Misunderstood Modesty

“Modesty” must be one of the most abused words in the Christianese dialect.

The idea of modesty has been almost exclusively attached to women’s dress, narrowing in definition to mean “showing less skin and trying to prevent sexual arousal in those looking on.” It has veritably become a subculture in Christendom, spawning a cacophony of bestsellers, brands, seminars, and internet firestorms.

In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul uses the word kosmios to describe how a woman should present herself, which is translated as “modest” or “respectable.” Kosmios is related to the word cosmos and connotes orderliness and propriety. Paul also uses the same word in 1 Timothy 3:2, which outlines the qualities men need to have to be overseers, and there it is translated as “respectable” (some versions say, “of good behavior”).

Clearly, modesty is not just a woman’s issue, and the Enemy of our souls would delight to see us reduce it to such. Consider how he’s expertly used our largely male-focused exhortations on lust to convince many women to fearfully hide their sin from the exposing light of confession, or to delude them into thinking their hungry, wandering eyes can’t be lust simply because they aren’t men.

Likewise, our stripped-down definition of the weighty and fearsome virtue of modesty gives our Enemy the opportunity to ply the same tired ploy against our brothers. Men have every bit of opportunity to be modest or immodest as their sisters, and that should be both a joy and a warning to them.

Read More at Desiring God.