Some Feedback on the Spandex Thing
Thank you for writing this particular blog topic. The subject is one of the myriad of topics that most churches seem unwilling to confront openly. As a woman, I understand the desire to look attractive. As a wife and mother of three boys (and two girls), I understand intimately the damage that can be done when women are blatantly immodest. Especially if said women are part of the church. Especially if those women are then singing in front of the church, in said spandex. It is indeed a slippery slope. We are called to be set apart from the world. It would be nice if we as women would have the decency to be modest in church or anywhere, and if the church would uphold these standards, for the benefit of all. Thank you for the very realistic and thought-provoking scenario you presented.
Talvikki, you are most welcome.
Re: Evangelical Spandex at the Gym What about a (dyed-in-the-spandex) Reformed Baptist like James White or a (dyed-in-the-spandex) Reformed Presbyterian (male) like me “shaking our moneymakers” out on the public roads, riding our bicycles?
Curiously in Christ,
Joshua, here’s the thing. I don’t think they are moneymakers.
I was this young woman (or a 1970’s version of her) until Jesus got a hold on my heart—something I thought He already had. It wasn’t that anyone actually chastised me, it was that I KNEW what I was doing, and liked it. The change in me happened fast enough that my male circle of friends commented about it. It was afterwards that I met my wonderful husband. I was given grace all around and I’m so grateful. My life has been rich and fulfilling without spandex in public.
Melody, thanks, and thank the Lord..
Evangelical Spandex at the Gym. I am not an eloquent speaker or wordsmith. So let me just say, Thank you!
I have been teaching my daughters (I have four, ages 5 and younger) that ‘Leggings are not pants.’ But this is an increasingly difficult line to speak when more and more people, closer and closer in relation, wear leggings like pants. It is tempting to give up the line instead of explaining modesty to people who should ‘know better.’ This post is both encouraging and challenging. Women are not exempt from modesty at the gym (or dare I say swimming pool?!?!?!) Thank you for the reminder!
Eliza, yeah. Let’s not get started on the swimming pool.
Re: Evangelical Spandex at the Gym. It is well-known that your no-quarter November articles purposefully generate more heat than light, but it is shameful that an older Christian man would refer to Christian women who you are to regard as sisters and daughters in the faith as “hoochie mamas” and speak of “money makers” and “jumping her bones.” Let’s say a woman who has this particular problem reads your blog. Will she be edified? Will she have some clue as to constructive ways to remedy her situation? No. She will just feel icked out that an older man who is supposed to be respectable as an elder in a church has talked about someone wanting to “jump her bones.” I am a married Christian woman pursuing godliness, and as such I want no man’s attention other than my husband’s. I’ve also abandoned gyms entirely in favor of home workouts because believe me, there is no workout gear modest enough to keep creeps from ogling when all I want is 30 minutes on the elliptical. Articles like yours may have the unfortunate effect of justifying men in their sinful lust.
Evelyn, I agree that if that happened, it would be unfortunate. But keep in mind that we are on the same side, wanting the same thing. The goal should be public decency, and lives that line up with the gospel. But I am afraid we have cultivated a licentious church with a very prim and thin veneer. Because we won’t say what all the men are thinking, the men continue to think it. And the show gets gaudier and gaudier, with the Christian women thinking all is well . . . because if it were not, wouldn’t somebody say something?
In regards to Evangelical Spandex at the Gym: How do you square your stance on yoga pants and spandex with CS Lewis’ thoughts on modesty from Mere Christianity?
“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).“
Or, “When people break the rule of propriety current in their own time and place, if they do so in order to excite lust in themselves or others, then they are offending against chastity. But if they break it through ignorance or carelessness they are guilty only of bad manners. When, as often happens, they break it defiantly in order to shock or embarrass others, they are not necessarily being unchaste, but they are being uncharitable: for it is uncharitable to take pleasure in making other people uncomfortable.”
Could it be that the wearing of yoga pants falls more in the category of societal propriety? Is the wearing of spandex appropriate in any situation? Is it possible that other cultures do not view yoga pants in this fashion? It would seem Lewis’ solution prescient here:
“At its present stage, however, it has this inconvenience, that people of different ages and different types do not all acknowledge the same standard, and we hardly know where we are. While this confusion lasts I think that old, old-fashioned, people should be very careful not to assume that young or ’emancipated’ people are corrupt whenever they are (by the old standard) improper; and, in return, that young people should not call their elders prudes or puritans because they do not easily adopt the new standard. A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems.”
Thank you in advance for response as I’m just trying to align two men who’s teaching I respect greatly.
P.S. The other main point of your article regarding discipline was much appreciated. Thank you for that and God bless.
James, I agree entirely with the point that Lewis is making here, and I can think of any number of examples. The kind of mandatory knee length skirt required by a very conservative Christian high school today would have been the occasion of scandal in Victorian England. So I take Lewis’s point, and his examples. The issue is where we would categorize this trend. It is very much a matter of sexual decadence. I think the designers and advertisers of stretch pants are sinning against chastity. I think that Christian women who wear them might be sinning against chastity, or it might be bad manners through ignorance.
Great Idea for a Christmas Present
Re: The Cultural Mind quotes
So ever since the first quote I read from this book I have been trying to find it…. is it a work in progress and I just need to learn patience?
Laurel, here you go.
Another Business Question
Freebie question: Could our church purchase Canon+ subscriptions for multiple members at the $49 price? Sounds like a subscriber can only purchase “a” (singular) discounted subscription.
BJ, the short answer is yes. But there is a small catch. You would have to do it one at a time, using the gift subscription. The tech guys are working on a way to do in one fell swoop, but that won’t be ready for a few months yet.
The Forgiveness Quandry
Are Christians ever required to forgive a person even if that person never repents? Is forgiveness only to be extended when asked for?
Rose, the short answer is yes, but with a qualification. Forgiveness is to be extended before it is requested, but it cannot be transacted until it is requested. I tell people to wrap their forgiveness up, like it was a Christmas present, and to keep it by the front door. If the person finally comes and requests it, you don’t have to hunt for it. You have already settled the matter in principle.
Those Timely Puritans
I have been reading a little on the history of the Puritans in England, Scotland, etc. during the 1600’s, etc. And just looking at the broad outlines of their history, and how they lived and responded and acted in the context of the ruling authorities in England (e.g. toward the King and Parliament, etc.), I think I see that they have more in common with the more biblically “militant” pastors and Christian leaders of our time (e.g. Doug Wilson and John MacArthur), than with those of us Reformed who are quick to read Puritan books and quote them AND TO PRAISE THE PURITANS FOR THEIR GODLY COURAGE, but yet who (with the best biblical intentions and a good conscience before God) would be much more quick to submit to our civil rulers and distance themselves from any kind of conflict for anything short of the government dictating to what they could preach from the pulpit, or demanding some kind of flagrant sin (e.g. “marrying” homosexuals, etc.), etc.
These “pietistic” Puritan lovers (like I tend to be) might object and say that the Puritan situation in England under a state religion, is entirely different from our situation here in the U.S., since we don’t have a state church/religion in this country, and we are “free to worship as we please” where the Puritans were not. But I think this would be an argument about words and names and not about substance, e.g. since the U.S. government is openly operating under the presuppositions and guidelines of the “state religion” of atheism, or whatever you want to call it.
Like I said, my thinking on this is very vague and the ideas and similarities just barely taking shape in my head. Do you think there is a valid, direct comparison between the Puritans and their situation in 1600’s England and our “post-Christian” situation in the U.S.? . . . Or, on the other hand, if the Puritans were over here in our time maybe they would simply be taking similar stands to those godly pastors who refuse to be silenced in the pulpit, refuse to perform homosexual “marriages,” bow the knee to BLM, CRT, and other woke things., etc.
What are your thoughts, please?
Robert, I think you are very much on to something. Continue down that road, and maybe pick up the pace a little.
Always a Postmill Question
I am trying to reconcile Matthew 24:1-35 with postmillenialism. If there is to be a great period of Christian ethics on earth before the return of Christ, how does this reconcile with the end times spelt out in Matt 24:10 (apostasy, betrayal, hatred, false prophets) and the dire predictions in 2 Tim 3:1-9? Does the key lie in verse 14 of Matt 24: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”. Does this verse mean that not only with the gospel be preached, but it will be obeyed? Does the period in 2 Tim 3:1-9 therefore come before the period of Christian ethics flourishing? If you have written on this point, could you please refer me to those posts? Thanks for your time.
David, I take those descriptions as applying to the first century, and the “end” being referred to is the end of the old Judaic aeon.
Do you see any significance in the forty-two generations listed in Matthew 1 and the references to 42 months repeatedly used in Revelation 11?
Tom, my initial reaction is no, but I also have to say I never considered that before. So let me think about it.
“A word to my postmillennial friends:
Doesn’t Jesus tell his disciples to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, you might ask? Yes, but, first, Jesus moves from the neuter “nations” to a masculine ‘them,’ meaning he’s talking about people.”
What do you make of this remark?
Thanks and please, continue the good work.
Christian, yes. Of course he talking about people. You disciple nations by discipling people. You baptize nations by baptizing people. You teach obedience to nations by teaching obedience to people.
Honoring a Poor Father
Could you help me think about how I can honor my Christian father who abandoned me as a kid? I want to honor God by the way I interact with my dad. How do I go about honoring him if the way he treated us by leaving is something that I would describe as cowardice and abnegation if I saw a dad doing that to their kids?
Any help would be much appreciated.
Will, on the assumption that this is something that your father needs to learn about himself, honoring him is going to be the surest way to get to the place where you might be able to tell him. He does not need the truth asserted simply. He needs to hear the truth. And you don’t have to honor the desertion itself. You can’t honor the sin. But you can honor the sinner. You can salute the uniform.
Smashmouth Incrementalism & Pro-Life Stuff
I’m just now starting to process the abolitionist/ incrementalist debate wanting to honestly come down on the right side of the issue. I have to wonder what Christ would have to say about it? I’m having a bit of trouble imagining Him signing off on an incrementalist bill (or voting for a candidate that holds to incrementalism), whether it’s abortion or any other godless societal behavior. Do we have record of our Lord ever negotiating with man in sinful behavior? My mind is still open to arguments, pro or con.
Rob, sure. Moses granted divorce because of man’s hardness of heart, and Jesus approved of Moses doing so.
A pro-life group came to the university I work at today (abortionno.org). I met with them and was mightily encouraged to see them on this campus. I started to look into their volunteer requirements and they have one line that I’m having a difficult time with:
“Commitment to non-violence: Do you condemn all forms of violence in pro-life activism and refuse to collaborate with groups or individuals who fail to condemn such violence?”
I don’t know if I can condemn this. I understand that vigilante violence is a violation of God’s law and can easily condemn that. What about self defense? What about if we actually get the civil magistrate punish abortionists? What about if our cold civil war turns into a hot one?
My question to you is: should I be able to make such a commitment to this condemnation? Am I in sin for my current inability to do so?
Thank you for your faithful teaching,
Thomas, it seems to me that they are simply trying to exclude clinic-bombers. If it came out that they were a pacifist group, meaning no use of force under any circumstances, then of course you could not sign. But this seems like a common sense requirement on their part.
Inductive Bible Study
I recently finished Ploductivity, and in the post script you mentioned the inductive Bible study method. Could you point me to a good resource to learn more about that? Jay
Jay, here you go. This is where I learned it.
The Constitutional Convention
A friend got me devouring Gary North’s “Conspiracy in Philadelphia.” I’m hooked. It sounds too good to be true.
I know you’ve read more North books than most of my generation has read at all—I’m hoping you’ve read this one. Do you agree with his thesis that the Constitutional Convention is more likened to a coup than the glorious narrative that’s been taught for two centuries, and —if so—how are Christian nationalists to rebuild in light of this alarming truth?
Cole, like Patrick Henry, I also smelled a rat. But I don’t go quite as far as North does. I don’t think it was a coup—all the states voted, and successfully got their stipulations attached. The Bill of Rights was the contribution of the Anti-Federalists, and with them attached, I was content with the resultant compromise. But I do think they should have locked a few more doors than they did.
I am one of the privileged few who managed to obtain a NQN flag. It is hanging proudly in my apartment, a daily reminder of this month’s festivities.
I am newly out of the evanjelly way of life, but find myself unprepared to pick fights like Paul and Schaeffer, as you mentioned in “Like Dead Flies on a Windowsill”. At my core, I am a weak people-pleaser. I dislike strong disagreement with those I am closest to.
I am convinced, however, that I must fight for truth, because I love these people.
What would you recommend for a 20-something who knows it’s time to grow up and fight like a man?
Lucas, I would suggest this. Start praying that God would send you one situation where you need to step up, and that you would recognize it as it is coming. And that you would acquit yourself well. Then do that again.
Thank you for your ministry, it has been a blessing to my wife and me.
Unfortunately I cannot recall a specific post, but throughout your blogs, you have mentioned something to the liking of, “The evangelical academy advocates for a winsome charity over proclaiming truth, as to stay in the ‘guild.'” Could you give some wisdom here to a pastor-in-training? I’m in an excellent seminary, and for a class I had to review multiple commentaries to figure out their aim and give a critique. One of them was an IVP publication where the author glossed over what the Bible said in favor of a feminist interpretation of the reading (which wasn’t even truthful in the slightest to the text). I gave my critique of the egalitarian/feminist position, and closed by saying I was baffled this even received publication. I felt my response was in proportion to what the content of the commentary warranted. My professor and TA disagreed, encouraging me to have ‘Christian Charity’ in my response, as the author is a well-accomplished scholar in the evangelical sphere, and I need to learn to engage winsomely with those on the “other side.”
How do I maneuver around this?What insight do you have regarding this whole “If it’s published academically absolutely no harsh criticism is warranted?” I’m considering this a taste of what the future holds for me in the evangelical world, and I see myself in one respect or another becoming blacklisted like yourself or MacArthur. Is the evangelical academy really that opposed to conscience and conviction? Sorry, I know that’s a lot, respond however God leads you.
Caleb, welcome to the fray. And you will find this kind of thing everywhere.
Did I Break My November Rule?
“the ecclesiastical lynchings that occurred in the name of dealing with sexual offenders (never forgetting that sometimes lynch mobs do get the right guy)” Was that a qualification to appease people looking to misread? Are we starting the season by breaking the rules?
“The cardinal deadly sin in the unique evangelical lexicon had become meanness, and their cardinal virtue had become niceness”
This is spot on one of my biggest criticisms of the church for most of my life. The church (small c) confuses niceness for kindness. The laws of kindness are defined by God. We can measure it with Scripture. Coming from God, kindness is always good. The laws of niceness are cultural and defined by man. Niceness is a slurry of arbitrary rules derived from the personal opinions of everyone from Kshama Sawant to Abraham Piper to David French. Niceness is pestilence. While kindness has that objective measuring stick in Scripture, niceness is a constantly moving target, determined subjectively by whatever person has self elected to become the judge. Kindness tells us to be gentle with struggling brothers. Niceness tells us to lie to them to let them fall into self delusion. Kindness tells us to protect the sheep from the wolves. Niceness tells us to pretend wolves don’t exist, and allow sheep to be slaughtered in the name of that lie.
Niceness has none of the goodness, but all the appearance of it, yet churches swoon for niceness as a younger sister in a Jane Austen novel.
Good article I suppose is the point of the letter? I don’t really have a question or objection. You just kind of got me started on a thought process there. Thanks as always for the work.
Justin, I suppose you could argue there was a technical violation there, but let us not be legalistic. Amen to all the rest.
Long Standing Porn Problem
How long should a wife endure her husband’s attraction to porn? Does it constitute Biblical grounds for divorce? I’m sorry—I know this isn’t “How it’s done. ” But I’m about at my limit. He’s 90, I’m 75; married in 1998. Both previously divorced, both previously widowed. Both profess Christ, one attends Sunday worship. Thank you.
E, if this is unrepented porn use, and not just “attraction to” porn (e.g. temptation), then it is possibly grounds for divorce. But if you have known about it for an extended period of time, then divorcing him now that he is 90 is an additional complication. Are there other factors in play? There could be strong reasons both directions, and so I would strongly recommend seeking out pastoral counsel where you live.
As someone who has no experience for richly liturgical churches, how can I learn to chant the Psalms?
Levi, the Christ Church web site has a number of videos to help learn different kinds of psalms, but if you want chanting lessons, I am sure there are entire YouTube counties dedicated to something like that.
Am I a Traducian or Not?
A couple of weeks ago someone by the name of Marne wrote a letter with several questions in it. One of the questions wasn’t answered, and I was kind of curious to hear your answer myself. So here it is. “What is your conviction on when our souls are ‘made.’ Is it when the egg is fertilized or are our souls made before conception?”
Rose, I don’t believe that Scripture teaches that our souls are made before conception. The two basic options are the creationist view, which holds that God creates the soul at the moment of creation, and the traducianist view which holds that we inherit our souls from mother and father, just like we do our bodies. The Reformed tend to be creationist, and the Lutherans traducionist. On this one, I lean traducianist, but I haven’t settled yet.
A How-To Manual on House Building
Didn’t you once recommend a book that teaches you how to build your own house? I know you essentially did that, correct?
I’ve searched the blog and can’t find it, but I know I’m not crazy!
Chris, yes. A friend loaned the book to me, and I can’t remember the name of it. But I used it faithfully.
Saving the Awkward Question for Last
This will be an uncomfortable topic—but I believe it would be helpful to clarify biblically for those who deal with this.
In various articles you have discussed the “natural use” of the woman—and what sexual acts are constituted as within God’s framework and intent—and those that are not. In the specific article that you wrote—I believe you were dealing with anal sex as prohibited biblically. I thought the argument was simple yet cogent. In fact, I think the argument biblically is fairly obvious.
That said, anal sex is not the only type of issue that sinful men deal with, of course. I know you have dealt with fetishes and like topics (like feet, etc) and have mentioned them being juvenile and potentially unhelpful. Would you apply the same argument to fetishes? For definition sake—I am talking about parts of the body that are sexually stimulating for a man. I am not talking about the type of fetish or interest that renders a man uninterested or unstimulated by any other part of the female body unless that fetish is catered to. For example—I am curious to know if it is SINFUL for a man to find sexual satisfaction in an unusual part of the female body like the feet. Do you think this is a perversion that needs to be bled out? Or an interest that needs to be kept in its proper place and proportion? For example, like a man who enjoys the breasts or legs of his wife?
Thank you Doug for your faithfulness to the Lord and His Word. Blessings to you, your family, and your church.
Anon, the best I can do here is give a general rule of thumb. I believe the Song of Solomon encourages us to think that the lover finds many aspects of his beloved’s body as fascinating and attractive. He runs through quite an inventory. But I think a problem is developing when such an interest rises to the level of that “interest” routinely substituting for ordinary sexual intercourse. As foreplay, I think a couple should do what they both enjoy. The fundamental kink arrives when we try to get rid of God’s idea of a good finale.