It wasn’t too many years ago that I would have been shocked by the title of this article. I was one of those caught up in this sin. I had an article online that taught that it was a sin for women to wear pants. This teaching was based upon a verse in the Old Testament that said that “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) It seemed clear enough; from my viewpoint, pants had been men’s clothing before women started wearing them, so therefore it was a sin for a woman to wear pants!
Then God opened my eyes to what the New Testament teaches about our relationship to the Old Covenant—the Law of Moses. After He showed me, it seemed so plain that I wondered how I could have missed it. I won’t get into the details here; I have written more on this subject before (see “Pants, Easter and Covering“).
As I have continued to learn from the Lord, He brought to my attention a verse that does apply to Christians:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)
This is a command from God: “Do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage!” What is this yoke of bondage? It is the Law of Moses. Here’s the greater context:
- Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
- For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
- But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
- Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
- For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
- But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
- For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
- Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
- But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
- Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
- So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
- Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
- Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
- For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
- Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
We can certainly take from this that we are not to teach circumcision and keeping the Law in order to be saved. However, there is much more than circumcision involved here. God specifically tells us that:
- Hagar, the slave, represents the covenant from Mount Sinai—the Law of Moses or the Old Covenant.
- We are not children of slavery, but of the free woman—the Kingdom of God.
- Therefore, we must stand fast in the liberty of Jesus, and not get tangled up in the old covenant.
In fact, God even says of those who teach the Law:
And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (Galatians 5:11-13)
So, coming back to where we started, we see that God has commanded us to stand fast in liberty and not get tangled up with the Old Covenant. That means that we must not pull commands from the Old Covenant—like Deuteronomy 22:5—and tell people that they must follow them.
All this brings us to a conclusion: if you use Deuteronomy 22:5 to forbid women to wear pants, you are disobeying Galatians 5:1. You are sinning. Furthermore, it is a sin for a woman to make a rule for herself that she must obey Deuteronomy 22:5 by not wearing pants.
That is a bombshell, considering how many people hold to dresses-and-skirts-only teaching. It is sad that, in an effort to obey God, people have actually ended up disobeying him by getting tangled up in the Law.
I do want to make it clear that God does not say that a woman may not wear skirts and dresses. If a woman decides on a particular morning that she wants to wear a skirt or a dress, she is free to do so. The sin is in wearing only skirts and dresses in an attempt to follow Deuteronomy 22:5.
There is only one man who has the right and authority to tell a woman what to wear. That is her husband, or, in the case of a young lady, her father. If a husband tells his wife that he wants her to wear dresses and skirts only, she does need to obey him, not because of Deuteronomy 22:5, but because she is to submit to him. On the flip side, a woman also needs to follow her husband’s wishes if he wants her to wear pants most of the time (or even all the time).
While the focus of this article has been dresses/skirts vs. pants, there are many, many teachings that come from the Old Testament, such as tithing, Sabbath-keeping (and Sabbath rules applied to Sunday), dietary laws, circumcision and Messianic Judaism. Each one is just as wrong as dresses-onlyism.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, are you guilty of disobeying this command? Have you followed teachings from the Old Testament and taught others to do the same? Then you need to repent! Do as I had to do and ask God’s forgiveness for disobeying His commands. Turn from obeying the Law of Moses and obey Jesus with all your heart, and teach others to do the same.