So what is Modesty?
In most dictionaries you will find this definition :-
–noun, plural -ties.
1. the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
2. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
3. simplicity; moderation.
However in this day and age of high fashion magazines, glamour in the movies and music industry. ‘Modesty is for losers!’ seems to be the tagline for most young adults these days. For a great number ‘less is more!’ and for others “If you have it why not flaunt it?!”
If you are conservative and speak up for modest dressing, you might be branded as one who lacks self esteem, self confidence, stiff necked or just plain uptight!
What I don’t understand is why would women want to objectify themselves by not dressing modestly? Men tend to struggle with sensuality far greater than women do and hence a woman should want to avoid dressing in a way that deliberately draws attention to her sexual values and hence obscure her value as a person to them. But why is it my responsibility to dress modestly? If a man struggles with lustful thoughts, that’s his problem not mine!” laments some women. But this objection misses the point! The purpose of modesty is not merely to help prevent men from stumbling into impure thoughts. Modesty of dress is primarily meant to protect woman herself. It helps keep the woman from being treated as an object for sexual pleasure.
Modesty Checklist and Tips
- Are any of your tops so sheer that others can see your bra or so low-cut, allowing cleavage to show? Do your shirts reveal your abdomen or back? Do any of your shirts have sexually suggestive slogans (such as “sexy” or “flirt”)?
- Do you have to suck in your stomach to zip any of your paints? Do any of your jeans ride so low that your underwear can be seen?
- Do any of your skirts ride excessively high above the knee when you are seated? Do any of the slits come too far up your leg?
- The B’s. Any body part that starts with a “B” – you know them – should never be showing. Easy as that.
- Sit, Bend and Reach. It’s just a simple test. Sit to see if your pants are too low. Bend over to see if your shirt is too low, then reach your hands up to see if it’s too short
- Kleenex. Do you know how thin and see-through a Kleenex is? It’s fine for your nose but not for your clothes. If you can see through your shirt, get a new one.
- Mirror. Your best friend when it comes to modesty. If you look in the mirror and question, “Is it too tight? Too short? Too thin? Too low?” it probably is, so find something else to wear.
Catholic View On Modesty
Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.
There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.
- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2521-2523
Saint John Chrysostom
Saint John Chrysostom instructed women of all times about dress when in the fourth century he declared: “You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. … When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.”
Modesty In Church
Whenever the Blessed Sacrament is present in the tabernacle, carried in procession, or taken to the sick; whenever the Sacred Host is raised at the Consecration in the Mass, our infallible faith says to us: “Behold your King! Behold your Redeemer, your Judge, your Creator, your God!”
If then in the presence of the Most Holy Sacrament we feel no devotion interiorly and show no modesty exteriorly, what would someone think? They would say with truth and justice, “That woman does not believe that her God is present there”; or again, “that woman’s faith is cold and dead.”
Who could believe that Jesus Christ is present in this Sacrament and fail to reverence Him?
In the Holy Eucharist, faith tells us that God Himself is present, He who made all things out of nothing and could destroy them in a moment. He who at the last day will come on the clouds of Heaven to judge the living and the dead.
If only Catholics will believe this with a lively faith, then our churches will be filled with worshippers, whose deportment will correspond to their belief. The modest attire, the guarded eye, the bended knee, the meekly folded hands will speak of the conviction of their hearts. Let Catholics have a lively faith in this Mystery, and our dear Jesus will seldom be left alone. ¹
Müller, THE BLESSED EUCHARIST p30-31
From the Holy Bible:
Dt. 22:5 “A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel, neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God.”
1 Cor. 3:16,17 “Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are.”
1 Cor. 11,5 “But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven.”
1 Corinthians 11:10 Therefore ought the woman to have a power (covering) over her head, because of the angels. (who are present in the assemblies of the faithful)
[The rule of women covering their heads, has been the teaching of many Popes, and Pope St. Pius X had it included in the code of Canon law (Canon 1262). It is a sign of humility and draws down God’s graces and blessings.]
Rom 12; 1,2 “I Beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.”
Gal.5:22-23, Latin Vulgate, “But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity.”
Matthew records the words of Our Lord: (5:27-28) “You have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that anyone who so much as looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Some young adults speak up for modesty…
Curtis says, “I want a girl who I can respect and who will respect the fact that I want to guard my eyes against lusting after her body before we are married.”
To a holy, Godly man, a modest woman is more alluring because there’s something mysterious and captivating about a woman who knows how to tastefully conceal herself. Your body is a beautiful gift from God that manifests his glory. Together, as women, let’s claim a freedom from a desire for attention and a renewed respect for ourselves so that others can “behold the mystery” of a beautiful, and modest woman. - Christina Mead