How do I explain modesty?

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DarkJedi
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How do I explain modesty?

Post by DarkJedi » 13 May 2019, 11:48

In my own very warped mind I understand that modesty is not about what we wear, but how do I explain that to someone who doesn't understand that?

Background: yesterday in priesthood an open thinking friend mentioned that he teaches modesty at home (he only has daughters) and his children dress modestly, etc. I was chatting with him later and brought that up, thinking it was interesting the way he phrased that based on other conversations we had. He responded with a few examples, one of which was something like "I saw a picture of so-and-so in her prom dress and I'd never let my daughter wear that." I countered by asking him if he'd seen pictures of the SPC's daughter in her prom dress, which he hadn't, but was very similar to the YW he was talking about. I told him modesty not really about what we wear but what we think but that's not an adequate description and he still doesn't get it. FWIW, the priesthood discussion was letter of the law versus spirit of the law (spurred by my objection to making lists of what was appropriate and was not appropriate on the Sabbath), and our personal conversation was about things we do which tend to drive Millennials away and mistakes we make with our own kids in that regard. I'm not advocating that women wear bikinis to church, I'm just trying to get the message through that even if they did that has little to do with modesty. I also wonder what my friend might teach his son (if he had one) about modesty.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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dande48
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by dande48 » 13 May 2019, 12:15

I'm not quite sure what you mean or how you define modesty.
DarkJedi wrote:
13 May 2019, 11:48
I'm not advocating that women wear bikinis to church, I'm just trying to get the message through that even if they did that has little to do with modesty.
By my own definition, I'd say wearing a Bikini to Church would be VERY immodest. You're dealing with definitions here. I don't think you'll have much luck convincing him your definition is any more valid than his definition, especially when his definition more closely follows the Church's definition. Not saying he's right or you're wrong, but I think that approach is a losing battle.

If you want to make the point I think you're trying to make, either build on his definition, or steer clear of definitions entirely.
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Roy
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by Roy » 13 May 2019, 12:45

I like to think of modesty as appropriateness and avoiding extremes. (Borrowing a page from Curt) Regarding modest dress - is the outfit appropriate for the task at hand? Does it avoid extremes? Then it would be modest according to my definition.
dande48 wrote:
13 May 2019, 12:15
By my own definition, I'd say wearing a Bikini to Church would be VERY immodest.
Yes, I agree. However a bikini at a pool can be considered modest according to the appropriateness and avoiding extremes definition. It is also worth noting that what may be considered "Extreme" in the fashion world can shift over time. There was a time when bikinis were considered extreme. Similarly, a "modest home" can vary greatly depending on what part of the world you live in.

That does not appear to be how the church currently uses and teaches the word. I have noticed sometimes when an author or speaker successfully presents a fairly new or unorthodox view that they tend to do so by weaving it into the tapestry of Mormonism. Rather than saying that the church leadership is wrong on xyz, I have seen speakers and authors selectively quote from scriptures and church leaders to make it seem that this was the message that they had been preaching all along and we just lost sight of the forest for the trees for a moment.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Holy Cow
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by Holy Cow » 13 May 2019, 12:47

I think I'd agree with Dande48. When somebody has a definition in their head, it's going to be an uphill battle trying to get them to change their perspective; and it may not be worth the effort. The best you can do is to let him know what YOUR take is on modesty and leave it at that.
I see the church's definition of modesty (for both men and women) as wearing clothing that would keep garments covered completely (without rolling up sleeves or legs). Young men and women are expected to wear clothing that cover the same areas to 'prepare them' for wearing garments.
Personally, I think it's more important to teach my kids to wear what's important for the situation. My employer's dress code is "Dress For Your Day." Meaning, if you have an appointment scheduled with a client, or you have an important meeting or presentation, you're expected to dress professionally. If you have nothing scheduled for your day, and you'll be spending your whole day working at your desk, then you can wear jeans and tennis shoes. I like this approach, and I wish this was more of the approach we took at church. I don't see anything wrong with wearing tank tops out to the park on a hot day, or a bikini to the beach. Those are appropriate for the setting. But, I think in our church it comes down to covering the garments, and not allowing too much leeway for finding reasons not to wear garments.
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On Own Now
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by On Own Now » 13 May 2019, 13:11

I'll provide some thoughts, but in doing so, I recognize that everyone doesn't see it the same way, nor do they need to.

On modesty specifically: I wish we didn't have to have a vernacular that referenced female attire in any connotation about "modesty". However, I do believe that this is often an unfair playing field. A man at Church talks about the modesty of his daughter, and wham, sexist 50's-style patriarchal bad-guy... right? Yet, I simply say this. Women and girls are FAR more likely to wear revealing attire than are men and boys. If you're not so sure about that, then look around next time you are at the gym, at the beach, or at a non-LDS wedding/reception/dinner. Is it right or wrong? I have no idea or opinion. My only point is we live in an asymmetrical world.

On appearance in general: I would prefer that our discussions were about appearance. What is the appearance you want to project? If someone who doesn't already know you sees you, what will they think of you? Lazy? Hard-working? A regular person? A trust-fund baby? Is that fair? Does it matter if it's fair? I work in an industry where people are expected to have their shirts tucked in. Personally, I don't like the look, because it makes me feel more square and nerdy that I am in nature. So, if I go to the store after work, I often untuck. It's not for comfort. The reason is 100% that I don't want others to think of me as something I'm not.

It's a fact that dudes with pocket protectors get fewer dates.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Roy
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by Roy » 13 May 2019, 13:51

On Own Now wrote:
13 May 2019, 13:11
What is the appearance you want to project? If someone who doesn't already know you sees you, what will they think of you?
I agree that there is some truth to the "dress for success" idea. I am hesitant to bring this into the modesty conversation for fear that it would get convoluted in a hurry. I would love it if it meant to dress in a smart, classy, and professionally competent way.

Historically women have been given far too much responsibility for other's judgments on their appearance so I suppose I am partially trying to push back against that. Dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable, that makes you feel attractive, maybe that expresses a bit of your unique style, and that makes you feel competent and proficient. Dress in a way that helps you to perform at optimal levels and accomplish your goals.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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On Own Now
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by On Own Now » 13 May 2019, 14:05

Roy wrote:
13 May 2019, 13:51
On Own Now wrote:
13 May 2019, 13:11
What is the appearance you want to project? If someone who doesn't already know you sees you, what will they think of you?
...Historically women have been given far too much responsibility for other's judgments on their appearance so I suppose I am partially trying to push back against that.
That's fair enough, so let me clarify that when I say that we should move the discussion from "modesty" to "appearance" I think of the "appearance" discussion to be unrelated to gender. I don't like that "modesty" is a girl-teaching. I'd prefer to have "appearance" as a teaching to everyone.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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DarkJedi
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by DarkJedi » 13 May 2019, 15:00

I am reading, thank you for your thoughts. Just to clarify, I am not attempting to change his mind about modesty, I am simply trying to verbalize my own. And I noticed that none of our sisters have chimed in yet. Please do - I value your opinion much more than Gordan B. Hinkley's.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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DarkJedi
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by DarkJedi » 13 May 2019, 15:02

On Own Now wrote:
13 May 2019, 14:05
Roy wrote:
13 May 2019, 13:51
On Own Now wrote:
13 May 2019, 13:11
What is the appearance you want to project? If someone who doesn't already know you sees you, what will they think of you?
...Historically women have been given far too much responsibility for other's judgments on their appearance so I suppose I am partially trying to push back against that.
That's fair enough, so let me clarify that when I say that we should move the discussion from "modesty" to "appearance" I think of the "appearance" discussion to be unrelated to gender. I don't like that "modesty" is a girl-teaching. I'd prefer to have "appearance" as a teaching to everyone.
Please do NOT shift from the word modesty. I think it is important in context of the conversation I will be having. We are not talking about appearance, we are talking about modesty which does include his perceived (orthodox) church definition of modesty as well as my less orthodox definition. He is open minded and does recognize that there are things church leaders no longer talk about or talk about much less than they once did. Part of what I do with him is move him from the GBH era to the TSM era and now (excitedly, mind you) to the RMN era. (No offense intended. If you'd like to talk about appearance please feel free to start another thread.)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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DarkJedi
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by DarkJedi » 14 May 2019, 05:13

dande48 wrote:
13 May 2019, 12:15
I'm not quite sure what you mean or how you define modesty.
DarkJedi wrote:
13 May 2019, 11:48
I'm not advocating that women wear bikinis to church, I'm just trying to get the message through that even if they did that has little to do with modesty.
By my own definition, I'd say wearing a Bikini to Church would be VERY immodest. You're dealing with definitions here. I don't think you'll have much luck convincing him your definition is any more valid than his definition, especially when his definition more closely follows the Church's definition. Not saying he's right or you're wrong, but I think that approach is a losing battle.

If you want to make the point I think you're trying to make, either build on his definition, or steer clear of definitions entirely.
Yeah, as I said I'm not advocating that women wear bikinis to church....

As a more open thinker, he generally isn't into the "church definition" of much because like me, he recognizes that the "church definition" is usually not really the church definition - it is someone's opinion. In this particular case, I like the "church definition" you linked:
Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior.
I like it because it is vague and open to interpretation, and while it is essentially what I said to him in my own words, I think his failure to understand is because it is vague - he's looking for a Pharisaical rule that usually (and in the past has) defined modesty.

I do not like the expanded version on the link - that part is where I think opinion comes in. Where did Jesus talk about tattoos or piercings? How is that part of his gospel of "believe in me" or "come follow me?" That's the stuff I call pseudo-doctrine. And it gets worse to the very idea I am trying to not convey - that a woman revealing her stomach is then somehow responsible for some man's lusts. A rhetorical question asked in the expanded version is
“Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”
If I were a woman at the beach in my bikini and encountered Jesus at the beach I probably would feel as comfortable as I would anywhere else. What if I encountered Jesus in the public shower? Should I feel immodest if I was naked there?

And sisters I am on your side here - I recognize there is a double standard. My BYU graduate daughter used to complain that it was perfectly fine for a male to go running in short shorts and no shirt on campus - but not acceptable for a female to wear a running shirt/shorts.

Side note: I do think it interesting that the link cites 1 Corinthians 6 because it is one of those scriptures talked about in another thread that is taken out of context and is talking about something different.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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