“Modesty is an opportunity to use our agency to witness to the world that we do keep sacred covenants and that we humbly and faithfully follow the Savior in all things,” Sister Carol F. McConkie, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, taught during BYU Women’s Conference on May 1.
Drawing on the conference’s theme, “My soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord,” Sister McConkie shared how modesty is a witness of covenants.
“Modesty in dress, appearance, thought and behavior is an individual, personal witness to the Lord that we honor Him and that we ‘delight’ in the covenants that we have made in sacred priesthood ordinances,” she said.
Speaking to a group in the Hinckley Alumni Building on the university campus, Sister McConkie addressed four questions regarding modesty:
What is modesty? Why do I choose modesty? What are the messages I send by modest dress, appearance and behavior? What are the blessings of modesty?
What is modesty?
“Modesty is so much more than a cultural standard,” she said. Recognizing that modesty is not pride, or the wisdom of the world, Sister McConkie taught that modesty reaches far beyond the vain things of the world or riches.
“Modesty is not the foolishness of men and women who think they are wise, who suppose that they ‘know of themselves’ and who do not hearken to the counsels of God,’ ” she said.
Drawing from the words in “True to the Faith,” Sister McConkie said, “Modesty is an attitude of humility and decency in dress, grooming, language and behavior. If you are modest you do not draw undue attention to yourself. Instead you seek to ‘glorify God in your body, and in your spirit.’ ”
Jesus Christ is the perfect example of modesty, Sister McConkie said. His perfect compliance with the plan of His Father, His birth into humble circumstances and His willingness to be obedient to the Father’s will all set a perfect example of modesty.
“What a contrast that is to the messages of the world teaching us what we must be and look like to be successful and to be accepted,” Sister McConkie said. “Sisters, when we consider the standard of modesty, may we remember the humility, the obedience and sacrifice of our Lord. May we lift our sights to the things of God and reverence Him in dress, appearance, thought and behavior.”
Why do I choose modesty?
“Modesty is an indication that our hearts are set upon the things of God and that we take great delight in keeping the covenants that bind us to the Savior and prepare us to receive the blessings of eternity,” she said.
Modesty identifies a disciple of Christ and is symbolic of keeping covenants.
“Keeping the covenants are key to our salvation,” she said. “The covenants we make are a covering of protection and of power that prepares us to become one with God, and modesty is symbolic of the covenants we keep.”
Modesty is related to the covenants made in the ordinance of the sacrament.
“The daily choices we make about the clothing we wear, the words we speak, the thoughts we think, the images we view, the music we allow to come into our homes, and the media we permit to enter our minds and hearts; and our behavior in public and in private — all of it — reflect how well we honor that covenant,” she said.
What are the messages of modesty?
“It is so naïve to think that our appearance, dress and behavior do not send messages about who we are and what we stand for. Modesty sends a message to those around us that we believe in Christ and that we keep our covenants, that we are, in fact, examples of the believers, ‘in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,’ ” she said.
Modesty sends messages to the world that individuals have integrity, and that they understand and respect their individual worth and divine identity.
What are the blessings of modesty?
Keeping covenants qualifies an individual for the divine companionship of the Holy Ghost, bringing sustaining peace and guidance.
“When we are filled with the Spirit of the Lord our daily choices are not about us,” she said. “We turn outward and seek to love and lift others just as the Savior would if He were here to minister to the people. We ‘delight’ in the covenants that we have made with Him and seek to glorify God in dress, appearance, conduct and conversation, in all that we do.”
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