a house worth keeping
A topic that has had a recent resurgence of popularity in the evangelical cyber-world is that of women’s swimsuits. While I realize that swimsuit modesty is not a popular topic among men, I do think we should have something to say about it especially as husbands and fathers. This brings me to why I am even talking about this – often what we say regarding matters like this has little thought behind it. If we are trying to build multi-generational faithfulness, ham-handed treatment of issues that pertain life and godliness (which is everything) is not the way to go.
I think the swimsuit issue serves as a good example of this sort of thing. We buy into the reasoning that goes something like this – the modesty and thus godliness of a swimsuit is a simple calculation of skin to cloth ratio. If there is more skin than cloth, Jesus isn’t happy with us. We even appeal to the history of the swimsuit as though there was a holiness that existed in the past that we ought to somehow return to. Now granted, it may be a good thing to return to something of the past but let’s not assume it’s age makes it the better choice.
A formula like the one above might be a convenient way of calculating your standing with God but it simply isn’t a true measure. There’s nothing wrong with contending that we really ought to consider what we wear, why we wear it and even promoting principles and guidelines to help direct people. But reducing principles to rules and formulas only makes the issue messier because the ones keeping the rules feel holy and the ones who don’t share those convictions often have unnecessary guilt or imposed convictions that lead to a searing of the conscience. If we take this thinking in the above example to it’s furthest extent, we are really being quite modest in our reformation – a burka would be the MOST pleasing to God.
My point in addressing this issue is to point out how we can so easily adopt convictions regarding traditions, clothing, and culture that are built on foundations of sand. We often mix just enough of a knee-jerk reaction to the world’s standards with a little bit of conservative zest to make it palatable to the Christianese culture. As Doug Wilson says “It’s not enough to be right. You have to be right in the right way.” – or something to that effect.
In other words, it is easy to use the right words but put them in the wrong order. We know the evangelical vocabulary list and so we pull a random selection from it, throw some verbs and other connecting words in there along with some Bible verses (if we really want to make our point) and that is what we use to support our choices. (And notice, I am not excluding myself from this folly.) Part of the problem is, though our reasoning may “work” for us and our kids for now, that sort of haphazard thinking will not last. If we want to lay a foundation that we can pass on we must build on principles that will outlast our present situation.
So men, let us be vigilant in how we approach things and how we lead our families – even thru the most trivial of things. We show what we really think about God in our everyday decisions and interactions. So let’s lead with convictions and articulate our decisions with principles that won’t be sold at the posthumous auction with the rest of our worthless goods. Let’s build a house worth keeping.