“Modest is Hottest” is not in the Bible
Joel Michael Herbert
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So while I track with this article’s point that the Scripture’s teaching focuses on the man’s accountability (totally agree) for sexual purity, and NOT women guarding a man’s purity; the problem is that the article seems to de-emphasis the Scriptural element of humility in sexual modesty. Covering up sexualized parts of your body- depending on context -is a humility issue. Do you try to draw attention to yourself or not? Muscle shirts on guys is a way of drawing attention to oneself. So is showing off parts of the body that your culture (broadly speaking) sexualizes. After all, there is some consensus on what is “sexy” even if there are differences in male preferences like the author pointed out. In general though, the Bible has plenty to say about humility, and the author clearly understands this. So the answer isn’t: “let’s stop worrying about clothing standards,” but rather let’s apply what the Bible actually says about humility to clothing like every other area of life. Also, it should be noted that we have a different clothing context than the 1st century. Temptation to costly garments was more of a thing than walking around the streets in bikinis in the summer for the early Christian community. So don’t expect the Bible to address issues that weren’t pervasive issues at the time, but could be in our time.

It should also be noted that early Christians talked quite frequently about clothing standards, mostly regarding the elaborate, but did include women not covering up (like in Clement of Alexandria). So evangelicals didn’t invent this modest thing by any means! This article might be short cited historically, and it does come off as a screed against evangelicals, because to the careful reader of church fathers, modesty for both men and women has been a consistent theme. Clement of Alexandria for example, again, also talks about male modesty and female modesty both. So the criticism of the author that we focus to much on female modestly is well received, it’s not necessarily an issue for other generations who expected men to have conservative hair and dress.

One last note, the author’s issue with cultural relativity or inability to tightly define immodesty should give pause to hyper-specificity or rigidness as it relates to dress, of course, but modesty applied to sexuality is still something to approximate even if cannot be rigidly defined. Sexual modesty is only vague if the idea of humility or not drawing attention to oneself is vague. So be careful about making the idea of sexual modesty useless, unless you undermine the idea of humility to do so.

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