Helping the Church Overcome Sexism (with grains of salt)

Guys, young men of the Church, I want to talk with you for a few minutes. There’s an issue I feel like the Church has abandoned you on, has left you to your own devices with, and I want to start rectifying that right now. As a woman who’s grown up in the Church I have to attest that this very issue has been so thoroughly taught and expounded on for us, but never you. This is unfair to you growing up in our current world and unfair to the young ladies around you who have to deal with the struggle brought about by the lack of knowledge imparted to you. So young men, I want to encourage you and help build you up, empower you in your walk with Christ. I want to talk about clothes and fashion.

I know your wardrobe wavers between, “whatever Wal-mart has on sale” to, “I’m a fashionisto” but it doesn’t matter where you buy your clothes, it’s how you wear them. Just because you’ve got it doesn’t mean you should flaunt it. By making girls stumble by what you wear doesn’t help bring them closer to God, which is the man’s leadership role in a relationship, it sets up an environment ripe for sin and reflects poorly on your own level of self-respect. Modest is hottest and always remember to dress appropriately, bringing glory to God through your actions and not distracting from that by your choice of clothing.

Here are some do’s and don’t when dressing modestly to help you navigate today’s degrading fashion standards and expectations for the modern man.

Skinny Jeans: Controversial to many, skinny jeans have shown their staying power and don’t look to be disappearing anytime soon. Here’s what you need to know.

Don’t

skinny no

Too tight around the hips showing a bit more than what either wearer would like to be seen or general public would like to see.

Do

skinny yes

Long shirt covering all the immodest bits. Hat is optional.

V-Neck T-Shirts: Who doesn’t like a good v-neck? They’re relaxed and sharp all at the same time but all v-necks are not created equal so beware.

Don’t

v no

The plunging neck line reveals too much of the chest. “Hey, eyes up here!” During the summer be mindful of where you hang your sunglasses. Hanging them off your shirt drags your neckline ever lower and can turn even a modest v-neck into a not-so modest one.

Do

v yes

Notice how the neck-line drops nicely but not too low so as to be distracting or off-putting. The shirt fits comfortably, not too tight, not too loose.

Proper Fit: When buying clothes and trying to decide if the size it too tight or just right, remember the mantra: Too-tight means loose morals. It’s always safer to buy a size bigger. You want to attract godly women, and godly women aren’t attracted to men who wear suggestive clothing.

Don’t

fit no

Even though he’s wearing an appropriate v-neck, see how the shirt leaves nothing to the imagination? See how those jeans fit him maybe just a little bit too right? Dressing like this is going to attract the wrong kind of girls.

Do

fit yes

Layers are your best friend. They allow you to play with different lengths, different colours, (not shown in example), different styles, and best of all they keep you looking great and modest. Every girl loves a well dressed man in a suit!

Bathing Suits: We’re fortunate in North America not to have to deal with the same kind of popular beachwear that much of the rest of the world has to struggle with. When dealing with how to best dress for the water, don’t forget that you want too meet your future wife hiding in God, you don’t want to be digging her eyes out of your abs and pecs.

Don’t

swimwear no

Just say “no” to anything tight and form fitting. What are your motives in wearing this? Look in your heart and search God’s will out when selecting your swimwear. Imagine yourself going to the beach with your mother; would you feel comfortable wearing this in front of her? Would Jesus wear that?

Do

swimwear yes

Board shorts are great, easy to find, and they meet all the criteria for modest swimwear. Adding a loose fitting t-shirt or tank top not only reveals your pure intentions and pure heart but also adds a level of protection against the damaging sun.

Sunglasses: I can hear you protesting this one, or even laughing, but hear me out. It is no secret that accessories can draw attention to certain parts of the body or accentuate the whole packaged deal so they shouldn’t be overlooked or dismissed. Because sunglasses take up so much space on your face, the first thing people see when they meet you, sunglasses can make or break all your efforts.

Don’t

sunglasses no

Just stop. This is…I can’t even…I just can’t…I…I…are your motives pure when wearing those aviators? I’m moving on.

Do

Say what you want about the Biebs, but he wins this one. For those who still can’t get over ‘Lil Bieber, I’ve included a less controversial photo. Find sunglasses that fit your face (there are hundreds of good guides on-line, or taking an honest friend shopping with you always works), but make sure they don’t unwrap too much of the gift for the wrong girl.

There certainly are more suggestions and modest fashion tips out there and I hope that in the future the Church starts to pick up on more of these, educating the young men and instilling in them value where the world has robbed them of so much. Feel free to comment below with your “Modest is Hottest: Men” tips!

 

 

You Arrrrr…Not? My Brother.

Every once in a while a book comes across your path that somehow finds its way beneath your pillow. Just like Alexander the Great is said to have had a copy of “The Iliad” beneath his head at night, so “Rome & Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations” by Martin Goodman has found its metaphorical way beneath mine for a little while. Though hardly a comparison for that epic cycle, it is, what I advocate, should be required reading for anyone studying first century AD history, anyone studying Jewish history at all, and absolutely inseparable from all church and pastor libraries. Because I have found this book to be wholly fascinating it is my desire to present some of the more interesting and general audience friendly revelations found within the pages of Dr. Goodman’s book in an on going series of posts.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” This question has begged to be answered since the age in which it was first spoken, which, according to believers of the Old Testament, was amongst the earliest words spoken by the first naturally born human on Earth, Cain. The asking of it cuts to the foundation of social responsibility and how a society gives answer reflects a great deal about their social consciousness and worldview. It should come with no surprise then to learn that ancient Jews and Romans answered this question quite differently.

Romans lived and operated within a focused network of family, friends and associates, many of whom from the latter categories came from collegia -guilds of professional and social classifications. Just like their approach to religion, their dealings with other people were based upon a reciprocity system.  Business, politics and social living functioned because of a patron/client relationship where a lesser man came into the service of a greater one. The more clients a patron had the more influential he was, and the more influential a patron was, the greater standing in society a client became. Clients would be called upon for various reasons, perhaps to vote in a certain direction or to join a patron’s retinue around the city in a show of influence. In return patrons could offer a variety of help whether it be financial loans, endorsements for elections, protection in the courts, invitations to dine, etc. If a patron went outside of his established network of clients to help an “outsider” then the assisted man would become indebted to the patron and thereby join his network.  Becoming a client was often times a very coveted step in the right direction because Roman life really was all about who you knew.  Anyone who found themselves outside of these social networks were merely faceless bodies until they could become of benefit. As such the obligation to be generous to the unknown and needy was absent. While some moralists such as Seneca encouraged Romans to look beyond themselves and be generous without the expectation of reciprocity, they were fighting uphill.

This life style of patron and client and conditioned giving left no room for being a brother’s keeper. The poor and needy were the unseen.  As Goodman summarized, “Charity, in the sense of giving to the needy as a virtue for its own sake, was not a concept that Romans understood.” This does not mean that beggars and the poor had an impossible task ahead of them; rather, it merely meant that their job was incredibly difficult. I believe that simply because the Romans’ mores did not have a space carved out for selfless giving that they were any less of a moralistic human race so much as it showcased their drive to get where they wanted to go; if someone could not add to that journey then they had to be left behind.  Romans were not quick to drop friends and a debt could long go unpaid.

As can often be forgotten the ancient Jews were not always of one mind about their religious philosophies. As with any religion as old and revered as the Jewish one, there were hundreds of varying philosophies and teachings that a Jew could ascribe to and to say that the Jews as a whole believed this, or adhered to that philosophy is a risky business.  They had hundreds of years of recorded oral laws on top of the even older Pentateuch which shaped their lives and commanded the way they interacted with the world around them. Even still, there remained pillars of the Jewish religion which remained common to all and one of these was giving to the needy. It was a divine command from God and the operation of this social safety-net was a burden for all levels of society to bear. The rules were clear and detailed from determining who could qualify for certain levels of aid, (ie. allowed to harvest the leftovers from a field, or take of the communal meals and funds), to how much a gift to the needy needed to be in minimum. But even with the command of God and the official place charity had within Jewish society it cannot be imagined that the needy had any easier of a life in Judaea more than in any other place.

One of the most significant differences between Roman and Jewish attitudes towards helping the needy was that for Jews there was no prerequisite of acquaintance nor was there any expectation of return from the show of generosity. While it would be naïve to believe that personal relationships did not benefit best from generosity, a stranger on the street was not ignored as completely as in the Roman world. There was, nevertheless, an unstated assumption that the recipient of a Jew’s generosity would be a fellow Jew and this can be concluded from the need to make point in the Tosefta, (a record of oral laws) that in a city where both Jews and Gentiles lived the Gentiles should be included in the giving of charity for the purpose of keeping the peace. Paul, a Jewish Christian divinely commanded to proselytize the Gentiles, in his letters to the same people repeatedly emphasized the need to remember the poor, needy and destitute among them without thought of who they were. From their Jewish roots the Christians carried on the divine command to be your brother’s keeper and so found it necessary to teach this concept to the people who had been living under official Roman control for over 100 years (Greece had become a Roman province in 146 B.C., and Asia not much later, however, both provinces and many others around them had been under Rome’s influence even longer). Having become familiar with the Roman way of patron and client, selfless generosity to all was something of a strange notion that Paul needed to spread and teach in furthering the Christian belief.

So, did the Roman answer for the question of being your brother’s keeper have any greater result than the Jewish answer? It could be argued that one way encouraged hard work and independence while the other encouraged laziness. It could also be argued that one was detrimental to the tate by burying its condemned lower class while the other bettered the state by giving the opportunity for grace to bridge the hard times with good times. In the end our modern conclusions on the matter will be as divided as the ancient ones since modern society itself is still struggling to find balance in its solution to the question.

I Don’t Hate You

I am a Christian and I do not hate you.
I do not think you are Satan’s child or that somehow I am better than you.
This is not me against you.
I may not like all that you do, but neither did your mother.
Now don’t get offended, I didn’t call myself your mother.
It’s true we don’t agree on everything- or anything- yet relationships can’t get stronger
without trials to overcome.
Perhaps you don’t like me at all.
That’s fine.
I didn’t get to choose my brother or father either; but since we’re here,
Let’s make the most out of it.

I am a Christian and I don’t hate you.

I won’t talk at you, but will take the time to talk to you.
I won’t exploit money from you on behalf of your soul or some cheap trick.
I won’t yell fire and brimstone and condemnation.
I won’t become the problem I want to solve.
I won’t force you into anything you don’t want to do.
I won’t make you regret that you ever trusted me.

I am a Christian and I do not hate you.

Let me tell you a bit about the God I struggle to represent as He deserves.
My God put mercy before judgement.
He saved prostitutes from death
And he cried at death no matter whom it stole.
He hated suffering
And he was relentless against corruption.
He never forgot the orphan, the widow or the single parent
And he always gave reminder that bad was not good, nor confused the two.
He established the precedent that actions have consequences which cannot be skirted
And he was the first to say that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
He is the greatest environmentalist, human rights advocator and artist.
My God has striven for peace since the beginning
And all He wants is for you to be all you can be.
My God is the greatest ruler ever to walk this earth
And He is the most clever strategist to ever make a plan.
Believe it or not, He is the king of all kings ever to take a breath.
He is the Lord over all
Which actually means it ALL!
He is the beginning and He is the end
He is the rose of life
The eagle of freedom
The lion of strength
My God is an exploding volcano of awe and respect
Yet the fuzzy blanket and warm fireplace of close comfort.
My God has His crown established on justice and rightness.
Waterfalls are His footstool,
The rising dawn His seat, the noonday sun His backrest.
The mountain valleys are his throne room.
Placed beside Him is a single star shining bright;
That is your seat.
That is what he thinks of you this very moment despite what you may think of yourself-
He believes you are deserving to have the spot.
To Him you are more than the sum of your actions.
To me, I am still human and am trying to see as my God sees.
I am a Christian and I’m not perfect but my God is.
What He is I am in school to become.
Sometimes I fail, sometimes I pass.
But I don’t hate you.

Christians protect praying Muslims during Cairo uprising in 2011

Christians protect praying Muslims during Cairo uprising in 2011