Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have the wonderful opportunity to try my best each and every day to become a better person and live God’s commandments as faithfully as I can. Being a “youth” or “young-adult” as a Mormon can sometimes be a bit challenging. There are many guidelines that our Heavenly Father has asked us to follow amidst today’s trends and worldly pressure. As the ways of the world change each and every day, and as standards become less and less “cool”, God’s commandments remain the same, making it much more difficult to always dress modestly.
Modesty has been the one standard that has been weighing upon my mind very heavily lately. There are so many opinions of what’s acceptable and what’s not, and I’m here to just share my own personal thoughts and opinions about it. Modesty is something that I take very seriously. I do NOT think it’s impossible to find clothing that properly covers our body. Heavenly Father promises us that if He gives us a commandment to do something, He will provide a way for us to accomplish it. (1 Nephi 3:7)
My own personal belief, along with what’s been outlined by the Lord, His prophets, and apostles, is that immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. We, as young women, should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. (I wish I could add a section for young men and their tank tops but I’ll restrain myself…) Ultimately, the goal is to prepare ourselves for the temple and the covenants we make within. My goal, personally, is to not have to drastically alter my clothing and appearance once I receive my temple garments.
So today I am going to share with you 6 reasons why I think modesty is so important, all the while incorporating the teachings of prophets, apostles, and leaders of our church. These reasons are my personal beliefs, and are all supported by teachings and doctrines of the gospel.
Reason #1: Our bodies are sacred. In the “True to the Faith” pamphlet, it reads, “Prophets have always counseled us to dress modestly. This counsel is founded on the truth that the human body is God’s sacred creation. We must respect our bodies as a gift from God. Through our dress and appearance, we can show the Lord that we know how precious our bodies are.” In the premortal existence, we had progressed as far as we could without actually receiving our bodies and experiencing mortality. I can imagine the overwhelming joy we felt as we awaited our chance to come to down to earth to receive our glorious bodies and prove to God that we would take care of them and one day faithfully return to Him. Satan knew all too well the positive excitement we felt towards receiving our own personal temples. As God’s children on earth today, He does nothing but try to get us to destroy our bodies; our precious gifts from God. Addiction, tattoos, premarital sex, eating disorders, and immodesty are all ways that Satan gets us to try to use our bodies in a very worldly, ungodly way. Are bodies should be respected and covered so we can show God that we understand how sacred they are. I think that to understand modesty is to understand the sacred power of procreation. Now when it comes to modesty, I’m not talking like a full on jumper, with a turtle neck and some mittens! It’s absolutely 100% possible to be modest and fashionable at the same time, but I’ll go into that later.
In 1 Corinthians 3: 16-17, it says, “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.” We are temples of God. We are His Spirit Children who have been given bodies to fully experience life on earth. Our bodies are blessings! We should treat and dress them with respect as best we can.
Reason #2: How we dress is a reflection of ourselves. As a Latter Day Saint, or any Christian really, we are taking upon the name of Jesus Christ. To be a Christian actually means to be a follower of Christ. We already have our identities as Latter Day Saints, it’s not something we need to search for, so the way we dress should represent Him. When we are baptized, we are taking Christ’s name upon us, and promising to try our best to be a disciple of Him at all times, in all things, and in all places. We are walking representations of the Savior. When we come to a choice of what to wear each day, I think we should confidently ask ourselves, “Would I feel comfortable standing in front of the Savior in this?” What’s worked best for me in my journey to modesty is changing my outfit the minute I find myself questioning if it’s modest or not. I personally want to display myself as a good person who understands and knows the Savior. I don’t think anyone leaves the house and thinks, “I want people to think badly of me!” As young women especially, I think we take seriously the opinions of our peers. We want to fit in and be cherished by others! I think the greatest way for us to achieve that is to show that we respect our bodies and understand who we truly are. The beautiful thing that happens is that as we dress modestly, we are reminding others of who they truly are.
Reason #3: Modest dress invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost. My favorite feeling in the entire world is the Holy Ghost. Receiving it as my constant companion at my baptism was the best gift I have ever been given. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I remember that in my Sophomore year of high school, I was having a hard time dressing modestly. I was starting to get into the trends of fashion, and I wanted to wear things that were trendy and cute, but were unfortunately not always modest. My shorts started at my knee, then shortened to my mid-thigh, then a little shorter… (I never wore booty-shorts, don’t worry….) It was summer time and I was hot. I just wanted some cute high wasted shorts to throw on with my 3 quarters sleeve button up shirt. It was summer and I was running to the store for 5 minutes, so why did it really matter what I was wearing? I decided to wear these cute, gray button up shorts one day while out with family. I was thrilled that I was spending time with my family, but I found that something had been bugging me all day. I was being short with others and was in a very irritable mood. Everything someone said made me upset and I just wanted to be alone. On our drive home, I was looking out the window playing back the events of that day. I couldn’t put my finger on why my day had gone so terribly and the reason as to why I was feeling so down. As I was pondering about this, I caught the reflection of my bare thighs in the window of the car. This wave of emotional realization came over me. I had realized that I didn’t have the companionship of the Holy Ghost with me that entire day. That feeling to me was pure misery! I know that sounds dramatic but it’s the only way I can describe it. From that day on, I made a vow to myself and to God that I would never purposefully dress immodestly again; not ever. I threw out all my pants that would tempt me. I felt empowered! As I have made and kept this promise, I have felt nothing but happiness and confidence in dressing in modest clothing. Sometimes the things I do or say can still drive away the Holy Ghost, but it’s reassuring to know that it’s never my clothing that’s driving away the spirit.
The Spirit is our own personal guide throughout this life. My friend Jasmine calls it our “super-conscience.” Being at an age where so many big choices are being made, I think it’s important for us as Latter Day Youth to dress modestly so that the Holy Ghost can be there to guide and direct us at any time. The Holy Ghost equals joy in my book. Why not want extra joy in your life?
Reason #4: It influences we and others think and act. I think it’s safe to say that we live in a pretty crazy world. Standards of society have pretty much taken a jump off the deep end! Pornography is everywhere we look. Flip on the TV? It’s there. Look at the magazines in the check-out isle? Oh! There it is again. One wrong click on the computer? What do you know! There it is again! (You get my point, right?) Pornography is at our fingertips. The last thing we need is another source to be exposed to it. I truly believe that the clothes some women wear (or the lack there of) are types of pornography. I was listening to a broadcast by a past young women’s leader for the church, Julie B. Beck, and she said that how we dress influences what spirit the young men have with them. Being a young man in today’s world, well at least I can imagine, is a VERY hard thing. Especially as a Latter Day Saint young man as you are counseled to keep your thoughts and actions both clean and pure. I think the way that we dress should be a source of refuge for these young men. They are constantly surrounded my immodesty and immorality, and I think that the least we can do is have a little respect for ourselves and for them by dressing modestly when they’re around.
In an article I was reading on LDS.org, (forgive me, I don’t remember what article, I was just taking notes…) immodesty was defined as worldly dress, clothing that excites passions/lusts, places emphasis on sex, and encourages immoral practices. My prayer is that as we dress ourselves each morning, that we chose clothing that will represent and show our true indentities.
Reason #5: Modesty represents our covenants. The temple is something very sacred and important in my life. One day I will have the opportunity to go through the temple and be able to receive blessings and power from above. I will also have the opportunity to make sacred covenants with my Father in Heaven and eternal companion through a temple sealing (also known as temple marriage). It is a day I eagerly look forward to. Members are given garments as a reminder of those covenants we make. On the Church Newsroom site, it says, “In our world of diverse religious observance, many people of faith wear special clothing as a reminder of sacred beliefs and commitments. This has been a common practice throughout history. Today, faithful adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wear temple garments. These garments are simple, white underclothing composed of two pieces. … Temple garments serve as a personal reminder of covenants made with God to lead good, honorable, Christlike lives.The wearing of temple garments is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.” (To read more, visit: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/temple-garments) Although I haven’t participated in those particular ordinances of the temple, I understand and know that as those higher covenants are taking place, our dress standards should be higher. At the temple, we are literally standing in the House of the Lord. Dressing immodestly shows a lack of understanding of the covenants we make in God’s Holy House. We receive very specific instruction when we receive our garments; they are symbols of all the covenants we make with God in the temple. Our clothing should show reverence and respect for the Lord.
Modest dress isn’t just for temple attendance. We should be comfortable in our dress and appearance at all times, in all things, and in all places.We may think that we live outside of the Lord’s presence, but we don’t!
Reason #6: Modest dress represents our level of conversion. This has been something that I’ve learned recently. Before I go into detail, I just want to clear up that I don’t think I’m more converted or have a stronger testimony of the gospel because I choose to dress modestly. There are still a lot of things that I struggle with each and every day. Modesty has definitely been something I’ve struggled with in my past and I’m willing to admit that whole-heartedly. But I’ve learned that as my testimony of the gospel have increased, my willingness and desire to dress modestly has increased also. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we don’t have “dress police.” We are a self-correcting people. When I chose to dress immodestly previously in my life, it was because of my lack of understanding and testimony of the importance of modesty. Did that mean that I didn’t have a testimony of the gospel? Absolutely not! I certainly did. I knew who I was and I knew that I had a Father in Heaven and Savior who loved me. I just hadn’t fully come to terms what modesty meant to me personally. I think a lot of times we can find ourselves judging others by their outer appearance. I would pray that those people I knew who saw my outfit that one day in my gray-high-wasted- shorts didn’t judge me for not having a testimony of the gospel. I would pray that none of us would do that! As we see friends, acquaintances, and people we love not covering their bodies in the way that they have been counseled to do, I think all we can do is love them even more and lead by example. It’s rarely ever our place to say something. Just pray and try to help them understand the importance of modesty and hopefully one day they will understand it’s importance.
I promise you, from my own personal experience, that dressing modestly will make you happier. As you grow to understand it more personally in your life, you will have a desire to cover up your bodies with purpose. I also promise you that dressing modestly in today’s world IS possible. Believe it or not, you can be modest and fashionable too! (I won senior class best dressed while maintaining the clothing standards! (sorry I usually don’t brag but when the opportunity comes…)) I personally am obsessed with fashion and shopping! I know that there are thousands of adorable ways to make your outfits modest and with compliance with the Lord’s standards. As you get dressed everyday, think how you are representing Him. I know that during summer, Arizona especially, it’s hard to dress modestly and stay cool at the same time. (I’m usually the one who chooses to stay inside or the one who’s still wearing cardigans and ankle boots in the summer but don’t mind me…)
I know that Heavenly Father will bless you with confidence, happiness, worth, and love as you prove to Him your willingness to obey His commandments. He will provide a way for you to dress modestly! He’ll even give you the courage you need to buy clothing that is temple-worthy. (Yes, even when deciding to buy that adorable vintage one-piece over that bikini or even the prom dress with sleeves over that cute one-shoulder gown) That’s a promise; from Him and from me. I truly love this gospel and for the all the opportunities it gives us to become more like the Savior each and every day.
Until next time, friends.