Monday, February 9, 2015

To Yoga Pants or not to Yoga Pants

Perhaps you'll remember a couple weeks back when your News Feeds and Twitter Feeds were blowing up with Veronica Partridge's Why I Chose to no Longer Wear Leggings article. Well, as with any article that goes viral, there are going to be responses offered. Today I ran across one of these response articles. It's called Ten Things We Should Get Angry about Before Yoga Pants

You should read both of these articles before moving on to mine. 


Okay, as someone who has a penchant for medium-rare red meat, turbocharged horsepower, and the smell of discharged .223 cartridges, my mojo probably has me reading the "Ten Things" article a little bit differently than you fairer, more beautifully shaped image bearers. 

I'll be the first to agree with the author, that we spend lots of time —too much time— in our public Christian discourse arguing about stuff that's largely irrelevant to our primary mission of making disciples; and that many of those stupid intramural arguments, when they've gone public, do much to undermine the good news message of Jesus we want people to receive. That said, I don't think the "to yoga pants or not to yoga pants" conversation is one of those irrelevant discussions. Modesty matters. 

I'm sorta left wondering why Ashley didn't contrast her "Ten Things We Should Get Angry About Before Yoga Pants" against something that's truly irrelevant. Like, whether or not Katy "the Apostate" Perry was covertly communicating Illuminati propaganda to millions of unsuspecting viewers during her Super Bowl Half Time performance. Yup, I've actually seen plenty of speculation and arguments online about that stupid topic. Why go after modesty? 

I'd like it if we Christians could be known for getting angry about the types of things she thinks we need to get angry about too. Leggings just don't sound like they rank very high on a list that includes Sudanese refugees and global malnutrition. But before we blanch at discussing the topic based on its relatively low appearing priority, let's make sure we understand that leggings here merely serve as a place holder for a broader discussion of Christian liberty and appropriate Christian attire. And that's not irrelevant for Christian living at all. Modesty matters. 

Unfortunately, I suspect that Ashley may be after something other than her stated purpose —possibly unbeknownst to herself. I could be wrong—and I reserve my right to be wrong— but the article reads to my testosterone bathed brain like she may just like her "...beloved yoga pants" too much to bear the conversation. 

To that end, I think the premise of her argument —to get angry at worthwhile injustices and not at yoga pants— is a Tu quoque fallacy (an appeal to hypocrisy). If you boil her argument down, it's this, "Don't talk about the immodesty of Christian women wearing leggings —and the desire they incite in men who catch a glimpse of the well-toned posteriors that those pants are designed to showcase— because we Christians have hungry people to feed and lonely orphans to adopt." You'll note that her argument doesn't demonstrate why the leggings conversation is irrelevant or unimportant to men who might stumble into sin. It's more like, let's just sideline yoga pants because the blogosphere needs to be working for something more noble than Christian modesty. It's certainly not the most important thing upon which we need to spend our day, but neither is it unimportant. —And, for the record, the analogy she draws from Luke 6 breaks down rather quickly on this topic.  

Fact is, modesty does matter to Christians and our disciple-making mission a great deal. What we wear tells our neighbor something of what we believe about fallen humanity and our Christian understanding of sexuality. And if our clothing can communicate those things then our clothing has the capacity to teach people what we believe about anthropology and human flourishing. That's discipleship, sisters. Lock this one in, the question isn't whether or not you're going to endeavor to disciple people —you're always discipling those around you— the question is what are you going to disciple those people to believe? What you wear, ladies, teaches uninformed and weaker Christian brothers and sisters how they should think about a woman's body. It teaches our daughters how to bare their figures in public so that they too can one day become a consumable commodity for voracious male libidos. It teaches our sons that what you tell them about pornography, and how it objectifies and uses women, only applies to naked woman on the computer, not Christian women who wear pants that put their heart-shaped rear ends on full display. 

Besides all that, I see lots of people getting upset and advocating for the types of things she'd rather have us worry about. The problem is, is that most people don't find appeals for more Christian adoption or fighting against sex slavery overly controversial —and controversy is the engine that drives these types of stories viral. But you know what? People do get upset when controversy surrounds or threatens their idol. If you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the dog you hit. What's your idol? Could it be yoga pants, leggings, feminism, pride, or autonomy? I'm not trying to answer that question for you. What do you think?

It's a worthwhile discussion to have, whether we should spend time talking about such things in front of a watching world, but Ashley's well written argument just doesn't convince me that she's really thought the topic through —or the thousands of other ladies she's led to share her article online. It seems to me that the article, while sincerely conceived, devalues an important discussion about modesty and provides women with an apologetic —albeit a flawed one— for wearing leggings and silencing the people who'd question the wisdom of their liberty to do so in public. 

I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. 

[Some of you ladies will undoubtedly balk at the notion that we men are so driven by our sexual urges. You are either incredibly naive or willfully ignorant. Let me put it this way, the degree to which I don't understand what it's like to go through your PMS and all its associated symptoms, is proportionate to the degree that you don't understand what it's like for me to resist looking at you in your tight little form fitting pants. And lest you miss this little chestnut of information, your husbands and your sons and your dads and your pastors and your creepy neighbor down the street —all of us guys— we all come equipped with the same God given hormones that —left unrestrained by grace-driven effort— make us want to have sex with what we imagine to be a scant millimeter's breadth beneath that Lycra you're sporting. Think about it!

True story: Just as I was finishing pounding out this article on my iPhone —on a very slow day at work— I heard one of my workmates say to another, "Dude, I can't stop thinking about sex." 

Yesterday, I walked in on my boss as he was looking at porn on his computer. 

Men, apart from the grace of God, are dogs.]


etg said...

This is why I love Josh!

Josh Elsom said...

I'm not sure how to take that, etg. :)

mikeabouttown said...

good stuff Josh! Thanks man....

Michael Coughlin said...

Worthwhile reading. I, too, found her comparison to pharisees to be a poor analogy, not to mention it's a rather uncharitable comparison to make.

Not to mention the fact that she 'spent time' talking about Yoga pants...oh well. I suppose we will always have people who hate holiness and rail against it until Jesus returns.

Great point about how we are all discipling someone, too.

Sarsha said...

I read her post and thought "there are millions of young boys being trapped by pornography, my own eleven-year-old brother being one of them. So let's talk about leggings."
The modesty discussion is far deeper than protecting mature grown men and avoiding perverts. It's about our young men. Our little boys. The boys that you think are still too young and cute to have sexual thoughts. I tell you what, it makes me angry to see you in the stores with your breasts hanging out of your top and your "spray painted legs" underneath and my little brother trying to avoid looking at you. You are poisoning his mind. You are feeding his new perverted interests in women's sexuality. You are leading him to go home and Google "woman with no underwear. Woman with no clothes." You showed him up close and personal what your naked body looks like with fabric stretched over it. You showed him every crease of your bottom and every jiggle with every step. Now it's burning in his little eleven-year-old mind to see you with nothing. What does it look like under that tiny layer of spandex?
Don't even try go go and feed orphans. Don't try to care for the homeless and the hungry. They're distracted. By your rear. By your lack of care for their eyes and hearts. You care about their stomachs, but not their minds. You care about their souls, but not about feeding their minds with improper sexual thoughts.

Rant over. Just think about it. It's not okay to wear leggings as pants. You do not have freedom in Christ to make little boys want to see you naked.