Sunday, July 20, 2014

Judgment Police verses Modesty Police

Modesty. It is a 'hot-button' topic with both sides claiming moral superiority, but the worldly opinion is securely behind the immodest. Recently, an article titled 'Three Immodestly Dressed Women Walked into a Church' ( raised the issue by giving each woman's reasoning for how she was dressed. Each woman's story was suitably heart-wrenching and demonstrated the bravery of these women for coming to church 'as they were'. It continued on the theme that we (the presumably judgmental 'modesty police') should understand where each and every person is coming from and acknowledge that they are 'broken'. In other words, modesty is relative and immodestly dressed people are already morally superior.

The only thing broken from my point of view is the record of 'immodest' protectors verses the 'modesty police'. What struck me most in this post was that each woman that was dressed immodestly knew and and was already feeling guilty for it. In general, the message we always hear is that we (the 'modesty police') shouldn't judge others. However, it's just as possible for these immodestly dressed ladies to be guilty of harshly judging themselves as well as others they deem 'holier than thou' or 'modesty police'. In modesty article after modesty article it is demanded the we (the presumed 'modesty police') give those dressed immodestly the benefit of the doubt and 'meet them where they are'. We, the presumed 'modesty police', are chastised for covering ourselves modestly. Our thoughts are assumed to be negative towards those dressed unlike ourselves. Author after author jumps to the defense of the immodestly church going while heaping accusations toward the modestly church going. 

Rare (and poorly received) is the article that explains how a modestly dressed woman feels towards her own modesty or someone else's. It is assumed that the modestly dressed woman vilifies the immodest and judges them harshly. Accused members of the modesty police are criticized for looking at as well as for not looking at the immodest among them. A glance at an immodestly dressed woman from a modestly dressed woman is assumed to be condemning, judgmental, and disdainful. Keeping modest eyes focused on Christ on the Cross instead of the immodestly dressed is also assumed to be condemning, judgmental, and disdainful. The rationale behind dressing modestly, how a modest woman feels about herself, and how she sees the world is seldom, if ever, explained.

As a modest woman I am often immediately labeled as judgmental, holier-than-thou, and 'perfect' (in a sarcastic sort of way). The secular world assumes that since I'm not flaunting my body for all to ogle I am ashamed of my body. Immodestly dressed women assume I think I'm better than them whether I say anything to them or not. Even the clergy sometimes assumes that if a woman dresses modestly (it's even worse if that woman wears a veil) she is holier-than-thou. Heaven forbid I have insecurities about myself, that I worry about how others see me, that I feel as 'broken' as anyone out there, and/or that I feel judged. My modesty has nothing to do with others-modest or immodest. I happen to think that the most flattering way to dress is modest. Wearing modest clothing (and a veil in the True Presence) is not a sign of my superiority, it is my sign of respect to the One superior to us all. Modesty presents an image to the world that is often not appreciated or acknowledged.

Our insecurities tend to make us defensive where no offense was meant. Maybe the 'disdainful' stare the immodestly dressed woman felt was really another woman thinking (and staring) at something in her memory. Maybe the disdainful look was actual focused on how the modest lady wishes she could fit into something similar. Maybe the 'cold shoulder' was really the 'modesty police' feeling uncomfortable - not because of the immodesty - because she felt her clothes or her body lacked style/flare/fit/etc and she wanted to be considered beautiful like the immodestly dressed woman. Maybe the kindly words of modesty were phrased poorly due to our anxiety stemming from the frequent backlash we receive. Maybe all the assuming has done more to divide us that the truth in our hearts. We ALL have our own hang-ups physically, mentally, and spiritually. Sometimes the ones who look like they have it all together are the ones hurting the most. There are times we all feel judged, but we aren't all justified in blaming others for judging us. We are often our harshest critic.

So instead of accusing others of being judgmental, perhaps we should all--modest, immodest, church-going, fallen-away, promiscuous, virginal, etc--look only be the best we can be without assuming anything of others. We should all pray for each other to be Holy as God calls us to be.

1 comment:

Karen faries said...

So glad to read this.I can't believe there are no comments. I believe we should be loving to others who are different from us.I don't believe it's fair to be put down/judged for my modest dress. Seems that tolerance and Grace only works for one side. The Bible is actually clear about how we should love one another and yet live holy lives as we follow the Holy Spirit. We are all responsible for ourselves and we Pray for guidance and to be like Jesus. Thanks again for sharIng your thoughts.

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