It is often said that you “can’t legislate morality.” Are saggy pants a morality issue or something else?
The two meta-themes of the Jewish and Christian scriptures are rebellion and redemption. Nearly everything in life, including how we wear our clothes, can be understood in light of those two themes.
Thursday night we celebrated a Seder or Passover Feast as part of our house church’s preparation for Easter. Passover recounts how the God of Israel redeemed His people from oppression in Egypt. Despite ten opportunities, Egypt’s king refused to submit to the true ruler of the universe. On behalf of the LORD, Moses said, “Let my people go!”. Nine times Pharaoh replied, “You’re not the boss of me.”
Easter is the ultimate story of redemption. By His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has redeemed not only God’s people, but all of creation. If we’re honest, we recognize that everything in our present world, ourselves included, is broken and decaying. On our very best days we fail to consistently do the right things, keep our promises, and love others. On our worst days we don’t even try. This cosmos-wide state of brokenness is the direct result of ancient and ongoing human rebellion. For those who would humble themselves and look to Jesus’ death and resurrection in faith, there’s the promise of a restored world–a new heaven and earth without suffering, disease, aging, regret, or death.
“Sagging” your pants such that your underwear and/or rear end is visible is a not-so-subtle form of rebellion. “Look at me parent/teacher/coach/principal/citizen/police officer. I won’t follow your rules or meet your expectations. I don’t care what you think about how I’m dressed– if fact, I hope you find it offensive. I won’t respect you, but I’ll demand that you respect me. After all, I’m powerful and dangerous. No one tells me what to do.”
It’s reasonable to make a law against sagging in school, but it won’t change the sagger’s heart. All humans are rebels in need of redemption, from the angriest gang-banger to Mother Theresa. We have customs, mores, rules, and laws to restrain the ill effects of rebellion, but there’s nothing within us that can transform our rebellious nature. That sort of change must originate with and be sustained by God, who alone has the power to redeem human hearts.