Women and Pants

What does the Bible say about women wearing pants? Well, nothing. You have to remember that pants had not been invented when Deuteronomy 22:5 was written and didn’t start appearing until thousands of years later. However this is not the argument, the argument is that pants were made for men and “belong” to men, and so should not be worn by women. Let’s look at the scripture.

Deuteronomy 22:5
A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

Now I could get into a long article about the word using in the KVJ word “pertains” and how the word is disputed is the Hebrew word keliy, which can mean either article or vessel or weapon, armor or instrument, which some say this verse is actually talking about women wearing articles of clothing made for war or carrying weapons, but I won’t (note pertaineth is not used in the ESV above). Instead we will use some basic reasoning to look at this scripture in context.

If a woman is not to have any article of clothing made for her to wear that was originally made for men, such as pants, then that should pertain to ALL clothing. This should then apply to t-shirts, which were originally made for GI’s in WWII and even more so if you are to take that this scripture is making specific references to garments of war. This rule should also apply to other articles of clothing originally made for men such as baseball caps, team jerseys, work boots and certain styles of coats and jackets.

Pants have historically been worn by both men and women in both Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures and have been perfectly acceptable attire for women. In the West when women went into the work force in factories when many of the men went to War, we started to see more women wearing pants because it was more utilitarian than wearing a dress; for the same reasons men wore pants and not skirts.

Today it would be obvious if a man wore women’s pants or a woman wore men’s pants because they are made differently. In truth this goes back to the heart and what we are trying to accomplish when we get out of bed and get dressed in the morning. The “thing” doesn’t make us sinful, our hearts do.

If we are going to go back to the law, then we cannot take ONLY Deuteronomy 22:5 and ignore the rest of the chapter. We must also take the rest of the chapter and make parapets for our roofs, not sow our vineyards with two kinds of seed, nor plow donkeys and oxen together, and we must make tassels on the four corners of our garments, and certainly we should not mix wool and linen together to make our clothes.

Deuteronomy 22:8-12
8 “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it. 9 “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. 10 You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together. 12 “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.

Some religious groups hold that pants are scripturally and historically equivalent to “girding up the loins like a man” and even go so far as to say that this was “something women did not do”. There are several problems with this line of thinking. First it flies in the face of history, the Bible and it makes the jump that girding one’s loins creates pants.

What is girding one’s loins? This was a common phrase similar to “rolling up your selves” and meant to prepare for work. Historically, this was something done by both men and women and not just men. When a man needed freedom to work, run or fight, they would tuck the hem of the tunic into the girdle to gain greater freedom and movement. For women, they would  lift the hem of their tunics to help carry heavier or numerous objects or to help them more more freely. In both instances it created shorts, not pants.

Does the Bible say that only men girded up their loins? No.

Proverbs 31:17
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

The passage above is the biblical description of the virtuous woman who was ready for work. If we are to argue that girding up ones loins creates pants, then a woman should Biblcally where pants because it makes her Biblically a virtuous woman and who is ready for work. This term was used other times in the Bible in reference to both men and women such as in Ephesians 6:14 and Luke 12:35. Peter also refers to both men and woman in the follow passage asking them to gird up the loins of their minds.

1 Peter 1.13
Wherefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Sadly people often make jumps in scripture, without considering the Biblical context, the rest of what the Bible says and historical evidence to support their own misguided efforts to justify their traditions.

So what does this mean, are we to throw out the law, is grace enough without the law, is legalism a sin? The answer is yes. The New Testament is clear that if you choose to live by the law, you must live by all of the law and not just parts of it.

Galatians 5:3-4
3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified[a] by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

Jesus came to free us from the law.

Ephesians 2: 15-16
15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Colossians 2:13-15
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities[a] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.[/blockquote>

Justification is no longer through the law, but through the cross; faith that the blood of Jesus is enough.

Galatians 2:16
yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

The law creates self-righteousness, it seeks to avoid sin by blaming our sin on a “thing” rather than on the cause, us. We then try to be our own savior, our own god and manage our sins, instead of giving them over to Jesus Christ so that we can live as overcomers , rather than in condemnation, living in fear and avoiding our sins. Paul says that this makes the cross null and void. This separates us from a true relationship with Jesus, living by faith, and anything that separates us from God is a sin.

If you are interested in more of the topic of the law, grace and the power of the cross and what it means to us as Christians, I go into this in more detail in an article called “Power of the Cross”.