A young woman was recovering from surgery and happened to notice the row of stitches running well below her neckline. "
Oh Doctor!" said the young lady, "Will the scar show?"
The wise physician simply replied. " Hopefully not in church but anywhere else, it's entirely up to you…"
We like to say "clothes make the man". But there is another part to that phrase we need to add: "
Clothes make the man
turn his head!
" And while in the world of fashion magazines, television commercials and centerfolds that may be the goal, it is an altogether ungodly attribute to dress in such a way that you intentionally or otherwise draw sexual attention to yourself or seek to produce envy in others. Today we finally return to our study of "œChurch 101"; and we're waltzing right into one of the most hotly debated sections of scripture today.
The Title Of This Series, "œChurch 101" is taken from what Paul says
in the third Chapter at verse 15.
1 Timothy 3:15
I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
" Paul wrote so we would know how we should "œdo church".
So far he's covered Pastoral authority, the measure of Good doctrine which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the purpose of the law which is to convict sinners and to point us to Jesus Christ who's very purpose in coming is to save sinners. That reminder moves Paul to summarize his own testimony which results in an outpouring of his love for God because unimaginable Grace results in unparalleled worship. Finally, the first chapter ends with the purpose and implications of church discipline; the goal of which is always remedial.
In the second Chapter Paul moves into prayer as the heart of church life "“ the vital link between ourselves and God. It's more than grocery
lists, it's all kinds of prayers for all kinds of people that God is interested in. The end goal of all of this prayer is two fold. First that we might live out our faith and second that others might come to faith in Jesus Christ.
But when we get to 1 Timothy 2:8 we venture into an area of both correction and direction. There were some men in the Ephesian church who were argumentative and who were bringing their anger and their arguments right into church even to the point of public prayer. I can almost see it now, as one man stands to pray and says, "œDear Lord, please keep Murphy from being such a fathead!" It's that kind of situation which would cause Paul to say something like, " I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
" (1 Timothy 2:8).
When we open up on 1 Timothy 2:9 we find out that it is not just the men who have problems; the women have a problem also which he begins to
correct in the ninth verse. Over the next seven verses Paul talks about attitude and action expressed in worship and the role of women in the church.
Despite all of the debate, I'm convinced that the meaning of the text itself is fairly straightforward. But because it has been the seat of so much debate and because it has strong implications for the church, I plan on working through it methodically in the coming weeks.
Just as the pride of men makes them typically prone to bullheaded "“ argumentative attitudes, the pride of women makes them prone to paying inappropriate attention to their own beauty either over-accentuating their body or dressing in inappropriate ways at the expense not only of personal modesty but failing to pursue good works appropriate for a godly woman. Additionally, as verses 11-15 reveal, some of these women were attempting to obtain positions of leadership in the church something which Paul will explain is not to be allowed.
am going to use two terms which may not be familiar to everyone in order to describe the two primary views people carry into these verses. The first is " complementarian
" Basically, Complementarians believe that Paul recognizes that God places some restrictions on women in ministry; while " egalitarian
" (from the French word for "œequality") is the word used to describe those who believe that Paul sees no restriction.
I have fallen firmly and unreservedly into the complementarian camp. Initially, Paul addresses the apparel and attitude of the women in the church but the implications for both men and women extend beyond the public gathering of saints into every region of life. If you haven't already please open your Bible to 1 Timothy 2:8-10… please stand as we read.
<!– Read 1 Timothy 2:8-10 –!>
The passage contains principles which first address what not to wear and
then address the better alternative, time will only allow us to look at the first part this week.
Prayer without Distraction.
Paul starts with the word " Likewise
" meaning that the ninth verse blends right back into the eighth where the primary issue is that the men pray without sinful distractions. The same requirement is being placed on women. In 1 Corinthians 11:5
Paul gives directions for women who pray in church "“ that they must pray with an appropriate symbol of submission to their husbands. The point then is this: Ladies, you are permitted to pray publicly in church. But just as men are called to pray with a warning to pay attention to their besetting sins of anger and arguing; so also you women are called to pray with a warning now to pay attention to your besetting sins.
In other words, pray in a way that does not cause distraction either to men or to other women in the church.
that is apparently what was going on in the church of Ephesus. The description of the problem and its cure follows.
In every culture fashion styles come and go, as do the rules that go with fashion. What doesn't change however are the more significant effects that fashion choice has on both men and women. Paul says, " I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments…
"œProper clothing" the word clothing lined up with the word proper probably caries a much broader meaning than simply the fabric you cover yourself with. The word first translated as "œclothing" here literally means "œarranging in order". The visual image could be understood to be a woman smoothing or adjusting her clothing so as to appear proper. Given the immediate context of worship behavior for men. The Apostle isn't jumping from behavior to clothing
without a link, he is moving from the proper behavior of men to the proper behavior of women as it is expressed in it's most visible application of the clothing which is worn. It is declaring that the women, like the men, must behave in an orderly – respectable manner in the church.
There is another qualifier here which doesn't get a lot of attention today, that of modesty.
"Modesty" comes from a word which indicates "an innate moral repugnance" to doing something shameful.
Initially we're probably more inclined to think of modesty as a set of rules comprising what you don't wear or what you don't show "“ but that's really only half the story. It's possible to be covered head to toe in a burka and still be immodest.
The heart of modesty is not a set of fashion rules "“ the heart of modesty begins with an internal desire to keep both yourself and others pure. Self purity can
hardly be claimed or maintained when your clothings very design is intended to alluringly dangle body parts in front of whomever might point their eyes even accidentally in your direction.
Modesty as a virtue has gone completely out the window. It's a simple fact which doesn't require much proving that today's clothing styles are intentionally built to create sex appeal. However the essence of modesty would say, "œnot only do I want moral purity in my life, I don't want to play a part in leading that guy over there into sinning, even in his mind!"
That certainly doesn't excuse the guys from responsibility. In fact one of the first barriers to discussing modesty is the mental wall that gets in the way. You know what I'm talking about "“ the internal dialog that goes something like, "œOh sure, every time a guy starts lusting it's never his fault it's always the woman!" That's not true. Men need to follow the pattern of Job who "œmade a covenant"
with his eyes "œNot to look lustfully at a woman." (Job 31:1). But it's the undue opportunity to lust that is provided by immodest clothing.
When it comes to modesty there are applications for both men and women, girls and boys. It starts in the heart. What's going on in your hearts when you think about getting dressed for church, a trip to the mall or for a day at work or school? You see as a Christian your first thought should be to honor God in everything you do. The Clothing you pick is the most obvious outward manifestation of your internal values. It should never be a question of "œcan I get away with this?" but rather "œIs God honored by this?".
Guys we have an obligation to avert our eyes. Guard what you're looking for and where you're looking when you look at a woman.. Women are not sex objects they are coequal creations made to glorify God.
Parents and grandparents, train your kids to think modestly. Clothing is
just one symptom of modesty or the lack of it. It's more than fashion rules it is an internal desire keep yourself pure and to not lead others astray.
William D. Mounce, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 103.
George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 132.
Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2002), 4:223.