What about High-Heeled Shoes?

 

Shoes

What about High Heeled Shoes?

What about High Heeled Shoes?

A Christian Response to a Popular Practice!

Richard Hollerman

The reader may be somewhat surprised to see a question of this nature posed in a Christian context. Don’t professing “Christian” women wear high-heels as often as secular women of the world?  What could possibly be wrong with a woman wearing high-heeled shoes—and what could be wrong with a man if he were to allow (or even encourage) his wife to wear high-heeled shoes? Isn’t this entirely a matter of Christian “liberty” in which anything is permitted unless it is specifically forbidden in Scripture?

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What about High-Heeled Shoes?

These are some of the questions that may come to your mind when you see a question about the legitimacy of these forms of shoes in a Christian context. We would not deny the rightfulness of wearing shoes, per se. But what about high-heeled shoes?

Over thirty times the term “shoes” is found in the KKV, but in two-thirds of these cases, the reference is to sandals (see The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, s.v., “Shoe, shoe-latchet). “’Sandal’ is more accurate to portray to the modern mind a picture of the ancient Near Eastern shoe.” We’ve all seen paintings that portray men and women in Bible times wearing sandals.

John the baptizer admitted, ““I am not fit to remove His [the Messiah’’s] sandals”” (Matthew 3:11). In the parable that Christ gave on the “lost boy,” the merciful father gave his returning son sandals for his feet (Luke 15:22). When Paul described the Christian’s armor, he wrote, ““. . . shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”” (Ephesians 6:15). Generally sandals were worn, but soldiers, shepherds, and those in certain professions would wear more substantial footwear or “shoes.”

The history of footwear is a long and colorful one. Wikipedia has many pages devoted to an article entitled, “High-heeled footwear,” that is quite enlightening and we want to refer frequently to this well-researched piece. (en.wikipedia. org/wiki/High-heeled_footwear).

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What about High-Heeled Shoes?

Let’s investigate something about high-heeled shoes:

High-heeled footwear (often abbreviated as high heels or simply heels) is footwear that raises the heel of the wearer’s foot significantly higher than the toes. When both the heel and the toes are raised equal amounts, as in a platform shoe, it is technically not considered to be a high heel; however, there are also high-heeled platform shoes. High heels tend to give the aesthetic illusion of longer, more slender legs. High heels come in a wide variety of styles, and the heels are found in many different shapes, including stiletto, pump (court shoe), block, tapered, blade, and wedge.

This is telling us little more than we already know. High-heeled shoes are shoes that have a high heel! These heels may be less than 2.5 inches or as much as over 5 inches in height. We refer especially to women’s shoes, although elevated heels may also be worn by men, particularly in cowboy boots or Cuban heels.

Generally, high-heeled shoes are a matter of women’s fashion—and this fashion has changed greatly from decade to decade. This is the discussion found in the earlier-mentioned article:

Since the Second World War, high heels have fallen in and out of popular fashion trend several times, most notably in the late 1990s, when lower heels and even flats predominated . . . . Lower heels were preferred during the late 1960s and early 1970s as well, but higher heels returned in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The shape of the fashionable heel has also changed from block (1970s) to tapered (1990s), and stiletto (1950s, early 1960’s, 1980s, and post-2000).

Today, high heels are typically worn, with heights varying from a kitten heel of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) to a stiletto heel (or spike heel) of 4 inches (10 cm) or more. Extremely high-heeled shoes, such as those higher than 5 inches (13 cm), are normally worn only for aesthetic reasons and are not considered practical. Court shoes are conservative styles and often used for work and formal occasions, while more adventurous styles are common for evening wear and dancing.

While high-heeled shoes have been used for many decades now, there have been some times when they have been especially desired. Today many women wear them, particularly for professional purposes as well as for special evening events.

The Christian opposition to wearing shoes with high-heels is partly related to the health danger posed by these shoes.  Paul says that the Christian’s body belongs to God. He says, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). Can we really give God our body when we are purposely, knowingly, and deliberately doing something that will harm our health?

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What about High-Heeled Shoes?

Whether we are speaking of smoking, drugs, drunkenness, or junk foods, we want to do all we can to preserve our health—and not harm it. And this includes the kind of shoes that we wear. Paul goes so far as to say that “no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (Ephesians 5:29). Ironically, people do harm their body in various ways!

The article we have been quoting earlier says this:

High heels have seen significant controversy in the medical field lately, with many podiatrists seeing patients whose severe foot problems have been caused almost exclusively by high-heel wear. . . . Reasons against wearing high heels, which are almost exclusively health and practicality reasons, include:

After this comment, the writer of the article lists some of the major negatives for wearing high-heeled shoes:

  • They can cause foot and tendon pain.
  • They increase likelihood of sprains and fractures.
  • They make calves look more rigid and sinewy.
  • They can create foot deformities, including hammertoes and bunions.
  • They can cause an unsteady gait.
  • They can shorten the wearer’s stride.
  • They can render the wearer unable to run.
  • They can also agitate lower back pain.
  • Altered forces at the knee caused by walking in high heels may predispose to degenerative changes in the knee joint.
  • Frequent wearing results in a higher incidence of degenerative joint disease of the knees. This is because they cause a decrease in the normal rotation of the foot, which puts more rotation stress on the knee.
  • Thin or metal-tipped heels can cause damage to soft floors.
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What about High-Heeled Shoes?

The sensitive Christian who reads these dangers to one’s health cannot help but be shocked about the negatives to wearing high-heeled shoes. This is not a light matter; this practice has a great effect on one’s health! This information has come to all of us from time to time, in the newspaper and other media. But somehow it seems to have been dismissed—probably because of the desire to look stylish.

The article we have quoted offers this connection between such shoes and sexuality:

In modern society, high-heeled shoes are a part of women’s fashion, perhaps more as a sexual prop. High-heels force the body to tilt, emphasizing the buttocks and breasts, highlights of a woman’s sexuality. They also emphasize the role of feet in sexuality, and the act of putting on stockings or high-heels is often seen as an erotic act.[10] This desire to look sexy and erotic continues to drive women to wear high-heeled shoes, despite causing significant pain in the ball of the foot, or bunions or corns, or Hammer toe. A survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association showed some 42% of women admitted that they would wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort.[11]

Thus, it would seem that many women would continue to use high-heeled shoes because of the enhanced sexual appeal even if they learned that the practice was harmful to their health. This would be a form of slavery to fashion.

Many harmful effects may be noted in wearing these unnatural shoes:

High-heeled shoes slant the foot forward and down while bending the toes up. The more that the feet are forced into this position, the more it may cause the gastrocnemius muscle (part of the calf muscle) to shorten.[17] This may cause problems when the wearer chooses lower heels or flat-soled shoes. When the foot slants forward, a much greater weight is transferred to the ball of the foot and the toes, increasing the likelihood of damage to the underlying soft tissue that supports the foot.

In many shoes, style dictates function, either compressing the toes or forcing them together, possibly resulting in blisters, corns, hammer toes, bunions (hallux valgus), Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis and many other medical conditions, most of which are permanent and require surgery to alleviate the pain. High heels – because they tip the foot forward – put pressure on the lower back by making the rump push outwards, crushing the lower back vertebrae and contracting the muscles of the lower back.

High-heeled shoes slant the foot forward and down while bending the toes up. The more that the feet are forced into this position, the more it may cause the gastrocnemius muscle (part of the calf muscle) to shorten.[17] This may cause problems when the wearer chooses lower heels or flat-soled shoes. When the foot slants forward, a much greater weight is transferred to the ball of the foot and the toes, increasing the likelihood of damage to the underlying soft tissue that supports the foot. In many shoes, style dictates function, either compressing the toes or forcing them together, possibly resulting in blisters, corns, hammer toes, bunions (hallux valgus), Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis and many other medical conditions, most of which are permanent and require surgery to alleviate the pain. High heels – because they tip the foot forward – put pressure on the lower back by making the rump push outwards, crushing the lower back vertebrae and contracting the muscles of the lower back.

It is plain; there is no room for doubt about this matter. These kinds of shoes do harm a woman’s body in various ways—including the back, the feet, and other body parts.

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What about High-Heeled Shoes?

Some women have reacted to these shoes for less than the best of motives. The article points this out:

The high heel has been a central battleground of sexual politics ever since the emergence of the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. Many second-wave feminists rejected what they regarded as constricting standards of female beauty, created for the subordination and objectifying of women and self-perpetuated by reproductive competition and women’s own aesthetics.[20]

Thus, some feminists would react to high-heels since they also react to traditional feminine roles in the home and society. While we would commend their willingness to turn from popular but harmful practices of many women, we wouldn’t in any way commend their feminist perspectives.

The Christian, therefore, should renounce these shoes for several reasons:

        1.    High heels are usually associated with modern feminist attitudes, something that the Lord hates (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-24).

        2.    High heels definitely harm the body in many ways, a body that God has given to us to be used in His service and for His glory (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

        3.    High heels promote a sexually seductive attitude and action. Instead of such an attitude, the Christian woman is to be of a different demeanor (Proverbs 7:10; 1 Peter 3:1-4).

        4.    High heels place one in a worldly context rather than a spiritual one. Spiritual people wouldn’t think of wearing shoes with very high heels (Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17).

        5.    High heels would be an example of compromise before others—whether Christians or non-Christians (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).

Although there would be other reasons to avoid this contemporary practice of wearing high heels on shoes, this should be sufficient for the wise and discerning person. To do otherwise would be quite foolish.

We know that some liberal persons who profess Christ would consider all of this to be legalistic and “majoring on minors.” However, since this practice clearly violates the principles mentioned above, we would encourage true Christians to refrain from this worldly practice.

Be willing to throw out your high heeled shoes immediately! Don’t give them to others for it would be just as harmful and wrong for them as it would be for you, and you wouldn’’t want to cause others to compromise in this area (cf. Romans 13:10).

Is this a minor matter? Whether it is major or minor, we know that the person who seeks to follow Jesus in an uncompromising manner will want to do what pleases God in this manner as in every other lifestyle issue.

We heavily rely on this article:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-heeled_footwear

See also: Pleasing God in Personal Appearance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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