Whatever Happened to Modesty?


Cathy, by Cathy Guisewite

The author/artist of *Cathy*, Cathy Guisewite, presents a picture of clothing styles that have become widely accepted. So often people in our culture will wear clothing originally meant as ranchwear, swimwear or sleepwear, and will wear this clothing to work, to school and to church. Often, this clothing involves top cleavage, tummy cleavage (tummy showing?) and rear cleavage, as the author also observes. Another interesting observation is that the one person seeking to dress [what I would consider] modestly and appropriately is the odd-man-out, and is viewed with amazement by others.

The Bible addresses the issue of modesty. The following verse deals particularly with women and the clothing they should wear: Likewise, {I want} women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,– I Timothy 2:9 (New American Standard Bible © 1995 Lockman Foundation).

I have heard teaching that modesty is a completely flexible thing, a subjective thing, and is to be considered within the context of what is culturally acceptable. Such teaching would only recommend that Christian women stay on the conservative side of whatever is popular.

I’m not quite sure how to articulate the thought, but I believe that there is such a thing as objective modesty. For one thing, the Bible does speak of certain parts of the body as being *less honourable* or *uncomely* (King James version of the Bible), or as *unpresentable* in the New King James version:

And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,– I Corinthians 12:23 (New King James Version © 1982 Thomas Nelson)

I especially like how it sounds in this version:

And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen,– I Corinthians 12:23 (New Living Translation © 1996 Tyndale Charitable Trust) (Emphasis added)

Does anyone have some excellent, Biblical material to read on the subject of OBJECTIVE MODESTY? Thank you.

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