immodestly in your eyes?

    Saudi Religious Police with the whip? (Which if you’re kinked in that direction would be a turn-on in and of itself…)

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  29. all,
    if b4b were to modify the approach taken on in a blog, I would believe it a nice gesture to respond in kind, even if agreement isn’t met or reachable.

    regarding modesty, I think we can open the definition to something greater than showing social status, but from the whole of scripture, we can find other things that lend itself to dressing a fashion so as not to reveal one’s nakedness. God did cover Adam and Eve, even to the point of blood shed.

    I wonder if when we’ve lived a certain pattern, found it to be excessive, if we don’t easily swing to the other side of a practice, to be more tolerant than maybe we ought. I would think this is easily done especially in an age (maybe always been like this) where people polarize onto a certain person, teacher, practice, denomination etc.

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  30. Any Christian parent, who thinks that it is it doesn’t dishonor God for a young woman to wear less on the beach (in public) than normally worn for undergarments is biblically illiterate on several levels, and ought to be ashamed. How’s that?
    How do I deal with the modesty thing? It’s between me, God, and my wife of 38 years, I reckon and none of your business.

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  31. B4B: Once again. You may or may not have truth in those sentences, but how you say it = ouch!

    You have avoided a lot of my questions. I will ask a new one and gamble. Do you feel your 10:44 comment was said in love?

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  32. B4B wrote-

    I did not see see women on the beach dressed in less “than normally worn for undergarments.”

    “Any Christian parent, who thinks that it is it doesn’t dishonor God for a young woman to wear less on the beach (in public) than normally worn for undergarments is biblically illiterate on several levels, and ought to be ashamed. How’s that?”

    First of all, I did not see see women on the beach dressed in less “than normally worn for undergarments.” You would have to be more specific as to what you mean.

    Second-I do not know to whom you directed the above comment, but I did not say anything about whether or not certain swimwear (or the lack thereof) dishonors God. My comment was about teaching my son about what he sees on the beach and NOT making a huge “sin alert–don’t look or you will go blind/to hell” issue out of it. My comment was about teaching him how to think about what he will inevitably see in the world.

    Whether or not it dishonors God was nothing I discussed- so I will assume your comment was not meant for me and will therefore not consider myself “biblically illiterate on several levels.” 🙂

    Now, if you were to ask me my opinion on whether or not bikinis dishonor God and whether or not Christian girls/ladies should be wearing them, that would be another and a different comment I have yet to make.

    Thanks anyway.

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  33. B4B~
    I posted some comments on the other thread-Learn and Discern. I will re-post here in hopes you will see them and comment.

    Diane
    June 28, 2013 @ 9:21 AM

    “RMR, JA, et. al.
    All I get is personal citicism, over and over and over again. I can’t even quote scripture, suggest it means what it says and not get challenged.If the issue of sin is not at the center of the gospel, what is? You don’t have to answer. That was a hypothetical question for anyone who reads the Bible.”

    ?? That is not “all” you get- and at any rate why would you even mention that?

    B4B: I just have to say–If you feel personally criticized, that is on you, is it not? After all, that is the very thing you have said here on this blog. If you say something that we take as harsh–that is our problem according to you. So I do not understand the purpose of your statement and how it is relevant.

    Diane
    June 28, 2013 @ 9:28 AM

    B4B–
    Your 7:12 am comment-

    Born4Battle
    June 27, 2013 @ 7:12 AM
    “Who said disagreement is persecution? Not me, that’s for sure. I’m a crusty old soldier and I just say what I know to be fact and also what I believe. If that ‘hurts’ people, it’s more on them than me. Have I been hurt by words, Yep, and it was on me, whether it was intentional or not.”

    Diane
    June 28, 2013 @ 9:38 AM

    B4B- you wrote the following in a comment under your blog post, “A bit of wisdom in a difficult situation. . .”

    Posted by Born4Battle on May 31, 2013

    “Tone’ is everything. Words communicate things in how there they are used, and even IF they are used. If my words can be seen as judgmental by a reader even if there isn’t an ounce of judgmentalism in my heart, I need to choose better words that would not be misunderstood. The devil is a sly fellow and he loves to sow discord among the brethren.”

    If your words can be seen as harsh/critical/rude/mean/insulting/condescending by a reader(s) even if there isn’t an ounce of any of the above in you heart, then don’t you need to choose better words that would not be hurtful nor misunderstood? You just wrote above that you needed to do it with words that appear judgmental.

    Or is that “on us” too…because if it is, that gives you license to speak however you wish to speak to a brother or sister in Christ and place blame on them if they are hurt by your words.

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  34. we can wear the right swimwear, but if we have not love, we are nothing
    we can walk through the right area of the mall, but if we have not love we are nothing
    if we are very literate with the Bible, and know all things as to theology, and have not love we are nothing
    if we have a good point, one that can help others, and have not love we are nothing…..
    …..
    ….

    ..
    .

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  35. “Any Christian parent, who thinks that it is it doesn’t dishonor God for a young woman to wear less on the beach (in public) than normally worn for undergarments is biblically illiterate on several levels, and ought to be ashamed. How’s that?”

    How are they “Biblically illiterate”? What passages in the Bible support your position? How is your position Biblical?

    If you’re so certain that your view is the Biblical view, surely you won’t mind showing us how it is Biblical.

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  36. …oh that we would love one another so much that the outsiders (unbelievers) would take note, and God would be glorified. this isn’t to say we all agree on every tot and tittle, but that we love one another in spite of those differences…

    – calling people blind and illiterate because they disagree with one’s point adds nothing to love, it betrays it.

    – responding with a snarky attitude (words) towards those who call names and are abrasive adds nothing to love, it betrays it.

    may we learn to forbear with one another, learn to write purposely to the reader and their ability to hear, give benefit of doubts, and help one another. these are our actions, not the devil’s ploys, but ours. I don’t think this is not an idealistic state of nirvana, this is the Church. Oh how I love Jesus… 🙂

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  37. Well, I don’t think the modesty/purity obsession issue will be going away any time soon as per our recent HS dance experience. 😦

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  38. Given the flavor of a number of comments on recent threads, I am reminded of a small minority of the pastors I have known who were very difficult to get along with. They were arrogant, always right in their own eyes, appeared incapable of understand another person’s point of view, made no attempt to do so, wouldn’t answer questions, had limited knowledge of what was in the Bible without really understanding the heart of Jesus, had largely borrowed what understanding they possessed, appeared to think that their personal opinions were infallible and beyond questioning, and were, generally, my-way-or-the-highway kinds of men. Also, I was forced to deal with one man (not a pastor) who was very much like these pastors, only worse. When he couldn’t force me to adopt his point of view, he refused to speak to me, he slandered me, he began to recruit others to help oppose me, and he attempted to get me fired from a job. He even managed to provoke a law suit against me. As with the pastors I mentioned, there was just no way of reasoning with this man.

    My question is, how does one best deal with people who exhibit even some of these kinds of traits? Does anybody have any ideas? All I know is to make a good faith effort to establish a healthy, mutually respectful, relationship. But when that fails, as it ultimately must, what then? All I know is to try to avoid them. Sometimes all you can do is walk away from the abuser, although even then you might be pursued.

    Does anybody have wisdom I do not possess?

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  39. I suspect that B4B’s comments are partially directed towards me so I will respond. I do not go to the beach dressed in a bikini, I haven’t been to the beach in about 20 years despite having grown up on an island. I do choose to wear a bikini when I work out in the pool – it is a strange concept called physical therapy. I have had 5 major orthopedic surgeries in the last 2 years and every single day is a battle to walk. I am not exaggerating. Physical therapy in the pool has been extremely helpful in helping me regain my mobility. Because of the shape of my body, your “modest” swimsuits actually posed a hazard to me. There was too much extra material up top and on the bottom that I was fighting against. My therapists told me that we could not continue therapy until I found a swimsuit that would not interfere with movement in the pool. My choices were either a scuba diving wet-suit (too hard to put on) or a bikini. I chose the bikini. I do not feel that wearing a bikini in that incredible situation is dishonoring to God. My parents are completely fine with the bikinis and actually insisted that I purchase them. Also, summers in Texas are brutally hot (as Julie Anne is discovering right now). 🙂 I spent the last two summers in full length leg braces to keep my leg from bending while I recovered from surgery. The only way to stay cool at home was to wear as little clothing as possible. So I usually wore a sports bra or bikini top and a short pair of shorts around the house. I get heatstroke easily so it is a constant battle to prevent it. I am not sorry if my clothing choices offend you. My parents are Biblically literate – we all study the Latin Vulgate on a regular basis (I have a Bachelor’s degree in Latin). I ask that you lay your prejudices aside for a few minutes and put yourself in my parents’ shoes. They literally had to choose between me continuing much necessary physical therapy in a bikini or purchasing my first wheelchair. I hope you never have to make a similar decision.

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  40. “How about blind and illiterate concerning God’s point of view?”

    What is God’s point of view, in your eyes?

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  41. I wrestle with that question too, Gary W. Perhaps a starting point in thinking it through is Titus 3:10,11. That goes against my natural direction. I like people and like getting along with people, but Paul warns me I need to put limits on my natural inclination.

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  42. Mandy:
    I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through. Wearing a bikini sounds great!
    You should not feel as if you need to defend your choice.
    And if B4B’s last remark was in response to your comment, I’m at a loss for words….
    wow, just wow…:(

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  43. One observation which may add to the general conversation is that what is and isn’t modest is not easily separated from our culture. This should give us some perspective. Since cultures change, cultural aspects of modesty aren’t absolute. What we wear has meaning in large part because of our culture. What I’m wearing right now at work would have been considered disrespectful twenty years ago. In a way, it would have been disrespectful, but it isn’t today.

    Of course, certain things do transcend culture. I’m good looking no matter what I wear. It’s a curse I have to live with.

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  44. B4B strikes me as the Utterly Righteous, here looking for a fight with any and all Unrighteous. And if there’s no fight underway, he’ll make one.

    “Tonight, on CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH…”

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  45. Oh boy. I may not be a redhead but I have the temperament usually associated with them. B4B, here goes.

    I guess I should have chosen to discontinue physical therapy in the pool and bought the wheelchair. I would have had to apply for disability and live on welfare for the rest of my life. My parents would have had to liquidate their retirement accounts to pay for all of my medical bills that result from being in a wheelchair full time. Thank you for insisting that I never wear a bikini. After all, what is a lifetime spent in a wheelchair when compared with following the rules of another man? It’s not that much of a sacrifice. Better to spend thousands of dollars on adaptive devices than to dare to wear a $20 bikini. Thank you for showing me the only correct choice to make. I regret that I am able to walk unassisted now.

    *Sarcasm off*

    Every single day for as long as I can remember I have woken up and asked God just how bad the pain would be for the day. I would try to bargain with Him – please just keep it below a 7 (0 being no pain and 10 is pain so bad that death would be more pleasant). I would promise to read more scriptures or give more to the church. Anything. Just don’t let the pain get to an 8. Those were the prayers of a 10 year old, a 15 year old and a 20 year old. I no longer ask for pain to stay below a 7 because its not realistic. I just beg Him daily to keep me out of the hospital. Please, no more life-threatening allergic reactions, no more falls, no more surgeries. I’d give anything to go back to being 15 again and begging just to keep the pain manageable. Right now I have a broken wrist and a system wide arthritis attack. My legs are stable for the moment. I can walk safely. If I were in a wheelchair today I would be depending on someone else for absolutely everything. I wouldn’t even be able to go to the restroom without one of my parents helping me quite a bit. I am grateful that someone had to courage to help me relearn to walk in the pool – bikini and all. For me, my bikini is a physical symbol of all that I have had to overcome to get to where I am now and I am proud of it. If a man cannot watch me perform exercises in a pool while wearing a bikini without succumbing to overwhelming lust he needs to leave the area. I have personally found that people are too busy cheering me on and encouraging me to even notice my attire. Yesterday for the very first time I was able to exit the pool unassisted. Everyone in the pool applauded my victory. I had just done what was supposed to be physically and medically impossible. I guarantee you that nobody noticed my attire.

    Monique, thank you so much for your kind comment. I will no longer accept the hurtful words and actions of others directed towards me. I have come too far and overcome too much to let an ignorant person pass judgment. It is far easier for someone like B4B to come across as a righteous superior than to actually hear my story and show some compassion.

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  46. @ Mandy~

    “I have personally found that people are too busy cheering me on and encouraging me to even notice my attire. Yesterday for the very first time I was able to exit the pool unassisted. Everyone in the pool applauded my victory. I had just done what was supposed to be physically and medically impossible. I guarantee you that nobody noticed my attire.”

    That is so neat. Good for you!!

    That’s kind of the point I made earlier about my almost 15 year son seeing girls in bikinis at the beach. What they were wearing was not foremost on his mind. He noticed they were having fun.

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  47. I applaud you Mandy. You’ve accomplished more than I can even imagine, and you’re right not to let comments bully you. If it would help, if it would lessen your pain, I’ve no doubt that all of us on this blog would gladly wear bikinis, even Born4Battle. Hopefully that picture will bring some cheer.

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  48. Mandy –

    I don’t know if B4B is addressing you, specifically, or not. If he is, he is being rude. I don’t think God is uptight about what swimsuit you wear. He is well aware of what you look like in your birthday suit — He created you. Men can avert their eyes, if they need to, for their own sake. Some may indeed need to, just like some people need to stay away from chocolate, alcohol, fast food, race tracks, etc. God is concerned with the inner man and his heart, not the clothing. There are alot of tribes throughout the world that would laugh at the modesty check list.

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  49. B4B –

    The shame of nakedness was not present when God created man and woman. It came later, after sin entered. Maybe believers have no need to be concerned with immodesty of the body? What we deem as appropriate dress has more to do with culture, and the American culture has definitely gone through some phases.

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  50. Julie Anne,

    Even with my good looks, there’s one thing I have no doubts about whatsoever. When Kelly and I married I, by far, got the better deal. I married up.

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  51. craigvick,

    When you observe that “what is and isn’t modest is not easily separated from our culture, you are in good company. In Mere Christianity (Book 3, Chapter 5, first paragraph), C.S. Lewis, writes:

    “WE MUST NOW CONSIDER Christian morality as regards sex, what Christians call the virtue of chastity. The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of “modesty” (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle. Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes. A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally “modest,” proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste).”

    In what I think was an attempt to shock me, I was once shown a picture of a completely naked, fully formed, young woman, probably 18 or 20 years old, standing in the ocean off the coast of Mozambique . . . waiting to be baptized. I suspect Lewis would have been O.K. with that. I’m pretty sure Jesus is O.K. with that, although He would not be O.K. with nude baptisms in any given First Baptist Church of Anytown, U.S.A. Sometimes, culture really is determinative of what behavior is appropriate to give honor and to avoid giving offense. C.f. Acts Chapter 15 and the determination not to impose the Law on gentiles, while still asking that certain offense-giving behaviors be avoided.

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  52. Bridget states, “The shame of nakedness was not present when God created man and woman.” Exactly. “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” (Titus 1:15, ESV) If one has been truly purified by our Lord, if on has truly been “sprinkled clean from an evil conscience,” Heb. 10:22, seeing people appropriately attired according to cultural standards (or even inappropriately attired) will not be an issue. I submit that if one is obsessing over what other people ought to wear, it is good evidence that “both their minds and their consciences [remain] defiled.”

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  53. Mandy,

    I’m amazed that you’ve overcome so much in your life, and that you’re still fighting so hard. It’s inspiring to see so many on this board coming together to cheer you on. Count me among them.

    And thumbs up to Gary for the C.S. Lewis quote. Great minds think alike. 😉

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  54. The people that rail the loudest about how other people should dress modestly are the ones with the biggest hang-ups and problems with lust in their own hearts. They refuse to deal with their own struggles, so they screech and moan to get other people to solve their issues.

    Maybe B4B would be better served with the screen name “Born To Ignore The Log In His Own Eye.” Got to love those anonymous trolls.

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  55. Thank you all so much for your encouraging comments. Today has been equal parts challenging and beautiful. Life is too short to live it by the rules of the modern-day Pharisees. There is too much joy and laughter and love to be had, too many wonderful gifts bestowed on us. When you choose joy on a daily basis, your smile becomes your biggest accessory and people won’t even notice your clothing. I have also noticed that gratitude and humility seem to go hand in hand. When you are busy giving thanks for what has been given to you it is hard to elevate yourself to the position of looking down on others.

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  56. O Mandy,

    Your story tugs on my heart springs, what a remarkable woman you are! I hope you rock that bikini as much as your attitude & beautiful words just rocked my world. My husband’s body has been piecemeal together through the years. (Long story)

    In thinking how to respond to you and suspecting that I am in the company of the a real saint, a story that Michael Spencer quoted in his blog post came to mind: Mortal Lessons (Touchstone Books, 1987) physician Richard Selzer

    “I will be accused of a serious lack of good news, I’m sure, so listen. At the moment I am winning, Jesus is with me. At the moment I am losing, Jesus is with me and guarantees that I will get up and fight on. At the moment I am confused, wounded and despairing, Jesus is with me. I never, ever lose the brokenness. I fight, and sometimes I prevail, but more and more of my screwed up, messed up life erupts. Each battle has the potential to be the last, but because I belong to one whose resurrection guarantees that I will arrive safely home in a new body and a new creation, I miraculously, amazingly, find myself continuing to believe, continuing to move forward, till Jesus picks us up and takes us home.

    Now, let’s come to something very important here. This constant emphasis on the “victorious life” or “good Christian life” is absolutely the anti-Christ when it comes to the Gospel. If I am _________________ (fill in the blank with victorious life terminology) then I am oriented to be grateful for what Jesus did THEN, but I’m needing him less and less in the NOW. I want to make sure he meets me at the gate on the way into heaven, but right now, I’m signing autographs. I’m a good Christian. This imagining of the Christian journey will kill us.

    We need our brokenness. We need to admit it and know it is the real, true stuff of our earthly journey in a fallen world. It’s the cross on which Jesus meets us. It is the incarnation he takes up for us. It’s what his hands touch when he holds us. Do you remember this story? It’s often been told, but oh how true it is as a GOSPEL story (not a law story.) It is a Gospel story about Jesus and how I experience him in this “twisted” life.

    In his book Mortal Lessons (Touchstone Books, 1987) physician Richard Selzer describes a scene in a hospital room after he had performed surgery on a young woman’s face: I stand by the bed where the young woman lies . . . her face, postoperative . . . her mouth twisted in palsy . . . clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, one of the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be that way from now on. I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut this little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to be in a world all their own in the evening lamplight . . . isolated from me . . . private.

    Who are they? I ask myself . . . he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously. The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “it’s kind of cute.” All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with the divine. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers. . . to show her that their kiss still works.”

    This is who Jesus has always been. And if you think you are getting to be a great kisser or are looking desirable, I feel sorry for you. He wraps himself around our hurts, our brokenness and our ugly, ever-present sin. Those of you who want to draw big, dark lines between my humanity and my sin, go right ahead, but I’m not joining you. It’s all ME. And I need Jesus so much to love me like I really am: brokenness, memories, wounds, sins, addictions, lies, death, fear….all of it. Take all it, Lord Jesus. If I don’t present this broken, messed up person to Jesus, my faith is dishonest, and my understanding of it will become a way of continuing the ruse and pretense of being “good.”

    When I am Weak- Why we must embrace our brokenness and never be good Christians by Michael Spencer. I read this essay 4 years ago, it was a stepping stone for my heart to run back into the arms of Jesus, because the Pharisee’s ruined my heart & faith for awhile…

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  57. Wow, this topic really brings many memories of my years in a sex obsessed Christian school. The teachers and administration were so determined to police every possible “modesty infraction”, confiscate romance novels, forbid male and female student contact and never allow students of the opposite sex to be alone together. Its was sheer stupidity. If a female was walking up the stair case the guys had to wait until a staff member was there before entering. Once I was written up for hugging a friend that was crying upon learned that her grandmother had just passed away. A simple hug and saying ” I will be praying for you guys, love you”, got me detention. Once you moved into the singles after graduation from high school it became worse. Once they took us to Tennessee for a retreat. Three days of wacky and creepy teaching like: women should use nursing pads on cold days. You should sleep with your arms outside of the covers less you be tempted to touch yourself. They even touched on “modest underwear”. Apparently single women should wear only granny panties and men full boxers. During the question and answer time one twenty something lady in our group asked where in the bible do you find any teaching on underwear. She then added, with some outfits I wear NONE at all. Then another guy from our group (who will go nameless) admitted to masturbating and challenged the speaker to show us where scripture dealt with the topic. Finally a critical care nurse in the group said, ” I think some of you folks speaking this weekend have major hang-ups with your own body. I see naked people almost everyday, sometimes I’m cutting every bit of their clothes off and examining every inch of their body for injuries. Never has this excited me, or caused me to stumble. The human body is nothing to be embarrassed about”. She was actually taken aside and talked to. When some idiot approached me I said ” sorry I can’t talk now I have
    to get back to my room, I paid for unlimited PAY PER VIEW and need to get my moneys worth”. When I got back from dinner with a few friends my roommate for the weekend was rolling on the floor laughing. They had removed the TV from our room apparently believing that I really had paid for unlimited pornographic movies.

    Fast forward 20 years. One staff member served 10 years for having regular sexual relations with all three of his daughters started at around age 12. The featured anti-masturbation speaker at the singles retreated was fired and divorced by his wife when she walked in on him having intercourse with a young man dressed in her lingerie. Then there is our 7th grade sex obsessed bible and math teacher. He was arrested for hiding in the ladies room at a mall and holding a video camera over the stall to invade another person’s privacy. He is divorced now too as his wife (who was not allowed to wear make up, shorts or pants) was fed up with his secret perversions.

    I’m convinced that these folks that are always harping about sexual purity and modesty are the biggest pervs around. When a man is constantly mentioning how women dress, he is the one undressing them in his mind and perhaps stopping off at Victoria Secret for a quick peek and some new underwear for his softer side.

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  58. What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7, ESV)

    I submit that this passage supports the notion that the thing that is prohibited, the thing we struggle and obsess to avoid doing, is the very thing we must ultimately end up doing. As an illustration of this principle, a preacher once challenged us to see if you could avoid thinking about a certain humorously ridiculous object. I will not say what the object was, because I am afraid that all of you will be like me. I am still thinking about the object some 40 years later. I know that one person with whom I shared the full illustration was sharing it as his own a good 20 years on.

    I am not at all surprised at Scott’s examples of anti-human-sexuality police who themselves were caught in sexual perversion. My own belief is that their obsession with avoiding and prohibiting all things sexual was in and of itself a prime contributing factor in their descent into perversion. Whenever I read reports of preachers and other crusaders who are virulently anti-this and virulently anti-that, my thought is that these same people are likely deeply involved in the very thing they oppose.

    It kind of makes sense. Take for example the bloggers who spend their time obsessing over and writing about women’s attire. My impression is that they tend to be male. Just think how much of their blogging time, including time spent thinking about what to blog, involves thinking about women’s bodies. Couple this with our tendency covet the very thing we are told we cannot have and you have a prescription for moral disaster. Although we can hope Scott is wrong in more cases than not, he makes the case well: “I’m convinced that these folks that are always harping about sexual purity and modesty are the biggest pervs around. When a man is constantly mentioning how women dress, he is the one undressing them in his mind and perhaps stopping off at Victoria Secret for a quick peek and some new underwear for his softer side.”

    How much better to simply spend our time and energies thinking about and pursuing Jesus!

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  59. “Whenever I read reports of preachers and other crusaders who are virulently anti-this and virulently anti-that, my thought is that these same people are likely deeply involved in the very thing they oppose.”

    Yes. Like the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, for example.

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  60. Scott,

    After reading your 12:48 comment, it makes me even more glad we have kept our son out of Christian schools.

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  61. Welcome, Scott. Thanks for sharing your incredibly sad story. I’m curious if you have kept up with some of your classmates and how this obsession affected them. In our old church, most of the kids did act out sexually. While adults were doing bible studies, youth were together sometimes acting out sexually in another area of the house. I’d say probably the majority of the kids acted out sexually and when the pastor found out, this only led to more and more private meetings and of course sermons/teachings on sexual immorality which fueled the cycle.

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  62. For those of you who are interested, I believe behavior in matters of modesty can be regulated by a simple principle. If I put on something (or leave something off) with the intent to draw attention to myself, or that I know would draw attention to me even if it wasn’t my intention, I should leave it in the drawer My purpose is to point to Christ. When that sinks in, a lot of issues are resolved – a LOT. Even my ‘tone’ is designed to point to Christ and the Scriptures. Like “any Christian parent who thinks young women wearing less in public than what are normal undergarments is biblically illiterate on several levels”.

    And the fact that there are pervs in church, has absolutely NO bearing on the issue of biblical modesty. The word says what it says. and please to try the “that’s your interpretation” dodge.

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  63. …irt Gary’s writings, these are things I’ve wrestled with for a long time – along with the way things appear in blog land.

    Gary writes a good synopsis about a very disconcerting issue with Private Christian Schools. I agree, this is bad stuff, and sinful. But then, we can tend to paint ALL private christian schools with the same brush. We tend to argue if someone rebuts the finding, that these sins happen a lot, that, “the one giving the argument are all wrong (maybe not on SSB, but in blog land). How can we do this (and I mean “we” – as in, me2)?

    To consider the discussion a bit further, these problems appear to be argued merely in light of private christian schools (or sometimes, homeschooling). But then, what about secular private schools? What about public schools? How many teachers have gone to jail over the past year for having sexual contact with their students from public schools, and I mean female teachers too. In our area, another teacher is on her way to jail for this very thing with 14 year old students.

    These are just some of my thoughts that begin the churn in my mind… again, engaging the topic. I believe what Gary shared is a very real issue, people railing against the very sin they commit. But what is the answer when all things educational and authoritative become wrong? Scripture seems very indicative here, it’s the human condition as discussed in Romans 7 (http://goo.gl/XBpme). It started in the garden as Adam and Eve were tempted to leave their faith in God, and place it in themselves and their abilities. So then, what is the correction? This is what, I think, many of us may wrestle with. I look for answers in the topic and typically don’t find helpful solutions, especially when the solutions can merely become practices that will later be negatively scrutinized.

    I believe we’ve all come to a conclusion that homeschooling is not the solution to sinful hearts in our kids, or in us parents. Public-schooling is not the answer either, and private schooling, can’t be the solution either. It also seems clear that the ways to educate are not evil in and of themselves, but can provide “cover” for sinful hearts. However, merely stating, “follow Jesus,” doesn’t seem to correct the problem either, as we all have seen. So, what is the prescribed answer…

    Gary’s second post is also very insightful. But, what can we do in light of what was shared? For an answer, I understood, “stop blogging about things you care about (not that he intending this)” Or, if you care about something that is wrong, passionately, “be careful because others will think you are sinning in that manner.” I don’t believe these thoughts are a solution. If I’m upset with something, and I blog passionately about it, I’m not doomed to do the very thing I’m blogging about. But we may want to consider, in prayer, our motives regarding what we write about (http://goo.gl/eu0hE), and why. What we take on in discourse, and what solutions we render; and I believe we should be sharing solutions (maybe, practices?) that are Godly, but without a legalistic requirement to follow them. With this thought, and Gary didn’t say it, I did, what do I do? How do we act? What can we do, together?

    When two have a good reward for their labor and a three-fold cord cannot be quickly broken (http://goo.gl/tQkZK), can we share some of the Lord’s wisdom with one another, and we do? Can we move to solutions that potentially can help? I’m thinking we can, and do. This isn’t a rebuttal against anything said, but my attempt (maybe a poor one), to stir us up (me2) and to continue stirring up one another to love and good works (http://goo.gl/AQtfk).

    I love the title of this blog, “spiritual sounding board.”

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  64. Bridget and Gary W (re your 6/28, 4:03PM and 4:43PM comments) – Am I wrong in thinking that you are implying that believers can and should attain a level of purity such that they are not tempted by any degree of immodesty in dress?

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  65. “And the fact that there are pervs in church, has absolutely NO bearing on the issue of biblical modesty. The word says what it says. and please to try the “that’s your interpretation” dodge.”

    It’s not a doge; it’s the truth. It is your interpretation. Not all devout Christians interpret things the way you do.

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  66. “Am I wrong in thinking that you are implying that believers can and should attain a level of purity such that they are not tempted by any degree of immodesty in dress?”

    Who gets to define what is modest and immodest?

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  67. RMR – good question, I thought similarly. I’d also add, “what is the measure?” What is the line of demarcation that the “who” sets? These tend to become requirements and point to the following the Law, of which I don’t think we can find hope in but merely condemnation.

    Obedience to Jesus’ commands comes from an expression of faith in Him, walking in obedience from our hearts desire to please God (not man), and in repentance when we do not. We who believe and have faith in Him will see an ever increasing living in holiness springing out of our hearts and glorify God with our lives, vice a strict adherence to codes and ethics, which do not save. Living in the Spirit.

    It seems the temptation for us is to consider what the requirements are and where the boundaries are set and then discover when something becomes sin, and live up to that line of demarcation. It seems faith would keep us well away from that line, not because we are following the law, but because we are living in faith.

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  68. Jeff Brown –

    To some degree, yes. What do doctors, nurses, gynecologists, etc. do? Is the secular world purer than Christians if they can deal with the body without lusting after it. I don’t think so since there are Christians in all these professions as well. But as I also stated, people who have struggles in this area may need to watch themselves and what they do and where they go, just as alcoholics, food addicts, gamblers, drug addicts, etc. need to do.

    The other issue is who decides what is modest? It means different things to different people, as we discussed above. Another problem is judging “why” a person is dressed as they are. If I am aroused by something someone has on, does that mean that person is in sin and immodest, just because I’m aroused? I don’t think so. Some people are aroused by shoes, feet, hats, leather pants, tight fitting cloths, painted fingernails, loose fitting cloths, big breasts, small breasts, CHILDREN, etc. It really can get out of hand. It is up to the person aroused to govern themselves and do what they need to do to control themselves. No one (man or woman) can put that responsibility on the other person. Certain dress habits are simply not a problem for alot of people.

    And no, not all believers will get to that place of purity. But, is that part of what we press on to? Yes, even though it may not happen on this side of eternity. Likewise, if I invite an alcoholic to my home, should I serve alcohol? By no means! I would go so far as to make sure there was none in sight. On the other hand, should the alcoholic blame someone for not knowing their struggle and/or making sure that the alcoholic will not be tempted? No. I can’t possibly know everyone’s individual struggles or to what degree they struggle.

    Sorry that this went so long.

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  69. Bridget and RMR – Yes, it’s impossible to dress in such a way that it guarantees that no one is tempted. But isn’t there a general standard that most adhere to? If, in church, a young woman or man is comfortable wearing cut-offs that end just below the buttocks, should we say, “Well, that’s tough on you who are distracted or tempted?”

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  70. “Bridget and RMR – Yes, it’s impossible to dress in such a way that it guarantees that no one is tempted. But isn’t there a general standard that most adhere to? If, in church, a young woman or man is comfortable wearing cut-offs that end just below the buttocks, should we say, “Well, that’s tough on you who are distracted or tempted?””

    The “general standard” you refer to varies wildly from culture to culture.

    In your example regarding cut-offs, I think the main thing to remember is that he/she is in church and hopefully is learning about God.

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  71. I should have said this in my last comment. What is the “general standard” and who sets it?

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  72. Jeff –

    I didn’t say anything like “it’s just tough for them.” Yet, Jesus didn’t seem to have a problem with prostitutes, tax collectors, or just plain women, following him, sitting at his feet, learning from him and about him. If church has to be a place where people who come in need to meet a dress code, then people won’t want to come or be encouraged to learn. They will feel judged before they walk in the door without even having an understanding what they are being judged on. You can’t change people from the outside in. People need to process their newness in Christ, if that has even happened yet, and be transformed by power of the Holy Spirit and the renewing of their minds.

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  73. Would like to respond/contribute but not at keyboard, can’t think without one. Maybe tomorrow, maybe not. Doing vacation stuff for awhile.

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  74. JA,

    Yes. Also, note that it was a statement about ANY professing Christian, which would include me. If there was a rebuke in it (and there was) that rebuke included me. I stand by what I said.

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  75. Male modesty? Really? Their female modesty survey can be summed up in a word: Misogyny. Its message was as follows: you’re a stumbling block for men just because you’re a woman, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    I think the Harris brand is in trouble if this is what the famous twin bothers are reduced to writing about. The motto Josh Harris’s little brothers have actually trade-marked for their “Rebelution against low expectations for teenagers schtick” is “Do Hard Things.” Apparently they’re trying to re-vive the brand even though they’re in their early twenties.

    Perhaps they should take their own advice and talk about the serious problems going on in their brother’s Church, pertaining to sexual abuse issues, instead of debating how long swimming trunks should be.

    What can you say at some point?

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  76. craigvick,

    Thank you for pointing to Titus 3:10-11 regarding avoiding a divisive person after warning them once, then twice. Jesus teaching about casting pearls before pigs also comes to mind. It is actually dangerous to engage some people. Unfortunately these often turn out to be people who have sought out places of authority, whether inside or outside the Body.

    Mandy,

    What an amazing, moving and inspiring testimony you have! Although our Lord was made perfect through suffering, and although I embrace with my mind the desirability of having Jesus formed in me, I freely admit that I have no heart to pay the price you are paying as you participate in the fellowship of His suffering, attaining thereby to the power of his resurrection (Phil. 3:10). May you be exceedingly blessed even as you are made to attain to an exceeding eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17). I know, it is all way too easy for me to say.

    Diane,

    Regarding hypocritical anti-perversion crusaders you reference the Eliot Sptizer prostitution scandal. Who comes most prominently to my mind is former mega-church pastor and anti-homosexual crusader Ted Haggard (New Life Church Colorado Springs), who was outed by his male homosexual prostitute. While we may justly condemn such hypocrisy, I must remind myself that, as Paul observes, we are all susceptible to being caught up in the very things we hate. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15, ESV). God grant us continuing grace to overcome!

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  77. Ric,

    With (I suspect) tongue planted (maybe not so) firmly in cheek, you suggest we won’t be needing this blog anymore. Although you didn’t specify, this seems to have been in response to my suggestion that, rather than obsessing on sin avoidance, we spend our time and energies thinking about and pursuing Jesus. Well, we are His body and temple. Jesus is incarnate in us. When we are in fellowship with one another, we are in fellowship with Jesus. We cannot consider ourselves to be in the pursuit of Jesus unless we are in fellowship with one another. If what you were referring to was a perceived warning against speaking out against sin, please keep reading.

    I would join you in resisting any suggestion, whether express or implied, that all Christian schools must somehow be tainted by the kinds of excesses described by Scott. Likewise concerning the excesses observed in some homeschooling situations and (dare I say?) movements. Yet, I do suggest that it is wise to guard against a pervasive tendency–a fleshly instinct as it were–to attempt to achieve by legalistic regulation that which can be achieved only as we learn to live in love from the new heart that is part and parcel of the New Covenant.

    We can be passionate about moral issues without it being evidence of our own guilt in the matter. Rather, my thought is that guilt is so evidenced, basically, when we exhibit JUDGMENTAL fervor. I do hope that I am not simply proof texting when I point to Rom. 2:1: “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who JUDGES. For IN PASSING JUDGMENT on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things” (ESV, emphasis added). To identify an issue as we labor together in the pursuit of Jesus certainly is not to be judgmental. Indeed, apart from such fellowship, we cannot, cannot, walk the walk of faith.

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  78. Jeff Brown,

    I am indeed advocating for the proposition that believers can and should attain a level of purity such that they are not tempted by any degree of immodesty in dress (although I have no means arrived). How this may be accomplished is another question altogether. I do not claim to have all the answers. I do believe that the Gospel as it tends to be presented in America is truncated and inadequate to the task. Space here is too short even to begin, but I submit that the Gospel as traditionally presented is merely transactional (as in Christ’s righteousness being imputed to us so that we are acquitted of sin and adopted as His children, period, end of story, nothing more to discuss or pursue). I submit that the Gospel needs also to be transformational, that our Lord desires not only to impute, but also to impart His righteousness. I suggest that this is accomplished in ongoing, consistent, face-to-face fellowship, and that the traditional format of passive, non-participating believers being preached at week after week is wholly inadequate to the task.

    Methodist Reader,

    You ask “Who gets to define what is modest and immodest?” I say that nobody gets to do so. No human gets to set the rules or lay down the law. I say this because relationships between Christians are not to be based on authority. Rather, Christian relationships are to be based on love, according to the new commandment our Lord gives us. Jn 13:44. While no human has authority to pronounce what is and is not modest, we are called upon to discover what is modest and immodest as we fellowship together, being always careful to exercise our freedom in ways that do not offend our weaker brothers and sisters. Ric has already referred to Romans 14 in regard to these matters. I would here refer specifically refer to Rom. 14:13 as it relates to the need to avoid being a stumbling block. Interestingly enough, the next verse says nothing is unclean in itself. I take this to include the human body. I concede that regulation may be required where grace and love fail. If I show up in Speedo swimwear, the ushers will be well advised to exclude me from the typical Sunday morning service, though even here one can imagine exceptions.

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  79. “…we are all susceptible to being caught up in the very things we hate.”

    Yes. And I think there is some difference between getting caught up in the things we hate-ie, you constantly swear even though you hate to swear….as opposed to being a professing Christiian national leader (Haggard) and crusading very publically against the very thing you practice in secret.

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  80. Bridget – I wasn’t thinking of first-time visitors, but if a first-timer came in wearing a bikini, and the church did not meet at a beach, I would expect someone who is good at handling these things to quickly request a conference in another room, in order to first find out why she is dressed that way.

    Gary W – FWIW, I agree with you about the Gospel.

    I think statements in Scripture like “Be perfect” and (paraphrasing) “Be pure” are, as Bridget noted, standards to be striven for, but that we are mistaken to order our reality around, since no one has attained them. No one mentioned in Scripture had either, except One, so Scripture gives us guidelines that we have to interpret to apply to our day. Concerning modesty, there is someplace between total covering and nudity that we need to decide on. By all means, we must do this with love and understanding, not just for the ones we deem immodest, but also for those who have different levels of struggle with temptation. I agree that obsessing on this issue, as in Scott’s example, reveals a very unhealthy and sinful attitude.

    “If I show up in Speedo swimwear, the ushers will be well advised to exclude me from the typical Sunday morning service, though even here one can imagine exceptions.”

    I’m curious to know what these exceptions could be. I suppose the beach example that I mentioned could be one.

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  81. Jeff Brown, I really can’t come up with a better example than your beach church scenario. Maybe a situation where the whole church community knows that there are mental health or developmental issues. I’m stretching things, here, but maybe there could be a church next door to a swimming pool with a competition in progress, and one team or another decides to make an appearance. Maybe even some not-at-all-uptight church has a swim team and the pastor thinks it’s a good idea to bring the team in, in full “uniform,” for a big sendoff to the regional championships. I did use the word “imagined” as in “imagination.”

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  82. Gary,
    ” you suggest we won’t be needing this blog anymore. ”

    On the contrary. If you are referring to my long-winded post, I re-read it and wonder how you came to that conclusion. I was suggesting we don’t merely point out the issues (and do so specifically without the broad-brush), but suggest answers and solutions. Its become too easy to address wrongdoing without the fix. Sort of a cloud, a dark one, without rain.

    “We can be passionate about moral issues without it being evidence of our own guilt in the matter. Rather, my thought is that guilt is so evidenced, basically, when we exhibit JUDGMENTAL fervor.”

    Thanks for a clarification to earlier comments; I like how you stated, “without it being evidence of our own guilt.” I believe these things can be addressed without it being evidence of our own guilt – I submit the apostle Paul… and as you note, it was without the “judgmental fervor.”

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  83. ….as opposed to being a professing Christiian national leader (Haggard) and crusading very publically against the very thing you practice in secret.

    That’s a form of self-treatment and self-medication, like the old joke about psychiatrists becoming psychiatrists so they can self-treat their own craziness without anyone knowing. Like Rush Limbaugh, Number-One Fan of the War on Drugs while battling a secret Oxycontin addiction. Like recovering alcoholic Billy Sunday constantly preaching against Demon Rum.

    Like Limbaugh, Haggard was a CELEBRITY and CELEBRITIES Have To Be Superhumanly Perfect In Every Way, Totally Without Flaw. Especially when “God Saith!” ramps everything up to Cosmic-level Importance. A CELEBRITY preacher with a problem doesn’t dare go public; instead, he will attempt to self-treat in secret. That’s how I read what happened to Haggard.

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  84. Male modesty? Really? Their female modesty survey can be summed up in a word: Misogyny. Its message was as follows: you’re a stumbling block for men just because you’re a woman, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Except put on that burqa and never go out in public.

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  85. I’m convinced that these folks that are always harping about sexual purity and modesty are the biggest pervs around. When a man is constantly mentioning how women dress, he is the one undressing them in his mind and perhaps stopping off at Victoria Secret for a quick peek and some new underwear for his softer side.

    Again, recovering alcoholic Billy Sunday preaching against Demon Rum and nothing else; Rush Limbaugh cheering on the War on Drugs while battling a secret Oxycontin addiction; Ted Haggard trying to become the next Fred Phelps before getting caught with a male prostie. All trying to self-treat in secret by denouncing in others what was wrong with themselves.

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  86. I know this comment may not be well received.
    I think we need to slow down a bit and reconsider what does it mean when you want to go back to get “a second look” at an attractive person or to be waited on by them again, or to entice someone to sexualize or objectify you, or you them. When engaged in this activity, out of the mouth speaks the heart. And if you are keeping mum on this while doing this, you know darn well, it has nothing to do with respect and loving them as Christ does.
    Some would excuse this away by saying that God made beautiful things to look at—-really, is that what you are doing? Do you really think you need to have some hormonal triggering going on to tell you that you have gone too far? The brain is the largest sex organ in the human body and the hormones don’t need to be working in order to get a hit of pleasure from the lust that your heart just unleashed. People, there is a rush of what is called PEA that is a neurotransmitter that washes over the pleasure zone in your brain. A quadriplegic is even able to gain sexual release by just gazing, or glancing at someone they find attractive. This is why Jesus told us that when we look at a person with lust, it is the same thing as “going” there with another who is not yours to have. People really don’t stop to think about why these things are not good to do—and if anyone such as myself calls foul—then the “legalism” card is played.
    I would like to offer the following article by Charles Spurgeon to hopefully shed more light on this topic and that which many would kick up their heels in order to do what we have been told not to do—-and for good reason.

    http://www.angelfire.com/va/sovereigngrace/perpetuity.spurgeon.html

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  87. Uriahisaliveandwell: I think the key phrase in your comment is the quoted part “a second look.” I do not believe for a moment that all first looks would cause someone to lust. Second looks, however, can be a different story.

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  88. uriahisaliveandwell,
    Your comment is well received, as well as the Spurgeon sermon. There’s a fellow that frequents this blog that often uses the phrase “LAW OR NO LAW” who would benefit greatly from Spurgeon. I would add for JA’s edification, James 1:14 and words spoken to believers:

    “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (lust). Parens mine.

    The looking doesn’t ’cause’ lust (desires), we come already equipped.

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  89. B4B said:

    The looking doesn’t ’cause’ lust (desires), we come already equipped.

    Great news, B4B! I will continue enjoying (not lusting) at the eye candy – God’s beautiful creation. 🙂

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  90. Pingback: Enough Already with the Modesty and Purity Hype | Homeschoolers Anonymous

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