So I just got back from a vacation with my wife and children. I have two kids, both under the age of 4, and both flew for the first time with my wife and me. We took two planes from Los Angeles to Seattle and two planes back. Suffice it to say I am completely and utterly exhausted. While my kids happened to be great on the plane (my 3-year-old was fascinated with flying so she just looked out the window and my 9-month-old had only one in-flight poop which was a miracle), BUT SERIOUSLY ALL OF THE BAGGAGE. It was crippling.
While my wife lugged around the chickens, I was stuck with a car seat on my back, a car seat attached to a roller in my left hand, two rolling suitcases, and all our carry-ons. I felt like a nomad wandering in the desert seeking the promised land while carrying the burden of my tribe. OK, dramatic…and actually, not really the point of this post.
While I was traveling though, I noticed how rampant immodesty is in the world. Airports are great cultural geographies, brimming with an ever diverse amount of people from all parts of the world (and they are really great places to do apostolate for this reason!). While observing my fellow nomads, I was appalled at just how immodest we’ve gotten in the global community, and I attribute this to the lack of good dads in the world.
The categories of immodesty I would like to bring to the reader’s attention are:
• Immodest dress
• Immodest glances
• Immodest speech
I would also like to point out why immodesty is such a bad thing.
Last things first…The virtue of modesty, which is a habit that helps protect us against impurity of the heart, can be described as “patience, decency, and discretion” seeking to “protect the intimate center of the person” which is the soul — the temple of the Holy Ghost. So, the vice of immodesty on the other hand, is a bad habit that promotes impurity of the heart, and neglects the fact that other persons around us were created to be in intimate union with the same Holy Ghost.
The immodesty we are typically used to hearing about is immodesty in dress, and this was the most prevalent immodesty in the airports I was in. Everyone from young girls, to young women, to older women, were wearing something either revealing, too tight, too short, or worse. And what makes matters even worse, is that the younger women and girls were accompanied by what appeared to be their father and mother. So I got to thinking, what has gone so wrong in the world as to prevent fathers from stepping up and asserting modest dress as a rule in the houses where these girls were brought up?
Here are my theories:
- Porn and mainstream cinema have desensitized modern men. Modest sensibilities, or rather a temperature gauge of the eyes, have been either completely lost or skewed. This has caused what would otherwise have been decried for blatant immodesty in previous times, to be passable and even unnoticeable…precisely because it isn’t as immodest as pornography is.
- Moms and girls just don’t take dad seriously. As Dan Stover (fellow Maccabee contributor) said in a recent post, “the common caricature of a modern man is either an out of shape, slow witted father or a sex crazed womanizing hunk.” This caricature has infiltrated the family conscience, and the modern dad, no matter how hard he tries, cannot break away from it and be a respected voice of authority.
- The modern father has no clue how to form deep, lasting, and strategic friendships that function as a bulwark for his sanity and salvation. Every man needs to be a brick in the wall. He should have bricks to his right and left (his brethren to support him), bricks over and above him (his mentors to go before him), and bricks below him (his mentor-ees to come after him). Life is too short to cultivate escapist and pleasure-seeking friendships. Those come and go, and have there place, but that place should be low on the list. There is way too much at stake to not forge deep male friendships.
While immodest dress was the focus of this post, I don’t want to neglect the problems of immodest glances and immodest speech. Immodest glances come as the effect of immodest dress. Men, mostly men, don’t know how to keep from ogling women and objectifying them. In my opinion, this is also caused by porn. Porn encourages immodest glances without constraint and compels the user to objectify human persons for hours on end. If for hours on end, with no dads taking proper measures to protect their sons from it, you bet there will be immodest glancing around! Regarding immodest speech, I have been totally amazed at how much young men don’t consider women and children when speaking to each other in public places. Since I’ve had children, I’ve had to repeatedly tell younger men to watch their language. I encourage you to do the same to promote modest speech in the world.. And the response you get might surprise you. I’ve gotten everything from the “I really want to hit you right now” look to sincere apologies and the look on a young man’s face like he had just woken up to reality.
The journey of fatherhood is piled with burden. If you aren’t persistent in practicing and asserting virtues like modesty and purity, if you don’t have the respect of your wife and children, and if you don’t forge good friendships, that burden will cripple you. But there is hope. God became the man par-excellence to not only teach us how to be good dads, but to also give us the Grace and power to do so.