your mouth is lovely.
Your cheek is like a half-pomegranate
behind your veil.
The Song of Songs 4:3
Before I became a Christian I rejected the idea that a woman should be ashamed of her body.
I still do.
The female form is a beautiful thing. There is no denying that. In fact, not only is it beautiful; it is holy. I think women who value modesty know this better than anyone. Yet, it is modest women who are accused of being repressed, ashamed and embarrassed of their bodies. It is modest women who are accused of being prudes. Of course, contrary to popular opinion, that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, if modest women aren’t cowering by veiling themselves — literally, with chapel veils and mantillas or even just figuratively through modest clothing — then what on earth are they doing? And why?
Think of those things that we commonly see veiled. In Catholic churches you will find the Holy Eucharist housed in the tabernacle and hidden behind a veil. In a Jewish synagogue you will find the Torah behind a curtain and wrapped in a mantle. Why would these treasured, holy items be veiled? Certainly not because they are shameful. Quite the opposite, in fact. They are veiled so that they will be shown the reverence they deserve.
It is human nature to start to treat those things that we have easy access to casually. It is because modest women realize just how sacred their bodies are that they insist they be treated with respect. We tend to take for granted those things that become too familiar to us and by dressing modestly, women are sending a message to the world that they are valuable and will not be objectified.
Modesty can serve as a weapon against temptation, it can be a way to honor our spouses and it can serve to keep the spark alive in marriages. But, it is also a way of respecting ourselves and demanding that we be treated with dignity.