Friday, August 10, 2012

Magic Mike and Male Modesty


 Recently a film by the name of Magic Mike opened to rave reviews.

The film is about male strippers.

The audience for Magic Mike? 73% female

Cue thinking face.

"Well if that don't just speak for itself."

Let's look at Genesis chapter 3, verse 21.

"And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam's wife, Eve, but told Adam that, since Eve didn't struggle with lust, the principle of modesty didn't apply to him, and so he could continue to wear his fig leaf."

Wait, what? Your translation doesn't say that?

*searches madly*

OK, so where'd we get the idea that girls need to, you know, wear clothes, but guys can show off their sculpted physique with impunity?

I don't know, but I don't think that we got it from The Bible. We hear plenty of exhortations directed to Christian girls, warning them, pleading with them, to be modest, to embrace purity, to think of their brothers, to, you know, wear clothes. Rightly so, for Scripture directs exhortations to modesty directly to the ladies (1 Tim. 2:9), while nature testifies to the powerful attraction that the feminine form has to men- for good and for bad. Furthermore, our culture viciously pulls women towards "strutting their stuff," so the exhortation to remain covered rarely comes amiss for young ladies in my generation.

But when was the last time that you heard a sermon on the way guys dress? It seems that for some reason we have assumed that girls don't struggle with lust. At a deeper level, it seems that while we know that the Bible has something to say about how women dress, we somehow conclude that It is silent on the male wardrobe. This is a glaring inconsistency in our orthopraxy.

We all know that men and women are different, that we struggle with different things. I believe that lust, however, is not a gender-specific crime. While we may struggle with different kinds of lust (I don't remember hearing any man say that it was his wife's muscular physique that first drew him to her), I see no Scriptural justification for saying that anyone is free from the temptation of lust.

This would, it seems, contradict the common idea that most girls don't wrestle with lust. It's a widespread perception, but I've been reassured by multiple sisters in Christ that this is simply not the case.  If there's any doubt left, I think the 73% female audience of Magic Mike speaks for itself. I've seen plenty of conversations on the internet about [insert name of handsome actor of choice] which, if spoken by men about women, would be at the very least a toeing of the lust-line which Christ forbids us to cross.

Guys, our sisters in Christ do struggle with this, and it's time that we man up and start loving our sisters in Christ by the way we dress.


The Biblically-informed masculine wardrobe is important for a deeper reason even than consideration for our sisters who struggle with the same sins that we wrestle with: that's what we see in God's Word. God clothed Adam and Eve with the same thing- there's no distinction made there that I can see. 

Other Scriptural principles should also tie in to our understanding of the way we dress. What are we drawing attention to by our clothing choices? Are we finding our identity in our physique, or in our relationship with Christ? Are we loving our sisters in Christ by keeping them pure and encouraging them to focus on their Celestial Husband and their future husband?

The bottom line for me is this: whence cometh this double-standard? What is the Biblical foundation for this distinction? Or is it signed with the classic signature of humanism- arbitrariness?

"Did we make this up?"

Guys, Keep Your Shirt On 

Literally.

I tease, but I'm serious. Next time, before you rip your shirt off and show your sculpted abs to the world, take a moment to consider what God thinks about your clothing choices. When you squeeze yourself into that compression tee that emphasizes those pects of steel, stop to look in the mirror and see what your attention is first drawn to. Before you put on those skinny jeans (why in the world are you wearing skinny jeans?) think about the message that you're sending.  When you slip into your Speedo, please don't. I'm just sayin'.

Just as it's not my place to tell a girl which skirt is too short or which top is too tight- that's between her, her family, and God- so it's not my place to dictate your poolside attire.  If this post succeeds in making you stop and think for a moment about what Scripture has to say about men's fashion, I'm more than happy.

It's not easy. I'm not exactly disappointed when someone compliments me on my physique, and I can tell which shirts best showcase the gun show attached to my shoulders. Just as lust isn't something that only guys wrestle with, so vanity isn't a women-only crime. We may not spend an hour fellowshipping with our makeup kit, but how many hours have we spent with our dumbbells?

(This from a guy who loves to work out and spends an average of an hour and a half exercising daily- sometimes more. My problem isn't with fitness- it's with priorities. I'm making confessions here, too- investing too much time in my temporal body to the detriment of Kingdom pursuits is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.  But if our exercise is done with a Kingdom focus, to better prepare us to serve Christ, and in such a way as wisely makes use of God's time, I'm all for it.  If it's a matter of doing curls for the girls, we'd be better off kissing the dumbbells goodbye.)

This shouldn't be a burden for us.  It shouldn't be something we're paranoid about.  It shouldn't steal our joy.  Nor does it mean that we need to look like unkempt wimps. Scripture says that "The glory of young men is their strength."  It's good for us to be strong, capable, ruddy, even handsome.  Intentional or apathetic ugliness is no virtue, and learning how to dress well and carry ourselves attractively is a worthy pursuit- insofar as we pursue it to honor Christ with our bodies.  But we must do this to call the focus of others to Him- and not ourselves.  Can we not look firmly strong and masculine without highlighting every muscle and sinew?  Isn't this what we have asked the girls to do for so long- to look feminine without accenting every curve?

Come on, guys. We're men. May it not be said that we were too weak to conquer our own vanity- that we weren't willing to wear a looser shirt out of love for our sisters and obedience to our King- that our identity went no deeper than a layer of muscle just beneath our skin.  

The body will pass away.  Being the sexiest man of the year lasts for exactly one year.  It's really no achievement to catch the eyes of girls- plenty of guys can do that.  In fact, being a "heart-breaker" is exactly opposite to the exhortations of Scripture.  If we really love our sisters in Christ, our desire will be to help them focus on Christ- not to get them to focus on us.

Girls, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Do you agree with my premise?  If so, what are some of the specific ways that guys can be more thoughtful of you in the way they dress?  What are your greatest stumbling blocks?  Maybe some examples of movie characters or public figures who did or didn't act in a modest way, and how they did or didn't?

Guys- man up.  God's Word has something to say about everything, and our clothing is no exception.  Do we have the strength of character to set aside the temporal pleasures of the praise of men and instead strive to please our King?  Or do we love ourselves too much to make that sacrifice?

Just For Fun

Explain in one paragraph or less why one may, when surrounding or inhabiting a body of water, wear (or not wear) clothing which one would never consider appropriate in another context, and which indeed might be referred to, in other contexts, as underclothing?

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Gift

Over the course of the 18 years of my life God has blessed me with six wonderful younger siblings.  He has also seen fit to bring into the world some brothers and sisters that I never had a chance to meet- children who, though never brought, writhing and crying, into this world, were still, for the precious few weeks of their enwombed lives, my precious siblings- a gift of God.

It's a wild thing knowing that for some weeks at certain periods of my life I had another sibling on this earth- a sibling whom I never met, whom I never even saw.  I don't know if this sibling would have been a rambunctious little brother growing up amongst perpetual swordfights, bandages, and dirt, or perhaps a little princess for my brothers and I to coddle and protect.  I don't know if this sibling would have been tall or strong or smart, what color his hair would have been, what his laugh would have sounded like.

I do know this, for each of them: I shall go to them- they will not come back here to me.

I look forward to meeting them.

A couple times, after these bittersweet moments of loss, we as a family commemorated the occasion by taking a balloon and tying little notes to the string.

We released it into the sky- a little farewell, a memorial, a funeral, a celebration.

So I have special attachment to this little project that I was blessed to score last week- a project that connects with me in a way that is more than coincidental:



I don't believe in coincidences.

As I think about this piece of music, it reminds me so much of our babies that we never met- the simple, childish expectation- the bittersweetness- the climax that just barely begins to explore all that the music could have been and then disappears, waiting to be discovered on another distant day- the incomplete beauty- the emptiness of a work that was never realized in its fulness, and yet was worth every moment of its short life, something that could have been so much more, and yet was perfect in its incompletion, in being everything that it was written to be.

So I dedicate this piece of music to those siblings whom I never met.

We'll meet soon enough, beloved.

The Gift by gabrielhudelson