In today’s post, I am going to briefly address a wide range of objections to that most objectionable of standards, that women should not wear pants. As you read, keep in mind two things please. First, I have already written eighteen posts and 28,000 words on this subject looking at it from a variety of angles. That is a lot of context. If you are coming to this post without reading the others please do not fault me for brevity. Feel free to read the links I attach, or even begin at the start of this series and read it all. Secondly, if you have a genuine question about something I say here I will do my best to answer that question, either on social media or in the blog comments below. Failing that, I will even set up a phone appointment with you if you so desire. There is nuance here, and though this post cannot portray that nuance for space reasons it helps to remember that.
1) “These are women’s pants.”
And you know that how? Because the tag says it? That is sort of like the evolutionist who insists geology proves the Earth is billions of years old. Asserting something does not make it so. Additionally, by definition, the only way a woman’s pair of pants can be differentiated from a men’s pair is by drawing attention to a woman’s form/shape. Even if somehow that helped you skate by the principle of gender identity it would force you to violate the principle of modesty. Either the pants are not distinct in relation to gender or they are immodest; they cannot be both at the same time.
2) “There is no specific biblical instruction that a woman should not wear pants.”
I dealt with that at length in discussing the concept of biblical principle.
3) “Whatever you write doesn’t matter; I’m just not convicted about it.”
I respect that. For what it is worth, I am not trying to convict anyone. I am trying to explain the Word of God. It is the Spirit’s job to convict, not mine. Having said that, your lack of conviction is not an indication that a certain teaching or position is unscriptural. That is true generally about everything. Something may be entirely scriptural but I may not feel any conviction at the moment because I am carnal, or because the Spirit has chosen to emphasize something else in my life at the moment. Either way, a lack of felt conviction is a lousy yardstick for whether something is right or wrong.
4) “I have peace about wearing pants.”
This is a similar objection to the one above. The lack of being troubled about something is not an indication that God approves of it. We must ever remember Jeremiah 17.9. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Personal validation supported by an internally derived feeling is not totally invalid, but it is certainly low on the list of supports. Further, I would argue it is dangerous as a primary support.
5) “We have thought it through carefully, and we are going to allow pants now. But we will only allow modest pants.”
My wife and I have had this conversation with our own daughter. Why is it that when a formerly conservative independent Baptist family gives up the pants standards it seems to go entirely the opposite direction rather quickly? If they gave up, accepted pants, and wore the (relatively) modest old-lady pants (forgive me, I am sure there is a better term here) I could almost live with that. But they do not. In my experience, never. They say the pants are going to be modest, but inevitably, in a few years, the tight jeans, the yoga pants, and the short shorts show up, if not in the first generation then in the next one.
When you tear the fence down you are not going to hold your family or your church back. You just will not.
6) “I only wear pants to work.”
Why? Is something wrong with them? If there is not anything wrong with them, then wear them everywhere. If there is something wrong with them, then you should not wear them to work either.
“But I cannot do my job in a skirt or a dress. They will not allow it.”
Are you sure? Somehow, the Muslims seem to be able to fight for their religious-based clothing convictions on the job but we cannot? And if you are right, I would gently encourage you to revisit your priority order. Years ago, I gave up two good career opportunities because church came first. I have never regretted a moment of it. Put the Lord first. He honors those who honor Him.
7) “Pants are more comfortable.”
Nudity is even more comfortable, I bet.
8) “You are wrong; pants as an item of clothing do not belong exclusively to the male gender. That ship has sailed.”
Put simply, I believe God disagrees with you.
9) “Well, you have to admit, pants are more modest for certain activities. I mean, can you imagine rock climbing at the mall in a dress?”
This is as backwards as the argument that you need to wear them for work. Start with the Bible, and make life decisions from that starting point. In this context, what should I or should I not wear according to God’s Word. Now, in relation to activities, what does that rule in and what does that rule out?
10) “Say what you want, I don’t have to answer to a man for what I wear.”
That makes two of us, sister. I do not either. But we both have to answer to God.
11) “That’s Old Testament stuff and we’re under grace now.”
I dealt with this at length in both my book on sanctification, Freed From Sin. Simply put, that is not what “under grace” means.
12) “Yes, I wear pants. I am free from the bondage of legalism now.”
To quote “The Princess Bride”… You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
13) “It’s just not as important as you make it out to be.”
If it is not that important to you then why not just give in? If it is not that important to God, why did He classify with issues such as idolatry, prostitution, deception in business, stubborn rebellion, lying, evil thoughts, and pride? All of these, along with wearing clothing that identifies you as the opposite gender, He terms as abominations.
Should you choose what is important in your life or should God choose?
14) “Everybody knows that men and women wore the same robes in the Bible.”
Pants are mentioned five times in Scripture. All five specifically reference men. Modest apparel in the passage directed toward women specifically in the original language implies a long, flowing garment that has been let down. Yes, they both wore items we would call robes or tunics but they were distinct for each gender, and only men were told to tie up those robes around their waist thus forming a pants-like garment. Gird up thy loins now like a man (Job 40.7).
There are a whole lot of women girding up their loins like a man these days.
15) “I can’t wear a skirt or a dress and stay warm.”
I have already mentioned that Scripture should drive our choices. If you cannot do an activity and stay warm in a skirt then choose a different activity. Further, I would argue that most of the time you can. Hose, leggings, etc. can be worn underneath a long, flowing garment and these can help to keep you warm.
The choice is not “Wear a skirt and freeze to death obeying God.” That is a strawman.
16) “Well, my pants are more modest than So-and-so’s skirts and dresses.”
You are almost certainly correct. I do not mean to imply that all skirts and dresses are modest. Short ones are not. Slit ones are not. Tight ones are not. See-through or clingy ones are not either. But I would argue that your pants are not more modest than modest skirts and dresses. A pair of pants may be fairly modest but still violate the gender identity principle. A modest skirt or dress abides by both.
17) “God doesn’t care about how I look; He only cares about my heart.”
18) “You should just stick with teaching the Bible and let the Holy Spirit convict people how He wants.”
On the surface, I do not disagree with that statement. My role in teaching, preaching, or writing is not to bring conviction, but to explain and apply the Word of God. But that latter word there – apply – is absolutely biblical. Teaching that only informs and never applies that information to real life is not somehow magically more spiritual. I would argue it is less so, actually. I can show you numerous examples in the Word of God of men teaching and preaching, then bringing specific real world application, and urging people to do something about it.
We should strive to explain the biblical teaching on a subject, but doing so properly does not prevent us from applying it. Far from it.
19) “Dress standards just breed pride. The Pharisees. Hello?”
I agree that high standards can breed pride. Further, I would argue that every spiritual activity can breed pride. If it can be done by mortals it can breed pride. Which, for the record, is zero indication of whether such an action or position is a biblical one. Pride is sin whether it is pride in athletic accomplishment, crime, intellectual attainment, soul winning, or dress standards.
The presence of pride is always wrong, but its presence does not by itself tell us a position or action is incorrect.
20) “You don’t understand, Pastor Brennan. If I require that standard of my daughters they will rebel against me.”
Then they already have. God said of Abraham, I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him (Genesis 18.19). If you have no confidence that your commands to your children will be obeyed you have already lost their heart. I would argue the way to get it back is not to give in. One of the great failures of parenting is the failure to be more stubborn about something than your children are.
This argument almost certainly requires a tailored, careful response, but seek for that wisdom. Do not throw in the towel.
21) “I’m an older woman; ain’t no man going to lust after me.”
It is about more than lust; it is about a public embrace of gender identity too.
Additionally, your actions set an example for younger women. As I write this, I am sitting on my parents porch. I have been able to spend the last week or so with them. Just yesterday, we celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. I was talking to my mother yesterday about people we both love who are living contrary to what she and my father taught me. I said, “Mom, your life shouts.” And it does. The godly life she and my father have chosen to live, in all seasons, decade after decade, well into old age, is an undeniable witness. For all she is silent, her life is a megaphone of holiness.
There is something preciously priceless in that.
22) “What will the lost think when they hear you emphasize such quaint notions?”
Probably that I am ridiculous. Which is the same thing they think when I preach about marriage and sexuality and gender and complementarianism and creationism and a hundred other things. But they are still in the Bible and I am still going to preach them.
The lost of this world are blinded to the truth. Tailoring your message so as not to offend them is practically useless and spiritually dangerous.
23) “Who are you to judge?”
The phrase judge not that ye be not judged may be the most misunderstood and misapplied phrase in the entire Bible. I wrote about that at length in my book on the Sermon on the Mount, The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached.
24) “Well, Paul said all things are lawful. So get off my case.”
Hermeneutics, the science of interpreting scripture, has one major point of emphasis. Context. And context expands out in brackets. That statement by Paul cannot mean that literally anything is lawful. Such a position would violate a multitude of other biblical admonitions. No, Paul said that anything on the right side of God’s law was acceptable. Put another way round, anything lawful is lawful, but not anything is lawful.
Unlawful things are still unlawful. The expanded context of biblical revelation demands this.