In the interest of making it easier to read, I’m breaking down the categories with which I have issues with VF:
Clothing / Modesty
Some things of the VF seem rather harmless on the surface. Who doesn’t want to dress their daughters modestly and be modest themselves? Who wants to put their little girls in “prosti-tot” clothes and hyper-sexualize them? Most of us wish to let our children be children for as long as possible without unduly sexualizing them or letting society do it for us.
But does modesty have to equal one particular style of dress? The FLDS says it does – and their women wear baggy, formless dresses in the prairie-style of the late 1800s. The Taliban says it does – and they insist that their women wear burquas – a black covering from head-to-toe that disguises the shape and features of a woman. VF also proscribes its own form of “modest clothing,” although somewhat less severe than the other two groups. Their style is more in line with the FLDS for young girls (jumpers, pinafores, dresses) and for older girls and women, very long (floor-length) skirts and jumpers. The idea appears to be “hide every ounce of skin so as not to cause your brother to stumble and look at you with lust.” I can appreciate that – partly. Do I have an obligation to not cause my fellow believer to stumble? Yes I do – according to Romans 14:13, I’m not to be a “stumbling block” to a fellow believer. Cool.
But if the issue is lust, is the obligation ALL mine, or does the person struggling with lust have some obligation as well? I believe it’s the latter. I can dress like Queen Victoria (who insisted that the legs of a piano be covered, lest a man see a piano leg and begin lusting over a woman’s leg – no, that is not a joke) and if someone I attend church with has problems with lust, it won’t matter HOW I’m dressed. A perfect example of this for me is found in Turkey. Muslim women there wear hijab, the traditional head-coverings. They are appropriately covered as a woman is expected to be there, but there is pornography in the daily newspaper. The prevailing attitude seems to be: Don’t look at MY woman, but feel free to ogle OTHER women in a degrading way. This blows my mind – and says that lustful thoughts have very little to do with how women dress and far more to do with what’s in the heart and mind of the person with the lustful thoughts.
More confession: I prefer skirts to pants and wear skirts and/or dresses daily. My husband doesn’t ask me to, I just do it on my own. I have no religious compunction about it, I just like being a girl and dressing this way. Yet my clothes are “too flashy” for most at VF – the skirts are either too short (knee-length), too patterned (floral prints), or something else would be deemed immodest.
So where is the problem with dressing modestly? There really isn’t one – unless it’s taken to an extreme. Modest clothing is not seen as wearing pants and a top that doesn’t expose too much skin, it’s about wearing the right skirt – long, typically denim, and fitting a particular style or expectation. It’s another load added on to the already-heavy yoke of perfect-submission for girls and women. It fails to account for the Spirit of God directing and guiding individuals – and says instead that man will direct and guide individuals. The trouble is, when God does it, it’s not burdensome. When man does it, it is – and it lacks joy, peace, and other hallmarks of the Spirit.