Monday, August 13, 2012

Bikinis Part Deux

Last week I asked a couple of questions related to modesty and swimwear. Specifically, I asked the following of Christian women who wear bikinis:

1. Why do you feel comfortable wearing a bikini to the pool or beach when you would feel uncomfortable wearing only a bra and panties in public?

2. Why is is appropriate for you to wear a bikini to the pool or beach when it would not be appropriate to wear only a bra and panties in public?

My purpose in that post was to hear from Christian women about their rationale for wearing clothing that shows off 90% or so of their bodies to public view. My intent was not to slam anybody, but rather to generate conversation. This is a topic that genuinely confounds me. I simply cannot understand how modesty and bikinis go together.

Alas, no Christian women who wear bikinis answered the questions. A few of you broke the rules (you know who you are) by commenting even though you are not Christian women who wear bikinis. Thanks for your interest.

Now I'm going to give the rest of you an opportunity to weigh in on this issue. Anyone is free to answer; you will no longer be labeled a "rule breaker." Of course, I'd prefer to hear from Christian ladies who wear bikinis because it is their reasoning that I'm trying to understand.

Is their lack of responding/commenting due to some sort of shame? Is it because they don't read this blog? Is it because they feel like they will be chastised? I have no idea.

Anyway, feel free to chime in. Let's see where the conversation goes.

16 comments:

Brian said...

They can wear them as long as the bikini is notmade of mixed fibers...

Steve Scott said...

Eric,

Women who wear bikinis don't read your blog. That's why none responded. On the other hand, men who wear bikinis DO read your blog. They are the ones who responded. LOL

Nick Bekker said...

Eric, my guess is that Christian women who wear bikinis don't want to open themselves to you judging them for doing so. You say that you don't want to slam them, but in the next line you say that you cannot understand how modesty and bikinis go together. Well, you've already slammed them! You've told them, that in your considered Christian opinion, they are immodest.

All that aside, as a Christian man, I have no problem with Christian women wearing bikinis (my wife included). I don't think many of them should, because they just don't have the figures to pull it off. As for comparing it to wearing underwear, I think that is a straw-man argument. Underwear is just that, its underwear - nobody wears their underwear in public. That would not only be abnormal, it would be illegal too. A bikini is designed to be worn in public, legally.

Being a man, I've never worn a bikini, but I would guess that wearing a bikini is comfortable, it dries quickly, its convenient when using the bathroom and it allows for a better tan. I also don't think its that much more modest than a skin-tight one-piece. Unless you're suggesting that Christian women either don't bathe, or, wear burkas to the pool.

I really don't know where you're going with this, unless its to suggest a ban on Christian women wearing bikinis, in which case we should ban make up, high heels, jewelry, perfume, skirts above the knee and anything else women do to make themselves look and feel good. And in that case, God help us!

Marshall said...

the top of this well-worn question is simply that Jesus is not stumbled by a bikini; not at all disturbed, not even for "topless" --- unless it would be so out of the person's poverty/need.
for the bottom, modesty has more to do with human actions than for what is clothing the body. Easy to check this... do what you need to become a practicing physician. As a physician, you will likely see male & female patients, and you will re-learn modesty and self-control by way of a certain of necessity.
Still, top is better than bottom for all. what the girls are wearing is truly of little import IF you have the mind of Christ. God looks upon the heart, unraveling even the bikini question.

Eric said...

Nick,

I appreciate the interaction, but your arguments are the typical ones I've heard many times.

First, you point the finger at the person calling bikinis into question (me), and then you label me judgmental. That argument is old and is an attempt to cut off debate.

As for the remainder of what you've said, it's all pragmatics.

I'm hoping to hear a biblical defense of bikinis. So far, no luck.

Eric said...

Marshall,

You wrote, "what the girls are wearing is truly of little import IF you have the mind of Christ." Wow.

How far do you want to take that line of reasoning? What ever happened to not causing your brother to stumble? Should I begin to drink alcohol freely in the presence of my alcoholic friends?

Nick Bekker said...

Eric,

My first comment was not an attempt to cut off the debate (in fact, I entered into the debate). I was merely speculating as to why no Christian women had responded to your blog. I believe my comment is valid. Your position clearly is that Christian women who wear bikinis are immodest. Any woman responding to that is not entering into a debate with you, she is defending herself against your judgement of her as a Christian.

As for pragmatics versus a biblical defense - you're setting up a false dichotomy. There are many things in life, things that we do every day, that are pragmatic, that have no biblical defense or basis. That does not make them bad. There is no biblical defense for brushing teeth, combing hair, for doing exercise or for swimming. Furthermore, there is nothing in the bible telling us how we should dress. In fact, manner of dress is cultural. In some cultures toplessness is acceptable. I would say that in those cultures even Christian women could go topless. In other cultures, such as Thailand, even exposed shoulders are considered immodest. In that culture, Christian women should also cover their shoulders and not even a one-piece costume would be acceptable, unless shorts and a t-shirt are worn over it.

Removing this debate from cultural considerations, I don't understand your problem with seeing Christian female skin. Skin is not erotic. It could be argued that a fully dressed women wearing leggings and a tight top is more immodest than one wearing a sensible bikini.

Eric said...

Nick,

I appreciate your continuing the dialog.

As for judging, I do think it is immodest for any woman to wear a bikini. I also think it is immodest for men to wear speedos. If a Christian lady wants to give a rationale for why she wears hers, then she is welcome to do so. So far none have. If they feel I have judged them, then so be it. If we are afraid to call out things that are controversial then we won't have much to talk about. Scripture tells us again and again to recognize cultural/moral problems.

I'm still waiting for a biblical defense. I still haven't heard one. God clearly calls us to holy living. A bikini shows off all but the most private parts of the human anatomy. I see no way that wearing one can even border on modesty.

Regarding pragmatics, of course we do many pragmatic things. However, some of them have no theological ramifications (brushing teeth). Others do. They cannot be lumped into one group.

As for cultural norms, it is God as opposed to culture who determines His expectations. We are not to be slaves to culture. Granted, we do live in specific cultures and therefore have to go along with some trends. However, to adhere to trends simply because the culture accepts them is a dangerous path to take.

Serious question for you: if a bikini is modest, what is immodest? I ask this question not to win an argument, but because I genuinely would like to hear your answer. Thanks.

Maria said...

I don't wear bikinis but some of my Christian friends do. I don't think they ever really thought about it before...no one has told them it might be immodest. To them, it's just a bathing suit, so it's okay. Their parents and church say nothing on the subject, so it's not even an issue for them.

Eric said...

Maria,

Thanks for responding. I agree with you that many women have never thought about it. I suppose that is true for a lot of us about many things. I guess that's a challenge to us to pass all we think and do through the pages of scripture. We may come to different conclusions, but at least we will have attempted to live according to God's standards instead of those of the world.

Nick Bekker said...

Maria,

Good point. "...its not an issue...". I don't think Christian men who are struggling with lust issues should make it one.

Shalom.

Eric said...

Nick,

You've just done something in your comment to Maria that may seem clever, but it's really just an attempt to confuse the issue. You are claiming that any man who calls bikinis into question is someone who struggles with lust. This is an attempt to shut off the debate.

There are two related issues in play, but they are not the same thing. One is whether or not bikinis are immodest. The other is the sin of lust on the part of males. My post is about the former not the latter. Anyone can write about the latter, which is an important issue, but that's not the purpose of this post.

I asked you a question in a previous comment which you didn't answer. I'll ask it again. If bikinis are modest, what is immodest?

Nick Bekker said...

Eric,

To list what I think is immodest, is to start down the slippery slope of legalism. There is also a good chance that some will think I'm too lenient and others will think that I'm too rigid or conservative. That would lead to disagreement and would be unnecessary and ungodly. If, somehow, we all managed to agree to what is and what isn't immodest, we'd then impose that on everyone around us and would become judgmental, because we would have the standard and the self-imposed mandate by which to judge others (or so we would think anyway). This kind of thinking, taken to its logical conclusion, will bring us to the point of requiring women to cover up their faces, ankles, and necks. Any kind of form-fitting clothing would be deemed as immodest. Breast feeding would be something punishable if not done behind closed doors, and women would be branded as the root of all evil in the world.

The thing is, its not as black and white as you'd like it to be. A lot depends on the person, the prevailing culture and the context. As I mentioned in a previous comment, swimwear that would be considered immodest in Thailand would not be in Brazil.

Would it be immodest If a woman chose to wear a bikini around her own pool in her back garden? Would it be more immodest for a voluptuous single 19yr old to wear a bikini in public than a less voluptuous 38yr old mother of 3?

If you really wanted to pin it down, I would say the issue of immodesty is not about the outward appearance, but about the heart. Its not about how much skin is being exposed. A fully dressed woman could be more immodest than one clad in a bikini. No matter what a woman is wearing, if she is trying to titillate men, other than her husband, she's being immodest - and you cannot define or quantify that.

Eric said...

Nick,

The interesting thing is that I actually agree with much that you are saying. The heart is ultimately the critical issue in all this.

In light of that, my hope is that Christian men and women give much more thought to the issue of modesty than they do. Frankly, it's a subject that just doesn't generate that much discussion.

As with almost all outward behaviors, there can be a tendency toward legalism. There can also be a tendency toward licentiousness. I'm in no way suggesting that women have to cover ankles, etc.

What I am suggesting is that Christian ladies ought to think about whether or not they may cause a Christian brother to stumble through their showing off 95% of their bodies for public view. If they desire to do so at their own swimming pool in the backyard, then fine. To do so at a public pool, beach, etc. is another matter.

Additionally, I don't think God's standards for modesty/immodesty are determined by culture. Fallen culture does not dictate to God what His standards are.

Nick Bekker said...

Eric,

You said,
"Additionally, I don't think God's standards for modesty/immodesty are determined by culture. Fallen culture does not dictate to God what His standards are."

Nor can we dictate what God's standards are when the issue is less than clear. All we can do is uncritically disciple our brothers and sisters and trust that the Spirit will guide them on issues such as these. And allow them their choices with the understanding that the Spirit's guiding of individuals is not something normative that can or should be imposed on others.

We also need to understand that the Spirit works differently in different people and it may take a while to bring them to the point where their standards of modesty match ours. Until that happens, Christian brothers may need to die to self and avoid areas where temptation may overtake them. So, fewer trips to the beach or public pool may be in order. Besides, even if all the Christian sisters stopped wearing bikinis, there are all the non-Christian ones at these places who do and who make Christian brothers stumble by showing of 95% of their bodies.

Eric said...

Nick,

You and I have now talked around this issue quite a bit. I appreciate the conversation.

Alas, I did not receive in these posts what I was hoping for. That was a response from even one Christian woman who wears bikinis. Specifically, I was hoping for a window into her motivations. Why does she choose to show off 95% of her body to everyone in public places?

Instead of a direct answer, I usually receive claims that I'm legalistic or that I have a lust problem. What's happening is that the one asking the question gets attacked instead of a reasoned answer.

I'd still like to hear from a woman on this issue. So far the responses have been almost nil.

My only conclusion is that the women do not want to share their motivations. It's fascinating that they are willing to share almost all of their bodies for view but not their motivations.