In modesty I am talking out the entire way we carry ourselves. It is in how we act and how we dress. Modesty is a precious thing, that I feel it needs to be dusted, polished, and returned to its rightful place in our families.
Our physical form has public space and private space. To be modest means you value yourself enough to protect the private space for your spouse. The focus of modesty is to draw others attention to the public space, and minimize attention to the private space. With that broad principle, you can make your own applications to what is appropriate in action and dress.
But you have to realize that there is a gender difference in what draws the attention. As a generalization, females are drawn by physical touch, and males are drawn by visual cues and form. Males should take care to not draw out affection via touch (1 Cor 7:1), and females should take care to not draw out attention via suggestive dress or exposure of the private spaces (Job 31:1). The male mind has a wonderful ability to fill in spacial patterns. It is part of what God designed in the brains of men. When presented with the rounded leg shape of the thigh (in pants or especially bare) the male mind is drawn to where the spacial pattern meets at the crotch. The male mind does the same spacial patterns related to the female chest when exposed by a low neck line or buttock with skin tight clothing.
Ladies have no need to see men's underwear because of low hanging pants, and men have no need to see the crisp outlines of women's underwear hems through their pants. Looking at modern dress, we see little left to the imagination. Both male and female dress styles seem bent on evocative skin exposure. If clothing does happen to cover the skin, then it is drawn so tight as to be "skin tight" and negating the covering of the skin at all. But does this exposure preserve the joy found in modesty?
It seems to me that there is a deep beauty in a man being properly dressed in appropriate attire, to represent Jesus in his interactions with others, and even that his clothing could be in agreement with the focus of his life. There is a special blessedness seeing a woman in a modest dress, with length well below the knees. My eye is drawn to the radiant face, and I know there is extra beauty preserved within. She is saving herself for the one who would prize and cherish her most; for the one to whom in God's blessing of matrimony she belongs.
And in this modesty there is joy.
Living in the day close to the coming of Jesus means that we have a higher standard to reach than before. "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." Rev. 16:15.
There are some action items I would like to suggest:
- Each of us would do well to evaluate the message our clothing portrays, and allow this inspection to yield the best possible sermon that our clothing could present to others. We are bought with a price, therefore we are God's not our own.
- I suggest that married men compliment their wives on modest dress. It is not easy for women to buck the world's fashion system. They will appreciate your support that they are wearing dresses, and knowing you appreciate their saving themselves for you. Let them know you value them.
- It would be good for fathers of young women to share their appreciation of modesty. I would hope this would be more in the line of praise and affirmation rather than rules. To have a young woman decide to save herself from the hands and eyes of others is a truly precious thing.
- I would like to see male peers affirm modesty in young women. I think it also good to have young women let the boys know that they like it when the boys care for their clothing. A little positive peer pressure can go a long way. I remember when in high school a young lady paid a compliment on my clothing, and it was surprising to see how much more important my dress became to me after that ;)
I have no interest in suppression of women, or in making them subservient or of lesser importance. I think modesty in its proper setting elevates and ennobles manhood and womanhood It shows the appreciation of their innate value, and wanting to preserve and protect it.
Cheers to the beauty and joy of modesty!