THE CHRISTIAN Bible which is a library of 66 books is relied upon by over 2.38 billion people of the world for inspiration, wisdom and guidance. By its teachings, Christians are guided in their daily choices and decisions. Among the various teachings the Holy book offers Christian believers is the manner in which men and women must dress.
This article seeks to establish whether the Bible prevents Christian women from wearing trousers. Over the years, a section of teachers of the Bible, especially those in Ghana, have given different interpretations to some passages of the book, leading to different understandings and applications in life.
While some of the teachers instruct women not to wear trousers because it is an abomination to God, others dispute this teaching, stressing that an attempt to restrict women from wearing trousers is an attempt to deny women the truth of God’s Word. These different biblical teachings have led to unhealthy arguments and debates, culminating in needless divisions and hatred in the body of Christ.
One key passage of Scripture often used in this controversial teaching is Deuteronomy 22:5, which reads: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”
Before we discuss the biblical text above, it is important that some important questions are asked the many pastors who teach Christian women under their care not to wear trousers. Exactly, which passages of the Bible has God permitted pastors to teach to the church for them to live by? And which portions have been proscribed by God not to be taught and applied in the lives of believers?
Now, if you closely observe you would see that Deuteronomy Chapter 22 has 30 verses, according to the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. The King James Version (KJV) has similar volume of verses.
Other questions to ask are: are pastors not under obligation to teach the whole counsel of God? Have they the authority to select and teach passages of Scripture that interest them or fall within their philosophies?
We know that ministers of God are to teach the whole counsel of God without betraying any of them, and they cannot select a verse and build a doctrine around it and neglect the other verses. However, in many churches today, many pastors rarely teach about the remaining 29 verses of Deuteronomy Chapter five. They quote and teach with only Deuteronomy 22: 5, and command women not to wear trousers to avoid suffering divine punishment.
By implication, these pastors seem to infer that “trousers” are strictly a man’s garment. Now, let us critically study the verse again. It reads, “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” The key part of the verse which creates the confusion is: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment…”
Remember that we are talking about a problem some pastors have with Christian women wearing trousers here. In other words, these pastors use this text to teach that Christian women should not wear trousers. In their view, it is a sin for a Christian woman to wear trousers, and those who wear them are an abomination to God.
However, a critical study of the verse does not in any way establish the fact that women are prohibited from wearing trousers. What the Bible really teaches is that a woman should not wear a man’s garment. So, now, the discussion must be narrowed to determining the similarity or difference between “trousers” and “man’s garment”. Does the English word “trousers” mean “man’s garment”? In other words, are these two terms synonymous in English?
To be able to offer objective, balanced and fair teaching to ensure that peace settles in the hearts of Christian believers, the meaning of the terms “man’s garment” used in the Bible and “trousers” used by pastors in their teaching must be found. In fact, it is difficult to find the definition of the term “man’s garment or “men’s clothing” in a dictionary.
Thus, we can simply say that a man’s garment is any garment or clothing designed for a man which is different from a garment designed for a woman. Trousers, on the other hand, according to the Collins Dictionary, are a piece of clothing that a person wears over their body from the waist downwards, and that cover each leg separately. This clearly shows that trousers are not exclusively men’s garment.
We need to understand that trousers are not culturally Ghanaian clothing, but foreign. And they are designed differently for both men and women. It is said that women’s trousers are always a slim/skinny fit, whereas men’s trousers are tapered fit. Moreover, women’s trousers are a bit wider at the hips, and then narrow down all the way to the ankles. In other cases, the opening button of men’s trousers is on the right while women’s are on the left.
It can be seen from the discussions so far that the Bible does not in any way forbid Christian women from wearing trousers. Rather, God forbids them from wearing men’s clothing. According to Dr. John Gill, the prohibition as recorded in Deuteronomy 22:5 was commanded to prevent men from mixing with women, and so to commit fornication and adultery with them. This is the main evil God wants His children to avoid in relation to the aforementioned biblical text.
BY James Quansah