Quoting Quiverfull: Modestly Immodest?

by Stacy McDonald of Ladies Against Feminism -The New Barely-There Modesty

I recently read a disturbing article by a pastor who verbally rolled his eyes at Christian modesty. In his blog post, he was responding in protest to Jessica Rey’s video about the history of the bikini. I’m hoping his attitude doesn’t reflect a trend, but after the defensive attitudes I observed when Soul Surfer was released, I have to wonder.

This “relevant” pastor (who is also a husband and father) was basically saying it shouldn’t matter what anyone wears (or doesn’t wear) swimming, and that he loves the fact that most women at the beach “feel comfortable” enough to parade around in front of him and other men in their bikinis.

He goes on to talk about his wife’s “black and gold bikini,” which he admits leaves “little to the imagination”…as well as her “double D’s” (as he refers to what’s “hidden by those triangles of fabric”). He extolls her right to display herself at the beach, while condemning any man who may be tempted to lust after her in response. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to mind the thought of his own daughters being gawked at. He says:

“There were several women I noticed as beautiful that caught my eye. Observing these pretty, God-created beings brought a smile to my face as I imagined my own daughters grown up, laughing and strutting down a beach such as this, blissfully enjoying the beauty they’ve been blessed with.”

Sadly, Isaiah 3:16 kept coming to mind. He also described the way one of the “most stunning women” on the beach that day couldn’t seem to keep her red bikini bottom up, as she innocently romped in the water. Seriously. And he wasn’t complaining. Rather he was using her as an opportunity to brag about his effortless self-control, exposing, if nothing else, his spiritual snobbery.

This young pastor was trying to make a point that, though he noticed plenty of half-naked women around, he was never tempted to lust after them—that men who do so are behaving like “animals” and that we should all just relax and enjoy the “beauty of God’s creation” (i.e. one another’s near-naked bodies) without getting hung up on how much breast or back sides we’re forced to view.

On one hand, he is right; a mature, Christian man should have the self-control and focus to be unexpectedly faced with a naked woman without lusting after. Lust is a heart issue and there is no room for blame when it comes to our own sin. A man should respect his wife enough (as well as women in general, clothed or naked) to guard his thoughts.

But to say that we women have no responsibility to use discretion in how we dress around others is immature thinking. To imply that public nakedness is no big deal is to ignore Scripture and the Christian’s call to chastity. And it’s unloving. But what’s love got to do with it, right?

If I force you and your husband to participate in my nakedness by publicly parading myself, the only person I’m loving is me. I’m satisfying my own comfort, convenience, or desire for attention. I could care less how it affects you. And if I blog about the freedom I have to offend you, I’m rubbing your nose in it too. But, hey, it’s my Christian liberty, dontcha know?

Comments open below

 

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • Saraquill

    Skimpy clothing doesn’t always have to be about sex. Loose billowy clothing of thick materials gets heavy when you try to swim in it. Besides, when it’s hot and your outdoors, exposing skin to any breeze that comes by is a relief.

    Likewise, nudity isn’t always about sex. It can be a symbol of accepting yourself and others for who they are, without smoke and mirrors. It can also be a sign of innocence or wanting to reconnect with nature. Besides, nudist camps are hardly dens of nonstop sex.

  • persephone

    The hang-ups these fundagelicals have. It doesn’t matter what you wear, someone is going to lust. The poor women who have been stuck in full coverage of everything in Afghanistan were still punished. They could be punished for showing a bare hand. They could be punished for if the wind billowed the robe and a shoe and ankle were seen. Sometimes they’re punished just because they are outside their homes. It doesn’t matter when the only reason for a rule is the control of another’s mind, body and sexuality.

    I got into art when I was a child. At first, the nudity common in art startled me, but I soon came to appreciate the beauty of the human form, no matter the age, weight or gender of the subject. The human body is fascinating.

    This argument always reminds me of the carriage.scene in The Age of Innocence. Archer is in a closed carriage with the woman he has been lusting after. They are both fully and heavily clothed, it being the 19th century, New York during cold weather, and they being wealthy. When he can contain himself no more, he unbuttons one of her gloves at the inside wrist, then strokes and kissed her wrist. I find it one of the hottest and sexiest scenes ever filmed. I’ve also seems plenty of scenes of near nudity and simulated sex that did not make me feel hot and bothered.

    These arguments treat us all as 12 year olds, and I haven’t been 12 in decades. I’m a mature adult who appreciates the beauty that surrounds me, with little or no lust involved.

  • Kristen Rosser

    It’s that use of the word “parading” that shows this woman has never learned to think outside the male gaze. “Parading” means to walk down the middle of a place set aside for a show or performance, in which your purpose is to be watched, and the purpose of those around you is to watch you.

    Women go to the beach or pool to swim, sun themselves, or hang out with friends and loved ones. They are not on parade. Their mere appearance in a bikini should not be taken as a communication that they should be considered so.

  • Madame

    You hit the nail on the head, Kristen.

  • SJ Reidhead

    I recently had someone tell me that, because I always wear low cut blouses (if you got it, flaunt it), if I were to attend her church, she would ask me to put on something more modest. I told her, if someone told that to me, i would tell them to go to hell, and walk out of her church. I was told that her priest once mentioned how distracting it was for them to serve communion and be forced to look at women in their low-cut blouses. It disturbed them. I suggested they get their minds out of the gutter.

    The “modesty” movement truly bothers me, not because I don’t think there is a time and a place for women and men to be slightly modest, but because those enforcing their version of modesty, quote scripture completely out of context, primarily out of abject ignorance of the history of fashion and history in general.

    My favorite argument is that Paul’s version of what they consider ‘modest’ from Timothy was simply a litany involving what any well-dressed, fairly upper class Roman woman would wear, Christian, Roman, or Jew. Seems to me, if he were advocating for what was popular at the time, then we should put it into context today. Or else, we’d all be wondering around in scratchy linen, no under ware, and boobs bouncing up and down with fabrics where your nipples showed through, like the Romans did. Sure, women covered their hair. One word: DUST. No one was going to go outside in a desert landscape and not cover their hair. They needed protection from the sun. Melanoma was a disease, even then. Men wore tunics that were immodest if they were not a couple inches above the knee. From what I can find, not much was worn under them. Men and women bathed – nude (shocking isn’t it in co-ed facilities. And – even more shocking – when early Christians were baptized, they were nude. Not only were they nude, but they were all standing together, in the nude.

    Don’t you just love ignorance?

    SJR
    The Pink Flamingo

  • Madame

    I wonder if the pastor who wrote the article Stacy quotes from actually used the word “parading”.
    I see many women in bikinis and men in speedos at our local lakeshore beach. Nobody seems to be parading anything. Everyone is there to have a nice time, and everyone is wearing whatever is most comfortable for them.

  • Jayn

    Skimpy clothing doesn’t always have to be about sex.

    Amen to that. I’ve always dressed based on what I think I look good in (my husband’s input is taken into account these days, but it’s still far from an overriding factor) When someone else decides that the way I dress is immodest, they’rethe ones who have made it about sex, not me. My attire really isn’t about them, even in the sense of trying to draw attention–that’s not my goal. They’re the ones who make it about them, and any problems they have with my clothing are on them, not me.

  • Madame

    I’d love to know what Stacy considers modest swimwear.

    She tells the men to keep their shirt on. Do men have to wear swimsuits with shirts?

    Their modest clothing usually consists of loose fitting clothing. Are these swimsuits supposed to be loose fitting? Has she tried to actually swim in loose fitting clothing?
    Skirts are supposed to cover a girl’s knees. Does her swimsuit also have to cover her knees?

    She mentions Jessica Rey’s bikini video. Well, I checked out Jessica Rey’s swimwear and I like it, but I don’t think she would quite cut it in the modesty camp. Her swimsuits look more like cute camisoles with boy shorts, which IMO, are no more modest than a bikini. They cover more skin, but they are form fitting.

    Beachwear is going to be different from streetwear. You wouldn’t walk down the street in your underwear because it’s inappropriate. Walking down the beach in normal swimwear might get you some attention if you look somehow “striking”, or are doing something that makes you stick out from the crowd. Otherwise, it’s not likely to get you any more attention than walking down the beach wearing a dress or shorts.

  • Fledgeling Feminist

    “If I force you and your husband to participate in my nakedness by publicly parading myself, the only person I’m loving is me. I’m satisfying my own comfort, convenience, or desire for attention. I could care less how it affects you. And if I blog about the freedom I have to offend you, I’m rubbing your nose in it too.”

    This reminds me of a passage I read by Michael Pearl once, in which he described how a young male teen felt deeply angry, bitter, and defeated whenever he thought of a woman in church who dressed in a tight dress, even to the point of calling her a “stupid cow” in his head and secretly rejoicing when her husband complained that they were no longer having sex.

    I think boys feel this way when they are taught to feel this way. It comes with teaching them that sexual attraction itself is a sin. How can you not feel defeated when a perfectly natural feeling is a failure? Then, you teach boys that women who dress in bikinis are doing it selfishly, and even cruelly. They either don’t care about you, or they are amused by wrecking your standing with God.

    Lust is treating a person like a thing. Lust is wanting to possess and control someone else for your own pleasure. Lust is obsessing over what women wear, because you think you have a right to be angry. Lust is thinking you will be free of sexual attraction if the people around you would just live in accordance with your demands.

  • Madame

    I like your definition of lust.

  • AlisonCummins

    Yes, the swimsuits are supposed to be loose-fitting and cover the knees.
    See: http://tinyurl.com/lgpdp4x

  • AlisonCummins

    I note that I actually like some of these! As an immodest, promiscuous atheist I just think they look comfortable and offer sun protection. I hate conventional swimsuits. If I can’t be naked then I’d rather wear a tunic and bike shorts. (In the winter I go to the Urban Naturist naked swimming in the university athletic centre on Saturday nights. On the beach I stay dressed if there’s no nude area.)

    If I were an athlete and competitive swimmer of course I’d wear a competition suit and wouldn’t worry about it. But as a lumpy 49 year old I’d rather not be in tight spandex in my leisure time.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Too bad none of those ‘modest’ suits are suitable for surfing. I usually end up in a long sleeved rash guard shirt and mens surfer jams to keep having my skin scrubbed off by the waves on the shore when I invariably fall off the board. I think a rash shirt and long baggy surfer shorts are pretty darn modest.

  • Madame

    You know, I really like some of them too!

    The shorter models, with cute “feminine” details look nice, and a lot more like wearing cute clothes that you can swim in. I wear something like the tankini in this blog post http://www.musingsofahousewife.com/2010/06/fashion-friday-fun-summer-stuff.html, but mine is plain black and turquoise. I don’t like my thighs rubbing together when they are wet, so shorts help to keep them apart.

    I couldn’t run around naked. I’m lumpy, bumpy, saggy and waaaaay too self-conscious.


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