Knowing the definition of a word is helpful but sometimes knowing what a word is not is even more insightful. Like knowing that the microwave is for warming up your lunch is good but knowing that it is not for foil-wrapped meals is extremely important. Ultimately, knowing what something is not can bring even more clarity to a subject. So before we get into what modesty is let’s talk about what it is not.
Modesty is not… The same for everybody. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when planning to dress modestly. The culture that you live in and the faith that you practice plays a major part. Then add in that we are physically made differently and it becomes apparent that modestly will look differently on different people. There are of course somethings that should be absolutely covered but still plenty of room for differences.
Modesty is not… An excuse to make a snap judgment about a person and dismiss them based on your standard. Yes, modesty is important but so are people. Just because someone isn’t where you’d like them to be doesn't mean they should be shunned. Besides, I’m pretty sure Jesus said that people should know us by our love. (John 13:35)
Modesty is not… Frumpy! I don’t know where the idea came from that modesty was frumpy but let’s toss it completely out of the window/off of a roof until this notion dies the horrible death it deserves. Modest Fashion is classy, chic, fun, daring, and a whole lot more.
Modesty is not… The answer to men’s (women’s) struggle with lust. Don’t get me wrong modesty definitely helps a brother (or sister) who is fighting to honor God with his (or her) eyes and his thoughts. However, if this person has not surrendered this area to God and committed to fighting lust then it doesn’t matter what you wear. The answer to lust is self-control, fasting and a lot of Jesus.
Modesty is not… Magical Sexual Assault Armor. Sometimes the discussion regarding modesty includes the idea that dressing modestly will protect you from others lusting after you and which can keep you from being sexually assaulted. Not only is this just not true but it is extremely damaging to many people who have experienced sexual abuse. The reasons why sexual abuse/assaults happen are varied and complex and I am not an expert in them, but I have studied history and the history of fashion. I learned that while hemlines, necklines, and sleeves have all changed several times with the decades, sexual assaults have happened no matter the fashion trend. So let’s not feed into any idea that implies or states that sexual abuse has anything to do with the victim’s clothing.
So that’s it! My five things modesty is not. So what do you think? Did I miss anything? What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments.
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Great post! All points are valid and #3 is my favorite!
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