Modesty & Responsibility


I just read an article about the mayor of a small town in Oregon who was recalled after photos of Her Mayorship in lingerie showed up on Facebook. She hasn’t apologized, instead defending herself by saying that she used to lifeguard in a string bikini that revealed a lot more than those photos.

This is a woman who so doesn’t get it.

I saw one of the pictures. A 40-something woman with washboard abs posing on a fire truck in her undies. She’s probably right in saying that she was exposing less than most bathing suits. But most women wouldn’t wear a lace bathing suit to a firehouse. Bathing suits are generally made of spandex, worn at the pool or on the beach, and associated with swimming. Lace lingerie is generally worn in bed, and is associated with – well, you get the idea. Not exactly mayoral.

After I wrote two articles about porn, a few of you were indignant that I would focus so exclusively on what is essentially a male sin, while ignoring the female responsibility to dress modestly. I wasn’t “ignoring” modesty, any more than I am, in writing this article, ignoring the rise in tax evasion. It’s just that I only get around 1000 words here, and I can only write about one thing at a time.

And Her Honor the Mayor has reminded me that it’s about time to address the subject of modesty.

A lot of women don’t “get” the need for modesty. I didn’t when I was younger. I figured I didn’t have a problem with what men were wearing, so why should they have a problem with what I was wearing?

But then I started talking to guys – good Catholic guys who were striving to live chastely. And they told me what it’s like to be a normal, visually-oriented male who loves God and wants to respect women. They said they wanted to see a woman as a person – a unique image and likeness of God, created for her own sake. But if that woman was dressed in such a way that certain “parts” were exposed or accentuated, those “parts” would scream out for attention. “Hey, look at me! I’m a part! I’m a fun part!!” They said it can be very distracting, to say the least.

As I’ve said repeatedly, men are wired differently than women are. That visual orientation doesn’t just kick in when they’re viewing “erotica.” It kicks in when we average everyday women attempt our “Sex in the City” wardrobe imitations in our average everyday lives.

As women, we like male attention. There’s nothing wrong with that. God made us that way, to draw us together and impel us to marry and give ourselves to each other and propagate the human race. But, from a very young age, we fail to distinguish between the various types of male attention. There’s “loving” attention and there’s “using” attention. When we dress to accentuate our personhood and our “selves”, we hopefully attract the attention of good men who are interested in us as individual, unique persons. When we dress to accentuate our “parts”, we attract the attention of – well, let’s face it, we attract everybody’s attention. But the ones who respond, who approach us and flatter us, are generally the men of less than honorable intentions who are primarily interested in gaining access to those “parts.”

I expect there are more than a few women out there who are feeling more than a little bit defensive right now. “What right do men have to tell me what to wear? I’m my own person. I can wear anything I like. I’m not going to be controlled by men.” Look, this isn’t about being controlled. This is about being loving. I think a lot of our brains have been infected by the extremes of feminist thinking that make us believe life is a war between men and women, and that if we’re not constantly on guard the big bad men will return to control us again.

This is not what life in Christ is about. We’re supposed to be here to love each other, not to oppose each other or suspect each other or control each other. Men are our brothers in Christ, and we all have a duty – in Christian love — to help them to live lives worthy of Him. So maybe that involves some sacrifice on our part (if relinquishing our plunging necklines is really such a big sacrifice). Men are more vulnerable to visual sexual temptation than we are. For us to deliberately place that visual sexual stimulus in their field of vision just isn’t a loving thing to do. Imagine you were on a diet, and somebody kept waving chocolate mousse truffles under your nose. You’d kind of resent that, wouldn’t you? You might even assume they were out to sabotage your diet.

Besides, it’s really in our own best interest to dress modestly. How would you rather men look at you? “Wow, what an interesting attractive person. I’d like to get to know her better.” Or “Wow – I’d like to have a piece of that!”

The problem with modesty is that it can be difficult to formulate exact guidelines. That’s because each woman is different, and because different circumstances call for different levels of modesty. Flat-chested chicks can look perfectly modest in styles that would make better-endowed women look like stark raving hussies. And an outfit that wouldn’t raise a single eyebrow on the beach could be wildly scandalous when worn in a church. This is what our friend the Mayor didn’t understand. What might look appropriate in spandex at a pool isn’t quite so demure when it’s done in lace, draped over a fire truck and broadcast over the internet. Especially when you’re the mayor.

Wow, there are so many other aspects of modesty that I’m “ignoring.” Does dressing modestly mean dressing “dumpily”? What exactly constitutes modest attire? How do I determine what’s modest and what isn’t?

But here comes that 1,000 word goal line. How about this? I’ll let you all digest this and vent your outrage in the various forums. (I know “forums” is not the plural of “forum.” But my spell check doesn’t agree with me, and you wouldn’t know where to go for a “for a,” which is the only way Word will let me do it.) And then I’ll come back next month and revisit the issue.

Because if a primarily male subject gets two articles, it seems only fair that a primarily female topic should get two as well.




  1. Lori-446520 October 31, 2009 Reply

    This is a great article. Many women just don't get dressing modestly, and you touched on many of the reasons why it is important to do so. Thanks.

  2. Lynea-297530 October 30, 2009 Reply

    As a warning to men: "But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart." — Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:28) || As a warning to women: "Woe to him whom by scandal comes!" Matt. 18:7 And… " it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea." Matt. 18:6 ||
    This modesty in dress also brings about the next logical subject, that of company-keeping, decorum, etc. for those who wish to fulfill the commandments and live in Santifying grace through the Sacraments. There's such a thing as unnecessary occasions of sin. A lot of what we call "dating" in this culture is just that, geared to stir of the passions that are only appropriate for married couples towards one another. People don't like to hear this because too often the passions are idolized. The Church has always taught that our Lord meant what he said (see scripture quotes above). Our society's norm for dating and socializing is the reason people in general do not respect the dignity of all human life. Even many practicing Catholics today, sadly to say, think chastity is an option, or at best, the equivalent to merely abstinence. They have no regard for purity, although it is essential for pleasing God. It is hippocritcal for men to blame women they date for dressing immodestly, while they refuse to guard themselves in their decorum (i.e., sweet talking), and expecting the women to condone immodest dating activities (most movies today, being alone together in private visits, etc.).
    I would like to read an article on company-keeping in line with Church's teachings — say, St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor o the Church.

  3. Gerald-265124 October 25, 2009 Reply

    Amen. Well written, well said.

  4. David-496844 October 24, 2009 Reply

    Thank you for this informative article.

  5. Patrick-496886 October 24, 2009 Reply

    The article is 100 percent on the mark, and it solidly expresses what I have internally been aware of for years but never been able to so tangibly express. We humans do have a responsibility to not lead each other astray, and immodest attire or behavior does lead others into sin. Christ verified that merely the act of lusting after another person is adultery, and improper attire can certainly incite lustful thoughts. Today's world attempts to ridicule such notions, succeeding to such an extent that people come even to church in immodest attire. I recall as a youth in parochial school hearing one of the nuns relate to us how the priest had made some girls who came to Mass wearing jeans go back home to change before he would allow them back in the church. I have not heard of that happening since. What has happened since then? Have we as a society become desensitized to what once was clearly recognized as an occasion of sin? Or are we afraid of taking a stand for fear of offending and losing parishioners? Ultimately each of us is responsible for our own thoughts and actions, but we have every right and responsibility to avoid leading others into temptation. Mary, thank you for your article.

  6. Justo-414180 October 23, 2009 Reply

    Mary Beth …. I love your comment!!! Bless

  7. Anita-496120 October 22, 2009 Reply

    She knows she was wrong in posting that picture but to proud to admit it.
    Or maybe good morals only apply to other people and not her is her way of thinking. Sad
    especially for someone in her position.

  8. Anita-496120 October 22, 2009 Reply

    This is how people act when trying to justify their wrong doing and to proud to admit they
    were in the wrong.

  9. Edwin-113069 October 21, 2009 Reply

    Rightly said. We quite often tend to neglect that fact that looking at scantily dressed women stirs up the passion of men, which could also lead to sexual crimes either on the individual who exposes or someone else. Why provoke men and then blame them for all the chaos in the world.

  10. Lynea-297530 October 21, 2009 Reply

    +Kevin wrote, "(Dressing seductively) …It's the mark of a female devil's advocate, just like flattery is a male mark of a devil's advocate." Hear hear!!! Our Lord says, "Woe to him whom by scandal comes!" Matt. 18:7 Not only does a woman scandalize men by immodest dressing, but also young children who begin to think that it is acceptable because it is the fashion. But our Lord says, "it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea." This is hard for most women to hear because they think it is impractical to not live as though fashion was a virtue. Most women think that it is ok to dress in a way that shows off if not at least skin, shows off her figure. I am talking about tight clothing that reveals the figure more than conceals. When men see a woman in a tight top (even one that covers her arms and even her neck), they are hard-wired biologically to have a physical and emotional response. This is caused by concupisence. We are all fallen creatures, but we generally tend to fall in different ways (that in some cases makes it difficult to judge by our own sex's perspective)– men generally fall into sins of thought (as well as word and deed) by being provoked by what they've seen, and women tend to fall by what they hear. If a woman wants to be respected, she should respect herself as a Christian who says, "I AM my brother's keeper." Likewise, a man who wants to be considered as a responsible Christian man should encourage his female friends to dress appropriately, by the dignity of Christ within her (assuming she is within a state of grace and receives Christ in the Holy Eucharist) and influence her to set THAT as a priority even over the fashions of the day.
    Our Lady of Fatima, who showed the world the greatest miracles since biblical times, warned us about the "fashions of the day" offending our Lord greatly. And also, "more sins go to hell by sins of impurity." Wasn't it St. Alphonsus who said that of all the people in hell are there either due largely to sins of impurity, or are at least, not without them?
    True Devotion to the Blessed Mother will change any "broad" into a true lady. If any person asks for greater purity (esp. through True Devotion) by the intercession of the Most Pure Virgin Mother of God, no matter how hardened they are, no matter their appetite towards vanity or impurity, the Holy Ghost (via the Blessed Mother's most powerful intercessory prayers) will replace vice with holy virtue. Vanity will be replaced by modesty and a spirit of holy poverty, and impurity will be replaced by a zeal for purity. And a contrite heart, through the Sacraments of Confession and then Holy Eucharist, will also receive an increase sanctifying graces of faith, hope and charity. Thanks be God for our holy faith!

  11. Angie-492521 October 17, 2009 Reply

    I absolutely agree with this article. The question if dressing modestly means dressing dumpy is no question at all. Some of the new styles these day are just plain sexual but it is always possible to look cute and classy without looking out of date. Even a turtleneck can look attractive if worn right. I feel we as women have an obligation to men to help them out against sin. The battle between good and evil is constant and subtle and we must all do our part to bring each other to Eternal Happiness.

  12. Christina-471347 October 14, 2009 Reply

    wow….good article!

  13. Judyth-442832 October 13, 2009 Reply

    Interesting article. But I think it simplifies too much. Temptations will always be around – yet we are ultimately responsible for our own actions. Modesty is so subjective, how can women accept responsibility for not tempting men she doesn't know? Basically women who dress revealingly want attention. However a woman who has confidence in and respects herself will naturally dress in a manner that reflects that image. Shouldn't that be the focus – having a positive self image so as not to feel the need to seek the wrong kind of attention?

  14. Alicia-481430 October 13, 2009 Reply

    The media and today's celebrities don't help this issue. I'd like to have an example of "modest" clothing for women.

  15. Claudia-490212 October 12, 2009 Reply

    This was a very good article.

  16. Nathaniel-488248 October 12, 2009 Reply

    what about women who look at porn? Are our men dressing like sluts?

  17. Mario-400279 October 12, 2009 Reply

    Fantasic commentary. Let's not forget that dressing modestly is also dressing tastefully. Women and Men are not objects. We all have our rights and freedoms but must realize that these gifts are to be exercised with maturity, responsibility and dignity.

  18. Jeffrey-457156 October 12, 2009 Reply

    Tiffany. I can understand your point that the clothing availble to an "endowed' woman will look mor revealing just because that is how it "Fits" her. Nothing wrong with that ..IMHO.Women are drawn to fashion the way men are drawn to look at the lady who wants to look good. But chosing a mate can be entirely different if a man can look beyond the superficial attributes and get to know the heart of a woman .Its is her heart that matters. I am speaking from experience having learned my lesson the hard way. Modesty has its place…

  19. Tiffany-23357 October 10, 2009 Reply

    I am a middle school teacher and like this article and agree with dressing modestly. I would like to point out that as a young woman who likes fashion, it is hard to find modest clothing that looks fashionable, especially for teenagers/well-endowed women.

  20. John-116134 April 5, 2008 Reply

    Hey Del 207640:
    In your forum post, you didn't want a discusion, and you weren't asking any questions. You were just shouting in anger and accusing all men of being dirty perverts. You did nothing but dish it out, what response to you expect? (though it doesn't justify hate mail) You took us to task, yet you did not have the guts to answer my questions, nor anybody elses. Don't play the innocent victim.

  21. John-116134 April 5, 2008 Reply

    Good article, Mary Beth. In the forums here, Modesty is the one topic i think the women hate the most. I remember when the topic popped up like 4 different times within two or three weeks, the women were in uproar. I told them it wasn't a focused attack, the more a topic comes up, the more prevalent it is. That's why porn comes up so much, that's why modesty came up so much.
    I suggest you don't, and i don't either, suggest that immodest dress is bad cause us "weak" male perverts can't take seeing you in a mini skirt with a tight top showing your parts. Immodest dress is just wrong and innappropriate, period. There's a time and place for everything, but church and public places is not the time or place to wear lingerie or string bikinis. Only your spouse is supposed to see you naked, so keep it that way and don't show your parts to strangers. Immodest dress at church is scandalous, an offense to God, and you should not be allowed in the church like they do at cathedrals in Italy, where they have a strict dress code to enter (which applies to women and men). Church should have a dress code. Dresses should go below the knees, no showing your belly, and nothing too low cut. Have you looked at how your young girls are dressed? Same should apply to them.

  22. Maureen-320429 April 4, 2008 Reply

    Speaking from a woman's point of view: I also fully agree with all of the above!I dress modern well fitted clothes,but pay conscious attention not to trigger any sexual responses.I do dress modestly.
    Nevertheless….I am even a modest person in behavior and I can't say that many men act to be primarily interested in getting to know me as a person. In that sense I sometimes long to be dressed as an old fashioned nun and see if that changes anything significantly.

  23. Daniel-292292 April 2, 2008 Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more Mary Beth, as well as many others who previously replied on the topic with some good insights.
    I don’t think we need another ‘fair doctrine” policy to silence anyone who would speak out on such matters either, weather it be in the church or in the rest of our secular society.
    When I was in psychology class in college, we were taught that people who aren’t open to express their sexuality have some kind of hang up or phobia, because they can’t freely express themselves. The psychology experts believe that it is due to ones own sexual disorder that they have any guilt, especially for people who protest pornography, homosexuality and porn stores etc…
    The way so solve that kind of problem, according to the experts, is to challenge such inhibited expressions by what seems to bother them, for example; the same as you would do to challenge your fear of heights. They believe that by challenging what you are afraid of or feel guilty about is the way you overcome it.
    Where there are true sexual disorders, I believe it can challenged in a much more positive way than they suggest. But, that’s the norm of what is being taught to many of our fellow citizens in our colleges today. It is no wonder why our society is so confused about what is right or wrong about morality. After being in these types of controlled groups that have a consensus among them, where personal or religious beliefs don’t have any place and the pressure of conformity takes hold of the hearts and minds of our future professionals.
    All I have to say to the psychology experts is, tell that to the women who have been raped by sexual predators! The statistics say that most sexual predators behind bars claim that they had an addiction to porn and lusting after women and when they couldn’t do that they raped women. I’ll grant it that not all men who view porn and rape women and they’ll claim that it doesn’t hurt anybody. However, the sin of lust in the heart affects all of humanity one way or another, at least on a spiritual level, the same way as any other sin does for the Christian, whereas the whole body of Christ is hurt and suffers by their actions.
    I also say to the women of concern, what quality of a man do you want to attract? Or what quality do you want to attract out of a man by the way you dress? Don’t be so naive to think that if it’s done in a fashion that allures the imagination that the man of lust won’t be looking at you. There are enough men already out there that have a habit of doing so, by lusting after the ones who already do sexually allure them, or from their daily porn habit without any enticing at all from you. So, beware of modesty in your fashions.
    I believe that what is needed in today’s our society is “counter culture” sex education, in order to bring back a renewed sense of morality and decency again.
    And we need to do a lot more to educate people at all levels about the reality of sexual immorality, because it is one the most serious causes, if not the root cause of the degeneration of many relationships, of the family and of marriages.
    We certainly don’t need any more irresponsible “sex education” the way it’s being taught in our public schools and colleges.
    It all seems to desensitize people into a permanent state of non- recognition of sin or something even worse such as an apostasy in the church. How many pews have you seen that were empty lately? Our Lady of Fatima stated that “more souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh, than any other sin” and warned us that “there will be fashions that would be introduced that would greatly offend Our Lord.” We cannot only promote morality, we have to live it as well if we want to see a real change in society, and that’s not going to be easy for many women.

  24. Michael-126695 March 28, 2008 Reply

    ""while ignoring the female responsibility to dress modestly"" I think a woman can dress and look like a lady without .. well looking 'Amish'. God created tge beauty in a womans body. A few take it to extremes and think is means to dress like a 'prude'. Just me 3 cents:)

  25. Annmarie-99121 March 22, 2008 Reply

    I agree that we should set a good example for chasity by praying for people outside of a porn store to show that we don't accept this disrespect for women. The men should lead this event. Ann marie

  26. Phillip-294618 March 21, 2008 Reply

    Today the field of Psychology is finding that men and women's sex drives are becoming more and more evenly matched. They don't point out the why of the findings of such studies. I do agree with the comment one of the ladies made about women having eyes too. I disagree with one young man's comments concerning the validity of Mary Beths article. I find her opinions very much in keeping with scripture and the teachings of the church. They are not merely her opinions they are reflections of our spiritual teachings.
    I also disagree with one of the men's defensive arguments concerning strong men not needing to be protected by women. As followers of Christ we are one body. It does no good to have that body being conflicted by its members. It is scripturally incumbent upon each of us as individuals to live in our own uniqueness in manner that is consistent to the health and support of the whole which becomes greater than the sum of its parts in Christ.
    There is nothing wrong with sexuality only with the manner in which it is expressed. To dress with great allure and sexual appeal is in keeping with a self-centered image not in keeping with a God centered life.
    Mature and spiritual rebuttals based on critical analysis of what people comment on here are expected not direct attacks upon the individuals themselves. Respect each for the other is important when we post our comments.
    God bless us all in our search for the true perception of God.

  27. Elizabeth-270942 March 20, 2008 Reply

    Hi Mary Beth. This is a great article. I really wish there was a way we could take up this topic more strongly in our churches. I agree that honorable men are strong enough to resist temptation, but often I pity our priests who have to put up with scantily clad ladies on sundays especially during summer. I dont doubt that all these women are holly and have the best intentions at heart. However I think its a case of ignorance or perhaps innocent lack of knowledge depending on their upbringing. Once we overheard a dominican priest saying that they are tired of seing too much flesh during summer.
    God bless and happy easter.

  28. Angela-101566 March 17, 2008 Reply

    James-141787 wrote on March 8th, 2008 that Catholic women aren't "findable". Ahem. And what am I?? Hiding under a haystack? 😛 I think it might be time for you to add a few more searching skills, James! 😛

  29. Jim-149694 March 17, 2008 Reply

    I think women who manage to look very much like women while managing to remain modest are … delightful. At the same time the very last thing you'll find me doing is given a grown women fashion hints! Do I look insane to you? 'Looking forward to the next article MaryBeth.

  30. Nina-138165 March 17, 2008 Reply

    I'm looking forward to the second article. Just as Mary Beth stated, modesty "rules" aren't set in stone as they vary depending on body shape, culture, etc. I like the way God designed us women and we're doing Him a terrible injustice by wearing potato sacks and this, too, can be a form of immodesty, although not visual immodesty. How a woman dresses says a great deal about how she feels about herself. I'm not going to claim to know how men think, but I know when a man genuinely finds me attractive and not once was it when I wore plunging necklines or oversized sweatshirts. It was when I wore outfits that fit my shape and I liked how I felt when I wore them.

  31. Jerry-74383 March 16, 2008 Reply

    "Ms Bonacci's opinion can have no more and no less validity than anyone elses.[…] I also have my take and, no doubt dear reader, you will also have your take, which if sincerely held surely carries at least as much weight as any other opinion."
    And you are free to do as she did: write and submit an article expressing your opinion.

  32. Jerry-74383 March 16, 2008 Reply

    "I posted a forum topic on CM … attempting to address & start discussion of the impact of pornography on men.
    Why do you think this subject ignites so much anger/rage? "
    As was explained numerous times in the forum, it wasn't the subject that provoked the response, but the inflammatory language and denigrating generalizations that were used in the presentation.

  33. Author
    MaryBeth-278310 March 15, 2008 Reply

    Thank you all. I had a great birthday!!

  34. Megan-21150 March 14, 2008 Reply

    I'd like to address Mark's comment – Mary Beth isn't telling us "how to live our lives" – she's making very legitimate suggestions about how a woman should help a man in living a chaste life. She's not telling anyone "how to live."Bottom line: if a woman dresses like a tramp, she's going to attract the wrong kind of attention. If she dresses modestly, there will be more concentration on other things, like her brain, her spirit, her kindness, the important things. And personal attacks at the author, i.e. calling her mad just because you don't agree with her, are just plain rude.
    Mary Beth, happy birthday, and well-done article. Looking forward to the next one.

  35. Robert-3483 March 14, 2008 Reply

    (New Jerusalem Bible, 1 Timothy 2:8-10)
    In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument. Similarly, women are to wear suitable clothes and to be dressed quietly and modestly, without braided hair or gold and jewellery or expensive clothes; their adornment is to do the good works that are proper for women who claim to be religious.

  36. Robert-3483 March 11, 2008 Reply

    Modesty is one of the few signs that makes a woman stand out as a Christian in a secular world. Let's quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
    1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, **modesty**, self-control, chastity."
    2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
    2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.
    2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.
    2524 The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.
    2525 Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint. Purity of heart brings freedom from widespread eroticism and avoids entertainment inclined to voyeurism and illusion.
    2528 "Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:28).
    2529 The ninth commandment warns against lust or carnal concupiscence.
    2530 The struggle against carnal lust involves purifying the heart and practicing temperance.
    2531 Purity of heart will enable us to see God: it enables us even now to see things according to God.
    2532 Purification of the heart demands prayer, the practice of chastity, purity of intention and of vision.
    2533 Purity of heart requires the modesty which is patience, decency, and discretion. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person.
    If you'd like a New York bestseller on the secular defense of modesty written by a 23 year old orthodox jewish woman in 1999, please read: "A Return to Modesty: Discovery of the Lost Virtue" by Wendy Shalit. Modesty is tied to male honor, protects God's gift of our innocence, and allows romantic hopes with the heart of a child…without which we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven with Jesus Christ. Mary, the Honored Mother of Christ, is a good example.

  37. James-141787 March 8, 2008 Reply

    One of the biggest problems Catholic men have is that Catholic women aren't findable. Serious Catholics are a tiny minority of a minority, and we don't wear funny clothes or live in special communities like other minorities do. We don't have social networks to help us find spouses the way other communities do. Online forums like this are nice but they are really no substitute for meeting real people in the real world. Modest dressing would help, but in today's society you have to assume with a 90 percent plus probability that any one woman you meet in a normal social setting is not going to be Catholic. In fact, odds are, as you get into your thirties and beyond, she is another "Sex in the City" wannabe. I was recently at a book event about late marriage among Christians where Evangelical Christian women complained they have never been approached by a nice Christian man. I don't know what those circumstances are, but for Catholics the only way to know for sure whether a woman is Catholic is to meet her or see her in a specifically Catholic setting. It would be nice if you could do this in a Catholic parish, but the typical Catholic parish is a horrible wasteland for single people-notwithstanding the growth of "Theology on Tap" programs that are fine for early twenties people and would have been nice for me 15 years ago. If you work in a high-end, professional line of business, such as finance, law–or medicine, I suppose–the situation is worse than bad; the overwhelming majority of women you meet in any social setting really are Sex in the City types. It's just a fact; most of them are very nice people and fun to be with, to the extent you are interested in secular society. It baffles me why every Catholic singles event I go to is a complete disaster where men greatly outnumber women and women don't act like they are very approachable or interested. Ladies, rest assured the men are looking, but we can't find you unless we can see you. I don't know what the answer is, but you need to work on being findable. Maybe one step would be hanging around a bit after mass and not running right out or staying hunched down in a defensive crouch that suggests either you are still praying or you are trying to project an invisible force field to keep all men away. I can't tell you how many times I have seen attractive single-looking women in the congregation that I would absolutely have asked for a date in nothing flat who disappear in the crowd two minutes after Communion. If I saw the same women at a party or a work-related event, I would have no way to know they were Catholic, sad to say, and I would be much more reserved, which is certainly how my other Catholic male friends would act. Our choice is to date non-Catholic women just for fun in a relationship that is probably never going to go anywhere and gets stale quickly, or date not at all and try to find some way to cope with the oppressive singleness that is the defining reality of being a unmarried Catholic over thirty in the Church today. Sometimes, indeed, it seems we are the unwanted, neglected, grown-up stepchildren of the Church. Singleness is not a vocation; it is suffering like the illness of JPII or the dark periods of Mother Teresa. It may not be a problem the institutional Church can address very effectively. But men and women in lay society need to recognize a serious structural problem and do something about it. On a very basic level this means making an effort to find and be findable in real-world settings. Ladies, be aware that single Catholic men are always on the lookout in a respectful way, hopefully, and like other men, we go where the action is. So where are you?

  38. Carolyn-300324 March 8, 2008 Reply

    I had old fashion parents. I was raised to act like a Lady. I agree with indecent clothes on any female young or older.

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