Whatever Happened to Modesty?
By Eli Hofer, minister, North Harlem Hutterian Brethren
Cultural behavior, styles, traditions and customs reveal how we internalize and work out what we believe; Much of which is grounded and rooted in Judean /Christian philosophies. As society moves further and further away from these principles, we see a shifting change in what determines modesty. Take for example the styles and fashions of yesteryears, and compare them to today. You will find that what once was considered very immodest, is today quite acceptable.
In every culture, clothes are a basic requirement. Even in the hot jungles of Africa, the inhabitants wear some minimal form of clothing.
The concept of modesty comes to us from our understanding of sin. The Bible tells us that without clothing, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were unashamed of their nakedness <Gen. 2:25>. After eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, however, they began to feel shame <Gen. 3:7-10>.
It is how we internalize the concept of sin that motivates modesty in our lives. Modesty is as much about revealing as it is about covering up. So if you find yourself very comfortable about flaunting your body, you need to ask yourself: ďWhat is my attitude concerning sin? Do I realize that sin is diabolical opposed to God and that my immodest behavior reveals a shallow, weak attitude towards sinĒ? Such an attitude inevitably allows us to practice sinful behavior without quilt and restraint. When we think that our actions really arenít so bad, or donít hurt anyone, etc.
sin entered the human experience, a change took place in their feelings about
their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked and they sewed fig
leaves... (Genesis 3:7)
the eating of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, the tendency to do evil was
internalized within the human consciousness. Previously, man and woman had an
intellectual choice between good and evil, but evil was outside the body, a
philosophical issue, not an inner tug or an emotional desire.
sin entered the world, a person's soul expressed itself through its body. Body
and soul were complete harmony with each other. For example, when the soul
wanted to pray, the body rose early and prayed. When the soul wanted to study
and grow, the body ate healthy foods and took care of itself.
sin became part of man, disharmony entered the human psyche. Now, when our soul
wants to pray, the body groans, turns over and shuts off the alarm clock.
When the soul strives for perfection, the body wants to indulge, watch
television and lie on the beach! The
body is no longer in the service of the soul, it no longer sprints to do its
bidding. Not only is the body not a reflection of the soul, they now work at
Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, their bodies were mirrors of their
souls; the soul being Godís image within a human being. There was no need to
cover up such a pure innocent expression of a person's spirituality.
once evil was incorporated into man, the body came to represent something
opposing to the soul. Therefore it became necessary to de-emphasize the physical
in order to emphasize the spiritual, to cover up the body in order to let the
soul shine through.
women are viewed only externally, devoid of internal character and spirituality,
they are stripped of their distinctive gifts and strengths. A danger exists that
they will be degraded. We see that
in cultures, which admire women mostly for their physical characteristics,
ultimately they degrade them and take advantage of them.
view of this perilous possibility -- coupled with a strong tendency among males
to notice the physical and external --
women would do well to de-emphasize their bodies in order to emphasize that
which is their real beauty: their inner strengths, their souls.
king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
A Christian must always go to Godís Word for his definition on what is sin, instead of what the rest of society decides is right or wrong.
Many innocent young people grow up to accept styles and fashionable attire without giving much thought to, or realizing how much is immodest, simple because everyone else dresses similarly.
So this week, dear readers, let us ever remember that our bodies are to be sanctified vessels for the Masterís use. And that how we dress does reflect our inner stance.