There was a funny YouTube video circling about a pastor trying to make himself more accessible to youth culture and what makes appeals to today’s world. VIDEO
It was funny. There have also been blog after blog about that kind of dress coming into the church, hair color, man-buns, skinny jeans, cross dressing and what constitutes cross dressing. This is an important topic especially with the genesis and growth of gender politics. Culture is always going in a direction and it is often away from God.
Now I didn’t necessarily want to discuss this issue as I prefer the come as you are approach to church dress code, but when the bigger ideas of who you are takes center stage than some things might need to be said.
The natural is one that derived from the obvious pattern of life that God has given us. It is simply nature because that is par his design. This is why Romans 1 uses such terminology referring to God and his created order. Nature should determine some things about how we carry ourselves. Nature should also discriminate some things. Our nature is what we are born as. The supernatural is something that is beyond the design, that is good or an improvement, but the unnatural in this sense, tends to be something best shamed and left alone. It speaks against the design of the thing, it undermines and does not improve upon. Unnatural has ideas of malfunction such as mutation, which despite what Marvel Comics tells us are always a bad thing. Even if I dare cross over into the silliness of evolution for a moment, the idea of the continued advancement must be for the betterment of the race or else it is devolution.
In other words there is a pattern to follow for nature to work. Without a pattern to follow nature falls to the wayside and we are left with survival of the fittest, but even the survivors have to make an appeal to what the fitter of the bunch is. Making appeal to the fitter of the bunch is what I wanted to talk about. There is a lot of discussion about what appeals to this generation, dress, hair, tats, e-cigs, personal pronouns, orientation, what makes one cool and fit in. Our culture seems to be trying to reduce distinctions of male and female to simply social constructs, by equating all preferences. What makes you this and what makes you that, the answer is increasingly becoming nothing particularly at all except what one feels. As innocent and liberating as this may all seem, it is something far more malicious.
What our culture is doing right now is line blurring. We are doing this to expand the idea of who and what the fitter of the bunch are. We are blurring lines in order to say that sex doesn’t really matter. Nature doesn’t matter, genitalia doesn’t really matter. Boys can be girls and girls can be boys, this is essentially the underlining message of homosexuality by the way: sex doesn’t matter for sexual acts to happen. The end goal is simply choice. I can choose to be this and be with this person or persons despite what anyone says, and I can choose again later if needs be.
Many want to say that Christians have an obsession with sex so that they want to police everybody else’s expression. Christians are not so interested in who you take to bed, but they are concerned over the fact that more people are casting off the restraints of a created order and thus thumbing their nose at God. This is why we want no part in celebrating such acts, bakers and florists beware, that is the issue. This is why the way we present and carry ourselves also matters and has been a topic of late. If we present ourselves as if sex doesn’t matter, has no boundaries, has no lines, then soon it won’t.
We started at the bottom. After we have for the most part successfully curbed the typical results of unprotected sex i.e. a baby. We have abortion on demand so, along with no fault divorce we have opened the boundaries of the sex act. I don’t have to be married. I don’t have to stay married. I don’t have to have kids. Now who you have sex with is also on demand, gender be damned, or rather be eradicated. Since this last natural order as given by God has been knocked down, is it any wonder that transgenderism is growing. We are inching more and more towards the ancient Roman society where public orgies will become the ideal. “Everyone throw off restraint do what every you want and whoever you want, whatever is before you!” seems to be the message. This is why Christians have been commenting on our dress and the way we carry ourselves. Ideas have consequences. So our dress has started to reflect that we don’t have any distinctions anymore. We don’t want any boundaries anymore.
This chipping away at the simple natural order of things is far more pervasive than checking which sex you are on an application, which door you walk through, but what demeanor you embody as a person. As we internalize these ideas we externalize them in behavior and dress. So we dress in culture communicators as more people adopt this idea of no truth but what we make for ourselves, then we get more men acting and dressing like women and vice versa. The more tattooed we become, the more pierced we become, the more dresses men will wear, the more muted the distinctions and the more we get parents determining sex for their children rather than simply checking what God has already done. The more unnaturally sexless we become.
By our dress, by they way we apply selectivity and arrangement upon our own bodies is very telling. For awhile the church was desperately trying to distance ourselves from culture but now we are diving head first into it perhaps hoping to win some? That is what the video was about. But are we maybe making it more difficult to point out the whole saving aspect?
I am not against tattoos, they do look cool, but I have never found a piece of art that I felt so passionately about that I had to have it on my body. A little bit of ink ain’t gonna make this mess prettier. Furthermore when I look at the Old Testament command against it I see it as an appeal to be different from what was cultist activity. However, there are similar promptings to apply or wear the word of God, to our bodies as well. (Deuteronomy 6:8, 11:18) So I like tattooing verses to the body, as long as we know the reference and have applied them to our lives in more than a tactile way. So that command has largely lost those particular teeth, but what rebellion has grown up in its place? Our dress, our adoption of a culture that wants to throw off any restraints, the anti authority position has festered into something more sinister. It is taking on that cultist bent of speaking towards a different god. The problem is not so much how we look but that…
We are losing the ability to submit, because we are our own gods. We are our own standard thus any opposition must be fiercely resisted. So we are darkening the doorway of many of the reasons for those Old Covenant commands. Sure we aren’t under Old Covenent law, but we still are supposed to avoid idolatry and not carry ourselves in a way that speaks against who it is we are united with.
With personal expression becoming the hallmark of our individuality and freedom we are losing the ability to hear any opinion that flies in the face of our elevated self, not only this but we are seemingly trying to legislate that it be so. In its infancy we are already unwilling to even have conversations that might hint at something other than what we have decided on and hold dear. Our subjective experiences and preferences are king over objective reality. So much so that mere words that challenge are offensive to use.
Every generation has had their rebellious punk youth, that for the most part grew up out of it at some point. However there seems to have been an increasingly growing bottom sediment deposit from each iteration. The water is so muddied now that we have started to believe that we can walk on water all on our own. Peter would be so jealous. What will happen when this movement grows into full maturity? We aren’t just losing the ability to disagree but losing the freedom. When we arrive at the asexual apex and everything is free, what will follow is that everybody is free to use anybody else as they see fit. The bondage will very much be alive just invisible behind the word liberation. The Bible teaches that we are neither male or female free or slave in regards to our sin and relationship to God, but this is not in actuality; we are still told that God created marriage as a union for the separate sexes of male and females to join together as one. We are told not to dress in a women’s clothes if we are men for a reason. There is a nature and order to things that speaks of a grantor of life.
Now we must understand along side of this that it would be too easy to say that I find what you wear offensive, or how you look, or how you carry yourself and fall down the pit of legalism. This is the hole I keep seeing that many are taking, which is what prompted this blog. Arguing that this hair color means that and those pants means this is silly. That is basically granting that a person looks nice and how I deem acceptable so I will honor him and this person does not so I will dishonor him. That is not-biblical nor loving. This is what the first part of James 2 is about, showing partiality. However this entry is about encouraging reflection and engaging a conversation.
I used to dress ridiculous in my youth, but it was about fitting in, not about a larger cultural movement and while many may agree today, the culture around us does not anymore. I don’t see skinny jeans on men as effeminate nor green hair on girls as a juke towards taking testosterone pills, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a principle of the heart behind the matter. So for Christians I think there are two questions on this front.
The first question is this: What am I contributing too?
This has to do with the kind of culture we helping to build. Because we do not live in our own vacuous kingdoms. The culture has the ability to add bricks to the temple of self that will not allow any authority to speak into it, with a seemingly goal of throwing off God. Our dress has the ability to become something more than just keeping me clothed and comfortable. It is increasingly becoming a statement even if we haven’t read the manifesto. What is it speaking? Is it undermining something? In other words does it minister, or build up, where is this going? Think beyond yourself.
The second question is this: Where is my heart before God in this, with respect to the first question?
What is going in my heart before God that causes me to buy into the decisions that I have made in regards to the way I carry myself: orientation, dress, attitude etc. What are my reasons for applying these things to myself? What does it do for my identity and why do I think that it does what I believe? Furthermore what does that identity say about God? What does God say about that identity? How does my heart respond to the idea if God does in fact say no to it?
Despite the blogosphere, I don’t want to fight every woman who wears green hair, or every man who wears a bun. But I do want to ask Christians this: is what you are doing for the glory of God, and then how do you know? Christians should not pretend that the word natural doesn’t exist, nor should they be ignorant about how and what culture speaks. We should be aware of what God calls us to and the nature that God has placed within us. I think to the degree we acknowledge the idea of a natural order is a first step towards acquiescence or resistance to a giver of that order.
Even the angels who are sexless beings appeared to man clothed as they were to communicate that they were men. They appeared to the culture in such a way to communicate understood norms. They could have appeared naked and made appeals to their higher order, or completely other and be totally baffling, but it depended on what they were communicating, and whose authority they were under. It wasn’t their choices that were king, but the actual King’s. When they wanted to communicate that authority and transcendence they appeared with more glory. As unnatural as pants are to angels, so are we when we attempt to live as if there is no God overhead and pretend there are not norms that govern.
Are we making angels blush and grieving the Spirit at our appearances because all we want to communicate is how much we don’t care? Submission is always key. This is why I began with evolution. If we are only products of evolution then everything here is moot. But if God did create then he holds the instruction manual that we need to consult. We need to be aware of what we are contributing to.
The only lines that a Christian should be blurring are the ones that keep people in sin and away from a relationship with God. Unfortunately the way we conduct ourselves can actually strengthen that barrier between God and man. That is the only wall that the world likes to make. So dear Christians help tear it down, not reinforce it.