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Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Modesty?

When we grow up learning about the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, we often learn about the extremes of those dispositions. Much like the Cardinal and Theological Virtues, we’re supposed to cultivate and live out the seven gifts and twelve fruits of the Holy. In fact, if we live virtuous lives – as we’re called to do – then we are living out the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

However, unlike the virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be misused and even take to the extreme.

How Can These Gifts Be Misused?

These extremes turn the gifts into an unrecognizable form, to where they become imperfections at the very least and sins at the very most. The most renowned example of this extremity is fortitude, also known as courage. To use the gift of courage properly you must have the virtues of faith, hope, and temperance. However, you must also use the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge, as well as the fruit of patience.

Without faith, courage becomes self-centered as the person becomes single-minded without any regards to God’s will. Without hope and patience, courage is easily lost completely or becomes empty. Without temperance and wisdom, fortitude becomes foolhardiness. With foolhardiness, a person is likely to put himself or herself in unnecessary danger. Therefore, fortitude’s two extremes are foolhardiness on the one hand and desperation and hopelessness on the other.  

What About Modesty?

Like fortitude, some dispositions are easy to find the extremes. However, other gifts and fruits are not as clear-cut. One such gift is modesty. After all, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where someone is too modest to a fault.

Today’s society and culture would have us believe that dressing and acting modesty is unnecessary and even sexist. They contend that “covering up” goes against women’s freedom. Furthermore, they believe that if you dress modestly, you’re a prude and self-righteous. Consequently, it would seem that modesty – when focused on dress – is up to personal preference.

To a certain extent, “covering up” does depend on personal preference. For example, some Christians believe women should only wear dresses, long sleeves, and high necklines; while laxer Christians believe shorts are OK to a certain length. Some people would contend that the belief in fully covering up with long sleeves and dress is being too modest. However, even though this may seem too modest to some Christians, it’s not an extreme to a fault like foolhardiness is to fortitude.

Modesty & Attitude

Unlike fortitude and other gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, modesty seems to have no dangerous extreme. However, it’s the motivation behind modesty that can cause the gift to be misused. By covering up because of shame due to imperfection or the belief that women are impure are motivations that can cause “extreme modesty”. Furthermore, dressing modestly while conveying harsh judgments on others and acting uncharitably can also be signs of a misguided virtue.

So, although modesty may not have the same extremes as fortitude, there can be problems with it nonetheless. When we exhibit virtue, and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be humble, contrite, and charitable in living them out. This is even more important with modesty and chastity, as these two virtues are the most apparent and outward signs that our society focuses on. By dressing and acting modestly and chastely with humility and charity, we are not only putting on Christ, but we are living examples of His love.

Darla Wainscott

Darla is the Founder and President of Put On Christ® , Apparel and Accessories. As the company's trademarked tag line states, Darla is "Making Faith Fashionable®," by trailblazing this unique boutique brand since it was unveiled during World Meeting of Families in September of 2015. She created Put On Christ® after feeling certain that the Blessed Mother was calling her to get to know her Son better and to share Him with the world in a very relevant way. The athleisure market is the fastest growing segment of the clothing industry and Darla made a bold decision to carve out a segment of this market for Christians wanting an alternative to traditional "big box" manufacturers. With an accent on modesty, all Put On Christ® products are manufactured in USA. With its exclusive trademarked Christian logo adorned on each product designed to take you from errands to exercise, there is no other company in the nation like Put On Christ®. Under the patronage of Saints Teresa of Avila and Ignatius and consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Darla hopes to strengthen each customer's relationship with Christ in their everyday living. Her company prays daily for each customer and for every person who visits the Put On Christ® website or engages with the company on any of the five most popular social media channels. Darla invites you to follow the Put On Christ® team on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Pinterest.

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