The word modesty is normally associated with females. It’s the woman’s job to dress modestly, and men don’t have much to do with it, right?
Hmm…let’s have a closer look at that. Modesty certainly applies to women, but it’s a topic that men should seriously consider as well. I began trying to get my boys to think about modesty a long time ago and here are 3 of the most important things I’d like them to learn.
1. Men also have a responsibility to be modest in appearance and deportment.
It’s not just the women’s job to dress modestly. In our home we teach our boys to not wear cut off shirts or to walk around outside without a shirt on. Tight exercise clothes or swim clothes are not allowed. It’s not talked about nearly as much, but men can certainly tempt women with tight, revealing clothes.
We also teach our boys to be careful with what message their clothes send. Dark clothing with skulls on it, shirts that mock parents or say things negative about siblings are not allowed. I prefer classic styles, and have loved the Gymboree brand for years now. I am selective even there, but they have many classic styles that are adorable.
(As an aside, right now is a great time to stock up on clothing (even for next winter!) because everything at Gymboree is $14.99 or under, with free shipping! That even includes $80 winter coats! Wow!)
We also want to raise boys with a modest deportment. Have you ever been around a man who is full of himself? Almost every single word they say is about themselves or their family, and they are prideful over every accomplishment in their life. One definition of modesty is “unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities or achievements.” We want to raise boys that are confident but do not think too highly of themselves.
2. Treat all women with respect, whether they are dressed modestly or not.
Obviously I appreciate women that dress modestly, especially when my husband and boys are present. However my boys must learn that all women must be treated with respect, even scantily clad women. The very fact that they are women demands that we show them basic respect (even if it does not appear that they respect themselves. Actually, this is all the more reason to show them respect.)
Treating all women with respect does not mean you honor every single lifestyle choice. However, we should not mock or laugh or treat someone harshly just because they are different then us. The most effective key to winning someone over to the Lord is through charity, and though that is difficult to exhibit at all times, it is the example our Savior has set before us.
3. Women are not responsible for keeping a man’s thought life pure!
While there is a huge emphasis on modesty for women (and I feel there should be), I refuse to teach my boys that women have to dress modestly to keep them from having lustful thoughts. Does it make it easier on them? Absolutely. As women we should be considerate and thoughtful of other men (especially our brothers in the Lord) and cover up! Don’t flaunt that cleavage or wear a skin tight short skirt that reveals every curve for them to feast their eyes on. But a man is ultimately responsible for keeping his thought life in check, and that requires a close walk with the Lord.
Growing up we were taught to keep our eyes on the floor when checking out at the grocery store with filthy magazines around. You have to actively teach your boys that there are pictures out there designed to make men look, and that they must turn away. For years now we have been teaching our boys this, and they are not even teenagers yet. I’ve heard of experiences of young men finding nasty pictures in the most innocent places at a young age and my husband and I know that this temptation will definitely present itself to our boys. We had on a beautiful classical music piece on our Apple TV the other day and up flashed a painting of a naked women. The boys were in the room and they both instantly said that was not good. It was one of those moments where you least expect a bad picture to appear – but they will and your boys have to be prepared for it.
Satan knows that one of man’s greatest weaknesses is lust. It’s been proven that even in countries where women cover themselves from head to toe in a long robe and even cover their faces with only their eyes showing, men still burn with lust. Remember when the military invaded the Osama bin Laden compound? There was a lot of pornography found there, and this in a culture that demands that women cover themselves to the fullest extent.
Don’t think that creating a culture of modestly dressed women will take away the lustful thoughts and desires of a man. Those things are taken away when he surrenders his thought life to the Lord.
When it comes to men, modesty is rarely if ever discussed, but it is an important topic that affects their lives in many, many ways. The sooner they acquire a wholesome view of modesty, both in regards to themselves and to women, the sooner they will come to understand how it can bless their lives and the lives of those around them.