Are there some some objective standards for modesty?

i know the catechism says that modesty varies from place to place and culture to culture.

but aren’t there some standards everyone should follow?

or what about when modesty changes in a given society?

for example, people thoughts ankles provoked lust in the middle ages/renaissance but not breasts.

in certain periods, hair was considered erotic

attire for certain activities used to be considered immodest, gymnastics outfits, ballet outfits, swimsuits

now in our culture, what makes us say that tight pants, mini skitrs, and bikinis are immodest?

isn’t it almost like a moral vacuum?

It is subjective and personal. It is governed by the intention of the individual wearing the clothes.

I don’t think we ought to get too hung up on how people dress. There are far, far more important things to concern ourselves with.

:thumbsup:

I would say yes, but very few. Covering one’s privates, and that’s about it. There are a whole lot of subjective standards that one need follow though that combine culture, motive and the effect on others. I think it is a mistake to get caught up in a lack of objective standards. It could too easily be a cop out, an excuse to ignore the admonition against immodest dress.

My thoughts exactly!

In African countries like ours, there are endless discussions on how people should dress modestly, and similarly, complaints on how ‘the youth of today’ dress, to no end. This is too short, this is too low, this is too tight, gosh!

A few weeks ago, my parish church introduced a mandatory dress code for all to follow during mass. No wearing t-shirts with a lot of writings, no jeans, no sagging trousers. Men aren’t allowed to come with plaited hair or wearing earrings.

And the women? No skirts above the knee, no wearing trousers, no tank tops, no sleeveless blouses, no plunging necklines, no figure hugging dresses etc.

God knows what the fuss is all about. It’s not like 90% of the women come all dressed up; it’s a very small minority. But then, we just can’t get it in our minds that there are bigger fish to fry. And we have a lot of issues.

And, if a man wears earrings, does it mean he won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven? (here, a man wearing earrings or plaiting is considered by some as embracing you-know-what).

My advice to all is to dress smartly according to the place you’re supposed to go. If you think the place you’ll go frowns on lots of skin on show then cover up.

Rant over.

Answering your question, it’s subjective. Here you can wear a short skirt and go to the mall or to a friends party, or certain offices, and no one bats an eyelid. But never try that in an open air market or some government offices. So everyone has his own perception on what’s modest, really.

Did Jesus insist on a ‘dress code’ at the Sermon on the Mount?

Agreed.

I cannot say there is one.

But watch the thread.
Eventually there will be those that justify immodest dress and actions.

Perhaps there should be a standard to prevent the slide down the slope.

I know I am going to get shot down, but I am going to post this anyway.

At a church (not the one I go to) a young man turned up to a special Service dressed in a track suit and trainers. A person next to me unkindly criticised his clothes, exercising great restraint I simply replied that I had great admiration for the young man having been privileged to hear his awesome life story. That young man overcame drug and alcohol abuse, an unhappy childhood, suffers from learning difficulties and is working on other mental health problems. And by golly, his face radiates with love for God.

I don’t care what anyone wears, so long as they COME, place their bottoms on one of our very many empty pews and listen to God’s word. I don’t care if they don’t kneel or stand, it will come in time. If Jesus could embrace lepers, Bishops and Priests say mass in the slums and wash the feet of dirty diseased people, why can’t we try to welcome people with a smile?

Rant over. Shoot me down but I will still pop up as I believe in the Universal (i.e. Catholic) Church not a snooty middle class stone throwing church.

I will not shoot you down. You show half the issue very well, and really, the only half we need to concern ourselves with in public. Namely, that we accept all without judgment. The other half is that we are still called to modesty ourselves, so as we grow closer to God, we should dress in what manner we deem appropriate to modesty, without imposing that on others.

You are right. There is no need to be snooty and proud either of our own sense of modesty or our own sense of being enlightened. There should never be stones thrown at anyone who is still on their pilgrimage, either because the do not live up to our own sense of modesty or because we deem them too judgmental of others.

I agree with you that we shouldn’t judge, but I do think people should make an effort.

If someone shows up in a track suit and trainers, don’t comment, don’t make a fuss; you never know their story. But I do think that it is the responsibility of the individual to present themselves nicely. I doubt it’s a mortal sin to show up dressed sloppily, but it’s a nice thought to do what you can to dress up, to make the occassion special.

Many people at my parish show up in jeans like they just came from school, but I don’t mind. They’re attending the service, they’re showing their love. But I still personally prefer to wear skirts and a hat and make the mass, the highest form of worship and celebration, a true dress-up occassion.

You mentioned snooty middle class, but I don’t think you need to be snooty middle class. I bought my dresses at Goodwill for a dollar or so apiece, my shoes are generally 2 or 3 years old. I highly disagree that lots of money is necessary for looking nice. And it doesn’t matter whether or not you ever developed a sense of style; it is always clear when you put effort in.

It’s certainly much less of a priority than coming to the mass in the first place. And I will never judge somebody for coming to church in casual clothing, particularly at one of the modern mass where a dress shirt with jeans is the epitome of fancy dress. But clothing and nice attire is another way to show respect towards God, and to carry yourself with a proper Christian dignity.

Very well said. Great post.

And how do you know that the person isn’t '“making an effort”? By thinking that someone isn’t making an effort, you are in fact judging them. You are also applying your own personal standard of what dressing ‘nicely’ is.

That’s your personal choice.

And what does or does not constitute ‘looking nice’ is subjective to the individual.

If we are wasting our time looking at our brother and thinking, “I wish he would make more of an effort to dress nicely for mass and make an effort” then, in my opinion, we are completely missing the point. Look in the mirror by all means, judge how you dress, but looking at others and making judgments on them based on how they dress (because that is what it is) is snooty and ought to have no place in our Church.

Well, that’s why I said we shouldn’t judge them. I did say that I will not look at a person and think less of them for dressing in jeans or a track suit. All I said was that personally, within our own hearts, it’s a nice thing to dress up for church. In our society, it is skirts and dresses (for woman) that are considered dressing up and looking nice, but like you pointed out, it is not subjective to outside opinion.

If somebody is making an effort to look nice by wearing a track suit, maybe it’s the only thing they have that’s clean or maybe they think it looks snazzy, all power to them. You’re misinterpreting what I said : I used examples of skirts and dresses, but as with EVERYTHING in Catholicism, it’s the thought that counts. I don’t believe there is any sin or anything at all that isn’t based on effort and intention; modesty just happens to be a bit more visible to the world. I will not judge anybody because like I said, I don’t know their thoughts or their story.

I’m not sure if my opinion is wanted or anything considering I am no longer Catholic, but here goes…

The church I go to we are asked to dress in our Sunday best, meaning shirt, tie, jacket and dress pants. Considering I’m a college student, with that I do my best.

One Sunday I was flying back to school after Thanksgiving break. I calculated everything and realized that if I just dropped off my suitcase and took a taxi, I’d make it to Church! The problem was that I was dressed in a casual button down shirt and jeans. Long story short, I made it to church dressed casually and in jeans.

When I shook hands with the bishop as I arrived I told him, “Sorry, my flight just landed.”
His response? “You made it and that’s what matters!”

I think it’s a sad day when people would rather not show up because they are afraid of being judged for their clothes.

A “mandatory” dress code? The women can’t wear trousers? Clearly, that’s not about modesty.

Was this rule drawn up by the priest (well-intentioned, no doubt)? And one wonders what the sanction is for failure to comply? One wonders if any parishioners have determined that the constraints are not acceptable?

Note that this was in Tanzania. There is a cultural element to modesty.

the standar is simple, dont wear what could be ocasion of sin where you live.

And that is the point. What happens when someone fails to comply with a church dress code?

Are they turned away for being inappropriately dressed? Denying someone access to Mass because you don’t approve of how they are dressed. Surely, to so that would be in itself a sinful act?

Do the congregation look at them disapprovingly going. “Tut, tut” under their breath, knowing that the person has broken the dress code? Surely that is setting the congregation up to commit sin at Holy Mass by judging their neighbour?

Dress codes work in clubs and restaurants, because a person can be reasonably turned away for failing to comply. This cannot happen at Mass.

Dress codes work for employees who can be given formal warnings for breach of contract. This obviously cannot happen at Mass.

The Church can teach about modesty, but then it is best left to individuals to make up their own minds, according to their own conscience, about how they ought to dress for Mass. Let each person concern himself only with how he (or his children) dress for Mass and not give a second thought to how others dress for Mass.

Did Jesus mention anything about dress code during his Sermon on the Mount?

[quote=Brendan 64] Quote:

Originally Posted by Rau

And one wonders what the sanction is for failure to comply?

And that is the point. What happens when someone fails to comply with a church dress code?

Are they turned away for being inappropriately dressed? Denying someone access to Mass because you don’t approve of how they are dressed. Surely, to so that would be in itself a sinful act?

Do the congregation look at them disapprovingly going. “Tut, tut” under their breath, knowing that the person has broken the dress code? Surely that is setting the congregation up to commit sin at Holy Mass by judging their neighbour?

Dress codes work in clubs and restaurants, because a person can be reasonably turned away for failing to comply. This cannot happen at Mass.

Dress codes work for employees who can be given formal warnings for breach of contract. This obviously cannot happen at Mass.

The Church can teach about modesty, but then it is best left to individuals to make up their own minds, according to their own conscience, about how they ought to dress for Mass. Let each person concern himself only with how he (or his children) dress for Mass and not give a second thought to how others dress for Mass.

Did Jesus mention anything about dress code during his Sermon on the Mount?
[/quote]

Saint Padre Pio would throw young ladies out of his confessional for not dressing to his standards. I don’t believe that modesty is relative to the individual. What about nuns or other religious? I understand that everyone is in a different faith place and has a different sum of money to work with, but I’ve seen people dress better for court than for church. I ask people to do the best they can with what they have. Just remember you’re in the presence of the Living God at Mass.

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