Modesty and Men

We have had three great discussions on the blog in recent months regarding modesty, HERE and HERE and HERE. In my post some weeks ago I did not distinguish between men and women for the matter in question was dirty dancing which involves both. However, the conversation turned inexorably to women and girls, what they wear and how they should behave. I also note that 90% of the commentators were women. Last week Laura raised the question of modest beachwear and focused especially on the bikini. Here too the majority of the commentators were women and the conversation was mostly about what was proper for women and girls.

However, in both conversations there were a few comments that expressed irritation that questions of modesty always seem to center on women and little is said about men. I was asked by a few to blog about men and modesty and perhaps set forth some principles for men and boys. Here is my humble attempt and I ENCOURAGE you to add to the discussion for I am no expert on this. I really propose only to set the table and put out a few items on the lazy Susan. This discussion is really pot luck so make your contribution too.

Perhaps a few opening principles and premises to frame the discussion.

  1. Men and women are quite different when it comes to questions of attraction and arousal. While there are many individual variances, as a general rule men are much more likely to be immediately interested by way of visual stimulation. Attraction for women seems a bit more complicated and subtle. For men there seems to be a pretty quick trip-wire whereas for women it often seems that a series of switches need to be thrown in the right combination. Men can become interested very quickly and easily. Beauty, shape, posture, the way she walks, all of this is like eye candy to men. It does not seem to me that most women are this easily caught into the cycle of interest and arousal though there are exceptional persons and moments. Rather than say women are never like this, what I am saying is that it seems a far less common occurence for women. For men it may happen hundreds of times a day 🙂
  2. Compassion and understanding and sobriety  – Some are sharply critical of men with regard to their quickly roving eye. The most extreme form of it comes with expressions like “Men are pigs.” We will talk in moment of the fact that men have to take some responsibility for this aspect of who they are but here at the beginning perhaps some understanding is in order. Men do not simply or freely choose to have this almost instant-on switch. It sort of comes built in and the off switch is not easy to find. Men are drawn very quickly, almost instantly, by beauty. Of itself this is not evil. God surely means for beauty to attract. The problem comes with our fallen nature that frequently desires inordinately or inappropriately. But the point to make here is that rather than simply denounce men as pigs it may be more appropriate merely to be sober about the fact that men have strong desire in this regard. Due to the fallen nature we all have this desire is often difficult to control perfectly. It is part of our human condition. Part of modesty for women it seems is a kind of strategy in this regard as well as a kind of charity. As a strategy, modesty helps keep unwanted attention within reasonable levels. As a form of charity modesty accepts the fact that men are easily tempted to unchaste thoughts and takes reasonable measures to assist men in this regard.
  3. Reasonable expectations – Now reasonable is an important word. Women cannot be expected to take unreasonable measures to protect men in this regard. Men are attracted by a LOT of things and invisibility is not reasonable or possible to demand of women.
  4. Hence, men must also develop self discipline, custody of the eyes and careful discretion. Jesus speaks of looking at a woman with lust as a serious sin (Matt 5:28 ). It is one thing to notice that a woman is beautiful, that is usually good and natural. But it is another to stare intently at her and  sexually fantasize about her. This is to cross a line. For many men such a standard seems impossible to fully meet. But in effect Jesus is offering a freedom and a power over what goes on in our minds. Through self-discipline, daily prayer, the sacraments and scripture it is possible to have increasing authority over our thought life. Jesus would not command it if it were not possible. It is a usual fact that self discipline increases over time and we who are men OUGHT to be growing in this and not just indulge our every thought and desire and be stuck in lust. Progress in this matter is to be insisted upon.
  5. Political incorrectness alert! – In the end life is not always fair and modesty issues are simply going to weigh more heavily on women. This is for two reasons. First women have more to cover. It is simply a fact that the female body, at least in our culture, has more of what we can simply term here as private areas. These areas arouse significant sexual interest in men and however much we may want that to change in a big way, it probably isn’t going to dramatically change. Secondly since men are more easily tempted in these matters, it seems reasonable that women ought to take this into account. Surely we can only expect what is reasonable, but prudence and charity ought to be operative in such matters.

What of Modesty for men in terms of clothes and behavior.

  1. Tight and tiny swimwear for men seems just as inappropriate for men as for women. There is simply no good reason to wear tiny speedo suits outside of certain very limited swim-racing situations. The purpose is obviouslyto arouse sexual interest and to display what ought not be displayed. Further, I will say, most men look just plain silly wearing such swimwear. Larger “boxer-shorts”  style bathing suits seem far more appropriate.
  2. Going shirtless should be limited. I am not aware that women are all that tempted by shirtless men, even those who are slender and muscular. But if the women on this blog tell us men that it is at times problematic then we ought to stop. A further concern about going shirtless other than in beach settings and limited sports settings is that it just seems a bit rude and far too casual. Our society has become so casual about everything. Men walking through city parks without shirts just seems too informal and frankly I don’t care for it. Such behavior was not commonly accepted in this country prior to the 1960s. Find a cool and comfortable shirt men and wear it. It does  not belong tied around your waist. Neither should your t-shirt be pulled up over the back of your head to expose your belly and chest. It’s just ugly, inelegant and far too casual for public parks. Save it for the back yard or the beach.
  3. Saggy drawers have to go – no one cares to see your underwear. Please! Pull your pants up. This dumb trend that emerged from gansta culture is thankfully on the wane but it isn’t disappearing fast enough.
  4. Tight fitting jeans and open shirts are retro and wrong. Back in the 1970s we went through a lot of dopey stuff where men’s fashions started to take on rather feminine notions. The disco era brought this to its high point. It was an era of extremely tight jeans. Men started unbuttoning their shirts two and three buttons down. In those days hairy chests were in and an exposed hairy chest with gold necklaces was not uncommon. Jeans were worn low and large belt buckles to draw the look below the belt were being worn. Boots were also often worn.  It was all silly and stupid looking: Men getting dolled up. The purpose was to strut your stuff. Men trying to sexualize themselves. I don’t really remember what the women thought at that time. Were they attracted by this? That seems to have been the purpose and if it was meant to tempt women, it was wrong. Every now and then these retro fashions try to make a come back. Bottom line is that men should dress modestly in loose fitting comfortable clothing. Shirts should be buttoned. Large belt buckles or things to draw attention to the waist are inappropriate and can be sinful.
  5. I’ll never get used to men wearing earrings. This many not pertain to modesty per se and I know men whom I respect that have earrings. But I’ll never get used to it and live for the day when earrings on a man are gone from the scene.
  6. Wear a suit more often – Our culture is so casual. Suits and Ties are getting rare. Many men no longer even know how to tie a Tie. They have to ask their mother. Go to a learn how to tie a tie and read the three-part series on purchasing and wearing a decent suit. It is modest and professional. We priests too need to stop bumming around and learn the art of wearing our clerical attire well, to include a tailored cassock:
  7. Men should behave modestly. Sexual jokes, immodest conversations, improper posture and the like are wrong. Men are exceptionally poor today at curbing their behavior in mixed company. Learning to be a gentleman is a lost art. Immodest behavior, scurrilous jokes, remarks about women’s bodies and the like are bad enough around other men, but they take on added ugliness in the presence of women. Men must learn to treat women with respect. They should not be treated as or thought of as sexual objects. Men should consider that the purpose of dating is to find a wife not just to have fun and “play the field.” If a man realizes that the purpose of dating is to look for a wife, he may well behave differently. This woman may not just be my next sexual partner, she may well be my wife and the mother of my children. More than clothing, men’s  biggest problem with modesty is how they regard and treat women. I know it is complicated and women send confusing signals. But in the end we have to be men. And real men treat women with respect. they do not seek to conquer them or merely have them. They seek to love them, provide for them and cling to them as a spouse. The Bible says that a man clings to his wife. That is what a man does. Boys play. Men are modest and respectful around women and seek to form proper, lasting and deep relationships with them.

Comments are wide open. I have not been without controversy I am sure. I am especially interested in what women might have to say about ways we men might be more modest. It is not all that clear to most men how women might be tempted. The more we can know the more we can improve.

Be careful everyone to remember that this is a “family blog.” Mature topics like this sometimes require that we be artful in our descriptions so as not to offend the pious, the young or even each other.

This video elaborates my final point.

82 Replies to “Modesty and Men”

  1. I agree that men could stand to be more modest, as well. There’s a running joke among my coworkers that all the best men are married, have become priests, or unfortunately for us women, are gay.

    I personally have dated very few of the “good men”, as I say. Quite a few of the ones I have been in relationships with were on their best behavior at first only to show their true colors later. And a nice way of saying this would be to say that those true colors were ugly colors. A lot of men, especially where I work, are into women for sexual relationships and nothing else, which is very unflattering to both parties. It’s unflattering to the woman because that is all the man wants out of her, and it is unflattering to the man because he then fits the extreme “men are pigs” statement.

    I also find immodest comments, particularly sexual ones, to be quite offensive. I won’t date a man who makes comments like that, just like a man won’t see a woman as dating material if she acts/says things too sexual (sad, but true).

    I also agree that it is fine to find someone beautiful/handsome because this is natural. We women cannot hide our beauty just for the sake of men, but we can cover up and be more modest about it. Regarding men and their pants being so low that you can see London, France….and their underwear…that is SO not attractive. Where the heck did anyone get the idea that that was attractive? When my brother followed that trend, it was hysterically funny watching him holding his pants up with one hand as he tried to catch a football with the other. Plus, it’s REALLY tempting to give those particular trendsetters wedgies 🙂

    Sorry this is so long, had a lot to say.

    1. Sounds like modesty for a man in your description relates more to behavior. I think you state well the needed balance between women not having to cover completely up but that some degree of that for the sake of men may be charitable.

  2. Thanks for the great post(s) on modesty!

    You make a good point regarding priests: they should ordinarily either be in a clerical suit or a cassock.

    The USCCB and Canon Law require that priests in the United States wear either the suit or a cassock. Here is what the USCCB website says:
    “Outside liturgical functions, a black suit and Roman collar are the usual attire for priests. The use of the cassock is at the discretion of the cleric.”

    This is a specification of Canon 284 of the Code of Canon Law (which requires priests to wear ecclesiastical attire).

    The VERY POPULAR “casual clerical” look (i.e. clerical shirt without a suit, or clerical shirt with a sweater) is NOT EVEN ALLOWED in the United States.

    If our priests don’t dress like priests, how will our catholic men ever learn how to dress appropriately?

    1. Well said. I also never wear “civilan” clothes except on my day off. Uniform is important for uniformity. I will admit that in the heat of the summer, I sometimes go out without a suit coat. Washington has very sultry summers.

  3. I think some guys go shirtless either to be masculine, show off, or look sexy. Women are attracted to the male chest, though not as much – it seems – as they are attracted to a handsome face.

    1. Yes, in the end I think it is men showing off. But personally I find going shirtless except in beach, pool, or some sports settings to be mildly offensive and just unpleasant to look at.

  4. Great article Msgr! Men do need to do more, indeed. But you’re right — unfortunately for women, men are much weaker through the eyes, and they have to help in the area and cannot become a cause of a near occasion or occasion of sin for men. Luckily, not many women want to stare at us 🙂

    1. I don’t want to stare at us either 🙂 Not at all sure what women see in men. Luckily we’re not utterly repulsive to them somehow. Otherwise our species would be in trouble!

  5. Pretty spot-on, Msgr. Of the specific examples you list, the “gangsta-pants” phenomenon is the most egregious example of immodesty I see around DC. It seems, unfortunately, that there is a female element attracted to such displays. One also sees numerous male joggers/runners wearing just shorts, even on busy streets; I fail to believe that it’s too hot to wear a singlet or t-shirt. Perhaps there is a female elements attracted to this as well.

    On a slight tangent – this past Easter Sunday, I witnessed numerous boys and teenages at Mass (good) but wearing sweat-pants, shorts, t-shirts, and baseball caps (bad). Most were with (well-dressed) parents. We really should dress appropriately for each Mass, especially the Easter one. Equally notable at this particular Mass were teenage girls (again, with parents) wearing summer dresses that barely covered what needed to be covered.

    1. Ah yes, adore the Lord in holy attire! I surely remember as a young child back in the early 1960s that we would not think of going to Church without black or brown dress shoes, a buttoned shirt and dress trousers. We also wore a tie. In the colder Chicago months a suit coat was also the norm. We even used to refer to these clothes as our “Sunday best” It’s crazy how quickly and dramatically all that changed in the 1970s. Here in the DC the Balck Baptist Churches seem to be the only ones that didn’t succumb. THey dress to the nines to go to Church. It is quite a site to drive past a Black Baptist Church on Sunday Morning: The women and girls it bright and beautiful dresses and hats, the men and boys in suits. There was a time when we were that way too. Great loss if you ask me.

      As for your first remarks I must say that I too find myself especially annoyed by the summer jogger in downtown DC with no shirt. It must be the contrast because I’m less bothered by seeing them that way on the jogging path in Rock Creek Park. Still even that I don’t care for. And I would never be seen in public without a shirt. I’d just be embarrassed to to do it especially now. I used to be young tan and trim. Now I’m getting old, white and fat.

    2. “On a slight tangent – this past Easter Sunday, I witnessed numerous boys and teenages at Mass (good) but wearing sweat-pants, shorts, t-shirts, and baseball caps (bad). Most were with (well-dressed) parents. We really should dress appropriately for each Mass, especially the Easter one.”

      The dressing without respect thing has been a point of some frustration for me, too. I won’t go as far as to say that we should all wear suits to Mass every Sunday (though I have been trying to wear a jacket and tie myself–we’ll see how that plays out in the hot Texas summer). However, guys should at the very least put on long pants (sweat pants don’t count, and even jeans are a bit casual) and a button-down or polo shirt would go a long way for the guys.

      As an aside, since I don’t want to really go too much into how women ought to dress here, one of the things which I wish I would see more of in Mass is the ladies’ head-coverings (the head veil or whatever it’s called). I don’t think it should necessarily by mandatory (though I wonder what effect that would have on the dress code in general), but I rarely see those on any ladies under the age of about 75, except at the Latin Mass in our diocese or at funerals.

      1. Ever since the second Vatican council, there have been many atrocities in the now shell of the catholic churches. Immodest clothing, nuns without habits going pro choice. It’s crazy but it is just a tiny visible aspect of the fruits of Vatican II. The lots of faith is so abundant it is as if anything prior to that council was somehow flawed and needing to be thrown out. So much of what is being taught and tolerated has been condemned many times over, for centuries. Read the texts. It’s all there in black and white no matter what anyone tells you. It is ironic that the post I replied to was the only one the msgr didn’t reply to. Tradition over modernism, it is our duty to fight heresy

  6. Good post, Monsignor! I especially like the ‘series of switches’ analogy because it is very true, very accurate. I can’t answer your point about men and visual attraction, but I do think a lot of good and ordinary women are overlooked as marriage material because they don’t immediately attract the eye. BUT, it does seem that when a couple get to know each other before there is a physical attraction, on both parts it’s more a series of switches. Which I guess is what accounts for what some people would find as an odd-looking couple – one of them very nice looking, the other, not so much.

    It’s funny that the question of modesty between the sexes boils down to what women wear vs. how men act. Other than the skimpy swim trunks you mentioned, I don’t see a lot of immodesty in men’s apparel. The baggy, underwear-showing pants and shorts on boys just look stupid and sloppy, and that’s how they’d look on a girl – stupid and sloppy.

    1. I think you’re right that even men, when they get past the purely sexual and immediate visual will admit that they too have a series of switches that can build attraction even when there was not an immediate visual appeal. As I have grown older and less lustful I have noticed that my appreciation of women’s beauty is much richer and more inclusive of many aspects of their beauty and charm.Men need to learn that there is much to appreciate about women. But in a culture where lust is accepted as normative many men do not try to go much beyond the visual as they should. It’s odd that marriages for most of human history were arranged. Immediate physical attraction may not have been present. Despite that most of such marriages lasted a lifetime and seemed reasonably happy. I am mindful of the old song from My Fair Lady: “I’ve grown accustomed to her face.” Men can and must move beyond the merely visual and let some of the other “switches” come on.

  7. Please don’t tell me that women don’t look at shirtless men or get “turned on” by it. They do. Why else would that look be used to sell perfumes and the more tawdry “romance” books. Put a shirt on. And those older men in overalls need to button those side buttons. Stuff doesn’t need to air out that much.

    1. I can’t agree less! A bare chest does nothing for me nor for any of my friends (yeah, we talk about stuff like that 🙂 ) and that sort of ‘marketing’ has no influence on me, either.

      I’m not speaking for everyone, obviously, and while I can appreciate a well-defined set of abs or biceps, that doesn’t necessarily translate to ‘turn-on.’ For me, personality, intelligence, and kindness are much bigger attractants than physical appearance. That’s important, no doubt, but there are things beyond looks that are stimulating.

      As to anon’s comments below – that behavior in moms is absolutely appalling. I think I’d have to smack a mom who looked at my son like that. You know that sort of behavior would never be tolerated from a man, nor should it be.

    2. As I have been reading these comments Suzanne I see that women have differnet opinions about shirtless men. But I think that even if only some women are tempted to unchaste thoughts by this that we men should cover up. It’s not like we have to go about shirtless. It’s not a terrible imposition or unreasonable request that we should wear shirts.

  8. As far as the different standards for men v. women…I think that the attitude “I should be able to wear whatever I want and men are pigs” demonstrates immaturity, selfishness and a lack of personal responsibility. Dressing modestly and appropriately – whether one is male or female – shows a respect for others that sadly is often lacking.

    A slight hijack…During dinner yesterday evening my husband used the word “tacky.” My 3rd-grader asked what the word meant. We gave her various examples of tackiness, among which I listed wearing jeans to church. Perhaps I am something of a curmudgeoness, but it strikes me as disrespectful to wear jeans, and don’t get me started on t-shirts and tank tops! I confess that my husband and I usually wear “business casual” to Mass while our daughter is in a dress, but on a couple of occasions we’ve had older women come up to us to compliment us on how nicely our family dresses.

    1. Thanks for this Cynthia. I too find myself a little trouble by the “men are pigs” and that the problem is all ours mentality. To some extent men cannot completely cahnge their stripes. Even if being easily tempted is part of our fallen nature, it is not likely going to cahnge for most men instantly or quickly. We are sure called to grow as men and have increasing authority over our thoughts and custody of our eyes. But in the meantime I am grateful for a little understanding and charity, such as you express. Men are weak in this regard some help from our stronger sisters is appreciated!

      As for tacky, lets also add flip flops to the list of tacky church attire! 🙂

      1. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggghh! Don’t mention flip-flops! It’s just about time for the Annual Flip-Flop Debate on fora for HR professionals. Below is but a small sampling:


        Perhaps I over estimate the level of common sense amongst employees, but do any of you specifically define what constitutes a flip flop in your dress code?

        Do we really have to get this specific?


        If it makes a noise when you walk, it’s a flip flop.


        Is it possible to get your mgmt team together and hash this out? I know dress code issue can get way more attention that many think they should and also take up valuable time.

        If all mgrs agreed on what’s allowed and what’s not, then you could develop a precise guide. It may help to have pics of what it ok and not. With scanners these days, it should not take long to find some photos in some catalogs or the Sunday retail store ads.

        If we did allow sandals, I would stay away from anything that remotely resembled a flip flop. To me a “dressy flip flop” is just as much an oxymoron as a “short sleeved dress shirt”. Some of you will know what I mean by this and others will slam me for that last statement!


        Yes, by all means, let’s have the entire management team hold a meeting to discuss and decide upon this business-critical issue.

        The policy allows “dressy sandals.” If a manager decides the sandals are not “dressy” enough or are too casual, the manager can have the cajones to tell the offending employee not to wear them again.

        This “comes up” every summer because managers want black-and-white policies that leave no room for interpretation so that they don’t have to make any judgment calls or deal with childish employees who point out Mary’s sandals to defend their own choice of footwear. There’s a verb in the word “manager,” and it’s time managers learn to actually manage.

  9. I’m with ya except for Men’s 5-6. Those have nothing to do with modesty & just reflect personal prefs/generational bias.

    1. You are probably right that I have transgressed a bit with 5 & 6. They relate to modesty only very indirectly in that the word modesty comes from the word “mode” meaning measure or norm. But as it is, you are right they reflect bias on my part and also the purpose to tweak a bit and thus generate a discussion that broadens out the discussion beyond merely sexual discretion. I appreciate your opinion and accept that I am showing my age.

      1. My mother told me never to date a man with earrings prettier than mine. I plan to give my daughter the same advice. 😉

  10. I’ll weigh in on the clerical dress issue. Last year my wife and I went to the Easter Vigil where a young man we know came into the Church (Praise God). To our dismay however, the celebrant was wearing the ugly tablecloth vestments. After Mass at a reception for the new converts, the priest was wearing normal street clothes and no clerical apparel of any kind. Not only this, but evidently his parishioners had been in the habit of calling him be his first name and not addressing him as Father.

    Frankly, we were horrified and counseled this young man to find another parish which he did. Why do some priests have the belief that a more casual approach will make them more “relevant” to the people? By the way, this priest is transferring to another parish and many people there have already left to avoid this “relevant” priest.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. We priests will have our personality but ideosyncracies divide the people of God and cause harm. There SHOULD be some uniformity in the priesthood and that is why clothing, vetments and the like should meet the norms established by the Church. Modesty is from from the mword “mode” meaning norm or measure. Relevance often gives way to the ridiculous.

      1. Speaking of church attire, in surfing through a church-supply catalogue I came across albs for altar servers. I noted that none of the product descriptions mentioned flame-resistance as a characteristic.

        Or is that a given? I would think that open flame + preadolescent (particularly male) = disaster. (No sacristy is complete without scorch marks left by an altar server overzealously wielding a candlelighter. Particularly a propane-fueled lighter on which one could crank up a really large flame.)

  11. Sorry for the length of this post, but I have a lot of feelings about what I perceive as a double standard. I agree that our girls should be taught about modesty and understand that there will always be a variable on what people believe that is. I also think we need to have greater expectation of our men.

    In talking modesty for men, I do think we should mostly address modest behavior rather than dress. That said, women do react to the male body. Check out some highlight reels of how young women reacted to Elvis Presley. Don’t remember seeing men swoon at the sight of swiveling hips. No, male reaction to such is different, but both women and men do react.

    Examples from my life:
    6th grade boys had basketball practice (outdoors) after school and played shirts/skins. The girls who were there after school saw the boys take off their shirts and started elbowing each other, giggling, ect. I went over and said, “Why are you all acting so goofy? You see these boys in the summer at swimming pools.” They girls responded, “This isn’t the swimming pool.”

    On my son’s swim team, there are two high school boys who the moms like to look at. The minute shirts go off and the boxer-style warm up’s give way to the speedos, the moms elbow each other and giggle. It grosses me out, but one mom even gets flushed.

    I took my daughters to my nephew’s wrestling tournament, and my 14 yr old daughter turned beet red at the sight of all those boys in their- whatever they wear. She elbowed here sister to take note of one boy in particular and they began to giggle.

    I took my 10 year old to the ballet. The men’s white tights were see-through under the lights and my young daughter kept saying, “Mommy, I see his butt.” The dancers were COMPLETELY on display for all. Others seemed to notice too, as some women in the seats elbowed each other and (quietly) giggled.

    No one was giggling because at anything was terribly funny (ok, maybe the ballet tights) but mostly that was how these women reacted to “stimulus.” For men, their reaction would have likely manifested itself in a different way, but both men and women have reactions, some being uncontrolled.

    What bugs me is when we don’t expect better than base level reactions from our boys & men and justify it by saying they can’t possibly help themselves. It’s always been “cool” for men to be players. It’s gone in and out of vogue for women to behave in that way- sometimes being called sluts, other times being labeled as liberated. Our expectations yield results.

    If men, as you say, react more physically and women react more emotionally (I assume that’s what was meant by “they require more”), then it would be charitable to teach our young boys not to smile at and give attention to a girl, lest she fall in love with him and have less than pure thoughts and unrealistic fantasies about a relationship. But we don’t do that. We don’t make men responsible for women’s uncontrollable feelings, sexual or other.

    Furthermore, we don’t categorize men’s desire to be desirable to women (making lots of money, being the star athlete, driving a flashy car) as immodest behavior. But when a girl acts out the desire to be desirable, whether it is by wearing revealing clothing, talking loudly, trying to whatever to garnish male attention, we do call her behavior immodest.

    I have two sons and four daughters. My sons have been taught to look at girls as they would hope others look at their sisters. I know my daughters will want to appeal to the boys they like. That is part of the female make-up, that desire to be desirable. What I teach my daughters is that, in their desire to be desirable to Johnny, if they are trying to do that physically, they may also make themselves desirable to Johnny’s younger, pimple-faced brother as well as his 45 year old fat, balding uncle, to which they respond with a resounding, “Ew!” When I remind them of that, we don’t often have to discuss the length of a hem. That’s just what works for me.

    1. A lot of good insights and examples here. As I stated above it seems that women have different opinions as to how tempting the male body is to them. However, if even some find this tempting then we men ought to cover up more. I am not sure I agree that there is simply a double standard at work at all the levels you describe. In terms of indicating desire I agree that I think women are uncessarily limited in this and I know a lot of men that wish women were more free to express interest without being consider flirtacious or worse. But there are legitimate differences in terms of modesty for men and women for the reasons stated in the article. Different doesn’t equal double standard. Men and women are different and hence there are going to be differences.

      Finally I want to address your interpretation of something I said. You wrote:

      “If men, as you say, react more physically and women react more emotionally (I assume that’s what was meant by “they require more”),

      I do NOT mean by “require more” that women react emotionally. What I mean is that they just seem to have more at work in the question of attraction than most men. That may include emotions but other things as well such as how a man conducts himself etc. Women just seem a bit more sophisticated about attraction. Men, at least with immediate attraction are more obviously visual and “animal” if you pardon the expression.

    2. Yes women and girls notice bare chests etc, and some may possibly admire them, but the question is does that elicit the same physical attraction and arousal in a woman that it would a man? For me, it doesn’t. Some of the reactions you describes such as the giggling girls could just as easily be attributed to embarrassment (as opposed to attraction). On the bottom line I do agree that uncovered chest should be limited to the pool or beach.
      BTW- the mom’s reactions at swim team are appalling

  12. I think point 7 actually greatly outweighs the rest, which kinda sucks, because it’s by far the hardest. I hadn’t really considered it up until now, but maybe modesty for men is much more about treating women with respect?

  13. As a 50 year older i never really gave modest dress much notice until i became a runner. yikes… what women and girls wear running around a street during a race in mixed company is …well…. i seem to see many high school guys running shirtless with their girl -team counterparts and i’ve told the guy..”maybe you would show this young lady some respect by wearing a shirt when you two train together”…. He gave me the jaw drop “Huh?” and she told me “dont worry about it!”… i learnt my lesson….but i will instruct my daughter to never train with a guy that wont wear a shirt…. Pray that it will help…

  14. In my view, the biggest problem with male immodesty isn’t sexual tempation of women, but that it causes a loss of respect for men. This is especially true where the immodest dress and/or behavior is seen as a deliberate sexual display by the man, but also where is it simply perceived as a lack of self-respect on the man’s part.

    It also adds to the general vulgarizing of sex in our culture, i.e. the presence of sex in EVERYTHING, the loss of personal boundaries, and the desensitizing of the young to all of this. Some of the comments about the reaction of young girls to inappropriate shirtlessness are a good indication that the innocence of our children is being damaged.

  15. I think modesty in speech & behavior is good to remember. Some young men I know, leaders in their church youth groups, are constantly pretending to be homosexual with each other and make homosexual innuendos. It’s a scandalous corruption of Christian brotherhood. It also desensitizes them to the gravity of such acts. It seems the most lewd are also the most supportive of the gay agenda.

    For their part, the young women are often telling bawdy jokes they heard on television and sometimes joke about being lovers.

    It’s as if they think if they don’t actually watch pornography, they can talk as dirty as they please.

    Another underrated way to exercise modesty: show some sense in friendships with members of the opposite sex. People aren’t taught to take precautions about avoiding occasions of sin. Don’t go alone on overnight trips with a member of the opposite sex. If you’re married, take active steps to guard against adultery or the suspicion of adultery.

    I used to feel I was a prude about these things, until I turned down an overnight trip with a ladyfriend of mine. She became pregnant from a one-night stand a few months later.

  16. I think one specific reason for men to clothe themselves modestly is not just for women. As you mention, men are more readily visually stimulated, and that goes for men that suffer from same sex attractions as well. While a woman might not be aroused as easily by a bare-chested man, another man with a disordered attraction might, and the man can become an occasion of sin for him. This can be a particular problem in DC or other large cities with substantial populations of homosexual men. This is no doubt a reason that many men today do in fact dress in these ways–in order to attract other men. Men should be on guard today of their dress for this reason as well I think.

  17. Having been raised in an overtly conservative home in the rural mid-west during the same time as you Father Charles, (you dated yourself as a youngster in the early 60’s in a response), I learned to place a revulsive relay switch into my conscience because of the “laugh-in” nature given to american culture. I don’t leave music or dance out of the behavioral mix of our “new freedom”. We have five children and six grandchildren living in the only conservative cultural base I know. A great work is being done by continuing Nathan’s work on David…it is called That Man Is You.

  18. First of all, no one wants to see your underwear! This cannot be repeated enough. That horrid fashion of wearing pants below the crotch with boxer shorts hanging out should be grounds for a civil patrol throwing a blanket on you!

    Shirtless is an issue. when you look at all the “sexy men” ads, the perfume, the romance novels, etc its ALWAYS an open shirt or shirtless. Outside of beach wear its simply not appropriate.

    Many men i know seem to be unaware of how inappropriately tight the crotch of their pants are. ESPECIALLY for the larger (and i mean fatter) man. unfortunately they simply don’t cut the crotch correctly in the pants for big men, and its entirely possible to SEE your male parts hanging on each side of the center seam.

    otherwise modesty in men , to me, is about behavior, and attitude. men make sexual jokes that women simply do NOT find appropriate, they engage in “locker room humor” outside the locker far too often. They also, in my sad experience, simply do not treat women respectfully and control their eyes.

    some men also , when sealing with their girlfriends or wives, demand that the women dress and act provocatively, to instill lust and jealousy in other men. Its hard for a woman to be modest (or have much self esteem) when her husband or boyfriend demans she wear short skirts, high heels, and stay a size 2… with a D cup.

    1. The shirtless issue seem to me to come down to the fact that men should cover up. Though not all women are not attracted. Nevertheless since some are men should cover up. As for tight pants I really can’t understand why any man would want to wear them. It’s just so uncomfortable. Finally, you are also right in asserting that its behavior that is perhaps the most egregious violation that men display in terms of modesty

  19. On the “saggy drawers” – the style is called “sagging.” The interesting part is where the style originated…

    The origins of sagging come from the United States prison system due to three primary factors. First, uniforms issued to prisoners are usually a few sizes too large. Secondly, belts are prohibited to avoid suicide by hanging oneself, or to avoid being used as a weapon in fights. The style was later popularized by hip-hop artists in the 1990s.

    Sheesh, of all the people in the world to emulate…

    (Oh, and thanks to four years of parochial school I can (and have) tied a tie blindfolded.)

  20. “Large belt buckles or things to draw attention to the waist are inappropriate and can be sinful.” — Oh rats, Monsignor; does this mean that I have to part with that large oval “Budweiser” belt buckle that I wear with my bell-bottoms??? Kidding, I’m *only* kidding…on both counts!

    On a more serious note, re: men developing discipline, custody of the eyes, etc., us men can, when tempted to cross that line and look at an attractive woman in a less than chaste way, simply thank God for her beauty (after all, He is the source of it!) and move on, or imagine Jesus standing next to her, a reminder that she too is a child of God with dignity, deserving of our respect.

    Being a recreational hockey player, I can relate to the comment about “locker room humor”. As everyone knows, locker room talk isn’t always centered on the most virtuous of topics. When such talk does occur, and thankfully it’s something that I’ve encountered more so in the past than I do now, I just try to avoid acknowledging and participating in it, and just quietly go about my business (but perhaps a good thing to do would be to say a quick prayer for the discussion to move away from the off-color stuff).

    I agree that men, and women too, have become far too casual, and sometimes downright sloppy, in the way they dress to go out in public. I see people all the time in the stores, for example, wearing what appear to be pajamas. I’d be embarrassed to be seen in public like that, but that’s just me. Right or wrong, people often form a quick first impression of others based their appearance.

    If you will indulge me with one last, slightly off-topic, but related comment; it’s related to modesty in dress, but women’s dress (I meant to make this comment in the beach attire post, but forgot): Something that really bothers me are the women’s tops with the low-cut necklines that are designed to reveal more than needs to be shown. Ladies, are those the only kind of tops for sale in the stores!? It sure seems like the low-cut neckline look for women is as ubiquitous today as the tight-fitting jeans/open shirt look for men was in the ’70s! The reason it bothers me is that, other than being a potential distraction that I’m forced to deal with when having to talk face-to-face with a women wearing one, I think it looks “cheap” and makes a women look desperate; desperate for attention. I really don’t think it’s all that attractive of a look, either.

    Thanks for the excellent article and insights, Monsignor. And thanks too for the opportunity to contribute to the discussion!

    1. Yes, the Budweiser buckle needs to go! Switch to Sierra Nevada or Sam Adams. 😉

      1. Rich writes: “Something that really bothers me are the women’s tops with the low-cut necklines that are designed to reveal more than needs to be shown. Ladies, are those the only kind of tops for sale in the stores!?”

        Sadly, that’s more true than you might think! The higher “crew neck” shirts have mostly gone away (except for some which are clearly “exercise clothes”) and the “u-neck” and “v-neck” styles predominate. As for the more tailored type of shirt (blouses, etc.) where the number of buttons a person may button allows for more modesty, the fashion industry designs the shirts to be one bust size smaller than the size of the woman buying the shirt (hence, the “too tight” look many blouses have). If a woman is wealthy enough to shop for tailored, classic clothes, modesty isn’t that difficult to achieve, but if a woman is limited to large chain/discount stores and their offerings, then it may be more difficult–especially if the woman is, shall we say, gifted by God with a curvaceous figure.

        This is not to say that a woman need not try to be modest, of course. But one further problem is that when she tries on a v-neck knit top in a dressing room, the “v” may appear to be high enough and decent enough for modesty–she may not realize that the shirt is a problem until the first time a toddler tugs on the bottom of it or she has to bend over in a public place!

      2. To Cynthia: Thanks for the good suggestions! For a really special treat, there’s “Trappistes Rochefort” (brewed by Trappist monks in Rochefort, Belgium). I doubt the monks offer a belt buckle though, so I guess I’ll just have to settle for the beer instead!

        To Erin: Thank you for the insight and education! As an engineer, I appreciate your thorough analysis and cogent explanation!

        I can totally understand that if a woman is limited to the offerings of the mainstream stores, then she is at their mercy; I certainly didn’t mean to imply that every single woman who wears a revealing low-cut shirt is “cheap” or desperate for attention (although I’m sure there are some!), just that the look itself comes across (to me) as tawdry and not very dignified. I have seen women who wear the lower-cut shirts, but with what appears to be the equivalent of a t-shirt (but nicer than those pedestrian-looking ones us guys wear!) underneath. That seems like a good solution if a woman is limited in her choices of shirts.

        I remembered that another concern I have with the prevalence of revealing low-cut shirts (and my guess is that this is a “fashion” foisted upon women by a fashion industry that purports to know what is good for them) is the influence it may have on our sons and daughters. As the father of a young daughter and two young sons, I don’t want my daughter thinking (and she’s not quite old enough to be aware of these things yet) that that is how girls/women should dress nor do I want my sons exposed to that kind of immodesty (and sadly, being relatively recently divorced due in part to differences in the approach to living out the Catholic faith, it makes it that much harder to have a unified front in fostering purity and modesty). I think our innocent children are the real casualties of the degradation of morals in society, particularly in the area of purity. One thing I try to do is to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, the epitome of purity and modesty, to take my children into her care and protect them from what the world calls “good”.

      1. I was a kid in the ‘70s and don’t remember having any large belt buckles, just shirts with some pretty zany patterns on them!

  21. Modesty is taught through guidance from elders who establish cultural protocals based on experience of civilized principles realized by higher standards of respect for life and development of social relations as a supportive and interdependent society. We all have animus tendencies from genetic DNA and natural laws of inherent preservation of species. Man as taken from the allegory of Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge and becam aware of their nakedness. This was the dawn of humanity and the departue from instincts todivine nature. The fact that people are still drawn by these phycial attractions is no excuse to abandoned the legacy and sacred destiny of humanity. That a man leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and become one is not a choice but a challenge and it is through the sacrements and commitments to vows that one realizes that fulfillment is accomplished in the demands of such a sacrifice of oneself for the other that enlightenment is obtained. The blessing of children is in realizing the responsibility of parenting them in the ways that overcome the world. It’s not easy. It’s not guaranteed, but it is what brings one closer to God. My marriage and raising my children has been no bed of roses, but my upbringing in a strong Catholic faith and moralpriciples has taught me what to pass on to my children and share with my spouse and it is what will and has given them the insights and understandings to overcome the slings and arrows of material and carnal delusion. I only walk on water when it rains but modesty and morality don’t let it go to my head.

  22. I haven’t read all the comments and some of the part I’m commenting on may have been intended for an older age group, but –

    I think a big reason you don’t see young people in suits is we can’t necessarily afford them. I’m in college right now, spending as little money as possibly, and have one suit that I wear to Easter/Christmas masses and to career fairs/interviews. Other than those occasions I don’t want to dirty it.
    Don’t know if I agree about the earrings, I think that was a mostly unnecessary comment, although I see this point has already been proposed. I think it may just be a sort of, who have you known that wears earrings thing.

    Overall, very good post. I greatly enjoyed it. We don’t see much in terms of male modesty these days. It’s always the normal, “men are pigs” and females dress terribly. No one ever makes the connection that the two are linked.

    As far as sexual jokes, I think the current television lineups in the main-stream media aren’t helping this. The kind of “that’s what she said” jokes from the office are starting to pop up in other “comedic” tv shows. These jokes simply express the immaturity and disrespect towards women of the writers and the viewers, not to mention they just aren’t funny.

    1. Yeah the earring thing really seems generational. I remember when I first saw them. I couldn’t beleive that a man would want to look like a girl. It still looks girlish to me. I don’t think I’ll ever adjust. It is the first sign of my ensuing crumudgeon status. Have not thought about the suit question. I guess I’m thinking more of working men. A suit doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg. My clerical suits probably run about $150.

  23. Way to go Msgr Pope. Absolutely fantastic post- I’m in college right now at a very secular university and your article speaks to exactly what goes on on campus and what a man should be doing. Thanks for the post!

  24. I don’t know that the trend of saggy pants is on the wane, Monsignor. I go by a couple of high schools on my way home from work and almost all of the boys wear their pants like that. Even some of the girls do now!

  25. Although women may not be stimulated in exactly the same way as men by visuals, still the naked body (shirtless for example) does cause a reaction, even if it is just a feeling of unwanted intimacy. Women should be covered for the obvious temptations it brings to men, and men should be covered in a similar fashion to support them and so that they “match”. It makes no sense to expect women to be covered up while men wear shorts and nothing else. I guess that is pretty much what happens when men wear suits and women wear skimpy cocktail dresses. I think the most practical and modest style for both genders is a long tunic like top over loose trousers. May not catch on in America anytime soon, but I’ve seen it in other countries and it looks nice and makes sense.

    The topic of sloppiness, while not exactly modesty, is important too as it shows self respect and respect for one another.

  26. I find that the biggest “modest” thing a man can do is to support and find beauty in the women who DO dress modestly. In my lifetime, when I dressed modestly I was called dumpy by every man I knew (husband, father, brother). It made me feel terrible, ugly and unwanted. However, when I dressed provocatively, I was complimented by all. My husband especially wanted me to “look better” so that he would be more esteemed in the eyes of the world. (After a while I threw away the long flowing skirts and high-necked shirts.) I believe men could be more modest by finding beauty in modesty and shunning the immodest ladies.

    1. I am sorry to hear your experience. I personally love the look of a long dress on a woman along with a nice modest blouse. To me modesty is both attractive and beautiful.

  27. So… I have read the post and comments above and find myself agreeing with many people. Yes, men have a role to play in encouraging modesty. Yes, women are also responsible not to “tempt eyes.” But I don’t think the responsibility is or should be on women to dress moderately– the real challenge is for men to work against their nature, to be called to a higher cause (a la the cause of St. Paul who decreed it is better for people to be unmarried). Impossible some men may say, but nothing is impossible for God!

    Case in point: I am engaged to a very wonderful Catholic man. We are committed to being chaste, and it is a very difficult thing to do, as we are both very attracted to each other. I am a curvaceous woman by nature, and I have found that I have always had to dress modestly. But yet, even when I dress modestly, or frumpy/dumpy, men STILL stare at me. I joke with my fiance that even if I wore a garbage bag, men would still stare. And in fact, earlier in my life I purposely dressed like a tomboy to “hide” my features. Yet to the point Sarah made above, I want to look nice for my fiance, for work, for my own self esteem. But by my nature (and curves) even modest necklines make me look like a hooker! Heck, even turtlenecks draw attention.

    What I have realized is that, in some cases, it does not matter what a woman does or does not do–men still stare (I won’t say they are pigs b/c I don’t think they all are). With my fiance, I’ve realized that what I need to do is to not put him in a situation where he is overtly tempted. I still want to look nice and professional, and wear skirts of a medium to long length, shirts that cover, etc. I think that it is about the intent that women put into their clothing choices. There is the intent to look nice, professional (and indeed to give glory to God through the body/temple that you have), but there is also the choice to choose something that is slightly provocative, so that you do get a furtive glance from some guy on the metro, or a colleague/friend, etc.

    But also guys, I am going to break the mold here–shirtless men who are fit are darn good looking, and yes, do make me look. So do men who are dressed up to go out–either in fitted t-shirts (oh be still my heart), nice jeans… Ok I just find that men are attractive, and there are a heck of a lot of single attractive guys in this city (and gals for that matter). Most young adults here dress to impress the other sex–its a lot about the power of seduction (on both sides). When people go out to a bar, they “dress up”–what that looks like today is different than 50 years ago, but people do that. Men are just as culpable of dressing to impress some hot chick at a bar (or church, even!). Again I find it all goes back to the intent. If you want to be pure physically, you have to do your best to check your thoughts to make sure you are pure in spirit. To go out to meet people, to even find someone is not bad–but I think a lot of people go out to “impress” on a sexual scale.

    And in terms of meeting someone–you truly have to look for the beauty inside. It is only natural that we will be tempted by physicality, it is part of our nature. But God intended our sexuality to be used for a most divine purpose, expressed through the marriage covenant. I think there is a lot to be said for keeping things “for the eyes of my future spouse only.”

    As my favorite verse of the bible says, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not arouse, do not stir up love before its own time.” Amen!

  28. my parish has a brother who never never wears long pants. his legs look good, & i blurted out “hey, it’s brother shortpants!” omigosh!!! i was so embarrassed! he was ok with it, but, i wasn’t…. i don’t wear shorts to Mass (we both attend daily.)

  29. whenever i see a male wearing his pants ‘way down, i think “loser! & i laugh.

  30. Msgr! Thanks for such a great article. I just had this article sent to me, and I must say, I’m so glad to see that this topic, as well as other topics, are being tackled everywhere in the Church!

    I wanted to send a quick note to caution Catholics about the website you referenced about tieing a tie. The site, Art of Manliness (AOM), is a “hot” site and has tens of thousands of subscribers. However, the site lacks substance and for men attempting to live authentic manliness, AOM comes up drastically short. As well, the site founder is openly pro-freemasonry and we as Catholics must stay clear of freemasonry and its effects. (See the article on AOM from April 6, 2010.)

    If Catholics, men and women alike, are looking for a solid Catholic site, faithful to the Magisterium, on the topic of manliness, please visit my website, Your comments, questions, suggestions and feedback is always appreciated!

    TrueMan up!

  31. there was an article in the florida catholic about dressing for church. it said shorts were ok for men, & capris for women. excuse me! should b shorts for all or capris for all, imho.

  32. it was in the fla catholic that i read about dressing for Mass: shorts r ok for men & capris for women. double standard? imho, should b shorts for all or capris for all.

  33. I have been a reader for an extended whereas, but that is my first time as a commenter. I just wished to say that this has been / is my favourite update of yours! Keep up the good work and I’ll keep on coming back.

  34. I’m so sorry to hear Sarah’s experience with people cutting her down when she dresses modestly. I’ve found that men treat women better and in a more gentlemanlike manner when women embrace their femininity.

    Shirtless—my Grandmother (R.I.P) used to say, “From the shoulders to the knees, nobody touches. Nobody sees.” She said that to both young ladies AND young men.

    Tight pants…UGH! But I must say I saw more of that in Europe than I see here in the States.

    On that note, I’d be interested in the MEN’S point of view on this study:

    1. Colleen, I’ve had the same thought as your Grandmother! I was pondering this article and my own standards of modesty for my 6 children of both sexes, and it is basically that. Covered shoulders, no midriff showing, clothes to the knees, including swimming (they all wear “rash guards” and “board shorts”). I was thinking that it seemed logical that you not bear skin it would be inappropriate for someone other than your spouse to touch. For that reason I side with the ladies who say shirtless is a problem for men or to tight shirts/pants. I mean, I was embarrassed to catch myself double taking at a nice-looking young man jogging down the road shirtless, only to realize I knew his mother! And manner is important especially they eyes! When I was in the convent before marriage, we were trained to avoid prolonged eye contact with men as a guard to modesty, and I think it is an important thing for people keep in mind. Men who have an open and friendly manner with everyone, without being too intensely focused on a woman in conversation are easier for me to deal with, if that makes sense.

  35. Thank you for this post, Monsignor! I saw this on Colleen Hammond’s blog.

    I would like to say something related to your seventh point. From my experience, it *appears* that women are aroused more easily than men when it comes to use of sexually suggestive language, stories, and the like. Even in Catholic discussions on chastity, I have seen good men use graphic language or describe specific sexual situations in a way likely to tempt many women toward unchaste thoughts, while the men at least appear to be unaffected! This is something I have noticed only recently. Perhaps my small conclusion is inaccurate.

    I have not read the other comments. Apologies if I am repeating!

    1. Jane, what you say rings true to me! I find, when watching TV for example, that the sex scenes bother me less than the crass jokes, or sexual references. And I think these latter have gone way up in occurrence. It is part and parcel of the intense sexualization of the society–it is not enough to have sex implied (in the happily ever after following the wedding at the end), but it has to be shown, and now constantly talked about. I would like to see some real push back on this from men, especially on the assumption in TV/movies that all men view pornography and practice self-abuse (and increasingly, these are attributed to women as well).

      Mother Most Pure, pray for us!

  36. Monsignor, this is an interesting article, though I think the debate about modest dressing will continue to rage until kingdom come. I am sitting here in my shorts and t-shirt, wondering what my great-grandmother would think of me going out for a walk with my dog dressed like this. I cringe to think what might be acceptable in the next 50 years, but before we condemn too harshly the dressing habits of our contemporaries, we need to look at the history of the debate and whether or not it has really affected personal morality and chastity, or not. Is this really just a leaf on the weed that we’re trying to get rid of instead of trying to eliminate the problem at its root?

    Thanks for points 3 and 4 above in your opening section, but with regard to point 5 I would like to point out that men really do have just as much to cover up as do women. A man’s chest is just as private to him as are his other “private parts.” I am no more in the habit of touching or looking at a man’s (acquaintance or stranger) chest then he should be touching or looking at mine.

    Yes, men and women are wired very differently, and yes, most men do need the extra assistance our culture can offer them to remain pure in thought and action. But this kind of thinking can be and has been repeatedly misconstrued to place the burden of responsibility and accountability solely on women. Women are already blamed by their spouses (or boyfriends) for extramarital affairs, lack of fire in the bedroom, porn use, addictions, unexpected pregnancies, you name it.

    One might also question that how, in a culture so saturated with sexual perversity and insensitivity to the human body as a theological art form, is modest dressing even going to make an iota of a difference? Again, this is a leaf on the weed, not the root.

    The root of the problem is with self-respect. We haven’t been taught and in many cases have not adequately taught our children about respect of self as a creation in the image and likeness of God, made by God as His beloved ones. God is all about respect! We subscribe to self-effacing commentary in the name of humility. We surround ourselves with the “I’m not good enough” mentality when, intrinsically, all of us are good!

    Don’t get me wrong, as a mother of two young women I wholeheartedly support modest dressing, but I submit to you that way we dress is really just the “dressing on the salad.”

    The men of Jesus’ time wore robes, not slacks. The men of Elizabethan times wore bloomers. Men have worn stockings and pumps and powdered wigs.

    Just something to think about lest we become so narrow in our focus as to forget that God desires us to be chaste from the INSIDE out, not vice versa.

  37. I’ve often been concerned about Men’s modesty these days too. And I do believe that men go shirtless to simply show off their bodies.(even older guys) A lot of men are very vain indeed. But then there are those men who go shirtless that are terribly out of shape. I would just be too plain embarrassed to show my body like that. Why do those guys go half naked at the beach? Arent they embarrassed? I’ve gotten older myself from a young 6’tall 165 pounder to an older 5’11” 210 pounder, and I am not about to go around bare chested. If I were to actually slim down to a fitter, leaner, healthier look, I’m sure I would continue to cover it up. Even now when the family goes to the beach which we all love, I wear a swim shirt now made for men. It protects my skin from burning and protects my own sense of modesty. If I had children, especially sons, I would have them wear them now too. When I’m home I’ll do my outdoor chores, fully dressed, but I will however dip in my own private back yard pool sometimes without a shirt. But only if I am alone. If guests were over, I’d wear my swim shirt. I’ve also seen men on weekends shopping in the home improvement stores that are dressed on the edge of immodestly. I call it “tacky”. Shorts and tee shirts with rips and tears: Sandals and even the occasional shirtless man or wearing an unbuttoned rag of a shirt. I saw once a young man in cut off sweat pants and a dirty tee in a home improvement store. that squatted down to get an item off the lower shelf, and well, I won’t tell you what got exposed from his way too short cut offs. What’s with that? What are they thinking? Could it be that they are so tired of doing business casual or business professional at work all week, that they take the weekend off and go overboard with tacky and comfort. Or is it that a lot of men just don’t care about modesty anymore? It’s really not taught anymore. I did hear my Priest mention it a homily once. As for women, they seem to have a wide interpretation of what modestly dressed means. I work with a woman who has complained about staring men, always checking her out. She always wears the same uniform style clothing. Slacks and polo style shirt. She calls that modest and says that she always covers herself. Although I have also seen her in one of those low cut camies with a jacket or sweater. What she doesn’t get, is that the pants and tops are fitted to her like a glove. It may be covered for the most part but her figure is fully revealed. She doesn’t understand what true modest dress is. The art of dressing and acting modestly for both men and women is lost, and needs to be re-introduced/taught by our Priests and pastors. Really taught, not just mentioned in a homily or sermon.

  38. Today’s society seems to forever go on about women’s modesty but not many speak of men’s modesty. I was talking to my friend on the subject when I said that a lot of the arguments used for women could be used for men as well. Example: Pants drawing attention to things below the belt that should not be seen or thought of. She didn’t agree and said that women are not visual but I can speak for myself and many other women that I know or have known and say that they are. (all to different degrees, mind you) I am not against women wearing pants but rather that the same standards should apply. As for shirtless men, me along with many others I know would agree that a shirtless man on a beach in swim trunks is the equivalent to a women wearing surf shorts (long, baggy swim shorts) and a bikini top.

  39. How about short sleeved shirts revealing most of the upper arm? It’s hard to find a balance between baggy and tight shirts for me as I’m thin but I don’t want to show off my upper arms if it’s a temptation.

  40. Ny husband has always been a “looker”. He will stare at another woman for a great length of time while we are at a wedding reception or another public event. When I question him about it, he says he’s sorry but the woman is pretty. When I ask what he finds pretty about her, he says that she has a big chest and is blonde. I tell him that his comment and staring makes me feel cheap. Am I wrong to feel this way? Do I have a bad heart?

  41. I think we are missing the point when we don’t look at scripture to answer the question. Adam and Eve were given covering by God because the covering they chose was insufficient. Im guessing their clothing choice to be similar to the swim suit. God gave them clothing equal to a long tunic. Both of them. Man and woman. Later man started wearing pants but never lost the long tunic. Why do we think it was ever acceptable to get away from this as a biblical standard. It is very clear that pants were never worn as an outer garment. I am currently struggling with this as I as a man have always worn pants. My usual attire is Jeans and a flannel shirt over a t shirt. Pretty modest by todays standards but the more reading of my bible I do the more convicted I am that my top layer is inappropriate. It is very clear scripturally that the form of the body was not seen on males or females. Why have we, as men, “made clean” the wearing of pants???

    So it isn’t about protecting the other sex at all. Modesty is about following scriptural authority and not trying to place our current American culture over the top of the Word of God.

    As far as women go, you cannot tell me women don’t look. This is an age of sexual aggressiveness by women like no age we have ever seen. I am guessing it has much to do with increased independence from male support and increased self-empowerment. If you are a good looking guy, pay extra attention as you walk through a store. I guarantee you are being checked out.

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