One More Post About “Modesty”

The following blog should not be taken as judgmental in tone. This is not the intent. However, people have questions, valid questions that I feel should be honestly and blatantly addressed.

Recently, the superintendent of the UPCI, David K Bernard has made some posts on his public Facebook page regarding women’s “modesty”. I use quotation marks for the word modesty because as most of you know, this word has a completely different meaning in the UPCI church.

The definition of modesty according to Marriam-Webster is:

Propriety in dress, speech, or conduct.

Some synonyms of the word are: humbleness, humility, lowliness, meekness. Some antonyms are: arrogance, assumption, pretentiousness, pride, loftiness, among others.

Now that we have given the word modesty the proper definition, let’s look at some of David K. Bernard’s definition according to his Facebook post from March 24, 2022. I’m sure he has much more to say on the subject, but this post probably sums up the gist:

“The NT teaches basic principles of Christian adornment & dress: modesty, moderation, avoiding personal ornamentation (which is why we don’t wear makeup and tattoos), distinction between male & female. (See 1 Tim 2:8-10; 1 Pet 3:1-5)”

Is he wrong about this? Actually no. Well, not all of it. As Christ followers, we should be modest. We should be humble, lowly, and meek. The idea that modesty has EVERYTHING to do with outward adornment such as makeup and tattoos and less to do with our attitudes and spirit is wrong.

One can try to tell me the UPCI doesn’t teach that modesty is all in your outward appearance. However, if you begin scrolling through some of the comments under DKB’s recent posts, you will have a difficult time convincing me otherwise. The more people began expressing their concern with his statement, the more pushback they got, including many pictures that “modest” women uploaded of themselves to show off their particular brand of “modesty”. Of course, upon seeing the pictures of these women, I immediately thought, “yes, this comment with a picture certainly embodies the definition of modesty such as meek, humble, and lowly.” (That was complete sarcasm if you couldn’t tell.)

I ask, how is bragging about our modesty to others modest?

This isn’t the only question people are asking of the UPCI. Many in the post comments asked how the expensive clothing with flashy purses, crazy hairstyles, and extravagant cars, homes and such things that are commonly seen among UPCI churches are okay, but a little bit of makeup or a tattoo is considered immodest?

It doesn’t take a long time of scrolling through social media to see sequin skirts, jewels in their hair, Gucci shoes and handbags, and I’m not talking about us sinners. I’m talking about UPCI influencers.

We need answers. How is this okay? How can you judge my blue jeans when your outfit costs more than it would cost to feed a homeless family for a week? How can you judge my earrings when your women are carrying purses that are as expensive as a sofa? How can you judge other denominations about their modesty when you have changed the definition of the word entirely?

Other great questions that have been broached around this same general topic include:

How are red shoes okay now, but they didn’t used to be?

Why were TV’s so vehmently outlawed when we were growing up, but are now deemed okay?

Why do some churches think wedding bands are okay, yet others preach against them? So are they are all still going to heaven?

Why did the first general superintendent of the UPCI buy women haircuts, but trimming your hair is now considered a grave sin?

Why weren’t “holiness standards” addressed in the first Articles of Faith of the UPC if they were indeed upheld upon the formation of the organization as is always implied?

I could go on here, but I won’t.

But those of us with history of the UPCI as well as many of those who are still “in” have questions. We deserve answers, actual answers, not skewed definitions of words and out of context Bible verses.

For more on this subject see my other blogs on the topic:

The Oxymoron of “Modesty”

The Repercussions of Modesty Culture Gone Wrong

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