Modesty and virtue are intertwined virtues in the scriptures and in the teachings of the Mormon Church. God has made his opinions on their importance in the scriptures undeniably clear. “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” He has also revealed that our bodies are temples. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” They are sacred and should be treated with respect. Certain aspects are revealed to the public so everyone can appreciate the beauty of the temple. Others are seem only during appropriate times by people in certain positions who have been deemed worthy beforehand. Therefore, the same is true of bodies. Some parts should be seen and admired respectfully while others should remain private except under special circumstances. This is the essence of why modesty is valuable.
Modesty is an important part of the Mormon lifestyle that has been under fire by some feminists groups despite the fact that modesty promotes real feminism. In the past, women’s clothes prohibited movement and comfort, and sometimes even had severe physical ramifications. There was also a focus on making sure the provocative female body was properly covered. This attitude propagated inequality and repression. Women’s clothing has changed along with their social standing. Throughout different cultures and time periods, women’s clothing has become less restrictive and inhibiting – allowing for greater physical mobility go with their new freedom. However, a lot of today’s style have gone too far in the opposite direction, promoting clothes that are tighter, lower, cut, and have high hemlines. This causes spiritual and social issues. On one hand, hand, when a woman completely covers her entire body (for example with a burka) she implicitly states – My body is dangerous and arouses sinful desires, I must keep a barrier between myself and the world and I am not capable or qualified to take charge of my own life. However, revealing and immodest clothing implicitly states something equally, if not more, problematic: any power I have comes through the desires my body arouses, I will only be useful if I am used and I am only valuable if I am physically attractive. Both of these types of clothing both emphasize the dependence of women on men and focus on their bodies (whether it is concealing them or flaunting them) over any other valuable qualities. God wants his daughters to be treated with respect, and modesty is an important way to achieve that goal.
For one young woman’s view on modesty and service, watch this clip.