It's summer in Cape Town, and as usual, self-respect when it comes to clothing is shrinking.
Don't misunderstand me here. I suffer in the heat, and in fact am sitting in my garden to write this piece today in a pair of shorts and no shirt. But this is my space.
I ride a motorbike, but at this time of year it's dangerous. Give me ice and snow with a howling wind over the conditions in the city in the summer any day. Ice, snow and wind make you concentrate on the road. In the summer, dress sense departs and leaves in its place string bikini tops that leave nothing to the imagination and shorts so short you're not sure if they're actually there or not.
And then there's the women's clothing...
I saw a few photos from a young "christians" event not long ago. I'm deliberately using a small "c" here. It was early summer and the outfits were shrinking. In the pictures, the young women were dancing and running and doing what young people on church camps do. The young men were watching and pointing and drooling over the young women. And then there were other pictures where the scene was inverted.
I think back a few years to a Christian Art and Music festival I went to in the UK, Greenbelt. It was a particularly hot summer, there was a lot of dancing and running round the main stage where the headline band of the day was playing. But I don't recall any bikinis. And back then believe me I would have noticed!
I also don't remember seeing men with their waistband round their knees...
Even in a gathering where the average age was probably 20 and most attendees were single and looking for Mr or Miss Right there was a sense of self-respect. Yes we danced with passion and abandonment to the music, but our role models - even the majority of the secular ones - had a sense of respect about themselves.
Respect has to begin with self. It's one of the few areas as a Christian where we need to say that. OK, it begins with God, but then we need to respect ourselves first.
I respect myself, so I can respect my wife and my friends. Part of that respect is where and when I take my shirt off. Part of it is how I relate to others. Most of it is what I think of God.
God made my body for several reasons. In no particular order:
- I need it to walk around in
- It's the Temple of the Holy Spirit since I'm Born-again
- To give pleasure to my wife
- To enjoy taste, music, sunsets and a myriad of other things we can only enjoy because of our bodies
We live with these insecurities - most of us, anyway - on a daily basis. And they are created by the World to keep us from realising the Truth. If we respect ourselves, warts and all, we can be Transformed into the image of Christ, reflect His Glory and wield His Authority over the World.
So show some respect. Learn it. Live it.
And we become More than Conquerors.