<< *snerk* >>
JohnDB, you nut.
I think y'all are getting what I am so clumsily trying to say.
A group of people functioning together as a local body of The Church should be able to handle stuff like this in mutual love and respect without too much turmoil. We humans don't always manage that, and not just on this one topic.
Something that always comes to mind for me in a discussion like this is the back of a woman's neck.
Whether because of centuries-old traditions about who could be allowed to see
the back of her neck -- or whether because of only 100-year-old or 75-year-old artistic representations in popular sensual/erotic art -- I don't know why --
But I've read that the exposed back of a woman's neck was (is?) considered this great big alluring part of her body in Japanese culture.
Now, that's not necessarily anything a modern young Japanese would even know about, with the "modernization" or Westernization of their culture, women being more independent, etc. But I think there was a time not so long ago, when if you as a man were gonna possess a very saucy, sensual, even erotic girlie calendar of Japanese beauties -- well, the penultimate picture, the piece-de-resistance of the calendar, would've been one of a gracefully posed lady, perfectly modestly dressed, but turned away from the camera so that the vulnerable-looking neckline was exposed between her modestly "up" hair and her modestly-collared dress. Not a thing showing that would worry anyone I know, nothing that would bother the most proper prim person I've met... but supposedly this great big sweaty bug-eyed deal to the male Japanese admirer.
That all may be a crock. If true, it may be such a thing of the past that the Japanese who even know about it see it the way you and I would see Victorian English morals and customs. But I have read references to it occasionally all my life; it sounds true.
The tale illustrates a good point, anyway.
Take also the varying values of what it takes to make a beautiful woman in, oh, maybe Equatorial Africa, not many years ago (and likely still true in some places). If you were a Great Big Beautiful Woman, with well-oiled skin and hair, it attested to the wealth and power of your family, your husband or father or whatever power your people saw as a woman's wealth. And even small Western boys 75 years ago knew there were cultures "over there" in which an exposed breast was of no more concern than an exposed elbow. Thanks to National Geographic, anyway.
So the loveliest ladies of all, fit to take a man's breath away, would in the one place have been 100% covered up head-to-toe in a voluminous flashy expensive silk kimono, showing very little of what her body might look like -- the outfit part of her wealth, maybe worth thousands of modern dollars -- but oh, that three-inch gap between the back of her collar and the neckline of her hair! My goodness!
And in the other place the most gorgeous woman, so stunning as to make a man start counting his cows to see if he could possibly afford the bride-price, would have been a very well-rounded lady, fat by modern Western standards (certainly by Hollywood and Madison Avenue standards), shiny with a healthy glow of oils on her skin -- in some countries with her hair dressed in mud or tallow or whatever, in other countries with her head shaved bald 'cause only warriors wear long hair -- standing there bare-breasted because that was the norm among all her whole culture, not a provocative thing at all in itself.
Times change. Cultures mingle and clash.
When some woman wears not-enough-fabric in her dress, "to church", either she's an absolute witch hoping to make all the men sin -- and I am sure such exist - or more likely, in "her culture", the way she was raised and taught, if she does know her appearance is provocative, she's been raised to think that's the way a woman cherishes and frameworks whatever beauty God gave her.
Don't think that because someone looks somewhat like you, same ethnic background even, and because she had opportunities for the same basic education you started out with, and because she and her parents and her great-grandpa had the same chances as you, in your free society, to "go to church" -- Don't make the mistake of thinking her culture and your culture are the same.
Hers is not
the same as ours. Her upbringing and parents and peers are not, apparently, just like ours, or we (generic "we") would not be here pondering this issue, all disturbed with that scandalous level of dress at that church building.
Accommodating to another culture is not a bad thing. Jesus sure did it with the "woman at the well", and managed it without sin, too. And
He managed it without drowning the sub-tropical "natives" in full-length wool dresses with 43 petticoats, and without forcing a barefoot people to wear cobbled boots -- as "our" Western missionaries have done in the past in various places.
Forgive the long tirade. Hope it's readable.