Defining what modesty means in a man’s life is tricky, because the entire debate on the subject has been spun to revolve around how much skin is showing. Since most men have no problem in that area, it would be easy to make the mistake of assuming modesty is just something for women; but that’s not true. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “Modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man” (par. 2524). This presents a much richer idea of modesty than as turgid rules about the length of a skirt. It also means that everyone is called to participate in modesty by recognizing both their own spiritual dignity, and the dignity of those around them.
For men, this means respecting everyone at all times, especially in our demeanor towards them. So there’s a lot more to modesty for men than making sure your pants cover your whole rear. For example, imagine if the president of the United States addressed the United Nations in jeans and a sweatshirt. He would be lambasted, and properly so, for disrespecting both his own office and the assembly he addressed. This is an extreme and obvious example, but there are plenty of similar if more subtle moments like is in all of our lives. Ask yourself if the way you dress says that you care about yourself and what you do, or does it say that you don’t give a darn. When you talk to people, are you genuinely concerned about their needs, do you ever think about what you could do for them, or are you only concerned about what you can get from them.
Even at social events, it’s easy to only talk to people because we can get something from them—enjoyment, social standing, etc., and to ignore people who we perceive as having nothing to offer us. Really though, everyone is important, regardless of what they can or can’t do for us. Especially as men, it’s our calling to reach out to reach out to others, not because of what they can do for us, but because of what we can do for them.
Manhood is always equated with strength of some kind. The lie of the world, however, is in defining that strength as the ability to take what we want. In reality though, the measure of a man lies in his ability to give, whether he wants to or not. Be a man. Be modest.