Sunday, February 4, 2018

I spent most of Saturday out of my comfort zone, helping Hg try on formals to get an idea of what's out there, and let me just tell ya, it ain't cho' mama's formal. Abbey, who is still home sick, now having thrown-up, raised her eyebrows at me when I told her where we had been.

"Really? You went dress shopping,” she said.

I said, yes, but we took Wendy (my sister) with us. She said, "Smart. Move."

I couldn't really defend myself against her lack of confidence knowing that just a few hours early, I had helped Hg get in a dress backward (it zipped up the side), and thought how well it fit her until I noticed boobs jetting out of her shoulder blades! But Wendy walked into a mirror thinking it was a room with more dresses for us to look at. So, I don’t know that we would be a first string team for anyone, but we learned a lot and Hg was a good sport. She asked if my mom and me shopped this much for a
banquet/prom dress (we've been online shopping too, a sign of the times). I said, nope, Betts made all of our formals. We did spend time picking out fabric, but I didn’t have to worry if what I wanted came in a color I liked, or if it came in my size. And, I didn't have to worry about fitting any modesty rules, or alterations for modesty rules because our dresses were modest off the machine.

But, I’m not a seamstress, so off to the dress shops we went, with modesty rules for school in hand (or on Hg’s phone, another sign of the times) just in case we didn’t pay close enough attention to an inch here, or a shear there. It can happen. Modesty between the extremes is opinion-based, and leans one way or the other depending on opinion, taste, and desired representation. But in general, all the rules found on the “Formal Event Dress Guidelines” would be pretty close to the rules of our home, except for number two. I don't know how to help Hg “not cause a man to have lustful thoughts” with her dress which is listed as number two after the first requirement that gives verse I Timothy 2:9 as its
reference. Since the burden of controlling a man’s thoughts per number two on the list of “Formal Event Dress Guidelines” is lain upon Hg’s taffeta-covered shoulders, I fear for her compliance. There was no Bible verse given as a reference for guidance, as was in number one, so I was left to my own in seeking out biblical support for how a woman is to control a man’s thoughts.

What better resource than the writings of the wisest man who has ever walked the earth - King Solomon. King Solomon, eager to share and preserve his wisdom and knowledge, wrote guidelines for his male heirs and the young men of Israel which are included in the Book of Proverbs. Although, we can all benefit from his wisdom, I think it’s interesting that he intended the instruction for males. We can be especially sure of this in Proverbs 6 where he starts the text with “My son…..” It’s in that same chapter that he tells his “son” to “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart”. Solomon is saying “Control yourself!” A verse earlier, Solomon named “her” as “the evil woman.” So, Solomon instructed the son to control lustful thoughts when he sees a beautiful woman. It was not the responsibility of the woman - though, evidently, she was an evil flirtatious
woman trying to trip him up, but Solomon knows that whatever she is, or however she acts, is not the point. According to King Solomon, lustful thoughts are the responsibility of the person having the thoughts.

Christ also addresses this through the apostle Matthew’s writings in chapter 5 verse 28. Matthew records Jesus teaching that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully”  sins in “his heart.” Well, that seems to indicate that the one doing the looking and the lusting, the man - “his heart” - is the one who is incurring the rebuke.

Many years ago, there was a male teacher at a school that had a secret foot fetish. Innocent girls walked in his room every day for class wearing sandals, their heals, and toes exposed. They could not have known that lustful trigger for him, therefore how could they be responsible for controlling his thoughts. The answer is, they were not - whether they knew the fetish or not, they still were not. He was responsible for controlling his thoughts, and ultimately controlling his actions spurned by those thoughts that got him fired. This example further shows how "modesty" is subjective, it's in the eyes of the beholder. Bare feet in a sandal set this guy off, but another guy would not even notice. Therefore, the responsibility of control has to be with the one doing the lusting, and has nothing to do with the modesty of the woman. The woman has her own responsibilities in the realm of modesty, but controlling the thoughts of a man is not one of them.

Furthermore, I fear what it would take to measure compliance for the number two requirement of the “Formal Event Dress Guidelines.” Will Hg be paraded in her dress in front of a panel of men who are then polled to find out if they had lustful thoughts. How will this even work, and what man is going to admit it, so it would be a false positive result anyway. Compliance is impossible.

Since I have found no practical basis for requirement number two, and have found no biblical basis for Hg being responsible for controlling the lustful thoughts of a man as is required by number two of the “Formal Events Dress Guidelines”, rather have discovered the contrary, that it is the man’s responsibility for controlling "his heart," Matthew 5:28, and removing himself from situations that stir those thoughts. This is not to say that women don’t have their own responsibilities in the lustful and modesty realm. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he tells him that women are to be worthy of respect. He doesn’t say that women are worth respect, or that they must be respected, instead that they must be worthy of respect. The burden of what it takes to be worthy is on the woman. Respect will come when worthiness is established by how she lives, which includes what drives how she dresses.

So, knowing now that according to teachings in the Bible the burden of controlling lustful thoughts is with the man having the thoughts, I am going to assume that the number one requirement on the boys’ version of “Formal Event Dress Guidelines” is Proverbs 6:25, that they are to control their lustful thoughts. Followed by guidelines for their attire, like not having their pants so tight that the shape of their form shows, as is also listed on the girls’ requirements for their dresses. I’ve not ever seen the boys’ version of “Formal Event Dress Guidelines,” so I’m not really sure the details it outlines for the boys to follow for the banquet formal. Someone that has a boy and has received the guidelines of the boys’ version of the “Formal Event Dress Guidelines” would have to comment as to what is included on it.

We must teach our boys as King Solomon did, that they alone are responsible for controlling their own thoughts, and that they are able to control their thoughts. They do have the strength, and courage to remove themselves from stimuli that stirs a sexual buzz causing them to lust. Their thoughts are their battle to fight.

And, how about instead of teaching our girls that it’s their fault when a boy has lustful thoughts, or worse, acts on those lustful thoughts, let’s teach our girls to be worthy of respect through their speech, through their actions, and through their dress, which will in turn change the way the boys view the girls thereby helping the boys with controlling their lustful thoughts. It’s a win-win, really.

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