The Beauty of Modesty, Cultivating Virtue in the Face of a Vulgar Culture
By David Vaughan and Diane Vaughan,
Cumberland Press, 2005, 226pp.
Here is a book on modesty that is readable, helpful, thoughtful, carefully written, and doesnâ€™t call women to dress like they lived in the last century.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Rather than beginning with a list of what to wear and what not to wear, this book begins by laying out a Christian worldview and ends with a call to discipleship. Intermingled in the middle is much on men and women, marriage, childrearing, and even worship. So if you think this is a book just for women, you are mistaken. Though all women would benefit from reading it, I think men would profit from it as well. It is hard-hitting when it comes to attacking pornography and its harmful effects on the family, and the widespread immorality that has spread into the church. Though the women have much to repent of, the men need to lead the way, and not by means of pietism or legalism.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Pastor David Vaughn and his wife Diane have written this together, and they have done their homework. Including quotations from many other works written on the subject (and even including an appendix with writings from â€œold guysâ€), they define their terms, lay out their arguments, and promote a biblical modesty while not sounding prudish or judgmental.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This book is an appeal to women to deal with the heart issues that motivate immodesty: the desire for an audience, the need for applause and approval, the lust for attention and admiration. But it doesnâ€™t ignore the menâ€™s responsibility for the condition of modesty in the church. They are exhorted to see the destructiveness of lustful desire and urged to take responsibility for their own sin of giving immodest women the attention they crave.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The book shows that modesty is not optional for a Christian disciple: â€œIn light of the value God places on marriage and fidelity, immodesty is no small sin. It is not simply a silly and vain form of self-display. It is a snare to serious sinâ€ (p. 80). And obedience always has a good effect on the community at large. Where women are modest and virtuous, the men are â€œinspired to become worthy,â€ and so modesty can have a bigger cultural impact than most women realize (p. 82).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Vaughans donâ€™t offer any simple shortcuts for Christian women who want to be modest: â€œ[But] it will take a deep and serious commitment, for nearly everything in our culture is trying to seduce her to compromiseâ€”to be cool, to be sexy, to be hip, to be hot. The world is trying to mold her into its erotic image, to make her sexy, not spiritualâ€ (p. 171).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This book is a valuable tool for just about everyone in the church. Parents can use it as they teach their daughters to think clearly about modesty and as they train their sons to resist temptation. I think pastors will find it a handy resource. Modesty affects us all, married and unmarried alike, and we all need to consider how to esteem modesty in a vulgar world.