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Modesty Police verses Doctrine

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My daughter came home from her singles ward combine Sunday School meeting this last Sunday and was very discouraged with the topic of the lesson.

The bishops wife gave the lesson, she along with many of the men in the class emphasized how it is the responsibility of the women to dress modestly to prevent men from having inappropriate thoughts and actions.

This is not the first time I have heard this concept taught. This is neither doctrine or appropriate. In fact it communicates a very unhealthy message and ignores our personal agency and responsibility over our own thoughts and actions.

Have you heard this message taught and how how you responded?

 

I really enjoyed this article it communicated, in my opinion, the correct concept.

"If you want your daughter (and hopefully son) to dress modestly because you want them to value their intrinsic self over their outer self? Fabulous. If you want your daughter (and hopefully son) to dress modestly to create healthy attitudes toward sexuality? Great. If you want your daughter (and hopefully son) to dress modestly to glorify the Creator of all things? Boo-ya. If you want your daughter (and hopefully son) to dress modestly because it is a long standing tradition of your church/synagogue/people/culture/or group? Awesome possum.

But don’t you dare say it is to protect my son. Because I am teaching my son that he is responsible for each of his thoughts and actions. I am teaching my son that he needs to treat females and males respectfully, no matter what they wear. I am teaching my son that the media uses sex to sell things and that he’s strong enough to not be manipulated by a woman’s body. I’m teaching my son to use his mind over his groin and I’m teaching him that women are more than just their body parts."

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/modesty-police-hurting-son-jvinc/

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The bishops wife gave the lesson, she along with many of the men in the class emphasized how it is the responsibility of the women to dress modestly to prevent men from having inappropriate thoughts and actions.

I feel like this concept is degrading to both men and women.

Its degrading to women because its like saying that a victim of rape is at fault for the rape because she dressed provocatively. Sure, it probably didn't help things, and it may have made her a target, but she certainly isn't at fault. Likewise, women who don't dress modestly may make themselves the target for inappropriate thoughts, but it certainly doesn't automatically make them responsible or at fault for those thoughts.

Its degrading to men because it teaches them that they have no control over or responsibility for their own thoughts. That is as laughable as it is false. The only one who can control your thoughts is you, meaning that the only one responsible for the things you think is you.

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I strongly dislike that teaching, because it objectifies women. "Your body is a sexual object, you must hide it so as not to insight sexual feelings in others!" seems to be the jist of the message.

 

It's also a moving target. An outfit that doesn't "cause lust" in one man, may "cause lust" in another man. How in the world is a woman supposed to avoid all the various possibilities?

 

And, of course, it also debases men. It teaches them that he can't be in control of his urges, which is a lie. Men are much more than their sexual urges, just as women are much more than their bodies.

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I think they are trying to teach a valid idea...  But that the idea gets distorted into blame an fault finding.

 

Lets remove clothing as a factor and go generic.  The idea is that we all influence each other by our actions.   The people influenced have a choice on how they respond to that influence though, and they have full responsibility for that choice. 

 

But sometimes we need to ask ourselves some serious questions about the influence we have have on others due to the choices we make.

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It does not objectify women.  It reminds women of the great power they hold especially their power in the Priesthood order.

 

This has been taught by prophets and leaders of our church repeatedly.  This is the latest on the topic that I read from just last March's Ensign:

 

-----------------------

Immodest Dress

Our dress affects not only our thoughts and actions but also the thoughts and actions of others. Accordingly, Paul the Apostle counseled “women [to] adorn themselves in modest apparel” (1 Timothy 2:9).

The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure.4

Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self-respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.

 

----------------------

 

I love this teaching.  It has not, in no way and not even a smidgen of it, removed responsibility from men.  Nor has it, in any way and not even a smidgen, assigned blame to the women for a man's choice to act.  It simply and clearly - without much fuss and without much ado - tell women that they have that kind of power over humankind.  And with that power, they have a choice to wield it for good or wield it for evil.

 

For those sympathetic to OW - this is a reminder, that women does not need to be ordained to the Priesthood to have influence over God's Kingdom.  They have that power now.  And with that power comes heavy responsibilities with big consequences.

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While agreeing with Jenamarie's post, I think there's also a component of bearing one another's burdens (see, e.g., Romans 14) that--with reasonable limits--should come into play as well. The unfortunate thing is that as a Church, a lot of times we don't really think about how that underlying concept applies above and beyond the specific topic of modest apparel.

 

I'm always amused at those parents who say "my teenaged son doesn't engage in this activity--because I teach him not to, and dadgum it, he listens to me!!!"  It's particularly entertaining to see progressives who are fond of pointing out that conservatives' children's sexual behavior cannot be controlled (so we need free contraceptives!  We must have graphic sex education courses!  Because abstinence just won't work!); smugly assert that their own teenagers are inevitably going to (not?) think about sex in accordance with the demands of 21st-century feminism.

 

Sisters, y'all don't want to know what's going on in a teenaged boy's head.  Trust me.  Five minutes in our brains, and you'd be more than happy to spend the rest of your lives in a burka.

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"Your clothing expresses who you are. It sends messages about you, and it influences the way you and others act."

 

"Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, can stimulate desires and actions that violate the Lord’s law of chastity."

 

Robert D Hales:

"Moreover, what we wear will influence the behavior of others toward us.

 

"Consider why missionaries dress conservatively in a skirt and blouse or in a suit with a white shirt and tie. How might someone respond if the missionary had unkempt hair and if he or she were dressed in blue jeans, flip-flops, and a T-shirt with a tawdry printed message? That person might ask, “Is this a representative of God?” Why would that person want to engage in a serious conversation about the purpose of life or the Restoration of the gospel with such a missionary?

 

"Of course we don’t need to dress like missionaries all of the time. There are certainly times when modest casual clothing is appropriate. The point is this: How we dress affects how people react to us."

 

"We show love and respect for friends and associates when our language, dress, and behavior are not provocative or unduly casual."

 

Spencer W. Kimball

"One contributing factor to immodesty and a breakdown of moral values is the modern dress. I am sure that the immodest clothes that are worn by some of our young women, and their mothers, contribute directly and indirectly to the immorality of this age. Even fathers sometimes encourage it. I wonder if our young sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before young men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered.

 

“There was provided in our physical bodies, and this is sacred, a power of creation. A light, so to speak, that has the power to kindle other lights. This gift is to be used only within the sacred bonds of marriage. Through the exercise of this power of creation, a mortal body may be conceived, a spirit enter into it, and a new soul born into this life.

 

“This power is good. It can create and sustain family life, and it is in family life that we find the fountains of happiness. It is given to virtually every individual who is born into mortality. It is a sacred and significant power."

 

Boyd K. Packer

“You are growing up in a society where before you is the constant invitation to tamper with these sacred powers. … … The only righteous use of this sacred power is within the covenant of marriage. Never misuse these sacred powers” 

 

Dallin H. Oaks

"Young women, the principle of modesty—the commandment that you should avoid a tempting manner or appearance—is fixed and eternal and will not deviate.

 

"there is a point—which need not and perhaps cannot be identified in inches above the knee—where the wearer is calling attention to herself, exposing too much of her body, and sending off signals and inviting responses that are not consistent with the standards of the gospel."

 

Joseph Fielding Smith

“As I walk along the streets on my way to or from the Church Office Building, I see both young and older women, many of them ‘daughters of Zion,’ who are immodestly dressed. … The wearing of immodest clothing, which may seem like a small matter, takes something away from our young women or young men in the Church. It simply makes it more difficult to keep those eternal principles by which we will have to live if we are to return to the presence of our Father in heaven.”

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It does not objectify women.  It reminds women of the great power they hold especially their power in the Priesthood order.

 

This has been taught by prophets and leaders of our church repeatedly.  This is the latest on the topic that I read from just last March's Ensign:

 

-----------------------

Immodest Dress

Our dress affects not only our thoughts and actions but also the thoughts and actions of others. Accordingly, Paul the Apostle counseled “women [to] adorn themselves in modest apparel” (1 Timothy 2:9).

The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure.4

Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self-respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.

 

I don't disagree anatess. Most of the time it is taught clearly. In the context of this talk he IS emphasizing personal responsibility. However, and I want to be very clear and careful here. I love our prophets and respect them greatly. their is a very fine line between desiring to live and dress modestly because you know what is modest and you want to show respect in that way. And dressing in a way that will minimize others thoughts and reactions. That is very unhealthy and inappropriate.

 

Elder Callisters words; "The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure".4

 

Can easily be interpreted as, we are responsible for others thoughts and actions. Which is not what I believe was the intent of the talk, nor is it doctrinal or healthy.

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I believe a virtuous woman will dress modestly and in so doing will do all else within her power to dissuade men or women from having inappropriate thoughts.  At the same time, I expect virtuous men to turn away from women or men that encourage them to have inappropriate thoughts.

 

I would also point out that for some – regardless of the reason – they will find some fault in those that attempt in any way to encourage them to be modest.   When I was single and considering marriage most of the young women available were not endowed but I thought it wise to seek out a virtuous woman that would dress to a modesty standard worthy of the temple – even if and especially if they were not yet endowed.    I am grateful to have found a virtuous woman whose foremost goal was to marry a man that honorees his priesthood.   It is obvious it was not my look or my otherwise manly statue that won out.

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"Your clothing expresses who you are. It sends messages about you, and it influences the way you and others act."
 
"Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, can stimulate desires and actions that violate the Lord’s law of chastity."
 
Robert D Hales:
"Moreover, what we wear will influence the behavior of others toward us.
 
"Consider why missionaries dress conservatively in a skirt and blouse or in a suit with a white shirt and tie. How might someone respond if the missionary had unkempt hair and if he or she were dressed in blue jeans, flip-flops, and a T-shirt with a tawdry printed message? That person might ask, “Is this a representative of God?” Why would that person want to engage in a serious conversation about the purpose of life or the Restoration of the gospel with such a missionary?
 
"Of course we don’t need to dress like missionaries all of the time. There are certainly times when modest casual clothing is appropriate. The point is this: How we dress affects how people react to us."
 
"We show love and respect for friends and associates when our language, dress, and behavior are not provocative or unduly casual."
 
Spencer W. Kimball
"One contributing factor to immodesty and a breakdown of moral values is the modern dress. I am sure that the immodest clothes that are worn by some of our young women, and their mothers, contribute directly and indirectly to the immorality of this age. Even fathers sometimes encourage it. I wonder if our young sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before young men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered.
 
“There was provided in our physical bodies, and this is sacred, a power of creation. A light, so to speak, that has the power to kindle other lights. This gift is to be used only within the sacred bonds of marriage. Through the exercise of this power of creation, a mortal body may be conceived, a spirit enter into it, and a new soul born into this life.
 
“This power is good. It can create and sustain family life, and it is in family life that we find the fountains of happiness. It is given to virtually every individual who is born into mortality. It is a sacred and significant power."
 
Boyd K. Packer
“You are growing up in a society where before you is the constant invitation to tamper with these sacred powers. … … The only righteous use of this sacred power is within the covenant of marriage. Never misuse these sacred powers” 
 
Dallin H. Oaks
"Young women, the principle of modesty—the commandment that you should avoid a tempting manner or appearance—is fixed and eternal and will not deviate.
 
"there is a point—which need not and perhaps cannot be identified in inches above the knee—where the wearer is calling attention to herself, exposing too much of her body, and sending off signals and inviting responses that are not consistent with the standards of the gospel."
 
Joseph Fielding Smith
“As I walk along the streets on my way to or from the Church Office Building, I see both young and older women, many of them ‘daughters of Zion,’ who are immodestly dressed. … The wearing of immodest clothing, which may seem like a small matter, takes something away from our young women or young men in the Church. It simply makes it more difficult to keep those eternal principles by which we will have to live if we are to return to the presence of our Father in heaven.”

 

 

*head slap*

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I believe a virtuous woman will dress modestly and in so doing will do all else within her power to dissuade men or women from having inappropriate thoughts.  At the same time, I expect virtuous men to turn away from women or men that encourage them to have inappropriate thoughts.

 

Define modest.

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Can easily be interpreted as, we are responsible for others thoughts and actions. Which is not what I believe was the intent of the talk, nor is it doctrinal or healthy.

 

I dunno.  Paul taught that even though there's nothing wrong with eating meat that's been sacrificed to idols--if I eat such meat, in the presence of a Church member who believes that such an activity is sinful--

 

 

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.  [Romans 14:15]

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Thought 1: Sometimes I think this modesty discussion gets too focused on "what my clothing might make men ( and women, if we want to be gender neutral) think." With due appreciation to the Savior's teachings in Matt 5 (thoughts about something are the same as actually doing it), I think, socially, there is a dramatic difference between a man who sees a woman and spends the next week fantasizing about her and a man who sees a woman and seduces/rapes her. This kind of hit home to me in a brief internet exchange. One man said, "if you knew what a man thought, you'd be scared out of your mind." and the woman replied, "I am not afraid of what men think." It has made me wonder if the modesty discussion is too much about what others might be thinking. In some ways, as long as they keep their thoughts/hands/lips/etc. to themselves, it does not matter much what they are thinking.

 

Thought 2: Another observation that I have found interesting comes from the nudist community. Nudists are fond of claiming that they learn how to properly separate nudity from sexuality. We have all heard of "native" cultures where women go topless, and they do not sexualize the nudity that they are exposed to -- it is the cultural norm for them. It emphasizes to me that some of this modesty discussion is "cultural" and not "theological." I'm not promoting nudism or other less modest cultural dress standards, but it helps me see that no one is forced to think anything (let alone do anything) because they see a certain amount of skin. Everyone can properly respond in thought and (especially) action to what others wear or don't wear.

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I strongly dislike that teaching, because it objectifies women. "Your body is a sexual object, you must hide it so as not to insight sexual feelings in others!" seems to be the jist of the message.

 

This is a half truth and not the teaching of the church. Never has it been taught that we are only sexual objects. But we do have the power of procreation, and thereby we are sexual object. But the church's teaching is and always has been that we are SO much more than just this. But that does not take away from the fact that we are endowed with procreative power and we have the responsibility to be wise stewards over that.

 

 

And, of course, it also debases men. It teaches them that he can't be in control of his urges, which is a lie. Men are much more than their sexual urges, just as women are much more than their bodies.

 

This is baloney and a logical fallacy of mammoth proportions. The teaching has absolutely nothing to do with men's responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. It does not teach that men "cannot" control themselves.

 

What it teaches is that it's unwise to shove drugs in an addict's face. It's unwise to have sweets in the home where there are health and obesity issues. And it is unwise to expose female flesh to men struggling with lust (which, coincidentally, happens to be most men at some point in their lives). It advocate's wisdom, not the removal of choice or responsibility. My responsibility to not tempt others is not implying other's are not responsible. It would be like saying a parent has no responsibility to teach their children right principles because that would take away the child's agency. We are responsible for our influence over others. We are also, all, responsible for ourselves.

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That which is appropriate in the presents of G-d (or someone that holds his priesthood).

 

How does someone that holds the priesthood define modesty?

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Can easily be interpreted as, we are responsible for others thoughts and actions. Which is not what I believe was the intent of the talk, nor is it doctrinal or healthy.

 

 

Many people miss the point and go there...  I think the point is... If we know our actions are going to influence others a certain way (for good or ill) and we choose to take that action then we bear the responsibility for what we knowingly did.  Its is still our action and our choice that we are held for.  Just like the people we influenced are held to what they do

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Can easily be interpreted as, we are responsible for others thoughts and actions. Which is not what I believe was the intent of the talk, nor is it doctrinal or healthy.

 

We are not responsible for the influence we have on others? Really?  REALLY?

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I don't disagree anatess. Most of the time it is taught clearly. In the context of this talk he IS emphasizing personal responsibility....

 

And in the context of this discussion, we have one second-hand blurb from a 30-45 minute lesson. Maybe it was taught clearly there too, but you only got to hear the controversial part through a filter (your daughter's understanding).

 

Maybe it was given more context that there are other principles and purposes of modesty, and here's one more. Or maybe it was given more context that women are expected to cover up, and men are expected to cover up too (just because babylon accepts that you can sport without a shirt, or transition to your sport tee's on the court doesn't mean you get a pass). Or maybe it was given in the context of "you are sexual beings, and the Lord has placed limits on such activities. Here is how you can assist each other in not pushing the line."

 

Or maybe the context was no more nor less than what you've said, in which case the discussion we should be having is what could your daughter have done to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.

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Posted · Hidden by Just_A_Guy, July 15, 2014 - No reason given
Hidden by Just_A_Guy, July 15, 2014 - No reason given

*head slap*

 

*head slap* at your *head slap*

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It does not objectify women.  It reminds women of the great power they hold especially their power in the Priesthood order.

 

This has been taught by prophets and leaders of our church repeatedly.  This is the latest on the topic that I read from just last March's Ensign:

 

-----------------------

Immodest Dress

Our dress affects not only our thoughts and actions but also the thoughts and actions of others. Accordingly, Paul the Apostle counseled “women [to] adorn themselves in modest apparel” (1 Timothy 2:9).

 

The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure.4

Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self-respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.

 

 

 

 

The highlighted part is what causes issues, that quote is part of a speech given by Elder Callister who quoted Dallin H Oaks. while I agree with the church standards of dress these are the kind of statements that individuals grab onto and cause problems.

 

I think that the OP makes a valid point when a lesson is taught putting the responsibility on women to help control men's thoughts. This is unacceptable and clearly not church doctrine.

 

Some food for thought I happen to know the yoga pants are not allowed at BYUI even for working out. I fail to see how a girl wearing yoga pants in a gym is inappropriate.  

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And in the context of this discussion, we have one second-hand blurb from a 30-45 minute lesson. Maybe it was taught clearly there too, but you only got to hear the controversial part through a filter (your daughter's understanding).

 

Maybe it was given more context that there are other principles and purposes of modesty, and here's one more. Or maybe it was given more context that women are expected to cover up, and men are expected to cover up too (just because babylon accepts that you can sport without a shirt, or transition to your sport tee's on the court doesn't mean you get a pass). Or maybe it was given in the context of "you are sexual beings, and the Lord has placed limits on such activities. Here is how you can assist each other in not pushing the line."

 

Or maybe the context was no more nor less than what you've said, in which case the discussion we should be having is what could your daughter have done to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.

 

That is an interesting reply. 1. My daughter is a passionate journal writer and took through notes in class. 2. She felt an absence of the spirit in the lesson. 3. She instead wrote the thoughts the spirit prompted her with in her journal. 4. She did not feel comfortable at all in sharing her thoughts as the men in the room and the teacher were expressing in various ways that the responsibility lies with the women to make sure they don't tempt the men. 5. Thats why she waited to come home and have a discussion with her parents. She was confused at the message and how it fit into the doctrine of agency.

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The highlighted part is what causes issues, that quote is part of a speech given by Elder Callister who quoted Dallin H Oaks. while I agree with the church standards of dress these are the kind of statements that individuals grab onto and cause problems.

 

I think that the OP makes a valid point when a lesson is taught putting the responsibility on women to help control men's thoughts. This is unacceptable and clearly not church doctrine.

 

Some food for thought I happen to know the yoga pants are not allowed at BYUI even for working out. I fail to see how a girl wearing yoga pants in a gym is inappropriate.  

 

Correct. In this same ward, they held a beach party for the singles. As you would expect men wore their bathing suites with out shirts and my daughter was told that her tank-top was immodest and it would be best if she worn a normal shirt.

 

I don't think this is what the Brothern are trying to communicate. That we make others responsible for our emotions and sexual urges.

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The problem, and the lie in the protestation, is the idea that these modesty teachings imply that dressing sexy "makes" men do something. It does not, and never, anywhere, will you ever find any single teaching that says so. It does not "make" men think bad thoughts. What it potentially does is influence men to that end. All we do, say, speak, wear, etc., has the potential to influence others for good or for bad, and we ARE responsible to that end, without question. This is the plain truth of it. Twisting it to mean something other than what was said and then attacking the teaching does no one any good. It only works towards tearing down righteous principles.

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