Religion Magazine

Modesty Rhetoric

By Ldsapologetics
"Judge not according to appearances but judge righteous judgment." John 7:24
According to Jewish interpretation for thousands of years righteous judgment means giving the benefit of the doubt. See Mishna avot 1:6. Recently a Lone Peak High School student was slut shamed for her dress not meeting the dress code.  Her mom is a lawyer and said the dress code says nothing about sleeves being required.  But the further point is the modesty rhetoric that in order for women to respect themselves and others they need to dress to a certain standard.  Which is the same line of thinking that lead to women wearing burkas and veils to hide their bodies, that women must feel shame if they are "too sexy." And if they get raped it is their fault for leading men on.

Many may think that no one would say that but I know several women who were told that they must have done something to provoke their attack, by Bishops, Stake Presidents and their friends and family members.  The result is that they, even decades later, cannot wear anything that isn't super modest.  Even though they put on a good facade, they feel insecure and broken inside and often rape victims suffer from PTSD due to the trauma or repeated traumas over several years. 
Victims don't just suffer during the abuses, the suffer every time they are asked "Are you sure you didn't lead them on?"  Or "Well, what were you wearing?"  As if that justifies or explains anything.  Maybe this is why the use of Prozac and other similar drugs are so high in Utah.  And Utah's rape cases are well above the national average but keep in mind that less than 10% of rapes even get reported with even less getting prosecuted.  So while it may seem like a dress code issue, there is far more than that in play.
Jesus said this:  

"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matthew 5:28
Jesus did not say that if you look upon a woman with lust, she needs to dress more modestly.  I have also heard men and women say that if a woman is dressed "immodestly" she is objectifying herself.  Which proves those men and women don't quite understand what the word objectifying actually means.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as this:
"to treat (someone) as an object rather than as a person."
We are taught by Jesus not to judge in the sense of being judgmental.  We need to discern or make judgment calls but we need not be judgmental and condemn others.  Jesus taught that if we want mercy we need to be merciful, that if we want forgiveness we must forgive, and that if we expect these things from God we must extend these things to our brothers and sisters. Our bodies are beautiful and creations of God, there is nothing inherently sinful about them.  The dirtiness and sinful attitudes toward our bodies are projected on to them, they are not inherent.  God creates nothing inherently evil or sinful.  And just because a young girl or woman does not meet your standards of dress and modesty does not mean there is anything sinful about them, it means they have their own standards.  If it's not your body, you have little to nothing to say.
If you have high standards of modesty, that's great but you have no right to project your body image hang ups on anyone else. It is a matter of being hyper judgmental in so far as modesty rhetoric is concerned.  And Jesus had nothing good to say about people being judgmental, for example: 
7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Matthew 7:1-3
Scripture is clear and so are the teachings of Jesus. For me these are easy to understand and follow because the more often these teachings are followed the easier it becomes to follow them moving forward. I am deeply upset by the highly superficial and shallow judgments I have seen in reaction to these incidents. Just because some women dress according to standards other than your own does not mean they are objectifying themselves.
I don't understand why it's so hard to not be judgmental and shallow.
I think we should have the freedom to live, worship and dress according to the dictates of our own conscience rather than according to the dictates of the modesty police.

Women who do not meet overzealous standards are guilty of no crime, but how did Jesus treat a woman who was?  A woman who had committed a sexual sin was not slut shamed by Christ, Christ lead by example not by force as Satan is want to do.
"They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." John 8:4-11
Jesus was without sin, yet He did not cast a stone.  Why?  Why did He save her life and then forgive her?  Because He saw value in her above her sins, above her standard of dress, He saw her worth as a daughter of God.  And so should we, regardless of how a person dresses, or speaks, or their profession.  

Standards of dress change with each generation. So why do we treat modesty circa 1950 as if it is an eternal principle? Women who dress immodestly according to Utah culture have not sinned they have merely offended the delicate sensibilities of self appointed modesty police.We are taught to love one another as Christ loves us, not to judge one another as Satan does.  It is Satan who shows us the perfected standard of Christ and then counts the ways in which we fail to live up to that standard.  Whereas Jesus gives us His grace.  And so we should give our grace, our forgiveness, our mercy to one another as Jesus did and does for us.

Modesty Rhetoric

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