Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cleverly disguised as the word "authority"

The Shame of Beauty
by Michelle, from Recovering Grace*:

"Before I was born my parents started following the teaching of Bill Gothard and IBLP, and when I was 5, they joined ATI (Advanced Training Institute), the homeschool program that Gothard developed for the families of his Basic and Advanced Seminars.

Gothard emphasized “principles” which simply meant there were many different rules that dictated specific activities in my life. My parents controlled what music we listened to, movies we watched (none), things we ate and drank (no alcohol or anything Biblically ‘unclean’) and the clothing our family wore (specifically the women).

I didn’t choose this life. I was born into it (like your own children are born into the life you chose for them). For me, this life was completely normal, and the world around me was different and labeled “bad.”

Until I was about 5, my childhood pictures show me wearing “normal” clothes, meaning that I resembled any other average American child. After that, I wore a lot of dresses and skirts, even for situations where they may have been less than appropriate for the occasion. I remember wearing skirts over my pants to play in the snow (I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area), to hike mountains, and to play games at AWANA. 

In my teenage years, my mom started telling me what I could and couldn’t wear based on my body. Skirts had to be below my knees, shirts must have high necklines so as not to show that I had breasts. Nothing could be worn that “hugged” my body or showed the shape of my body. My mom would tell me to change if things were too tight or low. Accessories like earrings and nail polish were restricted or banned. The list of things I could not wear was a long one.

My parents were essentially taught by Gothard that we were to be under their control (cleverly disguised as the word “authority”) and this extended to my clothing choices. My mom was telling me what to wear into my 20’s...."

*Please check out the rest of Michelle's testimony at the link above.

Over these many years I have certainly seen more than "gothardites" destroying people and families with their control, manipulation, judgements, and legalisms.  Groups of "manipulators" who are full of the lack of mercy, the lack of compassion, the lack understanding---

---no grace! no grace whatsoever! and yet saying they have the way that God desires! 

They use His name to control and manipulate people!  

How abhorrent!  Detestable!  Despicable!  Aberrational! Just plain evil!

How can we stop this?!  

The answer is that God is the One who is working.  He can work through us also. 

Usually we will be coming alongside only one person at time who has been trapped in legalisms.  "One at a time" is a good thing, even if your heart is to help many, many people.  You see, each "one person" will then become another person who will eventually come alongside others. It will "snowball"---so be thankful to be there for your "one at a time"!

If you have an opportunity to be the "light" to someone in darkness, please do so with the LORD as your strength.  Remember that those who have been controlled, manipulated, and lied to all their lives are broken in many ways.  They need gentle reminders of His truth and His love to come rightly into His freedom!  To be truly set free is a joy!

May the LORD be glorified!


Anonymous said...

Jill, how does one balance grace with the very real need for modesty? I understand that the Gothard method is nothing more than legalism, especially their view on women's attire, but in the name of "liberty in Christ", immodesty is often just another big problem.

What is one to do when the teenage and college co-ed aged young women (and sometimes even the moms, even those in their 50s!!!) are dressing in an immodest manner? Especially when it seems no one cares, either?


The Piper's Wife said...

Carolyn, great frustrations and great questions. This world is not our home, even more and more so as time slips by. Christians are often so woven into this world’s pattern that we can hardly recognize them as “set apart".

Factions in Christianity try to control their people with legalisms. A main problem in ruling a people group with legalisms is that the people tend to follow the rules, but their hearts are far from LORD. When we have Christian liberty we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. Trusting in “rules” is not allowing the Holy Spirit to draw us closer to the LORD, thus the person trusting in legalistic rules never matures for themselves in the LORD.

This is why we need to be careful of our own thinking on modesty or any difficult subject.

Individually what can we do? If we have a relationship with young women or their moms we can be an example or we can privately speak with them. Neither of these may have an effect. This world is so alluring, and each of us can justify what we want to do.

One of the great problems with the world being woven into us all is that we can not define “modesty” and agree. Modesty to one person is not modesty to another.

For Example:

I may say that very short, tight skirts/shorts are not modest. I may say that showing cleavage is the beginning of allowing your modesty to go.

Others believe that your knees should not show, and your neck is all that can be seen.

Swim suits use to be the major problem concerning modesty, but now, even some “modest” swimsuits seem immodest.

Everyone seems to be wearing “leggings” which follow every curve. The variety of “leggings” is vast where some seem more modest that others. Meanwhile, jeans can be tight and form fitting and so are shirts/dresses.

So where does "modesty" become easy to discern?

If I am dressed modestly, can I help it if a man lusts after me? Men need to be responsible for their inner behavior, but I also have a responsibility to protect my modesty so that I am not causing men to stumble.

We come to an “end” where we realize that we can only be in charge of ourselves (and those children we are raising), making decisions of modesty for ourselves with our desire is to glorify God with our lives.

As for the others we encounter, we can certainly pray for them, but we are not in charge of them, and must give these frustrations and others to the LORD.

Coming to His feet with you….

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

While there is much disagreement as to what is immodest attire, I still think there are points where EVERY woman should agree immodesty is displayed: if a woman is wearing clothing that leaves little to the imagination due to all the skin being shown, then that is immodest; when every “nook and cranny” is defined due to the tightness of the clothing, then that is immodest; if the woman is dressed with the intent of being “sexy” to specifically draw the attention of men, then that is immodest.

Women who wouldn’t want to be seen in their underwear will not think twice about wearing a swimsuit covering only 1/10th the skin underwear covers; if being seen in underwear is immodest, why is it okay to be almost nude just because it’s a “swimsuit”?

The problem of immodesty is that no one can really just say something to a woman; one must have some sort of relationship first. Otherwise, all we can do is give them grace.

(I understand immodesty is an issue for men's attire also, but this problem not as widespread and so hasn't become such a cultural problem.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jill and Glenn,

I appreciate your insights. I am just very troubled, because I see lots of skin (mini skirts and 'daisy dukes') and skin tight clothes on the youth, and sadly even some adults. I know for a fact that the immodest attire is making men stumble (personal communication, not initiated by me, either), and is adversely affecting the little children (the little girls are now mimicking the clothing, along with doing little gyrating dance moves).

I have spoken about the concern, and I also have prayed. So far, the world seems to be winning. As you said, the world is very alluring and so many believers have allowed their minds to be woven into the world's pattern.

In the end, thank you for the reminder, I know I am only responsible for me. I take care to honor the Lord as best I can. Thanks for coming along side me.


The Piper's Wife said...

Carolyn, I understand and agree with you. My heart also breaks for the little ones who only know what they see as they grow up.

I am actually blessed when I hear men comment on the lack of modesty of women as they are speaking the truth~~if only the women would heed! It is even more poignant when the men try to protect their daughter’s modesty (at any age), and the wives/mothers do not heed them! I have heard many times from the mothers that their daughters “must fit in”. Ultimately, the husbands are still responsible.

It seems overwhelming and a “no-win” situation, but the LORD is working even when we do not see it. We must pray, show grace, and rest in Him.

Keep your eyes on Him and continue to love those in your sphere. We never know who is listening and watching us.

Glory to You LORD!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jill.

I have heard precious few men step up and speak against immodesty. I am thankful for those who do. Would that more would be concerned about it, and that more women would heed.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jill, I have been mulling over some other thoughts on this issue... first, I understand showing grace, but I really think the church also needs to protect the members (such as men and children) who are adversely affected by the immodest dressed women. Along the lines of Romans 14, our liberty needs to be restrained by how we are affecting others, especially weaker members (like little children).

I believe a helpful solution would be a modest dress code for those in ministry, especially if it's a visible, public ministry. This would include teaching SS, ushers/door greeting, worship team, etc, for both women and men, though as Glenn said, the issue with men isn't as widespread.

Nonetheless, that would prevent clothes such as miniskirts/daisy duke shorts, skin tight outfits, and low cut blouses from being worn by women who are in visible and prominent positions.

Second, another issue is the church's testimony in its community. I agree, grace is necessary, and legalisms are nothing more than man-centered abuses done in Christ's name. But we need to remember the church is also corporately reflecting Christ. Care needs to be taken with our conduct, especially for those in ministry, so the church's testimony isn't destroyed in the community.

Years ago, I remember being greeted at a Bible believing church by a women whose blouse was not covering her up enough. My husband scooted right past her, looking at the ceiling, and I shut my eyes, and ducked away from her. It was a terrible testimony to that church to have her represent them and Christ at the door to worshippers and visitors alike. What is an unbeliever to think when they see a "believer" dressing so immodestly?

I think the church needs to think more seriously about if we are reflecting Christ properly. The world sees us as much as they hear our words.

Thanks for listening.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Carolyn,

Jill is gone to Cedar Rapids for the day, so I thought I'd address this - and then let her add what she wants later :)

When we have been discussing the issue as to grace, or the need to have a relationship with someone to approach them, we are talking from a position of an individual approaching another individual.

BUT, when it comes to the assembly, I agree that there should be dress codes for staff and others in ministry. Also, Sunday School teachers should teach modesty and address examples of immodesty in their class (I did just that when I was a Sunday School teacher for high schoolers for almost 10 years). Pastoral staff should privately approach immodestly dressed women to explain proper attire (or perhaps have a female staff person do it). No distractingly immodest attire should be permitted to continue in any assembly.

But that's a problem for today's assemblies - leadership doesn't want to offend anyone, which is also why the don't expose false teachers from the pulpit!

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,

Thanks for responding in Jill's stead. I agree with you 100%, especially this:

"But that's a problem for today's assemblies - leadership doesn't want to offend anyone, which is also why the don't expose false teachers from the pulpit!"

Sad but true.

Church leadership and ministry are where I am the most heartbroken - and admittedly very angry - about the immodesty. No one should be allowed in teaching, serving, singing, etc, especially in visible ministry, when they are dressed improperly. Unfortunately, immodest attire in "servants" is continuing at our church right now, despite repeated complaints about it.


Anonymous said...

in Exodus 28:42 the Lord gives us His definition of nakedness as that which exposes skin from the loins to the thighs. I try to teach my young granddaughters to keep their upper legs covered when they wear shorts and tell them why. Hopefully this will help them understand that God has criteria of what is proper and what is not. I understand Carolyn's frustrations with immodest dress at church. Perhaps classes can be taught which teach young girls how to dress appropriately, use manners, and how to cultivate life skills needed to represent Christ properly. I think all manners come from doing unto others as we would want it done to ourselves. We need to teach them how to stretch their thinking abilities in order to go the extra mile in service and thoughtfulness : writing thank you notes, being verbally thankful for parent's provisions, helping clear the supper table, being prompt for class, etc., - the list is long. Legalism is not right, but being right out of consideration for one's neighbor is love.

The Piper's Wife said...

Thank you for your comment….

Yes, I also understand the frustrations of immodesty in the Church. Unfortunately, in general, I see the Body not caring any longer because of their great need to be like the world. It seems there is no going back.

I use to think the church which we attended would have continued with Biblical convictions, but they have now gone with the evil trend of “Relevancy” (whatever is relevant to the culture, which is sinfully dangerous!).

Meanwhile, I realized long ago that only those who want to hear truth, will hear it. Our sphere of influence may be small, but those who want to hear, will listen. Our job is to be there when they ask. It doesn’t matter how many we reach, but that we reach them when they want to listen.

*If your church is still choosing to be Biblical, then ask to teach the women this basic modesty and manners! Don’t be afraid to teach, be bold for Him. If only one attendee shows up, praise the LORD!

Here I am still on my soap box: Manners is another lost art.

You can really tell the Church at large has lost its First Love (Rev. 2:1-7) when you can’t even find them using kindness, mercy, grace in how they treat people, saved or unsaved. Thank you for your expression of teaching people manners!

Concerning Exodus 28:42 defining nakedness:

You really can not use Exodus 28:42 as a definition of “nakedness” because it has to be taken out of context to do so.  

God doesn’t say that part of the body defines nakedness; what He says in this passage is that this is the PART of nakedness that particular undergarment is to cover.  

IF you say that is the definition of nakedness, then you have to explain why there is nowhere in the Bible which tell a woman to cover her breasts!

Anonymous said...

You are right in that that passage is not the sole definition of nakedness, and I did sound as though that was the only criteria God uses. In looking further, the Lord says nakedness is having the body uncovered, bare, and is associated with shame if exposed for all to see. Adam and Eve made aprons, which we know covers only the front, lower half of the body. God made coats for them. Backs and fronts were then covered, probably hanging loosely to give movement. Adam and Eve were covered. To have one's body covered and not bare is the aim. Of course, a woman can have coverage and still be immodestly dressed. That brings in the heart issue, of whether to wear clothing to accentuate, seduce, provoke, or flaunt. I would teach young girls to discern, have critical questions about their clothes choices, but not endorse frumpiness. Girls want to look nice and they can learn to dress modestly with prayer, creativity, and perhaps even learning to sew!

Anonymous said...

Manners would also say,"You're welcome!" (Which I neglected to say in my last comment)

The Piper's Wife said...

Anonymous, well said.

Yes, it is so much a heart issue, and "young" in the faith or age need to walk alongside those who can lovingly encourage their relationship with the LORD.

I love your comment on not endorsing "frumpiness". So often "modesty" is shown, and worn the same as "frumpiness".

Thanks for your comment.