Dress codes and Church Discipline

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Julio Martinez Jr, Oct 1, 2009.

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  1. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    This is absolutely true of the guys that a godly woman would want to attract. I know for a fact that a scantily clad woman would never have become a candidate for marriage. While the temptation to lust might be there, I would not want to befriend a woman that was always "on the edge" of cultural modesty.
  2. Sean Strupp

    Sean Strupp Puritan Board Freshman

    Also, the main issue at hand is "the underlying attitude of certain Christians that really bothers me. It is cavalier and frankly too bombastically clothed in mutiny." as jmartinez has expressed. Heels just happened to be the issue we were discussing with another Christian we know. Jmartinez is my brother-in-law by the way and I am part of the reason this conversation came up. haha forgot to mention that.
  3. Julio Martinez Jr

    Julio Martinez Jr Puritan Board Freshman

    I would refer you to my original post for a Biblical defense of my thesis. Your tag name seems to suggest that you're with the OPC. I would refer you to your creed on church discipline as a basis for the Biblical defense you are looking for:
    Ergo, if the church finds fault, then you are duty bound by reasonable conclusions to submit to the church and its censures. The Biblical bases is inherently found within the text of your confession. To deny that is to deny the tradition of which you belong and its Biblical corollaries. I hope that wasn't too harsh, but this issue needs to be resolved. Again, it isn't about the heels per se, but the underlying attitude that some women have.
  4. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    I would say this is contrary to the scripture, and certainly to the WCF.
    If we obey such commands out of conscience, then we betray liberty. If we have a total disregard for our brother, that is also wrong.

    If someone has trouble with a woman wearing a pair of pants (not skin tight, not shorts, but just a regular pants suit), they might need to be instructed in self-control more than the woman told to change. Instruction needs to be to both men and women. Men should discipline their minds; women should use digression in clothing. If both are doing what ought to be, there won't be a problem. Either not following the law of love will be a cause of stumbling.
  5. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    This is the best statement on this thread I've read yet. I was beginning to feel horrible about how I dress! Thank you, Brian!
  6. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Absolutely. Yet this would mean that the church would have to act with love, and act according to knowledge. The process is not a lot different between the OPC and PCA in this regard (Matt. 18) and it would require investigation, and the accused would have to be brought up on charges that stem from scripture. I certainly would support my session if they came to me with what is lawful use of the authority they possess. I would certainly accept instruction from them. I would want their instruction (and they would certainly provide) a Biblical basis for the need for change in behavior.

    That said, I doubt if I wear something a little different to church that the session would take note unless what was worn "stands out" from the culture in which we live.

    Please note ... I'm not disagreeing with you. I agree that we all must submit to Biblical authority. If I came to church wearing a shirt open to the navel, I would expect I would be counselled about the appropriateness of the clothing. What I would not expect is to be told not to wear what is common in my culture.
  7. Sean Strupp

    Sean Strupp Puritan Board Freshman

    That depends. Im not talking about some strange man that happens to have a problem with curly hair and confronts a woman. This is obviously a much larger issue than just some guy that happens to be affected by heels. This thread is already two pages long which means there is mixed feelings on the issue. Once again it is the attitude and response of the woman in question that is the issue. If it is a significant problem and she is confronted it is her responsibility to abstain from whatever practice is causing others to stumble.

    -----Added 10/2/2009 at 01:47:51 EST-----

    Let me add this. This mention of heels in this forum at little to do with what was said. He gave heels as an example because that was the topic of discussion when a "cavalier" response was made. In our situation the heels were an issue and that of vanity and unnecessary attention. There may be no issue at all with anyone else involved in this forum but it was for us. So really we should be discussing the appropriate actions of individuals confronted by others within the church and not heels.
  8. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't think anyone would disagree with this. If my whole church saw a problem with how I dressed, I would want to change my dress code.....sheer embarrassment would lead me to that change. I would hope that they would base it off of Scripture and not just bc one or two men had a problem with how I dress and want to see all women in long skirts.
  9. Julio Martinez Jr

    Julio Martinez Jr Puritan Board Freshman

    OK there needs to be some clarification. I don't think Sean is advocating an autonomous judgment of individual ills. If that were the case, then everyone would be lopping off heads from all quarters. Second, I think there is a basic assumption that what Sean is setting forth is "contrary to the Word," as the WCF says. Clearly we need to protect liberty of conscience:
    But let's not forget that Peter also admonishes us not to use our liberty as a cloak for ills and vices. That is why I mentioned, in an earlier post, that the Heidelberg Catechism question 85 suggests that it be done firstly in private:
    My aim in this post isn't to defend an individual, by the way. I am really interested in church discipline, and the issues raised in my home really caused concern. So I did a quick summary of the arguments and played with the logic for a bit. I took note of my Biblical presuppositions and my culture's presuppositions. Our ideas and notions of beauty really need to be examined personally. However, all I can do it recommend because this issue isn't clear-cut. It is very difficult to diagnose and there is a morass of opinions out there, even among the faithful.
  10. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree 100%. The temptress is intriguing and tempting in the flesh but it's because she is seen as a tool and a means of worldly pleasure. She definitely isn't given any attention because she is respected or honored. For a wife, godliness is the determining factor. A girl who loves Christ more than she loves any man is ravishingly attractive.

    Good words.
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    This question, no matter the point behind it, should always be answered 'no'. In a debate, it is manipulative, and usually a sign that a trap is being set.

    So until all of your terms are defined, and I understand where you are trying to go (not where you are coming from), I'll not cede any point.

    Certainly, if the initial debate had just been modesty in the church, my initial reaction would have been quite different. But since I now know how 'modesty' is being defined, I have to wonder how you would define other terms, and what the issues really are.

    To summarize some of the very good points up thread:

    It might be the man's problem, rather than the woman's that needs to be most urgently addressed. (Guys who spend time in church obsessing on women's feet probably need help.)

    It may be a diaconal issue - does the woman have/ can she afford more suitable attire.

    It may be an educational issue - does an older woman (at least older in the faith) need to come along side her and teach her what appropriate attire is? Is proper attire being modeled by such women?

    "Can we all agree" that ONLY when these three have been worked through should the session get formally involved? And if the woman is married (or unemancipated) the process should also involve her husband or father?
  12. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Edward has a good summary of the biblical issues involved.

    Remember also, this sin problem is not new, nor is it so subjective it cannot be obeyed outwardly and with a right heart inwardly.

    No Christian is called to live as an island unto themselves, but unto an orientation toward the good of his neighbor, and the honor and glory of God.

    If a woman is physically beautiful for a time, for a long time, that's the purpose- to use that gift to the honor and glory of her God.

    And if she is also inwardly beautiful, that is better and may we all seek to understand and value that, because that is God's will for us.

    That doesn't come "naturally"- that's why we need God's Word made flesh, our Savior.

  13. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

  14. Julio Martinez Jr

    Julio Martinez Jr Puritan Board Freshman

    This is the sort of response that I have received from the opposite side that I am warning about. There can never be a simple answer, namely because there is such a cultural divide on the term "modesty." I think I've made that point incontrovertibly. Second, the reason I asked that question isn't for a trap. The problem in the church isn't innocuous, so I don't have time to play a logical game. Paul himself appends this kind of thinking as sinful and should be avoided (1 Timothy 6:3-4). This sort of accusation, personally, I find to be unfounded.

    Edward mentions the sinful problems men have with the women's dress, be that heels or whatnot. I already covered that. I agreed with subsequent posts on the need for men to deal with their sin(s). What I suggest is not a denotative definition of modesty but a way in which the church censures and/or corrects a female who clearly is offending a significant amount of men in the church. Following an inductive method, I think if there is a good amount of men who find a woman's wear offensive would suggest that there is a problem, similar to my illustration about fires and sirens. Granted there is a problem in the church, I found that beginning with the problem would help resolve the issue. That is the reason I asked that basic question, "Can we all agree?" It wouldn't be personally advantageous to ignore the smell of fire and the sound of the sirens when there is a fire close by.
  15. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    That would be traumatizing!!!!

    As to the OP, I think the scenario has a problem. How would a man establish if there were three or more of him bothered by a woman's dress? I assume that would mean that they speak about it together, and I think that could lead to more sin than the woman's attire.

    I think, like Matthew 18, if a man is seriously grieved by a woman's attire, he should ask his wife to speak to her. Or his mother, if he is young, or a pastor, who can ask his wife, if he is single. (I know this isn't exactly Matthew 18, but I think it would be wrong for a man to speak directly to someone who isn't his wife.)

    I don't know if this would work in the real world, but I think a man would be able to speak to the lady's husband or father, if her immodesty was a problem.

    My husband would kill me before he let me wear anything immodest. But he has no problem with me wearing things that express my personality or fashion sense--be it heels (not likely!) or fun dresses, or anything else that is based on personal preference.
  16. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    As Barnhouse once said, some women can be immodest in three dresses and two mink coats, while godly women will look modest even when forced out of their homes in their night clothes by a fire.

    It's a heart issue, and completely unrelated to men's self-control, which is an entirely different subject.
  17. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, but when they are not, what is the motivation for dressing like a tart? ESPECIALLY married women. Who are they trying to attract? Honestly - what is the motivation for short skirts and heels on a 50 year old woman, even if she looks good in it? Try and find a godly answer there, and "I like the way it looks" doesn't wash. This goes doubly true for men, as they are to provide headship and leadership in the home. If I wax my chest and wear open shirts to worship, I hope the elders will tackle me on the way in and give me the talking to I deserve.

    One other thing - I have seen that many churches mandate dress codes because their congregations conform themselves to the world first and foremost in their dress. I know of one FRC church in our area here that mandated measurements for wedding dresses. Over the top? Some may think so, but girls were showing up with shorter and shorter skirts and lower and lower necklines, so the church was forced to do something. If people would have sobriety of mind in these issues instead of reading 'Vogue' and 'Bride Today' or what have you, then there would be no need for these discussions.

    Dress codes are not necessarily legalism.

    But look at what our culture now considers the 'norm'. This is an extremely dangerous position, In my humble opinion.
  18. HokieAirman

    HokieAirman Puritan Board Freshman

    Just want to add to the conversation...

    Male cleavage, front and back is immodest too!:eek:

    Um, yeah...I've seen a fellow try to this...since I'm still a visitor at my church, I can only hope he was too?

    Also, if the ladies find they have two add'l cheeks to powder, then they're probably being a bit immodest no matter what their countenance/attitude is.

    Also, I'd say that leather high-heeled boots that come up to the thigh would be immodest.

  19. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Plumbers, stay home!

    There is plenty of room for whitewashed tombs here as well. I have seen (in a rather conservative church) a young lady with high-heeled leather boots to the knee, a short tight skirt, and tight blouse and vest. BUT she was wearing a headcovering, so all was well. :sigh:
  20. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    "Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."

    While dress codes are useful in certain situations (schools, weddings in churches, work), there is no place for them in church services, In my humble opinion. I have to go along with those who suggest that if a communicant member of a church is consisently dressing inappropriately, then someone (preferrably one of the same gender and a good example) should go to that person privately and discuss it.

    Modest dress is a matter of the heart. This needs to be taught as a primary issue. That is why I Peter says that a woman should be adorning the inner person of the heart. If the inner adorning is appropriate, it will manifest itself in the outward appearance.

    I will end my comments with this story. Several years ago, I walked into the bookstore of a well-known christian university which has very high dress standards for the women. I walked down one of the book aisles and saw a woman looking at a book. For the sake of the men reading this, I won't describe the clothing she was wearing, but it was very inappropriate. The first thought that crossed my mind was "how did that woman get on this campus dressed like that?" (She had obviously spent a lot of time arriving at that look) It wasn't until I scanned her clothing a second time that I realized she hadn't broken one dress code rule. Just about that time the woman looked up and I realized it was the wife of the president of the university!
  21. Megan Mozart

    Megan Mozart Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know exactly what you mean by a "short" skirt. If you are talking about a miniskirt, that is probably fine. But if it just means above the knees...

    Rom 14:3-4 Let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?

    It's alright if you don't like a short skirt and heels. If it's causing a multitude of men to stumble, it might be bad. But the part that is troubling me is you ask "What is the motivation?" And you say, "I like the way it looks" doesn't wash. Are you given the ability to know she is lying? Do you really know enough to know that her motives are not appropriate simply because you don't like her dress?

    Rom 14:5 "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." Go ahead and have your opinion, but don't hold the other person to it if it's not spelled out in scripture.

    Peace and blessings, brother. :2cents:

    It has also been said that some in this thread are defending their dress because they want just men to be responsible and they want to be able to wear whatever they want. I don't like this because you don't know their heart and their motivations.

    I don't know the right amount of responsibility men or women should have in this, I'm not even touching that, so please don't assume that I am trying to justify being able to wear whatever I want including immodest things. I am just trying to guard against legalism by sharing what I am convinced Romans 14 is saying and I think we need to pay more attention to it. I don't think I'm :deadhorse: because I think I can rightfully infer from some posts that there is some legalism going on. If not, then I want to be cautious and say it anyway, because Romans 14 is worth mentioning in a discussion of this topic if it is in God's word.

    However, I will try not to be the legalism police anymore, though it is hard because to me it is so clearly spoken against in this passage and I wish more attention was being paid to it. :2cents:
  22. Honor

    Honor de-cool

    I want to chime in....
    I wear heels (I'm five foot flat and my husband is 6ft2) except when I'm pregnant.

    Now if a man comes into church and is looking around and has a problem with what a woman wears on her feet or is noticing his womans tight pants or some cleavage peaking though I would ask: where is this mans focus? Should he not prepare his heart for worship before hand and then when he comes into the house of the Lord he should be more fixated on that fact than on what ANYONE around him is wearing. Plus if a man is stumbling (which is a nice way of saying he's lusting) after a woman in his church because of her clothes Heaven help him if he goes to Walmart, the gas station or any other public place. It doesn't matter if the female is a christian or not... if she is dressed in any way and the man lusts it's his sin. Now christian women are to be dressed modestly and since the Bible clearly is vague on the details of that, I think it should be a matter of the girl conscience and not the man low self control. Some would say Spagetti straps are not modest, or high heels or pants that aren't made of tents. However if you look around you you will see these things just by walking out your front door. It says in the Bible are are to flee every time of sin are you to become a hermit in your house? NO, you are to guard your mind, turn your eyes and try to live at peace with everyone. If a woman were to try to dress to everyones ideal of modesty she would never make a single clothing purchase, because trust me, some guy at some time is going to look at her with lust in his heart. It's threads like these that make women like us second guess everything we own. thus making it ten times longer for me to get dressed in the morning. and that is a shame.

    I would also like to add that of course a woman dresses "that way" because it looks good. and when I say "that way" I mean any way from a woman who prides herself on always being modest to the girl who comes in the church from "night shift" I have never heard a woman say "there I look butt ugly, lets go''
  23. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    Great post Jessica. I wholeheartedly agree.
  24. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    It is not spelled out that women should cover their breasts, it is not spelled out that women should not wear a thong in public, it is not spelled out that men may cavort in a speedo on the street either. BUT I would be hard pressed to say that these are mere issues of conscience. If someone is 'fully convinced in [their] own mind' that there is nothing wrong with that sort of dress, then they need to pick up a commentary and read it for what it really means.

    Proverbs 14:12 - There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.

    Hence I would like the motivation for the dress style.
  25. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member


    Thread closed.

    I don't think this kind of conversation is likely to be productive until participants consistently distinguish between the various questions that arise, such as:
    What is modest clothing? (With its subsidiary questions)
    What is appropriate clothing for church? (With its subsidiary questions)

    Perhaps more important is to distinguish between other questions:
    How should women dress?
    What is a man's responsibility when a woman doesn't dress appropriately?
    What is a woman's responsibility when a man inappropriately tells her that he doesn't appreciate her clothing?
    How should church leadership handle these clothing-related disputes?
    Etc., etc., etc.

    But most importantly of all, the problem will not be resolved until people learn to address their own sins without blaming other people for what falls in your area of responsibility. Women shouldn't sit around thinking about what creeps men are. Men shouldn't sit around thinking about how carelessly provocative women are. In my own view, that is the fundamental point that church leadership should address, because no progress can be made until I take responsibility for myself. We all have a tendency to engage in eye surgery when the beams are so thickly entrenched in our own corneas that we're often mistaken for hat stands. That is where you can make a contribution to the church's problem in this area.

  26. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I know Ruben has closed this thread but wanted to make a few general observations about discipleship, Christian sanctification, and Pastoral work.

    I saw this thread last night and it had trouble written all over it and I knew where it was going to head. I believe the problem was not really posed properly. It's not to say that a problem does not exist but that the way to address problems is not simply to jump to discipline in a matter.

    Everyone of us needs to be discipled. While this requires the application of discipline, that discipline takes many forms. I think the key consideration when you are considering the Church of Christ is that all in the Church should be set on the priority that we are to strive together and to spur one another on to love and good works. We ought to see to it that none fall behind. Too often our default setting is to think of ourselves and consider other's falling behind to be "their problem". I'm coming to Church, after all, so that I can be fed. If others aren't getting it done then they need to figure out how to get with an Elder so they can keep up. I think this is fundamentally flawed and ignores direct teaching of the Scriptures to the contrary.

    It's interesting that I was just last night listening to Ligon Duncan preaching on the Sermon on the Mount where Ligon Duncan noted the following:
    Jesus was speaking about our enemies. How much more, then, does it apply to those who are Baptized into Christ and demand our toil to see it that none falls behind?

    I want to suggest a couple of things:

    1. Is our concern about other's dress related solely to the fact that their dress may cause us to sin or are we actually concerned about their growth in grace? Perhaps they might still be spiritually immature and need to better understand how/why modesty has a virtue that glorifies God. Perhaps they may be still carnally minded and our concern would be much deeper that they understand the Gospel.

    2. Does the fact that others might be struggling with lust and temptation concern us? Is this something that only the Elders need to help them with?

    I'm not suggesting an easy prescription for the problem but it helps if we first understand what the Church of Christ is about and what we are called out of and into. I have much more maturing to do in my own walk with Christ but I can say with Israel that my days have been few and evil and that God, throughout my life, has been very gracious to me. One of the best things he ever did to me, under very hard Providences, was to reveal that my concern for Truth was my sense of personal offense that others were sinning but that, deep down, I didn't really care about that person - only that he/she was sinning. When I began to understand what the Church is, it completely transformed my understanding of the Church. It's almost as if the curtain was lifted from my eyes and I heard the Lord saying to me: "Are not these people that I have purchased with my blood worth your time and concern?"
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