Based on an article by: Will and Vivian Stoppel

If Pants are Men’s Clothing, Why Did Jesus Wear a Skirt?

To quickly forestall offense at the above statement, consider that the Bible actually calls the male Jewish garb a skirt. (Psa 133:2; 1 Sam 15:27)

Deut. 22:5 forbids a man putting on a woman’s garment and a woman putting on a man’s garment. Does this mean Christian women may not wear pants? Are pants inherently men’s clothing? And if they are, what brand of pants did Jesus wear?

Of course, Jesus did not wear pants. Jesus wore what we would call a shift or dress with a shawl over it. Jesus wore what all the men of his day wore—and all the women, too. The shape of the garment was the same for both, the distinction between men’s and women’s being in color or accessories. Jesus was wearing men’s clothing when he wore a "dress." Mary and Martha were wearing women’s clothing when they wore a "dress."

Throughout history, styles have varied. In Scotland and England, men’s clothing was (and on certain occasions still is) a very short skirt called a kilt. In the orient, women’s clothing has been a trouser suit. In India, women’s clothing includes harem-style pants beneath a sari. Whether a garment has leggings or no leggings is immaterial. Yet in each culture, the boundaries between men and women’s clothing has been recognized.

In America and most of the world, pants have for more than a half-century been recognized as women’s clothing. They are made to fit women’s shapes in the colors women prefer, and they are sold in women’s departments.

Some might argue that pants reveal a woman’s form more than a dress. This depends on the pants and on the dress. Any style of clothing can be worn seductively, which is never fitting for a Christian. God wants us to cover our bodies in suitable, well-arranged attire, but He has not asked us camouflage the form. Besides this, pants actually reveal more areas of the male form than female. Why are pants then modest for men but not for women?

We know that cross-dressing and transvestitism is abominable, being closely related to homosexuality. But Deut. 22:5 is not speaking of forbidding a certain culturally accepted style of dress.

An interesting question to ponder is this: Just how did a man in the days of the Old Testament law violate Deut. 22:5? He was already wearing a dress like the did he "put on a woman's garment"? And how did a woman back then commit the abomination?  How did she dress in men's clothing?  It certainly was not by putting on pants, because men did not wear pants! The only answer is that since both men and women wore dresses, the violation of this command was wearing accessories or perhaps colors that were regarded as proper only for the opposite sex.

Likewise, a Christian man today should not wear something recognized as feminine, neither should a woman dress in clothing that society recognizes as strictly male.

In our society, it is respectful and acceptable for women to wear slacks to work, church, funerals, and even governmental state affairs. A Christian woman is wearing recognized woman's clothing when she wears respectable pants.


The cap or veil is probably the most important issue to some groups, who consider all Christians who do not wear them to be 'wordly christians'.  Therefore, it is of utmost importance to carefully examine what the Bible actually says on this major issue. Since the Bible was written in Greek, the actual meaning is always better understood by examining those originial word meanings. Here are the pertinent verses, with the important words in their original language:

1st Corinthians 11::4 "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered dishonoreth his head"

Covered: kata: something down over: "to hang down from the head"

Verse 5: "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head"

Uncovered: akatakalupto--a combination of three words. (a) not or negative (kata) something down over ( kalupto) covered. The word means uncovered or not having something hanging down over to hide or cover the head.

Verse 6: "For if the woman be not covered (doesn’t have something hanging down over her head), let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered (have something hanging down over the head).

Shorn:Keiro: to shear or shave very close like a sheep.  When talking of humans, this word is always used to mean "shave"

Shear: xurao:To shave with a razor

So far, there is not one word mentioned about fabric coverings. But there is talk about hair, i.e.. shearing and shaving hair. More about hair follows…..

Verse 14: Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

Have Long hair:Komao: To wear tresses of hair: Have long hair

Verse 1a:But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her.

Have Long hair:Komao: To wear tresses of hair: Have long hair

Glory: doxa: Dignity, praise, honor, glory

And Now Comes the Only Word in This Whole Passage

That Means Something Made of Fabric!

Verse 15b: For her hair is given her for a covering.

For: anti: instead of, in place of, as a substitute

Covering: Peribolian: mantle, veil, vesture, cloak, wrap, cape, outer garment, headdress.

Other translations accurately reflect the original Greek wording:

"But woman, if she have long hair, it is glory to her; for the long hair is given to her in lieu of a veil." DARBY

"nor that hair is a woman’s glory, for hair is given as a substitute for coverings." ISV

"but on a woman it is a thing of beauty. Her long hair has been given her to serve as a covering." GNB

"and a woman, if she have long hair, a glory it is to her, because the hair instead of a covering hath been given to her" YLT

"because her hair has been given her instead of a veil" MON

JP Green, lifelong scholar of the original languages and translator of the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, says this about the headcovering passage: "The way that I read the Greek and understand the message is that woman’s hair is sufficient cover in the assembly. This I conclude because the contrast is being shorn, and not being shorn. To my knowledge there is no requirement that a woman wear a fabric hat at any time, much less at all times."

Clearly Paul was teaching that a woman's Long hair is special, it is a God-given headcovering.


Scriptures do not forbid a woman from trimming her hair, but teaches rather that her length should remain "long". Some have suggested that it is wrong for a woman to trim their hair because they are "cutting away their glory". The hair isn't a woman's glory, the Scriptures states that the hair is a "Glory onto her". Just like long hair on a man is a SHAME unto him.

Here is an example that will help you to understand this. If a man has hair down to his waist it would be a "shame" to him. If he trimmed away three inches of it, it would still be long, and it would still be a shame, accoring to Scriptures. It is the same for a woman. If her hair remains long after the trim, then it remains a glory to her!

Some have asked, What is long? The word for long hair does not mean "uncut," so each Christian woman must rely on the Holy Spirit for direction in this. Could it be that what is considered long on a man is also long enough for a woman? Could it be that the importance is in the difference between men’s and women’s hair length, not necessarily the length itself?

As the Bible indicates when it says, "Doth not nature itself teach you?" most cultures practice distinction between the sexes through hair length, even those of races with tightly-coiled wool type of hair that bushes out rather than veils down.
Can we take our cue from the lengths for men and women that are recognized as appropriate among Christians in our own culture?


ARGUMENT #1: If the covering is the hair, then men would have to shave their heads.

This would be true if the Bible said the covering is simply "hair." But the Greek wording says, "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering."

Therefore, the man is not to have "something hanging down over" his head and the woman should have "something hanging down over" her head. (It is an interesting inconsistency that some fabric head coverings do not drape at all, but are skullcaps giving the woman a cropped-haired appearance and making her silhouette almost identical with a mans!)

ARGUMENT #2: It makes no sense for the long hair to be the covering, because if a woman won’t cover her head (with long hair) then she should cut it off—well, it’s already cut off!

This would indeed not make sense if the passage said a woman who won’t cover her head (with long hair) should cut her hair short. But the Greeks words translated "shorn" and "shaven" do not mean simply "cut short." These words mean shorn like a sheep or shaven with a razor. So, it makes perfect sense that a woman who won’t cover her head with long hair (meaning she has short mannish hair) should just go ahead and finish the job by shaving it off! Her short hair serves no purpose as a covering, so she might as well be bald. And the fact that it is a shame for a woman to be shaven is seen today in the baldheaded cancer victims who invariably cover their heads. Bald men are no disgrace, but women instinctively have a horror of appearing in public bald, as women undergoing chemotherapy can attest.

ARGUMENT #3: Yes, a woman’s hair is a glory to her, but in humility and modesty she should not show that glory. Her glorious hair should be only for her husband to see, not displayed for all the world to see.

This is an interesting theory that sounds pious—but again, the Bible simply does not say anything of the sort. If we are to understand the plain words of God, we must not add man’s words.

This thought is also contrary to other usages of the word "glory." In the Old Testament an old man’s white hair is his glory. Shall he cover that glory in modesty? A young man’s strength is his glory. Shall he only lift heavy objects in front of his wife? Flowers have glory. Shall we throw a tarp over our flowerbeds? The sun, moon, and stars all have a certain glory, and God does not require them to be hidden. Like a sunset or the colors of a butterfly or the mane of a horse, God created glorious beauty—and it brings honor to Him as creator!

If the woman should in modesty hide the hair God gave as her glory, then man should hide his wife, for God gave her to be his glory. To be consistent with this thought of covering glory, husbands should require women to wear the Islamic burkha, so that none might see the glory.

ARGUMENT #4: Just because the Bible says her hair is given her for a covering, it doesn’t mean her hair should replace that covering! She has a natural covering to show her natural place in creation, and she should wear an additional covering over that to show her voluntary submission to her spiritual role.

An interesting thought, but again the Bible doesn’t say anything of the sort. This is, pure and simple, man adding to the Word of God, which Revelation says is a very risky thing to do! Besides that, the word anti (translated "for" in the KJV) means instead of, to replace, in lieu of, as a substitute, in exchange, to serve as, because of. Here is how the word anti is used in the Bible. Notice that in every case comparing two things, it always denotes substitution or exchange of one thing for another.


Matt. 2:22 Archlaus did reign in the room (anti) of his father Herod

5:38 An eye for (anti) an eye, and a tooth for (anti)

17:27 give unto them for (anti) me and thee.

20:28 given his life a ransom for (anti) many.

Luke 11:11 will he for (anti) fish give him a

Rom. 12:17 recompense no man evil for (anti) evil

1 Cor. 11:15 her hair is given her for (anti) a covering

Heb. 12:2 who for (anti) one morsel of meat sold his birthright

ARGUMENT #5: The early church fathers wrote about veils.

Some of the early church fathers did indeed teach wearing of a veil, but several of the most vocal recommended it cover the face and be as long as uncut hair, which is at least to the waist or even to the knees. It was the custom for hundreds of years into the early church, especially in North Africa, for all decent women to appear in public completely veiled with a burkha-type covering.

If those men’s writings are our authority, we should be consistent and wear a blanket over the head. We should also fast so often that we are gaunt, for one of the same men said that skinny people get into heaven quicker than plump people. We should also practice lifelong celibacy in marriage, as some of these same church fathers also taught! These were men, like us, with strengths and weaknesses. They were our brethren in Christ, but their writings were no more inspired than any of ours.

The Bible alone is the pure Truth and our only authority—and it says her hair is given her instead of a fabric veil.

Is could be prudent and respectful, however, to conform to local custom by wearing a veil in cultures that demand it. Commentator Matthew Henry says about the veil, "[they would be] odd...if they would quarrel for a custom to which all the churches of Christ were at that time utter strangers, or against a custom in which they all concurred."

ARGUMENT #6: The Bible says, "We have no such custom." This word actually should be translated "other" as in, "We have no other custom [than that women cover their heads ]

On what basis? The word translated "such" is used in the New Testament 61 times, and not in one of those instances is it translated "other." Nor would it be possible to replace any of the 61 occurrences with "other" without making the verses nonsensical. It is a very dangerous thing to change the Word of God.

ARGUMENT #7: Why does the Apostle Paul go to such trouble if all he wanted to say was than man should wear short hair and woman long. Was it just cultural?

The Bible doesn’t say anything about this passage being merely cultural, so it is a dangerous thing to dismiss it as such. Nevertheless, commentaries will say that prostitutes in that city had their head shaved for identification purposes and respectable women went veiled. Perhaps prostitutes were being converted and entering the church services with shaven heads, in which case they would need to wear a veil until their natural veil grew out. Or perhaps because there were legalists who wanted a cultural norm to be recognized as a Christian doctrine, Paul was agreeing that women should come before God properly covered—but that their "long hair is sufficient to serve as a veil. And if anyone wants to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."

We can only speculate about the reason Paul approached the subject as he did or about the cultural issues involved, but none of these speculations should overrule what is actually written in the Word of God. Besides, it is unlikely that a convert from a backward country will know anything about the customs of ancient Corinth—but he can read the plain Word of God, which simply says a woman’s long hair is given to her instead of a veil.

[One time a Sister was trying to convince a Spanish-speaking woman of the validity of wearing a cap. They looked into the Spanish Bible, and my wife was shocked and silenced to see, "en lugar de velo le es dado el cabello." Her hair is given to her in place of a veil.]

Can we not take this passage at face value?

ARGUMENT #8: Why have Christian women worn hats to church throughout the centuries? Didn’t they discontinue it only when the women’s liberation movement began?

Wearing headgear was for centuries an almost universal cultural custom for Christians and non-Christians. It is said that early Christians hiding in the catacombs could be detected by their pale skin—not any distinction in headgear. Likewise, the Anabaptist could fade undetected into the crowd—their headgear was the same as their neighbors.

This longstanding cultural custom may have influenced some great men of the faith to view 1 Cor. 11:1-16 as commanding women to wear hats to church, which would be proper in those settings.

When the custom of wearing hats in public was discontinued, they stopped being seen in most churches, also. This change in culture came long before the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s. In 1946 film footage of Prussian Mennonites being rescued from Berlin holding camps, the majority of the women are not wearing headgear in church. Today in all the true Christian churches, women wear their hair longer than men. They also accept the teaching behind the covered and uncovered head—submission to the chain of authority established by God. May we all be obedient to this!

Modest Apparel : Should Christians wear jewelry? Is all rings forbidden? Even the wedding ring?

"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array" ( 1Tim 2:10)

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel, but let it be the hidden man of the heart" (1 Pet. 3:3)

There are two ways to look at these parallel passages. (1) Christian women are forbidden to use the adornments listed. (2) Christian women are not to rely on outward adornment as the source of their true worth and beauty.

The vast majority of Christian commentators favor the second view. As one commentator said,
" Peter did not state that women should not wear jewelry and nice clothes, but that Christian wives should not think of outer attire as the source of genuine beauty."

These two views have very different results! We must let the original language of the Bible define the term, "modest." The Greek word is kosmios, which comes from the word, kosmos, translated "world" in about 150 places in the New Testament. Kosmos simply means "orderly adornment" and it is where we get our modern-day word cosmetics.

It’s close relative, kosmios or modest means "properly, orderly, decorous, becoming." Therefore, the literal meaning in the Bible of adorning ourselves in modest apparel is to be adorned or decorated in a becoming, orderly way.

If we accept the view that we are forbidden to use outward adornment, we must be consistent in rejecting all outward adornments listed in these passages: braiding the hair (yes, this includes schoolgirl plaits), wearing gold, or pearls, or costly array, and putting on apparel.

Of course, the command to not put on clothes poses a problem with this interpretation!

Could this passage be a of similar construction of another passage,
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life. Obviously, even though Jesus says labour not, we understand that He is not actually forbidding us to work for our daily food, but is making a contrast between a lesser and a greater "labour." Are the passages on women’s adornment simply making a contrast of priorities in the same way? If so, then none of those adornments would be wrong—neither jewelry, makeup, hairstyling, nor pretty clothes, if used decently and with propriety. And if we realize they are infinitely less important than the true beauty from within.

If modest use of these outward adornment incites lust, why did God himself say to Jerusalem, " I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work….and thou wast exceeding beautiful" (Eze. 16:11-13). Why would God use those images if outward adornment were sin?

If it is absolutely wrong to wear a ring, why did the Father place on the finger of the prodical son the ring of sonship [signet ring]? Luke 15.

Why didn't the early church rebuke men who came to worship wearing  gold rings? James 2:2

Why does God promise to crown his people with crowns of Gold, if it is absolutely wrong to wear any article of God? Revelation 4:4

Why did Godly Sarah have ornaments of gold and silver, and why did Godly Rebecah accept them from her? Genesis 24:53

The children of Israel had a great amount of Jewelry when they left Egypt. Some of which they gave as a freewill offering to the Lord. Why did not God condemn them for having these in their possession if it was absolutely wrong to wear it? Exodus 35:22

All Christians know we should not be wanton or lust-provoking in our hearts or clothing. There is a vast difference in a woman or man wearing a wedding ring, or a sister wearing a ring she received from her mother which holds sentimental value to her; and someone who lavishes gold upon their person in a sense of pride and arrogancy.

May all Christian women seek that inner beauty of a meek and quiet spirit—one that would accept in love our fellow sister in Christ, whether she wears "plain" garb or whether she dresses with propriety in the styles of her culture

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