Women Wearing Pants in Church

Okay, so normally myChurch pattern will be to stray away from controversial subjects on my blog, but this one is very dear to my heart. Anyway, here is my first controversial post. Wearing pants to church isn’t a subject of debate in most contemporary churches, but it is a huge subject of controversy in conservative churches. I’ve even heard of a Christian teacher telling a woman that she “had fallen from grace” because she wore pants. I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way, but his statement implies that a woman could lose her salvation based on an article of clothing. His statement also implies that at that particular moment he wasn’t living the Spirit-filled life. The problem is too many Christians look down on Christian women for wearing pants in church. And some Christians even try to force others to wear skirts to church. I’m not saying wearing pants to church is for everyone, and trust me I’m not judging people who believe that God wants them to wear skirts to church. That’s their preference. What I’m taking issue with is the judgmental attitude many skirt-wearing Christians have. It’s wrong to try to force your preference upon another Christian.

Nowhere in the Bible does God command women to wear skirts either all the time or to church. Now I have seen Deut. 22:5 used as an argument, but it doesn’t apply. “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deut. 22:5) I totally agree with this verse; what I have problems with is the interpretation that I’m to wear skirts. It says I’m not to dress like a man–well, I don’t. Men in the Bible days wore robes as did the women. The men didn’t wear pants. Men and women dressed alike, and yet they were distinct: men’s clothing was rough, while women’s had a distinctly feminine look. The same is true of pants that women wear to church today. Our pants have a more distinctly feminine cut. Trust me, if a guy showed up at church wearing  women’s pants then you would know it, and vice versa. It is wrong for a woman to wear a pair of masculine pants to church or for that matter anywhere she goes. God clearly commands women to be feminine; part of that is her attitude (but that’s not the topic of this post).

I’ve had women at the churches I’ve attended come to me and say, “Oh, I’m just wearing pants because it’s cold.” Christians have so judged women who wear pants to church that these women feel they have to explain themselves. The Bible says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37). Clearly God doesn’t intend for Christians to look down on other Christians for wearing pants.

Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” For a lot of Christian women, wearing skirts has become a sign of righteousness, and in God’s eyes that makes it “a polluted [skirt].” They see themselves as more spiritual and puff themselves up. I could quote scripture after scripture to prove this is wrong, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Skirts don’t make women more righteous than another; this is just a case of unnecessarily adding onto salvation.

I know one of the reasons it’s seen as wrong for women to wear pants to church is because the early feminist movement is associated with pants. It’s wrong for women to wear pants to church if she is doing it out of a heart of rebellion, which isn’t the case in a lot of Christian women. One of the reasons women wear pants to church is that they’re warmer. The Sundays that I work in the nursery and wear pants are the Sundays I stay the warmest. I live in Pennsylvania; trust me when I say a thin piece of nylon on my leg isn’t going to stave off the cold. Don’t believe me? Guys try putting on hose with your shorts and going shopping. And women stop lying (or you’re one of the extremely blessed ones). Our legs do freeze! Still some people in the church press women to wear skirts, forgetting that we can’t stay warm (at least I’m hoping they’re forgetting).

Now, I’m not advocating casual dress to Church. I believe that we should wear our best to worship God! That said, dress pants are every bit as dressy as the skirts that we wear to church. I won’t judge others for wearing jeans to church (at least not on a Sunday), but I couldn’t do it and give God my best. Dress pants paired with a dressy shirt, sweater, etc. can be pleasing to God.

Again my issue is with those who judge women for wearing pants to church,or attempting to force them to wear skirts. And we wonder why people leave conservative churches and join the ranks of new evangelicalism? Attempting to force others to follow preferences and judging them when they don’t follow those preferences can cause disunity in the body, and can result in Christians leaving the conservative churches.


2 Responses

  1. Rhonda says:

    I’m totally agreeing with you here. Who are we to judge? It’s a heart issue that is between a woman and God. Only if one feels condemned to wear pants, then one should not. It pleases God more for me to welcome and greet, in genuine love, someone wearing shorts or blue jeans, rather than scorn their existence. We who judge will be judged more severely. You touched on an ‘eggshell’ subject, but if we don’t get rid of the legalism in our hearts, we are no better than the Pharisees. You’re an eloquent writer, Rachel! I love you…Aunt Rhonda

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