When we discuss “what’s immodest,” someone nearly always brings up a variation on Justice Potter Stewart’s comment (about pornography), to the effect that “I can’t define (it), but I know what it is when I see it.” I am not convinced that we do know what immodesty is when we see it! Christians shouldn’t have a problem understanding …
- · … the difference between undergarments and most shorts or swimwear. Most of us (women and men) “wouldn’t be caught dead” wearing only undergarments in public, but some of us make the illogical distinction that shorts, swimsuits, or short skirts are somehow “different.”
- · … since most men are taller than the average woman, perhaps it would be wise for ladies to use a hand mirror before going out, to get a “man’s-eye view” of what they are wearing. That cute sundress, tank top, or “peasant” blouse may expose more than its wearer realizes!
- · … “form-fitting” clothing, which emphasizes the wearer’s curves, “fits the form” for a simple reason — it’s usually two sizes smaller than the size stated, and it is intended to look “sprayed on,” like a “second skin.”
Christians shouldn’t have a problem understanding these things, but some do, and will “argue ’til blue in the face” that there’s nothing immodest about immodesty.
When the weather is hot, talk of “immodesty” usually focuses on being somewhat “undressed” in public (and rightly so!). Immodesty sometimes takes another form, however, and we might describe it as “extremism” in dress. This really gets to the core of what immodesty is, because it is calculated to call unwarranted attention to the wearer. It is not necessary to be uncovered to be immodest; just pause and remember the dress excesses of the “punk rock” period, or consider the sartorial eccentricities of a Michael Jackson! Attitude is a big part of appearance and modesty. “Why” and “howv we dress are big components in whether or not we are modestly attired. Colossians 3:17 says,
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
The way we dress directly affects both what and how others think about us, and you can “control” to a very large degree what happens in the minds of others by how you dress. The way we dress is a “deed,” to be done according to the will of God; does how you dress please Him?
 In the case of Jacobellis vs. Ohio, heard before the United States Supreme Court in 1964