Dress Standards and a Change For The Reagans

After months of prayer and study, we have reached a different conclusion on an issue that is big in some circles. After reflecting on the issue, I’m amazed that it is so big. The issue is whether a Christian lady must only wear skirts or not. The issue of clothing is, of course, broader than that, but the explosive issue is skirts versus pants. (To my readers who wonder what in the world I am talking about, this issue is big in the Independent Baptist world as well as some other Christian groups. While you read my disagreeing with some in this blog post just remember that I am disagreeing with friends and not fighting enemies.)

Our position now can be stated in 2 simple points:

1. The Bible demands modesty.

We have always believed this to be true. We believe that we have lost focus on this subject by taking ourselves away from the issue and reorienting on clothing styles. The idea is that a style of an article of clothing defines modesty more than the covering itself. For example, a skirt could be more immodest than a pair of pants by being too short, or even if longer, by carelessly sitting, etc. We maintain that the issue is not showing the private areas of the body. Despite what has been preached and taught, any honest, godly man can tell you that the issue is not along a simple divide of pants versus skirts, but along the divide of revealing versus not revealing. There are women in skirts that a godly man must quickly turn while his eyes away from while there are very attractive women in pants that he doesn’t have to turn his eyes away from. The issue isn’t pants versus skirts but modesty versus immodesty. One incites lust of men who want to do right and the other does not.

2. The Bible does not teach that pants would be wrong on a woman.

There is no Bible passage that states this idea. There are places where some wonderful people believe an inference is made and I will discuss these items later. Still, there simply is no passage that expressly teaches it.

There are many arguments given and many feel they can conclude “no pants” from principles of the Bible. I’d like to carefully discuss some of the most common ones, ones that I have thought deeply about as I tried to determine exactly what the Lord was really asking of us.

1. This violates the Biblical prohibition of cross dressing.

Deuteronomy 22:5 is always given as the key verse that would prohibit a woman from wearing pants because it would be man’s apparel. Whatever that verse means, it couldn’t really mean what it is often said to mean here. In fact, those sincere people who use the verse this way forget that they might wear the same t-shirt or socks as their spouse. Logically, you can’t pick and choose if the verse means what some say. I would think that would refer to what is obviously for one sex. I’d worry about the man who wore a pink, frilly shirt! Some would argue that pants are that distinctly male, but most would disagree with you.

Have you ever looked carefully at pictures of clothing from Bible times in any Bible dictionary or encyclopedia? Look at this picture:

Biblical dress-1

Do you notice anything? Just how different is the clothing for male and female? Many cite Aaron’s “breeches”, but they were under his robe-like garment and weren’t that noticeable. At least you would have to admit that the difference between male and female dress in Bible times is not as large as the difference between pants and skirts now? Skirts are fine, but can they be demanded when the difference required is greater than that when the cited Scripture was given? The verse likely refers to battle apparel, but in any event, it can’t be pushed farther than the context allows.

2. Pants are a giving in to modern culture.

It is true that 70 years ago all women wore skirts only. It is also true that our culture changed. Perhaps it would be fair to say that those who first changed were making a statement that ladies today are not necessarily making. It was not culturally acceptable then. What I am afraid we fail to see is that culture is the last line of consideration for the Christian after the issue of covering our nakedness is addressed. For example, walk up and tell some burly Scottish guy in his kilt that he looks feminine or girly and as you pick yourself back up off the ground, you will probably realize he was all man and a cultural issue was involved.

Why won’t you wear the outfit of the people in the above picture from Bible times to church, or even Wal-mart? Because you know that people would roll their eyes at you. In other words, it isn’t socially acceptable. And if some measure of changing with culture within the confines of modesty is wrong, how are the church dresses of today acceptable? They don’t look like those worn in the 1800s. Dresses went to the floor then and the sight of even the ankle was a scandal. You how the 1950s became the standard for all time. That more or less is the look of most who hold the stricter position today. It is an attractive look, but can it honestly be said to be the God-given standard for today? I don’t feel there is any way I could honestly hold that position.

It is true that there are things acceptable in our culture today that are unacceptable to the Christian. But we dodge that error by our first line of defense: modesty. Modesty means I particularly cover the private or sexual parts of my body so as not to enflame others with lust. It means drawing the wrong kind of attention. To put it simply, there are 2 factors that determine what we wear: 1) modesty, and 2) culture.

3. To start wearing pants is a move to the left and therefore wrong.

There is no Scripture on it being a sin to move to the left. Actually, the only thing the Bible teaches is that you adjust to the Biblical position no matter if you need to go right or left to do it. That really is an argument for appearances. What we are all called to do is figure out what the Lord is saying to the best of our ability and adjust accordingly.

4. Ladies should not wear pants in order to take the highest road.

It is an assumption to say it is the highest road. Is it a higher road to wear a button-up shirt over a polo shirt? Is it a higher road to have a land line instead of a cell phone? How do you know that is true? In any event, I so support anyone who feels they need to not wear pants for the Lord. But in fairness, let’s support those who do not feel that way equally. If there are no clear Biblical guidelines then it must be along the lines of Romans 14:6 (“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”)

A Plea For Consistency

Is pants- versus- skirts the big issue in the Biblical idea of modesty? Do we do the issue justice to reduce it to one area? Men, do you turn your head from every woman in pants? Or just from those who are flaunting their bodies? That really proves the point, doesn’t it?

Are pants worldly and a leaving of “the old paths”? Why do we pick this one modern development? Didn’t some think the same thing at other times about automobiles, or makeup, or jewelry, or cell phones, or electricity? Can’t you imagine some Christian years ago lamenting the shameful worldliness of bringing indoor plumbing into your home? Why would someone else get the privilege of picking and choosing such things for me?

Do you really believe that pants are a form of homosexual cross-dressing? Really? For every woman you know who wears pants? Are there not some women you admire as Christians who wear pants? Does, then, a lesbian putting on a skirt make her straight? Doesn’t this show how far adrift we are in our thinking? Cross-dressing? Where’s the outrage for issues the Bible takes care to often discuss on the level of what we see here? Is pride or anger a lesser issue than pants when you read the entire Bible? Then why are these issues not getting at least equal publicity with the pants issue?

Is the entire issue of avoiding lust on women’s shoulders? Does the man, who is truly a visual creature, not have some of the responsibility? If a lady wears something she shouldn’t, is he off the hook for wherever his mind goes? Let’s get real—does every pair of pants give men problems? If it does, could maybe he have a problem? Can a man not lust after a woman in a skirt? Even if a woman is immodestly dressed, is a man still not 100% responsible before God to keep his thoughts pure? On the other hand, does this not mean that there could be something called modest pants?

Finally, isn’t it true that there is no “thou shalt not wear pants” command? Isn’t it true that the Scriptures used are not as clear as some say? Isn’t it true that many of the arguments used are not Biblical, but are philosophical at best? Isn’t it true that where the Bible doesn’t clearly speak it is each Christian’s responsibility to seek the Lord? Do we, then, have a right to be upset if a brother or sister in Christ doesn’t arrive at our same conclusion?

Speaking for me and my family, these things settle it for us.


I really feel that women in the Independent Baptist world really fall into three categories:

1. Those who have a personal conviction to not wear pants.

To those in this category, we love and respect you. No one should back away from what he or she believes to be true—that is the beauty of soul liberty. We will never treat you any differently or look down on you. We are firm believers in every person following the Lord’s leading personally. Let us all do this very thing.

2. Those who hold no such conviction and feel free to wear pants.

That is where we are. We would appreciate you allowing us the same grace to follow the Lord.

3. Those who only wear skirts but do not personally have a conviction.

It’s sad these ladies must make choices because of pressure. They just don’t want to infuriate their pastor or their family and are living by others’ choices now. In some cases, they do it for a husband who just doesn’t want the family criticized. 

In any event, dear friends and family you now know where we stand. We know the risk we are taking. We know how we Independent Baptists are so quick to “separate.” We know how quickly a person can be written off completely.  This is a personal life issue for us. I have never made this an issue in my ministry and have no ministry changes I must make. I have never preached on this issue, so this is just a family issue. By the way, the idea of not causing others to be offended can be taken too far—I believe no one would feel compelled to sell their Toyota because someone was offended it was foreign made. 

This issue has been so blown out of proportion!

Since writing this article, I have started a series called Independent Baptist Truth Revolution. Find all posts here.   

NOTE: As the years have past since I wrote this article, it’s mazing how little an issue it is now to us. That is the place you will finally get to as well!

179 thoughts on “Dress Standards and a Change For The Reagans

    • Thanks so much for such a genuine look on the matter! I have been drifting back and forth for about 15 years, and this answers the questions I have been battling. Praise God for those who want truth, not acceptance.

    • Deut. 22:5 is most misunderstood. The chapter has to do with sanitary laws. Water was scarce and garments were seldom washed and fabric can be a vector for disease transmission, witness the smallpox infected blankets “donated” to native tribes by the British in 1763 in “Pontiac’s Rebellion” near the Great Lakes Did Jesus not understand verse 5? Have a look at what he told the Centurion in Luke 7 and contrast the Roman’s costume with men in suits and ties or blue jeans. Pants were invented for sitting on a horse. They were originally two separate leg coverings of leather/fabric to serve as a barrier between the bare skin of the rider and the coarse hair of the horse. Eventually they were connected at the waist for convenience, explaining why today, long after their invention, we still call the single garment of trousers a “pair” of pants. So many things have shaped clothing habits since the time the last book of the NT was written, and the church has no conception of what social forces are nor how they shape apparel habits. Women started wearing pants only due to the World War 2 factory work which placed 18 million USA women into pants for the first time. Suits were invented by Beau Brummel, a London alcoholic who fled England to defraud his just creditors and died of syphilis and gluttony in 1840 at a French insane asylum. What were the male leaders of England wearing in 1611 when the KJV was released?

  1. This is so well-written, and well thought-out. I love that everything in the Bible is clear and specific right where God wants it to be. This post will help a lot of people!

  2. Today, you are my hero! This NEEDED to be written, and could not have been written more perfectly! You expressed my thoughts and feelings exactly….thank you for sharing! We love and respect your beautiful family.

  3. You have identified a problem with the theology of many conservative Christians in that much of what we believe and practice is cultural and not biblical. Our goal should not be to hold to the old paths, but rather to know, love, and please God.

    To somehow think that I got every detail right in my teens or twenties, and can never change from that is presumptuous to say the least. And there have been a handful of scriptural details I regard as significant that I have had to change as my understanding of scripture became clearer and deeper. My goal as a preacher should not be to never change, but to be conformed to the image of God.

    • I couldn’t agree more with what was said. I remember my mom being in love with the Lord showing up to soul winning in her pants because she didn’t have much clothes, she was told to go home and change or she wouldn’t be able to go. I can’t begin to tell you the damage it caused and how it hurt her feelings and this was more than 20 years ago. My ministry with my husband is in the hispanic community and a lot of the woman may wear a skirt to the floor but it is very form fitting so to me again it is all about modesty nothing more or less. We consume ourselves with little things trhat we forget what truly is important the salvation of the lost.

  4. Thank you for sharing your viewpoint regarding dress standards. Sadly, this is definitely an issue that has divided many.

  5. Great post! You are exactly where we are at! My husband came to pastor our church 8 years ago. After a year and a half of being at this church, we both really started questioning why we held to this belief. At that time I hadn’t worn pants for 15 years. After much prayer and searching, we both came to the EXACT same conclusions you have come to. I even sought much counsel out from many in our circle. And we feel the same about our attitude and spirit about the whole thing– when I know I will be with some who make it an issue, I respect that and don’t wear pants on their “turf”. We are not here to throw it up in anyone’s face but don’t want to be smeared either because of our position. And like you say, in our circles that is a risk we take. 😦 Modesty–in heart, spirit, attitude, and body–that is the key! Just know Greg & Sarah Davis up here in Brunswick, OH will not cut you off. 🙂 God bless you & your family!

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I grew up in an extremely strict Independent Baptist home. I could never understand why I was made to wear skirts, and it made public school very difficult for me. I then went on to a strict Christian College and never questioned it there since there was no longer the standing out and being bullied issue. It never really bothered me a lot again until I had a daughter of my own and I was faced with trying to figure out how to tell my little girl why we only wear skirts. I did not have a Biblical reason; the only reason I had was because “I grew up that way.” My husband told me he did not have a problem with me wearing pants, so I decided to start wearing pants and allowing my daughter also. I cannot believe how people cast judgement on a fellow Christian because of this issue! So I again say thank you. Not only for stating what I felt in my heart but helping me see that I don’t have to let others make me feel like a lesser Christian simply because I don’t share their same convictions.

    • Thank you Amanda! Our children really make us have to look at this issue. We must give them honest advise or we fail them. If there is no answer, we must re-evaluate what we say. Sorry you have taken such heat. God bless!

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you1 A male friend and I recently had a similar conversation. We are in the “over 60” crowd and some would say we don’t have the same outlook on things as the “younger” folks do. However, this dear brother remarked to me that he actually had to avert his gaze when he met one of our young “ladies” in the church hallway. Her skirt was FAR above her knees and, not only that, her top was cut so skimpy and low that little was left to the imagination. I get pretty frustrated with some of the young women who perform special music, solos, etc. and their clothing belies what they are singing. I was not raised in an area where pants were an issue (I am a Northerner!) and have a closet full of lovely pant outfits that I have not worn to church since we moved south of the Mason-Dixon line for just the reason you stated – because of what I feel is pressure from the church folks. Things may not change in our church very soon, but I plan to share this article with the hope that things may one day change!

  8. Thank you for a wonderfully written point of view on this issue and may God bless you and your family. I have a skin disorder that makes it extremely painful to wear certain items of clothing and so I choose to wear what makes life more bearable.

  9. Thank you for writing this. As a longtime IFB woman and graduate of HAC (I’m sure you know what that stands for!), I am trying to NOT look down on women that wear pants, but it has sadly become a bad habit from years of doing so. I have met some of the best Christians that truly love the Lord and wear jeans, and some of the sleaziest girls that dressed ‘modestly’ in skirts and dresses. I personally wouldn’t feel right walking out in pants (habit? conviction? I’m not sure), but the bigger sin would be me judging another woman about her pants, and in IFB circles, clothes tend to get more attention than hearts. Thank you, again!

    • I Agree with what Bexbella said. I was raised in (and am still at) a church with very close ties to FBC and I went to HAC for a time and I have found it very difficult to change my mind set to not look down on ladies wearing pants! The staff at my church is now all second generation IFB and I’m beginning to see that without realizing it, it is so ingrained into our thinking that we judge other’s level of Christianity based on our personal standards. I, at the present time, do not wear pants because I still live with my parents and am honoring their wishes. But recently I have begun to study and find for myself what I truly believe by comparing what I have been taught all my life as “Gospel” with what the Bible says.

      • Wherever you come down on pants is fine either way, but your studying the Bible yourself is the wonderful thing. This is what the Lord expects of us all. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Thank you for this post. I too wore skirts only for well over 20 years. Then life circumstances forced me to get a job at a big store where I was the only one who wore a skirt. I stood out like a sore thumb. I was known as “that woman who wears dresses”. At first, I tried to be a good witness for the Lord but one day, it occurred to me that nobody wanted to be like me or look like me. There was no way that I could lead someone to Jesus if they considered me strange or freakish. I prayed sincerely about it and the Lord gave me sweet permission to dress any way I pleased as long as I was modest. I was always so cold in the wintertime in my skirts and dresses for all those years. It is such a blessing now to be warm and toasty in my thick pants and socks.

  11. Good post, Jimmy. Karen and I went through the same journey about 7 years ago. There have been many things that flowed with it, but this was the first. It is sad to see this preference cause so many divisions in church. For us, it has manifested itself further in Bible versions, music, worship style, and some other areas. It is a liberating breakthrough to be able to accept other believers in what they believe (in the areas of non-doctrine) and not be scared about what others think of what I believe.

  12. I truly appreciate your post. We have encounter things in our own lives in the last few years that has taught me to take my feelings about “what other people think” and toss it out and concentrate on pleasing my Lord. It has given me a deeper growth and love for Him. In the last couple of years I have felt that we have driven our young people to “immodesty” by teaching them that modestly is skirt and length. I feel that it is often interpereted by teen girls that skirt is modest and when they choose not to wear skirts…..andall modestly is thrown out the window, when in fact there is a modest way to dress in pants as well as a skirt. But somehow that has been missed in some of our churches. I stopped asking myself about length and pants and starting asking myself “Is this modest?”. It has made a world of difference in my life. I have also been influenced by “Grace for the Good Girl” by Emily P. Freeman. I recommend any lady who grew up similar to myself read this book. It has been extremely helpful. I will wear a pair of pants on occassion but I still do love my skirts! In my work setting– government and military environment– I have found wearing skirts and clean language and a calendar with a Bible verse 🙂 has made it immediately clear to my co-workers that I am a Christian and therefore I run into less crudeness in the office place. They will see me on a cold day in a pair of pants or when I am running to the store though, because I find that when properly dressed it is still modest. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

      • I agree!!! I have worked around a lot of Christian women who use to be Amish or Mennonite. They have often talked to me about the skirt/dress issue. I have always told them that I dress by choice and that is all. That there are days I will wear pants. I have found that they are “relieved” to know that. That wearing skirts or pants is a choice. We teach modesty every year at a Passion for Purity retreat for teen girls and all the women wear pants!! But these women are burdened and passionate about modesty! More so than I normally see. It is so refreshing and has opened my eyes in a tremendous way. Keep up the good writing!

  13. oh and one more thing! i promise 🙂 I often worry that my unsaved friends will think that my salvation is based on the way I wear skirts….we have a lot of denominations in our area who do believe that. Just another thought to think on. The public world has an interesting perception. I have unsaved friends that I love but I have learned my reaction to life speaks more loudly than the clothes I wear.

  14. Totally agree. Anytime someone has brought up the whole pants thing I usually ask “If pants are strictly a mans apparel I would love to see you pick a pair out of the ladies dept and wear them sometime”. hehehe I also would bring up the point that men wore robes or “dresses” in biblical times. I always figure the Bible was at least referring to the different styles or things that made a womans robe or mens robe unique for the gender. Pants are made differently for men vs women. Mosedsty is definitely the most important criteria. Men also should dress modestly. It’s not just about avoiding instigating lust in the opposite gender but also about not instigating envy in the same sex.

  15. THANK YOU so much for taking the time to research this issue and write this in such a great way! All I can say is, “My thoughts EXACTLY!” This has been something that my husband and I have talked about for several years. What really bothers me, is that even though I totally respect the stand/opinion of those that choose to be “dresses only”, they DO NOT respect me or my opinion. It should go both ways. Not sure that it ever will though.
    Thanks again and God Bless!

    • Carla, from what I am hearing that mutual respect may be hard to come by. The only thing that matters is what the Lord thinks and if you and your husband have peace in the absence of clear Bible the other direction, they will just have to think what they will. Sounds like you are fine with it just as my wife and I are. God bless!

    • I’m nobody special, but I’m one who wears strictly skirts/dresses. (Other than when I’m swimming – because let’s just be honest, it’s NOT modest to swim in a skirt. I wear my hubby’s swim trunks – knee length – on the rare occasion when I get to swim.)
      I have amazing, phenomenal friends who wear pants – I don’t think anything less of them. I respect their stance, they respect mine. I am truly sorry that you have run into disrespect.
      Matthew 7:1, John 7:24

      • Rachel, Thanks for your kind words. I still greatly respect any one who wears only skirts because they feel they should, especially when they have such a Christian attitude toward everyone else as you do. I also know some great Christian ladies who wear only skirts.
        Great point about swimming too 🙂

  16. This is very logically and clearly stated. I appreciate the time you took to write about such a divisive issue. I agree with you 100%. The statement about the 1950s made me laugh. My pastor brother and I were talking recently about the phenomenon of the “Baptist Amish”. The dress standard of the 50s has become their “headcovering and buggy” stand.

  17. Very well said! As a former no pants family we came to the same conclusion. Modesty is most important. We still love our dress wearing friends just like our pants wearing friends and hope they can give us the same respect.

  18. A little close-minded in that you never once considered that some ladies wear dresses/skirts as an outward ministry to others. We are called to be set apart from the world. In our nation, nearly every woman wears jeans. If we want to not follow along with the world, we are going to change everything we do..including dress…to not do whatever everyone else is doing. If I go into WalMart and see a lady with long hair and a flowing skirt, I know that she is someone I can go to and ask for prayer. I know this lady most likely goes to a church somewhere. I can’t tell in the jeans crowd who is a Christian and who is not. Does this make jeans wrong? Certainly not. However, it would be nice if more ladies thought of it from the ministry stand point. Also, there really was a big difference in Biblical times in dress. The men wore pants under their short garments. The women did not wear pants and wore long, flowing garments. That is totally different, and I believe you were stretching things to make yourself feel right about something. When I go to a store and cannot even tell who is a woman and who is a man these days….or sometimes even a church….that is wrong! Men are wearing long hair and pink shirts, women have on pants and short hair. You can’t tell who is who these days. We are supposed to look different, act different, be different from the world as well as the opposite sex. That is God’s design.

    • Val, thanks for writing. I really couldn’t agree with you about the idea of wearing a skirt being a ministry in itself. I don’t think a skirt would tell me who would best pray for me.How would you tell the men apart? How would they stand out in the same way?

      I really couldn’t agree with your point about dress in Bible times either.

      In any event, I respect your sharing your opinion.

      God bless!

      • I disagree with the comment by Val that someone in a store will know you are a Christian by the fact that you wear a skirt. John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Women who are not Christians also wear skirts, often long skirts. There was a day when I was in a church where women could not wear pants. No one every came up to me in a store and asked me to pray for them. Wearing a skirt does not assure that our prayers will be effective. A clean heart before God is required. Psalm 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” We have the Holy Spirit living in us. We should pray for His guidance in whatever we wear.

    • Amen to Val who is willing to go against the tide! Christians just want to do what they want to do! TV, movies, dress etc! Not many will have the guts to do as Bob Jones Sr said, “Do right, though the stars fall do right!”

      • Linda, I am glad you commented as I want all viewpoints to be free to comment here. Still, for you statement to be true you would have to prove that a shirts-only position is right, or should I say, exclusively right.

    • I don’t think “Closed-minded” would be a proper address to someone who is merely spelling out their personal journey and by no means presenting their journey as a type of universal standard that everyone should conform to. Also, “If we want to not follow along with the world, we are going to change everything we do” is impossible. The world wears suits. Corrupt businessmen and pimps alike wear suits and ties. The suit is a sign of the business world. NOT Christianity. The argument just doesn’t stand. We are called to “avoid the appearance of evil,” not “avoid the appearance of other people.” You have to determine what is the sinful part of the world and separate from that. There are many things in the world that are used for sin and are also used for good, such as pharmaceuticals, weapons, clothes, computers, the internet, food, soda, music, ipods, (even hymns!), etc. that EVERYONE uses. You cannot define separation according to what everyone is doing, but rather by what is sin. And if you’re going to use apparel as your ministry, then you do well in so doing! but many others minister in various other ways (or at least we should!). Dress is not our focus, though it may be yours, and we have to be ok with that, lest we start placing requirements for godliness upon others that God did not. When you search the Gospels, Jesus dealt the most harshly with people who were adding to or replacing God’s law with their own rules, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” If God did not command what we (regardless of what our hot topic or personal standard is) are commanding, we need to search ourselves to see whether we have a passion for God, or a passion for “the conservative side.” God is not a baptist republican! We will dance in the Kingdom with Presbyterians! We should let Him have His place rather than the box we use to make the Christian walk easier and more understandable. People like black and white things because straight forward answers are easier to control and command. But some things (mostly, the practical implications of doctrine, such as many “personal standards”) are not so and we have to be OK with that.

  19. I grew up in a contemporary Christian home and I wore pants my entire life. I never saw anything wrong with it. I got saved when I was 19 because I had heard such a watered down message about Jesus from my church growing up that when I finally heard God’s Word, it broke me. I received Him as my personal Savior and He started to change things as I yielded to Him. I met a young man called into the ministry and we are faithfully serving our deserving Lord as an assistant pastor’s family. I prayed and sought and prayed and sought God on the issue of pants. It was very hard for me because I wanted to please God in EVERY area of my life and that incluided my dress. One of my Christian friends asked me once why I wore pants or how I felt about pants. I remember saying to her, “Well the Lord just hasn’t convicted me about that…” The Holy Spirit quickly said within me, “Have you ever LET ME convict you about that?” To my shame I had to answer no and I dedicated some time to wearing only skirts and making sure I was modest in every way. Modesty is an attitude as well as clothing. The more I have studied and sought the Lord on this issue the less I understand how modest pants are MORE modest than modest skirts. Seperating women’s legs with a split in the clothing all the way up does not seem more modest to me than a modest skirt keeping that area covered. All I know is what God has done in my life since I surrendered my dress to Him and I can honestly say it is nothing short of amazing, I think we need to stop asking the question, What is wrong with, etc…? and start asking (specifically) what is God pleased with? I am not trying to argue with you or attack your personal convictions but I ask should we change because society changes? Or like the woman who gave testimony of changing her dress for her job, should our activities and hobbies dictate our standards? We justify clothing because of the setting they are in, instead of living what we have been convicted about all the time. Again, I have respect for your ministry and hope that ladies will ask God what He wants with their dress- NOT what makes them comfortable.

    • Ashley,
      I wanted it to be clear that I believe everyone should listen carefully to the Lord on the matter. If you feel that the Lord has led you to not wear pants, I agree you would be in sin to do it. Where the Bible doesn’t specifically address an issue (Pants, nor nothing like them, are ever mentioned, only modesty), then we must seek the Lord. The only caution I would give is that neither you nor I should be alarmed if some else feels differently about what we feel the Lord wants. If you only wear skirts, and you do not because you feel the Lord wants you to, then you have my full respect!

  20. I understand what you said when you wrote your post, but can you say a modest pair of pants is more modest than a modest skirt? Shouldn’t we want the best or the highest level of modesty?

    • Modest skirts are wonderful, but do you wear skirts to the floor? If not, wouldn’t that be the highest level of modesty? Wouldn’t Amish dress be the best with that logic? I ask that sincerely and not just to argue.

  21. And it doesn’t alarm me when someone feels differently than me. I was one of them. I did wear pants and saw nothing wrong with it. What I encourage is for women to seek the Lord as well, but so often many of them don’t and they stick with what “feels” right instead of what God tells them is right. Can you not agree with that?

  22. I would like to add my 2 cents. Long time listener, first time poster! So, hopefully I will not goof up, nor be misunderstood!
    I will first say, my wife and Miss Alicia are bestfreinds, and I have a lot of respect for the Reagan’s.
    MODESTY truely is the real issue. Pants-“to wear or not to wear”- both arguements can, and obviously are; being made! I’ve recently been made aware, that just about anything (within reason) can be preached from the Bible!
    I’ve been preached to my entire life, that women are NOT to be pastor’s or even teachers, of any male over the age of 13. Recently, a close freind of mine had someone take MY same Bible and prove that women in fact CAN and DID preach in the Bible; and can and should be pastor’s now! Honestly, I’ve not looked into it to know what I think…but follow my point please and don’t lose focus.
    I’ve heard one pastor condemn Decons, and another say that Decons are the ones responsible for running the church! Both used the KJV.
    Women preacher, widowers that remarried can or cannot be pastors, Decons, no deacons, multiple levels of Heaven & Hell, and yes; even pants on girls have been hashed and rehashed, and argued to the hilt!
    I’m finding very well meaning individuals preaching and teaching controversial issues that are NOT the main thing. Perhaps the reason Christians struggle with some of these “unclear” issues, might be because Jesus was so focused on winning souls and pulling them out of the grips of hell–that He only focused on the MAIN thing!
    If wearing a skirt is what’s keeping you from winning another soul, Call me & I’ll buy you your first pair of jeans! At the same time, don’t expect that your prancing around in a skirt is what’s saving lost souls either!
    I’d like to see less focus on what’s less important, and more focus on what Jesus thought was important…..You get that in your heart and church….and you’ll have something!
    Here are my parting words of caution, “Be careful that the things we ‘DO’ or ‘DON’T DO’, or ‘SAY’ or ‘DON’T SAY’; are not causing someone that looks to us to falter!” This idea that seems to be running rampant is, “It’s between me and the Lord”, even the definition of “Appearance of Evil” is being questioned, or “I’m only responsible for my immediate family and if my parents don’t like it, that’s not my main concern”. The Bible clearly states that noone lives or dies to themselves. So, whether we like it or not, people are looking at us; sometimes the most unlikely person is queitely looking to us for leadership and guidance, and if we make seemingly HUGE changes, we MUST consider the affects on others in these matters. The more lives we touch, the more responsible we are.
    Keep the main thing, the main thing, and all this stuff will dim in the distance!
    Luv ya ALL, Sonny

    • Sonny, one of the reasons I wrote this is people on both sides of the issue suggested I do so. One particularly wanted to not be associated with our position.
      Also I agree that we should focus on the main thing. I think this issue is much too big compared to what it should be and I wrote to speak on it and move on.
      Thanks for taking the time to write!

  23. I so loved ye article. It was so elequently written. I wore skirts for 20 years. I thought I was doing this because it is what the Bible said to do. I am from Independen fundemental background. After praying for 2 years and getting into God’s Word myself and not listening to me in I found that modesty is the issue not the article of clothing like your article said

  24. Laura, I so appreciate your comments. You are not alone. In most of the above comments, and in numerous facebook and private emails, the story is the same. Those who wear only skirts as a personal conviction are apparently far less in number than I even thought.
    The only difficulty is the intense personal attack that some face from this. I have even found that to be true.You know, if they were so right, or had the Bible really on their side, they wouldn’t have to do that kind of thing. They could just rest on the Word. Instead they try to manipulate. Of course not all do that as we have received a few messages from those who hold to a skirts-only position who have written in a wonderful Christian spirit.

    Some are afraid of what family will do and that is a sensible fear. It really may be a painful experience. As for me, the thought of living as I believed the Bible taught was worth it.I must live only for His approval or what really is the point? I thank to the Lord for the peace and assurance He gives.

    Laura, whatever you and your husband decide to do, you sound like great Christian people. It blesses my heart to think of people like you reading my blog. Your comment especially blessed me today. Thanks again. May the Lord richly bless you and your husband.

  25. Although this isn’t an issue to some people, it is HUGE to a select group. This has needed to be said in those certain circles. I hope this gets repeated over and over again. Fundamentalism has for too-long identified itself by the 1950’s culture of which it was born – instead of by the great truths it has heralded.

  26. There is an article online called “Let my women go” I found it very helpful. Wearing skirts only actually hindered my testimony. People who didn’t know me just thought I was a religious nut, and would never approach me about anything religious. Who would want a religion who makes up rules based on opinion?

  27. Pingback: The Year In Review For Reagan Review–2012 « The Reagan Review

  28. Pingback: Changing Our Dress Standards « P4G

  29. While you are right in some respects that it is about a relationship one has with Christ,we are also supposed to be drawing all men to Christ.The pants culture for women did not become mostly popular until the early beginnings of the rock and roll culture.It sure wasn’t Godly women that started the trend of women wearing pants.It was started by rebellious women,and ungodly women.Ask yourself,when you see a woman in a modest dress what do you notice about her first?I would say her face.When you see a woman in pants,what do you notice first?Most of the time it would be the waist area.Some men are not like that,but most men are,and will look there.Again,are you drawing men to Christ,or are you promoting lasciviousness?Most women that wear pants are promoting lasciviousness in men’s hearts,especially carnal men’s hearts,and don’t even know it.Some know,and don’t care.

  30. Dear Reagan family,
    Thank you for being willing to be real and take a stand for your family. I agree with everything you said here. May God truly bless you for your obedience!

  31. I’m a first time visitor to your blog, brought here by a link posted on Facebook by a friend. I appreciate your ministry, and you have a beautiful family! Your wife has good reason to keep her legs warm and well-covered. God bless her and give her good health, amen.

    I will tell you up front that I am a dress/skirt-only girl. Not because I’m an IFB, not because it’s what is expected of me as a missionary’s wife, and not because of any of the typical arguments listed above (except the Deut. 22:5 one). I do it in order to look as distinctly feminine/UNmasculine as possible, believing that this is the will of God for women. It is true that in biblical times the men and women had similar long, flowing garments. I am unsure what styles might have distinguished masculine from feminine in those days (culture enters, as you have said) but the commandment was given in a way which could apply to any culture, for all time. Men, do not put on anything which pertains to women; Women, do not put on anything which pertains to men. In Scotland, a woman should never put on a kilt. Here in Guatemala, a man should never put on a woman’s güipil and corte. You are right to say that culture plays into what is appropriate to wear, after the Word of God. What if culture dictates that my daughters look strange and draw attention to themselves at the beach when they play in the water wearing garments that cover their bodies from neck to knees? We believe there is a clear biblical guideline which shows that the thighs are “nakedness” in God’s sight, so we cover them and everything else on the way down to them. 🙂 Clear biblical principle; culture can take a hike.

    You are correct that there is no biblical passage which comes out and says that women should not wear pants. But I do see an example given in several passages about one thing: girding the loins. Girding the loins was a thing that men did to free up their legs for running and working. They gathered up the bottom of their garment, brought it up between their legs, and tucked it into their belt. This practice was only done by men, which is why God told Job to “gird up thy loins now like a man”. You can imagine that this practice caused a man’s garments to loosely follow the natural form of his legs, thighs, and crotch. Apparently, this was not considered immodest for men, but one can imagine that a man in that day (with eyes un-influenced by modern fashions) seeing the form of a woman thus girded, it would at least catch his eye. But it simply wasn’t done by women. Again, God said girding the loins is a manly thing to do.

    It’s not that men can’t wear long, flowing garments (barring cultural taboos). It’s that women shouldn’t gird their loins (in any culture). I believe that is a principle which is evidenced by many cultures throughout history, including American culture up until the early feminist movement, and it is supported by scripture by the fact that every reference to girding the loins pertains to men, except in Prov 31. (She girdeth her loins with strength, a figure of speech, and not literal.) I believe this principle applies only to what is visible to others, meaning that women should put on underneath their skirts whatever is needed to keep them warm, or cool, as the case may require.

    I humbly present my thoughts to you in the case that you had not considered this before, and perhaps you can shed light on something I’ve not seen. I declare that your dear, sweet wife will be of no less value to God for wearing pants, and I do not judge her or any other sister for wearing pants. May God continue to sanctify us all, and lead us in His truth. Amen!

    And God bless you and your family as you labor in His harvest. There’s a whole lot of things more important than skirts vs. pants. 😉

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts in a kind way. I am glad they are here for other to read.

      I would only point out that I disagree about girding up the loins in Proverbs 31. The Lord would not use something figurative about a woman who is the ultimate example of feminine godliness that would be wrong if actually done. Plus the picture is her working, which is why she, no doubt, girded her loins.

      May the Lord bless you in your missionary work. The greatest heroes in the world to me are missionaries. God bless!

      • Pastor, do you disagree, then, about God’s words to Job? “Gird up thy loins now like a man”? Does it not indicate God’s opinion that girding the loins is a masculine thing to do?

      • Hi Tammy!

        My hubby has been busy studying today and I was reading through his comments and asked if I could study on this. I was sharing with him what I had studied and he just asked me to go ahead and share what I had learned this evening so that we could get back to you as we are in agreement on this issue. Thank you so much for the sweet spirit in which you have seasoned your comments.

        I looked up the word “loins” in my Bible software as I wanted to read every verse that mentioned that word (just in case we were missing another spot). I found that the word loins is mentioned many times in the Bible, but the references to actually “girding up loins” is distinct in some places. First of all, let me say that I do not believe the Proverbs 31 lady is “figurative” because if she was, I would just quit trying to be like her! 🙂 However…I will also say that the Bible does not say that she “girded up her loins”. It actually says that she “girded her loins with strength”. It is coupled in the same verse as strengthening her arms. In it’s many references to loins, the Bible talks about the strength. I believe the Proverbs 31 lady was no mouse. She had some strong hips and legs, and strong arms – because she was a worker! So, that lady is kind of out of the context of this question. In the other passages that talk about “girding up loins”, it refers to getting ready to do something. The Lord told the children of Israel “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.” (Ex.12:11) This was all the children of Israel, not just the men. They were to be ready for action. Elijah girded up his loins to run before Ahab (I Kings 18:46) – again this refers to doing something. There are other examples that you could search for yourself but you can see that all the “girding up” led to action.Which leads us to Job and if the girding he did was to show us that this is a masculine act or not and then question what must come naturally – what action?

        There are 2 passages in Job that tell him to “gird up his loins like a man” – Job 38:3 and Job 40:7. In Job 38, it is God’s turn to speak. Job has spoken and all of his “friends” have spoken. They have told Job where he has blown it and why God has done this in his life. I don’t know if you have ever had people rake you over the coals for something when you know in your heart your are innocent, and they carry on so much that you start to believe what they are saying? I see Job sitting there in his sackcloth, dust and ashes all over him, and his soul is lower than the ground. He is so discouraged and confused after all that has been said to him, and then God speaks. He said, starting in Job 38:1, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” And then God says, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” To be true to the text, this has nothing to do with literal girding because Job was sitting in ashes. He went nowhere. He did no action at all. So, why did God tell him to gird up?

        I believe it is because of the spiritual action that needed to be done in his heart after all his friends had put him through. I do blame the friends because God did in the last chapter when they had to do a burnt sacrifice for their counsel that was without knowledge. I believe that God is saying to Job (and I will make this my own words), “Job, your friends here have given you a bunch of baloney because they have no knowledge, and you are sitting here in despair, your soul is in the depths, you are like a sniveling child wondering what you have done to deserve all of this, so gird up like a man – this is not the time to be downcast. I am calling you to action because we have work to do in your heart!” And then God goes on all the way to chapter 40 and asks Job to speak. Job says that he doesn’t know what to say and will just put his hand over his mouth (I really want this to be my life verse! 🙂 ) and then God repeats the exact thing again! Again, my interpretation – “Job, you still don’t have it. Come on, gird up like a man, because we still have more work to do.” God continues again until chapter 42 and asks Job again to talk and this time Job says, “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.” Job got it. He KNOWS!!! That is the end of God working with Job on this subject and this action was definitely a lot of work.

        My point is that this was not a literal girding up at all. And actually, we are told again in the New Testament to do this very thing in our Christian lives – male and female – in I Peter 1:13: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

        This is what I believe it means to “gird up your loins like a man” – not to define an article of clothing, but a physical analogy of preparing to work and apply it spiritually in our lives where we are to always be ready and willing to allow the Lord to do His work in us.

        ~ Alicia Reagan

  32. I have always felt this way, and could not have said it better!! Did you guys go to HAC? If so what was Alicia’s maiden name? Thank the Lord that someone finally looked out side of the box!

  33. Fabulously written. I love your position regarding the three types of women. I used to be #2, but I now am a #1. I grew up in church. My family moved to a stricter IFB church when I was young, & we gave up our pants. I graduated from HAC, and now I’m in a great IFB church that has a bit more of a gracious outlook on who wears pants or not. The school & church standard here is still skirts only, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a thou-shalt-not-wear-pants sermon in nearly a decade. I am completely comfortable in dresses and skirts and have no desire to start wearing pants. However, I am more and more convinced that it’s just not in the Bible. I love that you covered all the points that no-pants teachers use. I probably will not wear pants still, because I know so many people, including family, who would be hurt if I did. Honoring and respecting those people is worth hanging on to that standard, at least for now.

    • Thanks Deb! My goal in the article was that we be exactly what you are. Do what you feel the Lord wants you to do on the issue, but not make a big deal about it or be harsh with others. I fully respect that you still will wear only skirts and if every one respected others as you do, this would cease to be an issue. I imagine there are several churches like yours now that even though shirks-only is prevalent, it is no longer made a big issue.
      I really appreciate your comment here.

  34. Thank you for addressing this topic. Of all the replies so far, I most agree with Debbie Finchers – the question is, “is it modest”. Modesty is a mind-set, as so many others have illustrated. Your article really only scratches the surface, though. As with so many other topics in Fundamentalism (as opposed to Biblical Christianity, which is quite different), the tangled web of motive must first be sorted out. From my own research and experience, (and I have two daughters and a lovely wife), I have concluded that the “pants issue” has nothing to do with pleasing God and everything to do with CONTROL. Take a look at the misogynistic Muslim culture: women are forced to cover up so as not to inflame Johnny Jihad’s lusts; however, he can have multiple wives, can treat her like a dog, kill her for minor causes, but if she ever shows her ankle, it’s her fault if that arouses him. That’s not religion; that’s not even culture; that’s control. And after the escapades of Jack Schaap and his father-in-law, can we honestly say they were much different in thought than a Muslim imam? It’s the Bible, friends. Not what I want it to say; not what someone else thinks it says – but what it does say.

    • Pastor Tom,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love having other pastors make comments!
      I see your point about the role of men and control in the development of this being such an issue. If some traced it back, they would find a man as the original source. Maybe not the level of the Muslim inman though, I would think.
      Love your last statement!

  35. For some reason, I’m unable to continue in the above conversation – no “reply” button. :/ So, (here I am, down here!)

    So, what you are saying is that the phrase “gird the loins” does apply physically to the Prov 31 woman (she literally girds her loins with strength? is that a fabric?).. but it was just a figure of speech for Job, when the phrase included the words, “like a man”? I agree with your spiritual application, what God was telling Job to do had more to do with an attitude than his physical girding, but feel that you “skirt” the issue by saying it has no practical application. (Pun intended. 😉 )

    But I can see that I am not likely to be able to convince you, nor will I continue to try. May the Holy Spirit continue to lead and guide us in all truth, and may the Lord bless your ministry as you reach out to the lost.

  36. About the Proverbs 31 woman….yes, I do believe it is strength and not fabric since that is pretty much what it says. I only need to look at a human anatomy chart and see the flow of the muscle and can definitely see why the Lord would use such a beautiful picture word for us. The armor of God that we are to put on (male and female – not just soldiers) is full of such beautiful picture words to gird ourselves with something other than fabric.

    I don’t believe it was a figure of speech for Job, but more of “when I was a child…but when I became a man” kind of thing that God wanted him to do. I don’t think the phrasing is physical as in “stand up and put your pants on” but spiritual as in “quit sulking like a child and be a man”. As far as practical application – absolutely there is practical application! And for that I am SO thankful that it does not have to do with just the guys, as we all should learn that sulking and pouting and letting other people’s opinions matter so much to us is not the way to be a mature Christian. We should look to the Lord who is the only One who knows us, understands us, and will be the final Judge in our lives. Instead of living in the ashes of everyone’s false opinions of us, we are to “grow up and be mature” and get busy living the life God has for us.

    Which leads us back full circle of why it really doesn’t matter if we agree. The Lord knows all and will lead us in the path that He has for us. I am thankful no one else walks my path, and I have to walk no one else’s. I am glad that we are able to freely have these discussions and still be in unity to reach a world for Jesus!! God bless you too!

    ~Alicia Reagan

  37. “4. To protect others.

    Alicia has close family who we love dearly that still strongly holds to a skirts-only position. We do not want our position to reflect on them in any way.”

    Excellent point.

  38. Very thought provoking. I was saved and brought up in a skirts only church. I was never fully convinced but since that was my church, I was loyal. My argument was that I’d rather wear skirts and be wrong then not wear them and be wrong…. When we left that church , full of bitterness and anger….. Over other issues…. It wasn’t a pretty picture . And I had gone from wearing pants, spending hundreds of dollars, to throwing them all in the garbage prob. 3 desperate times. Icon fission for my girls, I have one who gets anxious every time she puts on a skirt or dress now…. We have struggled continuously w this issue for six years!!! Not believing I was ever pleasing God. Now I feel peace. I believe your right. My husband has said he likes skirts on ladies because they look feminine. But likes classy dress either way, pants or skirts. Thank u for your article!!!

  39. Pingback: It’s Time For An Independent Baptist Truth Revolution! | The Reagan Review

  40. But I ask you, how many ladies have you seen wearing pants that you can actually describe their pants as “modest”? I’ve never seen a pair of pants on a woman that I would refer to as “modest”. Now, maybe they do make them, but I’ve never seen them. They always accentuate some part of the female body. It’s impossible not to. And even if there were such a thing as “modest” pants, isn’t it really just taking another step closer to tight pants and eventually shorts and short shorts? Do you honestly believe women will stop at “modest” pants and not go any further? They won’t! It’s a gradual degrading of apparel until soon they are wearing almost nothing at all. Your article fails to mention any of this. Humans will always keep taking it one step further.

  41. Interesting points, Mark. So, let me take your own arguments and logic and ask a few questions of my own. Of course, I am a woman so I must turn this around.

    1. Is the command for modesty only directed at women in the Bible or is it a call for all Christians to be modest…male and female?

    2. Are women the only sex that has “parts”?

    3. Shouldn’t men be just as concerned to be modest in their clothing as women?

    4. Do you wear pants?

    5. Did you stop at a modest place before you sunk to short shorts?

    6. If you answered these questions like I think you did, I am afraid you have invalidated your point.

      • I would also add; the comment above reveals a very low view of women. Maybe the problem is the heart of lustful men. If I concede the point that all pants are immodest or are heading to immodesty then as was implied all of us men need to get us a kilt and we must never watch any movie or program on television because…they all wear pants. If we are to allow antiquity to define or standards then why do we stop in 1950. The Bible word is modesty not antiquity!

  42. I am truly impressed and blessed by this article. It is the best and most heartfelt explanation I have heard on this topic.

    • Thanks Candice! I have had more women like it as they have to endure the problem more. I have learned too that there are many dedicated Christian ladies out there. Please come back and comment on this blog anytime!

  43. This has become such a huge divider, and it saddens my heart. We as Christians are called to love, not judge. Whether someone wears pants or dresses is no indicator of their heart for the Lord!! How we love, how we reach out to help, and share God’s love. I honestly pay no attention to what clothes you wear. The first thing I notice is your smile that radiates from a heart that longs to serve God.
    It’s all about Him, not us. I love you guys and I am so glad you shared this and I love reading your blogs.

  44. It’s all about what honors or dishonors the Lord.

    Have you ever seen a woman or teenage girl dressed in a mini skirt, pants, halter top, etc. witnessing to someone trying to lead them to the Lord?

    Following the fashion world and hollywood will not lead to honoring the Lord! Some preach, “It’s not about following a bunch of rules and regulations” to the confusion of the hearers. Standards (some rules, etc.) are necessary. They are used everywhere. Ever see a football game without any rules? Ever visit a prison where they have rules of dress for visitors? For example, “Halter tops, tank tops, sun dresses and other revealing attire shall not be acceptable…….”

    Immodest & sensual dress, including pants on women will set one up as a target for the devil! It is an advertisement to those who are “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” and not shining as lights in a dark world (see Matt. 5:16).

    • Yes I have seen a women in pants passionately witnessing. I also can’t agree that there are no rules–modesty is the rule. I humbly submit that you have not given any proof that pants are immodest. Still, thanks for sharing. You are welcome anytime!

    • H Whittaker’s comment was somewhat offensive, because I do wear pants and I have witnessed to people while wearing pants. I have several people on my prayer list who I am praying will come to faith in Christ. A family member recently asked me to talk with their own children about the Lord and I was wearing pants at the time. I not only promised to talk to them, but am taking steps to help that family member learn to witness before and be a Godly example to their children. Seems rather judgmental to me to say a woman cannot have a passion for lost souls if they wear pants.

  45. P.S. To Above:
    Pants are breeches and breeches or pants, regardless of where the zipper or buttons may be placed. THEY ARE MEN’S CLOTHING!

  46. This is possibly the most amazing article I’ve ever read. I knew I loved it when you mentioned that pants are often off limits to people who would wear a t-shirt. The standard simply doesn’t add up.
    The day I discovered 2 Peter 1:3 (“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”) was a life-changing day for me. So often we define our Christian walks as the extra we can do for God. But God said he gave us everything that pertains to godliness. That means that if he didn’t give it, it doesn’t affect the state of our personal or collective godliness. That was the day I stopped doing extra and decided to focus on what God actually said.

  47. Regarding this issue: I realize that we all come from different types of backgrounds but I have always been curious as to how ladies in skirts only milked cows, baled hay, rode horses, went ice-fishing, lived through winters in Alaska, or a plethora of other things that many women have to do on a daily basis? There seems to be almost an aura in ifb circles that says, “You can commit any hideous, grievous sin and we will not mention it or judge you but if a woman wears pants we will hang you from the highest tree, call out your name, call you a hussie, cross-dresser, eliminate you from our ministries, refuse you entrance at our school events, and generally ostracize you.

  48. I read this initially when you first posted it and again, just today when someone re-posted it. i agree that if you boil it all down the issue SHOULD be modesty. And I believe you can be modest in a pair of pants OR a skirt. You can also be immodest in a pair of pants or a skirt. To me modesty comes from the heart as much as what you put on the outside.
    I understand that we are not to dress in a way that would tempt our “brothers” however are they not also responsible for their actions? I grew up in a place where the women and girls were held to a ridiculous standard, both in dress and behavior, and like the Muslims, if any man slipped (be it in his head or in actions) that was our fault. It was just another way to control the women. Control what they wear, what they say, what they do.
    I wear pants. I wear skirts (modest on both counts) I would not be ashamed to meet Jesus Christ in any of the clothing I wear. I have witnessed to people both in skirts and in pants. I believe strongly in the freedom of the believer, but have been told that because I wear pants “I couldn’t possibly be saved” It is sad when an issue becomes clouded, and a mountain made out of a molehill. People, especially those who have not come to Christ, do not want to be controlled. Christ does not want to “Control” us, that is why he gave us free will. He wants us to trust in him, bring glory to him, and bring others to him. I can do that wearing pants, or a skirt.

  49. My point is if their is a slight question wheather or not God doesnt want you to wear what men wear then why not make that sacrifice for him??? did he not sacrifice enough for you???? not only are we to be modest we are to be set apart, where do you NOT see a clear line drawn in the sand??? God does not want us to be misserable and ugly butHe does want us to be modest and set apart from the world. How can you reach the world in your everyday life if you look just like them?

    • Kristen, I agree if the Lord specifically asked for it, it would be a small sacrifice. But if it is only others who ask, I would not feel the need to doit for them.
      As for dressing like the world, how are men, then, distinguished as set apart?
      In any event, I thank you for commenting. Feel free to comment any time!

    • Can you be consistent with this train of thought though when you have just posted this reply on a blog from a computer which are worldly and modern? I hear the people that are saying what you say using cell phones, driving cars, going to restaurants, etc. it puzzles me how that we choose and pick what is “worldly” and what is not. Could the question not be rephrased, “how can you reach the world if you eat just like them…or drive just like them…or use technology like them…” This has never been answered for me.

  50. I’m glad you stated that men are 100% responsible for their thoughts. I have heard many, many sermons where preachers blame women for men’s thoughts. I agree we as women are responsible to God for our modesty, but men are responsible for their thoughts. Some preachers make it so easy for a man to blame women as an excuse for lustful thoughts. Where in the Bible they get that is beyond me since the Bible has so much to say about our thought life. I disagree with the comment by Val above that someone in a store will know you are a Christian by the fact that you wear a skirt. John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Women who are not Christians also wear skirts. There was a day when I was in a church where women could not wear pants. No one every came up to me in a store and asked me to pray for them. Wearing a skirt does not assure that our prayers will be effective. A clean heart before God is required. Psalm 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” H Whittaker’s comment was somewhat offensive, because I do wear pants and I have witnessed to people while wearing pants. I have several people on my prayer list who I am praying will come to faith in Christ. A family member recently asked me to talk with their own children about the Lord and I was wearing pants at the time.

  51. Very balanced, thank you! I so appreciate this article. I do wear all skirts but it’s for a different reason. My husband doesn’t preach skirts or pants from the pulpit but does and has preached modesty. I’m one of two women who wear all skirts in our little country, ranch area church. I love our ladies and desire more to see our precious people learning, living, loving our Lord, growing and reaching others for Christ. I’m more concerned with the heart. I see more and more pastors wives going to pants, and honestly at first it bothered me, and it bothering me, bothered me more lol….. So I studied the matter out completely, and honestly, scripturally, came to the same conclusion you did, I then had to say, where do I fall into this….. Because of my precious Lord, His guiding, I know where He wants me. But that’s between me and Him 😉 honestly it always had been between Him and I. By the way, I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, I was saved later in life, and yes I am the only women in my family who wear skirts 😉 and I’m ok with it…..I’m in my skin and I’m confortable, I’m also confortable with what others choose, after all, it’s between them and Jesus anyways 😉
    Thanks again I appreciate this balanced, non attacking article. It makes me even more comfortable with where I am.

  52. This issue is so wonderfully presented here. When I was a new Christian, at 35 raised in a catholic church, we went to a church with a pastor who had a very strong conviction of “skirts for women” only, except for the below the knee split skirts. These were acceptable for the girls basketball team! Sheesh, those are the most immodest things when a girl falls! No cheerleading for the boys sports, though. The girls could play these so called boy sports in immodest clothing, but were not taught that supporting and cheering on men (a wife should always support and encourage a husband, right). Hmmm, seemed off to me. At one of the teen activities, were the girls and adult women wore these split skirts (which were often very tight and from behind a table where you could only see them from, well…the bum up, I could not tell they were not wearing tight pants) the girls mostly were wearing t-shirts with them since it was summer. Once there, we found out that one of the planned activities was a water balloon fight between the boys/girls. YIKES! We brought our teens inside, much to their discontent, and spoke to the pastor about our thoughts on the subject. Thank the Lord he stopped the activity before it started. I was shocked to find no other adult, even the pastor before we brought up the immodest nature of this game, did not either see anything wrong with it or was afraid to speak up to this pastor. (please forgive me if this is inappropriate to say, but he had a huge tendency to force his personal convictions on the congregation) I did start wearing jumpers (I hated skirts and those split skirts as they were really kind of ugly and had to be ones that were made by a church member) since I wanted to serve and it was required. I often spoke of the very same things you mentioned here to anyone who brought up the subject. I guess I might have been wrong to do this, but I did ask the pastor about the contradictions. He finally end up “not liking” me and even told my husband to put me out of the house until I completely submitted to Biblical standards! (this was not the only issue I went to the pastor to try to understand) We never became…ummm…friendly…and, as I found out later by a few women, even his own daughter-in-law, that the women were warned to be carful of me and try to keep away! Embarrassingly, my husband and I ended up needing counseling with the pastor due to starting to have marital problems, which always (yes always) started out with gossip about other members which I always replied with “we aren’t here to talk about them” to which he rolled his eyes to every time. We once went to him to talk about a problem with our daughter and was told very first thing about a girl in the church who just lost her virginity and with whom. I was actually angry about this and told him that it was inappropriate to tell us this. In one of our marital meetings, I did mention my husbands contradictions of doing and seeing things from the Lords/Holy Spirits/Biblical views and I was concerned that he may not be saved after all The pastor very quickly “laid me out in lavender” for daring to question such a thing! Then he turned to my husband and told him that with a “wife like me” he will never be able to become a dean or pastor of a church.
    Anyway, thanks to the Lord, my husband did get saved a year before we left the church. Funny that the pastor and my husband did not see eye to eye afterward. The only reason we stayed there for a year was because our youngest son was in his senior year at their school and we wanted him to be able to finish his schooling in the same school which he had been going to since 2nd grade and wit his friends . The pastor obviously knew this and my sons senior year was MISERABLE. He could do nothing right suddenly, as far as the administration was concerned.
    All this really bothered me since, even as a catholic, I believe we raised our children with modest values. As toddlers, we trained my daughter to always wear a long t-shirt or shorts over her bathing suit. When she got a bit older, she was trained to always wear 2 layers, top and bottom, even at home (we have 2 sons which were just younger than her, having had 3 children in 3 years) When my sons were old enough to notice such things but still had to go shopping with me, I taught them to look down when we got close to the register where the inappropriate magazines are. People thought we were crazy and, wow, the looks we got. We taught our sons to always open doors and help out, even having to bring in the groceries for me, telling them that if they did not work for them, they would not eat them. Being told I was off my rocker before getting saved was OK, we believed in what we were doing. To find out after being saved that we (well, I) was still off my rocker was so frustrating.
    I am so very sorry this is quite long. It is very encouraging to hear a pastor say what always seemed Biblical to me especially after I praying and studying about it. And…well…to explain why it was so frustrating to me to face others about it. Thank you for listening (reading) Love in Christ, Sandy O

    • Sandy, Wow what a story! Thank you for sharing your heart here. Beyond the dress issue (and I agree with what you said), there is some pastoral abuse out there as well as some trying to force their preferences on all church members. That is far beyond the authority the Lord has given we who pastor. Coming from a catholic background, you have probably noticed we at times have a similar problem to Catholics. Catholics give an undue authority to men (especially the Pope) and say submission is essential. In our Independent Baptist world we often see that same submission being demanded. It is wrong in both places.

      It is things like you wrote here that has burdened me to start the Independent Baptist Truth Revolution series on this blog. We need to turn from craziness to a real focus on Christ!

      Sounds like you have a wonderful family. Hope our families cross paths someday! Please come back and comment anytime!

  53. Thanks you for this! I read it awhile back but didn’t comment. It showed up on my newsfeed again so this time I thought I would thank you for it! My husband and I were saved a little over 11 years ago very early in our marriage. In an IFB church. I had struggled with this for many years. I always wore pants when home and going out and about though. But when I was out and about and would see my fellow church people I would feel embarrassed if I was wearing pants. That went on for about 7 years. And then finally I was talking to my husband about it. We read the bible, prayed, and came to the same conclusions. I no longer feel embarrassed or ashamed. I still wear skirts to my church, only because I haven’t bought many dress clothes, and most of the ladies at church wear them also! Thank you so much for your honesty and your article!!

  54. I am a missionary going to a northern country. One missions director at a church asked if my wife ever wore pants. I replied that if it was subzero she would occasionally wear pants because of some health problems that flare up during very cold weather. The response- we only support missionaries that agree 100% with us in doctrine. (since when did this become doctrine??- don’t remember that in Bible Doctrines class) Another missionary was mentioned that worked in a cold climate was mentioned as doing it. However he has been on the field for over 20 years and has not built a self supporting church. Why- he is so divisive fighting with everybody- (not speaking of ecumenicism here) and this is a major one of his pet peeves. I have often wondered how many ladies have visited into a church like that wearing pants and have left never to return because of such an attitude. Sometimes you bite your tongue so hard you think you are going to need stitches.

  55. Just found this post tonight! What an encouragement! After studying this subject, I am now more than ever convinced that “skirts only” is a control issue as much as anything. I promise that if a man had to wear a skirt in the middle of winter in the North, no one would be wearing skirts! 🙂 I also grew up in a skirts-only home and raised my daughters that way for a number of years simply because it was expected of us. My husband and I had known for a long time that we did not want to raise our children in the same strict manner that we had been raised, but were not really sure how to go about leaving the “performance-based” Christianity. Praise the Lord, He removed us from our “performance-based” church and we really didn’t have to do anything except follow Him!
    One question I would like to ask these ladies who seem to think our appearance is the only way the world knows we are Christians, is this: if dress is our only option, then what witness do men have? Men dress the same as every other man in the world, and yet it is up to the women to be the witness? I would like to point out that it is not hard to spot a Christian woman in a pair of pants. You can see the love of Christ on her face.

  56. I showed this to someone who said that he thought that since men and women have different roles they should be dressed differently. Any thoughts on that? I, for one, am pretty ticked off with myself that I listened to someone preach about the unisex movement in the 70’s, believed him, and never studied it out for myself. You did a great job presenting this subject.

  57. Thank you for spelling this issue out. I never could believe women should wear dresses because I knew what was worn in Bible times. If we want to be strict with our Christ-like walk, everyone should wear robes. EVERYONE! As you stated in your article; that isn’t right either. We are to draw people to Christ with our ‘walk’. Anything that sets us too far apart from the world just makes us a spectacle to be observed like the strict Amish or Mennonites. I mean no disrespect to those who believe skirts are the only apparel for women. Disrespect is not Christ-like but respect is. Thank you again.

  58. As a former IFBer, I am always encouraged to see someone really dig into an IFB distinctive, weigh it against Scripture and realize that the IFB stance is flawed; man-centered, tradition-based dogma can’t withstand the scrutiny. I appreciate your sincere intentions, and I wish the best for you and your wife.

    For the commentors asking why we would not take the “safest” approach to modesty – where is your (or your wife’s/daughter’s) burqua? If you are not wearing something similar, then you are (by your own standards) not pleasing God. IFB teaching puts such a weight and burden on people; there is always something more to do for God to REALLY please him; anything less than 110% is failure, and He will spew you out of His mouth, etc. The song “I Wonder Have I Done My Best for Jesus?” is a dreary guilt-fest; on its face, the answer is, of course, “no.” We can never do enough to satisfy our sin-debt to a holy God; that’s why John 3:16 and 17 are so beautiful. A study of the book of Galatians is a great place to start to strike the shackles of “do-enoughology.”

    For those stating that pants can never be modest on a woman, as men can lust, etc.: let me say that lust is the property of the lustful person. Men can have lustful thoughts over a woman in a bikini, a woman in a skirt, a stiff breeze, and so on; why are you blaming the object of their lust? The Bible tells us that we are tempted when we are led away by our own lusts; take some responsibility, guys. Also, men, like women, have a crotch – why is it okay for men to “emphasize” theirs?

    I’ll leave you with a link to a humorous bit on “Hairology”; while it explores a different topic, this parody piece touches on how preference + bad scholarship = terrible theology. I hope you enjoy it. http://www.challies.com/sites/all/files/legacy/media/hairology.mp3

    Take care, and God bless you folks.

  59. I was so happy when I found this article because I have been reading and searching for literally a couple of years on this subject because I wanted to truly know for myself what God expected of me on this subject. My husband grew up catholic and I did not attend church in my family. My husband and I got saved in a Methodist church several years back but we started looking for another church because of some things happening there.10 years ago we came to a wonderful Independent Baptist Church and fell in love with the teaching there. Our children got saved one by one and now we have 2 daughters at Bible college and 4 children still home which are 2 girls and 2 boys. Our old Pastor that was there when we came his wife wore jeans sometimes – not to church but outside of church. Then a new Pastor came and after a year or so preached on the katastole and the long flowing garment and modesty. All of us females in our family starting wearing skirts only but I wanted to wear jeans sometimes because we had a small mini farm and chickens, etc and I wanted to be in the garden etc. Believe me I literally crawled through my garden in a long skirt for several years in a row. Anyway, I felt like I had rebellion in my heart against always having to wear a skirt so the inner battle began. All along though, my husband did not have an issue with pants on me or the girls. He thought it was petty and as long as we were modest there wasn’t a problem. I literally have had this battle in me for years trying to please what I believe is being taught and “what is looked on as a higher level of C
    hristianity” We aren’t supposed to look like the world. If you give your whole life to the Lord then there should be an outward change. Anyway, my younger daughters who are very sports-minded came to their dad and asked if they could wear pants outside. I also have a daughter who has Juvenile arthritis and gets cold very easily when her legs are bare. He said “yes”. To my older girls this was a bad thing because he was not holding the standard of skirts only any longer. I have read every modesty book I can get my hands on and there are some definite swayings to the “skirt only” group. I just can’t accept that because you wear a different type of clothing you are more “holy”. What did you do today? Did you read your Bible? Did you pray for others? Did you take the time to talk to the neighbor? How about the lady at the coffee shop did you treat her nicely. I could go on and on. In conclusion, this is where we stand in our family. My oldest 2 daughters are skirts only. I and my younger girls wear skirts to church and church functions but outside of that we are free to wear jeans to town, home etc. When my oldest brought her fiance home from Bible college to meet us my girls at home and I wore pants on a hike with them because I wanted them to know that we are a loving, Christian family who will be there for you and love you but we will be wearing jeans sometimes. It all went perfectly fine and by the way, his mother wears them too. I am just done with this issue. We have allowed it to cause division in our own home and that is ridiculous. Let’s look at our hearts people and see the inside (the soul of man) and not try to hold people to what someone deems as a “higher standard” that really doesn’t exist if you honestly search the scriptures. I have had to ask forgiveness from my younger teenage daughter because I literally accused her of “possibly not being saved” a couple of
    years ago because she wanted to wear jeans. I in my mind did also but I was torn – Do I love my daughter and allow her to wear jeans and myself or do I hold to the higher standard of what is being taught. What will they think if they see me in town in my pants? Oh my goodness. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. I will give you one scenario that really made me think twice about this subject. Every year a family in our neighborhood have a apple pressing party. I know these ladies wear skirts they are called the “two by two’s”. I wore jeans and so did my neighbor that went with me. It was October. I felt so awkward standing in their kitchen because all the women that put it on were in their denim skirts and looked like someone at our church would be dressed. I wanted so bad to run home and put my denim skirt on and come back. It sounds silly – but it is true. This really bothered me because I really felt they were looking at us in our pants and judging us. About two days later guess who I ran into at the grocery store – one of these women and what was she wearing? Pants. It blew me away. Then I was really rocked. That is kind of when I started staying “enough is enough” wear what you want as long as it is “modest” and move on with life. Focus on things that are really important and let the Lord be the judge. I know this was long and I’m sorry but I needed to get it off my chest.

  60. As a veteran educator, having taught in both CDS & public schools, having been on church staffs, and having addressed the subject of dress to women, I found your article interesting. I was reared in a strict no-pants home. My godly mother never wore a pair of pants in her life. My Christian college allowed pants for participation in sports activities, and in-dorm only. Since Christian college is much like military service in that young people are preparing for service in the army of the Lord, a “uniform” is very appropriate. It is also the time for learning etiquette when it has often not been taught at home. So the question of individual expression of propriety usually comes up after Christians are out in the world. My study has brought me to the same conclusion as you regarding men’s & women’s clothing in Bible-times. It is hard to teach “no-pants-on-women-ever” based on flowing robes on both men & women in ancient times. [There must have been some distinctions, however, based on the admonition not to wear anything pertaining to a man/ woman.] I now wear pants for “every day” dress, casual. For professional dress, I follow what the professional advisers recommend through research, which is business skirt-suits for women in keeping with business suits for men in the work-place. For the House of God, I believe we should all “do our best” when going before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is a dress protocol for meeting earthly kings & queens, so why should we do less for our King in His House? I still hold to “Sunday dress” for church because I believe this is “my best”. Now-a-days many people talk about modesty; however, many do not seem to have a concept of what it means. Of course modesty comes first from the heart, and no amount of apparel can clothe the heart. This must come from the Holy Spirit. But clothing can help keep us from causing others to stumble. Love for the brethren is supposed to be our motivation in most things. These days we are seeing lovely Christian young ladies who love and serve the Lord in form-fitting, skin-tight, low necklines, short skirts, skinny jeans, bikini-type swimsuits, showing a lot of skin. This is in fundamental, not liberal churches circles. I believe they feel they are “blending in” so they can have testimonies with the world and not be perceived as “different”. Or perhaps “Christian liberty” now means something that it did not mean to Christians in previous decades. There are feminine pants for women: no back pockets (especially no designs on back pockets) to draw attention to the derierre, no faux-fly (when there is no zipper), loose fitting. [Used to be that mothers & fathers would say: “Young lady, you are not going out the door with those skin-tight pants!” Now mothers are wearing them…] Also, ladies should stay away from most “v-neck” tops because of the danger of cleavage showing when bending or slumping. Writing on fronts of tops/blouses draws attention to the bust. Is there any place where it is OK to be immodest besides in the bedroom/ bathroom? How about on the beach? What is wrong with women & men being modest on the beach as well as everywhere else? We need modesty of the heart to be taught in our churches. Older women are supposed to teach the younger women, but, sad to note, this does not seem to be occurring much today. But one cannot teach what one does not know.

  61. We are missionaries and our board requires skirts, with a health related clause. I completely agree with you, and, were it not for the commitment we made, I would wear trousers – mostly when I’m doing work outside or sluging through the snow or mud to help my husband hook up our trailer. I appreciate someone with influence having this view and making it public. I pray that in the near future most independent baptists will stop fighting about this issue and be in unity for the gospel sake. This issue used to make me angry, but now, knowing other missionaries in the jungle or the tundra, it just breaks my heart.

  62. I love this article. There isn’t much I can add to all that has been said already (and I admit I didn’t read EVERY comment), but I did think of a couple of things that I wanted to add.

    1. I A was raised in an IFB church and my dad attended HAC. We were always a skirts only family. And as I grew up, the explanation just didn’t make sense.

    The Deuteronomy passage also talks all about not wearing mixed fabrics, etc. So, why was that suddenly okay?

    The “modest apparel” passage made sense, but who decides what is modest? Muslims stone or publicly whip women who dress as “modestly” as most IFB women I know.

    And why are pencil skirts okay, as long as they are knee length?

    2. Why is it always directed at women? Joseph was accosted by a woman who lusted after him. Women lust, too. Look at what is said about certain books and calendars by women. We are not incapable of lust, so why is it all about skirts?

    3. Most of the arguments used to defend the skirt only stance are the same ones used by Muslims. Listening to them rant about “westernization” of their women could easily be preached from most IFB pulpits and be greeted with a hearty amen!

    And finally, it is true that when we really seek truth from Scripture to explain things to our children, it changes our hearts.

    My parents are still skirts only, and I am totally okay with that, honoring them by not wearing things that they disagree with when I am at their home, if I can help it. After all, the Bible does say that we are to honor our parents.

    That said, most of the “their one of us because they don’t wear pants” crowd (excluding my parents), rarely stress anything BUT the outward. That is totally unscriptural.

    When trying to explain to our son why our standards are what they are, we found that we needed to use Scripture to make him believe it. If we had to use the phrase, “well, pastor so and so says……”, he immediately dismissed those statements. Not rebelliously, just in a WHY does what he says mean more than what anyone else says, kind of way. He had a point. Only what God says matters.

    I have said a lot for not having much to add, didn’t I?

    Let me just finish with this:

    I still attend an IFB skirts only church. I don’t wear my slacks around church because I don’t want to cause division. I do wear them, though, because one day my husband told me that he preferred that I did. I think the Bible says I am supposed to follow what he wishes. That is my choice to honor him.

    I also find that when that issue is settled, the true work of God gets done. I have friends who would never wear slacks, and those who wear nothing but slacks. I have discovered both love God with all of their hearts, and we all love and pray for one another regardless. We all love each other. We all want to do God’s will for our lives, and we all choose not to let minor things divide us.

    God tells us that is how it should be. Unless it is a doctrinal issue, we should let every household decide for itself and we should just work together to honor God and serve Him together.

    Thank you for this article. You said it much better, but those were my thoughts.

  63. I enjoyed this article and have had many similar thoughts. I grew up wearing whatever I felt like wearing but started to think more about it after being saved. I’ve never gotten a good, biblically sound answer to the “dresses only” question.

    Personally, I wear skirts almost all the time because I find that the cut and style required to make ladies’ pants modest is not that attractive or stylish- not to mention almost impossible to find. Most jeans and pants that look nice are snug, so you’d need to wear something long and loose over them to be covered properly.

    Skirts are cute and allow for a lot of personal style plus I can find them easily in regular stores or even thrift stores. I choose a-line skirts that fit nicely and are not clingy. You don’t have to wear burlap sacks!

    Just one other thought, why are we always talking about the “bottoms” of the clothing? Tight, see-through and low cut tops are immodest, but you only hear about pants.

Leave a Reply to Lisa Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s