“HOW” SHOULD A CHRISTIAN WOMAN DRESS? PART 1

I’m not the greatest preacher to listen to, but after preaching on proper clothing for Christian women, the C.D.’S that contained the message quickly disappeared. People are not used to some preachers bringing the subject up from the pulpit. In our PC society we have confused any message about proper clothing for Christians as a legalistic message directed at simply trying to control people’s lives, women in particular. I have seen the message abused. Some preachers are guilty of preaching ridiculous standards that not only cannot be found in the Bible, but are applied by them to those who don’t even have a relationship with Christ. In the Bible the message about proper clothing is never directed at non-believers, but rather to believing Jews in the OT, and Christians in the NT. Someone who doesn’t know Christ has a bigger issue at hand than what they have on. The problem with many Christians is that they believe the same is true for believers. Again, this is a subject that many professing Christians say is “legalistic” to bring up. I want to remind you, as you can see in previous articles, legalism is not holiness, but holiness is not legalism. Legalism would say you have to wear a particular kind of clothing to be a believer, but holiness would say that after you believe in Christ, there is a certain manner in which you should wear you clothes. The Bible teaches “how” to wear, but not “what to wear” and I think therein is the confusion or misinterpretation of scripture concerning this subject. Paul in 1 Timothy 2 directs some very straight forward words for Christian women concerning “how” they are to wear their clothes. In the mountains of WNC and many other rural areas of the United States, the question for women is often whether or not to wear pants. Some churches say that women should wear only dresses in any social setting period. Some churches teach that women should wear dresses at church services, but not all the time. This seems to place a higher reverence for the church building than any other place women would be seen. Where does the Bible teach that Christian women should never wear pants, or only wear dresses? Some preachers have traditionally pointed to Deuteronomy 22:5 which states “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.” If you study the original Hebrew language concerning this verse, I believe it becomes clear that God was prohibiting “cross dressing.” In any given culture it is likely real clear as to what men and women normally wear. God desires that the line between the two stay very discernable. The reason is that God wants genders to stay very discernable. The word “wear” in this verse literally means “to be or to become or to exist as a man.” God wants a man to dress like a man dresses in his culture and a woman to dress like a woman dresses in her culture. I know this flies in the face of postmodernism and those who want to think out of the box on such issues, but God says it is part of a process that leads to gender identity confusion, or at least contributes to it. Many pastors have taken this verse however, and said that women in our area should not wear things that men wear, such as pants. I personally don’t think God is talking about “what” we wear as much as “how” we wear a piece of clothing. Men for instance, in the day this scripture was written, often wore what would be classified as a dress by some today. Don’t get me wrong, their long flowing robes didn’t have lace on them and flower arrangements that looked feminine in nature, but nonetheless, they didn’t wear pants. The point of the scripture is that people should have no problem discerning that you are a man or woman by the clothes that you are wearing. Men should look like men and women should look like women. Since pants have been something men have culturally/traditionally worn in WNC, it was assumed by this verse that women should not wear them in our area. I don’t believe that is a good interpretation of this verse. Again, I think God is talking to us about not “what not to wear,” but “how to wear.” April and I were shopping in Asheville one evening and began to check out at the cash register. The clerk finished the transaction and I said “thank you sir.” This person immediately said, “How would you feel if I called you mam?” I apologized and left the store still trying to figure out what this person was talking about. I realized that this person was actually a woman who was dressed so much like a man that I thought she was a man. I’m not making fun of her, but she was angry that I called her “sir.” Honestly, you would have too! She was dressed in manly looking cowboy boots, manly looking jeans and flannel shirt, manly looking glasses, and had a very manly looking hair-cut. Again, I’m not making fun of her, but she wouldn’t mistakenly call me “mam” because I don’t dress like a woman in our culture. Any reasonable person would have thought she was a man. It wasn’t that she couldn’t physiologically help but look like a man, but rather, she had purposely dressed like a man from head to toe. She could have looked very much like a woman had she tried to. I know this could get into the subject of gender identity, but I’m simply sharing this story to show you an illustration of what God is forbidding in Deuteronomy. Next, I want to take a very close look at 1 Timothy 2 that speaks of “how” a Christian woman is to dress. I will go ahead and say I don’t think the Bible teaches that a woman should not wear certain items of clothes, but rather they should wear anything they choose to wear in a certain manner, in a holy manner. Look forward to tackling more of this subject. Grace to you, Pastor Kevin Boone

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