Modesty for the Modern Catholic--Part 2: Why Modesty?

What is Modesty?  Modesty is the virtue of not drawing attention to ourself through our speech, dress, or conduct. Of course, this does not only apply to sexual attention--although that the most prevalent form of immodesty in our current culture—and it does not apply only to women. The Catechism states that,

Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should
remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one
looks at others and behaves towards them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their
solidarity…… Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience
and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving
and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires
one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy
curiosity. It is discreet.—2521 and 2522 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

You can purchase Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition from Amazon here!

Simply put, your speech, dress, and conduct guide how others look at and behave towards you. Modesty, the virtue of not drawing (sexual) attention to oneself, protects the dignity of both men and women, and promotes chastity until marriage and within marriage.

When we women use sexual language, dress in skimpy clothing and behave immodestly, we, albeit unintentionally, encourage men to see us as sexual objects, the means to satisfy sexual desire, and nothing more.   Why do we do this? All that attention makes us feel liked, beautiful, powerful, important and validated, albeit for all the wrong reasons.  Thus continues the dangerous cycle that has so damaged and desecrated God’s beautiful and perfect design for human sexuality. 

The result of sexual immodesty in our culture has been nothing short of disastrous.
· According to MSNBC, 30% of high school age students are sexually active
· One-Fourth of all high school students have an STD
· Depression and suicide among teens are at all-time highs
· 50% of all marriages end in divorce
· Only 11% of unmarried adults remain chaste until marriage 
· According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average man will have 7 sexual partners over his lifetime, with 29% having more than 15, and the average woman will have 4 sexual partners in her lifetime, with 9% having more than 15.
These statistics are incredibly sad, but even more tragic is our culture's lack understanding as to how we got to this point, and it's of accountability and misguided response to these issues. As faithful Christians, we can promote and protect modesty by being modest ourselves, understanding the church's teaching on the subject, explaining modesty to our children, and shielding our children from immodesty fervently.

So, what does modesty look like? Next week we will look at modesty in speech. What does it look like? How
do we "demand" it? Protect it? Teach our children to value it?   


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