As followers of Jesus Christ, we seek to glorify Him in every way. One principle that helps us glorify Christ through our thoughts, actions, and appearance is modesty.
Through the decades, modesty has slowly become focused on style and clothing. While definitely an aspect of modesty, there is much more to it than the clothes we wear. We need to have spirit-filled conversations that help us truly internalized modesty and there is no better time to do so than the summer.
Why? Summer is a time when the issue of what clothes to wear comes up the most, as the heat makes people want to wear less. We have gathered five important do’s and don’ts about addressing modesty during the hot summer months.
Don’t Address Modesty in Public
We want to stand up for truth and righteousness. We want to be bold in our convictions. However, there is a difference between being bold and being rude.
A personal comment on modesty should never be addressed publically. This not only includes teaching or social environments but also making comments when others are around and can hear your discussion. Any critiques, which should only be given by someone with the stewardship to do so, should always be made in a private.
It is also important not to use modesty as a compliment when it comes to clothes in a public forum. For example, expressing gratitude for modesty when others around can be hurtful to those who have made different choices. It can even give the receiver of the compliment a false idea about why modesty is important.
Do Offer Sincere Compliments
If you appreciate the modest clothing choices of someone else, you can offer a compliment! There are just a few things to keep in mind.
- Compliment the person, not the clothes! Instead of say, “I love how modest your swimsuit is” consider saying, “I love how confident you are when you wear that swimsuit.” If you do like a particular aspect of the clothes, talk about how it compliments the person. For example, “I love the color/pattern/cut of your shirt! It really enhances your eyes/style/hair/figure.”
- Do not give a compliment with any other motive than to make someone feel more loved. This includes trying to encourage more modest choices.
- Do not gossip or make any other comment regarding someone else’s clothing choices in conjunction with your compliment.
A sincere compliment is designed to be a reminder that a person is a child of God. Even if someone makes different choices than yours with their clothing and style, look for ways to compliment them and see the good in them. This will cultivate an atmosphere where the spirit can dwell. With the spirit in abundance, good and inspired choices will naturally be made.
Don’t Focus on Girl’s Swimsuits
Modesty is too often focused on girls and women. In the summer, there is nothing like a girl’s swimsuit to incite anger and judgment. It is important the topic of modesty in the summer is addressed with people of all ages and genders. Focusing solely on what girls are wearing and doing perpetuates a culture devoid of harmony and the Holy Ghost.
Do Focus on Summer Situations
There are many situations in the summer that need to be addressed when it comes to modesty, especially by parents and youth leaders. These include vacations, swimming trips, campouts, and other outdoor activities.
Focus on the situation as a whole and everyone who will be involved. Address everyone together. If you do have a situation where modesty, as it relates to clothing, does need to be addressed, such as a church-sponsored campout or activity, make sure the standards are discussed ahead of time as a group. Invite anyone with concerns to come and talk with you privately. Give ample time between this discussion and the activity so you can address concerns without stress.
Don’t Use Others as Reasoning
It is easy to use others as a reason for modesty. Boys will get the wrong idea. Boys will be tempted. Girls will like you better. Girls don’t want a sissy. People like me better. People approve of me (see #1 on this list.)
Do not use others as a reason to be modest. Do not tell others these are the reasons why they should be modest. These reasons may seem to be powerful and impactful, but they do not build a foundation of faith.
Do Encourage a Relationship with Christ
When encouraging others to be modest or striving to build a more modest life yourself, focus on a relationship with Jesus Christ. How do your choices in dress and clothing affect this relationship? This should be at the heart of the modesty question. Evaluate how you would like to present yourself before Christ. Ask yourself for revelation on how he feels about your choices. Ask for inspiration on how you can live a more modest life overall, including through your thoughts and actions.
Don’t Equate Immodesty With Trash
We can get a little riled up about the topic of modesty…more than a little. Many people use very negative and shame-filled language to describe immodesty. We use language to equate immodesty with filth, trash, and perverseness. Instead of sharing a powerful testimony of why immodesty can be harmful to our spirits, we instead making people feel like filth and trash. We need to avoid this at all costs.
It is also important to discuss that modesty for many people is culture based. The clothes we wear takes on many different forms around the world that has nothing to do with immorality.
Do Discuss Your Personal Choice
Instead, share your personal experiences. Why has modesty been a choice you wanted to make? What was hard about it? What helped? How has your relationship with Christ changed?
Not only does this help you refrain from judging someone else, but it helps you remain strong in your convictions as you share them as God would have you.
Don’t Think Fewer Clothes is an Invitation
In the summer, people wear less fabric. It is a fact of life. However, wearing fewer clothes is never an invitation for inappropriate behavior. You should never treat someone in “skimpy” or “revealing” clothes as if they are being sexually forward with you. You should never touch someone without their express permission.
Do Treat Everyone With Respect
Everyone, regardless of how they dress, should be treated as a child of God. Be respectful, be polite, and use every opportunity as a ministering opportunity. If we remember this, summer can be filled with joyous occasions where the spirit dwells and true connections are made.