Our clothing expresses who we are. It sends messages about us, and it influences the way we and others act. Style and clothing are important to many but in order to keep focused on what’s important, and have an eternal perspective, modesty will become a priority when choosing what to wear. In my life, I have learned how to stay in style while dressing modestly and appropriately as a daughter of God. It has changed my life as it has given me the confidence to know that I don’t need to show more to be loved and accepted for who I truly am.
What can we teach our sons and daughters to help them have the courage to choose modesty in a world that would mock them for their virtuous choices?
Why is modesty so important? Why would a hemline, a neckline, or a T-shirt matter to the Lord? I am the mother of five daughters and two sons, and as you can imagine, the topic of modesty has come up in our home once in a while. But over the years, I have learned that modesty is taught best by teaching the doctrine and setting a positive example. The doctrine will help our children understand why modesty is so important, and our example will demonstrate the blessings of modesty in happy ways.
Modesty is a God-given principle that can help us learn to use our bodies appropriately here in mortality. The definition of modesty in True to the Faith is “An attitude of humility and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior.”1 Modesty is not vain or boastful. Modest people do not use their bodies or their behavior to seek approval from the world or to draw attention to their own real or supposed accomplishments or desirable attributes.
Please remember that the principles of modesty shared here apply to both men and women, sons and daughters, and remember that even as we teach and exemplify modesty, we never condemn those who choose short skirts or “rainbow hair and the many splendored rings.”2Always we exemplify compassion and Christlike love for the individual while we remain loyal to the standards the Lord has set.
I testify that the choices we make to appear and behave modestly send a powerful message that we understand our identity as sons and daughters of God and that we have chosen to stand in holy places.
I love this scripture: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17). Our bodies are the temples of our spirits. It is to this bodily temple that we invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I believe that when we choose to wear modest clothing and behave with a modest demeanor, we wear and we live our testimony of God the Eternal Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ. We witness by our physical appearance that we are disciples of Christ and that we live His gospel.
We live in a world of good and evil, and the physical body can be used for both righteous or wicked purposes. But we know that our precious bodies are a gift from God to each of us. They are sacred. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “To those who know and understand the plan of salvation, defiling the body is an act of rebellion [see Mosiah 2:36–37] and a denial of our true identity as sons and daughters of God.”3We choose to care for and protect our bodies so that we may be instruments in the hands of God to bring about His glorious purposes (see Alma 26:3). If we desire to stand for the Savior and do His work, we must ask ourselves, If the Savior stood beside us, would we feel comfortable in the clothing we wear?
Modesty in dress, appearance, thought, and behavior is evidence that we understand the covenants we have made that bless us, protect us, and empower us in our preparation to return to His presence. When we were baptized, we stepped out of the world and into the kingdom of God. Everything must be different for us. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “By choosing to be in His kingdom, we separate—not isolate—ourselves from the world. Our dress will be modest, our thoughts pure, our language clean.”4
Modesty is a principle that will help keep us safely on the covenant path as we progress to the presence of God. Modesty in dress and appearance and in thought and behavior will help prepare us to make and keep sacred temple covenants. To bless and protect Adam and Eve, God gave them coats of skins to clothe them before sending them out of the garden. In like manner, God has given us a covering of covenants in mortality, symbolized by our sacred temple garments.
What can we teach our sons and daughters to help them have the courage to choose modesty in a world that would mock and scorn them for their pure and virtuous choices? Do they see us using our bodies to draw attention or to glorify God?
Modesty in thought, word, appearance, and behavior helps us obtain three empowering and ennobling blessings.
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