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Tuesday, October 7, 2014
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"A Call To Purity and Modesty"
"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl" (Job 31:1). "And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty" (1 Corinthians 12:23). "Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense" (1 Timothy 2:9).
Brooksyne and I have noticed, over our 38 year marriage and ministry, a marked decrease in those practicing the virtue of modesty, including those of the Christian persuasion. In recent years society has become increasingly immodest, both men and women. Most of us have seen men wearing shorts or pants that appear to be (or are) falling down with their underwear intentionally exposed as though it were a fashion statement (yes, I realize that some people think it is). Brooksyne can be pretty bold and in extreme cases has on occasion informed young men, "Hey, your pants are falling down." She makes no apologies for it most especially when it's an employee of a retail store. I suppose I could offer to lend my suspenders to those who appear to be in need as well!
This may be uncomfortably descriptive for some readers (uncomfortable to write, anyway). We have especially noticed more and more young women with flesh exposed in what has traditionally been covered up. In addition the latest craze has been to place tattoos on this exposed flesh. Of course, apart from the normal inclination that the eyes are drawn in a certain direction, now there is the additional curiosity as to what the tattoo says! After all isn't that why they have them put there in the first place?
Modesty is defined as behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency. This matter was on my heart when I read an excellent article by Pastor Kevin DeYoung titled, "The Lost Virtue Of Modesty". I would like to share his main points here in our message but encourage readers to open the article linked to below for a fuller treatment of each point.
1. Modesty protects what is intimate.
2. Modesty accepts that our bodies also live in community.
3. Modesty operates with the Bible’s negative assessment of public nudity post-Fall.
4. Modesty embraces the strong biblical admonition to refrain from sensuality.
5. Modesty demonstrates to others that we have more important things to offer than good looks and sex appeal.
At the time I came to follow the Lord there was a greater emphasis on modesty. There was also a type of preaching in some circles known as "clothesline preaching" where emphasis was given to clothing, mostly for women. This was never my experience but Brooksyne recalls this type of preaching when she grew up and yes, in our view, there were good intentions but there was also a legalistic approach to the important subject. Sunday evening I visited with an older man in a nursing home who, as a young man, recalled an entire sermon dealing with nothing but how women should dress! I wonder if men were addressed on this topic as well.
However the pendulum has swung far, far the other way. In our present generation few will even address the most blatant forms of immodesty. Our culture is now saturated with lewd and licentious dress, behavior, and entertainment. Apart from a Bible faithful church and godly family most other institutions no longer address the matter or require standards of modesty as in the past.
Previous generations developed boundaries in defining appropriate behavior, dress, etc. Some of these boundaries were based on explicit Scripture, others a Scriptural principle, some merely tradition or opinions of preachers. Some of the latter were prone to abuse and in many cases became too much of the focus.
But now in many ways the boundaries are removed and, an attitude of anything goes couched in spiritual sounding verbiage is the rule of the day: "We are not under law but under grace" (which is actually a Scripture portion often mangled from its context) or "we are free in Christ" used to approve virtually anything.
We both memorized this Scripture as young Christians. "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:11-14).
1) Faithful pastors should address this topic as part of preaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) using Scripture passages such as at the beginning of our message. Although the passage in Timothy is in a context dealing with women, the 1 Corinthian passage makes it clear the principle of modesty applies to both male and female.
2) Godly parents must teach this in the home. Godly, mature men and women must address these matters to our children, teens and young adults in the teaching ministry of the church.*
The counsel of God's Word is timeless and far-reaching. Staying pure doesn't just happen. It is purposeful and challenging. Our daily verses enjoin us to personal responsibility, both in what or how we view others and in what we wear. A personal covenant (contract) with the eyes is a powerful decision and needs to be renewed regularly, daily. Although in Job the covenant was specifically "not to look lustfully at a girl", we all do well to make a covenant of purity.
The straightforward command of the Apostle Paul to "Keep yourself pure" can easily be memorized and recalled at the time of temptation and used as powerful guideline in our dress and behavior. Let us renew this commitment today and obey God. In doing so we take a stand against the tide of moral decadence in our land!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we know that Satan is a thief who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" and millions fall victim to his enticements. Knowing our inclination to sin, help us to honor our bodies in such a way that we don't purposefully arouse lust in others by our dress or behavior, nor do we feed on lust by gazing upon that which is dishonorable in Your sight. We desire purity and holiness as we daily pursue Your righteousness. Forgive us where we have resented, ignored, or disobeyed Your truths in this area of our lives. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
* Brooksyne's note: The subject of modesty has existed since the fall, otherwise it wouldn't be addressed in the Bible. When I was a young teen, new in my personal walk with God, I was deeply touched by a Sunday School teacher who genuinely pleaded, as tears flowed from her eyes, with the young teen girls about their lack of modesty in dress. Miniskirts were very common and as you can imagine, when a girl sat or bent over it was a problem. When young girls prayed at the altar it was a distraction for others and awkward for the girls kneeling. I took her message to heart because she was a woman of God. It came across differently than if it were my parents telling me the same thing (which they did). I wish we had more bold and godly leaders like that in our churches today, when it's done in love and based upon the Scriptures.
Many of the old-order folks prefer the inexpensive, environmentally friendly, solar powered clothesline as a means of drying clothes. Brooksyne noted this lady arranged her towels on the line by color! Now that is an orderly housekeeper! (Click for larger photo)
Butternut squash harvest on Kraybill Church Road.
We shared several photos from this field last week. Yesterday Chris was filling the large cardboard boxes similar to those used for watermelons. He estimated that he would fill over 100 boxes this harvest! His neighbor is having a good cabbage harvest. As I visited with him he was preparing boxes for the Lancaster CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
All over the county farmers are busy with the harvest. In this photo they are gathering corn for silage. Note the woman driving the team which was not an uncommon sight as we drove through the county last week.
We passed this scene but did not want to get so close as to be intrusive. At this Amish one room schoolhouse the teacher had three scholars on the porch practicing their reading. (Scholars is a term used for students. Notice the flying leaves in the photo.)
The Amish teachers are usually young women who have finished 8th grade. We've visited these schools several times and the order in the classroom is so impressive. It's presumable that about 25 scholars, grades 1-8, are inside the classroom working on individual assignments at their desks.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Slow Fade" Video Casting Crowns
"Holy Like You" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
"Take Time To Be Holy" Video The Collingsworth Family (Note to local readers: The Collingsworth family will be in our area for a concert November 7. See here for information.)
"O For A Heart to Praise My God" Video Altar Of Praise Chorale
Here are some perspectives on today's topic including the article from which we took the five main points in our message:
"The Lost Virtue Of Modesty" Article by Kevin DeYoung
"Modesty Matters" Article by Pam Hardy directed to women
"Uncovering The Truth About Modesty" Article by Melody Green
"What Guys Think About Modesty" A powerful video teaching by CJ Mahaney.
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
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