Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Is Modesty Worth Discussing?

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Is modesty a trivial topic? Let me begin this discussion by giving you some background on me. I have one son and three daughters. From my viewpoint as a mother in parenting both a son and daughters, modesty is a topic worth my while. Modesty is absolutely worth my time and efforts as a mother. There--you know my stance. My degree is in technical writing and a technical writer gives the audience the information needed. I don't need to string you along. Let's continue.

A recent post about yoga pants has really brought the subject of modesty up in the public mainstream. This topic is not, however, new to my life. As most if not all of you know, I am a  member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka LDS or Mormon). As a member of this church, I am no doubt a member of a church that talks about modesty more than just about every church out there. We have full lessons on the topic at church. We have some standards and practices when it comes to modesty that are quite different from the mainstream. And for us, modesty is more than just the clothes you wear, but is also about all general appearance and even down to language and behavior, although today I am talking just about the dress and appearance side of modesty. 

Let me give you a little look into some of my standards when it comes to modesty.
  • No short shorts or short skirts/dresses
  • No tight clothing
  • No clothing that shows the stomach
  • Cover shoulders
  • No low-cut tops (front and back)
  • Avoid extremes in clothing and hairstyle
  • No tattoos
  • No body piercings
  • Only one piercing in the ears
I know my standards are a bit tighter than the average person, and I am not here to tell you what is or is not modest. Every person needs to decide what "modest" means to them. This list can give you an idea of what modesty means to me. What does modesty mean to you? What are your personal standards? It is wise for you to look at your own viewpoints and decide. Make your own list. Then strive to live that list and to teach it to your children. You know the catch-phrase WWJD? Well, along the same train of thought, how comfortable would you feel in your appearance if the Savior walked in the room? That is what modesty should mean to you. 

Is Modesty Trivial?
So now let's address the question, is modesty a trivial subject? Is it worth our time to worry about modesty? Aren't there more important things to worry about in the world? Ashley Dickens sure thought so in her response to the yoga pants post. Lynsey thought so in her post (this one actually had me laughing, but still...)

I absolutely do not agree.

Modesty is not trivial. 

I started out by being up front with you and letting you know where I am coming from on this. I have obviously been heavily taught about the importance of modesty and when I say modesty, I have pretty tight standards here. 

So why bother with modesty when there are many other issues to worry about in the world?

Make no mistake about it, your most important work in the world is that you do in your own home. You can do a lot of good and grand things outside the walls of your home, and that is fabulous, but if you fail to put your family first, you have misaligned your priorities. You are included in your walls of your home. Start with yourself and your family. Your prime stewardship is over your family. It is your job to teach your children. Yours. Others are nice helpers, but the job belongs to you.

Sure, but is modesty something worth teaching and worrying about?

Um, I think my opinion is pretty clear. Here are some thoughts as to why I think it is important, though.

First and foremost, I believe my body is a gift from God. Pure and simple. Being modest is taking care of something I believe is sacred. 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

That is the basis for modesty. Treating your body like a temple, something sacred, is a way to glorify God. 

Now here is where I differ from the yoga pants post. Yes, our actions have an impact on others, that is true. And yes, I am sure when we dress a certain way knowing it will have an impact on others, that will be an action we must account for some day. However, for the sake of my son, my daughters, and even my husband, that is not the focus I want modesty to have.

We dress modestly out of respect and reverence for our bodies. 

To say males have no ability to control themselves when they see a woman dressed a certain way is completely wrong. I want my son and my husband to know they can control themselves and to choose to control themselves. They are responsible for their morality, not the entire female population. They are responsible for their thoughts and actions, not the females around them. It is their job to control themselves. This idea that it is a woman's job to control the thoughts of the men they come into contact with every day is damaging on every level. The way a woman is dressed does not give men free licence to fantasize or act on those fantasies. 

I want my daughters (and my son--boys can be immodest in appearance, too) to dress modestly because of their love and gratitude toward the Lord. I want them to dress modestly because they understand their everlasting worth. I wan them to dress modestly because they love and respect themselves. I want them to dress modestly because I want them to know they are a representation of the Lord, and whether people like it or not, our appearance says something to people about who we are. It makes an impression. I want them to want to impress the Love of the Lord to people around them. 

That is why modesty matters. 

That is why it is worth your time to talk about modesty.

That is why it is worth your efforts to teach your children about modesty, and to teach about modesty at a why level, not just a how level. 

When your children understand these concepts and are able to express them, just think of the amazing things they will be able to accomplish throughout their lives! People who love the Lord. People who are grateful. People who know their own worth, and therefore the worth of others. People who love and respect themselves, and therefore can love and respect others. People who want to represent the Lord. What are people like who want to represent the Lord? They are people who change the world, one person at a time. They are people who love you no matter who you are, what you have done, and how global your issue is. They are the people who make each day a little better for those around them.

So is modesty worth your breath? Worth your thoughts? Worth your time? Worth your efforts?

Absolutely.

4 comments:

me said...

Yes! I love this post. I have NEVER felt good about the argument that we have to be modest so the guys don't struggle. You put everything into words perfectly. Thanks! I am going to refer back to this one when teaching my kids!

Ashley B. said...

This is a great reminder. I grew up going to a school with a modest dress code and it took me a long time to learn why I couldn't wear skirts above the knee, for example. The culture is teaching nothing much about personal modesty, so this is absolutely a topic that we should emphasize in our parenting! Thanks for posting ☺

Valerie Plowman said...

You are so welcome!

Valerie Plowman said...

It is true that there isn't really a lot of teaching about modesty in the "why" department. You are very welcome!

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