|"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."|
Spirit of Modesty
Another of the many things that lead to unchastity is immodesty. Today many young women and young men are smug in their knowledge of the facts of life. They think they know all the answers. They talk about sex as freely as they talk about cars and shows and clothes. And a spirit of immodesty has developed until nothing seems to be sacred.
One contributing factor to immodesty and a breakdown of moral values is the modern dress. I am sure that the immodest clothes that are worn by some of our young women, and their mothers, contribute directly and indirectly to the immorality of this age. Even fathers sometimes encourage it. I wonder if our young sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before young men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered. They frequently wear short skirts and body-revealing blouses and sweaters that seem to be worn to draw attention to the form of the girl and to emphasize sexuality.
The newspapers frequently carry pictures of immodestly dressed people. There has grown up a deplorable exploitation of young women in queen contests. Practically every school, industry, political subdivision, celebration, and class must have a queen. There are queens for every vegetable, fruit, farm product, until it is ludicrous. Surely it can no longer be much of a distinction to be one of the numerous queens. The multiplicity of queens reigning over every act and adventure and project of men reminds us of the gods of Greece and Rome, with a different god for every need and interest. Are any queen contests ever organized for the actual benefit of the young women? Such contests are programs of exploitation whereby business people and other agencies may receive publicity and sell their wares. You may be sure that none of the organizers or promoters have in mind the development of character, the building of faith, or the teaching of cleanliness or chastity for the young women. Because of the publicity, they can offer alluring prizes and give much notoriety to the unsuspecting and popularity-hungry young women.
The flattery of the contest is deceptive and frequently destructive to the queen. Vanity of young women and their families induces and encourages them to enter such contests.
A newspaper described the standards for a queen contest:
Not a single word is written suggesting character, modesty, worthiness, integrity, or humility as basis for winning.
Why does a girl dress in a bathing suit in a contest? Isn't this a terrific and shameful price for popularity and to be crowned queen? Does she like being exploited? There are eyes of many men, some vulgar and lewd, who want to see that body, too, and judges and crowds appraise it; and so our naive young women dress in very skimpy bathing suits and parade before lustful eyes.
I cannot believe any of our young women would choose to display their sacred bodies to lecherous eyes. I am sure it is the glamour of the contest, the possibility of winning, and lure of the prizes and alleged opportunities that blind their eyes to the reality of the sacrilege. May I quote a few lines from a brother who feels just as I do and just as your prophets seem to feel. After attending one of the games at a western university he wrote:
We must be different when there is a right and wrong. We need not do anything we do not wish to do. We can create our own styles and standards for costumes. We can also control or influence the patterns in many of our schools and help to develop proper community patterns.
Another quotation from a Seattle paper several years ago: "A scholarly research job at the University of Washington was called off Wednesday because parents objected to the photographing of their daughters in the nude." Thank God for some courageous and sensitive people in that great city. "Scholarly research job!" My, to what extent have we gone! How low we sink to do scholarly work sometimes!
Now, let us consider briefly the wearing of an evening gown. These can be made to fit the body and properly clothe it and can be most beautiful. The Lord gave to our first parents clothes to cover their bodies. We are sure that he is unhappy to see his daughters displaying their sacred bodies in immodest gowns. At least some of the desires fulfilled in the selection of these gowns are not holy ones. Why does a woman wish to wear immodest gowns? Is it to please and allure men? Is it to follow fashion? I am certain that there has not been preconceived evil thought in the minds of most of our young people, but the harm can be done regardless of intent.
There is no reason why women need to wear a low-cut or otherwise revealing gown just because it is the worldly style. We can create a style of our own. I know women who have worn evening gowns through the years and yet have never worn an immodest one, and they have purchased them from the stores. I believe most shops carry in stock the dresses the trade demands.
A woman is most beautiful when her body is clothed and her sweet face is adorned with her lovely hair. She needs no more attractions. Then she is at her best, and men will love her for it. And men will not love her more because her neck or back is bare. Young women, if he is decent and worthy of you he will love you more when you are properly dressed! Of course, if he is a corrupt man, an immodestly dressed woman will please him.
There seems to be a pattern that many young women follow of having their pictures taken with a very low-necked dress, so low, in fact, that bust pictures hardly show any clothing. I see such pictures on pianos and dressers in homes. I have seen them on the tables of missionaries in far-off South America and in Europe. Surely it could be only thoughtlessness that could account for this.
Even newspapers carrying announcements of temple marriages carry also pictures that could hardly be pleasing to our Lord. I quote you from a metropolitan newspaper: "Marriage ceremonies will be solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple, uniting Miss _____________ and Mr. _________________ From the accompanying bust picture of the young woman, no clothes could be seen!
If the young women are thoughtless in the matter, certainly their eldersthe mothers, sisters, and auntsshould give proper guidance.
We knew of one mother who remonstrated with her lovely daughter who intended to buy a modest evening gown. The mother pleaded: "Darling, now is the time to show your pretty shoulders and back and neck. When you are married in the temple that will be time enough to begin wearing conservative clothes." What can be expected of the new generation if the mothers lead their own offspring from the path of right?
Neither is there excuse for young men to bare and expose their bodies. The fellows could show courage and good judgment if they encouraged their young women friends to wear modest clothing. If a young man would not date a young woman who is improperly clothed, the style would change very soon.
I am positive that the immodest clothing worn does have a marked influence upon morals. A police official in an [Eastern city remarked: ". . . the brutal fact we have to face is that more and more American women are unwittingly inviting sex crimes . " He writes further: "The peculiarly American system of encouraging our girls to be attractive and alluring, of training them to be seductive and then, of course, they must draw an uncrossable linethat system may be carrying the seeds of its own destruction. How many well-meaning mothers send their daughters out, dressed to be tempting eyefuls? How many mothers actually teach their daughters to be 'teasers?' . . . The entire concept of training our young women to lure and repel simultaneously sets up irreconcilable conflicts.
Who will young women, virtuous in intent, set up in dress and otherwise an appearance of daring sexual willingness? Says this writer: "We pray for a generation of girls who will display their wit, their intelligence, their modest charm, their integrity, their loveliness rather than their bodies and their sexual possibilities."
I am positive that the clothes we wear can be a tremendous factor in the gradual breakdown of our love of virtue, our steadfastness in chastity.
The Lord has promised to the valiant, "All that I have is thine." To reach these lofty heights and limitless blessings, you must take no chances. Keep your lives sweet and clean and pure, so that there will never be any forfeiture. To do this, you will do well to avoid "the very appearance of evil" and "the very approach toward evil."
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Faith Precedes the Miracle, p.164