I beg you read this, yes I am another man talking about yoga pants but please hear me out first. This is my confession as much as it is anything else.
The issue at hand: yoga pants. This has become a phrase that elicits a response one way or another in the Christian culture. It seems either you are in favor of them or you think they are the worst piece of clothing ever. These are generalizations of course but there is an element of truth to it.
I am here to try to offer a new perspective born of my failures, to share with you something God has been doing in my heart. It is to my deep shame that not long ago I told a girl, a friend of mine, that advice girls should hear was, “Yoga pants, just don’t.” I just said it. I causally threw the words out there without any thought of the impact it might have on her. I realized this wonderful woman of God happened to be wearing yoga pants. I laughed at this fact; I thought it was good that she felt uncomfortable in what she was wearing and that she felt like she had been corrected. I have been a part of a group who publically called out and ridiculed a friend in a Jewel because of the pants she was wearing. I did not say anything to her, but I sure did not stop them from saying anything to her. I have looked at girl after girl and deemed them inappropriately dressed or dressed in an unpleasant manner to our Father. I have been a Pharisee.
I write with a breaking heart. The disservice I have done to these women, the disservice I have done to my God has left me mourning my actions. My heart was never in fostering growth in these women. I had no interest in pointing them to God. I had no God honoring quality in my heart when I passed judgment and imposed my restrictions upon these women.
My focus was on my preconceived ideas of what was right and true, what I considered to be holy and pleasing to God. My focus was on correcting the speck in her eye instead of the plank in mine. Because by God, if I could just make her cover herself in a way that I consider appropriate than I do not have to worry about my eyes ability to wander.
I have been struck to the core in the flaw of my thinking. I have heard verse after verse about modesty, honoring our temple, and not being stumbling blocks to our brothers or sister in Christ as reasons to condemn women’s clothing or appearances. This is a misuse of these verses and the intent behind them. The bible is not meant for us to use it to impose what it says on someone else. It is meant to bring about action in our lives, it is meant for us to apply and lead by doing. Next time we desire to accost a God loving and serving woman for her clothing, how about we realize the stumbling blocks we impose on her life in this situation.
You see we are told not to allow our actions to cause others who are weaker than us to stumble. That is a call to action for you, not for another. I do fully admit that there are certain things that girls wear that make my walk harder. However, to push the responsibility of lust on the girl instead of bear the burden of my actions myself is inexcusable. The message we convey than is that they should be ashamed of who they are or how they dress. In this case, we by default are making them the “weaker” group because we claim authority over their action (Not to say that they are weaker, but this is the mindset we are encouraging).
Show me one instance of Jesus motivating through shame. Show me one instance when a message of shame was given to a “lost” person or a person seeking to serve God. The times I saw Jesus most angry? The times when Pharisees, people like me, shamed a people group based on their actions. This is a call to Christians to repent and change our actions. This is an apology to any woman I have judged or shamed for how you presented your body. That is between you and God, it should not matter to me what you do for my actions are my responsibility.
To be clear I do not advocate a person’s freedom to do whatever they want simply because they are able to justify it to themselves. I advocate doing what is right and pleasing to God. However, the only way we can change our actions and find what is right and pleasing to God is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Our focus is far too much on our actions and not on the heart behind them and the Spirit’s movement in our lives.
Yoga pants. A small issue illustrating a much larger divide in the Body of Christ. We are lacking love brothers and sisters. We should not let yoga pants distract us from the need to repair our hearts and show each other the judgment free love of Christ that is pleasing to God and transforming of our hearts. Our heart transformation leads to our actions changing, let us start building each other’s hearts to God and trust that the practical issues will work themselves out from there.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2