Modesty–For Boys

C.L. Bruno continues her guest stint here at BCC.

Of my eight children, I only have one boy–“the little prince.” He’s grown up with quite a knowledge of the female psyche, but has his own way of looking at life. Now that he is close to turning 12, I’m starting to reevaluate adolescence.

One of the big issues for the girls was modesty. Preached long and loud in Young Women’s, it sometimes looms larger than having a testimony of Christ. We’ve had to come to terms with modesty in our home. With their 100% Church, YW, and Seminary attendance, I feel that my daughters understand the principle. I support it, but let them govern themselves. I’ve learned to let them choose their clothing, and say nothing except when asked. Usually then I will tell them they look beautiful and stunning. I’ve helped put sleeves on prom dresses. I’ve listened to them agonize over unfair Standards Nights, where only the girls are targeted, and agreed with them that impure thoughts are the boys’ problem.

But now…along comes this young man of my own.

YM is generally neat and well-dressed. He wears swim trunks without a shirt while swimming, but otherwise wears a shirt in the summer. I’ve discovered, though, that boys have different “modesty” issues.

Do boys realize it is offensive to burp and fart loudly and without apology? Why isn’t this receiving any emphasis in Youth programs? Why don’t they drill into the boys how much this bothers girls and women? Why don’t they send the boys home from stake dances for burping along to the tune of the alphabet? Why don’t they get into trouble for lighting farts at Scout Camp?

I hope the Church will help me teach my boy modesty.


  1. Steve Evans says:

    CL, because farting and belching aren’t activities that result in pregnancy. Modesty is directly linked to sexuality, not mere politesse. The Church is trying to pre-empt fornication and out-of-wedlock babies; it’s not trying to pre-empt white trash.

    I wouldn’t use the term modesty at all, I don’t think, for the behaviors you’re trying to curb. Instead it’s politeness or decorum.

  2. It received plenty of attention from me when I was serving in Young Men’s.

    I get annoyed by the gross, slobby behaviors too commonly exhibited by our rude young men (burping, flatus, lighting up the same, etc.)- ESPECIALLY when I am driving some distance with them (lol)- and I put a darn fast squelcher on such abhorrent behaviors when I was serving in young men’s. I do think this is an important part of modesty.

    So yes- I agree that keeping control of your bodily functions in public is a great expression of modesty.

    That said- why is it my daughters who seem obsessed with burping their ABCs, and who get their kicks out of doing that, and not my sons?? ;) They are very cute, so sometimes their sudden- er- recitals tend to really catch people off guard…

  3. Steve, my daughter’s wearing a short skirt has not resulted in pregnancy. But I do agree that immodesty may lead to immorality, just as lack of decorum can lead to immorality.

  4. Regarding what Steve said- I feel it is unfortunate in our society and in the Church that when young women get pregnant, it is almost solely looked upon as their fault. Good heavens- we are still living the Scarlet Letter. Young men deserve much more of the rap for these things.

  5. Steve – I’d refer to the difference between civilization and barbarism. C.L. – whenever your son displays such behavior he should be reminded of what society expects of all human beings. In my house, both the one I grew up in and the one I now own, boys are taught to be polite. It is possible to be a rowdy boy and still have some manners. Unfortunately, I recently experienced a supervisor at work who would openly fart in a meeting in his office. He made no apologies and acted as if it was only natural. By the way, he isn’t a church member.

  6. Eric Russell says:

    CL, it’s true that adolescent boys are severely guilty of lack of civility. It’s also true that more attention probably ought to be given to lessens in civility. But civility is not the same thing as modesty.

  7. D. Fletcher says:

    My experience (with 5 sisters) is that adolescent girls could learn a thing or two about decorum. Farts and burps make girls laugh as well as boys.

    In my experience.

  8. Steve Evans says:

    What Eric said.

    Jordan, I never said that immorality was the girl’s fault — what an odd reading of my comment. Did I even mention girls?

    CL, how can a lack of decorum result in immorality?? Lord knows I belched enough in high school — I should have seen at least a little action, then :)

  9. American Heritage Dictionary – mod·es·ty
    The state or quality of being modest.
    Reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior.
    Lack of pretentiousness; simplicity.

  10. CL, I agree with you to the extent that we understand modesty as the practice of not drawing undue attention to oneself.

    With seven sisters, I’m wondering if maybe your son is just trying to establish some separate identity and boundaries.

    And D. is right. I learned the pull my finger trick from a girl. She’s still a great friend.

    I would love to ask people responding to this thread the question: Do you think The Simpsons is funny? Our responses to that question would predict quite accurately how we will respond on this thread. At the start of every show, Bart is shown writing something a hundred times on the blackboard. Here are some of the gems:

    I will not waste chalk.
    I will not pledge allegiance to Bart.
    I will not burp in class.
    I will not belch the National Anthem.
    I will not do anything bad ever again.
    I will not Xerox my butt.
    I will not mock Mrs. Dumbface.
    I will not make flatulent noises in class.
    I will not hang donuts on my person.

  11. Steve,
    FOTFL!! I’m sorry…

  12. Steve Evans says:

    But CL, the Church’s use of the term “Modesty” is almost entirely related to standards of dress and sexualized behavior, wouldn’t you agree? The American Heritage Dictionary’s view is irrelevant.

  13. I agree, hence, this post.

  14. Steve Evans says:

    so you want to redefine “morality” in the LDS setting. I see — that’s a bit more clear.

  15. “Why don’t they get into trouble for lighting farts at scout camp?”

    Whether you agree with it or not, innocuous crudeness can be an effective bonding experience for young men (even older men). Some of my best memories of scout camp as a young man were sitting around a campfire with the guys lighting our farts and laughing hysterically. Now, as a young mens leader, those are still some of the best moments for connecting personally with the boys- it lets them see I’m a real guy, and once they realize that they are far more likely to listen to other, more spiritual things I say. One rather shy, unpopular boy in our teacher’s quorum finally broke out of his shell and is now quite social with the other boys all because of one camp we had last year where he earned the nickname “sparky”.

    Should they do it in public? Of course not- and we teach them that, but it would be wrong to take away that bonding experience from them.

  16. I suppose so…why impose a narrow meaning on the word, then focus it upon the female? True, you never said immorality was the girls’ fault. But giving talks on modesty only to girls, then saying that “the Church is trying to pre-empt fornication and out-of-wedlock babies” by teaching the girls to be more modest implies the onus is on them.

  17. That was a reply to #14

  18. Isn’t that interesting…I remember with fondness girls’ sleepover parties where we dressed up in slinky clothing. A great bonding experience.

  19. Now, as a young mens leader, those are still some of the best moments for connecting personally with the boys- it lets them see I’m a real guy, and once they realize that they are far more likely to listen to other, more spiritual things I say.

    That’s a dubious proposition.

  20. Dubious?

    There is another young mens leader in our ward that only preaches at the boys and never spends time getting to know them. Guess how much they actually listen to him.

    Before you think I’m saying that you MUST be crude in order for a young man to trust you and listen to you- I’m only saying that is one of many tools that can be used.

  21. …and a tool that has worked wonders for this particular group of boys.


  22. CL,

    The more I think about this, the more I think you may be venturing onto some thin ice. In your post you noted the behavior that many women and girls find offensive. To say that the church should teach people to avoid practices that offend me is in itself an immodest proposal, because it says that my standard of decorousness is the only one that counts.

    I know a young man who hopes that he gets a mission call to a part of the world where belching at the table after a meal is considered a compliment to the one who perpared it.

  23. By all means, get to know the boys. But why not do so while being an example of the kind of man that they ought to be, rather than behaving like a 14-year old?

  24. Perhaps if we can teach boys to control public display of their belches and flatulence we can also teach them to control the zipper of their pants. And not just blame it on the tight clothing the girl happened to be wearing.

  25. #22 then why must girls alter their dress preferences simply because a male might think an inappropriate thought? (Just a female perspective.) In other cultures scanty clothing is perfectly acceptable.

  26. CL,
    Whilst I do not think that decorum = “modesty,” I do think that decorum is linked to “modesty.” That is, I agree that “if we can teach boys to control public display of their belches and flatulence we can also teach them to control the zipper of their pants.” I don’t know which is easier, though… I also agree that “modesty” is to some degree part of cultural programming.

  27. gst-

    So what you’re telling me is that anyone above the age of 14 should never EVER allow themselves to pass gas? Are you saying that when I get together with friends my age and one of us farts loudly and we all laugh that just means I’m not a real man?

    Ok, so you think guys should never engage in innocuous crude behavior among other guys. Thats fine. I disagree.

    I completely agree that boys should be taught manners, and to keep their zippers up (I believe they already are being taught that).

  28. Nick, you and your friends sound like a real Algonquin Round Table.

  29. Had to google that one. FYI:
    The Algonquin Round Table was a group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits that met from 1919 until about 1929, though its legacy endured long afterward.

    They met for lunch every day at a round table at the Algonquin Hotel and traded quips; many of these sayings are still repeated today. The group began meeting in June 1919 when several of its members returned from World War I where they met on the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes.

    The Algonquin Round Table was also referenced in an episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry sarcastically compares his girlfriend’s seemingly unintelligent friends to the Round Table

  30. Don’t worry, Nick, just because you fart doesn’t mean you’re unintelligent. Just crude.

  31. I was hoping for a reference to Monty Python’s round table, but I guess this will have to do.

  32. I think I owe the quip to Seinfeld.

  33. Jordan, I never said that immorality was the girl’s fault — what an odd reading of my comment. Did I even mention girls?

    lol. I can see why that would be confusing. No you did not mention girls. I was just springboarding off your thought regarding sexual morality versus decorum, and musing about (what I feel) is the unfair emphasis placed on women as the instigators, and it was off-topic. None of that thought was really premised on what Steve said- though for some reason I did preface it that way.

    I do wish the Church would emphasize good decorum as a subset of modesty for boys, and I think that “bonding” with the young men by being crude in matters relating to burping or flatus (or otherwise) is ill-advised. I would not want my relationship with the young men to be based on their respect for the length of my blue dart at the last campout. I can be their friend and trusted leader without exhibiting the same disregard for decorum and civility as they do.

    But, of course, this is a matter of opinion and everyone has their own style. That is why the Lord calls Nick to some quorums (where he knows Nick can make an impression on the boys in his own way) and me to others. :)

  34. Last Lemming says:

    When I was a scout, the lighting of farts was done when the leaders were out of sight and earshot. Had a scoutmaster–thinking he could facilitate bonding with his troop–actually suggested that we sit around the campfire and light farts, I think the rest of us would quickly have discovered belt buckles that needed polishing or something.

    And in retrospect, the scoutmasters would have served the cause of modesty better by monitoring scouts’ “reading” material more thoroughly than by policing their gas expulsion practices.

  35. But, of course, this is a matter of opinion and everyone has their own style. That is why the Lord calls Nick to some quorums (where he knows Nick can make an impression on the boys in his own way) and me to others.

    Jordan is too kind. Nick’s idea that spirituality can be imparted with the aid of comic flatulance deserves ridicule. No doubt one can become their great friend by behaving no better than them, but such an entry to their confidence comes at the price of diminishing your stature as a Priesthood holder, compromising your ability to deliver the message. You must find another way in.

  36. CL,

    I’m still not convinced. While I agree with you that many behaviors, including those you name, are commonly understood to be offensive, I’m glad the church chooses not to police them. What’s next, halitosis and nosepicking? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm….as try to stop deacons from being amused by their digestive processes. I can imagine the bishop’s interviews. “So, Johnny, have you ever done blue darts? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. That is something not only Jesus, but also the beehives, frown upon.”

    Also, remember that many were offended by Joseph Smith and turned their backs on the gospel because they perceived him to be crude. Rolling around in the mud rassling with with friends was simply beyond the pale.

  37. Mark IV,
    Not being a feminist, you don’t see that this post is a veiled plea for leaders not to be so picky with modesty for girls. It sure does sound ridiculous when we apply it to boys, doesn’t it?

  38. What is the spiritual point of falsely pretending that humans don’t emit various gases?

  39. Thomas Parkin says:

    Young women’s bodies are sexualized in our society to a degree that young men’s bodies aren’t – yet. Unfortuantely, that means they take the brunt there. That may seem unfair – but then any difference may seem unfair, especially to a young person. I found it unfair when I was 15 that I was being coerced into going on a mission that I didn’t want to go on while my sisters got a pass. I also found it unfair that the length and style of my hair was harped upon while girls got a pass. A few threads down there is a discussion about white shirts. Women may be limited to dresses, but then at least they have the whole rainbow to work with. Someone might view that as unfair, too.

    I find farting and belching crude and unbecoming for anyone. But my wife disagress, and belches to her heart’s content. Synchronicity! She was belching in the kitchen as I started writing. I wish she wouldn’t – but what are you going to do? I wish both sexes were taught more modesty and decency in out society. I wish the words modesty and decency didn’t care the nasty school-marm edge they seem to carry. I wish young people could be taught that their happiness is partly a matter of resisting the law of entropy. I wish I had been taught it in a way that I may have learned it.

    All that aside, the point is well taken. When I look at the young women and young men in our ward – the general impression is the the young women sparkle, the young men slouch just a bit. Don’t know what that means, of even if my impression is accurate. But maybe teaching boys a little more decorum would help balance that difference.


  40. C.L.,

    Actually, I did see it right away, but I wasn’t sure how serious you are. My first response, which I discarded, was going to be something along the line of:

    So, girls and women are offended by that. Too bad. Let them take responsibility for their own thoughts.

  41. The point is that when a young man in public burps and farts it sends a message to the young woman’s head…”You aren’t worth respecting” If church leaders are going to tell the young woman that they shouldn’t wear a short skirt because the boys will have “impure thoughts” It should be emphasized to the boys that they shouldn’t behave crudely so the girl won’t have “impure thoughts” The motivation for many teenage girls to ACT permiscously is low self esteem and desire for love and respect, in the wrong way. Isn’t it a double standard to tell girls to dress modestly so the boys will respect them, then tell the boys it’s not a big deal to be rude to the same girls?

  42. I spent a lot of time in Scouts and I don’t ever recall any lighting of farts.

  43. I find it hard to believe many of the YM I know are farting in front of the YW.

    I’m one of those crass females who find potty humor hilarious. It’s a regular theme in our house. = white trash

  44. D. Fletcher says:

    Genevieve, your point doesn’t make sense, really. Sorry to point that out. Why does farting in front of a girl make her have impure thoughts about the boy? If anything, she should be disgusted and immediately turned off to him, which would help keep her pure.

    I’m with Steve. Boys’ crude humor doesn’t have anything to do with modesty or immorality. It’s boys testing the adult waters — how far can I take this and still get a laugh? — that’s all.

  45. D., could you please volunteer to write the next For the Strength of Youth?

    Encouraging flatulence on the part of the YM in the presence of the YW would probably do more to curb fornication among the youth than a million lectures from the pulpit.

  46. Who would have thought that we would get a thread about blue darting? You actually can blue dart you know. We always did this when the leaders were not looking.

    Why in the bloggernacle do some get so bent out of shape over church teachings about modesty and how it seems to be a YW problem?

  47. If “it’s boys testing the adult waters” then why would a boy sit on a girl in early morning seminary and fart on her when there are no adults in sight?!? As a young woman being constantly told that it’s my responsibility to “help” the boys be good priesthood holders I think it’s just a bit unfair that you and some young men’s leaders wouldn’t emphasis that a young woman needs to be treated with modesty:reserve and propriety in speech, dress, and BEHAVIOR. The young woman might be turned off by that young man, who farts, but it might cause her to go to any lengths for the young man that doesn’t treat her that way…no matter his intentions. Too melodramatic? Maybe, but that’s a young woman’s mind for you.

  48. Genevieve,

    The mission of the aaronic priesthood, which is recited every week in my ward, (is that frequently enough?) includes the statement:

    We will give proper respect to women, girls, and children.

    I think that gets emphasized enough. There is also quite a bit in the YM Duty to God program about developing manners and learning decorum. The fact that the problem persists, to the extent that it is a problem, is testament to the incorrigible nature of YM, not a failing on the part of the church.

  49. D. Fletcher says:

    Well, I agree, Genevieve, that the boys need to be taught manners and “modesty” in their bearing and communication. I think the girls need to be taught this, too.

    But a boy who is overly gentle and sweet to a girl — this could backfire, in a big way, when she falls for him.

    I’m not suggesting boys fart in the girls’ faces to prevent intimacy (although now that you mention it…?)

    Nobody is really taught manners, anymore.

  50. a random John says:

    I would think that if boys spent enough time belching and farting loudly in the presence of girls that the immorality problem would be solved due to the fact that the boys would be unattractive to the girls. I think we should encourage both boys and girls to belch and fart.

    On the more general subject of standards nights, I can only remember one in my ward when I was in the YM program. The people presenting to the older boys started to talk about swimwear and for some reason they brought up speedos. Now none of the guys in my ward would wear one, say at the beach, but 75% of the priests were on the swim team and the continued insistence that we could never wear a speedo made the whole night come across as unreasonable in the minds of most in attendance.

  51. A question about an earlier post I can’t find right away…

    Yes, guys should control their thoughts, but if he sees a girl in a bikini, isn’t he supposed to be turned on? It would be odd if he wasn’t. It seems there should be dual responsiblity for modesty and morality. Girls shouldn’t wear stuff that can turn guys on, and guys should curb their thoughts when a girl does wear something titillating.

  52. The fact that the problem persists, to the extent that it is a problem, is testament to the incorrigible nature of YM, not a failing on the part of the church.

    Except to the extent that the Church assigns Nick to lead young men.

  53. If crude behavior by a young man is an excuse for a young woman to think him unworthy of respect, then why should there be any objection to immodest dressing by a young woman being deemed an excuse for a young man to think her unworthy of respect?

    D. is right, though. Nobody is taught manners anymore.

    Look at those idiot football players boasting about their silly accomplishments.

    Look at the food line at the church social. It’s as if they all spoke Japanese and took “go enryo naku” literally.

  54. I don’t know about this farting around the ladies stuff, but most LDS men seem clueless that most women and girls are attracted to bad boys.

    BTW, I’ve only seen fart ignition at girls camp, but I was good and didn’t stick around.

  55. Whether you agree with it or not, innocuous crudeness can be an effective bonding experience for young men (even older men). Some of my best memories of scout camp as a young man were sitting around a campfire with the guys lighting our farts and laughing hysterically. Now, as a young mens leader, those are still some of the best moments for connecting personally with the boys- it lets them see I’m a real guy, and once they realize that they are far more likely to listen to other, more spiritual things I say. One rather shy, unpopular boy in our teacher’s quorum finally broke out of his shell and is now quite social with the other boys all because of one camp we had last year where he earned the nickname “sparky”.

    Yet another reason for me to hate camping. I think I am way too metrosexual to be a young men’s leader. I always hated this kind of locker-room stuff growing up and I still do. I do think there is a double standard in the church with respect to the focus on modesty for girls versus that for boys. I think there is an overemphasis on it for girls (and this can have dire consequences–to those who think that the way a girl dresses tells you whether she is sexually active or not, think again: I assure you that some of your most modestly dressed Molly Mos are not so modest in their behaviors when mom and dad are not around. And just because a girl wears a sleeveless prom dress, doesn’t make her a ho. This attitude, which is perpetuated by leaders of the church at the highest levels, is counterproductive, IMNSHO. Rant off). And, yes, I think we should do a better job of teaching our boys modesty in thought and behavior. Modesty is too often focused only on outward appearances for both boys and girls (white shirts and ties, short hair, no tatts or piercings, etc.) when I think it should be focused on respect for self and others, etiquette, civility, and so forth.

  56. I can’t believe how _not_ funny a thread about farting can be.

  57. I was taught that modest dress is a part of having good manners. We are all supposed to dress in a way that keeps the people around us from being embarrassed (either on our own behalf, or because they feel underdressed, or whatever).
    Therefore, I don’t see that it is any sort of huge leap to see the emphasis on modesty for girls, and correlate it to ab emphasis on decorum for boys. The goal of the whole endeavor is to prevent everyone from thinking poorly of eachother and themselves. Preventing pregnancy, I feel, is unrelated because polite modest respectful people still date and some of them have sex too.

    And Mark B. every one of my youth leaders said that if I dressed immodestly no one would respect me. While I don’t like the idea (I think all people always deserve respectful treatment), if leaders continue to toss this rhetoric at the girls about their dress then I would like to see it tossed at the boys about their behavior.

  58. Mark Butler says:

    All this unwelcome mostly male stuff has a very specific name in the Church: vulgarity. Vulgarity is a sin. The Church preaches against vulgarity all the time, usually in the same breath as it preaches against lewdness and profanity.

    And if the rising tide of this kind of behavior is not being preached against in some particular locality, something is wrong. This is what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in a recent Priesthood session:

    Brethren, part of my warning voice tonight is that this will only get worse. It seems the door to permissiveness, the door to lewdness and vulgarity and obscenity swings only one way. It only opens farther and farther; it never seems to swing back. Individuals can choose to close it, but it is certain, historically speaking, that public appetite and public policy will not close it. No, in the moral realm the only real control you have is self-control.
    (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Sanctify Yourselves”, Ensign, Nov. 2000)

  59. Re #15 (Nick’s post) –

    This is exhibit A for why I really hate the Scouting movement. Every “true” Scouter I’ve known in my life thought “random acts of crudity” were just fine, and a male-bonding experience.

    We have one or two of these “real men” types in our EQ, and the rest of the EQ actually tries to ostracize them (thank heavens).

    “Real” men aren’t. Aren’t we supposed to be throwing off the “natural” man and aspiring to a higher level of decency?

    Somehow, I just can’t imagine even the Prophet Joseph Smith as a blue darter.

  60. a random John says:

    Somehow, I just can’t imagine even the Prophet Joseph Smith as a blue darter.

    …just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a blue light light exactly under my pants…

    Maybe the distracting smells were the real reason why he had his head in the hat so much?

    Forgive me, I can’t resist.

    On a more serious note, while I’m not aware of any evidence that the prophet participated in such activities he is often described as a fun loving sort of guy that wasn’t afraid to have a wrestle in the dirt.

  61. Some people couldn’t believe the prophet would wrestle either.

    Queno – You must not know very many “true scouters”. I have had long experience with the lds scouting program and the non-lds (ie official). The official “true” scouters, would never have allowed this.

  62. Mark Butler says:

    I think a general lesson to be learned here is that men have a natural tendency to be too tolerant of “male” sins and weaknesses, and women have a natural tendency to be to tolerant of “female” sins and weaknesses. Too parochial a perspective perhaps.

  63. An aside- what is “fun” about wrestling in dirt anyway?- end aside.

  64. cj douglass says:

    The sad part about the modesty talk is that it has nothing to do with the young women and has everything to do with the young men. You even said that impure thoughts are the boys’ problem. Maybe if the young women had a few more unclean thoughts the men could take their share of the “cover up” talk. I mean lets be fair, which would you rather have” a talk about modesty or a talk about “don’t toy with your factory”? Believe me, the second one is a painful esperience.

  65. Mark Butler says:

    Sin is the transgression of the law. If the Lord says that something is a sin, it is a sin. It has nothing necessarily to do with why it is a sin – in many cases we may not know.

    So I think the idea that if somehow young men disciplined their thoughts the Lord would repeal the commandment to dress modestly, as if the celestial world was populated by women who dressed like Britany Spears or Christina Aguilera or any number of other number of the intently immodest is profoundly ridiculous.

    The righteous are sanctified through obedience to law, not through permissiveness. If the Lord repeals vital and virtuous laws, that is a step backwards in civilization, not forward.

  66. cj douglass says:

    I understand why we should obey the law of God but I think you’re throwing the word law around pretty loosely. To what degree is immodesty a sin? In other words, has the loosening of dress standards throughout the last hundred years or so(from the ankle to the calf and so on) been a direct revelation or a reaction to the times? Also, are you saying the fact that young men NEVER recieve council or warnings about dressing immodest has NOTHING to do with the level of self control and maturity in young women(or the fact that pornography of masturbation is almost non-existent among them)? Isn’t the pornography talk among (young)men and the modesty talk among young women in direct correlation to what is actually occuring among the youth?

    ….just wondering

  67. Mark Butler says:


    I have opinions on those points. First of all, in regard to modesty certainly standards change with culture. But it makes sense to me that in some eras cultural standards are too tight and in some eras they are too loose. I don’t think the Lord wants women to have to be bound from head to foot. But I do believe he wants men to wear shirts, for example. And if leaders are not preaching against the evils of male shirtlessness, they should be, because I believe it offends the Spirit.

    Now I also believe in reasonable latitude for circumstance and activity. The standards that apply when when is walking down a city street are not and should not be the same as in a swimming activity. But there is a reasonable standard of modesty for swimming, perhaps more relaxed than the standards of fifty years ago, perhaps not. But certainly not bikini wear, or ultra tight swimsuits for men.

    I believe that modesty and decorum require both men and women to dress according to the occasion, and generally the more public the occasion, the greater the standard of modesty. I do not think people should go to the store (let alone work) looking like they are dressed in their pajamas.

    I believe that slovenliness and sloppiness also offends the Spirit. And if there is any characterstic of contemporary fashion for young men and women that is it – part of a general reaction against the whole idea of any standards, and society, and culture worthy of the name, whether in thought, dress, language, or other behavior. Salvation requires a significant amount of discipline – a token amount of effort in outward symbols is not a bad thing. Usually sloppy dress is a token of a sloppy mind, and general inconsideration for others.

    Now I don’t know whether there have been any direct, word for word revelations, but these things seem so obvious that they should hardly require them. In other words, if we trust the inspiration of our leaders, the Spirit was willing to go along with liberalization of dress standards up to a point, and then the rubicon was crossed, and it was a full blown stop – the standards have loosened too far for any healthy society. I take that as a matter of faith, or faith and inspiration, however you prefer.

  68. a random John says:

    Was the angel Moroni wearing a shirt when he visited Joseph?

  69. Mark Butler says:

    Some kind of a white robe that covered the arms down to the wrist, and the legs down to the ankles, yes (although his chest appears to have been somewhat exposed – i.e. apparently no other garment, so far as Joseph could tell):

    He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.

    Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me.
    (JS-H 1:31-32)

  70. I got a good men modesty story.

    It used to be in the Arlington Building in Chicago that the men would play BBALL shirts vs skins after 9PM.

    One day a bishop wandered in looked around and the next sunday in pec in two wards shirts vs skins was banned and lo and behold some bball uniforms materialized the next wed.

  71. Next they’ll be wearing 1900 vintage bathing apparel at the pools at BYU, and the women swimmers will have to use one of those grand old Victorian bathing machines when they go for a swim.

    Can’t you see it now? The eight women in the finals of the 200 meter ‘fly, all flailing along under their bathing machines!

  72. Mark Butler says:

    I consider that standard of modesty a little extreme. I tend to think that the doctrine of total depravity was one of the major things that led to too severe a standard.

  73. I don’t have anything to say on the subject of manners, but here’s a letter I wrote to the Ensign recently (was not published, of course).
    The “Modesty Matters” article in the June 2006 issue was interesting. I liked the tips from Jamie Elsmore in Nevada (p. 22).

    However, many of the other responses should have been examined more closely, maybe by a sociologist! The article carries an undercurrent of shame concerning the female body. How is it that modesty is portrayed almost exclusively as a female issue? While acknowledging the physical and culturally-influenced differences between males and females, it is important to discuss modesty for both sexes (e.g., the wisdom of “shirts and skins” style basketball, a discussion of why modesty is defined the way it is—-don’t just take that for granted). At any rate, I see the possibility of a double standard. And although females definitely have their influence and should be taught correct principles, males should be taught that they are responsible for their own thoughts and actions (contrary to “Whom Did I Want to Be?” on p. 22 and “A Panel Discussion” on p. 25). Males should not be taught they are helpless victims simply responding to messages they think females are sending by their choice of clothing. Taken a little further, this kind of psychology leads to the “she was asking for it” justification of sexual assault. We should take care to steer clear of this kind of thinking in the church.

    Maybe a good activity would be to explore how the following scriptures relate to one another in the context of modesty—-for all ages and stages of life:
    • 1 Corinthians 3:16 (body is a temple)
    • Genesis 2:25 (not ashamed of nakedness)
    • 2 Nephi 2:26 (act for ourselves and not be acted upon [in the face of temptation])
    •1 Samuel 16:7 (the Lord looketh on the heart)

  74. Good points, Joanne.

  75. #67, “ultra tight swimsuits for men”

    I don’t know what is like now but back in the day (defined in my case to be ’92-’93) the Ricks College swimwear for men (your only choice when you got in the pool) was a sort of speedo-like thing. I was never really comfortable in it and always felt like it was somehow an oversight in the middle of a campus where you couldn’t even wear shorts or a baseball cap.

  76. Mark Butler,
    That standard is clearly too severe in today’s world. But today’s modest (let’s say standard Mormon) bathing suit would have been horrifically immodest in 1900. I don’t believe there is a platonic “modesty” divorced from the culture in which it arises. The concept of modesty may be an eternal law or principal (I don’t know, but it may well be), but it doesn’t follow that modesty has an eternal definition.

  77. Re # 59:
    “We have one or two of these “real men” types in our EQ, and the rest of the EQ actually tries to ostracize them (thank heavens).”

    Good freakin’ grief. What a Christlike attitude your EQ has there. How about trying to set an example for them, or gently pointing out how they could earn the respect of their fellow brothers and sisters, if their behavior offends you so?

    I agree, there does seem to be a double standard when it comes to male vs female modesty, and it is unfortunate. As someone who was told as a young girl that my knee-length plaid skirt was too “immodest” to wear to church because it could remind the young men of a “schoolgirl” outfit, well…yeah. I think the most essential thing is teaching our young women that dressing modestly is important without making them feel ashamed of their bodies and overly responsible for the impure thoughts of others (which, by the way, were produced in the Victorian era simply by the sight of a bare ankle, so we’re obviously not blaming the woman for that one).

    In regards to vulargity or lack thereof, I think it has more to do with what is taught and enforced at home than what is drilled into their heads at church. I know plenty of YM who managed to maintain a healthy, respectful view of women and modesty yet had no hesitation about lighting their farts on fire or belching the alphabet…so I guess what I’m trying to say here (I know, it’s taking me a while) is that…who cares? Really. We’re trying to turn 14 year old boys into 60 year old general authorities. Not gonna happen. Most grow out of it, some don’t. A lot of it has to do with how much it was tolerated in the home you grew up in, in my opinion. A certain level of respect for others should be required and encouraged (in daily life as well as church), but the level of concern in this thread over matters such as farting or belching is really quite amusing. But then again, this is coming from someone who regularly gets a kick out of such (often) unpreventable occurances.

  78. Nick Literski says:

    Regarding male modesty, I find Joseph’s description of Moroni’s apparel during their first visit to be interesting, since such would seem to reflect a “heavenly” dress standard. Joseph describes Moroni as wearing a loose white robe, which was open such that Joseph could “see into” Moroni’s “bosom.” Not that Moroni was a flasher, but he sure doesn’t sound very uptight about covering up, either.

  79. Mark Butler says:


    I seriously doubt that Moroni’s robe was as open as that phrase might suggest – certainly at least a crack below the collar between the two sides of the robe, more than that is an unwarranted conclusion I believe.


    I agree that the idea of a Platonic modesty standard is untenable, and that is because the God of Plato is no God at all. Whatever true standard of modesty there is, is ordained of God, and I do not see any constraint on him adapting his instructions according to circumstance.

    Those who cry out “Aha! the practice of the Church has changed! It must not really be true!” are cauught up or relying on a false conception about the nature of the true and living God.

    So ultimately one cannot use logic or rationality to know the will of God. Revelation or inspiration is required to know His will. Today’s news today, not what He ordained yesterday or one hundred years ago or will one hundred years from now.

  80. Mark Butler,

    If you agree that the phrase might suggest that, on what basis do you call it untenable?

    Just curious.

  81. Nick Literski says:

    Oh, this is funny—we’re going to get uptight now about how a resurrected being might dress!

    Here’s the text, from JSH 1:31
    He had on a loose robe of most exquisite awhiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.”

    So, the robe was open at least enough that Joseph could conclude it was the only piece of clothing Moroni was wearing. I’m sorry, but it sounds like your “crack below the collar” conclusion doesn’t hold up.

    The real question would be why does this bother you? Does the Correlation Department need to rush in and change this verse, so a little bare chest won’t challenge testimonies?

  82. Mark Butler says:

    Mark IV,

    I don’t think the fragment is the only evidence available as to what the truth of the matter was. I suppose one might insist that Moroni had a two part robe, a top part sort of like a male genie, with the chest wide open down to his waist (despite the fact that the sleeves reached his wrists), and the bottom like a long skirt that reached to his ankles. However I am under the impression that celestial culture is a little more consistent than that.


    The real correlation department of the world is known as the Holy Spirit. I think it does a pretty decent job of keeping the diligent ponderers of the Word in the path of truth. Not a sterile Platonic reality, but that of the true and living God.

  83. Kevin Barney says:

    Please see p. 51 of this document. In 1963, Arnold Friberg painted “Christ Appearing to the Nephites.” It only appeared once in Church literature; apparently Church leaders did not approve of the way Christ’s robe opened (exposing part of his chest and–oh, the humanity!–a nipple). But this was an artistic device to show the piercing in his side.

  84. Kevin, Thank you for the Friberg pic. The robe matches the description of Moroni’s robe quite well. To me it doesn’t give a sense of immodesty. A long way from a Speedo.

  85. Kev,
    As is well known, we are not resurrected with body parts we will not need in the eternities (see “TK Smoothie”). Thus, men will not have nipples. This is not a matter of modesty, but of doctrine.

  86. I don’t know about you…but I have met just as many girls who belch the alphabet and have poor manners as boys…I think its a cultural problem

  87. Nick Literski says:

    Mark #82:
    I assure you that the church’s Correlation Department is alive and well, and very much mortal. It is composed of members of the Quorum of the Twelve, as well as other appointed persons. It is their job to review a number of items, such as Dean Jesse’s third volume of the Papers of Joseph Smith, which sat in that committee for over two years, because it included a mention from Joseph’s own records that he had apologized to Emma after “slapping” her. The Correllation Department’s reach is extensive, and has an enormous influence over what you read in church publications (and in some cases, Deseret Book publications).

    Of course, if you prefer to invent a “Holy Ghost” which contradicts Joseph the Prophet’s plain description, that is your prerogative. Maybe that’s the same “Holy Ghost” that taught you to respond with backhanded ad-hominem, and holier-than-thou statements?

  88. Settle down Nick.

  89. Speaking as one recently out of YW, I don’t know any girls that age who are at all attracted to guys in Speedos, even the ones on swim teams with muscular legs. There is nothing I want to see on a guy in a Speedo that I can’t see just as well if he’s wearing trunks, and I’m pretty sure this feeling is common to most girls my age. This doesn’t seem to be the case for guys towards girls, which makes that a kinda different issue.

  90. Re #85-
    Where is this doctrine located? What body parts qualify as parts we will not need in the eternities? The stomach, liver, kidney. The scriptures say that not a hair from the head will be lost. Will we really need hair in the eternities? I’m not trying to be contentious, but I am pretty conflicted over this issue. We were created in the image of God. I have a hard time with trying to imagine resurected beings missing unneccessary body parts. If there is some doctrine that can be sited I would love to be more educated on the issue.

  91. Mark Butler says:


    I understand that Joseph Fielding Smith said something related to that, but it certainly is not a doctrine of the Church. As for myself, I think the idea is without merit. But then I believe that the plan is to save all eventually in some degree of celestial glory as well, even those who are redeemed from hell through their faithfulness and obedience.

  92. (OK, so this thread is dead, but I have to offer my comment to #61).

    I grew up around scouters, both LDS and non-LDS. Both of my parents are Silver Beavers (my mom for Cub Scouting). Their best friends are professional scouters, mostly non-LDS. I now live near the BSA offices, and there are many Church members I know who work for BSA. I’ve served in non-Scouting positions with many of them.

    And I will continue to attest to the fact that the dyed-in-the-wool Scouters (Boy Scouts only, Cub Scouting is different) are more accepting of “bodily function humor”. The Scouters who are offended by this are few and far between.

    In many ways, I give thanks for the fact that the schism between “Professional” Scouting and the Church grows every wider. I think the Church does well to co-opt the “content” provided by Scouting and continue to disassociate itself from the “culture”.

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