|From the Archdiocese of Washington|
In light of some recent discussions in mainstream media and the blogosphere, M and I have been discussing the intersection of modesty, politics, Christian culture, and family life.
- What does it mean to be modest?
- Why aren’t men taught as much about modesty as women?
- Can the tenets of modesty be redeemed in this modern, sex-saturated world?
- What do Christian feminists think about modesty?
- How do conservative evangelical women and men think about modesty?
I decided to do some research, reading a lot of articles from a variety of perspectives on modesty. I did a few interviews (i.e., coffee and phone dates) with friends about their thoughts on modesty. And then I began to write. And write some more. This week, I’ll post my preliminary findings and thoughts on what I am calling The Modesty Myth: the myth that women can prevent men from lusting after them and that the state of a woman's soul is partially determined by what she wears.
Please be advised that I am using the word modesty in its most conservative evangelical definition: covering women up so men don’t slip up. Also understand that by no means is this short series a comprehensive criticism of sexist teachings throughout Church history, nor it is a lengthy analysis of biblical passages on modesty and femininity. It is a quiet rebellion against how some within the body of believers and in our larger sex-saturated culture continue to shame, demean, objectify, and harm women and girls – and how I am sick and tired of it.
When modesty is used as a pseudo-barometer of salvation,But I believe there is hope for modesty and our culture. When modesty is freed from the narrow confines of legalism, sexism, and power dynamics in relationships between men and women, I believe that modesty can be a beautiful, and even God-glorifying display of our tender-heartedness and love of neighbor. Others like this commenter on a recent Role/Reboot article agree:
When modesty is used as a weapon to shame and objectify young women,
When modesty is used as a measure of a woman’s worth,
When modesty is used as an excuse to justify sexual sin,
It dishonors women and it distorts God’s creation.
Enough is enough.
"These problems has arisen from a perversion of modesty, not as a result of doctrine. Modesty in the Bible is simply a calling for both sexes to abstain from using their bodies as a sexual artwork. It’s main purpose is to stop the pride that causes immodesty. Modesty does not call for others to judge the immodest and is not intended to oppress anyone. It just calls for both men and women to examine the motives behind the way they present themselves. Modesty is not about fearing your body or anyone else’s, it doesn’t condemn anyone and it certainly never claims the only way to prevent fornication is to wrap up women."I really struggled to write these posts with optimism on how we can redeem the good parts of modesty (self-respect, confidence, owning one's body and style, etc.) with the horribly legalistic, judgmental, and incredibly body-shaming aspects of modesty, which gets even messier from the faith perspective with people shouting prooftexts at one another. Yet, as my husband always says (quoting The Mission): The world is not thus. Thus have we made the world.
|by Kevin Ohlin|