Swimsuit Edition: Dress-code vs. The Gospel
This week, we are removing the ban on two-piece swimsuits.
Let me explain it through a personal experience…
A couple of years ago, I went to Haiti and contracted a notorious water-borne parasite, called Cryptosporidium. When I returned to the States, my health began a sad trajectory. Out of multiple effects caused by Crypto, one of them was exhaustion. I slept all day, and I slept all night. But exhaustion was the symptom, not the cause. So when I kept going after the symptoms by drinking coffee, my condition only worsened.
It was when I launched a direct attack on the parasite in my body with powerful antibiotics that I got better.
In retrospect, I marvel at having spent eight months attacking symptoms, when the parasite was far beyond the reach of my coffee. It was as nonsensical as putting makeup on measles. So it is with college students and swimsuit dress-codes. For the past two years, I enforced dress-codes at our annual lake trip because of two glaring problems:
- Guys stumbled over temptation, and…
- Girls stumbled over appreciation.
Our reply, “Girls, please wear a dark shirt over your swimsuits so boys don’t stumble over you.” There is a clear call to modesty, but here’s why strict adherence to the above line will always fail…
Strict dress-codes are a failure to appropriate the Gospel of Jesus for a “direct attack.”
Men will fail to grasp the gospel when they hide in a phony shelter where no one has to practice the implications of resisting temptation. They will cop-out to the flimsy power of a t-shirt to nip their fiery lusts, but when they return to the real world, will find that they are ill-equipped to deal with their own sin. This will probably lead them to antinomianism (the belief that one is freed from the moral law, e.g. “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery…” Matt. 5:28). And the cycle will continue.
On the other hand, women may adhere to a “standard” of what they’re supposed to look like, based on what they think men want to see—given our unreasonable demands—or the appearance of other women. This comes from fear, and misplaced identities.
The real fault comes with the leadership that tries to tackle the toxicity of lust and image worship, by demanding that women wear dark shirts in 90 degree weather at a lake that’s supposed to be fun, instead of calling men to treat women as sisters (1 Tim 5:2), and women to adorn themselves with the cloth of “good works” (1 Tim. 2:9-10). A failure to handle the Gospel in such a small situation will result in detriment, when women return home sustained only by legalism, while the men ride on their addiction to cheap grace.
We think we can kill a parasite by drinking a gallon of French Roast.
My friends, if you want to kill sin, you don’t have to put on a different shirt. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14).