Sunday, June 28, 2015

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, You Capitulated On Gender Design Distinction, So Is the Male Skirt a Church Discipline Issue?


I'm pretty sure that when evangelicals and fundamentalists started ignoring women in pants, they did not foresee the male skirt.  It's here now.   Society itself reacted against pants on women.  Even when society started accepting, Christians opposed.  Then Christians accepted, digging for some way to justify the activity.  Society reacted against the male skirt.  What's next?  I think you know, so let's just go there.  This isn't a slippery slope argument.  We're already there.

The arguments for pants on women are the arguments for skirts on men.  Pants were male dress. Skirts were female dress.  The man was the head of the home.  We're just eliminating all that for a totally egalitarian society.  Welcome to the world Gene Roddenberry envisioned.  We have totally evolved now to interchangeable uniforms.

I would guess that this male skirt fashion won't catch on as quickly as female pants did.  Why not?   The skirt is not a symbol of authority.  There is rebellion in the male skirt, but not the same type as pants on women.  Pants rebelled against role, design, and authority.  Today people think that kind of rebellion is good.  The churches don't want to say.  They don't want to get in trouble.  A male skirt is hardly even rebellious.  It's just cool.  It's telling every woman, I'm very fine with your being in charge.  It's the best strategy for getting a girl friend for some guys.

Right up front, I want to say, no one cares.  Most of my readers don't care.  You're ambivalent.  Just admit it.  Men are wearing skirts.  Oh well.  If you do care, I'd wonder about your reason, especially if your women wear pants.

Evangelicalism and fundamentalism both now have a solid reason behind the male skirt.   It won't take anything away from the gospel.  The gospel centered movement says that only the gospel is essential and male skirts are not the gospel.

Sometimes some issue works its way into an essential, like moving the pawn to start a chess match.  It's easy.  Let me give you a recent example.  Al Mohler says that racial superiority is a gospel issue, and he explains how that's the case:  racial superiority is uniquely a gospel issue because it attacks man made in God's image and that, um, reduces the power of substitutionary atonement (just read Mohler on it).  Voila, gospel issue.  It's easy to oppose racial superiority today, and it's easy to call it heresy. For anyone keeping track, that means to Mohler lowering the confederate flag but leaving the statues intact.  Flag down, statues up.  Flags are easy.  The guys on the statues, also with names on buildings, were heretics, but those will stay.  Got it?  These issues can keep moving in and out of essential and non-essential in evangelicalism, all dependent on whatever the world says is important at the time.

Women are welcome in most churches to wear pants.  Most of the time, that's what you'll see.  You don't see men in skirts, but at one time, you didn't see women in pants either.  It's not a gospel issue. I mean, we're made in the image of God, male and female created He us, but the world likes egalitarianism, so this isn't so much a gospel issue, so there we go -- nothing to do with substitutionary atonement this time.

Would the male skirt be a church discipline issue in an evangelical or fundamentalist church?  Would that man be confronted once one-on-one, second by two or three, and then brought before the church for excommunication?  Is the male skirt a gospel issue?

The number one argument for pants on women -- chuckle, chuckle, oh what a silly issue, so why am I even talking -- is both men and women wore robes.  So if men and women both wear skirts, nothing can be said, right?  They both wear pants, so nothing will be wrong if they both wear skirts.  Didn't think we'd get here, did you?  Back to the drawing board.  What will you say to the boy who wants to wear a skirt in your church?  What's wrong?

You can laugh now, but you also never envisioned gay marriage, I'm guessing.  Boys with skirts in your church, that's coming too.  What will you do?

29 comments:

Terry Basham, II said...

Do women members of your congregation become subject to disciplinary action for wearing pants?

I ask because I have trouble believing that could be real.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Terry,

The situation I referred to in my post was a male showing up in a skirt. Would you confront a male church member (first step of mt 18) at your church for showing up wearing a skirt? I'm assuming it could only go to step two if he wouldn't stop wearing a skirt.

By disciplinary action, you mean, to be confronted one on one. Yes. We would, in answer to your question. Why is that hard to believe? It would be very odd for a female church member to show up for a service in pants at our church. I've never seen it. Like other issues in our church, folks have the opportunity to grow. We don't cut people off, but as long as they don't cause division on something we believe, they are welcome to be a part. What I'm saying is that they aren't rebellious against it. This is in fitting with Romans 16:17-18. So if a woman had not yet come to this position, but wanted to be in our church, she just couldn't be rebellious about it and couldn't cause division over it. If someone saw a woman in our church with pants, she wouldn't be excluded from the church. There's a process and you give people time. As long as they aren't causing division, they have time for something like that.

The difference on an issue like dress is that it is so obvious. People can see it plainly where we live that we are different like that. Everyone around us knows that our women dress that way. The point of church discipline though is not to exclude members, but lovingly to bring them to a biblical position and practice, one that obeys and honors God.

Do you have any dress standards at all that would render someone sinful if he or she violated one of them? Does that count as a sin or is it just dismissed?

Terry Basham, II said...

Hello Kent,

I know what you were asking - I just wondered how you treated women members of the church who may or may not wear pants. I know the purpose behind church discipline and it can ultimately lead to exclusion. So, it makes sense to me that a woman who wears pants could be excluded. (I guess her husband too if he failed to get her to dress accordingly...)

So going in, a woman knows she can't wear them? yes? I guess you'd cover that in a membership meeting or something.

Based on what you've said they aren't to wear pants at all...yes?

The way a person dress is obvious and basically deceptive. People can see that you appear to be different but that doesn't mean you are. I mean the Mennonite around here look as 'holy' as they can but they ain't northbound when the trumpet sounds. The UPC people here in Lawton, their women are dresses, super long hair (that they never let down) and no make up. They look distinct too but they are damned.

I guess it is really off the topic but this is where this convo always goes I guess.

BACK to the point:

If a male member of our church was wearing a skirt to church, I'd say "Why are you doing that?" His motivation for it would be THE issue.

I don't have a codebook for people but if one of our members was running the beach in a bikini or something she'd get a call.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Terry,

You and I are similar in that we have enough independence and confidence in Christ not to care to comment on a blog post. If I were thinking like you, I might ask the same type of questions. To get the gist of how I see issues, I did a series a few years ago, and we just put up a sermon I preached in that series, on dress:

http://www.pillarandground.org/home/?page_id=15&sermon_id=433

I don't go back and listen usually to things I preached, but I did that one, because I forgot what I had said, since it was three years ago, and I wondered how I handled it. It represents how I think about it. I think you'll see it much different than your Amish, etc. stuff that you commented above. If you hear me preach, you know I'm different too.

You say that you don't have a codebook. Do you think that the Apostle Paul had one when he wrote 1 Cor 11:2-16 and 1 Timothy 2:9, etc. Would you be OK with Paul? Could he be OK with you? He seems fairly serious in 1 Cor 11.

You say that motivation is the issue for a man wearing a skirt. He says, it was more convenient, less binding, more free, and 'I get air where I couldn't get before." You say, "That's an OK motivation, so you're fine. They both wore robes." You said motivation is all there is. In other words, there is no male or female symbol in our culture and you are fine with that. Do you think that is scriptural? Does that obey and honor God?

In 1 Cor 11, lets say, and I think this could actually be it. She says, "the motivation for not wearing the head covering was that male and female both in Christ are equal in nature. Both male and female could learn, both were one in Christ, so she saw no need to follow that external pattern." Would you say that was fine, because her motivation was good?

Terry Basham, II said...

Kent,

I'll check out your stuff on this.

I have no problem with abiding by that the bible says - the problem is what does it mean? and not to what it means to you or me. I think you are down with that.

It is an easy jump to the Mennonite for me because of what you said about dress being obvious and all. Dressing does send a message but it's not always a true one.


I guess you take 1 Cor 11 as something other than hair?

1 Cor 11 is not a text I'm really conversant on... So, I need to think about it for a bit.

So, you don't think they both wore robes?



Doulos said...

Interesting discussion as most churches are all about clothing in a church/group setting being more about liberty than deference these days.

I'm curious as to how this pants scenario works out. Am I right that you consider pants to be very much sin? Would you let a visitor that visited and wore pants ongoingly continue in sin and create unrest for others in the church...for how long? As someone asked, would you cover this in a church membership discussion before they joined so indeed this sin wouldn't be allowed in the church (and easily become a distraction/divisive thing simply by choosing to wear them even though no one else does).

I guess what I mean is that from my experience, someone who comes into a church that obviously has a "code" and chooses to continue to go against that code is NOT just having growth issues. It is a quiet form of rebellion and divisiveness, or else they wouldn't want to make a scene and make things uncomfortable for the group they supposedly want to be "a part of." I've seen it so many times. They really ought to be kindly addressed, especially if it is considered sin to be wearing them--as with any other "publicly seen sin"--fairly early on before they feel like they can get away with it or that it's not going to be a big deal. It's a mark of our society to be a rebel and people who purposefully continue to go "against the flow" or the "code" in a church setting, from all I've seen, do it from pride and purpose--to agitate and break down. Is it fair to other women or members for others to come into the church with this "sin" and it not be addressed and get in line.

Some don't like it, but I've always thought the easiest most tactful way to handle "dress codes"is to have the "code" in the church documents clearly stated so that everyone knows where the church clearly stands and the church can easily have a document to tactfully, objectively refer to when someone new comes into the church. This would minimalize either reading too good of motivations in people "just needing to grow" and reading too much bad into them as well. Cut and dry..."here we stand"..."take it or leave it"..."go find a better fit" and keep the "sin out" and the unity of the believers intact.

Just rambling. It's a divisive issue that most churches and colleges have given up the fight on. It's all about letting people "grow" rather than maintaining a spirit of unity and deference and separation from the world rather than giving in to it. So when you say "let them grow" or let them continue "as long as they aren't being divisive/rebellious"...it gives me hints of unease that it's followoing the lines of current "touchy feely" philosophy. Hence, my seeking of clarification :)

You seem to indicate the "skirt on men" should be dealt with immediately, swiftly...but if handled the same as these women in pants--trying to read their rebel/divisive meter...then we can let these skirted men remain, giving them time to grow in our midst, influencing or vexing others, and assuming no ill intent or trying to read their hearts where no man can read but God. And man's heart is desperately wicked.

Michael Alford said...

"It's the best strategy for getting a girl friend for some guys."...Wow, I apparently have been out of the dating scene just long enough.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Terry,

I believe it was head coverings. I wrote on this sort of recently:

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2014/09/1-corinthians-112-16-headcoverings-and.html

I used the search function and found this too:

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2011/10/god-expects-or-assumes-separate-visible.html

There isn't a passage that says they both wore robes, but assuming they did, they were designed differently to distinguish. Designed gender distinction.

Thanks.

Terry Basham, II said...

Kent,

I agree that whatever they wore it was gender specific. Coupled with probably a head covering and a beard for the men.

I listened to your sermon last night and I wondered where I could read about the social climate of the Roman empire in that period? You've found somekind of resource? Or is it a cobbled together history from commentarries? (which is a common for source for most of us)

I've heard the Free Presby's talk about it and they do come to that conclusion - a covering and not hair. I've been a hair man on that passage but after looking at it again, I think you may be right.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Doulos,

You ask, "Am I right that you consider pants to be very much sin?" We believe pants are a male garment, so women shouldn't wear pants. This is a biblical and historic application of deut 22:5. Our church believes and practices this way still, like all churches did at one time.

Doulos: "Would you let a visitor that visited and wore pants ongoingly continue in sin and create unrest for others in the church...for how long?"

We don't emphasize this dress issue more than other things, but it is easy to see, so if a woman visits, and she's wearing pants, she looks around and sees herself as the only one. It always becomes an issue to her faster than it does us. Will she want to stay with us? Does she believe to the extent that she would want to identify with our church the way it is? Everyone dresses like we believe. Women get it. They understand what it's about. They do, before we even explain it. If they don't like it, they don't keep coming, not because we say they have to conform to a code.

If a woman wants to join our church, it's very easy to see what our church believes on this. It doesn't need to be brought up. If someone wasn't obeying this, we would deal with it. It just doesn't or hasn't happened. I would guess this is very similar everywhere else, but that's how it is here. It's not like our church people don't see women in pants. That's the norm, so if a visitor is wearing them, the awkwardness today is for the visitor, not our people.

On the growth issue, women won't come to church in pants, if your church practices that way. However, will they give them up completely when it isn't their own conviction, something they were never taught? I think it might take some time. I think time should be given for that like any other issue. We don't treat biblical teaching on dress as a code. No one makes a scene at our church. We don't inform unbelievers in evangelism that they must conform their dress in order to be saved. Women will change when they are saved though. I know of two women right now where this applies though. One says to someone in our church, I love your church, but I can't or won't change on dress and music. Another says I hear what you are saying, but the dress issue is not something I'll give up. That's more how it works. No one even says anything. They bring it up. I've never seen what you are talking about, people sticking around with a different practice just to agitate. If your church practices discipline and everyone knows it, they won't do this. I've not seen it.

As well, these people who violate scriptural practice in dress, they don't like a whole bunch of other stuff too about your church. It all comes as a package, I've noticed.

Would there be a different standard for a skirt wearing guy, versus a pant wearing woman? No. I don't think that anything I wrote would say that. My point of bringing in church discipline is using biblical language to ask if they would allow it. They allow women in pants for a particular reason -- it would seem to follow that they now allow men in skirts for the same reason. That was my point, not how the discipline was handled per se.

Doulos said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I will concede that if a church truly is being consistent and insistent already with guidelines (especially if written down) then there it is more likely to go as you described. And yes, that is the issue you were addressing--churches that had already lowered expectations/changed what was once acceptable in order to please and appease by using illogic that will only lead to more pragmatism.

It really takes a pastor that is gracious but not swayed by people-pleasing those that have a more prominent position or wallet in the church. How many times do churches start shifting because Deacon So-and-So's daughter wore thus-and-such to the church picnic, etc. etc. I have never been in a church, even the best of them, that didn't have an agitator from outside or within especially in regards to dress and music.

Upon reading the predictions of the future regarding the Supreme Court decision, I wonder if we aren't going to face hecklers of all sorts. Just as they would approach a church or pastor or a florist or a baker to do a same-sex "marriage" in order to stir up trouble, so they, or some "noble" caring Christian empathizer--as Christians on Facebook using the Rainbow filter to celebrate with their gay friends--might want to wear a skirt...to get the debate and discussion going and all...


Doulos said...

Not advocating TGC, but this has thoughts on "capitulation" where Christians don't even have to capitulate--we just choose to. These days we can't even just be silent or tolerant or live peaceably, we are expected to (and readily choose to)join in the celebrating. Maybe "Christians" will consider claiming the name of Christ too hateful and capitulate on that as well. Then we'll know our sides more clearly. If we don't already.

Doulos said...

I forgot to include the TGC link.
http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/07/01/40-questions-for-christians-now-waving-rainbow-flags/

Maybe I forgot because I was foolishly surprised at Christians elsewhere being all celebratory about the World Cup that includes team members frequenting pornographic publications and where they celebrate right along with "us" on the Supreme Court capitulation.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/soccer/2015/06/27/abby-wambach-megan-rapinoe-same-sex-marriage/29403757/

Where and when does it all end.

James Bronsveld said...

They won't see this as being such an issue, because like the "older" generation responsible for capitulating will be off the scene by the time this actually requires practical addressing. I've seen the clarity of this more recently with the idea of maintaining a dress code for church (dresses on women, pants on men) while rejecting that those articles of clothing distinguish between the genders. The "older" generation (which is responsible for the capitulation to various extents in fundamentalism and evangelicalism) realize they will be off the scene when it comes time to battle church men in skirts, so they won't have to actually deal with the problem. Until they pass off, they can keep a portion of their people in check by "tradition", until they pass the torch to the younger generation which will then reap the fruit of the capitulation and either cave the whole way or, Lord willing, reject the worldly compromise of their forebears. History would seem to suggest that total capitulation is the preference of the majority. Over all, it's rather selfish.

Greg Linscott said...

Kent,

I understand your target in your article is different than this situation, but I do have men in my church who dress like the two men on the left in this photo:

http://www.seasite.niu.edu/burmese/cooler/chapter_1/Chapter_1_images/Bd04.JPG

I'm just curious what you would do with this if it were in your church.

Kent Brandenburg said...

James,

I agree. Each generation decides pragmatism and/or capitulation (thorny ground?) with the thought perhaps that it's necessary for survival (like liberalism of late 19th century), i.e. faithlessness. It is selfish, because the can is kicked down the road. What does God say?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Greg,

Thanks for commenting. In this country I would tell those folks to take on the symbols of this culture. If they are wanting to obey God and are doing so in their own culture, take the same principles and follow them here. The counter might be there are none in this culture, so at least these men are keeping Burmese symbols. Are there Burmese symbols? Do they care? If they do, then they will want to wear the male garment, which is pants in this culture. They've got to be taught, just like the folks in Corinth. I hearken to 1 Cor 11 and keeping the symbols of Greek culture, since they were right. Headcovering meant male headship.

Greg Linscott said...

So, how high a priority would teaching that principle be for you, vs. wearing other ethnic dress, cuisine, language, etc.?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Greg,

If a particular cuisine or language disobeyed the Bible (cf. Daniel 1), it's a necessity to act differently. But here we've got symbols of male headship and female submission. I wouldn't wear something in this country, like those men, that would go the opposite direction.

Paul didn't give any room for disobedience in 1 Cor 11. Have you ever read The Sinfulness of Strange Apparel by Vincent Alsop? It might be online somewhere. Zephaniah 1:8 is the text, God punishing the princes who wear strange apparel. God says something is an abomination in Dt 22:5 and he gives many verses in 1 Cor 11. As you go through scripture, you don't get the sense that God just lets things go that He wants us to do, i.e., the oxcart and Uzzah, etc.

Greg Linscott said...

"As you go through scripture, you don't get the sense that God just lets things go that He wants us to do, i.e., the oxcart and Uzzah, etc."

That is true. At the same time, there is something subjective. Your initial reply makes me think that if you were serving them in their indigenous context, you would not address it. In their cultural context, from all that I can see, the wrap garment the Karen (not Burmese, different tribe) men wear that looks like a skirt to us is not the same as the dresses/skirts that women wear. As much as God is insistent on things He wants us to do, the reality is that there are things that have changed, too. One could not normally enter into the sacred sections of the temple before Calvary. However, as we know, the veil was torn, and we may now enter boldly into the Holiest (Hebrews 10:19). God was pretty insistent that Israel distinguish between clean and unclean foods, but did not require that same distinction for NT believers.

Now, we have no such change recorded in dress in the NT, I understand. At the same time, we don't necessarily have an explicit prescription for timing one's cultural conformity when emigrates from one's homeland. We certainly have no explicit identification of pants as a male garment in Scripture, Old or New Testament. I have seen adult men occasionally attired in these garments around town, but it has also been my observation that the school-aged children do not wear their native dress (wraps or whatever other garments in their culture) in contexts where they will be operating in the mainstream culture. It's interesting to me that the men I see wearing these around town (as opposed to the privacy of their homes) tend to be some of the ones for whom the cultural transition has been most difficult. It doesn't make it any easier, either, when their own general cultural sensibilities in dress are often superior to those of ours (such as modesty, or even in the area we are discussing of distinguishing between the sexes).

Anyway, interesting conversation. Sorry to steer you off your point a bit.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Greg,

When you say it is subjective, it still is within certain parameters, like judging music, except I think more narrow than music. The culture of those about whom you are talking, you look at the differences between the two, and look at their history, which I have not, and you decide is this gender designed distinction. I look at the two and I can't tell. That's not good. Some might say it's more in line with two distinct robes of Bible days. We don't know. The pant and the skirt or dress is very distinct, which made it more controversial for women to wear pants. There was even the phrase of authority, wearing the pants, to deal with. It isn't subjective in the dictionary definition, because subjective would mean that you could make it up. There is an objective standard, because it is a determined standard according to that overarching principle. Is beauty subjective? In the same way, no. The parameters are more distinct even in dress.

Maybe the Burmese practice according to designed gender distinction. That's not an argument for pants on women, but against.

Doulos said...

The "objective" parameters are modesty and gender distinction, right?

This is certainly worthy of note:
"...It doesn't make it any easier, either, when their own general cultural sensibilities in dress are often superior to those of ours..."
Yes. Consider that. Just may be those that we are merging with have "superior" sensibilities than our Christian-American way. Maybe they have much to teach us, too, rather than encouraging them conform to us so much.

The culture conversation reminded me of a "culture" story, though not related to dress.

Story:
I had a college roommate from Japan. It was very fun and enlightening and humorous for both of us to learn "cultural" beliefs, traditions, idiosyncrasies even in church issues. One very interesting hurdle in comprehending each other and trusting each others "spirituality" was funerals. One of my grandparents passed away, and my roommate, who was into learning all things Christian-American, wanted to go to the funeral. It was a typical flowers, open casket, music, visitors, burial sort of Christian funeral. My roommate was awed and overwhelmed. After much contemplation (that I did not realize was going on), it was still very concerning almost upsetting to them so that they vocalized and wanted to discuss it deeply.

To a Japanese Christian, to them, the funeral was very worldly, carnal, maybe even...sinful. What was their new American-Christian friend was participating in. Did ALL Christians behave this way? Why the surprise? Because it was the Buddhists in their country who made such a display of death. Even seeing a "fancy" hearse in their country let them know it was a non-Christian funeral. All the flowers, the trimmings, the extra expense...seemed as the false religions handled death in Japan. Also, in their country, from limited land for burial, cremation is the expected custom. So the extra emphasis on death with the body on display added to it all.

I went through the typical explanations of concerns of cremation as well as the mantra of using funerals as a time to witness and focus on heaven. The more my roommate explained, the more I could see their cultural and/or Biblical points, the more I explained, the more they could see our cultural and/or Biblical points. I'm quite a bit more into very simple death arrangements, and they are not so upset at some of our concepts.

When I visited them in Japan, my roommate showed me the room in the back of their Christian church where there were little boxes where members chose to lovingly put the cremation ashes of their family members. Death is handled very quietly without fanfare or pretentiousness. In their minds, this simplicity was in honor of a the true Gospel and quiet reverence for the ascension of a soul to eternal life with Christ. This is done in great contrast to the elaborate funerals of the Buddhists and other unbelievers that were "worldly" or that only wanted to imitate the "American" way (as well as simply following the customs of cremation.)

While out touring the city one day, an elaborate hearse passed by. The vehicle seemed "normal" to me, but I now knew and could even feel what my friend perceived in it. We looked at each other and smiled. We better understood each other. Where there could have been sharp contention, there was reasonable discussion and contemplation and growth and fellowship still.

Not sure how it relates to cultural clothing except in showing there is some extra measure of grace and patience and carefulness and humility in working with cultural issues. We can learn from each other. And if we are in the same country trying to please God (as will happen more and more in America) and both sides are wanting a clear testimony for God to be paramount, we will work together for a solution for Biblical truth, each others conscience, and God's glory.

Doulos said...

Last comment before the weekend of celebration or mourning...

I am laughing because I have just now seen the picture at the top of this post for the first time. I wasn't seeing graphics on my other computer. And all I could think of was, "My how things change." That picture could be updated between new and different warring factions. Now you have "fundamental" colleges in a tug of war with the students easily winning over this. We've gone from pants on back campus in unmixed situations, to pants at necessary outings with the "wear a very long shirt with them", to pants at mixed sporting events (because skirts can't be modest in the bleachers--yet skirts were still allowed...), to pants off campus (lest we look like Mormons), to pants on back campus so we can keep our pristine front campus image, to pants on back and limited front campus after 7, to pants anywhere after 5 but concerts and worship services, with warnings to old-time faculty and promises to the new guard and students of more pants in the coming year. There is no "wear a long shirt" rule, and faculty staff are pooh-poohed for addressing "too tight" of pants because we ought to be "mentoring" instead of adhering to an objective-in-print-rule-book. Better to get rid of the rule book than cause confusion in not enforcing it, but I digress. Like with CCM, if it's okay, why is it not okay to just go ahead and capitulate all the way and not just "do it sparingly". Fear of too great an outcry? Anyway, the tug of war is almost over. And students are excited at being able to wear pants possibly even, gasp, to class...or any time after chapel. As if pants are unholy before 11 and holy after 12. Whatever. Wearying. Eventually this graphic of yours could be administration and students tug of warring over which KIND of pants...denim, yoga, whatever. And we think if we just "give a little", the war will all be over...yet we have entered a more subjective area than ever before. It's human nature to want more and more...liberty turned to licentiousness...and if "we" say a word, we are called legalists...as they preach their "no rule" legalism to us.

And, yes, I know some will say "dress" should be such a non-issue, but it usually stems from or leads to deeper capitulation issues.

Funny, this world.

And back to culture. I am about to click on the picture style "prove I am not a robot" verification which always slows me down. If some of these multi-cultural pictures are food, there sure isn't enough of it. If some of these are sushi, I have only seen an Americanized version of it at a local buffet...

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Doulos,

I agree with you. Nothing to add. You described how it happened, and each time it wasn't connected to why we took this position in the first place and how that related to how we were changing. Shouldn't the former position be repudiated as the false position? If I was wrong for years, I would teach people from the Bible how we were wrong. I've done it. We at one time did certain things a different way and I was persuaded on some fairly major issues to change. Now I can defend my position. For whom you are describing, it was merely cultural before and not biblical. If it's biblical, you don't give it up.

One that is interesting and really ridiculous to hear is "the balanced position." The new position is balanced. And what does that mean? I'd like an intelligent explanation of balanced. Fox News calls itself fair and balanced and I get it for a secular news organization, but a church?

Farmer Brown said...

Kent, I have looked for The Sinfulness of Strange Apparel by Vincent Alsop, as referenced above. Perhaps my Google-Fu is weak on this, but I cannot find a copy of it anywhere. There are many references to it, but as far as the actual text, I came up empty. The best I could find was a 6 volume set of Puritan Sermons that was available through Logos as an add on.

Does anyone have this text or a pdf of it? If so, please put a link.

Doulos said...

So far, I only see it here:
http://www.alibris.com/Practical-Godliness-The-Ornament-of-All-Religion-Vincent-Alsop/book/7858389

"Appendixed is a rare sermon by Alsop entitled "The Sinfulness of Strange Apparel, a biblical theology of fashion, which is so relevant to our culture."

I ordered the book and, if no one else finds a pdf version (and if there are no copyright restrictions), I'll put it into one.

"If I was wrong for years, I would teach people from the Bible how we were wrong. I've done it. We at one time did certain things a different way and I was persuaded on some fairly major issues to change. Now I can defend my position."
This is honorable and honest, causing the least confusion and the best method of others understanding or accepting the new teaching or behavior. Churches or institutions must fear something more than having a respect for truth in order to not be aboveboard like this.

"For whom you are describing, it was merely cultural before and not biblical. If it's biblical, you don't give it up."
I would say that they had more dress "principle" verses rather than specifics, so I'll agree to that being more transparent via the cultural argument. But the tiny incremental shifts still show they are intimidated by something. However, on the issues of music, there was far more detailed chapter and verse support, (i.e. purported to be biblical) as well as involvement with neo-evangelical efforts. As leaders that can positively affect the church for the changes they think so necessary, you would think in the name of unity and truth they would TEACH rather than sneak around hoping no one will notice or question.
I've tried to excuse it every way I can, but I still come up with the conclusion that God cannot be pleased. Even if He is okay with capitulation and/or growing in understanding and changing, He most surely is NOT pleased with the method of it. It weakens rather than strengthens the church making the leaders look nefarious or cowardly rather than credible and fully persuaded. There is much more to be admired when a leader will say, "Hey, look, I believe we've been wrong, and here's why"...teaching people, giving them a chance to learn (rather than them being mindless or confused sheep) and giving people a fair "heads up" on the new direction.

"One that is interesting and really ridiculous to hear is "the balanced position." The new position is balanced. And what does that mean?"
Ah. Balanced. Centrist. Yes. It means we regret we ever stood firm on anything and we no longer stand firm on anything except that we stand firm on nothing except that you are not allowed to stand firm on anything while a part of us nor remind us of when we did. And check in with us periodically to see what we might choose to stand firm on for a season that's currently in Christian or political vogue.

"I'd like an intelligent explanation of balanced."
They can't do it. They just keep saying "balanced" "centrist" repeatedly hoping we won't ask for an explanation. For one thing, where can a balance really be with truth. They keep using the same Bible passages but act upon them differently than in the past. So every way they try to explain it comes off a rhetorical or hermeneutical disaster. And are they really going to confess to "no absolutes" or openly teach and reject the stands they took lest they risk losing traditional "unbalanced" supporters. And they won't risk putting too many things in absolutist-no-balance language lest the risk losing new supporters who still want a...little more balance...

Am I off topic? Whew. No. Capitulation. If Christians are going to change and have good solid reasons for doing so, they need to be clear and aboveboard about it lest it look like capitulation rather than healthy Biblical change and growth.



Jim Camp said...

That is very well put, Doulos. The 2 schools I attended where in varying degrees of abandoning all standards, so there was a sort of "live & let live" attitude toward any type of rules of conduct or dress. I remember leaving chapel one day & seeing a young woman student wearing a man's haircut (my barber calls it "a short man's haircut"). I was very new to the faith, but I had read I Cor. 11.
If you made waves about anything, you were divisive & not "majoring on majors, but minors". (Funny language for schools that claimed to be Fundamentalist, not New Evangelical) As far as I can tell, all the churches which supported those schools were of a similar mind set. Many, if not most of those churches are in a bad way, here, 25 years later.

Again, Thanks

James Bronsveld said...

Farmer Brown,

If you are willing to wade through the original older English spelling in the sermon, you can actually find it on Google Books here. In the event the link doesn't come through the post, search for "A continuation of morning-exercise questions and cases of conscience" edited by Samuel Annesley. It's a the third volume of a collection of Puritan sermons preached in 1659-1689. I believe it is also titled "Morning Exercises at Cripplegate."
The sermon by Alsop is Sermon XXI on Zeph. 1:8. (Jump down to page 589).

Farmer Brown said...

Doulos and James, thanks for the info. I will read it.