Pants, Easter and Covering

You may wonder what the above has to do with each other. Rest assured, there is a connection!

We celebrated Jesus’ resurrection yesterday—triumphing over sin, death, the grave, the Pharisees, Satan, and the Law of Moses. Yes, the Law of Moses. Remember Romans 7?

Romans 7:4  Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

This verse tells us the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection in the relationship we have with the Law. Before His death, there was no way to be free from the Law. Now, however, we can die to that Law and be married to Jesus, who is risen from the dead.

For many years, I believed that it was wrong for a woman to wear pants, because Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “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.” Because it says this is an abomination, I believed that we needed to follow this passage by forbidding women to wear pants, which, arguably, pertain to a man.

But recently, God changed my thinking on this subject, as we studied what the New Testament teaches us about the Law of Moses. Repeating everything that we found could probably triple (or quadruple) the size of this article, but I’ll just summarize here: We are dead to the Law of Moses. Let that sink in. Romans 7:1-4 tells us, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

The only parts of the Law that we need to keep as such are those mentioned in Acts 15:29: “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well, Fare ye well.” There are other commands re-stated in the New Covenant—-where the new law is Christ’s commandments—like “Honor thy father and thy mother” and “Thou shalt not covet”. But we are to keep them because they are part of Christ’s commands, not because they are part of the Ten Commandments or the rest of the Law.

This does not mean that we are free from all laws or commandments. Jesus says that if we love Him, we must keep His commandments (John 14:15). This is where some have tripped up: the difference between being dead to the Law of Moses and being dead to all laws, period.

But that’s not all. A closer investigation of Deuteronomy 22:5 casts some doubt on the “no pants” interpretation. First of all, the word translated “man” here (Strong’s #1397) means “properly a valiant man or warrior; generally a person simply: – every one, man, X mighty.” It is different from the usual Hebrew word for “man”—Strong’s #376: “a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.)…” (The word “woman” is the common Hebrew word for “woman”, Strong’s #802.) So the “man” here seems to specifically mean a “warrior”. A man or warrior was not to put on a woman’s garment. That much is clear.

The first part is not so clear. It does not say, “A woman shall not put on a man’s garment”, but rather, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man (Strong’s #1397)”. The word “wear” is Strong’s #1961, which means “to exist, that is, be or become, come
to
pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary): – beacon, X altogether, be (-come, accomplished, committed, like), break, cause, come (to pass), continue, do, faint, fall, + follow, happen, X have, last, pertain, quit (one-) self, require, X use.” This is the only place in the Bible where it is translated “wear”. “That which pertaineth” comes from Strong’s #3627, which means “something prepared, that is, any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon): – armour ([-bearer]), artillery, bag, carriage, + furnish, furniture, instrument, jewel, that is made of, X one from another, that which pertaineth, pot, + psaltery, sack, stuff, thing, tool, vessel, ware, weapon, + whatsoever.” This is the only place it is translated as “pertaineth”.

So this passage could also be translated, “The woman shall not use the weapon of a warrior”, or, “The woman shall not wear the armor of a warrior”. It is not a clear-cut prohibition against pants.

We must also ask the question: “After women have worn pants for eighty years or more, and probably well over 90% of women wear pants on a regular basis, are pants still solely a man’s garment?” Or to put it another way: “How long must women wear pants before they become women’s clothing?”

And so we come full circle back to where we started: we are not under the Law of Moses. Nowhere in the New Testament does God command that women wear garments distinctively different from men. He does command that they dress modestly. And here we come upon yet another twist: in some cases, pants are more modest than dresses. If a girl climbs a tree in a dress, anyone can stand below her and see up underneath her dress. Or if a woman in a dress climbs a ladder, the same problem occurs. Wearing pants or shorts underneath a skirt does not solve the problem, because the real problem is the eye attractant factor: “Look up under here!”

You might now be asking the question: “And what about men wearing women’s clothing? Is that acceptable?” We have a New Testament answer to that, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Frankly, if a man going around in women’s clothing isn’t effeminate, what is?

This was not an easy subject for me to come to the truth on. After believing for my entire life that women should not wear pants, I have come to this conclusion after being dragged to it by my Heavenly Father. (You can probably find some pretty deep heel marks in the dust behind me.)

The headcovering is usually coupled with dresses-and-skirts-only doctrine. In fact, I assumed that they went together—and I am not alone. However, let’s compare the two doctrines: the headcovering is a New Testament command; “skirts-only” is based on a command from the Old Covenant. The headcovering is based on clear commands that have their root in eternal principles (order, headship, angels); “skirts-only” is based on a “could be” interpretation of Deuteronomy 22:5, and comes under cultural standards of what constitutes male and female attire. The headcovering is something that we need to follow today; “skirts-only” is not.

We cannot afford to waste time, energy and witness on something that is inessential. It is not essential for a woman to wear skirts and dresses. God has not called us to look different from the world, other than following His commands on modesty and decency. He has not mandated that men and women wear two different styles of clothing so that we can see a difference between the sexes. Instead, He says:

1 Corinthians 11:14-15  Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?  15  But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

A man is to have short hair; a woman is to have long hair. That is God’s plan for being able to tell, at a glance, whether someone is male or female.

Lest you doubt the above, let me finish with a quote from one of the early Christian writers:

I say, then, that man requires clothes for nothing else than the covering of the body, for defence against excess of cold and intensity of heat, lest the inclemency of the air injure us. And if this is the object of clothing, see that one kind be not assigned to men and another to women. For it is common to both to be covered, as it is to eat and drink. The necessity, then, being common, we judge that the provision ought to be similar. For as it is common to both to require things to cover them, so also their coverings ought to be similar; although such a covering ought to be assumed as is requisite for covering the eyes of women. For if the female sex, on account of their weakness, desire more, we ought to blame the habit of that evil training, by which often men reared up in bad habits become more effeminate than women. But this must not be yielded to. (Clement of Alexandria – Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 2, “The Instructor”, Book II, Chapter 11)

Note that Clement believed that, for modesty’s sake, women ought to cover their faces, a subject that Dad took up at The Christian Woman’s Headcovering: The Style and How Much Should It Cover? But taking his words for what they are, I find it quite interesting that this man who studied the Scriptures did not see any reason for men and women to wear two different types of clothing, but rather encouraged that they purposely wear similar clothing.

Let us not get dragged down by the weight of the Old Law, and the sin which so easily besets us. Let us lay aside every weight, stand fast in liberty (Gal. 5:1) and run the race that Christ would have us run!

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11 Replies to “Pants, Easter and Covering”

  1. Very good and interesting post. Some thoughts: I have very fine straight hair that only “behaves” in short styles laden with hair goop! I am also a woman of “an age” and have been wearing pants out of necessity for some time—it’s also cheaper than buying stockings and panthose. I wear jackets or tops that cover the hips and am usually more covered up than most other women.
    I believe it is the modesty thing that God is after not the many cultural difference and definitions we humans place on things.
    I’d cover my head completely if I could get away with it !!!!

    1. Your fine straight hair when grown out long, makes for excellent plating and being put up into a bun under a head covering.
      God wants modesty and gender distinctive clothing.
      We cannot compare ourselves to what others are doing, but only to what God wants from us.
      The moment we compare ourselves to others, allowing how others do things to be our standard and not the Bible, then we become like the blind who lead the blind and the Bible tells us that both will fall into the pit. (pit of hell?)

  2. I used to believe as you do, that it is alright for women to wear pants, after all it is an OT commandment not to.
    That was until I read Dean Taylor’s explanation of 1Tim 2:9 titled The Beauty of Holiness. (Available on the internet here http://www.ephrataministries.org/remnant-2012-05-beauty-of-holiness.a5w)

    I think until one has read this article, one should be very cautious about telling a women that God allows her to wear pants, one just might be sending her to hell, for God does call such women abominations, and I seriously doubt that an abomination will be allowed entry into heaven.

    In fact, the mere hint of a possibility that if a women wore pants it might make her an abomination in God’s sight, should ensure that all true Christian women do not toy with such an accusation from God by wearing pants just to fit in and conform with secular society.
    It simply is not worth the risk.

    But each to their own, some people just do not take their salvation very seriously, even though Paul told us to work it out with fear and trembling. This whole pants issue thing makes what Paul said very pertinent to our generation who is throwing caution to the wind and not stopping to consider that for 2000 years, Christian women have never worn pants. Got to make you stop and wonder why.

    1. Hi Adam,

      I actually used to believe that wearing pants would send a woman to Hell. That is, until God finally drilled into me that we are DEAD to the Law of Moses.

      I encourage you to re-read what I wrote in the article above. Deuteronomy 22:5 is not as clear-cut a prohibition against women wearing men’s clothing as the KJV translation would lead you to believe.

      And, once again, how long do women have to wear something before we consider it to be women’s clothing?

      Dean Taylor’s article is not well-researched, nor honestly presented. For example, about the breeches mentioned in the Old Testament, he says, “Furthermore, the men were instructed to wear pants under this garment. These pants were called ‘breeches’ in the KJV.” He indicates that all men were to wear these breeches.

      Dean is making a grave error here. God did not command all the Israelite men to wear breeches. He only told the priests to wear them while in the holy place, and then He told them to take off their holy garments (including the breeches) and leave them in the tabernacle:

      And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there:
      (Leviticus 16:23)

      Another error he makes is when he says: “Until we understand what God calls nakedness, and that He considers it sin to look at it, we are somewhat missing the point.” God has never, ever, said that it is a sin to look at nakedness. Now, before you think that I’m defending pornography, I’m not. Nor am I recommending that we run around naked. However, it is not a sin, for example, to evangelize a tribe (such as the Aucas in Ecuador) that wear no clothes, even though such evangelism would require a lot of looking at naked people.

      It is disobedience to God to make our own commands and tell people that something is sin when God has not called it sin. Please see http://www.aradicalforjesus.com/2014/01/14/ignore-the-commands-of-men/ for more on that one. Also see http://www.aradicalforjesus.com/2014/02/02/the-sin-of-dresses-only/

      It is disobedience to God to bring back commands from the Old Covenant and tell people that they will go to Hell if they do not obey them.

      Please, Adam, do not go back to the Old Covenant and pull laws out of it. You are dead to it! Its laws have no claim on you whatsoever!

  3. Debate about how the OT relates to the NT aside, we can vouch for the fact that just a normal reading of Deut. 22:5 in the original language, Hebrew, makes it easy to see the warrior/tools of war sense of the verse. In Hebrew you don’t even need a complicated listing of Strong’s definitions to see that the KJV is a poor translation on this verse, and likewise the forbidding of pants an even worse interpretation of the verse. 🙂 But thanks for taking the time to outline this a bit for native English speakers. 😉 While pants for women may be only 80 years old in the Western world, there is a whole other hemisphere (Eastern) that would give a different story on culturally-respected norms for modesty for women. In this (Eastern) world, skirts/robes are acceptable, but only with pants worn underneath. The Bible-thumping, dress-touting Western Christians more often then they would dare to admit, look quite ridiculous in their suggestive clothing–skirts sporting bare legs underneath. They’d be better off donning a decent top and good old jeans. Everyone understands that here.

    1. Dear EG, as someone who is fluent in Hebrew I must most stringently disagree with the whole warrior interpretation of Deut 22:5. It is an absolutely false interpretation.
      The Hebrew word used in Deut 22:5 is ‘gever’ (gentleman) and NOT ‘giboor’ (warrior). Whilst they may have the same root letters, giboor has an additional ‘vav’ rendering it a totally different word.
      You will notice that Orthodox Jews, who surely have the best ability to interpret this verse, do not permit their women to wear pants. Not ever because of this verse.

      The reason why woman wearing pants in the western world is only some 80 years old, is because for the last 2000 years Christians have followed the gever interpretation of Deut 22:5. that women wearing pants are a abomination. And we all know that an abomination shall never enter heaven. What? do you imagine that some wet behind the ears Christian has after 3500 uncovered the correct interpretation that gever is actually giboor? That women are allowed to wear pants?

      As far as women in the eastern world wearing pants, you will note that it is only Muslim women who have traditionally been allowed to wear pants, something that the traditional Hindus, Chinese and Buddhist women never did.

  4. I don’t know the history of how all the different garbs developed in different parts of the world. (this would be an interesting study but not worth me investing too much time in at this point in my life;) ) But as for where women have worn pants for much longer than 80 years–even before men wore them–I was thinking of a story I heard from a good friend about their experience in Asia/Southeast Asia. As for which part of the world that I know that both women and men have the sense to know that a skirt may be beautiful but only proper in public with pants underneath, I am thinking of the Middle Eastern peoples with whom I enjoy life. But yes in my little bit of experience I think it is certainly broader than a certain country. As a side note, if the verse referenced was in fact talking about normal clothing, wouldn’t making a no-pants-for-women argument be especially irrelevant? In such a case, wouldn’t a men-should-wear-robes/dresses argument be more logical considering the Biblical context? 🙂 But oh I do long for people to live/dress/etc out of their love for Jesus and obeying His commandments… I find it highly likely that doing that may mean donning in one part of the world what is understood culturally as being pure and decent; while in another setting that very thing may be preached against loudly (justifiably or not). If that makes sense.

  5. Oh please people! In Yashua’s day men and women both wore robes!! I wear pants and my husband wears pants but he would never wear mine because mine are styled more for women and his are more styled for men. I wouldn’t wear his. The most important thing for women is to dress modestly. Both men and women in Old Testament wore robes so if women are supposed to wear only dresses maybe you men better put on your robes and don’t forget to put on your sandles too.

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