Lean on Me

Lean on MeToday I’d like to expand a little on my recent post about emotional modesty, and talk more about maintaining a healthy balance in communication. Guys especially have to strive to achieve good communication because (surprise, surprise), it doesn’t come to them as easily as girls. One of the reasons relationships are so tricky is because while feelings aren’t everything, they are an important factor. Most other things we do, work for instance, can be done well regardless of how we feel about it, but a relationship can’t be a dispassionate exercise. So one of the most important things in maintaining a healthy relationship is communicating thoughts and feelings. As I see it, there are two major pitfalls to avoid when it comes to communication: the first is not communicating enough, the second is destructive communication, such as excessive venting, or “emotional dumping”—which is when you use another person as a total dumping ground for all your troubles.

It’s important for men especially to understand that women are much more intuitive and sensitive than men are, traits which make women better at empathizing and nurturing than men. But these same traits mean they need more emotional connection than men, because emotions play a bigger part in how women experience the world. So even though it may not seem “manly,” men need to share their feelings with their wife or girlfriend regularly if they want to stay connected to them. It doesn’t matter how close you feel to her, if you don’t tell her, it’ll make you seem more distant. Men also need to understand that women need to vent more about their lives than they do. To male ears this may sound whiny, but it’s a vital part of how women work through things. Often enough, when your wife or girlfriend tells you about her problems, she doesn’t even expect you to solve them for her, just to listen and express sympathy. It really couldn’t be simpler, but men are built to problem solve, so we get it mixed up all the time.

On the flip side it’s easy to fall into the trap of putting too much emotional weight on your boyfriend or girlfriend. Communicating about all the good and bad things in your life is vitally important to maintaining an emotional bond, but one has to be careful not to view your boyfriend or girlfriend as the answer to all your problems. It can be really easy to see your whole life as merely an extension of your relationship, which is, often rightly so, the most important part of it. However, the paradox is, if you’re not complete without a relationship, you won’t find yourself complete with one, even if it feels that way. Nobody can be solely responsible for another person’s happiness; it’s too much to bear. Donald Miller sums it up nicely in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, “I think that’s why so many couples fight, because they want their partners to validate them and affirm them, and if they don’t get that, they feel as though they’re going to die. And so they lash out. But it’s a terrible thing to wake up and realize the person you just finished crucifying didn’t turn out to be Jesus.”

There’s only one thing that can satisfy a human completely, and it’s not another human. Sure, it might work for a while, but not forever. So confide in each other, trust each other, but don’t put your full emotional weight on anyone else, because it’ll just make you both fall.

~ GOM

Emotional Modesty

Emotional ModestyRelationships can be like a scientist in a lab who ecstatically discovers a secret formula, only to have everything suddenly blow up. This is because getting to know someone intimately is one of the most risky and tricky things people do. And unlike most dangerous chemicals, there’s no standard method for handling estrogen and testosterone. Something which I feel people fail to talk about or prepare for is emotional chastity, by which I mean maintaining the right level of emotional commitment and intimacy at all stages of a relationship. Just as physical unchastity can lead to pain later on, so can emotional unchastity. One must be very conscious and careful how much and when you share yourself with another person.Think of getting to know someone deeply in the same light as getting to know someone physically.  You can see how someone looks the instant you meet them, just as you can learn even the most intimate facts about them quickly. Yet as you get to know the person, you realize that even their physical appearance changes. In the same way, while the facts about someone remain the same, we intellectually see them differently based on our experience of the person, which is the greater part.Taking the analogy a step further, we don’t usually come to know everything about a person physically when we first meet them. There is a necessary progression of further “discovering” if you will a person’s physical form. To speed through this process (or skip it entirely) is dangerous at best. So too should the progression of emotional connection be properly timed. Maybe it’s tricky to figure out because it actually plays a bigger role in the discovery of a person than physical intimacy, and it’s harder to judge where the lines should be. For this reason, even greater vigilance should be given to emotional chastity.

This vigilance can be termed emotional modesty—the protection of your own and other’s emotional state. It’s fun to come to intimately know someone in a relationship, but that intimacy cannot be peacefully maintained without the right level of time and commitment. So even when we feel drawn to get intimately close and attached to someone, emotional modesty keeps us from saying or doing things before the right time.  This is important to keep in mind, because the actual right time will probably not be when something “feels right” for the first time. Just because there’s a full moon and a choir singing “That’s Amore” in the distance doesn’t mean it’s time to say something rash which you’ll probably regret before too long. It only works that way in movies. And even if that special someone makes your life feel like a movie, sadly it’s not. Remembering that will give you a better shot at your own real life happily ever after.

~ GOM

Our Stance

Our StanceWell it’s been a busy couple of days. We were featured on Jezebel.com in an article subtly titled “Modesty is Bullshit” (I’m honestly disappointed we didn’t make the cut for their “F–k You Week” line of articles, maybe next time). This brought us to the attention of a previously untapped audience—angry feminists, who’ve been visiting our blog and Facebook page in droves. So, in the wake of that I’d like to clarify a few things:

We are not out to dictate women’s clothes
Of our posts, only three have dealt with the issue of clothing. Two of those stressed that clothing is only a reflection of modesty, not the virtue itself.

We dictate nothing. We claim no authority
We’re just expressing our thoughts and appreciation of a virtue many people are  interested in pursuing and learning more about.

We just want to spread a new appreciation for modesty
Both Christian and secular circles focus the question too exclusively around clothing. We want to refocus the discussion on a broader understanding of modesty.

Modesty is positive and uplifting
Far from oppressing people, men or women, modesty gives the human person the respect it deserves. It’s not a long list of rules, but a fulfilling way of life.

But of course, this all presupposes that one thinks modesty is worth pursuing and the human person worth respecting. Our critics’ moral code seems to be that people can do whatever they want and respecting them means staying the heck out of the way. Now, our page assumes belief in a real system of morals, specifically, traditional Judeo-Christian ethics. If someone rejects all traditional virtue, discussion of one of those virtues in particular is an impossible and futile endeavor.

– GOM

Do guys even notice whether a girl dresses modestly?

For a lot of girls it may seem that guys are totally oblivious to how they dress, but the truth is guys definitely do notice! According to this elaborate study done by “The Rebelution”, the huge majority of guys say they definitely notice if a girl dresses modestly. This is only one aspect of the survey. You can check out the whole thing here: http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/browse

Beauty of Humility

Modesty is deeply related to humility. In fact, I think where humility is, modesty will be also. Unfortunately, humility is also a monstrously misunderstood virtue.
People often treat it as a requirement to think poorly of themselves, but this is really a poor way to understand the virtue. Humility is about knowing yourself for what you are, not pretending you’re worse than you are just because.
Now, as you seek greater perfection, and come to know yourself better, you’ll certainly discover you have a ton of flaws, more than you ever thought possible.
So people without any humility think it means pretending they’re not awesome even though they are. People with a little humility think it means admitting they’re not awesome because they know they aren’t. But people with perfect humility don’t think about it at all because they’re too busy serving the best good of everyone around them to bother about themselves. Unfortunately, perfect humility is very hard to achieve because its arch-enemies, selfishness and pride, are like cancer—you can beat them in one place, but before you know it they’ve sprung up in another.

Selfishness and pride are also wreak havoc on modesty. A lot of immodesty, from dressing badly to carrying oneself wantonly, springs from the desire for attention, to be important, to be sought after. Here again we see the internal play of virtue. The inordinate desire for others to think well of you is immodest whatever you wear.                                                The girl who dons a modest outfit while hoping that people will notice her figure despite it isn’t any more modest than the girl who wears an immodest outfit in the certainty that people will notice her figure because of it. In fact, she is less modest than the girl who accidently wears something immodest because she’s not thinking of what others think of her at all (said girl is being careless though). On the flip side, with humility comes a deeper knowledge of who you are; your flaws, your strengths, and most importantly the knowledge of your worth as a human being. Any girl secure in this knowledge won’t feel the need to showcase herself boldly for the affirmation of others, but will instead feel inside her the value of what she has to offer someone worthy of it, and won’t want to advertise herself to the first taker. Be true to your self worth. Ladies, you are worth so much more than provocative ways. Showing respect for your self, will help you find a respectful guy and friendships.

 – GOM  

Redefining Modesty

The modesty debate runs sternly through any Christian circle, from the “modesty-means-dressing-fashionably-as-long-as-you-don’t-show-too-much” camp, which I more or less ascribe to, to the “if-it’s-not-a-denim-sack-you’re-going-to-hell” camp, which I find more repugnant and opposed to the human person than its total secular opposite. But in all cases, I think the debate is being argued from the wrong direction, or to be more precise, the opposite direction. Modesty, like chastity, has become a negative virtue, much more full of “thou shalt nots” than “thou shalts.” This is sad, because I feel looking at modesty or chastity from this perspective is a poverty of understanding, which, while it might avoid sin, leads to no great virtue.

As Lewis notes in The Great Divorce, the passion of lust is but a weakly substitute for the true, good and pure sexual passion which may be born when lust is killed. What is wrong with secularism is that it never gets past lust. What is wrong with Christians’ response is that they never get past condemning the lust and moving on to ponder what the virtue actually is. If this is true of chastity, it is doubly true of modesty, which has most faithful Christians, many better than myself, tied in knots over trivialities that don’t begin to approach the real virtue. One hears long debates as to whether a skirt may fall above or below the knee (I don’t know who thinks knees are so alluring anyway), whether pants are quite feminine enough, and I don’t even want to touch the issue of leggings. I even knew one fervent Christian group that forbade its young ladies to show their collar-bones. I don’t know what they expect will happen to their young men when they greet the world at large with vague ideas of sexualized collar-bones. These measures, while they may avoid sin, also avoid any real comprehension of modesty, which I hold to be an internal virtue much more than an external. The same with chastity.

Both virtues have to do with seeing value of the human person; modesty with recognizing your own value, and chastity with recognizing everybody else’s. This recognition is reflected in exterior actions—how we dress, how we interact sexually, etc. But such actions, or lack of action, are merely a reflection of the actual virtue, not the virtue itself. You can exercise abstinence without any appreciation for the multitude of people you aren’t sleeping with. But merely not dressing badly or not being promiscuous has about as much to do with virtue as not shooting your wife has to do with love. The purpose of this blog will be to explore the actual internal form of the virtue of modesty, and also chastity insofar as it relates to modesty. One last note, I don’t ascribe to any hard and fast rules on what is acceptable dress, although certainly some things are right out. Certain things, such as two piece swim-suits I see more as possibly unwise, but not necessarily wrong. I’ve seen bikinis worn with more perfect modesty than the most dour one-pieces. Denim sacks fail to realize the beauty of the human person just as much as thongs, possibly more so, for the one at least acknowledges its beauty even if it mistreats it, while the other would present the body’s beauty as something intrinsically evil, which is in my opinion the greater error.

– GOM