Question: What does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teach about modesty and what is its importance?

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Question: What does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teach about modesty and what is its importance?

Introduction to Question

Questions about the Church’s standard of modesty have arisen in recent years. This article seeks to be an exposition of everything we should know about modesty and the reasons for practicing it as well as a response to certain criticisms that have arisen about it. There is a large amount of groundwork that needs to be laid down in order to have an organized and effective conversation about the Church's standards of modesty. We'll start with the definition of modesty, then discuss some cultural and historical facts about modesty in dress, then address the specific questions that have arisen.

Definition of Modesty

It will first be important to define what modesty is. The Church defines modesty on their website as "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)." This definition is echoed True to the Faith: the doctrinal reference for all Church members approved by the First Presidency.[1]

Two important things jump out at us as we examine this definition of modesty:

  1. Modesty is more than just standards about dress. It is also about grooming, language, and behavior. We sometimes reduce discussions of modesty to dress too often. It's not entirely certain if this is due to infractions of modesty in dress being more common than any other infraction of modesty. Though it seems that infractions of modesty with, say, swearing, coarse humor, and gossiping are just as common. We do well to be vigilant about being modest in all things and not just dress.
  2. Modesty standards apply to both men and women. Some women have complained that discussions of modesty too often focus on them and not men. This may be true. We do well to remember that standards of modesty apply to both men and women equally.

This definition is important for our discussion moving forward. We're going to turn our attention specifically to modesty in dress, but that should not be taken as an indication that the author believes that modesty in dress is all there is to modesty. The author will also discuss complaints from women about the Church's standards of modesty. But that should not be taken as indication that the author means to single them out in discussion of modesty.

Modesty in Dress

We're going to be discussing modesty in dress most specifically throughout the rest of this article so it's good to have the Church's current definition of it quoted to draw from and discuss. True to the Faith, approved by top general leaders of the Church and intended for a general audience, defines modesty in dress this way:

Prophets have always counseled us to dress modestly. This counsel is founded on the truth that the human body is God’s sacred creation. Respect your body as a gift from God. Through your dress and appearance, you can show the Lord that you know how precious your body is. Your clothing expresses who you are. It sends messages about you, and it influences the way you and others act. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you can invite the companionship of the Spirit and exercise a good influence on those around you. 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. In addition to avoiding clothing that is revealing, you should avoid extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle. In dress, grooming, and manners, always be neat and clean, never sloppy or inappropriately casual. Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. If you are a woman and you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of modest earrings. Maintain high standards of modesty for all occasions. Do not lower your standards to draw attention to your body or to seek approval from others. True disciples of Jesus Christ maintain the Lord’s standard regardless of current fashions or pressure from others.[2]

This standard focuses more on behavior rather than the principles behind modesty. But this behavior does prepare one to wear the temple garment in the future. The garment is designed to be covered by clothing that is consistent with standards listed here in the pamphlet. Indeed, as the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet itself teaches, "[y]our dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God."[3]

The Scriptural Case For Modesty in Dress

The scriptures are the law to govern the behavior and beliefs of the whole Church.[4] The scriptures include injunctions for modesty in dress that are more direct and some that are more indirect.

The first scriptures that may be important for considerations about modesty are the creation narratives. Subsequently to partaking of the forbidden fruit and just before casting Adam and Eve from the Garden, God made Adam and Eve coats of skin. Perhaps this had to do with the fact that the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened after partaking of the fruit and they knew that they were naked. An injunction to be modest in how we dress may be extracted from these passages.[5] Book of Mormon prophets see "costly apparel" very negatively—always framing it as a manifestation of pride.[6] In contrast to costly apparel, the prophet Alma looks positively on those that dress and groom themselves in a way that is "neat and comely."[7] The author of Timothy directs women to "adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided [meaning "braided"] hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; [b]ut (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."[8] A nearly identical injunction is found in 1 Peter 3:3-4.[9] A revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1831 known as "The Law" commands members to "let all [their] garments be plain, and [the garments'] beauty the work of [their] own hands[.]"[10] A revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1830 told missionaries to “[cry] repentance, saying: Save yourselves from this untoward generation, and come forth out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh.”[11] That revelation echoes the words of Jude who similarly argues that evangelists should "others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."[12]

Other scriptural injunctions that support practicing the virtue of modesty in dress include being a peculiar people so as to encourage member retention as well as interest in the Church and thus success in missionary work,[13] keeping unspotted from the world,[14] abstaining from all appearance of evil,[15] practicing meekness/lowliness of heart/easiness to be entreated before the prophets who have asked us to practice modesty,[16] following the commandment to receive all the words and commandments of the prophet as he receives them as if from the mouth of God in all patience and faith,[17] and being anxiously engaged in a good cause.[18]

The scriptures also contain a constellation of words and terms that give us injunctions to cultivate certain virtues and avoid certain vices. These words and terms include those such as "carnal" "easy to be entreated," "humility", "lasciviousness", "lewdness", "lust", "lowly of heart", "meekness", "pride", "puffed up", "stiffneckedness", “sobriety", and "temperateness". The practice of modesty in dress but also in other facets of life such as grooming, language, and behavior would be included in the definitions or the penumbras of the definitions of these words and terms. One can search occurrences of these words, including their derivatives (like "sober", "soberness", etc. for 'sobriety') in the scriptures on the Church's website. Since the scriptures are the law to govern the behavior and beliefs of the whole Church, we are obligated to cultivate these virtues and avoid these vices through modesty.

So why should we be modest? What are the principles behind it? Let's review the main principles as laid out in the scriptures and other official Church publications.

The Principles Behind Modesty: Humility, Chastity, and Loving Obedience

  1. An Element of Humility: Being modest in dress, grooming, and behavior helps us to not have opportunities to puff ourselves up with pride over our spiritual brothers and sisters.
  2. An Element of Chastity: Modesty helps both men and women to remain spiritually and mentally chaste. In the Church, things that get covered are sacred from the sacrament table to the rooms we pass through during the endowment ceremony. In a similar way, modesty helps us to keep the body sacred and make the marital union between husband and wife that much more sacred since it uncovers something for someone that has made a deep emotional commitment to you.
  3. An Element of Loving Obedience: Modesty helps us to learn meekness and easiness to be entreated before the Lord's servants who have implored us to be such. It helps to condition us for a life of sobriety as encouraged by the scriptures. Not sobriety in terms to alcohol or other addictions, but sobriety in terms of solemnity and centering our minds on obtaining the mind of Christ and always acting like a dignified servant of Him.

Some Cultural and Historical Facts About Modesty in Dress

Before we get into a discussion of certain questions that have arisen because of the Church's standards, it will be necessary to lay some necessary groundwork for citation and discussion.

Modern Cultural Definitions of Modesty Vary Around the Globe

Before we begin any discussion of modesty, we will note that cultural definitions of modesty vary widely on the propriety of, for instance, public breastfeeding, toplessness for men and women, and nudity while engaged in recreational activities.

As a guess, it seems that what we are aroused by as human beings comes down to the cultural scripts we create for arousal. Female breasts are sexualized heavily in the United States because our movies, music, and other quotidian discourse make it so that our brains run a script each time they witness breasts. When they appear, the brain knows what to do: it rehearses the arousal script written around breasts. The same could perhaps be said of many standards in modesty: they respond to the societally and culturally created but biologically grounded arousal templates we create. Does that mean that we should let men and women run around naked and culturally script an arousal template that doesn't respond to full nudity? Could there be ways in which it may be ethical to create sexual arousal scripts? These are interesting questions to ponder. We’ll attempt answers in this response.

The Church's Standards of What is Considered Modest and Proper Have Changed Over Time

It's also true that the Church's standards of what is considered modest have changed over time. For example, the author of 1 Timothy, as seen above, counseled against braided hair, pearls, and other items of clothing that are not discouraged by leaders of the modern Church. The standards of modesty as advocated in the 1960s' editions of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, for instance, are slightly different than those advocated for in the 2011 edition of the pamphlet.

The Standards that the Church Places on Men and Women for Modesty in Dress Are Slightly Different

For instance, the Church would allow men to go bare-chested when swimming and not women. The Church allows women to wear a pair of earrings but not men. The Church is slightly more explicit and detailed in its exposition of modesty standards in dress for women in places like For the Strength of Youth.

Specific Questions about Modesty in Dress

In recent years there has been much discussion among women about modesty in dress as it pertains to certain items of clothing. This section discusses many of these questions. Some of these questions have to do with the perceived overly-restrictive nature of modesty standards currently espoused by the Church. Others have to do with perceived sexism in the modesty standards of the Church.

Daith Piercings and Multiple Piercings

Many (but more frequently young women) take issue with the Church's standard of wearing one pair of earrings on the ear and not having piercings anywhere else. For instance, many young women are attracted to Daith piercing. This attraction is sometimes aesthetic in nature but also can be motivated by the perceived benefits Daith piercing has in dealing with migraines. Some people who try Daith report positive outcomes in dealing with migraines but the scientific community does not know if this is because of actual effect the Daith has on the nerves or if it's just a placebo effect.[19] Other young women are mad because they can cover piercings that are done, for instance, on their belly button. Other piercings such as those on the nose and lip or an extra pair on the ears don't seem immodest to them. Some young men are bothered because a pair of earrings can sometimes look nice on other men and doesn't seem immodest.


Young women have asked whether wearing a bikini to swim or to the beach is immodest. There is a widespread view among members that two-piece bathing suits are inappropriate for use. General authorities have only referred to bikinis explicitly once. From the 1965 edition (the first edition) of For the Strength of Youth (approved by the then-First Presidency of David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, and N. Eldon Tanner):

Bathing suits which immodestly expose the body, such as bikinis and those with bare midriffs, should never be worn. Swim suits are fashioned for a particular purpose and should not be worn as casual dress for summer, but should be worn only for swimming. While traveling to and from the beach or swimming pools, young men and women should be fully dressed or at least their swimming suits should be covered with outer clothing.[20]

The 1990 edition of the pamphlet states that "[s]ervants of God have always counseled his children to dress modestly to show respect for him and for themselves. Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way others act, you should dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. However, if you wear an immodest bathing suit because it's 'the style,' it sends a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval, and that modesty is not important.[21]

The only other thing that the author can locate that explicitly talks about it is a sent-in opinion from one Shelly Swanson of South Jordan, UT to the editors of the Church-owned newspaper Church News and published 20 January 1996. Shelly says this:

It is important to stress the concept of modesty with children at a young age.

They may notice that they are dressing differently than their friends. My 6-year-old daughter wanted to know why she could not wear a bikini bathing suit like her friend. I reviewed with her the reasons for being modest.

Later I noticed her playing with her favorite toy – a Barbie doll. The doll's wardrobe included many immodest articles of clothing, including a bikini bathing suit. Following the promptings of the Spirit, I sat down with my daughter and sorted her doll's wardrobe. She helped to decide which items were modest and those which were not. We discarded the immodest clothing and now her Barbie dresses modestly too. We must be more aware of where our children find their role models. It may be in the toy box.[22]

So besides this, there have been no explicit mentions of bikinis in General Conference, other published writings of Church leaders, or other Church publications. That said, there's still a question about why this attitude prevails so strongly among many members of the Church. The answer to that question probably comes from the current For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and its comments about modesty and how modesty prepares us to wear the temple garment in the future.

The pamphlet states that "[y]our dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. Ask yourself, 'Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?'”[23] Similarly, on the Church's website in a discussion about temple garments, it is stated that "[i]n our day the garment encourages modesty[.]"[24] So the garment, in the thought of the Church, seems to have a role in indicating what parts of the body must be covered in order to meet a more specific/objective standard of modesty in how we dress.

The Church does not seem to say anything about the propriety of modest two pieces like tankinis.

Men Not Having Ear Piercings?

Others have taken issue with how men are not allowed to wear ear piercings. Piercings are limited to one pair for women. Why is this? It's uncertain, but here's at least one possible answer.

Neuroscientists, psychologists, and others have identified and studied the concept of neuroplasticity which is "the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization. It is when the brain is rewired to function in some way that differs from how it previously functioned." These standards, in subtle but perhaps significant ways, may affect the way we perceive and develop our sense of gender identity. The Church obviously takes the gender binary of men and women seriously as necessary for "gain[ing] earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realiz[ing our] divine destiny as heirs of eternal life."[25] There's also scriptural principles that likely underlie this standard. We quote from a writer at on the issue of the Bible and the issue of cross-dressing/transvestism. Our neuroplasticity may be part of the rationale undergirding the Lord's commandments in the Old and New Testaments:

Deuteronomy 22:5 deals with the issue cross-dressing / transvestism (men dressing in women’s clothing and vice versa). In this passage God commands that a woman is not to wear that which pertains to a man and a man is not to wear that which pertains to a woman, for all that do so are an “abomination.” The Hebrew word translated “abomination” means "a disgusting thing, abominable, in the ritual sense (of unclean food, idols, mixed marriages), in the ethical sense of wickedness." Therefore, this is not simply God addressing the fact that a woman might put on a man’s garment or vice versa. Also, this is not a command that a woman should not wear pants/slacks as some use this passage to teach. The meaning here is that this “cross-dressing” and transvestism is done in order to deceive, or to present oneself as something that he/she is not. In other words, this speaks to a woman changing her dress and appearance so as to appear to be a man and a man changing his dress and appearance so as to appear to be a woman. This is the definition of cross-dressing or a transvestism.

We can also reason that the dynamic behind this is the leaving of what is natural and taking on that which is in God’s Word called unnatural (Romans 1:24–27). Paul tells the Corinthian church that the way a woman wears her hair is a reflection of God’s order, and therefore a woman who cuts her hair to appear as a man or a man who wears his hair long to appear as a woman brings shame to them (1 Corinthians 11:3–15). The issue here is the motive and attitude of the heart that is evidenced in the choice to rebel against God’s standard for obedience.

These are principles we can use to reason an application. Whatever the prevailing custom, men and women should wear gender-appropriate clothing, dressing decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). To apply the principles, the Bible calls cross-dressing or transvestitism a choice that is a demonstration of unbelief and rebellion against God and His order.[26]

Are the Church's Standards About Modesty in Dress Too Restrictive?

Some believe that modesty in dress for men and women may create sexist attitudes. Those that make this argument usually believe that those sexist attitudes are held by men towards women. Some have claimed that there is research that shows that too restrictive of beliefs about modesty creates sexism towards one of the sexes (usually women). The author can locate no articles that claim this/demonstrate it.

Are the Church's standards too strict? Hard to know what constitutes too strict/too loose. The Church's standards are perhaps good enough considering the realities of sexual arousal differences between men and women, the need to create a uniform standard of modesty (otherwise you risk having everyone be up in arms about not having equal standards of modesty in dress around the globe), and the scriptural requirements for modesty in dress

Are Church Standards About Modesty in Dress Sexist?

Some criticism has arisen against specifically the Church's standards of modesty in dress outlined in recent, official Church publications. These critics argue that the Church's teachings about modesty in dress are sexist. As evidence, they cite what they perceive are the more egalitarian standards worldwide about modesty. It's indeed true that the Church's standards are a bit different for both men and women, though this may have to do with several factors that need to be considered. One is that women's clothing is more often the clothing that can be considered immodest. Modern retailers know that women want to be sexy because women know that being sexy is what gets them attention from men. Retailers cater to this desire of women and to the psychology of men. It is indisputably true that attitudes worldwide vary on topics such as the propriety of public breastfeeding, toplessness for men and women, and nudity while engaged in recreational activities.

It will be helpful to include discussion about this. We have an article dedicated to exploring sexism philosophically that can be seen at the link below. We advise readers to read that and then return to this section.

What if one of the main practical/moral reasons that women and men want to be modest in different ways is because being modest helps us all to cultivate more virtuous thoughts? Many of the Church's more progressive critics will mock this, but let's explore this. We know that “numerous studies have demonstrated that men are more psychologically and physiologically responsive to visual sexually arousing stimuli and display a greater motivation to seek out and interact with such stimuli.”[27] Women, much more than men, are sexually aroused based on the context they find themselves in with their lover—potential or actual. Could being modest ameliorate this problem? There's a good chance it would. Let's not be mistaken: men and women do need to cultivate virtuous thoughts on their own regardless of what people wear; but it remains a fact that modesty in others helps. An analogy helps: consider that you're driving along in your car and aren't thinking about food. You drive past a pizza place while deep in thought about something else and you begin to think about pizza. In a similar way, the way other people dress can at least sometimes be mildly responsible for less-than-virtuous thoughts. Likely with this in mind, the social conservative political philosopher Ryan T. Anderson argued that "[a] healthy culture fosters an atmosphere in which boys and girls come to understand themselves, in significant part, in terms of their potential to be husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. This means replacing the hookup culture with a revived marriage culture. It means cultivating modesty and self-respect in girls as they grow to womanhood, and it means teaching boys to respect women and to discipline their impulses."[28]

Imagine that you're Church leaders and you have these realities to deal with:

  1. The realities of sexual arousal differences between men and women
  2. The need to create a uniform standard of modesty. Otherwise you risk having everyone be up in arms about not having equal standards of modesty in dress around the globe
  3. The scriptural mandates for modesty in dress

Now try and imagine what sort of standard of modesty in dress that people should follow based in those realities. There's not many other options outside of the standard that the Church places on us right now.

Even assuming that the Church's standards are sexist: should we conform the men's standards more to the women's? Or the women's to the men's? Most that make this criticism do so as if the only way we should solve it is by relaxing women's standards more in order to better conform with men's standards. Though this is not necessarily the case. It is equally plausible that the men should have to conform more to the women.

Are the Church's Standards Applied Inconsistently?

Many have pointed to the fact that the Polynesian Cultural Center's performers often wear strapless dresses. Female cheerleaders at Brigham Young University wear uniforms that expose their shoulders as do other female athletes.

These occasions represent exceptions to a general rule and not an inconsistent application of principle. The exceptions apply when an individual is engaged in a rigorous exercise that may require a bit more freedom in dress. On the main, though, we should be following the standards articulated in the Church's publications.

The Possibility of Change

Many critics will insist that the Church will change its standards of modesty in the future. They'll mockingly point to standards in the older versions of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet such as that "a 'real lady' never wears curlers outside."

Are the standards of modesty in dress as articulated in places like the current edition of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet the Lord's One True and Eternal Standard of Modesty in Dress™? We don't know and likely can't. What we do know is that the standards as currently articulated juggle all the most relevant considerations about men's and women's arousal differences as well as submit themselves to all the relevant moral standards documented in scripture. They also create a standard that any Latter-day Saint, no matter where they live worldwide, can follow without feeling like they are being treated unequally by the top leaders of the Church. The standards are the same for everyone worldwide. There are perhaps little to no other suite of guidelines that could be given that satisfy all of these conditions.

Could the Church's standards change in the future? Certainly. When might they change? That's a harder question to answer. Regardless, we should all recognize that the only people that have the prerogative of changing the Church's standards are the Church's top leaders by inspiration and revelation.

It's perhaps a strength of a standard of modesty in that it can be transferable and moderately adaptable given differing sensibilities of culture. Perhaps that acts as a mechanism by which the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be applied in any age until the end of time.

Are There Ways We Can Better Advocate for Modesty?

Are there ways we can better advocate for modesty? Certainly. What are the harmful ways?

We might all agree that a direct, face-to-face confrontation with someone that is not following standards of modesty is the least effective way of defending modesty and encouraging others to be modest in dress.

The most effective ways of defending modesty are these:

  1. Be modest in dress in your own life: as President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, using a quote often-attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, taught, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.”[29]
  2. Advocate for modesty in your Sunday school lessons and sacrament meeting talks: Oftentimes the most effective way of defending any particular standard is to quote the standard from the Church's publications and teach them in your Sunday school lessons and sacrament meeting talks. Those that hear you in your audience can be given an indirect but still-clear reminder of what the standards are and why they are important. They cause a lot less discomfort for the individual who has been caught not following the standards.
  3. Defend modesty to friends: One of the most compelling reasons to be modest can be found in those that are courageous enough to stand up for the Church in their personal life such that they defend the Church's standards to friends.

All of these approaches create a culture of modesty within the Church. That, in the end, is one of the most important things behind being modest: Latter-day Saints creating a shared identity and culture of prophet-following and prophet-defending. Creating that shared identity and culture helps us to be more "of one heart and one mind".

Four More Good Reasons for Modesty

Let's wrap up with four more good reasons for modesty.

First, when a man or woman (whether old or young) over-relies on their appearance to get their (legitimate) needs met they often don't have to develop any other part of their personality or intellect. The attention they get from their appearance is enough to reinforce their attention back on to how they look. A modest person is actively putting themself in a place where they have to work on themselves in more than just looks. They have to develop their personality, interests, intellect, emotional intelligence and more. It's a fantastic gift a person can give to themself.

Second, there’s a lot of symbolic value to be found in covering our bodies appropriately. A person’s access to another is limited based on what the relationship is. To not cover appropriately would be bereft of boundaries and to maybe inspire someone to walk up to a stranger and tell them their life story. It would also be a sign of no boundaries for someone to show "too much" (as defined the person showing) of my physical body to someone with whom I'm not in a relationship of that kind of trust.

Third, any attitude like “women are not responsible for men’s thoughts at all and therefore they can wear what they want” hurts women because pretending that women don't dress in ways intended to provoke a response from men will not allow us to ask thoughtful questions about why our girls and young women look to male approval for a sense of self worth. If you don't believe that women are constantly being pummeled by messages about their bodies that eventually show up in how they dress, you are doing them a huge disservice. You are shutting your eyes to a major problem women face that will not be fixed by blithely ignoring the connection between how women dress and how men sexually respond to them by viewing them.

Fourth, failing to make the connection between women's bodies and how men operate has problems for men as well. When the husband of a friend of the author was a missionary in Seoul, South Korea, he lived near a red light district that he had to walk through in order to get to his bus stop. These women had observed the connection between how they dressed and how men responded and they used it, obviously (we’re not suggesting these women were devious--prostitution is a horrible evil perpetrated against women). Now, had the husband been taught that the way women dress has absolutely no impact on the way he thinks, then the sexually inappropriate thoughts that he had in response to this unexpected and immediate submersion in public near-nudity would have created a lot of unnecessary torment and shame. However, he had been taught to understand that it's normal for men to experience a sexual response to women's bodies. And because he understood that was normal, he was not crippled with shame and was better able to take steps that would allow him to stay in control of his thoughts. It was by recognizing--not ignoring--the connection between his thoughts and what he was seeing that he was able to make changes that kept him in control of his own thoughts.

In essence: "I am not responsible for others' thoughts and can therefore dress how I want without consequence" blinds us to the (meaningful and beautiful) connection between bodies and sexuality, which disempowers both men and women to make choices that are good for both their self worth and sexuality.


It may be that some of these rules are a bit arbitrary or that they reflect a more culturally-conditioned definition of modesty, but they also embody our best efforts, and likely the best results, of our shared quest as Latter-day Saints to be "of one accord",[30] obtain "the mind of Christ",[31] and become as Zion: "of one heart and one mind".[32]

Yes, they may be "little rules", but our Savior cares about the little rules because they instruct us in the law of love. Prior to his Atonement and while still under the force of Mosaic law, the Lord told his disciples that "[w]hosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."[33] These rules, according to the Savior, instruct us in fulfilling the first two, great commandments of loving our neighbor as ourself and loving God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength by keeping his commandments.[34] These "little rules", while they may be little, may be of great importance. We should seek to follow all of the stipulations of scripture (outlined in "the scriptural case for modesty in dress" above) as much as possible and see what spiritual blessings flow from them.

We often think that morality should be based on the immediate, obvious consequences of our actions; but the Church's standards invite us to think more about how the morals we adhere to can be based on the less obvious, unseen, and/or delayed consequences of our actions. One thing that will help to calibrate our minds and spirits with those of our Church leaders is to think about how we can better adhere to these types of norms that aren't based on the immediate, obvious consequences of our actions. While these standards may be annoying for us at times, they can bring great benefits for us as a people as we build Zion and prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior.


  1. True to the Faith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004), 106.
  2. Ibid., 107.
  3. Ibid., 8.
  4. Doctrine & Covenants 42:56-60
  5. Genesis 3:21; Moses 4:27
  6. Alma 1:6, 27, 32; 4:6; 5:53; 31:28; Helaman 13:28; 4 Nephi 1:24
  7. Alma 1:27
  8. 1 Timothy 2:9. The author says "the author" of Timothy because modern biblical scholarship is united in affirming that Paul did not write Timothy. See Raymond F. Collins, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary (Nashville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 4.
  9. 1 Peter 3:3-4
  10. Doctrine & Covenants 42:40
  11. Doctrine & Covenants 36:6
  12. Jude 1:23
  13. Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18; Psalms 135:4; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9
  14. James 1:27; Doctrine & Covenants 59:9
  15. 1 Thessalonians 5:22
  16. Moroni 7:44
  17. Doctrine & Covenants 21:4–5
  18. Doctrine & Covenants 58:27–29
  19. "Daith Piercings & Migraines," American Migraine Foundation, August 3, 2017,
  20. For the Strength of Youth...LDS Standards (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1965), 7.
  21. For the Strength of Youth (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1990), 8.
  22. "How to help young people want to dress modestly and with dignity," Church News, January 20, 1996.
  23. For the Strength of Youth, 8.
  24. "Garments," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, accessed March 13, 2022,
  25. The Family: A Proclamation to the World, paragraph 3.
  26. "What does the Bible say about cross-dressing / transvestism?" Got Questions, accessed June 13, 2022,
  27. Stephan Hamann, “Sex Differences in Responses of the Human Amygdala,” The Neuroscientist 11, no. 4 (2005): 291.
  28. Ryan T. Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (New York: Encounter Books, 2017), 161.
  29. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "A Word for the Hesistant Missionary," Liahona 36, no. 2 (February 2013): 4. Quoting St. Francis of Assisi in William Fay and Linda Evans Shepherd, Share Jesus without Fear (1999), 22.
  30. Philippians 2:2
  31. 1 Corinthians 2:16
  32. Moses 7:18
  33. Matthew 5:19
  34. Matthew 22:34-40