Sunday night, the American entertainment industry gathered and gawked at the presentation of the 2011 Golden Globes. As is always the case, the stars’ dresses were the topic of conversation.
And it was no surprise that many of the dresses were less than classy, with their too-tight fit or low-cut shape. This indecent exposure of the stars has sadly come to be expected of the American culture.
But Katie Hinderer, fashion and culture blogger at MercatorNet, had an encounter with indecent exposure of another kind that prompted her to reflect on the topic of physical and emotional modesty.
As I was on my way to my local coffee shop to write blog posts for the week, I walked past a number of guys (college-aged) who seemed to have forgotten to put their pants on. They were walking down the street in their winter coats, scarves, hats, socks, gym shoes and nothing but their boxers. I did a double-take then kept walking away from the first one I spotted. But then there was a second and a third, and three together laughing about a book title. And then there were girls too, also fully dressed minus pants.
Embarrassed for these young people, Katie recalled a time a fraternity at her school attempted a similar sociology experiment. With very few clothes on, this young man sat in the front row of a lecture class, putting the professor in an uncomfortable situation the entire class and showing, in Katie’s opinion, complete disregard for others in the process of this social experiment.
There is a reason it makes people uncomfortable, and it is not a matter of the societal norms that have been forced on us. It’s about human nature and the interior principle that tells us that there are parts of our person, our heart and our soul that are not meant to be shared with every random person we encounter.
We cover our bodies and souls because we’re sacred, precious even, and called to preserve our being for union with a spouse. Popular Catholic singer Audrey Assad shares her personal reflection of the beauty of this “decent exposure” we’re called to in marriage just days before her own wedding.
I’ve quite enjoyed my single life; with all its various heartbreaks and speed bumps, it has still managed to be a really exciting and fruitful time. I highly recommend it, actually. Now, as I close in on the end of it, I am astonished by the fact that, in 37 days, my vehicle to holiness will no longer be my singleness, but our marriage. Love will take on a new form and fashion; now, it will be privy to all my unseen bad habits and quirky behaviors, and it will be allowed to notice and point out that I always butter my bread before I toast it, and that I forget to transfer my clothes from the washer to the dryer, and that I leave empty coffee cups all over the house. No longer will my body be only my own. I will be physically, spiritually, and emotionally laid bare, and the eyes of Love will be there to look. Marriage seems as though it ought to be titled “Decent Exposure” — for exposed I will be, and rightfully so.
This reflection begs the question, how are you preparing yourself for the vulnerability you’ll be called to in marriage? How are you covering your body and soul to preserve it’s sacredness for your spouse? And when the time comes, will you be ready for that “decent exposure” all married couples are called to?
Fittingly, Audrey used the following C.S. Lewis quote to illustrate why decent exposure is necessary.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
Do not let your heart become irredeemable. But do not follow the trends of society in giving too much of yourself to random passersby. Prepare yourself for decent exposure to your spouse by decently covering what is sacred, pure, and beautiful — both outside and inside.