Beginning in Genesis 3, immodesty came to be a problem in this world. God in His wisdom covered man and woman, and man and woman have been trying to uncover ever since. Why do men and women desire to dress inappropriately? God spoke through Isaiah to people about rampant desire and immodest behavior and showed some principles about what is wrong with it. Consider that in Isaiah 3, we have one of the most graphic pictures of immodest behavior given in the Bible. There are principles in this chapter that show a person who desires to dress immodestly…
…desires to exalt self. “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty…” (Isa. 3:16). A haughty attitude is to think so highly of self that a person will look down on others. We are told continually by culture that our worth rests solely upon our sexuality, and we are only as valuable as we are appealing to the opposite sex. The natural inclination is to judge and be judged according to sex appeal and to show ourselves worthy of sexual attention from guys or girls. God says we are infinitely more valuable than just our sex appeal (Ps. 8:4). He sent His Son to show our worth (John 3:16).
…imitates the wrong people. “…and walk with outstretched necks…” (Isa. 3:16). Who in Isaiah’s day thought it would be flattering for women to walk like giraffes to attract attention? The huge powder wigs of the 17th and 18th centuries come to mind as well. Who thought that was attractive? A better question is, “What happens when someone follows after the winds of culture?” That person will be blown about by every wind and change that comes along (Ps. 1:3ff). Anything goes when worldly people are the examples.
…emphasizes the fleshly appetite. “…and wanton eyes…” (Isa. 3:16). “Wanton” means to look amorously, flirtatiously or with lust in the heart. There is intent in the gaze. As immodest fashion is the norm, it facilitates and encourages the lust that may already be in a person’s heart (cf. Matt. 5:28-29). Unrestrained lust and flirtatious behavior lead to one place—sexual sin (James 1:14-16).
…desires opportunity to be seen. “…walking and mincing as they go…” (Isa. 3:16). There is no real direction to this walking. Most employers and school officials have dress codes as a standard where they feel work and learning can best be accomplished. One has to wonder that when we get “comfortable” in leisure time—the mall, the beach and such like—why it is that immodesty is rampant? When we acknowledge no larger purpose or direction to our lives, seeing or being seen becomes the goal.
…desires the attention of others at all costs. “… making a jingling with their feet” (Isa. 3:16). Consider the idea that immodesty degrades men and women to the level of an animal. When dressing immodestly to attract, the attention that is received is not the attention that one generally wants to receive. Bars (pet-named “meat markets”) and immodesty go hand-in-hand because the men and women who go there are (by and large) seeking a lasting fulfillment. However, when attraction focuses on sex appeal, there is no real inward beauty sought or found in those places (cf. 1 Pet. 3:4).
…delights in the luxury of living. In the condemnation of this behavior, God says these women will not be beautiful much longer because He will take away the outward ornaments. God then uses six verses to talk about twenty-one separate adornments that these women were wearing in their luxury (Isa. 3:18-23)! These women had gone to excess in wanting to “dress to impress.” Consider that First Peter 3:1-5 is about the excessive dressing up of women, and not necessarily a lack of clothing. Living with luxury items, we can be guilty of not being content with what we have and what we wear, but feel the pull of society to indulge in luxurious pleasures to the detriment of our souls (cf. Deut. 6:10-12).
…is ignorant of or neglects God and His holiness. Isaiah was preaching to people who should have known what holy living was, but they delighted in what was not pleasing to the Lord. Immodest behavior comes from loving this world too much. Immodesty is wrapped up with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. This can hold such a draw for Christians and non-Christians alike, so that we hold friendship with the world and become enemies of God (1 John 2:16-17; James 4:1-4). We are to be holy, just as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:16). We cannot desire the attention of this world and expect that we will do His will with regard to things like modesty.