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Thread: Defining Modesty

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    Default Defining Modesty

    What is our dress standard? I was prompted to question this for a couple of reasons, and a major reason is I read that until 1937, it was illegal for men to be topless. Now, society in general and I think most of the church is okay with it.

    First, I won’t accept 1Ti 2:9 because of the context, and the greek. Regarding the context: “modesty” is defined in the same verse: not with gold, pearls, etc. It’s not about the amount of skin showing, but about excessiveness. The argument for clothing could go both ways, if we use this verse. First, dressing with too much on (relative to who/what’s around) could be immodest because it draws attention to us (i.e. if you don’t show enough skin at the beach.) However, it could also be argued that showing too much (shorts that are very short at walmart) is immodest. In any regard, that’s not the primary context of this verse. Second, the greek word that people argue from is not translated as modest, but as apparel (of course, I’m not going to argue from what the translators did.) Apparel is the word καταστολη, and the standard argument is that the prefix κατα on στολη means long/cast down/flowing. Perhaps it does in general, I don’t know greek that well. But first, what would that mean? The στολη was already long, so this serves no purpose to the argument that our clothing must be long (and well-covering.) More importantly, though: καταστολη didn’t have the meaning they make it to. Καταστολη was a specific article of clothing, worn over the στολη, and it only came down about to the waist (see Clark’s commentary, I believe he’s the one that addressed this.)

    Second, causing others to stumble … This is a reasonable argument, but I don’t think it applies. Of course, we’re not to sin and teach others to do the same. We’re also not to tempt another to sin against his conscience by his seeing us do the very thing he thinks is wrong. However, I don’t think this extends to dress standard. For comparison: if I buy a Gallardo Lamborghini and then invite my brother to ride with me, have I tempted him to stumble and am I guilty for doing so? Because, of course – he’s likely to be jealous. Now, if my goal is to incite that – my heart is evil. But, if I’m merely sharing this beautiful creation with him, as I would if I invited him to visit the grand canyon with me during a sunset, I haven’t sinned even though I know he’ll be tempted to covet.

    Third, Genesis 3 … This is the strongest argument, in my opinion. Adam and Eve ate, and then they knew they were naked and they made themselves loin cloths. So, their initial (now ontological, you might say) reaction was to cover their genitals. However, after making these loin cloths, they still considered themselves naked (the reason they hid from God.) In addition, God clothed them with both tops and bottoms. I don’t see the tops being required as clear-enough, because there are other possibilities still. They covered themselves with fig leaves, and it’s possible (even probable, I imagine) they weren’t very well covered. I’ve seen videos of primitive people who cover their genitals with similar things, and if they bend forward -it’s not a pretty sight (this correlates well with the priests who had to wear relatively long bottoms so the people underneath them wouldn’t look up and see their genitals.) They may have seen themselves as still being in a relative state of nudity; as Saul was naked because he wasn’t in his kingly attire, or Isaiah because he was in his underwear (supposedly.) Also, God’s making tops for them may have related to the curse: now there would be thorns to cut them, etc. In any case, these counter arguments relate ONLY TO WHETHER A TOP IS REQUIRED. I think this verse is very clear that the genitals must be covered (and considering the priests wore long bottoms *in order to* hide the genitals shows that this region is either solely sinful to expose, or especially sinful to expose, in my opinion. I’m not sure which of those two, though) and I think that Rev 3:18 (I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.) implies that full nudity is not merely shameful, but also sinful. However, I acknowledge that it’s an implication and I might be stretching. In closing on this point, I’m not stating that Gen 3 is insufficient to prove tops must be required, but I’m throwing out ideas I’d like to have challenged. Right now, I’m not bold on this section one way or the other – and I’d like to be. Help me to understand it rightly.

    Note: I’ve seen no justification for men to be allowed topless and not women. I’m fine with whatever the scriptures teach, I’m fine with banning both men and women from being topless, but none of my studying has shown discrepancy to be allowed here. Either both men and women need to cover their chests, or neither do. Some people quote verses about breasts, but they’ve always been non-sequiturs. Or, they’re taken entirely out of context: a woman’s breasts are fondled and they use that to prove they shouldn’t be displayed.

    Second note: Please do not take our culture into account. That is: don’t tell me that men should be allowed to go topless in our culture but not in a more modest one because it offends the sensibilities of that culture. That may be true, and it may be a correct answer: but it’s not what I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to learn whether the scripture has a minimum standard that applies to all cultures, and what that standard is.

    I was also going to ask about defining lust, but I realized my post is very long. I hope to address that another time, in another OP.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Actually you are going about this the wrong way...
    Culture does play a part here and if you are unwilling to engage on this point then even your Biblical understanding will go awry.
    Any dress standards in Biblical times represent cultural norms - of those times - and they have changed with time...

    Perhaps you should look up this word - contextualization - as it pertains to the theology of mission.
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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by graceNpeace View Post
    Actually you are going about this the wrong way...
    Culture does play a part here and if you are unwilling to engage on this point then even your Biblical understanding will go awry.
    Any dress standards in Biblical times represent cultural norms - of those times - and they have changed with time...

    Perhaps you should look up this word - contextualization - as it pertains to the theology of mission.
    Hey!

    I wanted to interpret the scripture's hard standard apart from culture *first,* and then move on to culture if relevant.

    However, if that's an incorrect way to do this - I'm listening. Please continue.

    Chiefly, I want to avoid this reasoning: "Our current culture says it's wrong (argument from majority), therefore it's wrong for all cultures."
    Last edited by Nonconformist; July 16th, 2017 at 08:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    I see you liked my post. Since then, I made an edit for clarification; please notice it.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    If what you are wearing, you think will cause others to lust, is dressing immodestly.
    If what you are wearing, you think will not cause anyone to lust, that is dressed modestly.

    ^i^

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Modesty is a matter of the soul. The depth and riches of the heart, our application
    of Christian values. Dress is the least of all of these and inspires judgement and
    speculation or someone else heart. Scripture says if your eyes causes you to sin,
    pluck it out. It is not the wearer that sins, it's the observer.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscipleDave View Post
    If what you are wearing, you think will cause others to lust, is dressing immodestly.
    If what you are wearing, you think will not cause anyone to lust, that is dressed modestly.

    ^i^

    ††† In His Holy and Precious Name, Jesus Christ †††

    DiscipleDave.com
    First, do you agree the defintion of modesty you used isn't the way it was used in 1Ti 2:9? If so, that's fine: but point two becomes very important.

    Second, do you believe it's a sin to dress immodestly? On what basis?

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by DustyRhodes View Post
    Modesty is a matter of the soul. The depth and riches of the heart, our application
    of Christian values. Dress is the least of all of these and inspires judgement and
    speculation or someone else heart. Scripture says if your eyes causes you to sin,
    pluck it out. It is not the wearer that sins, it's the observer.
    You don't think that Gen 3's apparently ontological intention of shame due to nudity requires at least SOME clothing to not be in sin?

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by Nonconformist View Post
    Hey!

    I wanted to interpret the scripture's hard standard apart from culture *first,* and then move on to culture if relevant.

    However, if that's an incorrect way to do this - I'm listening. Please continue.
    My real point is this:
    If you want to interpret what you call "scripture's hard standard" then you need to do it in the light of the cultural standards of the day.
    Then, if you want to work out an application that is current and appropriate for your culture (you are American and so your ideas about what is normal and acceptable will be very different from a community in Africa or the Middle East) then you have to know exactly what the cultural norms are.

    Contextualization is the process of taking a Biblical tenet that is intimately interwoven with the culture of Biblical times and appropriately applying it to another culture in another time.

    I will give you a quick example - you will note Paul talking about women not uncovering their hair.
    Why was he specific about this?
    Well, simply put, prostitutes of his day were identified by the fact that their hair was uncovered.
    Is that a helpful thing in contemporary American culture where practically all women will go about their daily business with their hair uncovered?
    No!
    And, this is because a prostitute in the USA is identified differently.
    The context (for Paul) is not about whether hair is uncovered or not per se but to not identify oneself (even inadvertantly) as a prostitute.

    A good application if this is doing missions work in Central Africa and how this pertains to dress codes for female missionary workers. In this part of the world any woman dressed in jeans is assumed to be a prostitute. So, in order to have any standing and integrity in those communities female missionary workers cannot afford to be dressed in jeans in public. In fact they need to dress in long skirts or dresses which conform to the local dress standards for modest women.
    For men one needs to dress in long trousers all the time in public. Despite the heat, if one goes out in public in shorts then you are deemed to be a boy (a child) and so cannot be taken seriously as an adult. Obviously this has consequences if one is trying to convince these communities of the merits of Jesus Christ!

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by Nonconformist View Post
    You don't think that Gen 3's apparently ontological intention of shame due to nudity requires at least SOME clothing to not be in sin?
    ​ Just flyin by the seat of my pants here,but when Adam and Eve received knowledge of good and evil,that is when they realized they were naked and ashamed. Then they were given the leaves for covering. Before they didnt notice they were uncovered. So with evil came lust? Just a thought that that is where it all began. So covering private parts became necessary after the fall.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    There is no 'our' standard. There's your standard and then there's my standard. Why the interest in this question?
    M & M's melt in your mouth and not in your hands.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by Nonconformist View Post
    You don't think that Gen 3's apparently ontological intention of shame due to nudity requires at least SOME clothing to not be in sin?
    Seeing how they were the only couple in existence at the time I don't believe the Lord clothed them due to their nudity but because of the sin that they had committed.
    NotmebutHim and Meggido like this.
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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by tourist View Post
    There is no 'our' standard. There's your standard and then there's my standard. Why the interest in this question?
    Why the interest in defining any questionable standard from the Bible?

    Also, 's never means plural (The M&M thing in your sig.)

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by tourist View Post
    Seeing how they were the only couple in existence at the time I don't believe the Lord clothed them due to their nudity but because of the sin that they had committed.

    Possibly,but the Bible says they knew suddenly they were naked and made leaves to cover themselves. Their eyes were opened. So something changed with the fall.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Modesty reminds me of the top part of a jelly.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by graceNpeace View Post
    My real point is this:
    If you want to interpret what you call "scripture's hard standard" then you need to do it in the light of the cultural standards of the day.
    Then, if you want to work out an application that is current and appropriate for your culture (you are American and so your ideas about what is normal and acceptable will be very different from a community in Africa or the Middle East) then you have to know exactly what the cultural norms are.

    Contextualization is the process of taking a Biblical tenet that is intimately interwoven with the culture of Biblical times and appropriately applying it to another culture in another time.

    I will give you a quick example - you will note Paul talking about women not uncovering their hair.
    Why was he specific about this?
    Well, simply put, prostitutes of his day were identified by the fact that their hair was uncovered.
    Is that a helpful thing in contemporary American culture where practically all women will go about their daily business with their hair uncovered?
    No!
    And, this is because a prostitute in the USA is identified differently.
    The context (for Paul) is not about whether hair is uncovered or not per se but to not identify oneself (even inadvertantly) as a prostitute.

    A good application if this is doing missions work in Central Africa and how this pertains to dress codes for female missionary workers. In this part of the world any woman dressed in jeans is assumed to be a prostitute. So, in order to have any standing and integrity in those communities female missionary workers cannot afford to be dressed in jeans in public. In fact they need to dress in long skirts or dresses which conform to the local dress standards for modest women.
    For men one needs to dress in long trousers all the time in public. Despite the heat, if one goes out in public in shorts then you are deemed to be a boy (a child) and so cannot be taken seriously as an adult. Obviously this has consequences if one is trying to convince these communities of the merits of Jesus Christ!
    Yes, this is important data; I wasn't clear what I meant by not using the culture in interpretation.

    So, how does this relate to the issue at hand?
    Help me understand dress code. Tell me about the culture and how it relates to the texts.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by kaylagrl View Post
    ​ Just flyin by the seat of my pants here,but when Adam and Eve received knowledge of good and evil,that is when they realized they were naked and ashamed. Then they were given the leaves for covering. Before they didnt notice they were uncovered. So with evil came lust? Just a thought that that is where it all began. So covering private parts became necessary after the fall.
    This could be. Note though: Adam and Eve were married. However, I think your point would still apply: they would soon have children. Also, God was present; perhaps they were hiding their nudity from Him.

    Quote Originally Posted by tourist View Post
    Seeing how they were the only couple in existence at the time I don't believe the Lord clothed them due to their nudity but because of the sin that they had committed.
    Yes, because of the fall (sin) he clothed their nudity - the two are inseparable. Nudity wasn't bad, but because of the fall - it became so.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by Nonconformist View Post
    Why the interest in defining any questionable standard from the Bible?

    Also, 's never means plural (The M&M thing in your sig.)
    You like M & M 's? Plain or peanut? I'm trending towards plain.
    M & M's melt in your mouth and not in your hands.

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    Default Re: Defining Modesty

    Quote Originally Posted by Nonconformist View Post
    Yes, this is important data; I wasn't clear what I meant by not using the culture in interpretation.

    So, how does this relate to the issue at hand?
    Help me understand dress code. Tell me about the culture and how it relates to the texts.
    Well, I am not going to do your research for you!
    However, what you need to do as a first priority is this: when you examine the dress codes in biblical times you need to get behind the cultural, religious, and practical reasons for those dress codes.
    Sometimes the Bible itself gives you what you need but often you will have to examine other sources in order to understand the cultural anthropology of the day.
    A lot of insights will be gained in the process because the reasons why things were as they were are not obvious and in fact may be counter-intuitive.

    You are the man with the inspiration to chase this issue so you get the job to tease out the details...

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