Can we talk about modesty?
No, not about how women need to cover up their legs and chest to keep men from stumbling. Not about how women need to “respect themselves” by covering up (really, what does that even mean?). Not even about how there’s a huge double standard and how we don’t talk about male modesty as much and how women are visual too (though, we are. Seriously, folks)
No, let’s talk about what modesty really is.
And let’s start with a t-shirt that I saw at a Christian book store a few years ago:
I hate to break it to you, folk, but this shirt isn’t modest. I don’t care if you buy it three sizes too big and you can drop a quarter through it and it passes the three finger rule (yeah, Baptist school girl. I know all the modesty tests).
It’s not modest.
Because modesty isn’t a dress standard. Modesty is humility.
I cannot recall modesty in the Bible ever being linked to sexuality. Unless braided hair and gold were the boobs of the first century, I get the idea that passages on modesty were directed toward rich women who were bragging about their social status.
Biblical passages about modesty are calling women to the humility of Jesus. Biblical passages about modesty are reminding women of what is really important– not how well you dress, but how well you love.
This t-shirt, however, is sending the message, “My clothing contains more fabric in all the ‘right’ places, and therefore, I am more sexually attractive than you.”
This shirt is self-promotion, self-righteousness. This shirt, with hilarious irony, becomes the opposite of the very thing that it claims to promote. This shirt unintentionally parodies what the issue of modesty has become.
Under the guise of “not causing our brothers in Christ to stumble,” today’s so-called modesty is just another way to attract men sexually. Rather than showing it all off, we “leave some for the imagination.” Both approaches achieve the same result.
Even when promoted with the best of intentions, even when the women dressing modestly truly care about their brothers in Christ and not just about being “hottest,” today’s so-called modesty is silly.
Because it’s okay for humans to be sexually attracted to other humans.
That’s natural. That’s just part of our biological makeup as sexual creatures. We’re wired to want sex. Covering up our bodies doesn’t change biology, nor should it.
Just as modesty is not about sexuality, lust is also not about sexuality. Lust is about a lack of self-control. Lust is about over-indulging in natural desires. Lust is about consuming objects or people in an addictive manner that prevents the person lusting from truly seeing value in the object of lust.
Modesty is great. Women should be modest. Men should be modest. But somewhere along the line, modesty lost it’s meaning.
Modesty isn’t something that advertises itself on a t-shirt.
Modesty is not a leash that keeps men from getting into trouble.
Modesty is a meek and quiet Christ-like spirit that changes the world with love.