The other day I was in the grocery store with my youngest daughter (who is 9). As we passed by the magazines she asked me a question that totally floored me: "Don't you think people have better things to do than look at each others' body parts?"
With her simple question, she had hit upon one of the things that is so wrong with our society today: we are a sexualized culture that no longer sees modesty (or purity, for that matter) as something to be valued.
I wish I could take credit for a really snappy comeback to her question but I was caught completely off guard and didn't know what to say.
Her question, however, got me thinking onto the subject of modesty.
As a father of two girls, I want my daughters to grow up understanding the importance of dressing modestly. But I also want them to understand that it's about a whole lot more than not showing off their bodies. Modesty is part of living a life in pursuit of purity. Too often we don't frame a discussion about modesty this way. Instead, we define modesty as adhering to a particular style of dress and setting up rules to follow in how we are to appear in public. It's important, however, that our daughers understand that dressing modestly is part of keeping themselves and others pure.
As Joshua Harris says so well in his incredible book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, (Dads - do yourself a favor and read this book with your teenagers) purity is a direction, not a destination. Rather than drawing a line in the sand and say we're not going to cross it but moving as close to the line as possible is not pursuing purity. Pursuing purity demands that we flee from temptation (even those magazines in the store that we shouldn't be looking at). Teaching our kids this lesson can be one of the greatest legacies we can leave as Dads.
Note: This post originally appeared in 2006.