Does the Bible Say it's a Sin for a Woman to Wear Pants?

by E.L. Anglin

Some religions use Deuteronomy 22:5 as a proof text to teach that it is a sin (abomination) for a woman to wear pants.

"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."

There are several reasons why this teaching is incorrect.

1. As is common with most legalistic doctrines, what is actually IN the proof text is ignored. In a weird selective blindness, people instead interpret scripture to suit their personal preferences. Notice that the words "pants," "dresses" and "skirts" do not appear in Deuteronomy 22:5.

2. It is wrong to pull only one scripture out of the Old Testament Law, and selectively apply it in a modern Western context.

Why are we required to follow verse 5 but not the verses which follow?

Those verses specifically command the reader:

- not to kill a mother bird sitting on a nest,
- to build houses with flat roofs, and railings around them.
- not to plant anything but grapes in a vineyard,
- not to wear clothing made of wool and linen woven together.
- to put four tassels on the hem of one's cloak - the front, back, & sides.

In my 47 years I've never heard any minister preach those commandments.

3. Pants, slacks, dresses and skirts did not exist in ancient Jewish culture. If the goal is to mimic the cultural practices of the biblical era then everyone, men and women alike, should wear robes.

4. Why do legalists only focus on what covers the lower half of the human body?

There are:

- female gloves and male gloves,
- female glasses and male glasses,
- female tennis shoes and male tennis shoes,
- female watches and male watches,
- female hats and male hats,
- female socks and male socks,
- female underwear and male underwear, and
- female shirts and male shirts.

But for some odd reason, pants are considered for males only. However, most fundamentalist Christian men would never wear a pair of women's jeans or slacks.

5. Meanwhile, females who would never wear pants, buy and wear tee shirts from a unisex clothing rack.

6. Knowing that points one through five are undeniable, how can anyone consider a woman who wears pants as lost as an unbeliever?

The answer is "Tradition."
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Conclusion:

It is clear that Deuteronomy 22:5 speaks to gender distinction. It is not true, however, that the passage forbids a woman to wear pants. It is also clear that ALL of Christendom ignores the other commandments in this chapter. Ask yourself, "Why?"

You have often heard that culture does not dictate standards. That statement is patently false. We no longer wear robes because we followed our culture's lead. Style varies from continent to continent and culture to culture. What is appropriate in one locale may be unthinkable in another. "Appropriate" is the very definition of the word "modest." (See 1 Timothy 2:9)

God does not call us to be counter-cultural, He calls us to engage our culture.

Strive to be decent, appropriate and relevant.

Read part two here.


This writing is the copyright of E.L. Anglin and is reprinted on this site by permission. View all of his available articles here.


Page added July 2, 2015

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