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:
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 says 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 applies 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 bakes her own bread and 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 the 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.
*According to blogger Calulu, in Defrauding: The NLQ buzzword project
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.