“Christian Dress”modes

I’m rather behind on some of the news, so it was only a few days ago that I caught up with the whole Josh Duggar thing. I admit, I was surprised, but not for the reasons you might think. Several years ago, I was zooming around the internet and came across some sites where people were openly talking about Josh touching girls (including his sisters), so I have to wonder why it took so long for it to become news. And now, what news it has become! Here’s a guy who used to be a director of Family Research Council (if you don’t know what this group is, it’s been listed in the U.S. as a hate group), and spoke out about what he perceived to be “family” matters. For some reason, one that I cannot understand in spite of trying, this group believes that granting homosexuals the right to marry, and allowing transsexuals the right to identify with the “other” gender (i.e. the gender for which they may not have all the relevant “parts”) will somehow threaten heterosexual couples and women. I can’t quite get my head around that. Does FRC think that if gay marriage is allowed, heterosexual couples will suddenly all divorce? I mean, no-one is talking about banning, or curtailing the rights of heterosexual couples – are they?

Anyway, in the midst of this scandal, and as a result of reading about this family (who, for the record, I believe should be taken off the airwaves), I took a side path into the world of fundamentalist colleges and began reading some of the student handbooks. Some of what I read began to trigger my post-Bible-college PTSD because there were many similarities between them and the Bible College I attended many years ago. Take the dress code, for example (and I should say two things here. First, I have only looked at Pensacola Christian College and Bob Jones University, and second, my college was not in the US); it always seems so much stricter for girls than for boys – and far more expensive. PCC, which is in Florida, demands that girls wear, of all things, pantyhose almost every day. This rule could only have been made by men! I’d like them to try wearing pantyhose day in day out in a hot climate. Funny, in my time at bible college, I never once read a verse that indicated women should wear such things! Pantyhose are uncomfortable and unhealthy in hot climates, particularly hot humid weather. Further, they ladder and get caught on things so need to be replaced regularly. That is costly!

The thought of having to wear pantyhose was not, of course, the only thing that made my blood start to heat up. Oh no, there was more: Girls’ clothing cannot show even a hint of cleavage, and must not be “tight” (read: must not indicate that there is a woman’s body beneath). Girls may not have male hairstyles (whatever those are), or wear clothes that are masculine (oh yes, that includes pants). Skirts (which, as we know, are the only godly apparel) must be no higher than the top of the knee – standing OR sitting. Tops must have sleeves because shoulders are incredibly sexy and will cause (yes, I said cause) men to have lustful thoughts leading to rape. Poor men! Completely captive to whatever women wear! One glimpse of a shoulder and they lose their freewill. Rape is inevitable, and of course, you harlot with the bare shoulder, it will be YOUR fault.

Now, before you say “Well, would you rather women ran around naked?”, I’d like to point out that this is not a true/false, yes/no, black/white dichotomy. There are an infinite number of choices we can make regarding our clothing. We aren’t forced to choose between a burka and nakedness! Further, I think that forcing women to wear certain types of clothing because men can’t control themselves is patronizing to both sexes. Why do “Christian” schools focus so much on these kinds of rules and regulations? Are they competing with the Pharisees?

Legalism isn’t dead. I’m pretty sure Jesus would be pretty upset at today’s Christian Pharisees as they “strain at gnats” and ignore the camels.


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