The emperor has hip clothes...

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Men's clothes say everything they want to say about themselves, but if someone points out what they're saying, they act shocked. And offended. "How dare you listen to my appearance!"

Everyone knows precisely what the man wants you to think of him because of his carefully coiffed hair, urban-biker leathers, puffy carefully coiffed scarf, and LOOOOKATMMEEEEEE frames. The guy's vanity is screaming at you!

But pity the poor sucker who dares to point out the guy's a bounder and his appearance is effeminate.

Every prior generation of Christian leader would have shamed the Christian leader who presented himself preciously. Whose appearance was vain. Who presented himself effeminately, like a woman. Shoot, Calvin and his company of pastors shamed and disciplined one of their pastors for merely speaking that way. They told him his artsy-fartsy-splashy-philosophical rhetoric was incompatible with preaching. Further, that all the young men training to be pastors who were so enamored of him were being led down a destructive path. He was to cease and desist, disciplining his verbiage to be simple and direct. His words were to stop being vain, calling attention to himself.

Today though, we're so drowning in effeminacy that even vanity of appearance isn't shamed and condemned. Older men are so scared of being mocked by callow youth that we wouldn't think of disciplining Christian leaders' effeminacy...

in appearance. Sadly, this abandons young men and women lacking discernment to their natural sycophancy to such men—just like in Calvin's Geneva.

Effeminacy breeds effeminacy. And trust me, it's absolutely destructive of Christian discipleship—so destructive that the Apostle Paul says the effeminate will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But we deny it's any danger, and thus we can't define it. We don't recognize it when it punches us in our eyes.

If you're going to lead a movement back to Benedict, start by meditating on how prophets look and where they fit in. Benedict was like John the Baptist, and Jesus defended John the Baptist based upon his appearance—at the same time rebuking men in the city who dress effeminately ("soft'):

Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. "(Matthew 11:7-9)

The past two weeks, I've been reading primary and secondary sources on sexuality in the ancient world—from about the eighth century B.C. to the fifth century A.D. (or as hipsters would prefer I say, C.E.). Greeks and Romans universally despised male vanity in appearance, and one placeholder for that vanity was their mockery of any man who used a mirror.

Today, we mock the man who condemns this effeminacy. We laugh at him. We deride him. We scorn him.

We shame him.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!