Rachel Stone in her article Rethinking Modesty takes a hard look at the passage in 1 Timothy 2:9: “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.”
You can read the passage for yourself, but basically she effectively and what I believe to be accurately interpets the contentious passage to mean that women of wealth and stature ought not to flaunt their wealth through their dress.
We have made the passage one of sexual purity and lust. It is commonly taught that the female image has the power to avert the gaze of men off of God, and this verse supports and endorses that teaching.
Lust has been around since the dawn of humankind. Placing all of the blame on women's fashion when men lust, masturbate, access porn, commit adultery, or even have bad thoughts is not only unfair, it's unbiblical. First of all, it degrades the human body and mind; second it endows far too much power on things of this earth; and third, that power is then manipulated by believers to teach healthy sexuality/purity to younger generations.
I agree with the author in that the context in which Paul is writing is against the flaunting of material prosperity. In biblical times, certain forms of dress dictated your station in life (rich or poor). Paul wanted the church to demolish such stations and castes. Today, prosperity doctrine has infected so much of who we are, we are unable to see where it has destroyed us as a body the most.
Why on a human trafficking blog?
If Christ has promised freedom and to break chains, the teachings and doctrines of popular denominations and teachers need to be held to account. A godly spirituality of freedom looks not only to the issue of slavery, but to the life we invite others into after being set free.
I hate prosperity doctrine. Loving my brothers and sisters who subscribe it is a challenge, I will admit, but the doctrine itself I find to be disgusting. But I have never made that a secret.
… guilting girls into how they must dress for the sake of our brothers is also deadly. It sets up both guys and girls for failure that need not be there to begin with.
Don't get me wrong!
I have concerns when girls start dressing in skimpy outfits for the purpose of attracting male attention. Not always because "it's a sin", but because young girls are still figuring out how to express their motivations for their actions and it is expected of girls that they will be attractive to boys eventually for marriage (can you smell the double standard? I also have issues with boys being fixated on girls' bodies/dress, and boys dressing for sexual attention instead of seeing the whole person). Sometimes girls are dressing in certain ways for male attention because they have never had it to begin with. Sometimes male attention comes… and it is not healthy, happy or safe. Is it the sole fault of the girl posing on Facebook?
Nor can we use a poorly interpreted 1-verse prooftext to make her feel "convicted" of her actions either. It's a teaching moment certainly, but I hope we can learn that it is not the time or place to preach the "virtues of virginity" or purity. While there has been a movement towards holding men to account over sexual purity, our church culture still largely places that burden upon women. When we fail, we become sluts. When we ask for forgiveness, we become "post-sluts" and not clean again.
This is a serious problem.
Furthermore, are we going to be just as zealous towards those who flaunt their fashion statements because they have money to do so?
I don't see that happening.
I see slut-shaming.
While I want guys and girls to have healthy body images, I also want them to have healthy views of Scripture. Rubbing girls the wrong way about how they dress is a human tactic of guilt, not of God.