January 1, 2007
Letter to My Sons on How to treat a Lady
My Dear Sons,
These are exciting days for our family. Three of our sons are looking for the wives that God has for them, and seeking His will and counsel from their parents. Mom and I are looking and praying too! Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this part of your lives. You are blessing us in this way.
We are also wondering how well we have prepared you for this time in your lives. I believe all of you had the opportunity to view the video series on betrothal by S. M. Davis and I think this is a good resource on the subject. We are thankful that our sons have not accepted the American dating idea, and that you look toward a more biblical approach to finding a wife.
We all know of other young people who have made unwise decisions in this area of finding a mate. Who is the big looser? The young lady! She is cheated out of having a godly wedding with a commitment from family and friends to uphold that marriage through whatever struggles come. Also, the woman is left with broken relationships with her family.
You know what we are talking about and so we are thankful that you have recognized the importance of having parental involvement in the second most important decision of your life.
Getting back to the theme of this letter, "how to treat a lady" I have recently read a book (donít groan) on this subject that has touched my heart. This book, entitled A Return to Modesty (subtitled "Discovering the Lost Virtue"), was written by an attractive young college student, Wendy Shalit. When I started reading the book I was surprised to find that it was written from a generally secular position. Her primary focus was on the need for women to be modest (keep their innocence and virginity), and how desperate the loss is for women when they let the present culture pressure them into giving this up. Wendyís book impressed upon me several things:
First, it impressed on my heart the depth and extent of the damage that our modern culture has done to the lives of women in America. Although I was aware of the struggles that a handful of Christian young ladies are having, I had no idea how bad it really is for American women in general. I did not realize the pressure that women feel to be immodest, and how this culture of immodesty was playing such a major part in tearing our society apart, destroying the lives of women, and depriving them of the security that has traditionally been the part of marriage intended to last a life time. It challenged me to have more compassion for all women.
Second, although I have to admit that it is not her primary focus, Wendy Shalit is trying to challenge women to re-consider how much of the predicament they face is due to women sending men a wrong message by what they wear. Thus, she is calling women to a return to modesty, as her book title indicates.
Wendyís book also impressed on me that I need to do more to honor the ladies in my life. It helped me to realize the importance of showing much more respect to your younger sister for the young lady that she is.
Finally, in her book, Wendy commented that fathers must teach their sons how to treat women respectfully and she challenged women, stating that women need to inspire the men to treat them so. Even though Wendy is not a believer, I was able to learn from reading her book that there are areas that I have personally failed to set a good example and instruct my sons in how to be the gentlemen they should be. So, it is from a humbled heart and a love for you that I am challenged to do what Wendyís book challenged me to do for the sake of the women in your lives and for your future happiness. I am sharing some of the things that I have learned from my 35 years of marriage to a virtuous woman, and the information I have gleaned over the years.
Wendyís book is not appropriate reading for a young single man, so I am integrating her thoughts into what I am writing. I hope that this letter will be a "keeper" for you. Even though you may not see the value in all of what I am sharing with you here, you may see things differently a few years from now, and it may prove handy to you when you are raising your own young people. I still have some of the letters my dad sent me when I was in the Air Force.
If I had received the instruction that I am going to lay out here for you, maybe I would not have been such a knuckle headed husband. I may have been a better example for you; and my wife would have not have had to endure a marriage with a man that she struggled to respect at times. However, as fine a father as my dad was, he never really talked to me about being a gentleman. He was the first generation Christian father in our family. My brothers and I are the second, and you are the third. Hopefully you and your wives will be blessed by what I have to share.
Boys and girls were created different! Letís keep it that way.
Today, there is little effort to preserve the unique roles of men and women. There are subtle but important differences that are deeply rooted in each genderís souls, but society today seeks to deny them as social constructs, not inherent differences. One of the most fundamental differences between boys and girls is the inherent modesty that is built into girls. Boys, and even men, seem to have far less built-in or inherent modesty. It is just no big deal to them. If you offered a $500.00 reward to a mixed assembly of high school students to come to the front of the auditorium and bare their chests, I am certain youíd be paying a lot out to guys, but I wonder whether even today you would find any girls going for such a reward. A young boy gives scant thought to baring his chest. Thankfully, it is not so with the young ladies.
Why do little girls blush so easily? Little girls are made different from boys! Modesty seems to be born into them. God has designed this quality in them and he has also commanded that this modesty should be cultivated. Blushing is just one of many "feminine" characteristics that come in the creatures that we call women. Other qualities that are associated with women can be listed as well. A quick list of qualities that have been forever associated with the "weaker vessel" will hopefully make my point that there is a set of built in characteristics that are generic to the ladies. Think about thisÖ
Why are the statues that represent the most precious ideals in life most often portrayed by women? We have the Statue of Liberty and Lady Justice for example. Could it be because women are expected to be less selfishly motivated and therefore more apt to be just and considerate of the oppressed? How about gentleness? Is this normally associated with women with their softer skin and nurturing nature? Letís think of some other traits associated with women: innocence, needing protection, more sensitive emotionally, discretion, "shamefacedness," concerned with manners, considerate, submissive, patient, bashful, polite, secret, hidden, mercy, grace, charity, restrained, beautiful, pretty, private, virtue, perfection, prudent, self conscious and dependent. I believe most people have observed them in little girls much more than in little boys and in adult women as well. We would be hard pressed to explain why people for thousands of years have associated these qualities with the "fairer sex" the "weaker vessels" without admitting that they are built in qualities designed in them by The Creator.
The fact that this femininity is essential to life should also be apparent. What would our world be like without these qualities? How did my dear wife get up night after night to nurse the babies she loved and then slip so easily back to sleep thousands of times? Would humanity have survived if men (with the normal traits observable in men) had been given the task of giving birth to babies without being granted any of the other corresponding traits that are part of the makeup of women? I rather doubt it. Humanity is enriched when the womanís unique role is preserved and lifted up.
John Adams, Americaís second president agreed with this assessment. He wrote:
These qualities must be nurtured and encouraged for humanity to survive and prosper. We do this, first, by placing a high value on the role of the woman. "Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies." The thirty first Proverb shows how these qualities shine and make life a joy. "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." There is no corresponding passage in the Word honoring men. Women are special.
Young men, we are living in a period of history wherein even the most obvious differences between men and women are being denied in the pursuit of a society where it is considered criminal to discriminate on the basis of sex. Even the military establishment is promoting the lie that women are the same as men, and we live in a society that sends its women out to fight wars for us. If there is any meaning to the wisdom taught in Deuteronomy 22:5, believers need to wake up to it. Sociologists call this period of history the "post modern" age, where it is popular to deny the truth about many things. I consider it a time of great spiritual blindness. Bible believers should not be in step with these trends, but unfortunately most are being influenced by it in many ways that they donít realize.
In my time "equal rights for women" in almost every way have been legally granted to women. Laws shape society, and thus any differences that have been historically obvious to previous generations must now be denied or just attributed to cultural constructs, not differences in fact. Thus, our government institutions are now even forced to accept the false notion that a gender change can be performed by plastic surgeons. What confusion!
The denial of the uniquely feminine role or disrespect of the created differences in gender is an aspect of what is defined as "misogyny." One medical dictionary defines misogyny as the "hatred of women." Misogynists want to see women treated the same as men, and see the traditions that preserve the differences as oppressive social constructs.
In extreme cases, Wendy Shalit recounts, a misogynist woman may slam the door on the fingers of a man for opening a door for her. Wendy sees this particularly in the halls of Academia. Young co-eds think they should be treated no differently from men. In the more popular trend, the traditional role that women have accepted for thousands of years in raising young children is now expected to be equally shared by men.
Conversely, in the adult world, women must be admitted into all occupational roles once reserved for men. The ramifications of this trend are everywhere apparent today. Older people like your parents and grandparents see this as a great loss to you and future generations. "Women and children first!" used to be the message that American culture broadcast to the world, and a woman could walk safely anywhere in America at any time a hundred years ago.
How did we get from there to where we are today? The book entitled, Women in Pants, subtitled, "Manly Maidens, Cowgirls, and other Renegades" documents the early stages of this trend. Women cowgirls were losers, as are the women soldiers of our day.
My sons, you have seen, but have not personally felt the hard effects of this trend because you have been raised in a unique social bubble that started with your parentsí families and their commitment to marriage, but you will surely feel it more if you move out of our little world, and financially, you will face the challenge to provide for your families without the "family wage" that was once a part of American economic tradition.
My sons, I would hope that you would desire to be godly leaders, and saltópreserving the old paths that made America great. If you wish to be known as wise men that have "understanding of the times" and know what you should do, you need to spend some time studying what misogyny is and how it works out in our culture. My concern, yes, my grief over this trend is not just one of my hang ups. Dough Phillips, of Vision Forum spends most of his energy and time combating this ungodly trend. The entire format of his catalogs is designed to challenge parents to highlight the importance of men being men and women being godly women. Homosexuality is just one of the tips of this cultural iceberg called misogyny. Underneath is a hatred for motherhood, homemaking, and anything that has been considered uniquely feminine. Underneath that is a hatred for the Bible.
One post I found on the web sheds light on one aspect of misogyny. If you want the source, I can provide it, but it was snatched from off the web among a soup of bad ideas. Drawn from this post, the author, Jim, says this:
The above post identifies two aspects involved in the area of misogyny: The visual aspect (the womanís role of stimulators of menís visual interest) and the physical aspect (when women are seen as objects useful in fulfilling menís physical pleasure). Selfish men want quick and easy access to women for selfish reasons. Tradition and modesty prevent this easy access, so during the 1960ís modesty and traditional forms of dress were the first aspects of culture that came under attack by the cultural revolutionaries of that period.
As a culture, America is leading the world down a slippery slope. For thousands of years, in almost every culture in the world, motherhood was preserved and symbolized as a necessary and special role. This value is indicated in the traditional dress worn all around the world. These traditions restrained the visual role of women as stimulators of menís visual interest mentioned above. Under the subject of clothing, the World Book Encyclopedia (1985) has pictures of the traditional costumes of 50 cultures around the globe. It is quite an eye opener. Have men and women been foolish in preserving these modest traditions throughout their history? Now, all over the globe, people are throwing off their traditions and adopting the costume of the West, with America leading the way. Are we more enlightened or wiser for this?
I am trying to stay on the subject at hand in this letter, but assuming that some of you may do a little of your own investigation on what misogyny is, I feel compelled to acknowledge that some misogynists accuse Christians of being those who perpetrate hatred towards women. From this misogynic perspective, patriarchal religions, including Fundamentalist Christianity and Orthodox Judaism are the source of the problem, because both preserve what the cultural revolutionaries consider oppressive stereotypes. Many misogynists and feminists equate the role of homemaker to that of legalized prostitution. They see homemaking only as bondage of women to a never ending regimen of wiping noses, scrubbing floors and changing diapers. They see menís wider area of dominion outside the home as greater freedom and womanís role in the home as confining and a forced servitude.
The worldly view denies these created roles and wars against them. They cannot see the beauty of Godís design in having a loving mother nurturing young lives, and preparing them to be the ladies and gentlemen of the next generation. Biblical traditions do not promote a hatred of women, but promote differences in roles for men and women. The biblical world view is that mankind is richer because of the preservation of the traditional roles.
As future husbands and fathers, you need to prepare yourselves to be protectors. I pray that you will hear your fatherís instructions and realize that both of these aspects of misogyny are also direct attacks on The Creatorís design of the role of women. If Biblical faith is to survive, believers, and particularly godly men need to recognize the need to separate themselves from everything that helps these evil people promote their subversive agenda. We must defend the traditional roles of women and take a stand for modesty. What I am really advocating is that we men need to step up to our role as protectors of godly womanhood and modesty.
My Sons, when I married, I did not have a clue about the things that I am going to write to you about in the next few paragraphs of this letter. Your mother and I also recognize that there are very few young ladies around that would accept what I would like to share with you here, but we would hope that in time you will study this through, as we did, with your wives. We donít ask you to marry a woman with the thought in mind that you should change them, but hopefully you both will want to know the truth on this issue, and will study it carefully. As you know, your mother and I have made a commitment to be faithful to the apostolic faith. It was not until we stepped out of our small world of "Baptist" thinking and into the Anabaptist world that we were challenged to look closer into the subject of the covering. May God give you understanding, because we believe that embracing this area of modesty will benefit you and your family in the long run.
A manís role as protector is confirmed in Scripture as the role of "covering" his wife. I spoke on this subject in your older sisterís wedding. When Abraham did not protect his wife (see Genesis 20:16) it was a serious failure. The doctrine of coveture finds its roots in the book of beginnings (Genesis 24:65). Rebecca used the veil to symbolize her modesty. This tradition was noted in Num. 5:18, Ruth 3:9, Ezek. 15:8, and was carried over into the apostolic tradition (I Corinthians 11:6): "For if the woman be not covered [veiled], let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered." Recognition of the manís role as head, or covering for his wife is traditionally symbolized by the woman wearing a cloth head covering. The practice of wearing this head covering by both virgins and married women was witnessed to by Tertullian as late as 208 AD among the Corinthian women (See "On the Veiling of Virgins" Tertullian).
Approximately 75% of the traditional costumes of the entire world represented in the attached World Book Encycopedia illustrations show the womensí heads covered. It has historically been an important symbol world wide. The doctrine of Coveture was eventually preserved in the Common Law that developed in Protestant England, and was still a common American Christian tradition up until the 1960ís sexual revolution. The covering of married women is a tradition continuing even in this day among Orthodox Jews. It is well anchored in biblical tradition.
Today in America, both the understanding of this tradition and the symbol of it are all but lost. Sarah Warren, a lecturer on the American Revolution said, "The Law of Coveture is when a woman gets married, her legal identity is suspended and she is then considered dependent. Not until 1992 was Coveture declared "dead" by the Supreme Court" (National Institute of American History & Democracy NIAHD journals, Women, Education, and the Revolution).
Under the doctrine and law of coveture, a married woman is a dependant, provided for, covered, guarded, represented by and protected by her husband. Lucifer, "the anointed cherub that covereth" (Ezek. 28:14), was originally appointed by God as guardian and protector over this earth, but Satan pridefully rejected this role. In the Apostolic Scriptures, Paul associates the womanís rejection of the head covering with this angelic rejection (I Corinthians 11:10). As was Job of old time, we are being observed by angelic beings in the spiritual conflict that is raging on this earth. The Lord wants us to be a testimony (even before the angelic host) of contentment with the created order.
The most respected commentaries share the traditional interpretation of I Corinthians 11. I have carefully studied many modern interpretations of Paulís teaching on the head covering. The trendy and spurious interpretations that are being circulated today are just that. The ideas that the cloth head covering is just a womanís hair or only her husband are either based on faulty exegesis or faulty logic. They are not based on any newly discovered biblical information, sound or careful exegesis, Biblical or historical context. I believe the head covering is almost universally rejected by Christians because it is just old fashioned (out of fashion). In other words, Christians today are following the fashions of the world, not the Christian traditions that have been passed down to us.
Christian men are failing to cover their wives and daughters in almost every sense of the word today. Christian men should protect them by encouraging them to dress modestly, and by lifting up the biblically defined role of women.
American traditional dress for women was squarely anchored in Scripture. The apostle Paul wrote that women should dress themselves in "modest apparel." The Greek word for "modest apparel" is catastola, which is literally a long flowing gown that hangs down. The catastola is mentioned in Scripture only here and in the Greek O. T. version at Isaiah 61:3. It was a loose garment that reached to the feet, and was worn with a girdle. The apostle is not as concerned about the manís dress and makes no such stipulation for the men. A long flowing gown has been the godly womanís apparel for thousands of years but for men it has varied widely. Proverbs 31 describes it indirectly: "She maketh herself coverings of tapestryÖ" Does "coverings of tapestry" sound like pants? I know you cringe to hear me ask this, but I am asking it out of a burdened heart. Young men! Cover and protect your ladyísí form!
A godly woman is adorned with "shamefacedness and sobriety." It is part of her very natureópart of a being that was created with an inherent modesty which must be cultivated and nurtured by a protective husband and the Word of God. Sons, I donít have to remind you that a womanís body is a visual turn on to men. But it is your responsibility to cover your wives in every way. The upper area of her body is designed for the nurturing of children, and for you to enjoy and no-one else. The area of her body from her waist down is also no one elseís business. No one else has a right to see the shape of her thighs, her groin, her backside, her tummy, or her legs. These areas of a femaleís body are anatomically referred to as erogenous zones. Exposing the form of these areas of a womanís anatomy triggers an instantaneous glance from a normally "wired" man.
This is the problem that Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker have so well documented in Every Manís Battle and the series of books they have written on this subject. Immodestly clad women are inviting every manís instinctive gaze--if not his touch. I have even heard testimony that this also even distracts other women! These areas of her body are to be covered by a long flowing garmentóa catastola. If not, you can be sure that the wearer is defrauding others.
I know most of you have heard Faye Sammonds recount her experience of being in a store and realizing that a man behind her was staring at her be-hind. Why did that so trouble Fayeís spirit? Was it not because as a godly woman, she knew that her back side was not to be the object of the gaze of any other man other than her husband? Was her response what would be expected of a person who was in her heart "shamefaced?" How is it that the young women of today can no longer blush like Faye Sammonds? I believe it is because their natural modesty has not been cultivated by the men in their lives. Men, donít let your wives flash peeks of their legs and thighs through peek-a-boo slits in their dresses either. These dresses are designed by the fashion designers to catch menís eyes and defraud, not to cover. Men! Be leaders! Cover your wives!
Unprotected Wives and Daughters:
It may not seem pertinent to you for me to mention daughters at this time, but I hope to influence your whole world view, not just the decisions you are making in the next few years. Once married, the responsibilities of fatherhood can come quickly. Resolve that you will cover your daughters too! If you donít cover your daughters, you should not be surprised if some unworthy young man gets the wrong message from her. Guard your daughtersí form from unworthy menís gaze. Preserve it for the worthy man you give her to alone.
If a woman, in her heart, wants to be covered, and is covered, she will realize a measure of protection from those two factors alone. A woman with a head covering in a modest dress is immediately recognized as a godly woman. She is a powerful witness for godliness before this degenerate world. The world needs to know that there are still some godly women around.
Many men are allowing their wives and daughters to work outside the home in violation of the teachings in Titus 2, and many daughters are being defiled by the world or the worldís philosophies (Remember Dinah Genesis 34) and having their hearts stolen by unworthy men. Divorce is at an all time high in America, even among "born again" believers. Women are being dumped like old rags. A new danger is now on the scene. Men do not protect their daughters from men who steal their daughterís hearts through emails and cell phones.
Your mother and I are thankful that you have rejected casual dating. Dating, in todayís culture means a woman is expected to give all in return for a manís casual attention, or a woman is persuaded to believe that it is safe to give all because they will some day be married. Canít you grieve for such women? When I was a boy, the death penalty was given to rapists. Today we have a culture of rape, and almost all alleged rape is considered consensual. I must add, however, that when a woman defraudingly dressed goes out with a man, she is sending her date an invitation whether she is conscious of it or not. No wonder it is so hard to get any conviction on charges of rape. Women complain about the date rape they feel subjected to, and men just shrug it off as no big deal. Both the Law and the population no longer accept the idea that women naturally want to preserve their virginity for one man for life. Such notions are considered "hang ups." Millions of women today are left feeling dirty and used, afraid of future relationships because they have been compromised on dates with selfish men. If the biblical culture in our day has largely disappeared, what will it be like for your daughters? This is why I believe it is so important for you to make a firm commitment to a biblical world view.
We shake our heads in scorn at the idea of concubinal marriage, but I believe the myriads of discarded "girl friends" and "single parent" households of today indicate that our society offers women of today far less protection for women than the concubine had.
With the little protection that men today are providing their wives, it is no surprise that the cloth head covering that symbolized the husbandís covering has also been discarded. By discarding it, those who claim to allow their lives to be regulated by Scripture are loosing their identity. We are to stand out as a "peculiar" people but today Christians want to blend into society and not be noticed.
Respect and Protection within marriage:
Sons, once you are married, you must continue to respect your wife according to Biblical guidelines. Remember, "All scriptureÖ is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousnessÖ" II Tim. 3:16). I am going to appeal to you from teachings in both the Old Testament and the New. The Old Testament was the Bible of the apostolic teachers. The instructions given there were given to prosper Godís people. Godís way is the way of freedom, but freedom always has its limits. The apostle Paul explains in I Corinthians 7 that married people are not to withhold intimate relations from one another except for fasting and prayer. However, these are not the only reasons that married couples are to abstain. This statement must be interpreted within the context of what have been known as laws of family purity developed in other Scriptures.
Intimate relations are designed to be relations between consenting married couples within biblical guidelines. The Biblical term used for intimate relations is "knew" (Adam knew his wife Genesis 4:1). Intimate marital relations should only be engaged in with mutual consent and motivated by love, not lust. Forcing oneís wife has been traditionally a chargeable offence known as rape, even within the marriage relationship. A gentleman does not coerce or force his wife. He respects her volition. The purpose of the relationship is knowing your wife, a person dear to you. I do not wish to be crude, but you are not to engage in relations for the purpose of satisfying your lusts, but to know your wife as a person. If you both do this, your natural desires will be satisfied. "Lusts" are unnatural desires that cannot be satisfied.
Another thing must be mentioned in this perverted culture. I hate to have to mention this, but what is referred to today as "oral sex" used to be known as sodomy when our culture was biblically oriented. (Twenty years ago, such an abhorrent practice was unmentionable in any discussion.) The desire for such sexual activity is not a natural desire, but an unnatural lust on the manís part to satisfy his own perverted desires. You may find marriage counseling books that proclaim to the contrary, but they are promoting a worldly view of human relations, not a godly one. It should be obvious what functions the mouth and other body parts were designed for. Perverted sex never produced one baby. It is also very demeaning to the woman to be sodomized by her husband, even though worldly sex manuals may advocate such activities. But oral sex does not involve the wife in a natural way, and she cannot be fulfilled by these kinds of relations. She will have less respect for you as a man if you try to encourage her to engage in such activities.
You should also not normally expect your wife to be able to wake up in the middle of the night and be awake enough to enjoy "knowing" you either. So, the rule here is respectful activity that God designed, mutual consent without coercion or force, and love. In other words, be a gentleman!
Sons, I charge you to observe the laws of motherhood (see Leviticus 12). I donít know why God gave the commandment to wait longer after a girl childís birth than a boy childís birth, but I trust that He knows more about His creation than I do. Although we donít have access to the temple or tabernacle to do what Jesusí godly parents did (Luke 2:21,22), we can still honor God by obeying His commandment to allow our wivesí bodies time to heal and recover after giving birth whether we understand the reasons He gave this commandment or not. I can only surmise that a womanís body needs time for her hormones to adjust to the new relationship she has with her infant who is now outside her body and nursing, and that there are different hormones involved in gestating a boy and a girl baby. Submitting to the Heavenly Fatherís commandments in relation to your wife is a way of honoring her also. We are to obey Godís commandments whether we understand the reason for them or not. That is part of what is grasped in "walking humbly before our God."
Another area of respect you should have as a married man is for a womanís monthly cycle. Blood is something that Godís Word instructs us to abstain from (See Acts 15:20). The Acts council was a discussion among the leaders of the apostolic faith. Their Bibles were the Old Testament, and all of them were raised to love these Scriptures. Every Jewish boy was trained first to know what holiness is, as he was required to memorize the book of Leviticus first as a young child. Family purity laws, regulating when one should have intimate relations are defined in Leviticus 15. We are to be a holy people. "Living" biblically involves living "righteously" and is to be understood within the context of the biblical commandments. Note Ezekiel 18:18-9. Coming near to a menstruous woman is considered a serious sin according to the Holy Scripture. I believe there is a depth of wisdom to these loving instructions that is not widely understood.
The monthly time of separation should be viewed as time set aside for a blessed renewal for the marriage relationship. Besides the obvious health need for abstinence during the time when the wifeís body is cleansing and renewing itself in preparation for the next conception, this regular time of separation allows the wife to have "some space for a time" for herself. Separation for this brief time avoids arguments and conflicts that could often occur due to hormonal issues and the misunderstandings they can produce. It refreshes the marriage by creating a monthly honeymoon atmosphere when the interruption is over.
Demonstrating restraint during this week is also a small way of demonstrating manly self control to your wife. It also promotes conception, which is one of Godís purposes for marriage (to produce godly seed Malachi 2:15) and the natural desire of godly wives.
I pray that you will have the grace to accept these teachings as loving instructions that the Heavenly Father has given to His people for their blessing and health. They are for your blessing too. To remove any doubt, I appeal to you to take the Apostle Paulís first letter to Timothy (I Timothy 1:8-9), and go through each word using a lexicon, for example Strong's lexicon, and you will see that the Law is designed to correct lawless behavior (Strong's # 459). Please consider what "lawless" means in this passage.
The power of a ladyís modesty.
I started out this letter noting that fathers must teach their sons how to treat a lady, and that women need to inspire men to treat them with respect. Now, Iíd like to touch on the latter aspect. A modest woman has power to change a manís behavior. Let me illustrate this with a blunder I made when I met your mom. At the end of our first date, I looked at your mother as a precious treasure, and I gave her a tender kiss on the forehead just before we parted. To me it was like kissing something beautiful, dear and precious. However, she did not see it that way. She looked back at me in horror! That (awful) man just kissed me, her horrified look said to me. I could see that I was misunderstood, but it was no use explaining then. I knew that if I did not make a quick promise not to do that again, that would be the last time I would have the privilege of her company. And so I did just that. I made a promise.
A womanís modest demeanor has the power to lift up mankind to higher levels of moral sensitivity. American men need this kind of inspiration. Modest behavior on the part of a woman only increases her value. What one has to wait for only increases the expectation. Any man that wants to barge right into a relationship with a girl is a brute, not a thoughtful gentleman.
A womanís humble and modest demeanor tells those around her that she is someone special, and that only someone that meets her highest expectations will have access to her personality, or to the real her. Otherwise, all that anyone else gets to know is the look on her face and her shamefaced demeanor. Her modest demeanor tells others she is not for them to touch or even to get to know unless their intentions are perfectly honorable. Remember, the apostle also admonished that it is good for an (unmarried) man to avoid touching (having physical contact with) women. (I Cor. 7:1).
A modest woman will not even talk to a man who gives her "the top to bottom" once over look. Her modesty, you see, protects her. Her demeanor says: "The rest of me is none of your business. Iím saving every aspect of my person for the man who will treasure me as a person for life, even if I become overweight, wrinkled, or infirmed." It says, "I will only talk to you if you are worthy and you treat me with the respect I expect." It does not mean she is a snob. It means that she knows she needs to protect herself and her heart.
By her humble, but modest demeanor she indicates that she knows how to do this. Selfish men will not waste their time on her because getting to know her is not worth their time. She is worth more than they are willing or capable of showing in personal character. Her modesty protects her from the advances of these kinds of men, and makes godly men comfortable around her. Honorable men will understand her motives; selfish men will consider her a snob. This is a quick reminder of the power of modesty.
Immodesty can have a powerful negative affect as well. Immodestly dressed women are offensive to godly men. I recently asked a saintly friend of ours a few years senior to us how he felt about the "women in blue jean culture, and he responded that "where there is no shame, there is no virtue." I think he expressed pretty well how I have felt towards Christian women who dress immodestly. It has not mattered what they may say about their faith. Their defrauding behavior speaks louder than their words. In a defense mode, in recent years I have avoided even recognizing the presence of immodestly clad Christian women. My reaction is similar to the idea that we should flee from youthful temptations. I want to flee from the tempter as well. I have avoided even giving them eye contact and I have not even wanted to look at their faces, once I noticed that they were immodestly dressed. Every other aspect of their person was overshadowed by their lack of modesty. I have been afraid that I might glance at them improperly so I have simply avoided them. I see them as threats to every man, and particularly my sons. I cannot relax around them because I have felt that they should know better. Women have the power to tempt men to sin with their eyes and these Christian women are actually doing just that. My Sons, please teach your daughters how they can negatively affect men who wish to keep their eyes pure.
I have been able to view unbelieving women who are dressed immodestly differently, however. Because they are unbelievers, I have not seen them as a threat to my sons. I have been able to view them as lost people for whom I need to show compassion, but I have not been able to bring myself to show compassion to immodestly dressed Christian womenóonly rejection. After reading Wendy Shalitís book, I am challenged to try to start showing compassion for all women. I now think the statement about there being no virtue is an overstatement, but I still recognize these women as a threat, even though they may not be so motivated. I am beginning to realize that most women just donít have a clue concerning the negative affect their dress can have on men of all ages, but it is still going to be hard for me to recognize them. It has been easier to just avoid them. Both men and all women are being cheated by the immodest culture we live in, and there is almost no instruction in this area in Christianity today. It is a real shame. They need to be shown compassion.
Practical Ways to show respect for women:
My sons, young women should not be treated as just "some of the guys." They are not just buddies with whom to pal around, wrestle, and lounge. You donít just hang out with or tell rough jokes with ladies. They should always be treated as special creatures. The Proverb says of the virtuous woman, "Her children rise up and bless her." When a lady enters the room, traditionally young men need to stand up to show respect. We need to recover that practice. There are other ways that I am going to work on to show the ladies in my life that they are special.
For the support of the women we are encouraging to cultivate their modesty, we need to help restore a culture of modesty. This will bless all women. We can: try to show compassion for all women; open doors for them; help them lift heavy objects; keep our speech and conversation around them honorable, avoiding crude jokes and vocabulary; avoid jokes directed towards any women; stand up when they approach; praise our mothers and sisters, teasing our wives and sisters only gently; give up our seats for women quickly; be leaders, not forcing them to lead by default; use cherishing words and gestures around them; demonstrate good manners around them; be on time for meals they prepare for us; help with cleanup sometimes; and seat them at the table.
Unmarried young people partying late at night in homes owned by unmarried people leaves room for the questioning the young ladiesí character. People will think evil of you and justify their own evil. We must abstain from all appearance of evil as well as all actual evil. A godly man will not jeopardize his loved oneís reputation. He will do everything he can to protect it. The Bible similarly says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil."
My Sons, when you marry, you will understandably be very excited about your new relationship. However, it is distracting and immodest for you to make public displays of your affection. Spend lots of time together alone, but please restrain yourself when around others. It will not impress married people that you are enjoying your new relationship, and it can be defrauding to the single young people around you. Please remember that, newlyweds.
Finally, I want to remind you again of the beauty of the inherent modesty of women that has been celebrated in our traditions for centuries. In fact almost every element mentioned in this letter is in some way honored in a traditional Christian or Jewish wedding. In these weddings God is normally acknowledged in some way as having oversight or design in this important relationship. In a traditional wedding, special seating of the parents, and particularly the brideís parents is provided for. The audience rises while the bride comes down the isle. The bride normally wears a long flowing dress (By the way, I have never been to a wedding where the bride wore a nice new pair of tight blue jeans.). A bride normally wears white, symbolizing the purity she has preserved for her husband. She normally wears a veil over her face, and some sort of symbolic head covering. She is an object of beauty (not lust) that thrills the hearts of every godly man in the room. She instills a respect for marriage and modesty. It causes joy in all that attend and a desire in other young women to be modest and to want to keep themselves pure for their man too.
We love to see weddings. The future husband is waiting patiently for the girlís father to give her to him. The bride is reminding her husband that she has been a modest person by putting the veil on, just like Rebecca did as she was brought to Isaac. She allows the man she has selected, and him only to lift the veil, celebrating her inherent modesty, and saying to him that she has kept her eyes and her person hidden from all prying or flirting eyes, and that she consents to him only looking deeply into her soul through her eyes. Tokens of the covenant relationship are exchanged.
Messiahís gift of His life represented the most loving bride price that could be paid. The bride does not let him kiss her until the covenant has been verbally, symbolically, officially and publicly recognized. My Sons, I want you to always keep the wedding ceremony in view whenever you think of potential spouses. It will help you to remember all the things I have written to you about. Be prudent. Prepare for this great event in your lives.
My Sons, if you wish to be known as a man of honor, and be respected by your wife, behave yourself with every woman in a way that the wedding symbolizes that you should. Remember the girl you are talking to is not yours until she is given to. Someone else may be talking to your future wife. Pray that he too is a man of honor, so that when she is given to you she is like a special present, all wrapped up beautifully so that both the giver and the receiver will enjoy the excitement and wonder that is longed for and waited for on that special and memorable day.
Do not sneak around and pick at the wrapping paper and try to find out what is inside before that day. Preserve the beauty of covenant marriage for future generations, and make your memories and pictures of your wedding day a truly awesome day. Donít in any way cheat the one you say you love out of that special day. It will be the most special day of her life if you preserve it for her. Wives prize their wedding albums, and their wedding pictures. They remind them that they have great value.
Wives are given to a man in trust, but not without a sense of loss, and not without expectations. Two parents cannot lovingly raise a child for twenty years and not have expectations and hopes for the young person. We give to one another in trust, and in covenant. I recommend a traditional bride "gift" be given to the parents as a symbolic gesture of appreciation. Covenants are usually sealed with symbolic exchanges. The parents of the bride give the bride to the man in trust, and I believe it is proper for the man and his family to return a creatively selected symbolic token to the family of the bride. However, the most meaningful gift you can give a brideís parents is to honor their daughter and to make the life of their daughter complete in ways that no parent can. Help her to blossom.
Daughters are given to men to be their "help meets." Jesus was using marriage language in John 14 when he spoke of going to His fatherís estate to prepare a home for His bride. There is much beauty in this mystery, and it reminds me of how blessed the Refer families and the families on Harkins Hill are to have an extended family community. Your children will also be blessed by having their Grandparents near. In Deuteronomy 24:5 it says that you will be wise not to plan to take on any new business the first year of your marriage. Spend as much time with your wife as you can to show how important she is to you.
However, throughout your marriage, you should encourage your wife to continue to have a special love and relationship with her parents as well, even if she is not able to see them as often as before. As we love Christ because He first loved us, so should she be able to continue to show her love for her parents because they first loved her, and their love was not based in any way on eros based love. It was unselfish love proven over and over again. Think about all that it took to raise her.
Respect and honor her father and mother who nurtured her into the virtuous woman you are blessed with--worth more than the most precious gems known to man. Remember, this precious gift was given to you by them. Therefore, you must not do anything that would bring dishonor or disappointment to them. They loved her more than you did for many years, and you should honor them for this. You should be able to approach her father and her mother and thank them for giving them such a precious gift, and they should know that your thanks are genuine by the way you honor them.
You will leave a heritage behind you. May your Heavenly Father bless you with character and wisdom in your relations with these delicate and fair creatures that He made for you and for all of mankind.
As Solomon advised, so I advise you, My Sons, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil" (Eccl. 12:13, 14).
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.