/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » vision forum, patriarchy, and FLDS? oh my! part 4

I have been studying, reading, and contemplating this series for a few weeks now, and despite my nervousness at publishing it, I think it’s an important topic.  I include it on my blog because this group is infiltrating homeschooling communities across the country and not representing themselves accurately Biblically.  Please feel free to comment; if you disagree with me, that’s fine – but keep your comments clean, polite, and respectful.  Those who don’t will find their comments deleted at my discretion.  –Sue

If you’re new here and want to start at the beginning of this series, start reading here.

In the interest of making it easier to read, I’m breaking down the categories with which I have issues with VF:

Clothing / Modesty

Some things of the VF seem rather harmless on the surface.  Who doesn’t want to dress their daughters modestly and be modest themselves?  Who wants to put their little girls in “prosti-tot” clothes and hyper-sexualize them?  Most of us wish to let our children be children for as long as possible without unduly sexualizing them or letting society do it for us.

But does modesty have to equal one particular style of dress?  The FLDS says it does – and their women wear baggy, formless dresses in the prairie-style of the late 1800s.  The Taliban says it does – and they insist that their women wear burquas – a black covering from head-to-toe that disguises the shape and features of a woman.  VF also proscribes its own form of “modest clothing,” although somewhat less severe than the other two groups.  Their style is more in line with the FLDS for young girls (jumpers, pinafores, dresses) and for older girls and women, very long (floor-length) skirts and jumpers.  The idea appears to be “hide every ounce of skin so as not to cause your brother to stumble and look at you with lust.”  I can appreciate that – partly.  Do I have an obligation to not cause my fellow believer to stumble?  Yes I do – according to Romans 14:13, I’m not to be a “stumbling block” to a fellow believer.  Cool.

But if the issue is lust, is the obligation ALL mine, or does the person struggling with lust have some obligation as well?  I believe it’s the latter.  I can dress like Queen Victoria (who insisted that the legs of a piano be covered, lest a man see a piano leg and begin lusting over a woman’s leg – no, that is not a joke) and if someone I attend church with has problems with lust, it won’t matter HOW I’m dressed.  A perfect example of this for me is found in Turkey.  Muslim women there wear hijab, the traditional head-coverings.  They are appropriately covered as a woman is expected to be there, but there is pornography in the daily newspaper.  The prevailing attitude seems to be:  Don’t look at MY woman, but feel free to ogle OTHER women in a degrading way.  This blows my mind – and says that lustful thoughts have very little to do with how women dress and far more to do with what’s in the heart and mind of the person with the lustful thoughts.

More confession:  I prefer skirts to pants and wear skirts and/or dresses daily.  My husband doesn’t ask me to, I just do it on my own.  I have no religious compunction about it, I just like being a girl and dressing this way.  Yet my clothes are “too flashy” for most at VF – the skirts are either too short (knee-length), too patterned (floral prints), or something else would be deemed immodest.

So where is the problem with dressing modestly?  There really isn’t one – unless it’s taken to an extreme.  Modest clothing is not seen as wearing pants and a top that doesn’t expose too much skin, it’s about wearing the right skirt – long, typically denim, and fitting a particular style or expectation.  It’s another load added on to the already-heavy yoke of perfect-submission for girls and women.  It fails to account for the Spirit of God directing and guiding individuals – and says instead that man will direct and guide individuals.  The trouble is, when God does it, it’s not burdensome.  When man does it, it is – and it lacks joy, peace, and other hallmarks of the Spirit.

the next installment is here

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  • http://chezsmiffy.blogspot.com/ Misti Anslin Delaney-Smith

    I am really enjoying this article, Sue.

    I am especially intrigued with the whole dressing modestly idea. In my eyes *I* dress modestly. I am almost as covered as I would be in a burqua … well, except my head isn’t covered. And I generally wear my long hair in a bun. And yet I get the impression that my gard would be seen by those who judge as “less modest than a tight t-shirt and sprayed on jeans”. So no, actually covering oneself isn’t evidently the point.

    I still like some of the “modest dress” stuff I see on the web, and I would probably wear some of it if I had the figure for it. 😉 (Looks better on rail think women, I think … )

  • http://www.mamasheartblog.com sue

    Thank you, Misti.

    You’ve really nailed the whole “modesty” issue. It’s not just that you’re covered, it’s that you fit the mold. I don’t know if you remember the old Brady Bunch episode where Greg was supposed to be a rock star – not because he could sing, but because he “fit the suit.” That’s kind of what this feels like to me. As long as you “look the part” and don’t try to have any individualizing-factors or desire to be unique (which honestly motivates me quite a bit), you “fit the suit” and can be modest. So my floral skirts or knee-length skirts with footless tights? Immodest – because they don’t “look the part.” :\

  • http://chezsmiffy.blogspot.com/ Misti Anslin Delaney-Smith

    Ironic and ridiculous, isn’t it? FWIW, *I* love your look — it’s eye catching, beautiful, and dignified. That’s the best look! 😉

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve just started reading your series on Rethinking VF; thanks for writing it.  I was wondering if you could give me a good citation for the piano leg thing; I had understood that the idea was a sort of joke that Brits and Americans told about each other to show how prudish folks were on the other side of the pond.  I’d be grateful if you could give me a solid source on Queen Victoria’s involvement.

    It’s interesting to me that you say “their women wear baggy, formless dresses in the prairie-style of the late 1800s” about the FLDS.  Indeed their dresses are baggy and prairie-style, but as far as I know the styles of the late 1800s, even on the prairies, were very tight indeed in the bodice and emphasized a woman’s figure to a degree that became exaggerated and overdone.  To Victorians, those clothes could be very sexual indeed (just think of all those layers coming off…one by one…!).

    I’m in agreement with you about modesty and the requirements of VF.  I just wonder about your specific examples. :)

  • http://littlemomins.wordpress.com/ Javeria Aqeel

    Hello, Please give me a moment to  inform you about the correct concept of modesty in Islam. The Quran,  clearly orders men to lower their gaze before ordering women to wear modest clothes.What happens in the Muslim World.. like you quoted about Turkey is not a true reflection of Islam. Watching porn and looking lustfully at any woman is a great sin in Islam and that is why men have been ordered to lower their gaze and protect their eyes from lusting after any woman. If you have to judge Islam, please judge it from the Quran not by the actions of so-called-Muslims or Muslim-countries. Modest clothing is also equally applicable to Muslim men. They also have to wear loose  modest clothing.

  • http://www.mamasheartblog.com Sue

    Thank you for the information, Javeria.  

    I was not saying anything about Islam in general, but the prevailing culture in Turkey.  Please don’t misunderstand – my point was to say that we are responsible for our lustful actions/thoughts.  Other people are not responsible for our actions or thoughts – only we are.  Dressing in modest clothing in Turkey does nothing to curb lustful thoughts or actions in residents there, as evidenced by the pornographic material in the daily newspapers.  That was my point:  Islam, Christianity, and  Judaism – all teach modesty in dress, but the burden for curbing lustful thoughts and actions lies with the other person.

    I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts!  :)

  • Avonleagirl28

    I am sorry but this is really quite HIGHlarious…We have used VF materials for years, attended their conferences and have made several wonderful friends along the way. We have been edified and encouraged by this ministry and some of these accusations are so ridiculous and untrue I cant help but to laugh as I read. You obviously have no idea who VF really is. 

  • http://www.mamasheartblog.com Sue

    Thanks for your input. 

    If you’d like to indicate *which* points I brought out that you disagree with and back them up with VF material, I’m happy to read/discuss.  :)

  • Holly J

    Why don’t you enlighten us, Avonleagirl? We are speaking of the organization run my Doug Phillips, who doesn’t believe in medical intervention for women who have ectopic pregnancies?  Who lambasted Sarah Palin for daring to be in politics AND be a woman at the same time?  Who encourages the unbiblical stay-at-home daughter movement?