I remember back in college as the school year came to a close and the weather began warming up, the campus priest would issue a request from the pulpit for the students to be mindful of their dress – particularly at Mass. It is no secret that modesty is virtually a thing of the past; browse yahoo, go to a department store, or simply walk down the street. “If you got it, flaunt it” is the hashtag of fashion. As men, I think we too often default to viewing modesty as a female virtue. I think that the way society has pushed to identify the female identity with the utilitarian aspects of a woman’s body is the primary culprit of these circumstances. Yet look at a Calvin Klein ad, watch a cologne commercial or take a trip to your local gym and you’ll find modesty is very much so an issue for men as well.
In the Old Testament, Saul was the first earthly King of Israel before David. Saul was the model of today’s secular standard for men. He came from a powerful family and he was wealthy; furthermore, what the Bible seems to note most about him was his physical prowess.
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish… He had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.
-1 Samuel 9:1-2
Indeed, Saul was exactly the leader the Israelites wanted, and the same “ideal” male that the world seeks today. But, God rejected Saul.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
-1 Samuel 16:7
Modesty, in terms of dress, has always been an act of humility to acknowledge the shallow value of physical appearances and prowess.
There was a time before two piece bikinis that men wore swim shirts to the beach. Perhaps a swim shirt isn’t necessary, but have you as a man ever had to consider how you dress? As the summer continues to heat up and we begin to shed layers, I would just ask that you pause and reflect on modesty as a virtue for men. As society turns up the volume on the objectification of women and men alike, this seems like a small and prudent step for us to take. If nothing else it can stand as a small act of solidarity with our sisters in Christ.