It irks me to no end when some fellow Mormon feel that they need to wag their finger at the Church and scold them for not doing things their way. Case in point, two posts on the blog By Common Consent. Don't take my providing the link as some kind of endorsement, it isn't.
The first post is here. It complains about a recent story in The Friend. In the story a young girl is taken shopping with her friend. Her friend suggests a top in her favorite color that has spaghetti straps and is "really short". The girl is tempted to try it on, but recognizes the Spirit warning against wearing something like that, so she declines and finds something modest instead.
So what is the big deal? Well, according to Mathew, who authored the post, "children can't dress immodestly" and "the idea that small children should assume the burdens of adult sexuality because they will later become adults is repugnant".
Let's really stop and think about that. If a 10 year old goes walking down the sidewalk with nothing on except shoes, is that modest? No. So then children of Primary age can be dressed immodestly. It shouldn't take such an extreme counterexample to make that point but for some people it seems that it does.
On the second point, I fully agree that modesty should not be taught in a way that makes somebody ashamed of their body or that leads girls to think that it is their responsibility to keep the males around them from feeling tempted. While it is true that it is easier for a man to resist or avoid temptation when there is no provocation they have necks to turn their heads with, eyes that can be made to look anywhere they choose, even eyelids to prevent them from seeing anything. Each man is responsible for his own behavior and thoughts.
As one reply to the article put it: "modesty isn’t about exercising some kind of control over male lust, it
is about honoring and respecting the sacredness of the human body, and
isn’t a child’s body every bit as sacred and honorable". When modesty is understood in those terms, means that even if a person dresses immodestly and nobody around them is affected by it in terms of sexual temptation, it is still wrong, it still dishonors the sacredness of their body. In t his way modesty applies to young children as much as to teens and adults.
Sadly that poster appears to be in the minority on that page while the likes of a Primary President who abandons the Sharing Time outline when it calls for a lesson on modesty forms the majority.
Children need to be taught a principle of modesty, and they need to know it before they hit their 12th birthday. The world is doing everything it can to teach any kid old enough to understand speech that dressing immodestly is normal, exciting, and gets you lots of positive attention so by the time they hit their teens and young adult years they feel no shame from immodesty and have closests well stocked with revealing outfits they love to wear. As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined.
The second post that came to my attention there is similar to the first, in that it shows where a photograph used on the Church's website was Photoshopped to add cap sleeves to a sleeveless dress worn by a Primary aged girl. Much mocking and pointing of fingers ensues.
There is the standard set by the world and there is the standard set by the church. Those that point and make a mock of the standards upheld by the Church are not the ones holding to the iron rod, they are the ones partying on in a great and spacious building. I do hope that those people come to change their minds and not set the kids in their lives up for challenges they do not need.