In some Christian traditions, women are told they cannot wear pants. The concerns usually have to do with dressing modestly or with the idea that wearing pants could make a woman look like a man. According to the Bible, is it okay for women to wear pants?
To be clear, pants were not a part of biblical cultures (In fact, modern jeans as we know them became popular in the 1800s.). Instead, we look at Scripture for what principles may apply. First, Paul clearly notes, "Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works" (1 Timothy 2:9-10). The focus in this passage is modesty.
In 1 Peter 3:3-4 we also find, "Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." Again, the focus is on the inward beauty of a woman rather than a focus on external clothing. In both cases, a woman who wears pants could both be modest and not focused on external clothing.
Some who advocate against wearing long pants use Deuteronomy 22:5 that says, "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." But there are some problems with the application of this passage. First, this command was to the Israelites living under the Law of Moses and does not directly apply to Christians today. Second, wearing pants is not viewed by Western culture as only a male piece of clothing, but as something both men and women commonly wear.
Two additional aspects may also be considered. First, Romans 14 discusses the issue of a stumbling block to other believers. In some cultures, a woman who wears pants may be seen as a stumbling block to other people. In other words, wearing pants in some contexts could cause the focus to be on the people rather than on helping people grow in Christ.
A second area is in situations in which parents teach their girls to wears skirts or dresses instead of pants. Paul wrote, "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). As a young person, you will need to obey your parents in this area even if it otherwise is not a biblical requirement.
Women can clearly wear pants in most situations without it being a concern. The Bible's focus is on serving God, dressing modestly, and using clothing in ways that do not cause others to stumble. In the case of children, we are also called to live in obedience.
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