First, I would like to thank you for the efforts you've made towards trying to provide a Christian perspective to common issues many boy and girls, men and women have to deal with. It's nice to see a more appropriate perspective on issues when more worrying views or lack of personal care is so common.
My main question came while reading through sections of your web site -- specifically, while reading through Chapter 10: Proper Attire of your book, and further specifically, this paragraph:
"Clothing that does not cover your nakedness is definitely not modest. However, clothing that does cover your sexual organs may still be considered immodest. For example, under the Old Law a man was not allowed wear women's clothing and a woman could not wear men's clothing (Deuteronomy 22:5). [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.] What is appropriate dress for a man and a woman varies greatly over time and between societies. Whatever is the current standard, that is the standard you must abide by."
The phrase that troubled me was, "What is appropriate dress for a man and a woman varies greatly over time and between societies." This is important -- societies across the world have standards that differ vastly from Christian standards, and themselves change radically over time. "Whatever is the current standard, that is the standard you must abide by." This is the most troubling of all. I simply don't believe that we can let the world's standards dictate what is acceptable to us and God. This is what's led to Christian fragmentation in the first place. People that want in the 'church', over the course of history, have tried to alter the meaning of the Bible to suit their own desires, standards, and lusts in order to make the Bible fit their own ideas of what God is rather than make their own lives and desires fit in with what God wants. The Bible clearly says that men aren't to wear women's clothing, and that women are to wear men's clothing. As you yourself say later in the same chapter on a different verse: "The context of these verses shows that this is a statement of fact. It is not optional; it is not a suggestion; it is a fact that can be readily observed in the world."
I went over to the girl's section to see what the take was there. The chapter was largely the same, with, of course, necessary alterations made to address the proper group of readers. "When going among farmers, you shouldn't wear a formal gown; a flannel shirt and jeans or a cotton dress would be more appropriate. If you need to teach someone of the Amish faith, you should wear a dark dress with no metal buttons." When someone ways flannel shirt and jeans, a man in a flannel shirt and jeans is absolutely the first thing to come to my mind. The cotton dress example, on the other hand, makes me think first of a woman in a cotton dress. While I won't pretend to believe that the Deuteronomy verse outright mentions specific styles or garment types, I also don't believe God was ignorant of the future when He issued His Word. He knew about what changes and innovations were to come in the future --how the fashions of the times were to change and 'innovate', so He knew what exactly to say to the people of the future so they would know what to do. Again, I just don't think we should let today's worldly society and standards dictate our own, as your paragraph suggests. Even if this isn't what you meant in that paragraph, that's very much how it comes across and what it's saying overall.
While the current standards of society and how we shouldn't let their standards dictate God's standards or alter God's own meaning of godliness is what I was chiefly wishing to address, this does also bring out another question: What does Deuteronomy 22:5 mean for Christians of today? It's clearly there, so we can't ignore it or pretend it means nothing. It's not an option for us to consider, or something we should strike from the Bible because we don't think it applies to us today, because it's not convenient for us, or because we're afraid that the world will think we're bananas for following some "old hogey religious junk" and following some "outdated religious code of old people's clothing". The Bible even warns in Revelation 22:19 [And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.] about those that selectively choose what parts of the Bible to maintain in order to fit their current desires or willingness to follow God. Since we can't ignore it, what does this mean for Christians today? Could a pair of men's jeans be considered women's garments because of a different designer label slapped on the back along with a slimmed cut to more closely (and I believe immodestly) follow the curves of a woman's body, altered stitching patterns on the back hip pockets, and perhaps a pink button on the fly up front? I tend to think not -- lipstick on a pig doesn't change it from being what it is. It's still a (if it's a farm animal) dirty pig, and if it's a boar, it doesn't make it a sow, either. Does the Bible say in specific wording with specific terminology that a woman shouldn't wear jeans? No, of course not. For the many inventions and styles of society of the future, it would have had to go through an entire laundry (pun intended) list of styles that wouldn't even mean anything to the people of that time since they weren't even 'invented' or contrived in the first place. It was instead written to the people of that time as well as of the future. We're told enough information that we today can determine beyond any need for doubt what applies to us today. Men don't wear women's clothing, and women don't wear men's clothing, regardless of who the designer is or what flight path the sewing machine was put on on that particular occasion.
This is by no means to bash your effort. I do applaud what you're trying to accomplish, and I'm sure your efforts and research has helped out many with burning questions. I was just taken aback by what I was reading in what I thought was an otherwise informative resource of information and commentary. May God bless you, your ministry, and inform you of his blessed will and word so that you may know it, it may enlighten and enhance your life and your walk with God, and that your congregation may hear it through you in your ministry. I pray the greatest of revivals on you and your congregation on this closing and evermore corrupted day and age.
There are standards that a Christian cannot compromise on, such as minimum coverage, modesty in appearance, and a distinction between male and female clothing. But even with these minimums, there is still a wide range of possible clothing styles.
You yourself live by standards that are greatly different from the clothing in Jesus' day. In those days tunics and a robe were the standard attire for both men and women, yet a distinction between the sexes was maintained. Still, I can hazard a strong guess that you wear neither a tunic or robe and think nothing of it. Your selected garments are dictated in part by societal trends and environmental needs. This is what I was discussing in the book.
The Christian's goal is to dress modestly, that is to not call attention to himself because of what he is wearing. That means following after the local society's dictates so long as they don't violate the standards that God has given His followers.
I do agree that there are people in society who are pressing limits. Some pushing for how close or beyond the minimum coverage they can go. Others are intent on wiping all distinction between men and women. Still others are looking for clothing that calls the maximum attention to themselves. Christians don't follow these trends.
When I wrote the books, I strove to describe the limits God has given in a straightforward, no nonsense manner. It is common for teenagers to wonder why this outfit is allowed and another is not. They will question whether a societal tradition must be held or can they follow the flow of fashion. They need to see the standards that apply no matter what age or part of the world they happen to live in.
Thank you for your timely response.
I see where you're coming from with the standards of the time thing. I was just concerned with the specific phrasing of the paragraph ("What is appropriate dress for a man and a woman varies greatly over time and between societies. Whatever is the current standard, that is the standard you must abide by." Still reads like abiding by the standards of the outside world and allowing them to influence us to too great a degree). I was sure you didn't mean it that way, of course. I just wanted to provide you with a form of feedback that I'm sure you don't see often, given the target audience of your website.
I also found it healthy for myself even to think about and discuss in depth certain verses. I've seen a lot in real life practice that the sermon of the pastor is often directed as much to the pastor --sometimes even more -- as it is to the congregation. It made me actually think about these verses with a clarity of view that I haven't had before. Talking about them really helps, I believe. I personally found it spiritually healthy to think about what the Deuteronomy verse means for us today.
Something that I thought about since the first email is that God's also been in the fashion designer sector, as well. He made coats for Adam and Eve, as well. I wonder what the shape of them was, what the designs were, what they covered, etc. Interesting thought, for sure. He also dictated to Moses the design of the priests robes, those for Aaron and his sons, etc. Of course, there's still the discussion of how to best abide by that guideline in this modern day and time. I believe that even in this day and age, a clear distinction is easy to make between the two genders that most greatly follows what the Bible's saying with the least amount of confusion or overlapping possible while still maintaining other biblical standards (flashy apparel, flashy and piercing jewelry, unnecessary embellishment, etc.). And, you're right, there are no tunics in my wardrobe, so I do clearly see what you mean when you say that we can get into modern fashion trends of the modern society without always flying in the face of the Bible. The phrasing just caught me a bit off guard, and still seems to be in stark contrast with the tone of the rest of what I've seen on your website up to that point.
Again, thank you for your response. It actually helped enlighten me, putting down in wording to explain why I believe what I do, and why it fits in with the tone of the Bible to today's Christians. Before, I hadn't really thought about it that much, or if there was even any Scripture to support it. Now I see clearly that there is, and why there is. Talking with you has indeed helped me in that regard, studying Scriptures more in-depth and discussing them with another Christian. After careful study of what it's saying compared with the Bible as a whole, and after making an effort to put down my thoughts and studies in words, I'm now sure of how to follow it to the absolute best and greatest extent possible.