Tweed Lion

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion reads the paper

Modesty Is Under Attack, but Not by Miniskirts

In a claustrophobic church classroom I was teaching a lesson on modesty to a group of teen boys. One kid raised his hand and said, “Why are we even talking about this? Like any of us are going to wear bikinis or something.” That was the moment when I realized modesty was dying–not among the heathen, but among the religious.

His comment typifies my least favorite thing about the way people tend to talk about modesty: The perpetuation of the ridiculous notion that modesty is primarily an issue of the percentage of skin covered.

Ruler

A pretty pharisaic and narrow concept of modesty.

This is a serious defeat for the virtue of modesty–just like if we believed the virtue of chastity is only about not having intercourse, or that charity is merely a matter of giving away money. In each of these cases what is actually described is very narrow way in which these virtues can be manifested. However, it’s important to note that all of these manifestations can (and often do) occur even where the virtue is completely absent.

Confusing a virtue for an outward manifestation causes misunderstanding and problems. For instance, if modesty is only about the depth of hem and necklines, then phrases like “a modest house” or “a modest opinion” begin to lose their meaning. Worst still, the virtue will be marginalized and applied in arbitrary and sexist ways. When this shallow understanding of modesty is used, discussions about the issue quickly turn into a sort of fight about traditional values versus body shaming, self-respect in conflict with a culture of objectification, or a perverse blame game amongst the sexes. It seems most of these arguments peter out, as deaf ears refuse to capitulate, perhaps because the whole debate is built on a faulty premise that can’t be reconciled.

 

moodesty fight

Most of our discussions about modesty end up about like this. (Malcom Evans, 2011)

But discussions about modesty change significantly when we elevate our thinking. Modesty is not about how much of yourself you cover up; it’s about how you choose to reveal yourself to the world.

Somehow those who publicly champion modesty have got to get it back into their heads that this virtue is about the marginalization of sacred and worthwhile things by temporal and superficial things, and the problem of sacred things getting switched up with superficial things is not unique to fashion, or the pressures women may or may not feel when they dress. This can be the same problem with wanting people to be impressed with your house, your habit of name-dropping, or  your pretending to like soccer. There is nothing wrong with fancy houses, relationships with famous people, or a public affinity for soccer per se, but if any of those things are wrapped up with you wanting attention solely for the “merits” of those things, or if you somehow think those things make you better than others who are not associated with those things, then you are running afoul of the virtue of modesty. You begin to run the risk of being viewed almost entirely as something that really doesn’t have much to do with what makes you sacred. Even sadder, you run the risk of losing track of what makes yourself and others sacred.

Hint: The immodesty here has nothing to do with this nice woman's thigh.

Hint: The immodesty here has next-to-nothing to do with this nice woman’s thigh or cleavage. (Lauren Greenfield)

Personally, the most immodest period of my life was in high school–not because I was wearing short shorts or bearing my midriff, but because I was trying to draw attention to myself in pretty shallow and meritless ways. Rather than a human being with diverse strengths and weaknesses, I wanted to be a “skater,” “rockabilly guy,” or even (shudder) a “rude boy.” There’s nothing wrong with any of those things intrinsically, but as a shortcut to really doing the gritty work of getting to know myself, or letting others get to know me, it led to a pretty meaningless marginalization of who I was.  And once I had made cozy (and largely false) lines between in-groups and out-groups, I was then more inclined to be a complete jerk. (Because some people weren’t people at all, but were “jocks,” “Barbies,” or “hicks.”) Thus, immodesty isn’t a scourge of teenage girls “making” boys have dirty thoughts and “driving” other girls to anorexia. It’s a false construct of a world made of us-and-them where people are driven apart from one another for silly reasons and in ways that invariably cause conflict, pain, and objectification.

There was an immodest time in my life where I thought this would've made a great tattoo.

There was an immodest time in my life where I thought this would’ve made a great tattoo.

The bad news is when we think of modesty in this more complete way, it’s a much more pervasive problem than we supposed, and the solution is much more complicated than a good tankini. The good news is this understanding of modesty offers hope and resolution between the old false dichotomies of respect versus shame, and the solution truly makes us Christlike.

Once we start thinking of modesty as a refusal to shortchange the sacred with the superficial, two interesting things happened. First, we can see modesty applies just as much to women, men, old, young, rich, or poor. It applies equally to all human beings. Second, by realizing that the sin of immodesty is reduction of the sacred to a sort of  idolatry, then the demands of modesty cut both ways–to the actor and the reactor.

In other words, I might be being immodest by driving a fancy car that I want others to envy. I might want to inspire envy and be seen as “a fancy guy who drives a Ferrari” rather than as a regular old human being who can be fancy, but who also isn’t any better than anyone sans Ferrari. But the burden of modesty does not end there. Someone watching me would be just as guilty of immodesty if they looked at me and said, “There goes a fancy-pants Ferrari driver,” with all the judgment and sense of superiority that can come along with such meaningless distinctions. In both cases, each person is guilty of making a phony reduction of what defines the person to an object associated with the person. Both are acting immodestly.

Thus I believe modesty should be, above all, a concern by each of us for all of us, and a commitment to not view ourselves or those around us as simply a fancy house, a pair of breasts, a nice professional title, or as any other part that if over emphasized will betray the sacred whole.

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82 Comments on “Modesty Is Under Attack, but Not by Miniskirts

  1. STW
    January 7, 2015

    In addition “A modest man who has much to be modest about” would lose all its zing.

  2. Ali
    January 7, 2015

    Seriously… The best article I have ever read on modesty. Amen to you sir.

  3. SW
    January 7, 2015

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. I really learned a lot from reading this and appreciate the time that you took to write it. It really does put modesty in a new light that makes complete sense.

  4. David
    January 7, 2015

    Thank you for one of the best descriptions of modesty and the issues surrounding it I’ve seen to date.

  5. Rhia
    January 7, 2015

    Are we talking about Jim Halpert pretending to like soccer?

  6. Daniel
    January 8, 2015

    excellent! You’ve put into words what I’ve been trying to articulate to my daughters for years.

    P.S. I was a member of the ABC Ska Society.

    • Brandy
      January 12, 2015

      My husband has that tattoo. He loves Ska. I giggled when I saw that.

  7. Savannah
    January 8, 2015

    Such a fantastic way of looking at modesty! Thank you for writing such an incredible and respectful article. Well done.

  8. Lana
    January 8, 2015

    Your definition of the word modest is a joke. Seriously. Get a dictionary. And get a clue.

    • Emily
      January 8, 2015

      from webster’s dictionary ….pretty sure he has a clue.
      mod·es·ty
      \ˈmä-də-stē\
      noun
      : the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities
      : the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention
      Full Definition
      1 :freedom from conceit or vanity
      2 :propriety in dress, speech, or conduct

      • Colleen Kimberley
        August 23, 2015

        Great read and sane discussion of modesty.

    • Ted Nelson
      January 8, 2015

      This post is exactly right. This the following is from the dictionary.

      mod·est adjective \ˈmä-dəst\
      1 a : placing a moderate estimate on one’s abilities or worth
      b : neither bold nor self-assertive : tending toward diffidence
      2: arising from or characteristic of a modest nature
      3: observing the proprieties of dress and behavior : decent
      4 a : limited in size, amount, or scope
      b : unpretentious

    • Tristi Pinkston
      January 8, 2015

      Actually, I’d say the dictionary pretty much agrees with this article. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/modest?show=0&t=1420772037

    • Ted Medders
      January 9, 2015
    • danielle
      January 9, 2015

      Lana, Here is the definition, and I think it fits pretty well.
      mod·es·ty
      ˈmädəstē/Submit
      noun
      the quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities.
      “with typical modesty he insisted on sharing the credit with others”
      synonyms: self-effacement, humility, unpretentiousness; More
      the quality of being relatively moderate, limited, or small in amount, rate, or level.
      “the modesty of his political aspirations”
      synonyms: limited scope, moderation
      “the modesty of his aspirations”
      behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency.
      plural noun: modesties
      “modesty forbade her to undress in front of so many people”
      synonyms: unpretentiousness, simplicity, plainness
      “the modesty of his home”

    • Shannen
      January 9, 2015

      How acerbic. Please, could you enlighten us all on the definition of modesty that YOU find to be true?

      • Jared
        January 27, 2015

        One man’s “immodesty” is another’s tokens of membership in an organization or group of like-minded people. You said you wanted to be identified as a “skater,” “rockabilly,” etc. and cited that as evidence of a shallow and immodest existence. Dressing like this to be identified as someone holding a particular set of interests is immodest solely by your definition. To take this logic further, sports fans wearing jerseys are “immodest,” or Marines wearing USMC t-shirts to the shopping center are “immodest.” At least have the guts to say what you really mean and reveal the esoteric Christian ethos doubtlessly at the heart of this article. You’re just trying to find a clever way, and failing, to further compel women to be ashamed of the fact of their sexuality, repress their sexual expression, and extend the control of the unnamed organization whose principals you are advocating for in this article over women (and, by extension, because I’m sure the organization you’re covertly endorsing prohibits premarital sex, and masturbation, over men, too, because their only appropriate sexual release is through women). It’s the old idea of “He who controls the vagina, controls the world.” Whether you realize it or not, you’ve bought into it and it’s one of the most insidious mind control devices ever conceived and has done more harm to people than can be measured. Good work.

        • Sam
          January 29, 2015

          Dude. Try reading the article instead of glancing through it.

    • Ian Michael Cook
      January 9, 2015

      I think you missed the point.

    • Melissa
      January 9, 2015

      Actually Lana I think you need to get a clue. The first definition of modesty is “the quality or state of being unassuming”. The third definition is “behavior, manner, or appearance.” I think this article states very well the definitions of modesty. I love how he said “Modesty is not about how much of yourself you cover up; it’s about how you choose to reveal yourself to the world.”

    • Rebecca
      January 9, 2015

      modesty [mod-uh-stee] noun
      1. the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
      2. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
      3. simplicity; moderation.

      Article seems quite spot-on to me.

    • B
      January 9, 2015

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/modesty?s=t

      His definition is pretty much in line with the second from dictionary.com. What dictionary are you looking at?

    • James
      January 9, 2015

      Google search modest and tell me what the first result is. Joke’s on you. You get a clue.

    • Jean
      January 9, 2015

      To be frank, I believe you’re the one with the incorrect version of “modesty”. ” the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities”- Miriam Webster. The clothing aspect is fairly new, and is only in relation to the fact that many people misunderstand modesty as a purely superficial topic. It has very little about how you dress, but all about why you dress that way. Someone could be dressed to the nines with ankles and wrists covered, but if their motive is to create an image of being better than someone else than they are being immodest.

    • Zil
      January 9, 2015

      Actually, this is closer to the dictionary definitions than a lot of the way our societies attempts to define “modest.” The author has some interesting insights and unfolds practical application.

    • Annette
      January 10, 2015

      Lana, are you being ironic? Only saying this to see if we will label you a troll and forget that you are a real human?

    • Linda
      January 10, 2015

      You have much to learn young lady. Take your own advice and read the dictionary.

    • Elaine Pollard
      January 11, 2015

      Perhaps you need a dictionary and a clue

    • Gary
      January 12, 2015

      Look up Modesty in Wikipedia. “Modesty is a mode of dress and deportment intended to avoid encouraging sexual attraction in others; actual standards vary widely. In this use, it can be considered inappropriate or immodest to reveal certain parts of the body. A modest person would behave so as to avoid encouraging the sexual attention of others.” The article continues about what is considered modest dress in different cultures and what was considered modest in history.

      Dressing to not encourage sexual attention is one definition of modesty, and the most popular in American culture, but it’s a different definition than meaning humble or meek. The writer confuses those two definitions. They’re not the same.

      A good way to look at the difference between the definitions: Kate Upton wears a see-through string bikini and says, “I’m really not that good-looking.” She’s being modest, but she isn’t practicing modesty.

      • Casey
        January 12, 2015

        If Kate Upton says that, she is not being modest, she is being self-deprecating. But either way, the two definitions are, in fact, incredibly related. Everyone else has posted dictionary definitions of modesty that support the author, and you are citing wikipedia. All other discussion about the general validity of wikipedia aside, it is a social form of information (where most anyone can edit) and so of course the sole definition it has for modesty has to do with dress because, as you say, it is the most prevalent idea of what modesty means when people think about modesty. That doesn’t mean that there is no relation between modesty in dress and other definitions of the word. Some would argue that even when talking about modest dress, it has nothing to do with the avoidance of “encouraging sexual attraction in others”.

        • Gary
          January 13, 2015

          Self-deprecating? No, she is being modest. Read the dictionary definitions … “placing a moderate estimate on one’s abilities or worth.”

          And, Casey, in case you didn’t notice, everyone posted dictionary entries that showed multiple definitions for the word modest or modesty. That’s my point. Many words have several definitions. For example, the word “jerk” means either a) a quick pull or twist, or b) a stupid person or a person who is not well-liked or who treats other people badly. Now, I would never, ever call you a quick pull or twist.

          : a quick pull or twist

    • Gary
      January 13, 2015

      I love it how so many folks tell Lana she’s wrong and then post dictionary definitions showing she is (partly) right. The author begins his article with one definition of modesty — the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention, according to Webster, and similar entries in other dictionaries — and then suddenly switches to other definitions of modesty, which include freedom from conceit or vanity, and moderate in size, quantity or range. Those are three different definitions, folks! Lana, I would guess, thinks of the first definition when she hears the word “modesty.”

      Frankly, the author lost me when saying that (paraphrasing here) thinking of modesty as to not attract sexual attention will make a “modest house” lose all meaning. Uh, no, that’s just a different meaning altogether. A modest house means “moderate in size,” duh. It has nothing whatsoever to do with showing massive cleavage or twerking, which of course is dressing and behaving in ways to attract sexual attention. They’re two totally different definitions.

      Oh, they have some similarities, which is what the author ultimately points out. All of the definitions of modest or modesty are about not drawing attention to yourself. It’s like apples and oranges: they have lots of similarities (they’re fruits, they have lots of sugar, they’re good to eat), but they’re also very different. Some definitions have to do with status, while others have to do with sexual attraction.

      So, when the author says that the immodesty in the photo has nothing to do with the nice woman’s thigh or cleavage, he’s wrong … unless he thinks she got her breasts enhanced and bares her legs because it makes her look less sexually attractive. Oh, and the furnishings and size of the home? Yes, that is also immodest, but in a totally different way. There’s nothing whatsoever sexy about that furniture!

      I think all of you need to apologize to Lana for your rudeness and, frankly, immodest remarks. Most of them made you sound like you’re better than she is (that’s one definition of immodesty). And, Lana should apologize for not looking up the dictionary definitions before admonishing others to do it.

      I don’t know everything (that’s my modesty showing), so feel free to tell me I’m wrong (which I’m not; see, I’m also vain).

      • Gary
        January 13, 2015

        That’s: “Some definitions OF MODESTY have to do with status, while others have to do with sexual attraction.”

        Didn’t want anyone lusting after nude apples and oranges.

      • Michelle
        January 14, 2015

        Ah, but see, as I read it the article’s point is that people have marginalized the word “modesty” to mean only the one definition, and therefore its other definitions (which, as you say, are related but far from identical) are being diminished and forgotten.

        “This is a serious defeat for the virtue of modesty–just like if we believed the virtue of chastity is only about not having intercourse, or that charity is merely a matter of giving away money. In each of these cases what is actually described is very narrow way in which these virtues can be manifested.”

        He’s not saying modesty has nothing to do with the dress/sexual definition, but that if that becomes *all* it is, then we’re missing out on some important ideas. So the point is not that Lana is wrong if she sees immodesty in dress as “a” definition, but only that she sees it as “the” definition, and leaves no room to consider the author’s point–that we need to remember the word’s broader definitions and implications.

        I do think it’s funny just how many people felt the need to post dictionary definitions, though, without noticing that it had already been done a dozen times . . . Sometimes we tend to beat a dead horse here on the internet.

        • Gary
          January 14, 2015

          I like you Michelle … and agree with you on everything! I had trouble understanding the article because I felt he was mixing up the definitions, but your explanation helped a ton.

          I still think he’s wrong on the photo caption, though. I’m not judging the woman, because I don’t find what she’s wearing that immodest, but I think she is trying to sex up her look, which would be one of the definitions of immodesty and probably the most prevalent use, at least among Christians. Maybe that’s what we should be teaching our youth in church: Don’t try to sex up your look.

          • Chris
            January 15, 2015

            Huh, I guess the woman does need to be a little modest. I think the man needs it as well.

        • Deanna
          February 5, 2015

          Agreed!

      • christine popp
        January 15, 2015

        Great comment, and I mean that.

  9. Lindsay Maxfield
    January 8, 2015

    Absolutely love this. You’re so spot-on and not only cut to the heart of it, but give a really thorough discussion on how this applies to everyone without being preachy. So much to think about here. Thank you for putting this all out there the way you did. Your youth are lucky to have you.

  10. Aaron
    January 8, 2015

    After reading the article above, I found the information at the link refreshingly simple and sensible.

    “Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 6:19).”

    https://www.lds.org/topics/modesty?lang=eng

    • Gary
      January 12, 2015

      Everyone should read that entire LDS article. That explains it perfectly!

  11. Airi
    January 8, 2015

    In the third paragraph from the bottom, do you mean “Once we START,” not “Once we stop…” Because I’d love to quote it correctly. This is a wonderful, necessary addition to the current discussion. The sins of objectification and commodification are among the saddest and most pervasive our society currently faces.

    • Daniel
      January 9, 2015

      Thank you for catching that. The phrasing is really clunky there anyway, which is why I probably never noticed it. And thanks for your other kind words.

  12. Marianne
    January 9, 2015

    So enjoyed your article! Thank you for sharing your brilliant observations. I know l will ponder and share much of what l have read here today!

  13. Travis
    January 9, 2015

    Thank you for emphasizing that the clothing itself or the body of the person is not the immodest part. It’s the reason that you wear those clothes. We have no set standard on modesty (as according to dress). It’s a matter of the heart. Who are we to judge a women wearing short shorts. We should love her and treat her equal. If she comes to the same conclusions we do on that attire, then she will change it out of a change of attitude, not because she feels pressured to by people who make up rules about what is modest and what is not.

  14. Charla
    January 9, 2015

    I love this.

    Also, Lana’s hilarious comment prompted me to check out a dictionary definition:

    modest – self-effacing, self-deprecating, humble, unpretentious, unassuming, unpresuming, unostentatious, unshowy, unflashy; shy, bashful, self-conscious, diffident, reserved, reticent, coy.

    This article offers the best explanation of modesty I’ve ever come across. Thanks guy.

  15. Daniel
    January 9, 2015

    Thanks for the largely kind words. I never expected many people would read this, let alone be so supportive. And I really needed a boost this week. Thanks, internet strangers.

  16. Stephanie
    January 10, 2015

    you need to give photo credit where photo credit is due. The picture of the man with his wife sitting in his lap is by Lauren Greenfield.

    • daniel
      January 10, 2015

      Thanks, Stephanie. I love Lauren Greenfield’s work and would never want to steal credit from her.

      Had I known that 40,000 people were going to drop by and look at this, I would’ve done a lot differently. As for me, I’ve never told more than about five people about this site. The intent for me was private, not public. If people keep coming like they’ve been coming the last three days, I’ll either have to unpublish the site or go back and get public domain images.

  17. Irene
    January 10, 2015

    I agree with some of the article. What made me cringe were the comments made back at Lana. The tone and spirit of those comments were no different, if not meaner, than hers. Being modest should come with a heart attitude of kindness and compassion, rather than being judgmental. THAT is often part of the problem with those who hold the measuring stick of what is modest and what isn’t – they judge those who don’t measure up to their manmade set of rules. I also have a problem with the photo being used if it isn’t public domain, as you are drawing attention to that couple and judging their immodesty at the same time. Modesty is indeed a heart attitude, and those who become the modesty police often need to look beyond the dress to what is sometimes a broken and hurting heart underneath. Jesus didn’t condemn the woman at the well. He looked to meet her thirst for attention, something that could only come from Him.

    • Gary
      January 12, 2015

      Yeah, I wouldn’t call that couple’s furnishings or home immodest. Maybe garish, gaudy, in poor taste … but not immodest! Of course, if you asked them about the stuff, they’d probably modestly say, “Oh, these little things? They’re nothing …”

  18. Brian
    January 10, 2015

    I think clothing has a lot to do with immodesty, but I can see where attitude and desire bring attention to oneself can be that too. Especially, if the drawing attention to oneself is extreme flirting and fawning all over another person of the opposite sex.

    However, from a distance, without knowing another person rather well, the only thing we have to go on whether one is immodest or not, is the clothing aspect.

  19. Cory
    January 10, 2015

    There is another facet to modesty not exactly mentioned here. That is that modesty demonstrates respect for others. Drawing attention ourselves makes others feel inferior or less worthy of attention. That was mentioned in the article, but respect for others is one more way that modesty helps each of us be more Christlike in our dealings with each other.

  20. Jessica
    January 10, 2015

    Thank you for this. To me modesty has always been about more than clothing. And I like how you pointed out that pride and immodesty can be found both in the attitudes of those who have lots of money, and those who have little money.

  21. Spencer
    January 10, 2015

    I like this article! Great points made. I will mention, though, that it WOULD be hard to be modest while dressing skimpy. That may detract from your point, but what you said in your caption of the couple (“Hint: The immodesty here has nothing to do with this nice woman’s thigh or cleavage”) is off a little bit. It has to do with her dress, for sure. It also has a lot to do with her demeanor, her surroundings, etc.

    • Jan
      January 12, 2015

      Swimmers and other athletes often where “skimpy” clothes and are completely capable of being modest, in dress and behavior.

  22. Gladys
    January 11, 2015

    I agree with this article. While looking through a bride magazine, a beautiful woman was pictured in a window wearing a beautiful wedding gown and strapless. She exuded elegance. Many, by teachings, would think it was immodest. I, on the other hand, didn’t. She wore it well, looked stunning and appropriate. FLIP SIDE: While looking through a blog of my favorite photographer, I spotted a woman wearing a wedding dress with sleeves drinking a beer out of the bottle. In my opinion, completely immodest and just not what a lady, dressed in her very best for the most important occasion, should be doing. Sometimes, it’s NOT what what you wear, it’s how you present yourself.

  23. Johna
    January 11, 2015

    Thank you for your opinion on modesty. It is something we all need to consider. I also urge you to not unpublish this. It is a mark of a good writer (and topic) when so many people discuss its contents. Many more need to read this, if only to understand what others believe. Thank you.

  24. Frenchydave
    January 11, 2015

    Hi There,

    This is quite interesting. I recently came across the eight deadly thoughts and the eight corresponding virtues of Evagrius of Ponticus and they got me thinking about how virtues, which used to be the standard that people aimed for in life, are today totally forgotten and seen as old-fashioned ideas that have nothing to do with daily life. Is there a way I can follow your blog or get an email when you post somthing new?

  25. Pingback: Peculiar Treasures: Goals, Grit, and Achievements Unlocked! | Segullah

  26. Gary
    January 12, 2015

    From Wikipedia: “Modesty is a mode of dress and deportment intended to avoid encouraging sexual attraction in others; actual standards vary widely. In this use, it can be considered inappropriate or immodest to reveal certain parts of the body. A modest person would behave so as to avoid encouraging the sexual attention of others.” The article continues about what is considered modest dress in different cultures and what was considered modest in history.

    This article was excellent in how we need to be more modest (meek, humble), but modesty (whether you dress to attract attention of a sexual nature) is part of being modest, but just one small part. Driving a Ferrari has nothing to do with modesty, but you may not be modest. Unless you’re driving nude in that Ferrari!

    Same as being proud over a child’s accomplishment. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being prideful.

  27. Gary
    January 12, 2015

    A good way to look at the difference between modest and modesty: Kate Upton wears a see-through string bikini and says, “I’m really not that good-looking.” She’s being modest, but she isn’t practicing modesty.

  28. Jilly
    January 12, 2015

    This is the best post on modesty that I have ever read. Thank you so much for writing it and sharing!
    Jilly

  29. Alice
    January 12, 2015

    Thank you for this. I’ve often thought discussions of modesty in church settings would be more productive if we remembered that the opposite of modesty is vanity.

  30. Dixie
    January 12, 2015

    Thank you for putting you thoughts on paper or I guess screen. I am preparing for a presentation for mothers on, teaching children modesty and protect them pornography. This will be a wonderful addition.

  31. Dixie
    January 12, 2015

    I am preparing for a presentation for mothers on, teaching children modesty and protect them pornography. In Genesis 3:21, before Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden the Lord made ‘coats of skins, and clothed them’. The Lord showed them how to cover themselves properly. Knowing that modesty[in all it’s forms was very important to their future happiness and success.[The Trap
    by Karmel H.Newell]

  32. Barbara Wilson
    January 13, 2015

    I cannot believe we are still teaching girls to be so modest and telling them to dress modestly so they reduce the chance of being seen as a sexual being. I have 3 sons and I taught my sons how to be true good men who need to look at women with respect and to be honorable in their dealings with women. Boys need to be taught this and they need to know that if they treat a woman dishonorably they are wrong and may go to jail.

    • Marla LaPorte
      January 14, 2015

      Barbara, I admire you so much for teaching your boys responsibility toward women, our society today is in desperate need of more men with mothers like you! If I had had sons I would have given them the same upbringing, and I’m sure I would have mentioned going to jail, but I would hope that wasn’t the main emphasis they took to heart, missing the real reason to respect women. Thank you again for teaching your sons to be true good men.

  33. Heather
    January 13, 2015

    this is phenomenal and very well written. It takes the feelings in my heart and puts them into logical words. It completely changes the way I think about modesty and the way I will attempt to teach it to my girls! Thank you!

  34. Sally
    January 13, 2015

    It does seem to center around individual worth–through our ‘immodesty’ we are trying to elevate (or diminish) an individual’s worth/value based on superficial things, whether we do this to ourselves or to others. Great post!

  35. Mark
    January 13, 2015

    Well thought out. Clarifying the breadth of the meaning of modesty should make all of us ponder our on lives and whether we behave modestly.

    I am, however, a little concerned some may read this article and conclude that physical modesty needs not be emphasized and that the other aspects of modesty are more important than physical modesty. If I were teaching a group of teenage boys in a claustrophobic church classroom, I would surely want to make sure that physical modesty was taught and emphasized.

    The 7th commandment is clearly under attack by Satan and his minions. Can it be argued that physical immodesty is not one of Satan’s many tools to cause the violation of this great commandment. I think not. Can it be argued that pornography is independent from immodesty. I think not.

    There are great thoughts here but lets not discount the importance of being physically modest.

  36. tommy smith
    January 15, 2015

    I think people need to get over themselves, and the religious people judging unto others is freaking hilarious. Got a statue of Jesus too? You don’t understand your own Holy Book if ya do! Get off your high-horses and let people live their lives.

  37. Jordan
    January 15, 2015

    While I love the article and the idea that true modesty is more expansive than articles of clothing, I can’t help but feel that this message is one that will be shied away from being taught in sunday school. Our hyper vigilant, anti-porn and modest is hottest culture are, if nothing else, the go to message and method deployed in an effort to keep our young ones on the straight and narrow. I don’t think people will take seriously the idea that true modesty is humility and selflessness until we destroy the towering cultural presumptions that dominate what is taught. (e.g. wearing leggings will give boys sexual thoughts.)

  38. tommy smith
    January 15, 2015

    Boys have sexual thoughts NATURALLY, regardless of clothing. Sure revealing clothing can help those thoughts form, but teenage boys are hormone ridden fools lol. Clothes don’t stop young growing boys and girls from visualizing, fantasizing, and wanting. Defying natural instinct is a terrible thing to do, and makes of taboo, which INCREASES curiosity. Teach your children well and hope they make the right choices. An iron fist creates iron defiance.

  39. Mollie
    January 16, 2015

    Someone tell me the last time you saw a guy and thought, wow, he is really dressed immodestly. The modesty discussion as it exists in the LDS church (of which I’m assuming many of you are members) is nothing but veiled sexism. It is a way to control and shame women. I applaud this writer’s take on the issue!

    • Sarah
      January 24, 2015

      Mollie – I am shocked to read that you have never thought that a man you saw was dressed immodestly! When guys wear their pants low so that you see their boxers… Immodest. Tight or sleeveless shirts to “show off” their muscles… Immodest. Guys can be immodest, too! That said, I don’t see most guys wearing super tight clothes and exposing a lot of flesh the way that women do. I don’t feel ashamed by keeping sacred things sacred! It is good to self-evaluate – What is my motivation? What affect does my dress, behavior, and attitude have? Would I feel comfortable in God’s presence with said dress, behavior, and attitude? If not, change. If you honestly feel that the answers would please God, go for it! 🙂

  40. Tami
    March 26, 2015

    The Bible defines modesty clearly. The woman in that picture is immodest. Shamefacedness is in the Bible with the verse on modesty,(bashfulness, i.e. (towards men), modesty or (towards God) awe:–reverence, shamefacedness. )
    .1 Timothy 2:9-10 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”
    we should feel a shame to expose ourselves. There is a middle ground.

  41. Martine
    August 13, 2016

    The Bible is a book that has been translated about a million times, and no one can account for the veracity of every last proverb, not to mention that anything in the Old Testament was wiped of meaning as of the New Covenant. So looking for details in there is fairly stupid, as well as cowardly. Stick to the big picture people; Do unto others. The problem with covering up is not that you fail to show off your skin. The problem is that you fail to show off your individuality. That is why the Muslim dress of females is so frightening. No one even knows what the woman living next door looks like. Her husband could kill her and dump her in the river, and no one could eve prove she was gone, because no one could even say what she looked like in the first place. That kind of namelessness, facelessness strips every ounce of societal security from you. It can not, and will not be tolerated. Besides, the whole premise is absurd. As you pat yourself on the back for being more modest then Mr. Jones, you are being prideful.

  42. Anca Chitoi
    September 24, 2016

    Why are we talking about this. If women want to wear tighter clothes then its their choice. Who are you to judge others for how they dress. It is not your job to tell women how to dress. I have a controlling mother. She controls how I should dress. Do not tell women how to dress. Stop making women feel ashamed of their bodies.

    • Daniel
      September 24, 2016

      Anca, as long as you’re happy, I couldn’t care less about how dress. But I am a little concerned about your reading comprehension. Good luck with your mom. Parents can–and will–make all sorts of mistakes.

  43. Anca Chitoi
    October 10, 2016

    I just commented on what was said. My reading comprehension is ok. I have autism. I was just trying to say that a woman should be allowed to wear something a little bit more revealing. I was not suggesting going out in a mini skirt that exposes the full shape of your bottom. I wore a mini skirt. It did not show anything except my legs. It was tight at the waist. The problem is when women wear something that reveals your privates then it is offensive. Even I think that is quite over the top.

  44. Anca Chitoi
    October 10, 2016

    I grew up with the idea that as a girl I had to hide my shape with appropriate clothing. The society where I was living in shame women. Girls are being taught at church that they need to present themselves in public in a manner that doesnt bring embarrassment to the family. If a girl goes outside in something deemed too revealing it reflects on their family or friends. Even where I grew up it was perfectly ok to wear a two piece bathing suit when you went to the beach. You just had to cover your privates. You went to the beach to swim so it was ok. I come from a christian family. My mother is very religious. She is quite controlling on how I should dress. If I dress inappropriately it reflects on her.

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Published on August 1, 2014 by .