Modesty

Neither are we to provide for ourselves costly clothing. Clement of Alexandria (195 AD), 2.263.

And much more must we keep pure from shameful deeds: on the one hand, from exhibiting and exposing parts of the body which we ought not; and on the other, from beholding what is forbidden. For the modest son could not bear to look on the shameful exposure of the righteous man; and modesty covered what intoxication exposed – the spectacle of the transgression of ignorance. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.251

But if any necessity arises, commanding the presence of married women, let them be well clothed – without by raiment, within by modesty. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.252

…then, He takes away anxious care for clothes and food, and superfluities in general, as unnecessary; what are we to imagine ought to be said of love of ornament, and dyeing of wool, and variety of colours, and fastidiousness about gems, and exquisite working of gold, and still more, of artificial hair and wreathed curls; and furthermore, of staining the eyes, and plucking out hairs, and painting with rouge and white lead, and dyeing of the hair, and the wicked arts that are employed in such deceptions? -Clement of Alexandria, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II, Chapter XI.—On Clothes.

“Now Susannah was a very delicate woman.” This does not mean that she had flashy adornments on herself or eyes painted with various colors — as Jezebel had. Rather, it means she had the adornment of faith, chastity, and sanctity.” – Hippolytus

“If you desire to be one of the faithful and to please the Lord, O wife, do not add adornments to your beauty, in order to please other men. Do not wear fine embroidery, garments, or shoes, to entice those who are allured by such things. It may be that you do not do these wicked things for the purpose of sinning yourself — but only for the sake of adornment and beauty. Nevertheless, you still will not escape future punishment for having compelled another to look so close at you as to lust after you.” – Apostolic Constitutions

For luxurious clothing, which cannot conceal the shape of the body, is no more a covering. For such clothing, falling close to the body, takes its form more easily, and adhering as it were to the flesh, receives its shape, and marks out the woman’s figure, so that the whole make of the body is visible to spectators, though not seeing the body itself. -Clement of Alexandria, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II, Chapter XI.—On Clothes.

And our life ought to be anything rather than a pageant. Therefore the dye of Sardis, and another of olive, and another green, a rose-coloured, and scarlet, and ten thousand other dyes, have been invented with much trouble for mischievous voluptuousness. Such clothing is for looking at, not for covering. Garments, too, variegated with gold, and those that are purple, and that piece of luxury which has its name from beasts (figured on it), and that saffron-coloured ointment-dipped robe, and those costly and many-coloured garments of flaring membranes, we are to bid farewell to, with the art itself. “For what prudent thing can these women have done,” says the comedy, “who sit covered with flowers, wearing a saffron-coloured dress, painted?” The Instructor expressly admonishes, “Boast not of the clothing of your garment, and be not elated on account of any glory, as it is unlawful.” …Accordingly, deriding those who are clothed in luxurious garments, He says in the Gospel: “Lo, they who live in gorgeous apparel and luxury are in earthly palaces.” 1534 He says in perishable palaces, where are love of display, love of popularity, and flattery and deceit. But those that wait at the court of heaven around the King of all, are sanctified in the immortal vesture of the Spirit, that is, the flesh, and so put on incorruptibility. -Clement of Alexandria, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II, Chapter XI.—On Clothes.

Those who glory in their looks — not in their hearts — dress to please others. – Clement of Alexandria (195 AD), 2.273.

I say, then, that man requires clothes for nothing else than the covering of the body, for defense against excess of cold and intensity, lest the inclemency of the air injure us. And if this is the purpose of clothing, see that one kind is not assigned to men and another to women. For it is common to both to be covered, as it is to eat and drink. . . . And if some accommodation is to be made, women may be permitted to use softer clothes, provided they avoid fabrics that are foolishly thin and of curious texture in weaving. They should also bid farewell to embroidery of gold and Indian silks. Clement of Alexandria (195 AD), On Clothes 2.265.

For these superfluous and diaphanous materials are the proof of a weak mind, covering as they do the shame of the body with a slender veil. For luxurious clothing, which cannot conceal the shape of the body, is no more a covering. For such clothing, falling close to the body, takes its form more easily, and adhering as it were to the flesh, receives its shape, and marks out the woman’s figure, so that the whole make of the body is visible to spectators, though not seeing the body itself. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.265

And again, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” They must, as far as possible, correct their gestures, looks, steps, and speech. For they must not do as some, who, imitating the acting of comedy, and practicing the mincing motions of dancers, conduct themselves in society as if on the stage, with voluptuous movements, and gliding steps, and affected voices, casting languishing glances round, tricked out with the bait of pleasure. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.287

“Head-dresses and varieties of head-dresses, and elaborate braidings, and infinite modes of dressing the hair, and costly specimens of mir rots, in which they arrange their costume,–hunting after those that, like silly children, are crazy about their figures,–are characteristic of women who have lost all sense of shame. If any one were to call these courtesans, he would make no mistake, for they turn their faces into masks.” – Clement of Alexandria, the Instructor, Book III

Let the woman observe this, further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happen to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.290

For since, by the introduction into an appropriation us of the Holy Spirit, we are all “the temple of God,” modesty is the sacristan and priestess of that temple, who is to suffer nothing unclean or profane to be introduced (into it), for fear that the God who inhabits it should be offended, and quite forsake the polluted abode. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg.18

Woman and man are to go to church decently attired, with natural step, embracing silence. . .. Let the woman observe this, further: Let her be entirely covered, unless she happens to be at home. For that style of dress is serious and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty and her veil. Nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled. Clement of Alexandria ( 195 AD), 2.290.

First, then, blessed sisters, take heed that you do not admit to your use flashy and sluttish garbs and clothing. Tertullian (198 AD), 4.22.

For most women… have the audacity so to walk as if modesty consisted only in the (bare) integrity of the flesh, and in turning away from (actual) fornication…wearing in their gait the self-same appearance as the women of the nations, from whom the sense of true modesty is absent…How many a one, in short, is there who does not earnestly desire even to look pleasing to strangers? Who does not on that very account take care to have herself painted out, and denies that she has (ever) been an object of (carnal) appetite? Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 18-19

What purpose, again, does all the labor spent in arranging the hair render to salvation? Why is no rest allowed to your hair? First, it must be bound, then loosed, then cultivated, then thinned out? Some are anxious to force their hair into curls. Tertullian (198 AD), 4.21.

He [God] takes away anxious care for clothes, food, and all luxuries as being unnecessary. What are we to imagine, then, should be said about love of embellishments, the dyeing of wool, and the variety of colors? What should be said about the love of gems, exquisite working of gold, and still more, of artificial hair and wreathed curls? Furthermore, what should be said about staining the eyes, plucking out hairs, painting with rouge and white lead, dyeing of the hair, and the wicked arts that are employed in such deceptions? Clement of Alexandria (195 AD), 2.264.

Why therefore excite toward yourself that evil (passion)? Why invite (that) to which you profess yourself a stranger? …But why are we a (source of) danger to our neighbor? Why do we import concupiscence into our neighbor? I know not whether He allows impunity to him who has been the cause of perdition to some other. For that other, as soon as he has felt concupiscence after your beauty, and has mentally already committed (the deed) which his concupiscence pointed to, perishes; and you have been made the sword which destroys him: so that, albeit you be free from the (actual) crime, you are not free from the odium (attaching to it)… Are we to paint ourselves out that our neighbors may perish? Where, then, is (the command), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself?” Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4pg. 19

Whatever is born is the work of God. So whatever is plastered on, is the devil’s work…. How unworthy of the Christian name it is to wear a fictitious face — you on whom simplicity in every form is enjoined! You, to whom lying with the tongue is not lawful, are lying in appearance. Tertullian (circa 198 AD), 4.21.

No wife is ugly to her own husband. She pleased him enough when she was selected [to be his wife]. Let none of you think that, if she abstains from beautifying herself, she will incur the hatred and aversion of her husband. Every husband is the exacter of chastity. But a believing husband does not require beauty. For we are not captivated by the same graces that the Gentiles think are graces. Tertullian ( 198 AD), 4.20.

Let a holy woman, if naturally beautiful, give none so great occasion (for carnal appetite). Certainly, if even she be so, she ought not to set off (her beauty), but even to obscure it…”You are bound to please your husbands only.” But you will please them in proportion as you take no care to please others. Be you without carefulness, blessed (sisters): no wife is “ugly” to her own husband. She “pleased” him enough when she was selected (by him as his wife)… Every husband is the exactor of chastity; but beauty, a believing (husband) does not require, because we are not captivated by the same graces which the Gentiles think (to be) graces: an unbelieving one, on the other hand, even regards with suspicion…Why are you eager to please either one who is suspicious, or else one who desires it not? Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 20

Let us only wish that we may be no cause for just blasphemy! But how much more provocative of blasphemy is it that you, who are called modesty’s priestesses, should appear in public decked and painted out after the manner of the immodest? Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 24

But continence and modesty consist not alone in purity of the flesh, but also in seemliness, as well as in modesty of dress and adornment; so that, according to the apostle, she who is unmarried may be holy both in body and in spirit. Paul instructs and teaches us, saying, “He that is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please God: but he who has contracted marriage cares for the things which are of this world, how he may please his wife. So both the virgin and the unmarried woman consider those things which are the Lord’s, that they may be holy both in body and spirit.” A virgin ought not only to be so, but also to be perceived and believed to be so: no one on seeing a virgin should be in any doubt as to whether she is one. Perfectness should show itself equal in all things; nor should the dress of the body discredit the good of the mind. Why should she walk out adorned? Why with dressed hair, as if she either had or sought for a husband? Rather let her dread to please if she is a virgin; and let her not invite her own risk, if she is keeping herself for better and divine things. They who have not a husband whom they profess that they please, should persevere, sound and pure not only in body, but also in spirit. For it is not right that a virgin should have her hair braided for the appearance of her beauty, or boast of her flesh and of its beauty, when she has no struggle greater than that against her flesh, and no contest more obstinate than that of conquering and subduing the body. Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 431

It is not right before God that a faithful Christian woman should be adorned… God’s heralds. . .condemn as being unrighteous those women who adorn themselves in such a manner. You stain your hair. You paint the opening of your eyes with black. You lift up your hair, one by one, on your painted brow. You anoint your cheeks with some sort of reddish color laid on. … You are rejecting the law when you wish to please the world. Commodianus (240 AD), 4.215.

Paul proclaims in a loud and lofty voice, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” And yet a virgin in the Church glories concerning her fleshly appearance and the beauty of her body! Paul adds, and says, “For they that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh, with its faults and lusts.” And she who professes to have renounced the lusts and vices of the flesh, is found in the midst of those very things which she has renounced! Virgin, you are taken, you are exposed, you boast one thing and do another. You sprinkle yourself with the stains of carnal concupiscence, although you are a candidate of purity and modesty. Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg.431

You call yourself wealthy and rich; but Paul meets your riches, and with his own voice prescribes for the moderating of your dress and ornament within a just limit. “Let women,” said he, “adorn themselves with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, nor gold, nor pearls, nor costly array, but as becomes women professing chastity, with a good conversation.” Also Peter consents to these same precepts, and says, “Let there be in the woman not the outward adorning of array, or gold, or apparel, but the adorning of the heart.” …For the rest, if you dress your hair sumptuously, and walk so as to draw attention in public, and attract the eyes of youth upon you, and draw the sighs of young men after you, nourish the lust of concupiscence, and inflame the fuel of sighs, so that, although you yourself perish not, yet you cause others to perish, and offer yourself, as it were, a sword or poison to the spectators; you cannot be excused on the pretense that you are chaste and modest in mind. Your shameful dress and immodest ornament accuse you; nor can you be counted now among Christ’s maidens and virgins, since you live in such a manner as to make yourselves objects of desire. Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg.432

Let your women be such as down themselves with shamefacedness and modesty, not with twisted hair, nor with gold, nor with pearls, or precious garments.” – Cyprian

But self-control and modesty do not consist only in purity of the flesh, but also in seemliness and in modesty of dress and adornment”- Cyprian

“Be such as God the Creator made you; be such as the hand of your Father ordained you. Let your countenance remain in you incorrupt, your neck unadorned, your figure simple; let not wounds be made in your ears, nor let the precious chain of bracelets and necklaces circle your arms or your neck; let your feet be free from golden bands, your hair stained with no dye, your eyes worthy of beholding God.” – Cyprian

“To dye oneself with paints in order to have a rosier or a paler complexion is a lying counterfeit.”- Augustine

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