Question #135

Is it okay for a woman to wear pants to church?

There has been quite a heated disagreement going on for several years by members of the church of Christ regarding women wearing pants to church. I have not been able to find ANY scripture that requires women to wear a dress to church. The example of women not wearing anything that pertains to a man is found in Deuteronomy. From what I understand, the Old Testament was nailed to the cross when Jesus died. So now we should follow the New Testament, which states that we should dress modestly. What are your thoughts and please provide scriptures to back up your answer.

The Answer:

The passage to which reference is made is 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.” Deuteronomy 22:5. That to which is refers is not clear. What is clear that whatever is being prohibited is serious because it is classified as an “abomination unto the Lord thy God.” Some do understand it to be a prohibition against the sexes wearing clothing that belongs to the opposite sex. One difficulty with this limited understanding is that then, as now, there was in some respects little difference between the garments of men and women. Some refer it to pagan religious practices, but most references to such practices seem to have been long after Deuteronomy was written and after the events that are contemporary with the history that it records. Keil and Delitzsch in their commentary say that the language used relates to much more than clothing, saying that the word used “does not signify clothing merely, nor arms only, but includes every kind of domestic and other utensils…. The immediate design of this prohibition was not to prevent licentiousness, or to oppose idolatrous practices …; but to maintain the sanctity of that distinction of the sexes which was established by the creation of man and woman, and in relation to which Israel was not to sin. Every violation or wiping out of this distinction…was unnatural, and therefore an abomination in the sight of God.” The Pulpit Commentary concurs and then adds, “Whatever tends to obliterate the distinction between the sexes tends to licentiousness; and that the one sex should assume the dress of the other has always been regarded as unnatural and indecent….Such a change of vesture is here declared to be an abomination to the Lord, because of its tendency to immorality.”

It is a stretch to say that this passage prohibits a woman’s wearing slacks. First, the slacks that women wear are not a man’s attire – they are made for women. Second, Scottish men under the same reasoning would have to surrender their kilts. This does not mean that there are not principles that govern a Christian’s dress. The basic rule is modesty. 1 Tim. 2:9. Some conclude from this passage and 1 Peter 3:3 that women should not wear make-up and jewelry. Such is not their teaching. If taken literally 1 Peter 3:3 forbids the “putting on of apparel.” The passages teach that the Christian woman does not rely on such things, but on the sweet and modest heart that is not corruptible. Always and in every case the Christian must care for the inner man and do nothing with the outward appearance that would detract from holiness.

Additionally, from creation God has ordained particular roles for the man and for the woman. There is beginning to be more recognition that men and women are different. Some states have recognized differences if how boys and girls learn and are beginning same sex schools and classes. That difference has always been known to those who believe the Bible. It is a difference that must always be respected and never transgressed upon. Doing so always leads to breakdown.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)