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Victory Christian Tabernacle Church



Is It A Sin For Women To Wear Pants?

Posted on November 12, 2011 at 4:45 AM

Is It A Sin For Women To Wear Pants?

By Rev./ Dr. James A. May

First, before I answer this question, I would like to say that this issue has been generated in Christianity for centuries. For the most part, people who believe that woman should not wear pants use Deuteronomy 22:5 as the “lynch pin” for declaring it is a sin for woman to wear pants, and women should not wear pants in church.  In short, the answer is NO, it is NOT A SIN!  In biblical times, pants had not yet been invented, so it is not reasonable to expect the Bible writers to weigh in on this issue.

Let’s examine Deuteronomy 22:5.  It reads, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”  Some Christians have taken this verse to mean that Christian women shouldn’t wear pants, arguing that pants are that which “pertaineth unto a man.”  Says who?  Dress wear is formed and changed by culture.  The clothing worn in Biblical times was very different from what we wear today. Both men and women wore a loose,woolen, robe-like cloak or mantle as an outer garment. It was fastened at the waist with a belt or sash. A tunic or coat, along piece of cloth, leather or haircloth with holes for arms and head, was worn under the cloak. Sandals were worn on the feet.  There is record of 4th Century Persian women wearing pants but that trend did not really catch on or travel to the Western World at that time.  Also women working the ranches of the 19th century American West also wore trousers for riding,and in the early 20th century workers and other working women often wore trousers.

It is fair to say that our culture and dress styles changed over years.  An example of this is during the biblical years, men wore “skirts.”  There are numerous biblical passages that talks about men wearing skirts, i.e.  1 Sam 24:4; Dt 22:30, Dt27:20, Ru 3:9, 1 Sa 15:27, 1 Sa 24:4, 1 Sa 24:5, 1 Sa 24:11, 1 Sa 24:11, Eze16:8, Hag 2:12, Hag 2:12, and Zec 8:23.  You could argue that the skirts of the biblical days were different than the skirts of today, but then you are simply talking about a change of culture and fashion. 

So if we really wanted to enforce the “letter of the law,” it would be better to say that women should not wear skirts, because men wore skirts.  The word “pants” is not in the bible. 

Now as I said before, the word “pants” is not in the bible, however, the word “breeches" is found in the Bible as an article of clothing five times. Exodus 28:42-43, Exodus 39:27-28, Leviticus 6:10, Leviticus 16:4, Ezekiel 44:18.  Some try to say that “breeches” is referring to pants, and breeches were worn by men.  Let's examine this.  Breeches were only for priests.  The average person is never once mentioned in the Bible as wearing breeches. These were not normal men's clothes at all, they were priestly garments.  OK, so priests are men, but what are breeches? They were holy garments; to prevent, or collect, sweat.  They were worn "upon the flesh." In other words, they were the first garment put on and closest to the skin, they were to cover the nakedness.  So what were the lengths of these "breeches?" They were from the loins even unto the thighs. They ran from the waist down through the thighs.  They had to cover the thigh to cover the nakedness.  Has it dawned on you yet what these breeches really were?  They were underwear!  They were never an external garment to be seen by anyone. Breeches, by a strict Biblical definition, are underwear.

So you still argue that “pants” were made for men. Let’s look at some women clothing today and compare it to the biblical days.  According to the dictionary, the word “Bonnet” is described as “a hat”, usually tying under the chin and often framing the face, formerly much worn by women but now worn mostly by children.  2. Informal, any hat worn by women.  According to (and other dictionaries) Bonnets were worn by woman and now mostly children.  Now let’s look at the change of culture and fashion from the biblical days.

And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty. [Exodus 28:40]

And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons. [Exodus 29:9].  

Men wore bonnets.  Notice the word girdles and bonnets in Exodus 28:40 – 29: 9.  Today, girdle is defined as “a lightweight undergarment, worn especially by women, often partly or entirely of elastic or boned, for supporting and giving a slimmer appearance to the abdomen, hips,and buttocks.”  So now let’s look at what else the bible says about whom wears girdles. 

“And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.” [1Samuel 18:4]. 

When did, bonnets, girdles and skirts become exclusively that which pertaineth to a woman today?  Did God change that?  Of course not!  The change came because of trends of culture and fashion. "But some would say; those articles were different in the biblical days.”   You are right; "breeches" are not the "pants" of today either!  If you try to apply Deuteronomy 22:5 as the "no pants doctrine" today without abiding by all of the other Scripture also, then you are a being hypocritical.

Let’s examine Deuteronomy 22 a little further:

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: 21Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.  Deuteronomy 22:20-21  "But-if ... evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones

If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.[Deuteronomy 22:22].  Is the church killing any adulators or adulteress these days?  What did Jesus say to the people when they wanted to stone the adulteress women? (John 8:1-11) 

[He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her…(They) went out one by one,beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman,where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?  11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.]

Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together. [Deuteronomy 22:11].  Like maybe,denim?  Does this apply to us?

Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself. [Deuteronomy 22:12].  Do we have those fringes on all our clothing today?  Of course not!

Sadly, some pastors and denominations restrict women from wearing pants inside the church, using Deuteronomy 22:5 as the scripture to enforce this.  Furthermore, they are not enforcing the other ordinances in Deuteronomy 22.  Either we apply all of the scriptures or none of them.  We don’t get a choice on which scripture to follow.  Sin is sin.  If it is a sin inside of the church, it’s a sin outside of the church.  This is a sad example of denominational ignorance and eisegesis (reading meaning into the text) instead of exegesis (reading the text's meaning).

Cultures change and men no longer wear skirts, they wear pants, but in the time the verse was recorded – both men and women wore skirts.  There is no denunciation for this. Now in our culture both men and women wear pants – and there is nothing wrong with that,there is no denunciation for it.

Cultures do change and it is not wrong to dress in what is acceptable for the culture you live in, as long as we do not transgress the biblical restriction of modesty. Otherwise we would all have to dress like they did in Bible days!  Most of us would not want to do this!

Some scholars believe the context of Deuteronomy 22:5 is the second giving of the law to the nation of Israel as they were poised to enter the Promised Land.  In other words, Deuteronomy22:5 is an admonition not to live as a transvestite. This has to do with more than just clothing. Transvestitism was a practice of the Canaanites, and Israel was to consider it an abomination. No one knows for sure whether this prohibition was intended as a general principle or was directed at some specific abuse among the ancient Hebrews. Cross-dressing was likely considered an affront to the natural distinction between the sexes (Genesis1:27). It may also have been related to some deviant sexual practice, or more likely, to pagan worship. It is known that some pagan rituals of that time involved women wearing armor and men dressing as women, and the Hebrews were forbidden to do anything that had even the appearance of pagan worship.

Scholars also say the word "man" appears in the book of Deuteronomy about 78 times. It is usually translated from "iysh" (meaning man, a male)and a few times from Adam (meaning man­kind). But in Deuteronomy 22:5 the word translated "man" is from an entirely different Hebrew word it is “geber” meaning a warrior, a soldier. Bearing this in mind, the passage reads as follows: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a soldier; neither shall a soldier put on a woman's garment."

If we compare other clothes that  “pertaineth”  to the opposite gender today, we have a problem distinguishing them.  Both men and women wear sox’s, underwear, tee shirts, gym shoes, wedding rings, watches, jackets, and hats.  However, which sex is wearing the opposite’s clothing?  So how do we determine if a person is wearing clothes that  “pertaineth”  to the opposite gender today? 

If we were living under legalism, this would be simple.  We would look at where the clothes were purchased, who the clothes were made for, how the clothes are being worn.  Just as sox’s underwear, tee shirts, gym shoes, wedding rings, watches, jackets, and hats are made for men and women, pants are also made for men and women. These aforementioned items are “cut” exclusively for men or exclusively for women.  A Jeweler has a section for Men’s rings, and Women’s rings.  A clothing store has a section for Men clothing, and Women’s clothing.  You will also find men pants and women pants.  Do they differ?  Yes they do. 

Unfortunately, those who practice legalism do not adhere to the above standards.  They have created their own non-biblical commandment, “Thou shall not wear pants if you are a woman.”

However, we are not justified by our observance to the law, but we are justified by faith in Christ (Romans 3:21-28. The believer in Christ Jesus is "dead" to the constraints of the law. "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code" 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. (Romans7:6).  Therefore, a believer does not live by legalism, nor by license, but rather by grace.  "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace"   (Romans 6:14).

There is no biblical law that says what a woman should wear or not wear. Rather, the issue is one of modesty. Paul addresses the modesty of women in his first letter to Timothy. "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God" (1 Timothy 2:9-10). The Greek word translated "modest" is the Greek word "kosmios," which is translated twice in the New Testament, once as "modest" in this passage and once as "of good behavior" in 1 Timothy 3:1. It came to mean "well-arranged,seemly, and modest."

So, the issue is that a woman should wear modest clothing. Whether or not that includes a pair of slacks should be a matter for the woman's own conscience before the LORD.  If a woman allows her outward appearance to be the measure of her inward relationship with Christ, she is living under the constraints of legalism. Born-again women are free in Christ to wear whatever modest apparel they choose, and the only judgment they should be under is that of their own conscience. "Everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). We are not to allow our consciences to be dictated to by legalism and the consciences of others, but by our own relationship with Christ. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). God will take care of the outward woman if we walk in obedience in the inward woman.

There is no way, based upon the evidence, that it be can be conceived that women wearing pants is sinning, unless a woman puts on pants out of a desire to be a man, then a sinful intent exists.  To attempt, to act, teach, or think that greater anointing, favor with GOD, salvation itself is more solid for a woman who does not wear pants, is false teaching.

When Jesus died on the cross, he said “Tetelestai! It is finished!”  All obedience to the law of God was finished in Christ crucified. Christ’s perfect obedience to God’s law was finished. Now it was not necessary that a man must perfectly obey every law of God to be saved.  No, he could not be saved by perfectly keeping God’s commandments, for the law was not meant to save man by perfect obedience. That was not the purpose of the law of God. The Bible says He fulfilled the Old Testament law.  "4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." (Romans10:4)  "24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:24-26);   “15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations.He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.”(Ephesians 2:15)NLT  God bless!

Rev,/ Dr. James A. May is the Pastor of Victory Christian Tabernacle Church, Detroit / Southfield Michigan.  This ministry comprises of supporting other Christians by providing worship service preaching, training in evangelism, defending the Christian faith, providing Chaplin services for nursing homes and care centers, assist new churches in kingdom building, and provides other Christian services as needed. http//


Categories: Spirtual Growth