The recent release of the Manhattan Declaration has generated a lot of interest in Christian circles and even in the secular media. The framers and prominent signatories of the document are representatives of the three major prongs of the professing Christian church: Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Evangelical Protestant. As of Wednesday, November 25th, the Declaration had over 100,000 signatures and this is sure to rise in the coming days and weeks.
What is the Declaration about? You should click on the above link and read more of it but here is the opening section:
“Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
- the sanctity of human life
- the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
- the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
I wholeheartedly support the three points listed above and do what I can to advocate for them. But I have decided not to sign the Manhattan Declaration. Why? Because there is an even more important issue than these three that I believe gets confused by the Declaration … the gospel message itself.
Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelicals have many significant differences in doctrine but there is one critical difference on the all-important, eternity-determining question of justification: By what means is sinful man reconciled to God?
The divide on this issue between Roman Catholics and Orthodox (who believe that man is justified before God through a process of faith in Jesus Christ plus the keeping of church sacraments and traditions) and theologically conservative Evangelicals (who believe that man is justified by God’s grace through repentance of sin and faith in Christ’s work on the cross) is historic, well-documented, and … mutually exclusive.
And that’s the problem with the Declaration for me. The implied Christian brotherhood between Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical woven throughout the document leaves the impression of “different churches, but same family and destination.”
Chuck Colson, the main Evangelical involved in crafting the document, says as much in his column today,
“As I hope you know by now, last Friday, 20-some Christian leaders stood before the microphones at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Fox News, CNN, ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and more were there with cameras and microphones.
There, we announced the release of the Manhattan Declaration. And we proclaimed to the church—and put our nation’s leaders on notice—that we would protect the sanctity of life, that we would uphold the sacredness of marriage as a holy union between one man and one woman, and that we would defend religious freedom for all people.
There, in front of all those cameras and lights, Christian leaders lovingly, winsomely, and firmly took a stand. I will never forget the picture. I stood between Archbishop Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia. I looked over at Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, and Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action.
To my left was the brilliant Bishop Harry Jackson, a man who has mobilized African American churches in the District to oppose gay “marriage.” And there was Fr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary. I was missing only one man, my dear friend, the late Richard Neuhaus.
It was a foretaste of what we’re all going to see in heaven, when those of us who can truly trust the Bible, who love Christ with all our hearts, minds, and souls, are re-united in the presence of our gracious and loving God.” [underline emphasis mine]
Chuck Colson is an intelligent and caring man but claiming common eternal destiny in heaven for these Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical leaders fails the test of simple logic. Either one is justified by faith alone in Christ or one is not. How else can Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:4-5 and the many other Scriptural passages like them be interpreted?
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness…” (Romans 4:4-5)
Clarity of the gospel is of primary importance. While I greatly respect many of those who have signed The Manhattan Declaration like Albert Mohler and James Dobson, I do not see in Scripture any precedent for joining in common spiritual cause with other Christian religions who hold to a “different gospel” (see Galatians 1:6-10). Jesus Christ, His apostles, and the other writers of the New Testament never formed nor advocated forming a coalition with other religious leaders of their day, like the Pharisees or Sadducees, to push back against some moral failing of society or government. Neither should biblical Christians today.
Wouldn’t it better to form a coalition with those who are united on the definition of the most critical issue — the gospel — so that important work on the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and freedom of conscience can be pursued without confusion … and with soul-saving effect?
Further reading on this topic…
Why They Did Not Sign:
Why They Did Sign:
Last week saw the release of The Manhattan Declaration, a document crafted by Chuck Colson, Robert George and Timothy George and signed by a long list of Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox leaders. I have not been able to gauge the interest in the Declaration or whether it has had an immediate impact. But I have seen a bit of buzz about it through the Christian blogosphere. Today I want to address it, even if only briefly.
Here is a brief description of the document:
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
It is, then, a declaration on these crucial issues of the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of religious liberty. Among the more notable signatories, at least to readers of this site, is Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Unfortunately a portion of The Manhattan Declaration site is down now so I cannot refer to the list of signatories to reference other names.
Some Evangelicals have chosen to decline signing the Declaration on the basis that it is a joint statement by Evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox leaders. I am among those whose conscience will not give me freedom to add my name to the 100,000+ who have already signed.
Rather than write a lengthy defense of my refusal, I thought I would direct you to some useful articles.
John MacArthur offers this explanation as to why he will not sign. “It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct ‘communities.’ Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as ‘historic lines of ecclesial differences’ rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity. … [It would] relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue. That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time.”
James White writes “There is no question that all believers need to think seriously about the issues raised by this declaration. But what is the only solution to these issues? Is the solution to be found in presenting a unified front that implicitly says ‘the gospel does not unite us, but that is not important enough to divide us’? I do not think so. What is the only power given to the church to change hearts and minds? United political power? Or the gospel that is trampled under foot by every Roman Catholic priest when he ‘re-presents’ the sacrifice of Christ upon the Roman altar, pretending to be a priest, an ‘alter Christus’? Am I glad when a Roman clergyman calls abortion murder? Of course. But it exhibits a real confusion, and not a small amount of cowardice, it seems, to stop identifying the man’s false gospel and false teaching simply because you are glad to have a few more on the ‘right’ side of a vitally important social issue.”
Frank Turk also declines, saying “It assumes a big tent for the definition of what it means to be a ‘believer’, assumes that law is greater than grace in reforming the hearts of men, and provides moral reasoning that those who are unbelievers have no reason to accept — because they are unbelievers. And in making these three items “especially troubling” in the ‘whole scope of Christian moral concern’, it overlooks that the key solution to these moral concerns is the renovation of the human heart by supernatural means established by the death and resurrection of Christ.”
To varying degrees I agree with each of these critiques though on the whole my thoughts line up mostly closely with John MacArthur’s. In my view, this line says it all: “Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel.” It is good to speak of the gospel, but what does the term mean if used by Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox? Each has their own understanding of the term—the term that stands at the very heart of the faith. I just cannot see past this issue.
I see that there is much more to lose than to gain in joining together across these denominational boundaries. I would not and could not sign it.
On Thursday, I was sitting in a hotel room in Turkey watching the live press conference in which the European Union made an “historic” decision to create a “President of Europe.” They chose Belgium Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy over Britain’s Tony Blair. If you’re thinking, “van who?”, don’t worry — you’re not alone. In one of the most undemocratic developments in recent history, the new leader of a half-billion Europeans is a name only 12% of them have even heard of. He was chosen unanimously by a council of other EU leaders, not by popular vote, and will take office January 1, 2010. Now that I’m home, I’m contemplating how quickly an unknown can rise to a position of great power. All this comes quickly on the heels of the historic passage of the EU “Lisbon Treaty” earlier this month. Noted the New York Times: “A landmark agreement aimed at giving the European Union a global stature on par with major powers like the United States and China cleared its last major hurdle on Tuesday….The treaty’s supporters contended that it was vital because the union’s rulebook was drawn up before the bloc began to expand, taking in 12 new nations since 2004. Its critics, however, contend that the document encroaches on national sovereignty and threatens to turn the European Union into a monolithic superstate.” We are watching the emergence of an increasingly unified and powerful Roman empire continue unabated, just as Bible prophesy tells us to expect in the “last days.”
Immediate implication of the move: van Rompuy’s “election/selection” will accelerate Turkey’s dramatic shift from NATO ally to ally of Iran, Syria and Russia. Why? Van Rompuy is an avowed opponent of Turkish entrance into the EU and the Turks are furious.
Some U.S. and European analysts are horrified by the selection of van Rompuy, ridiculing him as a bland dolt and claiming EU bureaucrats missed a great opportunity to select Blair and make the new presidential post truly a global game-changer. Such analysts are missing the point. EU leaders didn’t bumble into this appointment. They are determined to create an unrivaled superpower. They are determined to create the world’s most powerful political position in the presidency. But they want an EU-fanatic, not a British lone ranger. I’d never heard of van Rompuy until Thursday, but I have no doubt the EU leaders who chose him unanimously knew exactly what they were doing. I expect this guy to be a problem for the U.S., for freedom, and for Israel. Time will tell for certain.
Worth noting are some early press analyses of van Rompuy — not exactly favorable:
- The London Telegraph says, “Herman Van Rompuy’s quirky exterior conceals a ruthless political operator who will stop at nothing to get his way as president of the European Union.” Excerpts: “The ‘ideal candidate,’ said Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, for bring “consensus and cohesion” to a fractious EU of 27 member states. In reality, and behind his harmless, eccentric and literary persona, Mr Van Rompuy, 62, is a sharp political operator who is not above using dirty tricks to stymie his opponents. Europe’s leaders may find to their cost that the man they chose to chair their EU summits possesses dark arts that will be turned against anyone, such as an incoming Conservative prime minister, who challenges the Brussels consensus. Last year, six months before becoming prime minister, he abused his position as speaker of the Belgian parliament to cancel a politically inconvenient debate. To make doubly sure that MPs would be silenced, he had the locks on the plenary chamber’s doors changed so deputies could not get into their own parliament. The tactic was described by opposition MPs as a ‘coup d’etat.’ On another occasion, Mr Van Rompuy did not turn up in his office for a week to avoid opening a letter from opposition MPs demanding a debate. His skill as camouflaging himself as essentially harmless disarmed Gordon Brown who dropped British concerns over his federalist politics to allow him into the EU President post. Mr Van Rompuy is a supporter of the creation of an EU federal state, with its own anthem, flag and with powers to collect taxes on car fuel or financial transactions from Europe’s citizens.”
- The U.K. Independent quotes a colleague of van Rompuy who says, “He… operates in the shadows.”
- Time magazine calls van Rompuy’s rise to power a case of “the bland leading the bland,” notes that 11 months ago, even few in Belgium knew who he was
- But the European Voice notes he is a “shrewd political operator” who outfoxed Tony Blair for the top post
- Sky News: Blair loses out to Rompuy as EU president
- Lady Ashton to Replace Solana as EU foreign policy chief
Guest: Robert Knight, Coral Ridge Ministries
You might remember Part 1 of our interview back on September 26, 2009 with Robert Knight, senior writer for Coral Ridge Ministries, about the many and varied issues threatening traditional America that have been foisted upon us by the radical change-agents who occupy the political halls of power.
We talked about the growing attack on the life of the unborn child (“it’s a woman’s choice”) and the elderly Read more
Guest: Kevin DeYoung, author, Why We Love The Church
You’ve probably heard someone say — or said yourself — one of the following about the church: “I don’t need to go to church to be spiritual” or “Religion is corrupted when it gets organized by humans” or “I was hurt by a church and would never go back.”
There’s no question that there is a smoldering animosity towards “organized religion” Read more
S. Lewis Johnson Message of the Week
Jonah 4 God’s compassion is most clearly evidenced in the person and work of Jesus Christ, but where is this characteristic manifest in the Old Testament? Listen as Dr. S. Lewis Johnson discusses the unparalleled compassion of God in his exposition of Jonah’s fourth chapter.
Click here to listen: Jonah – The Old-Testament Cousin of John 3:16
Part 5 of a 5-weeks series on Jonah
Guest: Dr. David Noebel, president, Summit Ministries
We hear mind-boggling numbers almost everyday about the amount of debt in which America has spent herself. Government “stimulus” and bailouts, health care “reform”, and individual debt that all adds up to trillions of dollars in debt has become the norm in this country.
Whatever happened to staying out of debt and living within one means? Read more
You’ve heard the expression, “Once saved, always saved.” But do you believe it and is it actually biblically correct? Once you receive the gift of salvation, can you actually lose it through committing a particular sin or walking away from the faith?
We all know of people who professed to be Christians, lived like Christians, we were certain they were Christians, only to watch them abandon it all and go a completely contrary direction.
How can that be explained and what does the Bible mean in Hebrews 6:4,6 Read more
Just for the sake of adequate seriousness, I will resist all temptations to pun. That is no easy resistance in light of the report from the Associated Press about American churches developing special services for congregants and their dogs.
The story, reported by Gillian Flaccus, begins with Rev. Tom Eggebeen of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. Faced with an aging and declining congregation, the pastor decided to do something innovative — he started a service for both people and dogs, “Canines at Covenant.”
Gillian Flaccus described Eggebeen’s idea: “He would turn God’s house into a doghouse by offering a 30-minute service complete with individual doggie beds, canine prayers and an offering of dog treats. He hopes it will reinvigorate the church’s connection with the community, provide solace to elderly members and, possibly, attract new worshippers who are as crazy about God as they are about their four-legged friends.”
Flaccus also cited Laura Hobgood-Oster, a religion professor at Southwestern University in Texas, who recently conducted a survey that revealed more than 500 churches that conduct blessing services for pets and six that go so far as to offer pet worship services like the “Canines at Covenant” service. One church near Boston offers a “Woof ‘n Worship” service. The professor sees “pet-centric” services as a growing trend.
The reason she offers is especially interesting: “It’s the changing family structure, where pets are really central and religious communities are starting to recognize that people need various kinds of rituals that include their pets . . . . More and more people in mainline Christianity are considering them to have some kind of soul.”
The report goes on to explain that the dogs at the “Canines at Covenant” service showed little evidence of interest. Nevertheless, the service was very pleasing to the human participants who brought their dogs. One woman brought two dogs, a black Lab and a Dachshund-terrier mix. She told the reporter, “I don’t have any kids, so my pets have always been my children, so it does mean a lot . . . . I haven’t been to church in a long time and this may push me into it. I’m getting older and I’ve been thinking about those things again.”
Gillian Flaccus offers a very interesting report on the “Canines at Covenant” service and the larger phenomenon of “pet-centric” services. Her report also points to a deep theological confusion that these services bring to light. There are several dimensions to this confusion.
First, the Bible clearly presents animals as part of the goodness of God’s creation. As Christians, we are to see the glory of God in the diversity and wonders of the animal kingdom. We are to respect all animals as intentional creations of God and to acknowledge the gifts that these creatures represent. God created animals for his own glory, and humans are to see the glory of the Creator in each animal species and individual.
Second, God made human beings as the only creatures made in his image. As the image-bearers of God, humans alone have the capacity to know and to worship the Creator. Animals reflect the glory of God, but only human beings can see the glory of God and know the Creator. Animals may possess consciousness, but they do not have souls. They lack the capacity to know the Creator.
Third, God assigned human beings dominion over the animal kingdom and clearly marked a separation between humans and animals. This separation is clear, ranging from the dominion theme to the prohibition of bestiality. To compromise that separation is to disobey God. Some part of our contemporary confusion over this distinction is due to emotionalism and sentiment, but much of it is driven by an ideology that reduces the status of humanity to that of the animals.
Fourth, while we recognize and celebrate the consciousness of many animals, we recognize that their consciousness is different from our own. We must also be aware that we tend to read features of human consciousness onto animals. We enjoy stories and movies that feature talking animals and endearing animal characters, but this is fiction, not fact. Many animals do enjoy forms of community and relatedness, but they are not humans. We must always be aware of the temptation to read human abilities and states of mind onto animals.
Fifth, to put the matter simply, animals do not worship God. Jesus told the woman at the well [John 4] that the Father seeks worshippers who worship him in spirit and in truth. The biblical concept of worship is not limited to attendance at a service, but involves the conscious and active knowledge of himself through Jesus Christ. Dogs do not worship. As Gillian Flaccus reported, the dogs at the “Canines at Covenant” service “didn’t seem very interested in dogma.” That observation is cute, but profoundly understated.
Sixth, the Bible says a great deal about animals. From Genesis to Revelation animals are keys to understanding God’s revelation. Genesis shows us the indescribable wonder of the animals in creation. The Bible reveals the catastrophic impact of the Fall on animals, leading to predation and violence. At the end of the Bible, we are given the picture of the new creation and the reversal of the curse of sin as the lion and the lamb lay together. But, amazingly enough, even as the Bible mentions animals as beasts of burden and agents of violence, it gives virtually no attention to animals as pets.
Seventh, America is a pet-centric culture, and this reveals much about us. We have the wealth to spend billions of dollars on pets. The ownership and enjoyment of pets is a sign of wealth and plenty. We are also a society that is trading human relationships for the companionship of pets. We cut off our elderly from extended family and leave them alone with their pets. We see increasing numbers of younger people who decide not to have children, but instead to pour themselves into relationships with their pets. Restaurants, malls, and hotels are asked to allow pets even as they allow children. Professor Hobgood-Oster points to the pet-centricity of our society as evidence of “the changing family structure, where pets are really central.” The woman who brought her two dogs to the “Canines at Covenant” service said, “I don’t have any kids, so my pets have always been my children.” Postmodern Americans see these statements as evidence of new lifestyle choices. Christians should see these statements as tragic.
Eighth, the churches that offer these services are concentrated in the liberal wing of American Protestantism. The declining membership of liberal churches is matched to a loss of theological focus. Churches concerned with the preaching of the Gospel, committed to authentic evangelism and biblical preaching, are not going to demonstrate the confusion that leads to “Canines at Covenant.” It is not surprising that Covenant Presbyterian Church lists its support for same-sex marriage and opposition to California’s “Proposition 8″ defending traditional marriage on the front page of its Web site.
I am thankful for dogs. My own family cherishes a friendly and inquisitive Beagle who reveals the glory of God in just being a Beagle. But Baxter does not go to church. I am absolutely convinced that animals will be a part of the New Creation we are promised in Christ. But it is believers in Christ — redeemed humanity — that yearn for this New Creation. To blur the distinction between humans and animals is to confuse the Gospel itself.
Gillian Flaccus, “Gone to the Dogs: LA Church Starts Pet Service.” Associated Press (AP), November 4, 2009.
Clothes are never a frivolity — they always mean something.” Thus spoke James Laver, a famous costume designer and interpreter of fashion. He is right, of course. Clothes always mean something, which is why The New York Times gave major attention to an issue facing many schools: “Can a Boy Wear a Skirt to School?”
The article, right on the front of the “Sunday Styles” section of the paper, announced, “When gender bends the dress code, high schools struggle to respond.” The story reveals a confusion over gender that goes far beyond the dress code.
As Jan Hoffman reports, high schools generally have very specific rules about clothing these days. Boys are forbidden to wear muscle shirts and saggy pants, and girls cannot wear midriff-exposing tops or skirts that are too short. But what happens when a boy wants to wear a skirt?
“In recent years, a growing number of teenagers have been dressing to articulate — or confound — gender identity and sexual orientation,” Hoffman reports. “Certainly they have been confounding school officials, whose responses have ranged from indifference to applause to bans.”
This is no longer an issue limited to isolated examples. Districts across the country have reported teens who have attempted to cross the gender line in dress. Many of these cases have captured media attention, with highly publicized controversies. In other cases, the challenges have been more quiet.
The cases are, to say the least, both interesting and troubling. Boys are making news for wearing skinny jeans, makeup, wigs, and skirts. Girls are bending gender in their own way by, for example, wearing a tuxedo for the school picture or to a school event.
Jan Hoffman does a good job of setting the issue in perspective:
Dress is always code, particularly for teenagers eager to telegraph evolving identities. Each year, schools hope to quell disruption by prohibiting the latest styles that signify a gang affiliation, a sexual act or drug use.
But when officials want to discipline a student whose wardrobe expresses sexual orientation or gender variance, they must consider antidiscrimination policies, mental health factors, community standards and classroom distractions.
Well, that certainly presents a very complicated challenge. Diane Ehrensaft, an Oakland psychologist cited in the article, states the obvious: “This generation is really challenging the gender norms we grew up with. . . . A lot of youths say they won’t be bound by boys having to wear this or girls wearing that. For them, gender is a creative playing field.” She added that adults then “become the gender police through dress codes.”
As Hoffman makes clear, these challenges to dress codes can quickly become legal skirmishes pitting students (and often their parents) against school administrators. Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute argues that this is one reason that so many schools have shifted to students wearing uniforms.
“It’s hard enough to get students to concentrate on an algorithm,” she reminds, “even without Jimmy sitting there in lipstick and fake eyelashes.”
That sets the issue in a very clear instructional perspective. Schools are about teaching and learning, and both teachers and administrators face daunting challenges. The last thing they need is the added distraction of gender-bending teenagers on parade.
And the issues can be far more troubling than classroom distractions. Hoffman reports that some schools have faced boys wearing “pink frilly scarves” and makeup and girls trying to dress like male gang members. In Columbus, Ohio a boy wore girl’s clothing but used the boys’ bathroom. Jeff Grace, faculty advisor for the school’s gay-straight alliance club told Hoffman, “One day I heard a student say, ‘Man, there was a girl in the guy’s restroom, standing up using the urinal! What’s up with that?’” Another student then quipped, “That wasn’t a girl. That’s just Jack.”
These adolescents represent the younger face of a society that is giving itself over to a confusion about gender and dress that reveals a much deeper confusion about gender, sexuality, and the limits of self-expression. The controversy also reveals an even deeper cultural and moral divide over the same issues.
Should a boy who shows up at school dressed as a girl be celebrated for self-expression and transgressing the boundaries of gender roles, or should he be seen as signaling a need for help and adult-imposed rules? The widely divergent answers to that question reveal the great worldview divide in postmodern America. This controversy cannot be isolated from the movement to normalize homosexuality, and that movement cannot be separated from an effort to remove all notions of fixed gender roles and sexual identity.
The controversy over boys wearing skirts to school is a symptom of our loss of sexual sanity and the will to preserve any reasonable and healthy understanding of gender. These teenagers are telling us something important — we are losing our sexual sanity.
For Christians, the issue is a matter of biblical concern. The Bible reveals a concern for respecting and honoring gender as God’s gift. In the Old Testament, the Law taught respect for these distinctions and roles. In the New Testament, we find similar expectations. As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11: 7-15:
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
While addressed to the specific concerns of a church setting, this text also generalizes the point by making a specific reference to what nature teaches concerning the recognition of the difference between males and females. The Creator is honored and glorified when men and boys dress and present themselves as males and when women and girls dress and present themselves as females. Culture by culture and generation by generation the specific form of this distinction may change, but the point remains.
God made human beings to show His glory, and an essential part of that glory is the visible difference between males and females that is reflected even in the public presentation of dress. We should be able to tell the difference between a boy and a girl by the way they dress and present themselves in public.
As James Laver reminded, clothes always tell us something. This article from the “Sunday Styles” section of The New York Times tells us something as well — something we need to hear.
Jan Hoffman, “Can a Boy Wear a Skirt to School?,” The New York Times, Sunday, November 8, 2009.