I always feel the need to apologize when I haven't blogged in a while. I'm sorry. Life got in the way of my blogging. LOL!
Today, the topic most on my heart is modesty. I want to see how the definition of modesty has changed over time.
According to Webster's 1828 Dictionary, specifically feminine modesty is defined as
"In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor."
In Webster's 1913 Dictionary, the definition has been shortened to,
"Natural delicacy or shame regarding personal charms and the sexual relation; purity of thought and manners; due regard for propriety in speech or action."
Shorter still is the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,
"Reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior."
Is it just me, or have the standards of modesty decreased along with the words used to define it? LOL
I wonder if some dictionary would accept my modern interpretation of modesty. It is simply: If you are single, what is yours belongs to you alone. If you are married, you are your beloved's and your beloved is yours alone.
Some Scriptures pertaining to modesty:
Song of Solomon 6:3a (CJB), "I belong to the man I love, and he belongs to me"
Genesis 2:25 (NIV), "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."
Exodus 20:26 (AMP), "Neither shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness be not exposed upon it." (This verse is speaking of nakedness in the house of worship).
Proverbs 11:22 (NIV), "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion."
I Peter 3:3,4 (AMP), "Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; but let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God."
Each of us has to find our own balance in the area of modesty. There will always be two ends of the spectrum, those who feel that modesty is an outdated chauvinistic ideal and those who believe that modesty entails homeliness.
I believe the more time you spend in the Word, the more you will find the balance that is fitting for your unique calling. Your standard for modest does, and should change over the decades and seasons of your life. There were, in my past, red spiked heeled pumps with a fan on the side that I would have worn to catch my husband's eye when we were courting. The same shoes a few years after marriage would have been impractical and unwise when I had a baby on my hip and a toddler by the hand. Later when my vanity took a hit because I was now the mother of a teenager whose modern version of my red pumps seemed silly to me, until I remembered my own. Then there was the vanity of having a child ready to leave the nest and wondering if there is still time to were the red pumps for a little longer until age catches up to me and I have to trade cute for comfort.
Where does your heart lie on the spectrum of modesty? Do you feel it is outdated -- the bustier the better? Do you feel that the only real modesty there is would be to wear a burqa? Search the Scriptures and search your hearts. Allow the Lord to give you His standard for your modesty according to His calling on your life (you ARE walking in your calling, are you not?), "I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." Jeremiah 17:10 (AMP)