FASHION

WHY MODESTY: THE MISEDUCATION OF MODEST

Why Modesty

MODESTY” is probably one of the most misunderstood and abused words in Christian sociolect. The way a woman dresses is usually earmarked as modesty. When people talk about “being modest”, it is almost exclusively a restrictive definition of showing no skin. Subsequently causing no temptation in the opposite sex.

MODESTY IS NOT EXCLUSIVE TO WOMEN

 We see the word translated as modest, Kosmios (kosmioß), used by Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Timothy 3:2. In chapter 2:9 he uses it to describe how a woman should present herself. Paul uses the same word in chapter 3:2. In this verse it is used to signify the qualities men need to have to be overseers. According to the Word, modesty is not exclusive to women. Or the way they dress.

MY STRUGGLE

Growing up, we went to a church that demanded we wear dresses and skirts. We were not allowed to wear pants – at all. We were never taught why we needed to wear skirts and dresses. And it was simply a command to do so with no questions asked. I did not like the idea because I had no understanding of why I needed to do it. So I would wear pants and all sorts of other things when I was not at church.

In my first year of varsity I attended a church that allowed me to dress in whatever -including in the church. So my wardrobe changed incredibly and embraced this new found freedom. For many years people seldomly saw me in a skirt or dress. I became one of those people who looked down on others for wearing skirts and dresses only.  

LOOK AT ME NOW

It was not until about a year ago that I finally got to understand what modesty is. I came to understand that it is not about wearing dresses and skirts. Modesty flows over into what we say and how we present ourselves to God and others. It is behaviour which flows out of our putting on Christ,  instead of ourselves. How we dress is a subset of the whole. The life of a Christian is one of service to others. Leading modest lives is an extension of that service.

And this is why it is easier for me to embrace modesty. Because I understand that what I wear does not make me modest. Rather, it is an outward expression of my modesty. Modest is not dictated by what we do, but why we do what we do. It is easy to be modest simply because it is a fad or the latest trend. If we are dressing modestly just to be seen, we fail to be modest. We can cover our cleavages all we want. If the heart behind why we do it is not right, it is all in vain.

MODEST ME

To be modest is to proclaim what is proper. And that can only happen with a true revelation of who God is. Most importantly, my outward appearance is nothing more than a representation of my holistic life. To avoid tempting the opposite sex is an act of service to others. And it is the responsibility of all people, male and female. Modesty is a beautiful thing which should not be reduced to simply feeding into society’s male focused exhortations on lust. 

Ayanda Ngena - Why Modesty
Ayanda Ngena - Why Modesty
Ayanda Ngena - Why Modesty
Ayanda Ngena - Why Modesty

22 Comments

  1. Firstly, this is a great post and you are a very pretty lady. I think the idea of modesty, much like the ideas of many things, is often skewed by our worldly lives and opinions. Modesty should not just mean “Cover your body to prevent eyes from wandering”, there’s more to it than that. It’s about what you believe and wanting to live a life pleasing to God. That’s it. Nothing else really matters but that.

  2. In my opinion, even church is changing these days as it what’s acceptable and not acceptable to wear to service/mass. Most of the churches I’ve attended are just happy to have parishioners attending than to worry about their clothes. As for not tempting the opposite sex, the responsibility is on us to not act like fools and treat women with respect.

  3. Good reminder of the definition of modesty. More people should question the root of their traditions. I like that when you take the definition of modesty, instead of simply copying the old traditions associated with it, it translates seamlessly into any society or situation. It’s a little outdated for modesty to be defined as skirts and dresses!

  4. Since time began, churches have set down rules about certain things. It’s pretty sad that one rule has been about what women should wear. I hope that they are now backing away from that, and allowing women to decide for themselves.

  5. I’m happy that you found your own understanding and way of demonstrating your values because really that’s what it’s all about. I think you asked important questions and found that best road for your and your beliefs. Thanks for sharing your experience and process with us.

  6. I have always disliked society, religion and culture dictating women about what to wear, how to behave and what not..It is very well known that the root causes are nothing but discrimination against women and the patriarchal societies desire to control women’s lives! I loved your perspective of modesty !

  7. This is a very interesting article. I definitely was not aware of the real meaning of the word modesty. I really enjoyed reading your experience with this and am so glad you found comfort with the word and its meaning.

    Thank you for posting!

  8. I was in the same boat, I had a grandmother who would make us dress in skirts, blouses, and short heels when we went to church with her and at the time I didn’t like or understand it either.

  9. The world we live in keeps evolving everyday. The way we were brought up plays a significant part in our adult years and beyond.
    But we need to keep our relevance in these age and times with modesty in mind.

  10. A godly woman endeavors to do everything with a “God-ward” perspective. She knows that God wants His people to be concerned for His glory and the spiritual state of their brothers and sisters in Christ! I guess I´m not a good woman!

  11. Modesty doesn’t just apply to clothing; it also applies to behavior. Different religious sects have their own set beliefs and rules. However, it’s always best if those in charge can explain the reasoning behind those restrictions.

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