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Tag: Modest Apparel

Women Wearing Pants to Blame for Liberalism in IFB Churches

arizona 2004_0003
Polly Gerencser, Arizona 2004, wearing her first pair of pants. Such a heathen 🙂

Tom Brennan (please see Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Immodestly Dressed Women Are Like a Lit Cigarette at a Gas Pump Says IFB Pastor Tom Brennan) pastors Bible Baptist Church in Dubuque, Iowa — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation. As is common among IFB preachers — I should know, I was one — Brennan is obsessed with getting women out of their pants. He has written numerous blog posts about how women dress, especially pants wearing.

Last week, Brennan wrote a post titled Objections Against the Pants Standard Answered. In the post, Brennan lists twenty-four objections to his anti-britches standard:

1) “These are women’s pants.”

2) “There is no specific biblical instruction that a woman should not wear pants.”

3) “Whatever you write doesn’t matter; I’m just not convicted about it.”

4) “I have peace about wearing pants.”

5) “We have thought it through carefully, and we are going to allow pants now. But we will only allow modest pants.”

6) “I only wear pants to work.”

7) “Pants are more comfortable.”

8) “You are wrong; pants as an item of clothing do not belong exclusively to the male gender. That ship has sailed.”

9) “Well, you have to admit, pants are more modest for certain activities. I mean, can you imagine rock climbing at the mall in a dress?”

10) “Say what you want, I don’t have to answer to a man for what I wear.”

11) “That’s Old Testament stuff and we’re under grace now.”

12) “Yes, I wear pants. I am free from the bondage of legalism now.”

13) “It’s just not as important as you make it out to be.”

14) “Everybody knows that men and women wore the same robes in the Bible.”

15) “I can’t wear a skirt or a dress and stay warm.”

16) “Well, my pants are more modest than So-and-so’s skirts and dresses.”

17) “God doesn’t care about how I look; He only cares about my heart.”

18) “You should just stick with teaching the Bible and let the Holy Spirit convict people how He wants.”

19) “Dress standards just breed pride. The Pharisees. Hello?”

20) “You don’t understand, Pastor Brennan. If I require that standard of my daughters they will rebel against me.”

21) “I’m an older woman; ain’t no man going to lust after me.”

22) “What will the lost think when they hear you emphasize such quaint notions?”

23) “Who are you to judge?”

24) “Well, Paul said all things are lawful. So get off my case.”

Please take the time to read Brennan’s responses to these objections.

Brennan thinks that if good IFB women start wearing pants they will go “liberal,” and soon will be wearing shorts, tight jeans, and yoga pants. OMG, the pants apocalypse. 🙂

My wife and I have had this conversation with our own daughter. Why is it that when a formerly conservative independent Baptist family gives up the pants standards it seems to go entirely the opposite direction rather quickly? If they gave up, accepted pants, and wore the (relatively) modest old-lady pants (forgive me, I am sure there is a better term here) I could almost live with that. But they do not. In my experience, never. They say the pants are going to be modest, but inevitably, in a few years, the tight jeans, the yoga pants, and the short shorts show up, if not in the first generation then in the next one.

Brennan’s beliefs are not special or unique. Countless misogynistic IFB preachers hold similar beliefs. I remember losing good church families over my refusal to let church women who served in an official capacity wear pants. I have apologized to several families, but this kind of thinking causes untold heartache and harm, all over a pair of pants.

I am sure some of you wonder why IFB women willingly submit to such nonsense. Perhaps some of the former IFB church members who read this blog will chime in. I do know that women are deeply indoctrinated. They are conditioned to believe that the pastor’s peculiar interpretations of the Bible and social pronouncements are straight from the mouth of God. Little girls, teens, and women are taught to submit to their pastor’s authority and that of their husbands. When this is all you know, you don’t know any better. When you are taught certain items of clothing and fashion are signs of worldliness, is it any wonder you “willingly” comply. This sort of cultic thinking has ensnared countless American women. My wife, Polly, was forty-six years old before she wore her first pair of pants — capris. I encouraged her to buy a pair of pants. She refused, believing God would punish her if she did. We continued to talk about the matter, and Polly finally disobeyed God. What happened next? Absolutely nothing.

I have nothing but sympathy for women trapped in churches such as Brennan’s. Sadly, the only way out for them is rebellion or divorce — which an increasing number of women do. Some IFB churches give in and allow women to wear pants. They do, to a minute degree, become more “liberal.” Brennan sees pants as a red line that must not be crossed. Doing so leads to the incurable disease of “liberalism.” Brennan intends to man the Fundamentalist walls, keeping out the “world.” Brennan will fail, but before he does, he will cause untold harm. Such preaching kills marriages and families, often sending children running for the hills, never to return.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Immodestly Dressed Women Are Like a Lit Cigarette at a Gas Pump Says IFB Pastor Tom Brennan

pastor tom brennan

An immodestly dressed woman is like a cigarette at a gas pump. The cigarette does not explode; the explosion comes as a result of the inherent instability of the fuel. But whoever lit the thing is an absolute fool. I can hear the responses being typed furiously all the way from Iowa. “Well, he should control himself!” Amen, sister, amen. He should walk in the Spirit and thus not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. And you should not run around half-clothed.

— Tom Brennan, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Dubuque, Iowa, Brennan’s Pen, The Relationship Between Modesty and Lust, April 25, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Pity the Poor (Pathetic) Evangelical Men Who Are Too Weak to Own Their Sexuality

the lusty men movie

Evangelical preachers continue to churn out sermons, blog posts, and tweets about the deplorable, sinful dress of women. I am almost sixty-five years old. Evangelical preachers have been preaching about short skirts, tight pants, shorts, cleavage, and the feminine shape for as long as I can remember. Clothing styles have changed over the years, but Evangelical preaching, especially in sects such as the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, has not. Preachers continue to demand that women be sexual gatekeepers, calling on them to keep the horndog men around them from having lustful thoughts. Based on all this preaching and writing about female dress and male lustfulness, you would think Evangelical churches are filled with whores and perverts.

Let me share several examples of this kind of thinking.

The first example comes from Kevin Schaal, the president of Foundations Baptist Fellowship International and the pastor of Northwest Valley Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. Schaal is a graduate of Bob Jones University — an uber-fundamentalist institution in Greenville, South Carolina. The goal of FBFI is to “perpetuate the heritage of Baptist Fundamentalism complete, intact, pure, and undiluted to succeeding generations of fundamentalists.” Evidently, blaming women for the lustful thoughts of men is part of “perpetuating the heritage of Baptist Fundamentalism.”

Yesterday, Schaal wrote a post titled Beth Moore on Modesty and Creepy Righteous Dudes. Schaal spends a good bit of time holding men accountable for their sexuality. Unfortunately, he undid his admonition when he wrote:

Spirituality is not immunity.

“Aha! If men were more spiritual, I would have to be less concerned about the modesty of my dress.”

That is not how it works. I want Christian women to understand that the spiritual walk of a man does not desensitize him to visual sexual temptation. In fact, it might make him more sensitive to it.

Why is this?

The godly man does not fill his mind with inappropriate images of women on his computer or TV screen. The man that tells you that immodesty has no real spiritual impact on him is either lying or so filling his mind with inappropriate imagery that he now lacks sensitivity to the visual stimuli around him. There is the possibility that he simply does not have as much sex drive as other men, but the one thing I can guarantee you is that his walk with the Lord will not make him immune. Young Christian men are especially vulnerable.

So, if that is the case, what does God expect men to do when faced with visual temptation?

Look away.

God expects godly men to look away when confronted with visual temptation. In some cases, this might require making the very conscious choice to focus on a woman’s face only. In other cases, it might mean looking away from her entirely.

And from the roof, he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. (2 Samuel 11:2)

Many argue that David should have been with his men in the field at this time, and maybe that was true. Some argue that David should not have been lounging around in his house at this time of day, and maybe that was true. But what I know to be true is that when David caught a glimpse of Bathsheba, he should have controlled his thinking, averted his gaze, and not set his eyes on her long enough to assess her beauty.

Walk away.

If the situation demands it, God expects godly men to remove themselves from the company of those that are tempting to them as Joseph did when tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-15). He must do this even if it causes offense—as it did with Potiphar’s wife.

Stay away.

Walking away might also mean staying away. The foolish young man of Proverbs 6 made the fatal error of going by the corner of the woman who was dressed for (and seeking for) sin.

So, here is a sincere question. What do you think God thinks about a woman who dresses in a way that forces His most faithful sons to look away, walk away, or stay away? God does not call on women to dress to please men. He does call on women to dress to please Him.

I am discouraged by the growing disregard that Christian women, even in our own fundamental churches, have for their brothers in Christ. The men aren’t going to say anything about it to women who are not their wives or daughters—and they certainly don’t enjoy people like Beth Moore calling them creeps. We do not need to be catered to just because we are men, but we are God’s children, and we matter to Him.

So again, I ask, what do you think God thinks?

Schaal asks, “What do you think God thinks about a woman who dresses in a way that forces His most faithful sons to look away, walk away, or stay away? God does not call on women to dress to please men. He does call on women to dress to please Him.”

Neither Schaal, nor anyone else for that matter, can know what God thinks about anything. Memo to Pastor Schaal: the Bible is the words of men and the voice in your head is yours. This issue starts and ends with men. I have seen my fair share of attractive women over the years, both in church and in the “world.” At no time did I ever blame women for me thinking they are sexually desirable. Have I ever had to turn away? Sure, but that’s usually due to me snickering at a woman with a size 20 body stuffed in a size 10 pair of leggings. Not sexy, but damn funny. I accept that sexuality is part of the human experience, and it is up to each of us to own our sexuality and control our response to men and/or women we find appealing. You would think that those Schaal calls “faithful sons, who are filled with the Holy Ghost, their teacher and guide, would be able to control their thoughts. And if they can’t follow Schaal’s advice, they should look away, walk away, or stay away. See how easy that it is? Instead of blaming women for male weakness, how about teaching men to be grown-ups, and if they can’t or won’t do, tell them they can’t play with the big kids.

I left Christianity almost 14 years ago. Since then, I have had ample opportunity to be around attractive women. I have had women hit on me, including a 70-something-year-old woman who came up to me at the grocery store and told me what I fine-looking man I was. She turned to my wife, Polly, and said, “you sure lucky to have a man like that on your arm! As the “real” Santa Claus, I have had women get quite up-close-and comfortable with me. One woman, in front of 1,500 people at a high school basketball game I was shooting, plopped down on my lap and told me what she wanted for Christmas. Fortunately, it wasn’t me. Another woman, also at a basketball game, snuggled right up next to me, put her hand on my leg, and shared her Christmas wishes with me. To be fair, at the same game, a 16-year-old teen boy, on a dare from his friends, did the same. At no time did I feel out of control sexually. Uncomfortable? Sure. But, I’m a big boy. And, quite frankly, any woman, even if she is 70, thinking I am a nice-looking man, is good for my self-esteem. 🙂

Polly and I, in the sunset years of life, occasionally frequent upscale restaurants, bars, and pubs. We see lots of attractive people, people on dates, looking to hook up, or out with their friends. We are people watchers. It is not uncommon for us to talk about the people around us — men and women. Both of us are secure enough sexually and maritally, that we can point out someone we find attractive. Innocent, fun banter, which we never could have had as blood-bought, sanctified, sexually repressed, born-again Christians. At no time have we had thoughts of hitting on someone or having a quickie with them in the restroom. We have a simple rule: it’s okay to look, just don’t touch.

On to my second example. My friend Ben Bewwick recently wrote several posts on Modesty. You can read them here: Modesty, and Modesty Two. Fake “Dr.” David Tee/David Thiessen/TheologyArcheology/TEWSNBN — who is obsessed with Ben’s writing and mine — responds in his typical fashion to Ben’s posts.

Here’s what he had to say in a post titled Modesty 1 & 2:

It has always struck us as strange that women would listen to certain men who promote the idea that women should expose themselves more in public. According to one story, a husband put up a photo of his wife in not so modest clothing as a defensive strategy.

We do not think much of that husband. The only reason we can think of that would explain why certain men would defend women’s behavior of stripping down is that they are perverts.

It is not as altruistic as they let on. They are not really defending the right of a woman to dress in as few clothes, they are defending their right to ogle such women. Or so it seems as they produce no real legitimate argument to support their point of view.

The one piece of ‘evidence’ is the go-to one that is tired and worn out. MM blames the bible and other religions for the reason people do not want women to expose themselves in public.

….

Why blame the Bible? After all its instructions are guiding both men and women to holy behavior and stripping down, taking photos of one’s body (male or female), and then posting those photos for the world to see, is not modest or holy behavior.

Sexual misconduct comes from letting the sin nature rule one’s life instead of Christ ruling it and following Christ’s instructions. It does not come from the way men and women dress. However, there is a right and wrong way to dress in public.

These certain men and women do not care about dressing the right way or encouraging women to do the same. They need to be avoided and not listened to. The right way to dress is to be modest at all times especially when strangers are going to be looking at your images and body.

Again, this applies to both men and women. The Bible is not to be blamed for sexual sins. Its instructions when it comes to men and women relating to each other are often ignored and the rules of people like Playboy, Playgirl, Hustler, and other secular sources are the ones that are followed.

If there is a problem, blame those sources, not the one book that is designed to keep men & women safe. But to MM the Bible is always to blame because he thinks he, and other men like him, is more moral than God.

….

Lustful thoughts can also lead to other sins as David is a prime example of when he used to view Bathsheba taking a bath. She was not innocent either as the timing of her bath and location of it could have been meant to catch the eye of the king.

Willfully leading people to sin is just as wrong. When men and women post those x-rated images or dressing in an x-rated manner in public, they are willfully leading people to sin. The reason behind that statement is that they actually know what they are doing and do it anyway.

“Men will find ways to indulge in lustful thoughts irrespective of a woman’s state of dress. The thoughts themselves are rooted in natural biological urges. (Modesty 2)”

No, MM is wrong here. It is not coming from a purely biological urge nor are those urges always natural. Most of the time, those thoughts come from the sin nature, and without conquering them, they can lead to more disastrous sins that do not end well for anyone.

“This demand that women be ‘modest’ to protect the thoughts of men is overbearing and it’s also pointless (Modesty 2)”

One, the demand is for both men and women to dress modestly. Two, it is not pointless. Defeating sin is a very valuable effort and needs to be done if one wants to be holy and have an impact for Christ.

Should a woman’s outfit be seen as an excuse for such behaviour? Is that reasonable to Brian? He demeans men and women by thinking along such lines. His message fails to teach men to be responsible for their own actions. It is unfair to force women to be held accountable for a man’s inability to behave. We should put such notions to the bonfire. (Modesty 1)

No one should make excuses and no one should point the finger but that does not mean that both men and women have permission to disobey God and dress immodestly.

And do not let women off the hook here. Some ladies’ nights at the local bar can be very lustful, adulterous and women commit many sexual sins while attending them. You can say that the bars and men participating in these ladies’ nights are willfully leading women to sin.

That is not right either. Those events are certainly not biblical or done in obedience to God’s instructions. Christians are not just blaming women. They blame men as well as many men go to the same beaches with the same lack of clothing and tempt women.

That is not right either. God’s commands and instructions do not stop at the beach parking lot. While we are allowed to enjoy the water and the sun, we need to do so for the glory of God and not lead people to sin.

Modesty works both ways. Both men and women should be mindful of how their dress and actions affect others. It is not that someone is weak-minded and forcing their will on others. Modesty is done to protect everyone from sin and falling into sin.

Much like Schaal, Tee gives the perfunctory Evangelical disclaimer that says “I am speaking to men and women.” However, in real-life applications, most of the preaching, blog posts, and tweets are directed AT women, not men. If women would only cover up their bodies from head to toe and de-emphasize their bodies, Christian men wouldn’t lust anymore, or at the very least wouldn’t have thoughts of banging Sister Sally (or Preacher Bob) on the front pew during the sermon on Sunday morning.

And let’s not forget that Schaal and Tee aren’t talking about Christian women who are strolling into church on Sundays wearing clothing better suited for Saturday nights at the corner pub. What’s causing these pathetic Evangelical men to lust is any cleavage, leg, or form-fitting clothing. These women aren’t street walkers parading themselves down the aisles of First Baptist Church. They are women who just want to dress nicely. Few of them think, “I think I will wear ____________ so Deacon Joe will feel a bit of Holy Ghost stirring when he gazes on my comeliness.” There may be some of that going on with sexually aware teenagers and single young adults, but most women just want to look nice while they worship the God who supposedly looks at their hearts, not their clothing.

Women aren’t the problem, men are. Men such as Schaal and Tee need to quit enabling juvenile behavior. Men need to be taught to own their sexuality. They need to learn how to be in the world, but not of the world. Attractive women are everywhere. Attractive men are everywhere. Attractive non-binary people are everywhere? Unless we want to lock ourselves in a darkened room somewhere with no outside exposure — but, even then you have your “thoughts” — we must learn how to successfully navigate a world filled with sexual beings.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

God Says, Keep Those Thighs Covered, Ladies

modesty check

Snark ahead! You have been warned.

The Bible says in Isaiah 47:2,3:

Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

See, ladies? Right there in the King James Bible, it says it is a sin to uncover your thighs. It does? Yes, just read carefully between the lines and run it through an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) filter, and then you’ll see THE truth!

I found the following graphic in an article written by Daphne Kirkland titled, A Return to Biblical Modesty. It is linked to Fairhavens Baptist Church — an IFB group located in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Bob Kirkland pastors the church, so I assume the writer of the aforementioned article is a family member, his wife perhaps?

dressing modestly

Time to clean out your closets, ladies. Get those thighs covered NOW lest God strikes thee dead. Bruce, my thighs are completely covered — with pants. Oh my Gawd, you whore. Pants are for men, not women. Deuteronomy 22:5 says:

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

Enough said, right? The Big Man hath spoken. Time to get out your culottes (Baptist shorts), maxi-dresses, and feed sacks. No sexy for you, girl.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

IFB Pastor John MacFarlane Says Showing Skin in Public Reveals a Sinful Heart

naked adam and eve
Cartoon by Hilary Price

As I have repeatedly publicized his daily “devotionals,” I am sure local Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor John MacFarlane wishes I would stop doing so. MacFarlane, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio — a church I attended in the 1960s and 1970s — writes daily devotional articles for First Baptist members. Since he is publishing these devotionals on a public blog, I assume he wants people outside of the church to read them and practice what he is preaching.

Here’s a list of previous posts features Pastor MacFarlane:

Today, MacFarlane wrote a “devotional” titled An Un-BARE-able Devotion! about nudity. Being the good IFB pastor that he is, MacFarlane is against women showing “skin” in public.

MacFarlane states:

Let’s go back to the original National Nude Day.  Genesis 2:8, 22, 25 says, “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed… And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man… And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  That’s the way it was originally.  This fact cannot be refuted.  So why did clothing get invented?

Genesis 3 records the sin of Adam and Eve.  Eve ate of the fruit first, gave it to Adam, he ate of the fruit, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Genesis 3:7)  The moment that sin enters the picture and their eyes were opened, they saw their own nakedness and recognized that walking around just in what God gave you was sinful.  They did their best to cover up but it was inadequate.

After the Lord pronounces the curse of the damages brought on by their sin, the Lord reinforces their first inclination.  “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)  God was the first fashion designer.  He gave us our original pre-sin garments made of flesh and then, after sin enters the picture, He designs the first real set of clothing.

National Nude Day thumbs its collective noses at what God’s Word clearly teaches.  In Philippians 3:18-19, we read, “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  (19)  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”  Isaiah pronounces “woe” upon those who call evil good and good evil.  The celebration and encouragement to publicly shed clothing is ungodly and heathenish.

In certain parts of the world, missionaries will encounter tribal nations that are nude.  The moment they trust Jesus as their Savior, they recognize their nudity and start to cover it up.  As we are in the depths of summer, so many in our world are walking around nearly nude without shame or a concept of decency.  Their nudity, though it be partial, is a revelation of their heart.

Our nudity is necessary for showering and bathing.  It is God-blessed and sanctioned between husband and wife.  A degree of it may be necessary when going to a doctor, a profession God uses in the healing and care of our bodies.  But beyond that, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!  Cover up with modesty and decency.

Otherwise, there’s more than your body being exposed.  Your heart is being exposed.

Where, oh where, do I begin.

First, MacFarlane is a presuppositionalist and a Bible literalist. Second, he is King James-only. Third, he is a young-earth creationist. Thus, he genuinely believes the universe is 6,023 years old, and all humans descend from Adam and Eve. Fourth, MacFarlane believes what is recorded in Genesis 1-3 which was meant to be a mythical story, is scientifically and historically true. *sigh* MacFarlane believes Genesis 1-3 is a true accounting of human origin, written by God himself. When someone believes as MacFarlane does, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change his mind.

I spent five decades in the Christian church. I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. For most of the years I spent in the ministry, my beliefs on Genesis 1-3 were indistinguishable from MacFarlane’s. No amount of evidence would have changed my mind. As long as I believed the Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, my mind was walled off from reason, skepticism, and science. It was only when I learned that the Bible was NOT inerrant that I could consider that maybe, just maybe, my beliefs about the beginning of the universe and human origin could be wrong. Until MacFarlane entertains the possibility of being wrong, there’s no hope for him. Realizing that Genesis 1-3 is a mythical story forces Christian Fundamentalists to rethink their entire worldview. I know it did for me.

MacFarlane uses an oft-repeated lie to “prove” that getting saved leads new converts in clothing-optional tribes to start wearing clothes. Once filled with the Holy Ghost, these newly minted Christians know that not wearing clothing is sinful. I have read many of the same missionary stories MacFarlane has. Here’s what I know: new Christians were coerced by Western Christian missionaries to put on clothes. God didn’t have anything to do with it. Missionaries manipulated tribes to change all sorts of behaviors — all in the name of obedience to the Christian God.

I know how the game works. Through my preaching, private admonitions, and personal testimony, I successfully manipulated church members and new converts. Suddenly, women stopped wearing pants and revealing tops. Men stopped, well . . . I never preached on proper attire for men. People indoctrinated by me stopped swearing, smoking, drinking beer, watching TV, and countless other human behaviors. What I did at Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan is no different from what missionaries did in faraway jungles.

While MacFarlane gives no proscriptions to women (or men) about how they should dress, make no mistake about it, he expects congregants (and everyone else, for that matter) to follow IFB modesty standards. I have written about these standards numerous times since 2007, so I won’t do so again. Women should cover themselves from head to toe. Men? Well, um, uh . . . wear pants and shirts. But, remember, the focus of most IFB modesty preaching is women.

Surprisingly, women at First Baptist are permitted to wear pants. MacFarlane is “liberal” in this regard. I vaguely remember church squabbles in the 1970s over this issue. It looks like the pants crowd won the day.

MacFarlane believes that what you wear reveals the true condition of your heart. Women? Wear short skirts; wear tight jeans; show a bit (or a lot) of cleavage; wear a thong; wear short shorts; wear halter tops; wear tube tops; got out in public braless you are a harlot and a Jezebel, a temptress and a seductress. Men? Keep your shirt on, unless you are playing a shirts and skins basketball game.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Baptist Shorts — Culottes

polly gerencser late 1990s
Polly Gerencser, late 1990s, carrying water from the creek to flush the toilets. An ice storm had knocked out the power. Oh, the clothing! But she was and remains one beautiful woman.

Many Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers spend an inordinate amount of time instructing congregants about what clothing is acceptable to God. This is especially true when it comes to the clothing of girls and women. Last week, I posted a quote by Gerald Collingsworth, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Mogadore, Ohio, that stated in no uncertain terms that girls wearing “immodest” clothing can and do cause male family members to sexually assault (commit incest with) them. Consider the following graphics from an article written by IFB zealot Daphne Kirkland titled, A Return to Biblical Modesty.

modesty check

dressing modestly

Girls and women are not permitted to wear anything that draws attention to their feminine shape. The goal is to keep weak, pathetic church boys and men from getting boners while in their presence. Girls and women are viewed as gatekeepers, and it is up to them to dress and act in ways that extinguish sinful unmarried sexual want, need, or desire. The goal is no sticky underwear before marriage.

One universally banned item of clothing is shorts. Usually, attention is only paid to what girls and women wear, but I remember a spring day when I was playing pick-up basketball after work and came to get Polly from the Newark Baptist Temple after I was finished. I was wearing a T-shirt, gym shorts, tube socks, and Converse basketball shoes. I went into the church building to let Polly knowing that I had arrived. As I neared her classroom, I ran into her uncle, the late James “Jim” Dennis. As soon as he saw me, he laid into me about my inappropriate dress. He sternly lectured me about wearing shorts, informing me that I was to never, ever again enter the Baptist Temple wearing such clothing. A year later, I witnessed Jim go ballistic at Polly’s parent’s home over her sister wearing slacks to work. She was a nurse’s aide at a nearby nursing home. Her dress was quite typical for people who worked at the home. Keep in mind, Polly’s sister was an adult. It mattered not. As Jim had done with me, he took my sister-in-law to task IFB- preacher-style, telling her that wearing slacks was a sin. Sound almost beyond belief? Yep, but it’s the truth, nonetheless.

polly pontiac michigan 1977
Polly, 1977, Midwestern Baptist College, Pontiac, Michigan. Notice the shirt under the sundress?

As temperatures warm in Ohio, it’s natural to see girls and women wearing shorts. Many women find shorts cooler and more comfortable than pants. IFB congregants sweat just as much as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world, so it stands to reason that Fundamentalist girls and women want to wear cooler, more comfortable clothing too. However, shorts are verboten. Some girls and women will wear sundresses. Polly wears sundresses to this day. Never one to wear shorts, she spends most summers wearing colorful sundresses. Because sundresses tend to show side boob and cleavage, IFB girls and women — Polly included, at the time — wear sleeved T-shirts underneath their dresses. I often find myself smiling when I see Polly wearing a sundress today — sans T-shirt. Damn girl, that’s some mighty fine cleavage. I know, I am so w-o-r-l-d-l-y. All praise be to Loki for breasts!

Many IFB preachers encouraged church girls and women to wear what is commonly called in the movement, Baptist shorts. Baptist shorts are culottes. Almost every IFB girl and woman has several pairs of these pastor-approved “shorts.” Usually, culottes are loose fitting, especially around the legs. Reaching to the knees, culottes are meant to be comfortable, “modest” clothing. That said, many IFB girls and women HATE wearing culottes. When worn in public, culottes are a blaring, flashing sign that says to the world, I’m a member of the IFB cult! The same goes for shoe-top length skirts or maxi dresses. Polly and I can spot IFB families (and homeschoolers) from a mile away. The “uniforms” and the hairstyles give away their religious identity. Of course, their preachers think this is wonderful. Christians are SUPPOSED to look different from the world, IFB preachers say, but why is it that it is only women who look different; that IFB boys and men look just like their counterparts in the world? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.

As an IFB pastor, I held to the party line on Baptist shorts for many years — that is, until two events forced me to change my mind.

One late spring day, I drove up from Somerset, Ohio to the Newark Baptist Temple to talk to Pastor Dennis. Our oldest two children were attending the church school — Licking County Christian Academy — at the time. As I drove into the church’s main parking lot, I noticed four teen girls bent over pulling weeds out of the flower beds. These girls were cheerleaders. Typical of IFB schools at the time, the cheerleaders were not permitted to wear short skirts. Instead, the girls wore red culottes. What set them apart was the fact that their culottes were quite tight, so much so that I could have bounced a quarter off their backsides when they were bent over. I thought at the time, I thought culottes were supposed to be modest. These are NOT modest!

Several years later, we gathered up the teens from several churches and took them to Loudenville, Ohio for a canoe trip. The girls from my church begged me to let them wear pants, but being the stern pastor I was at the time, I said no. The trip was a blast. Most of the teenagers spent more time in the water than out. By the time teens debarked, they all looked like drowned rats. As was our custom, I gathered all the teens up and had them sit on the ground so I could preach at them. IFB Rule #6 — Thou shalt not have fun without spending time listening to a boring sermon. As the teens settled into their seats on the ground, I turned to speak to them and was astounded by what I saw. On the front row were a dozen or so Baptist-shorts-wearing girls. Legs splayed wide, I could see their underwear. Worse yet, an afternoon in the water made their T-shirts see-through. I quickly asked the girls to put their legs down and then I preached my sermon. I later told Polly that I no longer believed that baptist shorts were appropriate for outdoor events. From that moment forward, church teens and women were permitted to wear pants to such events. I know, I know, big deal, right? Remember the context, and where I was at that point in my life. Deciding to let girls and women wear pants in some circumstances was a monumental decision. As time went along, my views on clothing liberalized, so much so that I stopped preaching about the matter.

In the Gerencser home, change came slowly. Polly was in her 40s before she wore her first pair of pants. It had taken me months to convince her that she was not going to go to Hell if she wore them. Today, Polly is a confirmed member of the sisterhood of the traveling pants. Her Baptist shorts? She continued to wear them when working in the garden or painting. Once they wore out, they were pitched into the trash, never to be seen again.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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The Many Faces of Modesty by ObstacleChick

modesty check

A Guest Post by ObstacleChick

I posit that if one asked 10 different people to define “modesty,” there would be 10 different answers. Context is important, as “modesty” can refer to one’s demeanor or to one’s mode of dress. Dictionary.com defines “modesty” as follows:

the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc. simplicity; moderation.

While I know better than to engage people in controversial topics on social media, sometimes I still give in and make comments. My brother (and his wife) and I get along really well in person, as long as we do not discuss religion or politics. We enjoy watching movies, having sushi or Mexican food, or having a glass of wine together. But I avoid the topics of religion or politics with them like the plague. Why? Because we hold diametrically opposite views on those subjects. My brother and sister-in-law are more than a decade younger than I am. My brother and I were not raised in the same household – I lived with my grandparents and great-grandmother, and a few years with my mom living there too, and I would visit on weekends at my mom and step-dad’s house. I was sent to fundamentalist Christian school from 5th-12th grades, then studied at secular university and graduate school. A couple of years after college, I moved to suburban New Jersey about 20 minutes from Manhattan.

My brother, on the other hand, grew up in my mom and step-dad’s house. He went to public school after being expelled in 3rd grade from the fundamentalist Christian school from which I had graduated (yes, expelled in 3rd grade – he was considered too stubborn to be allowed to remain in the school). When he was in middle school, they moved from a suburban area about 20 minutes from Nashville to rural farmland about 45 minutes from Nashville, and he still lives in that area today. After graduation from high school, he never pursued university education and was married with a full-time job by the time he was 20 years old. My brother and his wife are evangelical Christians, though they haven’t found a church with which they agree. He is staunchly pro-Trump, anti-abortion, anti-marriage equality, and a gun collector (though he is adamantly for gun safety, he is not in favor of restrictions). He baptized his sons in the bathtub when they were 6 and 7 years old after getting them to pray the “sinner’s prayer.”

He doesn’t know that I am an agnostic atheist. He thinks I am “liberal” but he doesn’t know the extent. I think he could handle my differences in political beliefs more than my differences in religious beliefs. Eventually, my family’s lack of belief will come out because my daughter is moving to Nashville in the fall to go to college, and she has no qualms about expressing her non-religious, pro-feminist, left-leaning beliefs.

Recently my brother posted on social media this Matt Walsh piece titled The Four Terrible Things That Are Destroying Boys In Our Culture. In my opinion, Matt Walsh shows his misogynistic colors in his rant against feminism in modern culture. It is apparent that Matt’s white cis-gendered male patriarchal superiority is being threatened by the machinations of liberal, evil feminists. Knowing I could not comment the extent of my feelings on my brother’s post, I posted this:

“He goes to school and his female classmates are dressed like strippers. He goes anywhere and that’s how the women are dressed.” Where does this guy live that all girls and women are dressed like strippers? I apparently need to up my game and improve my stripper attire!

My brother responded:

I would not have used the word strippers. It is a harsh word. However, I completely understand the point he was trying to make. We are a nation where words like chastity, modesty, and holiness have become bad words while the opposite actions and attitudes are celebrated. We have truly become a nation that has forgotten how to blush. The prophet Jeremiah warned ancient Israel about the same thing in the book of Jeremiah.

I couldn’t take it at that point, so I responded:

Modesty is a function of perception. Hasidic Jews and fundamentalist Muslims look at me in my workplace attire – typically pants and a shirt, never low cut – and they consider that immodest. I have had this conversation with many people, but as a woman I find that there is no universal standard for “modesty.” People sometimes say, it is common sense. No, it isn’t. You have fundamentalist religionists who have their own standards of modesty (typically those modesty standards focus on covering up women as much as possible, but Hasidic men. for example. have to wear beards and black pants and button-down shirts at all times). I refuse to be held to other groups’ standards of modesty. Fabricated female modesty rules also send messages about men and women and taking responsibility for one’s actions that I don’t want to get into on a social media post but I would be happy to discuss my opinion in person.

A person’s mode of attire does send certain messages. If I am dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt, I am signaling that I am in a casual mode. If I am dressed in a cocktail dress and heels, I am signaling that I am going somewhere special, perhaps to a wedding or a gala. Wearing shorts, a tank top, and running shoes signals that I am going out for a run on a warm day. Sporting a Yankees shirt signals that I am possibly going to a Yankees game, or at least I am supporting the team for that day. Donning a heavy coat, gloves, boots, and a hat signals that it is cold outside, and that I am attempting to stay warm. If I see someone wearing a US Postal Service uniform, I will assume that the person works for the US Postal Service. Someone wearing a military uniform is probably active military personnel. These are all situations in which clothing signals a message.

However, what if I am wearing a mid-thigh length sleeveless black dress and high heels? Would someone assume that I am dressed to go to a fancy social function, or would they assume that I am a prostitute? That depends on one’s perspective. The fundamentalist religious person who believes that the human body should be covered up as much as possible will automatically assume that I do not share their values in terms of “modesty.” I am not one of their membership. I am an “other.” Am I lacking in morals? Am I indeed a prostitute, or am I just lacking in “modesty”? Do they consider my bare arm and bare calf to be literally offensive to them, or do they just take it as a signal that I do not adhere to their rules? Does the fact that I am dressed differently mean that I should be treated differently? Should they avoid me, or should they try to proselytize to me in order to inform me of the error of my ways? Is my uncovered status a signal that they have the right to touch me without permission? At what point would adding clothing to my person make me more acceptable in their eyes?

Some guy driving a delivery van cat-called at me while I was out walking the other day. Nothing I was wearing was tight or revealing in any way. I was wearing long pants, a jacket, and a button-down shirt. Apparently, that’s “hot” in certain circles. It’s further proof that no matter what you’re wearing, someone is going to interpret it in whatever way they wish. Obviously, if you are working in a job or attending a school that has a dress code, you must comply with that dress code during working/school hours, but otherwise, wear what makes you comfortable and move on.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Women Who Look at Sexy Men are Committing Adultery in Their Hearts

women dressing sexily

Let’s take the words of Jesus and apply it to women. I don’t know how many women do this, but everyone should look at these words. Men don’t have to take and convert the passage to appropriate language for men because it’s addressed to men directly. It’s our issue.

Women, though, should do this — take the words of Jesus that are addressed to men in Matthew 5:27–29 and convert them into appropriate language for women. Believe me — Tony would vouch for this, I think — based on the questions we’re getting at APJ, there are major sexual-temptation issues going on for women as well as men.

Here’s what Jesus would say if he had said those words today: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ You women, you should not commit adultery. But I say to you that every woman who looks at a man, or a woman with a sexy outfit, or a kissing scene on television, or who reads about sexual intercourse in a novel, or listens to one on Audible, or does anything else that feeds the desire to lure their eyes with sexiness has already committed adultery in her heart.” He’s going to be just as blunt with women as he is with us guys, surely. “If your right eye causes you to sin, women, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body would be thrown into hell.” Jesus says that to men and women.

Now when Jesus says, “Tear out your eye,” surely he at least means stop using the eye to feed the desire. It may not be possible to avoid every sin-awakening sight in our culture, but it is possible to keep dozens of them out of your eye. It is possible to set before you worthy things, holy things, beautiful things. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). Surely, Paul said that because of the principle “garbage in, garbage out,” or “sexy in, sexy out.”

The principle here is this: find the streams that are feeding the river of sensual desire, and cut them off.

— John Piper, Desiring God, What Wrong with Dressing Immodestly for Attention? January 10, 2018

Bruce Gerencser