Sunday, August 24, 2008

Modesty and Reverent Dress

I substitute taught in Relief Society for a friend today back in my married ward. The topic was chosen by Bishop Radmall, and it was Modesty and Reverent Dress.

The quotes are from the following articles:
A Sense of the Sacred, D. Todd Christofferson, June 2006 New Era
Modesty, Robert D. Hales, August 2008 Ensign

Here's my lesson:
Modesty is not a cultural tradition. It is a gospel principle first evidenced in the Garden of Eden.
Scripture: Genesis 3: 21 “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Question: Why is modesty so important? Why do we cover ourselves?
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3: 16–17 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Quote: Hales #1 “Our bodies are the temples of our spirits. Additionally, our bodies are the means by which we can bring souls from the presence of God to their mortal state. When we recognize our bodies as the gifts they are and when we understand the missions they help us fulfill, we protect and honor them by how we act and dress.”

Modesty encompasses our actions, speech, behaviors, and dress.
Quote: Hales #2 “Modesty is the center of being pure and chaste, both in thought and deed. Thus, because it guides and influences our thoughts, behaviors, and decisions, modesty is at the core of our character. Our clothing is more than just covering for our bodies; it reflects who we are and what we want to be, both here in mortality and in the eternities that will follow.”
Question: How has dressing modestly and acting modestly affected your life or correlated with your spirituality?
(My example of senior year)

Question: How does modesty correlate with the Spirit?
Quote: Hales #3“Modesty is fundamental to being worthy of the Spirit. To be modest is to be humble, and being humble invites the Spirit to be with us.
Quote: Christofferson #1 When you develop a deepening reverence for sacred things, the Holy Spirit becomes your constant companion. You grow in understanding and truth. The scriptures speak of it as a light that grows ‘brighter and brighter until the perfect day.’ That process is described as progressing from grace to grace. The Savior Himself progressed that way until He received a fulness, and you may follow in His footsteps. That is where a sense of the sacred will lead you.

On the other hand, those who do not appreciate holy things will lose them. Absent a feeling of reverence, they will grow increasingly casual in attitude and conduct. They will drift from the moorings that their covenants with God could provide. Their feelings of accountability to God will diminish and then be forgotten. Thereafter, they will care only about their own comfort and satisfying their uncontrolled appetites. Finally, they will come to despise sacred things, even God, and then they will despise themselves.”

Question: Why do you believe so many women do not dress modestly?
Lack of understanding, peer pressure, traditions of fathers, the media . . .
One of our responsibilities as Saints who understand the principle of modesty is to be an example to others. We must teach our children and be examples for our friends, coworkers, community members, siblings, parents, etc.
Quote: Christofferson #2 “I am afraid that many of my generation have not taught your generation to have a feeling for sacred things.”
Quote: Hales #4 “The world is becoming increasingly casual and informal. . . . Such informality may come in part because of indifference. It may come from a lack of understanding or a lack of proper example. We are now two or three generations into wearing casual apparel, and we may not all have had good examples of appropriate and modest dress. Popular culture generally has not provided good examples either.”
Quote: Hales #5 “It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children how to dress and prepare for worshipping in the houses of the Lord. Mothers and fathers can teach their children by taking special care to dress in such a way as to show modesty and reverence in their own appearance and behavior.”
Question: Who has been a good example in your life of modest clothing? Any stories you would like to share?

Part of dressing modestly is also to make it easier for others to respect you and keep their thoughts clean.
Quote: Elder’s Quorum Letter “We feel much more comfortable around you when you’re modestly dressed. When you’re modestly dressed, we can have friendly conversations with you without worrying about our eyes wandering. . . . We feel that modesty is a reflection of one’s devotion to the gospel. When a woman is modestly dressed, we know that we can be ourselves around her. It shows that she loves the Lord more than the opinions of others. Lastly, it shows that she knows who she is as a daughter of God, and that is much more attractive than a low-cut shirt.”
Quote: Hales #6 “When we attend a Church meeting, our purpose is to worship our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. Our clothing should show our reverence for Them. We do not dress to attract attention to ourselves, thus distracting others and causing the Spirit to depart.

On top of modesty, we are also required to go above and beyond that standard for Sunday and temple attendance. While jeans, flip flops, or graphic T-shirts are modest, they are certainly not Sunday best.
Quote: Christofferson #3 Elder Christofferson tells of a note he read where a young man was urging his companions to wear a suit and tie for a civic event. While not a sacred event, this young man recognized that your dress reflects respect for an event. The young man said, “he was going to dress more formally ‘not because I’m important, but because this occasion is so important.’ . . . It is really not about us. Acting and dressing in a way to honor sacred events and places is about God.”
Quote: Christofferson #4 “As immodest dress dishonors the body—God’s most sacred creation—immodest, casual, or sloppy dress and grooming at sacred times and places mocks the sacredness of the Lord’s house and what is taking place.
Quote: Christofferson #5 “It offends God when we come into his house, especially on His holy day, not groomed and dressed in the most careful and modest manner that our circumstances permit.”

Question: Why do we dress better for church and the temple than at other times? Why does it matter?
Quote: Christofferson #6 “Some say dress and hair don’t matter—they say it’s what’s inside that counts. I believe that it is what’s inside a person that truly counts, but that’s what worries me. Casual dress at holy places and events is a message about what is inside a person. It may be pride or rebellion or something else, but at a minimum it says, ‘I don’t get it. I don’t understand the difference between the sacred and the profane.’”
Quote: Hales #7 “How we feel on the inside shows on the outside. We show love and respect for ourselves and others by our attitude, speech, and dress. We show love and respect for Church leaders and ward or branch members by speaking, dressing, and behaving in a manner that does not bring inappropriate attention to ourselves. We show love and respect for friends and associates when our language, dress, and behavior are not provocative or unduly casual. And we show love and respect to the Lord through humble dress and behavior.”

Modesty is one way we separate ourselves from the world. It is one way to show we are disciples of Christ and know we are God’s children. As our world becomes increasingly immodest and casual, it is our duty to be a light and an example of modesty in behavior, clothing, and speech.

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