A fundamentalist woman in a sun bonnet and a gingham dress, who gets a wicker basket to go pick blueberries, so she can bake her man a pie, with a golden crust, the kind he likes, may be a little bit hokey for your tastes, and certainly for mine. But at least she is trying to achieve an effect that the Bible says women should strive for -- she wants to be modest and discrete. She is not trying to achieve an effect that the Bible never urges women to strive for, as in "edgy." Or "provocative, but not too skanky for an evangelical." She may be playing the instrument badly, but at least she is playing the right one. Suppose the Bible tells women to play the piano. This does not make every woman an accomplished pianist, but I do have respect for every woman who practices the piano, blunders and all. But the women who show up with a leaky concertina they got at Goodwill are trying to do something else. In other words, let us make a distinction between doing the right thing badly, and doing the wrong thing well. And, as Herodotus might say, so much for the fundamentalists.And this:
Read the whole thing.
The Bible calls upon women to be sober (Tit. 2:4) and discrete (Tit. 2:5). They are to live in a way that provides no occasion for others to speak reproachfully (1 Tim. 5:14). Their demeanor should be characterized by shamefacedness (1 Tim. 2:9) and sobriety (1 Tim. 2:9). It is important to note that the word translated shamefacedness is aidous, which does not denote an Islamic browbeaten demeanor. That said, neither does it constitute an invitation to go ahead and buy a halter top that is two sizes too small. The word is not that elastic, unlike the halter top. In this same verse, the ESV says that women should wear respectable apparel. The word is one of those judgment-call words.
Who makes the judgments? The Bible says that older women should teach younger women how to achieve that effect, an effect we can sum up with the word respectable. Strikingly, it does not call upon the younger women to push the envelope until the older women finally say something critical about it. Again, the older women are to help the younger women try to achieve a modest respectability. The younger women are not called upon to demand the older women prove that something or other is not positively disreputable. According to the Bible, respectability is the goal. This means that the wife of the country club president is being worldly as she tries too hard to be respectable, with results that are too flashy. And she shouldn't do that -- she is playing the piano poorly. But a woman who is schlepping around the supermarket in sweat pants is playing the concertina, and it doesn't matter if she is playing poorly or well.