I know a lot of the conversation has been about who is responsible for the thoughts of others, and quite frankly, I'm not going to get into that. Because all of that talk is getting in the way of the main point that dressing modestly is important and is a good choice, one to be encouraged in others.
A couple of caveats, though.
First, modesty is not only about what we wear. It is also about how we behave and it applies to both men and women.
Second, what modesty looks like, exactly, varies from culture to culture, even within our own country, and it may vary from setting to setting. However, your basic public school dress code is a good starting place, at least where I live (no midriffs showing, no underwear showing, nothing cut too low or too high, no cleavage...).
Third, just for the sake of context (not to dictate to others), my personal standard of modesty means not wearing things that are too form-fitting, too high in the shorts/skirts department, or too low on top, and I wear modest one-piece swimsuits. That may not be your standard, and I don't want to debate how high or low is too high or low. I share it just so you know where I am coming from.
So, with that said, here are some great reasons to pursue modesty that have nothing to do with how it makes (or doesn't make) other people think.
1. Because I like some mystery. I don't want more of me exposed than is covered, and I don't really want to see it in others either. There is great mystery in modesty, when a woman does not put herself all out there for others to see, and that mystery is attractive.
3. Because it is more comfortable. The clothing and styles that I consider immodest re not even comfortable to me. I want to be able to move around freely.
4. Because God desires it from me. This is my first reason, actually. There are a number of Bible verses that talk about the importance of dressing modestly (1 Timothy 2:9 and Proverbs 11:22, among others). What that looks like exactly will vary from culture to culture, but the command is the same, and I want to walk in obedience to my Lord above all else.
5. To honor my husband. When we took our vows, we became one flesh. We belong to one another and our bodies belong to one another (yes, the Bible is clear in 1 Corinthians 7:4 that this goes both ways). I do not want to dishonor him by putting my body on display for others to see.
7. To avoid having to be careful of how I sit or bend. This goes along with being comfortable, but I just don't want to think about what is going to be revealed to someone else if I bend the wrong way.
8. To not attract unwanted attention. This is not about causing someone to lust. Quite frankly, that is a personal responsibility. But your average psychologist knows that most men are stimulated visually, and I don't want to draw that kind of attention from any man I am not married to. Nor do I want to give others any reason to wonder about my motives.
9. To call attention to my words, heart, and actions more than my body. This is something that women are constantly fighting against. We are so much more than our physical appearance. Just look at a recent article about the incoming U.S. attorney general, described as "all of 5 feet" and wearing spiked heels. Seriously, what man in a prominent office would be described in a way that calls attention to his short stature or his footwear? If I want others to take my mind and my words seriously, I believe I need to dress in a way that does not distract from my message.
10. To take a stand against the direction our culture is moving. I am distraught at the increasingly sexual and sensual direction our culture is moving, and much of that is exemplified and encouraged when people dress and behave immodestly. When I dress modestly, I am doing one small thing to take a stand and encourage us to change directions.
One last thought. I asked my young daughter about this topic, to see why she thought it was important to dress modestly. This was her response, word for word: "Because God wants us to be modest just like it says in the Bible. And it is better otherwise your parts on your body will be showing. If you dress modestly, you will be thankful that you dress that way because then people won't say rude things about you."
Out of the mouths of babes, yes?
What are your thoughts? Why else might pursuing modesty be a worthy venture? (And please - keep the comments kind and respectful.)