Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To Skirt or Not To Skirt... (Part One)

...that is the question. Or rather internal struggle/debate which is really more of a story. Like all stories, it had a beginning. Unlike most stories, it has yet to receive an ending. Every time I think i manage to get to a comfortable place in this internal struggle/debate of mine, I find that the very next day I'm even more lost and confused than I was before. However, let me get into this by letting you know where this story began.

This story began with the Duggar family. I had TLC on one time and I saw one of their specials. I thought it was really cool that this HUGE family (16 kids at the time) was building their own home - or at least were helping to build their own home. I thought it was pretty cool. I didn't hear or see anything of them for quite some time. It was only a few years later, while I was living with my now husband, that I turned on TLC and happened to watch a rather large family going to a creation museum. I was a bit surprised when I later found out that this was the same family that I saw building their own home just two years prior. At first, I thought this was just a family of religious nuts, and I spent most of the time just rolling my eyes - yet I couldn't seem to get myself to change the channel. You would think that if I had such an aversion to seeing and listening to what I viewed as their "backwards beliefs" I would change the channel. Well, I didn't. I don't really know why I didn't. It may have to do with the fact that I am a very stubborn person, that I love arguing with peopleabout any topic (I'll even argue the side I don't agree with just to debate with someone). Or, it was "a God thing." Lately, I really think it must have been a God thing because there is no way I could have known that watching this show would really make me rethink a lot of my beliefs and values.

So, I watched that episode and at least one other that day, and there was something that made me grab my remote and record some more episodes of this show with this really big family. Something about their lifestyle intrigued me. I realize now, that it was this certain "at peace" feeling they all seemed to have. Yes, there were restless kids and hyper babies and crying and all that. Teenagers who didn't always WANT to do as they were told, but did it anyway. Yet, they seemed so comfortable in their own skins. Something I have definitely NEVER been.

I started watching this TV show around the same time that I started to explore what I wanted as a minor. My major was history, but I really needed a minor because the history major was so few credit hours, and I needed to get to at least 120 in order to graduate with my BA. So I took a psychology course, and I took a random Judaic studies course. I don't really know what made me take this class. I had always had a belief in God, and loved studying the Bible from a academic standpoint. So I took this course entitled "Romantic Love in the Bible."

Somewhere in the midst of studying, I realized I wanted to make Judaic studies my minor. It really fit well with my history major and it gave me a class to really look forward to enjoying. As a Christian, it might have seemed a little bit strange to be studying the Bible from the Jewish perpective. However, the historian in me found this way made more sense that studying it any other way. The Bible was, afterall, written and edited and interpreted by the Jewish priests for a few hundred years before Jesus Christ ever walked onto the scene. Early Christians, as I learned in my ancient Rome class, didn't even call themselves Christians. They still considered themselves to be Jewish!! Which makes sense when you really think about the fact that they were Jews who believed that the Messiah had finally come.

Anyways, as I started to learn more, and got to reading my Bible more, I started to become curious. I realized I never saw the Duggar girls wearing pants. I knew a lot of Orthodox Jewish women wore only skirts, but I'd never really known Christians to do so. I started my hunt. I started my hunt to find out if the Duggar females ever wore pants, or if they only wore skirts, and if so, what was their reason for doing so?

I googled everything I could to learn about why more conservative religious women wore only skirts and refrained from wearing pants. So I started to do my research and the first example I found was actually a verse from the Bible.

"A woman must not put on men's clothingn and a man must not wear women's clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the Lord your God." (Deuternomy 22:5 NLT)

Well, that's nice, I thought. But it didn't answer my question. At least not about conservative Christians. Most Chrsitians have a belief that when Jesus Christ died for our sins, the need to follow all the laws on the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, died with Him because He fulfilled that "contrct." So to speak. So, while many Christians believe the Old Testament is full of knowledge and wisdom and great examples of how we should and should not behave (think King David), they don't really agree with the whole "don't wear pants because its in deuteronomy philosophy." Not to mention the argument that goes "I don't wear men's pants. I wear women's pants and thus I'm following what this says."

So, why is it that very conservative Christian women wear skirts?

Well, theres a hidden little nugget in the New Testament that a lot of people overlook. There is some debate on this verse, but the general consensus says (and please note that I don't speak Greek, which is what the text was written in and cannot verify the accuracy of this) that 1 Timothy 2:9 basically requires the wearing of skirts.

"likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire" (1 Timothy 2:9 ESV).

Now, this can be interpreted a lot of ways, as my research showed me. Some say that it just means we shouldn't go overboard with how we style our hair. Stay simple and humble in your apparel. One thing I learned (again I haven't checked the validity of it because I don't know where to do so) is that apparently the word used for apparel is katastole. A word that does not just mean apparel but "long-flowing garment." So, when running through a checklist, we realize that shorts - usually not long, definitely not very flowy; jeans- long but not flowy; skirts- you can get them longer and they are generally flowy when not too tight. Oh and these sites also say that this is the only place in the New Testament that the word is used (or the entire Bible).

Other sites I found (ok so only one so far) say that katastole does not mean "long flowing garment" though are a little vague on what exactly it does mean. This site also says that katastole appears throughout the New Testament.

So, the question remains one whether or not skirts are the biblically acceptable apparel for women, and if so, then should I turn to wearing only skirts?

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