My husband and I had come into Christianity from the Haight/Ashbury, hippie movement in San Francisco, CA. When we moved to the Community of Jesus, we were still wearing some of our hippie clothes. These included jeans, blanket serapes, and hand-crocheted tops.
The leaders talked with us about the drug/hippie culture, and how we knew who to give drugs to. We talked about how we could tell, both by how a person acted, and by what they wore, who might possibly be interested. Jeans had previously had a reputation for being a working man’s clothing, and the hippies had taken it on as a symbol of “the people”. Since the leaders were interested in controlling every aspect of our lives, they taught about clothing styles, what was appropriate and what wasn’t. They decided that since hippies wore jeans, they were part of Satan’s culture, and no Christian should be identified with them. They became outlawed, and those who owned jeans had to throw them out. They also determined the length of our skirts, and outlawed pants for the ladies unless we were gardening or exercising. When we did wear pants, our shirts had to come below our buttocks; otherwise we would be tempting the men. We were not allowed to have pierced ears, and those who came with them could no longer wear the earrings for them. Everything was cloaked under the rule of modesty, modesty, modesty, but everything was geared around suppressing any sexuality, even normal, within-bounds expressions of normal interests.
We also went through a similar time about hair styles and length. I had come to CJ with beautiful long hair, almost to my waist. Because the leaders saw this as part of the hippie movement, they labelled it rebellious. Everyone had to get their hair cut. All the women went to short haircuts, and the men went to crew cuts. It was hyped up as freeing us from the satanic influences of the world, and branding us as God’s people.
Nowadays I just shake my head at how superficial it all was. If we “looked good”, that was what counted. No real care was taken for our hearts and the needs, concerns and problems that we felt inside our heads and skins. It was all focused on behavior, and the leaders decided what behavior was legit.
I’ve been reading about Hobbes’ Leviathan in political philosophy, and that’s the model for the Community of Jesus. We gave all authority to the leaders, and then had to obey them.