Is it sinful for a woman to wear pants?

Jay Dee

Is it sinful for a woman to wear pants?

Jun 20, 2015

This week I saw this question in my moderation queue: I want to ask about clothing, about woman not wearing what belongs to a man. I need explanation on that because i feel deut 22 vs 5 is misunderstood. That looked like a fun topic,

Is It Sinful For Women To Wear PantsThis week I saw this question in my moderation queue:

I want to ask about clothing, about woman not wearing what belongs to a man. I need explanation on that because i feel deut 22 vs 5 is misunderstood.

That looked like a fun topic, so I thought I’d take a crack at it.

Let’s start by looking at the verse quoted:

A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God. – Deuteronomy 22:5

Now some will use this passage today still to say that women shouldn’t wear pants, but I don’t think that’s what this is talking about.  Rather, I think it’s pointing to a larger issue that we still struggle with today in our culture.  Actually, I think we’re struggling with it more than ever: that of gender distinction.

Throughout the Bible, gender identity is clearly defined as a boundary that should not be crossed.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:27

From the very beginning we see God creating two, distinct genders, and throughout his law, from that Deuteronomy passage above to

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. – Leviticus 18:22

Notice the same word is used: abomination.  Again, we see the same issue in Romans:

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. – Romans 1:26-27

I believe at the core of the Deuteronomy passage is the issue of gender identities and being true to them.  We should not attempt to deceive others or ourselves about our gender, because it calls into question a distinction that God created in humanity for a purpose.  This issue has never been stronger than today.  In some public schools, gendered washrooms are being replaced by unisex ones, including unisex change rooms.  Teachers are being told they may not correct a child if he says he’s a girl, or she says she’s a boy.  Gender is being taught as something fluid, a state of mind, something you can decide on for yourself.  We used to tell children they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up, president, fireman, teacher, whatever.  Now they’re being told they can be a man, woman, both, or neither.

It flies in the face of the order God placed into our very species, and I believe yet another attempt of the devil to undermine God as creator.  Whether your wear pants or not is not going to change your gender, or how people perceive you.  Men used to wear tunics that today would be considered dresses.  But, to deliberately change your voice, your mannerisms, to pass yourself off as being something you are not.  That, I believe, is the core issue, and should not be done.

Your turn

What are your thoughts on this topic?  What do you think this passage in Deuteronomy is talking about?

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23 thoughts on “Is it sinful for a woman to wear pants?”

  1. Butterflywings says:

    Good answer 🙂

  2. bb says:

    Interesting … one of the last lines is “to pass yourself off as being something you are not” ….aka deception, aka lies. Lying/deception are a big part of this.

    Pretending to be something other than what we are.

    Pulling back a little from this topic and going a little broader…. I am not sure if perhaps in the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, all things had the potential to go a little screwy, to vary from the way that they were intended to be.

    We now have disease….good cells turn cancerous, healthy brains get dementia, DNA/chromosonal variances like Downs Syndrome occur. Sometimes I wonder if the gender identity issues result from a hormonal imbalance in the same fashion. Why certain men have female attributes and vica versa. Why many gay people say that they felt the way they do from an early time life (age 4/5), long before they really comprehend the gay/straight thing.

    Then again from a spiritual perspective I wonder if the enemy whispers desires and things in our spiritual ears.
    “it’s ok to tell a white lie, etc…”

    Or perhaps some combination of both. I don’t know if we can ever tell the true root of it all. In some cases it may just be disobedience thru the fall, it might be chromosonal/hormonal , it might be a combo package of varying %’s. t’s a kind of which came first, the chicken or the egg …or did they both just sort of appear simulateneously.

    Whatever the case, God calls us to love people. We can’t expect them to behave in a godly manner without knowing our King. Our behaviour is a direct result of our relationship with God and how much we realize that He loves us. We just need to love people as they are, point them in the direction of God and let Him do His work in them. Yes, it’s ok to tell people not to have same sex sex…like it’s OK to tell them not to murder or have an affair.
    The argument of “well it’s not fair to tell a gay person not to have sex ever again” is no different from telling a married person to never have a relationship outside of their marriage. Or telling anyone else not to ever lie again.

    The emphasis shouldn’t be on “don’t ever ever ever lie again bec/ it’s bad and sinful!!!” but rather “live a life of truth and God will bless you and your efforts and you will see it for yourself”

    We may never fully understand all this here on Earth. but one day the Bible tells us….all will be made known. Until that day, we need to love one another as “the greatest of these is love”.

    Recently i noticed that Scripture tells us to “Love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It occured to me that Scripture never tells us to love ourselves. We just do. 🙂 Funny how that is, eh?

    God bless!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It’s an assumption made, that we love ourselves. See Ephesians 5:29.

      And yes, I agree as you said, we are called to love our neighbors, but still stand firmly in the truth. A difficult knife to balance.

    2. curious says:

      That’s an interesting point about hormones and cells possibly going screwy due to the fall. But my concern is, wouldn’t an argument that something is hormonal then take away any arguments for responsibility for our own sin? Why should I repent of my sexual sins if it’s hormonal and therefore “not my fault”?

      Lastly, out of curiosity. What verses can you provide to support your view of the following:
      “The emphasis shouldn’t be on “don’t ever ever ever lie again bec/ it’s bad and sinful!!!”

      I know you want to say it’s because the bible tells us to love. But the same bible also tells us to “go and sin no more” and that “if you are lukewarm I will spit you out of my mouth”. The same Jesus that died for us for love, is the same Jesus that took a whip and chased people out for defiling God’s temple. (Perhaps he should have given them flowers instead and told them in a soft soft voice to “please , pretty please stop defiling my father’s house”?)

      So really I’m wondering why you think that letting people know the truth about sin isn’t a sign of love.

      To me, the person who let me know that my actions were sinful actually loved me more than the people who wouldn’t tell me. He told me because he didn’t want me to perish, while the others were too afraid of offending me. They were thinking more of their own fears and not of really helping me at all.

      You’re right that we may never know all. But what that tells me is that for what we do know, for the few things we do know somewhat clearly thanks to the bible, “until that day” we shouldn’t be hiding the truth from ourselves or anyone else.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        The Bible teaches that we are to treat those who follow God differently than those who do not. Those who do not, we are to show love, compassion, and teach them about the love of God. To those that know and accept the LORD as the master of their life, we are to hold accountable, to rebuke and discipline if needed.

        And so, I think you are both correct. Jesus did overturn tables, in the temple, where people were supposed to know better. But, in the streets, with the Samaritan woman, He didn’t start the conversation by slapping her and telling her to stop sinning. He was gentle, and kind, a teacher. Then, once she had accepted that He loved her, He told her to stop sinning.

        So, yes, we should be firm in our beliefs, never hiding them, but to go out overturning tables in non-Christian institutions is not only unbiblical, its counter productive.

        To the world, we need to show them first that God loves them. Then, when they accept that, show them how to love God in return: by following His commandments. This is the model I see in the Bible.

        As for whether or not homosexuality is hormonal or not, I think I’ll leave that discussion for a separate post on that topic. I don’t want this one to drift too far.

      2. libl says:

        It is chemical/hormonal that I am prone to broodiness and seething anger. Is it then not my fault if I beat my child or punch a cop?

        We all have besetting sins and we all deal with complications of one degree or another due to the fall, but we all must follow Christ and find redemption and sanctification in Him, regardless of chemical imbalances.

  3. Gilbert says:

    Your assessment is correct, but didn’t go quite far enough. Men and Women are not supposed to wear each other’s cloths. I’m not talking about my wife wearing my T-shirt, or wearing paints in general, but rather my wife wearing distinctively masculine clothing, or men wearing distinctively feminine clothing. There will be some cultural play in this as well. In Arab dominated cultures it is common and accepted for me to wear what amounts to capri pants. In the US that is very feminine dress. The verse is not just about maintaining biblical gender identity, but maintaining biblical gender identity behavior and specifically in the case of this verse clothing. Although it would require a great deal more study and exegisis, this likely does not forbid say, Joan of Arc from dawning masculine pants in prison specifically because she did not wish to be raped which sounds to like a virtuously feminine thing to do.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      … I thought that’s what I said. Not seeing a difference. Unless you’re against women wearing pants outside of prison…I don’t think I can agree with that.

  4. Dan says:

    I think we need to look at the historical time line. When Moses lived – both female and males wore ‘robes’ and ‘scarves’. I don’t know the correct words for their items of clothing but there was almost no difference in them. So men and women ‘kinda’ did dress alike. Men wore ‘dresses’. Also, high heels were invented by men for MEN, not women. I don’t have a problem with men wearing dresses – the Irish were kilts, right?

    I was taught that this verse had a reference to being homosexual. About pretending to be something you’re not.

  5. LaToya says:

    Hey guys just my two cents. I find it intriguing that this was brought up. I’m a apostolic pentacostal and I don’t wear pants at all. Just my beutiful skirts and dressess. I find it intriguing because no one outside of pentacost really addresses it. At least in my little world. The only time is when I’m asked why I wear dressess all the time. I just smile and quote that scripture with a kind answer. As a child I was made to wear dresses in my mom and dad’s house. When I got grown and married I ditched em as fast as I could. But I was also backslid at this point. So when I went back to church I prayed and asked God if this is what he wanted me to do wear dressess and not pants. When I prayed that prayer something happened to pants everyday. The got ripped burned when I ironed them and I got down to one pair. I said if I’m gonna wear this one pair everyday might as well wear a dress and the rest is history as they say. I see it is very trendy right now for men to wear dresses just goggle it. You will be amazed. Everyone that sees it gets made and I’m like why the women wear dressess. Back in the bible days men and women had very different garments. Men wore robes that went to their knees with belts that could he tie between his legs and it would look like shorts. A women. Would never wear this type of garment. That’s is just my understanding of the scripture and my belief. So yeah I’m saying it’s a sin. But also the scripture says woe unto the man that knows to do right if he does then it becomes a sin. If your never taught this or don’t know it then how is it a sin? Well goodness God is amazing and wonderful any way. Hugs and kisses

    1. HopefullyHelpful says:

      Looking at this from a post-resurrection perspective basically cancels out any specific items of clothing, as Jay Dee points out.

      In the OT, where there was sort of a “dress code” within a closed society, one could definitely point to distinctly feminine clothing. But when Jesus declared the Mosaic Law “closed” in favor of principle, we also need to look at the new context into which he was speaking. I am quite positive Jesus thoroughly knew the worldly diversity of socio-cultural environments of his day, and if some point of the law needed to be re-interpreted/re-asserted (such as divorce practices) in the case of clothing, he would have done so himself, or one of the Apostles would have done so. Jehovah himself, when placing that particular wording and knowing what the extent of human history will be, would also have specifically mentioned “pants” or “dresses” if such had been His intent.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        I know of no such verse that says the mosaic law is “closed”. Rather, I see Jesus upholding the law:

        “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:17-19

        And Paul says:

        “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” – Romans 7:12


        “I thank God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” – Romans 7:25

        So, both Christ and Paul uphold that the law is good, holy, and still should be kept while the church has decided to do away with it. Perhaps this is why it will be so hard for Christians to retain their Christianity in the final days.

        “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” – Revelation 14:12

        I invite you to check out my other blog, where we’re going through this topic in more detail. The beast of Revelation has done a good job of convincing the world that God’s laws have changed, as prophesied (Daniel 7:25).

        1. HopefullyHelpful says:

          By “closed” I did not mean invalid. Just “fulfilled”. The Old Covenant is “over” and “over-ridden”, and as Paul also mentions, “We are under the Law of Christ.” Romans 3, 10, Galatians 3, Hebrews 7.

          We are under the principle of the Law, but not necessarily the specifics of the Law, since Christ’s Law has many changes over the Law, but not the principles behind it. (ex: polygamy, sabbath, divorce).

          1. Jay Dee says:

            How did Christ fulfill Sabbath? It’s a remembrance of creation. Christ fulfilled those laws which were a reflection of his sacrifice to come: the sanctuary and the sacrificial system. But Sabbath predates that law, predates the fall, predates sin. And the Bible says it will continue even after heaven and earth are destroyed and remade. That’s just one law. There are others with similar situations.

            1. HopefullyHelpful says:

              Gotta take this up when it gets to other blog.

              1. Jay Dee says:

                It’s been there for days already. Start at the first post, it will lay the groundwork.

  6. LatterDay Marriage says:

    The Romans looked on anybody wearing pants rather than a toga to be a barbarian.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That’s a favorite insult in that period. The Greeks used to say that anyone not speaking Greek was using a barbarous tongue.

  7. IntimacySeeker says:

    I would like to see more Christians show compassion for the GLBTQ community. They suffer so deeply, feeling they are expected to be someone they are not created to be, and they are so often excluded by faith communities who claim to follow Christ.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I think I’m going to leave this for another post, if that’s okay.

  8. Jayden says:

    I believe that the question of male and female appropriate clothing has to be looked at from a cultural standpoint. In our culture both men and women wear pants, but women have many styles of pants that are just for women and that no one could call “man like”. Conversely the Scottish kilt is appropriate in Scotland and when participating in Scottish events and culture, for men. It is not a dress and I would get a little upset when someone would call it a dress or accuse me of effeminacy. I am of Scottish descent and wear a kilt with my clan tartan at Highland Games events and other Scots gatherings. If I wore a woman’s dress or a Hillary type pants suit I would very properly be the subject of approbation.

    To accuse a woman wearing women’s pants of inappropriate dress for her gender would be ridiculous in normal society. But there is certainly no requirement she do so, if wearing only dresses and skirts is a woman’s preference i can’t see an objection. But to say it is the only right thing is not supported by any rational interpretation of Scripture as I can see.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m guessing by “normal society”, you mean current western culture…

  9. Gerry says:

    This is fine in regards to personal sins, those that are offenses against God (all violations of His law) and against one’s own being. What of sins against others? Should we attempt to rescue the victim of a crime in progress? If not, why not? If so, whatever means can/should we use?

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