the Undressing of the Church

I just finished an essay by Jeff Pollard, entitled Christian Modesty, the Public Undressing of America. For a thorough examination of the history of how public opinion has shifted in America in regards to clothing you should read this. Informative and interesting to see the intention of the fashion and movie industry methodically marching a nation toward the undressing of men and women.

“The fashion industry does not believe that the principle purpose of clothing is to cover the body; it believes that the principle purpose of clothing is sexual attraction. This is the very opposite of Christian modesty.” Jeff Pollard

Neither the fashion industry or Hollywood in general are neutral in this undressing. I want to take a moment to address this with a more directed address, and consider how this undressing of America has had an influence on the church.

I’m not the historian to site the shifting of how church attendees clothing has shifted over the past 200 years. I’m not the statistician with numbers to prove a point. I’m simply a local pastor who stands before a people week in and week out and notice that once a person dresses down or less they are slow to return to the previous standard of conservative.

I’m not looking to call for a formality of clothing and I’m not suggesting that one should dress more conservative at church than the other six days of the week. I find the teaching of modesty in Scripture to be lifestyle instructions rather than Sunday only fashion.

I accept that this kind of talk in our day potentially puts the label of legalism on me rather than speaker of truth. There is a danger of legalism with any matter and I want to always be careful of a legalistic spirit. I realize that not all will agree that the undressing of the church is as serious of a matter as I do. I pray for grace on my writing and speaking and upon the hearing.

First: let’s acknowledge that the spirit of this age has had more influence on all of us than we like to admit. In knowing that the agenda of the flesh is contrary to the agenda of the Spirit will only help us. If what Jeff Pollard argues is true, the principle purpose of fashion and Hollywood is sexual in nature and will even use this sexual attraction to lure in the church. To not know this will explain why there is less clothing on men and women of faith today.

Second: to not know this or to refuse to consider the likely influence the spirit of this age has on the church will show a lack of submitting to the Lordship of Christ in your life and the church toward the Lord. For a man or woman to have little concern of how their dressing effects others shows little interest on why Scripture would even address this matter. When Scripture speaks to a matter as directly as it does to clothing, then the follower of the Lord should consider it with great interest.

Third: for a believer, adorn yourself with the glory of God rather than the glory of the day. It has become increasingly complicated when fewer people within the household of faith appear to express care in the effects of this matter. Men and women alike know what clothing attracts attention. You know it by the comments people make, you know it by the way people look at you, you know it by the reaction you get. Don’t appear naive on this matter. There is an agenda and you are taking part in it.

Conclusion: I plead with believers (primarily at the local church I pastor) to give serious consideration to this. We accept that there is a moral dress code that even unconverted people adhere to. Nudity is a public crime and not accepted in the public. But the more sexual the clothing becomes the less imagination a man or woman has to have. The increasing distraction of the physical body that God declared “very good” becomes more attractive, especially to our children. If the body is the temple of the Lord, and it is, then of those in our culture who should understand how important it is that our clothing display the glory of God and not the attraction of the eyes of a passer-by. If all that we do should be committed to the Lord, and it should, then even the way our clothing effects others should be considered.

Then, also, follower of Christ… because there is an agenda to undress the culture, don’t be so foolish to think that there is not an agenda to undress the church. There is. You may likely be participating in that agenda.

3 Comments

  • Nick C

    January 19, 2015 at 12:43 PM Reply

    I have many many issues with the booklet. But here are two points I would like to make here:

    The first is relatively minor. “God’s people cover their body in public, while pagans uncover theirs.” Contrast this with “….athletes habitually went without clothing” Pollard does not explore this concept any further. Does he imply that “God’s people” never competed in athletic events or that the early Olympics were taboo? Athletes are pagan even in this age? Many competitive sports require clothing which I assume would not pass Pollard’s arbitrary standard; and do so only for practical reasons. Context does matter. I have done no research on this subject, but would be interested to know his conclusion.

    The next is much more serious.

    “David’s horrible sin with Bathsheba was clearly his fault; yet Bathsheba’s unwise and imprudent public nakedness certainly fueled the fire of David’s lust.” *** …Bathsheba failed to govern her modesty; David failed to govern his eyes, Candle, Gunpowder.”

    David’s horrible sin was rape. He was an absolute monarch, he could and did demand her submission. To characterize his actions as anything other than rape, is completely dishonest. Bathsheba shares some responsibility? According to Pollard she does. Therefore ***every woman who is sexually assaulted is partially at fault if she is wearing anything other than Pollard’s “tunic”*** This “tunic” as he puts it, is so vaguely defined that nearly any dress could cause a woman to become a candle, and turn every man into gunpowder.

    Furthermore, Pollard adds to Scripture: no where is Bathsheba rebuked for bathing (actually performing a ritual) where and when she did; **nowhere** is her ritual bathing described as “imprudent.” David, however, is admonished for being in a place he should not have been. (At home and not at the front with his soldiers.) Yet Pollard rebukes Bathsheba in his essay, and minimizes David’s rape of her. He is ultimately placing himself in the position of God by re-writing the Word of God!

    The only logical conclusion from Pollard’s booklet is that women are partially responsible for sexual assault, by the clothes that they may (or even not) wear. Re-read Pollard’s statements regarding David and Bathsheba. By approving of Pollards text, you are approving of this conclusion, however subtle.

  • Paul

    January 20, 2015 at 2:25 PM Reply

    Chris,
    I appreciate your expression of your opinion on Pollard’s essay that I site. The issues you have with Pollard are not met with strangeness. Yes, there do appear to be some assumptions and conclusions that need some more clarification, but I’m in agreement with his larger argument.

    You’ve not done anything to persuade me that Pollard’s conclusion is related or even remotely related to blaming women for sexual assault by clothing they wear or don’t wear. It is absorb to put any responsibility upon another person for ones own doing, men or women.

    All men own what they allow to enter their thinking and doing. All women own what they allow to influence their thinking and doing.

    Thanks

  • Nick C

    January 20, 2015 at 6:25 PM Reply

    “David’s horrible sin with Bathsheba was clearly his fault; yet Bathsheba’s unwise and imprudent public nakedness certainly fueled the fire of David’s lust.” *** …Bathsheba failed to govern her modesty; David failed to govern his eyes, Candle, Gunpowder.”

    These are Pollard’s exact words. No where in Scripture does God state that Bathsheba was unwise or imprudent, or that Bathsheba failed to govern her modesty, nor even that her “nakedness” was “public.” Pollard is adding all of this to Scripture!

    Pollard qualifies David’s sin with “yet.” Any admonishment of Bathsheba comes from Pollard and not God and any admonishment of her is to assign a modicum of blame to her, however slight. She cannot be blamed in any measure.

    God does not qualify David’s sin nor say Bathsheba did *anything* wrong. Only Pollard does. . Pollard assigns partial blame to Bathsheba, doing so gives license to assign partial blame to any woman, and no different than the extreme of “she asked for it.”

    There is no other way to interpret Pollard. That is the dangerous message in Pollard’s essay, and for that reasoning alone, I would dismiss it entirely, if not for other errors I would find.

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