Edit: Well friends, it would seem that yoga pants have broken the internet yet again. :) I’ve closed the comments on this one, because they derailed into a debate about the merits of spandex. Our goal here isn’t to debate modesty [though we believe modesty is important], but if you’d like to do that there are a number of comment threads floating around the interwebs where that is still up for discussion! Please join us on Twitter for #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings to add to our list of things that merit our rally cry before yoga pants. If you like us, deeply desire for Christians to be known for doing more, please check out our follow up post for next steps.
In January, yoga pants broke the internet.
Blogger Veronica Partridge wrote a piece informing the world that she had made a personal decision to not wear leggings in public. Her intention, as she explained it, was to keep men from looking at her lustfully.
And then, the pants hit the fan. Popping up over newsfeeds across America, the article became such a popular source of Nancy Grace-level rage that Veronica and her husband found themselves on Good Morning America to talk about the whole, messy debacle. [A segment that I must admit, I watched in my beloved yoga pants.]
What is infinitely more concerning to me than the piece itself, is the massive attention that it has received from the Christian community.
This is just one in a series of questionable “issues” that American Christians have rallied around. Whether it’s yoga pants or an unsuspecting Target clerk wishing us a “Happy Holiday”, we have become notorious for clutching our collective pearls and hotly debating “issues” that frankly, don’t need to be debated.
This is nothing new. In Luke 6, we see the pharisees in the synagogue watching Jesus to make sure that He doesn’t heal the sick on the Sabbath, hoping to “catch” him in the act of breaking the law and hold it against him. The collateral damage? The man with the withered hand standing to the side, desperately hoping to be healed. Jesus heals his hand, and we learn that the pharisees “were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
Here’s the thing, friends: there are far weightier matters at stake than leggings or the “war” on Christmas. Sometimes, I fear that we have become so consumed with our sanitized, insulated lives, that we have all but forgotten that there are actual, literal wars being fought all over the world. Men, women and children that bear the Imago Dei are living in dark and splintering places where genocide, gnawing hunger, and paralyzing fear run rampant. And as the world burns around us, refugees, slaves, and orphans look on as we sip our double-shot lattes and piously debate the merits of spandex, seemingly unruffled by their pain.
One day, you and I are going to have to give an account for our lives. We’re going to look straight into the eyes of the God-man who bled out and died on a cross to save us, and explain where we were when his children were suffering. We were created to be the things He is—hope bringers, restorers and healers. If those of us that claim to follow Christ are to look anything like Him, the things that matter to Him must matter to us. Our presence on this planet should be a resounding reminder to an aching world that Jesus is not gone. Our debate about leggings is as caring and relevant to the watching world as Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake”.
If we’re going to get angry, let’s get angry about things that really matter. In no particular order, here are ten things that I submit should fill up the Christian blogosphere before we consider talking about yoga pants:
- Fourteen million Iraqis and Syrians are in need of humanitarian aid. Almost half are children. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- There are 379,000 children in foster care in the US. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- 1,505,200 men, women and children have been displaced in South Sudan since December 15, 2013. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- Malnutrition is identified as the root cause of death among 3.1 million children. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- Almost 21 million people are victims of forced labor. 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- More than 14,000 have fled over the Nigerian border to escape attacks by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- 1.7 million children have been impacted by the conflict in Ukraine. Many displaced suffer from malnutrition and disease. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- Up to 10,000 children have lost one or both parents or caregivers due to Ebola. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- Over 55 million children have been aborted since Roe v. Wade. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
- 100 million Christians around the globe are under persecution, enduring physical beatings, torture and rape. #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings
[Let me be perfectly clear: the “you” that I am referring to is the Christian community that has entrenched themselves in a vicious debate about spandex. I’m speaking to the men and women that both deified and crucified Veronica, and in no way to Veronica herself.]
I want to do the hard work of setting aside my privilege, and diving headfirst into the things–the people— that stir the heart of God. I want to run toward what is broken, and away from petty internet debates and angry comment threads. I want to start conversations that make my blood boil and my heart beat wildly, and I want to do it in a productive way. I want to use my voice for change. Friends, if we’re going to get angry, let’s do better than leggings.
Are there other things that should be on the list? Absolutely. Join the conversation, and let’s shed a collective light on the darkness. Sound the alarm on what should be rending our hearts in all the right ways. Fight the siren song of lukewarm compassion and feigned concern, and raise your flag on Twitter under #butyouwanttotalkaboutleggings.