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Come Let Us Reason Together

(Spirit of Prophecy references are taken from Testimonies to the Church, vol. 1, pp. 412, 413, 457-460, Review & Herald, February 6, 1900, and 2 Selected Messages, book 2, p. 477. Spirit of Prophecy quotes are in blue.)

Every true Christian's desire is to please God in all things, and to avoid those things which displease Him. If God declares that something is very displeasing to Him, even calling it an abomination, we need to clearly understand what it is, so we can avoid it at all costs!

The purpose of this article is to consider the inspired counsel that God has seen fit to give us, and determine if He is pleased or displeased with the wearing of pants by women. This should be of utmost concern to every Christian, and all should be willing to study this matter thoroughly. We cannot afford to depend upon the opinions and preferences of mere humans, or to ignore this issue.

God's Word declares: “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

The first question we need to consider is, does Deuteronomy 22:5 apply to God's people today? If so, we need to understand the principle contained in this text very clearly, with no shadowy uncertainties.

If we believe in the inspiration of the Spirit of Prophecy, the answer seems very clear. In writing about the American Costume, Ellen White states, “I was referred to Deuteronomy 22:5. ‘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.' ” {1 T457} The context of this statement clearly shows us that God revealed to Ellen White that the American Costume was a violation of Deuteronomy 22:5. Thus, we can see that Deuteronomy 22:5 does apply to us today, and we need to be careful to avoid violating the principle found in this text.

To make it very clear, we repeat: it cannot be denied that Ellen White states that those who wore the American Costume were an abomination to God. “I saw that God's order has been reversed, and His special directions disregarded, by those who adopt the American costume. I was referred to Deuteronomy 22:5: ‘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.'” {1T 457}

Why was this outfit, the American Costume, an abomination to God? Why was it so hateful to Him? In studying this matter out, we understand that it was because these “women's rights” advocates were crossdressing, which is prohibited in Deuteronomy 22:5. They were deliberately wearing clothing as near as possible to what men wore: “They will imitate the opposite sex, as nearly as possible.” { 1T 459}

In all the photos we have available to us showing the American Costume, the common feature is that the straight-legged pants were visible from at least the knee down. Various styles of dresses were worn, some that looked very much like the dresses of that day, only shorter. So the problem wasn't necessarily the style of the dress, it was the fact that the panted leg was visible from the knee, or above the knee, down. Some dress styles were more mannish than others, and had more masculine-type accessories. But the distinctive feature that made it the American Costume, was the largely visible panted legs. It is clear that this feature is what made the outfit an abomination to God.

These abominable women, in wearing this style of dress, were disregarding Deuteronomy 22:5: “In this style of dress God's order has been reversed, and his special directions disregarded.” {1T 459} To disregard God's instructions means that these women rejected them, and were in rebellion to the principle of Deuteronomy 22:5. It's not that they weren't aware of this scripture. They were very aware of it, and flatly rejected it, as well as God's authority over their lives. They were in blatant rebellion. They were reversing God's order, which keeps the dress of males and females distinct and separate.

Some of the instigators were spiritualists, and regularly attended séances. They were in direct communication with Satan. Because we are not ignorant of his devices, we can know that they got this idea directly from the devil. He was the originator of the idea, prompting others to advocate doing away with the distinction between the sexes. Satan hates God's restrictions, and entices humans to refuse to submit to them. “God's prohibitions are lightly regarded by all who would advocate the doing away of the distinction of dress between males and females.” {1 T 459}

God's plan is directly opposite to Satan's plan: “God designed there should be a plain distinction between male and female dress.” {1 T 460} God wanted us to be clear on this issue, so He gave explicit directions to His people. He “has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it.” {1 T 460} What are the explicit directions God gave? Deuteronomy 22:5 tells us that God designed that there should be a plain distinction between male and female dress.

There are two New Testament scriptures that also teach this principle. 1 Corinthians 11 talks about God's creation order, as “ the head of the woman is the man.” Paul uses differences in hair length to help show this order of authority.

But there is another scripture in which this principle of distinction between the sexes is often missed. Ellen White states that 1 Timothy 2:9, which instructs women to wear modest apparel, is a direct rebuke to those women who wore the American Costume .Were the apostle Paul alive, and should he behold women professing godliness with this style of dress, he would utter a rebuke.” {1T 460} What style of dress were they wearing? The American Costume. Why the rebuke? While their bodies were actually well covered, it did not comply with God's idea of modest apparel for women. When we take a closer look at the Greek definitions for modest apparel we will see that God wants women to wear modest, long, flowing dresses. Fitted pants revealing most of the legs do not constitute modest apparel according to 1 Timothy 2:9.

  • APPAREL – According to Thayer's Lexicon, the Greek word translated apparel in I Timothy 2:9 (katastole) means “a garment let down, dress, attire”. The Greek word for apparel in this text is Katastole, meaning a long dress. “Katastole” is different than a general term for apparel as Kata means down – as a garment flowing down; and Stole means a long garment, covering or wrapping. This seems to indicate that even a woman's legs should be covered by this loose, flowing apparel.
  • MODEST – The Greek word for modest is Kosmios, meaning orderly, well-arranged, decent, modest, harmonious arrangement or adornment. Modesty is also Biblically applied to one's demeanor or behavior. Therefore, women are instructed to wear modest long dresses (Kosmios Katastole). Thus this Kosmios Katastole not only specifies that the article of clothing should be a dress, but also specifies that the dress should be of a suitably long length. And I Timothy 2:9 teaches that this dress is to be characterized by “shamefacedness” and “sobriety” which would be the opposite of prideful, vain and sensual attire. The bottom line of 1 Timothy 2:9 is that women should dress in long, flowing, feminine apparel, free from extravagance and prideful display.

This brief summary merely highlights the extensive material on this topic. Hundreds of articles that delve into historical evidence make it even more plain. But just from these brief quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy, we positively know that the American Costume, which revealed the panted legs on women from at least the knee downward, was an abomination to God. “There is an increasing tendency to have women in their dress and appearance as near like the other sex as possible, and to fashion their dress very much like that of men, but God pronounces it abomination.” {1 T 457}

Ellen White utters a prophecy which has been overwhelmingly fulfilled when she states,For the same dress worn by both sexes would cause confusion, and great increase of crime.” {1T 460}

There are literally thousands of pages of evidence that could be presented showing how this sexual confusion has escalated to the point of a major crisis in our society. The horrible degradation and vileness of this development should shock any morally upright person. Male crossdressing is becoming more widely accepted with each passing day.

This same sense of shock and revulsion that many feel toward male crossdressing was once directed toward the few women in society who wore pants. During a hundred year period, this shock has faded, not just into acceptance, but into a passionate obsession for pants on women. While society would still agree that a skirt pertains to a woman, there is no article of clothing that society would agree pertains to a man. Just a little over a hundred years ago, society would have agreed that pants belong to a man to the same degree that most of us agree that skirts belong to a women. But that is quickly changing as every major influence in society's fashion is pushing toward androgyny—the blending of the sexes and the denial of gender differences.

What can we learn from the above references?

  • Deuteronomy 22:5 is applicable to us today
  • In this verse, God prohibits men and women from dressing closely to the opposite sex.
  • It is an abomination to Him.
  • Women do not actually have to wear men's clothes to violate God's prohibitions. By making their clothing closely resemble men's clothing, it becomes an abomination to God.
  • There was an increasing tendency to blur gender distinctions even in her time.
  • This increasing tendency brings confusion and great increase of crime.

We understand that it is more than clothing that constitutes an abomination to God. It is the condition of the heart as well. In ignorance, we may have dressed in a way that is displeasing to God, but we are not accountable until the light shines upon us. It is then that God asks us to bring our clothing into harmony with His principles.

We do know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are practices in dressing, which are related to blurring the distinction between the sexes, that are abominable to God. Do we really think that something that is abominable to God should be so difficult to discern that we cannot really be certain that we are committing an abomination or not? What would that be saying about God?

In light of the above, we need to ask ourselves some hard, searching questions. Please reason this out:

  • Has this “increasing tendency” for women's clothing to resemble men's clothing continued to increase over the years since the mid 1850s?
  • If this abominable tendency has indeed increased, would God's displeasure regarding this practice be proportionately increasing or would it be decreasing?
  • If a knee-length or mid-thigh dress over pants closely resembled men's attire in the 1850s, do pants on women today, without any dress covering them, closely resemble men's attire? (Remember, the American Costume did not include actual men's pants, but pants that were specifically designed for women.)
  • If wearing knee-length dresses over pants was an abomination to God in the 1850s, because it closely resembled men's attire, would wearing pants which are not covered by a dress by women today be pleasing to Him?
  • If pants on women are now pleasing to God, at what point between 1850 and 2011 did they become pleasing to Him?
  • Could the attire of these rebellious women who pioneered this movement have changed from abominable to God-pleasing in their lifetime if they continued to wear pants long enough?
  • Were the woman who were an abhorrence to society at large in the early 1900s who wore men's pants an abomination to God?
  • If the women who wore pants in 1920, while all of society considered them reprobates, continued to wear them up until 1960, when a large share of society copied them, did their abomination turn into approval by God? During which year?
  • If a woman wore pants in 1930, after being influenced by secular film stars, and continued to wear them until she died, say in 2000, was the practice abominable to God when she first did it, but because society accepted it after many years, eventually it became acceptable to God? What year would the abomination have turned into acceptance? How many years does it take for society to turn an abomination into a God-approved practice?
  • If a woman wore actual men's pants in the 1970s, was that an abomination? If she wears the same style today, but they have a women's label on them, are they not an abomination?
  • If there is a couple where the man wears women's pants and the women wears men's pants, but they look just the same as another couple where the woman wears women's pants and the man wears men's pants, is the first couple committing an abomination, while the other couple is totally acceptable to God in what they are wearing?
  • If a woman wears baggy jeans, so that her womanly form is not very obvious, is her clothing abominable or acceptable since she's trying to be “modest”?
  • If a woman wears her husband's jeans, and they look feminine on her because they are tight and sensually reveal her form, does that make them acceptable to God because she doesn't look as mannish as if they were loose?


Do you see the absolute confusion here? Can you honestly pick out the scenarios which are abominations to God and which are pleasing to God if you believe that it is acceptable for a woman to wear pants? (In wearing pants, we are referring to uncovered pants without a dress or skirt covering at least to the mid or lower calf.) If you think you can figure it out, do you think your opinion could convince everyone else, so that all Christian women can be confident that they are not committing an abomination in their wearing of pants? Is there any Seventh-day Adventist pastor who would dare answer all these questions and be able to effectively warn Christian woman about obvious abominations, and still declare that it is acceptable for women to wear pants?

As we reason together on this matter, the only logical conclusion that we can come to is that it is indeed an abomination for women to wear uncovered pants. Therefore, it seems logical to agree on the following:

  • We know that God's will is that there be a plain distinction between the appearance of men and women. If Satan's stated agenda, as he works through feminists, Marxists, homosexuals and the like, is to remove the distinction between males and females in their appearance and roles, wouldn't it be prudent for Christians to avoid participating in the very fashion that has served to remove this distinction?
  • Since women have adopted men's attire to such a degree that male cross dressers use this to justify their wearing of women's attire, wouldn't a true Christian woman want to avoid placing this stumbling block before these struggling men who are groping for excuses, by choosing not to wear pants?
  • Since the wearing of pants by women has indeed greatly increased sexual confusion as Ellen White prophesied it would, wouldn't it seem that Christian women would want to steer clear of this practice which helps to feed the gender identity crisis, especially in the youth? What does God say about those who entice one of His little ones to trip and fall?
  • If a Christian woman has worn pants all her life, but discovers that the fashion originated under the inspiration of the devil himself, wouldn't she want to disassociate herself from such a worldly, demoralizing fashion and dress is a way that she knows is pleasing to God?

For many women, this clear, irrefutable information comes as a very “hard saying.” Who can hear it? Who can bear it? It cuts deeply into our pride, it goes against our desires; it sounds offensive and overwhelming. It makes many extremely angry. It's painful. It feels like a chastening rod.

What are our options? To whom shall we go? If God's Word is not our guide, what is? If we turn from the testimony of the Spirit of Prophecy, what can we believe? Where is our hope? To ignore light is to reject light.

We need every ray of light God shines on us, for our own best good. God's truth is precious, and as we embrace it, He empowers us to obey it. He changes our hearts and purifies our motives. He will make a way when there seems to be no way. God is good! Trust Him! May God bless you as you choose to walk in the light.