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Modesty At Religious Services - Page 3

post #41 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karenwith4 View Post
I'm UU. Last Sunday I sat beside one of our members who is a cross dresser. He came in a yellow sarong (with bike shorts underneath because the slits can be a tricky thing), a white blouse and tevia type sandals. He's a great guy, interesting, articulate, caring and kind. He'd be an asset to any congregation. Knowing him has absolutely made a positve affect on my spiritual journey. I'm glad his clothing choices presents no barrier in our group.
Though, you know, of all the places I've been to worship services, UU congregations are the only place I imagine transsexuals to be readily accepted at all.
post #42 of 104
For those of you who seem to discount modesty and following a congregation's norms, here's an example concerning modesty, but doesn't involve clothes:

Russian Orthodox Churches and Orthodox Jewish houses of worship both segregate worshipers by sex. Men in one area and women in another. Not sure when small boys are sent to stand with the men in Russian Orthodox churches. When you enter a church and the men are on one side and the women on the other, it's rather obvious what a congregation's norms for this are.

An Orthodox Christian couple who are friends of mine, who really should have known better (or the husband, at least, since he's from Europe where this is a more widespread practice), visited a Russian Orthodox church in the States. Men stand on the right and women on the left. This is the sort of couple who are used to constantly holding hands and hugging in church. Not only did they not stand on the appropriate sides of the church, but they also stood doing their usual hugging and holding hands. It was beginning to create something of a scene - not only did several of the older women in the church try to get them to separate, but finally the starotsa (head layman, I guess) of the parish had to came over (the husband speaks fluent Russian) and tell them to separate - it was causing a disturbance, and the next step was to get one of the priests involved - in the midst of the Liturgy - big no no! So, finally, they separated, but each stood on the edge of the respective area, still making googly eyes at each other (and no, they weren't newlyweds!).

Rather liked what Mamabadger had to say.

Oh, one more thing: there is a distinction that needs to be made (I think Mamabadger and one other made it): there is a huge difference between a visitor and someone who is a member/wants to become a member of a congregation. If someone wanted to become an Orthodox Jew, for example, but didn't want to observe any of the practices for modest dress, I suspect there would be very big problems as a result. A member of the Orthodox Jewish community who suddenly began flaunting the modesty guidelines would "be given a talkin' to," I strongly suspect.

And for those who think there are no Scriptural guidelines for modesty, how about "Be not conformed to the world"? We are *in* the world, but called to not be *of* it. So, totally buying into the world's standards for dress, and taking those standards into a church (since I'm using NT quotes) - showing extreme cleavage, for example, or wearing a very short skirt - and flaunting your sexuality in a house of worship that believes in being more covered up, shows something not particularly positive about the person doing it, if said person is a member of that particular congregation.

And if you're a visitor who who is more bare than dressed, *not out of ignorance of a congregation's standards*, but out of "I'll dress however I like" even if you *are* aware of a congregation's standards, again that doesn't say anything positive about the person in question.
post #43 of 104
Other "communities," whether workplaces or schools, do have standards of dress. We had an issue with a woman in my office several years ago. She always wore low-slung pants that were *just* covered by the bottom of her shirt, but when she had to lean over or crouch to get into files (as often happened), you saw her underwear as well as her butt crack. She was repeatedly told to wear pants with a higher waistband, or longer shirts. She refused to do either and was fired. We currently have a 30-something guy who likes to wear the very baggy pants - he's been battling management about it. There are also several young women who like nothing better than to show off their chests (we're talking extreme cleavage), and are in trouble because of it. Most offices will have some sort of a dress code, which exclude things like shorts, tank tops, and flip flop shoes.

If you were a female public middle school/high school teacher, who tended to dress provocatively, would you be upset if administration told you to cover up because you were a distraction to the learning of the young men in your classes?
post #44 of 104
I grew up in a very conservative protestant church where in order to teach sunday school, children's church, play piano, spcial music, choir the ladies had to wear a long skirt and appropriate top/dress. When I was married, my DH was already a member of the local presbyterian church and I joined. I usually wore a slacks or skirt suit to church. My DH told me that I dressed too old for my age and told me to buy a couple of new dresses for church. So I did. A couple of jersey knit wrap dresses to be exact. Cute, stylish and v neck, knee length, but form fitting. Well. I wear one to church and get compliments. A couple weeks later I am wearing my dress to church and one of the married men kind of embarrassed himself..... well this goes down the wrong road. So I totally get the 'lead another not in to sin' thing. Haven't worn that to church since.

Now we attend a more casual Church of Christ. So casual in fact that the minister wears khakis and a polo on Sunday morning. Jeans are very well accepted. But you know what makes me super uncomfortable? Seeing a communion usher in a tshirt with writing on it and a 15 yo girl in shorty shorts, flip flops and a spagetti strap tank top (all of which I wear at home- but not out and about). I don't know- I guess I think neither of those are showing God the respect he deserves in his house. I wouldn't let my kids wear those things to church- but I dont' go and tell them that they can't- ykwim?
post #45 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
For me, there's a difference between a required dress because of clear text from a religious document. I understand that if I go to a mosque, I must have my head covered. I don't normally cover my head, but I respect the religion enough to do that.

What I really see in this thread (and IRL in many Protestant churches) is that some church-goers feel they should impose *their* definition of modesty on others. There's no Scriptural basis for some of the rules I've read in this thread. It's only the preference of the person complaining about what others wear, and that's where I have a problem. "Modesty" is such a vague, subjective term that it can - and often is - used to look down on those who dress a certain way.
I have noticed that in some cases, what is considered "modest" seems rather arbistrary. I think everyone that bothers to think about it realizes that showing parts of the body that are normally considered private would be inappropriate, or even that cleavage is somewhat sexual, since breasts are sexual parts of the body in the West.

But I've never got that pants are less modest than skirts. They can reflect ideas about gender roles, but that is a different issue, it isn't about modesty. Really, how can it be immodest for a woman to wear pants, but not for a man - if anything the opposite is the case.

I think congregations that believe in modest dressing need to think carefully about what they mean by it, and what is applicable in their situation. Churches that do mission work do this all the time, and I don't see why established churches shouldn't too - mission work is also part of their calling.
post #46 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tradd View Post
For those of you who seem to discount modesty and following a congregation's norms, here's an example concerning modesty, but doesn't involve clothes:

Russian Orthodox Churches and Orthodox Jewish houses of worship both segregate worshipers by sex. Men in one area and women in another. Not sure when small boys are sent to stand with the men in Russian Orthodox churches. When you enter a church and the men are on one side and the women on the other, it's rather obvious what a congregation's norms for this are.

An Orthodox Christian couple who are friends of mine, who really should have known better (or the husband, at least, since he's from Europe where this is a more widespread practice), visited a Russian Orthodox church in the States. Men stand on the right and women on the left. This is the sort of couple who are used to constantly holding hands and hugging in church. Not only did they not stand on the appropriate sides of the church, but they also stood doing their usual hugging and holding hands. It was beginning to create something of a scene - not only did several of the older women in the church try to get them to separate, but finally the starotsa (head layman, I guess) of the parish had to came over (the husband speaks fluent Russian) and tell them to separate - it was causing a disturbance, and the next step was to get one of the priests involved - in the midst of the Liturgy - big no no! So, finally, they separated, but each stood on the edge of the respective area, still making googly eyes at each other (and no, they weren't newlyweds!).

Rather liked what Mamabadger had to say.

Oh, one more thing: there is a distinction that needs to be made (I think Mamabadger and one other made it): there is a huge difference between a visitor and someone who is a member/wants to become a member of a congregation. If someone wanted to become an Orthodox Jew, for example, but didn't want to observe any of the practices for modest dress, I suspect there would be very big problems as a result. A member of the Orthodox Jewish community who suddenly began flaunting the modesty guidelines would "be given a talkin' to," I strongly suspect.

And for those who think there are no Scriptural guidelines for modesty, how about "Be not conformed to the world"? We are *in* the world, but called to not be *of* it. So, totally buying into the world's standards for dress, and taking those standards into a church (since I'm using NT quotes) - showing extreme cleavage, for example, or wearing a very short skirt - and flaunting your sexuality in a house of worship that believes in being more covered up, shows something not particularly positive about the person doing it, if said person is a member of that particular congregation.

And if you're a visitor who who is more bare than dressed, *not out of ignorance of a congregation's standards*, but out of "I'll dress however I like" even if you *are* aware of a congregation's standards, again that doesn't say anything positive about the person in question.
That is just a really bizarre story. My church is all happy-clappy and a couple doing that would yuck me out.
post #47 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
But I've never got that pants are less modest than skirts. They can reflect ideas about gender roles, but that is a different issue, it isn't about modesty. Really, how can it be immodest for a woman to wear pants, but not for a man - if anything the opposite is the case.

I think congregations that believe in modest dressing need to think carefully about what they mean by it, and what is applicable in their situation. Churches that do mission work do this all the time, and I don't see why established churches shouldn't too - mission work is also part of their calling.
I think the reason skirts for women fall into the "modest" dressing ideal is because skirts are typically feminine garments. The Bible certainly does indicate that males and females are quite different and a dress/skirt reflects that when worn. So, I can see how in a tangential way skirts/dresses would be considered ideal clothing for women and pants/trousers would be for men because it is a very outward sign of the female/male gender roles for some religious communities. And in that type of community a "modest" woman would want to embrace her femininity and her role as a woman as defined by her religion.

My own religion does not make that distinction and does allow for typical clothing that is culturally appropriate (as I mentioned in the OP, which I believe has led to some confusion about what is and is not "modest" for religious services) for both females and males. Women are no longer required to cover their hair in church, for instance. Women can absolutely wear pants. The choice of clothing is left up to the congregant though I have heard one priest mention appropriate attire in a homily, but it was for all situations not just church attendance. This was a conservative parish in TN, not my home parish.
post #48 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
But I've never got that pants are less modest than skirts. They can reflect ideas about gender roles, but that is a different issue, it isn't about modesty. Really, how can it be immodest for a woman to wear pants, but not for a man - if anything the opposite is the case.
In this case, it is not usually a question of modesty, but of keeping the proscription against wearing the clothing of the opposite sex. What constitutes men's/women's clothing varies according to place or culture, of course. Usually it is clear, but there was a big discussion in my parish a few years ago about Scottish men wearing kilts for a wedding. Pants for women is a grey area. Traditionally, Western cultures have had only men wear trousers. However, women's trousers have become so well established in this part of the world, that many feel they are now definitely female clothing. In my fairly conservative Orthodox parish, more than half the women attend church in pants; but there are still some churches that prefer it not be done.
post #49 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by iowaorganic View Post
But you know what makes me super uncomfortable? Seeing a communion usher in a tshirt with writing on it and a 15 yo girl in shorty shorts, flip flops and a spagetti strap tank top (all of which I wear at home- but not out and about). I don't know- I guess I think neither of those are showing God the respect he deserves in his house.
I'm not sure why writing on a shirt would be disrespectful. It would be pretty dependent on the writing to me.

As for shorts and straps, I find it hard to understand why God would have a problem with the body that he himself created.
post #50 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
I'm not sure why writing on a shirt would be disrespectful. It would be pretty dependent on the writing to me.

As for shorts and straps, I find it hard to understand why God would have a problem with the body that he himself created.
Well, I'm sure God doesn't have a problem with anyone's body, per se.

But what would you think if the girl was wearing those pasty nipple things? Your comment would equally apply if the problem is really with the body itself. Or is it more that you don't see strappy tank-tops as inappropriate.

Clothing is a kind of action - we choose what clothes to wear, just like we choose gestures to make. A person using their body to murder, steal, rape is inappropriate, objectively, though not because the body is evil. Some acts are inappropriate only in some situations - we don't perform private body functions in public places, not because they are objectively immoral, but because they are not right in certian places. And those can depend on the culture.

Similarly, wearing really inappropriate clothes, like nipple-pasties, is not often appropriate in public. Rather like picking your nose. Not because the body is bad, but because it's culturally inappropriate.
post #51 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
Similarly, wearing really inappropriate clothes, like nipple-pasties, is not often appropriate in public. Rather like picking your nose. Not because the body is bad, but because it's culturally inappropriate.
Isn't what's culturally appropriate fluid and dependent on the prevailing norms?

If it's so common for people to wear spagetti straps and shorts in the summer (and a quick look around on the street tells me that this is so) then in can't be considered culturally inappropriate. You don't have to approve of it, but you can't expect people to adopt whatever your desires for appropriate/inappropriate clothing may be.
post #52 of 104
choli, I agree.

If there is one thing I cannot stand is people getting all legalistic about clothing.

If Eve could wear a few leaves, surely I can wear a tank top.

Yes, I understand the whole thing about how you don't want to cause a man to stumble, etc. However, it's all about the cultural norm. If you wear long dresses with collars around your ears, a guy is going to get turned on just seeing a bit of knee. In cultures where the norm is less clothing, it's less of a problem.

It's like when you don't let a child have candy or sweets of any kind - ever. Well as soon as that child is grown and out of the grips of their parents rules, he's going to chow it down without regard. Whereas if they have been raised where candy is not a big deal, they're not likely to binge.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the female or male body. God made it, and might I add, god made it with original purpose for it to be naked without shame, all the time! Obviously since the fall, private areas should be covered, but I really don't get the whole extreme modesty thing. The only thing it accomplishes is a lot of sweat, IMO.
post #53 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
Isn't what's culturally appropriate fluid and dependent on the prevailing norms?

If it's so common for people to wear spagetti straps and shorts in the summer (and a quick look around on the street tells me that this is so) then in can't be considered culturally inappropriate. You don't have to approve of it, but you can't expect people to adopt whatever your desires for appropriate/inappropriate clothing may be.
Culture on the street is different from culture in a fine restaurant is different from culture in a school is different from culture at a private family gathering is different from culture in a given church. And so on and so forth. While I have no particular problem with anyone arguing that in a particular setting a norm should or should not be a particular standard, I continue to fail to see how anyone can try to put forth the notion that "culture" is a monolith in which all settings -- and therefore all standards -- are completely equal. It defies reality.

Personally I think the biggest stumbling block is a sort of a visceral reaction against the idea that the body is shameful and therefore should be hidden. It comes up time and time again in discussions of modesty: "I don't think there's anything wrong with the body." Which I understand. A lot of promotion of modesty has historically, and to a point still is, done in the name of the idea that the more we pretend bodies don't exist at all the better. The disconnect, though, is that a lot of modesty promotion has nothing to do with the idea that the body is naturally something to be embarrassed of. In those instances it is about contextual privacies and proprieties. And in those contexts the promoters of modesty would often be the very first to agree that the human body is not inherently shameful -- they just wouldn't also agree that this is an argument against setting a cultural or subcultural standard that differs from what might be acceptable at a nightclub, for example. The arguments are irrelevant to one another. It's like saying "I don't think jeans are anything to be ashamed of" in response to a request to not wear them to a formal wedding.
post #54 of 104
Yes but shouldn't that choice be up to the individual church, church members and their personal convictions?

The jeans at a wedding argument doesn't make sense to me, because not all churches abide by the same standards of modesty. At my church it is perfectly normal and acceptable to wear jeans, t-shirts (with or without writing on them), tank tops or even a strapless dress. Our church is "come as you are". So perhaps someone is used to that sort of church, and when visiting or deciding to attend another type of church, haven't caught on - especially if they are not the only ones wearing less modest clothing, and they've never been approached about their choice of clothing by church authority, then it's quite easy to believe it's socially acceptable.

Besides - I've seen many a beach wedding where everyone was wearing jeans

Now for instance, someone pointed out the example of seeing ushers wearing t-shirts or tank tops. Obviously, the pastor has no issue with it, otherwise he would not have them as ushers! Obviously it's not a church that adheres to strict modesty standards. So why should anyone else care?

I guess what I'm trying to say is - if you, personally, feel best and feel like you are giving God your best by dressing your best, by all means, do so! But there is nothing in the bible saying "thy t-shirt shall not bear logos in the presence of thy temple". Nor are there any verses saying a woman should cover as much skin as possible (verses about modesty actually only refer to braiding one's hair and wearing jewellry, which interestingly enough, many people who use the verse in Timothy to explain their modest attire often do both of those things).

So why does it bother you if someone doesn't carry the same convictions in a church where, due to the obvious fact that those who do not dress modestly are not being approched by the pastor/preist, tells me it's not a rule for the church but rather your personal opinion.

My personal view on things like this that are not direct commands from God (but rather, are mainly man-made rules and standards) is that if God wished these people to do things differently, would he not lay it on their hearts in conviction? And if he has not, why would one then think it is their job to tsk tsk about it? Do they think it's not possible for God to make up his own mind whether to lay conviction on any given person, but rather that they need to step in and do it on God's behalf?

If someone is having premarital sex in the pews on sunday morning, sure, absolutely step in and tsk away because God makes his opinion quite clear on that subject But I've looked extensively in my own research and have never found anything in the bible about women covering their shoulders.
post #55 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doll View Post
Yes but shouldn't that choice be up to the individual church, church members and their personal convictions?
That's rather the point though, isn't it ... it's up to the congregation to set a standard for itself. If one feels that there should be no standard in a church, a congregation that disagrees may well not be the best choice of congregations for that individual. I don't think anyone is talking about barricading the doors against anyone who tries to walk in dressed in a manner the congregation deems inappropriate. Walk into my mosque in a t-shirt and cut-offs and it's all good. Really. We know you're new, we know you're not Muslim, we know you might not know better. You can expect to be welcomed, and probably at some point have basic proprieties -- kindly -- addressed. But try to tell us that we're dead wrong to not have a t-shirt and cut-offs as our baseline standard of dress and that you're going to fight the good fight by continuing to use our prayer space dressed as such ... now that's a different matter entirely that just not knowing.
post #56 of 104
See, I would say it's up to the leaders of the church to set a standard of dress. If the pastors, elders and deacons are not putting up a fuss about how their members are dressed, why should the more moderately dressed congregation?

My point is not about whether dressing modestly in church is right or wrong. But rather, it's not a church members job to decide what is right or wrong for others. If the leaders of a church decide to enforce a certain attire, they will do so. But it bugs me to hear people speaking about those in their church who do not dress the same as they do, when, assuming there is a significant population of these individuals, and provided the issue has not been addressed by the leaders of the church, it confuses me why other church members would judge at another member not adhering to their personal standard when it obviously isn't a church-wide standard (if it were, it would have been addressed by leadership).
post #57 of 104
Well. If a pastor takes a position at a church where he wants a tank-tops-welcome policy in contradiction of the consensus of the existing congregation, it too may not be the best fit for him. A leader is still a member of the body, and lacking a doctrinal standard I like to think things should work at least a little democratically.
post #58 of 104
But if that be the case, than that should be the action a congregation focuses on - not titter tattering and gossiping about what so-and-so is wearing this week.
post #59 of 104
The majority of this thread has been about maintaining dress codes and dress standards, not about a pew full of people sitting in the back making a hobby out of acting self-righteously affronted by what everyone else is wearing.
post #60 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
Though, you know, of all the places I've been to worship services, UU congregations are the only place I imagine transsexuals to be readily accepted at all.


Transsexuals and cross-dressers are different, just for the record. The two words are not interchangeable.

We have three transsexuals in our congregation. We also had one as a groomsman at our very conservative wedding. Not that it matters much - just that MANY other places of worship are just as liberal and welcoming as the UU churches are.
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