Man oh man did I start a tempest in a teapot on Friday. I logged in to Facebook in the morning and saw a lot of women’s statuses were just a color. Then I saw several (like 3 or 4) that said why this was happening: they were posting the color of the bra they were wearing. A couple said that they were supporting breast cancer awareness, while a couple of other ones just said that it was a fun girl game.
After seeing about a couple dozen status updates it got old. So I posted this status update at 10:13AM:
Hey ladies, do us all a favor and stop posting your bra colors. No, really, I mean it. I know it’s breast cancer awareness day, but many of your guy friends on fb strive to honor God with their thought lives, and you talking about your lingerie is not helpful…
That status was supposed to be quasi-funny and just a bit of a nudge, because the part at the bottom is true. Men receive a good bit of their sexual gratification through their eyes. Don’t believe me? Then why is pornography such a huge problem in our society? Why do strip clubs exist? They exist only because men receive sexual gratification through their eyes. (and unfortunately in our depraved state seek ways to receive that gratification without any work on our part…) And whether the ladies in our lives like it or not, when a woman tells a man what kind of undergarments she is wearing it is almost a guarantee that he will picture her wearing those undergarments.
Even more, would you do this in real life? Can you imagine a woman just walking up to her friends and announcing “I am wearing a black lace bra”? Or even just “polka dot,” then when they look at her funny explaining the funny joke and then saying that she was wearing a polka dot bra? Would you announce to your workplace what color undergarments you are wearing? I would FREAK OUT if my wife did that to another man, or if my daughter did for that matter. Inappropriate! (link for the Conan fans out there) I know that Facebook is a social network and not the same as work, but there are still rules of decorum!
So this was a request to the Christian ladies out there who hadn’t thought about the other side of the coin. I thought that I might get a response or two, but what happened really shocked me. Before it became passé, I had 38 responses to that status. More than one or two affirmed my sentiment, but I got more than a little pushback too. I started quite a debate! I had people tell me that I was insensitive and hurtful to all breast cancer survivors. (note to all: I have a grandmother who is a survivor and an aunt who is currently battling breast cancer…so aloof I am not) I was told how judgmental I was and how it was all an innocent game, a fun thing that perverts had, well, perverted. I even got a message from someone I didn’t even know telling me how this whole thing is men’s fault, saying:
…if someone doesn’t like it or is offended by it they can very easily block the post from the “offensive people”, or can delete those temptresses all together so that their weak minds won’t wander. However, you may want to also suggest they stay out of department stores and off of beaches since the the first sells the tempting garments and the latter has such scantily clad women that said men may not be able to control themselves.
I had to chill out on this one for a couple of days because it got under my skin a little. (and not just me…check out this story in the Chicago Tribune for a similar sentiment) I talked it over with my home fellowship because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t off my rocker. (well, more than usual anyway) They all agreed that this is a big issue and worthy of discussion
The big question that comes out of this debate is this: whose responsibility is it for my holiness? Whose responsibility is it for the walk with Christ of those around me? Do I bear responsibility for myself or am I a product of my inputs? Am I responsible for others and their reactions to what I do, or am I free to pursue my desires as long as it is not actively hurting others? Where do my liberty and my responsibility intersect as a follower of Christ? When I look at it from that angle this issue is not about undergarments but about how we live out our consciences as Christians in a community where others are more or less sensitive than we are to particular issues. This, then, is a chance to examine how to live out our freedom in Christ without ruining others’ walk with Him.
There are a good number of instructions on this issue in the New Testament, particularly in the writing of the Apostle Paul. This guy started life as Saul the Pharisee, educated at the feet of the highly respected Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) and zealous not to stumble in any way under the Law of Moses (Galatians 1:14). Since God has a sense of humor, He made Mr. stickler-for-the-law into the one He sent to those who didn’t even care about the Law of Moses! (Galatians 1:16) He had to try to bring together communities of Christians who were Gentiles (and therefore whose consciences were less sensitive) with those whose background was Jewish (and therefore whose consciences were likely to be more sensitive). Sparks had to fly, and because they did we get a lot of instruction on how to be toward one another.
To begin, it helps to remember that Christian consciences can differ in non-essential areas. Paul says in Romans 14:14, “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” In matters of conscience, how we view the issue matters spiritually. A few verses previously in Romans 14:2 Paul uses food as a barometer of our conscience’s sensitivity when he says, “One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.” (Note: while American usage equates “weak” with “bad,” this isn’t the issue here. Sensitive or not sensitive is the issue) Some of us have sensitive consciences and some not so much.
What about you? When you look at your walk with Christ do you find yourself on the “more sensitive” side or the “less sensitive” side? If you’re like me you probably have some of each. For me, stuff like language and violence don’t bother me a bit. In fact, I rather enjoy some violence (like MMA). I have found, though, that in order to walk with Christ I must be very careful with sexual imagery and situations. For instance, I can watch war movies all day long…action is great. One nude scene, though, and I am wrecked for a week in my thought life. So I am strong in some areas, weak in others. I think that God made us that way on purpose, knowing that in community we would have friends stronger and weaker than us in various areas.
Simply recognizing that is a victory, because it says that in my community of Christians there are others dealing with the same weaknesses I am, and others weak in places where I am strong. That realization alone is a victory, because it shows that what I have is a bad case of the normals. However, if we are not thoughtful we can either become so laissez faire that we don’t help one another live holy lives, or so dictatorial that we do not allow others the liberty that God does.