Women Shall Not Wear Men’s Clothing and Vice Versa

Women Shall Not Wear Men’s Clothing and Vice Versa

Women have used this verse to try to convince me that women are not to wear pants.

The woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination to the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 22:5

The problem with this argument is that men didn’t wear pants in biblical times either, therefore, it doesn’t seem to apply specifically to pants. Men wore long, flowing robes back then. This verse is from the Law, which we are no longer under, but we can still learn from the entire Bible about the Lord and what He thinks about different issues. I haven’t been able to find anything, even in the Law, that gives specifications about what exactly women are supposed to wear, except that it be modest, not expensive, and not look like men’s clothing. I believe there were no specific details given since cultures change and what each sex wears is usually easy to identify.

Let’s look at what the commentaries had to say about this verse.

The distinction between the sexes is natural and divinely established, and cannot be neglected without indecorum and consequent danger to purity” (Barnes’ Notes). We can see the blurring of sexes happening in our culture with homosexuals and transgenders advancing their cause. Women are dressing like men and men like women. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell the sex of a person and this should not be for us.

Ken wears pants and so do I once in a while but everyone can still easily see that I am a woman and he is a man by the different style of pants and shirts we wear, by the differences in our hairstyle and cut, and I wear makeup, paint my toenails and wear earrings and he never does. He is masculine and I am feminine.

For the adoption of the habiliments (garments) of the one sex by the other is an outrage on decency, obliterates the distinctions of nature by fostering softness and effeminacy in the man, impudence and boldness in the woman as well as levity and hypocrisy in both; and, in short, it opens the door to an influx of so many evils that all who wear the dress of another sex are pronounced ‘an abomination unto the Lord’ (Jamieson-Fausset Commentary).

Men are not supposed to look soft and feminine in their clothing and women are not to look impudent and bold in theirs. Effeminacy means “the softness, delicacy and weakness in men, which are characteristic of the female sex, but which in males are deemed a reproach…and an abomination unto the Lord.” No wonder we’re repulsed whenever we see a man dressed and acting like a woman, yet many today are being entertained by it! Disgusting. Whatever disgusts the Lord should disgust us.

Women are the ones who are to look soft and delicate and are not to look impudent and bold. Impudence means “shamelessness; effrontery (transgressing the bounds of modesty and decorum).” As godly women, we need to be known for our modesty and femininity and it becomes even more important as our culture falls farther from these standards. Children are growing up so confused about gender issues so we need to be salt and light to them. Show them what true femininity looks and acts like.

This is a battle in our culture right now, women. It began with the feminist movement and as these commentaries point out, when women want to become men and vice versa, it leads to all types of evils. Train your daughters to enjoy being feminine. Dress them like girls and train them to act feminine and train your sons to be masculine and act like males. If you don’t, the culture around them will tell them that they get to decide what gender they want to be and this is evil. 

It being very unseemly and impudent, and contrary to the modesty of her sex; or there shall not be upon her any ‘instrument of a man’, any utensil of his which he makes use of in his trade and business; as if she was employed in it, when her business was not to do the work of men, but to take care of her house and family; and so this law may be opposed to the customs of the Egyptians, as is thought, from whom the Israelites were lately come; whose women used to trade and merchandise abroad, while the men kept at home; and the word also signifies armour; and so here forbids women putting on a military habit and going with men to war, as was usual with the eastern women …and since in nature a difference of sexes is made, it is proper and necessary that this should be known by difference of dress, or otherwise many evils might follow” (Gill’s Commentary).

Women were not created to do the “work of men.” No, women are not to be in the military. They aren’t to be policemen or firemen. These are men’s jobs and among believers, we need to honor and respect men’s positions in society instead of try to infiltrate them. Women’s work is to take “care of the home and family,” as this commentary states. It’s clear all throughout the Word of God and nothing our culture does should ever change this for godly women. We are to set the examples to our society, not follow them.

The Egyptians must have had women who had left their homes and taken over men’s positions and some men stayed at home but the Iraelites, God’s chosen people, were not to follow their culture. They were to follow God’s ways. In the same way when Paul wrote his epistles, women were most likely not being keepers at home but were following in the footsteps of the men around them and joining them in their jobs. Maybe some of the women were smarter than the men so the men went home to take care of the home and the children but Paul exhorted the believers that this was not the case among Christians. Women who profess Christ are to be the keepers at home and the men are to be the providers. This is God’s perfect will for us.

Whatever tends to obliterate the distinction between the sexes tends to licentiousness; and that the one sex should assume the dress of the other has always been regarded as unnatural and indecent (Pulpit Commentary) Licentiousness means “excessive indulgence of liberty; contempt of the just restraints of law, morality and decorum.” In Christ, we do not have excessive indulgence of liberty. No, we are to discipline our flesh and make it our slave. We are not to live as we please and satisfy our fleshly desires but to obey the governing authorities and more importantly God’s Word.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Romans 6:1, 2

Dress femininely, women. Ask your husbands what is modest and feminine since they are the God-ordained head over you and you are to live in submission to their leadership in everything. God makes this very clear in His Word and gives you the specifics of what submission looks like unlike modesty. Your husbands are to be who you dress to please but make sure that all who see you can easily tell you are a woman by what you wear, how you act, and what you do. Rejoice in being women and the role the Lord has given you!

20 thoughts on “Women Shall Not Wear Men’s Clothing and Vice Versa

  1. Yesterday I was in a store in Northern Michigan. This is in a very rural area. Women here on average don’t dress very femininely. It is flannel shirt country. I was wearing a long white tiered skirt with a flowery t-shirt top. I don’t normally dress this femininely, but I was out of town and having some alone time with my husband. He went to use the restroom, so I was shopping by the beef jerky. I had one man smile at me and say hello mam. A minute later an older man looked at me and said, “Honey you need a cart. Your hands are too full.” This really surprised me because I am overweight and middle aged. Later by the cash register I noticed he was looking at me again. I knew it was the way I was dressed because they were not flirting. I normally dress femininely, and I do notice over the years that when I am wearing a skirt or a dress, (which is what what I wear most) men open doors, smile, and even start up a conversation. I certainly don’t do this for attention, it just happens. Men are drawn to feminine women. ( In a good way) Even older ones.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve had similar experiences. Perhaps in such a feminist-drenched era, there are men who actually do appreciate and like women who dress femininely and act that way also.

  3. Yes, wearing dresses and skirts is definitely more feminine than wearing anything else and I do believe that men like to see women in these since it does give a stark contrast between men and women. I sure am wearing more dresses and skirts than ever before. Who knows, maybe one day I will be convicted to only wear them but I’m not ready to give up pants in the winter months yet and Ken doesn’t mind me wearing pants at all.

  4. Amen, Lori. I actually think that in American culture right now, men are dressing more feminine than women are dressing masculine, if you know what I mean. For example, I don’t think skinny jeans are acceptable on either sex, but they are much more repulsive to me on men. And the majority of young men wear them, sadly. This starts with us Mamas buying our kids clothes… so be careful what you dress your kids in, ladies!

  5. It’s not wrong to wear pants Lori, it’s just a lot more fun to dress up! I am going to step it up and dress even more femininely at times.

  6. Hi Lori! I love reading your blogs and often share them with others. I see this scripture in Deuteronomy in a little bit of a different light. I do not personally wear pants myself but nor do I condemn anyone that does. But I see this as more than just a Mosaic law that was under the old law. The second part of that scripture states “for all that do so are abomination to the LORD your God.” To me that word “all” means everyone and it’s stating that it’s an abomination unto the ‘Lord your God’ specifically. Anytime the old law was in order, it usually stated that it was an abomination unto them (meaning the Jews in most cases of the old law) but this one states it differently. I feel that as the Bible says, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday today and forever” means that He changes for no reason and He remains the same with His Word. The distinct difference between a man and a woman has always been a dress. Even on the bathroom signs it always been determined by a figure of a woman wearing a dress. Men don’t typically wear dresses so to me it seems as if the only thing to distinguish a man from a woman would be a dress. That is why I believe the way I do. Please don’t take me as being judgmental with this, just explaining my own personal views 🙂 God Bless you and keep up the great posts. I love to read them and put them to good use!

  7. I remember I was at a resturant a long time ago with my girls and at sweet elderly man who was probably about eighty commented on my dress and it was nice to see a lady dressed in feminine clothes.
    For me, I wear dresses all the time because that is what I prefer but I have no problem with other women wearing modest pants.

  8. Oh Grace don’t get me started on skinny jeans. One of the senior pastors at the church we were going to when we lived in CA wore bright orange skinny jeans and he is in his late 50 or early 60s! We would cringe because skinny jeans are such an ugly fashion statement!
    Who ever came up with skinny jeans must have been suffering from insomnia and invented them by accident.

  9. Lori I thought you may be interested in these 2 videos and let me know what you think, they are pretty similar but both good:
    I think what he is saying makes sense although it is hard for me to see that wearing pants would be considered sin, this may be because of our culture. I usually wear skirts dresses but do occasionally wear pants when the occasion calls for it (putting fencing up for a pasture, walking through brushy fields, kayaking maybe? . . . all of which I’d be helping the hubby do)

  10. I listened to both of these while I put up my garden beans this afternoon. Very good. I especially liked when he listed all the clothes on the dry erase board. I never heard it put that way before. I have heard and read much about modesty, this is one of the best. What he said about the Amish though would be true of the way more conservative ones. The Amish are so different from one district to another, that you can’t lump them all together.

  11. I just read 4 postings and I wanted to thank you so much for having this online. What a blessing to have found your site. I’m so excited to dig in to your godly insight and biblical advice. Soooooo excited…. I’ve never seen a forum like the one you have and am thrilled. Thank you Jesus for giving this dear god fearing woman the will and obedience to have this for those that want to follow you sincerely and whole heartedly!!! Thank you- blessings, Alexandra

  12. When I wear pants, I personally wear a longer tunic shirt because I think that is feminine and covers things better. I believe it sets me apart from masculine apparel. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve never thought the Scottish men looked feminine in their kilts, and that is obviously a skirt. The few times that I’ve seen men in a kilt, I’ve actually thought they looked masculine because of the way they wear them. For me, it’s a cultural issue. In whatever culture you are living in, your apparel should be modest and distinct to your gender. A few verses down from this verse in Deuteronomy talks about how they couldn’t wear woolen and linen together and they had to have fringes on their clothing, but we are obviously not required to do that. I don’t believe we can pull one verse out and say it gives a specific command, but I do believe it gives us a principle to live by in being modest and gender specific. I agree with people that we should be feminine and gender distinctive, but some of us simply draw the line in different places as our family standard and the will we feel God has for our lives.

  13. May I correct you on something? I believe men actually did wear breeches in Bible times. They “girded their loins” when they were working – tucked their robes up into their waistband but still had short pants to cover them.. The old testament does talk about the men wearing linen breeches which I would understand to have been under their robes for the sake of modesty. Also, women wearing pants is only acceptable since the feminist movement. Men wearing a dress would immediately be frowned on, as cross dressing. Is it not a double standard to say women can wear pants but men can’t wear dresses? I am not trying to be disrespectful, just sharing my thoughts. In an ungodly, degenerate age, culture is not a safe gauge of what is acceptable to God and what is not. I know that you would agree with that. We are not trying to make a name for ourselves by how we dress, but at the same time, Christ’s redemption should affect every area of our life including our clothing choices.

  14. I don’t think women should be completely forbidden from wearing pants or anything, but I definitely agree that they could make more of an effort to act and appear feminine nowadays.

    Sadly the trend seems to be much more the opposite – they’re trying so hard to be as masculine as possible.

  15. Comments on dress, male or female. I also have read Deuteronomy 22 v 5 to be astonished it is referring to clothes both for male and female. Certainly for men but not necessarily for women. Look again, it says “A woman shall not wear that pertaineth to a man.” Pertaineth? The Oxford dictionary = an attachment or accessory. What does a man have that is an attachment or accessory? Yep! a woman shall not wear a false one for the purpose of having sex with another woman. Likewise a man wearing womens’ clothing is seeking another man for sex. This is an abomination to the Lord our God. Not the clothing as such for He clothed Adam and Eve the same. He looks on the heart not the outward appearance but on the intent of the person involved. Sparrow.

  16. Here is the bottom line…its the spirit of it. Why do I see guys walking around with tight capris and a pink shirt? What are they interested in? Probably attention from girls AND guys if you know what I mean. Normal guys don’t want attention from other guys.

    On the other hand, I remember seeing a George Washington portrait and he had a lot of ruffles on his shirt (it almost looked like lace). Was he trying to get attention from males? No, that was the culture and style for professional people several hundred years ago. Kind of like a suit and tie is these days.
    There are endless ways people can go by the “rules” but they got their own motivations and self righteousness. I think of the verse: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips(AND CLOTHES); but their heart is far from me.” Matthew 15:8.

    It’s the heart, it’s not about outward appearance, that God is looking at. If ones heart is right toward God, modesty is going to be your dress code.

  17. I completely agree with your statement. We can not compare traditions and customs of man to Gods instructions.

  18. Maybe that was a rule so that people could dress modestly? So instead of having to differentiate sexes by physical features of men and women, sex could be distinct in types of robe or whatever clothing like authority can be in say in the military or mideval times. In other words it is a status symbol. It was created after the time of Adam and Eve after all when the two became embarrassed of their nakedness after eating the fruit of knowledge. Just a possible interpretation.

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