My fellow blogger Kelly Youngblood, an occasional commenter here, just wrote this on Christian modesty in terms of women’s dress.  Modesty actually includes a lot more than how women dress, but that’s what we’ll focus on for today.  I’ll wait for you to read it.  Hmm, hmm.  La la la.  K, are you done?  Good.

A number of similarities and contrasts struck me while reading it.

First, one of the main things Kelly laments about Christianity is “there is a broad range of what modesty may mean, and so the admonition to ‘be modest’ is generally unhelpful.”  Of course I found this interesting, since Judaism is VERY specific (to the dismay of many) about what modesty means.  Specifically, collarbones, elbows, knees, and everything in between, ought to be covered.  Nothing that is tight and form-fitting, or screaming for attention.

Next, she mentions that “modesty often tends to be about being covered up, but if that were the
case, then we should just all walk around in bathrobes.  I can’t think
of anything more covered up than that.”  I have learned in Judaism that women were created with the desire to look beautiful, and that this is a natural and honorable aspect of being a woman.  We should and must feel pretty, without being provocative.  So, clear one – no bathrobes.  Modesty is not just about covering up, it’s about allowing our inner loveliness and refinement to emerge without distractions.

She also discusses that “women are often told to dress modestly in order that they don’t cause
their Christian brothers to sin by causing them to lust after the
women.  Men are not warned in the same way…”  Interestingly, in Judaism women are warned more, although men certainly are as well, about HOW they look; but men are warned more, although women are as well, about WHAT they look at, and how they look at things.  In other words, men are cautioned more about objectifying women, and women are cautioned more not to allow themselves to be objectified.  In no way does this remove blame from the other gender – both are warned.  Of course, men could be objectified and women could objectify – but typically it goes the other way.

Finally, Kelly brings up the valid ideas that envy/objectification exists everywhere, so really, can you ever stop or avoid it?  The answer to that is that each person has to work on his own arena of fault.  If you tend to objectify people or be envious of what they show to the world, get a grip.  Could it ALSO be their fault, for flaunting?  Yup – that’s their arena of fault, not yours.

Thanks, Kelly, for getting me thinking about all these things.