The other day David Thiessen of Theology Archaeology decided to respond to a couple of posts I wrote on the subject of modesty. You can find my original part one here and part two here. As ever David wants to ram Biblical concepts down our throats, without ever considering whether those concepts help or not (historically they do not).
What’s interesting is that he said he wouldn’t dissect either post yet it seems by the end of his post he’s written at some length. Shall we evaluate his ‘critique’?
It has always struck us as strange that women would listen to certain men who promote the idea that women should expose themselves more in public. According to one story, a husband put up a photo of his wife in not so modest clothing as a defensive strategy.
We do not think much of that husband. The only reason we can think of that would explain why certain men would defend women’s behavior of stripping down is that they are perverts.
It is not as altruistic as they let on. They are not really defending the right of a woman to dress in as few clothes, they are defending their right to ogle such women. Or so it seems as they produce no real legitimate argument to support their point of view.
I don’t recall making the argument that women should wear skimpy outfits and I don’t go around putting pictures of my wife up in various states of undress. Whomever the man is in David’s example, it’s not a position I would undertake and it’s not the argument I made, so this is the Red Herring Fallacy at work. All I have done is defend the right of women to wear what they want to wear and express themselves in the manner they wish, without coming under fire from religious zealots who would then blame the women for any inappropriate actions on the part of the man (or even blame the women for any sexual thoughts the man might have).
The one piece of ‘evidence’ is the go-to one that is tired and worn out. MM blames the bible and other religions for the reason people do not want women to expose themselves in public.
Why blame the Bible? After all its instructions are guiding both men and women to holy behavior and stripping down, taking photos of one’s body (male or female), and then posting those photos for the world to see, is not modest or holy behavior.
Sexual misconduct comes from letting the sin nature rule one’s life instead of Christ ruling it and following Christ’s instructions. It does not come from the way men and women dress. However, there is a right and wrong way to dress in public.
These certain men and women do not care about dressing the right way or encouraging women to do the same. They need to be avoided and not listened to. The right way to dress is to be modest at all times especially when strangers are going to be looking at your images and body.
Again, this applies to both men and women. The Bible is not to be blamed for sexual sins. Its instructions when it comes to men and women relating to each other are often ignored and the rules of people like Playboy, Playgirl, Hustler, and other secular sources are the ones that are followed.
If there is a problem, blame those sources, not the one book that is designed to keep men & women safe. But to MM the Bible is always to blame because he thinks he, and other men like him, is more moral than God.
I blame the Bible but I also hold the overall institution of organised religion responsible for an attitude that unduly penalises women whenever they are assaulted or attacked. It’s all well and good for David to parrot the line that the Bible has commands for men but the Bible constantly reinforces the message that women are weaker and are to be submissive, and the practice of organised religion has long placed greater responsibility on women for the misconduct of men, something that has seeped into virtually every crack of society.
1 Corinthians 14:34: The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.
1 Peter 3:7: Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
1 Timothy 2:12: I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
I’ve seen this attitude from David himself, via his defence of Ravi Zacharias. ‘Women lie’ David tells us. Yes they do, but far more women are scared into staying quiet, or fear they will not be believed, so they remain silent in cases such as those of Mr Zacharias. Society has taught us that women invite or deserve rape and assault because of how they dress, or in some cases because of what they do. A masseuse doing her job should not have to be subjected to unwanted touching, and the kneejerk idea that we shouldn’t trust women is why most rapes and assaults go unreported.
Is it really love when you are thinking about someone else when you are being intimate with your mate? We have never called it that and I doubt few men and women would do the same.
Who said anything about such thoughts whilst being intimate?
What Mm and others do not realize is that the Biblical instructions are not dependent on the weather or the temperature. There are ways for both men and women to dress modestly on hot days. We know this because, one, we live in a very hot country and men and women dress very modestly here.
What David constantly fails to realise is that people who do not believe in Christianity or other religions are not duty-bound to dress to Biblical standards. If he cannot handle the sight of a woman’s body where she has dressed for comfort, that’s entirely on him. If he believes any wayward thoughts he might have at the sight of a woman dressed ‘immodestly’ are the fault of the woman, he’s incorrect – that’s on him.
It is possible to dress modestly o hot days. It is just that some men and women use the heat to disobey God and do their own thing. We also want to point out something from another passage of scripture.
It is quoted in Modesty 2:
Notice the wording in this verse. There is no sub-category ultra defining the text to say only when women wear scant clothing or post photos of them almost or all nude for the world to see.
This verse applies even when women are wearing burkas, a burlap sack or a pantsuit, etc. It is looking at a woman with lust that is wrong. It is not what she is wearing that causes the sin.
Should women strip down in public or post scantily-clad photos on the internet and other public places? Of course not and men should not do it either. It is wrong for both genders to do because yes, those images and in-person views do cause some people to lust and sin.
Not everyone but some do and that goes for both genders. Men and women need to watch what they wear because you do not want to cause a Christian brother or sister to stumble in their faith and fall.
We do need to protect our fellow Christian family members because they may not be mature believers yet or they may have a problem with looking at the opposite sex’s bodies.
It is not about oppression of women or blaming someone. It is about living and dressing the right way to protect oneself as well as other Christians.
‘It is not what she is wearing that causes the sin‘. I wish to thank David for unwittingly making my point for me. Whether a woman wears a bikini or burka to the beach should have zero bearing on what happens to them. It is the same for men – no one should be touched without permission, and no one should be sexually assaulted, regardless of how they dress. If your relationship with your partner is so fragile that the sight of another woman (or man) wearing anything even remotely revealing would cause you to stray, I dare say you need to work on your self and your relationship, rather than blaming the person who hasn’t dressed according to your values.
No, MM is wrong here. It is not coming from a purely biological urge nor are those urges always natural. Most of the time, those thoughts come from the sin nature, and without conquering them, they can lead to more disastrous sins that do not end well for anyone.
Lust is natural. Sex is natural. How we control those urges is up to us. David is coming up with excuses that misogynists use all the time to justify why they did something inappropriate (or worse).
No one should make excuses and no one should point the finger but that does not mean that both men and women have permission to disobey God and dress immodestly.
And do not let women off the hook here. Some ladies’ nights at the local bar can be very lustful, adulterous and women commit many sexual sins while attending them. You can say that the bars and men participating in these ladies’ nights are willfully leading women to sin.
I’m not interested in David’s demands for obedience to God. I’m on the fence as to whether or not I believe in God as it is, and I see no reason to expect unbelievers to be held to Biblical ideals of modesty. David is not obliged to accept the ideals and attitudes of non-believers but that cuts both ways. It is selfish of him to expect everyone to conform to his version of Christianity, and unreasonable of him to whine when they don’t. What women (especially single women but ultimately any woman) do in their time is up to them. I do not judge, I do not condemn, and I do not use what they wear as an excuse for my behaviour and thoughts. I am an adult, fully capable of self-control, and no one else is responsible if I lose control.
It remains to be seen how David will respond, given how he quietly backed out of discussions on gun control and the Establishment Clause. My friend Bruce Gerencser recently wrote his own takedown of fundamentalist Christian modesty arguments, and appropriately enough took David to task in the process. I’d urge you to have a look at his post on the subject, for Bruce brings experience of Christianity and an understanding of fundamentalist Christianity to the table.