The Hot Button of Modesty

Preface (so to speak): What if instead of writing sarcastic and cynical blog posts or rude comments to respond to the opinions of others in which we disagree, we paused for a bit. And prayed. And then posted a thought or two. I’m not sure, but it sure seems to me that many people just get mad and start writing and hit “publish” … and it’s just so … out there.
I sometimes wonder if there’s enough thought or care about whose on the other side, reading it. Yes, I understand that writing is an art form. And with any art, expression is the name of the game … artistic license maybe. But for the Christian, our calling is higher. That’s all. It just is. And although a blog may be considered like someone’s diary, it’s not a diary – hidden under a bed or in a drawer under lock and key. I fear that we have been given so much freedom to express ourselves, and such a public forum to do so, that we ignore or dismiss our responsibility as followers of Christ to do so in a manner worthy of the gospel message. Satire has its place, but when it takes the form of mockery of another’s beliefs, to me it crosses a line that violates the scriptural principles of love … specifically, kindness.
Post: I started this blog post several days ago. I waited to publish it to give time for pause – to pray and ponder. To put into practice my belief that opinion posting, if not kept in check, can violate the kindness principle. So after thinking and tweaking, here goes: What would Jesus say about modesty? Yep, I know. It’s a super sensitive subject. “Modest is hottest” and all that. As a mom to three daughters and one son, it’s been an issue and topic around our house for quite a while. The English word “modesty” actually contains a two-part definition: a) the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities; b) the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention.

As of today, I don’t know the final answer to the question about modesty and Jesus. I can’t find where He addressed the what-to-wear-kind-of modesty. Although it’s kind of surprising to me, we don’t have any reason to believe that Jesus talked about modesty to the woman at the well, or to the woman about to be stoned for adultery, and not even to the sinful woman who washed His feet. While history (and present-day middle Eastern culture) tells us that most women had a different way of dressing years ago than we see in the US today, we know that women have always been the object of men’s desires, which if left unchecked can become sinful desires. No one could deny – well they do, but really?! – that a more provocatively dressed woman would draw more attention in a room than one more conservatively dressed. But does she bear the responsibility of sinful attention or do the onlookers? I’ll steal my hubby’s way of answering and say: Yes.

In Philippians 2, we are guided to an answer. It’s the answer for boys and girls, men and women. It’s not only what Jesus would do, it’s what He did do. And it’s spot on to our modesty discussion.

“Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. You should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude as Christ Jesus had, who though He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped …”

I had to stop, reread those verses, and meditate for a while. The God-Man was totally right. In every way. Yet He laid aside His right to be right … specifically and especially for us. And I think that the most Christ-like thing we can do is to lay down our rights for someone else when we can in good conscience do so, and if our motive is love. We may think we have the better argument, the better philosophy, and even the better way. But modesty of heart says to others “your good is first.” In fact, putting others first is usually the most supernatural thing I do because I really like myself and want what’s best for me.

So, I’ve concluded that it’s not so much about a nursing mama’s freedom to expose herself at the mall or park, nor is it about a young girl’s right to wear a bikini on the beach or at youth camp. For the Christ follower, it’s about being like Jesus, the One who laid down His equal rights for the sake of others. In the name of authenticity, we’ve become the people who say what we think and do what we feel. And maybe we’ve lost sight of being inconvenienced from time to time …
for a greater cause.

It’s not wrong to be right.
It’s not wrong to have rights.

But when it comes to freedom in Christ, our example is Christ Himself. The bible tells us that no one took His life. He gave it (John 10:18). As well, our Christ-given freedom should lead us to lay down our rights. Not demand them.
And that’s my final answer. As of today. 🙂

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