Do You Roll Your Eyes At This?

At the risk of accusations of being a Puritan, a hypocrite or worse, I’m going to post here a few statements made in answer to the question, “If there was one thing you would want to tell women about dressing modestly, what would it be?” (Excerpts from a post by Anne Jackson)

They impacted me strongly, as they should have.
What do you think? Do most women even think about stuff like this when they are choosing their clothing?
“I know that women probably roll their eyes a lot when they hear to dress modestly, but seriously, its a huge help. A. Huge. Help. Look, if you are an attractive woman, you are right, you cant control where guys’ thoughts go. But you dont have to help them get there quicker. A lot of us are really trying, and small skirts or deep cleavage just sets us back, no matter how strong we are.”

“Cover the cleavage. It’s intoxicating, they’re wonderful but I should really concentrate on my wife’s and not yours.”
“My sister, when it comes to being tempted visually, I am your much weaker brother. I would humbly ask, as you exercise your wonderful freedom in Christ, you would demonstrate grace and help me in my quest to live a life that honors our great God. YOU can help ME in my weakness.”
“If women knew the devastation that their immodesty could cause a man who is struggling with porn/lust (and his family), I think they might reconsider. ESPECIALLY in church….which should be a safe place for men to not have to dart their eyes every 2 seconds.”
“I would tell them about my husband’s former struggles with pornography and fantasy, about how much we underestimate the power we have over helping or hindering our brother’s walks with God, and the marriages of our sisters and how much a glance at another woman’s cleavage is heartbreaking to a wife.”
“You don’t understand the intensity with which men are compelled in and battle these things…not giving us more to mentally work with does not win our battle (nor does dressing provocatively lose it) but simply being thoughtful in how you dress and doing your best to help us see who you are instead of how your body looks is greatly appreciated.”
“If you are a Christ-follower, please understand the lust issues that men face. It is difficult enough for us to stay mentally pure.”
You can find the full posting here. Props to Anne Jackson for addressing issues like this.

Creating Culture

Just finished my second book of the week, John Burke’s No Perfect People Allowed.  Great book, full of grace-filled stories that made me cry more than once.  Burke is the lead pastor at Gateway Church in Austin.

I took a few notes but was drawn into the book more holistically than I expected, so the note-taking was minimal.  Initially I was underlining passages with glee – until I realized that this copy belongs to someone else.  My pastor, actually.  I hope he doesn’t mind that I wrote all over the first chapter in his book.
A few salient points from my reading:
  • Burke quotes Barna in a profound statement about the church’s role in today’s world:  “(…the role the church must play is) that of a loving, authoritative, healing and compelling influence on the world.”  Boy, I love that – loving, authoritative, healing and compelling.  Sounds a lot like Jesus.
  • Truth has become relational.  That’s why our stories matter so much.  Jesus manifests His presence through His work in people’s lives.
  • We are dealing with a generation of chaos, often a result of a lack of trust.  So many people have been damaged by families and relationships – how can they easily trust in God?
  • People resist arrogance – one of the questions they will ask when they look at Christians is, “Do I want to be like you?”  If the answer is no, we have a problem.
  • Burke says “Nothing has been more difficult for me than to watch people react in destructive ways to brokenness.”  Acting out of brokenness – even as a believer – can destroy you.  The church must be a lighthouse of hope.
  • Burke says, “Statements like ‘Christ died for your sins’ and ‘God so loved the world’ have been leached of all meaning for today’s seekers.”  They won’t believe it until they experience it from those who claim to follow Him.
  • “To create a culture of grace, a leader must first experience grace – then give it out liberally.”  (Excuse me for a moment while I thank God for this, which has been my experience and which has been the impetus for my present situation.  For which I am thankful, and by which I am overwhelmed….)
  • Give up trying to fix people.  Accept and love them in order to reconnect them with God. 
  • In order to lead others, you have to willingly follow God.
The book’s most compelling section is titled Mental Monogamy:  Creating a Culture of Sexual Wholeness.  It’s a fascinating, honest look at the way culture interprets and internalizes sexual behavior.  Burke quotes Mike Starkey, who says, “Ours is a culture crying out for intimacy, but only able to conceive of accessing it through sex.”  It’s a great discussion of why God’s wisdom and ways bring life, and how that applies to our sexuality.  Burke focuses on helping people become rightly related to God and truly willing to follow Christ, then guiding them to the freedom of following his ways.  He says, “If we try to force people to morally approximate the gospel before they have the source of life-giving water, we spiritually dehydrate them.”  It’s a great examination of why and how God’s plan for sexual wholeness comes with the mandate for sexual intimacy to be within the confines of the marriage bed, and how the church can create a culture for restoration and sexual wholeness so that God’s spirit can change hearts and heal lives.
Good stuff; lots of inspiration here for ministry, for our church, for the future.  Burke’s book is incredibly moving, with powerful stories from real people who were turned off by Christians and by the church, but drawn to into relationship with Jesus once the cultural clutter was cleared away.
Lots for me to think about and process.