I have been seeing a lot of blogs and articles talking about modesty lately. On occasion I feel like we are missing the point of modesty.
From my perspective as a Christian woman and mom to daughters, I want to tell you what I think modesty is and is not. Let’s start with what it isn’t.
Modesty is not about keeping men from lusting or acting inappropriately. That is their job. Each man is responsible for his own thoughts and actions. If he’s indulging in lustful thoughts toward any woman, he will be held accountable to that before God. I understand that images can be difficult to ignore, but that’s why you don’t indulge. Avoid what you can, men, and deny the indulgence of sin. If a man uses the way a woman dresses to make excuses for his bad behavior, he is still responsible for it. I cannot blame the cookie for my eating it or gaining weight. I chose to eat it, the cookie cannot become a cookie ever again, and I cannot take back what I did. (yes, this is probably a terrible metaphor, but I hope you get the point: Men acting on their lust hurt women and men cannot ever take back what they have done. Acting on lust in any way can be irreparable.)
Regardless of how you dress, you are not responsible for the choices someone else makes. Keep in mind that I am not in any way endorsing dressing in immodest fashion because while I see it as an ill-guided attempt to make a statement, usually, immodest dress comes down to gaining attention in an unhealthy way.
Modesty is not about hiding the female body behind layers of fabric. It is not about being frumpy or anything of the sort. One doesn’t have to wear a burka or a Little House on the Prairie dress to be considered modest.
Now that we’ve highlighted only a couple of the things that modesty is not, let’s examine what modesty IS:
Modesty is respect
- respect for one’s body
- respect for one’s self (your character-who you are)
- respect for others
As a woman, I am responsible for myself, my actions, my words, and my thoughts, just like any man. There is no difference in this regard between the genders. I refuse to blame others for the choices that I make, and I want to hold them responsible for the choices they make.
Modesty in dress isn’t saying to the world that I’m better or holier than thou, either. In fact, when I make a concerted effort to choose clothing that accentuates my body in a modest way, without over-revealing it, I am saying I respect myself as a woman, and I respect you as well. I do not then hold myself and my desire for attention or fashion as more important than those around me. I care about other people. And while I care about what they think of me, I care more about what they see in me, which is what I would rather they were thinking about to begin with.
The old adage, actions speak louder than words, is still true today. The way we dress is an action, and it certainly speaks to people from the time we enter grade school (maybe even from the time we’re born) until the day we are laid in the grave.
Be beautiful, sparkle and shine, stand out a midst the crowd, but don’t do it with the skin you reveal. Make the effort to respect your self by respecting your body and respecting others. You won’t regret it and anybody who’s anybody will respect you, too. Those are the people you want around anyway. 🙂