Pastor Brian Swave was apparently tired of opening up his Twitter feed or his Facebook page and seeing selfies of scantily-clad women. So he asked, politely, if they would please cover up:
"Dear Ladies," he wrote, "There is no reason whatsoever for you to post pictures of yourself in low-cut shirts, bikinis, bra and underwear, or anything similar – ever. Not to show your weight loss journey. Not to show your newborn baby. Not to document your birth story. [Signed], Your Brothers"
Based on the reaction he received, one would think he'd asked them to be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Critics from across the Internet weighed in and accused the pastor of misogyny, subjugation, and a raft of other things. One media report even described his tweet as "extremely sexist."
Christian apologist Dr. Alex McFarland says what Swave asked was right in line with scripture. "First Timothy 2:9 says that women are to dress modestly; some translations say in respectable apparel, modestly," he shares.
In a separate tweet, Swave marveled at the more than 20 million people that he says have heard an explicit presentation of the gospel from his tweets.
The Utah pastor also tweeted that well-known author Beth Moore outed herself as a false teacher by rebuking him for his tweet. In 2016, Todd Starnes points out, Moore held the same viewpoint as Swave, tweeting that "immodesty is self-exhibition" – but she's now weighed in on the side of the scantily clad women.
McFarland says Moore is "basically trying to suppress" what the Bible says. "She's had a great ministry, but in the last several years she's really taken on the mantle of more of a false teacher than a true teacher," he tells AFN.
Swave did not return AFN's call for comment.
A need for modesty ... and a study to dispel myths
Several businesses around the country cater to women who want to be stylish but not exposed. Laurie Kish runs one called Modest Apparel USA in Lebanon, Missouri. She says they received mixed reviews when she and her husband opened their shop more than 20 years ago.
"There were a lot of people mocking us and making fun of us, but there were also a lot of people really excited to find us," she tells AFN. "I think with anything you're going to have your haters and you're going to have your folks who are really excited to see you."
It wasn't in reaction to social media or anything like that that launched her enterprise – it was more that Kish just saw a need. And God has blessed them, she explains.
"When we first got started 22 years ago, we ended up on Fox News because of a little girl who I think … went to Nordstrom's and asked Where's like anything that's like modest? And it kind of went viral … and then [Fox] found us."
The family-owned business even offers a free Bible study on the topic that Kish argues will help dispel some myths about modesty.
"I think there's a need for modesty – [but] I think there's a reaction to it because [some people] don't understand it. They think that it's some sort of [an effort] to squash women, if you could put it that way, and to keep women in town."
But it's really quite the opposite, Kish emphasizes: "It's actually to restore dignity and femininity."
2/15/2022 - Interview with business owner added.