A few years back, some well-intentioned, good, moral folks coined the phrase “modest is hottest.” The purpose behind it is clear: They want to encourage young ladies to realize that dressing modestly is what real men are attracted to.

As much as I agree with the purpose, the phrase itself may stand in the way of young ladies dressing in a less provocative way. This phrase sends a message that is counterproductive, a message that is concerned with what is hot.

Modesty is counter to hotness. “Hot,” when used to describe someone of the opposite sex, is used in a sexually attracted context. Modesty is designed to reduce the lustful sexual desire for someone.

These two terms should be mutually exclusive.

If we are saying “modest is cutest,” “modest is the most beautiful,” “modest is gorgeous,” “modesty is right,” then put me down for a full endorsement.

But modesty is not the hottest.

And we really need to quit acting like it is.

All it has done has caused women to push the boundaries of modesty as far as they can.

Women are instructed to dress modestly in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, but that modest dress is not only supposed to involve their garments — it is to involve their hearts as well. Their very character is to be adorned with “self control,” “what is proper,” and “godliness.”

A lady who is modest in character understands that, in the eyes of God, she is beautiful first because she was created in his image (Gen 1:26). And she also knows that as she tries to be more attractive to the world, she becomes more unattractive to God (James 4:4).

The desire to be more attractive to the world causes many women to become unattractive to themselves. The rate of developing eating disorders because of body image issues has grown since the 1950s, but two relatively new factors are driving an even greater increase today: reality TV and social media.

Not only will people be bullied on social media into feeling bad about their body, but social media is designed to feed the ego. A person’s worth and validity is tied to how many likes and shares they get.

Social media is built around getting attention.

Who gets the most attention?

The women who highlight their physical features.

Women have struggled with body issues for as long as they have existed. This is evident by God’s message from 2000 years ago, and it is a message that really needs to be emphasized much more than it is today.

Many women don’t realize that the men that they will attract by immodesty are the men who are attracted to immodesty.

In other words, they are not attracting guys with great moral character.

It’s similar to going to a bar to try and find love. Don’t be surprised if you marry a drunk. Likewise, don’t be surprised when the man cheats on you. That’s the type of man you are attracting.

Many women feel compelled to defend their immodesty by saying it makes them feel good.

This excuse is foolish.

There are many things that are bad and unhealthy that make people feel good.

I am sure a lot of people smoke crack because it makes them feel good, but no one doubts that it is unhealthy.

In the same way, any pleasure you get from dressing immodestly isn’t really making you feel good. It is actually making you feel worse and will continue to do so every day.

Every day that passes, we all age and continue to look worse and worse physically, so every day that you look in the mirror, there will be new stressed caused by a new wrinkle, an extra pound, a gray hair, etc. The list goes on and on. Every day, you will fight an un-winnable battle.

The sad thing is that parents don’t seem to be teaching this to their daughters for the most part. A group of us were out to dinner at a local restaurant a few weeks ago, and there was a girl dressed up like she was going to work the streets. Some of the people we were eating with were familiar with the kid’s family.

Come to find out the girl was 8-years-old, and her mom thinks it’s cute and encourages it.

See, what happens is that moms get on social media and realize that they are too old to get attention like these social media influencers, so they live vicariously through their little daughters. They’re projecting their own vanity onto their children, and, in the process, adding more fuel to the fire, leading their daughters towards a miserable, vanity-filled life.

So often, I wonder where the dads are. I see all the t-shirts about dads protecting their daughters. I hear all the jokes about dads cleaning their guns when the boys come calling.

Why not man up and enforce a dress code today, Mr. Tough Guy?

If you really want to protect your daughter, you will.

It is beyond time that modesty be encouraged in the home, in the schools, in the government and in every pulpit.

Ben Shafer preaches for the LaFollette Church of Christ. He can be emailed at firstcenturychurch30@gmail.com.