by Grace Raab
As a little girl and as a lady, I have worn skirts and dresses full-time my entire life.
I started doing it because my parents taught me to do so, and because it was expected of me by my pastors and church families. I was always told the reasonings for it, but I never truly grasped the importance of this principle until recent years.
I want to say right away that this essay is by no means meant to offend anyone in the smallest measure, but is meant simply to provide explanation to those who have wondered about my peculiar dress code, and also to give clarity to Christian women who have lived this way because it was expected of them, but never really had a personal understanding of why.
There are many different reasons why I believe (based on the Bible) that God would have me wear skirts instead of pants.
1. God Wants There To Be A Distinction Between The Sexes.
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.”
This verse describes a very specific principle of how God thinks about the way men and women should dress. Notice that it doesn’t just say that men shouldn’t dress like women, or that women shouldn’t dress like men; it puts the two in direct contrast with each other.
In 1 Corinthians 11:14-15, it says: Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
This shows that God has a different idea for how men should wear their hair, and how women should wear their hair. We’ve just seen two different passages, one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, that portray an attitude of God, how He wants men and women to have a different outward appearance. God does not want men to look like women, and He doesn’t want women to look like men. Have you ever looked at someone from behind and not been totally sure whether you were seeing a male or female? Often, the people you’re viewing are even more confused about their gender than you are (or at least, they appear to be). I’m not saying that every girl who wears pants is necessarily trying to be a cross dresser, but she is definitely coming a lot closer to it than if she were wearing a skirt.
God intentionally made me a woman, and I am proud to be one. Wearing skirts (obviously a woman’s apparel) is a huge way for me to embrace my God-given femininity, and it keeps me from contributing to the gender confusion that’s becoming so common in our culture today. When women as a society choose to wear clothing that so closely resembles a man‘s, it brings our society that much closer to confusion, and blurs the gender line all the more.
1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
It would take an entirely different Bible study to show all the places where God made men and women different, and how He created them with different roles and expectations, but their appearance is definitely one of the major areas with which God is concerned.
Going back 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.”
The argument of a lot of Christians today is that this was an Old Testament law, not meant to be adhered to anymore, and even if it were, men and women’s clothing was so different back then that this law could never be applied today. Many of the mosaic laws were abolished in the New Testament, yes, but this law is a little different than some. If you notice the end of the verse, it says that “all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” Sometimes when God gave a law, He addressed it as being an abomination unto the children of Israel only, such as the laws concerning what the Israelites were permitted to eat. This one is listed as an abomination unto the Lord. I don’t know about you, but this is one area where I would rather be safe than sorry. Could I be totally off in my interpretation of Deuteronomy 22:5? I suppose it’s possible, but when dealing with something that says it’s an “abomination unto the LORD thy God”, I would rather not take the risk. It’s just not worth it to me.
2. Wearing Skirts Easily Adorns A Woman In Modesty.
In my opinion, this reason is about as important as the first, if not more so. Skirts and dresses cover a woman in a modest and beautiful way that pants never can, and never will.
1 Timothy 2:9a “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety…”
Ladies, I’m going to be very blunt here: Have you ever seen what you look like from behind in a pair of pants? I have. I see it everyday, and there are very few of you who can get away with it without outlining every curve of your backside. I’m not just talking about loose women of the world, I’m talking about Christian women who want to please God. Maybe it doesn’t look quite as bad when you’re standing still, but as soon as you move or bend at all, that pair of pants becomes extremely revealing of your shape and form. I truly have no desire to be insulting in any way, but it seems like you really just don’t know what you look like, so I am simply trying to be informative while being as honest and straightforward as possible. However, I’m not the one you should be most concerned with; guys are seeing it too.
Matthew 5:28 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Yes, men are responsible for the things they allow their own minds to dwell upon, but do you really want to be the image that prompts them into such fantasies? Some men will have corrupt thoughts no matter how you dress, but they don’t need you to clothe yourself in a way that leaves very little to the imagination. In addition to those types of men, there are also many Christian men out there who are trying to live a life pleasing to God with purity of thoughts and actions, but the way females dress around them –whether it be in tight jeans, a low-cut blouse, or even a short skirt– make it extremely difficult for them to do so. God created men with visually stimulated minds, and we, as Christian women, need to be aware of this. We are responsible for our part in preventing lust of the heart just as much as men are.
James 1:15 “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
Some women do wear pants that aren‘t so bad, and yes, I admit that VERY loose fitting pants are not as revealing, but again, depending on how you move, even those can fit a little snugly. But do you really want to walk around in baggy pants? Sometimes that’s when women blur their gender identity the most, to be honest. The only real difference I’ve noticed between men’s jeans and women’s jeans is the body inside them. Ultimately, when a woman wears pants, she either looks sloppy or sexy. Still, some women continue to cling to their reasonings.
“You can’t do the things in a skirt that you can in pants.”
This is probably the most popular argument for why women don’t want to wear skirts: They’re inconvenient, and they supposedly hinder one’s ability to perform daily activities. Well… I am completely unimpressed with this argument. I have climbed trees, climbed ladders, ridden horses, ridden bicycles, played sports, gone roller-skating, gone rock climbing, detasseled corn (often climbing up and down a tractor), I’ve worked a job, and I never once put on a pair of pants. I do have one pair of waterproof sweat pants that I wear for shoveling snow, or activities like skiing or sledding, but I’ve always worn them underneath a skirt. I’m really not trying to brag here, but there are just so many things a girl can easily do in a skirt!
When I was very young, I used to wear shorts underneath my clothes while playing, but only because five-year-olds haven’t learned to be lady-like yet. And it’s true, even some grown up girls haven’t learned how to act in a skirt and can unintentionally be very immodest while wearing one because of the way they move, but it’s just a matter of learning to be appropriate, and when necessary, it’s just better to wear something underneath to be safe. It’s much easier, however, for girls to learn how to act properly in a skirt if they start wearing them from childhood. For others, it just takes a little getting used to and an awareness of your appearance. I promise, skirts are very easy and comfortable to wear! But that’s only one excuse given for why skirts aren’t acceptable as full-time attire.
“Christian women who only wear skirts are legalists.”
Another argument some women give for why they don’t think it’s necessary to always wear skirts is that it’s legalistic. I would like to clarify now that there is not one standard in my life that I practice out of legalism. Legalism is a person following certain religious laws in order to earn their way to Heaven. I know very well that whether a woman wears pants or dresses, it does not affect her security of a home in Heaven, and it would be ridiculous to think so. The only thing that saves a person and takes them to Heaven is their trust in Christ to cleanse their sins with the blood He shed for them. I also do not believe that the Christian life is merely a list of rules and regulations that must be obeyed in order to stay on God’s good side.
I fail all the time, but every belief I hold and try to live is just an attempt to please my Savior who created me, gave His life for me, and has a purpose for me. In His word, God teaches that a woman should look different than a man, and that a woman should be modest; that is why I dress the way I do. I don’t do it to try to appear better than anyone else, or because I think the way someone looks on the outside is all that matters. I have known and loved many wonderful, sincere Christian ladies who don‘t wear dresses all the time, and I by no means find them inferior to me, or believe that I am better than they are, but that does not make my conviction any less resolute.
“It doesn’t matter how I dress, because God only looks on the heart.”
Here is yet another reason why some women don’t find it necessary to dress modestly (not just referring to pants), or even wear their hair in a way that pleases God. And they use the verse 1 Samuel 16:7 to defend their position.
“But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
This is a wonderful verse, but there’s just one problem. If you read this in context, God is speaking about a person’s appearance as far as height, color, etc. It’s not talking about the way a person deliberately chooses to adorn themselves. How tall you are, or how beautiful you are, or how blue your eyes are, is not something that speaks of your character. However, the way you honor God in your clothing is entirely up to you, and is a reflection of what is in your heart. God does, in fact, care about the way we present ourselves.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
One more word about modesty: Ladies, when you dress in a way that reveals the form of your body, you’re not only inviting men to lust after you, you’re putting yourself in danger. I have seen many dear, Christian ladies that are close to my heart do this unintentionally, and I am sincerely trying to protect you. I have worked in the customer service arena for nearly three years, and I have had very few and minor experiences with men coming on to me (even in spite of the friendly, ditsy personality that I have!), and I truly believe that I can attribute much of this to the way I dress. Guys generally go after easy prey. They see me, I give them nothing for their imagination to build on, and they know that I’m not interested. But they also can guess pretty well that a girl wearing a skirt in the workplace is probably a Christian, and that especially tells them that I’m not interested… Which brings me to my final point.
3. A Lady Wearing A Skirt Is Easily Identified As A Christian.
Not only does a woman in a modest skirt or dress look feminine, lady-like, and beautiful, but she often makes it quite obvious that she’s a Christian. Yes, I have gotten some pretty funny looks from people who’ve seen me going about my life in a skirt (especially when in a group of multiple ladies wearing skirts), but to be quite honest, I love that. I love that I have a way of so boldly proclaiming that I’m a follower of Christ, without even saying a word. Of course, this is only one area in which a woman can outwardly display her faith in God, but I’ve found it to be one of the most recognizable, simply because so few women do it anymore. There was a time not too long ago in our country when it was against dress regulations for a girl to wear pants in a public school. We’ve come a long way since then! But this means that Christian women have more opportunity than ever to display their separation to Christ.
I’ve had so many occasions to discuss Jesus with people, often total strangers, that I probably would’ve never been able to talk to had they not inquired about my uncommon dress standards. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting other Christian ladies that just walked up to me in the middle of a grocery store and delightedly said “You must be a Christian.“ I’m not making this up!
Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Don’t miss out on this great experience! There is no greater joy than to show forth the praises of our God, and reflect to the world the light He’s given us, because that’s what we were created to do. Dressing in feminine, modest apparel is one of the many ways we can do this, and also one of the most powerful.
I have met with many women, mostly young girls, who’s biggest problem with giving up pants was their fear of humiliation. They were afraid of how their friends and family would view them for looking so different. I sympathize with these ladies, and pray that they will get a hold of the Biblical truths on separation from the world, and the joy it brings to a Christian’s life.
1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;”
Romans12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
2 Corinthians 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
The Bible speaks for itself. Different is good, and being separated unto God is the best.
A Warning To Christians.
I know that there are many different reasons women have for either wearing or not wearing pants. I have heard many of the explanations behind each standpoint, and I’ve addressed most of them, but I can by no means judge the motives of each individual I encounter.
Perhaps you’ve read this whole essay and you’re thinking “I’ve been living the Christian life for years, and I’ve never felt the need to practice this.” I understand and respect that. But there is a certain attitude that has plagued the mindset of many of my fellow Christians that I would like for you to be cautious against. Perhaps it doesn’t apply to you, but perhaps it does. It’s the attitude of “How much can I get away with and still technically be living a Christian life?”. Of course, that’s not usually how people phrase it in their minds. Usually they begin by asking questions like “Is this really a sin?”, or more specifically for women “Is it really a sin to wear pants?”
I’ve known far too many Christian women who lived many years of their lives wearing skirts, and then stopped because they asked that question. Not because they didn’t truly feel led to do it at one point, but often because they started becoming more concerned with how the world was viewing them, or how they viewed themselves, than how God viewed them.
The issue with this mindset is that it starts with something seemingly harmless like dress standards, and then it keeps going. Pretty soon you’re listening to worldly music that dishonors God and asking “Is this really a sin?”. Then before you know it, you’re finding reasons why it’s okay to miss church, drink alcohol, or have improper conduct with the opposite sex, all because you started becoming concerned with how much you can get away with, and the process often starts with something like dress standards. This is not the attitude of a Christian. The attitude of a Christian ought to be “How much can I do to please my Savior?” Please do not go down the wrong road.
Let God lead you.
Finally, as I’ve said before, my purpose in writing this is not to offend or insult anyone, nor is it to boast about my own Christian achievements. I am a far cry from the perfect Christian, and still have a long way to go, but I humbly desire to share with others some things that the Bible, and the Christian experience has taught me. I pray that I have not given anyone the impression that I believe a woman cannot have a walk with God or be used by God unless she wears skirts all the time; that would be very untrue. However, I do firmly believe that it has been a wonderful and powerful practice in my own life for all the reasons given, and I believe it can do the same for any of my sisters in Christ.
If you’re not sure what God would have you do, consider what the Bible teaches, and pray about it. The Holy Spirit has a way of telling us what kind of changes need to be made in our lives when we’re ready for it. But don’t change your standards just to fit in with the Christian crowd, or to simply appear to have convictions that aren’t sincere. The motivation behind every principle a Christian follows should stem from their walk with God and their desire to please Him.
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Have a blessed day!