Yoga Pants, Social Justice, & Ordinary Obedience

The internet is no place for middle ground.

It’s a place where everybody has an opinion and a platform, and those opinions are constantly in our faces. One quick Google search on almost any topic can bring up vehement opinions on the opposite ends of any spectrum, and yoga pants/leggings are no exception.

Most recently I have seen this blog post passed around the internet, “Ten Things We Should Get Angry About Before Yoga Pants.” I believe that the author intended it as a wake-up call to Christians who try to add to Scripture by making black and white laws in areas where Scripture does not speak in uncertain terms, and I agree with her that it is wrong to create moral absolutes where Scripture does not.

But while many Christians may be in error when they restrict the freedom of their brothers and sisters, her point that “there are far weightier matters at stake than leggings or the “war” on Christmas” is somewhat of a false dichotomy.

I am in no way disputing the importance she places on mercy ministries, social justice, or concern for world issues that grieve the heart of God. These are important, and any Christian who neglects these things is lacking in essential fruit of the Spirit. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and the widows in their distress…” (James 1:27)  But in her claims that those who have strong convictions about yoga pants are simply Pharisees who distract from “real” issues, she misses the point that Christians are capable of caring about both yoga pants and social justice. This does not have to be an either/or scenario. And, in fact, Christians aren’t just able to care about both seemingly minor issues in American culture and larger issues worldwide, but we are also called to care about both. Because that verse in James doesn’t stop with caring for widows and orphans. It also calls us to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

How do we keep ourselves from being polluted by the world? First, we must “not be conformed to this world” by offering up our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” And this offering up of our bodies as living sacrifices is something we do daily, in things both big and small. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Included in that “whatever you do” is what we wear (or choose not to wear), what we support with our money, and the issues that concern us.

Faithfulness in the small things matters as much as faithfulness in the big ones. Even the sins that seem harmless and small are enough to distance us from God and require Christ’s death on our behalf. It doesn’t make Christians petty to want to honor God in the way they dress, or what they eat, or any other matter. And one Christian feeling at liberty to dismiss a matter as insignificant does not make it any less of a sin for another whose conscience is weak on the matter. (1 Corinthians 8:7)

Furthermore, it is obedience in the ordinary, everyday things that prepares us for the big things. That’s what the Parable of the Talents teaches us (Matthew 25:14-30). So while, in Ashley Dickens’ opinion, “our debate about leggings is as caring and relevant to the watching world as Marie Antoinette’s ‘let them eat cake,'” we are not only living our lives before a watching world, but a watching Master. We enter into His joy when we are “faithful over a little,” and those little things prepare us to be faithful when He wants to use us to accomplish bigger things.

We don’t have to start out moving mountains and changing the world to be faithful, God-exalting believers. As Christians, we should be careful not to make small things ultimate things. But neither are we called to ignore the small things in favor of the big ones. The true call of the Christian is to serve Christ faithfully in all things. Whether you wear yoga pants, choose not to wear them, or something in the middle, the surest way to be in error is to make your decision without regard to honoring God. Everything has eternal impact when we are doing it for the glory of God.

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