Welcome back! It's been a bit since I updated my blog, so I've added a few this week. Today's thoughts are based on modesty, and the standpoint of the LDS church on dress and appearance.
The reason why I felt inspired to write about this is because of something I heard someone say once. It was an unmarried LDS (sort of) woman about 30 years of age and she said, "I don't have to dress modestly because I haven't made those covenants." It took a lot for me not to ask her what "covenants" she was referring to.
Lets back up a minute.
It isn't a secret to the world the LDS people where certain under garments that they receive once they go through the temple for the first time and get what are called their "endowments". Before that, they wear regular underwear just like everyone else. I guess, what the girl I mentioned above was thinking, was that because she had not been through the temple, and had not received her garments of endowment, that she did not have to dress modestly.
Much restraint was required on my part to correct her erroneous opinion on the LDS underwear. You know me and my big mouth...You would be proud that I didn't argue, or even make a peep about her comments.
But I couldn't hold my response in forever! Instead, it made it to my blog. ;)
I would like to clarify something. First, modesty is a choice. It isn't something LDS people are forced into. Second, it has little, if nothing, to do with the endowment process or garments.
To prove this isn't a personal opinion, I've pulled information off of LDS.org that shines light on the topic of modesty, and the viewpoint of the church.
To begin, modesty is taught to every church member. Male and female. And it starts at a very early age. There is something called The For Strength of Youth pamphlet that kids at the age of 12 read and study. It also has a small progress activity kids can complete and receive recognition for. There is a category in this pamphlet titled Dress and Appearance. To read the full article, here is the link: https://www.lds.org/youth/for-the-strength-of-youth/dress-and-appearance?lang=eng
I will quote just a portion of the article now:
"Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him.
When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act.
Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval."
After I reread this, the previously mentioned girl came to mind. Her opinion of modesty is clearly reflected in her choice of dress, which reflects the truth of the statement above. In the church, we are counseled to be groomed in a manner that is appropriate but also humble and respectful since our bodies are gifts, temples even, in the likeness of God. This counsel begins at age 12, perhaps even earlier if parents choose to talk about it within their home. It isn't reserved for older people, or those who have gone through the temple. It never says being modest is a covenant you make when you get LDS underwear.
Next, I want to mention that modesty is not just a way you dress, but a way you act. As quoted on lds.org, "Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 6:19)."
I recall my teenage self and those years of self discovery. I was quite thrilled with attracting attention to myself, especially from those cute boys I so desired approval from. Most of the girls my age didn't have strict modesty standards, and I was embarrassed by the rules my parents set. When I was in my early twenties, I reveled in the freedom I had with my wardrobe and attitude, experimenting with immodesty to every degree. What I discovered was not to my pleasure. The attention I received was not what I had imagined. The boys I attracted were not of good value, nor did they value me. I realized, after a couple of foolish years, that My body would only receive the respect I treated it with. On top of that, I understood that by using indecent dress and behavior to gather attention I was showing how insecure and lost I truly was. In my older years, I've discovered that true beauty is quiet, and real confidence does not need attention.
Carol McConkie stated, "Please remember that the principles of modesty shared here apply to both men and women, sons and daughters, and remember that even as we teach and exemplify modesty, we never condemn those who choose short skirts or “rainbow hair and the many splendored rings.”2 Always we exemplify compassion and Christlike love for the individual while we remain loyal to the standards the Lord has set."
Modesty in dress and appearance and in thought and behavior will help prepare us to make and keep sacred temple covenants. To bless and protect Adam and Eve, God gave them coats of skins to clothe them before sending them out of the garden. In like manner, God has given us a covering of covenants in mortality, symbolized by our sacred temple garments."
This brings me to the topic of the garments. I understand them As the symbols that they are, and the protection that they offer. While they do require us to be modest in clothing, because we are to keep them covered, the blessings we receive and the covenants we make concerning the garments are not focused on modesty as in a hemline or neckline. People who dress modestly only because they wear garments have misconstrued the meaning of modesty, and sadly, do not at all understand the covenants they made in the temple. I pray they soon study and figure out why we DO wear garments, BECAUSE THE BLESSINGS ARE POWERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL! In addition, there are blessings for those who are modest without wearing garments.
There is a common misconception that being modest means you can't be "sexy " or "pretty". In fact, a woman I worked with once said, "You can't make garments look cute!" I was aghast. I beg to differ, actually. I'd like to meet the person who thinks I can't look pretty because I cover my knees and shoulders. Yes, I'll brag for a second, I have made a hobby of fashion. I full all 5 of my closest and love to dress in coordinating ensembles every day, and I feel warm and fuzzy when people comment on how nice I look. Yes, I think I dress very cute, thank you very much. For the record, I feel beautiful, even MORE beautiful, when I respect my body and when I am complimented as a modestly dressed woman. Just the other day, Bertha, the sweet Hispanic cashier at Walmart, commented what a beautiful woman I was, standing there without makeup. (i had just put my dog to sleep and sported a sad, tear streaked face) God bless Bertha, and women like her everywhere.
It takes a lot of courage to be modest, in a world full of immodesty. It is very easy to go with the latest fashion trends and blend in, whether in appearance or action. To those who choose to follow the Lord's principle, there are great blessings in store.
1. To dress modestly is to invite the Spirit of God to be with you always.
I find it interesting that people will feel andoned by God, or wonder why their prayers aren't answered, of feel resentful of their situation in life, blaming God....I used to be one of them!!! But the truth is, the Spirit cannot abide in unholy places. Perhaps me, and these people, were not being modest in our lives. I know without a doubt that this was the reason I did not feel God in my life. Some people refer to it as karma, but for others it is the hand of God. If we aren't vesels for the Lord to work, then why would we be shocked to find ourselves in hardships here on Earth? May we be a little more aware of how we act, how we spend, how we talk, and how we love our fellow men.
2. Modesty helps us stand as a witness of God. When behaving poorly, we condone the evils of the world and show to those around us that we do not believe in morality or chastity. We do not stand above the corruption of the world, or stand for God, in honor of Him. Being a modest human, in deed, in thought, prepares us to become like Him and testifies to Him that we love Him,. It shows gratitude, humility, bravery.
Modesty is a choice, it can be made by anyone, at any age, of any gender. It is a reflection of love to our heavenly father and, because of its nature, keeps us in tune with the Spirit. It makes us more like Christ, and LESS like the popular world. Of course it might be difficult at times, and we may feel less accepted, but did Jesus feel popular and accepted ? No, in fact, he was hated by the whole world.
In conclusion, I would like to say I am proud of my choices to live a more modest life, by dressing appropriately, by spending less money on worldly things, and by deciding to care less about the approval of the world. I have a long way to go, but I will continually strive to be a witness to God, for myself and my children.