With so many ideas in the world coming at us from all directions, our understanding of the principle of modesty can be skewed at times. Some of us may have grown up believing that modesty is purely about the clothes we wear, but it’s so much more than that!
Gospel Topics defines modesty as “an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior.”1 As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are encouraged to be modest not only in our appearance but also in our language, behavior, and even our attitude so we can better invite the Spirit and share the light of the Savior through our example.
Throughout the scriptures, we are taught repeatedly about the importance of modesty and the sacred nature of our bodies. To help us gain a deeper appreciation for and testimony of modesty, let’s take a look at a few of these powerful verses. The truths in these scriptures can teach us the why behind modesty and remind us of the blessings we are promised as we strive to follow this principle of the gospel.
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22).
Having an “eye be single” refers to being focused on following Heavenly Father’s will, and, according to this scripture, focusing on the right things will make us “full of light.” As we focus on being modest, our countenance will reflect the Light of Christ, and others will be able to see our example of goodness and be led to Christ.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
This scripture teaches us that we were “bought with a price,” through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If we determine the worth of something by how much someone is willing to pay for it, then our souls (which include our mortal bodies) are of infinite worth. Regardless of what kinds of flaws and shortcomings we might see in our physical bodies, Christ suffered beyond comprehension so that we could have this earthly experience and return to live with God. Modesty means treating our bodies with the kindness and respect that that sacrifice deserves.
“Yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches?” (Alma 5:53).
In this scripture, we learn what sorts of attitudes modesty can help us avoid. The “costly apparel” described here is a byproduct of vanity and pride. True modesty encourages us to set our hearts upon eternal truths rather than “the vain things of the world.”
“And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:40).
This scripture reminds us that, as members of the Lord’s Church, we can avoid extravagance in appearance and “not slavishly follow the whims of fads and fashions,” as was taught by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.2 As we give less thought to our physical beauty and consider how we can dedicate our hearts to God, we can enhance the beauty within us.
“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45).
When we are filled with virtue in our thoughts, appearance, and behavior, we can have confidence that we are standing as witnesses of Jesus Christ. Sister Carol F. McConkie, former First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, reiterated this when she said, “Modesty is a witness of our testimony of the Savior and of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”3 As we follow the principle of modesty, our commitment to the Savior becomes visible to all who know us, and we can share His light with them. We will also find that our love for Him, for others, and for ourselves will deepen as we strive to be modest in all things.