An Honorable Shame

An Honorable Shame
Robert Wurtz II

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9, 10)

Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet. (Proverbs 29:5)

To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; (Proverbs 2:16)

That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. (Proverbs 7:5)

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. (Proverbs 28:23) (see footnote 6)


It is unfortunate that the great principals contained in our passages have in modern times been relegated to “the old days.” If we were to set up an interview box in the churches the results would likely prove little different than the public square. Few would understand the words and even less would agree with the implications. No matter what modern culture says, God expects women (and men) to carry themselves this way.   
There are consequences for relegating passages like 1 Timothy 2:9 to “the old days.” No directive from God ignored will be so without serious side-effects. The word I have my eye on is shamefacedness. It is translated from a Greek word that Wuest defines as a mixture of modesty and humility. Some have translated it as bashful or “with downcast eyes.” This is a person that walks in godliness and modesty.

 A Mystery Solved

I recall speaking on this subject to the youth from time to time as a youth pastor. I know it is strong language to our sensitive ears, but usually it was in a sermon related to “flirts” (whores) or “players” (whore mongers) and their tactics. Typically those messages were dismissed saying, “that’s just Rob” or some other cynical remark. I just took it in stride and stayed the course. Even I had no idea how ideologically different my views were than many Christians. Some people see nothing wrong with flirting with the opposite sex – even if they are married. Selah.

Could it be?

Every now and again we are afforded, by God’s grace, opportunity to experience circumstances that have the power to reveal great questions in our lives. Some of these are mysteries involving serious strife and discord. I believe we under estimate the consequences of disobeying the type of commandments of God written above and we end up thoroughly confused when trouble starts. 

All throughout my Christian life I have experienced conflict with certain Christians that has been completely mysterious. I have pondered the matter before the Lord on numerous occasions, but only came up empty. Until recently, I have only had just enough information to be confused; always lacking that one master key that could unlock everything. After all, Christians should always get along- shouldn’t they? They should, but that does not mean they will. Is it possible that much of the conflict traces directly back to our two passages above?

Our Beliefs Dictate Emotional Responses

In a general sense, our behavior is controlled by our beliefs. Our emotions are also tied to our beliefs. In other words, if someone does something against our sincerely held beliefs, that act will stir emotion. If you and I have differing views of certain behaviors there is a chance that we could end up in conflict. As Christians, we could even view one another with suspicion

Most of the time there is harmony among sincere Christians, but then something happens and the conflict rockets to the surface with all the emotions associated with it. Why are we seeing this situation so differently? Why are we not on the same page? Year after year and still no answers. could the answer really be found in 1 Timothy 2:9,10? 

Revelation in the Circumstances

So, out of what seemed to be sheer coincidence (though there is no such thing with the children of God) I was enabled to put together a series of clues to form a master theory for the first time. It began a while back while doing a study of former American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (aka F.D.R). He was such a popular president that America elected him to office four times! In fact, it was his protracted administration that led congress to pass a law for presidential term limits. How could a man be so popular that he became, for over a decade, the closest thing America has ever had to a king?

FDR was one of the most charming men in modern history. (see footnote 7) He tried to charm everyone, including Russia’s evil leader Joseph Stalin.(3) His staff would state later that a person had to “be very careful… or he would draw you right in with his charm.”(2) Women who were around him found him quite attractive. In fact, he was caught cheating on his wife Eleanor and nearly lost everything. Not long after he suffered a terrible bout with Polio that left him paralyzed from the waist down. This did not stop him from being what one historian called an “incorrigible flirt.”(1)

A surface study would leave one to believe that the most powerful man in the world at one time strolled through life charming the men and flirting with the women. I must admit, knowing this caused me to cast serious doubt upon the man. Call me a pharisee, but I have a serious problem with men and women that flirt around. This feeling was not helped by my learning that he died in the presence of his mistress. 

The spirit of FDR

I have adopted this definition of “Flirt” from Wikipedia:

“Flirting or coquetry is a social and sometimes sexual activity involving verbal or written communication as well as body language by one person to another, suggesting an interest in a deeper relationship with the other person. In most cultures, it is socially disapproved for a person to make explicitly sexual advances, but indirect or suggestive advances (i.e., flirting) may at times be considered acceptable. On the other hand, some people flirt playfully, for amusement. A female, especially a young one, who flirts playfully is sometimes called a coquette; while a male flirt may be called a womanizer or player.”

It goes without saying that the behavior described above is the exact opposite of the shamefacedness described in 1Timothy 2:9, 10.; but that has not stopped some Christians from continuing to practice it. They view it as harmless or a means of getting things they want. Their used to be a time when flirting with a man’s wife would warrant a trip to the alley; but not today. For some its all part of their playfulness. If you don’t like it then you must be “controlling” and “insecure.” Many women actually encourage their husbands to flirt; well, they wouldn’t call it that (or maybe they would). If I live to be as old as Methuselah I will never understand how a woman or man would want their husband or wife to draw the attention of the opposite sex. Surely it is a lethal form of perversion. 

So I decided to do a search on Google to see what Christians had to say about flirting. The first two articles I looked at suggested God’s word is silent on the matter. they could not say whether flirting was a sin or not. There have been times when I believed we were living in an evil and adulterous generation; but now i am thoroughly convinced. When a Christian condones and promotes flirting with the opposite sex, we have gone a long ways towards Sodom and Gomorrah. 

No wonder all these films are coming out suggesting Jesus had a wife.(5) People don’t even have the good sense to know that Jesus would have never and I mean never have flirted with women. If your ‘Jesus’ flirted with women, we are serving different gods. Period. I can’t imagine Jesus, Peter, Paul, James or any other man of God flirting with women. In fact, flirting with a woman other than your wife ought to get your man-of-God card pulled. It is wickedness. 

Regaining an Honourable Shame

It’s not OK to casually go around flirting with the opposite sex for any reason (unless you are married to the person). F.D.R. flirted as a means of luring people in under his influence. It could be argued that he did this to gain the women vote – that had just started some time before. Once he got you to like him you were hooked. You were drinking the Kool-aid. I think of modern politicians doing the same thing. It is an abomination.

I grew up watching men flirt with women to defraud them out of money and gifts, so I have a particular sensitivity to all this. Some would flirt to get a better place in line in the High School lunch room.(4) Some would flirt to get them to steal for them. Where does it end? It has to end with Christians agreeing with God on the subject. It is not OK to try and seduce people, if even temporarily to gain something from them. It is a subtle form of extortion. 

It’s a sad state of affairs when men and women would prey on one another like that. People become like a bunch of ravenous animals, salivating and looking for their next victim. That ought not so to be in the Kingdom of God. We’re not called to be a bunch of players and flirts; but men and women of God. 

 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9, 10)


_______

Footnotes:

  • (1) Doris Kearns Goodwin, Biographer: Lucy was tall and statuesque. She had a face, people say, that belonged in drawing rooms. She had a charm that was rivaled only by Franklin’s charm. One thinks of Franklin in those days — and indeed throughout his life — as this incorrigible flirt. Flirting was a part of his vitality, his magnetism, his charm. He loved to conquer women in conversation, so that’s probably how it started with Lucy, but then I do think it became something more. 
  • (2)Chalmers Roberts, Journalist: He was awful good at charming you. You had to be awful careful you didn’t get badly seduced and a lot of people did.
  • (3)George Elsey, Lieutenant, U.S. Naval Reserve: Roosevelt felt he could charm the pants off anyone. He thought it included Uncle Joe, which it most certainly did not.
  • (4) Some have called this type of person “The Playful Flirt.” One writer suggests:
    If you find yourself in the presence of a playful flirt, stay on your toes! This type flirts for sport, not love, and there’s no occasion that’s off-limits for doing so. If you’re working the door at a lounge, they’ll flirt for free entry. Waiting for the bathroom? They’ll flirt to cut in line ahead of you. And it doesn’t matter if you’re of the same gender; they’ll flirt simply as a means of communication. There’s one caveat here: “Because these types often flirt for attention or simply to get their way, it can mean they’re not really interested in the person they’re talking to,” says Hall. “Flirting gives them an ego boost, even if they’re already in a relationship.” 
  • (5) Specifically, “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) and “The DaVinci Code.”
  • (6) Keil and Delitzsch defines a flatterer as a smooth talking person (a “smooth talker”). “The web of the flatterer before the eyes of a neighbour becomes, if he is caught thereby, a net for him in which he is entangled to his own destruction.” 
  • (7) Def. Charm: The power or quality of giving delight or arousing admiration.

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