I taught a workshop at a Women’s Conference this past weekend. One of the things mentioned, as I asked the ladies what they’d like to get out of the class was to address all the fake stuff: hair extensions, nails, eyelash extensions, botox, tans, etc. etc. and feeling good with who you are without those things. Because of time constraints we only touched on this topic, so I’m working on an article to address this issue.
Although the article below doesn’t specifically discuss the things mentioned above, it does imply an accountability to look at how we think about, use, and display our bodies as daughters of God.
The Opposite of Modesty is Haughtiness
The topic of modesty covers more than just clothing. Modesty is a character trait, an attribute, an attitude, a sign, an indicator, and a form of communication. The way we cover ourselves from head to toe, including clothing, make-up, hair styles, cosmetic procedures, jewelry, etc. is, and should be, an important topic to every daughter of God. It is a topic important to the Lord, as evidenced by scripture.
Let’s start with a few of His words:
“And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands; And let all things be done in cleanliness before me. Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.”
Today’s focus is on the first ten words of this scriptures: And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart.
The footnote for the word proud in the first line indicates “Haughtiness”. Isaiah chapter 2 talks a lot about haughtiness. We can find from a study of the word haughtiness in Isaiah 2 that the Hebrew meaning of the word Ruwm is “to be high, to be raised, to be exalted, to exalt oneself, to magnify oneself”. A closer look at the ancient Hebrew spelling of the word (and the symbolic pictographs in the word) connect haughtiness to the words chaos, blood, hook, secure, first, top and reveal.
Therefore, to be haughty insinuates a lot.
When we are haughty we put ourselves at the top, we magnify ourselves, bring attention to ourselves. We either perceive ourselves, or seek to be perceived, as mighty, attractive, skinny, successful, fit and worthy of the attention and adoration of the world (boyfriend, spouse, boss, neighbor, coworkers, peer group, etc.).
Haughtiness implies that we “hook” others by our outward appearance so they will “look” at us. We “reveal” ourselves (our flesh or other aspects) and then gain “security” by the subsequent attention these actions bring. Haughtiness creates chaos, or confusion in the spirit and contributes to spiritual death (symbolized by blood), separating us from God. It is false security in the arm of the flesh, our own flesh.
Isaiah 3: 16-17
“Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.”
In these scriptures the word haughty is based on a different Hebrew word: Gabahh. Its meaning is still “high, lofty, exalted, and arrogant,” Yet a study of the symbolism of the individual letters of this ancient Hebrew word indicate something far more serious. These daughters of Zion are walking in enmity to their covenants. They are putting the flesh between themselves and the Lord. No wonder the Lord is going to smite them and expose them to shame (see footnotes KJV).
Now, it’s easy to consider the phrase “walking in enmity to their covenants” and excuse ourselves from that group because most of us don’t walk in outright rebellion to God, but these scriptures apply to us in our day, just as much as they did to those in Isaiah’s day. In fact, Nephi says that “…great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Ne 23:1) so we ought to take heed. In addition, these very scriptures from Isaiah 3 are included in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 13.
The Lord continues on, in Isaiah verses 18 through 26, with very specific fashion trends of the time:
“In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.”
We may not understand what each of these trends were, but we can substitute our own trends pretty easily. You may argue that these verses are symbolic for other things. And yes, they are. Isaiah wrote both symbolically and literally. We cannot, however, dismiss the literal meaning in favor of the symbolic any more than we can do vice versa.
Really the whole of the verses is a statement about how we choose to adorn ourselves, both inwardly and outwardly, and where our devotion lies.
Getting Real with Ourselves
How important is beauty to you? How important is your appearance? Who are you dressing for? What procedures do you have done? Or have you had done? Why? What are your motives? Does your confidence lie in your daily beauty routine? In your body? In your face? In your sensuality? In your success? In your fitness level? In accolades? In the attention you get? The number of followers you have?
Are you brave enough to ask yourself these questions? Without feeling angry? Questions are powerful revelators and catalysts for personal change IF we are willing to ask and honestly answer.
Yes, it is important to look nice, to take care of ourselves, to be presentable. But the question for the genuine seeker is: Have any of my actions regarding my physical appearance and the way I want to be perceived crossed the line into haughtiness? If we are honest with ourselves we probably all have crossed that line at times. But are we doing so now? And in what way? You can’t change what you aren’t aware of or won’t acknowledge.
I’d like to share one more thing as we consider the topic of haughtiness. The Hebrew word Gabahh “haughty” (in regards to the daughters of Zion) ends with two H’s. The ancient character symbol for this letter is a man raising both arms above his head with his hands empty. This letter and posture is associated with covenants and letting go of the things of this world. The letter is repeated twice. As I see it, embedded within the word haughty is the antidote to the problem. We must keep our covenants, releasing attachments to the things of this world, including preoccupation with how we look and appear to others.
In the end, a person cannot be modest if they are haughty. It is worth an honest self-assessment to uncover our own “secret parts”. Then, in true humility, we can powerfully serve the Lord.