By Don Boys, PhD:
Is the Modesty Battle a private fight or can anyone jump in? It seems that everyone, even major secular magazines and newspapers are discussing (and cussing) modesty. Who would have thunk it? Jews, Roman Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Fundamentalists and even Evangelicals are talking about modesty. So, I might as well jump in although I know I can’t win. Not too smart!
In a recent speech, former actress Jessica Rey discussed the evolution of the swimsuit and her opinions on modesty and the reaction produced a mini storm. Everyone seems to have an opinion and even their own line of clothes! Even the Mormons have their own line of modest clothing sold in high-end department stores, and the Muslims also have their own line. The Mormons’ dresses are much more stylish than the Muslims since you can’t do much with white sheets dyed black except cut two eye holes in them. With that, voilà, we have a dress!
For many years Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jews have tried to combat the rise in immodest dress. On one of my tours to the Middle East, we stopped for a couple days in Rome and when I took them to the Vatican there was a notice that informed us what was acceptable and unacceptable dress. At other Catholic churches, women were given wraparounds if they wore shorts or scandalous skirts. None of my group was dressed scandalously.
But feminists and many modern Christian leaders argue that the Bible’s demand for modesty refers to display of things such as wealth not seductive clothes. It is both! We should be more concerned with modesty and neatness in our garments than elegance, cost, and fashion.
Sharon Hodde Miller, a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School brazenly said, “A woman’s breasts and buttocks and thighs all proclaim the glory of the Lord.” She said, “Modesty is an orientation of the heart, first and foremost. It begins with putting God first.” She is correct; however, if God is first in one’s life, he or she will seek to glorify God and obey Scriptural commands. If a woman uses her bouncing breasts, swaying buttocks, or exposed flesh to influence men other than her husband, it is very unchristian. It is also a blasphemous use of the female body.
Evangelical and Fundamentalist youth wear shirts declaring “Hottest is Modest” or the reverse although I can’t imagine Christians wearing something like that. Whatever one’s definition of “hottest” it obviously can have a sexual and negative connotation. Why send the wrong message to others? I wonder what parents are doing in the parenting department. Are Christians to be “hot”? That kind of sexual suggestion is not conducive with the body being the Temple of the Holy Spirit. However, we are told to never correct our children since it might stunt their development and they might even throw a hissy. Can’t have that. They also may think they are unloved.
Christians are not to draw attention to self but the Savior. In Matt. 23:5 Christ rebuked the scribes and Pharisees by saying, “But all their works they do for to be seen of men…and enlarge their borders.” “Enlarge their borders” refer to Jews who wore fringes on their robes as commanded in Num. 15:38-39 to remind them of God’s commandments. However, they went beyond God’s command and enlarged them to draw attention to themselves. People dress outrageously and do strange things to their bodies to draw attention or to be “cool” or “trendy.”
Christ’s teaching in Matt. 23 will eliminate seductive clothing, inappropriate clothing, piercings, tattoos, expensive jewelry, green hair, Mohawk haircuts, and pants drooping below the 38th parallel. Christians are not to draw attention to self but to Christ. Believers were called Christians in Antioch because they reminded people of Christ. Many modern Christians remind me of a circus performer. Shocking, shameful, and salacious dress (or activity) will drive people away from Christ not to Him. Just today, a Texas public school district announced that any tattoos must be covered and only ear piercings would be accepted! Any churches doing that?
Modesty should be a byproduct of genuine Christianity although critics confuse modesty with prudery. Prudery is abnormal. Modesty is Christian, common, and commendable. Modest people have respect for their bodies (made in the image of God) and respect for social norms, and respect for other people. Both genders should consider proper dress as a sign of elegance, education, and erudition. A silent statement is made by immodestly dressed people, male and female: “I don’t think much of myself and I don’t expect you to value or respect me either.”
In many churches on Sunday morning, it is almost like a Sunday Morning Slutwalk with bouncing boobs, cavernous cleavage, gyrating hips, skintight pants (male and female), and slit skirts front, back and both sides. It seems tempting, tantalizing, and taunting are part of some modern women’s arsenals. Feminists and others seek to remove all responsibility from women for the reactions they get from men because of seductive clothes while most lusting men put the responsibility for their temptation totally upon the women!
It is normal for men to react to exposed breasts and other parts of the female body. That is the way God made them. It would be abnormal if they did not react to the exposed female body. However, men are responsible for their own impure, illegal and iniquitous actions. Moreover, attraction is not lust but it often ends in lust.
Men like to see skin but how much skin is permitted? Some Muslims cover their entire bodies, even their eyes! That might be considered going far past modesty to prudery.
The absence of modesty among females is an egregious problem, but I must emphatically state that however wickedly they dress, it does not relieve men of their own actions. While lust is natural, it is naturally sinful. It dehumanizes the female and a man takes her for himself (at least mentally) often to prove superiority over her as well as to satisfy personal cravings.
Christians should ask themselves not only what is acceptable but what is appropriate for each occasion. It is a joy to meet a person with a happy smile, pure heart, and noble intentions who is modest, kind, humble, and genuine. Not many out there!
Moreover, I’ll be considered naïve and self-righteous for even suggesting they should be out there!
© Copyright by Don Boys, PhD, 2013. All rights reserved.