Muslims think that since Christians are saved by grace that they are authorized to do anything – including immoral activities.
In the video on “Are there Rules in Christianity?” we discuss religious disciplines of things that do not save, but can benefit believers. In this related video on Christian Liberty, Dr. Cynthia and Rev. Georges Houssney discuss how much liberty we as Christians have. Can we do anything we want to and still be Christians? What about dressing scantily, drinking alcohol, moral behavior, or going to R rated movies?
The Bible tells us that although all things may be permissible for us, not all things are beneficial (I Corinthians 6:12). Houssney says that yes, we have freedom, but we are told not to misuse it. We must live in a way that loves others and considers their good. We should not put a stumbling block before someone else, to encourage them to sin (I Corinthians 8:9 & Galatians 5:4-6).
A particular problem for the practice of Christian liberty that Dr. Cynthia has run into is in the area of dress. This is especially a problem for women leaving Islam. Imagine – when you are brought up that it is a sin to expose almost any of your body, in some places even your eyes or hands, how can you “get a feel” for what is an acceptable amount of skin and/or figure to show now that you are a Christian? At first you might feel odd or “guilty” about showing anything – hair or skin, since you are breaking an ingrained pattern. But does that mean if you are going to feel guilty anyway, that you might as well show everything that anyone in Western culture shows?
Houssney reminds us that although people look on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart (I Samuel 16:7). True beauty comes from the inside, as we are told in both the Old and New Testaments (Proverbs 31:30 & I Peter 3:3,4). We should let our internal beauty flow out. In that way, we should care about what others think.
A high ranking Imam told Dr. Cynthia that if a man sees a woman and lusts, the sin is the woman’s. This sharply contrasts with what Jesus taught (Matthew 5:28,29). Dr. Cynthia expresses concern that if women worry too much about how men see them, they can be reduced to covering their faces and hands with gloves, as in strict Islam. She says there has to be a balance between a woman’s rights and a man’s lust. Houssney agrees. He quotes, “If we dress sexy we will get sex, if we dress lovely we will get love.”
In the end, Houssney and Dr. Cynthia agree that guidelines for Christian dress could be to:
- try not to be a stumbling block
- reflect well upon the Lord, and
- generally follow how a conservative person in Western culture might dress, in terms of how much of their body to show