The Fuel and Effects of Immodesty

In Kent Hughes’ excellent book, Set Apart: Calling a Worldly Church to A Godly Life, he talks about sexual purity and the Christian life (among other things).  One chapter is called “Modesty.”  In this chapter he explains what fuels immodesty and the effects of immodesty.  This is helpful to consider since we live in culture where sexual perversion is becoming the norm.

First, what fuels immodesty?

1) “The fashion industry.  Early on, Calvin Klein led the way in promoting a drugged-out cocaine chic as pale, skinny adolescent men and women posed in jeans (some with flies unzipped) in various postures of strung-out languor.  … It’s particularly hard for young women to find clothing that is stylish and not degrading.  Even sizing has become pernicious – so that what is now labeled ‘large’ is equivalent to what was once ‘small.’”

2) “The Body Industry.  If anything trumps the fashion industry in promoting immodesty, it’s the body industry.  The body business lives on the promotion of the myth that you cannot be happy without the body you desire, and you can have the body you want through diet and exercise. …So today high school and college students are in the midst of an epidemic of anorexia and other sorts of modesty-related disorders.”

3) “The Beauty Industry.  Immodesty is fueled by an inordinate emphasis on the body and on the myth that you can’t be happy in less than a perfect body….  This culturally induced delusion and frustration is further fueled by the fashion industry’s peddling of fashions for skinny models who epitomize the ideal.  …The beauty industry feeds on these insecurities, selling implants, liposuction, plastic surgeries, collagen injections, drugs, and every kind of lipstick, eye shadow, shampoo, dye, emollient, cream, soap, cleanser, enhancer, perfume, conditioner, and exfoliant that the commercial mind can imagine.”

4) “The Sin Industry.  …Our own sin’s industriousness in dragging us down into immodesty.  At the heart of our sin is self-love.  We are naturally lovers of self rather than lovers of God. …Pride fuels immodesty.”

Secondly, Hughes notes the effects of immodesty: it demystifies (it diminishes the beautiful mystery of sexuality), it devalues (it reduces people to objects), it breeds shallowness (it makes people look only upon the surface), it temps (it makes people lust), and it confuses (it leaves people confused about sex and the human body).

This is just a brief summary of a longer discussion.  I highly recommend this book – specifically this chapter.  Near the end of the chapter, Hughes writes this (and I’ll end with it):

“Modesty is the entire church’s responsibility.  We together must create a culture in which modesty flourishes.  There must be a place where women [and men – spl] are safe and accepted for who they are rather than for what they look like. …It must be a place where all learn to clothe themselves with the character of Christ.”

 R. Kent Hughes: Set Apart (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003).

shane lems

2 Replies to “The Fuel and Effects of Immodesty”

  1. I love the title of this book. We are called to be set apart. There is so much activity in churches today that are focused on how close we can be like the world so we can be attractive to the lost. What should cause them to notice us is our differences, not our similarities!


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