Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is it a Sin for a woman to wear pants?

The wearing of pants by women, has been an argument within the “United Pentecostal Church, and various other Oneness Pentecostal faiths. Stating pants are a transgression of “gender distinction” on a woman, then support this theory with Deuteronomy 22:5…

It should be first noted this is the only text(Deuteronomy 22:5) they can and do provide.

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 (Deuter­onomy 22:5).

Let us consider a few observations, in the use of this text, and the idea of gender distinction.

To further consider the correct meaning of this verse let us understand the society and the culture it is birthed from….

Bible Manners and Customs by James M. Freeman, page 111

"The distinction between the dress of the sexes being less than with us, there was . greater need of this regulation. There is rea­son to believe that the law was made not merely to preserve decency, but because the heathen were in the habit of pursuing a different course as a part of their idolatrous worship. Maimonides says: "In the books of the idolaters it is commanded that when a man presents himself before the Star of Ve­nus, he shall wear the colored dress of a woman; and when the woman adores the Star of Mars, she shall appear in armour." Pagan idols were frequently represented with the features of one sex and the dress of the other, and_ their worshipers endeavored to be like them. It is not at all unlikely that this custom was as old as the time of Moses, and was a partial reason for the enacting of this law."

We can instantly see from the respected source that this was not an issue with men and women wearing similar forms or appearance, but instead to halt the practice of the idolaters, and the practice of heathen worship, and abominations. Now honestly this is a far cry from a woman wearing a pair of pants.

Ralph Woodrow's book, Women's Adornment, page 12

"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."

.Adam Clarke, a noted Biblical expositor, has com­mented on this verse as follows:

"...keli geber, the instruments or arms of a man. As the word geber is here used, which properly signifies a man of war, it is very probable that armour is here intended; espe­cially as we know that in the worship of

Venus, to which that of Astarte or Ashtaroth among the Canaanites bore striking resem­blance, the women were accustomed to ap­pear in armour before her. It certainly cannot mean a simple change of dress, whereby the men might pass for women, and vice versa. This would have been impossible in those countries where the dress of the sexes had but little to distinguish it, and where every man wore a long beard."

It is clear and evident with examination that the abomination in Deuteronomy 22:5, was men and women in that present culture worshiping false gods, in the apparel of the opposite sex! Certainly this is an abomination. One can and should easily agree. This being true still does NOTHING to condemn a woman wearing pants.

Were we to look further in the same chapter of Deuteronomy we find several commands

It is stated in the same chapter of Deuteronomy that one could not wear wool and linen together. That they were to make fringes on the four corners of their robes! It also states that when building a home you must make a “battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house” Blood upon thy house? Sounds pretty heavy doesn’t it? Do most saints of GOD know what a “battlement” is? Do you know what a “battlement” is? Most likely not, and very, very few have one built on their home, yet it could bring blood upon your house!

No one teaches any of these commands even though they are amply and equally listed in the same chapter. Yet the proclaim with great vigor that all must adhere to verse 5!! This is not biblically sound and this is certainly poor theology. The truth is the basis of this is sheer legalism.

To force a prejudice, unfounded by scripture.

It might be interesting to note that in the same chapter of the sole verse used to condemn women in pants, contains the word “skirt”! But it is for a MAN!

(Deuteronomy 22:30) A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt.

The truth of the matter is the Bible speaks of a "skirt" 12 times and in all 12 cases it is referring to the skirt of a man.

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 was no condemnation for this. Now in our culture both men and women wear pants – and there is nothing wrong with that, there is no condemnation for it.

Culture does 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 injunction of modesty. Otherwise we would all have to dress like they did in Bible days! I can think of few men who would not want to do this!

From page 98 of Manners and Customs, comes these observations:

"The difference between the dress of women and men needs to be noted carefully. The dress of women was different in detail rather than in kind. They too wore the tunic and cloak. We may suppose that in every case their dress was a little more elaborate. Doubt­less they wore longer tunics. larger mantles than their menfolk. "

.Reader's Digests Atlas of the Bible, page 16, says the following with respect to the dress:

"In the time of Jesus. Jews of both sexes wore a linen undergarment and a woolen tunic that covered the body from the lower neck to well below the knees."

It would appear that in the days of the bible from a distance it may have been hard to distinguish men and woman apart since they wore very similar clothing. The differentiating factor was the details. This is what identified clothing as men or womens.

Culture changes.

Culture changes. At one time men wore skirts, this is the closest to biblical apparel as a man can get. However with the change of culture men began to wear pants. For some time women wore skirts only, but as culture changed she to began to wear pants also.

With this in mind there is no credible reason to assume the change for men to wear pants was holy, but the change for woman to do so was an abomination! The premise perfumes the air with chavanism.To state that the article of clothing cannot be similar, or it transgresses Deuteronomy 22:5, is not credible when the same chapter describes “the father’s skirt”.

In this time period the articles of clothing were VERY similar.

The majority of women in the culture of the United States predominantly wore only dresses, so at the time period cultural modestly was that pants were only for men, as was voting, working and driving a car. Today, however the opposite is true since the vast majority of women in our culture wear slacks, vote and drive cars, it is not consid­ered to transgress gender distinction. Times change, and so does apparel for men and women. While a woman and a man should seek to identify their gender clearly, we can see that it is fine for a woman to wear pants.

Were we to draw such a stringent standard, based soley upon past preferences, we would have to consider if it is okay for a woman to wear sweaters, how about tennis shoes, socks and boots, or sweat shirts and T shirts, are these not apparel that have a trans-gender appeal? They are! Yet none of the above-mentioned are distinctive to men or women alone. So why do they get the pass? Perhaps because their argument has never been thought out, and was constructed by legalism, and poor thought, then survived through the power of tradition.

Before we end this teaching it is important to make a reference to the argument of “breeches”

Some suggest that because the priest was commanded to wear breeches it is proof that men should wear pants. Noting the seam between the legs. Anyone who is familiar with biblical dress knows the breeches were undergarments and did little for gender distinction. Since they were not typically seen from the outside.

How this “breeches” argument really comes into play is beyond me, I think it is “grasping at straws” The fact remains that both men and women were adorned in robes. From a distance it would have been difficult to tell the two different robes apart. Breeches would have done nothing to distinct the apparel of men verses women. Hence the “breeches “ issue is another failed attempt to anchor a standard that is simply another non-biblical doctrine.

In no manner can it be conceived that women in pants is a sin. 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.

That being said I do think it important for a woman to try to maintain her feminine qualities. This can be easily obtained in pants as well as it can a dress. I only add this because it is not my intention to present a thought that gender distinction is no issue in our society. I think a woman should be feminine and a man masculine. This being true, in no way solidifies any sort of pants standard. As discussed earlier social acceptance of pants on women is prevalent in our society and does not in any way detract from a woman’s femininity.

No pants on women is a standard certainly without Biblical backing. No scriptural precedence can be found, it is mere tradition, and tradition alone.