Your Friday Firestorm, #59

Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self­ respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.

-Elder Tad Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy, “The Lord’s Standard of Morality,” March 2014 Ensign, p. 45-49.


Happy Valentine’s Day!


  1. Thomas Parkin says:

    It’s clear that women should dress as slutty as they can get away with. In this way, they will attract some real derelicts. They can then transform these bad men with their great transformative powers. Why waste all that miraculous influential power on good solid men who don’t need your magic touch in their lives. By all means, draw in the real sinners so that perhaps through your work they might become the kind of domesticated creature that the world needs more of.

  2. cookie queen says:

    For heaven’s sake.

  3. The tone-deafness is staggering. When I read this, my breath caught in my throat.

    If women get the man they dress for, is that true for men as well? Apparently, if I don’t want a prudish wife, I need to dress more provocatively. Thanks for the tip.

    Later in the same article he uses the euphemism “self-abuse,” thus equating self-stimulation to actual “abuse.” Not the same thing.

  4. Peter Yates says:

    Ridiculous broad brushed tripe.

  5. The article has a fascinating intro: “the supreme court trumps all lower­ court decisions, how­
    ever numerous or recent they may be.” I wonder if that line of reasoning will be accepted as pertains to recent supreme court decisions. Somehow I doubt it.

  6. Barf. That is all.

  7. His statement presumes that I dress FOR someone other than myself.

  8. Anonymous for real concern at retribution from the though police says:

    Oh you elites, with your proud group of hangers-on are just so smart.

  9. “She asked for it, look at how she was dressed.”

    Are we men such animals that we can’t see, “gasp,” a naked knee or shoulder or, heaven-forbid cleavage, without losing control?

    Does Elder Callister think the Wahhabis have it right? Drape our women in black sheets so they don’t “temp” our men!

    So, so, stupid.

  10. Holy crap. I “get” the kind of man I “dress for”?

    I was actually just thinking about this because yesterday was the 14th anniversary of the day my husband and I met. And his thought on meeting me was (this is a direct quote) “dang she has some sexy legs in that short plaid skirt.”

    Gasp! You mean to tell me that a twenty-year-old, non-endowed woman was dressing like a twenty-year-old, non-endowed woman and not like a General Authority’s wife? Yes, I went to my singles ward that day in a skirt that ended well above my knees. THE HORROR. And yet, two interesting things happened: 1) someone noticed me who probably wouldn’t have otherwise (my legs are my best feature; in overall beauty I couldn’t compete with the rest of the ward and thus hadn’t been asked on many dates) and 2) a righteous priesthood-holding RM decided that my attractiveness was a reason to get to know me FURTHER and find out that my testimony wasn’t in any way related to the number of inches my skirt fell short of my knees. We were married in the temple later that same year. I don’t wear skirts that short anymore although I still dress in a way that flatters my body.

    “Get” the kind of man I “dress for,” indeed. I suppose, since I was wearing a non-garment-covering skirt (since I didn’t wear garments at the time), I should have “gotten” a man who drinks Diet Coke or looks at pornography or ‘self-abuses’ or something like that.

  11. So… if I never get married, that means that there just are no women, who dress for my type of men?

  12. You left out a goody in the paragraph before “The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure.”

    I’m glad to know that in the church my son can excuse his own thoughts (and possible subsequent actions) and blame women because they dress “immodestly” but my daughter needs to watch how she dresses so she won’t “entice” a man’s impure thoughts. So let me understand this…..women have to be agents of their own thoughts and actions but men don’t? Huh? I threw up a little when I read this.

  13. Hey boys, I’m wearing sweatpants and a Star Wars rebel alliance recruitment t-shirt. Call me!

  14. P.S. I feel like ‘firestorm’ wasn’t the word BCC actually wanted to use here. Think… different kind of storm.

  15. “In truth, the Lord’s standard of morality is not so much a list of do’s [sic] and dont’s [sic] as it is a principle . . .”

    And he then goes on to enumerate a list of dos and don’ts. Oh, my aching head. Seriously, did I, as a man, get the wife I dressed for? I dressed for the calm, level-headed, spiritual type? What would I have had to wear to get a supermodel, assuming that had been my goal 25-odd years ago? How did my wife’s clothing choices then affect me and influence my decision? And here I thought I was following my heart and the Spirit, when all along it was those alluring khakis and the Wilkinson Center candy store uniform (va-va-voom)?

    I’m actually not sure if that offhand, completely asinine statement more effectively insults the scheming, conniving LDS girl or the shallow, hormone-whipped LDS boy, but we’re all insulted, that’s for sure.

  16. You’re right Iconoclast. The Pharisees probably thought their rules brought them closer to the principle too.

  17. The power . . . the absolute power I wield! I can so easily change the fate of every man I see just by a mere change of clothing! Women really CAN have it all.

  18. A Non-E Mous says:

    Let me ask, would people be as offended by this if instead of directing the comment at women to members of the Church generally? Because I’ll be honest — I have no problem with the statement, “Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Members of the church can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self­respect and to the moral purity of others. In the end, people attract type of person they dress for.” I think the Bloggernacle is taking on the wrong flaw in modesty talks and lessons; we shouldn’t be opposing modesty, we should be opposing double-standards.

  19. My husband thought my clothes were so weird and he hated them. I guess we were never meant to be together! Thank you, Bro. Callister, for saving me from fruitlessly spending another fifteen years of my life with the guy I didn’t dress for.

  20. A-Non-E-Mous, remember that the LDS Church defines ‘modesty’ differently than the rest of the world. We define it as ‘cap sleeves’ whereas if you asked a non-LDS Christian they might equate ‘modesty’ with ‘humility’ or ‘Christlike attributes’ and we can’t have that.

  21. Curious. My wife never dressed like JWoww or Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny,” and yet, here she is married to an east coast Italian-American. I also have Scottish ancestry so perhaps it was that ankle-length tartan skirt. Come to papa!

  22. A Non-E Mous wrote: “I think the Bloggernacle is taking on the wrong flaw in modesty talks and lessons; we shouldn’t be opposing modesty, we should be opposing double-standards.”

    I’m pretty sure that this corner of the Bloggernacle doesn’t “oppose” modesty (the recent “Wear a Speedo to Church” campaign notwithstanding). We just oppose the rhetoric that our our culture employs about the way people dress, which includes types of double standards that you astutely noted.

  23. Oh, it’s my clothing that attracts a mate? I’m sure glad I invested in that bird of paradise costume.

  24. I choked when I saw the date on this quote.

  25. I have always dressed very modestly but am still unmarried. Sadly, I never correlated the two things before. However, thanks to this helpful quote, I now realize that if I had been dressing solely to attract the attention of men, I’d probably be married now. I guess it’s time to go shopping for something that will get me a little more notice.

    (When I got to the part that said “Women particularly can dress modestly,” I yelled AAARRGGGGHHH! out loud in my office. Good thing most people around here don’t get to work early on Fridays.)

  26. I just like how Elder Callister’s “Tentacles of the Adversary” mirror Elder Whitney’s “divine tentacles of providence” quoted by Elder Bednar. Seems like we are gearing up for some kind of epic Lovecraftian struggle.

  27. When are we going to move past the idea that sexual thoughts = wrong? (After all, a man wo is “striving to be pure” must never have his passions excited by cleavage or legs or shoulders.) Doesn’t the Plan of Salvation kind of rely on men and women looking at each other and having a desire to intermingle their genetic material?

    (Sexual desire in men, of course, is a sin but at least it’s acknowledged. A good LDS woman just doesn’t even HAVE sexual desires.)

    I mean, I wonder if we stopped coming down with the Impure Thoughts hammer, if pornography would be less of a problem. (And I’m talking about ACTUAL pornography, not ‘woman in a sundress’ “walking pornography.”) I plan on teaching my children that it’s not HAVING those thoughts that is wrong, it’s what you DO with them. You know, kind of like we have agency or something.

  28. Karen H: Hey boys, I’m wearing sweatpants and a Star Wars rebel alliance recruitment t-shirt. Call me!

    Karen H for the win! I spewed Diet Coke all over my computer when I read that!

  29. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Wasn’t there a lesson on dressing to attract the type of attention one wants in the movie, “Pretty Woman?”

  30. Totally gross. I have defended modesty standards before and I will continue to do so, even when they are targeted somewhat differently for men and women. But that last sentence makes me ill.

  31. Elder Bednar’s earring obsession comes immediately to mind. Is this the surest sign of the “Last Days”, that the weakest sex will somehow muster enough erotic power to bring down the house of righteousness?

    And, as ever, why why why the sexual obsessions? Are there not vastly more pressing problems in the world than bare shoulders, earrings and same-sex couples wanting to be married? In our world of troubles, is THIS really the mandate the Lord has given to the Brethren?

  32. Peter Yates says:

    And with this type of content, where did Russell Adventure Fox’s post go on saving the 26 bucks by cancelling Church magazine subscriptions?

  33. Well, there ya go. When Rosalynde and I agree, the thinking has been done.


  34. Peter Yates says:

    Sorry Russell, dang spell checker.

  35. That was an awesome autocorrect.

  36. Women blaming. It seems to be so popular among stupid republican congressmen, it is beyond infuriating to keep hearing this come out of the church megaphone as well. This is just old and pathetic. Just like the men who keep spouting it. Old and Pathetic.

  37. Actually, the Brethren’s time would be better spent on missions denying that polygamy ever happened, as in days of old. That’s what’s so ******g ironic about this kind of rhetoric – instead of addressing our appalling sexual history, they compound the error(s). Yes, LLH, that’s Republican-think. It’s also Evangelical-think and Opus Dei-think. Distinguished company indeed..

  38. One can be republican and think this is stupid. We don’t all run flailing from a bare shoulder. Please don’t group us all together.

  39. What a clinker. Have they redacted it yet?

  40. I’m also disappointed that the excerpt above does not feature my favorite line, the condemnation of the abominable hi-lo, which has evidently led many men from high to low.

  41. Wow, I really don’t care what anyone thinks when they see what my daughter wears — I only care what God thinks. I shudder at the kind of man my daughter may deserve by showing her bare shoulders.

    Why is feeling any desire a sin? God gave us those feelings of desire – just move on. Purity is never feeling a biological response that we are born with?? We are so, so messed up with this sexuality/modesty narrative. It’s a wonder we don’t have more problems as a culture than we already do. On one hand I’m surprised we’re not already wearing burqas, but on there other if you got it (usually from the plastic surgeon) you can flaunt it oh so modest-sexily while covering those garment lines . . .

  42. [Preface – most of the comments so far have been fairly blunt in one direction. Mine will be fairly blunt in the other direction to provide some balance.]

    “In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.”

    In the context of LDS notions of modesty (and that is the context here), I believe this is a fairly accurate statement. I am actually fairly surprised by most of the comments here (well, sort of).

    This is not about what “can” or “should” happen; it’s simply the way things generally play out. Sure, there are outliers (and we can all provide our own anecdotes about them), but Callister isn’t talking about outliers; he is talking about “most” situations. By and large, if you’re looking for Peter Priesthood who wants to marry in the temple for time and all eternity and remain faithful to you and to the church, you will _probably_ not get beyond the first few dates if you continue to dress like you are going clubbing in his presence. If you are looking to marry but don’t want to marry a goth, you should probably stop dressing like one. This isn’t unique to Mormondom and is a fairly simple concept.

  43. Hi-lows. Great. Added to the shopping list. I will have me a man by the end of this weekend.

  44. The unspoken subtext here is that a woman’s worth and standing in the church community are, to a large extent, determined by the kind of man she can “get”–not by who she is herself.

    Stuff like this makes me want to run out and get my nosed pierced.

  45. JT, do you have any evidence for that conclusion, any at all?

  46. This is the feature article of the magazine. I appears that the church’s emphasis on morality is only concerned with the use of our private parts. Other kinds of behavior must not have any moral basis, so it doesn’t really matter how you treat your neighbor – as long as you aren’t using powers of procreation upon them.

    I guess “Dress for Success” means something different in the YW lessons.

  47. Peter Yates: I just caught your comment now (thanks, Steve!). I took down that post because we’d just published another one previously. But now I’ve put it up. Enjoy!

  48. Steve – Touche – My conclusion is simply based on a much larger number of anecdotes for it than against it (as well as on observations of most people I have discussed this with, including non-members in the Midwest and general authorities who observe a lot more members of the church than most of us). I am still looking for the peer-reviewed study on the likelihood of Peter Priesthoods tying the knot with club-dressers, but I haven’t seen it come out yet.

    Of course, I could turn the tables and ask you the same question.

    But do people here really think that certain types of dress do not influence choice of dates (and therefore choice of companion)?

  49. “By and large, if you’re looking for Peter Priesthood who wants to marry in the temple for time and all eternity and remain faithful to you and to the church, you will _probably_ not get beyond the first few dates if you continue to dress like you are going clubbing in his presence.”

    And why, exactly, JT, do Mormon women need to be told this?

  50. I dressed all hoochy and all I got was this stupid man.

  51. JT, I think that there is probably a pony in there somewhere. But the digging required to find lil’ Sebastian is not worth it considering the immense damage caused by telling people that their eternal partnerships will be determined by clothing choices.

  52. Nobody Special says:

    Your sophistry and sarcasm will never change the Honor Code.

  53. Understanding what might or might not influence the most important decision a latter-day saint will make in this life seems like an important thing to share.

  54. JT: I’m calling bull pucky on your line: “This is not about what “can” or “should” happen; it’s simply the way things generally play out.” Bull. Pucky. Really? Do you really believe that Elder Callister is just giving some thoughtful observation here? He’s not expressing a desire one way or the other?

    I am so tired of hearing a defense of this type of modesty talk that says, “We’re not saying it’s right, we’re just telling you what the world is like. Guys are attracted by the visual. It’s just nature.”

    If that’s what you’re saying, then I think your moral foundation is hollow, JT. I ask you: Do you think our goal when discussing “modesty” should be to support the status quo of the natural man? Cause that’s what it sounds like. The natural man is an enemy to God, except in this area?

    I think not. And that’s why I call bull pucky on your line that articles like Elder Callister’s are “not about what “can” or “should” happen; it’s simply the way things generally play out.” Bull. Pucky.

  55. I fully agree, JT. Do you think that clothing is an important factor?

  56. One of the saddest things to me was that this was given as a devotional to impressionable BYU-I students. And then I thought it would be hidden, but no, it’s highlighted and sent out to all Ensign and Liahona subscribers:

  57. Watch that sailor’s mouth, Hunter!

  58. Hunter – In turn, I think you’re a naive idealist.

    Glad we could clear the air.

  59. “I’m not surprised she was raped. Look what she was wearing.”


  60. I met my wife after my mission in the singles ward. One of the first attractions was her cleavage. She is now stake young women’s president and I am in the bishopric.

  61. JT — I’m not naive. I know that we guys are attracted by visual stimulus. Duh. I just don’t think that the burden for our actions shifts to women and their clothing choices because of that. If I’m an idealist, then I’m in good company with King Benjamin. Thanks!

  62. Peter Yates says:

    Thank you Russell.

    And Steve, my Dad was wearing his Sailor uniform when he met my mother so I think Hunter may be on to something there. Just sayin’.

  63. I just changed my middle name to “adventure”.

  64. Most Mormon men who see women as slutty if they aren’t wearing the uniform of a good Mormon girl probably won’t associate with women who are wearing outfits those men view as slutty.

    Notice that what I just said rests entirely on the assumptions of the men looking at the women. The real, root problem isn’t the clothing involved; it’s the assumptions. Thus, the real, root problem isn’t with the women; it’s with the men.

    How I view and react to a woman is my issue, not hers. I want that message taught (that men need to change their carnal nature and see and value all women as God sees them, no matter how they look) – not that women simply need to understand “the natural man” and change to accommodate it.

  65. I also want that exact same message taught regarding how women view and value men. It’s not one-sided, either way – and a woman can feel everything a man can feel.

  66. The problem is with women, too. These sorts of assumptions are not just sexist, they’re also deeply classist. There’s a reason we call tight/short clothing and the women who wear it “cheap.” I think that may be even more insidious than the misogyny that oozes from “most women get the type of man they dress for.” Book of Mormon echoes that ought to scare us.

  67. Oooooo. On Wednesday we had “Gospel Jeopardy” as our YW activity. The YW President, who is a lovely, caring, and very traditional LDS woman (not being sarcastic with that, she is genuinely good), found it on the Internet at the last moment after our Activities Advisor neglected to come up with something more relevant. Categories included “Church Standards, Dress and Modesty,” “Music and Dance,” and some others clearly taken from FtSoY. I groaned inwardly, but hey, at least I didn’t have to lead the activity, right? So here come all the girls, many of whom had just been playing basketball in the gym. Most were wearing variations of leggings and t-shirts, with a couple wearing skinny jeans instead of leggings. All covered nice and neat, no worries, right? In fact, I wouldn’t even have noticed except for the spontaneous discussion that arose after one of the answers was revealed: “This should not be too tight or revealing” or something like that. Of course the question was “Clothing.” As soon as whichever of the girls who answered said that, they all started looking at each other and shrieking and giggling about how they were all sinners and immodest because they were wearing “tight pants,” etc. One girl had a tank top under her button-up shirt and they were teasing her about that and yelling “shame on you!” and so forth. It was fairly light-hearted, but some of them were rather perplexed and even seemed to be getting a little uncomfortable and I felt like we needed to stop and talk about it, so I hijacked the activity and asked them why they were not being immodest even though their clothing could be considered “tight or revealing.” What followed was a very interesting and enlightening conversation about what it means to be modest, etc. Several of the girls have swallowed whole the idea that boys can’t control themselves and that it is their (girls’) responsibility to prevent them (boys) from having impure thoughts by covering their shoulders, etc. – like that is all it takes. The YW President, who again is a very kind and thoughtful person, reinforced this belief by telling the girls that boys are “just wired to respond to visual stimulus” and so the girls needed to be dress modestly and not tempt them (she used those words) … and at that point I shouted “NO! THAT IS NOT RIGHT! Stop believing we have to be afraid of men because they can’t control themselves! They can, it’s just that our culture has given them permission not to and we have to change that!” And I shouted some other things too. The girls were rather surprised, as was the YWP, though she shouldn’t be because we have had this discussion before, specifically about talking to the youth about sexual matters as part of class. It got tense for a minute, but it opened up some things that some of the girls had been worried about and I think we ended up having a good discussion even though it was not in the direction the poor YWP had intended. Afterward I apologized to her for shouting at her. Christlike person that she is, she wasn’t angry or anything, but she was confused about why I would think it’s not a woman’s duty to prevent men from thinking “impure thoughts”. She said, “I just know what my husband says, and he says that men are just wired to respond etc.” Her husband is also a lovely person who to all appearances is exceptionally thoughtful and considerate in the way he treats and thinks of others, but I pointed out to her that her husband (and she and I and the girls) had been raised in a culture that told them those things and they had accepted them without thinking about it. And I said some other stuff that she seemed never to have considered before about where this type of thinking leads (one of the younger girls had actually said that a woman who dresses immodestly deserves “whatever happens to her”). I feel like this is an uphill battle, but I also feel that it is SO important that we try to combat this kind of thinking, or at least offer an alternative to it at a local level whenever possible. A few of our girls already have serious body image issues, and I’m sure there are others that I don’t know about, too. As they start coming to grips with their sexuality, these issues are going to be even more important to them. I could go on, but I won’t, at least not until the next Gospel Jeopardy game.

  68. EmJen, I agree. We decided that the Ensign will no longer be gracing our coffee table. We have enough trouble dealing with local standards nights teaching our young women that their only purpose is to stay home and raise lots of babies, I don’t need another magazine on a church wide level teaching the old tired “modesty is a women’s responsibility” rhetoric. Like LLH said it is “old and pathetic. Just like the men who keep spouting it. Old and Pathetic.” Oh and LLH- I’m a republican.

  69. For the record, I don’t like it when people insult the leadership of the Church. It’s not necessary to resort to that in order to perceive problems in messages like this one.

  70. That Elder Callister’s article is an excerpt from a devotional talk he gave at BYU Idaho last year says it all. What are we doing to our youth?

  71. “Those with same gender tendencies have a duty to (1) abstain from immoral relationships and (2) do all within their power to avail themselves of the refining, perfecting powers of the Atonement.”

    Same gender tendencies… I tend to be like other men in a lot of ways, hmm… So I guess I need to abstain from immoral relationships and do all within my power to avail myself of the power of the atonement, but is he implying people who tend toward the opposite gender don’t have to do those things or have less of a need for them? I’m confused.

  72. “For the record, I don’t like it when people insult the leadership of the Church.”

    Most of the time, Steve, I think it’s sheer frustration. There does not seem to be anything the membership can do to introduce nuance & sophistication into dialogue with the leadership. They use the meat cleaver on everything – SSM & Prop 8, for example, with predictable results. We, the membership, live with those results.

  73. My wife wore jeans and sweaters in high school and college, and she got a guy that wears jeans and sweaters to the office pretty much every day.. So the last sentence is obviously true.

  74. Trev – that part of the article bothered me too. Even if the intended message is to use (2) for help in accomplishing (1), the structure looks like two separate pieces of counsel. So, the message received is most likely that if you pray hard enough, those nasty gay feelings will go away.

  75. Talks on modesty aren’t complete without references to pornography and homosexuality.

    When was the last time a church leader gave a talk about modesty, i.e. the opposite of proud?

  76. That wasn’t a rhetorical question, btw. I just don’t recall.

  77. The wife of Joseph Fielding Smith (one of the most conservative presidents of the Church) was Jesse Evans Smith, former opera singer, who liked to wear very low cut tops. An apochraphal story is that when reporters asked her about her clothing, she said she was wearing her “Biblical blouse: lo and behold.”

    My wife and I grew up during the mini-skirt era of the late 1960s and early 1970s when there was similar wailing and nashing of teeth about female clothing. One of her classmates is now serving as one of high leaders of a female auxiliary and is related to someone else important. We have photographic evidence from a high school year book that this high level women’s leader wore the same kind of short skirt as other girls at the high school. There were other daughters of general authorities (or future general authorities) in her school, who also did. A high ranking general authority I know married a cheer leader, whose cheer leading attire included skirts that wouldn’t pass BYU standards.

    I have pictures of my own dear mother, and of her classmates at BYU in the early 1950s wearing strapless tops to dances and balls. This is before President (the Elder) Kimball gave his famous talk at BYU condemning them, so that thereafter good Mormon girls at BYU had to Kimball-ize their tops.

  78. I found the “most women get the type of man they dress for” line especially tone deaf after the article earlier in the issue which detailed the experience of a woman whose three-year marriage to a “charming” RM turned into a “a three year nightmare of verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse” (p. 20-23).

  79. “Most women get he man they dress for.”

    That is why I dress as an astronaut.

  80. My wife dresses like a world leader.

  81. My husband dresses like a ward leader, but he’s not.

  82. Hunter, you are a good man, as you’ve gotten me to go down a rabbit-hole of a tangent here:

    “I just don’t think that the burden for our actions shifts to women and their clothing choices because of that.”

    Though this has little to do with what I was saying, I don’t think the burden shifts to women either. On this I agree with you. But consider this:

    Bob suffers from severe depression, and he will at times experience suicidal episodes that are triggered when he hears someone talk about house fires. You see, Bob’s wife and children were killed in a house fire last year, and the memory of it is often too hard for him to bear. He has been prescribed medication, but he is afraid that if he takes it, it will dull his feelings for his family.

    One day at work, Mark, a fellow employee who is new at the office, strikes up a conversation with Bob and asks if he heard about the horrific house fire on the news that happened the night before. Overcome with the horrors of his own memory, Bob immediately excuses himself, goes home, and tragically commits suicide.

    Should Mark be blamed for Bob’s suicide? Absolutely not.

    But let’s say John and Catherine, two other fellow employees who knew Bob well and knew about his past, also knew that discussion of house fires set off John’s depressive episodes. In hindsight, do you think Mark would have liked to have known about it? I would think so.

    Now, let’s say Mark knew about Bob’s past and that talk of house fires would likely set Bob off on a suicidal episode. While not fully responsible for Bob’s death, Mark talked to Bob about house fires _knowing full well the effect it could have_ on Bob. Did Mark do anything wrong in this scenario? After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong in talking about house fires, right? And wasn’t it Bob’s responsibility to take his medication so that he could responsibly deal with his depression?

    Now, keep in mind that this is just an analogy and is not about depression, medication, suicides, house fires or office conversations. It’s about doing something that is otherwise acceptable knowing that it could negatively affect someone else.

    The Apostle Paul talks about this very thing in 1 Corinthians 8. In talking about meat sacrificed to idols, he explains that idols are not real, nor are the gods they represent, so there is nothing inherently wrong in eating meat sacrificed to idols. He then goes on to explain the following (taken from the NRSV):

    “It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. ‘Food will not bring us close to God.’ We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.” (1 Corinthians 8:7-13.)

    For the record, I am not a burka promoter or air-brush-the-sleeveless-child advocate or [insert other stereotype here]. Nevertheless, I do believe that, as fellow saints, we should avoid doing otherwise lawful things that may weaken another. And I do believe that wearing revealing clothing (a culturally-defined concept [1]), knowing the effect it will likely have on another, falls in this category.

    [1] “Modesty” (referring to standards of dress) has always been a culturally defined concept. Thus, while leaving one’s ankles or hair uncovered may not be considered revealing by modern American standards, it may be for other cultures and times. On the other hand, in some cultures it is normal (i.e., not considered revealing) for women to not wear a top during their regular daily activities, whereas I believe it is almost universally accepted that, in America, this would be considered revealing. I believe the church’s standard may shift (as it has), but will always stay on the conservative side of what the prevailing culture at the time determines to be revealing.

  83. Steve – Yes, I do think clothing can be a factor.

  84. JT — Give me a second here. Am occupied. Will get to this as soon as possible. I do appreciate you spelling out your thoughts. Helpful. Thanks.

  85. Villate says “and at that point I shouted “NO! THAT IS NOT RIGHT! Stop believing we have to be afraid of men because they can’t control themselves! They can, it’s just that our culture has given them permission not to and we have to change that!” And I shouted some other things too.

    V, I think I love you. How are you dressed? [/facetiousness] I’d have really, really loved to be there and I hope someday my daughters are your RS Presidency counselors. General RS Presidency. :)

    We are wired visually. So what? I’m wired to like food, too, but I don’t eat everything I see. Virtue lies in resisting temptation, not in never being tempted. I get no Eternal Brownie Points for never having had a homosexual experience; I’m simply not interested in having one. I do get a few points for never having cheated on Sister Iconoclast. I can control myself.

    As Hawkgrrrl put it over at W&T once, “Sing a hymn – perhaps just not “The Iron Rod.”

  86. Hunter – I think Callister’s specific phrase, “In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for,” is descriptive (it is), but used in support of a normative end. No arguments there. Or bull pucky.

    “If that’s what you’re saying, then I think your moral foundation is hollow, JT. I ask you: Do you think our goal when discussing “modesty” should be to support the status quo of the natural man? Cause that’s what it sounds like. The natural man is an enemy to God, except in this area?”

    Absolutely not. I think you have completely misunderstood me. But should we display the finest bottles of wine and decanters of scotch in front of a known recovering alcoholic when we invite them over? Or throw Twinkies and Belgian chocolates at a recovering compulsive glutton? Or leave our keys, wallet, and iPhone alone in a room with a kleptomaniac?

  87. What do bottles of wine, decanters of scotch, Twinkies, Belgian chocolates, keys, wallets, and iPhones have in common?

    They are things–OBJECTS. The fact that you can draw those analogies precisely illustrates the problem of telling women that they need to consciously construct themselves as objects of the male gaze–doing so OBJECTIFIES them, makes them instrumental in men’s righteousness or lack thereof rather than treating them as sentient beings who might (gasp!) have sexual desires of their own. Once you turn women into objects, it doesn’t matter whether you tell them to be scantily-clad sexy objects, or modestly-clad objects for righteous male enjoyment. You are denying them their full humanity.

  88. JT – you’re also furthering the idea that men “just can’t help themselves”. Men aren’t compulsive sex addicts, any more than women are objects.

  89. JT,

    You said that a woman looking to marry a Peter Priesthood type should not dress like she’s going clubbing, and you later said that the “women get the type of men they dress for” is descriptive.

    Descriptive indeed! Our culture tells men that they should look for women who dress in a certain way, and then it completes the circle by telling women that men are looking for them to dress that certain way.

    Aren’t there like 1,000 less-superficial things that we could tell both men AND women to look for in a potential partner?

  90. Haha. The whine-storm in this thread is classic. I have been away from the bloggernacle hanging around with normal Mormons for so long I almost forgot what it was like…

  91. Geoff, c’mon you can do better than that.

  92. I was just hoping the date was 1970 or something. 2014? :(

  93. Kristine and Frank Pellett – You are exactly right. I would add that portraying men as little more than panting beasts who can be controlled or manipulated by a sexy woman does no favors for young women’s opinions of the opposite sex, either.

    New Iconoclast – I usually wear band t-shirts (today it’s Sucioperro) and jeans or a long skirt but I didn’t end up marrying a rock musician, as hard as I tried to find one. :)

  94. I’m not exactly sure what you mean, Steve. But nice job on creating a firestorm here. They are always amusing.

  95. Bethany West says:

    The normal Mormons that I hang out with would probably follow this article up by saying, “Well, girls ARE the gatekeepers of virtue, and they ought to use their power wisely.”

    So yeah, this is a marked difference from that. I think that’s the point of the whole blog, Geoff. This may not be the perfect niche to get your fill of personally enriching things, if that’s how you feel.

  96. “And here we arrive at what the noes [atheists], whatever their numbers, really have now, and that is a monopoly on legitimate forms of knowledge about the natural world. They have this monopoly for the same reason that computer manufacturers have an edge over crystal-ball makers: the advantages of having an actual explanation of things and processes are self-evident. What works wins. We know that men were not invented but slowly evolved from smaller animals; that the earth is not the center of the universe but one among a billion planets in a distant corner; and that, in the billions of years of the universe’s existence, there is no evidence of a single miraculous intercession with the laws of nature. We need not imagine that there’s no Heaven; we know that there is none, and we will search for angels forever in vain. A God can still be made in the face of all that absence, but he will always be chairman of the board, holding an office of fine title and limited powers.” THE NEW YORKER “When did faith start to fade?” Adam Gopnik 2/17/2014

    The Brethren have infinitely bigger fish to fry than earrings and hemlines. They should know this. If they don’t, you should tell them. They are like heart surgeons who obsess on hangnails.

    “And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.”

  97. OK, Firestormers, life is short, so I hope this isn’t a repeat comment. Much as I enjoy basking in the glow of the firestorm and poring over each and every comment, I’m not going to.

    It just occurred to me that he’s taking a corporate phrase and turning it around, the corporate phrase being “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” First of all, getting that job depends on your qualifications and skills. How you dress could be a deal breaker, but it’s certainly not going to get you a job you aren’t qualified to do. But in a job, we are “on” all the time. We are under scrutiny. We are getting performance appraisals and raises and paid to represent the company. Do we really need to be artificial like that in our romantic relationships and friendships, in our daily lives? That just sounds miserable. Plus, let’s be honest, if you are focused on appearance, you aren’t being yourself. Isn’t a better formula for marital success to learn to communicate and to articulate our fears, hopes and dreams to our partner? Getting married isn’t a job interview, but with our strict focus on gender roles it sure can seem like it is sometimes.

  98. I disagree with the OP quote, because I am neither old nor in the navy.

  99. It is clear that we all respond to this quote differently, depending on our background and experiences. My reaction is that of a fairly recently widowed man well into my middle-aged years. I wonder what a woman would dress like to “get” a man like me? I suspect that most of them aren’t part of Elder Callister’s target audience.

  100. Kristine,

    “What do bottles of wine, decanters of scotch, Twinkies, Belgian chocolates, keys, wallets, and iPhones have in common?They are things–OBJECTS.”

    Point = missed.

    These are analogies. I can’t very well use the human body as an analogy for the human body, because it would then cease to be an analogy. Just about everything else I can use is an object of one sort or another.

    But to your point: modern American culture objectifies women in such a way that directly and negatively impacts the mission of the church. The church recognizes this objectification and its negative impacts. But according to you, they should do nothing, because if they raise a warning voice they are now part of the objectification. Am I understanding this correctly?

  101. JT,

    Hear enough such analogies – or object lessons, as they were called, tellingly – for the female body, even as a voice of warning, and they begin to seem real. Between me and my two daughters, we have experienced the following analogies for our sexual and/or sexualized bodies: licked cupcake, chewed gum, nail pounded in board, petals plucked from flower, spit-on slice of cake, and my most favorite for being the most horrible, maple bar dipped in a bowl of fresh liquid cow poop. That object lesson was remarkable for including the phallus, and made explicit how totally gross you were if you allowed yourself to be dipped into. (My youngest girl, who at 12 was new to this method of teaching, volunteered to eat the untouched portion of the maple bar just to gross her classmates out).

    But no wonder they struggled to achieve healthy sexual identities, and I suppose no wonder that neither are currently active in the church.

  102. I have been away from the bloggernacle hanging around with normal Mormons for so long I almost forgot what it was like…/blockquote>

    That’s pretty disingenuous for someone who was in on the bloggernacle’s ground floor and contributed over many years to making it what it is now.

  103. JT – The Church should not “do nothing.” The Church should teach correct doctrine and let the members govern themselves. Instead, we have increasingly oppressive policies based on very narrow viewpoints and outdated ideas about virtue and sexuality. I’m not saying all standards of morality should be abandoned – far from it! Church leaders should focus on self-awareness and stop promoting Victorian models of male predation and female vulnerability in sexual matters, preferably without the use of awkward, old-fashioned euphemisms. Some Church leaders have done this to an extent (Elder Scott’s straightforward manner comes to mind), but there is still a long way to go, and the continual harping on hemlines and shoulders rather than on seeing oneself and others as children of God who have value and meaning for something other than what their bodies do to each other is damaging to self-worth as well as relationships.

  104. Nobody has yet mentioned his quoting 1 Timothy 2:9 out of context. When Paul was telling women to dress modestly, he was telling them not to wear braided hair, gold, pearls nor expensive clothing. He wasn’t talking about how much skin they show.

  105. “But according to you, they should do nothing, because if they raise a warning voice they are now part of the objectification. Am I understanding this correctly?”

    No, you are not.

  106. Ok.

  107. Both explicit and implicit in many of the lighter comments here is that General Authorities (GAs) are quite old-fashioned and culturally “tone-deaf.” I agree, though there are topics and issues where that problem isn’t relevant. A comment by JT (“I have discussed this with, including non-members in the Midwest and general authorities who observe a lot more members of the church than most of us”) brought to mind a more serious critique I have of the central, hierarchical leadership model in the Church. That doesn’t mean I think it should be eliminated. It is just a weakness of this leadership model.

    The GAs give nearly continual advice and counsel for daily living, or regarding societal issues. One would prefer that these counselors and advisers have a relevant depth of understanding about that of which they speak. I challenge the notion that GAs personally grasp and understand much what is currently occurring in “the trenches,” “where the rubber meets the road,” and so on with the cliches. Because of the manner in which GAs arrive at their positions, their path to becoming a GA took them out of weekly attendance in their wards MANY years prior to that calling (inherently making them old by the time of that initial calling). They haven’t been attending their ward frequently, let alone been an EQ pres, or YM leader, or HP group leader, or clerk, or husband to a Relief Society/Primary/YW teacher/secretary/president for a lot of years, Therefore, I don’t know how they can understand what is actually going on there and what is being said, or not said in classes–even if they “observe a lot more members of the church than most of us”–from the front of Stake Conference (or when visiting their childrens’/grandchildrens’ ward).

    If one posits (as I do) that almost nothing said and done by the GAs, including the Prophet, is actually inspired/initiated by God–but rather derives from these mens’ understanding, knowledge, and accumulated wisdom, then what they say and write is informed only by their own out-dated experiences and whatever information filters up to them from Area Authorities or from Stake Presidents. With regard to many issues that is not much of a problem. But, with regard to many other issues they often come off as old, out-of-touch, and largely clueless.


  108. This thread reminds me of something I thought up long ago as the first line of a short story (the rest of which I never bothered to write): “It was a match made in heaven: he was looking for someone pretty, and she was looking for someone shallow.”

  109. Peter LLC,

    My comment was not disingenuous at all. I fully recognize that I helped create the monster. I never denied that.

  110. Site Admin,
    I much prefer the object lesson/analogy of the baseball mitt: not very useful until thoroughly broken in.

  111. I’m sure I’ll offend some people here, but this discussion is boring. I get it, I get it. The brethren are monsters and hate women. I get it.

  112. Sorry that we’ve failed to entertain!

  113. Seems like the same thought as Bishop Eastland’s November column in Meridian.

  114. Kristine – On a positive note, I am not Jackie Treehorn.

  115. I don’t see anything wrong with the original quote.

    Villate says, “The Church should teach correct doctrine and let the members govern themselves.”

    In the same article from which the OP quoted, Elder Callister states, “In truth, the Lord’s standard of morality is not so much a list of do’s and don’ts as it is a principle,…”

    I suppose that quote wouldn’t have been as firestorm-y, though

  116. Hmmm, Mike. Way to reduce several pages of carefully thought-out, detailed and well-argued ideas to an easily rejected caricature that fits a stereotype of what you think about people who see things differently from you. Good job, there. I don’t think anyone here believes the General Authorities are monsters who hate women, even those who think they are misguided or uninspired. I certainly don’t. In fact, I think this type of rhetoric stems from the opposite motivation – they are kind, thoughtful and caring people (I include the Auxiliary boards and presidencies as General Authorities) who really do want their listeners to understand what God expects of them and do what will make them happiest and safest. I do believe that the Twelve and First Presidency have special insights about what subjects or issues they should address and that those insights come from the Spirit (no offense to you fbisti – my view is more conservative than yours but a lot less conservative than it used to be). The problem is that when they talk about these subjects they perpetuate models of behavior and attitude that are, in my view, not only outdated but positively dangerous, and no one seems to notice that. Well, some people here seem to, but most in their day-to-day lives never do. Like the Young Women’s President I serve with in my ward and most of the young women there, they have swallowed certain ideas whole and apparently without critical thought. They did not invent these models, which are still prevalent in our culture, especially here in America. I don’t fault them for holding these views, since it is difficult to see them when you are immersed in them. They are not even necessarily bad except that they are unexamined and unquestioned, which is what makes them dangerous. Case in point, Michael doesn’t see anything wrong with the original quote. He seems to fail to notice that although Elder Callister says that “morality” is a principle rather than a list, he then goes on to make a rather specific list in case we’re too stupid or perhaps too blinded by our hormones to understand what he meant. Then, to make it worse, he couches his prescriptives in almost humorously vague terms such as “morality,” “self-abuse,” and my favorite, “misuse of our sacred procreative powers.” For heaven’s sake, can’t we just say “sexual behavior,” “masturbation,” and “orgasm” (I’m not equating “misuse etc.” with orgasm, just for the record, but it seems to be what he’s referring to)? Really, we need to be having more frank discussions about these things, and not just in a birds-and-bees kind of way. We are not being taught or encouraged to think carefully and work out in our own minds what the doctrines are and how they relate to ourselves. We are given rules about conduct and appearance that mean little except as a measuring stick by which to judge others, and when we are faced with actual situations in which the reality does not match what we’ve been told, it can be confusing. What was that Dialogue article some years back about being mugged by reality? I don’t think that is anything new, but in the past many people suffered these types of muggings in silence and perhaps didn’t feel like they could talk about seeing or thinking differently. I think we should encourage those people to speak up so that all of us can broaden our perspectives, and if we are those people, we have a responsibility to do what we can to show others what we see and be open to understanding each other. You don’t have to reject your moral code in order to criticize it, and it’s possible to criticize your moral code without rejecting it. Ugh, I really don’t mean to go on about it, but working with the youth in my ward this past year +, I have felt like I need to do all I can to show them that the gospel and its standards are much more than just a list of do’s and don’t’s that they have to conform to. I’m done. Carry on.

  117. Villate, don’t feed the trolls.

  118. Steve Evans, don’t discourage Villate. That’s some good stuff there. Worth reading even if it was troll-induced.

  119. I don’t accept what he says without examination or question. I examined it, I questioned it, and did not find the errors in thinking that so many here seem to. I respect that they think something is wrong with what he has said, but I just don’t agree with the reasons given. The article is actually more on the general side than on the specific side. There is a list, but it is basically a list of common pitfalls with regards to the Lord’s standard of morality. Just as if he were talking about the Lord’s standard of contention, he could list common ways we quarrel one with another: anger towards your spouse, anger towards your children, anger towards your neighbors, internal anger, etc. Common pitfalls in violating the Lord’s standard of contention.

  120. Michael, You might want to compare the results of the Lords Standard of morality (which others might be saying are actually conservative Americas standard of modesty) with the worlds standard, for effect.
    I assume the purpose of modesty is to prevent sexual assault?
    Utah has the highest level of sexual assault in the US, and higher that other countries.
    I live in Australia where less than 0.5% of the population are LDS, and where most women appear to dress for comfort, with a little fashion thrown in, and very little modesty considered. The latest fashion for late teens is very short shorts, and for older women lots of cleavage.
    Our rate of sexual assault is lower than Utah – how can this be so? I believe because our teachings on modesty make us all more aware of sexualising women inappropriately. Much like a Taliban modest police man might consider the sight of an ankle an invitation to rape, we also promote bad ideas, thinking we are helping.
    It might be more useful if we taught our members, both male and female, that 13% of sexual assaults are from strangers, while the other 87% are known to the victim and in proportion, Date or husband, family, and friends being responsible.

    Modesty is not the end game but a culturally derived help, which in reality is a hindrance.


  121. “Utah has the highest level of sexual assault in the US, and higher that other countries.”


  122. Erin, I think the commenter was talking about this:

    Although it only says that Utah is higher than the national rate. More detail at this link:

    Quote from second link:

    Utah ranks 19th in the nation for reported forcible rapes. Rape is the only violent crime in Utah that is higher than the national average. In a state where other violent crimes, such as homicide, robbery, or aggravated assault, is historically half to three times lower than the national average, this is of concern.

  123. Wheat Woman says:

    We live in Dearborn, Michigan, so the modesty debate rages on several different levels; Italian Catholic modest, Mormon modest, and Muslim modest are the big three. Last weekend was our stake “Modest Prom”, an event that routinely involves an 8 1/2 x 11 invitation that mostly highlights what girls can and can’t wear. After the dance, there’s always gossip that this girl wore a dress that was well above the knee or that girl’s dress was skin-tight. And every year, I offer to double my daughter’s allowance if she’ll go to the dance dressed in a burqa.

  124. LovelyLauren says:

    I met my husband when he asked me to dance at an Institute Halloween dance where I was dressed like a zombie school girl. Also, he was dressed like a Catholic priest.

    Using this quote, I’m not entirely sure what that says about either of us.

  125. MidwestMrs says:

    Here is your next Fri firestorm. It caused me to light up when I read it. It’s a statement from the Church spokesperson from the recent NY times article on women. Note the last line of his quote.

    “The church has recently taken steps that may seem small to outsiders, but telegraphed change to members: inviting a woman to say a prayer at the church’s general conference, revising the Sunday school curriculum so that females and males learn the same lessons, and instructing bishops and regional “stake” presidents to consult with the leaders of the parallel women’s organizations in their deliberations.

    However, the church will go only so far: Ordaining women as priests is out of the question because it is a matter of doctrine, leaders in Salt Lake City said in an interview.
    “Culturally there’s an understanding that women’s roles are going to be more and more important, but doctrine is not going to be changing,” said Michael Otterson, who directs the church’s public affairs efforts worldwide. The new wave of returning female missionaries, he added, would amount to an “injection of really theologically well-trained women” and enrich the church “if they can make the transition back.”

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