I visited Ohio University (OU), my alma mater recently. I stayed with my good friend Keith Wasserman, and after dinner we drove to campus to walk around the first university in the Northwest Territory (1804). OU by the way, was in existence 66 years before THE Ohio State University was created.
We noticed a lot of students returning from a Woodstock-type outdoor party outside of town. Many of the guys were bare-chested, in shorts and flip-flops. The girls were in shorts, t-shirts (some barely in a bikini), and either flip-flops or no shoes. All of them, though, were covered with mud and dirt. We saw several cars and trucks drive up the main street in town yelling, honking their horns, and waving to folks on the sidewalks. We passed groups walking the same side of the street we were on, and viewed students hanging out on porches of their apartments and entryways to fast food places. They too, were covered in mud and dried dirt. My first inclination as a parent was to find a fire hose and tell them to line up for a good bath (all the parents reading this say amen).
Keith and I met several mud-caked students sitting on the sidewalk who engaged us in conversation. In answering who we were and what we were doing around campus, we in turn asked them about their story and worldview. Keith talked with two of the guys while I chatted up the young lady. I asked her about her family, studies, and spiritual journey and heard a fascinating account of a twenty one year old’s view of the world. She talked to me about her loving parents who “forced” her to go to church and “crammed religion” down her throat. She thought was church was good for kids, but selectively rejected the counsel of her parents and the Bible when it came to her active sex life. Her narrative was laced with coarse language and she argued she alone was the final authority of what was right and wrong. Jesus was okay as long as he didn’t expect or demand anything.
I have been around students and seen immodesty in dress, crass language, and a variety of inappropriate behavior. I have read analysis from social scientists that believe cultural standards of behavior started changing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Invasive journalism, fiction focused on radical realism, and intimacy about sex were some of the avenues that led to broad societal change. Those who led the charge to change attitudes about dress and language were boastful about their “exposure” tactics. Those who opposed such efforts were often called prudish and backward-looking for their reticence.
Read 1 Timothy 2. I noticed the apostle Paul writing about women following Christ to dress modestly with decency in verse 9. The verse before instructs men to lift up holy hands in prayer. By doing so, men declare their earnest desire for God.
Paul’s presentation of how men and women should act and look when they gather for worship is crucial for us as we battle the “parties of exposure” in society today. How do you define decent attire? How does your clothing and language reflect holiness and modesty? How do your words and actions show an earnest desire to please a holy God?
As you seek to live a godly life, you may be called backward or prudish. That’s okay. The other viewpoint will one day we exposed for the downward spiral it is. Walk wisely. Decent living is a divine call. Live a decent life in Jesus.
Love is a verb,