Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's my turn--

Over the past several months I've read any number of blog posts and counter blog posts on the issues of modesty, the priesthood, and other Mormon culture "hot topics." To be honest, there are very few that I agree with on either side of the issues. So here's the deal, I'm going to put in my two cents, not to say why someone else is wrong, not to wonder how people have the views they do (because I honestly don't know), but to be clear for myself and anyone who read this what I believe and why.

I generally hesitate to do this because I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but in a recent conference address Dallin H Oaks discussed things we often put before God and one of those things was political correctness, so I am making a point not to be silent. My goal is not to offend, but to clearly and blatantly speak the feelings of my mind and my heard about these topics.

I believe in being modest…
Modesty is a concept I've been taught from a young age. My personal standards for modesty are laid out in For the Strength of Youth and in the BYU Honor Code. Personally, I have no feelings of need to debate the idea of modesty, the FSOY is abundantly clear about why we should be modest:

"Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love HimProphets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act."

I've read so many people say they are against  the culture modesty or modest dressing because it shows a lack of understanding of the beauty of the body. They say naked bodies are beautiful and Mormons just don't have an appreciation for them. I've heard phrases like, "My hemline doesn't define my self worth." Or the all too famous, "It's not my responsibility to dress modestly so that [men] can control their thoughts. They need to be accountable for those, not me." These are generally followed by some sort of declaration along the lines of "So don't judge me for dressing immodestly just be you don't have the understanding that I do."

Personally, I find all of these to be inadequate and flawed arguments and probably resulted from well meaning teachers who went about teaching modesty in the wrong way or from comments of well meaning members who don't always think about the implications of your comments, because if there's one thing we know it's that the members of the church are not perfect. The human body is beautiful. It's one of Heavenly Father's creation. You are never going to hear me argue against that. The fact that the body is beautiful doesn't change the fact that it is sacred. We don't post images of the ordinances that take place in the temple because they are sacred, why then it is okay for individuals to post nude images of their sacred vessel? I don't view nude images because  I don't want to view something God gave them sacred to them, similar to the idea that I likely wouldn't view their patriarchal blessing because it is sacred. 

The declaration of self worth is also not a reason for immodest dress. Saying my modesty is not defined by my hemline is still supporting the idea that there is in fact a correlation between individual worth and modesty, which is the flawed the idea that your worth is in fact controlled by you hemline is trying to expose. You wouldn't say that wearing a shorter hemline is evidence that you DO know your worth would you? We know that our individual worth is infinite in the eyes of God modest or not, so it is not support or justification for immodest dress.

Lastly, the issue of a man's ability to control his thoughts has nothing to do with the purpose of modest dress. I am greatly opposed to that idea because I support the idea that men and women are accountable for their thoughts. However, this fact is not a counter reason for modesty.  The sin in immodest dress is not from the tempting of men, but in the fact that we are commanded to dress modestly. I'll talk about that more in a second… We are asked to support and sustain our priesthood holders. Modesty is already a commandment separate from this. The reality is, our priesthood holders are continually working at controlling their thoughts because of the way the world at large is, but if we can lessen that temptation in any way, why wouldn't we want to make it that much easier for them? This is not why I dress modestly, but it is an extra blessing that comes from living the standards of modest dress.

But most importantly, none of them can negate the fact that we have been counseled and instructed by prophets and apostles of our Heavenly Father to dress modestly. They don't address the fact that modesty is not about hiding my curves from other individuals, modesty is not about how others will perceive me or guarding myself from their judgements, and modesty is not for the purpose of helping the men in my life maintain clean and virtuous thoughts (that's just an added benefit that I'm more than happy to support).

the reality...
My modesty is a personal choice, I was not brainwashed or guilted into it. My modesty is a physical sign of my willingness to follow my Heavenly Father's instructions in every capacity that I can, because to be honest, while it may not always be the most convenient thing in the world wearing a skirt that goes to my knees is also not the hardest thing in the word and if Heavenly Father wants me to, I'll put in that extra effort every single time.  My modesty is one more way for me to allow the spirit more fully into my life because the spirit comes to me in greater abundance when I am making every effort to live the standards of the gospel. 

If you have views different than those I've expressed, I am not going to tell you that you're wrong, I'm not going to tell you or even think that you're a sinner or judge you for the clothes that you choose to wear or not wear, but I will boldly declare that my modesty has nothing to do with you or your perception of modesty, and everything to do with me, my choices, and how I choose to live my faith.

My modestly is for me. My modesty is for my Heavenly Father. That's all there is to it.

The other issue I see brought up a lot is the Ordain Women Movement. I am not really going to address this, except to say two things. One, for multiple reasons I am in strong opposition to this movement, and if you want to know why, I will be more than happy to tell you in private discussion because my goal is not to change anyone's mind. For now I am satisfied to say that I know the priesthood is the power of God and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are in control of our church. Two, if you are in anyway unsure about your opinion of this movement, do not leave your study to reading over the arguments for or agaist the movement posted by others, be educated yes, but base your study on the doctrines of the gospel. Make it a matter or personal study and prayer (and if you don't know where to start, I recommend that you listen this past general conference for some of that personal study, it was amazing, and I know it addressed the issues and concerns of my heart concerning these issues).

What I really want to address in relation to this movement is how we treat other members of the church with views different than ours. We are continually taught that we should love others and this DOES extent to members of our own church. We don't need to understand the views of others outside the church to love them as a child of God, and we don't need to understand the views of others inside the church to love them as a child of God. This goes both ways. 

During general conference I saw tweets that would say things like, "Did you hear that comment by [insert apostles name]? Take that Ordain Women." Or "I hope the Ordain Women Movement heard that. Time for them to repent." That is seriously uncalled for and inappropriate. 

What's the best way for Satan to destroy the efforts of the church to spread the gospel, bless the lives of others, and change the world? How about creating discord and anger within the ranks of the members? This is something both sides need to consider. The commandment to love one another applies to all of us. Just like forgiveness is independent to the repentance of the offender, our love is not to be conditioned upon the actions of others. We must have charity. 

It's okay that we don't always understand everything about one another.
We simply must understand the fundamental truth that we are children of God.
No misunderstanding, blogpost, or movement can change that.

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