With a long history of teaching members the importance of modesty, the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made it clear that modesty is very important. It’s not taught as a temporary cultural necessity. On the contrary. Modesty is taught as an Eternal principle and an attribute of the character of God.
When we support and teach modesty, we build the kingdom of God.
To establish beyond question that modesty is a critical principle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I’m publishing what turns out to be a rather large blog post of quotes about modesty, immodesty, references, and links to authoritative sources.
When I did a Google search using the search operator “modesty” site:lds.org, Google showed 2490 search results. Many of these quotes refer to modesty in females, but modesty is absolutely relevant to both males and females.
Note that modesty is more than avoiding revealing clothing. It also has to do with gaudy attire (in addition to other things, some of which have nothing to do with clothing but more to do with our attitude or paradigm or perspective and our thoughts and words), which might include expensive clothing or extreme styles that aren’t necessarily revealing. But the purpose of this post is to focus specifically on modesty as it relates to revealing clothing.
Quotes will be extracted from pages on lds.org. Quotes from the same pages will be grouped together and their source will appear at the end of each grouping.
You can dress attractively without being immodest. Within the Lord’s guidelines, there is room for you to be lively, vibrant, and beautiful both in your dress and in your actions. – Thomas S. Monson
Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 6:19). …
Central to the command to be modest is an understanding of the sacred power of procreation, the ability to bring children into the world. This power is to be used only between husband and wife. Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, can stimulate desires and actions that violate the Lord’s law of chastity. Source
Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him. …
Prophets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act. …
Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.
Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Source
One of the challenges members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints face today is obeying principles of modesty in an increasingly immodest world. Difficult though it may be, we can show our discipleship to the Savior Jesus Christ by obeying the Church’s standards of modesty. …
The way we dress demonstrates our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. …
When we better understand the doctrine behind the principles of modesty, we realize that modesty is the virtue that guides and moderates action. …
From the beginning, the Lord has asked His children to cover their bodies. After Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened and they became aware that they were naked. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with simple aprons made of fig leaves. But the aprons were not enough, so the Lord made them more modest coats of skins. (See Genesis 3:7, 21.)
God had a higher standard then, just as He does now. His standards are not those of the world. As He says in Isaiah 55:8–9:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Because modesty is one of the Lord’s “higher ways” and not a passing social trend, it has been taught throughout the ages. …
Modesty shows humility. …
As modesty becomes the virtue that regulates and moderates action in our lives, we too will find an increased sense of self-worth. Recall the promises of Doctrine and Covenants 121:45–46:
“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
…the choices we make to appear and behave modestly send a powerful message that we understand our identity as sons and daughters of God and that we have chosen to stand in holy places. …
Modesty is a principle that will help keep us safely on the covenant path as we progress to the presence of God. …
Modesty invites the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Elder Hales has taught, “Modesty is fundamental to being worthy of the Spirit.” …
…modest appearance and behavior helps protect us from the destructive influences of the world. …
Modesty enables us to “stand as witnesses of God at all times” (Mosiah 18:9).
…blessed are they who exemplify and teach the doctrine of modesty for all the sons and daughters of Zion. Source
Some Latter-day Saints may feel that modesty is a tradition of the Church or that it has evolved from conservative, puritanical behavior. Modesty is not just cultural. Modesty is a gospel principle that applies to people of all cultures and ages. In fact, modesty is fundamental to being worthy of the Spirit. To be modest is to be humble, and being humble invites the Spirit to be with us.
Of course, modesty is not new. It was taught to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Unto Adam … and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21; see also Moses 4:27). …
When we recognize our bodies as the gifts they are and when we understand the missions they help us fulfill, we protect and honor them by how we act and dress. …
Modesty is at the center of being pure and chaste, both in thought and deed. Thus, because it guides and influences our thoughts, behavior, and decisions, modesty is at the core of our character. Our clothing is more than just covering for our bodies; it reflects who we are and what we want to be, both here in mortality and in the eternities that will follow. …
When we know who we are—children of God—and understand that our outward appearance affects our inward spirituality and ultimately our behavior, we show respect for God, for ourselves, and for those around us by being modest in dress and behavior. …
Are we determined to be Saints in the kingdom of God, or are we more comfortable in the ways of the world? Source
Modesty in dress, appearance, thought, and behavior is an individual, personal witness to the Lord that we honor Him and that we ‘delight’ in the covenants that we have made in sacred priesthood ordinances. Source
Your body is God’s sacred creation. Respect it as a gift from God, and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show the Lord that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. Source
“Another of the many things that lead to unchastity is immodesty. Today many young women and young men are smug in their knowledge of the facts of life. They think they know all the answers. They talk about sex as freely as they talk about cars and shows and clothes. And a spirit of immodesty has developed until nothing seems to be sacred.
One contributing factor to immodesty and a breakdown of moral values is the modern dress. I am sure that the immodest clothes that are worn by some of our young women, and their mothers, contribute directly and indirectly to the immorality of this age. Even fathers sometimes encourage it. I wonder if our young sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before young men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered. …
I am positive that the clothes we wear can be a tremendous factor in the gradual breakdown of our love of virtue, our steadfastness in chastity.” …
One of our most important responsibilities as members of God’s Church is to set a proper example of modesty and virtue. Source
The Lord’s standards of modesty are not those of the world. From the Prophet Joseph Smith through our recent prophets, our leaders have asked us to create our own styles and fashions (see Spencer W. Kimball, “A Style of Our Own,” BYU Devotional Assembly, 13 Feb. 1951).
President Brigham Young described the kind of fashion that is a model for us. He said: “Suppose that a female angel were to come into your house and you had the privilege of seeing her, how would she be dressed? … She would be neat and nice, her countenance full of glory, brilliant, bright, and perfectly beautiful, and in every act her gracefulness would charm the heart of every beholder. There is nothing needless about her. None of my sisters believe that these useless, foolish fashions are followed in heaven. Well, then, pattern [your lives] after good and heavenly things, …” (in Deseret News [Weekly], 30 Apr. 1873, 196). Source
That the Church’s stand on morality may be understood, we declare firmly and unalterably, it is not an outworn garment, faded, old-fashioned, and threadbare. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and his covenants and doctrines are immutable; and when the sun grows cold and the stars no longer shine, the law of chastity will still be basic in God’s world and in the Lord’s church. Old values are upheld by the Church not because they are old, but rather because through the ages they have proved right. It will always be the rule. (Kimball) …
Watchmen—what of the night? We must respond by saying that all is not well in Zion. As Moroni counseled, we must cleanse the inner vessel (seeAlma 60:23), beginning first with ourselves, then with our families, and finally with the Church. …
“The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality. This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of Israel than any other. (See Journal of Discourses, 8:55.)
“President Joseph F. Smith said that sexual impurity would be one of the three dangers that would threaten the Church within—and so it does. (SeeGospel Doctrine, pp. 312–13.) It permeates our society” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 3, 6; orEnsign, May 1986, 4). (Benson) …
In forsaking the great principle of modesty, society has paid a price in the violation of a greater but related principle—that of chastity. The purveyors of the concept of irresponsible sexual relations that degrade and brutalize the participants have grossly masqueraded and completely missed the purpose of these divine gifts. (Faust) …
We cannot overemphasize immodesty as one of the pitfalls to be avoided if we would shun temptation and keep ourselves clean. (Kimball) …
Modesty in dress . . . is a true mark of refinement and a hallmark of a virtuous Latter-day Saint woman. Shun the low and the vulgar and the suggestive. (Benson) …
When you are prompted to immodesty in dress . . . you are playing Satan’s game and are becoming the victim of his lying tongue. Just so, if you allow the vain theories of men to cause you to doubt your relationship to God, the divine purpose of marriage, and your future prospects for eternity, you are being victimized by the master of lies, because all such is contrary to truth, which saves you from these perils. (Lee) … Source
Virtue encompasses modesty—in thought, language, dress, and demeanor. And modesty is the foundation stone of chastity. Just as one does not hike trails inhabited by rattlesnakes barefoot, similarly in today’s world it is essential to our very safety to be modest. When we are modest, we show others that we understand our relationship with our Father in Heaven . . . We demonstrate that we love Him and that we will stand as a witness of Him in all things. Being modest lets others know that we “cherish virtue” (“Dearest Children, God Is Near You,” Hymns, no. 96).
Modesty is not a matter of being “hip.” It is a matter of the heart and being holy. It is not about being fashionable. It is about being faithful. It is not about being cool. It is about being chaste and keeping covenants. It is not about being popular, but about being pure. Modesty has everything to do with keeping our footing securely on the path of chastity and virtue. It is clear that virtue is a requirement for exaltation. Mormon helps us understand that both virtue and chastity are “most dear and precious above all things” (Moroni 9:9). We simply cannot afford to be casual or get too close to the edge. That is dangerous ground for any daughter [or son] of God to walk. Source
For you to fully claim Heavenly Father’s blessings and protection, we ask you to stay true to the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ and not slavishly follow the whims of fads and fashions. The Church will never deny your moral agency regarding what you should wear and exactly how you should look. But the Church will always declare standards and will always teach principles.
As Sister Susan Tanner taught this morning, one of those principles is modesty. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, modesty in appearance is always in fashion. Our standards are not socially negotiable.
The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is very clear in its call for young women to avoid clothing that is too tight, too short, or improperly revealing in any manner, including bare midriffs. Parents, please review this booklet with your children. Second only to your love, they need your limits.
Young women, choose your clothing the way you would choose your friends—in both cases choose that which improves you and would give you confidence standing in the presence of God. Good friends would never embarrass you, demean you, or exploit you. Neither should your clothing. Source
What would happen if we truly treated our bodies as temples? The result would be a dramatic increase in chastity, modesty, observance of the Word of Wisdom, and a similar decrease in the problems of pornography and abuse, for we would regard the body, like the temple, as a sacred sanctuary of the Spirit. Just as no unclean thing may enter the temple, we would be vigilant to keep impurity of any sort from entering the temple of our bodies. Source
The word modesty means “measured.” It is related to moderate. It implies “decency, and propriety … in thought, language, dress, and behavior” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. , 2:932). Source
The principle of modesty—the commandment that you should avoid a tempting manner or appearance—is fixed and eternal and will not deviate. …
“As I walk along the streets on my way to or from the Church Office Building, I see both young and older women, many of them ‘daughters of Zion,’ who are immodestly dressed. … The wearing of immodest clothing, which may seem like a small matter, takes something away from our young women or young men in the Church. It simply makes it more difficult to keep those eternal principles by which we will have to live if we are to return to the presence of our Father in heaven.” (New Era, January 1971, p. 5.) Source
Modesty in dress and manner will assist in protecting against temptation. It may be difficult to find modest clothing, but it can be found with enough effort. …
I do not hesitate to say that you can be attractive without being immodest. You can be refreshing and buoyant and beautiful in your dress and in your behavior. Your appeal to others will come of your personality, which is the sum of your individual characteristics. Be happy. Wear a smile. Have fun. But draw some rigid parameters, a line in the sand, as it were, beyond which you will not go.
Grateful daughters of God guard their bodies carefully, for they know they are the wellspring of life and they reverence life. They don’t uncover their bodies to find favor with the world. They walk in modesty to be in favor with their Father in Heaven. For they know He loves them dearly. Source
[Your love for the Lord] shows in your countenance, in your modesty, in your desire to choose the right, and in your commitment to remain virtuous and pure. Source
Every time we . . . stand up for modesty . . . we build the kingdom of God. Source
I have been impressed with young women who were dressed modestly in a very hot and humid part of Brazil. They said, “Modesty is not about the climate. It’s about the heart.” These young women knew they were daughters of God. Source
Be modest. Source
“Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations” is a call to each of you. It is a call to move to higher ground. It is a call to leadership—to lead out in decency, purity, modesty, and holiness. It is a call to share this light with others. It is time to “arise and shine forth.” Source
Another helpful perspective on humility can be obtained by examining its antithesis—pride. Just as humility leads to other virtues such as modesty, teachableness, and unpretentiousness, pride leads to many other vices. Source
Keep your dress modest. Short skirts are not pleasing to the Lord, but modesty is. . . .do not be an enticement for your downfall because of your immodest and tight-fitting clothes. Source
Now is the time to provide the world with an example of decency and modesty, an example of virtue and cleanliness. Source
How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and femininity are hallmarks of righteous women? How will our young men learn to value women of God if we don’t show them the virtue of our virtues? Source
Take particular care that your language is clean, not coarse; that your dress reflects modesty, not vanity; and that your conduct manifests purity, not promiscuity. You cannot lift others to virtue on the one hand if you are entertaining vice on the other. Source
Jacob taught that the Lord delights “in the chastity of women” (Jacob 2:28). I delight in the chastity and purity of all women and men. How it must grieve the Lord to see virtue violated and modesty mocked on every side in this wicked world. Source
The rapid, sweeping deterioration of values is characterized by a preoccupation—even an obsession—with the procreative act. Abstinence before marriage and fidelity within it are openly scoffed at—marriage and parenthood ridiculed as burdensome, unnecessary. Modesty, a virtue of a refined individual or society, is all but gone. …
The Book of Mormon depicts humanity struggling through a “mist of darkness” and defines the darkness as the “temptations of the devil.” (1 Ne. 8:23; 1 Ne. 12:17.) So dense was that moral pollution that many followed “strange roads” and “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” (See 1 Ne. 8:23–32.)
The deliberate pollution of the fountain of life now clouds our moral environment. The gift of mortal life and the capacity to kindle other lives is a supernal blessing. Its worth is incalculable! Source
What a great thing it is to decide once and for all early in life what you will do and what you will not do with regards to honesty, modesty, chastity, the Word of Wisdom, and temple marriage.
Brothers and sisters, stay on the straight and narrow path. No, stay in the middle of the straight and narrow path. Don’t drift; don’t wander; don’t dabble; be careful.
Remember, do not flirt with evil. Stay out of the devil’s territory. Do not give Satan any home-field advantage. Living the commandments will bring you the happiness that too many look for in other places. Source
For me, when investigating, one sign that this was the true Church came because I felt I’d finally found a church that taught modesty and standards. I’ve seen with my own eyes what happens to people when they disregard commandments and choose the wrong path. I made up my mind, long ago, to live high moral standards. … I feel so blessed to have found the truth and to have been baptized. I am so happy. Source
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” (Hag. 1:5–7.)
I have read this great scripture and continue to be impressed with how clearly the Old Testament prophet describes the conditions of today. Almost daily we read of those who invest for little return. We eat food so refined that the nourishment is lacking. We witness the drink that can never satisfy the thirst for those who drink; the dressing for style, rather than warmth, comfort, and modesty; the high wages of the wage earner today which still do not satisfy or supply his needs.
A noted historian several years ago summarized the reasons for the fall of Rome as follows:
- The breakdown of the family and the rapid increase of divorce.
- The spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant spending.
- The mounting craze for pleasure and the brutalization of sports.
- The decay of religion into myriads of confused forms, leaving the people without a uniform guide.
Our unconquered appetites and consuming drive for material possessions appear to be leading us on a course so often repeated in history. Greed, lust, and desire historically have only led mankind to waste, destruction, and suffering. Source
I once heard a mother say that with all of the evil influences facing her daughters, she had to choose which battles to fight. And so she had chosen not to fight their dress standards. But modesty is a battle worth fighting because it so often affects more serious moral issues. Source
I do plead with the mothers of Zion to undertake modesty in dress. We may like to follow the fashion, but let us follow it in modesty. The most precious thing that a girl has is her modesty and if she preserves this in dress, in speech, in action, it will arm, and protect her as nothing else will. But let her lose her modesty, and she becomes a victim of those who pursue her, as the hare is of the hound; and she will not be able to stand unless she preserves her modesty. – Elder Melvin J. Ballard, General Conference, April 1929
Also read: Modesty is More than a Suggestion