Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Modesty Myth

Yesterday, running errands with a colleague the subject of tattoos came up as we watched droves of young girls walk through the retail store with tattoos covering more surface area than the ads at the local mall. I told him that in my younger days, I thought about getting one something small and unassuming - seemed like the thing to do at the time, but I could never decide on one symbol that summed me up, one symbol that I wanted on my body forever. And I told him that as I got older, I could see how men might view tattoos on women as suggestive.

He told me that it was alluring, those tattoos that peek out from clothing. They are kind of trashy, he said honestly. My husband agrees. It was one of the first things that he asked me. "Do you have any tattoos?" He was relieved when I told him no.

When you’re young, modesty protects innocence, but when you’re older it protects profound connections. Modesty prevents us from being vulnerable with the wrong people. It also protects deep, erotic connections between the right people. Consider kind David who saw Bathsheba washing, lusted after her, committed adultery with her, fathered a child, murdered her husband, and brought much misery upon himself and the nation (2 Samuel 11:2-5).

Today, this generation of twenty-somethings are taught that meaningful, long-term relationships with one person that eventually culminate in marriage and sex aren't realistic, but that it's ok to have casual hookups, where you meet a person at a party, have sex, and then never see the person again. That fact people get drunk before they "do it" is significant—it’s a concession to modesty. So we have to drug ourselves in order to pretend otherwise. Look circumstances that surround the current twenty-somethings who frequent the tabloid news.

Modesty is about the opposite of prudery. Neither the promiscuous person nor the prude can be moved or touched by anything. The modest person can be moved by something and wants to be moved by something in the right circumstances. Modesty communicates so much about how a person feels about themselves. One who recognizes their own strengths and weaknesses who has become comfortable with him or herself will feel no competition with others and how they expect to be treated by others. Modesty presupposes certain standards. In this day, where underwear has become outerwear for both genders, these reminders of modesty also apply to men like no other time in history.

As I get dressed, I evaluate what I plan to wear based on my roles for the day: mom, business meeting, church go-er... And I try to wear items that will make it easier for the men in my company to treat me with dignity and respect. And I know that goes far deeper than just clothing.

The inward spiritual adornment is more precious and more effective than outward physical adorning.

1 Peter 3:3 "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel."

1 Timothy 2:9-10 "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works"

Colossians 3:12 "Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."
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