Is Modesty Making You Ashamed of Your Body?
A few months ago, I wrote about a small group from the LDS Church that made a stand for women to be able to wear pants to Church. The thing is, lots of women, including me, wear pants to Church on occasion, and no one gives a hoot. I thought the entire thing was absurd, unnecessary and frivolous. Well, in hindsight that was nothing. Now there’s a group of women from my Church who want to make a new stand. This group, like the last, won’t get much support, not only because it’s a non-issue but because I believe they’re very misguided, not to mention out of their minds..
*Mormon Women Bare is the brainchild of Salt Lake City photographer Katrina Barker Anderson. Katrina is a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (LDS) who believes taking pictures of female members in the nude is a good thing. “For the women who chose to be photographed, this act of artistic expression helps them reclaim their bodies while protesting a system that has told them they must remain covered and careful.” It’s wrong to “remain covered and careful”? Reclaim their bodies from what? Modesty. Yes…that darned modesty is harming the women of the LDS Church and certainly modest women of other religions are suffering, too. On a serious note, while this is about a small group of Mormon women, it’s also about the teachings of the Bible.
Alright, so according to this group, the modesty standards of the LDS Church are too strict. Katrina told the *Daily Mail that she got the idea for Mormon Women Bare after reading several tales of modesty woe. One involved a school girl who was “shamed” by a friend for not wearing tights under her skirt. “Why has the modesty culture of the LDS church gotten so extreme in the past few years and what can we do about it,” she asked. Wearing tights under a skirt is “extreme”? How many of us remember having our skirts lifted by bratty boys in grade school? I sure do.
Is this really a “new trend” in the LDS Church? Not at all! To people outside of some churches, it’s really a hard concept to grasp for some reason, especially for young people. On the YouTube hit vlog, The Shaytards, the “stars” are a Mormon family who are often asked questions about their faith. One question I’ve seen time and time again, asked by their primarily pre-teen to teen viewers, is about how the mother, Colette, dresses her two young daughters. “Why do the girls always have stretch pants under their dresses,” they ask. When she made a video to explain why she and her girls dress modestly, I was shocked at how many commented that it was “stupid”, “silly” and how they’re “religious freaks”.
I found Anderson’s claim that the standards are “so extreme” lately odd. The Church even updated the dress suggestions for missionaries recently. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve, told LDS young women that “in the gospel of Jesus Christ, modesty in appearance is always in fashion. Our standards are not socially negotiable.” How true for all who follow Jesus Christ. So, what are the standards for adult women? There are none. There is no dress code. The closest I can come to actually explaining the “standards” is by giving you the suggestions given in the Church pamphlet, For the Strength of Youth:
Immodest clothing includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire. Young women should wear clothing that covers the shoulder and avoid clothing that is low-cut in the front or the back or revealing in any other manner. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. All should avoid extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle. Always be neat and clean and avoid being sloppy or inappropriately casual in dress, grooming, and manners. Ask yourself, ‘Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?
And, from Mormon.org, a simple explanation of preferred Sunday dress: “Members attending Sunday services will most likely be wearing their “Sunday best,” which may include suits, sport coats, and ties for the men and modest dresses or skirts for the women. Children also typically dress up for Sunday.” If you come to an LDS service, there’s women in pants and people in jeans. Is that really too restrictive for the nude models on Mormon Women Bare? Call me old-fashioned, but I think the dress standards are perfectly fine and in line with how most Christian families choose to dress themselves and their children. It’s also similar to the dress codes at many U.S. public schools, private schools and even businesses.
Anderson says her project is “absolutely defensible artistically”. She sees it as a celebration of women and the human form. Indeed, we are beautifully made by our Creator, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20. They are choosing to ignore the very clear advice given in the Bible, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” ~1 Timothy 2:9-10.
Mark, a dear friend of mine believes that people sometimes chose their church based on how they want to live their life. If they want to have an reason to ignore the Bible, or want to believe that heaven or hell is created by a person’s thoughts and actions, they join churches that believe the same. Certainly this isn’t true in all cases, but this photographer and her models; they should consider using it. Why not? Because to take something as meaningful and supported by scripture as modesty, and corrupting it into this ego-driven mess is so misguided. I’m not even talking about the nudity, I’m talking about the reasons being given. If they wish to pose nude, whatever, but to claim they’re doing it in objection to a specific churches modesty standards? This is biblical, not LDS. There’s a huge difference between modesty and body shaming. The churches that choose modest dress are following the Word of God, they’re not trying to make you feel bad about your body. It’s not about your feelings, and frankly, it ain’t always about you.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” ~1 Corinthians 3:16-17
*Because of the nudity and out of respect to readers of PolitiChicks.tv, I have decided not to link to the website or the interview discussed in this article.