Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

This picture – the black and white, not the red – is a screenshot from “A return to Biblical Modesty”, a pdf book by Mrs. Daphne Kirkland:

example

According to Mrs. Kirkland, “God’s Word Says The Uncovered Thigh Is Shameful.” She quotes:

“…uncover the thigh…Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen…” (Isaiah 47:2,3)

Webster’s Dictionary – THIGH –

“The part of the leg extending from the knee to the hip.”

According to the Word of God when the thigh is uncovered, “…thy shame shall be seen.”

She then defines the thigh as the leg up to and including the knee. As such, the parts colored in red on the picture on the left is immodest, while the girl on the right is modestly dressed:

Mrs. Kirkland is joined in this teaching by Michelle Duggar, who also say that God say exposed thighs mean nakedness and shame. This is allegedly* the only swimwear the Duggars approves of:

But is this a respectful use of scripture? I will quote both whole verses:

Isa 47:2  Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.

Isa 47:3  Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

The Bible mentions several ideas in one context here: Grinding flour, uncovering hair, bare legs, uncovered thighs, and passing over rivers.

If an uncovered thigh is shameful and godly people should avoid it, then several other things should also be avoided by the same reasoning, like uncovered hair, and uncovering any part of the leg. If the thigh is the leg from knee to hip, and clothes should cover all of it, then the leg is the part from ankle to hip, and clothes should cover it all too. The passage does not specify that this apply only to female thighs, hair or legs either, so the same standards – if applicable at all – should probably apply to male clothing. So the immodest parts, if this reasoning is right, will look more like the red parts here:

That will also make the Duggar-approved swimwear scandalously immodest. (Legs! And hair!) The photo of Mrs. Daphne Kirkland on the front page of “A return to Biblical Modesty” will, likewise, be shameful – it shows her hair. And any Quiverfull woman who not only bakes her own bread, but grinds the flour is doing something shameful.

But this is not what God is speaking about in this passage. If you read it with verse 1, you will see this is about  Babylon and the Chaldeans. They are symbolized as an ex-queen (or ex-princess) who now has to work hard and no longer has the floor-length gowns and pretty veils she used to have.

Anyone who gets covering the leg up to the knee, but no need to cover the rest, from this passage, is proof texting to a degree that simply cannot be an accident.  Some deliberate disrespect for scripture is, methinks, involved in this kind of “modesty.”

Mrs. Duggar is most likely not the one who is proof texting here. She probably just believe and repeat things she learned. It is even possible that Mrs. Kirkland is just repeating what she learned too.

But whoever the guilty party is, this kind of Scripture abuse is unacceptable. Whoever made up this teaching would know he is twisting the Word for his own ends. And this is by far not the only such disrespect for the Bible in fundamentalist modesty teachings. In fact, it took me months to write something on “A return to Biblical modesty” because every time I start, I get distracted by other topics in the booklet that could also be used to point out Scripture misuse and/ or illogic. “Biblical” modesty? More like Bible-twisting modesty, if you ask me.

What I think of this? Unless the teacher is God Himself, keep away from teachings which make the Bible a servant to the teacher’s ends, instead of the other way round.

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*According to blogger Calulu, in Defrauding: The NLQ buzzword project

(I replaced the screenshot on 10 Feb 2014 with one with red words over it, because Pinterest bloggers were using it to promote the exact ideas this article attempts to refute.

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Added October 2016:

Hi, New Reader of this blog! I notice this article is the most read on my blog. Can you leave a comment and tell me what you were looking for when you read this? Perhaps I can produce more on the topic(s) which interest you.

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Comments on: "Modesty and respect for Scripture – do they fit together in your world view?" (32)

  1. Wow. And they say that it is egalitarians who “twist the scriptures to accomplish their own ends”!

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  2. Man and woman of God need to dress modest, covered completely and act holy if we serve a Holy God. People should be able to tell that you are a Christian by just looking at the way you dress. We need to pray and ask The Lord if He is happy with the way we are dressing and presenting ourselves to a lost world. It is better to cover too much than to lack coverage. Remember you are the light of the world.

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    • “Man and woman of God need to dress modest, covered completely ”
      We should dress modestly, but the Bible may not mean by that what you think it does. Modest, as in a modest income, is an income that barely covers the most important things. In Timothy modest is used in the context of not flaunting expensive things like hair full of pearls that needs you to be slave owner with slaves to plait your hair, and perhaps dresses so long and with so much sleeve that it flaunts you don’t have to be dressed practically for work.

      ” and act holy if we serve a Holy God.”
      Yes

      “People should be able to tell that you are a Christian by just looking at the way you dress.”
      Where does the Bible say that? And what clothing will do that, short of a T-shirt with the words “I am a Christian”, or a nun’s habit or something else that is characteristic of one particular denomination/ sect?

      “We need to pray and ask The Lord if He is happy with the way we are dressing and presenting ourselves to a lost world. ”
      Yes.

      “It is better to cover too much than to lack coverage.”
      Says who? And even if that is true, it will still be sinful to misuse the Bible the way the passage with “thigh” and “shame” in is misused. Modesty is not so important that we could misuse the Bible to defend the level of modesty we like.

      “Remember you are the light of the world.”
      Yes.

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    • Geraldo, could you explain to me what “covered completely” means? Even on the coldest winter days my hands are seldom covered, and even women in burqas leave their eyes uncovered. Jesus, to the best of our knowledge, uncovered his toes in sandals. What should be covered completely?

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  3. A shame so many complementarians put so much emphasis on outward appearances and not the inner beauty to match. Most comp emphasis on the letter of the advice to women 1 Timothy 2 is actually a violation of its spirit…

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  4. And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: (Exodus 28:42 KJV). This one stops at thighs.

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    • Pastor Kenneth Binion said:

      That is for men to wear, priests were men not women. Breeches are apparel for men only. In this case ti was to prevent the nakedness of the priest from being exposed as he ascended the altar.

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  5. Wow, Thank you so much for this great article. Just a confirmation from Abba!

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  6. Uncovered hair is cut or trimmed hair. It’s all in there.(the bible)

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  7. I appreciate people who aren’t afraid to speak up about what is really true. The Bible is definitely a book that requires many of times more analization and careful study than any other books.

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  8. Dude the thigh is between your knee and hip.

    thigh – definition of thigh by The Free Dictionary
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/thigh
    a. The portion of the human leg between the hip and the knee. b. The corresponding part of the hind leg of a quadruped or other vertebrate animal. 2.

    Thigh | Definition of thigh by Merriam-Webster
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thigh
    the part of your leg that is above the knee. : the side part of the leg of a bird. Yes, irregardless” is a word. No, that doesn’t mean you should use it. » …

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  9. People will believe what they want to believe, hear what they want to hear and do what they want to do. If you want to know the real truth, search the scriptures for yourself.

    2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)

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  10. I neither disagree nor agree with all you have said. However, to shoot down their definition of modesty and provide no biblical basis for your own in the article is, in my opinion, cowardly and critical.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. And while this passage may not speak to the thigh as nakedness in particular, Exodus 28:42 certainly does: “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs shall they reach.” Other modern translations say from “the hip to the thighs.”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ah, Nick, thanks for that verse. It proves that Mrs. Kirkland cannot be right on this.

    If the breeches reach “to the thighs”, it does not cover the whole of the thighs. The same way that a skirt that goes “to the knees” do not cover the whole knees, otherwise it would have been called a skirt “past the knees”. So, to have part of the thigh uncovered would not stop an item of clothing from covering nakedness.

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  13. Joshua Golembiewski said:

    A better verse for thighs being nakedness would be Exodus 28:42 “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:”

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    • Hi, Joshua! The good news is, you (and your wife, and daughters, and all around you) can be free of such legalism!

      Read my answer to Nick – it is right above your comment.

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  14. […] Modesty and Respect for Women- Do they fit together in your worldview?– The “modesty movement” has taken hold of some forms of Christianity today. The debate over the meaning of modesty has led some to look to the Bible for answers, but they often provide over-simplified readings of the Bible that don’t actually match what it says. […]

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  15. Interested said:

    So then, where IS the line? What should be considered “immodest”?

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    • Short answer: Elaborate hair, expensive jewellery and expensive clothes are immodest. (1 Tim 2:9-10). Two texts in the Bible contain the word translated “modest” (and 0 the word “immodest”). The other one, referring to elders (1 Tim 3:2) translate it as “of good behaviour.”

      If you prefer English meanings of modest, it refers to “moderate, limited or small”. Modest clothing would be small and limited rather than too big/ conspicuous/ elaborate. It also refers to not thinking too much of yourself – to be modestly clothed, you would need to not think you are better than one who is not dressed like you. Expensive clothes pretends to be better than the poor, who cannot afford such frivolous luxuries.

      From the texts that say “gird your loins” (for example 1Pe 1:13, I assume God did not have a problem with showing skin – it is even used as an example for being willing to do what is needed. (Look up a picture for what “gird the loins” mean – it involves tying your skirt out of the way to work more easily.)

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  16. Just looking for the passage that talks about the thigh. Trying to see if it was used in proper context to guide modesty standards.

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  17. So when Proverbs talks about the dress of harlots, it talks about the long slit of the leg extending beyond the knee or Exodus extending nakedness to the thighs. Just because one verse may be “twisted” if there were no other verses on the topic, doesn’t mean there are no verses on the topic. That’s like saying John 3:16 stands by itself that God loves the whole world without reference. The failure of this article is limiting it to just Timothy and Isaiah, when to be more Biblically, all verses should be taken as a whole for the topic.

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    • Hi, Samuel.
      I admit that one article on the blog, or one sermon, or even one Bible book, never say everything that could be said about a topic.

      What texts in Proverbs and Exodus do you refer to? I handled at least one Exodus text in the comments. I find one text mentioning “attire of a harlot” in Proverbs, but it does not mention skirt length or what flesh is exposed.

      It is important to get the Bible messages which God gives, but is equally important not to lie man-made yokes of the “don’t touch this” “don’t taste that” type on people. If Jesus is against a certain skirt length/ pants length, I don’t want to be caught in it, and would want every Christian man or woman around me to know God’s will on exposing their skin. But if people want to tell others what to do, while God did not command it, the spirit of control over others is a sin to call out.

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  18. Chloe Anne said:

    The main arguments against Exodus 28:42 are that the thigh begins at the top of the knee and that the “dress code” was specifically for Aaron and his sons. During that time, saints of the church gave their sacrifices to Aaron, the priest, who had to be holy to stand in the presence of God and rightfully give the sacrifice to God. Now, by grace, we are able to repent through words directly to God, so shouldn’t we abide by that standard of holiness to stand in the presence of God? NOW… the fun part. The Bible verse clearly states thigh, which by what we see on the outside seems to be above the knee to the hip. BUT in physiological terms..🤓 The majority of the femur (the thigh bone) stops right at the top of the knee.. but wait. There’s more. Literally. The femur doesn’t stop until until it connects to the tibia which is directly under the knee cap. So it ends directly at the bottom of the knee. PLUS, (this is just my personal opinion) when you sit down wearing a skirt, wouldn’t you want it to cover your knees? Sitting down in a skirt means you have to make sure your legs are completely together at all times so you won’t flash anyone.. why not wear it an inch or 2 longer while you’re sitting?🤔

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  19. Well, with verses such as these on covering, we must use the Bible’s own definitive conclusion to the matter or else we might be carried away with a diverse wind of doctrine.

    1. We know that exposing your buttocks is nakedness. Isaiah 20:2-4
    2. We know that uncovering your God given hair is nakedness. Isaiah 47:2
    3. We know that uncovering the leg is nakedness. Isaiah 47:2
    4. We know that uncovering the thigh is nakedness. Isaiah 47:2
    5: We know that after the leg and thigh nakedness, comes “(uncovering) passing over the rivers” Isaiah 47:2 This is how enslaved pagans were punished by God. Being naked is not a good thing. Isaiah chapter 20.
    6. We know that God wants us to dress modestly, and if their is a question to this modesty, Peter tells us to look back in history how the holy women once dressed. 1 Peter 3:3-5 This passage speaks of physical coverings not advised and spiritual qualities which expose themselves in our daily lives, such as submitting to God, our husbands, and His commandments.
    7. We know that in the story of Adam and Eve they made themselves little aprons of fig leaves which covered the bare necessities. Leaves don’t make a good covering. God having seen this showed them that their coverings were lacking and made them coats (garments) to be for a covering. From the beginning God made it clear that the nakedness should be covered.
    8. We know that Jesus said “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 It looks as though God holds the man and woman equally responsible. He said that he committed adultery WITH HER… So if a woman is immodest and exposing herself she to is held accountable to God.
    9. We can also tell by history. Back in the 50s and 60s. Even God rejecting counties in America put restrictions on the length of bathing suit a woman could wear because they knew that once a man saw so much of a woman it would draw him physically to desire that woman. In fact in the 1920-1940s women were subjected to “swimsuit police” who literally measured the length of their swimwear.
    10. We know that we ought not do anything without faith nor without being able to thank God for it in a clear conscience. Romans 14:22-23
    11. We know that if men (worldly men, christian men, worldly women, christian women) like seeing certain parts of the body, or certain actions (sensual dances, etc.) we ought to refrain from such actions in an effort to please God by stopping the desires of the flesh and also for our fellow christian (man or woman). This verse below is speaking specifically about foods, however the application is widely against anything that would make another christian stumble.
    “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” 1 Corinthians 8:13
    We ought to do everything for the edification of other Christians. 1 Corinthians 14:12; Romans 14:19, 15:2; Ephesians 4:29.

    “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
    1 Thessalonians 5:11

    Can you dress in clothing which draws the attention to certain parts of you body for the edifying and growth of the Body of Jesus?

    God bless,
    JLeib

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    • Most of your opinions are simply your way of interpreting and prioritizing Bible verses, and we could differ on that.
      For example, you seem to prioritize “Isaiah 47:2” and say uncovering your God given hair is nakedness, but others could read 1 Cor 11:4 and say it is wrong to cover your head, and :15 to say long hair is already a covering and not nakedness. Or you say that visible legs are nakedness, but the literal meaning of the Bible term “gird your loins” (2Ki 4:29, 9:1, Job 38:3, 40:7, Jer 1:17, 1Pe 1:13) is about getting your clothes out of the way of your legs. We also disagree on what “modesty” means in dressing modestly. (Flaunting wealth.)These are just differences in Bible understanding, I don’t want to argue you on that.

      Where I want to differ, for the sake of my readers, is here:

      “From the beginning God made it clear that the nakedness should be covered.”

      God covered nakedness after sin entered the word. The real beginning, the real expression of an ideal society, is before sin entered the world. God did not cover nakedness then.

      “8. We know that Jesus said “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 It looks as though God holds the man and woman equally responsible. He said that he committed adultery WITH HER”

      I believe you are seriously misusing the words “with her”. God said HE committed adultery in his heart, not THEY did. Nor did God say “if your eye causes you to stumble, change the outfit you are looking at.” When men and women sin equally, God will hold them equally responsible. But when a woman simply walk past wearing sandals (some men find feet attractive) or no facial veil (some men find faces attractive), his thoughts is not her sin. (I also think you misunderstand lust, which is a lot more than just having a sexual thought.)

      Instead, I believe we should do everything to help others find God, to encourage fellow believers and to build them up – not strict man-made rules that has no value in stopping sin (Col 2:20-23) , not finding fault where it is God’s work to judge and correct (Rom 14:10), not blame innocent women when they are lusted after, but judge righteously (John 7:24). Many people have left Christianity because they think of it as a bunch of senseless rules that does not make the lives of anyone better- and our legalistic man-made rules sure contribute to that.

      “Can you dress in clothing which draws the attention to certain parts of you body for the edifying and growth of the Body of Jesus?”

      My first thought was of a mime I knew who mimed in such a way that the message of the Christian song he mimes on came out – he dressed to draw attention to his facial expressions (lots of make-up) and his hands (they wore white while much of him wore black.) My second thought was of the clergy of my childhood which also draw attention to the hands and face (parts of the body) with togas, to express the action and emotion of the sermon message. So yes, absolutely!

      God bless
      Retha

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    • “Can you dress in clothing which draws the attention to certain parts of you body for the edifying and growth of the Body of Jesus?”

      The opposite of your question would be: “Can you dress in clothing which draws no attention to any parts of you body for the edifying and growth of the Body of Jesus?”

      To answer that, I will start with the first part: “Can you dress in clothing which draws no attention to any parts of you body?” I would call that impossible. A burkah draws attention to eyes. An outfit that covers from neck to feet draws attention to the face. A wedding ring draws attention to a finger. Shiny or attractive or expensive shoes draws attention to feet. A skirt or pants with a tight middle, or a belt worn with it, draws attention to the middle. Even Zentai draws attention to some body parts: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/04/17/heres-japans-latest-trend-zentai/?utm_term=.791b763fa8bf
      All clothing draws attention to certain parts of the body. That includes whatever Jesus wore on earth. Since it is impossible to draw no attention to your body with clothes, it is impossible to draw no attention “for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

      So, the question, for me, is like asking “can you sleep for the glory of Christ?” Nobody can go without sleeping, so when you believe you are not literally glorifying Jesus by doing it, you have to rethink how actions glorify God, not stop sleeping. Ditto wearing clothes that draws attention to parts of the body.

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  20. I hear “some” truth in much of what people are saying here, including the blogger.

    I believe there is caution to be had regarding legalism and misinterpretation of Scripture. However, I also believe the pendulum, in some cases, swings too far in the other direction in the stance of some to dispel “legalism”, “spiritual abuse” and the like.

    God doesn’t want us in bondage. This is ABSOLUTELY TRUE. And, I’ve experience some situations that represented deep bondage and misinterpretation of Scripture. God delivered me from such by His grace, love, and enlightenment of the Scripture.

    Yet, Scripture, which is of no private interpretation, does leave us with ‘sound doctrine’. Not just a bunch of rules; as legalism fighting champions, would have all to believe that those who teach from a sound doctrine perspective promote.

    Scripture clearly teaches that the “letter killeth [OR KILLS], but the Spirit gives life”. Jesus came that we might have life and that more abundantly.

    What we should be settling on is the ‘essence OR spirit of truth’. Which is to me, that women [and men] should be temperate in all things. Women’s ADORNING should be that that represents holiness. That is a biblical concept [doctrine]. Not legalism! And no one’s “Liberty in Christ’. should be handled in such a way as to cause another to stumble. That’s the Bible, not a rule.

    Lust, temptations, and sin in the heart of individuals will be judged individually. And we are all responsible before God for the deeds, iniquity and sins in our body, mind and spirits.

    Man can erroneously make any part of Scripture a rule. In which case, this formality will, can and does make God’s word of no effect….according to Scripture.

    But, the spirit of the word is still there….BE MODERATE AND TEMPERATE IN ALL THINGS!

    Sorry, no time to insert actual scriptures here. Ran across this blog as I was researching other’s thoughts on the subject of modesty as I prepare to teach on the same.

    Don’t usually respond to blogs, but this discussion moved me to do so.

    God bless you all!

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  21. Last month on 7-21-2017 at the 55+ community pool I wore my usual modest
    bathing attire like I’ve done for over 4 years here. A female gatehouse guard came over to me and said that I would need to get out of the pool because I was wearing too many clothes and that I needed a proper swim suit & if I don’t she will call the sheriff. The last time I saw the word proper in the dictionary it said proper means ‘decent’. Then several women in the pool & one man said the following to me..” you need to go back to your own country/you are bringing germs into the pool/ we all don’t want you here why are you being rude and staying here/you can’t wear street clothes in the pool/the property manager is going to take away your pool tag/you are a troublemaker. My swim clothing was a short swim skirt plus exercise leggings plus a headscarf and a form fitting t-shirt. A lady with a visor on said I can’t cover my head in the pool. She also said that she sees women with covered heads in the stores & that’s alright – they can be in stores but they can’t be here. She said I was blaspheming G-d’s name because I said Jesus would not wear a modern bathing suit.The man in the pool was not born in this country. I was & so were my parents. I did not get out of the pool. I felt like Rosa Parks.The property manager said he never heard of a ‘swim skirt’ & to send him info in an email. I then asked the neighborhood Bible class teacher to help me with these fashion bullies. I purchased a new more stylish flowered swim dress and tights and instead of my headscarf I bought a swim cap. The property manager thanked me for the info on modest bathing suits and said it was okay. The Bible class teacher said I have a right to practice the 613 commandments if I wish to. So the assimilated anti-religious group can shun me and give me bad looks but I can still swim and I can be an example.

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