A Matter of Heart
by Mary Van Nattan
Which Pertaineth To the Man
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.
First of all, let it be stated very clearly that this is Old Testament law. That is true, and we are not under the "schoolmaster" any longer (Galatians 3:24-25). But, the Old Testament law does tell us how God expected holy people to live. Our culture today is tending so much toward mixing up the sexes, we should take some interest in this. We are under grace, but God forbid that we should sin that grace may abound or to prove our liberty! (Romans 6:1-2)
These things are for our learning and admonition as the New Testament tells us.
1Corinthians 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. (And remember, this refers to the event in which Aaron made the people naked to their shame. Exodus 32.)
1Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Secondly, when God chooses to use a woman that is wearing immodest or distinctly mannish apparel to get His work done, that does not justify her apparel. Saul prophesied with the prophets at Naioth in Ramah (1 Samuel 19:23-24), but he went there to murder David! When God uses a woman who is immodestly dressed that is mercy, not approval. Sometimes it is even to her own shame, as with Saul.
There was an unsaved drunk in Florida who took several different people to a sound church there where they heard the Gospel preached and confessed faith in Christ Jesus. That does not prove that it is O.K. to be a drunk! The point is that if God chooses to use someone that is not where they should be with Him, that is His business. He is allowed to do that and not have us assume that He is approving of everything in that person's life, or on their body. Let's face it, if God waited to use any us of till we were "worthy", none of us would ever get to do anything for Him. We've been over this ground before, but it bears repeating.
Psalm 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Having said that, let's move on.
As mentioned before, this verse is commonly used to the exclusion of all others in the discussion of women's dress. But, it is true that in a number of cultures the "normal" standard of apparel for hundreds of years has been robes or dresses for the women and leggings or pants of some sort for the men. This has been particularly true for the Western or European cultures. Hence, the expression, "She wears the pants in the family," for a woman that has usurped the authority in her home. Even to this hour, the international symbol for a women's restroom is that a "stick" figure wearing a skirt while the image for the men's is "stick" figure wearing pants.
It is also true that there are cultures where women wear a garment that in our culture would be called "pants." If it is woman's apparel in their culture and they are not immodest - fine. That does not justify Christian women dressing like men. What's more, if you are going to use that excuse to wear pants, then you better wear pants just like those women wear - and wear the whole outfit. It would be interesting to see a woman in Texas or Arizona wearing the breeches and hooded, long coat - all fur-lined - like some native women in Alaska wear. :-) She would look stranger than if she just wore a nice, modest dress; and she would be miserable too.
On the other hand, we have the fact that in many cultures it is historically normal and still accepted for a man to wear a robe or kilt. It is interesting that even the people that dress this way, often seem to make a distinction. For example, I once noted in a magazine a photo taken in a Middle Eastern culture. It was a market scene, and one thing that came to my attention was that the men were all wearing stripes and the women were wearing other prints. I can pretty much guess what they would think if a woman came out in a striped robe or a man in a floral or polkadot one!
Some cultures do not have the distinctions that they perhaps should between men's and women's clothes. Culture must submit to the Bible, and Christians in those cultures must determine before the Lord how they should deal with that.
None of these facts give excuse for women wearing pants or clothes that are specifically men's in a culture that traditionally views pants as men's clothes. Yet at the same time it is important to note that there are pants, which if worn by a man, would obviously mark him as a cross dresser! Beware. Use moderation.
One thing that is not emphasized much when this verse is dealt with is that men are not to wear a woman's garment either. This has not been as much of a problem in Western culture for many years except in the Sodomite depravity and when "Hellywood" is trying to be "cute." Hundreds of years ago men wore effeminate clothing with many ribbons and ruffles, lace and bows. Even then, godly men and god-fearing men were against extremity in this matter. Even King James I warned his son and other young men against being effeminate and wearing long hair - a real problem in their day.
1Corinthians 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
In recent times we have some problem with boys and men wearing "shorts" that look like women's culottes. From a distance it's hard to tell if we're looking at a boy or a girl sometimes. (Sadly, though, we are often enlightened to which is which by the fact that the girls are dressed in skin-tight pants with bare midriffs and revealing tops.) Long hair on males has been an issue for some time now. So, the problem for men is not only something from the dead past.
One of the biggest problems of our day, however, has been the degenderization of apparel and hair styles. This has been made possible partly by the popularizing of genderless clothing, but mostly by woman dressing like men and having men's hair cuts. We will discuss this further later on.
More mannish styles were introduced in the sportswear department and became "necessary" to participate in many activities since the skirts were steadily becoming shorter and tighter. As "Rosie the Riveter" and her pals lined up for factory jobs in WWII, women became even more convinced of their need of pants. These work clothes entirely lacked any pretense of "femininity," and rightly so, for if a woman was going to compete in "a man's world" she had to "be a man" and dress like one.
This swept over into the Christian women, and churches were finally "forced" to make laws that women were not allowed to wear pants to church, something that would have been unheard of just a few decades before. Sadly at the same time, hemlines on skirts and dresses were becoming so short that they were difficult to even sit in without excessive exposure. Christian woman followed the trend to their shame, some willfully and some foolishly thinking that they "had to" to look "stylish." (1Corinthians 7:31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.) More than one godly man thus confronted with so much nakedness at church must have wished that the women were allowed to wear the feminine pant suits! My mother's uncle, being an honest man and recognizing his own weak flesh, went so far as to tell the young women in the class he taught at a Bible college that they had to use a lap rug if they were going to sit in the front of the class! The devil was having great success.
Pants had also gone through several changes during this time. Eventually the typical blue jeans with the man-style fly in the front became "the norm." From time to time fuller more "feminine" pants make a come back, but man-style blue jeans are by far the garment of choice in the U.S. at least. As my Grandpa had a habit of asking, "Why do woman need pants with a fly anyway?" Why indeed? If this is a symbol of women's liberation, God keep us from it. Is it so amazing that fornication and sexual impurity have accompanied this "devilution"(spelling intended)? Surely not, considering the vile women that have been the leaders of it! They have only been doing what was in their wicked hearts all along.
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Do not think that this plunge into wicked dressing was an accident. Remember that the devil has great delight in causing Christians to fall since he cannot have their souls!
1Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith...
Are you getting overly vexed? Can't take the heat of the discussion? Take a break. Think it over before the Lord and His word, and come back later. Rest your mind a while. Don't bite off so much that you gag before you profit from it. Now that's the truth. We can all do that with things. Go visit our Quiet Place for starters. :-)
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.
Now, while many people have taken exception to the "harlotizing" of Christian women in the area of pants, it seems that there are other items of dress and appearance that need to be dealt with also.
Before women started wearing pants they began to pick up other mannish styles. Some women wore mannish ties and hats. Some were obviously trying to look as masculine as possible within the context of accepted women's dress.
Here are some examples from the past:
Today we see this taken even further with women wearing mannish shirts and suit coats. Some women's dress shirts can only be told from men's by the way they button (right to left). This kind of dress for girls is a real problem in some boarding schools and academies, especially in British schools and those that have been influenced by this imagined scholastic look.
Now, if it is wrong for women to wear pants that are men's apparel, then wouldn't it follow that women should not wear suit coats and shirts that are distinctly mannish? Sadly, this is often looked over or never even entered upon. Is it a coincidence that when you go into certain kinds of businesses the women working there are dressed in mannish suits, dresses and shirts? In certain businesses women seem to have a need to look like a man.
By the way, it is a curious thing that while many people will justify women dressing like men, it is still not commonly accepted among professing Christians for men to dress like women. Why the double standard? If it's wrong for men to wear women's clothes - and it is - then why isn't it wrong for women to wear men's clothes? This thinking comes from the "liberation" that is bondage - feminism.
Another smaller problem is that some folks will make a big to-do over the necessity of skirts and dresses, and then when you see a family picture where the skirts don't show, you have to sometimes guess which are the girls. I have seen this. The girls' hair may be pulled back tightly or very short and they may wearing shirts that looked very boyish. Now, I'm not going to forbid T-shirts or sweat shirts, but, dear Christian sisters, let's make an effort to look like ladies! Shirts can be bought in colors or decorated to look feminine. A detached lace or crocheted collar does wonders. Sure those girls probably had long hair in back, but it would have helped if they had worn it in a way that showed they were girls or if they had worn tops that indicated it in some way. This is not to promote self-consciousness or paranoia, but there is something more to modesty and being ladylike than a skirt. Especially if it is coming from the heart.
Now in some certain cases it is necessary for a woman to wear more leg covering under a skirt or tunic, whether it be some kind of "pants" or other leg coverings. Some places are cold beyond even wool stockings. Some places are infested with biting or stinging bugs or with shrubbery that is treacherous (central Texas, for one). We know of one girl that slipped on a gravel hill and scraped the backs of her legs up badly. If it is necessary to walk on a surface like this it would be good to wear some kind of leg covering to prevent injuries. There is also the matter of having to go somewhere that has openwork stairs. It is good to have some leg covering on for that too. You may think of other situations, but there is no reason why decent leg coverings can't be worn under a dress, skirt or tunic.
This is probably as good a time as any to deal with the "freedom of movement" issue. There are women that will declare that they have to wear pants because they need "freedom of movement" for the things they have to do. Having worn skirts almost exclusively for years now, I find this excuse somewhat comical. Once you become "acclimated" to skirts, you will know that a long, full skirt allows more "freedom of movement" than most pants. Blue jeans and pants tend to be worn tight, especially around the crotch. They "ride" up, they bind, they cut into your stomach. Some pants pull down in back when you squat to do something. Besides all of that, they make you look awful unless you maintain a fashion plate figure. Unless you want to put your legs up in the air or something, skirts just make better sense for comfort and movement, and loose jumpers and dresses eliminate binding at the waste. If your excuse is that a skirt doesn't give you enough leg room to do what you have to do, then you need to get yourself some fuller skirts and dresses, honey! :-) (As mentioned previously, horseback riding and such like may require a split skirt, but interestingly enough, there are non-split riding skirts - they are very full.)
In our day, when the Western mode of dress has spread around the world, it is easy to excuse ourselves no matter where we are and find reasons for dressing like the world. I even heard one woman go so far as to say she would never wear a dress or skirt because her Roman Catholic mother told her she should wear them "to be like Mary." The Catholics believe Jesus died on the cross too, so does that mean we should deny Christ's death? Of course not! It's just another lame excuse among many.
Whatever your excuse may be, it is time to start measuring your standards by the high calling of God instead of by your own ideas or what other "godly" women justify. Besides Deuteronomy 22:5's clear admonition against that which pertaineth to the man, we are also told clearly in 1Thessalonians 5:22, Abstain from all appearance of evil. That means abstain - don't do it - just like the King James Bible says! That means appearance - looks like it - just like God says! This is not to "avoid all kinds of evil" as modern Bible translators would have us believe. It is: do not do what even looks wrong! Like it or not, people notice appearances. When we see a family in which the men a dressed decently and the women and girls are all dressed in long, modest dresses; we begin to wonder if they might possibly be Christians. Why? Because they do not have the appearance of the average Philistine! They do not look like whores and whoremongers.
Contemporary "Christian" dress goes with contemporary "Christianity", which is founded on contemporary "fundamentalism," which ultimately is and was based upon questioning the word of God. Compromise and the rights of the people moved into the church with bobbed hair, pant suits and miniskirts, followed shortly by blue-jean clad women and shorts at church picnics. Today you can go into some "liberated" churches and find people attending meetings in shorts, strapless tops, etc. There are reports of some "pastors" getting up in shorts to "preach." It is Laodicea: lao - people, dicea - rules - a church that "has its liberty" but is ...wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked... (Revelation 3:17) Yet they do not know it!
Inch by inch, bit by bit they have willingly given up the attire of a virtuous woman for that of an harlot, and yet have convinced themselves that they are doing "right." They are not standing ...fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free...Galatians 5:1 They are using their ...liberty for an occasion to the flesh... Galatians 5:13 They have donned, as it were pants of maliciousness. 1Peter 2:15 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.
How can we expect to put to silence the foolish men if we are dressed like foolish women (whorish women, see Proverbs)? Not all, but many filthy-minded men will treat a woman that is dressed modestly with more respect than they will one that looks like an harlot. Why? Because the whorish woman is advertising herself!
Proverbs 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
Who are you advertising by your clothing and behavior - Jesus Christ, yourself, or the devil?
4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: