Ok, so let’s face it. When perusing the shelves for books or articles on modesty- the majority are aimed at teaching girls- young and old. Showing them why modesty is important, how dressing modestly helps the guys around them, how they can help their Christian brothers from lusting after them, etc. And, while these teachings have their place, I believe we MUST address the issue with our boys. Modesty is not just a girls’ issue- it has to be both. We have to teach our boys that modesty matters to them and it’s more than just a clothing issue, it’s a matter of the heart.
We can’t let a generation of boys grow up thinking that modesty is all about the way a girl dresses.
They have to understand from the very start: modesty means behaving in an appropriate manner, and that absolutely relates to them.
When teaching my boys about modesty, I have a few goals in mind. I want them to know what the word means, I want them to take responsibility for their own modesty, and lastly, I want to teach them that someone else’s lack of modesty is never an excuse to sin.
SO, WHAT DOES THIS ALL LOOK LIKE?
I believe the key is to have ongoing conversations, starting while they are young. There are 3 key conversations we can have with our sons.
CONVERSATION #1: “What does modesty mean?”
By definition, modesty means- “behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency”.
And because those are big words, we define further:
Impropriety: “a failure to observe standards or show due honesty or modesty; improper language, behavior, or character.” And Indecency: “an indecent act, gesture, or expression.” Or in other words- acting in a way that doesn’t fit the situation, or acting in a way that’s not acceptable.
So, modesty means having good behavior in speech, action and dress.
When we behave in a modest way, we are dressing, acting, and speaking in ways that firstly, show a respect for ourselves, and then others.
“So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31(AMP)
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(NKJV)
Conversation #2: “How do you take responsibility for your own modesty?”
This is great time to be able to tie in manners and respect for others. We want to be teaching these things to our boys! They need to learn respect for others, which is something that goes hand in hand with modesty.
They can learn by understanding what is being asked of them in different situations. You don’t wear the same clothing at the beach as you do in church, at a wedding, on a lazy Saturday afternoon, to the Prom, etc.
Discussing appropriate clothing is a great way to start, and from there you can address how to behave in those situations. If you’re at the library, is it ok to carry on like you would at a hockey game? You can also help your sons with appropriate speech. How should they speak to an adult, a friend, a teacher, someone who’s just lost a soccer game, had a really bad day, etc.?
The idea is to help them understand that there are right ways to behave, speak, and dress in different situations. Knowing the right way and setting clear expectations will help boys know what’s expected of them.
“So speak and so act as [people should] who are to be judged under the law of liberty [the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love].” James 2:12-13 (AMP)
Conversation #3: “What should your response be when someone isn’t behaving modestly? Is this an excuse for you to sin?”
We need to teach our boys that looking at someone and saying, “They were dressing inappropriately or behaving badly and that’s why I messed up” is never an ok response.
So whether it be a girl who’s dressing immodestly or another guy who’s acting up when he shouldn’t be, our boys need to know that at the end of the day the choices they make are their own and no one else’s.
We can equip them with the Word of God to know that “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
And also when they do mess up:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
If we help our boys understand that God is willing and ready to forgive us for our wrong actions, maybe they will be more willing to take responsibility and say yes, I did that, I have a problem with lust or anger or pride, etc.
Want to read more on modesty, from a man and woman’s perspective?