Monday, July 19, 2010

On Modesty, the Rights of Men, and the Failure of the Prophetic Voice of the Church

Beloved in the Lord, would you give a naked picture of your wife to the postman? If the US Government started requiring you to give postmen naked pictures of your wife before you could mail a letter - do you think it would be meet, right, and salutary for the Church to speak against this using Her prophetic voice?

Well, golly, friends, the US Government is requiring lots of folks to let government employees see naked pictures of themselves, their wives, and their children before allowing them to board planes. This is wrong. It violates the integrity of the household, the sanctity of the marriage bond, the innocence of childhood, and the prerogatives of the Hausvater.

Even the Gentiles know this. Dubai won't allow the scanners because they are contradictory to Islam and insulting to women. They are right. They are also contradictory to all human decency and any sense of Christian modesty.

The next time you are at the airport and they want to take a pornoscan of you or your loved one, you have the blessing of this incumbent of the Apostolic Ministry to tell them, "No, thank you, that would violate my religious principles." Some minimum wage ruffian might then pat you down, but then you could count that toward becoming a Confessor.

Any objections to this post along the lines of "they can't really see anything" or "we need this for our security" or "this isn't the Church's business" will simply be referred here.



  1. Not to mention the amount of radiation those things put out...

  2. Even in the little formerly-quaint Gretna (population 30,000), Louisiana City Hall, the strip-tease has gotten a toehold.

    It used to be that you could walk right into the old-fashioned building and visit the mayor (whose secretary has a little collection of rubber duckies lined up on the desk), the council members, or anyone else with no stripping. Heck, most of these people are our neighbors. You don't need to go through a metal detector to wave at the mayor when he's mowing the grass.

    But now, the City of Gretna, Louisiana has metal detectors to protect the mayor when he's not mowing his grass. As if Al Qaida were poised to attack the Gretna Mayor's Office. One can only imagine there are elaborate maps of Gretna somewhere in a "situation room" located in a cave in Pakistan...

    On one occasion when I was invited to give the prayer before the council meeting, while I was stripping off my cassock and taking out my pocket watch while the woman in front of me was showing an embarrassing amount of skin in her own strip-down, literally bumping into me while we were both stripping off. I could not help but think "Don't flatter yourself, guys. I don't think the radical Muslims are interested in our chief sanitation officer." And I also wonder how much federal grant money was being spent by small towns all across the country as a payoff for the lobbyists from the metal detector company. Follow the money trail...).

    So, I just avoid City Hall now. They can get the now-out-of-work lingerie waitresses from three blocks away to say the prayer. It will be a lot less difficult to pass security for them.

    If everybody just quit showing up voluntarily and openly said they don't like the security theater and the undignified disrobing required, maybe these things could be rolled back to sensible proportions.

    As Nancy Reagan used to say: "Just say "no." And if it can be done, drive or take the train. Airplanes and airports are starting to take on the culture of a prison camp.

    How long before travelers are deloused and given a cavity search? Not my cup of tea.

  3. While I agree (mainly for political reasons and not moral), let me play the Devil's Advocate - I'd like to hear your response.

    "Ah, while I most certainly would let the postman have these photos, that's because in your example the photos have nothing to do with his job. But would you not let your doctor exam your whole body if needed? Are you shocked and offended when the doctor examines your wife your children - doing so with discretion and respect? Of course not, for this is done for their health and safety.

    "Do you not see, my paranoid friend, that these full body scans are not salacious or inconsequential, but in fact vital to the safety of your wife and children, indeed, just as vital as a visit to a doctor would be."

    Or one might counter, as you try to cut off appeals to security with the example of the abuse, with the following - "There are examples of doctors who abuse their position in untoward ways - and of course those who do should lose their license. However, you wouldn't suddenly stop going to all doctors because of one bad one? Why then should we forgo this safety for the sake of a few imbeciles who must be are being safely weeded out."

  4. (And note - I'd like a theological argument. I can give a social or political argument, but I'm not sure how a theological response to these objections would go)

  5. Fr. Brown,

    1. I anticipated your comment. Please see the link to which I referred.

    2. Theological and practical overlap here. Obviously the sixth commandment commands that I not look at another man's wife naked. And it demands that I not tempt my neighbor by allowing my wife to be viewed naked. But is it conceivable that a (practical) situation will arise where some exigency will trump this requirement of the Law? Sure. Deciding when that line has been crossed is a practical-theological problem. But don't worry: I've solved this one. Airline security does not warrant a government worker looking at my wife naked.

    3. My wife has a female doctor. I have a male doctor. We interview our potential medical professionals before we decide whether or not they are worthy of our trust, etc. Comparing my wife's doctor to the government employed TSA employee is like comparing apples to ...something unflattering.


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  7. I shouldn't wonder if the wife of Pr. H.R., whoever the poor woman may be, would prefer to be a sermon illustration or perhaps a character in a red chair video rather than the hypothetical subject of this exchange.

  8. Dear Eric:

    I think the devil needs a better advocate. ;-)

  9. I think this drives home a point - it's not the simple viewing of a body in and of itself that is indecent - it's that the viewing might give rise to sin, so hence should happen seldomly, and only in very specific conditions. The question then would be whether the "need" or "service" provided warrants such drastic measures. If you must go the emergency room, I'm pretty sure you modesty wouldn't drive away a female doctor -- but in normal situations, sure. And that needs to be where the discussion lies - is this indecency necessary, and in this case, it most certainly is not.

    And I was going to point out that my hypotheticals were primarily about Pr. H.R. being examined, but that isn't really any better, is it? =o)

  10. Alright Beane - you're a better devil than I - give it a go! Lean on your experience from living by the den of vice >=o)

  11. I can’t believe you people are discussing this. What’s next a boycott of the art museum? There is nothing salacious about a full body scan at an airport. There are significant issues in the world, society, the church that merit discussion. This is NOT one of them. Seriously!

  12. I think it reflects the sinful nature's gradual acceptance of things that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, as part of a process of becoming "normalized."

    Not long ago, it was utterly unthinkable that homosexual relationships would be recognized as "marriages." Today, children's schoolbooks advocate it. The Boy Scouts are vilified (and have funding yanked) because they prohibit homosexual scoutmasters. And surveys of LCMS youth indicate that the older generation's condemnation of homosexuality (as well as cohabitation and abortion) as sinful is slipping.

    A century ago, the sight of women in clerical garb would have been shocking. Today, even confessional Lutherans attend conferences with women in collars and advocate addressing them as "Pastor." LCMS pastors can suppress the gag reflex to join in clerical societies with them. A lot of our laity now consider it no big deal for a woman to be considered a "pastor." It's the frog being boiled slowly.

    It used to be unthinkable that our wives and children should be ogled and/or felt up in airports. Now, we consider it a benefit and defend it using the doctrine of vocation. Add it to the list. In Pagan Britain, the scanners cannot scan children because of child-porn laws. In Christian America, I'm afraid most conservatives would support it - at least if Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck say it's okay. Maybe there will be some opposition to the porn-scanners because Janet Napolitano is in favor of them.

    I agree with Heath. The Church seems to have lost her voice (or perhaps her moral authority) to take a moral stand on just about anything.

    I think there is a huge disparity between an art museum and 12-year old girls singled out for naked pictures at the whim of a TSA worker behind a screen. I can't make the call for anyone else, but my wife and son will not be going through one of these scanners. And if it can be avoided, we will not fly. How much liberty and personal dignity are will willing to forfeit for the illusion of safety? Does the sight of an 80-year old woman in a wheelchair getting frisked make you feel safe? Or the sight of shampoo being confiscated? Does knowing that adolescent girls are having their bare bodies gaped at make you feel secure?

    Then again, we now have Sunday evening cartoons on broadcast TV using explicit language describing specific sexual activities - and criticizing it seems to make one a prude, and not letting your kids watch is like being a member of the Taliban.

    I can't wait to see what we surrender next.

    Come, Lord Jesus!

  13. Pastor D,

    Larry's reply above tackles the issue quite well so I won't go into detail. Just a question.

    You write: "There is nothing salacious about a full body scan at an airport."

    Really? If it's your five year old daughter being scanned and viewed? Did you click through to the links above?


  14. Possibly some of you have not traveled through airports lately. My wife and I flew from Ft. Wayne to Dallas to Denver last week for a family wedding. Our first vacation in eight years! My daughter flew from Indianapolis to Begonia, Italy this past month. Each of us was subject to a full body scan. A male screened and did the “pat down” on me. A female attended my wife - similar experience with my daughter. The scan lasted TWO SECONDS. My wife and I made it through security in less then thirty seconds.

    Let’s put things in perspective. I have twelve men –members and relatives from our parish who are serving in the front line in our current war on terror in Afghanistan. They might not be here tomorrow. There are people in this world who want to kill Americans. To prevent them from doing this there has been a heightened security level at airports ESPECIALLY in places like Ft. Wayne, IN which is typically referred to as “fly over” country. I can not see how going through a full body scan at an airport is a salacious incident. We are being subject to a heightened level of security at airports BECAUSE there are people who have used airplanes as weapons of mass destruction to kill innocent civilians.

    Security at airports is not a case for pornography, promiscuity, or anything sinister you would care to project. The fact that some agent saw my “parts” is of little concern to me. How anyone can see this as a case in point for the destruction of the family unit and our culture is beyond me. I can’t believe that some of you are offended at the prospect that an individual viewing two seconds of a body scan for security’s sake MIGHT be sexually aroused by what they might see in YOU.

    Is this NOT the height of arrogance? Someone might be attracted to YOU sexually because they saw YOUR "parts" on airport security. Really?

  15. Pastor D,

    Truth be told, in my sinfulness I really do not have the piety of the government worker in mind. I just don't like people see me or my family naked - even for "just two seconds."

    And I think that is keeping in line with the Christian tradition of modesty and the dignity of humanity.

    Terrorists also want to blow up malls - should there be body scanners there? How about supermarkets? There are more people in our local Walmart on a given afternoon than on a 747. Surely that's a riper target. Why not a scanner there?

    If it's safety you are after, there's a lot more we could do. Indeed, technology being what it is, someone will find a way to defeat the scanner. So really, oughtn't we have real strip searches since they are more reliable? And hey, what about body cavity searches? If I'm a terrorist and I know they have scanners that will see under my clothes, I can think of other places to have a bomb.

    Safety, you see, is a never accomplished goal in this world of sin. So why would I trade traditional Christian notions of decency, modesty, and personal dignity for a promise of marginally more safety from the same incompetents that brought you the Big Dig and a $13 trillion deficit?

    There are some things we just don't do, no matter the promise of safety they might provide. Exposing women and children to indiscriminate visual strip searches is one of these things.

    But since you mention the piety of the government worker. . . try on Kant's categorical imperative here. Would you volunteer to be the TSA worker who viewed naked images of women and children all day? Well, if it's not for you, why should any man be exposed to it?


  16. Dear Heath:

    Your last comment reminds me of the former Canadian practice whereby pornography was permitted to enter Canada and be sold, but little black adhesive dots were placed on all of the, as the Brits say "naughty bits" in every single one of the magazines.

    The premise was that viewing pornography was harmful. And so, government was brought in to protect the public. Fair enough.

    But think this through...

    The irony is that this meant Canadian government workers (presumably an army of them) were subjected to an uninterrupted 7-hour day, 35 hour week, of constantly viewing porn (and being paid to do it) and physically sticking the black dots in the magazines.

    So, uh, me being Pastor Obvious and all, I had to ask: "Who protected the protectors?" Of course, these are government workers, so no harm can come to them.

    Then again, TSA workers are exempted from their own security when they fly. Good thing the terrorists would never think of getting one of their own hired by TSA...

    Shhh! Don't tell them!

    Big Government always makes me feel so safe. In fact, if enough government workers could be hired, they could place us all under 24/7 surveillance and we would all be safe.

    "Pre-Crime. It Works!"

  17. A small amount of radiation is actually beneficial, though I suspect the amount emitted by this machines is insufficient to have any beneficial effect. Look up radiation hormesis if you want to know more about it.

    Security expert Bruce Schneier commented about the naked body scanners five years ago. See . They are very expensive and the only people who will benefit from them are those involved in making and selling them and the politicians whose campaigns those companies contribute to.

    A 12-year old girl was selected to undergo a naked body scan at Tampa International Airport and not informed she had the right to refuse. This was without her parents' permission (she was traveling with a friend and her friend's parents).

    At Heathrow, an Indian film star found that several female security agents had printed copies of a naked body scan of him, but instead of protesting, he autographed them.

    I would think that in the US the 4th amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures would give citizens the right to refuse this kind of scan.

    I have yet to see one of these scanners although I understand there are some at LAX and they're supposed to get more. I avoid LAX whenever I can.

  18. See, I end up thinking this is much, much more of a political issue than a theological one. To simply assert that, if in the course of one's vocation one see human nakedness that this is de facto exposure to pornography is a bit extreme.

    Using Kant's categorical imperative - while I wouldn't necessarily "want" do have the job a TSA scanner does - I could do it. (Just as I wouldn't want to be a garbage man or a soldier, but if I had to, I'd have no moral qualms) There is such a thing as being cold and clinical. Doctors often have to be cold and clinical. There's nothing necessarily pornographic about it, because mere nakedness itself is not evil - it is the wickedness that is done with that nakedness.

    Yes, the samples cited are horrible - but they are also abuses. Do we avoid something because of it's potential for abuse? Shall a parent then say, "Look at all the examples of where a member of the clergy has abused a child - how could I ever in good conscience let my child go to Church where he might be abused!"

    Whether or not having body scanners is good or not really is much more of a political issue dealing with freedom and also ease of abuse (I think scanner tech could be easily abused, and let's face it, you don't have 8 years of college to get weeded out before being a TSA employee, unlike a doctor or a priest).

    Now, if one does not want to be viewed on grounds of modesty - that's fine. More power to you! Let not your own conscience be violated. However, to assert that these scanners are morally wrong implies that any Christian should not be able to go through them (and if it is an issue of theology it must apply to all Christians) -- that goes too far. If you eat or do not eat... likewise, if you submit to a scan or do not...

  19. Fr. Brown,

    Theology that cannot judge politics is of no use. You mention being a soldier and saying that you wouldn't like it, but could serve without moral qualms. But you have not said enough. Could you have served as a soldier in Mao's Revolutionary Army? What about Washington's? Hitler's? Eisenhower's?

    You see, not all soldiers are created equal because not all wars are just. Theology must judge the political decisions on the basis of truth, justice, and law.

    So here theology judges the wanton, indiscriminate viewing of women and children naked. This is wrong, brother. It's simply wrong. The abuses prove that it's wrong because the abused directly stem from the doing of the duty. Saying Mass does not entail or tempt to child abuse. Looking at naked children all day does.


  20. Fr. Curtis,

    First - yes, there are times I could not in good conscience be a soldier - and there are times I could. Likewise, there are occupations that involve the view of nekkid folks that I could not in good conscience condone - but there are those vocations where it is in fact good, kind, appropriate, and of service to the neighbor to view them in their nekkidness in service to them. My wife is a nurse - I don't she's violating modest cleaning the bedridden - I actually think that's rather loving.

    So, is a security scan a something a Christian might do? Again, here I think you cut too fine a point. Are these people "looking at naked children all day" or are they "looking for weapons" all day? Those are two different things - intellectually they are too different things. A pastor may hear confession all day, not for the intrigue of the latest congregation poneros, but in the interest of pronouncing absolution and comforting the afflicted. Likewise, one might be see all sorts of bodies walking by without salacious intent.

    Now, would such a position bring temptation - yes, all positions of power do. Is having such scanners necessarily wise - I'd say most certainly not. But something not being wise or profitable doesn't mean that it is absolutely impermissible.

    Question the wisdom - I'm all for that. Oppose on the basis of rights under the Constitution - all for that (outside of the pulpit). But if you again attempt to bind consciences and say, "To do this is utterly wrong" - I don't think you have enough scripture to stand on there, and so I don't think the Church can speak with as prophetic voice on simply saying "These scanners are wrong". Warn against their abuse - counsel caution and discretion - by all means. Beyond that - that's getting shaky. Something being stupid and foolish doesn't automatically make it immoral.

  21. I think we sometimes turn theology into something theoretical, almost a chess game. But, of course, Jesus took on flesh in the very real world.

    Theology has to be played out in that real world. Otherwise it is just a fantasy role playing game that at the end of the day is utterly meaningless.

    If a Christian pastor doesn't want his daughter wearing a miniskirt, or his wife to work as a nude model at a Community Art College, or his children to be scanned in what are now optional nude scanners (keep in mind, nothing in government ever remains "optional" and the technology will get better and better to the point where each hair follicle will soon be cataloged and stored in a database somewhere), I don't think he has to find the words "miniskirt," "Community College," or "porno-scanner" in his ESV concordance.

    There is a biblical understanding of modesty that is at odds with what the world continuously teaches us is A-OK, with what our sinful flesh really badly wants to green-light (if nothing else as a way to stick it to Pietists, Neo-evangelicals, and Muslims who actually believe in modesty), and with what government bureaucrats assure is is "for our own good."

    Nudity has become so common that we now have the specter of Christian men willingly and gladly volunteering (volunteering!) to send their wives and little sons and daughters through the naked-scanners for the sake of shaving off ten or fifteen precious minutes (or whatever) to board the plane.

    Gads! When did Christian men become so complacent?

    Once we have accepted this (both politically and theologically) the next step will be to have actual strip searches (which will also be defended theologically) and cavity searches (which will also be defended theologically).

    Basically, anything and everything can be defended theologically by appealing to vocation, and anything and everything can be defended politically by appealing to security.

    But I'm just not buying it. I think the whole thing stinks to high heaven whether examined politically, legally, or theologically.

    All I can say is this: my wife and my son will not be paraded through these machines. And I think they are symptomatic of much of what is wrong in our society.

    We are putting our trust in technology to defend us rather than in God. And we're willing to have strangers gawk at naked images of our wives and children for the privilege.

    You can do what you want, Eric. But in spite of your tendency to turn theology into theoreticals, if you would not rise up and protect your wife and children from this in the real world, I would be shocked.

    I think this law is written on our hearts. At least it ought to be.

  22. "Theology that cannot judge politics is of no use."

    No use for what? For Social Justice? Sure. for making a conservative Social Gospel? Sure. For making the world into what we would want it to be? Sure. If you want your theology to try to dominate the kingdom of the left, sure.

    But the primary purpose of theology is not to make this world perfect, but by the preaching of Christ to prepare us for the New Heavens and the New Earth. Theology that loses its focus on the lasting for the whims of temporary and shifting policies in a country that will not last, in a world that will not last -- is that theology of use?

    Hmmm, maybe Ignatius of Antioch should have written and urged the Romans to getting the injustice of being thrown naked to the lions overturned. No, actually, methinks his focus and concern was elsewhere - "Neither the ends of the earth nor the kingdoms of this age are of any use to me. It is better for me to die for Jesus Christ than to rule over the ends of the earth. Him I seek, who died on our behalf; Him I long for, who rose again for our sake."

    This is the prophetic voice of the Church.

  23. Larry,

    I commend you for your concern for your family. I even commend you for your desire to protect the freedoms of our land. And if your conscience so demands that you act - by all means, act.

    But is this something that is pulpit worthy? No. It's not.

  24. Again - just to think on this - I think a better argument for preaching on this wouldn't be modesty but protecting loved ones from shame.

    Mrs. Curtis wrote one of the best articles I have ever seen dealing with modesty - and the whole point there was that our attire should not seek to entice or invoke sinful thoughts in others - that this is what it means to be modest.

    Walking through a scanner is not designed to entice or provoke sinful thoughts. It is not immodest.

    However, if one is uncomfortable with being scanned, if the idea brings shame, then by all means it is a Christian duty to cover and prevent another from being shamed. Shem and Japheth aren't protecting Noah's modesty (that was out the window already), they are covering his shame. If your spouse or family would feel shame in doing this - by all means, do your duty and cover and protect them from shame.

    However, I don't know if this is an area where we should try to say, "This walking through a scanner is shameful, how can you do it!" Going through the scanner isn't provocative in and of itself.

  25. "Walking through a scanner is not designed to entice or provoke sinful thoughts. It is not immodest."

    I don't suppose it is its design, just its necessary consequence.

    Just because I have a good intent, doesn't mean my actions will have good consequences. It is necessary for me to evaluate both before acting.

    I think Larry nail it on the theology as chess game analysis - and in the "written on our hearts" comment. I feel sadness and dismay for any man who is so coarsened that he feels no shame in sending his wife and children through one of these scanners.


  26. Dear Eric:

    Pulpit worthy?

    It depends on the situation. Typically, flying planes into skyscrapers is not the stuff we preach about. But there are indeed times when such contemporary issues do become "pulpit worthy."

    Whether or not the porno-scanner ever makes it into one of my sermons, there are other venues of pastoral care in which this topic (as well as the more general topic of Christian modesty) can be raised.

    The topic of modesty is a difficult pastoral topic to broach - especially given the laxity of our culture. And as this topic (the scanners) also touches politics and law - it makes it even more sensitive. But I think when Christians do have a proper respect for the body and when they are willing to become critical of the culture at large, the justification for using these scanners becomes a more difficult case to make.

    If nothing else, I will set the example in my own family's practice. In many cases, that is all that a pastor can do.

  27. If you feel sadness, show me on the basis of Scripture and Clear Reason (i.e. proper interpretation of scripture) where I am wrong. Saying I should feel shame, saying I am coarsened. . . these all may very well be true, but they don't convince.

    Show me.

    Otherwise, unless you can construct the argument, you have no place to claim a "prophetic voice" on this. Instead, on this issue you run when not told to run, and speak when not told to speak.

    Give me Scripture. Give me logic - good logic, and not:
    1 - "slippery slope" arguments (which works for invoking caution, but does not demand an end in and of itself),
    2 - arguments from a few samples of abuses designed to destroy all possible good use (otherwise you ought concede that it is dangerous to bring children to church on the basis of some abuse)
    3 - arguments merely assuming cause and effect (some people will see nude images - therefore they will sin because of my actions - that's logically irresponsible)
    4 - Ad hominem arguments (I'm just too coarse to get it is an ad hominem argument)
    5 - merely assuming a biblical depiction of modesty without examples (where have you quote or referred to scripture - you've simply assumed a biblical basis for your argument).
    6 - Appeals to emotion (what are we doing to our wives and children! Sorry, I read this and I hear Meryl Streep in front of Congress about apples). Sure, the stakes may be high, and the people this impact may be important, but that doesn't demonstrate biblical theology.

    You are asserting that I must preach against this, or I am lost the Church's prophetic voice. The burden lies with you on this. And it's not a burden that is going to be simply met by saying, "This stuff is horrible."

  28. Larry,

    Again - I'll commend you for keeping your family from these things. I think they are very foolish. If they are uncomfortable, by all means defend them.

    But I am not worried about crafting a theological justification of the scanners (I have no desire to support them). Rather, the claim that theologically we must oppose them, that the Church must use her prophetic voice against this - this I have qualms with. I can see the political and legal arguments, but to claim a program is immoral again requires a different burden of proof based upon Scripture, and not assumptions of what is proper.

  29. I would have thought that the Scriptures supporting the traditional sense of Christian modesty were well known.

    That exposing nakedness is exposing someone's shame: Gen. 3 ("I as ashamed for I was naked."); Rev. 16:15. Indeed, this is proverbial among God's people: I Sam 20:30.

    That doing so is unkind: Gen. 9 (the sin of Ham)

    God takes care that his priests' nakedness is not seen by others: Ex 20:26; 28:42

    That the pudenda are not to be exposed, but rather modestly covered: I Cor 12; I Tim 2.

    I suppose you will now argue that none of these apply somehow. Bon chance.

    I suppose also that you will bring in the specious example of doctors again. I have addressed exactly how that does not apply above.

    Christianity has a firm Biblical basis for its traditional sense of modesty. The burden of proof, I contend, would be on those who seek to overturn it.


  30. Excellent. I agree - wanton exposure of one's body is indeed inappropriate. I am by no means suggesting that people should dress or act in a salacious way. However - is going through a scanner according to the law of the land a wanton exposure? Or even one who considers such things clinically now? If so, the Fox News link above is sinful for providing samples of what the image scans look like for violating modesty.

    Now, again, I think we can argue that this is unwise - that it is highly uncomfortable - that it is unwarranted search and offensive. But if you are going to assert that the simple viewing of nudity (or even not quite nudity as in the case of these scans) is sinful, you go too far. Nakedness can leads to abuse, to all sorts of sinful twisting - but it is not evil in and of itself.

  31. Thinking more on this over the course of this evening, I think what disturbs me most is that the purpose and function of the Law is being missed. The purpose of the Law is not to maintain purity - it is not merely a simple curb. When Christ our Lord explains the Law, He explains it with the word love. Love God, love your neighbor.

    To understand the Law is to understand love - that love acts in the best interest of the neighbor, not ones own self. We are not Islam - our ideal is not abject submission. We are focused on love.

    The question should always be how best to show love to the neighbor. With the examples from Scripture that Fr. Curtis pointed to above, there is always a concern for the neighbor that is first and foremost. Our modesty is so as to not lead them into temptation. Our covering of their shame is to protect and care for them. We will not allow worship to be tainted with pagan, sexual overtones.

    If we simply put forth a view of modesty that becomes "Thou shall not be naked" we over look the showing of love to our neighbors.

    Consider the 5th Commandment. I am not to kill, but there are times when in love to the neighbor it is good and God pleasing to kill, fight, and maim. We reject the teachings of the Anabaptists who claim that Christians cannot in good conscience ever serve as soldiers.

    Yes, issues of nudity and the like play in upon the 6th Commandment - and yes, we have a duty to encourage folks to chaste and decent lives, but we cannot allow ourselves to fall into some fanatical/Victorian self-made morality where nudity and shame override all sense of loving the neighbor. The nurse loves the neighbor. A male doctor in the delivery room is not unloving -- no more than a female helping with the delivery of a boy child is, or putting the older siblings to work on changing a child's diaper.

    There are times where service to the neighbor means we do not look upon their nakedness - but there are times when we do. I don't know what the future will bring, but I am an only child - if my parents become old and need assistance in their own physical care, that will fall to myself and to my wife -- and it may very well involve nudity and some awkwardness. So what - I am called to show love.

    Whether one thinks that scanner laws are wise or not (and I think they are most certainly not), to say that they are automatically immoral simply because there is nudity involved is an abuse of our Lord's Words explaining the Law because it replaces the standard of love with some other standard.

    And to simply say that nudity must be covered at all, all costs, this is not the Church's standard. It brazenly brushes away all sorts of good, proper, and pious love. The parent, the child caring for an aging parent, the doctor, the nurse, the social worker, indeed, even the policeman doing the right and legal search are not violating God's Law in faithfully exercising their duties. They show love to their neighbor - pray that they do so without falling into shame or vice.

  32. Dear Eric:

    The Law of the Land used to allow the local Lord to violate a man's wife on her wedding night for the security of the state. The Law of the Land used to require Jews to strip naked for the good of the security of the State. The Law of the Land used to allow slaves to be violated for the good of the state.

    Of course, one could argue that the 2nd use of the law is to bring people to repentance and salvation, not to protect victims. "It sucks to be you, but Jesus loves you. Have a nice day." That is why there is also a 1st use of the law. That is why the Church in its earliest centuries pushed to abolish exposure and abortion, and started orphanages.

    A woman goes to the doctor and takes off her clothes for her own good. Typically, she has control. She is protected from abuse. But the scanners violate a woman supposedly for someone else's good. She is not in control. We're already seeing lots of abuse, with no remedy. Right now, the scanners are "voluntary" (though refusing to go through them is seen as provocative by the TSA and invites further "investigation").

    The whole thing stinks and it is wrong. May it never be so when the Church and her pastors will not use the word "wrong."

    I hope we never see the day when a pastor's wife is strip-searched in public (which indeed does happen in police states - and not that far from where we sit comfortably behind our laptops debating angels and pinheads) and the pastor's response will be to detachedly whip out his iPad and write a paper on the Small Catechism to submit to LOGIA.

    The correct and biblical response to a man's family being violated is to punch someone's lights out, or better yet, make good decisions that protect one's family. It's called the doctrine of vocation. Fathers are to be protectors, not simply theoretical theologians who defend any act of the state with a shrug, a bromide, and a quote from Luther.

    If one is forced and compelled to be a martyr, that is one thing. But here we have the specter of men *volunteering* to send their wives and children through the scanners, to do so gladly, and to offer theological succor to the whole enterprise.

    Too often, churches become tools of the police state. Hasn't the 20th century taught us anything?

  33. Larry,

    To be a Christian is to show love. . . and if the fears of the populous are so much that I must be seen via a scanner to allay those fears - I obey the government out of love for my neighbor.

    From whence comes this language of "control" and power... often we don't that any control over the situation. We are called to show love. We are called to obey authority. And I would certainly hate to have our rhethoric against these scanners be ramped up to such a point where if they do pass we bludgeon weaker consciences into thinking they sin by going through them.

    We can oppose things in freedom - we don't have to put the weight of "Thus sayeth the Lord" behind everything. The only thing is, if we can't put "Thus sayeth the Lord" - it shouldn't be preached.

    P.S. I think you are confused -- you talk about women having control in terms of visiting their doctor. . . but then you have evil wicked husbands "*volunteering* to send their wives and children through the scanners." Um - if this freaks out your wife - don't bother with it. Don't send her through - let her say no. That is proper love to her - and that you can say prophetically.

  34. Dear Eric:

    Obedience to the government is not absolute. A lot of Germans - Jews and Gentiles alike - surrendered to the state out of love, out of fear, out of obedience, out of not wanting to offend the weaker brother, etc.

    Remember the quote from Burke about good men doing nothing? It's not the Bible, but it is sanctified common sense borne out by history.

    I am honestly expressing my opinion that these scanners are a bad thing and are an offense to Christian modesty and individual dignity. You are free to disagree. But mark my words: you will see the abuses and compulsion ramp up. We will be repeating this debate in a few years - not about scanners, but about TSA agents actually performing strip- and cavity-searches. And by that time, we will be so desensitized regarding modesty that people (perhaps even you) will make the exact same argument, only substituting the word "cavity search" in the place of "scanner."

    And the thing is, the argument is identical!

    If you have no qualms based on modesty about sending your wife through a scanner, honestly, Eric, what leg do you have to stand on when a TSA agent instead wants to strip your wife and start feeling around?

    You've already surrendered, and you call this love?

    You have the duty and obligation to protect your wife. You are called upon to love your wife more than the state. You have authority over your family. That is your vocation as husband and father. You are one flesh with your wife. You should protect her, not subject her to degradation out of love for the state.

    Again, have we learned nothing from the 20th century? Honestly, I think a lot of Lutherans spend so much time reading 16th century theology that they have not learned from the past hundred years.

    I encourage husbands and fathers to be men. Be protectors. Do not wimp out. To be a Christian man is not to be a milquetoast or a coward. How sad it is when Muslims are more willing to defend decency than Christians. What a disgrace. Lord, have mercy.

  35. Larry,

    "I am honestly expressing my opinion that these scanners are a bad thing and are an offense to Christian modesty and individual dignity. You are free to disagree."

    There! That I can live with! I am free to disagree as to what extent they violate Christian modesty and dignity. And I have no problem with a person who objects to these as going past what they think is modest...

    The difference becomes when the claim is made that these violate dignity. Period. Where I am not free to disagree. Where it is implied that if my wife chooses to walk through a scanner she is an immodest hussy whore who might as well be a stripper -- because if the Church is to say, "To go through these scanner IS an offense" then that is what is implied.

    Now, on this issue as a whole - I'm all with you on opposing the use of scanners (although I myself would go through one without shame or concern... but that's me for myself - it's not something I'd rather unleash on others).

    However, I do think you go a bit too far in your rhetoric. . . and it is a bit slippery slope as well. But for example, you say, "If you have no qualms based on modesty about sending your wife through a scanner, honestly, Eric, what leg do you have to stand on when a TSA agent instead wants to strip your wife and start feeling around?"

    Do you wish to know the difference I see? For the answer - agree only to view your wife through a scanner for a year and never touch her, and there you will know the difference! Also, what is to assume that scanners will lead to random body cavity searches? That's a bit of a slippery slope.

    So by all means, oppose this. Indeed, as I know you to be both a good Christian man who cares for his family and as a patriot who loves liberty, I would expect no less. But just do so while exercising your freedom as a Christian -- I just don't like the assertion that this needs to have the authority of the preaching office applied as well.

  36. Dear Eric:

    Anything and everything can be tolerated and justified using your logic. It's pure postmodernism, and it is indeed emasculating the Church's "prophetic voice," as Heath puts it.

    For if you object to your wife's being touched as opposed to ogled, another pastor can argue with equal force that the Bible's understanding of modesty makes no distinction between the two, that this is not the Church's business, that this is a slippery slope (and since when did that become an invalid argument or something to be dismissed? Any student of history knows that this is how the world works), that my conscience should not be burdened if I consider it my patriotic duty to have my wife touched and probed by a TSA agent as an act of love for my country.

    I agree that the church's primary mission is to preach the Gospel. Jesus died for all of the TSA agents who ogle and/or manhandle innocent travelers. But the Church is also to proclaim the truth and to defend the weak. Otherwise, she should just shut up about concentration camps and forget the whole pro-life thing.

    The only beneficiary of the Church's wishy-washiness and her becoming an irrelevant debating society is Satan.

    But yes, you are indeed free to do, say, and preach whatever you want. I cannot bind your conscience on anything whatsoever.

  37. Larry,

    Again, you jump too far. You CAN and ought and must bind my conscience on many, many things. I am to love my neighbor. Bind me on that. I am to preach Christ and Him Crucified. Bind me on that. I am not to present any other means of righteousness other than Christ's righteousness as benefiting or leading towards eternal salvation. Bind me on that. I am to teach that the Supper is Christ's Body and Blood - bind me on that. If I say that homosexuality is okay - bind me on that.

    However, on this issue I think we go too far if we say, "This method of acting and this method alone is showing love." Eh - if someone thinks it is her patriotic duty to submit to a scan or even a body search - why should I chastize them for following the rule of Caesar -- even if Caesar is foolish? If it doesn't violate their conscience - let it be.

    It is not Postmodern in approach to simply say that if Scripture is not specific, I don't need to be completely specific. That's the heart of freedom, not post-modernism. It's actually closer to a Lincoln-Douglas debate of which is the higher value - personal modesty or obedience to the state. You know what - Scripture doesn't rank them, I'm not going to rank them or even try to set them in opposition.

    Show love first and foremost. Then, don't violate your conscience. I will always delight in the fact that whether I eat or don't, I live to the Lord.

  38. Or, to be be more succinct - God has clearly forbidden certain things -- after that, all things are permissible, but not all things are profitable.

    On the one hand, we must not argue that the things that God has forbidden are not forbidden (this is the error of the left).

    On the other hand, we must not take our arguments over whether or not something is profitable and turn into as debate over whether it is permissible (the error of the right).

  39. Dear Eric:

    I cannot nor will not "bind your conscience" to anything. You are free. I am not your pastor. Even Luther wrote: "It is not lawful for me to forsake my assigned station as a preacher, to go to another city where I have no call and to preach there... I have no right to do this even if I hear that false doctrine is being taught and that souls are being seduced and condemned which I could rescue from error and condemnation by my sound doctrine. But I should commit the matter to God, who in His own time will find the opportunity to call ministers lawfully and to give the Word."

    These days, lacking consensus even in our own synod on just about anything, conscience has become a completely personal and individual matter. Calling to repentance in the LCMS is more of a suggestion. One can agree with it, and repent. Or one can simply disagree, and even go to an LCMS church a mile away and be communed anyway. We are free to find a pastor who will tell us what we want to hear. That's how it works.

    One man eats meat, another abstains. One man refuses to even send his family through the scanner, another man would consider it an act of love and godly obedience to permit his 12-year old daughter to be cavity-searched by a TSA agent. One guy likes glazed, another chocolate. It's all the same. All opinions are equal. Consciences ought not be bound. Yada yada.

    The epitome of a postmodern culture is that we simply have to "agree to disagree" on many things. We in the LCMS like to think we're above all that postmodernism - but we aren't. This is just one more example.

    I am gratified that debates and discussions can still happen. I hope Christian men, Lutheran men, will wake up and once more embrace their vocation as the head of the household, as the protector of wife and children, house and home, tribe and nation. In the name of the "freedom of a Christian," I'm afraid modern American men are all too willing to relinquish headship of their homes and turn all of their own responsibilities over to their wives, their children, the government, or anyone else.

    All I can do is persuade men to be men. I have no power to "bind" anyone to do the right thing. All I can do is preach, teach, plead, and exhort. And everyone is free to listen or not.

    Sadly, in our present culture, the Church has largely become laryngitic and lacking in authority. And considering how wishy-washy she has become, who can blame anyone for ignoring the Church?

  40. Larry,

    You have three issues here that you are conflating. First, there is God's Law, and then there are internal matters within the Church for the sake of good order, and then there are the matters of the political world.

    With regards speaking to God's Law, the Church's only authority is the Keys - to bind or to loose - to stay, "This is sin" and to say, "Your sin is forgiven." There is no other prophetic authority that the Church has. That's it - that is our authority.

    Now, within a church body like the Synod, we have agreed for the sake of order that we will act in a certain fashion - and in this we have been lax in enforcing our own rules of good order (quite possibly in pandering to society). There - I agree, lament all you want.

    Finally, in terms of the body politic, we are to use reason and logic and law to make arguments for the basis of society.

    What I have a qualm with is you keep driving to that first point with more precision than you possibly should, or driving that first aspect to try to win and control the latter.

    For example, you say that you wish men to fulfill their vocation - that is good. However, your are implying that if you as a husband do not oppose the use of scanners, then you are NOT fulfilling your vocation - which is precisely to bind. If you say someone is not fulfilling their vocation, you are accusing them of sin. To forsake your vocation is to sin.

    For a person to disagree with how to live out their vocation is not being wishy-washy. Nor am I agreeing to disagree - you are wrong to say "You must oppose this" or "A christian needs to oppose this" because in doing this you are going beyond what you may safely say on the basis of Scripture. I'm not agreeing to disagree - I'm refusing to be bound by your standards.

    And I think you are off - the solution to the post-modern abuse of freedom is not to cry out to the Law, but rather to teach, delight in, and live in the freedom we have in Christ.

    Also, you abuse the Luther quote -- to correct or admonish another teacher is not the same as going and taking over his call. That is well within the duty of the public office. I can say, "When you bind consciences on this issue, you press too far and should not" -- that doesn't mean I'm going to show up in Gretna and kick you out of the pulpit. So no, calling false doctrine to heel is part of the office.

    And if you have no power to bind anyone, you don't have the keys.

  41. Dear Eric:

    You write:

    "For example, you say that you wish men to fulfill their vocation - that is good. However, your are implying that if you as a husband do not oppose the use of scanners, then you are NOT fulfilling your vocation - which is precisely to bind. If you say someone is not fulfilling their vocation, you are accusing them of sin. To forsake your vocation is to sin."

    You also write:

    "To be a Christian is to show love. . . and if the fears of the populous [sic] are so much that I must be seen via a scanner to allay those fears - I obey the government out of love for my neighbor."

    Do you see what you have done? In the latter quote, you are at least setting up a hypothetical in which the Christian thing to do, the only way to avoid sin, is to let your wife and children be strip-searched, virtually or perhaps even actually.

    You want me to have your cake and eat your cake as well. Well, I'm going to spit it right back out, and invite you to eat it yourself. :-)

    To use your own terminology according to your own logic, you are "binding my conscience" on the matter of the scanners. 1) "If the fears of the populace..." are such that it would be considered a scandal for me not to send my family through the scanner (and presumably through any other forms of legally-established security measures), than my "failure" to "show love" to those people who are offended at my decision would be a sin. For as you say: "I obey the government out of love for my neighbor."

    You are saying here that under certain conditions, a Christian husband and father is sinning (sinning!) if he were to refuse to send his wife and children through the scanners - based on the collective opinon of "the populace" (which may not even be Christian at all). So Christian ethics is determined democratically?

    If I have exceeded my authority in saying it is wrong for women and children to have their modesty compromised, then you are equally exceeding your authority to declare it wrong for fathers to "fail to love" their "fearing" brethren by refusing to send their kids through the scanners.

    A similar example might be Sweden's harsh laws against home schooling. A good Lutheran might argue that Lutherans must obey the state and submit to these laws out of love for the neighbor - neighbors who would be offended at your teaching your children about the six days of creation, for example.

    And some would argue that the church ought not get involved, after all, it could "bind the conscience" of say, a politician who honestly thinks children need to be in public schools and votes against homeschooling.

    But the church is not here to make everybody feel good. She is there to proclaim the truth - even unpopular and offensive truths.

  42. "And if you have no power to bind anyone, you don't have the keys."

    Well, in the LCMS, we don't.

    Your statement is interesting on many levels. In your congregation's constitution, you likely don't have the keys. In the LCMS, excommunication is almost always carried out by the voters assembly, not the pastor.

    As one of our seminary profs taught, the congregation exercises the binding key, and the pastor's job is to announce and enforce their decision.

    And even if you were to refuse to commune a person because he is impenitent, you know as well as I do one of your circuit-mates (who thinks you're being too harsh) will turn the key right back the other way.

    And so, Lutherans can get the key turned back with a little church-shopping.

    In Luther's day, the impenitent person could be denied legal rights, refused Christian burial, fined, or even be jailed. In our culture and society, the pastor's key is made of wax. It is only the office of persuasion. We don't bind anyone. We can only persuade sinners to repent.

    Sometimes they do, sometimes they transfer. And if the LCMS pastors were to actually honor one another's pastoral keys, the impenitent could always go to the ELCA or some other body.

    So, in reality, we don't have the authority to "bind" anyone. But we can, and ought to use, the prophetic voice of the church to protect women, children, the unborn, and those who are being oppressed. We should call sinners to repentance, and forgive the penitent. The impenitent need to be admonished, but knowing full well that another brother pastor will absolve them anyway.

    I'm not advocating this, it's just the harsh reality. And, of course, we can always appeal to the doctrine of election and wash our hands of any responsibility. It all comes out in the wash anyway, right?

  43. Larry,

    A slight note and this is the important nuance (that at the earlier date I didn't make as clear) to make. I don't command you anything. -- "To be a Christian is to show love. . . and if the fears of the populous [sic] are so much that I must be seen via a scanner to allay those fears - I obey the government out of love for my neighbor."

    I described what I would do and why I would do it. Did I ever say what you must do? Did I ever say that if you decide that out of love for your family you must oppose the law that you are wrong? Did I accuse you of sedition? Nope. Not once. In fact, several times I have even commended you for such an approach (I count at least 5 times above, in comments 19, 23, 24, and 27-- possibly even 34, where I commend your determination not to let your wife or child go through these). Act out of love - as you are doing. Fantastic. I shall do the same - I just don't think how we in Christian freedom demonstrate love must look exactly the same.

    That's the difference here - I'm not going to tell another what showing love precisely is. Take your example of homeschooling in Sweden. Can a person remain in Sweden? I say sure. Can a person leave in order to go where they can homeschool? I say sure. Perhaps in the parents estimation the benefits of remaining in Sweden outweigh the lack of a homeschool option. Okay, show love. Perhaps homeschool in the specific case is so strong that they desire freedom. Okay, show love.

    Can a person stay in Sweden simply out of fear and a shirking of duty - sure, but that is wrong. Can a person leave Sweden for reasons that are poor and selfish - sure, but that is wrong.

    I don't need to run anyone else's life. You are free, why would I try to take that from you unless there is a clear Word of Scripture? Now, if in talking to you, I see that you aren't acting on a basis of love, or you are directly contradicting Scripture, then I will speak. Otherwise - you live your vocations and I will live mine. Or, as you put it - I'll eat my cake and you eat yours.

  44. Dear Eric:

    You ask: "I described what I would do and why I would do it. Did I ever say what you must do?"

    You defined being a Christian ("to show love") and then you asserted that this is shown as follows: "and if the fears of the populous [sic] are so much that I must be seen via a scanner to allay those fears - I obey the government out of love for my neighbor." You raise the issue of "the populace" and then define the ethical (Christian) thing to do based on what allays the fears of the populace.

    That is an ethics by the mob. And when you are challenged on it, you say that I, unlike you, am free to ignore the mob and base my ethics on what is right for me and my family. So my ethic is not your ethic, and everyone's is different.

    So, it is basically anything goes. Do what you want. Pure postmodernism.

    And when you use the word "must" ("so I must be seen via a scanner to allay...") you have made it an imperative. Moreover, the Christian faith and the law don't change based on who the person is. If it is imperative out of Christian love for *you* to "be seen via the scanner," how can it not be so with *me*?

    The answer is that you are using a kind of "personal morality" that borders on situational ethics. It's the spirituality of JC (Jiminy Cricket): "Always let your conscience be your guide" - which doesn't take the fall into consideration.

    So, if Paris Hilton thinks it's okay for her to climb into a limo without wearing underwear with a photographer at the ready to put the images all over the internet, it all depends on her conscience as to whether or not this is okay. This is basically an adiaphoron. After all, nudity is not necessarily sin. These days, nobody is really offended anyway. And who could fault the photographer for acting in Christian liberty to "ply his vocation." And unless he is titillated (and hey, maybe he's even gay?) there is no sin. The news people are just there to report. So, it's all good! The church needs to "get with the program" and give everything a green light.

    Isn't "Christian freedom" cool?

    I reiterate, Eric, I have no force over you. I can't bind you to do anything. You are free to allow your wife to be treated in ways that I would not allow mine to be. But you are not free to "bind my conscience" to make me *approve* of your decisions and ethical labyrinth. I don't approve. I won't be bullied into making anyone think I do. I think you're wrong. And I think your state-before-wife-and-children ethic is a form of fascism-fuel. I hope your take on this changes over time - especially if our own country becomes more authoritarian as I believe it is. At some point, these will no longer be safe theoretical debates on a blog, but like Bonhoeffer, we will be forced to make difficult ethical decisions based on real life rather than facile bromides.

    Meanwhile, Eric, I urge you to protect your family's modesty and dignity and encourage your parishioners to do the same. It's terribly counter-cultural, but modesty is not an adiaphoron.

  45. Dear Eric:

    In all of your scenarios about the ethical response to the Swedish homeschooling law, I notice you did not address the issue of resistance.

    It's as though the only "Lutheran" option is to shrug and cave.

    Again, have we learned nothing from the 20th century?

    "Oh well, Sorry, Frank family, the Government says I can't hide you in the attic. Romans 13 and all that. But hey, I'll remember you fondly when I piously recite my catechism with my own children tonight..."

    Hide the Frank family, turn in the Frank family - whatever. As long as the motivation is "love" and as long as the conscience says it's okay, there is no right and no wrong. In fact, it might be "right" for Josef to hide them, and equally "right" for Hans to hand them over. Who are we to "bind consciences"?

  46. Larry,

    Let me reiterate to be clear. I shall remove the word "must" from that statement (although do note the phrase "I must be seen" puts the populous as the one placing this burden, not the Scriptures, so it isn't an absolute Command of God). So, to restate:

    "To be a Christian is to show love. . . and if the fears of the populous [sic] are so much that the law states that I am to be seen via a scanner to allay those fears - I may obey the government out of love for my neighbor."

    This statement says that I am free to obey the government in a law that you say I am not free to obey them. In this, I am free to oppose you.

    Now, I didn't go directly into the ideas of resistance or civil disobedience (although again, I repeatedly commended you for your opposition to the governmental policy if it violates your conscience).

    As to your examples, if I were talking to Paris Hilton, I would ask her how her choice of clothing (or lack there of) shows love to the neighbor. How is she demonstrating care? If she cannot say how this is, or if it is a spurious, false example of love (i.e. "my fans like it"), then I would say, "Then don't do this."

    Likewise, with the choice of hiding the Frank family - how best do I show love to my neighbor? In this case, I would with quite a clean conscience hide the Franks... out of love for them.

    (Or to go more along the lines of Christ - if it is merely something that affect me, I will turn the other cheek. If it is my neighbor, I will strive to see that they are not struck. Again, good for you for defending your family).

    Just as I would defend you, if someone were to accuse you of being utterly sinful for not obeying the Law of the Land with scanners (even though you are, because you legally have the option to avoid the scan). Nonsense - you are acting out of love.

    It's not a hard system I have Larry - show love, love that is the Law of God. Make your decisions on the basis of showing love. Strive not to figure out what is profitable.

    Or let us have an illustration (as you seem to prefer the hypothetical instead of the theoretical). You have the opportunity to hide the Frank family - and you do. You are found out. You are told you may turn them over, or else you and your family will go to the camps as well. What do you do? Do you help the Franks to escape knowing that doing so may condemn your wife and child to the camps, or do you defend your family to the detriment of the Franks?

    I would not necessarily fault you either way, for both choices are horrid and lousy (although the thoughts of your wife would need to be considered as well, for she too has the opportunity to show love to the neighbor).

    In that case my advice would be the famous Luther phrase (much hated by some) -- sin boldly, but believe more boldly still. And I'm not going to fault you or guilt trip you either way afterwords...

    Ah, for you and I, it is utterly, utterly impossible to fulfill all righteousness, even in the littlest thing.

  47. I still do not see how a Christian man voluntarily allowing his wife (or child) to be defiled in order to save a few minutes in line at the airport shows love.

    But hey, sin boldly.

    Most guys get their wives flowers or chocolate or a ring to show their love. Even a card and a kiss is nice. Having a TSA agent look at nudie pics of the Mrs.? Not so much. Maybe a cavity search from a federal employee? You know, I never even considered that one for our 15th. Well, I guess times have changed and I'm a little old fashioned. My advice, fellas: chocolate is always good.

    To quote Fr. Duddleswell: "'Tis enough to make St. Jude himself despair..."

    Come Lord Jesus!

  48. I defy your definition of defiled.

    =o) I like that. There was alliteration.

    And as you and I both learned from Doctor Scaer (at least I did, and I'm guessing you were paying attention as well), if you let the opponent set the definitions you have let them win the debate. There is no good way that I can argue that the defiling of me bride would be good (unless you wanted to make some Rape of the Sabine Women analogy that I don't think works). Which is fine by me, because I think you are setting a false definition.

    But what I can say is as follows:
    1. I defy your definition of defiling (i.e. that to go through a scanner defiles the person going through).
    2. On the basis of Scripture, you cannot insist that I accept your definition.
    3. On the basis of the history of the Church, I don't think you can make your definition the definition I must accept. (hint: if you ever go to the Sistine Chapel. . . don't look up. And Michelangelo's David. . . right out too)

    Therefore - should my wife go through a scanner, my conscience will be clean. . . except for the fact that neither she nor I are keen on them and don't intend to use them. (Of course, now that I've been told that to do so is sinful, I may have to just to demonstrate my Christian liberty. . . hmmm, good thing I'm not flying for a bit) So instead. . .

    Therefore - should someone go through such a scanner and not feel any shame about it, as they cannot be convinced by either Scripture or plain reason that their conscience is in err - let them remain free.

    Which really was the whole point in the first place. While I know you and Fr. Curtis sincerely and totally think these scanners are a bad and vile idea (and indeed, I actually will agree with you on the political grounds), the Church has no business being a "Prophetic Voice" on this issue, because to bind consciences beyond Scripture is not the purview of the Church (otherwise we'd have to go start flipping through the old copies of National Geographic so we can tell those horrible, heathen wild folk to stop sinning and put on some decent, Christian clothing!)

    P.S. Why on earth would you think my idea of taking my wife through a TSA scanner would be a "gift". Methinks you've been living in New Orleans too long >=o)

    P.S.S. It's sad, I'm not even sure is the stinking TSA will let you take all that much chocolate through the scanners anymore either.

    Come Lord Jesus!

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  50. Dear Eric:

    How compartmentalized and theologically theoretical must one be to pronounce something "vile" (your word) and yet claim that the Church "has no business" to criticize something that is "vile!" So, the Bride of Christ is to shut up about things that are "vile" and let the politicians and the Muslims protect our wives and children from the very "vile" things?

    "Deliver us from evil" the Church prays. And yet the politician and the imam may say evil is evil, while the Church is to remain world-pleasingly neutral about that which is "vile"? Things that are "vile" are contrary to God. "Vile" doesn't mean "not such a good idea." "Vile" means reprehensible. The Church ought to condemn "vile" things.

    We'll condemn the Anabaptists, but not a "vile" piece of equipment? I mean, if the thing cannot be condemned, why call it "vile?"

    And I don't concede the point, by the way, that Scripture is silent about such things. Heath provided a list of "proof texts" regarding biblical modesty. Security theater is neither art nor medicine. If the Church cannot condemn something so vile as the fact that a 12-year old girl (I mean, "potential terrorist") was recently traumatized by being "randomly" selected for a virtual strip search without even a parental consent, and that her being subjected to such degrading treatment is dismissed by a churchman with jokes about New Orleans and National Geographic, well, I guess we shouldn't marvel that people are leaving the Church. The modern Church is like the Happy Days episode where Fonzi could not say the word "wrong."

    We had better leave the condemnation of "vile" things to Nancy Pelosi rather than a pastor, I suppose.

    Well, we'll just have to "agree to disagree," unless you wish to "bind my conscience" because I do agree with Pr. Curtis that this is the Church's business. Will you be filing false doctrine charges against us? Rest assured, I won't be flying to any heresy trial. I hope you'll be so kind as to spring for a train ticket. No porno-scanners or creepy guys feeling up passengers (all out of "love" of course.. ) there (at least not yet).

    But as you have pointed out so well, your morality is not my morality, your ethics are not my ethics, we are all free to do what is right in our own eyes, to define defilement in any way we see fit, and that we should "sin boldly" anyway.

    I think I got it now...

  51. Nope - you still miss the point.

    I don't care what "my" ethics are or what "you" ethics are. I don't really care what you think happens to be vile or what I happen to thinks be vile - but if you are going to make a claim for the *Church*, it needs to be clear that this is the only conclusion on the basis of the Scripture that we can have.

    On the basis of Scriptures, we can say that abortion is killing a human being. On the basis of Scripture we can say the are licit times to kill. On the basis of Scripture we can say that the Supper is Christ's Body and Blood. Any who oppose these ideas, we can oppose with the Scriptures, and thus speak authoritatively.

    You guys haven't done this on this issue.

    Throwing out proof texts does not a full argument make.

    Asserting over and over that something is vile does not make it forbidden by Scripture.

    Using highly emotional language does not prove something from Scripture.

    You have asserted that it is not merely distasteful, not merely vile, but in opposition to the Scriptures - that going through a scanner should not be done. Period. That it is not something that a Christian is free to do. And repeated, and repeated, and repeated that it should not be done.

    Your repetition doesn't convince, it doesn't explain why your position must be held on the basis of Scripture, it doesn't seek to instruct or enlighten - at best it merely browbeats.

  52. Dear Eric:

    You introduced the word "vile" to describe the scanners. What about them is "vile"? Please be specific...

  53. Or Larry, think about it this way.

    How are you trying to convince me? Is it on the basis of Scripture, or on the basis of. . . something else? You've referenced that poor 12 year old girl (whose parents need to be beaten) more than you have the Word of God. You referenced the history of the 20th century more than you have Scripture. What is supposed to convince me?

    I will still stand on the Word of God where I am told that I have freedom - so thus I will conclude that a person may freely, if it does not violate his own conscience, go through these scanners. It is permissible, even if not socially and politically profitable. That's on the basis of Scripture.

    Give me a Scriptural argument. Don't lament my postmodernism, don't lament how uncaring a husband I must be, don't lament how I crack jokes at peoples' expense, don't merely try to shame me into capitulation. Give me a Scriptural argument that shows that if one thinks he can go through a scanner his conscience is in error.

    And if you can't. . . if all you can do is say, "But this is wrong. . . there's the proof texts" - you aren't speaking authoritatively.

  54. Dear Eric:

    Let me try again.

    You introduced the word "vile" to describe the scanners. What about them is "vile"? Please be specific...

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  56. Heath,

    I agree - cover up for the sake of modesty. However, I disagree that the simple act of going through a scanner is immodest. Why? It is not a provocative display of nudity on the part of the person going through the scanner. It is not a matter of publicly flashing people willy-nilly. It is a very specific form of something approaching nudity.

    By your definition of modesty, would a pat down for weapons violate Christian modesty and on what basis would you say this? That's probably even more invasive that a scan.

    If you want to decry the uncaring approach of government, if you want to decry that we are so worried about our own safety that we would try to force people to do things that they are uncomfortable with - I'm right there with you. But to imply that going through a scanner itself is immodest, I can't quite agree. That goes beyond what Scripture describes.

  57. Eric,

    I've kind of given up on this precisely because I have given Scripture and plain reason and you just don't seem convinced; nor desirous to interact with these topics.

    I have shown you where in the Scriptures modesty is enjoined in both OT and NT. I have explained with plain reasoning why the virtual strip search is not like medical necessity or ars gratia artis. I have included reasoning concerning the ethical dilemma this poses to those who will have to view their neighbors naked. I have brought forward vocation and the duties of a Christian father to his wife and children. I have offered the testimony of the Gentiles to demonstrate that modesty is, in fact, part of the natural, moral law written upon our hearts (Rom 2).

    In response you have not brought me any Scriptures that enjoin the viewing of naked people. Or any plain reason to show that here it is necessary to reach some good higher than modesty, the innocency of women and children, and human dignity. Instead, you have chosen to fight on the grounds of an ethic of "love." To wit: that my love for fearful neighbors makes it necessary for me to allay their fears via virtually undressing in front of an agent of the state.

    The problem with any ethic based on "love" (or Mills' "utility," or the "common good," etc.) is that we are fallen. We don't know what love is without the Law showing us what love is. Paris Hilton might really be invincibly ignorant (a technical term) that wearing no undies and having her picture snapped is unloving. She might really and honestly believe that it is. How are you going to say otherwise under your ethic of love? Who gets to define the love? I say the law of God does and I've brought forward Scriptures that say that modestly covering up is His law - and the whole of Christian history agrees with my interpretation.

    Since that is God's Law - we had better have some pretty heavy weight on the other side of the scales to make an exception thereto. Whether or not some people are OK with this scanner, doesn't make it OK. Some men and women are OK with polygamy. They like it. They think it is loving. But they are wrong. They don't know what love is. Likewise, you are wrong to think that these naked scanners are loving; even if you or another are OK with them. Are there no other ways to ensure security on airlines? Is this really a necessity as in the case of being naked for a medical exam is a necessity? If there is any other way to accomplish the goals of these scans without violating God's Law on modesty, then there is no necessity. If there is no necessity, then your entire argument holds no weight whatsoever.

    Be assured: these are concessive conditionals, not contrafactual.


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  59. There was some problem with Blogger's posting of comments - sorry about that. My last message comes before Eric's last.



    Being seen naked is immodest. That's what those Scriptures mean. You are wrong that the immodesty resides in the eye of the beholder. The act of being seen naked by someone who is not your spouse is immodest, in ipsa.


  60. Heath,

    I again think that this assertion, that to be seen naked by someone other than your spouse is immodest goes too far.

    Is the woman in the nursing home who is being cleaned by a nurse immodest?
    Is the patient who is examined by a doctor being immodest?
    Is the prisoner in jail who must undergo a strip search guilt of immodesty in addition to his other crimes?

    I don't think you we can say so - yet the definition you give would lead to those conclusions. Or even further... Were the saints who were sent to the lions naked guilty of the sin of immodesty? Was Christ our Lord guilty of immodesty when he was crucified in the nude? Or were Adam and Eve really guilty of being immodestly naked in the garden but only the knowledge of Good and Evil let them know? (The scary thing is I've heard folks try to make that argument with all sincerity!)

    In implying that nudity=immodesty, or nudity extra spouse=immodesty, you neglect other times where nudity may be part of normal Christian love (care for another's body - where great care and discretion ought still be taken) or where nudity is forced upon another.

    And that builds guilt. Should the gal who is raped be made to feel guilty because if someone who isn't your spouse sees you naked, that's being immodest? Your zeal for righteousness is letting you use language that is going to have impacts that I don't think you are forseeing.

    Thus I say let this issue of legalized scanning be left to conscience. If you want to assert that on the bounds of protecting an individual's modesty that no one should be forced to undergo this - I'm all with you. If you want to argue that this is undue search - again, from a political point of view, I am right with you. If you want additional standard to prevent acts of Lewdness by the operators - again all with you. If you want to argue that it shouldn't be done at all because it is open to abuse - I'm right with you.

    But to simply say that the scan itself is immodest because it lets one been seen naked, and being seen naked by anyone other than your spouse is immodest goes too far - it goes beyond what Scripture and centuries of Christian love for the poor and abused have taught us.

    Scripture does not teach that being seeing naked is immodest. We are taught by Scripture that our bodies are good, that our sexuality is a gift to be used only in the confines of marriage, and that we should encourage others to chastity and decency as well. But just nudity=immodesty. Too far and beyond Scriptures.

  61. Oh, and Heath,

    1. If my verbage has broken your web page, I apologize.

    2. If you start taking too many cues from the Muslims and start advocating birkas, I will be forced to drive up there and beat you. So, if you plan on doing this, time it with some other event of interest or note.

  62. Eric,

    You neglect the flipside of being immodest: being shamed. It is immodest of me to flagrantly display my body to another. That is a sin. It is also a sin to shame someone by revealing their nakedness.

    "Is the woman in the nursing home who is being cleaned by a nurse immodest?"

    She is being shamed. But it is necessitated by her incapacity. She must be cleansed, this is the only way to do it. That she is immodestly exposed is too bad, but it has to happen. This is why people don't want to end up in nursing homes: they are exposed to constant shame.

    Is the patient who is examined by a doctor being immodest?

    He is shamed. This is why folks hate going to the doctor. It is embarrassing and something in our nature, our conscience, revolts against being seen naked. It is shameful. We only do it because there is no other way to get healed.

    Is the prisoner in jail who must undergo a strip search guilt of immodesty in addition to his other crimes?

    He is being shamed. He is shamed by his nakedness. This is one reason no one wants to go to jail: it is shameful and degrading.

    Do you see?


  63. Brown's wife here, chiming in! Let me preface this by saying that I REALLY do not like the concept behind these airport scanners. I am most appreciative of the fact that they are optional in the United States, and that if I ever fly anywhere where I must go through one as a matter of law, I will be decidedly grumpy.

    However, I cannot call them immoral. As my husband has noted, this is not scripturally supported. If you look at them from that angle, it follows that anyone using scanners is being immoral. Is this really an act of immorality? Upon whom is the person going through the scanner imposing? Against whom are they sinning? It is not the person next to them, because that person is free to utilize other methods. It is not the person viewing the scans, because that is a matter of profession, and they (like me, as a nurse) are called upon in the context of their job to be professional and view a human body as something other than an object of desire. The context behind these scanners is not lude. Can the system be abused? Yes. But I also know that there are people who abuse their jobs and the trust of the people who go to them in any profession where privacy is key.

    Now, to change the subject to the concept of modesty. Modesty is very much a real thing- but to define it is quite difficult. To walk around without clothing in our society is considered immodest. To walk around scantily clad is typically considered immodest. Yet even wearing what I am right now- what I wore to church this morning, an ankle-length skirt with sandals, and a 3/4 length sleeve shirt with a modest v-cut neck- there are many countries where the people would be HORRIFIED. Moreover, I would feel badly for having violated their sense of modesty. They have a different sense of modesty than I, but it is no less valid. Perhaps you could say modesty has two components: that of the individual, and that of those around the individual. Both ought to be taken into account. So whose modesty are those who choose to use the scanners violating? I can't see how you could argue the user's own, as the context of the scanners is not to present them as an object of desire and is instead meant to be a protective measure (daft as I think it is) taken in a professional manner. Perhaps if they were uninformed, it could be a nasty surprise later, but for those who willingly give informed consent, there is nothing immodest about it. For myself, I would cringe. I cringe at undressing for a doctor's appointment. I personally prefer to have a female physician, too, though I do not consider other women with a male physician to be immodest- again, no immodest context and professionalism are assumed.

    If I ever MUST walk through a scanner (or volunteer for some reason), I will not feel the need to immediately ask for forgiveness. If they ever become mandatory, perhaps then you could make an argument that those responsible for mandating them are committing an offense, as they will not permit someone to observe a greater level of modesty. Yet even then, the scanners are not immoral. But those mandating their use are neglecting to show love.

  64. Heath,

    I do see the point about shame - and again, if you want to argue that we should oppose scanners on the grounds that they bring about shame to individuals, I think that is a fine argument. But that's an argument from shame - not from modesty.

    However, I would also still assert that there there are times in which for either our good or the good of others we bear that shame. If you are unable to physically care for yourself, you ought let another exercise Christian love and care for you. Indeed, if one refuses to let another rightfully care for them out of shame, that ends up skirting close to pride as well.

    Sometimes I wonder if it isn't nakedness itself that brings shame, but rather the fact when we are naked we are reminded that all that we are, including our sin, lies exposed. Before sin, without sin, there is no shame in nakedness. I think ultimately the shame lies with all sin, not properly the nakedness itself.

    Guilt and shame are often flipsides of the same coin -- but I still think the angle you have taken and vehemency with which you approach this can end up bringing out guilt where no guilt needs to be applied. That's my concern.

    (also, I have known people who aren't freaked out by being in a nursing home or in front of their doctor -- I don't think this means they are immodest - they are just at peace with the necessity of what goes on.)

  65. Heath,

    Another quick thought. There are times when I am called upon to bear up with shame for the sake of my neighbor. I am never called upon to engage in sin for my neighbor. Again, to call bearing the shame of a scanner a sin goes a touch too far. It calls bear a shame a matter of guilt.

  66. Shame and modesty are intimately connected. They are the same word in Greek; they are the flip side of each other.

    To shame some one is wrong. To allow someone whom you are suppose to protect to be shamed is wrong. To allow yourself to be shamed for no good reason is wrong. I have argued again and again that there is no good reason here and you continually avoid discussion on that point. I think I know why: you know there is no leg to stand on here.

    The shaming of individuals done here by the US government is simply not necessary and it is therefore sinful. It should stop. The Church should say as much. Husbands should protect their wives and children from this shame even if they don't think it is to their shame. It is. If they think otherwise, they should read the Scriptures I've quoted above once again and thus better inform their consciences.


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  68. "To allow yourself to be shamed for no good reason is wrong. I have argued again and again that there is no good reason here and you continually avoid discussion on that point."

    Partially the reason I'm not interest in discussing whether or not there is "good reason" for the scanners is. . . well, whether there is good reason or not becomes a matter of political policy. Some laws are good and wise, some aren't. I think the Patriot Act is horrid policy -- not something I am going to get into from a theological standpoint, though.

    But the problem I still have with your approach is this. I think you are attempting to shame people (actually, I think more in terms of guilt, but we've moved in the discussion to terms of shame) who feel no shame. You keep telling people they ought to feel shame, even if they don't. Let us say someone goes through the scanners - thinks nothing of it. Should we in our preaching say, "You should be ashamed of yourself!"?

    By your argument, that is part of the teaching we ought to do. Next time I see Pastor D. apparently I ought to say, "You should be ashamed for letting yourself be seen like that!"

    And that's where I think this goes too far. It's not merely a protecting a person from feeling shame that is being argued, but attempting to shame a person, attempting to impose guilt on one who doesn't feel guilt. And I don't think this is an matter of erring conscience.

    What example do we see from the New Testament? Consider meat sacrificed to idols. If you don't want to eat meat sacrificed to idols - by all means don't. If you want to oppose a law that only lets meat that has been sacrificed to idols be sold because it would mess with people - great. But are we to find people who eat meat sacrificed to idols and say to them, "Don't you realize how horrible idolatry is, and how your actions are just perpetuating this system and helping lead people to hell. . . and what if you children end up marrying pagans, pagans who remained pagans because you kept feeding them money by buying their ungodly meat. . . shame! Shame!" That wasn't the tact Paul took.

    And I think this is an apt analogy. For a Jew, very few things were more shameful, more defiling than eating meat sacrificed to an idol (indeed, can you name for me things more defiling than eating meat sacrificed to an idol?). For the gentile - eh, who cares. So what does Paul say? Must we burden the gentile conscience? Nope - show love to the neighbor and let each one have his own conscience.

    And that's what I think you are overlooking - the shame and guilt you are bringing on people when they don't need to have it. Pastor D is a fine, pious man, as is his wife. Shall I attempt to shame them on this? Or others like them? When they have harmed. . . whom? Is their own faith shaken by this? The spiritual life of the TSA agent?

    In this, let them be remain free. The Law doesn't bring life, it only kills, and this is necessary killing. Opposing TSA scanning will not improve the public morality, it will only burden Christians who needn't be burdened. That's the problem I have.

  69. The last paragraph should say, "this isN'T necessary killing"

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  71. I think there is much we agree on.

    I think we all agree that the Scriptures advocate a certain degree of modesty - even without a lot of definition - at least since the days of Genesis 3 when the Lord provided clothing for Adam and Eve.

    I think we also agree that there are exceptions. For example, Luther's LC example of the physician examining a patient. And even in the case of an exception, such as a medical or penitentiary examination, precautions are taken to protect as much modesty as possible.

    I think we can also agree that a person who is compelled to be naked (such as a prisoner or victim of sexual abuse) is not sinning (though perhaps the one compelling the nakedness might be). Augustine actually addresses this issue in City of God, saying that a woman who has been raped is not to be considered in any way unclean or dishonored.

    And yet there are less clear-cut examples...

    What about a pole dancer? I think we would tend to agree that this is a sinful offense against modesty - even if such dancers are required by law not to touch patrons and to keep a certain amount of clothing on. The woman may even be desperate to earn money any way that she can to feed her family, and can justify to herself that there is no prostitution (nor perhaps even actual nudity) going on.

    What about a Christian wife and/or mother working as a nude model in an art class? There is no intent to titillate. Is it sinful for a Christian woman (or a man, for that matter) to disrobe in front of male and female strangers so they can draw pictures of him or her? Certainly, even Christian art includes nudity. What about a model posing for nude photos? Is this an anything-goes situation, or is it rather an affront to modesty? Or is this a case of situational ethics?

    What about a nudist camp? Some even claim to be family-oriented Christian operations. Can a pastor tell a man who takes his wife and children to a nudist camp that he is sinning? According to Eric's reasoning (that a man voluntarily allowing his wife and children to go through an optional scanner in order to save a couple minutes at the airport must not be considered to be sinning in doing so), a similar scenario of a father voluntarily bringing the family to a nudist camp cannot be considered to be sinning either. This would seem to be, according to Eric's logic, like one person eating meat and another abstaining, an adiaphoron, since nudity in and of itself is not a sin, and presumably, if everyone else is voluntarily at the nudist camp as well, nobody's conscience is being compromised.


  72. Nevertheless, I would imagine most Christians would consider such a thing - especially involving children - to be an offense against modesty and an example of a father not doing his job to protect his family. It would be interesting to get Eric's take on this. Is this within the purview of Christian liberty?

    If we accept that barring certain exceptions, exposing one's nakedness is to be avoided, and that it is a husband/father's vocation to protect his wife and/or children, and so long as the airport scanner remains merely an *option* - I just don't see how a man can voluntarily subject his wife and children to being exposed and claim to be sinless as if this were a medical exam or an example of a person being raped.

    If the scan were *compulsory,* and if the family simply *must* fly - then I could see the argument. But we're talking about a voluntary action to save a few minutes of travel time.

    No matter how much I slice and dice Eric's argument, it just comes up as a postmodernist "if it feels good do it, but don't judge anyone else" ethic - as though modesty is a matter of Christian liberty, an optional matter neither commanded nor prohibited.

    Is modesty merely an adiaphoron?

    Again, I think we have largely become desensitized to nudity, and Lutherans as a rule consider modesty to be a quaint notion held only by legalistic and pietistic Christians, something not applicable to our own families. I also believe that men have, for the most part, capitulated their role as Christian protectors of family and home.

  73. Larry,

    I think we both are much closer to understanding - and to make the point of understanding finer, and hopefully to demonstrate where I put the line so as to not fall into a simple post-modernist camp... the idea of the nude modeling for the art class.

    Is it permissible. . . I suppose I'd say it is. All the things you say are true -- but that isn't the end of the thought pattern a Christian should take (where it would be the end with a post-modern leaning argument. . . if you can do it legally and it feels good, go do it) - I would want to know if it is profitable as well.

    While one could pose nude - what benefit are you deriving from this? What drives you, what motivates you to do this? "I have a love of art and want young artists to be nurtured" is a different reason than, "It's a cheap way to make $25" (Sorry, I don't know the going rates here). Just because something is permissible doesn't mean it should be done-- but just because something probably shouldn't be done doesn't mean it is impermissible.

    And I think what happens is that in our frustration with how often people do that which probably shouldn't be done, or is done thoughtlessly or carelessly, we simply want to jump to a "Thou shall not" instead of a "Is it really a good idea to".

    "You cannot go through scanners" is different than, "Is it wise to go through those scanners? Are the implications for how you treat your family, political, social ramifications worth it?" Even if you want to make people think about these things - eh, well, let's consider it.

    But in the end, if it is permissible, ultimately the decision based upon profitability is left up to the individual.

    Larry says, "I just don't see how a man can voluntarily subject his wife and children to being exposed and claim to be sinless as if this were a medical exam or an example of a person being raped." The reason you say this is because you view the action of going through the scanner as having a high, high cost. Hence, it's not going to profitable in nearly any situation.

    Someone else, though, might not see the cost as being high at all - and even see the benefits as outweighing the cost - for whatever their rationale (provided their rationale itself isn't wicked).

    This is the thing with freedom - not everyone is going to make the same decision you do. . . and that's okay. Really, it is. No - really. Paul wishes everyone were single as he is, he thinks this is the more profitable way, but if you want to marry and take up those burdens, that's okay. Go ahead.

    In fact, I could see where one might argue that simply passing through the scanner might be LESS invasive than getting a pat down. Eh - make the call as best you can - avoid desires that are sinful, and then be bold.

    And while you are probably right in that we have become desensitized to nudity, and that fathers are not necessarily taking their role as protectors as seriously as they ought - the solution isn't to create new law -- it's to talk about what how our bodies ought to be used and what father's ought to be doing -- not to create a new law to bludgeon people into place. The former encourages growth in vocation, the later is merely a new law that will kill the conscience or lull into a false sense of security (all these good parenting rules I have done since my kids were small. . .).

  74. Oh, and to noted, I skipped the pole dancing example because the express job of a pole dancer is to sexually entice someone - hence not permissible as a direct violation of the commandments.

  75. Dear Eric:

    I agree. I think our differences are coming into sharper focus.

    You write: "Someone else, though, might not see the cost as being high at all - and even see the benefits as outweighing the cost - for whatever their rationale (provided their rationale itself isn't wicked)."

    Your description of someone's perception of the "cost" as "not being high" is apt. A teenager who is showing a lot of skin to go to a party, and who is admonished by her mother, will roll her eyes and say "it's no big deal." She doesn't see the cost as being too high.

    Likewise with anyone who is rebuked, but thinks the rebuke is unreasonable.

    A person who does not see modesty as something God's Word teaches will see anything involving nudity as "no big deal." Certainly, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, and other "role models" of young girls, had that opinion when they were all competing for who could show the least amount of modesty a few years ago.

    But that doesn't make it an adiaphoron. Their feeling that the "cost is not that great" doesn't define it as sinful or not.

    The Table of Duties is not simply a suggestion, is it? I mean, if the Church won't come out and say that immodesty is not simply a subjective, optional thing, than who will?

    Is modesty an option, or is it binding on the consciences of Christians? I'm not talking about topless women in New Guinea who have grown up being topless. I am talking about the culture in which the both of us live. No wiggle room, Eric. Is modesty an option, or is it a requirement according to the Word of God?

    You also write:

    "And while you are probably right in that we have become desensitized to nudity, and that fathers are not necessarily taking their role as protectors as seriously as they ought - the solution isn't to create new law -- it's to talk about what how our bodies ought to be used and what father's ought to be doing -- not to create a new law to bludgeon people into place. The former encourages growth in vocation, the later is merely a new law that will kill the conscience or lull into a false sense of security (all these good parenting rules I have done since my kids were small. . .)."

    There is no "new law." It has always been a father's duty to protect his children. That isn't new. Nor is modesty new. These laws are ancient. Modesty is as ancient as God's making clothing out of animal skins, and paternal duty is as old as the birth of Cain. Just what is the "new law" here - other than the new laws in American jurisprudence.

    You're advocating turning what is, in fact, law, into adiaphora and options.

    Nobody is talking about "bludgeoning." Simply pointing out sin and calling people to repent and rise above it is not "bludgeoning" or "making new laws." It's called "being a pastor." It needs to be done with love, and with patience, but it needs to be done. It's like disciplining children. The easy thing is to let everything go and just be your kid's buddy. But that is not being a father.

    Your "Mister Rogers" approach in refusing to use the word sin because someone might be offended is part of the problem.

    Modesty is not just a "do it if it feels good" thing, and fathers being the family's protector is likewise not just some kind of optional arrangement. And a pastor who calls men to step up to the plate is not a new lawgiver nor is he bludgeoning anyone.

    A parent who firmly tells his or her daughter to cover up is doing God's work. One who shirks is not.

    Unless, of course, you think modesty is just an option, like eating pizza on a Friday night or deciding whether to wear brown shoes or black shoes.

    So, which is it?

  76. Again, on many things I agree with you. I firmly believe that you may rightly say that the parent who doesn't tell his or her daughter to cover up is doing God's work. "You, o daughter, have under valued your modesty - step it up." I am not saying that modesty is an option. We are to be modest.

    I'm saying that in reaction to the undervaluing of modesty, you over value it beyond the value Scripture gives. You over correct, and thus end up missing the point.

    To say that one's body is a gift and not to be tossed about willy-nilly is one thing - and correct. To say that the body being naked is EVIL is an over correction, goes beyond what Scripture teaches, and can harm, for it can make one ashamed of his or her own body, which is a gift from God and not shameful but good. To say that sex should be reserved for marriage is right and proper according to God's Word. To say that sex is dirty and evil is an over correction, goes beyond the Scriptures, and thus can make one despise the gift of sexuality.

    I'm not saying that "be modest" is a new law. I'm saying, "Nudity is sin" is a new law, designed to correct a lack of modesty. It's noble but misguided, and it carries with it unintended consequences where instead of rejoicing in God's gifts, we despise them.

    Let me speak in terms of a parable. A man says to his five sons, "Boys, I want you to go play outside today. Go outside, but just stay in the yard." And so the boys head out. One son says, "You know, if we all scatter throughout the yard, we might be more likely to get into trouble - I know, let's all play a game of wiffle ball."

    That's a good idea - it's wise. However, one of his brothers doesn't want to play wiffle ball. Instead he wants to sit in the shade and play his Nintendo DS. And his brother says, "You need to come play with us, it will keep you out of trouble." The brother says, "I'm keeping out of trouble. Dad said play out side -- I'm playing outside. Dad said stay in the yard, I'm staying in the yard. I'm going to keep playing my game." The other brother says, "No, by telling us to play outside dad clearly intended us to run around and not simply play video games. If you just play video games, you aren't fulfililng dad's wishes and are going to get into trouble - you must play wiffle ball with us." And suddenly, the brother has overstepped his bounds. He goes beyond his father's word, and he unjustly orders his brother around, not on the basis of what his father said, but on the basis of what he himself thinks is best. He's no longer speaking dad's word, he's speaking is own, and he's got no business bossing his brother around this way, even if his plan is wonderful and wise. Now, tell the brother who is hoping the fence to get back in the yard, sure. But to say you must be in the yard playing wiffle ball - that's not his job, not his duty, and it usurps the father's authority.

    (to be continued. . .)

  77. (continued...)

    Likewise, the desire to protect and preserve modesty here is good. It is commendable. But it goes beyond what Scriptures say. The Scriptures do not teach "nudity is sin." Now, if we take that approach, we are definitely going to not get up to a lot of tomfoolery -- but "nudity is evil" is not what God said, and that's no reason to tell another "You can't do this" because that's not the standard God set, and you have no authority to set this new standard.

    Moreover, it takes away all sorts of freedoms. Why did the father send the boys in the yard - eh, enjoy a sunny day and get some fresh air. . . however you see fit. Enjoy it. Why should one brother not let the other enjoy the day as he sees fit? Whether or run or whether you play video games, both have you outdoors enjoying the day. Likewise - enjoy the blessings of body and soul - only don't fall into sin. If someone has no problem going through a scanner and isn't leading another to sin by doing so, or making themselves sin (by thinking it's wrong and doing it anyway), why not let them. They are free in this.

    Again, it's not that I think modesty has no value. It is good, it is valuable. But in your zeal for it, it's value has been overstated and a new standard of modesty is created. And that's not good.

  78. Eric, you're right about the brotherly situation. This is why the authority rests in the father. The father should determine the modesty and shame of the child. Witness Noah.

    But Peter did not shirk from being quite specific in speaking of modesty, as did Paul. It is a pastor's duty to warn his flock against practices that are shameful.

  79. Dear Eric:

    You write: "Again, it's not that I think modesty has no value. It is good, it is valuable. But in your zeal for it, it's value has been overstated and a new standard of modesty is created. And that's not good."

    I have no idea what this means. You keep praising modesty, while calling it a "new law" and finding loopholes around actually practicing it beyond an optional theoretical. But we live in the real world, have real wives, real children, and are surrounded with a very real sexualized culture.

    You compare modesty to eating meat or not eating meat - thus defining modesty as an adiaphoron, simply one option among many. Can you show me one citation from Scripture where the covering up of one's nakedness is an adiaphoron?

    I'm simply saying that Christians (especially fathers as the divinely mandated heads of the family) need to recapture biblical modesty - which is not an adiaphoron. I'm not saying our daughters need to wear burkas. I am saying that fathers need to be fathers, husbands need to be husbands, and stop making excuses and turning your vocation over to your wife, your children, or the state. I think it is hard to argue that men in general have surrendered their responsibilities. You have admitted as much. And if this is the case, the Church must address it. The Church must use her "prophetic voice" to call men back to their godly role as the family patriarch. Christianity is simply counter-cultural, and frankly at odds with the way a lot of our families operate.

    Men, you need to wear the pants in your family. Not to bully, not for personal glory, but out of self-sacrificial love for your wife and children, and out of obedience to Scripture and your godly vocation. Stop making excuses. Stop being milquetoasts. And ditto for the fathers of the church (pastors).

    But I think we've exhausted the discussion.

  80. Larry,

    "Be modest" is not a new law.

    Saying "nudity = immodesty" is a "new law". This goes beyond Scripture.

    Saying "being scanned = immodesty" is a "new law".

    Simple as that. I think modesty is a wonderful thing -- I don't think nudity is fundamentally immodest, and I reject arguments that insist or assume that nudity equals immodesty.

    Because to say that simple nudity = immodesty is not the Scriptural teaching (and they were both the man and his wife naked and they were not ashamed). If you say that, you go beyond Scripture and are wrong.

  81. Pastor Brown,

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya to Vizzini in The Princess Bride.

    “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Love Story

    “Love means having to say you’re sorry every fifteen minutes.” John Lennon

    “I don’t think it’s immodest.” Lutheran pastor to parishioner who questioned the propriety of him jogging publically wearing only skimpy shorts.

    Life-long Lutheran man to Lutheran pastor: “I noticed your women all wear long skirts to church.”

    Lutheran Pastor 1: “You can’t legislate morality.”
    Lutheran Pastor 2: “What can you legislate? Immorality?”
    Lutheran Pastor 1: “Yes!”

    “But they told me it was decaf.” Binky rabbit, sitting in hell (Life in Hell)

    Lutheran pastor to agnostic artist: “Why do you think the church no longer produces the beautiful art that it used to create?”
    Agnostic artist: “I think it is because we don’t really believe any more; we only kinda believe.”

    “Just because it ain’t in the Bible, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.” Paul Maier

    “Wisdom. Let us be attentive.” Orthodox liturgy.

    “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’ Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” St. Paul

    “’Bear fruits in keeping with repentance’… So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.” St. Luke about John the Baptist

    “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” Christ Jesus

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” Christ Jesus

    “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” St. David

    Finally, speaking as an artist and aesthetician, you ought not to bring in Renaissance art into this discussion. It ain’t moral.

    My paltry two cents. Apologies if it seems rambling.

    Oh, one more.

    “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Bride of Christ

  82. Dear Eric:

    You write: "and they were both the man and his wife naked and they were not ashamed."

    Is this a prooftext for airport scanners? I'm not buying it...

    You *do* realize that this was *before* the fall. Afterwards, they *were* ashamed. And the Lord God made them coverings...

  83. Larry,

    If I think that airport scanners are an adiaphoron, why would I think they have a proof text? The point was that naked does not equal sin. That's it.


    "In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." Jesus.

    "If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations - 'Do not handle. Do not taste. Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used) - according to human precepts and teaching? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh" - St. Paul

    "For you were called to freedom brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." - St. Paul

    "With these words Paul testifies that there can be no peace or concord in the churches, either in thought or life, if the foundation, that is, the doctrine of faith, is undermined by wicked teachers; but that immediately there will arise some dissension and notion or other over doctrine, faith, and works. Once the concord of the church has been violated, there is neither limit nor end to this evil. The authors of the schisms disagree among themselves, with one demanding this work as necessary for righteousness and the other demanding another work." - Luther on the above Galatians.

    "The way to achieve concord [Paul says] is this: Let each do his duty in that way of life into which God has called him. Let him not exalt himself above others or criticize the works of others while he praises his own as though they were better, but let them be servants of one another through love." Luther again.

  84. Dear Eric:

    You are applying texts related to adiaphora (e.g. pepperoni or cheese pizza; Coke or Pepsi) to something that is a divine command: modesty. There is no divine choice of "modesty or immodesty").

    This is what led Lutherans early on into the Antinomian Controversy.

    Interestingly, those who distort the Scriptures into advocating homosexuality likewise engage in the same gospel reductionism to sidestep the reality that the Lord created boundaries for how our bodies are to be used.

    This is how the sinful nature converts true Christian liberty into license. These are the birth-pangs of contemporary antinomianism.

    We Lutherans do (and we ought to) lean on the side of the Gospel. But we must also watch lest, thanks to our Old Adam, we redefine sin as a virtue - which is a real historical hazard for us Evangelical Lutherans.

    It would be unthinkable for anyone other than Lutherans to make the boast that they are "weak on sanctification" (and even buy the t-shirt). Luther's quip about sinning boldly must be understood in context, lest it simply become license (which, sad to say, it often does). God's mercy is nothing to trifle with.

    Again, modesty is not an adiaphoron. Showing one's naked body (with some exceptions) is the very definition of immodesty (though one can be fully clad and immodest as well).

    Exceptions include things like medical exams, giving birth, showering in a same-sex environment, or even situations of force (such as when a person is simply compelled whether legally or illegally).

    Freely choosing to reveal one's nakedness (or worse yet, the nakedness of one's wife and/or children, i.e. those one is vocationally duty-bound (yes, that is a law-word) to protect) for the sake of not having to stand in a line for a few more minutes is not a case of necessity.

    It is the equivalent situation of having two grocery lines. One will require standing there for a half-hour. But, if you allow your wife (or your son or daughter) to go into a little room and be looked at naked by the clerk, you get to go to the front of the express line and get back to your car in time for the kick-off. What kind of man would tell his wife, son, or daughter to get naked for his convenience, to save a few minutes?

    If the scanners become compulsory (such as the "pat-down" may be at present, and if there is simply no other alternative, then the sin belongs to the one compelling it, not to the victim.

    But when a man tells his wife to walk through the scanner, he is victimizing her for convenience.

    And that is not a "Coke vs. Pepsi" matter of religious liberty.

  85. Heath,

    1. I don't think the scanners are a simple express line - aren't they legally mandated random searches (as in if you are randomly selected you will be either scanned or patted down)? The examples above were matters of being forced to be scanned. There is the rule of law here involved, not just getting the fast-pass at Disney or something like that.

    2. I am in complete agreement that we should not encourage, force, or exhort one to go through a scanner if it brings them shame. However, to say that the scan itself is victimizing. . . I think that position is an over-reaction against immodesty.

    Someone can go through a line have an a single employee who is trained to look at silhouette for weapon signatures without being a stripper or acting the whore. I'm not saying that we have the right to be immodest; I'm saying the scanners are not fundamentally immodest - nor are they leading anyone away from a chaste and decent line.

  86. Dear Eric:

    The current security theater law is that you can opt to walk through the scanner, or you will be wanded or patted down. The walk through the scanner is voluntary. You can decline it. The frisking or wanding is not optional if you decline the scan if you are "randomly" selected (and for some reason, some women are statistically more prone to being "randomly" selected than others...).

    A similar ethical situation might be for a death row inmate to be given the option to be put to death or to commit suicide. I would argue that suicide would be sinful even in this case, because it is an act of the will. It is a choice.

    Walking through the scanner (or allowing one's wife or child to be put through the scanner) is a voluntary act, a choice, that is "sold" as a time-saver. Here is one take on the process.

    You're also simply wrong when you say this is a "silhouette." Huh? Did you even look at the links in Heath's original post? These are pretty revealing pictures, and in spite of all the claims that the machines cannot store the images, they can. Someone is lying. There was a case not long ago in which a male Bollywood star was autographing the explicit scans the airport employees printed out and were distributing.

    These "security" measures will continue to ramp up unless the people start saying "no" and voting with their wallets. But then again, Christianity has dropped so far off the radar screen, as has modesty (having become the near exclusive realm of Muslims and the Amish) having become, like chivalry, if not dead, then moribund), that I don't have much hope that Americans will show a spine any time soon. Especially the American male.

    Maybe if *women* start complaining something will get done. The adult American male has largely become an adolescent (if not a toddler) with a potbelly.

    Interestingly, children in Great Britain may not be "scanned" as this has been deemed by judges to run afoul of British child pornography laws.

    But then again, we live in a day and age where two men can legally marry, where women are often the head of the household, where lesbians can be priests and bishops, where the Boy Scouts are considered evil, where a thousand year old cathedral depicts Jesus and the apostles in the form of explicit gay pornography, where the national capital has a Holocaust Memorial within walking distance of the Supreme Court building where the holocaust of 40,000,000 was declared a constitutional right, etc. etc.

    So, yet another round of Lutheran antinomianism shouldn't really be that surprising. Veni Domine Jesu!

  87. 1. Larry and Heath (and all) - I have a question of you. Is being padded down less a violation of modesty than the scan, in your estimation? If so. . . why?

    2. Heath - I was really surprised when you listed same-sex showering as being an exception -- that's something that goes beyond what I consider modest. I'm not comfortable with it. However, I wouldn't say that one who does so is immodest. In fact, I tend to view the scanners as something along these lines -- limited same sex viewing for a practical purpose (cleanliness on the one hand, security on the other). I find your deeming this an exception interesting, especially as we have the term "locker-room humor" which develops precisely out of those sorts of situations - and there are more examples of this than of the scanner-operation humor you linked to above.

    I really think scanners ought to be considered in this sort of category - that's mainly my point.

    3. Larry - if the pictures are so horrid, why do you guys keep asking me to look at them >=o). But in all seriousness, I have seen them, and while it is more than I'd want anyone looking at me - if it becomes law, I really think I'd be less discomforted walking through the scanner than I've been from some of the pat-downs I've gotten.

    4. Larry and Heath - I think part of the reason why I'm not worried about this on a strictly theological level is that it isn't really inciting anyone to sin (abuses excepted, but anything can be abused). This isn't dressing provocatively, this isn't involving touch, this isn't suggestive, it isn't really involving real vision -- the person who sees the image never actually would see me (of course, I don't know how detailed the facial images can be as they are fuzzed out). It's not going to encourage others to avoid a chaste or decent life. I do worry about the discomfort people experience from it - but if there is no discomfort, let those who have no discomfort remain at peace as their actions aren't going to be tempting others.

  88. Dear Eric:

    I posted a detailed response, but Blogger had a hiccup. I don't know if it's worth re-creating or not. Frankly, I'm beginning to think it isn't. I suspect we're the only two people still following this thread - and neither one is going to convince the other of anything.

    I'll just mention a couple things:

    So, if you feel no discomfort, than there is nothing sinful about it, right? As far as I could tell, Paris Hilton was quite comfortable "going commando" in front of the paparazzi, so I guess that's fine too. It's all subjective. Ditto for the father who is comfortable bringing his wife and kids to the nudist camp. As long as there is no discomfort, there is no immodesty.

    I disagree.

    And both a pat-down and a scan are offensive to modesty. The difference is that one walks through the scanner of one's own volition. One can refuse that. The pat-down is not optional. If one must be a victim, than one must. But I think it's a bit much to ask a person to cooperate. If I absolutely had to, I would take the pat-down under protest with a clean conscience as opposed to giving the appearance of consent by volunteering.

    Better still: don't fly. You can likely go your whole life without setting foot in an airport. One can take the train and actually travel in a civilized way, knowing that nobody is going to ask to see your wife naked or feel up your children. You can even eat with real silverware and keep shampoo (and even Scotch) in your room. If you like being gawked at, probed, prodded, and pushed into a tin can like a sardine and fed stale pretzels - more power to you. If you think having your family felt up is a reasonable price to pay to fly, that's your choice. Like I said, I have no claim on your morality.

    But I would exhort men to be men and defend the dignity of their wives and children. I can only do this in my own home, but I can lead by example and encourage other men to be vigilant.

  89. Larry,

    You say: "And both a pat-down and a scan are offensive to modesty. The difference is that one walks through the scanner of one's own volition. One can refuse that. The pat-down is not optional. If one must be a victim, than one must. But I think it's a bit much to ask a person to cooperate. If I absolutely had to, I would take the pat-down under protest with a clean conscience as opposed to giving the appearance of consent by volunteering."

    See, this is where I think a lot of your approach is more about politics than righteousness. If the priority of the two forms of exam were reversed -- if it was going to be "you will be scanned... unless you voluntarily choose to be padded down" would you then be arguing against the evils of men who let their wives and children be felt up voluntarily?

    A lot of this really is political disgust. . .

  90. Dear Eric:

    The topic of this thread is the scanner. If we were talking about pat-downs, this would be a similar conversation *on that topic.* Both are matters of forced immodesty. But what makes it especially perverse is how Christians are manipulated into *choosing* immodesty and then shrugging it off as something that must be done, and (bonus) it's no big deal anyway. Screwtape laughs.

    Honestly, Eric, how many Lutherans (especially parents) really even think about modesty? For the most part, parents are more concerned that their daughters get into a good college than that they conduct themselves with modesty. And then, when Lutherans try to raise the issue, they are beaten down with false allegations of legalism, pietism, or going beyond the Word of God. Screwtape laughs.

    But this "politics vs. righteousness" dichotomy is where your theoretical theology fails in the real world. You assume an "either/or" when the real world is by far more "both/and." It's as though when confronted with a real-world situation, you have to isolate which volume of Pieper to look up the answer. Real life just doesn't work in such a cut-and-dried way.

    It is both a political and a theological issue.

    The classic example is abortion. The world tells the church to mind its own business. It's a political, not a religious issue. But the world is simply wrong about that. It is a both/and.

    Ignoring faith and morals, one can still oppose Roe v. Wade as an affront to the Constitution and states rights (which it is). An atheist who believes the fetus is not human can even argue against abortion this way.

    An atheist who believes the fetus is human can also approach it ethically without regard to theology.

    The church can employ these other arguments as well, but the central theological issue is one of respect for the human person who has been created in God's image and the Lord's mandate not to kill.

    So the church should not shut up and mind its own business and let Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin work this out under capitol domes.

    Similarly, the scanners are a political issue. Nonbelievers can argue against them based solely on constitutional and even ethical bases without regard to a belief in any deity.

    And yet, as Heath points out, the church has a "prophetic voice." She defends the dignity of the individual made in God's image - and modesty is part of that defense. God's Word calls upon the church to proclaim God's Word, and modesty is not an adiaphoron.

    Government does stupid things all the time. And we can debate forever the wisdom of a unicameral vs. bicameral republic, or even the plusses and minuses of democracy vs. monarchy - and none of this is really theological. But when government passes laws that impede human dignity, the church ought not clam up.

    Christians may be compelled to accept a lot of repugnant things: such as having tax money funding abortion, public schools teaching evolution, or public law courts employing sharia - but we ought not be silent about such things, as that gives the world the impression that we approve.

    When the church is unafraid to speak the truth in love, Screwtape isn't laughing any more.

  91. "Honestly, Eric, how many Lutherans (especially parents) really even think about modesty? For the most part, parents are more concerned that their daughters get into a good college than that they conduct themselves with modesty. And then, when Lutherans try to raise the issue, they are beaten down with false allegations of legalism, pietism, or going beyond the Word of God. Screwtape laughs."

    But there are two issues here - Modesty as a whole, and then this specific issue of scanners. If there is a lack of understanding of modesty, is making scanners a battle or rallying cry for modesty the way to teach?

    Saying "Scanners are immodest" doesn't teach erring people what modesty *is*. This is especially true when other Christians who do have a concern for modesty (believe me, I do, and others do as well) don't find anything particularly immodest about the scanners. That's the reason why the terms pietist, legalist, and the like get tossed around - because people legitmately think on this issue you do go beyond Scripture.

    And again, I am wary of doing a lot of political activism in the Church. You say, "But when government passes laws that impede human dignity, the church ought not clam up." That's why my Grandma in the ELCA hears from her pastor about why we need Gay marriage legalized. Same rhetoric exactly.

    I'm not interested in social reform. I'm not interested in making the world safe for democracy - I am interested in preaching the Word of God, Law and Gospel, to the people here in Lahoma. I teach justification, I teach vocation... let them live their lives as best they can while showing love to the neighbor and let it be. Our prophetic voice isn't for the benefit of society and making this country ideal, for the benefit of this world (our individual vocations are), but for the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins.

  92. Yeah, that was John's "error" in Matt 14:4.

    He should have kept his nose out of government and only proclaimed "the forgiveness of sins" and he would have also kept his head on his shoulders.

    You will too, Eric.

  93. Actually, my position has nothing to do with keeping my head on my shoulders (maybe keeping a level head, though - but excellent emotional appeal!).

    John was not trying to correct governmental policy. He wasn't trying to make Herod bring about social reform of Rome's control over Judea -- although lots of people were wanting that sort of social justice.

    Instead, John was simple. "Herod - you've committed adultery." And Herod has him imprisoned and ultimately killed. That's not getting John demanding governmental reform, that's not dictating what policy should be, what should and shouldn't be policy - rather this - The Law says, don't take your brother's wife. Herod, you've taken your brother's wife - that is wrong. Ambrose to the Emperor - you have been unjust. Same thing.

    If we were to have preached against adultery in the days of Bill Clinton - great as this an example and context of immorality - fine. You people here, do not follow the example of this leader, for what he has done is adultery. Great. Kudos.

    But if I were to preach, "Therefore, we must make sure that Bill Clinton is voted out of office, and if you still vote for him, you are simply promoting adultery and the destruction of American morals" -- too far. Don't need that.

    Again, I have no problem with preaching Scriptural law. I merely think that your application of Law to the issue of scanners is misapplied and is not in fact defending or promoting modesty.

    John never wanted to be a social hero - he wanted to decrease so that Christ would increase.

  94. ...nor have I ever told anyone how to vote, attended a single rally about scanners, or even written to a Congressman.

    The point is that modesty is becoming passe, and that is wrong. And it is sad to see Christians and pastors who either don't care, or actually welcome the social changes that have occurred in the last half-century.

    But I am encouraged to find a lot of Christians who are willing to stick out their necks. Too bad more of them aren't Lutheran Christians.

  95. (On a side note - did you get your brouchure from CPH selling children's books that also told you to call your congressmen and tell them to give more money to Malaria research?)

  96. I don't think so. But I get a lot of, shall we say, mail trying to sell me stuff.

    What's more, the malaria project is a joint LCMS/ELCA project - which we really need to be unhinging from rather than climbing into bed with (so to speak...).

  97. Just when you guys thought everything that could be said has been said, an Albanian butts into the conversation. My first thought is not an extremely important one, but Fr. Brown, I'm not so sure your hypothetical boy in the yard was wrong in trying to get his brother to stop playing his little idiot box and actually engage in physical play. His motive of trying to get a certain number of players in his game notwithstanding. The paterfamilias is the one with the authority, but I'm not convinced that the father would send his son outside in order to get him to exercise his thumbs on a silly video device.

    Sorry, now that that is out of the way, perhaps a thought or two more directly relevant to the topic at hand.

    Pastor D would remind us that we are in a "War on Terror." Does this mean that we should model our level of security procedures after Israel or EL AL? Israel also allows women to serve in the military; in fact, it drafts them. That is a violation of feminine modesty and dignity and decency the level of which is unimaginable in a truly Christian culture. I suggest we are now valuing security more highly than modesty and decency. By the way, if you approve of the scanners, but would not go for women in the infantry, why not? Where would you draw the line for national security, and why?

    Another thought. I myself would not compare a woman going through the scanner to a strip-tease. I would, however, compare the situation to her being stripped, and exposed. In other words, I do not impugn the woman, but those who violated her modesty, those in the media and in her life who encouraged her to go through it for the good of the country, and yes, those who allow her to do so.

    The design of those who designed the scanners is beside the point, just as surely as the aims of the nation's national security efforts are beside the point. It's hard for me to get away from the notion that the body scanner necessarily places a woman in an immodest situation. That might not mean it is always inappropriate. I do think it is inappropriate for a woman who is not suspected of any crime. Is she a criminal? Is she arrested? Is she so suspicious that the airport security could convince a judge to grant them a search warrant? Then what right do they have even to ask a woman to volunteer to violate her modesty? Stripping a woman down in the shower room of a prison after she has been arrested, and sentenced is one thing. Doing so to make others feel safe on a plane is a different matter. Violating a man's wife's decency and modesty in order to pacify the public's sense of security is not the proper way to show love to the public. It doesn't show love to the troops. And it doesn't show love to the wife. Nor does it help to inculcate in one's daughter a sense of the dignity and modesty and privilege of the woman.

    The woman is that special mode of mankind which bears life. So that even the woman without children is an icon of God's life-giving quality, and a reminder of the office of the Theotokos, who brought forth Life Himself.

    One more quick thought. Let's say a man has his wife cover her head with a mantilla when attending the Holy Mass. Indeed, this is not precisely how she dresses in every aspect of life, but I would argue that in a sense there should be a congruence between what she wears in church and how she presents herself elsewhere. What I mean is that her sense of herself, her modesty and feminine dignity, ought to be consistent. What we encourage in one context ought not qualitatively differ from what is done elsewhere.

  98. Deacon Gaba - part of my point with the boy in the yard story is that it *precisely* IS a good idea for the kid to play wiffle ball. It's a good thing. And it probably is healthy and good for the kids to stop playing with his "idiot box"... but it's not what the father said or instructed. . . it's wise, but not commanded. Encourage, invite him to play - but once the brother says, "for you to play your game is bad and against what father wants" he speaks without the father's authority. Does the father send the kid outside so he can simply play his game -- you aren't sure, and neither am I (actually, I am as it's my story... he's redoing the kitchen floor and just didn't want the boys running around the house and messing with things).

    Likewise - I think not going through scanners may be an incredibly wise and wondrous idea. But, to say it is sin goes a touch beyond what the Father has told us. Not a bad idea - could be an excellent and pious addition to human law. . . but I don't think it can be mandated with Divine authority.

  99. My contention is that it is not only a good thing in itself for the lazy brother to put down the video game, but also that, indeed, it fulfills the very word of the father. I say that fully aware of the fact that his words did not contain what we might call explicit sedes doctrinae. He told the boys to go outside and play, boys who know him. They know him and his desire for them. Moreover, the one who is trying to make the argument to his brother is not speaking as one with authority. Perhaps he is just trying to make the argument, and convince his brother of the truth implicit in his father's instructions. He is doing so with mixed motives, which is not right. But God can work with that.

    Now, another thought, this time a bit more explicitly relevant to the issue. I find it interesting that modern women are supposed to proudly "own" their own bodies. What a woman does with "her own body" is her business. This is one of the dogmas of modern feminist America. Yet, just when it might be most crucial for her to wholesomely make such a claim, many a woman today turns over her body to the discretion of the government. Suddeenly at the airport, it's really not her body anymore. Rather, she is supposed to trust the evolving requirements of national security.

    The real truth is the Christian life is not individualistic, not based upon one's own rights. Our perfectly free and lordly life in Christ is lived out in this world in terms of servitude to the neighbor, and in terms of relational callings. The wife's body, in other words, is not hers alone. It is her husband's responsibility as well. That's why we traditionally call the male spouse "husband," rather than merely a "partner," or a "housemate." Likewise a girl has the holy and solemn calling to be a daughter to her mother and father. And they have a solemn duty to her.

  100. Fr. Brown,
    Clearly, my argument was based on a truly hypothetical father, one which I couldn't imagine actually wanting his children to play with electronic games out of doors, where they could be either engaged in physical activity or reading a good book. So I must take that argument back.

    Now back toward the stated topic. My claim is that a woman's dignity and modesty is being stripped when she is being visually stripped merely as a preventative security measure. A criminal has been legally stripped of his dignity. But the ordinary citizen who wants to travel from one city to another? Please give me your argument in favor of a such a woman's decision to show love to her neighbor by exposing herself.

  101. Deacon Gaba,

    I am glad you take that argument back, my friend - I was beginning to worry about you for a second =o) No one tells me what my own imaginary father is thinking but me.

    Again, please understand that I am not trying to say that having scanners is a "good" thing - but there are a few things to bear in mind.

    You highlight one of my main qualms with the logic and flow of the arguments I have seen here - you say "My claim is that a woman's dignity and modesty is *being stripped* when she is being visually stripped merely as a preventative security measure." Then you say, "Please give me your argument in favor of a such a woman's **decision to show love** to her neighbor by exposing herself.

    There are two aspects here - there is the passive (something is done to a person) and there is the active (a person does something).

    On the passive aspects, is dignity and modesty being robbed by this? Yes, to some extent, but it is not as egregious as some are making this out to be. There is one viewer, of the same gender, who has this as part of his or her vocation -- it's not as though someone is being forced to strip in front of a crowd. Now, is this necessary, is this a good law - I don't think so, but the exercise and enforcement of this law is not designed to publicly embarrass or shame - it does not openly strip that dignity and modesty. Can it be abused - yes, but anything can.

    Now, that being said, if one's conscience says that this is too much for them to bear (or to bare), then by all means, do not be scanned. Husbands (or wives), do not pressure or force your spouse to do that which they are not comfortable with. But I will not spend too much time trying to convince a person that they ought to be shocked and horrified at how their modesty is stripped by this (I'd be more inclined to speak of how their freedoms are stripped, but that is a political issue).

    As for the active side - well, provided this is a debasement for the sake of keeping the neighbor safe, that is love. I am not a criminal, I ought not be patted down, but if this pat down calms the fears of my neighbor about their own safety, I may show love to them by submitting.

    Also, note your language - you weight your argument by saying that she is "exposing herself". She's not loving her neighbor by exposing herself to that neighbor - this isn't a "I'll flash you to show you that I care". . . rather, she is being examined by one person to show love to many travelers. And quite possibly this is how the person going through the scan views and understands it - not as an exposing of ones self, but as merely undergoing an examination.

    Some of this sets up a contrast between modesty and security -- I'm not going to tell a person which they should value more or how they should value them. Both modesty and safety are gifts from God. Nor do I think on the basis of Scripture that we can authoritatively say "Thou shalt not do this".

  102. Dear Eric:

    It is undeniable that our culture has largely forfeited modesty. In fact, I will go so far as to say "modesty is dead." In our culture, the option of "security (sic) vs. modesty" is not a gut-wrenching, difficult choice to make. In fact, the government, the culture, and even the Church in a nearly knee-jerk fashion all say "What's the big deal?"

    Modesty is dead.

    And that is symptomatic of the other issues of the vocation of sex in our culture. Very few Christians see any difference between a family in which the woman is the head of the house and in which the man is. In fact, the culture would rather push a kind of egalitarianism, a "team" approach. And the natural end of this egalitarianism is a tolerance of, or advocacy of, homosexuality. Women's "ordination" led directly to "gay" bishops.

    The death of modesty is related to the death of the vocation of male and female.

    This past Sunday, I was at a restaurant in which there was a bubble-gum type vending machine marketing fake lower-back tattoos ("tramp stamps") and fake belly-button piercings to little girls. And I saw more than a few 8-year old girls oohing and ahhing. The products were even depicted - the belly-button "piercing" was shown on a little girl whose pants were so low on her body that had she not been prepubescent, it would have been obvious.

    Now, the "Confessional Lutheran" argument is that Scripture is silent regarding lower back tattoos and navel-rings. Nor does Scripture say anything about age-appropriateness of adornments. Therefore, this is a matter of Christian liberty, and pastors really need to avoid giving offense by saying anything negative about this. Both modesty and adornment are gifts from God. And Scripture does not authoritatively say "Thou shalt not do this." So, we're left with "if it feels good, do it" and "if it makes you uncomfortable, don't do it, but don't say anything about anyone who is comfortable." This is purely an adiaphoron and an individual choice. Modesty is a postmodern preference, yet one more "pro-choice" matter for the Church to butt out of.

    Modesty is dead.

    But the good news is that Christianity is a faith rooted in resurrection. Some Christians are rediscovering modesty - even while most Lutherans fiddle and outdo one another with bromides and slogans while Rome burns.

    I'm not saying I would excommunicate a mom who lets her daughter wear a "tramp stamp." But I am saying that the Church has laryngitis and now accepts things that would have been unthinkable in Walther's day, Luther's day, or Paul's day. At some point, the Church is going to have to draw a line - but Lutherans are the most gelatinous confession ever - which explains why we (and not other confessions) had the Antinomian Controversy.

  103. Larry,

    You are such a drama queen. Modesty is dead? When was your "modesty" ever alive? When are these halycon days when women were demure and men were manly and noble and chilvarious? When have women by in large not sought after the latest fashion designed to attract the eyes of men and when have men not enjoyed it? When was modesty, as you seem to have it envisioned, alive? The 1980s? Nope. Oh, maybe the 1960? Nope. The 1940s? Nope. The 1920s? Ah, yes, 1900? Oh, wait. . . no. The middle of the Victorian Age? Oh, no. Maybe the early 1800s. . . oh, no. Ah, maybe in Luther's day -- oh, no, I've read in his sermons about louts. I know, maybe back in the days of the Roman Empire when Paul preached. . . oh. . . nope. Well, maybe there in the Old Test. . . oh. No. Not there either.

    The problem is that the morality police keep trying to treat the problem of immodesty by running after the symptoms, lamenting the latest fashion trend or craze, decrying this and that. That's not the disease.

    The disease, the root cause of any and all forms of immodesty has little to do with the length of the skirt of what have you - teach rather what a gift our bodies are, how they are to be properly used. Then, out of love for God and neighbor, they will act kindly. What does this mean for skirt length - is mid-calf too high - I don't care. Paul doesn't include patterns for dresses in the Scriptures, because the idea is a little bit of sanctified common sense and concern for neighbor should suffice and be flexible enough to fit any time, any place (you know, be catholic). Treat your body as a gift, don't whore it out - that's good.

  104. Dear Eric:

    Sin is indeed the root cause. We cannot fix sin by the law.

    By the same token, we do make rules for children. We do make moral pronouncements (which is why there is, for example, Lutherans for Life). We have a prophetic voice to speak the truth in love and to encourage men to protect their families - especially their wives and children in an increasingly hostile world. We don't just shrug as things continue to worsen (as our confessions aver that they are).

    There has always been lust, fornication, and immodesty. But what has changed, and is changing, is the precipitous decreasing sense of shame (closely linked to modesty) and the societal acceptance of vice - the normalization of evil - even among Christians. And of course, Lutherans like nothing more than to be accepted as "cool."

    A couple years ago, I did something unusual: I watched FOX TV on a Sunday night. I turned on Family Guy. This prime time cartoon, watched by many of my grade school students, was using the word "fellatio" and making open sexual statements. This would not have happened even a decade earlier.

    Another anecdotal experience involved turning on a motel room TV a couple years back. I flipped it on, and immediately thought we were watching a porn channel. While no nakedness was shown, there was a couple in full "fragrante delicto." It was actually HBO (which most of our families have, which many children even have in their rooms), and it was not late at night and it came on without warning.

    It's hard to make the naive argument that the culture is static, that things are as they always have been.

    To phrase it the way you have, when in the last two thousand years of Christian history have teachers of high school students had to clean up copious amounts of semen from the floor after school dances (an increasing common problem for educators)? 1500? 1800? 1920? 1950?.

    Not only that, but when have we before seen parents defending this kind of thing? How about "booty dancing" and the practice of high school girls giving lap dances (if not outright sexual contact) to boys one after another down the line? These are the kinds of headaches high school teachers have these days. continued....

  105. For example, Christian role model Miley Cyrus was not only all over YouTube doing a pole dance (at the age of 17), but there is another YouTube of her (at 16) was performing an explicit grinding lap-dance upon a man in his forties. Her father's reaction? "Well, that's how kids dance these days." Way to go, dad. What little girl would not want a pimp for a daddy? Well, at least Billy Ray isn't one of those pietists. Maybe he's even a Lutheran.

    How about the overtly-sexual outfits that even pre-pubescent girls are wearing - again with parental consent? We actually have to vet our little kids when they want to put on performances at school events (such as lip synching) because we just don't know what will come out of their mouths. Do you honestly believe Paul, Augustine, Luther, Walther, or even Eugene Schmid (who served my parish from 1919-1967) would just shrug? Would they scold *us* for being some kind of "morality police"? What would your own grandmother think about it?

    When in the history of Christian civilization has there been acceptance of homosexual "marriage" or nude homoerotic portrayals of our Lord and His disciples in a Lutheran church? These are recent phenomena - which are increasingly normalized among Christians.

    There are those who would mock those of us who are offended at the Uppsala display of the homosexual "Jesus" as prudes, pietists, and "morality police."

    We can't fix sin through the law. But we aren't antinomians. There is a place for the law. Indeed, we can (and must!) teach our children (and their parents in some cases) right from wrong - an increasingly difficult thing when they are surrounded by an ever-increasingly normalized immodesty as well as an ever-increasingly accepting attitude among Lutherans of things that would have been unthinkable just a couple decades (or even a couple years) ago.

    All of your neatly-wrapped theological jargon will go out the window when your own 14-year old daughter wants to go out dressed like her friends, like the TV says is "sexy." You will be shocked and scandalized, and she will merely roll her eyes. And if she is clever, she will retort:

    "The disease, the root cause of any and all forms of immodesty has little to do with the length of the skirt of what have you - teach rather what a gift our bodies are, how they are to be properly used. Then, out of love for God and neighbor, they will act kindly. What does this mean for skirt length - is mid-calf too high - I don't care. Paul doesn't include patterns for dresses in the Scriptures..."

  106. Larry,

    Excellent! Now speak against these things, and know that there always will be more things for you to speak out against. . . and maybe hit the whole scanner thing a bit later.

  107. And actually, since you ask, should I have daughters, I will, with reference to Mrs. Curtis' excellent article ask my daughter to explain to me how her proposed choice of dress shows proper love and concern for her neighbor. And when she can't, I'll say, "That's why you aren't dressing like that."

  108. Fr. Brown:
    You say, "Some of this sets up a contrast between modesty and security -- I'm not going to tell a person which they should value more or how they should value them. Both modesty and safety are gifts from God."

    I'll answer it. People should value modesty more highly. When has God ever commanded us to be secure? or safe? The Christian life in this world, which includes being modest, sometimes puts us in danger, danger of scorn, danger of violence, danger of many types. We are not asked to be safe; we are asked to be faithful.

    You say: "Both modesty and safety are gifts from God."

    One of the ways in which a woman is given the gift of safety is that she is kept safe from having her feminine dignity violated. That gift of safety is secured to her most directly by means of the protection of the head of her house. Please take a moment and ponder the precious and mysterious gift of women. Those under your authority have been entrusted to your care. Now consider again the moment of the security check at the airport. It's such a brief moment. It's such a "small" thing. Yet, given the man's sacred duty to take seriously his calling to honor his wife (the classic marriage vow in the Book of Common Prayer significantly has the man vow "with my body I thee worship") wouldn't it be a small thing for him to at least take five seconds to attempt to reason with the security guards, and advocate for his family, by saying something like, "Is it really necessary to put my family through this?" The reasonable guard will then agree, and say, I suppose not. And maybe we do not live in a reasonable world anymore, but ought we not at least do this much?

    By the way, concern and Christian love for others is only a part of the reason a lady ought to dress modestly. And it's not the reason I would expound first if I were to have ten minutes to speak with Paris Hilton. For the children of the world do not understand Christian love. Our ladies should dress modestly also because, quite simply, immodesty betrays their own dignity as women.

  109. Fr. Brown:
    You say, "she is being examined by one person to show love to many travelers."

    What I think this line of thought fails to recognize is that the duty of love expressed in our various callings is lived out chiefly through the particularity of specific relationships. See the table of duties. So for example, the wife is called to show love to her husband, and that must take precedence over any rationalization of how she could show love to the broader travelling community.

  110. Deacon Gaba,

    But note with this idea of scanning - it isn't a self made idea of showing love - it is a matter of governmental regulation. There is a specific relationship there - one is obey and respect the ruling authorities - right there in the table of duties.

    Is it loving and respectful to encourage a government (sponsored) agent to bend the laws for you? To your spouse, yes, but to the official, no. We are also citizens - and even if we don't like the laws, we submit to them.

    (Also, I'd say that there's a lot of security in the Law - do not kill, physical security. Do not commit adultery, sexual security, which modesty is part of. Do not steal, material security. Do not bear false witness, reputational security. Security is no mean thing - there are even cities of refuge established to provide security.)

  111. Fr. Brown:

    You gave examples of how "there's a lot of security in the law." But that's different from saying that God has commanded us to be secure or safe. The former have to do with proper security that is procured by those in rightful authority over us, and the latter has to do with someone securing his own safety. The reason I am pointing out that the latter is not commanded is to make the case that it's not very difficult which we should choose when we have to choose between security and modesty. For modesty is our direct responsibility. Safety is not. Therefore modesty ought not be sacrificed for the sake of my safety, or the "community's" sense of safety.

    You say: "Is it loving and respectful to encourage a government (sponsored) agent to bend the laws for you? To your spouse, yes, but to the official, no. We are also citizens - and even if we don't like the laws, we submit to them."

    What happened to this being voluntary? If you're now saying it's not, then I might have to reconsider sending my wife to Salt Lake City in a few weeks.

  112. Say it ain't so! I'm shocked, shocked (not really!) to read this.

  113. A story like the one you just linked here, Father Hollywood, should wake all Christians up to the fact that resting secure with the thought that, after all, just one person, of the same sex, will be viewing the image, does not qualify as fulfilling the Eighth Commandment. And it does not qualify as protecting one's family.

  114. I've been following this interesting thread from the start. It seems that there is much more agreement now, and that the following concessions have been made (correct me if I'm wrong):
    1. Nudity is not by its very nature sinful. (otherwise there would have been sin in the garden of Eden)
    2. Nudity post-fall is not necessarily sinful, even outside of marriage (tribes of Indians whose members grew up without clothing)

    The question then seems to be (correct me if I'm wrong):

    Is nudity outside of marriage TODAY IN AMERICA sinful (in and of itself and not because of it's potential to invite sin)? This is where I see the difference of opinion.

  115. It just seems to me that there are two different arguments from those who condemn those who do not condemn the scanners. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.

    Sometimes the argument is that nudity/scanning outside of marriage is always sinful by its very nature, even if there is no lusting going on (as if exposing shame within the context of marriage is God pleasing). But if this is the case, there should be NO exceptions for the naked indian tribes, doctors, locker rooms, etc. The argument of necessity, as in the case of the doctor check-up, has no place here when attached to this stance. Indeed, just because someone by necessity sins, doesn't mean the sin is not a sin.

    Then the argument switches to "nudity (and willing subjection to scanning) is always sinful outside of marriage because of the over-sexualized culture we live in." I have a little more sympathy for this argument, though I don't completely agree with it. If we take this position, we must ask ourselves, "Why?" What is it about the nudity in the context of an over-sexualized culture that is sinful? The only thing I can come up with is the fact that the nudity could be used as an opportunity to lust or ridicule. Here, however, the sin is in the lusting/ridiculing. If that's the case, we must allow for the possibility, even if practically impossible, even if only in theory, that nudity or scanning may conceivably NOT invite lust or ridicule.

    If someone wants to argue that because of the over-sexualized culture we live in it is near impossible for there to be nudity/scanning without lusting/ridicule, AND THEREFORE a responsible Christian will in every case oppose it (even though technically there is nothing inherently wrong with it) so as not to give opportunity to sin... if THAT is the argument, I would have no problem with the logic... though I still wouldn't agree with the conclusion, because that would still demand that we either not go to the doctor, or confess our sins afterward.

    Thanks for the discussion. I hope we're not done with it.


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