Ryan O'Connell

Help Me to Heaven: A Guy’s Perspective on Modesty

In all my years I have seen nothing come close to the visual beauty of the female form… not the Grand Canyon, an Irish castle, a Ferrari F50, or a bald eagle with a butterfly halo riding a gazelle through a vast meadow of lilies at dawn (although tweeting that pic would certainly get more likes than my sister’s last bathroom selfie).

It’s safe to say that most guys feel the same way. You women are so breathtakingly beautiful that it can be very difficult to pay attention to anything else when you’re in the general vicinity. I once slammed my car into the garage door because I was mindlessly gazing at my beautiful neighbor on her mountain bike.

Is that clear enough ladies? You’re beautiful.

Beauty Is Power

It is commonly known that, on average, guys are more easily visually stimulated than women. And if a woman provides the pinnacle of visual stimulation for us guys, it’s easy to see just how much power you ladies actually posses.

Physically beauty is a powerful force. But with great power comes… great responsibility (and another irresponsible Spiderman sequel).

That’s where modesty comes into play.

Because of our fallen and sinful nature, bodily beauty and lust often get intertwined in the male mind. This means that women have the power to make men weak. While this may be an exciting idea for woman in a male-dominated society, a weak man is not a Godly man. A weak man does not make a good leader, husband, father, or priest. The world needs strong, virtuous men. And while us men must cultivate our own virtue, woman have so much power to help us along by practicing modesty.

Knowledge Leads to Virtue

All men and women should dress and conduct themselves with modesty because, most importantly, modesty reflects the dignity of person who is created and loved by God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man.” (CCC 2524)

But that doesn’t mean modesty is easy or alluring in our hyper-sexualized culture.

Sister Helena Burns writes: “Men’s temptation is to lust after women, and women’s temptation is to want to/let themselves be lusted after.” This is a simple, but profound, truth. And it means that women can be drawn to dress immodestly to receive wrongful attention; and men can be drawn to encourage this to receive wrongful gratification.

If men and women are acutely aware of our inherent weaknesses, we can not only help ourselves, but also help each other in love. In fact, we have a Christian duty to lead each other to greater virtue. Real love cares about the eternal destiny of our neighbor, so real love encourages the practice of virtue to keep each other on the path to Heaven.

Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Christ made the ultimate sacrifice of love for His friends by dying on the cross, but we can “lay down our lives” for others in smaller ways by giving up comforts, conveniences, time, money, and even the latest fashion trends.

“Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.” (CCC 2523)

Seriously, Men Need Some Help

For many guys, modesty can be the difference between thinking, “wow, she looks amazing right now” and, “wow, I want to see her wearing nothing.” As a woman, how would you rather have a man view you?

But let me be clear that women are not responsible for the sexual sins of men. All women deserve to be treated with love and respect no matter how they dress or act because they are daughters of God. A woman can tempt a man, certainly, but if that man sins it’s his fault and responsibility.

That being said, I want to love the women in my life well enough to lead them to greater virtue. And I hope the women in my life would love me enough to lead me to greater virtue as well.

Knowing that us guys are weak, and choosing to love us, means being conscious of your beauty’s tremendous power in our fallen world. Asking the simple question, “am I helping the men in my life by how I’m dressed today?” could do a lot of good in helping both sexes grow in virtue.

Men, we should be asking that question daily about the women in our lives as well – and also include speech, and action. Because modesty is not just about clothing:

“Modesty is decency… It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.” (CCC 2522)

Living a virtuous life is not easy, and we can all use a little help for our fellow brothers and sisters. Ladies, you have the power to help us become better, more virtuous men… even if you can’t save us from denting garage doors.

Categories: FashionMy Culture

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Ryan O'Connell

About the Author

After a hard day of work, I look forward to a little exercise, some blues guitar, and a moving-picture creation by my ex-employer and fickle lover, Hollywood. I’m also a fan of basketball, sketch comedy, and vigorously defending my beliefs using this academic gimmick called “truth.” God has blessed me with the most loyal friends a guy could ask for, and a disturbing inability to not laugh at stupid jokes.