Posted in Blog, In the Word

Modest Dress: That Which Pertaineth to a Man

Since we moved last spring, we have been attending a new church. It took me a few months to notice that I have never seen any of the women of the congregation wearing pants. They wear skirts exclusively. (Very observant of me, I agree!)

When I asked the reason for their dress, I was told that they wished to uphold the standard in 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.

Let me first state the obvious: a particular form of dress is not a necessary requirement for salvation. Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, who died to cleanse me of my sins. But, as the new creature that I am in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), it is only fitting that my desire is to please God through seeking His Will in all I do (Proverbs 3:6 NLT).

So for the sake of seeking His Will for my dress, there are two questions I must ask while examining Deuteronomy 22:5:
First, applicability: Does this command, given to the Israelites during Old Testament Times, even apply to me today? Second, application: If it does apply,  what particular kind of clothing am I to wear in order to obey it?

  1. First, to address the issue of applicability: while I am not bound by Old Testament Law, it is equally true that my God is unchanging (Numbers 23:19, Isaiah 40:8). If it pleased Him 4000 years ago, surely it would please Him today as well. Furthermore, this particular commandment was worded very strongly. Women in men’s clothes did not just displease Him; they are called an abomination to Him. Surely what was once an abomination to Him must still be so. My freedom in Christ was not given to me so that I could dress in a way abominable to that God who gave me life! Yes, I consider that this verse most definitely applies to me today.
  2. It remains then to ascertain what kind of clothing I am meant to wear. I can’t simply interpret this verse to say that “women must not wear pants.” In Old Testament times, both women and men wore robes. There must have been some sort of variation between women’s and men’s apparel, but not in terms of pants or skirts. In my particular culture, while pants are considered appropriate apparel for both women and men, it must be admitted that skirts, as appropriate only for women, are more definitively “women’s clothing.” While it is possible, through colour and fit, to ensure that my apparel is obviously that of a woman, the easiest and most recognizable way to dress as a woman is to wear a skirt.

So I decided to wear skirts for a while — just to see. I wanted to get an idea of whether God would really be pleased with this little gift to Him. I recognize that any gift I can give to Him has only the value of the paper-and-crayons cards that my children give me for my birthday — no value at all, except the love and effort put into it for the sheer desire to please. It does not elevate my status in His eyes, so my only purpose is to please Him.

Worthy of note is that while I have changed my wardrobe considerably, I have not made many changes to the wardrobe of my daughters. (Well, Busy Boots is a baby and still in sleepers!) But my toddler, Shiny Boots, alreaDSCN1156dy wears dresses most of the time — it has been my preference. After two boys, it has been a lot of fun to have a daughter — and explore the world of frilly, feminine little dresses. Now that her previously bald little head is beginning to sprout some hair, I have  delighted in pulling it into two teeny-weeny, curly little piggy-tails. Sure, she is cute in jeans, too, but what a pleasure it is to dress my sweet little girl to look the very picture of a sweet little girl!

I wonder if this is how God feels about us. Of course he loves us, whatever we wear. But just as I delight in dressing my little girl to really emphasize and celebrate that she is a little girl, rather than camouflage her into a more androgynous version of herself, do you think he takes especial delight in us when we dress in a way that emphasizes who we are as the women that he has created us to be? What better way to glorify my God through our dress than to use it to celebrate our femininity!

In conclusion? I still wear a lot of dresses. I think it is easier to be feminine and modest in them, and I like to wear them a lot of the time. But there’s something to be said, on occasion, for the convenience of a pair of jeans, or the warm comfort of a jogging suit on a cold winter day!