Selected Sunday Scriptures- #126

[Sorry for the late post. Busy day, and this post itself was rushed out. Apologies for missed mistakes and poor construction.]

In my most recent post I explored women’s dress. Today I want to explore some scripture that deals with the matter. Here we have St. Paul’s 1st Letter to Timothy:

also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire 10 but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion.

(1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Then we have St. Peter’s 1st Letter:

Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of robes, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

(1 Peter 3:3-4)

I know there are some other passages that would be appropriate, but I cannot think of them at the moment.

But what we have here is basic teaching on modesty. As I’ve argued elsewhere, modesty as the Christian understands it stands two functions: the first is to reduce sexual temptation, and the second is to avoid avarice and envy. Both of them, however, have as their base the following:

Wearing clothing or other adornment  such that others are not tempted into sin.

At the same time, that can be extended to include the wearer as well, who can no doubt be affected by the clothes she (or he) is wearing.

From looking at the admonishments above, and the previous post, we can see that a Christian understanding of modesty, as far as women is concerned, is about alleviating tendencies women face when dressing. As was pointed out in Dressed to Impress by Maea, “Women seem to fall into one of 3 groups– the women who dress for other women, the ones who dress for men, and the ones who dress for the sake of beauty.” Modesty aims to target the first two groups, or tendencies (which I think fits better).

The first tendency is to dress “for” other women. That is, to dress to impress other women with their own attractiveness, to show off their “value”, as well as to show off their wealth and social status. The second is when women dress “for” men. That is, to dress to impress men (or a specific man) with their sex appeal.

Modesty aims to stop both. It limits the signs of social status and wealth, and limits displays of attractiveness. Modest dress thus helps the woman who dresses as well as the men and women who see her later. Hopefully that third tendency, the one women should aim for, is what is elevated instead. At least, that is how I see it. Perhaps my readers have their own thoughts.


Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

6 responses to “Selected Sunday Scriptures- #126

  1. Hi Donal, my family and I dress for function and comfort. Does that fall under beauty, or is it a separate category?

  2. Joyce,

    I think an argument can be made for beauty. After all, St. Paul tells women to adorn themselves sensibly in seemly apparel, as befits religious women. And since ours is a God of the Good, the True and the Beautiful, well, I think that it all lines up.

  3. I really don’t like this post. What do you mean by modesty? Who decides? I also hate the idea that women should dress in a particular way to avoid tempting men to sin. Honestly mate, you say you’re a Catholic, but by the sound of this the Taliban is more the outfit for you.

  4. Kate

    One of the best things about sending your child to private, Catholic school is the uniform. On day one, the principal was on the loudspeaker reminding the children of the dress code, including admonitions against any dangling earrings. I though to myself, “Oh, yes. We are in the right place!”

    Myself, I wear my wedding ring, of course, and my assorted WalMart necklaces that my husband and daughter have picked out for me for various occasions. I prefer not to wear any jewelry that they haven’t purchased for me. Example: a co-worker’s wife makes her own jewelry that he gives as gifts at Christmas. He gave me a scarf she made, which I gave to my daughter. I would consider it improper to wear anything from another man no matter how innocuous or well-intentioned.

    In my opinion, a lot of ideas from Islam could be incorporated into our culture and improve it. And not the moderate ones. “Moderate Muslim” is code for “liberal,” don’t cha know.

  5. Kate,

    Much of what Islam has is cultural artifacts from the Arab people it sprang from. The funny thing is that for the longest time Christian practices were little different. True, we had no Naqba or Burka, but headscarves were common among women. And of course modest dress was the norm for any woman who didn’t want to be considered/thought a harlot.

    We don’t need to adopt anything from Islam. Rather, we just need to rediscover our heritage and the traditions of our past, especially as laid out by the Church Fathers.

  6. Also, I let the troll through because it amused me. Needed the laugh, and thought others might enjoy it too.

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