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Tag: Modesty

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, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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.

Bruce Gerencser