An Indian Christian perspective on ‘sexy’

An Indian Christian perspective on ‘sexy’

A well meaning forward is doing the rounds on WhatsApp. It is about a Christian grandmother teaching her grandchild the meaning of sexy, as she dresses to go to Church. Allow me to add a few of my thoughts on it below, after quoting the said forward.

LOOKING SEXY AND DRESSED TO KILL FOR CHURCH SERVICE

The following conversation took place between a grandmother n her granddaughter. “Grandma: Akosua, where are you going?

Akosua: Grandma, I am going to Church.

Grandma: Really? Please come n sit down n let’s talk for a minute before you go. I think we still have ample time before the Church Service begins? Don’t we?

Akosua: About an hour, Yes.

Grandma: The way you are dressed, in fact, you look very sexy.

Akosua: (Smiling) Thank you very much grandma. Grandma: Hmmm, Akosua, I can see you love that compliment. Please tell me, do you need someone to have sex with you?

Akosua: Ooh noo.. Grandma. Why this question?

Grandma: If you do not need someone to have sex with you, then, why do you dress ‘sexy’?

Akosua: There’s nothing to worry about, Grannie. I just want to…

Grandma: (cuts in) …dressed to kill, as usual! Akosua, a Godly girl should never feel proud or swollen-headed when someone tells her that she looks ‘sexy’. In fact it’s a very bad and insulting compliment. The intention of dressing sexy is to arouse men, That’s all. That’s the reason why prostitutes dress this way. They dress this way because they want someone to have sex with them n pay them. They do everything possible to ‘look sexy’ n attractive – not to just one person, but to the entire men in town! They expose, they wear things that will reveal all their endowed curves – just to ‘look sexy’ and attractive to men, for money. Please, Akosua, are you also trying to look that way so that you will be attractive to men for sex?

Akosua looked down, and was speechless.

Grandma: You are young, fit and attractive, although you are a Christian, yet you always look so worldly. When you dress like this to Church, the probability of bringing even the pastor down is very high. But remember that *’woe betide the one by whom a righteous man is made to fall…’* I know you can remember this scripture very well. Well, my beloved grand-daughter, I am done. You can now go.

Akosua : Thank you very much, Grandma. I have never looked at it like this before. From today onwards, I promise never to dress again ‘to look sexy’ . I will rather dress to look beautiful and glorify GOD with my dressing. Thank you very much Grandma.

Grandma: You are welcome, my dear. (Seeing that Akosua started going towards her room, she said) But, are you not going to church anymore?

Akosua: I will go Grannie. I just want to change my dress, first.

Grandma: May God bless you for doing that.” Please share this story with your friends, most ‘sexy looking girls’ do not have someone to tell them the truth.

Sisters, don’t just read it, please react to it- just as Akosua did because we are addressed the way we dress. Let us dress right to reflect the Godliness in our lives!

SExy

Here is what I think about that message above from a Christian perspective :

The human body and beauty

The human body is created by God. God wanted to and He did. (Genesis 1.26-27).
He created all things and found it good. After creating humans, he found creation very good. So, beauty is God’s gift.

Enter, Shame

Shame came after sinning (Genesis 3).
Nakedness or no clothes was not sinful in creation. Until they sinned humans didn’t feel the need to be covered in cloth.

The problem of sin

But sin has entered the world, as a consequence of our actions. It caused  a feeling of inadequacy, a sense of “not good enough”. Lust comes under one of those. Note Jesus’ words to those who have lust towards a woman, even a fully clothed woman (like in his times): But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  (Matthew 5:28). Adultery in the Old Testament is punished by death. The grandma in the story seems to have forgotten that verse.
If one can’t stand feeling lustful with a woman who is wearing a dress of her choice, the problem lies with the beholder. It shows a lack of the presence of the fruit of the Spirit in them, one of which is self-control. Such people, ought to ask for grace and more of the Spirit.

If sexiness is about sex, then…

Sex within a God ordained relationship ( as seen in Adam and Eve) is sacred, beautiful and part of God’s plan (Genesis 1.28). Sex outside marriage is not part of its purpose, and is neither fulfilling nor sacred. It creates unwanted complications in relationships and much trouble and dissatisfaction within the soul. Any leading towards sex outside a marriage relationship, is to lead towards sin, be it man or a woman. Any such sexiness that is meant to evoke sexual feelings ought to be towards one’s spouse. In a Christian understanding, it is God who blesses and seals a marriage. That’s where that kind of sexiness becomes meaningful.

Too sexy for your shoes? Varied meanings of sexy.

Linguistics tell us that words have denotative meaning (what it actually meant) and connotative meaning (layers of meaning, that add on over time). Sexy originally means something that evokes sexuality (denotative).

However, over time and due to over use, the word has become part of casual conversation to describe anything that is attractive. Sexy phone, sexy shot (cricket), sexy interiors (houses), sexy beats (music), in addition to  the word in its actual sense. This causes confusion. The way she uses it may not be how I use it or how they use it. It doesn’t, these days, always imply “I want sex.” It has, however, become more of a substitute for attractive, no matter how unfit  you may think the term is. That’s a lot of connotative meanings or additional layers.

Dressing sense is common sense

A sense of dressing is important for any occasion. I’m sure that not many interview candidates who wore shorts to an interview for a Corporate ever got the job. Why? Isn’t the candidate free to wear what s/he wants? Obviously, the candidate uses the gift of common sense and determines that something more formal would suit the occasion.

It’s the same when it comes to worship, youth group and camps. Since the focus is on God, his beauty and Majesty, wouldn’t it be robbery to steal the limelight by wearing a flashy outfit- be it boys, girls or even clergy? 😉 I think so. May God be the centre.

God admires beauty because He is its creator. He has also given the gift of common sense.

The Indian situation

When it comes to the Indian situation, most of us ( I’m addressing Indian christian youth) worship in an intergenerational setting. Elders, youngsters, kids, couples, etc. all of whom find theirselves at different stages of their life. The various people grew up in varied points of history with distinct social etiquette. Their sensitivities vary.
What might be shocking to the other could be normal to another. However, as Paul suggests, Christians must be sensitive to the setting and then make their decisions. Will what I wear cause a disturbance in the community when it comes to worship?  Will I hog the focus, even though its not my fault? Then sensitivity is paramount.

What is ultimate : Seeking the salvation of all.

The above doesn’t mean I live in fear and self-doubt. We ought to ask ourselves : which are the places where my beauty and attractiveness will glorify God? Be in all your splendour there! That’s the conclusion the grandma comes to which is indeed Biblical. However, responsibility on the part of the male is missing from the forward.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10.31-33

 

 

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As you step out of seminary, dear brothers …

As you step out of seminary, dear brothers …

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The sacrament

(A note I shared with our younger brothers at seminary, on the eve of their convocation which was to be held on 17th March, 2017)

Dearest final year brothers at seminary,

We were privileged to be your mentors for a short time, within the limitations of our immaturity and inexperience. And we all are glad that the Lord has brought you this far, only by His grace, and not by our merit. We are happy that you have come this far. You are the last batch of the seminary that we knew well.

As you approach convocation, may the Lord bless you and fill you with His Spirit.The Lord needs servants who read His word and listen to His voice. May He keep you close to His heart just as you have kept Him.

May the humility of Christ in Philippians 2:6–10 be your trademark, your signature, your logo. May His commitment to give the very best to His people be the force that drives you in His ministry.

May the rest he has ordained into the rhythm of creation be rightfully claimed regularly. Don’t forget.

May your families be a blessing. May your love for your future wife be the love of the cross and nothing less. May your children receive the freedom and discipline which the heavenly Father has brought us up with.

May your commitment to the flock he has given you reflect that of David, who courageously tore away the wild animals, yet was gentle enough to play soothing music.

May a new language and new culture that you are placed in be readily adopted as God’s site of incarnation, and be embraced like a mother would embrace her newborn child.

Through daily quiet time, prayer and regular worship, may your ego melt away leaving only the heart and mind of Christ within you.

May gossip and slander be destroyed from your mouth immediately, the very mouth that receives His life giving body and blood.

May your hands touch only what He has given you lawfully. May your eyes see what He reveals to you.

May guilt from sin, be exchanged for eternal love, justified in His work on the cross for us, and a commitment to never repeat the same, in response to His forgiveness and grace.

There is a world out there waiting for a super human priest, but continue to serve him with all the limitations of a human priest — the very likeness of Him who chose not to employ His super powers.

Looking forward to seeing each one of you thrive in His ministry. Prepare well, there is a long journey ahead.

Welcome, my brothers.❤

Lots of love

George.

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Pastoral Ministry : The Journey Ahead to be Fishers of Men

Churching at Colaba and some snaps

Colaba was sleeping even as I stepped into Wesley CNI church, this morning on my inter-denominational church visit. She resembled one that was snug on Sunday morning after storing week.

I loved the calmness this old church bore on me. As I stepped in from the pavement, I could glance upon an empty horizon at the end of the road – yes,my favourite, the seaside.

I loved coming to Colaba again. There was something about it which is hard to miss. May be it’s the dilapidated buildings which once proclaimed the splendour of the British Imperial life. May be it’s the “service” industry’s (whatever that means!) attempts at giving those buildings a botox or a nose job to make it look young though old, vainly retaining the vestiges of colonialism. Perhaps it is that colonial hangover or even an unbelievable appreciation towards the British who invested so much in a country not their own. Anything beautiful that was not your effort looks enticing when the creator is gone, forever.

The service was characterized by a familiar CNI liturgy. The songs and the service indeed drew me in, except for the excited little girl on the seat beside me. I felt God wanting me to let her be and help her find the pages in the worship book. Her mum who clearly had no familiarity of written English was excited to see her child attempting to sing from the English hymnal.

The Sermon by Rev. Kalison, spoke about the power of resurrection. Christ our Lord is risen and he comes to us and strengthens us saying, I have power over everything, so cheer up. I was encouraged. I needed the power or resurrection too. Yes,  I am a pastor myself, but I need to hear the Word of God and open my heart to the Lord’s power. That I did. Praise God. The Easter day message that I shared at the small church near which I stay, rang through my ears and encouraged me even more.

After the service I walked out into a different Colaba. It was a tourist Colaba which was noisy and full of shops. Yet it was picturesque and I started clicking pictures with Retrica app filters.

I had a nice calm time and here are some of those pictures

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Can you relax?

Late morning, almost noon. It’s calm outside, although the ceiling fan which is going nowhere but in circles is raking up a storm.

The bookshelf beside the bed is still dusty. It has been, every time you visited this house.  But the rest of the interiors are beautiful.

You lie there on the bed. You relax.  Do you allow yourself to relax ? Never completely.  Are you capable of relaxing completely?  I don’t know.  There is always something that isn’t complete. That thought is the carpet of your subconscious mind. You keep stamping on it mercilessly,  never paying attention.  Will I ever be complete? One day.

So why not enjoy the moment?
I’m scared.
Of what?
Of resting too long and becoming lazy.  I’m quite capable of being that.
But your seminary life showed that you hardly compromised!
Yes. But these thoughts were in the back of my mind.  I feared so but it didn’t happen.
So why not now?
(A brooding silence).

Changes in life : the android way

In my previous blog I had chronicled the uneasiness and excitement resulting from the awaited arrival of a mobile phone in my life. It was a second hand nokia 3310 with a second hand sim card, from kind friends who migrated to new mobiles and connections. I was excited that I had a mobile of my own; that I could be contacted on the move; that I could be part of the text messaging frenzy cliques of my friends were in… That was 2006 January.

Its 2014 and I’ve gifted a migration to Android.  And there came the wordpress app. Happy blogging more often! If you were to ask me about skydiving in faith, I’m about to get to the second step in June. It’s going to be an exciting journey with exciting people and an inspiring God.

Travelogoi : Daphi and her dream job

If you go to Shillong, you must  not miss going to to Daphi’s Bakery. You won’t find it so easily. Instead just might have to earn it, but believe me, it’s worth the go.  My cousins, Merin and Soji, along with Thomas, my brother, climbed the 257 stairs from Malki Point to reach an altitude where we were treated to a beautiful sight of the city on one side and the forest on the other, with a road winding up behind us. 

From the time I heard that my friend, former college band mate, soulful singer and at-times-rapper, Daphimonroi Warjiri , went to learn what she loved the most in life – Bakery Science, I felt I should go meet her and pat her on the back for taking a step so daring in life. After a BA in Psychology, Sociology and Economics, when she had opportunities in Bangalore ( where we we did our graduation) to earn good salaries in corporate companies she chose what no other friend I know did. Just because she wanted to do something close to her heart; something she believed she was made for. In days like ours, many of us don’t dare to be so authentic, of course, due to a variety of reasons.

It was a risky decision, of course. But all you need to agree with her decision is to taste one of her chocolate Brownies. 7 months ago, she took a huge step in life by setting up a Bakery. That too at the front room of their house, a beautiful wooden cottage, so well maintained despite its age : nearly a century old. Her grandmother’s parents, who bought it for their daughter decades ago, may have not foreseen this state of affairs, but I wish they had. That one large room has all she needs: her oven, mixer and her provisions and of course her music system. She begins at 8 am and works through her orders ( she’s been refusing many orders since there have been too many). Then she bakes ” . . . Whatever I feel like, that day,” besides the regular bread ( and whole wheat bread). This could be any thing right from Muffins, Cookies, Brownies and hundreds of different things. I couldn’t catch all the names but they sounded delicious. When she’s done baking, which is around 2.30 pm  she opens the white window of the bakery to her customers and sells her delicious bakery products.

She shares that it is very exciting and that there are difficulties as she work towards making her dreams come true. She goes through her share of struggles each day, even as she stirs her vessel (literally and figuratively) through a life which she chose. “There are days when I feel like I don’t want to get up and come to the bakery,” she says with a disarming frankness which  transparently veils an undying determination to achieve her dreams, and to abide by her decision to live for what she was made for, rather than fall into a life with a set format.  

But to believe in her and her decision, one only needs to taste one of her signature goodies. I could mouth brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and muffins and cheese biscuits and ask for more. There is no question on whether she has talent, the question is only, when is she becoming famous!

Daphi is one of those people who just don’t care about the money coming in. She, rather, foan ncusses on doing  her best, being content and making people happy. It isn’t easy, mind you. There comes a lot of indecision, uncertainty and pain, even as you follow your dreams. The question is, when you look back at life a couple of decades from now, would you rather have lived a life you were made, thus having been fruitful for the good of all, or, someone else’s life?

Endnote.
Daphi makes two types of bread – wheat and whole wheat. On the outside they look crusty, and hard with its brown, baked-just-now looks. It s when you slice them that you realise how soft the bread is, despite its crusty appearance. It reminded me of us. We look hard, tough and durable on the outside. But inside those looks, we are just tender, ready-to-melt human beings, covered in what seems hard crust, meant to protect our inner beings. Interestingly, I had to cut the bread to find out that it was soft. It seem a painful rupture in everyday life causes us to discover that we are all good beings with a tender hearts.