...Modesty protects the mystery of persons, as the Catechism reminds us (No. 2522). Quicker than the eye can blink, immodesty can dispel mystery in a girl. And once that mystery is dispelled, what fills the void? Will a school or a town simply stop thinking of girls? It most surely will not. Instead, it will begin to think of them in a distorted way. It will begin to think of them as objects.
Webster’s defines an object as a “tangible and visible” entity. Immodesty so funnels attention onto a girl’s “tangible” body that it dismisses the intangibles that comprise her personality and immortal soul.
Girls once admired for their beautiful eyes, smiles, compassion, dignity or grace — or perhaps how they lovingly cared for younger siblings or patiently sat with an older grandparent — are now bluntly and crudely referred to as “hot.” Is it any wonder that America has successfully bred multiple generations of anorexic, bulimic and depressed young girls, each one struggling in vain to be a perfect “object”?
The more a girl is protected from being viewed as an object, the more likely she will be viewed as a mysterious gift from heaven with hopes, joys, sorrows, talents, thoughts, feelings, likes, dislikes and a precious personality all her own. It’s only then that her soul, made in the image and likeness of God, can begin to shine through. Each girl yearns for this, whether she knows it or not, because that is the truth of who she is, and of who she was made to be.
One major offense against modesty, so widely accepted in our day, is high hemlines. High hems among women are a relatively recent development. Throughout history, it was as if women, in their wisdom, instinctively saw themselves in need of the protection modesty offered. Prior to the early 1900s, for centuries, hemlines wavered somewhere between floor length to just above the ankle. Skirts began to slowly rise about the year 1912. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
In 1912 Margaret Sanger began to actively promulgate the concept of artificial birth control. Artificial birth control removed consequence from action, and thus led men toward the indiscriminate use of women as sexual objects. Is it coincidence that the promulgation of artificial birth control is timed precisely with the onset of higher hems, which reflect that objectification?
Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae explained how artificial birth control can “open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. … A man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”
The birth control pill was fully legalized in 1965, and in 1966 skirts rose to “miniskirt” level — again linking the advancing of contraception with increasing immodesty. Presumably, if one could protect women from pregnancy through contraception, one would not need clothing for that purpose. Contraception may have “protected” some women from becoming mothers. But contraception could never do what modest clothing does so well. It could never protect women from being viewed, and treated, as objects.
Contraception has led us down a dark path where every day women now delight in being viewed as “sexy” rather than decent, dignified or attractive. It’s a disturbing path where motherhood, a most miraculous vocation, is routinely shunned. It’s a path on which ordinary women, having been objectified for so long, now freely objectify themselves...
Sunday, August 22, 2010
The Importance of Modesty
An excerpt from a nice piece in the National Catholic Register on the importance of the virtue of modesty: