Maybe you thought it was quite enough to point out the self-conscious sexual deviance that drove fashionistas to introduced ripped and torn jeans to popular culture. But I want to open one more closet in this monkey house, not because I’m on some kind of crusade to rid the world of distressed jeans, but because I’m a pastor and I want to help Christians think clearly about the world we are living in.
As I noted in my previous post on the subject, I certainly grant that many folks come about their ripped jeans honestly — that is, through actual, old fashioned hard work. And not only are those rips honest, I would call those rips and tears glorious. They are minor scars that point to battles with plywood and nails and diesel engines and tree stumps. The glory of young men is their strength; the glory of old men is their grey hair (Prov. 20:29). Men were made for hard work. Men were made to do hard things. Men were made to die first. None of this means that women do not work hard or that they do not do hard things. They most certainly do. But their glory is different. They are relatively weaker vessels (1 Pet. 3:7). Their glory is their beauty, their power to bring life into the world, the way they glorify the labors of men (Gen. 2:21-23, 1 Cor. 11).
But fallen men are sinful and therefore it is our constant temptation to try to trick the glory of hard work out of less work. We want the glory of sacrifice without the actual sacrifice, the glory of death without actually dying. We want a bride without losing a rib. This is rooted in a combination of cowardice, laziness, and pride. Men are afraid of doing the hard things because of fear of failure or looking foolish. Men are lazy and simply want good things without the labor. And all of our sin is rooted in a pride that believes we are very significant, important, gifted creatures that deserve glory (e.g. money, sex, popularity, respect, power, happiness), and so we tend to resent the difficulties and sacrifices as implicit attacks on our greatness (which, incidentally, they are).
This tendency to try to trick glory out of the world, to try to short circuit the ordinary path of glory (death and resurrection), is fundamentally gay. This is what gayness is. The effeminate, the homosexual, the queer — it resents the way God made the world and the particular assignment that God has given to men to work hard, to sacrifice their strength for others, to die first. Gayness wants to find its own glory, a short-cut glory, and this is always necessarily a downgrade from true glory. It wants the appearance of scars, the appearance of battle, the appearance of struggle and pain, without all the agony that accompanies the real deal. It accepts the pain of piercings and tattoos and botox and silicone injections as cheap substitutes for the scars of true sacrificial obedience.
Of course there is a good, creative masculine impulse that seeks greater efficiency, but godly creativity and efficiency is seeking to understand more deeply how God actually made the world. It doesn’t resent God, His ways, or His methods. True ingenuity is just as sacrificial as all the other labors we are called to, and it loves the way God designed the world. But men are tempted to try to grasp glory before it is given, and this always results in defacing the glory. This happens in many ways, but frequently we substitute a lesser glory for the greater glory God has actually assigned to us. Men settle for the glory of hunting a deer, when they are called by God to seek a wife, love her, and raise up children with her. Men settle for the glory of rare and valuable achievements on Fortnite at 2am, when they are called by God to start and run Christian schools, churches, and businesses. Men settle for the glory of crossfit bodies and personal records, when God is calling them to confess sin, confront sin, and grow in true holiness.
A couple years ago Mike Rowe pointed out this tendency in modern fashion in a Facebook post about a particular line of distresses jeans called Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans, arguing that they ”foster the illusion of work. The illusion of effort. Or perhaps, for those who actually buy them, the illusion of sanity… The Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans aren’t pants. They’re not even fashion. They’re a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic – not iconic.” Even though Mike Rowe didn’t quite put it this way, what he was trying to say is that our culture has become as gay as pre-ripped jeans.
New e-book Death by Baptism available here.