#TBTB #TBT – “A Note on Modesty”

ThrowBack Thursday

Modesty.

And all the hipsters say, “Ew, gross.”

Yet the Christian knows that the Bible addresses everything in order for us to live in a way that pleases God. Therefore, we scour the Scriptures to understand God’s thoughts on how we dress. Here are some important observations from AMBrewster about the issue: A Note on Modesty: from a Hebrew word and a Hebrew man.”

A Note on Modesty

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Is God a Jerk? (Part 2)

Is God a Jerk

In an effort to decide whether or not God is a jerk, we’ve looked at who God claims to be, what He claims to do, and observed some of the world events that lead us to believe God isn’t who He said He is (a.k.a.: Jerk).

You should probably catch up with all of that from Part 1 if you didn’t already read it.

So, continuing on, let’s see if we can reconcile God’s truth-claims with our experiences.

What Do His Claims Mean?

Let us start by assuming that everything listed in Part 1 is completely true. Does it logically follow that . . .

. . . a holy being would not be able to tolerate anything that is not in line with His character (sin)?

. . . an immutable being would never change His mind concerning His stance on sin?

. . . a righteous being could not simply overlook the sin He’s cast judgment on?

. . . a loving being would only ever want what’s truly best for us; a.k.a. not to sin (whether we understand His design or not), and would be able to provide a perfect substitutionary sacrifice to simultaneously appease His righteousness and proclaim us justified?

. . . an omnipotent being is 100% capable of accomplishing exactly what we need for life and meting out judgment when we reject Him?

. . . an omniscient being would know exactly what needs to be done to accomplish His perfect will and our best interest?

. . . a sovereign being must needs be involved in our lives?

If we put it all together, doesn’t it logically follow that a holy, immutable, righteous, loving, omnipotent, omniscient, & sovereign being would forever hate sin, and not only be compelled to judge it in perfect wisdom but also be capable of judging it as He is all powerful and in control of everything, and yet simultaneously provide the perfect way to be justly forgiven for our sins in a way we could never earn because He loves us?

If you remove any one of these truth-claims about God, then we can easily see how He may accidentally or purposefully let the ball drop. But assuming He is who He says He is, some of the things we think are out of line with His character are actually a necessity of His character.

What About His Exclusivity?

Let’s use yesterday’s first two critiques of God. Some say He’s a jerk because . . .

  1. He demands loyalty to Him alone.
  2. He’s anything but tolerant.

If everything we saw above is true, God by necessity must be consumed with His own will and jealously passionate about it being accomplished above everything else (man’s plan and aspirations included). This is necessarily true because . . .

. . . if God chose to tolerate sin because man thought He should, He would cease to be holy.

. . . if God changed His mind about sin to accept a person into heaven who rejected Him as savior, He would cease to be immutable.

. . . if God simply overlooked our sin because He loves us, He would cease to be just.

. . . if God allowed things to happen that were not in our best interest because we didn’t think losing our house in a tornado could possibly be good, He would cease to be loving.

. . . if God were unable to bring about His will, He would cease to be all powerful.

. . . if God didn’t know what was best to accomplish His plans, He would cease to be all knowing.

. . . if God walked away from His creation, He would cease to be preeminent.

If any of that happened, or if God made some other plan (i.e.; man’s plan) a higher priority than His own . . . He would cease to be God. You see, God is the only one in the cosmos Who can be jealous for His plan, for it is His plan alone that matters. He can be angry when He does not receive the worship that is due Him because man has no higher calling than to worship God. He is the only one who can rightfully define terms as they are His to define. It really is all about God. If God were all about anything other than Himself, He could not biblically nor logically be God. Whatever God makes more important that His own will becomes God.

Let’s test this premise: If someone lives a moral life, constantly doing good for his fellow man, but dies without believing in God, is God a jerk for sending him to hell?

Logically, no. It would be inconsistent with His holy, just, immutable character to simply give someone a pass because they weren’t as bad as someone else. The subjectivity of that scenario would actually be extremely jerkish to those of us who disagree with his criteria. He’s especially not a jerk in this situation because He clearly stated the guidelines for a relationship with Him, and did the humanly-impossible to provide us a way to have that relationship with Him (the sacrificial death of Jesus).

Conclusion: If God is who He says He is, He cannot be considered a jerk for requiring faith in Him alone as the only way to a relationship with Him (salvation).

But what about that issue of evil and pain in the world? That’s still pretty lame, right?

What About Sin and Suffering?

  1. He allows evil and wickedness to abound – especially to good people.
  2. He allows destruction, pain, sickness, and suffering (again, often ravaging the good of the world).

Again, assuming that God is who He says He is, is the “problem of sin and suffering” really a problem? The people who invented football designed rules for how it would be played. They paid referees to enforce the rules. When players broke the rules, there were consequences. No one struggles with this illustration.

The very first rule laid out in Scripture is that Adam and Eve not eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What happened? They ate. Evil is now in the world by hereditary right. So, how many of you would be happy if the ref decided to let the other team keep the touchdown they scored while their player was clearly out of bounds? How’s that sitting with you?

Evil is a consequence of sin. Suffering and death are consequences of sin. Both of these realities are explained in the first few chapters of Genesis.

Once again,

“If God made some other plan (i.e.; man’s plan) a higher priority than His own . . . He would cease to be God. You see, God is the only one in the cosmos Who can be jealous for His plan for it is His plan alone that matters.”

His justice requires that the consequence of sin stand, but His love allows that He provide a righteous substitute for the punishment we deserve.

Let me quickly address the concept of bad things happening to “good” people. Given God’s definitions of sin/holiness/evil/good, can someone who rejects God’s perfect truth be good? The biblical answer is, “No.” Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our best good is the same as soiled menstrual rags. Eww. Philippians 2:13 tells us we need God Himself to do (and even desire to do) good as He’s defined it. Furthermore, if I reject and rebel against the only perfectly good being in the universe . . . can I really say I’m good?

Conclusion: God is not a jerk because He allows sin and suffering in the world. It is an unfortunate reality that is consistent with His nature. We are not good, and therefore deserve the consequences of our sin. And if we are going to critique His truth claims, we cannot conveniently neglect how extremely loving He is to make provision for our salvation even though we have done nothing to deserve it!

We men mess-up every day. We selfishly work all day to fulfill our own desire, all the while ignoring God’ truth and love, and then we get mad at Him when bad things happen to us, or we’re incensed when someone suggests we’re making bad choices by rejecting God. How dare He give us the punishment we deserve for rebelling against His revealed truth?!

Is God a jerk?

No.

When we take Him at His Word we see that His expectations and our experiences are both perfectly consistent with His nature.

But have we truly concluded this mined this question for all of its worth?

I’m going to publish Part 3 tomorrow where I hope to address any comments you may leave which challenge my conclusions. I’d love to have you join tomorrow!

Is God a jerk?

Continue to Part 3

Is God a Jerk? (Part 1)

Is God a Jerk

A few days ago I shared that someone tweeted that God must be a complete jerk if He would send “good” people to hell just because those people don’t believe in Him. Other’s have made the same statements concerning the presence of evil and pain in this world.

Is that true? Is God a jerk? Is He selfish, is He jealous? Is @Atheist_Deity right to question the thought,

“so you live a good life, look after your fellow man & never act in an evil manner but don’t believe, god will send you to hell?”

kill everyoneI’d like to look at this question from a bibliological perspective. I want to do this because someone who reads this but does not believe in God will not take anything the Bible has to say as truth. But they do hold their own reasoning skills in very high regard. This, of course, make sense if absolute truth doesn’t exist.

So we will evermind the biblical data concerning God’s supremacy, rule, and reign of the universe, and then we will use logic and human reasoning to see if His truth makes sense given what He’s disclosed and how He’s acted (if at all) in this world.

Please note: While I encourage conversation and debate, I would ask that it be done in a spirit of mutual-respect. This does not mean that we have to agree, it simply means that we do not stoop to name-calling.

Who Does God Say He Is?

I believe this is an incredibly important first step because if we’re going to judge God, we should do it by two things: 1. What He says about Himself, & 2. What He does as compared to what He said He’d do. At this point, it really doesn’t matter what other people say about Him.

Of course, I  don’t desire to be exhaustive in answering the question “Who is God?” because the whole of nature and Scripture is a testament to His person. But I do want to highlight a few key attributes and passages that are relevant to this discussion. I’ve turned to Ryrie’s Basic Theology for concision.

  1. Holy – God is not only separate from all that is unclean and evil, but also that He is positively pure and thus distinct from all others (Leviticus 11:44; Joshua 24:19; Psalm 99:3, 5, 9; Isaiah 40:25; Habakkuk 1:12; John 17:11; I Peter 1:15; I John 1:5; Revelation 4:8).
  2. Immutable – God is unchangeable and thus unchanging (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17). A Twitter acquaintance of mine brought up the common rebuttal that if God doesn’t change, why does the Bible say He “repents.” Ryrie explains, “Most understand these verse as employing anthropomorphism; i.e., interpreting what is not human in human terms. However, this can only be said to be so only from the human standpoint, for His eternal plan is unchanging.”
  3. Loving – God seeks the perfection of holiness and all that the concept implies for the object loved (I John 4:8).
  4. Omnipotent – God is all powerful and able to do anything consistent with His nature (Genesis 17:1; Exodus 6:3; II Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 1:8 7 19:6).
  5. Omniscient – God knows everything, things actual and possible, effortlessly and equally well (Acts 15:18; Psalm 147:4; Matthew 11:21; Psalm 139:16).
  6. Righteous – God is just; there is no law, either within His own being or of His own making, that is violated by anything in His nature (Psalm 11:7, 19:9; Daniel 9:7; Acts 17:31).
  7. Sovereign – God is in complete control of all things, though He may choose to let certain events happen according to natural law He has ordained (Psalm 135:6; Proverbs 16:4; Acts 15:18; Ephesians 1:11, 1:14).

What Does God Say He’ll Do?

Again, this question is one that can only be fully answered by the completed cannon, but I believe these are the three most important considerations:

  1. He promises to provide everything we need for life and godliness in His Word (II Peter 1:3).
  2. He promises to do everything for our greatest good if we love Him and follow His Word (Romans 8:28).
  3. He promises to save us if we ask, and punish us if we don’t (Romans 10:13).

What Does It Look Like God is Doing?

Now isn’t this the stinger? It’s one thing for someone to tell us they love us, but if they don’t act like it . . . we won’t believe them. Why do so many people believe that God is a jerk? Here are a few reasons (I’m sure some of you could easily add to this list):

  1. He demands loyalty to Him alone.
  2. He’s anything but tolerant.
  3. He allows evil and wickedness to abound – especially to good people.
  4. He allows destruction, pain, sickness, and suffering (again, often ravaging the good of the world).

In partial conclusion, if God is to be judged, we must first understand what He claims to be, what He claims to do, and then we need to compare that to what He’s actually doing (or allowing to be done).

Tomorrow we will see what His claims necessitate, and we’ll discuss the logical and reasonable end of these attributes. Therefore, I ask of you two things:

  1. Be thinking about this today. Does what God says about Himself line up with our experiences in this world?
  2. Come back tomorrow as we continue to consider whether or not God is a jerk.

Continue to Part 2.

A Note on Modesty: from a Hebrew word and a Hebrew man

A Note on Modesty

“She needs a doily.”

This expression is occasionally used by me and my wife when a lady is showing a little too much skin. It’s a way for my wife to say, “Avert your eyes,” and for us to have a little fun with outdated modes of modesty at the same time.

Pre-Sin Nakedness & Post-Sin Clothedness

In my study through Genesis, I gave a longer than normal amount of thought to Adam and Eve’s pre-sin nakedness and post-sin clothedness. Modesty is not something that’s discussed in great length in the Scriptures. Some people view it as being very subjective and tied solely to our culture. But I’d just like to make two particular observations concerning a Hebrew word and a Hebrew man.

Let’s begin with some background. Genesis 3:7 tells us that immediately as Adam and Eve’s eyes were open to their sin, their first thought was they were unclothed. Even though they had been naked since their creation (and we can only guess how much time had passed since then) they were both immediately uncomfortable naked.

There was no one else to see them, and they were standing in front of the exact same person who had seen them naked their entire lives, yet they were ashamed.

The very first human occupation noted in the Bible is that of a gardener (Adam and Eve’s responsibility). The second was a tailor. The first was ordained by God; the second was created by sin. Sorry, seamstresses and tailors. :-)

The point is, they were immediately embarrassed by their nakedness and sought to remedy the situation. Later on when the Lord confronted them, nakedness again was brought up. “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (v. 10). Then for a third time our attention is brought to their nakedness because after Adam and Eve received the consequences of their sin, God Himself made them clothes.

What Kind of Clothes Did Adam and Eve Make?

1. What caught my attention was the description of the clothes Adam and Even made for themselves. The Hebrew word chagorah is often translated loincloth. “Loins” refers to a very specific region of the human body best defined as “the hips and the lower abdomen regarded as a part of the body to be clothed or as the region of strength and procreative power.” In the waking moments of their sin, Adam and Eve covered their reproductive organs. Now, I have no idea how long Eve’s hemline was, but I do know that the inherent indecency of revealing that area of their bodies was foremost in their minds.

The word used to describe the clothes God made for them has a broader connotation. The coat/tunic/robe/covering God made appears to have done a better job of covering them up than their own loincloths.

2.  I don’t want to be unnecessarily descriptive here, but I believe this is an important point to make when discussing modesty; especially concerning women. My second observations come from the divinely inspired writings of a Hebrew man named Solomon. The Song of Solomon is a book that some Christian parents don’t want their young men reading. I can almost understand why. At the same time, it’s God’s Word and He didn’t include an “R” rating.

It is clear to see that Solomon had a pronounced preoccupation with breasts.

There. I said it.

This wouldn’t bear observing were it not included in the cannon of God. I believe it is safe to say, though, that inherent in men is a preoccupation (of one kind or another) for that particular area of a woman’s body. I understand that there are always exceptions, but history is fraught with countless literary examples, and the massive porn industry I think proves my point.

I shall speedily progress to my final thoughts without leaving too much time for unhealthy imagining.

So What is Modesty?

Modesty should be defined in its most base form as a covering of the reproductive organs. I believe it is fair to extend this to our posteriors as well. Both areas of the body were designed by God for procreation as well as waste removal. The obvious coupling by God of the front and back demand that we treat them equally.

But I don’t think we can leave modesty there. I also believe that our divine insight into the sexuality of human males dictates that in the same way sex should be saved for marriage, so should exposing a woman’s bosom.

It is clear to see that even secular society agrees with my observations. Most people feel very uncomfortable exposing those parts of their bodies in public. There are governmental ordinances forbidding indecent exposure. Even the term “Indecent exposure” refers to the three main areas I’ve detailed here. Where do these feelings of shame come from? They are inherent in our sinful humanity. Our sin causes us to be uncomfortable when we’re naked in the presence of other people. Of course, like any other sin, we can become immune and calloused.

No one can argue that nakedness is always attributed with extreme purity, shame, or sexuality. The first is impossible for us to achieve, the second should always be avoided, and the third has divine precepts governing it.

Ladies and gentlemen, we must be modest.

Application

Now, the last thing I want to do is be pharisaical. I don’t want to say something that God doesn’t say, but I would like to simply point out a wise idea.

If God wants my loins covered, then I should probably not stretch the tightest fabric known to man over it so that every detail, line, and curve is observable. The same would go for women’s upper bodies. If it’s that big of a deal (and we can see from Genesis that it is), why do we try to be as tight, low, and high as we can?

No, the Bible does not say that all skirts and shorts need to come to the knee. There is no divine three-finger rule. But the concept of modesty is evident and the importance of staying covered is obvious. God does not want us uncovering those areas of our bodies unless it’s necessary. Intercourse between a married heterosexual couple, emergency medical situations, and the unavoidable chores of being a parent of small children all fall within Christ-honoring forms of nudity. Otherwise . . . keep your clothes on.

God’s Thoughts on Gender Roles: Part 2, “The Genesis of Gender”

God's Thoughts on Gender Roles 2

Should women employ men? Is it okay for men to cry? Biblically speaking, can a woman be president? What does God think of a stay-at-home-dad?

I hope to be able to deal with these questions and more for as long as the Lord allows us to keep up this discussion concerning men, women, and God’s plan for them in this world.

To understand the complete picture of the sexes, though, we must return to the beginning; the very beginning. Let us start with Creation. In Genesis 2:7 we read that God formed man out of the dust of the ground. God subsequently breathed into this man the breath of life (something He did not do for any other living creature). Following an unknown period of time in which Adam named the animals, God deemed it necessary to provide Adam a mate (Gen 2:19-20). Many have conjectured as to why God would wait so long. We assume when all of the other animals and birds were created, both males and females were created at the same time. Yet, God chose to make Adam significantly earlier than Eve. Here are some general items of note. Please understand that these passages do not as of yet provide any commands for the sexes, but do lay out some interesting principles and observations.

1. Adam (the male) received a unique creative process before Eve (the female).

2. Adam was allowed to live a span of time before Eve was created.

As we continue with the narrative, we hear God commenting that it isn’t good for man to be alone. It is for this reason that God said He would create a corresponding partner for Adam that will help him (2:18). The idea of “help” is a simple one. Help means to give assistance to or promote. Help is never offered from the standpoint of superiority. That is not to say that a superior cannot give help, but it is a willful submission that puts the helpers needs and desires below the one being helped. Something is always sacrificed to further the goals of the helpee. Eve was created to help Adam, not the other way around.

Here are some more observations thus far:

3. Eve’s creation was predicated on the fact that Adam needed someone to help him.

4. Eve was created to be that helper.

5. Eve was created using a piece of Adam. She was not created the same way Adam was.

6. They were commanded to bond in such a way as to create “one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24)

Again, all we have here are steps and stages. Can a doctrine of gender be construed from mere observations of form? I believe the answer is “yes” . . . to a degree. It is important to notice that God is very metaphorical. Symbolism plays a significant part in the revelation of God and His will. For God, the simplicity of the creative act is evident. He was not required to use six days, nor did He have to rest on the seventh. He could have created the world in an instant, but He chose to communicate to us via form and stages. I believe we have the same evidences here. Our Lord is a God of order. He created the home before the government which He created before the church. There are important truths to be understood in that created order. This is not to say that the highest life forms are fish and fowl simply because the were created first (we cannot misapply our hermeneutic), but it is evident that there was a purpose for Adam’s creation precipitating Eve’s.

What are the applications? I think we should wait a moment before delving into that channel. There is another Genesis passage we must consult before we can accurately apply these observations to ourselves. At this point Adam and Eve lived in an innocent stage of life. They did not know what good or evil was. We do not exist in that realm, so it is wise to note God’s ordinances for their relationship after sin was introduced to the world.

The fruit was eaten. Sin contaminated the human race. God passed judgment. In Genesis 3:16 God said to Eve, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” The final two statements bear study. 1. “Your desire will be for your husband” is not a romantic idea. To base feminine romantic preoccupation on this verse is blatantly fallacious. The idea in the original language is that “Your desire will be against your husband.” God is saying that you will “stretch out against” your husband’s authority. Interpreting this prediction would be difficult if it were not for the final statement, “And he will rule over you.” 2. To rule is to have dominion over, to reign over, to have power over. God told Eve that even though she would innately desire to have authority over her husband, she would have to submit to his will.

This verse contains a divine proclamation of order.

7. The husband will rule over the wife.

It is important to note at this juncture that the context is not that women will be ruled over by men. The proclamation is clearly set forth for the marriage relationship.

So what does the “Genesis of Gender” teach us about the roles of men and women?

1. Adam (the male) received a unique creative process before Eve. God chose for man to have an unequalled status concerning women. There is a clear preeminence shown in the creation timeline. As to its ultimate application, I do not believe we can be bold utilizing this passage alone.

2. Adam was allowed to live a span of time before Eve was created. This seems to illustrate the above point.

3. Eve’s creation was predicated on the fact that Adam needed someone to help him. Seemingly, the woman had no reason for existence had man never been created. Her founding purpose is tied to the man’s needs. There is no reason to argue that her core purpose has changed throughout the years. If, in a perfect world, a woman’s highest calling was to be the perfect completer of a man, what makes us think that God created a lesser purpose because of sin? Could their be a higher purpose if the original was perfect as it was?

4. Eve was created to be that helper. No one can help a man like a woman. Side Note: It can be inferred that a man cannot help a man nor a woman a woman the way God intended. This must be a potent observation for homosexuals.

5. Eve was created using a piece of Adam. She was not created the same way Adam was. I have two observations. First, it is undeniable that Eve was the secondary creation in the human race. In fact, as far as we know, she was the last direct creation. Therefore, the creative process leads us to think there is a difference in God’s mind between the man and woman. Eve represented a portion of man as she was removed from his chest. Her entire being was created by his rib. What exactly the difference is between men and women I do not believe can be extrapalated from this passage. But it definately cannot be said that Eve was as common as an animal. Her unique creation and the fact that she was rooted in the equally unique creation of man shows that she is much more than animal and should be treated as such. The rule Adam was given over Eve is not the same dominion that Adam and Eve were given over the world. Eve was not a possession nor a lower life-form. She was a co-steward over the rest of God’s created world. Women today share this responsibility with men as they always have.

6. They were commanded to bond in such a way as to create “one flesh.” In marriage there is a unique relationship formed that transcends all other human relationships. Though husband and wife become a single entity, do not make the fundamental flaw that both are completely equal in all matters. The Trinity is a perfect example for us. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all 100% God. They do not differ in composition, but there is a divinely ordained hierarchy within the perfect unity. The same is true in husband/wife relationships.

7. The husband will rule over the wife. In this sinful world, God ordained that the man (an obvious choice given the aforementioned priority put on man) be the final word in the marriage relationship. There is no misconstruing God’s words on this point. To argue it would be to say God messed up.

So, can we start applying now? I believe we can.

A. As I mentioned before, we cannot be dogmatic at this point in our study in the application of our first two points. Yes, man was created first. Yes, certain rights and privileges were given to Adam long before Eve was created. But, to step into clear delineations between voting rights or employment is overreaching God’s Word.

B. We must acknowledge that women were created for men. This truth stands in the face of most contemporary feministic movements that purport that women don’t need men. In truth, men need women, and women need to fulfill that need within God’s will.

C. Within the marriage relationship (which I believe it is safe to say that women were created to participate in) the man is to be the leader.

So, let’s tackle one of the questions I opened with. How about last one? Does this passage have any bearing on a father being a stay-at-home-dad? I believe it does. But it’s not so much the action of staying-at-home as it is the attitude behind it. I have a friend whose wife is an anesthesiologist. She works and he takes care of their three children. Now, I am not intimately familiar with the unique dynamics within their house, but let’s say for sake of argument that the wife is the head of the household. She wants her career and she expects her husband to support her in that. Well, there’s a clear biblical problem with that. She would be obviously be desiring (and usurping) her husband’s authority. On the other hand, if the husband has chosen that his wife’s skills are far more conducive than his in providing for the family and maintaining the standard of living the family is used to, and they have come to an agreement that this is God’s will for their family under the direction of the husband . . . then I believe all is well.

We may encounter other passages along the way that would contradict our current application, and if that happens we need to reapply in order to take into consideration the whole counsel of God. But for now, we must accept that man and woman were created in two unique ways for two unique purposes and given two unique sets of responsibilities.

Your thoughts, questions, concerns, and observations are always invited and I hope we can sharpen each other through this discussion.

Click here to read Part I: God’s Thoughts on Gender Roles.