Growing up, every modesty talk I heard was always about this question. And, let me tell you – 14 year old me did not like this. I think it was this idea that made me reject modesty for so long and I know a lot of women who feel the same way. And honestly, I’ve avoided this topic on my blog for the last three years because I know a part of me still can get riled up by it. So, this post is for women who are still struggling with this question but also for those who get this question and don’t really know how to answer it.
Sadly, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no so I turned to the Catechism of the Catholic Church to make sure I don’t give you all the wrong response. In the Catechism, it states that we as participating members in society must work to promote the common good of all people to uphold human dignity. What this means is that each and every one of us has the responsibility of upholding virtue and goodness in our world. Going one step further than that, in the Catechism when speaking about sin it states that, “sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness” which means that personal sin very rarely exists – almost all sin is done in a social setting and leads to others around you sinning. This is what the church calls a “social sin.” So, while it may be easy to think it’s simply my decision to wear this and it only affects me – that’s not how living in society works.
This is some hard and serious stuff (sorry to start off a little dark) but this background is essential to answering the question. So, social sin exists… so the next logical question is; is immodesty a sin? To answer that question, we have to look at our intentions. There are so so many women, a lot of times me included, who simply aren’t thinking about modesty when they get dressed. You throw on a dress because it’s cute or a bikini because you don’t want to deal with weird tan lines. But also, sometimes we do have ulterior reasons for why we wear things.
For example, why did I wear spandex and a crop top to my freshmen year dance? (yes I totally did wear this and I’ve tried to delete every photo out there). The easy answer is I wore it because it’s what all my friends were wearing. But when I think about it, I wore it because I was insecure and I wanted to be seen and affirmed by any boy at the dance. And that is the insecurity we have to fight which, like I said in my post two days ago, is so so much easier said than done. Heck, just yesterday I found myself fighting the need to get affirmation from random men on the beach. I really had to sit and say, “come Holy Spirit,” for about a minute before I could continue going about my day.NOW, I would like to put a little disclaimer in here. There is only so much we as women can do to help our brothers avoid sin. They must work every single day to uphold our dignity and avoid reducing us to sexual objects. They are just as much responsible for the sin of objectification as we are for wearing revealing clothing. And, I know it may seem easy to simply say boys need to control themselves, and as humans with a freewill they do need to work towards just that, but they are fighting a hard battle against the devil and why would we ever want to hinder that? Don’t we want everyone to get into heaven? Why make it harder for someone struggling to fight the good fight?
So ladies, the answer to the question is this – it is our job to help men AND women get to heaven and, because we know that our brothers struggle in this specific area, why should we not WANT to do whatever we can to help them get there. I don’t know about you guys but I have a burning desire in my heart for everyone around me to get to heaven, and if this small sacrifice of wearing more modest clothing can help even one man – then I’m willing to dress this way for the rest of my life.