My wife and I are the parents of a ten year old daughter. We were excited and saddened to learn about this past Sunday’s lesson in Primary about modesty. The lesson was entitled,Dressing Modestly Shows Respect for Heavenly Father and Myself. (for those reading this letter click on this link to review the lesson manual). We were excited because we believe modesty is important and children, especially girls, should dress modestly. We were excited because the For Strength of Youth pamphlet, which is intended for our twelve to eighteen year-old youth, was used to teach the principle of modesty to pre-pubescent children. We were saddened because perhaps the lesson could have gone further. Allow me to explain.
Several pictures were used to explain modesty. One of the first pictures shows several things children can DO to take care of their bodies:
- Get enough rest
- Eat healthy foods
- Have good hygiene
- Comb hair
We believe this picture didn’t go far enough. Here are some suggestions that could have been added to the picture:
- Don’t just include a picture of healthy foods, but also include pictures of foods and substances prohibited by the Word of wisdom. This could include: a child smoking a cigarette; a can of beer; someone cooking meth.
- Don’t just include a child washing their hands. Possible ideas could be: a child brushing their teeth. Sure children from third-world countries might not have toothbrushes, but that is their fault for not being righteous enough in the pre-existence to be born in United States of America where they could have afforded dental hygiene products. A picture of a child trying to scrub their Book of Mormon cursed brown skin to bring it to a “white and delightsome” fairness.
- The picture of the child combing her hair obviously has natural curly hair. We understood what was being taught here – it’s not just about not having disgusting tangled hair – but we aren’t sure the rest of the membership caught your nuance. Yes, uncombed hair is gross and immodest and curly hair is gross too. So perhaps a picture of the young girl using a straightening iron would have made the message more explicit.
The second picture from the lesson was obviously influenced by For The Strength of Youth which states under the heading, Dress and Appearance:
“Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance.”
Before discussing the pictures, we want to first applaud the For The Strength of Youth pamphlet’s detailed list of what is and isn’t modest for girls and not having a long list of what is and isn’t immodest for boys. For we all know that girls are responsible for boys’ thoughts and behavior in the way they dress.
Here we see a young person (the gender is ambiguous which is a problem) wearing a tank top and that picture has an X drawn through it because that child is wearing an immodest top. The picture with the green circle shows a child with a shirt down to their wrists; this is modest. This is an important thing to learn at a young age. For not only do young men and adult men have trouble keeping their thoughts pure around young women and adult women, some teenage boys and adult men have difficulty keeping their thoughts pure around pre-pubescent girls. So cover up those porn-shoulders please!! Modest is hottest!!!
These next pictures were also appreciated by my wife and me.
On the left we see a young man (possibly a missionary with a name tag on his left breast?) wearing a dark colored suit. If this young man is a missionary, we are safe to assume the young woman in the long brown skirt and long-sleeved blue blouse is a sister missionary. I believe that you have heard of parents encouraging their Primary-aged daughters to dress, “temple-ready.” That is, they have their daughters only wear clothing that will cover up their future temple garments. My wife and I have taken it a step further. We figure, “Why wait?” So we have bought Spanx for our ten year old daughter to wear under her clothing. It’s never to late to learn. Am I right? But these two pictures take our modestly teaching a step further and for that we thank you. Not only should our children’s dress be “temple-ready” it should be “missionary-ready.” Mission standards are inspired, so waiting to live them until you’re on your mission is like returning a gift from Heavenly Father with a note saying “no thanks God, I’m good without your blessings.” So we will now have our daughter only wear long dresses and long-sleeved blouses. Thanks for the great idea. But there is even more you could encourage us as parents to do based upon the “missionary-ready” model.
- Children should be in bed by 10:30.
- Children should study their scriptures for at least 60 minutes per day.
- Children should not go swimming (or anything like unto it), and do not, under any circumstances, play full court basketball.
It’s never too late to start and modest is hottest. Besides, doesn’t verse 27 of the 58th section of the Doctrine and Covenants teach:
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.”
And who wants a slothful child?
The Primary lesson on modesty states:
“Discuss what dressing modestly means (see the “Dress and Appearance” section of For the Strength of Youth).”
In speaking about For the Strength of Youth, my wife and I have a ton of great suggestions. Not only will these suggestions add to the spiritual well being of the Church’s Primary children, it will help the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holders keep their thoughts clean and pure when they are around pre-pubescent girls and later when they are of YW age (this is the reason that the young women are now required to wear t-shirts over their bathing suits at many Church girl’s camps nowadays ,right?), and it will allow those Primary children who keep our recommended standards to justifiably judge those children who don’t follow the standards laid out for teenage girls and boys. We need to take For the Strength of Youth (which as stated earlier is for those between the ages of twelve and eighteen) and go beyond the mark.
In For the Strength of Youth, under the heading Dating it states:
“You should not date until you are at least 16 years old. When you begin dating, go with one or more additional couples.”
- Make sure to begin applying that principle now: no one-on-one conversations with anyone of the opposite sex. If your desks in school are in groups of two, ask the teacher to pair you with a member of the same sex.
- No play-dates with the opposite sex. A date is a date.
In For the Strength of Youth, under the heading Dress and Appearance it states:
“Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior.”
- Dress and grooming standards do not wait until our children are 16 to be important. Girls, start shaving your legs and armpits as soon as you can hold a razor. Guys . . . make sure that girls shave their legs and armpits as soon as they can hold a razor.
In For the Strength of Youth, under the heading Entertainment and Media it states:
“Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable.”
- Either books and media are inappropriate, or they aren’t. If you wouldn’t watch them with your 2 year-old sister in the room, you shouldn’t watch them at all.
In For the Strength of Youth, under the heading Language it states:
“How you communicate should reflect who you are as a son or daughter of God. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind.”
- Clean language invites the Spirit. Little children are known as the best at clean language. While the world might teach that expanding a child’s vocabulary by learning additional words makes them so-called “literate,” this is actually pushing our children away from being childlike in their words and phrases. Do not let this drive away the Spirit.
Sisters, my wife and I hope you take our suggestions, not as condemnations, but rather as love. We feel that if we are able expand what was taught in Primary regarding modesty, that our children will be able to fight off Satan and will have more tools to judge those children who don’t keep this long list of modesty standards.
Now one might argue that this focuses too much on the outward appearance. And such people will most likely quote 1 Samuel 16:7 which says:
“…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
But we can disregard this scripture because it is in the Old Testament and was written for Jews and the Book of Mormon teaches this about Jews in Jacob 4:16
“But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.”
Besides that scripture being for a stifnecked people, it was addressed to Samuel, who was a Jew, or a Lamanite. It doesn’t really matter. Both were wicked people.
Your Brother and Sister in the Lord,
Peter Priesthood and Molly Mormon