Gentlemen, it’s time we have an honest conversation about modesty. Now I know what you may be thinking: “Modesty? Isn’t that just for women?” The short answer is no.
The truth is, there is a growing need to talk about this subject with both young boys and adult men. I know that isn’t a widely agreed upon position; however, in order to adequately address this, we have to start by dispelling the lie that modesty is just a women’s issue. So before you close this article and throw on your favorite bro tank, take a few minutes to hear me out.
In today’s culture, modesty is typically associated with how we dress. Although the way we dress is an important aspect, leaving the definition there would be far too superficial. So let’s go deeper! The following is what the Catechism says in regards to modesty:
“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 toward them in conformity with the dignity of person 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” (CCC 2521-2522).
From this explanation, we can gather the following truths about modesty:
- Modesty is a virtue, not simply a nice suggestion.
- Modesty has more to do with one’s internal disposition; thus, influencing the way we choose to reveal ourselves externally.
- Modesty calls both men and women to greater love and compliments the overarching virtue of chastity.
It’s pretty clear that modesty is something we can all get behind. But we’re not quite done yet. We can still go deeper!
Modesty is a Virtue:
Virtue, a.k.a. the habit we form that helps us develop a firm disposition towards good, is not simply for a select few. Everyone is called to this type of lifestyle; especially men. You see, the word itself comes from the Latin root vir, meaning man. A lifestyle of virtue was, from the beginning, what true masculinity was meant to embody. Therefore, we can see that practicing modesty does not make a man less masculine; in fact, it makes him more masculine.
The Modest Disposition:
Modesty, being the virtue that it is, is meant to help form a solid internal disposition. This means that we cannot simply look at it from an external perspective; we have to examine the reason behind the practice. If we look back to the Catechism, we see that the practical application of modesty stems from a place of reverence for the dignity of oneself and others. As men, we are also called to uphold this dignity by guarding hearts and opposing lust. In order to do so effectively, we must choose modesty to the extent that it influences our words, thoughts, and actions; not just our outfits.
Modesty & Love:
At the heart of everything mentioned above is a simple small word; love. Love is a powerful driving force; however, anyone who knows what love truly is also knows that it comes with demands; modesty being one of them. You see, authentic love is sacrificial and chooses to will the good of another before one’s own. Therefore, by choosing modesty, we embark on a journey of self-denial for the sake of love. This can be challenging, but that struggle is precisely what purifies and strengthens the love in our hearts. That is why modesty, in combination with the overarching virtue of chastity, is so important for men of all ages.
So, whenever we hear the word modesty, let it serve as a reminder of our greatest calling in life, which is to love. This love that challenges us to think before we speak or act and temper our thoughts. All it takes is a few moments of honest reflection to start putting this into practice.