Is Modesty a Lost Cause?

This past weekend the Kansas City Star, our local newspaper, posted an article titled
Is modesty a lost cause in this society?. The article featured input from a Protestant minister and a Jewish rabbi. The Rev. Holly McKissick, pastor of St. Andrew Christian Church, made this observation after telling about a very weird experience when she sat on a plane next to a couple who were sexually intimate:
Modesty is not about how we live in our own home, but how we live in public space, shared space. In that sense, modesty is about hospitality: acting in a way that makes others feel welcome, at home, comfortable. At times modesty requires that we reign in our own desires and preferences out of consideration for others. The couple on the plane were self-centered, narcissistic, inhospitable.
Here is a bit of what Rabbi Robert L. Tobin of Congregation Beth Shalom had to say about modesty:
There are certain settings — synagogue, church or mosque, for example — when certain attire would seem scandalous. We all have a line we draw, though we don’t all draw the line in the same place. The Jewish tradition teaches us to expand that sacred and respectful space beyond our sanctuaries and into our lives, dressing respectfully at all times. Some of us even wear special prayer shawls, called tzitzit, under our shirts to remind us of our obligations at all times. Yet also important — neither more nor less — is the call to wisdom that comes from genuine humility.
Firstly, I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Holly to be sitting next to that couple - pretty gross and disgusting display if you ask me. I have to admit that it is pretty indecent behavior. Yet I think that some in our culture might not find it offensive - Hollywood has convinced us that such behavior is representative of sexually "free" people.

I liked what the rabbi had to say about modesty, humility and dressing the same inside and out of your place of worship. To me it speaks of an integrated life - a life that does not draw artificial boundaries between the sacred and the secular. Of course I have also been made a bit uncomfortable by the immodest behavior of folks in religious settings.. but that could be a bit more about me than them.

Have you ever been made to feel uncomfortable by the immodest behavior of others?


  1. On a personal note ~ I always try to look and dress appropriate for my age and my Christian lifestyle. Fashionable, yes, sensual NO! That's for my husbands eyes only in private. I tell the young women I mentor ~~Check yourself before you go out. Our culture want us to look sexy, don't buy into it! God wants you to look good.

    I too am shocked at the display of unappropriate behavior and dress in public. I recall that Israel became so worldly, God said they couldn't even "blush".... I want to be able to "blush".

    Good article Bob!!

  2. There are so many things I could say on this topic, Bob, I don't think your blog could hold it all! But Instead of me blathering on and on, I'll choose just one aspect and allow others to expound as they will.

    The thing that many mothers of young school age children complain about is trying to find appropriate apparel for their daughters. Often the jeans are cut so low, the effect is very suggestive, not modest and comfortable. Gee, shouldn't little girls be able to bend over in public without exposing their rear ends to the entire world? Or be able to tuck their shirt tails into their pants? Can't we let little girls just be little girls anymore?


    Anyway, rant over.....for now! LOL!


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