Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why be Modest?

I have been reading a lot about modesty lately. I think a lot of people misunderstand why Christians are proponents of modesty, so I decided to write a blog post about it.

Before we start on the why Christians believe in modesty, lets debunk some myths.
  • Modesty has nothing to do with rape culture. You do not dress modestly because your body is somehow shameful or needs covering up. From a Christian standpoint God created the body, and it is glorious, not shame-inducing. No matter what you wear it is not an invitation for someone to harm you.
  • Modesty should have nothing to do with victim blaming. No one should advocate modesty because "it might make another male/female stumble" or "if you dress like a slut you will be treated like a slut." This creates shame over ones body (I must hide my body to protect others and/or my body causes other people to sin, and is therefore evil) and has nothing to do with Godly modesty. Other people are in control over their own actions/reactions, you are only in control of yourself.
  • "The particular [above] approaches to modesty are effective because they are rooted in shame, and shame is a powerful motivator. That's the first red flag. Additionally concerning about this approach is that it perpetuates the objectification of women in a pietistic form. It treats women's bodies not as glorious reflections of the image of God, but as sources of temptation that must be hidden. It is the other side of the same objectifying coin: one side exploits the female body, while the other side seems to be ashamed of it. Both sides reduce the female body to a sexual object." (Quote from here) Emphasis mine.
  • This is not my attempt to define modesty. Modesty is both a religious and cultural choice, and a very personal one at that. This is merely my attempt to say why I dress modestly, and why many Christians hold modesty up as something desirable.
So why do Christians advocate modesty?  Well, the only real reason they should is for the glory of God. As a believer in God, who sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins--I have given my whole self over to God. I am his instrument, I am his clay, in every way. Because of this, how I dress should glorify God, and show that I am in line with the standards and commandments the Lord has given. This is what modesty is to me: a conscious choice to worship God though my clothing. A choice to give up what I want in my life and choose what God wants.

It has nothing do with others. It should have nothing to do with myself, but everything to do with God and following his path.

What do you think?


Carolynn said...

hehee, yay! Can't wait to read it :P

Michelle Bellamy said...

Love this. I HATE the "you need to dress modestly so as not to tempt another man" speech. While I understand what they're saying, and I believe part of dressing modestly is respecting men's struggle, it is not burden that should be placed on us. It should be about the fact that our body is the temple of God, and we should glorify him through everything we say and do.

Deanna Fike said...

i feel like i dress (mostly) modest. there are times when i look back and think my skirt was a bit too short and that i could have definitely worn tights. but for the most part i try to keep my husband in mind. would he want his wife in public flaunting her body? obviously it's a christian thing as well, but i also dress modestly out of respect to peppy.

Keith Wynn said...

LOVE this post. Big time. Modesty is one of my absolute favorite qualities in a person.

Ashley D. Flores said...

Loved the post, hun! Modesty is really important to me, and I totally believe that it is one of the simplest ways I can glorify God. However, I do believe that I try to remian modest as well in respect for my brothers in Christ so that I am not a stumbling block for them. Yes, they can still stumbles by lusting after the way my hair blows, or shoulders look, or my smile, but I at least try to do what I can to help them out some :-)

Joanna said...

Wow, this is really well written, Carolyn. Like, really well written. I've often struggled to explain/express/articulate what modesty is and what it isn't to others and usually come up with something as riveting as, "Um, it's like, you know, so God…Jesus on the cross, but like, not like you can't be fashionable, it's just, uhhhh..." Great post!

Carolynn said...

thank you! I have a lot of non christian friends who don't understand modesty and think it is demeaning to women, so I have had a lot of motivation to think about this!

Robin said...

One thing people often forget about the modesty issue is that men have different preferences. Some men are actually turned on when you cover most of your body, because they like to imagine what you're covering up. Some men are disgusted when you don't cover up. No matter how we dress, *somebody* will always find it attractive. As you wrote, giving us the burden of preventing lust is wrong and pointless. There will always be lust from somebody.