Un-SexyModest: Or, What A Pope Can Teach Us About Modesty

Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Relief Society Lessons, women | 73 comments

(Traduction en français disponible en bas de page.)

 

Pope Francis’ obvious decency appeals to me as a human.  His discourse and homilies appeal to me as a Christian.

But his humble actions appeal to me as a Mormon woman who is weary of witnessing, over and over, how we culturally misuse the term “modesty” and reduce it to base rules governing the attire of (primarily) teenage girls.

Pope Francis gives me hope for the future of our modesty discourse because in five months, he has somehow managed to make humility and  modesty cool again.

First, let’s look at modesty as discussed in the Catholic Catechism:

  • Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It guides how one looks at others (author note: not how others look at you) and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.

The “allurement of fashion” extends beyond necklines. And while “respect for the human person” clearly has implications for not viewing another as simply an object for one’s sexual gratification, it moves beyond that into “looking not on outward appearance, but looking on the heart.”  Or, as Jesus asked a group of men who wondered why he was allowing a sinful woman to anoint him: “Do you see this woman?” Really see her?

Pope Francis’ news-making decisions to shun certain “allurements of fashion” is what first endeared him to his new flock. He carries his own bags, swapped the apostolic palace for a room at the Inn of Saint Martha, celebrates mass each morning with rank-and-file Vatican employees, and is driven around in a Ford Focus.

He recently exhorted his clergy and women religious to likewise pursue modesty in possessions, including this pointed advice:

“It hurts me when I see a priest or nun with the latest-model car. You can’t do this. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but, please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”

Or, beware the “allurement of fashion.”

The second dimension of modesty — an attitude of respect for the dignity of the human person — doesn’t make quite as flashy of headlines, but it is also key to the Pope’s ministry. Within a week of his ordination, he partook in the  Holy Week tradition of foot-washing. Instead of washing the feet of 12 specially-selected priests, he went to a juvenile detention center and ministered to locked-up youth, including young women. 

Do you see this woman? Jesus asked.

Last week, the pope unexpectedly called an Italian teenager who had written him a letter and gently corrected the young man when he began to use a formal form of address:

“He said to me, do you think the Apostles would have used the polite form with Christ? “Would they have called him your excellency? They were friends, just as you and I are now, and with friends I’m accustomed to using ‘tu’.”

But the most compelling story I have read about Pope Francis’s a modesty — his respect for the person – is this piece regarding his work in the Argentinian slums. 

Buenos Aires has roughly 20 villas miserias, where the poorest of the poor reside, where as one grandmother put it, “For our kids, it’s either the parish or it’s paco [a devastating street-drug]… that’s it.”

Francis made this his personal ministry, handpicking clergy and women religious to live and minister to those  the world has forgotten.  The list of ministries is impressive, including:

  • A recovery center for drug addicts
  • Two farms where recovering addicts work and live
  • A high school and trade school
  • A home for the elderly;
  • Soup kitchens
  • A community radio station, which broadcasts 24/7 and which teaches young people the media business
  • A community newspaper
  • Drug prevention programs
  • A  center for kids living in the streets

But what struck me most about this article — the image I can’t get out of my head — is this:

“I’d say that over the 15 years he’s been walking down the streets here, at least half of the people have met him at some time and have a picture with him, meaning at least 25,000 people in this villa alone,” he said.

“He came for all the big festivals and he did all the confirmations,” he said. “One time, we had almost 400 people to be confirmed, and he did them all personally on one day. It took three and a half hours, maybe four, and he did it all.”

“When he would visit here, he’d take the bus and then he’d just come walking around the corner like a normal guy,” Isasmendi said.

“For us, it was the most natural thing in the world. He’d sit around and drink mate (an Argentinian tea), talking with people about whatever was going on. He’d start talking to the doorman or somebody about a book he was reading, and I could leave him there and go do something else, because Bergoglio was totally comfortable.”

I asked if Bergoglio had been so concerned with the slums because of the drugs, the gangs, or some other specific problem.

“The biggest problem we face is marginalization of the people,” he said. “Drugs are a symptom, violence is a symptom, but marginalization is the disease. Our people feel marginalized by a social system that’s forgotten about them and isn’t interested in them.”

Do you see this woman? Jesus asks.

I’m not sure I’ve ever left a discussion about tank-tops and hemlines feeling edified —  though modesty is supposed to be one of the gifts of the spirit. But the world has caught its breath at the modesty of Francis.  In  his shunning the “allures of fashion” and “awakening in [us] respect for the human person,” we are reminded that modesty is primarily about recognizing the dignity of the human spirit and acting accordingly.

 

*********************************

 

Un-SexyModest: Ou ce qu’un pape peut nous enseigner sur la modestie 

 

(Note : Le mot « modest » en anglais veut dire aussi bien « modeste » que « pudique, » ce qui amène très souvent à une confusion entre les deux idées.)

La décence évidente du pape François me plait beaucoup. Son discours et ses sermons me parlent en tant que chrétienne.

Mais ses actes humbles me plaisent en tant que femme mormone qui est fatiguée de voir combien de fois nous employons de façon impropre le mot “modestie” et le réduisons à une seule de ses définitions : la pudeur, c’est-à-dire des règles qui gouvernent la tenue vestimentaire, surtout celle des adolescentes.

Le pape François me donne de l’espoir pour l’avenir de notre discours sur la modestie car dans un période de cinq mois, il a pu rendre l’humilité et la modestie “cool”, d’une manière ou d’une autre.

Regardons d’abord la modestie telle qu’elle est décrite par le catéchisme catholique :

  • La modestie protégé le centre intime d’une personne. Elle guide son regard envers les autres (note de l’auteur : et non pas le regard des autres envers elle) et son comportement d’une manière qui est conforme à la dignité humaine et à la solidarité. odesty protects the intimate center of the person. La modestie inspire un mode de vie qui rend possible de resister à la seduction des modes et aux pressions des ideologies prédominantes. Enseigner la modestie aux enfants et aux adolescents signifie reveiller en eux le respect pour la personne.  

La “séduction des modes” s’étend au-delà de la mode vestimentaire. Et même si « le respect pour la personne » ait clairement des implications de ne pas voir chez un autre l’objet de sa gratification sexuelle, il s’agit aussi de « ne pas regarder l’apparence extérieure, mais de regarder le cœur. » Ou bien, comme Jésus l’a demandé à un groupe d’hommes qui se demandaient pourquoi il permettait à une pêcheuse de l’oindre : « Voyez-vous cette femme ? » La voyez-vous vraiment ?

Ces décisions de rejeter la “seduction des modes” ont non seulement attire les louanges des medias mais ont aussi gagné les cœurs de ses adeptes. Il porte ses propres valises, a échangé son palace apostolique contre une chambre à l’auberge de la Sainte-Marthe, assiste à la messe chaque matin avec les employés du Vatican et se fait conduire dans une Ford Focus.

Il a récemment exhorté son clergé et ses religieuses de chercher également des possessions modestes et a donné ce conseil :

« Cela me fait de la peine quand je vois un prêtre ou une sœur avec le dernier modèle de voiture. Vous ne pouvez pas faire cela. Une voiture est nécessaire pour faire beaucoup de travail, mais je vous prie d’en choisir une qui est plus humble. Si vous aimez celle qui est luxueuse, pensez à combien d’enfants meurent de faim dans le monde. »

Ou bien, prenez garde à “la séduction des modes.”

La deuxième dimension de la modestie – une attitude de respect pour la dignité de la personne – ne fait pas autant la une, mais elle est une clé essentielle à la ministère de pape. Moins d’une semaine après son ordination, il a participé à la tradition de la semaine sainte de lavage de pieds. Au lieu de laver les pieds de 12 prêtre séléctionnés pour lui, il est allé dans un centre de détention pour jeunes et a lavé les pieds des jeune délinquants, dont quelques jeunes femmes.

Voyez-vous cette femme? Jésus a dit.

La semaine dernière, le pape a appelé à l’improviste un adolescent italien qui lui avait écrit une lettre et lui a gentiment corrigé quand l’adolescent s’est adressé à lui d’une manière très formelle :

“Il m’a dit, est-ce que tu crois que les apôtres auraient parlé formellement au Christ? Est-ce qu’ils l’appelleraient Ton Excellence ? Ils étaient amis, tout comme toi et moi, et avec les amis j’ai l’habitude de dire « tu »..”

Mais l’histoire la plus captivante que j’ai lue sur le respect que le pape François a pour la personne est cet article sur son travail dans les bidonvilles de l’Argentine.

Buenos Aires a près de 20 bidonvilles, où les plus pauvres des pauvres habitant, décrits par une vielle femme : “Pour nos enfants, c’est soit la paroisse ou le paco (une drogue dévastatrice)…c’est tout.”

François s’est dédié à ces bidonvilles, choisissant lui-même des personnes pour vivre et aider ceux que le monde a oublié. La liste de choses accomplies est impressionnante :

  • Un centre de rehabilitation pour des toxicomanes
  • Deux fermes où des toxicomanes habitant et travaillent
  • Un lycée et un lycée professionnel
  • Une maison de retraite
  • Des restaurants solidaires
  • Une station de radio qui enseigne aux jeunes le métier des medias
  • Un journal communautaire
  • Des programmes pour la prévention de la drogue
  • Un centre pour des enfants sans foyer

Mais ce qui m’a frappé le plus dans cet article — l’image que je ne peux pas sortir de ma tête — est celle-ci :

“Je dirais que pendant les 15 ans qu’il marche dans les rues ici, au moins la moitié de la population l’a rencontré à un moment et a pris une photo avec lui, c’est-à-dire au moins 25.000 personnes dans seulement ce village,” il a dit.

“Il est venu à tous les festivals et il a fait toutes les confirmations, il a dit. Une fois, il y avait presque 400 personnes à confirmer et il les a faites toutes personnellement sur un seul jour. Cela a pris trois heures et demi, peut-être quatre, et il les a toutes faites. »

“Quand il visitait, il prenait le bus et puis il venait à pied comme un gars normal,” Isasmendi a dit.

“Pour nous, c’était la chose la plus naturelle au monde. Il trainait et buvait du mate (un thé argentin), et parlait avec les gens de ce qui se passait autour de nous. Il parlait au portier ou à quelqu’un d’un livre qu’il lisait, et je pouvais le laissait là et faire autre chose, car Bergoglio était complètement à l’aise. »

J’ai demandé si Bergoglio s’était soucié des bidonvilles à cause de la drogue, des gangs ou un autre problème spécifique.

“Le plus grand problème auquel nous faisons face est la marginalisation du people, il a dit, La drogue est un symptôme, la violence est un symptôme, mais la marginalisation est la maladie. Notre peuple se sent marginalisé par un système social qui les oublie et qui s’intéresse pas à lui. »

Voyez-vous cette femme? demande Jésus.

Je ne suis pas sûre d’avoir déjà quitté une discussion que je craignais être sur la modestie (pudeur), même si la modestie est censée être l’un des dons de l’Esprit. Mais le monde a coupé son soufflé devant la modestie de François. Sa rejection de « la séduction des modes » et son « réveil du respect de la personne” nous rappellent qu’être modeste est surtout reconnaitre la dignité de l’esprit humain et agir en conséquence.

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73 Comments

  1. Thank you for this!

  2. Lovely post. So many aspects of what it means to be modest. In most of these instances, we could substitute the word humble. Thank you, Deborah.

    • But let’s not substitute the word “humble”. For LDS people know what humble means already, whereas they’ve mostly forgotten what the word modesty means.

      • MODESTY
        See also Humble, Humility
        Behavior or appearance that is humble, moderate, and decent. A modest person avoids excesses and pretensions.

        God made coats of skins, and clothed Adam and Eve:Gen. 3:21; ( Moses 4:27; )
        Women adorn themselves in modest apparel:1 Tim. 2:9;
        Be discreet, chaste, keepers at home:Titus 2:5;
        Many are lifted up in pride because of the costliness of their apparel:Jacob 2:13;
        Let all thy garments be plain:D&C 42:40;
        We believe in being chaste and virtuous:A of F 1:13;

  3. Amen, and thank you.

  4. This is a beautiful, beautiful post. I admire Pope Francis’ ministry more and more every day, and this take on modesty is the most refreshing one I’ve heard yet.

  5. This is so wise and so kind. You did a wonderful job of demonstrating the dignity inherent in the type of modesty you and Francis are advocating. “Modest” can be used to describe not only a type of prudishness but also mediocrity–modest achievements, for instance. But there’s none of that in this sort of modesty, because it relies on an understanding of what is truly valuable.

    I feel more modest simply by virtue of reading this. With thoughtful statements like this, we actually have a chance of understanding and achieving modesty. Thank you.

    • Oh, thank you! When I watch this pope (and so many other good people in this world), I’m reminded that the disciples weren’t attracted to Jesus’ theology initially — they were attracted to his person. And that much our our theology derived from a narrative example.

  6. Great post, really and truly.

    note: I think Catechism might be spelled wrong (please feel free to delete this line if it’s not correct, or the edit gets made)

    • Good catch — fixing!

  7. I love this. I feel like he is the embodiment of what we mean by leading by example. So often we say that we should be a light to the world, but what we tend to mean is “people will be naturally attracted to my Mormoness, and what makes me different is sleeves!” The Pope is a true Christian and I want to be more like him because he puts his religion and values ahead of personal comfort or advancement.

  8. This is wonderful. Thank you- great perspective!!

  9. “Our people feel marginalized by a social system that’s forgotten about them and isn’t interested in them.”

    And yet what is the social system, but the aggregate of “our people”? *Why* has the social system forgotten about the dignity of the human person? Could it be because the people themselves have forgotten about the Source of human dignity?

    • Exactly. We have a duty to treat others with the dignity due to all human souls. However, each individual must connect with the Source of all dignity, and our mission here must be to point the way.

  10. Very inspiring and a breath of fresh air!

  11. Absolutely! See… this is the modesty discussion we need to be having, as with these excellent examples, and all of the other ones we can think of. Most talk about Modesty is….offensive, frustrating, or repulsive. Modesty as a lifestyle choice in ALL things… is beautiful, Christlike, and what we are seeking daily to emulate. Thanks for this.

    • Yes, I totally agree. We should also have a broader definition not only of modesty, but also of morality generally. Our linking these two important concepts to sexuality instead of to their larger meanings has contributed to rampant judgmentalism and reliance on outward appearance.

  12. Thank you! Your perspective was breathtaking. It filled my soul tonight.

  13. Blown away by this post, Deborah. Just beautiful. If I ever need to give a lesson or talk about modesty, I’m going to return to this post first thing.

    • Amen. Me too.

  14. This is brilliant. Thank you, Deborah. I could actiually teach a lesson on this type of modesty without hesitation. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  15. Now just imagine if young women wore clothing that covered them appropriately AND behaved like the Pope! What an impact that would make. I have to disagree with one statement alluding that modesty is about how the modest one views others only. Modesty is also about how others view us, through our choice of fashion and our actions.

    • Sexual modesty cannot in any simple way be identified with the use of clothing, nor shamelessness with absence of clothing and total or partial nakedness.
      There are circumstances in which nakedness is not immodest…
      Nakedness, as such, is not to be equated with physical shamelessness.
      Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regards to the value of the person…
      The human body is not in itself shameful, nor for the same reason are sensual reactions, and human sensuality in general.
      Shamelessness (just like shame and modesty) is a function of the interior of the person.
      There is a certain relativism in the definition of what is shameless. This relativism is due to the differences in the makeup of particular persons – a greater or lesser sensual excitability, a higher or lower level of moral culture – or to different world views. It may equally be due to differences in external conditions – in climate, for instance, as we have said before, and also in prevailing customs, social habits, etc. Dress is always a social question, a function of … social customs. In this matter there is no exact similarity in the behavior of particular people, even if they live in the same age and the same society. The principle of what is truly immodest is simple and obvious, but its application in specific cases depends on the individual, the milieu, and society.
      There are circumstances in which nakedness is not immodest. If someone takes advantage of such an occasion to treat the person as an object of enjoyment (even if his action is purely internal) it is only he who is guilty of shamelessness … not the other.”

      Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, in “Love & Responsibility”pp. 176-192., 1981

      • Thank you for posting this. I was unfamiliar with this statement by John Paul II but it encapsulates what true modesty is.

    • Our life is shaped by our minds, we become what we think. If our minds can view others in the right way it will change how we behave.

  16. As a “young” Young Women’s president getting the YW to see modesty in this light has been one of my greatest challenges; mainly because parents only see modesty as shielding their daughters from young men’s eyes. This post sums up the way I would like to approach this subject with them in the future. Thank you.

    • Great article. Thanks for sharing this. And excellent point.

  17. Great post, Deborah!

  18. I want to thank you for being the kind of LDS member who is not afraid to praise special people of other faiths. Pope Francis is, indeed, a man that every person would do well to follow, to talk about and to know by the Spirit that he is a true man of God. Great lesson, full of wisdom and knowledge of the Gospel.

  19. Deborah – Thank you for bringing this to us. I have read snippets about the pope. This paints a lovely picture of his life and ministry. What a gift to the world this man appears to be. What an example.

    I’m worn out from “modesty” conversations and blog posts. I wish this were the first and only thing I’d ever read about the subject. All that is needed – right here. Well done. Thanks again.

  20. I loved this post too. When Pope Francis was elected, I truly had a feeling that he was a man of God and I got so surprised of this and not sure what it mean for me. Since then, I have tried to follow what he does and what he says in order to understand that feeling better and I have realized that God has more than one person in the world to lead the people to the right path. He uses all of them for different purposes and different reasons.

    The way you have developed the concept of modesty resonates strongly with what I feel on the topic. Well done. This post will be a great reference post in the future.

  21. This is a much needed message for a time where our marketing culture seeks to define people by what they consume as opposed to having inherent value as children of God.

    In Pope Francis’ own words:

    “Human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away.”

  22. I agree that it has a deeper meaning. Thanks for the great words of wisdom.

  23. Thank you for writing and sharing. And Thank God for Pope Francis. We need him so.

  24. I love your text! It’s something I really appreciate in other people, the true modesty.
    I’m french, and many members of my family are catholics (I’m LDS). I like to talk with them about this new pope because he’s an excellent example of a true disciple of Christ. He’s what catholics needed. And he’s one of the men who will help all the christians to reunite and follow Christ as The Master asked us to do: humbly, generously, hard-workingly and with love.
    Thanks for this blog post. Best wishes from France.

  25. Thank you sharing and for edifying. I love this definition of modesty; it reminds me of the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law. It’s also refreshing to witness such service.

  26. My heart aches and often breaks as I constantly have contension about this with my youngest daughter. I love her so much but she doesn’t see that how she tries dressing makes others think she’s cheaper than I Know she’s worth. And now she’s leading my older daughter, that Was very modest, to slide in the immodest direction. I pray often and my tears are many. Where did the Children they were go?

    • Talk about missing the point.

  27. As much as i like the good works these last three Popes have done, especially our new Pope, lets not forget that these Popes were well aware of the abuse going on by Priests to children and did very little or almost nothing about it. Infact it was more a cover up and it really took 20 to 30 years to expose all that has gone on in the past and present in many different countries. Moving a Priest to another Parish was NOT the sollution but it was done many, many times. Yes these Popes difinitly knew what was going on. The last Pope believe it or not was in charge of receiving this information about Priests who abused. That was part of his job in The Vatican. Lets not pull the wool over our eyes – totally.

    • I don’t think anyone can forget the tragic abuse that’s been perpetrated by some priests and covered up by some church leaders, but this comment is really off-topic. Abuse has happened in many faith communities, including my own, but that doesn’t erase or cast doubt the goodness of this Pope. Thankfully. Where would we be if the ugliness in the world somehow invalidated the goodness?

  28. I agree with the author and think the post is insightful and well written. But what wasn’t clear to me was if the author thought that LDS church teaching were at odds with her observations of Catholic teaching?

    They are not (I am a former Catholic)

    While I agree that some individual teachers may not go deeply enough and thoughtfully enough to inspire youth to reflect on the entirety of the topic, church literature us chock-a-block full of the same messages (and also the ones about modesty and sexual implications)

    Great piece, though!

    • Jon: I do not think the doctrines are at odds — I think the way we (in general) currently use the word modesty is too limited, and watching this pope’s actions have helped broaden my own understanding . . . and I wanted to share :) Sometimes it helps me to see familiar ideas through new lenses.

  29. Thank you for this beautiful post, Deborah. The kind of modesty you’ve highlighted in this eloquent post is something I would like to hear more about within my LDS faith community.

  30. I totally agree! I just don’t understand, though, that if modesty is so important to him, why all the outlandish robes and attention made to the pope during televised ceremonies? It’s completely distracting when he’s standing there trying to look like a king when the real King, who didn’t wear fancy attire, should be the focus. During an LDS General conference, the leaders are dressed nicely in suit and tie, which denotes modesty and respect, and lets us listen to the message instead of thinking about how great they look.

    • Different religions, different traditions. Goodness knows some of ours must perplex outsiders. I’d rather focus on what we have to teach each other.

      • The message is always filtered through a cultural lens. Pope Francis’s vestments may look overdone to American Mormons, but let’s not forget that he has refused to wear many of the embellishments that are traditional for a pope. A suit and tie may look like ordinary business attire in the U.S., but for most of the world’s population it signifies an unheard-of level of wealth and privilege, and a corporate culture that seems at odds with Christian values.

    • Have you priced suits? Suits are an outward exhibition of wealth and affluence, out of reach of the majority of the world’s population. Is that modest? Sadly investigators in branches and wards everywhere are in some cases put off by the expectation they be attired in costly garb and don’t otherwise feel welcome.

    • If I understand correctly, the robes are an outward symbol of their commitment just like we wear garments when we commit to live the promises made in the temple. They put aside the fashion of the world. If they’re too flashy with embroidery or something like that, I can see how that could be toned down.

    • Much the same argument could be, and often is, made about Mormon temples. Wouldn’t it be more modest to have more ordinary buildings? Wouldn’t the money be better spent helping the poor? Isn’t it distracting from the spirit to be surrounded by opulence when in the Celestial room?

      I understand why those arguments are made. I also understand why the temples feel like worshipful spaces for Mormons, and why they are deemed an appropriate place to spend more extravagant sums of money. I think we owe other religions the same courtesy we expect others to extend to us–not to call them hypocritical (an implication of this comment, if not something it says overtly) and not to dismiss their practices as “outlandish” (heaven knows Mormons have plenty of practices that seem inexplicable or outlandish to others).

      And, as Deborah said, I think we’re better off focusing on things we have in common rather than on differences.

    • And this comment in a nutshell typifies everything wrong with the LDS religion. Look at how right WE are doing things! I don’t understand something culturally so it must be wrong and bad! Also, as others have mentioned this pope deliberately toned down his garb. No red Prada loafers like Das German rocked.

  31. Deborah,
    This brought tears to my eyes. What a powerful leader for the world! I’m so glad to hear that modesty is being linked with caring for the marginalized. It’s exactly the Christian thing to do and the opposite of talking about, or around rather, a teenage girl’s sexuality.

    Thank you, thank you.

  32. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes, overwhelmed by the beauty of his actions and the powerful way you have shared them. Thank you.

  33. Thank you for this wonderful article. I appreciate that it is not exclusive, but inclusive. I would also like to point out the modestly of those who possess the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, while not turning away those who are not ready to understand fully. There are many members who seek to be married in the temple by the Temple President, baptised by the Bishop, ordained by the Stake President, or recieve a blessing from someone in the “highest authority available.” Modesty is that anyone who bears the priesthood represents the Savior himself when performing an ordinance. To attach the “honors of men” to the performance is something “the brethren” have attempted to teach my whole life-time of 65 years, and longer according to my studies. My faith, the priesthood of the officiator and the seal of the Holy Spirit is modesty in the performance of ordinances. Only remember that (New Testament | Mark 9:29) This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

  34. So much of the modesty rhetoric that I see in the Church feels sugary and superficial.

    This approach feels deeply nourishing.
    Thank you.

  35. Thank you! I have shared this on my facebook page and hope that we can all be inspired to follow this pope’s Christlike example. He’s changed lives by his behavior and example – we all have that ability as well. We simply need to forget focusing on our “selves” and concentrate on offering our hands of service to others.

  36. I have had thoughts that center in this topic floating all over my mind this week. Your post gathered them together and offered them to me with all the efficiency, simplicity, and usefulness of a square knot.

    Thank you for helping me make things clear.

  37. As a guy, feel like I’m intruding here, sorry!

    I was sent a link to this and wanted to say what a great post about the true meaning of modesty.

  38. This is not just a about modesty. It’s a Christ like love and recognizing each one as a brother and sister.

  39. Love this. Love the new Pope. Thank you for this.

  40. I just want to say thank you to all of you who took the time to comment — and to apologize for not responding to more of you individually. Clearly, I’m not the only one who finds these examples of modest-living-in-action humbling and inspiring. And that, too, feels profoundly hopeful.

  41. This is so, so beautiful. Thank you. I feel spiritually nourished after reading this.

  42. I agree with the author and think the post is insightful and well written…..Thank you

  43. I do love this article and the good things being done by the Pope, but I think we are talking about two different kinds of modesty. The modesty being portrayed in this article is synonymous with humility. The first part of the Young Women Theme in the LDS church states:
    “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him. We will “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:
    FAITH – DIVINE NATURE – INDIVIDUAL WORTH – KNOWLEDGE – CHOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY – GOOD WORKS – INTEGRITY – AND VIRTUE.

    We can see here that several of these values incorporate the character of humility and are being taught to the young women often. Modesty in word and action is something we should all seek after.
    Modesty in dress should also reflect those qualities. I feel that this article and similar ones I have read, may give people a reason to rationalize the way they dress. “Don’t judge me by the way I dress, because you don’t know what is in my heart.” If our heart is intent on following another man of God – our Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints, we should be willing to portray both kinds of modesty.

    • Amen.

      • Thank you Barb. I also enjoyed the article, and then went on to read everybody’s comments. I was trying to figure out why many of them were disturbing me when they were supportive of Deborah’s comments and the Pope’s Christlike acts.

        Your post struck a chord. I agree that too many of us try to make excuses for ourselves and others. Yes, you can be a wonderful person in lots of ways; but, if you’re a practising LDS (male or female, old or young … I don’t care!) then embrace all forms of modesty. The Young Women theme covers all of it.

        And Deborah, no offence, because it’s a great article, but I would never use it as a reference in a lesson. We’re counselled to source our teaching from the Scriptures and other church-approved doctrinal materials, not from feel-good articles we find on the internet.

        We can find modesty in all its forms in church materials if we really want to.

        Call me Molly Mormon if you want to, but that’s how I see things. And I’m in Australia, so don’t for one minute think I’m speaking from a Utah-bubble perspective!

      • And Deborah, no offence, because it’s a great article, but I would never use it as a reference in a lesson. We’re counselled to source our teaching from the Scriptures and other church-approved doctrinal materials, not from feel-good articles we find on the internet.

        I read something like that and understand very well why one half to two-thirds of the members of the church are inactive. This attitude is very sad and one of the reasons the church is so culturally irrelevant in the world at large and something so many people find it better not to even join in the first place. “We can’t learn from the whole world! We have to be insular isolationists! In our meetings, we can only talk about us!”

        That’s not modest. That’s arrogant. And it’s exactly the wrong approach.

  44. As a father of boys, I fear sometimes that when they think of modesty, the only thing that will come to their mind is what a young lady is wearing. Our cultural shortsightedness has caused most Utah latter-day saints to not even know what real modesty is.

    Modesty is not whether or not someone’s shoulders are bare or not. Clothing styles come and go. 1890′s saints would be shocked by what 2013′s young women are permitted to wear under the current “modesty standard.” These interpretations are not eternal. But modesty is an eternal value, so it must mean something else, aside from what body parts are covered. In 1880, a woman showing her ankles would cause a stir. In the 1920s, showing any leg was practically scandalous. So even amongst latter-day saints, interpretations of modest clothing are shifting from generation to generation.

    We should spend less time worrying about whether a girl’s skirt touches her knee and more time worrying about whether she and every other young person knows what it means to be filled with the spirit of God and how to treat others.

    • I do love this, and I think that this type of modesty is the ultimate goal. However, I think that paying attention to what we wear does have merit. Sometimes, if you dress in a way that is distracting, people won’t notice the kind things you have to say or want to do. I am a, um, very ” well-endowed” young woman, and since I have become an adult, I have realized that I need to be careful with my necklines. Not because I am worried about people judging me, or because I think that my Christianity can be measured in the inches of my neckline. It is because if I wear a low neckline, some men are uncomfortable, while others make comments that make ME uncomfortable. In either situation, they are too distracted to feel the Spirit. So, I choose to dress in a way that others can think about Christ when they see my actions, and not my body. I didn’t understand this very well as a young woman, but I tried hard to “dress modestly” anyways. Now that I’m older, and men tell me what they are thinking, I’m glad that I did. Of course, this, like anything else, can be taken to extremes, and we can forget the REASON behind it, which is to glorify The Lord as best we can. But that doesn’t mean we should abandon the subject.

      • Amen and Amen! Dress as well as all our actions do have consequences that effect others.

  45. I was uplifted after reading your comments re the Pope being a fine example of a disciple of Christ and also your beautiful comments on the deeper meaning of “Modesty”. Thankyou for sharing your thoughts and I say amen.

  46. Here, here! Well said. This is a fabulous reminder.

  47. Thanks, truly, for all of your thoughtful remarks. I’m off to spend the rest of the long weekend with family, so I’m closing comments for now. :)

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