Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gender Roles: Leadership?

This is a follow-up to my post -- Gender Roles in Marriage: Are They Right?.

Yesterday I wrote on how I don't believe our cultures "gender roles" in marriage are (or should be) reality. Inside of this post I write a sidenote that said,
Also, sidenote... I do have a desire for Eric to lead our marriage. However, this is a personal decision, not something that I believe should be prescriptive for all marriages. I like the idea of Eric being a leader (especially since he's such a humble, caring man), but I will never pressure him to lead, nor will I judge anyone who disagrees - this is just a personal thing that I like to see in my marriage.
I would like to explain this thought further.  This desire that I have doesn't come from any "Biblical" basis, nor is it something that I feel should be normative for all marriages. I absolutely 100% believe that marriage should be an equal partnership and there should be mutual submission and respect between both parties.

It was asked of me yesterday though why I have a desire for Eric to lead in our relationship. This is a good question, and something I hadn't really thought much about before, because in my mind it's always been that I'm an indecisive person and would rather defer my decisions to another person. Is this right or wrong? I'm not sure - and that's something that I'm going to continue thinking about.

There's a possibility that I would rather defer decision-making to Eric because I'm insecure. Throughout my entire life this has been my struggle. I'm often not confident in my decision-making because I'm so afraid I'm going to make the wrong one. Is this always the case with Eric? No, it's not. There are many times when we make decisions together and I make it clear if I'm uncomfortable with a certain decision. But probably more often than not this is why I defer to him. I'm not saying that the reasons for my desire to defer to Eric are always the right ones or the wrong ones. But hear me on this - I'm talking about big decisions that need to be made, not daily decisions or things that will only affect me and not him. I can easily make those decisions on my own - the decisions I'm talking about are financial in nature or regarding the "bigger picture."

I also trust Eric - I trust him with my life. I know that he has the ability to be confident in his decisions, and I know that he will make decisions that will be the best for both of us. He is a far more confident person than I am, so until I can be more secure, I would rather defer to him. In saying that though, please also note that I do believe communication is absolutely necessary - I would never make a big decision without talking to him, and vice-versa. We strive for unity in our marriage, and you can't have unity if one person is making all the decisions without consulting the other person as well.

As far as spiritual leadership is concerned, this is somewhere I know I disagree with many people. I don't believe that the husband is supposed to be the spiritual leader at all times. I believe to put that pressure on my husband is doing him a great disservice and not allowing him to be as a person. Let me explain.

There are ebbs and flows to every believer's spiritual walk. Sometimes we walk through a time of incredible closeness to Christ, and our relationship with Him flourishes. However, there are other times when we remain stagnant or reach a "dry" period in our faith. I think every believer experiences this at one time or another, whether they are willing to admit it or not. If I were to put the pressure on Eric to be on a "spiritual high" at all times, I wouldn't be fair to him. If he is ever in a dry point in his relationship with Christ, I would much rather give him that time to breathe and figure things out than pressure him to "be better" or be in a different place. I would want him to do the same thing for me, and he has done that for me in the past.

Marriage is a give-and-take relationship. There are ebbs and flows to marriage. There are ups and downs, and there is a lot of back-and-forth. It's unfair to pin all the responsibilities of leadership and different roles on one person, because we all have mountains and valleys in our lives. To give each other room to breathe - room to be - is a beautiful thing. Doing so implies an understanding toward one another that allows for unity and teamwork. I would much rather see Eric as my teammate who sometimes acts as a "captain" (sports references...) than this man who has power over me. Sometimes I will be called to act as the "captain" as well, and I am more than happy to do so.

I hope this explained a little more of what I believe and where I'm at. I know I don't have all the answers and I'm still figuring things out, but that's what life is all about, right? No one has it figured out - that's why we're on this journey. :) If anyone has any further questions, please let me know!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gender Roles in Marriage: Are They Right?

When Eric and I got married, I felt an enormous amount of pressure from myself to be the type of wife that I thought I "should" be. I thought it was my responsibility to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. while also working and being (at the time) a pastor's wife. I heaped all this pressure on myself because I was taught (from society) that this was what a "good" wife does. After all, I'm supposed to be the Proverbs 31 wife, right?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about "Gender Rules" and whether or not those are actually true. So, here are a few points on why I'm not a fan of this whole idea:


1. I am not a "Proverbs 31 Wife."

After a few months of trying to do everything, I (and Eric) realized it wasn't working out - and then I was honest.

I don't like cooking.

If you really like to cook, that's awesome. More power to you - but I've never had a passion for it. I'm not good at it. I don't enjoy it. Whenever I cook, I try to make the easiest thing possible that doesn't take a long time, because I really don't like being in the kitchen very much. Eric, on the other hand, really enjoys cooking and he's really good at it. So who am I to stand in the way of that, all in the name of "wifely duties?"

I judged myself for a long time for not wanting to cook (and for refusing to clean the bathroom...gross), but Eric always encouraged me not to find my value as a wife in those things. I always thought of myself as a sucky wife because I let our apartment get a little messy and I don't always fold the laundry right away, but in spite of all of that Eric would look me in the eye and say, "You're a great wife." ...But why? Aren't I supposed to do all these things that I'm not doing? How could I still be a good wife?

And then he told me.

I respect him. I support him. I encourage him. I love him. I challenge him.

And sure, I'm definitely not perfect, but those are the things he cares about - not whether dinner is ready by the time he gets home from work or not.

I am not - and never will be - a "Proverbs 31 wife."

Let's go through all the specific areas of Proverbs 31 in which I don't fit:

         - I don't "seek wool." (v.13)
         - I don't "bring food from afar." (v.14)
         - I don't get up before the sun. (v. 15)
         - I don't make breakfast for Eric, nor do we have servants. (v. 15)
         - I don't buy fields, nor do I have a garden. (v. 16)
         - I don't sell merchandise. (v. 18)
         - I don't sew. (v. 19)
         - I don't "clothe" Eric in red. (v. 21)
         - I don't wear "fine linens." (v. 22)
         - I don't sell clothes. (v. 24)

Okay. So, you get the gist. According to this list, I really suck as a wife. However, I would venture to say there are deeper meanings to this passage beyond just a prescriptive list of things wives/women are "supposed" to do.

Rachel Held Evans discusses this issue in her post, Women of Valor: It's about character, not roles. She says,
"The subject of a twenty-two-line poem found in the last chapter of the book of Proverbs, the 'wife of noble character' -- or, more properly translated, eshet chayil - "woman of valor -- is meant to be a tangible expression of the book's celebrated virtue of wisdom. ...Like any good poem, the purpose of this one is to draw attention to the often-overlooked glory of the everyday.
The author is essentially showing us what wisdom looks like in action. The only instructive language it contains is direct toward men, with the admonition that a thankful husband honor his wife 'for all that her hands have done.' the Jewish tradition, it is the men who memorize Proverbs 31, so they know how to honor their wives.
And yet many Christians interpret this passage prescriptively, as a command to women rather than an ode to women, with the home-based endeavors of the Proverbs 31 woman cast as the ideal lifestyle for all women of faith.  ...No longer presented as a song through which a man offers his wife praise, Proverbs 31 is presented as a task list through which a woman earns it.
...It's not the domestic accomplishments of the Proverbs 31 Woman that matter, but rather her virtues of wisdom and valor."

2. Eric and I do certain things because we're good at them - not because he's a man and I'm a woman.

This point isn't a very long one, but:

Eric enjoys fixing computers. He enjoys working on technology. He enjoys fixing our cars. Does he enjoy those things or do those things simply because he's a man? I would venture to say absolutely not. I have full confidence that I could do any of those things (well, maybe not the car thing because I'm just hopeless with cars) and do them well. I really enjoy computers and I'm good with them. Most of the time if my computer has an issue with something I can figure it out without asking Eric. How can I do this? Because I understand computers. I get them. I can see the problem and figure it out almost all the time.

Eric enjoys cooking, and he's much better at it than I am. Will I tell him not to cook just because I'm the woman and that's the way things should be?

I'm better at cleaning than Eric (even though I don't enjoy it), not because I'm a woman, but simply because I'm more detail-oriented than he is. I am more prone to noticing dirt than he is, simply because that's who I am. I see the areas that he doesn't see. It has nothing to do with the idea that he's a man and therefore a slob, but everything to do with the fact that I see those details more readily than he does.

Eric and I were created differently - we both have different talents, gifts, and personality traits. Just because I have a certain personality trait doesn't mean it's because I'm a woman, and vice-versa. Eric and I are on this journey together, and we are called to work cooperatively in accordance with our gifts and talents - it would be counter-productive for us to do something we're not good at simply because it's what we're "supposed" to do.

3. Submission...?

This is a point where I know I'll disagree with many people. In Christian culture today we hear (and read, unfortunately) all the time about how wives need to submit to their husbands. However, through studying Scripture and the context surrounding Ephesians 5:22-33, I can't help but notice that Paul commands every believer to submit to one another (15-21).
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for the is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." 
THEN he goes into talking about wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. Here's how I interpret it, and an analogy (which is probably similar to what Paul was doing):

Imagine you were a pastor. In evaluating your church, maybe you saw that there were specific issues that needed to be worked out. So in order to address those issues, first you talk about what the members of your church should all be doing for one another (submitting to one another, loving each other, etc.). Afterwards, you point out the specific problem areas in your church. For Paul, it was that the wives weren't submitting to their husbands, and the husbands weren't loving their wives.

Remember, everyone is called to love and submit to one another. 

It is entirely possible that the women had no problem loving their husbands, but instead had issues of submitting to them. Paul saw a specific issue with the Ephesian church, and thus he addressed it. I cannot interpret that passage without that cultural context nor the context of the rest of the chapter/book.

Eric and I are really, really against this idea of "patriarchy" where whatever the husband says, goes. We see each other as equals and we make the decisions for our marriage together. Sure, I let him make most of the financial decision for us as long as I'm comfortable with them, but that's just because I hate dealing with money (and well...he works at a bank).

Eric desires for me to share my thoughts and opinions on things in our marriage and in life in general. He wants to hear from me - he doesn't have this urge to lord power over me or to make decisions without talking to me about it first. This is true for me as well. I don't want to make decisions without discussing it with Eric, because our marriage is an equal partnership. It's a give-and-take. And we love it that way.

[Also, sidenote... I do have a desire for Eric to lead our marriage. However, this is a personal decision, not something that I believe should be prescriptive for all marriages. I like the idea of Eric being a leader (especially since he's such a humble, caring man), but I will never pressure him to lead, nor will I judge anyone who disagrees - this is just a personal thing that I like to see in my marriage.]

4. We are all called to humble ourselves and love one another.

I think I will let Scripture speak for itself here:
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do not thing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." - Philippians 2:1-4
 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:34-35
 "Clothes yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." - 1 Peter 5:5b
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." - 1 John 4:7-12
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Marriage does not exempt people from this. When two people get married, they don't suddenly get a new list of "rules" they need to follow, nor a new set of "roles" to which they must adhere.

We are called to treat one another with love, respect, kindness, humility, and selflessness -- regardless of whether we're a husband or a wife, a man or a woman.

*I am planning on writing on the story of Hosea and Gomer soon (how it isn't supposed to be prescriptive for all marriages), and would love any resources any of you can send me on that topic!*

Friday, June 21, 2013

Evolution of the Swimsuit - A Response.

For anyone who has not seen the video, "Evolution of the Swimsuit," you can watch it here:

Most of you know by now that I am against the moralization of one-piece swimsuits. I am writing this response because a) a few people have asked me to, and b) because there are many, many things I disagree with this woman about.

First of all, Jessica Rey is the designer of a line of "modest" swimsuits available online, and this talk she gave was a promotion of that. In this review/response I will attempt to look at what she says in her speech and what her website shows about her belief on modesty.

1. The Itsy-Bitsy-Teeny-Weeny-Yellow-Polka-Dot-Bikini

In this video, Rey discusses this song by Bobby Darin as part of her defense as to why women should be modest. Here are the lyrics:

She was afraid to come out of the lockershe was as nervous as she could beshe was afraid to come out of the lockershe was afraid that somebody would see
Two three fourtell the people what she wore
It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikinithat she wore for the first time todayan Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikiniso in the locker she wanted to stay
Two three fourstick around well tell you more
She was afraid to come out in the openso a blanket around her she woreshe was afraid to come out in the openand so she sat bundled up on the shore
Two three fourtell the people what she wore
It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikinithat she wore for the first time todayan Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikiniso in the blanket she wanted to stay
Two three fourstick around well tell you more
Now she's afraid to come out of the waterand i wonder what she's gunna donow she's afraid to come out of the waterand the poor little girls turning blue
Two three fourtell the people what she wore
It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikinithat she wore for the first time todayan Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikiniso in the water she wanted to stay
From the locker to the blanketfrom the blanket to the shorefrom the shore to the wateryes there isn't anymore[ From: ]
From these lyrics, Rey says that the reason that the woman was struggling to come out of the dressing room and the water was because she has an "inner-sense of modesty" and knows that she should be more covered up. However, I very much disagree with this assessment. 
Throughout the song, Darin talks about how this woman was "afraid." She was afraid to come out of the dressing room, afraid to come out of the towel, and afraid to come out of the water. She was afraid someone would see her. He then goes on to "tell the people what she wore." I can find no other interpretation for these these other than she was afraid of judgment. She was afraid what people would think, what they would say, and how shocked they would be by what she wore. I don't believe at all that it was an inner-sense of modesty that this woman had - if that were the case, she wouldn't have bought the bikini in the first place.
This is what I spoke to in my previous post. We are such a judgmental culture that women are afraid to step out in public wearing something that might be considered immodest and might cause men to stumble, and that is absolutely the wrong motivation to wear certain items of clothing. Women should be able to decide for themselves what they want to wear, what they are okay with wearing, and what kinds of fashions they enjoy. (I have said this before, but I don't want to step on the toes of parents who disagree with me - whatever you teach your children is your business and your right. Children and teenagers need to follow the rules of their parents. I am strictly talking about adult women who are no longer under parental authority.)
Wearing a bikini in the 50's and early 60's was groundbreaking. People absolutely would have judged that woman for wearing what she did, especially when we remember what life was actually like for women in the 50's.

2. Life in the 50's
Rey points back to the 50's and talks about how it was a time when women were seen as "classy." She uses Audrey Hepburn as an example of what it means to be "modest" and fashionable at the same time. She goes through how women would wear long one-pieces and would change in their own "boxes" before venturing out onto the beach.
Going back to the time of the 50's as an idyllic time is astonishing to me. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why that time period is better than today. I know that many people say it was a simpler time and life was "good" back then, but here's the thing: even though women were "modest," they still weren't respected as equals.
Women had their "place" in the 50's, and it was just commonly known what a woman/wife was supposed to do and be. She was supposed to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, she was expected to clean the home, and she was supposed to have dinner ready on the table for her husband when he came home from his long day of work. 
The History Channel says,
"In fact, the booms of the 1950s had a particularly confining effect on many American women. Advice books and magazine articles (“Don’t Be Afraid to Marry Young,” “Cooking To Me Is Poetry,” “Femininity Begins At Home”) urged women to leave the workforce and embrace their roles as wives and mothers. The idea that a woman’s most important job was to bear and rear children was hardly a new one, but it began to generate a great deal of dissatisfaction among women who yearned for a more fulfilling life."
...Does that sound like equality to you? Now, hear me out: I'm not saying that women need to work in order to be equal to men, but the encouragement of women to marry young, leave work, and only stay at home is a definite sign of inequality. Equality would mean encouraging women to do what they wanted - if they didn't want to get married young, great. If they wanted to work, great. If they wanted to be stay-at-home wives and mothers, great. 
There is a reason for the feminist movement in the 60's. Women were dissatisfied with their lives and felt suppressed by society - they weren't allowed to do what they wanted, but rather were expected to stay at home. No matter how "modest" these women were, they were still treated unequally. Here are just a few ads from that time period:

3. Reaching Back to Another Time as Idyllic for Modesty
Okay. This just... What? I don't understand this. Not only was the 50's a time of inequality for women, it was also a completely different culture than we live in now. If we were to take the same kind of mentality, then why not go all the way back to this:

Honestly. THAT was "modest" in a different time-period and culture in America. If we're not satisfied with what is acceptable in our culture now, then why not go all the way back to the 1700's and 1800's? That's the slippery slope you get into with that kind of thinking. It's illogical and unsound.

Fashion and what is acceptable is completely culture.  As I have stated in previous posts, there are different cultures all over the world where different kinds of dress are culturally acceptable and unacceptable. Women cover up much more down in Haiti than on the beaches in Europe, and there are tribes in Africa where the women don't even wear tops. So what is culturally acceptable in the United States? 

Now, before we go to that place of listing out what is and isn't acceptable, remember this: There was never supposed to be a complete separation between Christianity and secular culture. The Pharisees separated themselves from the "sinners" by their legalism, and look where that landed them. Yes, we're supposed to be "in this world but not of it," but we are also called to be culturally relevant. How can we even remotely reach out to those who don't know Christ if we're constantly worried about how much fabric we or they are wearing? 

4. "It's about revealing our dignity."

Honestly, most of my responses to this video are... "What?" Jessica Rey's full quote is, "Modesty isn't about covering up our bodies because they're bad. Modesty isn't about hiding ourselves. It's about revealing our dignity."

I'm not going to give this quote much time, but...

Okay. To give Rey some credit, I'm glad that she said what modesty shouldn't be about (even though it really is), but here's my question. Where's my dignity hiding that it only comes out when I've got the right amount of fabric on my body? Does my dignity run away until I plaster 6 inches of fabric over my torso and then all of a sudden it shouts, "HEY I'M HERE." No. I am a human being. And as such, I have dignity - no matter what I'm wearing. Case Closed.

5. Have you SEEN the website? Who are these swimsuits made for, anyway?

Okay. I'm confused. I went onto the Rey Swimwear website and looked around, and not only did I find that these are not one-pieces but tankinis, they also seem to be made for rich, thin, young women. Granted, there are some swimsuits on sale for $29, but the average is $49 (plus shipping) and it goes upwards to $90 for the swimsuits that Rey talks about being inspired by Audrey Hepburn (which I'm assuming she promoted her so women would want to buy those styles - which is honestly just being a smart saleswoman). 

First off, as Dianna Anderson (a fellow Christian Feminist, and here is her website) pointed out via Twitter, tankinis are DANG hard to swim in - the tops are impossible to keep down when you're in the water, and that makes things just incredibly complicated and frustrating. 

Secondly, the sizes for these swimsuits only go to 16. There are no plus-size options. So what happens then to the women who desire to be modest but only fit into plus-sizes? They aren't good enough to buy those swimsuits. 

The point here is this: for all the talk that Jessica Rey does about how important modesty is for all women, she has a pretty narrow view of what women's body types are like and doesn't adjust accordingly so that all women who want to be modest can be. It's easy for her to think about being modest because she's tiny. However, many other women are not. Abi Bechtel responds to this kind of attitude toward plus-sized women in her blog post, "Fat, Modesty, and Eating Twinkies Naked."


I know that there are many other topics in the video that I didn't hit on - I didn't mention the Princeton study simply because I haven't done the research required to know exactly what that's about (even though I know there are too many variables in that study for me to consider it credible and I completely disagree with surveying only men in their early 20's). I also partly didn't go into everything because I'm a week out of major surgery and I'm tired. I only have so much energy to be angry about so many things (haha).
All of this being said though, I am very disappointed to see so many people loving this video. I think it appeals to all those who already agree with Modesty Culture so this is something they can point to in order to say, "Aha! See, SCIENCE!" Unfortunately though, actual critical thinking really hasn't been involved on this. 
I am desperate for people to actually think critically about the things they see and hear. We so often read and watch things that we agree with and fail to interact with it on an intellectual level. Instead we like what we hear, so we automatically hit "share" on Facebook and Twitter. We refuse to actually have intelligent discussions on matters like these but instead stomp our feet and point the finger at those who disagree with us (I know it's true, because I unfortunately do it all the time). 
Please, friends. Please think critically about these things. Please don't just look at your own side of the debate - interact and discuss with those you disagree with, and maybe we'll find understanding and stop judging one another.
I invite discussion on all my posts. I really do. I want people to tell me what they think (in an intelligent and respectful way) so that we can talk about it with each other. That's the only way this discussion/debate is going to get anywhere and the only way we are going to have peace even in our disagreements. 

*For the record, I don't care what you decide to wear to the beach/pool. If you want to wear a one-piece, tankini, bikini, speedo, etc., I honestly don't care. Because the way I perceive it, the only thing that is culturally unacceptable in the United States is going nude. So whatever you decide to wear, wear it. And wear it confidently. 

**Also, I've noticed some passive-aggressiveness towards me on my Facebook in regards to this topic. If there's anything that I hate, it's that. If you have something to say to me about what I believe and want to talk about it further, please tell me. Not everyone else on Facebook. If you want to comment on my posts, awesome. I'm completely open to that - I want to invite that as long as it is well-thought and respectful - and I look forward to discussing this issue.**

***This post is part of a Synchro-blog/Link-Up on From Two to One. Make sure you check out the other amazing posts on there!***

Thursday, June 20, 2013

FINALLY Home From the Hospital!

Hey, everyone!

For those of you who haven't seen my barrage of Facebook posts and Tweets, I'm finally home after a grueling last few days! Here's how it went down (I'll leave out the gory details):

I had surgery on Friday morning (the 14th). I checked in at 6 am, but I don't think my actual surgery started until about 10 am. I was scheduled to be in for 4 1/2 hours, but everything went so smoothly they were done in 2 1/2! That was such a huge praise, because even though I still had to deal with a lot of issues afterwards, I would've had to deal with even more issues the longer I was under anesthesia.

I started eating solid foods that evening (which was CRAZY), and even though a couple of my organs (my bladder, in particular) had some trouble waking up, I did really well for the most part while I was still at Mayo. They released me on the 16th because I was doing so well, but unfortunately things started going downhill from there.

We're not really sure what did it - it may have been the "trauma" from an hour and a half drive home, it may have been that I was released too early, it may have been that I ate solid foods too early... we're not really sure. When I got home I almost immediately started feeling nauseated, but I hoped it would go away. Unfortunately we weren't given any nausea medication, so there wasn't a whole lot we could do to stop it. Late Sunday night my nausea became so extreme that I started vomiting and had to be rushed to the ER. Let me tell you... For someone who has never had an experience in the ER like that before... It was scary. They pumped me full of meds and did X-Rays and CT-Scans right away.

They found out that what was left of my colon hadn't really woken up yet, so when I was eating food it wasn't going anywhere (thus it came back up). They were very strict about not letting me have anything to eat or drink on Monday, but on Tuesday morning they bumped me to clear liquids, then full liquids, and then on Wednesday morning they let me have solid food. Since I was able to keep everything down, they finally released me Wednesday afternoon! Since then, I've been doing really well.

Right now I'm actually not on any pain medications - my doctor at our local hospital told me that narcotics slow the system down which means I could end up having another episode like I had on Sunday night. As soon as he said that I decided it would be nothing but Tylenol for me! I haven't needed anything at all yet though, which is a huge praise. The main thing that gets to me now is the anxiety and the exhaustion.

All that being said, here are some things I could use some prayer for:

1. Anxiety - Ever since the surgery (and especially after Sunday night), I've had a lot of trouble sleeping due to anxiety. When I was at the hospital they gave me medications to help me sleep, but now that I'm home I really want to take as few meds as possible. I only slept about 2 hours last night and even though I know sleep will come eventually, I've never had to deal with anxiety like this before and it's really frustrating. Even when I feel calm my heart feels like it's racing, and I'm really wanting that to go away so I can relax and be able to sleep.

2. Strength - Getting home yesterday and showering for the first time in 6 days was extremely exhausting for me. Today I just feel dead on my feet. I'm in a good mood, but my muscles are so tired and don't really want to move. I know that this is all part of the process, but it's definitely frustrating especially when I'm dealing with not sleeping and my muscles not wanting to move.

3. Patience - Part of the reason I'm not taking medications is because I know I will get better faster the less time I lean on those things in order to feel better. I know there are many things I cannot do for a long time (ex: I'm not allowed to lift more than 5-10 pounds for at least 6 weeks), but I want to feel more able to do normal things like... walk. Haha :) So far I really do feel pretty good, but I still get very tired very quickly (I know I'm only 6 days out from surgery and I'm doing really well, but it's still frustrating).

4. Moving - Now that my surgery is out of the way, it's time for Eric and I to really focus on moving. I know I really won't be able to help with the actual process very much, but please pray for volunteers (or please volunteer if you can) to help us pack and clean when we need to do those things. Please also pray that Eric is hired out in CO soon so we don't have to worry about that anymore. I know he will be hired somewhere, but the waiting period is definitely stressful.

Thank you all SO much for your prayers, encouragement, and incredible support on this journey! We so appreciate it, and I feel so overwhelmed by all the flowers, cards, texts, messages, etc. that I've received. Eric and I are so blessed to know you all!

PS - We received the pathology report from my surgery yesterday and there was NO sign of cancer in my colon, which is a huge praise!

Please also let me know if you have any questions or want further explanations on anything - even though I'm not on meds I'm so tired that I'm sure I've left some things out. Thanks, friends! <3

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sin and Temptation: Whose Responsibility Is It?

This is a follow-up from my post in response to "The Bikini Question."

There's been a lot of talk lately about men's temptations for lust and questions about whose responsibility it is in those situations. This is a humble attempt to discuss my views about this topic.

Before I became a proponent for Christian Feminist ideologies*, I was a supporter of Modesty Culture. (...That makes it sound like it's been a long time since I switched sides of the debate, but that's not true. Just six months ago my mom gave me a shirt for Christmas that was designed to be worn over leggings and I flipped out because it wasn't "modest enough.") Because I was part of the Modesty Culture for so long, I feel like I have a grasp on why they believe that women should have part of the responsibility for men's propensity for lust. On some level, I understand.

In Modesty Culture, it is believed that while men should control their temptations, women are responsible (in varying degrees) for helping them along. Much of this belief is taken from Romans 14, which is where Paul discusses the idea of not causing one another to stumble. He says in verse 13, "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." In the case of modesty, a stumbling block would be anything that may cause a brother in Christ to be distracted or fall into the sin of lust. Because of this belief, many Christian schools have strict dress codes that highlight what is appropriate and not appropriate for young women to wear.

In my experience, I have seen dress codes used for two purposes: modesty and professionalism. Unfortunately however, most often the rules regarding women are centered around modesty and the rules for men around professionalism (ex: at my college men had to wear collared shirts to class while women could wear nice, non-printed t-shirts as long as they were modest). But I digress. Even though I could talk for a while about dress codes and how I believe there are double-standards, that's not the purpose for this post.

I think Modesty Culture has misinterpreted Paul's purpose in Romans 14. While I can see why they may interpret a stumbling block to be certain articles of clothing that women in general "shouldn't" wear, I don't think we (most of us, anyway) would apply these same standards to other areas of life. For example, there's the issue of alcohol. While we know that some people in the faith have trouble with alcoholism and I know most of us would want to respect those people by not drinking in front of them, I would venture to say that for the most part we would not say that Christians shouldn't drink at all at the risk of offending someone who we may not know has an issue. This may be a broken metaphor, but most Christians I talk to have specific people in mind when they talk about abstaining from alcohol. This doesn't mean that they never drink or believe drinking is wrong, but they know that a specific person has a weakness for alcohol - therefore they adjust their behavior in order to better serve that specific person.

I believe the same should be true of "modesty." It is impossible to please everyone, especially since it's so ambiguous. I fully agree that if a woman is approached specifically by the man who is struggling, then she should do what she can to help him. However, if it is not specifically mentioned (not by a third-party and definitely not by another woman trying to tell her what to wear), then I don't believe that responsibility should be placed on the woman.

Men are fully capable of controlling their temptation for lust. Hear me out as well: there is a HUGE difference between healthy and biological physical attraction and lust. It is absolutely not wrong for a man to be attracted to a woman's form. This is healthy and even good. The only time that this turns into lust is when the woman is turned into the object of a man's sexual fantasies. A man simply enjoying the way a woman looks is not wrong. God created Eve to be beautiful and for Adam to be physically attracted to her. There's this underlying idea in Christian culture today that men can only be physically attracted to their wives - but this implies that there's some sort of switch that turns on as soon as a couple gets married and turns off to every other female. The man isn't attracted to his wife (or abstains from being attracted to her... however that works) before they're married, and then all of a sudden once they're husband and wife he's allowed to feel that attraction. I don't believe it works that way.

Physical attraction is God-given. It is good, but because we live in a fallen world it can be turned into sin. This is not the fault of the woman who is made to be the object. The kind of thinking that makes it the woman's responsibility for men's lust easily translates into the issue of rape. Rape Culture is a very real thing, friends. I am ashamed to say that in the past upon hearing of a rape I used to have fleeting thoughts wondering what the girl had been wearing at the time or how she had been acting (Which I believe is not a totally rare thought for people in Modesty Culture to have). This is so wrong. This is not the way things should be. As my friend Hollie put it, "[Women] should be allowed to walk down the street naked and not get raped!" It is never, ever the woman's fault for being raped. Eric said it well when we discussed this in the car the other day: "The woman didn't get raped. The man raped her."

So much blame-shifting happens in our Christian culture. We try to pass off the responsibility for our own sin onto other people, just as Adam blamed Eve for "making" him eat the fruit. She didn't make him do anything - he took the fruit and ate it of his own volition. The same is so very true of Modesty Culture. Women do not make men lust after them, nor is it their responsibility to make it "easier" on men, especially if they have no idea what they do or don't struggle with. Men need to step up and take responsibility for their own sin, and women need to step up and refuse to accept the blame-shifting and start dressing the way they want to, not out of trying to appease these external morals being pushed on them, but because it's what they want to wear (Women need to take responsibility for their own sins as well, but that's not what I'm talking about right now). 

As believers, we all have a personal responsibility for our sin. If we focus on other people's "responsibilities" or "faults" in our own personal walks with Christ, then we cannot grow in the way we should. It's time for us to stop trying to fix everyone else to be more palpable to us and start focusing on our own relationships with Christ. Once we do that, I think we will find more contentment, peace, unity, and equality within the body of believers.

*I hesitate to call myself a Christian Feminist because I don't really like the idea of labels. I have feminist sympathies, but there are things within the feminist movement that I disagree with. I personally would rather be known for what I believe than for the labels I place on myself. To be clear though, I have no issues with people placing the label of "feminist" on themselves. This is just not something I feel comfortable doing at the moment.

***This post is part of a Synchro-blog/Link-Up on From Two to One. Make sure you check out the other amazing posts on there!***

Monday, June 10, 2013

Celebrating 2 Years, and Our Marriage Is Far From Perfect.

Tomorrow is my 2-year anniversary with the man that I couldn't even hope to deserve. Two years isn't a long time, but it's long enough to know that marriage is anything but easy and far from being perfect.

It didn't take long for the "honeymoon" feeling to wear off in our marriage. I would say reality set in at about 3 months. We started getting frustrated with each other's little habits, we started fighting more, and things got really stressful. I was new to Minnesota, new to marriage, new to post-college life, and new to my job. Unfortunately I took a lot of those things out on Eric and did not treat him nearly as well as I should have.

During that time I became very self-focused. Everything was about me - he wasn't doing enough for me, he didn't say nice things often enough, he wasn't as focused on me as he should have been. I began to have some real anger issues and resented him for a lot of things that I shouldn't have. Because I had this attitude, our relationship took a giant dive and was extremely tension-filled for quite a while.

I attribute a lot of our success now to the fact that we (mostly Eric, because he saw the need far earlier than I did) took initiative and decided to get counseling - both separately and together. We both had issues that needed to be worked out in our own personal lives as well as our marriage. Now, here's something I want to address. I know that "marriage counseling" is a big buzz-word for people. They hear somebody say that and automatically assume that person's marriage is in serious trouble and on the brink of divorce. I really, really want to change that perspective.

Eric and I are huge proponents for counseling, no matter where we're at in life. Even if things are generally going well, there are always ways we can be working on ourselves and ways we can learn how to process life better. I don't think anyone has ever "made it" or ever will "make it" - we're all in process and we're all on the journey of life. Why not make the most of it by learning how to process life and treat others in a healthy way? I become incredibly saddened by people who tell me they don't believe in counseling or that they think they've reached the point in life where they're beyond needing that. I completely disagree with that assessment. Whether we realize it or not, we all have baggage and issues in our lives that need to be dealt with - it just depends on if we're willing to swallow our pride and actually deal with them. 

Friends, please don't make the mistake in thinking that you have everything figured out. I know I thought that way for a while (and still do sometimes), and it nearly destroyed my life. We are all in process. No matter what stage of life you're in - single, married, high school, college, with or without children, we can all use a little help processing through this crazy messed-up world and the issues that come along with it. Yes, reading our Bibles and praying are both incredibly helpful and we need to do those things, but I believe a healthy dose of counseling can go a long way and help us see areas of weakness in ourselves that we may have otherwise been blind to.

My relationship with Eric is still not perfect, and will never be perfect - we still get in fights, we still get stubborn about whose turn it is to do the dishes, and we can still become incredibly selfish. But I love our marriage. We are weird and quirky and utterly strange (I wouldn't have it any other way), and I'm grateful to be married to a man who challenges me to be a better person and isn't afraid to ask for help along this journey.

I don't say any of these things to try and sound like we're "better" or that we've in some way "made it." I know that we still have issues and we will always have issues. But one thing I also know - we are learning what it means to swallow our pride and ask for help when we don't have all the answers. If we continue doing that throughout the rest of our marriage, I know we're going to be just fine. And we'll be more than fine - we'll be great.

PS - My husband is the best man I have ever met. He is kind, gentle, loving, and incredibly supportive. I'm so blessed that the Lord allowed me the privilege of being his wife. He's my best friend and more than I could ever ask for. I'm thankful for these last two years and I'm looking forward to what God has in store for us in the future. :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Bikini Question - My Response... Take 2.

For all of you haven't read the article in question nor my original response to it, here are the links to both:

The Bikini Question

My Response


When I read an article/book that I strongly disagree with, I tend to:

1. Bang my fists on the table/desk and have a one-way shouting match with it

2. Vent about it to Eric for at least a couple hours

3. Write a passionate response against it

4. Read someone else's thoughtful response

5. Go back and actually give a decent response.

SO. This is what I'm doing. While I still stand by everything I said in my original response, I think I could have been more explanatory and a little less emotional about it. I've done a lot of thinking in the past few days about the whole issue of modesty, and will attempt to pour out those thoughts here (and it may turn into a two-parter).


I grew up in the Modesty Culture. (Feel free to read a post I wrote from the other side of the fence about 4 years ago here) While it wasn't pushed on me by my parents (which I am very grateful for), I encountered much of it in my high school (a private Christian school), my church, and my college. As I went through high school, I thought that "being modest" was just something Christian women did - I never knew that there was such a debate about it. I knew girls in my high school who would push the dress code to the limits and even outright break it, but I always thought of those girls as the "troublemakers" and "attention-seekers." I never thought that their viewpoint (as flawed as the execution may have been) could be valid. I simply discredited them because they didn't follow the rules.

It actually wasn't until I got married that I started to actually think about modesty and what it means to different people. As I have talked with others and done my own research, I've been blown away to find that modesty really means something different to everyone. This isn't just a "denomination" thing or even just a cultural thing. This is an incredibly individualized belief system. I can almost guarantee that even the people that seem most alike in their beliefs on what is "modest" or not may actually disagree on at least one thing. Which, by the way, I have realized that I leaned more often on older women's opinions and ideas of what modesty was instead of just asking men myself what they thought about the issue. Not sure if anyone else has had that experience, but it's interesting to me. 

After Eric and I got married, we started to talk about this idea of "modesty." The Bible talks about an attitude of the heart and not dressing for the sake of drawing attention (1 Timothy 2:9-10), but a specific list of rules is never mentioned. So then, why do we go around telling women exactly what they can and cannot wear? (I'll answer this question a little later.)

Once I started breaking out of the Modesty Culture, I remember feeling very, very aware of myself. When I wore a bikini for the first time, I automatically felt a sense of shame. I felt like I was doing something wrong, that people were either ogling me or judging me. That is so false. 

How did our "Christian" culture get to this point? How did we get to the point of making women feel as though they should be ashamed of themselves if they don't follow every rule that we have laid out for them? Now, don't get me wrong - I'm all for following dress codes in schools. If you have made the decision to attend a certain school then you have made that decision (hopefully) knowing what the dress code is like, and I believe that should be followed. What I'm talking about here is the judgment that I so often see (and still catch myself doing it far too often) where we see another woman and judge her in two seconds by the outfit she's wearing.

I know I'm not the only one out there who has done this. We do this all. the. time. We look at a woman walking toward us, and we may think one (or many) of these things:

"That shirt is way too tight."

"That girl is way too big to be wearing that outfit."

"That skirt is way too short."

"Gross. Bigger women should not be wearing skin-tight clothing."

"She is way too old (or young) to be wearing that."

"She looks like a hooker wearing that."

Okay. I need to stop listing things - I'm starting to get revved up again. When did we get like this? Why did we get like this? Do we all feel so insecure about ourselves that we have to point out what we see as flaws in other women so we can feel better about our choices? I am sad to admit that I have thought (if not said out loud) all of those things I listed above at least one time in my life. Whenever I have done that, I realize now that it was not at all out of wanting to protect men from lusting (which is a post for another day...why women feel the need to "protect" men besides wanting to have control is beyond me), but rather it has been an opportunity for me to feel like I'm better than the other woman.

We are so judgmental. It's true - we really are. When I look on Facebook and Twitter I see judgment upon judgment toward other people. I know it's true, because I do it myself. We have this inner-sense of wanting to make ourselves better than those around us so we point out the flaws in everyone else and completely forget to focus on our own issues.

We want to control everyone around us and make them more "appealing" to our own personalities and preferences. We feel uncomfortable when someone wears something that we would never dare to wear in a million years (as comfortable as I am in yoga pants, I don't think I have the courage to wear leggings out in public without something covering me - not out of "modesty," but simply because I'm super self-conscious), so we judge them for their decisions and make them out to be sluts or desperate for attention. And these judgments are toward people we don't even know! I know nothing about the girl who wore a mostly-transparent top at Mayo last week. I have no clue if she is in fact dressing in order to seek attention, or if she just likes that kind of fashion. ALSO WHY AM I FOCUSING ON HER CLOTHING CHOICES RATHER THAN WONDERING IF SHE KNOWS JESUS OR NOT? And if she does know Jesus, WHY AM I FOCUSING ON HER CLOTHING CHOICES RATHER THAN HER RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS?

I am fed up with this culture focusing on surface-level issues and forgetting about what's really important. I would say 9 (or even 10) times out of 10 we judge women's clothing not because we actually care about them, but because we like the idea of judging each other. We like putting ourselves above other people and feeling like we're doing what's "holy" (because a one-piece is certainly more holy than a bikini...), while the other person is just "lost in her sins."

I don't have all the answers, and I'm certainly not going to give a list of do's and don't's that I think women should follow - to quote my previous post,
"I respect your decision not to wear bikinis. That is your decision and your right. But it is also my decision and my right to wear a bikini if I want to, because I’m not convicted otherwise. That’s the material point. If you are convicted not to wear something, great. Follow your convictions. But don’t push your personal convictions onto other people, especially in the form of a list of rules."
One thing I do know is that we as Christians need to stop pointing the finger at everyone else (especially their clothing choices) and focus on our own walks with Christ. God doesn't care whether or not we think Susie Q is dressing modestly or not. He cares about our own hearts and our own attitudes. He cares about our relationship with Him. He cares about whether we are loving Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls, and whether we love our neighbors as ourselves (whoops, I think we dropped the ball on that one). I don't think that when we get to heaven God will tell us about all the times that we wore something that "could have" caused men to lust after us. I think He's going to be much more concerned with how fervently we pursued Him and how deeply we loved others. We need to stop acting like the Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14 and start acting like the man he was comparing himself to:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' but the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven [emphasis added], but beat his breast saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
Matthew 7:1-5
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite [emphasis added], first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

[Special thanks to EmilyEmily (yes, two Emily's), AbiDiannaKristenRachelDanielle, and my husband Eric for all your own personal thoughts on this issue and for helping me think critically through this issue.]

*I will be posting about women's and men's responsibilities in the issue of modesty later on in the week. *

Thursday, June 6, 2013


For everyone who didn't see it on Facebook yesterday, we FINALLY have news! And praise God, as long as a couple tests come back normal, we have the best case scenario with both diseases!

Firstly, with my PSC (my liver), they opened up the stricture in the duct and my doctor doesn't anticipate me needing anything else done for possibly the next decade. Wow! I will still need to get an MRCP (An MRI, but they check for different things) done in 6 months and blood tests done every 6 months to make sure my levels are still okay, but I can definitely do that! He said that on average patients who have PSC need a liver transplant about 15 years into their disease, but he does have patients who have one stricture opened and never need anything else done. Obviously we have no idea what it will be like for me, but this is good news - especially since my levels are all normal and he doesn't anticipate me needing anything else done with that for a while!

Secondly (and most importantly), I am having my colon removed on June 14th. Yes, you read that right. I am having major surgery in just 8 days! My UC itself is actually mild, but because I've had this disease so long, I'm so young, and I do have some concerning areas that could turn cancerous later on, my doctors recommended surgery. The surgeon that we talked to was going to give us names of doctors in Denver who could do the surgery, but while we're here in Minnesota, I would much, much rather have it done at Mayo. Just so everyone knows, this is the only reason it's getting done so quickly. I don't want anyone to be worried about why it's moving so quickly - since we're moving in just 6 weeks, I will need all that time to recover.

Here is the WONDERFUL NEWS, though! My disease is labelled "rectal sparing," which means the last 12 inches of my colon are untouched by my disease. This means even though my colon will mostly be removed, I will not need a second surgery OR an ostomy bag! This surgery will also not affect my fertility AT ALL. Praise God! This is exactly the kind of news that we wanted to hear! If I needed to have surgery, this is the surgery we wanted to have. The only clincher is that because part of my colon will still be there, I will continue to be on the medications I'm on now, and I will need to still have yearly colonoscopies just to make sure everything's okay. That's definitely a bummer since I was hoping to just be done with it, but I'm willing to do those things if I don't have to deal with the daily affects of the disease and I can possibly still have kids.

So here's what's going to happen: Eric and I are going down to Rochester the night before so I can rest and prep for the procedure (3 times in three months.... I got this), and then we'll find out the night before what time my surgery will be at. I guess they have to get outpatient procedures scheduled first, and then they'll know the night before what time they can do my surgery. After that, I will spend about 5 days in the hospital. It may be more or less, depending on how good I feel (Mayo likes to get people of the hospital quickly, so if I'm feeling good enough they won't see a reason to keep me longer - which is awesome). Once I get home, my recovery time will be about 4-6 weeks. 6 weeks is the absolute maximum, though, which is really nice.

This means though that I won't be able to help Eric with any packing or cleaning when we move. So this is a message to all our Minnesota friends: If you can, please offer to help Eric with anything he needs. I feel so bad that there's going to be so much on his plate. I know that he loves me and he is fine with doing whatever needs to be done, but I also know that this is going to be hard on him. I wish I could help out with packing, cleaning, and moving - I'll do what I can when I'm feeling well enough - but unfortunately this is the way things go so we can just get my surgery out of the way. If you can't help please don't feel obligated, but I know that we could definitely use it since there's going to be a lot going on.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We really appreciate it, and we will continue to keep you updated on everything that's going on! And you can expect more blogs from me since my computer is going to be my only source of entertainment for a while.... :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Bikini Question - My Response of Anger and Total Disagreement.

Just so everyone knows, this post is not health-related. Rather, it is related to an article that I read last week that was very upsetting to me - this is my response to it. I posted it on Facebook last week, so some of you may have already read it. I wanted to post it here as well. Thanks. :)


If you haven't read the article on "The Bikini Question", read it here: 

This is my response to and utter disagreement with it (and I will be putting this as a comment as soon as the website is able to accept comments again).


I am absolutely livid about this article. It is so, so, so wrong on so many levels.

1. I am completely against this whole "chocolate cake" illustration. First of all, it is assuming that men are tempted 24/7 by everything around them, and that it's only a matter of time until they give in. Secondly, it places the blame for the lust on the woman (it's the cake's fault for being there in the first place). Thirdly, I completely disagree with the idea that if we are confronted with a temptation all the time then it is only a matter of time until we give in. NO. This is why we have Christ. 

Scripture was not  used in this article, so I will use it now:

Hebrews 5:14-16
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Those scriptures are a segway to my second point: 

2. The chocolate cake illustration implies that men are unable to use self-control. It assumes that women HAVE to help them, because they are unable to lean on Christ without our help. Nope. That is not true. Christian men have every ability (through Christ) to stand up under their temptations. They are not helpless. How dare we as women assume that we (as fallen human beings) need to “help” them in their walk because they are too weak to do it themselves? How dare we assume that men just can’t control their appetites and we need to remove all signs of temptation because they are unable to have self-control? This is so, so false.

3. There is absolutely no way that women can make EVERYONE happy by the way they dress. I absolutely guarantee that no matter what women wear, there is SOMETHING about our outfits that can distract men. We can make all the legalistic rules in the world, but if we were to try and not be distracting for anyone, we would be walking around with burlap sacks on. And I guarantee some men would STILL be distracted. No one can ever win with this kind of thinking.

Hear me out: I am against dressing for the purpose of attracting attention. However... there is no way we can (or should) judge the hearts and intentions of women based on what they choose to wear. That is between them and God. It is not for other people to judge why they decide to wear what they do, or to even tell women what they can and cannot wear.

If we reduce this issue to a list of rules and judge women for wearing leggings, bikinis, etc., then we become incredibly legalistic and we lose the heart of the issue. YES. Women are SO MUCH MORE than what they wear. But that goes both ways! They are SO MUCH MORE, and should absolutely not be judged solely by their clothing choices, whether you think it’s “modest enough” or not. Get to know the heart of women. Learn about them. If they have a lifestyle of wearing clothing intended to attract attention, DON’T JUDGE THEM. Lovingly guide them towards Christ and show them that who they are inside is enough. And if they are secure in that fact and their clothing choices still don’t change, DON’T JUDGE THEM. It’s not our place. Focus on your choices, your intentions, and your limits. Not everyone else’s.

I respect your decision not to wear bikinis. That is your decision and your right. But it is also my decision and my right to wear a bikini if I want to, because I’m not convicted otherwise. That’s the material point. If you are convicted not to wear something, great. Follow your convictions. But don’t push your personal convictions onto other people, especially in the form of a list of rules.

(Sidenote, the issue of modesty is completely cultural. Down in Haiti, everyone is extremely modest there. However, in Europe, beaches are FULL of bikinis and speedos, and it’s not a big deal. There are also tribes in Africa where women don’t wear tops. There are no set rules on what “modesty” is.)

Finally, here is a quote from someone (a man) who commented on the article. He said everything I want to say:
"In closing, if someone just can't help but be offended or lust while you're in a bikini, and you are made aware of it directly, then wear a one-piece out of love for them, to create peace, and to help them not stumble; but do not make the mistake of believing the bikini itself, or drinking alcohol, or eating meat is unclean or evil. Furthermore do not make the mistake of believing that a one piece is somehow more holy (someone could actually have a sensual lust for a fully covered body and be excited by the mystery). Likewise, If you are not made aware of the other person being offended or stumbling, it is not your fault that they lust in their heart because it is in their personal heart regardless of what you wear, eat, drink, or do."