“The Difference between Gold and Pigs”, or “Mennonites in the Mist”

Some people are laboring under the delusion that there exists a continuum upon which modesty slides; that on one end there is attractiveness, and on the other end there is immodesty, and on the other end there is unattractiveness, and on the other end there is gaudiness… If you have figured out that we have too many ends for one continuum, then keep reading this post.

Modesty is first and foremost about holiness. Holiness is about keeping things separate that do not belong together, and keeping things together that do; to set aside for a particular purpose.

Immodesty isn’t about being “too attractive”. Bare breasts aren’t immodest because men find them alluring. Bare breasts are immodest because they don’t belong to anyone but the owner and her husband; who are one flesh. Don’t show what cannot be shared, and what you do show be prepared to lose. Likewise, modesty isn’t about being “not too attractive”. A nude fat guy with seeping wounds all over his body is not modest either; no matter how unattractive he is.

Modesty is on its own continuum, and attractiveness on its. They are separate things, and the second is much more subjective than the first in the eyes of those on this side of the dark glass. The author of Proverbs 11 said it this way:

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
    is a beautiful woman without discretion.

Neither diminishes or even modifies the other. Gold is worth its weight whether it adorns a pig or a king, and a pig is an unclean beast no matter how much gold it drags through the mud. It only seems like the pig and the gold are modifying each other if we walk by sight rather than by faith. The faithful one distinguishes (again the idea of setting aside; making discrete) To the pure all things are pure: pigs, breasts, gold…everything. Even Mennonites!

Mom in a Shoe linked to some clothes

2010 sized3

that others[1] labelled “uncool”, “unattractive”, “weird”, and so forth. Whatever else one may say about them: One must admit that Mennonite women dress as their fathers chose, and not as their own natures tempted them. If you cannot say one other good thing about them, then you can say–must say–that they are obedient in their dress, even if nothing else. If modesty is of a kind with set apart, and separate, and pure, and obedient, then the dress of Mennonite women should be seen as–at the very least–women in contrast to the bedazzled pigs of modern society.

Do not put them down. Do not put down the clothing of any modestly dressed women if you want to see more modesty in general. You can encourage, or suggest, or model..but what does it mean to call a woman “uncool” in a world full of pigs? It’s foolishness. Say nothing if you cannot say speak good of good things. From the same Proverb:

With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
    but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
    and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
    but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.
12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
    but a man of understanding remains silent.
13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets,
    but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

Besides: Look at the picture. Those are four beautiful girls. Appearances can certainly be deceiving[2], but judging by appearances: Any young man would be lucky to gain the favor of those girls’ father, marry one, and then in holiness dress her up for himself however he would like.

[1] These people are mostly young, and had the poor judgment to be born in the modern era just like the rest of us. I don’t blame them for being ignorant, but here it will be challenged. PancakeLoach was one of them, and she’s now engaged in a multi-comment, multi-post rant against me which is totally incoherent. This is what she choose to do when I pointed out that she is among those who are sneering at Mennonites. This has seemed better to her than to say, “My bad”, “point taken”, or something similar.

[2]For all I know they might not be family, and that photo could have been taken right before they modeled bikinis for another company. 

Advertisements

46 thoughts on ““The Difference between Gold and Pigs”, or “Mennonites in the Mist”

  1. An observation from a Mom:

    When my two oldest sons were a part of an all-boys choir the past few years, we were spending a great deal of time waiting for three hour rehearsals to end. So I was frequently in the waiting area with four other children, including my daughter. She definitely received a number of stares, as she stood out from the other boys’ sisters. And one thing that was always rather striking to me was that the boys would jump to open a door for her, get up and offer her their chairs, etc. They did not do that with the other girls. And these were young boys who were still young enough to still act more on their natural instinct before they get fully indoctrinated by the culture. Now, this is just me, but I think it is instinctive for the boys to naturally be more in awe and respect of that which is held in mystery as something that should raise them higher. They see a modestly dressed girl and their true masculine nature immediately comes into play (i.e., this is a person I should guard and protect).

  2. The more I think I think about this. When I was as ratchet as I could be, I didn’t respect immodest women. It is the same even in my struggle to be holy and acceptable to God. However when I see a modest dressed woman I respect them (same with the wife).

  3. Following you for a while, but found immediate interest in the picture you used. This winter we bought a couple of long sleeves dresses from this family’s business for my three-year-old daughter. Finding modest dresses for the winter has been a pain, and they were well-worth the extra money.

    More on point, it’s interesting how a parent’s attitude about modest clothing can affect their children. Growing up in a a protestant home, my mother never wore skirts, except *maybe* on Sunday. As a child and teen, I hated wearing anything distinctly feminine. It wasn’t until my husband said he liked me in a skirt that I started wearing them all the time. Now my daughter loves wearing dresses, and forget trying to make her wear pants – even around the house.

  4. Good post. Obedience to God, which for the wife and children is demonstrated by obedience to husband/father, is a safe place for a woman to reside.

    I like the distinction you made between immodest and attractive. I struggled with that one as well. As I’ve gotten older I generally assume no one is looking at me ” like that” but my husband anyways. It has taken the struggle out of obedience for fear of being an occasion to sin.

    While our daughters would never be confused with Mennonites, they are commonly complimented for their honor of their father and modest behavior and yes, dress.

    Graduating from the need of the law as tutor is hard. I think we women need the tutor for a longer time when we are not committed to submission to godly male leadership in our lives.

  5. @ OP

    Perhaps it marks me as uncool… but I like those outfits. They are colorful… pretty even. Certainly a far cry from the rubbish worn by most women these days. And as for this:

    Any young man would be lucky to gain the favor of those girls’ father, marry one, and then in holiness dress her up for himself however he would like.

    Quite likely. While a bit young, the one on the far right seems more than acceptable to me. It should be noted that all of the women, including who I believe is the mom, are in a healthy weight range. That is the exception these days, not the norm.

    @ Mom

    I think it is instinctive for the boys to naturally be more in awe and respect of that which is held in mystery as something that should raise them higher.

    Yes. I have noted many times before that I am far more respectful towards modestly dressed women than immodestly dressed women. It is something instinctual.

  6. Okay, after reading your posts and your asterisks (addendums?) at the end, I will say this:

    Point made. I am sorry.

    I don’t want to say it just because I respect you and your point of view, so let me add: I genuinely thought about it, and decided that I was wrong.

  7. This series has been a great blessing to me. The posts about women and modesty keep getting better and better. I obey my husband concerning modesty and it plays out much like how Elspeth has described in her life. Thank you for lending your wisdom for those of us who would choose to learn from it.

  8. Cane, those women look a hot mess!

    JUST KIDDING!!!

    They are not only sporting modest attire, but peep their overall grooming. Hair pulled back from their faces, no makeup (I think), not “posing”, and pleasant to look at overall. This is to Canes point about modesty being about holiness, and it reflects in your overall swagger.

    For example, even women in the most modest traditional Dirndl might sully the whole thing by sporting a pint of ale and hollering at passersby.

    Imagery considered, I’d be reluctant to give any of these women a bear hug, or a fist-bump, or a high five, because there is something about a modest presentation that gives pause to a certain type of respect, even thought they are cute as a bag of buttons.

  9. ….these women look normal to me. I’ve gotten to the point where the societal norm is what looks odd. Which makes me realize how blessed I am to live in the Midwest and have a large traditional Catholic community here in Tulsa.

    I think the big part was simply the mental thought of “her clothing isn’t a choice a healthy woman would make, and I feel sorry for her.” the mental perspective changed what I view as normal, with aid of keeping Godly company, even if I’m active enough in the world right now where the immodest is still the majority of what I’m around.

  10. “Modesty is on its own continuum, and attractiveness on its. They are separate things…” ~ Cane

    The idea that they belong on the same continuum is a common misconception. Here’s an example to the contrary.

    My wife and I were thinking of reading the Duggar girls’ book, “Growing Up Duggar”, because our girls enjoy the show, and we thought it might be good for them to read. But we wanted to read it first, so we could discuss it with them, so I looked up some reviews online. I don’t have the link to the review I’ll reference, but it featured this photo from the book’s cover.

    I read some of the comments below the review (I know, big mistake!). The apparently female commenters spit all kinds of bile at the Duggar girls. The apparently male commenters mostly wrote about how “surprisingly hot” the Duggar girls are.

    Kind’a makes ya think, doesn’t it?

  11. The girls are pretty, they are happy and even if they were more on the plain side, they would still be beautiful because they are so bright eyed and cheerful. There you go. It’s simple as to why the men are attracted to them And the ladies who are burdened by their consciences cannot obtain that joy for themselves without making changes, so they will not be able to appreciate them or what they themselves could become.

    Incidentally, if you liked the lovely dresses modeled by the family in the photograph Cane put on the post from Lilies of the Field, they also have photos of the beautiful wedding dress worn by the oldest daughter (sorry, gentlemen, she’s already married :-), and the bridesmaids’ dresses. Also, lovely Easter outfits. The budget this year prohibits me purchasing from them at this time, but I am trying to alter a couple of patterns I have (not my strong suit) to match some of the designs my daughter and I really like.

  12. It wouldn’t be anything unusual for my girls (or me for that matter) to be dressed like the Duggar girls are dressed in that picture. The skirt on the far right? That skirt (or one very similar) is in two closets here, worn the same way, with a t-shirt. Or like the one with the belted waist. Equally common, and also fashionable, while being modest as well.

    Those who criticize the Mennonites are dead wrong. We should respect those with high modesty standards and a willingness to ignore cultural trends and criticism for the sake of conviction. But I think that Duggar daughters picture prove that it is easily able to be modest and fashionable and that the two things needn’t be mutually exclusive, which seems to be the argument in some corners of this debate.

  13. Pingback: Do you even reading comprehension, bro? | Something Fishy

  14. But I think that Duggar daughters picture prove that it is easily able to be modest and fashionable and that the two things needn’t be mutually exclusive, which seems to be the argument in some corners of this debate.

    I actually think this might be where a lot of people are getting hung up. Pancakeloach isn’t really an enemy; she was even featured recently on Dalrock’s blog as a good example for women. She apparently has another long post up on this topic, which is her prerogative, and which I intend to respond to soon, seeing as I was probably one of the well-spoken people who agreed with her she is referring to.

    The problem here is that she used the Mennonites as an example of how not to dress, when in fact, as you pointed out, modesty standards are to be set by the husbands and fathers, and what the women are doing in those communities is following those standards. This is praiseworthy.

    Girls who dress as their fathers ask them to, in the clothes linked? Praiseworthy.

    But she criticized them, which was a mistake.

    Now, if she had only gone as far as Elspeth did, I doubt there would be a problem. But she didn’t.

    I do also think that people were reading more into what she wrote than she really implied, though maybe that’s a blindness on my part. At this point I’m not really sure.

    I’m also really procrastinating right now, as I have serious work to do. Bleh.

  15. Here is pancakeloach’s problem:

    Don’t get me wrong. The happy girl looks very sweet! I sincerely hope everyone in her peer group thinks that dress is beautiful, and judging by the joy on her face, she’s not a girl to worry about on that count! But that dress makes me want to cry, “Why would you put that dear child in that creation?! She’s obviously far too old for it!” Which is my main complaint for most of the styles on the page, actually. They’re perfectly adorable… for little girls. Elizabeth’s dress is downright squeeably cute on the little girl, but on her older sister(?) it looks like a nightgown – like she’s wearing an undergarment, not a dress! Checks and Blossoms would look cute on little and medium girls. Girls nearing the age of menarche, for nearly everything on the page? PLEASE, NO. Unless you live in a location where that’s the accepted style, as I said before – nobody gets teased into a living Hell for fitting in. I have a healthy fear of what children can do to each other, y’all, and I didn’t even go to public school myself. But I heard tales of what went on, what sorts of things happened to nerdy unpopular girls like me, in places where there were snobby cliques… *shudder*

    Despite her long protestations to the contrary I really find it impossible to read this as anything but a sneer at those clothing choices, and a fear of what the world will think of them. This goes beyond saying “I think you can be fashionable and modest”. It is “You shouldn’t dress your kids like that, it’s unfashionable”. And that’s not right.

  16. @MtC

    Despite her long protestations to the contrary I really find it impossible to read this as anything but a sneer at those clothing choices, and a fear of what the world will think of them. This goes beyond saying “I think you can be fashionable and modest”. It is “You shouldn’t dress your kids like that, it’s unfashionable”. And that’s not right.

    Nailed it.

    I had considered writing you an email, but I think it best that I keep everything here where no one can accuse me of underhanded dealings.

    Paragraph-by-paragraph and post-by-post, PancakeLoach has revealed one dead-common inanity after the other. I approve her pingbacks because she is a fount of excuses which are as ubiquitous as they are ill-informed. Her writing is a pict-o-gram of Feminism in Church clothes. From her pictures I must confess that she (at least once) dressed modestly; yet she has banged-on about the importance of modesty of the heart and mind while exhibiting neither.

    It is instructive to current and future fathers and husbands; those people towards whom my writing is always directed.

  17. Well, in defense of Pancake Loach, I can sort of relate. Let me explain.

    My mother had several extremely rigid rules. One was every neckline had to be practically at the throat. Another was that every blouse had to have a collar. A third rule was that hemlines fell one inch below the knees, no longer. Mid-calf skirts, and she threw a fit because they were “too long” and therefore dowdy in her opinion. Also, she chopped off our hair as soon as it threatened to grow even the tiniest bit long (we were all girls in our family). I was very, very unhappy. Having gotten to know my father later in life, I know that if he had been around, our rules would have been far less rigid.

    I can’t speak for my sisters, as they were in high school by the time I was in first grade, but when I was bowling in a junior bowling league as an eight year old, I was ridden mercilessly by other girls my age. I would come home from bowling crying Saturday after Saturday. I didn’t want to go back. Fortunately, my mother spoke to the head of the bowling league and asked that I be transferred to another team. The girls who kept treating me like dirt were called in to talk to the coach, were suspended and required to apologize to me. I was grateful to have someone standing up for me. My response was to bowl better than anybody on the team, and at age ten I got to bowl with the pros.

    I got teased in Girl Scouts because I wore my Girl Scout uniform to every meeting and didn’t have a clue about who the popular singers were in that day (I was the only homeschooled girl there). My response was to earn more badges than any other girl in the troop for three years running.

    I found a niche in 4-H, but by that time I was pretty cynical and decided the only way I could keep “safe” was through achievement. I became the youngest secretary in the county cooperative extension office serving on a committee, I won a scholarship and I became a state delegate to several national competitions. I had one friend, but I wouldn’t consider her very close. In the group at church, my friends were much prettier than I and the boys were interested in them, not in me. I was busy working and going to college and pretended I didn’t care. My friends made it pretty well known they were only taking part time retail jobs until they could “catch a man”. I kept pretending I didn’t care. I was very stoic. If I was lonely, the solution was to throw myself more deeply into my college courses, and I graduated magna cum laude. None of my church girlfriends (the only friends I really saw on a regular basis) went to college.

    To this day, I have a great deal of difficulty getting close to people. I maintain a lot of distance, even with family members. I just can’t get beyond a lot of that stuff, and it has created many challenges. So I can see her point about being shunned or told you are weird. You do find yourself in a bit of an island it can create many difficulties later on in life. You pretty much always feel like you are in a glass bubble looking out at people who can move easily around others and have intimate relationships, but you don’t know what it’s like because you can’t get there and you don’t know how. Oh, you can definitely fake it very well, especially with people who are just friends whom you aren’t living with on a daily basis. But once you are with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — well, that’s different. That’s when you realize you don’t have the skills. As time goes on, it seems less and less likely you’ll acquire them. You’re too comfortable in your rut and too afraid to try to get out of it.

  18. @MitS

    If PancakeLoach’s experience is similar to yours, then that is a reason for compassion. However it is not an excuse to denigrate anybody else. The compassionate thing to say to a person going the wrong way is say, “Hey, you’re in danger! Stop!” The compassionate thing to say to others who might follow in the path of the one going the wrong way is to say, “See how she wanders into danger! Do not do this!”

    One of the main points I gather from your story is how important it is for men to set the standards, and how lousy women are at it.

    Another point is that the denigration of obedient women provides a perverse incentive for those women to become career-oriented instead of family oriented; which in turn destroys a society. It is as if ridiculing other for being obedient destroys a city…but I repeat Proverbs 11.

    The long protestations Malcolm noted are vomited forth in lieu of admitting that she was wrong; like an allergic reaction to humility. I have put forth no rule but those summarized by the sixth commandment, and in the NT teachings of husbands and wives. My comparison of immodest women to pigs is straight from Proverbs. There is no admonition in these posts except what is strictly and easily verifiable as Biblical. But because these truths came through me, PancakeLoach will have no truck with them.

    So be it.

  19. I have to say Cane, although I agree wholeheartedly with you that you have set forth no hard and fast rules besides “Honor God” and “Obey your husband/father”, your style intimates that you have a very strict line or standard in mind that every woman should adhere to even if you don’t say exactly what that is. The woman who has not rested in and made peace with the fact that her husband’s set standard is where she belongs will recoil and reject what you have to say.

    I have been acquainted with your writing long enough to *get it*. That I don’t necessarily view men of firm conviction who aren’t afraid to voice it as arrogant or haughty makes it easier for me to give you a fair hearing. But your style is off-putting to most women which is why it’s good that you make clear that while you tolerate us, you aren’t writing to or for us.

  20. I think she’s coming from being really traumatized. It seems to me that she couldn’t handle the ostracism and viciousness that some girls can do to you. I just hunkered down and withdrew when people went at me, but I am of a more loner temperament. I’d bet she’s far more social in temperament and it really hurt her horribly. As you said, that’s no excuse. But these are just possible explanations.

  21. @Elspeth

    I have to say Cane, although I agree wholeheartedly with you that you have set forth no hard and fast rules besides “Honor God” and “Obey your husband/father”, your style intimates that you have a very strict line or standard in mind that every woman should adhere to even if you don’t say exactly what that is.

    I have been acquainted with your writing long enough to *get it*. That I don’t necessarily view men of firm conviction who aren’t afraid to voice it as arrogant or haughty makes it easier for me to give you a fair hearing. But your style is off-putting to most women which is why it’s good that you make clear that while you tolerate us, you aren’t writing to or for us.

    Honoring God and obeying your husband and fathers is a strict standard. Shall I be less enthused about what the Lord has said is good, than I would be about a sports team, or a TV show? No! It remains that no one says I’m too enthusiastic about the shows I like. I like His Word more than those.

    But make no mistake: It is the the message that is off-putting. It is off-putting to me, to you, and even Paul

    So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

    The medium–my choice of boldness, my mindful enthusiasm, and my practiced love in expression–is part of the message. I am not ashamed that women ought to do what their fathers and husbands say, and I make the choice to be enthused. We must watch out. We must keep the oil lamps ready to burn while our Lord tarries. And if I won’t model it here, or wherever I’m at, can I say I love my neighbor? If the watchman does not sound the alarm, their blood shall be required of him.

    Shall I, MomintheShoe, let the nasty little girls cow each other while I am quiet? I think I will let them be scattered.

  22. Honoring God and obeying your husband and fathers is a strict standard. Shall I be less enthused about what the Lord has said is good, than I would be about a sports team, or a TV show? No! It remains that no one says I’m too enthusiastic about the shows I like. I like His Word more than those.

    You’re preaching to the choir with me. Surely you know that. I’m just telling you that if I, with my extra care to be gentle, am told often enough that I take this submission stuff too far, An enthusiastic man is certainly hard for women to take. About this:

    But make no mistake: It is the the message that is off-putting. It is off-putting to me, to you, and even Paul

    Eh. It’s not as off-putting today as it was 3 years ago and 3 years ago it wasn’t as off-putting as it was 3 years before that. If we never reach a place where we see God’s commands as loving protection and always as as affront to our sovereignty, then something is quite awry in our faith walk. It does not, should not, be always and forever off-putting to obey God. That isn’t to say that I don’t have those days where I look at my husband and have a momentary twinge or temptation. But that is wholly different from the message being off-putting.

    As it happens there is right now a gentleman on my blog who seems to be having the battle with his wife that my husband had with me, and apparently that Heather’s husband had with her. For every 5 Christian women who are taking advantage of the opportunity to be looked at, to know she still *has it*, there are likely one of us rebelling against our husbands in our attempts to be more modest.

    The thing can go both ways.

  23. @Elspeth

    Eh. It’s not as off-putting today as it was 3 years ago and 3 years ago it wasn’t as off-putting as it was 3 years before that. If we never reach a place where we see God’s commands as loving protection and always as as affront to our sovereignty, then something is quite awry in our faith walk. It does not, should not, be always and forever off-putting to obey God. That isn’t to say that I don’t have those days where I look at my husband and have a momentary twinge or temptation. But that is wholly different from the message being off-putting.

    Not sure where you have put the faith of which you so recently spoke (and so well!), but go and find it.

    For every 5 Christian women who are taking advantage of the opportunity to be looked at, to know she still *has it*, there are likely one of us rebelling against our husbands in our attempts to be more modest.

    No. Modesty is the noble-sounding excuse for rebellion in wives’ attempts to usurp their husbands authority.

  24. No. Modesty is the noble-sounding excuse for rebellion in wives’ attempts to usurp their husbands authority.

    No Cane. Just…no, sir. When I was wearing skirts to my ankles and taking pains to see that my elbows were covered, I never considered how my husband would feel about it. I thought I was doing the godly thing and that following after God meant that I needed to dress a certain way. I was not trying to usurp my husband’s authority, I sincerely thought I was honoring him until he bothered to tell me differently. When he told me to stop it, I stopped it.

    You give us too much credit when you assume that there are calculated or even loosely considered motivations for the things we do. Sometimes it really is as simple as a sincere error in judgment.

  25. You know what? I want to modify that. While it;s true that I wasn’t making a conscious attempt to usurp my husband’s authority, I was trying to be justified by my outward attempts to display what I thought holiness in a woman looked like. So I was rebelling against the finished work of the cross and unwittingly rebelling against my husband in the process.

  26. @Elspeth

    You found that faith!

    I never considered how my husband would feel about it.

    Ouch.

    I was trying to be justified by my outward attempts to display what I thought holiness in a woman looked like. So I was rebelling against the finished work of the cross and unwittingly rebelling against my husband in the process.

    Nailed it. Wives who inquire of their husbands are the holy ones.

  27. I’m stunned by how angry people get over all these issues. It seems like everybody is angry at — well, everybody. I think it’s time for me to retreat and withdraw once again….yikes.

  28. @MitS

    It seems like everybody is angry at — well, everybody.

    Then I think you’re misreading the situation.

    I think it’s time for me to retreat and withdraw once again….yikes.

    I think that is an excellent idea even though I am certainly not angry with you, and I have been glad for the opportunity to defend your husband’s choices.

  29. Wives who inquire of their husbands are the holy ones.

    Yes! It took me far too long to figure it out, I am slightly embarrassed to admit. I did however figure it out eventually.

    The other thing I have found (having made the mistake) is that many wives believe that our personal redemption in Christ, coupled with the Holy Spirit indwelling us, means that it is entirely possible for The Holy Spirit to lead us on a path on which our husbands might not agree, and that we are free to follow that path. I’ve encountered the argument numerous times, from women I thought should know better.

    Thanks for the thought provoking posts and dialog.

  30. There’s a big community of Mennonites near where I grew up, along with a big community of traditionalist Catholics. You can usually tell the Mennonites because they usually have old-fashioned floral print dresses instead of skirts. But around town if you see someone in a skirt, 9 to 1 she’s a traditionalist Catholic. Though the occasional Baptist or Pentecostal dresses that way. I’ve always found that look attractive, which is why I used to like hippie-types a lot, the long skirts, etc. Long skirts, long hair, golden-age movie star eyes.

  31. @ Elspeth: “he other thing I have found (having made the mistake) is that many wives believe that our personal redemption in Christ, coupled with the Holy Spirit indwelling us, means that it is entirely possible for The Holy Spirit to lead us on a path on which our husbands might not agree, and that we are free to follow that path” Mary, who was espoused to Joseph, was visited by the Holy Spirit and thus embarked upon a path that Joseph knew nothing about. When Mary’s belly showed that path, Joseph moved to divorce Mary. It was only at that point that God saw fit to let Joseph in on the plan. Elspeth, why didn’t God present this plan to Mary thru Joseph or Mary’s father?

  32. First I’m not keen on some of the definitions here even if I largely agree with the post. For example, as I stated before we were naked once and I’m of the opinion (and lo! it is an _opinion_) that we will be naked again. Boobs should not in themselves cause a problem and while they are a thing owned rightly by the husband they aren’t of the same essential nature as the marriage act.

    I also agree as a formality that there is no “continuum” in the sense that one is either modest or are not. But then so is everything. Every word I say is either bad or good. God does seem to deal in levels of vileness as the Law implies which gives us some hope. So in that sense there is a continuum.

  33. @Bobbye:

    It is a fairly common occurrence in this sphere for someone (usually a woman) to be criticized for using exceptional cases, or even her own anomalous situstion, as proof of anything. Communication cannot be had, the thinking goes, without an acceptance of certain generalities, or in this case, Biblical doctrine.

    Ergo, while I see where you are going on this, I don’ t understand the relevance of your question. If you are implying that there’s doctrinal support for the notion that a wife is free to chart her own course apart from her husband if she believes she heard from God I simply disagree. Period.

    Aside from the conception of Christ there is NO Biblical support for this in the NT. Or the old for that matter.

    And don’t try and use Abigail. She was saving Nabal’s life, being a good wife.

  34. Aside from the conception of Christ there is NO Biblical support for this in the NT.

    And it’s not as if Mary’s reaction was to get up in Joseph’s face and declare herself a Strong Independent Wymyn. To the contrary, Mary smartly kept it quiet leaving what to do up to Joseph. And Joseph, being a good man, planned to quietly divorce her so that she wouldn’t be stoned in the street.

  35. @Bobbye, Elspeth & MtC

    I’m not sure where’s Bobbye’s going, but it’s not clear to me that he is approving wife-led rebellion in the name of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully, he will come back and follow-up.

    Looking at Mary in the context of wifely obedience: I see that she did not declare anything to Joseph, and it went well with her and him.

    Looking at Abigail in this context: We can say for sure that if a man’s wife answers to another man, then she just might become his wife.

    @GKC

    Boobs should not in themselves cause a problem and while they are a thing owned rightly by the husband they aren’t of the same essential nature as the marriage act.

    I would rephrase that to say “Boobs should not in themselves have come to cause a problem…” But The Fall did happen. Things that ought not to have happened, have, in fact, happened. God himself made the first clothes, and boobs did–and do–present problems for anyone who is still in the flesh. The law is still in the body.

    From the end of the passage of Romans that I quoted to Elspeth:

    “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

    Paul is expressing (in the present tense!) that because of God’s grace through Jesus his heart (“I myself”, and, “my innermost being”) is free to serve Christ alone even while his body serves the laws of the world. A wife’s submission to God expressed as submission to her husband is a perfect example of Paul’s sentiment in action.

    Here is another example that more fully expresses that our hearts are free in service to Christ and yet our limbs must still act in accordance with what is good by the world’s standards. Even while we all serve men who don’t have it quite right and are sometimes just flat wrong, we are still legitimately under those men’s authority.

  36. @ Cane, Elspeth: Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was very unhappy that she had no children. So she took independent action in asking the LORD for a child and making a vow to the LORD if a male child was granted her. Her independent action was not viewed by her husband as rebellion (as in, why didn’t you ask me first?). Elkanah loved the LORD and knew that Hannah loved the LORD and Elkanah loved Hannah.When Hannah informed her husband of Hannah’s plans for their son, Samuel, Elkanah did not object. Must have been a good marriage. I would simply caution not to put God in some box constructed by Man’s will. In the end Elspeth will stand before the LORD for her judgement alone, as will each and every man and woman; alone. God saved you alone as an individual, and He will judge you alone as an individual, and He will deal with you daily as an individual. To acknowledge God’s right/reality of dealing with each person as an individual certainly should not convey a sense of rebellion. To not acknowledge it is to put something else before the LORD, in this case perhaps a husband. Yes, the ‘one flesh’ thing is difficult. But the husband is one flesh with the wife, just as the wife is one flesh with the husband. Both are under authority of the LORD firstly. Don’t make a ‘rule’ that allows one to violate the first commandment and still feel holy. Caution.

  37. @Bobbye

    Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was very unhappy that she had no children. So she took independent action in asking the LORD for a child and making a vow to the LORD if a male child was granted her. Her independent action was not viewed by her husband as rebellion (as in, why didn’t you ask me first?).

    Which of the actions of Hannah were independent? Did Elkanah not take his wives and children every year to worship and sacrifice? Who gave Hannah a double-portion to sacrifice? Who loved her and sustained her while she was yet fruitless? Who brought her to the outer courts to pray for a child? Did not Eli the priest hear her and make petition to God on her account, also, and was not until after all these things happened that God opened her womb?

  38. Which of the actions of Hannah were independent? Did Elkanah not take his wives and children every year to worship and sacrifice? Who gave Hannah a double-portion to sacrifice? Who loved her and sustained her while she was yet fruitless? Who brought her to the outer courts to pray for a child? Did not Eli the priest hear her and make petition to God on her account, also, and was not until after all these things happened that God opened her womb?

    These things are important, yes, and not to be overlooked.

    In the end Elspeth will stand before the LORD for her judgement alone, as will each and every man and woman; alone. God saved you alone as an individual, and He will judge you alone as an individual, and He will deal with you daily as an individual. To acknowledge God’s right/reality of dealing with each person as an individual certainly should not convey a sense of rebellion. To not acknowledge it is to put something else before the LORD, in this case perhaps a husband. Yes, the ‘one flesh’ thing is difficult. But the husband is one flesh with the wife, just as the wife is one flesh with the husband. Both are under authority of the LORD firstly. Don’t make a ‘rule’ that allows one to violate the first commandment and still feel holy. Caution.

    Yes, I understand that I will stand in judgment for myself as an individual, accountable for my obedience to Christ as outlined in His Holy, Inspired Word. This is a common argument I have heard over the years, this straw man that I am promoting a view that puts a husband in the place of God. Did not God inspire the Apostle to counsel wives to submit to their own husbands “as unto the Lord?”

    Are we to submit to the command to sin should our husbands ask it? Well that wouldn’t be submitting as unto the Lord, would it? That is a wholly different matter from rebelling against my husband’s expressed wishes on something I felt “led of the Lord” to do or not do, that is not a matter of sin or righteousness.

    There have been times (a scant few, but they have happened) when I felt led of the Lord in my prayer time and I went to my husband for his permission to act. Each time, because he does trust that I am a child of God with a relationship separate from his, he granted the permission. Once it was to anonymously send a fairly large amount of money to a family we barely knew. He said, “Do it.”

    However, if I felt led of the Lord to do a thing, and my husband said “no”, I have resolved in my heart that it is not a thing that God wants me to do at this time. Perhaps I didn’t really even hear from him, and it was my own desire rising up? Either way, I will not assume that I am right and my husband is wrong, and that I should move forward.

    Do you not realize how many women are operating in wholesale rebellion based on the very idea that you are hocking? It’s Christian feminism in a nutshell really, that since we have the Holy Spirit, we have no need of our husband’s ruler-ship or guidance, and how dare they get between us and God? Far better to err on the side of obedience to the written revealed Word than go off half cocked on the notion of being “free” in Christ to live as if we are unmarried.

    If God commands the believing wife to submit to an unbelieving husband, one apart from Him, how much more so to a Son f God in rightful authority over us? I sincerely do appreciate the caution Bobbye, and I am sure there are probably a scant few Christian women who need it. A scant few. But far more wives are in danger of erring in the complete opposite direction of the one you caution against.

  39. @ Bobbye:

    Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was very unhappy that she had no children. So she took independent action in asking the LORD for a child and making a vow to the LORD if a male child was granted her. Her independent action was not viewed by her husband as rebellion (as in, why didn’t you ask me first?).

    OT law gives the man in a woman’s life the authority to veto any of her vows. Numbers 30.

    “When a young woman still living in her father’s household makes a vow to the Lord or obligates herself by a pledge 4 and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. 5 But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the Lord will release her because her father has forbidden her.

    6 “If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself 7 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. 8 But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the Lord will release her.

    […]

    10 “If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath 11 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. 12 But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the Lord will release her. 13 Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself.[b] 14 But if her husband says nothing to her about it from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or the pledges binding on her. He confirms them by saying nothing to her when he hears about them. 15 If, however, he nullifies them some time after he hears about them, then he must bear the consequences of her wrongdoing.”

    Short summary:
    A husband can nullify any of his wife’s vows with no penalty, whether made prior to or during their marriage, as long as he acts upon that knowledge within a reasonable amount of time.

    So in 1 Samuel 1:22, when Hannah tells her husband of the vow, he had the ability to nullify it to keep Samuel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s