Guys, Suits To Girls Are Like Lingerie to Us

suit

 

By now, many people have probably read the article published on the blog The Salt Collective wherein the author wrote about her “struggle” with men wearing suits and how hard it is to keep her thoughts pure around men wearing suits.

Now, the more you read the article the more it became apparent that it is somewhat satirical, meant to draw a parallel in the modesty debate about young women and how their choice of dress affects young men. Traditionally, the modesty debate has been a discussion of what girls should wear so her male counterparts steer clear of lusting.

Now, as I read this article (at the beginning, it’s much less like satire than the closing paragraph), I legitimately started questioning myself. “If this is a real problem, do I have a responsibility to do something about it? Like not wearing suits?” As I progressed along this line of thinking, I realized something. It’s kind of ridiculous. As soon as I considered that maybe I shouldn’t wear a suit to help my sisters in Christ, my immediate reaction to myself was, “Heck no! I love wearing suits; they look great. If a girl can’t handle it, that’s her problem!”

Suddenly, I felt like a girl picking out a swimsuit.

In that moment, I realized the point of that deliciously satirical article. We like to apply a massively one-sided standard to girls about this issue, and we justify it with the, “Men are visual, girls aren’t.” This is true, but as a married man, I can tell you I was a whole lot more sure of the truthfulness of that statement when I was single. When the standard is flipped on its head and applied to us, it seems a little silly.

Now, the point of all of this is not to just throw out our standards on everything modesty related. I myself have even written about “the two piece dilemma” and I (mostly) stand by what I wrote. Attractive women in bikinis can be a temptation. But so can attractive women in burqas. When my wife and I went to a Southern California beach recently, we both prayed that God would help us keep our thoughts pure because it’s a struggle for both of us.

I asked my wife about the suits article and she said, “A good-looking man in a suit is to a girl what an attractive girl in lingerie is to a guy.”

Let that sink in. The article wasn’t entirely satire! There was truthiness seeping from the insides!

I fear with this revelation, we may be forced to examine our own hearts instead of the various clothing choices of our peers. Do we need standards? Of course! But as the author of the above mentioned article said, “Remember:  upholding an impossible standard that will never remain static and is subject to the cultural, religious, or societal context within which it resides must ALWAYS trump your comfort, convenience, and ability to exist in a public space in whatever manner you choose.”

We need to be flexible and realistic with our standards, and put the Word of God first. Take responsibility for your own actions, and put God’s glory first. That, after all, is what really matters.

*Note, there’s a TON on this topic that could be said here but hasn’t. So please be reasonably discerning in not jumping to strange conclusions just because I didn’t mention it here. No, I’m not advocating for nude beaches. Relax.

 

 

Why I’m Not A Heterosexual Anymore

funny wedding pic

Marriage!

I’m not a heterosexual anymore. That may seem strange coming from someone like me, but hear me out.

Let’s talk about what it means to “not be heterosexual.”

You’re probably thinking, “Oh boy…he’s gay.” But that’s not the case. I’m not gay, I’m very happily married to a woman. But I’m also not a heterosexual anymore…and neither is my wife, for that matter.

Here’s the thing: heterosexuality is a myth. By implication, this also means that homosexuality is a myth. In an article published in First Things magazine by future-monk Michael Hannon entitled, “Against Heterosexuality,” a case is clearly laid out against sexual orientation. Hannon writes:

First of all, within orientation essentialism, the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality is a construct that is dishonest about its identity as a construct. These classifications masquerade as natural categories, applicable to all people in all times and places according to the typical objects of their sexual desires (albeit with perhaps a few more options on offer for the more politically correct categorizers). Claiming to be not simply an accidental nineteenth-century invention but a timeless truth about human sexual nature, this framework puts on airs, deceiving those who adopt its labels into believing that such distinctions are worth far more than they really are.

Basically, what he is saying is that the idea of a sexual orientation is deceptive in that a LOT of people believe that heterosexuality is the norm, the eternally changeless state of how people “should be” and homosexuality (and by implication, homosexuals) is a giant mistake. It’s deceptive because the concept of sexual orientation is less than 150 years old.

Hannon argues that sexual orientation is something we should dismiss from our minds and vocabulary precisely because it goes about defining people and sexuality entirely backwards. Sometime in the 19th century, scholars decided to start defining sexuality, not by it’s obvious natural function (aka, having kids), but by the object of sexual desire. This short circuit of the old view of sexuality removed the motivation for chastity by removing the common good from marriage: children. Sex became purely about passion and feelings, and without a concrete tie between it and nature/reality, the very idea of “heterosexuality” began to lose its meaning. (See Hannon’s article for a deeper analysis of this thought.)

Perhaps the most powerful truth that Hannon unlocks is that when we think about people in terms of heterosexuality (or “normal”) and homosexual (“abnormal”), the sexual orientation lens we are looking through colors our view of people’s actions. Suddenly, we aren’t seeing sexual sin the way the Bible describes it, as equally damning no matter the sin (by that I mean that any sin, no matter how small, is enough to incur God’s holy justice). We see “heterosexual” sin as one thing, and “homosexual” sin as another. Do we see what has happened here? In essence, we are using categories that classifies one group as socially normal (“heterosexual”), and thus free from moral judgement, and the other group as socially unacceptable and the target of all moral judgement. As Hannon so succinctly says:

The most pernicious aspect of the orientation-identity system is that it tends to exempt heterosexuals from moral evaluation… Nevertheless, as a general rule, identifying as a heterosexual person today amounts to declaring oneself a member of the “normal group,” against which all deviant sexual desires and attractions and temptations are to be measured… Of course, we do have a model norm for the evaluation of sexual deviancy. But that model is not heterosexuality. It is Christ Jesus himself, the God-man who both perfected human nature and perfectly exemplified its perfection, ‘one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.’ For the self-declared heterosexual to displace our Lord in this position is the height of folly.

By saying we are heterosexual, we are putting ourselves into a special category that has a different standard of judgement than the homosexual category. Not to mention that the very idea of sexual identity removes responsibility from one’s attractions. We’ve all heard the refrain, “I was born this way.” It’s offered up as an excuse for one’s actions, but as Christians, we know that we are born sinful, and yet are still responsible for our actions. The sexual orientation idea clouds this truth.

In accepting this paradox of heterosexual vs. homosexual, Christians have given up their greatest weapon in combating sin and immorality. For years, people have said that homosexuality is sinful, when such a thing is impossible for the Bible to condemn, simply because the idea of sexual identity and “homosexuality” is less than 200 years old! What the Bible has always condemned is sexual sin outside of marriage, same-gender sexual acts included. By putting these acts into their own category, then inextricably attaching them to the individual performing them, we have denied the power of the Gospel to free sinners by denying that they really are sinning.

In light of this,  the question, “What do you, as a Christian, think about homosexuality?” becomes meaningless because it’s the wrong question. The question is, “What do you, as a Christian, think about sexual sin?” We have had such difficulty answering questions about homosexuality, all while struggling to convey that the Bible has a message of love and redemption. We are seduced by the pridefulness of being “normal heterosexuals” because at least we aren’t “abnormal homosexuals”. It’s strongly implied that “homosexual” sin is worse than “heterosexual” sin. And that has been a fatal mistake.

We are all sinners. We need Jesus Christ and His redemptive blood covering our sins. It’s time to repent of being prideful because we’re “normal”. We’re not. We are broken and in need of healing, “heterosexual” and “homosexual” alike.

Because we’re all human.

I highly recommend reading Hannon’s article. It was incredibly enlightening for me and he covers a lot of ground that I didn’t. I hope I gave a good account of this subject; please let me know in the comments!

Christian Music Sucks Because It’s Fake

christian-music

I’ve always had a problem with Christian music. I used to wonder why, and then it hit me: it’s because it sucks. While this is now obvious, the real question is, why does it suck?

Michael Gungor from the band Gungor (which I had never heard of prior to this), wrote an excellent article on why Christian music generally sucks. It’s because it’s fake. From his article:

The false emotion that I’m talking about might be familiar to some of you. There’s just something more believable about the whispery sexy voice that is singing about sex on the mainstream radio station than the voice that copies that style of singing while putting lyrics in about being in the arms of Jesus. And it’s really not even the style or the lyric that is the problem to me, it’s the fact that I don’t believe that the singer is feeling the kind of emotions in singing that lyric that would lead to that style of singing. It’s that same kind of creep out that you feel when somebody gives a really loud fake laugh. It’s just weird and uncomfortable feeling.

There’s a pretension with a lot of Christian music that puts such an emphasis on the moralistic qualities of the music. “Hey, listen to this because it doesn’t describe explicit sex acts! Yay!” While there’s a point to that, when the music is reduced to just what it isn’t talking about rather than what it is talking about, the whole thing just crumbles.

This is what most Christian music centers around, or at least what the marketing centers on. Many evangelical Christian parents get their teens Christian music because it’s clean and “teaches good values”. But this destroys the soul of music. It makes Christian music literally the only genre that is defined by what it isn’t. And when you define something, not by what it’s contribution and worth is, but by its negative qualities, it’s impossible for that thing to have any value. It’s very definition limits itself. It’s really hard to make something great when your definition of greatness is, “Not awful.” Because of this, most Christian music can only be really great because it’s not really bad. Which actually makes it suck.

This concept plays out at Christian concerts as well, where the whole, “Don’t be bad” attitude really plays out. Gungor talks about this phenomena:

We just were part of one of the biggest tours of the fall in the Christian music industry…

But you know what made me sad? That empty bar every night.

Even though these shows were all sold out, I would imagine that the bartenders at all those clubs were like “oh man, Christian night… that means no tips for me.”

Sometimes the promoters would just buy out the bar so there wouldn’t be any liquor sales at all.
I’m not saying that I wished that everybody was getting hammered at the show… But for crying out loud, buy one beer. Or heck, if you don’t drink beer, buy a Coke.

But here’s what is super weird about this situation. I bet you if you took all of those Christians that came to the shows and split them up and had them go to “secular” shows, A LOT of them would have bought a drink. It’s the fact that there is this assumption among all of the Christians there that having a drink at a Christian event is sort of a questionable thing to do.

He’s talking a lot about the evangelical Christian culture that shuns alcohol, and as he goes on to kind of rant about, it doesn’t seem to have much Biblical basis. But in many ways, doing this at a Christian concert is just a reflection of what the music is about: not being bad. Gungor continues on about how fake Christian music really is dishonest and uncreative. We talk about innovative music that Christians make as “creative” because, as he points out, there is so much uncreativity in the industry that we have to point it out when we see it. What he says is entertaining, so I’ll quote him once more:

Do you notice that nobody really uses that word about other types of music?…

Nobody goes to an art gallery and says, “boy, that painting is so creative.” Why? Because it’s art! Of course it’s creative! Why else would it be there? It’s very nature is creativity. Or like Lisa pointed out to me today, “that would be like saying, I love your house, it’s so architectural.”

It’s interesting that the Christian music scene has become so dominated by mediocrity that anything breaks free from the norm is hailed as groundbreaking. It’s time to get away from a definition of music that is purely moral and start producing stuff that’s got real value. Of course, I am well aware that there are lots of Christian artists out there who make good music. But this is directed at the Christian music industry in general. The ones who make sucky music.  By the way, this is one of Gungor’s music videos. I like it; it’s not defined by what it isn’t. (I highly recommend reading the original article. It’s long but good.)