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June 21, 2007

Meet the New Chastity. Same as the Old Chastity?

Peter on June 24, 2007 12:31 AM EST writes:
Julia,

I didn't mean to suggest that fashion, per se, wasn't worth discussing. I meant to suggest that snarky comments about a particular speaker's fashion sense weren't quite on point.

A little context regarding my own sensibility: I used to be an editor at a metropolitan newspaper. Someone or other observed that stories often noted what a woman was wearing but seldom what men were wearing. Such descriptions were limited to women; what's more, they were gratuitous. Gratuitous is how Rev. Storm's reference to "a somewhat unfashionable ... top" struck me. Gratuitous and, I think, a bit snarky. Please read what I actually wrote. Snarkiness is what I objected to, not a discussion of fashion.

I hate for this, of all things, to be a sticking point in the discussion. If you want to say that evangelicals sometimes try to play a hipper-than-thou game, I'll agree with you. But I'll also still suggest that chastity remains a good thing. I think I can distinguish the two issues.
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RJ on June 23, 2007 08:29 PM EST writes:
In the church I grew up in, that same midwestern doughy plain look was akin to piety. It made us feel spiritually superior to everybody else, especially those stylish city folk bound for hell. And an earring on a guy, or even a girl? Forget about it. Sign of the devil.

But now it's cool in the Christian world to have tattoos and a nose-ring. My devout parents couldn't comprehend that.
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Julia on June 23, 2007 07:34 PM EST writes:
Peter: Give us a break. Faith and fashion have always been closely tied, from the earliest Christians, who debated what believers should wear, to Ms. Eden's own chapter on chaste dressing in a book about the importance of keeping one's clothes on!

Dress and appearance have played particularly important roles in the recent chastity movement. Two years ago Rolling Stone published "The Young and the Sexless," a huge article about the movement profiling hip, 20-something New Yorkers who smoked, had soul patches, clubbed, and were all born-again Christians united by their virginity pledges. Abstinence, once staid and old-fashioned, had suddenly become au courant, a fusion of faith and fashion, a countercultural pose.

Now you could keep it in your pants, and still get a tattoo. The thrill of the chaste!

[Cont below]
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Julia on June 23, 2007 07:33 PM EST writes:
[Cont]
Christian publishers didn't miss a beat, seeking fashionable (and fashion-minded) young writers to pen books on the virtues and coolness of virginity. As Storm noted, the terms "chastity chic" and "chastity haute" floated both within and without Christian circles.

But how much of the movement is faith, and how much is fashion? Critics have been asking this all along. But something tells me you know this. Either that or you've been hibernating in the Himalayas for the past five years.
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Peter on June 23, 2007 04:35 PM EST writes:
Well, I'm an Orthodox Christian, and I don't have the money for the wardrobe I'd like, so I suppose that on both those counts Pastor Storm may put me among the unfashionable unsophisticates. In any case, I'm bemused by a tendency of liberal American Christians to react against a fundamentalist upbringing in such a way that they must ever hereafter define themselves as its polar opposite.

I'm also bemused by the comment (without argument) that sex outside marriage "probably" produces love and kindness and so forth; the fruit of the Spirit, in other words.

Meanwhile, I can only agree with Pastor Storm about double standards. Any school of thought that makes chastity a big deal for girls but not for guys is anti-Christian. I speak as a guy who intends to remain a virgin until I'm married. Pastor Storm may not find that attractive, but I know women who do.

Finally, what place, really, do snarky comments about fashion have in such a discussion?
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