The Course of Reason

Fun with Fashion and the Bible

September 29, 2011

I was given a link to this wonderful website by a coworker who hates the idea that some people don’t think it’s okay to wear jeans to work. I initially thought this was some study relating productivity to jeans vs. khakis or something. It is actually far godlier…


The Modesty Survey is an exciting, anonymous discussion between Christian guys and girls who care about modesty.

Orly? It’s a discussion, is it? It looks a lot more list a list of “what happens to my sexy parts when you wear…” There is no discussion. There is no input from women or the “girls” who are referenced in the survey questions. And “exciting” is debatable.

The Modesty Survey results have been released, but there is still an important message for Christian guys to communicate to their sisters in Christ. Whether you participated in the survey or not, the [petition] is your opportunity to affirm and commend the following biblical truths surrounding feminine modesty by adding your name to the hundreds of signatures below.

As a Christian guy with a deep appreciation for feminine modesty, I hereby affirm and commend the following biblical truths to my sisters in Christ:

· Please, approach the survey as a resource, not a list of rules.

· Always honor your parents above the results of the survey. (Ephesians 6:1-3)

· Seek personal feedback on your attire from the godly men and women in your life.

· Remember, modesty is first and foremost a matter of the heart, not the wardrobe.

· Faithfully pursue the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:4)

· Let your good works outshine your outward appearance. (1 Timothy 2:10)

· Dress for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

That’s not the first time they’ve mentioned their “sisters in Christ.” What’s with that? Why can’t they say “Christian women?” Oh, right, because the women can’t be referenced as individuals, but instead have to be talked about in relation to real people (you know, men, and Jesus). Plus, how can anyone take these verses seriously when you read the verses around them and realize how insane the statements are? The one about honoring your parents is just a few lines before “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear.” It would be a hard thing to convince me that biblical rules are important in the present and worth following when it tells me to be a modest dresser and a loyal slave (they talk more about hard things later).

What do they mean by a deep appreciation for feminine modesty? Is there masculine modesty? Robot modesty? This sounds like it is another nail in the coffin for the characterization of it as a “discussion” since it is clearly a one-sided deal and has no requests of men and what they wear or how they behave, or whether they should be modest.

What about bullet point five? Let’s look up that Bible verse (and the verse before it):

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

You should have the unfading beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit. Of course, of course. This is just for women, right? Yep, just for women. The verses preceding are the ones about wives submitting to their husbands, etc. etc. Then you get to this gem:

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

I digress. We could sit here all day and read the Bible to find the outlandish, archaic, sexist things it says about relationships. Back to feminine modesty and Bible threads.

So, you should have a quiet spirit and not wear gold or have awesome hair. Oh no! I’m out:

And the girl in their video. She’s out for wearing gold (you broke your own rules eight seconds in! Not to mention some of those hussies in slacks…)

Do I really have to point out that The Rebelution, the people who orchestrated the modesty survey, has a series of conferences called the “Do Hard Things” tour? They are clearly unaware of “that’s-what-she-said” jokes.

You have to do some digging through the videos and random, edgy designs for teens (being a teen is so edgy!), but then you find the real description of the modesty survey and its purpose:

1.7% of the guys surveyed feel strongly that girls shouldn’t show their calves. Is it now Burkha Day for all well-meaning Christian women? Absolutely not! In reading through the survey, you might have trouble finding a single item of clothing that someone, somewhere, doesn’t have a problem with. So where do we draw the line?

Well, the fact is that 98.3% guys DO NOT feel strongly that girls shouldn’t show their calves. If you look at the survey results you will find that 99.9% of the guys take full responsibility for themselves, and don’t expect women to cover every inch of skin—they’re just asking for help.

Wait, what? What’s that responsibility part? There’s something about that sentence that points to the idea that some men can’t be held responsible for what they do when they see uncovered parts of women’s bodies.

The honest truth is this: We’re not telling you what to wear—we’re just telling you what we, as guys, have to guard against. It is God’s Word, your own heart and conscience, and your parents and godly friends who should help you decide what to do about it.

Right, right. Guard against women and the way that their dirty sexy-parts make you do things that aren’t godly. And women, here are some fashion tips from God’s Word:

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)
Aaaaahhh! God detests me!!

“Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.” (Deuteronomy 22:11)
Kate wears mixed fabrics! And pants!!!

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.” (1 Timothy 2:9)

“Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening.” (Leviticus 15:17)

I’ll refrain from making jokes for that last one.

I wanted to draw some conclusions from all of this, but I think it’s nothing that we haven’t heard before. The Bible says a lot of whacky stuff and it seems really silly to try to make modern day life fit into the rules that are stated in the Bible. You can try, but what’s the point? Things change and they have changed a whole lot in 2000 years, so why not accept that times change, get better, and progress? Maybe it’s time to re-assess, and have real discussions about what matters to us as people who want to be happy. I’m not going to hunt down these Rebelution folks and tell them they’re wrong or anything; they are at least partially right about valuing each other based on our actions like being compassionate and generous. I just wanted to post this today because I like to keep in mind that there are people out there who will say that they subscribe to some sort of biblical modesty or biblical view of something, yet a quick read of the verses in context shows just how much we should reject those fundamentalist values because they were written in a time when people did not value creativity, individuality, personal responsibility, and equality (which I think are far more crucial than modesty and Bronze-age standards of purity).

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About the Author: Dren Asselmeier

Dren Asselmeier's photo

Dren Asselmeier does student outreach as a campus organizer at the Center for Inquiry. She got her start as an organizer while interning at Center for Inquiry–Michigan in 2008. She stayed until 2010 as a volunteer campus coordinator, and was CFI–Michigan Freethinker of the Year in 2009, as well as president of Center for Inquiry–Grand Valley State University. Dren has a B.A. in English from Grand Valley State University. She is the president of Buffalo Area Non-Profit Professionals, an event volunteer at Buffalo Subversive Theatre, and a contributor to the Buffalo Storyteller Hour. 


#1 Egaeus on Thursday September 29, 2011 at 8:03am

"That’s not the first time they’ve mentioned their “sisters in Christ.” What’s with that? Why can’t they say “Christian women?” Oh, right, because the women can’t be referenced as individuals, but instead have to be talked about in relation to real people (you know, men, and Jesus)."

"Brothers and sisters" is a common theme in Christianity. While I don't disagree that women are marginalized, I think that in this particular case it's more about reinforcing the "us vs. them" mentality than the marginalization of women. That's everything else in the "dialogue."

#2 ABM (Guest) on Thursday September 29, 2011 at 10:01am

Seriously, are you surprised by any of this crap? Considering the number of religious men who straight-up believe women are their _property_, of course they aren't interested in a "discussion". Men discuss, women obey. That's how it works.

From the survey comments: "Girls need to understand the messages they send with their clothes. Even if she would never dare wear a bikini in public, when she lets the ties stick out of the top of her shirt she is drawing attention to what she is wearing underneath. She is essentially saying to men, "Imagine what I've got on underneath..."

"[bikinis] are so immodest it is sickening." (a 16 year old boy! Sickened? Really?)

The recurring theme in the comments on this survey is women presenting "stumbling blocks" to Christian men, by dressing immodestly. They make it hard for men to be godly, by tempting them with their bodies.

Some are just f**king scary:
"It's not their body to flaunt. It belongs to Christ and their future husband. How dare they flaunt something that God did not permit them to flaunt? How dare they write a check the Bible doesn't allow them to cash? When a girl purposely flaunts her body, she is almost immediately ruled out for anything beyond acquantenance in my eyes."

"How dare they". F**king Taliban. I wouldn't trust my daughter around these sex-obsessed religious fanatics.

#3 SethJKurtenbach on Thursday September 29, 2011 at 3:09pm

In the comments concerning fishnet stockings: "They remind me of prostitutes, which isn't really something a Christian girl would want to remind guys of."

Right, because we know Christ refused to hang out with prostitutes... Derp.




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