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Modesty- Helping a Brother Out

December 17, 2011 1 comment

I’ve touched on the topic of modesty in a few of my other discussions, but wanted to give it some more attention. This specific blog applies more to women and a separate one (entitled “Manly Modesty”) will be addressed toward the guys and address respecting emotional differences.

In order to appreciate the virtue of modesty, it’s important first to understand its origin and its end. In the beginning, man and woman were both naked and without shame. They could look at each other and, with complete purity of heart, desire wholly to give themselves to each other as a gift. There was no need for them to cover up, because the only message that their body spoke was an invitation to love. This changed when man and woman endeavored to disobey God and gain knowledge of evil. We read as a first order effect that they discovered that they were naked and immediately sought to hide their bodies. Once the possibility (or “knowledge”) of evil enters the realm of humanity, the need for fig leaves instinctively follows. We are endowed with an innate understanding of the amazing goodness (not just goodness actually, but “very good”-ness) of our bodies, so we naturally seek to keep them from any form of degradation. The more obvious reason for this desire is a personal need for protection, but there is also an altruistic logic. The fig leaves are a mercy for the other. When Eve recognized this possibility of being seen as a mere object of lust instead of a subject of love, she covered her body to protect both herself AND Adam. She knew that the love that she was made for would suddenly be a challenge for Adam and, in her longing for that authentic union, established and demonstrated the newly appropriate virtue of modesty.

Modesty, at its root, is the will to help others love you as they should. It’s a recognition that we are a family in this world and that we can (and should) help each other grow in virtue. True, the men in your life have a responsibility to look at and treat you as a sister in Christ  – as a person and not a mere object – regardless of how you dress or act, but why not help us out where you can? If it were solely a desire to protect yourself it wouldn’t be a virtue; it would just be self-preservation. Virtue, by its nature, must be rooted in selfless love.   Read more…