The words we use have a powerful effect on our actions, outlook and beliefs.
Let me give an example: "She is more modern". What does this mean? SOMETIMES it means that she doesn't really care about what is spiritual and holy and prefers instead what is comfortable or feels good. So if she wears a short skirt then she is "modern".
No she is not. She is sinful and causes others to sin as well. When she walks down the street [this won't sound nice but it's true] she puts a wedge between a man and his wife [not to mention between him and G-d]. How? A married man sees her, is aroused and then thinks about his less attractive [I would use other words for attractive but this is a Torah blog and I try my best to use clean language] wife and is turned off. Why? Because he saw the more "modern" girl's flesh. How is he now going to relate to his wife??
Is she evil? I don't like to brand people reshaim and I also prefer to assume that people don't have nefarious intentions. But she is definitely doing something wrong.
Who died and appointed me king or G-d? Nobody. I am not judging. But G-d [the real one] told us how to behave, what is sinful behavior and what is not.
Some people don't believe in G-d or in His Torah רח"ל. With them I would have a different conversation than the one I am presently having with you. I am referring to people who believe but call themselves "modern" in order to allow themselves a more permissive lifestyle.
Or a guy calls himself "modern". What does that mean? He watches movies. That is not "modern", that is contaminating and polluting his mind and soul, being an ingrate for the gift of sight that G-d gave him and using it against G-d's wishes. It is destroying his marriage because no normal wife can compete with all of the beauties he sees onscreen in various forms of dress and undress [I haven't watched a movie in decades and still believe that watching PG movies in the 1970's and 80's has had a deletorious effect on my marriage]. It is someone who undermines the very foundation of his avodas Hashem, all of his davening, learning and chesed for a few minutes of feeble viewing pleasure. The middah of sexual purity is called "yesod" [foundation] and if there is no yesod the whole structure collapses. [Not to mention the time wasted burning brain cells that could be used in productive activity].
I am not referring to people who are called "modern" because they wear colored shirts, a kippah sruga or have a job. There is nothing wrong with all of the above [it is actually a mitzva to work, wear a kippah and all of my shirts are also colored - they are just colored white. But that is only so because it matches so well with the black suit I wear daily]. I am referring to people who willingly sin and justify it by giving themselves a label. It could be "modern", "Modern Orthodox", "Centrist Orthodox" or any other term. Jews in Bnei Brak and Scarsdale, in Kiryat Sefer and New Rochelle have to follow the same G-d and keep the same Torah. Rav Shteinman is no more Jewish than a lawyer from Engelwood.
In Israel there is a term called "החרדי החדש". What does this mean? It means that he doesn't have to learn seriously anymore. His wife can wear shorter skirts and tighter clothing than she did as a Beis Yaakov girl. They can go out to restaurants that are frequented by people far from G-d and spirituality, they travel to exotic locations on vacations where they would not go as a חרדי ישן - old fashioned Charedi.
Calling yourself חרדי חדש doesn't make G-d any less present or permit any sins. It doesn't free a person from the obligation to watch his eyes, to be makpid on learning and davening etc. But people have this label so they feel that now that are in this new category the rules changed. Just as calling oneself "Reform" doesn't permit chilul Shabbos or intermarriage even though a Reform Jew migh think it does. "I am Reform so I am permitted to drive on Saturday". Maybe - but only if your mother isn't Jewish.
Now that I have successfully alienated many readers I must make a CRITICAL POINT!
Some people don't know any better. Nebuch. It is not their fault and I am not talking about them.
Other people are well meaning and are trying their best. Dressing modestly is a challenge for many women - especially in the summer. Shmiras Einayim for men is an extremely challenging test. Is there a man alive who can say that he hasn't had an improper thought in his life? In the last month?? In the last half hour??? Not many. NOBODY IS PERFECT. My point is that just because we are all going to fail doesn't mean that we shouldn't be trying our best. However, due to the cognitive dissonance one experiences when not doing what is right, there is a tendency to create a new philosophy, language and label in order to justify what has always been known as wrong and improper behavior. [Such as the movement to grant legitimacy to Homosexuality. Being attracted to men doesn't permit one to have sex with one. But many Jews who experience same-sex attraction want a stamp of approval. Only G-d can grant that and He hasn't. Li-havdil, it is like when I hear people talking about "forgiving" the Nazis. We would need all six million and their families to do that].
Hashem loves and values EVERY ONE OF US - Modern, Yeshivish, Charedi, Chasidic, Open Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. We are equally capable of becoming as spiritual and pure as we can. Our obligation is to never give up, always strive upwards, never forget why we are here on earth and if we fall - dust ourselves off and get right back up.
With love, simcha and a sense of purpose.