Modesty – Is It Really What We Think It Is?

While doing some research for a post a couple of weeks ago, I came across something I had never really put a lot of thought into: modesty. And by not putting a lot of thought into it, I mean that I had grown up assuming that what I heard from the people around me was the correct way to think.

Please know that I don’t believe there is a definitive answer regarding modesty; everyone has different beliefs and different things with which they are comfortable.

My original view on modesty before this post: make sure your body is covered up enough as to not entice others. I don’t think I was on either extreme end of this – probably somewhere in the middle. I guess I try to not compare myself to others, so this is just my presumption (I have recently gotten into leggings, so maybe I have moved toward the “liberal” end of the spectrum, haha).

Anyway, this is the verse that started all of my thinking:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Read more about where this verse came from in this post.

Rachel Marie Stone wrote an article that addresses this very concern I had. She notes that the Greek word for modesty is kosmios which is translated as ‘of good behavior, modest,’ or in a letter from Paul as ‘respectable.’

As it turns out, this word that we often attribute to meaning “make sure your clothing covers you up” has very little (if anything) to do with the clothes you wear. Which makes sense, because there are many verses that talk a lot about not putting too much thought into the clothes/jewelry/makeup you wear, but rather to focus your energy on ensuring you have qualities such as gentleness, compassion, kindness, humility, and patience.

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Verses such as these, if you want more to study:

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. (Luke 12:23)

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Based on what I can see about the word for modesty, it seems like this verse should really say something along these lines: wear clothing that others find respectable. Have good behavior (behavior that deserves respect) and practice self-control. Don’t worry about fancy hair or spending a lot on jewelry, but focus on doing good works to spread the kingdom of God!

This verse is similar:

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

It seems that a lot of the bible says to not worry too much about clothes, hair, jewelry, etc. but to make sure you look and act in a respectable manner, focusing on cultivating good personality characteristics.

Do I think you should have your body hang out of your clothes? No, but I think that maybe we put too much emphasis on the “correct” amount of skin showing – I would like to challenge you that maybe there is no right way – that if you are respectable looking, that’s fine. And that everyone will have a slightly different of a view on this. And that’s okay.

So if people may have a different view on what is respectable, what are we to do? Well, Rachel Marie Stone has a thought on that too:

It’s easy for us to understand that certain occasions call for certain kinds of dress. It would be equally odd to wear an evening gown to help someone clean out a flooded basement as it would be to wear basement cleaning clothes to someone’s wedding. But it is often harder for us to accept that what is considered respectable, appropriate, and well ordered in other cultures is not categorically ‘wrong.’ (Rachel Marie Stone)

She goes on to state that in certain parts of Africa, knees are considered sensual. Seems weird to us (my knees are definitely not getting anyone excited), but covering up your knees is respectable and polite in that place. It would show disrespect if you had your knees hanging out, just for the sake of it. And really, is it that much of a burden to wear a longer skirt or shorts if you are in a place that has these values?

Are you dressing respectfully for your place in the world? And perhaps a more important question: are you cultivating good values in yourself? Something to think about this week.

 

If you liked this, feel free to share with your friends, just give credit where its due.

 

Easy DIY Skirt

So on one of my trips to the craft store before Christmas I found this great fabric. It has corduroy type fabric for the main section and a strip of elastic on one of the long sides. PERFECT for a skirt.

Even better: it was half-off the day I was there! I bought both colors available. You can’t get 2 skirts for $10 at a clothing store!

The problem was that I just wasn’t getting around to making my great skirts. But today is the day! Here is how I did it:

Step 1: Fabric Preparation

You can find instructions on that here. I chose not the zig zag the edges before washing, thinking it would be fine… I was wrong… Fray city!

Step 2: Cut

Measure around the part of your waist that you want the skirt to sit when it is finished. Divide your waist measurement by two and cut two pieces of fabric (measuring the elastic side) each to the “half” number. After cutting I zig-zagged up the sides to reduce fraying once I start wearing it.

Step 3: The pocket

Grab a piece of paper to trace your pocket “pattern” on. Basically, trace your hand or a pocket that you have in another article of clothing, remembering that pockets are usually angled down and curved at the bottom. Make sure you make the top straight, but on an angle. Here’s how mine were shaped, just for comparison.

Step 4: Cut Out The Pocket

Fold your pocket fabric so that you can cut through two layers, lay the “pattern” on the fabric and cut – leaving a seam allowance (.25 inch is usually the preference). I eyeballed my seam allowance and it worked fine. If you prefer, you can add the seam allowance to the pattern before you cut out your piece of paper. This should give you the back and front of one pocket. Do this again for the other pocket. (Shown above)

Step 5: Pin The Pocket

Decide where you want your pocket to sit. I wanted mine three inches below the elastic. You may want to take the seam allowance of the pockets when doing this – otherwise you may end up with your pockets to far down. Measure accordingly and pin the patterned side on the pocket to the patterned side of each skirt.

Step 6: Attach The Pocket

Sew each side of the pocket to the corresponding side of the skirt. Use the same amount of seam allowance you will use for the side seams. Double check to make sure that your fabric is facing the right direction BEFORE you start sewing.

Step 7: Create Your Skirt!

Fold the pocket flaps out. Each half of your skirt will look like it has wings. I found it helpful to in in this position. Then pin the two sides of the skirt together (pockets too!) with wrong sides out. Sew a 1/4 inch seam up each side, sewing around the pockets as you go.

Make sure the seam that runs up your elastic is secure – go over it again if you think you need to.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Fold the elastic seam toward the front and sew flat. Iron the rest of the seam going down the skirt.

Voila! A new skirt!

I will post some pictures once Mr. Canada gets a free minute to take some pictures of me wearing the new skirts! So check back on this post in the next few days!

ALSO!

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