Monday, April 9, 2012

The Cleavage Gap

Rebecca Lutzer recently sent me an article entitled “The Cleavage Gap,” written by Sue Edwards, an Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary.  She was teaching a class on how to work with men in ministry, and these women were bemoaning the provocative way women dress these days, while four of these very women were, as Sue puts it, “showing enough cleavage to distract any man in our midst.” 

Let me include an excerpt from her article:

I don't expect immature believers, and certainly non believers, to dress modestly. But these are leaders, the ones who set the standard for others. I'm trying to get into the heads of these leaders who don't get the cleavage gap. What are they thinking? Maybe...
  • It's impossible to buy stylish clothes today without showing cleavage, so I'm giving in.
  • I've worked hard and long on this body, and, by golly, I'm going to show it off.
  • My husband might secretly be drawn to other women if they show theirs, so I better
  • show mine.
  • I want to be loved and I'll never get a man's attention any other way.
  • It's hot and I want to wear something cool.
  • It's not my fault if men can't handle it. Women have been blamed too long for men's
  • lust. I'll flaunt it just to show them, a similar attitude to feminist's bra burning back in
  • the sixties.
  • I'm too busy to be bothered by this issue. Men need to get over it.

I wonder if these women realize how much their insensitivity hurts our chances of being taken seriously by men. Seems to me when we show cleavage, we back up what men have said and thought about women for centuries. We care more about the power of our sexuality than we do about its effect on our brothers. We aren't thinking about the long term impact of our choices, just about how cute we look today. Or maybe it's too much trouble for busy women to assess the effect of the gap. That's understandable for immature women who don't know better. But not for leaders with far-reaching influence.
Sue goes on to say that whatever the reason that women who truly love Jesus, who would never intentionally cause a man to lust, still dress inappropriately, she has found no solutions.  I share her frustration.  In the past we talked about the issue of dressing modestly at one of our luncheons, I’ve talked to various groups of women about it, I’ve interviewed and videotaped some men in our church and asked how it affects them, I’ve recommended Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book, “Modesty: Does God Really Care What I Wear?”  Since it seems to be a message that embarrasses people, or makes them uncomfortable—or resentful or angry—I guess I’ve abandoned my efforts to do more on making women in our church aware of the “cleavage gap” and how it affects men—and what kind of testimony it presents to the world.  After all, I tell myself, I’m not the fashion police of The Moody Church!

It’s a topic that deserves our attention.  If you have any suggestions on how we can communicate the biblical message of dressing modestly to the women in our church in a more effective way, I’m all ears.  Meanwhile, I pass these thoughts on to you for your contemplation.


Monday, April 2, 2012

What I Could Have Missed

My prayer request lately has been the same to those who have asked how they can pray for me: contentment. I’m just days away from the birth of my third baby and it’s all about all I can do to sit around and wait on him! I’m a nester by nature so when you give me a task to the likes of having a baby, I go into in to HYPER-nesting zone. The baby’s room (which he will share with his older brother and sister) has been painted since December. His burp cloths and swaddle blankets are already folded and neatly arranged in his drawer. Stroller, car seat, pack-and-play, swing...check, check, check. Once I finished my to-do list, about 6 weeks ago(!), I went in to major anxiousness mode. I’ve been wishing away the days wanting it to be April 11th in the worst way!

Thankfully, God saw this in my heart and started to do a work in me! I began reading the Women’s Ministry Spring Book Club book, The Resolution of Women by Priscilla Shirer, and sure enough, chapter two was “Contentment.” The resolution the author commits to is this:

“I resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of contentment.”

Although I’ve far from mastering being this type of women, God did give me the opportunity to be present in a moment that will have an eternal impact. One afternoon, while my daughter was finishing an orange Popsicle, God gave me the privilege of leading her to Christ. Even as I type that, my heart bursts with joy! It’s all I can do but pray, pray, pray that this was a true conversion and that her pure heart is truly the home of Jesus Christ now. Before I went on my “contentment quest” in these last few weeks before the baby comes, I would tell people that there are major events coming before the baby’s due date that I didn’t want to miss – Mattie’s 5th b-day and Easter. Little did I know that her spiritual birthday would be something that I could have wished away as well if I hadn’t started praying to be more in the moment with my husband and kids. I can’t tell you how many people have told us to enjoy our time as a family of four because that is all about to change. Something else I read in The Resolution of Women that struck me is this:

“You can always tell people who operate from a position of perceived lack and deficiency. They are stingy with their time. They’re selfish with their resources. They’re tight fisted with their energy...they’re like my two-year-old, unwilling to share with his friends for fear he’ll run out of what he’s got.”

God has given you and me enough, and He always will. And when we choose to recognize this and trust in His continued supply, we’ll be able to engage in life in a way we never have before. We will be surprisingly satisfied.

Of course I know that Mattie’s salvation decision was not dependent on whether or not I was paying attention and present to her. But I do know that God allowed me to be a part of this miracle – something that I could have overlooked if I was too self-obsessed and anxious for the future. The birth of our third baby will be all the more sweet now...he will have an older sister who has accepted Christ as her Savior and can (hopefully!) model what it looks like to be a Christian in our home and beyond.

Look what I could have missed...

Praising God,