Please note that the text of this article was substituted by a reader and we are showing it to you because we think debate can be healthy. Many points in this article do not represent the opinions of the authors of Berean Holiness. The text of this rebuttal is in blue, to differentiate it from the original content, which is included in black and red. Other than fixing a few typos, Lance’s content is unedited by this site.
You can read my response to this rebuttal here.
To Nathan: As I told Natalie in the rebuttal I wrote for her, it is very difficult to write a rebuttal and not come off sounding rude or harsh. I have attempted to add in some humor and tone down the language as much as possible to prevent any undue offense. In your article you constantly reference the “author”. I desired to avoid confusion so when I speak of you I call you by name. I’m not doing this to call you out or to be confrontational. Instead, I’m attempting to avoid confusion for the reader. I do hope this article is helpful to bring up new factors for you to consider as we seek to leave man’s traditions and pursue God’s glory.
To the Reader: I know this article is EXTREMELY long and in depth. I know that your time is precious, especially in our fast paced society. I struggled myself finishing this rebuttal. (Yes some late nights were involved) If you scroll to the end of this article, I have given a summary of the points that I consider not addressed by this article or inconsistencies. Also you can search this document for my comments by typing in “Lance:” in your search bar.
You may be thinking: “Why bother reading this?” I have asked myself the exact same question while writing this. I noticed something while growing up. Many churches seemed to be “theologically conservative but morally liberal” (BH Clendennen). They preached the virgin birth, justification by faith, and the inspiration of scripture. However they often seemed to have little to no restraint in their day to day lives. They could exegete scripture to prove doctrine but appeared to have no consistent way to apply scripture to their day to day living. The opposite side of the fence had similar issues. They had restraint but failed to provide a consistent way of applying it. The result is a church that does not have the ability to glorify God with their lives. Multitudes have thrown off the weak arguments of their traditions. However the structure built from the ashes does not appear to make them more like Christ. It still fails to create a consistent image of our Savior. Society should behold a majestic structure and glorify God. Instead they behold either a mammoth Holiness system with a paper mache foundation or a weak populist straw cottage. The result is families that give opportunity to Satan to tempt them, inconsistent/illogical beliefs, and a flawed Christian witness. Reader, please examine yourselves. What are you glorifying? Man’s traditions? Society’s pressure? God’s divine principles?
Lance: Before we delve deep into a rebuttal let’s consider one important factor not given: “is the question being asked the CORRECT question?” Perhaps a better question for us to ask as bible believing Christians is not “CAN Godly women wear pants?” The more relevant question is “SHOULD Godly women wear pants?”
Is it possible for a godly woman to go to the store & buy a pair of pants and wear them? Of course. If by godly you are referring to those who have been freed from the wrath of God by their faith in Christ, regenerated by the Spirit of God, & are now producing fruits of their salvation then absolutely. I know many godly women who fit this description. This is an important distinction between I and the Holiness Handbook. In fact it is an important distinction between the word of God & the Holiness Handbook. We are not justified, escaped from God’s wrath, because we add to our faith: a skirt. Do we think God’s justice can be escaped so easily? His anger so easily averted? Those who would argue with this point I simply point to Galatians 3 & 5. It is plain in chapter 5 that any ADDITION to faith to justify us in the sight of God causes the Cross of Christ to be INEFFECTIVE to make us right in God’s sight. I believe the error on this point causes many to become extremely legalistic in their approach to this subject. This attitude is NOT limited to those on the Holiness side of the aisle. Instead I hear just as much an echo of this legalistic tendency in the author of this article as in the Holiness Handbook itself. We all need help in this area. May we all flee to Christ alone & be sure we slip not from His cross.
I feel that I am in an odd position in writing this rebuttal. I feel like the angel of the Lord when Joshua asks him “whose side are you on: ours or our enemies?”. His curt reply was “NEITHER! I am on the Lord’s side”. I do not self righteously claim that “I am on the Lord’s side”. Who knows. Many may feel by the end of this rebuttal that I am on Satan’s side. I am not here to defend the Holiness Handbook. Neither am I attempting to promote all of the author’s conclusions. I am attempting to:
- Establish a consistent biblical form of Christian living.
- Promote the most modest form of clothing we have within our culture for ladies: a skirt.
Shameless Plug: I would recommend those who are interested in learning more about a systematic way to approach Christian Holiness to check out my article called “Breaking Up With the Holiness Movement”. Please be aware that it is in its rough draft phase. I would ask you ignore my sea of typos:
Article: Finding someone who shares my love for the European Church isn’t common, so I was a very happy girl to realize I was speaking to a minister who not only loved Europe, but had done European missions work. There was one city in particular we both had gone too, and I excitedly told him of a Bible-based, missions school, smack-dab in the heart of it. I shared how their pioneered church ran well over 400, and about their many outreach programs, which had special emphasis on trafficking victims. He looked totally surprised, “Wow! When I was there we only found one woman in the whole city who wore skirts, and she didn’t know of any others.” I cringed as I realized my friend would dismiss everyone I’d just described as unbelievers, or at the very least, spiritually immature. His assumption that Christian women will all choose to wear only skirts (and that men will require them to do so) caused him to see 97%+ of Christians as sinners, drastically reducing the size of the Body of Christ.
It’s only fair to consider both sides of an issue with such extreme consequences, and this is exactly the purpose of the following article. Read the argument for pants as moral sin, read Nathan’s responses, think through both and come to your own conclusions. Ask yourself-biblically, historically, logically-do godly women have a basis for believing they may choose their own garment-type? Or is this really a Heaven/Hell decision?
Lance: This is incredibly sad. As I stated above, I believe the misunderstanding of the nature of justification & its distinction FROM sanctification is the culprit. Let us then be careful how we treat our fellow brothers & sisters in Christ. The Bible tells us that a fruit of the Spirit’s working in us is that mankind SHOULD see in God’s church a brotherly love. What’s your fruit like? Can you love your brother or sister who holds different opinions from you?
The Burden of Proof
Article: As noted in the article on Jewelry, the restrictors of liberty bear the burden to prove their own case biblically, if they can’t, it falls. Just like we are innocent until proven guilty, we are at liberty unless proven constrained. It is not up to me to prove women can wear pants, it is up to them to prove they shouldn’t.
Lance: This line of reasoning works well with the American justice system. However we are dealing with the Word of God. What does it state about liberty?
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
(This passage & situation is a wonderful example of Christian application & holiness in action. Which I will point out that Paul COMMANDED these things be done, not suggested. Therefore not all convictions are personal)
1 Corinthians 10:25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.
27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
28 But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:
29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?
30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
I recognize full well that these verses have nothing to do with our discussion on what the preferred garment for a Christian lady should be. However they do show us that liberty is not unfettered freedom to do whatever we “feel”. It is instead a freedom to be “restrained”:
- We now restrain ourselves to prevent our brothers or sisters in Christ from falling.
- True liberty allows us to now “glorify God” (1 Cor 10:31).
- We now restrain ourselves from causing any offence to the Church of Christ.
- True Christian liberty is about freedom from the constant fear of trying to save ones oneself from God’s wrath. Instead we have now been freed from dead religion to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14)
The question that must be asked is “do pants best serve to glorify God over a skirt? Which best glorifies the savior? Which is more modest? Which is more femine?” Can any sane person put the two side by side & state that a skirt is the lesser of the two? Why then is the least modest & feminine is being paraded as on the same par as the skirt? The responsibility does not fall on the Holiness Handbook but on Nathan to prove that pants better glorify God than a skirt.
Article: To provide a fair case against pants, I will quote a full article from the Holiness Handbook. I will quote it entirely in red with my responses in black. This is a fairly in-depth argument and it ends with the thinly veiled threat that if you disagree with the author of the Holiness Handbook, you have a significant likelihood of going to Hell. That represents a pretty high level of confidence on the part of the author that his view is unassailable, so we’ll see if his argument stands up to a biblical cross-examination.
If you disagree with the author of the Holiness Handbook, you have a significant likelihood of going to Hell.
Lance: I established at the beginning of this article my disdain for the line of reasoning the Holiness Handbook gives for believing the eternal damnation for those who don’t follow their reasoning. (Poor Paul, walking around in his robe bound for hell. All because he wouldn’t wear the breeches) I gotta say though there is nothing like the threat of hell to really drive your point home! Just a side note it’s interesting that Mormons don’t believe in hell. EXCEPT for, you guessed it, ex Mormons. That’s right. You & I aren’t going to hell according to the Mormon! I’m not putting holiness people in the same camp by any means. It’s just hilarious how leaders will attempt to pull the hell card to whip their followers into line. Just saying.
Article: As we evaluate his argument, keep in mind that two distinct things need to be proven. If either fails, then the case for women not being able to wear pants falls apart.
1) Is gender distinction biblically required in clothing?
Lance: I want to say from the get go that the amount of evidence for gender distinct clothing is minimal at best. I do believe Deuteronomy 22:5 can be used. Although it may refer IN THAT CULTURE to armor. The cultural application may have changed, however the principle has not. God still desires a distinction in the sexes. Why would we limit it just to behavior when plainly scripture includes clothing? Why would we limit this when the New Testament gives such little data concerning how to live this out? I don’t look at the lack of information as a green light to “go with the flow”. Instead I see it as an opening to honestly evaluate MY culture in MY time & try to celebrate the biblical distinction between men & women. Again the need for proof falls back on Nathan. Why choose the least feminine clothing in American culture? Since when has Christianity every just attempted to find what was acceptable? Isn’t Christianity about glorifying God? Doesn’t this smart with the language of the Pharisees: “Lord who is my neighbor?” What is “acceptable”? Reader, do you feel that Christianity is about finding acceptable forms of behavior and practice? Are we trying to figure out how much alcohol is acceptable? How much fornication is ok? I mean scripture doesn’t give us an exact definition for sexual immorality either. If decency would permit me we could easily delve into that area. Do you feel Christianity just asks what is ok? Is that how we apply ourselves to any other area of the Christian life? Sexual immorality, pride, envy, strife, etc? I leave you, reader, to decide.
Article: 2) If yes, do women’s pants fail to meet that standard described in Scripture?
Lance: Scripture has NO case like the one we have in our current age. The cultural shift into a secular society & the springing up of new styles of clothing as a result is not addressed. If we want to honestly evaluate this we must ask what the principles of the word of God teach regarding this & choose clothing within our culture that best fit this.
Let’s hear his case:
Gender Distinctions in Old Covenant Clothing
Holiness Handbook: Women and Men’s clothing
All through history, the clothing used by men and women have been unique so that there was a clear distinction between the genders. Thousands of years ago both men and women wore types of cloaks or types of robes, but even then there were differences that allowed a person to identify the gender.
Article: There a long history of clothing being different for men and women. Some of this is preference based, with women typically preferring more ornamentation, some of this is based on the different body types of men and women, and some is based on the practical needs of men and women in their historic roles. I do agree with this statement, but I would caveat that for almost all of the history that the author references, the difference has not been in the type of garment, but rather slight differences in how the garment was trimmed or decorated. He acknowledges that men and women both wore robes, just with slight tweaks – they didn’t typically have a fundamentally different type of garment. Consequently, this historical claim is irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
This historical claim is irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
Lance: I believe this to be a very important point. Doubtless the Holiness Handbook would disagree with me. However I believe that Christians are called to celebrate their distinctions WITHIN the cultures they find themselves in. There are really only two options when it comes to finding appropriate Christian attire:
- Go back to a “golden age”. In this scenario you would look at the bible & find a specific time period you best feel meets the criteria of biblical dress. However, you end up self righteously declaring this specific time period to be superior to others. This is one of the great debates that Mennonites & Amish struggle with. They have ascribed to a version of this line of thinking. Therefore, they constantly argue about what head covering from what time period is the most “holy” or “biblical”. I hope anyone reading this article soon realizes the danger & lack of consistency in this option.
- Survey our culture that we are called to live in today and ask some hard questions. How can we BEST show Christian values within our culture? skirts/dresses are not a style of a bygone era. Walking into work today I noticed our CFO walking about in a full length skirt (it would be nice to see Holiness young ladies who care about having skirts as modest as a non believer). She is below the age of 40 most likely. This is a present accepted form of dress in our time. Why then would a Christian choose the lesser of these two options?
Question: Just because something is not the “best” does it make it a sin?
Answer: As Christians we are no longer called to walk the narrow Pharisaical line of what is “sin” or “not sin”. We now have a new nature & new desires. We are CALLED to glorify God with our lives wholly dedicated to Him. No longer do we concern ourselves with merely an arbitrary line. Instead, we now desire to conform to God’s image perfectly. That which was lost in the fall can now be revealed once again in man.
Question: Does an article of clothing being the “best” provide grounds to justify constraining others to dress this way?
Answer: Do we not already do this in other areas? If a pastor noticed a prideful bent in a young preacher’s speech would he not have the right to sit the young man down and discuss this? Why would one area be acceptable to constrain others to a higher form of Christian behavior but not this situation? If one searches the epistles they will quickly find the apostles commanding the churches the highest form of Christian behavior. If the apostles felt it acceptable to command the church to speak “no evil” so they could better glorify God in their speech, then why should we not command the same in our culture?
Question: Does this mean then we treat sisters who do not accept this form of dress as inferior?
Answer: If you do so then you compromise your own soul. A young lady may struggle in the areas of modesty or feminine behavior. However, what of your own soul? Does pride sneak in behind your lofty thoughts? Does lust strike you when aren’t looking? It is through His blood you are forgiven of your compromise. If you truly feel this is sin then what of her? Why are her sins greater than yours? We are all baptized into one body through the blood of Christ. Let there be no division then between God’s church. Instead let us bind closer in this rocky time.
Question: If we are to conform to biblical principles WITHIN the culture we find ourselves, then does that mean it would be acceptable to conform to the culture in another nation’s style of dress?
Answer: Yes. I believe it is narrow minded American thinking to believe that our style of dress should be accepted for the entire world. As long as we seek to meet the biblical principles within those cultures then we have performed the will of God. I don’t believe there is another alternative to this reasoning that is consistent.
Question: Could we just allow NO restriction on any form of Christian dress? This would allow us to conform perfectly to our culture. We then could be at perfect “liberty”. There would be no debate or strife. We could just be “led by the Spirit” in all things.
Answer: If we ascribe to this then we run into numerous dangers that would handicap the church for the next 100 years.
- Any form of pastoral correction/teaching/application would be deemed as oppressive. Already this is spreading among the Christian movement & is unbiblical. It prevents the immature, rebellious, and backsliding from being restrained FOR THEIR OWN GOOD.
- The epistles would have to be re written. Instead of the apostles giving direct application & commands to their young churches, we would have to turn them ALL into suggestions.We would have to ignore numerous commands by the apostles to the congregations to conform to their local leader’s biblical commands.
- Very quickly antinomian beliefs would begin to slip into the church. Already among the more liberal churches you find this being practiced. Any form of restraint or holiness living is deemed “oppressive”. Therefore God is not glorified & Christian living watered down. Instead of “men seeing our good works & glorifying God”, they would look at us and wonder why we profess freedom from a sinful world but do not practice it.
The last point is my greatest fear. If we restrict our application of scripture as is being suggested then quickly Christianity becomes incapable of “approving that which is good and hating that which evil”. I fear this more than if every Holiness woman puts on a pair of pants tomorrow. Liberty that leads to no restriction upon the flesh is lasciviousness. However freedom in Christ leads to a glorious Church.
Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Deuteronomy 22:5 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.
Among the Hebrews neither men or women was permitted by Mosaic Law to wear the same form of clothing as was used by the other. A few articles of feminine clothing carried somewhat the name and basic pattern, yet there was always sufficient difference in embossing, embroidery, and needlework so that in appearance the line of demarcation between man & women should be readily detected.
Article: Since the author is quoting Old Testament ceremonial law, he still has a long way to go before he proves that such a commandment applies to New Testament believers. But we’ll save that question for now. Furthermore, there is a good argument from the original language that the verse actually is referring to a woman putting on the armor of a warrior as a part of pagan worship, but that argument isn’t necessary, so I won’t delve into it – I’ll link to another relevant article at the bottom. Let’s just ask, would Old Testament law permit women to wear pants?
Woman putting on the armor of a warrior as a part of pagan worship…
Lance: Although this may have referred to armor in their time, we have different applications for today. The principle has remained the same.
Since the author is quoting Old Testament ceremonial law, he still has a long way to go before he proves that such a commandment applies to New Testament believers.
Is this truly ceremonial law? This may be delving too deep for this rebuttal, however most theologians do NOT throw out all of the Old Covenant law. They keep the “Moral law” & remove the “Ceremonial law”. Where does Dueteronomy 22:5 fall? I am not by any means using this as my main argument for the preferred article of clothing. I am simply putting the question to us: “If this is a demonstration of God’s moral law, then why not follow it within our culture today?” This is not forbidding us from eating shellfish or shaving the sides of our beards. As Nathan states later, the easiest way to avoid error with this issue is to look into the New Testament for a repetition of this principle. However, this is a simplified approach to a deeper theological discussion. Reader, what do you think? Do you feel that this is merely a local application of scripture? Could it be a universal principle that we seek to apply in our culture today?
Article: What does the Bible say about how Old Testament women had to dress? Nothing. That’s right, there are no Old Testament laws that specify what the differences between men’s and women’s clothing must exist. There are some allusions in the prophets that suggest women’s robe may have been a bit longer than men’s (which were typically mid-calf), but other than that suggestion, the Bible says nothing. Note that I’m not saying there were no differences, I’m just say that the God didn’t ordain any specific differences – he just said for women not to try to look like men, and the details were left to them to work out.
This “same type of garment” approach meshes with the clothes designed by God himself for the fallen Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:21 tells us that God made the same type of garment for Adam and Eve. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Whether there were subtle differences in the garments, the Bible doesn’t say, but we do know that the “coat” type of garment worked for both Adam and Eve.
Lance: Show me a picture of what Adam and Eve wore. Show me some image that we are 100% sure was part of Adam and Eve’s culture and time. You can’t. We have absolutely NO idea what the bible means by “coat”. There are infinite numbers of clothing that could fit this description. There is NO data here to prove to anyone that the clothing they wore had “subtle differences”. However I still feel this is irrelevant. Nathan is going to ancient cultures to define to us how we should apply this principle in our culture.
Article: So what about the article of clothing below? As the [Holiness Handbook] author says, this carries the name and basic pattern as men’s pants, but it is “sufficiently different in embroidery such that a demarcation can be readily detected.” If Old Testament men wore jeans, then Old Testament women would have certainly been allowed to wear these pants. So would the author allow women to wear pants in this style? He should. But he won’t. Let’s see how he justifies the claim that the New Testament gender distinctions are actually more strict than the Old Testament ones.
As the author says, this carries the name and basic pattern as men’s pants, but it is “sufficiently different in embroidery such that a demarcation can be readily detected.”
Lance: Why are ancient clothing customs being brought into this discussion? Why are we asking if pants could have been worn in that culture? We aren’t in that culture. We are in a secular culture thousands of years in the future. Why are the specifics of how they applied the principle pulled into modern times? I believe this to be comparing apples to oranges. In American culture the dress/skirt is historically how WE distinguish from a man or woman. It is still ingrained in our culture. The dress/skirt is still identified as the “feminine” style of dress. Why are we comparing this to ancient cultures who had different forms of distinction? Why are we being sold on a substandard form of feminine distinction using ancient Hebrew styles of dress as a justification for it? Why by defacto are pants the acceptable form of Christian dress? If Nathan is stating that we should live in such a way that in a Hebrew culture thousands of years ago we would be accepted, then why automatically point to pants? Why not wear robes?
Are Pants Eternally Masculine?
Holiness Handbook: What makes you think that pants are a man’s garment?
1) “Breeches” were an article of clothing designed by God for the priests who were all men. The word does not occur very often in scripture, but in every case it’s men’s apparel (Exodus 28:42, Leviticus 6:10, 16:4). According to the Hebrew lexicon, “breeches” means “trousers that extend to the knee, below the knee, or to the ankles.” This would include pants or culottes.
Article: It seems a little disingenuous for the author to give you a “Hebrew Lexicon” definition of breeches which makes them sound like pants when the Bible describes them in a way that is far less favorable to the author’s case. Let’s look at the definition that the Bible gives of “breeches” in Exodus 28:42. “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation…” The Hebrew word “miknac” is a derivation of a word for hiding (as in, to hide the private parts) because these were not “trousers,” they were underwear. The Bible makes it clear that they were worn under robes, by priests, for the purpose of hiding “nakedness.” They went from the waist to the thighs (they did not necessarily cover the thigh completely), which makes them equivalent in length and usage to modern boxer shorts. The particular need that priests had for them may have been related to the steep steps that they would sometimes climb in the performance of their duties.
Additionally, the Bible puts no restrictions on who else could wear such attire. In fact, other than a few pieces like the ephod, all of the priestly garments were of the same basic style worn by all men and women at the time. There is no reason to believe that the wearing of miknac was banned to men or women any more than it was banned to wear the robes, sashes, coats, and belts all described in Exodus 28 as the garments of priests. Yes, they probably couldn’t have worn the exact colors and styles as the priests, but the basic garments were all the same. There are other garments which only men are recorded wearing in Scripture, such as the “girdle” or belt – and it is mentioned far more times than breeches (38). If the author’s logic is true, he should be quick to decry women’s wearing of belts of any kind – the biblical case is much stronger. Proving that mosaic priests wore boxers is a pretty far stretch from proving that pants are a universally and irrevocably masculine garment.
Lance: The question is not what did the priests wear in 1491 BC. (Answers in Genesis) What about today in our culture? How do we adapt the principles of the bible so that a clear view of Christianity is seen? As a result I don’t believe the Holiness Handbook is right by any means in its argument here either (or other places in this article for that matter). However I do not feel that Nathan has done any better. Instead of honestly evaluating our culture & choosing the garment that BEST represents the biblical principles of the Word of God, we are left with the garment that only “acceptably” represent the bible’s principles.
Holiness Handbook: 2) Until Hollywood came along, everyone in our modern western culture (including lost people) knew that pants were men’s apparel and dresses were women’s apparel, and they dressed accordingly. Our culture’s acceptance of cross-dressing has resulted largely from the influence of television, the placement of women in the workforce, and the pressures of twentieth century feminism.
Article: The author’s basic point is “everybody knows (or did know) that pants are an exclusively and irrevocably masculine garment, therefore it is true.” Do we apply that logic to any of our other beliefs? No. Because it is the bandwagon fallacy. Even if that was the case, it is no longer the case. I suspect that less than 1% of the western world would agree to the statement “pants are an exclusively male garment.” How long dead does the older generation have to be before we can acknowledge that the culture has changed the norm? Is 99.5% inadequate to call it a cultural shift?
Lance: Our society without question believes that skirts ARE an exclusively garment for ladies. Why then would Christian ladies choose a garment (pants) that represents their gender distinction less than a skirt? Why choose the unisex option when you can choose the gender distinct option?
Article: John Wesley, the modern source of Holiness ideas of sanctification, had this to say: “As to matters of dress, I would recommend one never to be first in the fashion nor the last out of it.”
Lance: Arguments must stand on their own two feet. This isn’t a Gatorade commercial and Wesley isn’t Lebron James. Skirts are by no means an item of dress from a bygone era. I’m not a fan of shopping, however I have gone enough with my sister to see the racks of dresses in the Women’s Section of JCPenney.
Article: The author’s second claim is that the influences which changed the norm were bad and thus the change in culture should be resisted. I will address this claim momentarily, because he brings it up later.
Holiness Handbook: 3) The universal symbol for designating a men’s bathroom is a stick figure wearing a pair of pants. The universal symbol for designating a woman’s bathroom is a stick figure wearing a dress. Even our sinful society recognizes that there is a difference in a man’s and woman’s clothing.
Article: First off, let me take issue with the author’s use of the word “universal.” The fact is that the modern bathroom symbols did not originate until the 1960’s, and they came from an Anglo-American background. Prior to their widespread acceptance, countries around the world all had their own takes on differentiating gender on bathroom signs, many of which were not based on clothing differences. American inventions from the 60’s do not constitute an ancient tradition – that’s just revisionist history.
Lance: We do not live in other countries or time periods. The bathroom signs are simply the fruit of a long held cultural understanding that skirts are exclusive to women. This belief among Americans is still held to this day.
Article: Regardless, this argument is essentially a restatement of the bandwagon fallacy. The author is once again saying “everyone agrees with me that pants can’t be worn by women.” This is not an argument at all, but rather an emotional appeal. Ask yourself this, would a bathroom sign designed for ancient God-fearing Jews (if such a thing had existed) show a difference between the silhouette of a man and a woman? No. They would both be wearing a robe with an identical silhouette. Choosing the right bathroom would be very confusing. If the standard God set under Mosaic law wouldn’t have met this rather silly “bathroom sign test,” then what evidence does the author present that the “bathroom sign test” is a brand-new law introduced in the New Testament? None.
Regardless, this argument is essentially a restatement of the bandwagon fallacy. The author is once again saying “everyone agrees with me that pants can’t be worn by women.”
Lance: This same fallacy was repeated by yourself a paragraph earlier in which you stated:
How long dead does the older generation have to be before we can acknowledge that the culture has changed the norm? Is 99.5% inadequate to call it a cultural shift?
Personally, I don’t believe this is a use of the bandwagon argument. The Handbook wasn’t attempting to show the reader that society agreed with them. If this was the case then they wouldn’t have needed to talk about this issue in their Handbook. What the Handbook is attempting to do is show that our culture recognizes that some clothing (such as skirts) are gender exclusive clothing.
The standard God set under Mosaic law wouldn’t have met this rather silly “bathroom sign test,”
How are you defining “standard”? Do you mean a principle or application? These are NOT the same thing. The principle of the old testament law definitely would meet this bathroom test. However the cultural application would not. We are not attempting to glorify God in that culture but in our own.
But then, if we’re resorting to silly arguments, are you so sure it was a dress? Maybe it was a cape this whole time.
Lance: It’s too bad we don’t come from Mennonite backgrounds. I would so enjoy cracking a joke that all could understand right about now lol. Just google Mennonite capes.
Holiness Handbook: 4) Pants are a symbol of authority, as evidenced by the saying ” I’m the one who wears the pants in the family.” Sadly, most women might as well wear the pants, since they rule their homes anyway!
Article: This saying is the third consecutive appeal to the bandwagon fallacy which the author makes. Let me explain how. Pants are simply not a broadly used symbol of general authority. If you look at a country’s national seal, you may see an eagle, bear, lion, axe, mace, stars, a gavel, or many other things. You will never see a pair of pants displayed as a symbol of authority.
This saying is the third consecutive appeal to the bandwagon fallacy which the author makes.
Lance: I would agree this is a bandwagon fallacy by the Handbook. The difference between this and the previous statement was the introduction of a moral/truth clause. The last statement was an observation NOT a moral statement. This is where the Handbook goes wrong. He is proving a moral/truth statement without using imperial data or absolute truth (the Bible).
To illustrate this:
- Observation: there are alot of people attending the Razorback’s football games this year. They must be selling alot of tickets.
- Moral/Truth clause using the bandwagon fallacy: There are alot of people attending the Razorbacks game this year. That must mean the team is going to win the game this weekend!
Article: That said, I don’t dispute that there was a time when women did not wear pants. This saying originated in that culture and existed to describe a woman the functioning in a man’s role. The association was never between pants and authority generally, but between pants and men in particular. Does that mean that just because some people in the 19th century observed an association between pants and men, that such an association was firmly grounded in the Word of God and unchangeable? No. That association did exist, but does no longer. It could have been phrased in many other ways even at that time such as “I’m the ones who wears the work boots in the family” or “she’s the one who wears the apron.” Such a phrasing would not have then precluded women 100 years later from wearing work boots nor men from wearing an apron. This saying essentially proves that people agreed with the author 100 years ago, even if they don’t today. I suppose we should call that the dead bandwagon fallacy – “I’m right because all of the dead people agree with me.”
However, slang phrases like this one are a very ineffective appeal when searching for universal truth, because they are some of the shortest-lived pieces of culture. There are dozens of idioms your parents used which you do not, and many more that we use with no thought to the origin of phrase. We “dial” a phone number even though phones no longer have rotary dials and we “hang up” even though phones no longer have hooks on which to hang them. Phrases like “high on the hog” referred to a time when wealth meant you could afford to eat cuts of meat from the better parts of a pig. We have completely forgotten where this phrase comes from, but we still use it comfortably.
Lance: You are correct in that the culture has shifted over the years. However skirts are STILL identified as an exclusive feminine garment to this day. Culture has NOT shifted away from this. You are correct that this doesn’t prove that this teaching is in the word of God. However it is a representation of how our culture expresses gender distinction. The Bible calls us to celebrate and live out this distinction in our culture.
The Origin of Women’s Pants
Holiness Handbooks: Cross dressing is one of the devil’s clever moves to advance the “women’s liberation movement” and to obscure the Biblical distinction between man and woman. “Unisex clothing” began to show up in the factories during WWII when women first started wearing slacks. At the same time: short hair, cigarettes, swearing became acceptable feminine behavior. Down that same path has come to Abortion, Divorce, Single Parent homes, extreme feminism.
Article: Now the author restates his previous argument that the cultural forces which led women to wear pants were universally bad and, thus, the change in culture should be resisted. This is more interesting argument than his previous ones, so let’s break it down.
Let’s first start with how men began to wear pants and then look at the earliest use among women. During the time the Bible was written and for thousands of years before, men and women both wore robes, which were essentially dresses. The skirt that we would recognize originated in pagan Egypt as a uni-sex garment. Women wore pants as early as the first millennium before Christ in ancient China and they continued to be worn in the East by various Eastern cultures across the centuries. This fact is not irrelevant to the adoption of women’s pants in the West, because many of the earliest designs appealed to Eastern styles.
Men adapted the use of pants slowly over the middle ages. Sometimes this progression looked more like what we would recognize as pants and other times they were undergarments or stockings. In general, this progression reflected the reality that pants are a very practical and appropriate garment. Although they originated with the upper class, sailors soon adapted and spread them as a practical garment for working in the rigging of a ship. Pants allow mobility, are well adapted to horseback riding, and keep you warm more effectively. They were worn almost universally by Western men by the 1700’s. This basic premise, that men adopted pants because they were practical, is accepted without much question. No preachers spend their sermon time researching the origin of men’s pants to find out if there were nefarious roots, or if we should go back to the clothing that the early Christians wore (which would certainly help us distinguish ourselves from the world).
Allow me to introduce an equally sound premise in regards to women’s adoption of pants. Women adopted pants because they were practical. Some of the earliest modern users of pants were the pit brow lasses of the British coal fields. Pants were infinitely more practical than long skirts for their backbreaking labor of separating coal from rocks. They were wearing pants in the 1850’s, along with other practical articles of clothing, such as a head covering to keep coal dust out of their hair.
The advent of the bicycle also led to women realizing that voluminous Victorian dresses were ill-suited to their new mode of transportation. There were even reports of women dying due to instances where they couldn’t see their pedals and lost control of their bikes. Many women at the turn of the 20th century adopted clothing that encased each leg separately and was much safer for riding (aka pants).
Factory work also played a significant role in adoption of pants, but that trend actually started in the first World War, not the second. Below you see women in an ammunition factory from the First World War wearing early pants. Pants were much safer for working with heavy equipment full of spinning cogs and gears.
Much more could be said about why women adopted pants – and men for that matter. But there is ample evidence that most regular women started wearing pants for deeply practical reasons, not reasons rooted in rebellion or a rejection of what the Bible says about gender.
Women wore pants as early as the first millennium before Christ in ancient China and they continued to be worn in the East by various Eastern cultures across the centuries. This fact is not irrelevant to the adoption of women’s pants in the West, because many of the earliest designs appealed to Eastern styles.
Lance: Again, why we go back to the ancient cultures to figure out how to dress today seems odd to me. Proving that other cultures have worn pants does nothing to prove that should be worn within our culture and time.
Most regular women started wearing pants for deeply practical reasons…
Lance: This is a common argument throughout this article in favor of pants. In fact it is one of the few reasons given for why women SHOULD wear pants. My question is this: why is it the exception that proves the rule? Thankfully, by the grace of God we are not bound to a state of fearful obedience. We do not obey out of a fear that one step out of bounds will cause lighting bolts to fall from the sky & damn our souls to eternal punishment. As a result of this, we don’t have to become legalistic with regards to being “practical”. We aren’t Catholic. We don’t believe in mortal sins that if committed will damn us to an eternity away from God. I hope we all believe in justification by faith. As a result of this we can allow modest practical clothing in situations that demand it. This is an area that would be a personal conviction for some people. There are two options when it comes to women and physical activity:
- Do not allow women to participate in activities that could cause them to be immodest in a dress or cannot be participated in while wearing a dress.
- Allow women to wear modest clothing during those activities
This is not a legalistic system where we fall instantly from grace as a result of one sin. If this is taught or believed then it is unbiblical. It is the definition of legalism. However true holiness is a result of a heart that stands in awe & love of its Creator.
Aren’t Pants Rebellious?
Article: But what about the observation that the rise of women wearing pants was associated with other sins?
Various evils can coexist without being the cause of each other. During the same “golden age” in which all women wore dresses without question, there was that little problem where millions of black Africans were being kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic as slaves under conditions in which half of them routinely died, often drowning in their own vomit. I wouldn’t actually blame dresses for that evil; that would be irrational – but no more irrational than blaming women’s pants for the rise of popularity in cigarettes. The author’s reasoning is known as the “post hoc” logical fallacy. When the rooster crows and then the sun comes up, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rooster’s crowing is the cause of the sun’s rising.
Furthermore, at the same time women started wearing pants (and manning the Western factories), the United States defeated the greatest fascist forces in history, started granting rights to second-class citizen minorities, and gave women legal rights and education that were unparalleled in human history. Women in the workforce caused medical and economic advances that helped lengthen our lives and increase the effectiveness of church ministry, wars diminished in frequency and intensity, billions were lifted out of poverty, the gospel reached millions of new people. The 1900’s were by no means an era of unrestrained darkness – good things happened, and bad things happened. To associate pants with the bad but not the good is not particularly honest.
The whole purpose of the adoption of pants by women was inextricably tied to their service in the formal labor force. Women have been working alongside their brothers and husbands in the fields, on the frontiers, and in the family business for all of recorded history. Their adoption of pants to work in the factories is just an extension of the way things have always been. Most Holiness preachers take no issue with women in the modern workforce, so why do they take issue with the clothes that got them there?
Furthermore, the practicality of pants has not diminished since their original introduction. Modest skirts and dresses restrain women from participation in many wholesome activities that men routinely participate in. I remember that my younger sister wanted to be an astronaut when she was young. While the dreams of a child may be far-fetched, it seemed even more far-fetched to tell her that being an astronaut was somehow a special sin for her because she couldn’t wear a skirt in space. Rock climbing, rappelling, parachuting, and many other sports require the wear of a safety harness that can only be worn in pants. Childhood activities like jumping on a trampoline, cart-wheeling, tree-climbing, or sitting cross-legged on the floor are nearly impossible without exposing underwear in a skirt or dress. Factory work, bicycle riding, horseback riding, skiing, and exercise of almost every kind are made much easier by the wear of pants. There is an epidemic of obesity is killing Americans, so limiting your wife’s options for exercise to activities performable in a jean skirt may be taking ten years off of her life.
There is an epidemic of obesity is killing Americans, so limiting your wife’s options for exercise to activities performable in a jean skirt may be taking ten years off of her life.
Lance: ….Wow just wow. I had to google this to find out the official name for this argument type. I think it fits very well: “Reductio ad absurdum”. Yes that is a legit name. As I stated previously, you have two options with regard to this situation. However I will state that even those who believe strongly that the dreaded “breeches” should not be worn can still wear a skirt and be in shape. Check out the link to a young lady that her entire instagram page is devoted to this very topic:
Again, we are not tied to a perfect keeping of law for salvation. Therefore, we can strive to be holy and perform those actions required of us in our jobs, homes, or physical activities while still maintaining the need for modesty.
Question: Doesn’t this display an inconsistency?
Answer: Yes. However it is an inconsistency that we already embrace within our culture & in the bible. Murder is wrong. However in war murder suddenly becomes acceptable. Murder is wrong. However the bible allows for capital punishment. (Genesis 9:5) What is our objective? What is our purpose with these convictions? Are simply trying to escape judgment? If so then you already have failed. However if you are seeking with your ordinary life to glorify God in every way you possibly can, then this would be acceptable.
Oh, and tell your sister that we need more Christians on the moon.
Article: But what about accusations against some of the particular women who wear the first in modern times to wear pants? What of it? Do you stop to research the moral character of the first person to wear a jacket or the inventor of the wrist watch before you put it on? Do you research the founder of every name brand before you buy an article of clothing in that line? If you do it for clothes, why not every product you buy? The fact is that there are sinners in the history of our world who invented things we eat, wear, or use in everyday life. Nothing in the Bible says that we must cleanse ourselves of any association with sinners, because, in the words of Paul, to do so we would have to go out of this world (if you are going to quote that we should abstain from the appearance of evil, you need to read more about that passage). The nature of fashion is such that people who come up with brand new fashions are often a bit abnormal. Take for instance the suit.
The inventor of the modern suit and popularizer of tooth-brushing, shaving, and regular bathing was a man named Beau Brummell. A self-obsessed playboy, he would spend hours in the morning attending to his appearance and then spend his afternoons and evenings gambling in high society. He eventually fled his country due to unpaid debts, ended up in debtor’s prison, and was released only to die from syphilis. How come nobody ever preaches against suits on this ground? I have made a separate biblical case that the origins of a practice do not preclude our participation, however, if you take issue with women’s pants based on the earliest originators, at least apply your own standard fairly and stop wearing suits (you should probably stop tooth-brushing too).
Lance: I totally agree. I have seen this line of logic used for other Holiness standards that I do not see being consistent logically or biblically. However I will point out that most of the items described are not public knowledge. No sinner would think badly of a Christian if they brushed their teeth. In fact they would hopefully applaud it! However if a Christian drove down the road with a pentagram symbol on the back of their car then we have a totally different situation. Why? Because the exposure to the public at large. If we are to approve that which is good then we must strive to be as consistent and godly as we can. Since this is the case, then once again I must ask why we would choose pants over a skirt for common use.
The New Testament Case Against Pants
Holiness Handbook: Arguments against this doctrine
Some people argue that the principle of unique apparel between the man and woman as established in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 22:5) is not confirmed in the New Testament, thus is not applicable to us today under grace. But if we look at the reference book Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (printed over one hundred years before women wore pants) we see that it cross references Deuteronomy 22:5 to 1 Corinthians 11:3-14. That proves that men that studied the Bible hundreds of years before women wore pants, understood that 1 Corinthians 11 contains the same principle that is stated in Deuteronomy 22:5.
People may also argue that the principle of avoiding mixing certain materials in a garment as shown in Deuteronomy 22:11 should also apply today if verse 22:5 applies. The key to determining if an Old Testament law applies to us today under grace is whether the principle is repeated in the New Testament or not. In this case the principle of maintaining uniqueness in appearance between a man and woman is well established in the New Testament but that of avoiding mixing certain materials in a garment is not.
Article: Now we get to the author’s New Testament justification. This is critical, because proving that there is a mosaic law forbidding something is a far cry from proving that it applies to believers freed from the law of Moses. I have written about this extensively here. However, I will address the argument in brief.
God has not changed, his character has not changed, and the things he cares about have not changed. However, God’s rules for his people absolutely change to accomplish God’s purposes. Animal sacrifice was once absolutely essential, now it is completely forbidden. The principle of needing to ask God’s forgiveness for our sins was the same throughout both covenants, but the expression of the principle changed. Simply proving that a principle exists in the New Testament does not prove that the expression of the principle now is the same as it was under Moses.
The New Testament expresses the principles of an unchanging God in rules which are sometimes new and sometimes a repetition of the Old Testament. However, the rules in the New Testament stand on their own. Sometimes they are inclusive of Old Testament rules and sometimes they are not. For instance, when Jesus says not to lust after a woman, this includes adultery, because it is not possible to commit adultery without lust. And to make things even clearer, adultery is also explicitly banned in the New Testament as well. However, there are other times where a principle is repeated, but the old covenant rule is no longer applicable. We should expect most of the principles to be repeated, because God hasn’t changed. But the expressions of the principles have changed – that’s the whole point. A few examples should be sufficient to illustrate this.
The Old Testament says that rebellious children should be stoned (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). The New Testament makes it clear that the principle of children obeying their parents still applies under grace (Ephesians 6:1). Does that mean we apply the Old Covenant disciplinary approach of execution for disobedience? No. The principle hasn’t changed, the rule to apply it has.
The Old Testament forbade the Israelites from making any statues or graven images of any kind (Exodus 20:4). The New Testament makes it very clear that idolatry is still immoral (1 Corinthians 10:14). Does this mean that we apply the Old Covenant tactics of Gideon and destroy the Lincoln Memorial statue under cover of dark? No. The principle hasn’t changed, the rule to apply it has.
The Old Testament forbids the charging of interest to someone from your own nation (Leviticus 25:36). The New Testament repeats the principle of not taking advantage of people in need (Ephesians 4:28). Does this mean that we can’t do business with banks that charge interest? No. The principle hasn’t changed, the rule to apply it has.
The Old Testament forbids women wearing the same clothes as men (with loose guidelines). The New Testament repeats the principle that men and women should have some outward differentiation (as regards their hair). Does that mean we apply the Old Testament law in regards to their clothing? I’m afraid not. The principle hasn’t changed, the rule to apply it has.
So where do we find how we should express the principle now? The New Testament. What it says, we must do. What it does not say, is left to a matter of conscience (where do we draw the lines). If we apply the author’s logic uniformly, we would resurrect much of the previously fulfilled Old Testament laws and we would have to start stoning our rebellious children, destroying all statues under cover of dark, and boycotting the financial industry.
The Old Testament says that rebellious children should be stoned (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). The New Testament makes it clear that the principle of children obeying their parents still applies under grace (Ephesians 6:1). Does that mean we apply the Old Covenant disciplinary approach of execution for disobedience? No. The principle hasn’t changed, the rule to apply it has.
Lance: You are correct. However I will point out that earlier I showed that not all of the Old Covenant should be thrown out. As you point out there are parts of the law (that are not tied to ceremonial or local applications) that are still applicable to this very day. I would ask that it be proved that Deuteronomy 22:5 is a ceremonial law and not a part of the moral law. I would also point out that the New Testament writers used the Moral law to make their applications to the situations they deal with in the Epistles.
Holiness Handbook: But in reality, there are several New Testament verses that confirm that uniqueness must be maintained between sexes. These range from the differences in hair length to the feminine or masculine actions of each. In 1Cor 6:9 we find that effeminate men are not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. How is it that a woman can be accepted when wearing men’s clothing (pants) but if a man wears a dress that they are automatically (and correctly I may add) assumed to be homosexuals? Shouldn’t the question presented in 1Cor 11:14 “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” also make us ask “Does not even nature itself teach you” that for a woman to wear man’s clothing is a shame? As already confirmed by the example of a man wearing a dress, nature does teach us different.
Article: The author now reiterates his New Testament references, so let’s see if they contain any rules in themselves which would make us believe that women can’t wear pants. First, we can address 1 Corinthians 6:9 and say that that verse in the original language is actually talking about homosexual practice, as Natalie explained in depth here: (Separation from the world). Even if it’s not, it addresses men, and tells them in general that they shouldn’t act like women, but leaves the rules entirely up to conscience, not to their pastor.
Lance: So then a pastor is not allowed to practice biblical pastoral discipline if a young man begins to act and dress effeminately? This is one of my chief concerns about making all application of biblical principles a personal conviction. Suddenly preaching & teaching can no longer be practiced in a biblical manner. We can no longer exhort one another to good works or to turn from sinful behaviors (Hebrews 3:13).
Article: The only other New Testament reference he has is entirely about hair and probably head coverings too (though, that is another topic). How do we get from hair, to saying that men and women’s clothing has to be more differentiated than it was in the Old Testament? I don’t know. By trying to link this passage to Deuteronomy, the author admits that the rule he’s striving to implement isn’t in the passage at all. On this, I agree with him, and so he leaves me no Scripture to address.
How do we get from hair, to saying that men and women’s clothing has to be more differentiated than it was in the Old Testament?
Lance: Because we are not seeking to implement ancient Hebrew customs of how they sought to separate between the sexes. This seems to be a common issue in this article. I believe the wrong question is still being asked. Instead of asking “do pants meet the specific application of the distinction between sexes of the Hebrew people”. We SHOULD be asking “how can I best demonstrate the biblical concept of distinction between the genders in today’s society”. We get the impression that we are on an island, separated from people, and seeking to apply scripture to our lives. It’s as if scriptural application is being performed in a vacuum. It ignores the necessity of showing God’s nature and biblical principles to our society. This is not about if women wearing pants meets a biblical standard. Instead its what form of clothing best conforms to biblical principles. It’s not attempting to fit certain clothing INTO scripture. Instead it is finding the clothing in our culture that best fits God’s will for our lives.
By trying to link this passage to Deuteronomy, he admits that the rule he’s striving to implement isn’t in the passage at all. On this, I agree with him, and so he leaves me no Scripture to address.
This seems to be another issue I noticed running throughout this and other articles on the site. It appears that a very narrow view of scriptural application is being subscribed to. In essence: “if scripture doesn’t specifically mention this FORM of conviction then we are under no obligation to comply”. This to me seems to be a very legalistic and TERRIFYING way of applying scripture to our lives. It puts the application of scripture in a vacuum. It ignores that we live in a world with other people. It ignores that we have fleshly desires & demonic forces at work. My actions and lifestyle affect how people view Christanity. My liberties either provide or reject opportunity for Satan to tempt me. The world is watching our lives. As God’s redeemed people are we dressing, acting, and behaving in such a way that it reveals His nature? This has been His plan for His chosen people from the very beginning:
1 Peter 2:9-17
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
This is to me the most VITAL issue in the whole discussion. I believe this to be one of the greatest points of difference between Nathan and I. If we are to obey scripture then we are called to approve that which is good (Phillipians 1:10). This is NOT limited to the confines of an abandoned imaginary island. We are called to perform this in the midst of the most perverse generation our nation has ever known. Therefore we cannot narrowly apply scripture as we have been shown. If we attempt to do so, then our Christian lives will fall tremendously short of glorifying God. I believe the way to accomplish this falls under three simple headers:
- Moral law: Fulfilling God’s desires
- Outer Holiness: Reflecting God’s nature and desires within the culture we find ourselves in.
- Inner Holiness: Watching our appetites and armor to ensure no place is given to allow a snare to us.
By following these three guidelines, I believe we can effectively navigate the complex world we find ourselves in. If you want a more in depth investigation into this topic I would recommend the below article.
Article: Another argument he raises in addition to the Scripture is “doesn’t nature itself teach us that a woman wearing pants is bad?” In order to make an appeal to “common sense” or “nature,” there has to be some widespread agreement on the issue. In fact, I can make this argument more strongly than he can, because 99% of the Western culture would agree with me when I ask “isn’t it common sense that a woman in pants can be feminine?” “Everyone knows” isn’t a logical proof under the best circumstances, but when you say that, and in fact everyone disagrees with you, it is a very thin argument indeed.
Is There a Double Standard?
A more valid argument in this paragraph refers to the perceived “double standard” of men not being allowed to wear dresses, but women being allowed to wear pants. I think this is one of the most compelling arguments the author makes, so I applaud him for coming up with it. Here’s why I submit there is no double standard. The standard is, men and women should embrace their God-given gender and strive to live up to the universal standards as well as the gender specific standards that God set for them in Scripture. I could make a biblical case for that in the New Testament, but as I suspect we are agreed, I won’t spend the time doing that.
If “embracing your gender specific roles” is the standard, how do we evaluate a man who we see in a dress? Well, if he’s Moroccan, he’s probably wearing a jellaba and he’s embracing his gender role. If he’s Indian, he’s probably wearing a dhoti and embracing his gender role. If he’s Scottish, he’s probably wearing a kilt and embracing his gender role. If he’s American, he may be wearing any of the above garments and embracing his gender role, or he may be wearing some sort of apron or lab coat that is relevant to his occupation and embracing his gender role. But if he puts on a cute, floral dress, the author is right that he is almost surely rejecting his gender role. He could also reject his gender role by putting on a cute, floral pair of women’s pants. A woman meanwhile can embrace her femininity in a pair of pants or she can reject it. She can also reject her gender role while wearing a dress or while wearing a type of “dress” designed for men. The standard is clear and even. Are you embracing your gender role that God gave you in your heart? If so, your dress will reflect your heart, but exactly what that looks like cannot be simply prescribed by a third party. And, oh, by the way, tasteful jewelry is one way women can embrace their femininity, as the Bible clearly prescribes.
Well, if he’s Moroccan, he’s probably wearing a jellaba and he’s embracing his gender role. If he’s Indian, he’s probably wearing a dhoti and embracing his gender role. If he’s Scottish, he’s probably wearing a kilt and embracing his gender role. If he’s American, he may be wearing any of the above garments and embracing his gender role.
Lance: As I have stated previously there is nothing wrong with these societies expressing their gender roles differently than Americans do. However an American DOES NOT have the right to take on the above style of dress within OUR country. Why? Because in Western culture these are not acceptable expressions of gender distinction. Once again Nathan is attempting to impose other cultural expressions of gender distinctions upon other societies and therefore somehow prove that this makes crossdressing acceptable. I’m a tad flabbergasted to say the least.
A woman meanwhile can embrace her femininity in a pair of pants or she can reject it. She can also reject her gender role while wearing a dress or while wearing a type of “dress” designed for men.
Lance: I would like to make a distinction that I believe is missed here. There is a difference between performing the function of a gender role and “embracing” a gender role. Nathan makes it sound like you can express full femininity in a pair of pants just as well as you can in a skirt. He attempts to do this by showing that some women perform the FUNCTION of their gender role in pants. He then turns and says that some women reject the FUNCTION of their gender role while wearing a skirt. Just because some women do not perform the FUNCTION of their womanhood (loving wife, capable mother, Godly woman, etc) while wearing a skirt does not mean that the full expression of womanhood is revealed in both clothing styles equally. This would be like saying: I know some construction managers that wear hardhats on the job but are horrible managers. I also know some construction managers that don’t wear them and do a great job! Therefore a hardhat on the jobsite isn’t needed for construction managers to do their job best. Obviously this is ignorant. Just wait for the first hammer to fall from the rooftop onto the manager as he walks by. The question is not can a woman do well the task of being a woman while wearing pants. The question is which clothing style best represents feminine characteristics in our culture.
And let’s be real, if you run your errands today, you will see women in pants as bank tellers, fast food workers, home-schooling mothers, and insurance agents. You don’t really go home and say “you wouldn’t believe it, but I counted 42 lesbians today!” Because you acknowledge that woman can embrace their gender roles while wearing pants.
Lance: Correct. I also don’t run home when I see indecently dressed women and say “I saw a ton of prostitutes today”. Why? Because it is unfortunately expected within our fallen society to see such a lack of care for modesty within our culture. Just because we live in a society that has ceased to care about expressing the God given gender distinction between the sexes does not justify the logic that pants express womanhood just as well as a skirt. Case and point: If I go to work tomorrow dressed in a skirt the guys are going to ask: “why are you dressing like a girl Lance?” However if I show up in a pair of women’s jeans they will just think I’m gay not transgender. I guess the third option is that they might think I’m a “hip” youth pastor. Yep welcome to 2019 people.
Article: Furthermore, the author has opened himself up to a double standard charge as well. If God’s Word is so set against men and women wearing “the same” clothing, here are some things that would fall into that category. Almost all of these things were first worn by men: T-shirts (originally invented for men’s military use), boots, tennis shoes, baseball style hats, belts, socks, sweaters, stockings, and hoodies. How come he thinks a “woman’s pair of pants” is absurd, but a woman’s belt, boots, t-shirt, scarf, hoodie, stockings, or socks are completely ok?
Lance: This is not an issue of what was worn FIRST. It is a matter of what is commonly worn by which sex. Nobody but Nathan knows that those were worn by men first. They do not represent within our society’s mind a feminene or masculine form of clothing.
Holiness Handbook: No doubt the acceptation of tearing down the clothing differences between the sexes was initiated by Satan to open the door to the homosexual spirits by weakening the conscience of our modern society. The rebellious nature that allows a woman professing to be a Christian to wear pants can also cause them to be lured deeper toward a lesbian desire. Peter stated that “after this manner in the old time the holy women adorned themselves being in subjection unto their own husbands”. Does dressing in equal attire to the husband display that they are under subjection to the man or even to God? The question is how important is it to you to get to heaven? Is rebellion for such a small indulgence of wearing clothing that the Bible prohibits, worth going to Hell?
1 Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
Article: At this point, the author offers the unsubstantiated conjecture that homosexuality came from women’s pants. The only link he attempts to draw to prove this audacious claim is that wearing pants is “rebellion.” My answer to which is – rebellion is bad, don’t be in rebellion against legitimate authority. He does not successfully link pants to rebellion, either historically or in the modern age.
He references the matriarchs of the Jewish faith as evidence that holy women dress in a holy way. I agree with this wholeheartedly, and as I exposited at length, these women wore the same basic garments as their husbands, with only minor differences, and that under the Old Covenant. If they could do that in times past, then their example should be adequate to show that the most conservative women today can wear pants that are styled or embroidered differently from their husbands, and women who don’t think that Old Testament law applies to us should worry more about their hearts and actions than whether there is a rose embroidered on their pants.
…should worry more about their hearts and actions then whether there is a rose embroidered on their pants.
Lance: I would heartily agree that the “heart sins” are sadly missed on the artillery barrage from many pulpits come Sunday.
Abominations and Modesty
I would like to address at least two other arguments against pants which the author didn’t bring up. The first is the issue of abominations being unchangeable. This is a fundamentally arbitrary standard which has no inherent biblical basis other than “the Lord doesn’t change” which doesn’t differentiate how “abominations” are different than any other of the hundreds of other Old Testament rules which our unchanging God definitely changed. I address this in much more depth here for those who are interested. Even if you think that this verse in Deuteronomy still applies, there are still a tremendous number of clothes which women and men could wear which would meet the Old Testament standard. Deciding that pants aren’t distinct enough, but t-shirts are, still makes no sense.
The second is that women’s pants are inherently immodest. A few issues with that. First off, if you a do a Google image search for the word “skirt” you will find that less than 1 in 10 skirts shown would be considered appropriate in a Holiness church. So skirts aren’t inherently modest, but if you shop hard enough, you can find modest ones. Pants are no different. What defines modesty precisely is another discussion, but is certainly related to my discussion on where we draw the lines. But ask yourself this, do men have to be modest too? I think yes. Can men be modest in pants? Yes. Therefore women can be modest in pants, even if they have to look a little harder to find them.
Lance: I am sad that such a small amount of this article was given to what I feel is the greatest part of this issue: modesty. I do understand however that much of this article was a response to the Holiness Handbook.
A Google image search for the word “skirt” you will find that less than 1 in 10 skirts shown would be considered appropriate in a Holiness church. So skirts aren’t inherently modest…
How does this prove that skirts and pants are equally modest? I’m totally confused as to why this justifies a Christian woman SHOULD wear pants over a skirt.
But if you shop hard enough, you can find modest ones. Pants are no different.
I have to say I chuckled at this line. Especially after seeing the picture online for this post. I remember looking at the pants and thinking: “I have never seen a woman in my entire life who has worn pants like those”. I know many young ladies that have left the holiness movement. The ones I know are not concerned about finding the “Holy Grail” pants discussed. They went to Walmart and bought the first pair of jeans they thought looked good on them. I will again point out that the case FOR pants has yet to prove them the better option for young ladies over a skirt. If we are called to be as modest as we can within our culture, then why are we choosing the least modest option as Christians? Put them both down on your bed and decide: which one best glorifies God. Don’t use your Christian liberty as an opportunity for the flesh.
I do not see that the author of the Holiness Handbook has fulfilled his burden of proof in restricting our Christian sisters to the wearing of the garments that he has authorized (which do overlap with men’s clothing such as t-shirts and boots, but don’t include pants). In regards to the two things he had to prove, I do not think that there is sufficient New Testament evidence to show that gender distinction is biblically required in clothing. Even if you think he has proven this point adequately, he certainly did not show that women’s pants fail to meet that standard described in Scripture. At least some women’s pants meet the Old Covenant standard for clothing and they must certainly then meet the New Covenant standard.
He certainly did not show that women’s pants fail to meet that standard described in Scripture.
Lance: If you are stating that the cultural application of the Hebrew people would allow pants then, yes. However if you are stating that women’s pants best meet the American application of this biblical principle then absolutely not. I do not feel that Nathan proved this whatsoever.
Article: The author closes with the bold proclamation that those of us who disagree with his assessment of this completely non-essential issue, risk going to Hell. To which I respond with Titus 3:9 “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” This whole topic is fundamentally a striving about Old Testament law, or perhaps about a completely unstated hidden rule in the New Testament. That makes the whole topic unprofitable at best, and simply a matter of pride, vanity and control of others at worst.
…non-essential issue, risk going to Hell.
Lance: You are 100% correct on this. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article:
“We are not justified, escaped from God’s wrath, because we add to our faith: a skirt. Do we think God’s justice can be escaped so easily? His anger so easily averted? Those who would argue with this point I simply point to Galatians 3 & 5. It is plain in chapter 5 that any ADDITION to faith to justify us in the sight of God causes the Cross of Christ to be INEFFECTIVE to make us right in God’s sight. I believe the error on this point causes many to become extremely legalistic in their approach to this subject.”
Sanctification does NOT justify us in God’s sight. However sanctification is:
- A proof of justification.
- A way of demonstrating Christ in our world
Article: Allow me to summarize all of the relevant arguments for women’s liberty to wear pants:
1) The passage in Deuteronomy may actually be referring to women wearing armor.
Lance: While this is ONE of the specific applications that the Hebrews applied this PRINCIPLE, it does not affect how our culture defines gender distinction today.
Article: 2) The OT law would have permitted women to wear pants if that was the custom of men at the time – men and women wore slightly different garments, not fundamentally different ones.
Lance: Yes their cultural application would have allowed it. However we do not live in Hebrew culture. Therefore there will be different forms of application based upon the culture one finds themselves in. For instance: theft in the 1st century is not the same form as it is today. Today, a person may steal someone’s identity online. However, there is no passage dealing with this issue. This does not allow Christians to practice “Christian liberty” and steal someone’s identity. Instead the PRINCIPLE must be applied to a modern context. If we attempt to apply scripture in the narrow way suggested, then we quickly become incapable of approving that which good and hating that which evil. No longer will men see our lives and glorify God.
Article: 3) The New Testament references that men and women are different and that they must embrace their respective roles, but says nothing about a particular distinction being required in their clothing.
Lance: The New Testament writers developed their principles based upon the moral law of the Old Covenant. It would have been understood that a distinction in clothing is included due to the principle discussed in Due 22:5. Nowhere in this article was it proven that the verse is part of the ceremonial law. This must be proven before we throw this out.
In addition, it should not be necessary for the Bible to give us specific applications of how scripture is to be lived out. If we expect this then only two options are available to us:
- A never ending bible that must be rewritten every century
- A Christianity that fails to apply biblical truth to walk righteously in all cultures. Which is what is being proposed.
For example: If we expect the Bible to tell us precisely how to apply Biblical truth in every culture, then what of drinking alcohol? Is this acceptable? The Bible allows believers to drink wine however just not to excess. Are we allowed to drink now? Many liberal denominations would say “absolutely”! However if we do so then we fail in our Christian testimonies and witness. Unfortunately many do not realize the enormous cultural shift that has happened since the Bible times or even since the days of the puritans. The pilgrims gave their children beer crossing over on the mayflower. Temperance was universally practiced. No one thought that a person who was drinking alcohol then would get drunk! Only the drunkards participated in such behavior. However times have significantly changed. With so many forms of sodas, clean water, and other non alcoholic beverages; the need for alcohol has been removed. Therefore its current purpose in society has changed. It’s a party drink. It’s what you drink on the weekends to get a “buzz”. How can Christians practice such behavior and maintain a Christian witness? What will people think when they see us drinking alcohol? That we are practicing our Christian liberty and not drinking to excess? Is this the function of alcohol in our society today? This is my great fear with this entire article. It fails to see the necessity of adapting biblical principles to modern contexts.
Article: 4) There is no effective link that can resurrect the verse in Deuteronomy without also resurrecting dozens of other Old Testament laws which address principles repeated in the New Testament (such as stoning your children).
Lance: This is addressed earlier however I will repeat that there is a difference between the ceremonial law and moral law.
Article: 5) The origin of pants for men was a matter of practicality, not rebellion. The origin of pants for women was fundamentally a matter of practicality, not rebellion.
6) Rebellion from some individuals that wore women’s pants does not taint pants any more than it taints any other clothing we wear (such as the “pagan” skirt and the prodigal suit inventor).
7) If pants are inappropriate for women for reasons related to their original, biblical, or current use by men, this would rule out socks, stockings, hose, t-shirts, boots, hoodies, belts, skirts, button down shirts, many styles of hats, and much more.
Lance: Our culture does not view any of the above items as “women only” items of clothing. However IT DOES view skirts as a woman only item of clothing. Again, why is the lesser of the two being chosen?
Article: 8) If some pants are modest enough for men, then there are some modest enough for women.
Lance: I will point out that there is NOT another option for men on what clothing they can wear in our culture. If I could, I would gladly wear a robe. I want to be as modest as I can! However if I do I run the risk of my testimony being ruined by those who think I am a homesexual, a very strict Muslim, or a cult leader. I don’t have many options unfortunately.
Article: 9) Restricting women from wearing pants precludes them from participation in many wholesome activities and from many forms of exercise which would help live longer, healthier lives.
Lance: I’m calling it. Baloney. There are MANY exercises that can be performed just as well in a skirt as pants.
Also because we aren’t legalistic jews but blood soaked saints, we no longer live in fear of breaking some code. Instead, we seek to glorify God in every way we can in our ordinary lives. I know this is perhaps a personal conviction issue, but I do not feel that there is any reason why for a short time a pair of the most modest pants or shorts cannot be worn for a physical activity that requires them.
I would like to also summarize a few points I have made throughout this article:
- Why is the most immodest and least feminine clothing being chosen?
- Why is the Hebrew cultural application of a principal being forced on American culture? Nathan demonstrated for us that different cultures have different forms of gender expression in their clothing. However for some reason this is IGNORED when making the application to our culture. Why is there a disconnect? Could it perhaps be that Nathan is looking to justify styles of dress instead of establishing the BEST form of Christian dress?
- We are told that no passage applies gender distinction to how we are to dress. Why is such a narrow view of application of scripture utilized? Are we to do the same with all areas of life? What about the epidemic of swearing in our society? The Bible does not give us a list of “swear words” that we are to never say. In fact, some of the swear words used on a day to day bases are in the Bible! However, we realize that when the Bible speaks of “corrupt communication” it includes all form of speech including swear or slang words. How do we apply this? What determines corrupt or non corrupt? Culture does. However if we ascribe to the narrow form of application being suggested then no pastor can prevent the young people in his congregation from swearing.
- How is pastoral discipline to be performed? Does the pastor need a SPECIFIC application to deal with an issue in his church? If we accept the logic presented, then we are forced to do so! How can a pastor prohibit his young people from swearing or drinking alcohol? In fact, how can he condemn them for smoking pot? None of these items are condemned by name in scripture. If the “restrictor of liberty” (the pastor) must prove these things to be anti-scriptural then upon what basis? Will he not have to apply scriptures that never address the issue of marijuana? The bible states to not be drunk but says nothing about being “high”. In fact you can still operate a car while under the influence of marijuana. Do we need an exact definition of “drunk” to figure out where the line is? If we want to live in a legalistic way that is presented by Nathan and the Holiness Handbook then yes. However if we desire to fulfill our God given duty by glorifying Him in all things then no.
- If we are to ignore the culture we live in and simply seek to live a form of “biblical standard” then why are pants the defacto result? Why aren’t we trying to copy the ancient Hebrew style of dress?
I put my summary in a question form for a reason. I do believe there IS an answer to these questions. We FEAR man. While dresses/skirts are accepted in our society as a feminine style of dress, they are not the most POPULAR. Why are they not the most popular? Because thousands of working women in offices every day need to wear pants to do their job? Is it a matter of practicality? No. The reason is that our society has started to celebrate immodesty and anti feminine behavior. The skirt/dress best represents the OPPOSITE of what our society is leaning towards. Therefore when a young lady states that she exclusively wears a dress/skirt because she wants to be as feminine or modest as possible, it’s offensive to our secular culture. It is a complete slap in the face of their system. Therefore out of fear of man many conform to a lesser form of clothing. I am thankful as a man that Nathan and I do not have to deal with this pressure. My sister has had non Holiness CHRISTIAN friends tell her that her skirt makes them feel condemned. Katelyn had NEVER spoken to her friend about this topic! Her friend wasn’t even raised in a Holiness atmosphere. This I feel is the real reason. As men we struggle with similar issues. When I’m around men and refuse to swear as they do, it’s offensive. When I refuse to watch their immoral shows or listen to their music, it’s offensive. However this doesn’t change my duty. “Lance, doesn’t this hurt our Christian witness if we offend people by our godly lifestyle?” The easy answer for this question is to state that I would rather offend man than hurt God. However, I will also state that living a Christian life is MEANT to be offensive. Some when they saw Christ worshiped and glorified God as a result of seeing Him. However, the pharisees soon grew jealous of our Savior. This world is SUPPOSED to hate us. In fact this is given as an evidence of knowing Christ! (John 15:18-25) I do not feel that the modern church has much issue with an abuse of this doctrine.
“Lance, why do you care so much?” I have asked myself this question MULTIPLE times while writing this rebuttal. “Does it honestly matter?” As I began to read through this article I realized something. My greatest fear is not that Holiness women will put on pants. That is not to say I don’t think skirts and dresses met the biblical principles the best. However my greatest fear is robbing God of His glory. Blood pouring out of His body, arms spread wide on a cruel tree, dying for you and me. All of this just so we could become God’s redeemed people. Why would God go through so much trouble for such a WRETCH like me! I know Lance McKenzie. He is UNWORTHY of any such act of divine love. HE DESERVES JUSTICE. Instead I was given mercy. I, a former rebel, have now been crowned a prince of the most High by this great sacrifice. However, does my life glorify the divine office He has given men? Do I reflect His glory? Do I show the nature of my Father to the world I live in? Did I not receive the Spirit of Christ so HE could be seen in my society?
“Lance what does any of this have to do with skirts/dresses?”
Everything. If our God given liberty causes us to fail to give Him the glory He deserves, then it is NOT His liberty. I have been liberated from my despicable sin to GLORIFY Him! I have been filled with Him so the world may SEE CHRIST! However if such a narrow application of scripture is accepted then my Risen Lord will never be seen. This is my fear. This is what I realized. A church will rise that does not give Him glory. A church that does not even RESEMBLE their suffering Lord. Am I saying that the Holiness movement meets this? Of course not. No more than any of the other movements that have become cold and dry. However I want the Lord to have His way in His church that He might be seen. I BEG you! Please! Don’t ascribe to this logic. PLEASE! You have had the supports removed from your weak moral system. I get it. However, my question is: “What will be built in its place?” Will this new structure be built to satisfy your liberty or God’s glory?
For more information on this topic please check out this article:
I would also recommend studying through 1 Corinthians to see how Paul applied biblical principles in his culture and time period.
My best wishes for Nathan and Natalie as they seek to glorify God through every part of their lives.