Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Why I don't wear skirts every day.
Over the last few years I have felt an incredible draw toward being more feminine, I have always looked like a girl, and loved things that were entirely girly, but never even thought to adhere to the 'skirts only' lifestyle that I am seeing become more and more common among christian women. When my husband and I conceived our third child I found that pregnancy in the summer of northern Michigan was difficult, not because of heat, though we had a little of that. The reason was actually based on our location and the population of the area. Due to the area being somewhat more rural it was incredibly difficult to find maternity clothing that fit me, really it was difficult to find maternity clothing in general. So I began buying the ever so popular maxi dresses. I loved them, but my husband pointed out to me on a few occasions that my skirts were see through and rather revealing. I have to say I wasn't so nice about the information... mostly because my choices were so incredibly limited in the area we lived. To buy clothing that was both modest and appropriate for my growing belly I would have had to travel at minimum an hour from my home to shop, and the options in that town were not guaranteed to satisfy. I did what I could by making sure to wear leggings under my skirts, this didn't protect from someone seeing my outline in the sunlight, but made me confident they couldn't tell the shape or color of my underwear, which was the best I could do at the time. I found maxi dresses to be very comfortable and continued wearing them after the birth of that baby. We also moved to another much more populated area where I could shop a lot more freely and I found that I just actually enjoyed the skirt so much more than pants, my movement was so much less restricted by a skirt than it was by pants in most cases. So I began to buy more skirts, stretchable soft skirts that I could wear comfortably while working and feel pretty in. My husband a Christian man who believes women should be women and men should be men began to tease me by suggesting I was trying to become Amish. I wasn't anywhere near that, but he did worry I was about to be one of 'those' women. At this same time I started making my own Jams and Jellies, canning corn and tomatoes, and started my first and so far only garden (I do hope to have another next year!). It wasn't surprising that he was worried that I was about to change completely on him. When we married I wore pants, hardly ever putting on a skirt, and loved the city life, not because of the worldly parties and closeness to stores or restaurants but because I was so much more near friends than I ever had been in the past. This is all still amazingly true of me, and I do love the city for these reasons still, but things have been changing in me, and I desire to have a garden and make my own food that I know doesn't contain chemicals that really are not good for consumption, and I really love the beauty of flowers and wide open spaces. I also home school our three children (admittedly the youngest is too young to be schooled, but he is involved). This arena of home grown, and skirts and home school all have something conservatively christian about them. But my faith in God (which is strong and unquestionable) isn't the reason I'm doing them, I'm doing them because they interest me and will benefit my family. I seriously considered going to the 'skirt wearing' side for a long time, I thought maybe even God was leading me that direction but made very little effort to actually do it, I was just riding it out and enjoying wearing skirts for awhile. Then we started attending this church in Oklahoma City. The people welcomed us, were super super friendly and nice and I just felt right at home with them. The worship experience was exactly that... an experience. People paced and danced in front of the stage, young men and sometimes not so young ones would run the perimeter of the sanctuary, people spoke in tongues (loudly) all over the sanctuary, clapping would deafen you, I'm not kidding it would! They spoke about the 'Holy Ghost' constantly. I've never liked calling the Holy Spirit a Ghost, I don't know why.. it is weird to me. They were eccentric. The atmosphere was buzzing every Sunday. At first I noticed only that the women had beautiful hair styles, and wore beautiful clothes, but didn't so much notice what kind of clothes. Then time started to reveal to me that the women didn't wear pants. There were a few in the back of the church with pants but it was pretty obvious who was a church member and who was not once I started realizing just how many wore skirts. I asked one girl about this and she said it was her personal conviction and that she didn't feel like everyone needed to wear skirts. I asked another girl about it and got the same message, and another, and another, and continually they all said they had 'chosen' to wear skirts because they felt that it honored God and they personally were convicted to wear skirts. At first I felt like that was great, that there was no judgement or condemnation with these women, that they could accept that some women felt convicted and others didn't. The topic became a rather heated one with my husband. He didn't want me to wear skirts all the time and said that not only did he feel like skirts were less modest in many cases but that he liked me wearing pants sometimes. We agree'd that I would not completely switch to wearing skirts, but that he would be more open to skirts sometimes. Then I started noticing the women's hair. No one wore short hair. Mine had always been long so I didn't think much of it until I started feeling like cutting it, not because I wanted short hair but because I'm in my 30's now and I feel like if there was ever a time to be adventurous with my hair now is that time... I don't want short hair as an old woman so if I ever wanted to see how it looks short now would be the time.. plus my husband had showed an interest in my hair being incredibly short when we were first married and I turned him down, so I wanted to honor him. He changed his mind about having my hair very short, but encouraged me to have a hair cut if I wanted one. I didn't end up with the super short locks I had anticipated going into the hair salon, but I did get a lot cut off, and the whole time I was worried about the backlash of the church we were attending.. would they think I was a rebel? it didn't affect my faith, but I was worried about what they would think. Then Sunday came and I had not done laundry and had one dress I could wear paired with a tank top because it was too low cut in the front for my own comfort. I felt confident that I was dressed modestly until we walked into the church, and I noticed that though it was upwards of 90 degrees outside all the women inside had nice sport jackets, or shawls, long sleeves, or other things to cover their shoulders and arms... how had I missed this all of the last 7+ months? I felt practically naked in my cleavage completely covered, skirt down to the floor tank top strapped bare shoulder'd dress... To be honest no one ever said a word, I didn't see their eyes judging me even once. There were other things though that let me know that I was a 'rebel' that I wasn't submissive to my husband or pastor, that I was stepping out of line. On Tuesday evenings the pastor and his wife came to our home to give us a bible lessen. It was indeed a bible lessen, but when we signed up for it they presented it as a 'bible study' that goes through the bible and answers 'our questions'. It wasn't what we thought it would be at all. They directed the questions, they determined how long it took to get through the bible, they didn't ask where our understanding of scripture was, and assumed that we knew very little or nothing from the beginning. The teaching style is one that I have been subjected to several times as a christian, it is confrontational and makes the student feel like they are either stupid or disrespected. I avoid that style of teaching as often as I am able, and if I am ever told that is the way I teach I swear I will try my hardest to change! While in these bible studies (in my own home) there were a few times I butted heads with the pastor and we once got into a rather heated discussion, in the end he said "I'm not upset, of course 'I'm not upset'", as if he was above that emotion and it was only me whose face was red and blood pressure skyrocketing. From that point on it was an underlying issue that I was not submissive. He asked once if I ironed my husbands shirts out of fear or love, and I replied 'I don't iron his shirts' and he looked at me confused and said "What DO you do?" and I gave him a list... "I cook, clean, take care of the children, teach them their school work, paint the house, do the laundry, mow the lawn, and a number of other things." he sort of laughed and then used the most manly tasks I had mentioned as an example "do you paint the house and mow the lawn out of love or fear for your husband?" I share all this about the church I attended because I was offended and began to wonder about the clothing issue, was I being 'unteachable'? I wanted to sing in the worship team, but I learned I wouldn't be able to serve in any area of the church unless I wore skirts all the time, and unless I attended this other class they offered at the church. I didn't mind wearing skirts on Sunday to adhere to their wishes and most of the time I was wearing skirts anyway so it shouldn't have been an issue except that my husband and I had already discussed this and had determined that I shouldn't wear skirts all the time, plus (TMI here) during my cycle I feel a lot more secure if I'm wearing pants, and I won't even entertain wearing a skirt then, I need the support of a pants waistline on my belly, and the security of pants for other reasons during that time as well. So pants just were not an option for me during those four days. I also began to think about the tasks that I do that would make wearing a skirt immodest. Climbing a ladder to get on the roof, which I had done several times this past spring and summer were number one on this list. Do women just never climb ladders in this church? Granted I have not had much need for it during the last month or two but I will again very soon as we begin again to paint the house. So the only logical answer to discovering who was right and who wrong about this skirt issue seemed to be an in depth bible study on the matter. I read about 7 commentaries on the matter, looked up many many blogs written by women who had made the change in their own wardrobe. I looked for bloggers who had like myself not chosen to wear skirts but didn't find any. Every resource I came to I jotted down the bible verses, I didn't even bother to note why they were important to that writer, I just copied the verse down and read another commentary or blog on the subject. When that part of my study was done and I had been filled with thoughts from other people I virtually stopped reading anything written on the internet and went to looking up and typing out each of the bible verses, determining if they had anything to do with the question at hand, and then moving on to the next verse, most times I would read the surrounding verses, occasionally the verse was just so clear that I didn't need to read more surrounding it, or I was familiar enough with the passage that I didn't need to, but usually I did anyway. A lot of people who choose skirts will quote Duet 22:5, so I started with that verse. Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. This brought out a few questions to ask myself. 1. Am I wearing anything that looks like men's clothing or is men's clothing? The answer, I suppose if you think pants are absolutely men's clothing you could say that, but cut, style, shape and color often determine whether something is men's or women's, and there are not many men in the world who wear or even can wear a pair of pants cut for a woman, so no, my clothes don't look like men's and they are not men's. 2. In the bible everyone wore the same type of garment, a robe and coat most often. The men and women alike wore the same garment, the only difference (as I found in several concordance commentaries) had to do with color, style, and adornments on the garment. 3. A few commentaries suggested that 'pertaineth' actually had to do with the warriors battle armor and tools, rather than his clothing. and that the word 'man' was actually talking about a warrior because the word used in this particular verse is different in Greek (or Hebrew I always get these mixed up) than the previous references to man in other verses in the same chapter, and it has to do with a warrior rather than just a man. I'm not speculating on this because other people disagree'd with it and because it isn't really that relevant to the rest of my study, but it was food for thought. Another commonly used verse for women who have chosen this lifestyle is 1 Peter 3:1-5 1 Peter 3:1-5 1Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. This brought up different things for me to think about. 1. Chaste means modest, am I modest? What does modest mean? I suggest to you that modest means that we dress in a way that doesn't insure that people look at us, or show things that draw the eye and make it hard to turn away. Cleavage should be covered, the bend test should be done. Can you bend over in that shirt without people seeing your bra? no? Put a tank top under it that will prevent that (not all tank tops will help). Can you bend over in your skirt without worrying if someone can see your underwear... if you are worried then it is too short, if you can see them it is too short. There are some skirts that can be completely modest when standing but not nearly so when bent, sitting, or kneeling... if it is one of these consider a different skirt or wear some leggings under it. These are my personal thoughts on modesty and I have many more... like how tight is that? Can you move freely in it? Can you breathe? Is it the right size for you? I examined my style preferences, I examined my clothing choices, and I determined that I was modest. My pants (thought I have one pair that I love but will not wear because they are too tight) are pants, but they are not immodest. My shirts are mostly all modest and the few that are not I have special tank tops to wear under them to make them modest. One of my most modest shirts while standing upright is my absolute most immodest one when caring for short children, this one I will never wear without a tank top under it. 3. When God said not to let our adornment be mearly outward I think he hit on it perfectly... it should be the hidden person of the heart that has the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.... This seems to be the catalyst under every verse I read. Where is your heart? Why do you dress the way you dress? Is it to show off your beauty? Is it to make people look at you? Or is it to be modest, humble and beautiful in that perfect way God designed for you? Honestly you could dress in the most ill fitting old fashioned clothing you can find and still have the heart of a wretch and not have done any good for yourself... Or you could dress in the most scandalous clothing available and just not realize what your are doing and have a heart of gold that honors God... now that being said if you are that person and you realize your clothing does this you may need to consider finding something more modest to wear once the realization hits so that you can keep that heart of gold and honor God... No matter what you wear it is your heart that either honors or displeases God, not your clothing. Verse after verse after verse proved this, and I have to say after this extensive study (contact me if you want my full notes on the study and bible verses) just proved over and over and over to me that God cares more about the intent behind what we do, and the heart of the person than he cares about the actions we take. Are our motives clean? Or are we drawing attention to ourselves by what we wear? Are we wearing skirts to be feminine, or to make a point about other people not being as holy as we are. Are we being modest? These are the things God seems to care more about. In the end the choice was simple for me.. I like dresses and wear them frequently, but every outfit I put on should entertain the Lord, not men. I'm going to wash and dress my heart before my body from now on.