Home > Brandenburg, Complementarianism, Feminism > The Seriousness of the Symbolism for Male Headship (part one)

The Seriousness of the Symbolism for Male Headship (part one)

November 14, 2007

I’m happy that God commanded me, “let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph. 4:26), because I would be incessantly angry over this issue if not. It’s not just the blatant disregard of historic doctrine and practice that I regularly hear on this, but also the disrespect, from the flippant comments to the grating sarcasm. I guess before I spend too much more time expressing how I feel, I should tell you the belief so disparaged and brushed off. I’m talking about the external symbolism of male headship that God requires in Scripture from His saints. Does it bother you that we first no longer have a symbol of male headship in our culture, and, second, that most have also given it up in churches?

For the entire history of the United States from the founding of the Jamestown colony in 1607 to the 20th century, men had a symbolism of their headship in our culture—that symbol: pants. Women wore skirts and dresses. Men wore pants. Pants represented male authority. All of the fashion historians say this. They also say that women took the male symbol out of disagreement with male headship. The change didn’t occur because a group of Godly men and women got together and decided this was the best way to honor God. And since the change, no male symbol, no distinct male garment, has replaced the pants, so that today men have no distinct item of clothing.

Studies show that children do not receive their gender only from their genes. They learn their gender by what they see. Sure children can normally distinguish between a man and woman. They, however, lose out on the connotative marks attributing the distinctive roles God intended them to inculcate. If you look at early elementary curriculum, they begin with shapes and colors. They begin deciphering meanings and drawing parallels. If they are the slightest mixed up at this point, they will be sent off in the wrong direction, potentially careening into an aberrant lifestyle. Role confusion has sped the growth of homosexuality all over the world. I don’t like this. God hates it worse than I do.

The LORD says it is an abomination to Him—to Him, not to us. We might be abominated too, like sometimes happens, but God says that He is uniquely offended with this.

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

You might be fine with erasing gender distinction in appearance. After all, you can tell who’s a man and a woman. And as long as you can tell, well, everything’s probably just hunky-dory. I wish so much that you knew that whether you could tell the difference or not is so… not the issue. It is whether you are willing to honor God’s design in creation. God made us different. He liked it; said it was good. And He wants us to indicate that we think He did a good job too. We do that by maintaining distinctly male items of clothing. You say, “Where does Scripture say that?” In the verse you just read above. It doesn’t tell us to look different. It tells women literally not to put on the male item. And it tells men not to put on the female item. That means that we must have a visible, distinct male garment and a visible, distinct female article of clothing.

Paul spent half a chapter in 1 Corinthians (chapter 11) dealing with this. Women were subservient to men in Roman culture and Corinth was no different. Built into the Roman way of life was the head-covering for women to distinguish them from men and symbolize their submission to men. Women in some settings were treated as a mere possession. Christian women, however, knew their essential equality with men in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28). Due to this, Christian women discarded this cultural symbol of femininity, the head-covering, during church gatherings. Paul instructed the Christian women to keep their head covered when they assembled, even as it was a symbol of male headship over them (1 Corinthians 11:3-16). Through Paul, God confirmed His will for men and women to distinguish their roles by means of distinct items of clothing.

Deuteronomy 22:5 and 1 Corinthians 11 do not say men-dress-like-men and women-dress-like-women. The head-covering was a female item. Men weren’t to wear it and women weren’t to take it off.

I recognize that 1 Corinthians 11 is a controversial passage. So is Deuteronomy 22:5. Is there any wonder why? What I do know is that Christians believed and practiced these a certain way for centuries. Men wore pants. Women wore dresses. These were the passages that explained why. When the changes started occurring, the godly people protested. Godly people would have at least replaced pants with another equally distinctive symbol. But the point of women wearing pants was to eradicate the symbolism altogether, to do away with it once and for all, to efface God’s design in honor of the more acceptable belief in human evolution. In so doing, God doesn’t get credit for His perfect design, the good that He intended, demolished by rebellious mankind. And now by professing Christians too!

  1. November 14, 2007 at 6:06 am

    Brother Kent,

    Wow! I believe you have stated a truth which should be obvious, but I am afraid it is not. This is an ongoing problem in my church, especially with the younger Christians. They just don’t understand the importance of distinction.

    One great topic would be the “head-covering” in 1 Corinthians 11 sometime.

  2. November 14, 2007 at 7:33 am

    I agree with you on the pants issue.

    I also believe 1 Corinthians 11 quite clearly states that a woman’s long hair is her covering – and is not teaching anything about an external covering for her head.

  3. November 14, 2007 at 9:56 am


    I knew it would be tough to write something that would deal with the issue at large, get into great detail, and also keep people’s attention. I am finished, however, with a 300 page book on dress that is about ready to come out. The historic position on 1 Corinthians 11 is that it is a historic head-covering. Almost every commentator historically has said it was a head-covering. The hair-as-head-covering has become a popular position today—I know, for instance, David Cloud, takes the hair position. The hair position, I believe, is completely untenable exegetically. I’d be glad to take it, if I thought it was what Scripture was teaching. Here are the major positions for those keeping score:
    1) Covering is a head-covering that was worn all the time by women and was being violated by Corinthian Christians, and it was a cultural symbol that Paul wanted worn at all times by Christian women including when they worshiped (my position).
    2) Covering is a head-covering that was worn by the culture in their worship of false gods, and that Corinthian Christian women needed to wear it as the cultural symbol while they worshiped (the most common position among evangelicals).
    3) Head-covering was being instituted by Paul here once-and-for-all as the standard for Christian women at all times (Amish and others).
    4) Same as #3, except only for worship (praying and prophesying) [a few fundamentalists do this—for instance, a Mark Minnick down in Greenville practices this, and probably churches that see things like he does].
    5) Head covering is long hair on women, worn of course at all times and for all time.

    So, some believe it is still a head-covering today. Others believe that it was a head-covering, but today it is whatever is that symbol in the culture (which, as I’ve stated, is nothing anymore in the culture–no symbol at all). Others think it is hair.

    Here’s a simple reason why hair is wrong.

    First read verse 6 of 1 Cor. 11:

    For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

    Now read verse 6 of 1 Cor. 11 with “long hair” replacing “covered”:

    For if the woman be not with long hair, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be with long hair.

    This is why almost no exegetes historically take this position. The actual words of the verses don’t allow it. The verse makes no sense when the covering is long hair. There are other good reasons too, but I’ll let you sink into that one for awhile. Know this, people who take my position also believe women are to have long hair, so that is a moot point with me.

    I knew this would want to become a 1 Cor. 11 discussion, but what I want, of course, is a pants/skirt discussion. The other side often says it is a non-essential—who are we to say that something God says is an abomination is a non-essential?

  4. November 14, 2007 at 10:08 am

    I am finished, however, with a 300 page book on dress that is about ready to come out.

    Glad to hear it, because I’m tired of holding my breath!

  5. November 15, 2007 at 1:28 am

    “I’m talking about the external symbolism of male headship that God requires in Scripture from His saints.”

    That is rediculous. Deut. 22:5 is not requiring a universal headship symbol. That is your own man made creation to read into the text so you can impose another one of fundamentalism’s doctrines of men on people.

    The men of the OT wouldn’t have understood it that way since they wore skirts! There are 10 references to skirts in the Bible and every one of them belong to men.

  6. November 15, 2007 at 2:20 am

    Hello William,

    Good seeing you here. Thanks for your participation.

    I’m not a fundamentalist, so you have me wrong on my motive. I think you’ll find I’ve been consistently not a fundamentalist most of my 20 years of ministry. That’s a convenient smear only. I wouldn’t have thought you would practice that, actually, but this must have pushed one of your buttons. My disipleship philosophy doesn’t impose its beliefs on anyone, but depends on Scriptural arguments. History must be included in those, because true doctrine will also be historical.

    If this is a “man-made creation” as you say, then it is an unusual one that was practiced by a vast majority of Christians (nearly 100 percent most of the time) for most of history since the time of Christ. The no-male-item position is the novel one. It has zero history as a belief. As a theological position, it was invented by Christendom parallel with the unisex movement. You’ll also find that almost every pre-feminism commentary supports my position. I could list you out about 15 of them. I don’t think we could conclude that they are all part of this fundamentalist conspiracy (is that any relation to the Right Wing conspiracy?).

    Your last paragraph shows that you have misread my position. I hope I was clear. I haven’t said that the symbol of male authority was pants in the OT. Deuteronomy 22:5 doesn’t even say what the male item is. Most think it was a distinct type of robe. That robe was girded when the man was involved in warfare or in extreme physical activity (see Job—gird up your loins as a man). Ultimately the male article became pants.

    As far as “read[ing] into the text” goes, the Hebrew text says the woman is not to put on the male article. That would mean that certain clothing was designated as a male article. The reason it is an abomination, and this is what is agreed upon by many, and if you study the words “abomination to God,” you’ll also see this to be true, is because it is rebellion against God’s design. This is the same reason homosexuality is called an abomination to God in the OT. Women were never to put on the male garment.

    The way you apply this is by understanding what was designated the male garment. That was pants. Pants are the male garment. If pants are not the distinct dress of a man, then what is it, William? This is a question I have asked many, and I get one of two reactions: silence or mockery. You’re “rediculous” (sic) seems to be headed the mockery direction. You tell me. Is there to be a designated male item of dress? If there is that item, what is it? I also noticed that you had no comment on 1 Corinthians 11, which I believe is parallel.

    Again, thanks for your time and participation.

  7. November 15, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Sorry for over reacting…there are certain IFB shackles of bondage that rub me the wrong way, and this is one of them.

    The male article is dependant on the culture. In Samoa, men wear wrap around skirts…and I wouldn’t dare challenge the masculinity of a Samoan man! In 20th and 21st Century culture, there are pants that distinctly feminine (eg. capri pants) and pants that are distinctly masculine (Dickies, Overalls, etc.) The command in Deut.22:5 is talking about something that is distinctly masculine and it (keliy) is most likely talking about his armor or hunting gear.

    {3627 kliy kel-ee’ from 3615; something prepared, i.e. any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon):–armour ((-bearer)), artillery, bag, carriage, + furnish, furniture, instrument, jewel, that is made of, X one from another, that which pertaineth, pot, + psaltery, sack, stuff, thing, tool, vessel, ware, weapon, + whatsoever.}

    It is usually translated as vessels, weapons, jewels, etc. It can hardly be meaning pants, or robes. That is an application that you are drawing from the meaning. I don’t take applications to hold the weight of meaning.

    Now, if God thought it was an abomination to wear a certain article of clothing…why would that be? It is not the article itself that is wicked, it must be the heart of the person who is trying to make himself or herself out to be his/her opposite sex. This is really a passage against cross dressing queers and freaks. For a woman to wear a pear of modest ladies pants is hardly an abomination.

  8. Chad Delhotal
    November 15, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Bro. Brandenburg,
    Your post is very thought provoking and I enjoy your links. I must say I found your take on I Corinthians 11 very refreshing. The pastor of the church where I used to be assistant held to the “hair” position but it never really set well with me because of verse 6. I find your position very interesting and hope to read more (perhaps in this 300 page book? I hope that the 15 pre-feminism commentaries are listed therein as well.) Anyway, I greatly appreciate Jackhammer taking time for this important issue–as a new pastor I need all the wisdom I can absorb in order to discern how and when to handle it.

  9. November 15, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Chad, Thanks.

    William, on the top of our church letterhead is a ball and chain.:) We’ve thought about calling ourselves The Church of the Shackles.:) His yoke is easy; his burden is light. Nothing we do for God is like shackles. I’m sorry that you see it that way. Paul called himself a galley slave in 1 Corinthians 4. I’m a galley slave for Christ myself. What makes dressing like God wants any different than anything we do for God?

    You never dealt with my historic doctrine issue. The interpretation of Dt. 22:5 isn’t going to change from its historic understanding. If you do change it, it should come with a tremendous amount of exegetical work to overturn it. What you have here I would not count as that. When we are talking about something that is an abomination to God, we should be serious about it.

    I recognize a cut and paste from Strongs for keli, but do you see the “something prepared” right at the beginning. The KJV translates it as “the thing that pertaineth unto.” The rest of your strong’s definition are just words that this word is translated—it isn’t a buffet table from which you get to choose your favorite definition. It is a thing designed for a man—we’re not talking about the size, cut, and fit. We are talking about distinct male garment that pertains only to the man. Now you say that is probably armor. Why would you think that by reading that verse? The people that say that, that I’ve read, look up the word gibbor and see that it speaks of a warrior, and so they conclude that things that pertain to a warrior are military armor, etc. Problem 1: the word “man” isn’t gibbor, but geber. It is the word for man with the emphasis on maleness. Problem 2: The verse has two parts that are parallel with each other. The second half of the verse actually mentions garment. This clues us in on the article in the first half of the verse, that it is an article of clothing. It would not read: women don’t put on military armor and men don’t put on a female article of clothing. The two sides are parallel.

    It seems that today men look for any interpretation that won’t require someone actually to obey the verse. Feminist theologians for instance would see you as shackling women with your view of the word translated “head” in 1 Corinthians 11:3. They would say there is good ancient evidence that “head” is truly “source.”

    I agree that it is cultural. The woman must not wear a thing designed for a man. I’ve already said that at least twice—in the article and in response to you—so your whole Samoan skirt thing is a moot point, as is the Scottish kilt, etc. Our culture designated pants for men. Has our culture designated the capri as female dress or did it work like this? Women started wearing pants for the wrong reason and against historical doctrine, and they decided they wanted some more feminine looking pants so they designed capris. That would be the truth. Why design anything more feminine, William, if it really doesn’t matter, since Dt. 22:5 is just teaching against trans-sexual cross-dressing or against women putting on armor or whatever we can think of that will make it easier for us? What Dt. 22:5 is saying is exactly how it reads. Pants haven’t been replaced as male dress in our culture. Again, I ask you to tell me what is the new article for men? It isn’t pants any more even in your opinion, so what is it? I noticed that you haven’t answered that question. You said, like I already said wasn’t what the text taught—“masculine.”

    Just to give you a little background, William. I didn’t take my position until I preached through the book of Deuteronomy expositionally about 15 years ago. I don’t preach through books quickly. I hunker down and shed lots of light on them. When I got to 22:5, I figured it would back up my position, but I got boxed in by historic belief and practice and an exegesis of the text, and had to have the courage to teach what it said. Not one fundamentalist had an impact on me at all.

    They are the people that put on the garment that are an abomination to God—“all that do so.” “All.” 1 Corinthians 11 says that women were to wear their symbol of submission as an example to the angels. Angels were there when God created man. They know God’s intentions. They see the abomination and we are to take them into consideration. That’s enough for now.

  10. November 16, 2007 at 7:12 am

    Brother Kent,

    I look forward to reading your book when it is released. Isn’t it amazing what preaching expositionally will do to your “beliefs?” You have made me think (I really hate it when that happens) and you have made me start to dig a little deeper, especially in 1 Corinthians 11.

    Brother, as far as I am concerned, that makes this blog one of the most profitable things I read apart from my Bible and of course the highlights on ESPN.com 🙂

  11. LuAnne
    November 16, 2007 at 8:21 am

    Very interesting…am looking forward to your book.

  12. November 16, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Ok, this is going to take work….

    You are insisting that there has to be an article of clothing that is exclusively masculine. This changes with culture. Today, men wear pants. But they also wear T Shirts which was originally a European WWI issue for soldiers. Has your wife or daughters ever worn a T-shirt? Have they committed an abomination because “historically” it was originally meant for men and not only that, but men of war?

    You may believe that it is forbidden that women wear pants and argue that if it is acceptable for women to wear pants, then it should be acceptable for a man to wear a dress or a skirt. This is a valid argument, however, there is no inherent sin in a man putting on a skirt-like garment, which was my point about Samoan men. Like I said before, men wearing skirts is a common practice in some cultures around the world just as it was in the Bible. The error would be in the fact that a man wearing a skirt in modern American society would be deemed as not normal. However, women wearing pants is hardly abnormal. While there was once a time in our society when a woman in pants would have been viewed negatively by society, that is not the case today.

    Just like those who believe KJV English is more moral than today’s English, so will people say that dress fashions and norms back then are more moral than todays, therefore modern people no longer see women in pants as a sin. But that is a false assumption because it is merely a change in fashion. Just because society had a particular view in the past, does not mean that such a view was inherently more moral. Henry Ford once made only black cars and refused to make any other color.

    Women did not start wearing pants as a means of rebellion or to be more “manly” but because they were more comfortable and functional. Especially during the war effort in WWII when women were forced to work in factories. Fashion has been moving in the direction of more function and less style over a century now. Look at the styles of clothing worn by soldiers in the Revolution and the clothing of soldiers in 21st Century warfare. Alot less style and much more functionality. The same is true in every day dress. Women don’t wear much lace, poofy skirts,etc. because it is inconvenient to what people are doing today: getting in and out of cars, putting on seat belts, working in places that require movement. Does that signal some moral decline? Absolutely not! It only reflects a trend in fashion for more basic and functional clothing just as women’s fashions did in moving toward pants. It is important that we do not label these kinds of fashion changes as sin. Of course many styles are a sign of moral decline like mini-skirts and tight, revealing clothing, but many are not. As with everything, changes in fashion must be weighed against biblical truths to make the determination….that takes us back to Deut. 22:5…

    Here’s where I get the idea that keliy in it’s original meaning was most likely referring to armor or weapons: Translators commonly translate keliy as weapon, armor or instrument in the Old Testament. The word man, in both the first and last part of Deut 22:5, is the Hebrew word geber meaning “man, strong man, or warrior (emphasizing strength or ability to fight).” It is important to note that this is not the only word for man in Hebrew. Verse 13 of this very same chapter uses the Hebrew word ‘iysh, which is also translated man and means just that – “man, male (in contrast to woman, female).” It is apparent that Moses, when writing Deut 22:5, was quite intentionally not talking about a man in general, but a very specific kind of man – namely, a warrior or soldier.

    Even John Gill who lived in the days of women’s poofy dresses commented thus: ““…and the word [keliy] also signifies armour, as Onkelos renders it; and so here forbids women putting on a military habit and going with men to war, as was usual with the eastern women; and so Maimonides illustrates it, by putting a mitre or an helmet on her head, and clothing herself with a coat of mail; and in like manner Josephus explains it, ‘take heed, especially in war, that a woman do not make use of the habit of a man, or a man that of a woman.”

    Now, considering the exact nature of Deut 22:5 and the precise nature of those things that are forbidden, Deut 22:5 is most likely ceremonial law rather than moral law, which would mean that it would not apply to Christians today as it did then. The principle of separation and distinction still does apply and that is what modern Christians are to walk away with. Since God calls this an abomination, I agree that we must be careful to not cross that line and an abomination to God in the Old Testament would also be an abomination to God in the New Testament. However, the usage of the word abomination in Deut 22:5 does not necessarily make this “putting on what pertaineth to a man” as a timeless moral law because any violation of God’s mandates is an abomination to Him, no matter if it is disobedience of ceremonial law or moral law. Furthermore, Deut 22:5 is placed smack dab in the middle of, and is completely surrounded by, ceremonial laws! If it is indeed a principle to be literally followed today, why would God choose to bury this verse in the middle of what are clearly ceremonial laws and then only mention this one time in the entire Bible?

    Ok, so you didn’t get influenced by the IFB world….that’s great, but the biggest problem I have with IFB folks where I came from who make such a big deal about women’s pants is because the shackles are not the easy yoke of Jesus but the hard yoke of legalism and commandments of men. Fundamentalists also tend to put the greater emphasis on the things that God puts the least emphasis and this too is just as wrong in bible interpretation as throwing out the original meaning altogether. The women’s pants issue is so blown out of proportion when there is only one obscure verse in all the Bible that is probably a ceremonial law. This is a great error of emphasis. The other problem is that of consistency. The same people who believe that women wearing pants is an abomination have no problem with thier women wearing other articles of clothing that were exclusively in the catagory of men: T-shirts, sneakers, Baseball caps, sports jerseys, work boots, etc.. Taking the concept even further, what about wearing the colors of pink or blue? Should women also be forbidden to wear blue, or should men forbidden to wear pink, as these colors have historically been associated with the opposite sex? How far should this concept be taken? I think the Amish are the only ones who are consistent in their legalism.

    Finally, the argument, which states that God requires a distinction between men’s and women’s clothing and that pants provide little if any distinction, must also be weighed in light of the scriptures. The scriptures, as with most matters, provide a wealth of information on this issue as well. Even the most basic study into biblical clothing norms reveals that there was very little distinction between the articles of clothing worn by men and women. Men wore skirts, even Adam and Eve wore a skirt like clothing that God made for both of them. If this particularity of the article of clothing is so important to God, why then did God not make this distinction clear at the beginning of the time when clothing became necessary?

    A study into the clothing norms of the Bible reveals that there was no distinction between men’s and women’s clothing in the Bible beyond differences in style such as trim, color and size. But fundamentalists today demand much more than even the Bible did by requiring not only a difference in style but a difference in function and form as well. If God makes no such clothing demands on His people, then who are we to make them?

    So to sum it up, i think you miss the whole point and get hung up on the particular article of clothing when the principle of distinction is the greater emphasis that God wants us to pay attention to.

  13. Gary Johnson
    November 16, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Is modesty is not a concern to you? I realize that is not the issue of the verse, but it sure helps when you take a look at the matter of pants on women. As a husband and father of four daughters, I look at the matter of pants on women a little different than many. Pants show the form, men have trouble with their lustful thoughts, see Matthew 5:28. Why not take the high road, and not give place to the lusts of the flesh.

    Since this post was under the general topic of the authority of men. Each man that has a wife and then possibly daughters ought to be very concerned that he get the matter of Deut 22:5 correct. You will stand before God to give account of their appearance. Why not spend some time thinking about this as our society has sunk into the Sodom and Gomorrah cesspool, and most churches following right behind them. Instead of being so worried about being shackled, see Psalm 2:2,3; why not be concerned about a godly testimony that would always honors the Lord Jesus Christ.

    And if your position is right, I have simply kept the women in my home from looking like tramps and trash. But if the position of pants on women is an abomination, a lot of women are in big trouble. And their husbands and/or fathers will be giving account for it. Obviously I believe the latter to be so.

  14. November 16, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    William, you argument from the Samoan example is off-base, if for no other reason than that the traditional Samoan culture was pagan, and thus, not exactly the source from which we ought to want to draw examples from which to determine whether a style of dress is godly or not. On the other hand, the near-universal pattern among God’s people all over the world in every age and culture has been to have a clear distinction in the style of dress between the sexes.

  15. November 16, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Pastor Brandenburg,

    I apologise profusely, this being your blog and all, but I would have to side with Bro. Jerry on the issue of hair being the covering that is intended in I Cor. 11. V. 15 specifically identifies the “covering” as her long hair, and the hyperbole used in v. 5 whereby having her head uncovered would be tantamount to it being shaven, suggests hair is in view in this chapter’s context. I don’t see the point to your argument about v. 6,

    “For if the woman be not with long hair, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be with long hair.”

    It seems to me that “long hair” would actually fit quite naturally into the setting of the verse – if she doesn’t have long hair, then she ought to just go ahead and shave it all off and be done with it; if it’s shameful for her to be shaven, then she ought to keep her hair long, since having it short is equally as shameful.

    This is a historical position in the older commentators. Matthew Henry seems like he goes both ways, speaking of a veil as the “power” that she has on her head in v. 10. But he also says this about vv. 14-15,

    “The woman’s hair is a natural covering; to wear it long is a glory to her; but for a man to have long hair is a token of softness and effeminacy.”

    The hair is a covering. The hair is the noun “covering” which performs the verb “covered” in v. 6. Ellicott also, in his comments on I Cor. 11 in his Commentary on the Whole Bible also equivocates, seeming to view either an artificial veil or the natural veil of hair as equally acceptable to fulfill the thrust of this passage.

  16. November 17, 2007 at 10:24 am

    William, men did not wear “skirts” in Bible times. The references to the “skirt” in regards to men, such as Saul, were speaking about the edge of his garment. David cut off the skirt (ie. outer edge) of his robe – as the passages clearly indicate.

    1 Samuel 15:27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.

    1 Samuel 24:5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.

    1 Samuel 24:11 Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.

    Haggai 2:12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.

    The context of the other passages will show what is in view.

    Brother Kent,

    If 1 Corinthians 11 was referring to a veil of some kind, the context surely shows that it was not cultural, as Paul refers back to Adam and Eve for his argument. Do you teach women are to wear veils today?

  17. November 17, 2007 at 10:31 am

    However, the usage of the word abomination in Deut 22:5 does not necessarily make this “putting on what pertaineth to a man” as a timeless moral law because any violation of God’s mandates is an abomination to Him, no matter if it is disobedience of ceremonial law or moral law.

    Trace the word “abomination” out through the Old Testament. There are NO OTHER places in the OT where something was clearly stated as an abomination to God and then He changed His mind about it. In other words, what offended God morally in the OT still offends Him today.

    Are we now allowed to prostitute our daughters or to commit incest? Of course not – those are STILL abominations!

    Are we now allowed to marry both a women and her daughter? No!

    Is sodomy now allowed? No!

    Is idolatry and sacrificing to other gods now allowed? No!

    For the sake of clarification: there are several things that are declared to be abominations to man – and those were temporary (such as the Hebrew shepherds being an abomination to the Egyptians, and to eat unclean animals being an abomination to the Jews) – but as far as all those things designated as abominations to the Lord, those still stand today. Check it out.

  18. November 17, 2007 at 11:13 am

    I appreciate the involvement, and there is no apology for stating a view. That’s the point here. State it; however, don’t be surprised if someone decides to hammer it. Later today I might be able to come back and answer some of these, but I agree with Jerry on the abomination to God issue, with Titus (AKA Tim) on the Samoan culture issue, Gary on the form fitting modesty issue, but I will have something to say about William D’s comment and of course the comments on 1 Corinthians 11 from Titus and Jerry.

  19. November 17, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Titus (AKA Tim)

    Hey, thanks for revealing my secret identity!

    State it; however, don’t be surprised if someone decides to hammer it.

    That’s fine. It’s still better than getting death threats, like I do from visitors to my pages about Islam!

  20. Bobby
    November 17, 2007 at 5:59 pm


    I’m not worried about you. I know that your two friends are looking out for you. You know, Smith and Wesson.

    FWIW, I think you all ready know this Kent, but I have understood and taught hair as the covering of 2 Cor 11 too. So, I’m waiting to see how you answer this astute and august body of theologians on this issue.

  21. November 18, 2007 at 1:12 am

    Titus, Jerry and Gary,

    Can you guys refute my use of the words and the context? Jerry didn’t get what I was saying there….any disobedience to God is an abomination….and the homosexual act of cross dressing which is what I believe Deut 22 5 is about, is still an abomination.

    About modesty? Of course I’m concerned about it. Many ladies pants are not modest, but i would challenge the modesty of most IFB women’s skirts to the modest pants of many women i know. Like I said, only the Amish are really consistent in their views on this.

  22. Gary Johnson
    November 18, 2007 at 7:47 am

    The looking at various Hebrew words in attempting to justify a position is of no interest to me. My final authority is the Bible, that is the King James Bible. So when the verse says that is an abomination for women to wear what pertains to men, that is all I need. Only men wore pants in the Bible. See Ex 28:42, 39:28; Lev 6:10, 16:4; Ezek 44:18. So therefore if women wear them, they are wearing what God has already designated as a man’s garment. I think this is difficult point to accept for many, due to the fact that most men are not the head of their homes, and their wives wear pants, and to get this matter right requires more “manhood” than they have.

    As far as the immodest dress in most IFB churches comment, that is because most wear pants all week long and don’t understand modesty. Therefore their skirts and dresses would reflect that fact. Pants on women are not modest apparel at any time.
    I am not IFB, rather Historic Baptist, and do preach strongly for modest dresses and skirts on women, and modesty for men in their appearance, thus no shorts, tank tops, etc… And some here know where I live, in the hottest inhabited place in North America.

  23. Christopher Nelsen
    November 18, 2007 at 10:47 am

    The bible is very clear on this topic of distinction and the roles of men and women….men wear pants and women wear dresses!However,I would like to also point out that Deut.22:5 doesnt just cover the issue of clothes but very deeply covers distinction and roles.To exist or become,whatsoever,clothes,assuming the shape of an object…..this covers attitude,clothes,position,mentality,even spiritualality.The problem with this issue and America is that the criminal librals and the femanazis have turned the grace of God into lasciviousness….but the most responsible,those who are most to blaim is Us!…We who know the truth,who are saved,who hold fast to doctrine,who know the condition of this country.and that its going to hell,we who have the KJV,but we are not doing anything about it…….What you gonna do about it!?….Check out my comments on “a challenge to followers of Jack Hyjes

  24. November 19, 2007 at 10:35 am

    William D and others,

    If the pants are not the symbol of male authority in our culture, then what is it? What are the articles that we as a culture have designated as distinctly male?

    You bring up the shirt. First, we’re talking about an application in our culture. I think you know that since the pants were nullified as male, we haven’t replaced it because we don’t want to. Now professing Christians say that it never meant distinct articles, just “looking masculine” or “looking feminine.” That’s not what it says. Men and women have both worn socks, shoes, shirts, and coats, etc. We haven’t distinguished what the qualifying marks of a male or female garment are. People don’t care. You say that historically, women began wearing pants sheerly for utilitarian reasons, when women before, trailblazers, etc., could have worn overalls etc, but they didn’t because it was societally unacceptable. Historians know that the change related to men’s and women’s roles, which includes the work place, so you’re revising history to support your position.

    William, you start by saying that Dt. 22:5 is women wearing armor. Then you go to cross dressing. Then you go to it being ceremonial law. None of these are the historic doctrine, which you can see by reading the older commentaries, plus by the clear practice of society for centuries. Then you say that any disobedience is an abomination to God. That’s not good exegesis. I’m happy if you don’t disobey God, but some of what he says is an abomination. And then you say that homosexuality is an abomination and this is homosexual cross-dressing. I have no doubt it is cross-dressing. That’s what we’re talking about is the woman putting on the male article and man putting on the female article.

    You selectively quote Gill in support of your position. If you read Gill, then you know that he puts in almost anything that he has read about, and he has a huge amount of comments on Dt. 22:5. I agree that women should not wear military armor like a man. That doesn’t prove my point wrong. Notice that he says, to the detriment of your using him, rendering the point of using him moot, “ALSO signifies.” Gill will often put several possibilities, but you didn’t write down what he actually believes on Dt. 22:5.

    Regarding keli again, it means “that which pertaineth to.” The translation it is given depends on the word it is placed in construct with. For instance, if you said keli-dog, then it would be that which pertaineth to a dog—collar, biscuit, paws, tail, etc. The word talks of something that is specific to that with which it is in construct. (I’m attempting to explain Hebrew to you.) The reason that it is sometimes translated as “armor” is because that is an article which is designed for a man. You seemed to ignore the Hebrew parallelism between the two halves of the verse. “Clothing” is found in the second half, so since these are a parallel, the first half must also refer to a male garment. This is Hebrew. This is the historical position. The things you are bringing up are the answers given in a culture that wants to destroy the distinct articles for a unisex culture. You are carrying the same bags as the feminist theologians.

    Your pink and blue, baseball cap, and all that is a smokescreen. Sure I think that certain male clothing is more effeminate by means of style and color, but that isn’t the point. You are not representing the point of the passage, just fuzzing it to nullify the point.

    You write: “A study into the clothing norms of the Bible reveals that there was no distinction between men’s and women’s clothing in the Bible beyond differences in style such as trim, color and size.”

    The point of Dt. 22:5 was a distinction and you say that there was no distinction. That’s just a denial of Scripture. Essentially you are saying that in the Bible, women dressed like men. That is a novel interpretation of Scripture departing from historic and grammatical interpretation.

    I’ll deal with 1 Cor. 11 later.

  25. November 19, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Regarding the length of hair; what about women who cannot grow long hair. From what I understand African-american women cannot.

    What about old ladies who’s hair thins out?

    How can these be addressed?

    I see so many old ladies having short hair these days. Should they be rebuked or?

  26. Christopher Nelsen
    November 19, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Haircarenotaabear,”Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him.” Natturally a womans hair grows faster then a man…no matter the planets location,or the age, so grow your hair and obey God without excuse…..God will take care of the rest….even if you grow short…..the rebuke comes when you perposely grow short

  27. Anvil
    November 21, 2007 at 10:03 am

    So what this seems to come down to is that while you admit that most think the male item was a distinct type of robe (comment #6 — and I’m not entirely sure from the way you said it that you agree, though it seems that you do), you don’t believe that a distinct type of pants is sufficient as the “male item.” It’s either “all pants” or we don’t have any distinctly male item any more. Even in just the last 230 or so years of American history, there have been items that have gone from being distinctly male to female (such as stockings – which are not only worn by women, but men no longer consider these a normal male item), and you certainly hear no uproar about women wearing them, even from people with your opinions on this topic. It’s certainly clear that such items can change association over a relatively short period of time.

    So let me ask this — do you believe is it conceivable that at some point in the future that pants would be so far from being a “male-only” item that a distinction in the styles (as with the robes you referred to) would be sufficient as a sign of male headship? Obviously, the disagreement is that many Christians who do take your view of Deut. 22:5, as well as male-headship, believe the style difference is already sufficient (while you don’t), and thus have no problem with distinctly female pants, which you do.

  28. November 23, 2007 at 12:05 pm


    I wrote this second to my answer over at the second half of this article.

    You asked: “So let me ask this — do you believe is it conceivable that at some point in the future that pants would be so far from being a “male-only” item that a distinction in the styles (as with the robes you referred to) would be sufficient as a sign of male headship?”

    The symbols were being followed out of deference to what once existed in this country, common law, versus what we now have, statutory law. Common law is based on God’s Word, the authority of God, and statutory law is based upon cultural norms. Our pagan culture has dropped something that was once understood as appropriate for our culture. We Christians shouldn’t be dropping something just because culture has now regulated it away. It is no longer illegal for sodomy in our country based on a Supreme Court decision, but we still oppose sodomy. We Christians should retain the Christian parts of our culture OR replace them, which we haven’t. Why? Women wearing pants left us without a symbol of male headship, and the point was to leave us without that symbol. The culture has succeeded and now Christians have supported it.

  29. November 23, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    OK, this is an answer to all our 1 Corinthians 11, “covering” equals “hair” comments.

    My book has about 10 reasons why this should not be the case. Historically, the “covering equals hair” is a novel view. With that being the case, it should have some great exegesis to overturn the historical precedent. However, there is a reason why “covering” equals “head-covering” has been the historic view—it is also the one with the exegetical evidence.

    Titus (and I didn’t “out” you—I gave just your first name—so all your enemies will now be searching for a “Tim” somewhere; if you pick up the paper and a pattern is forming of several Tims being bombed, I’d be on the look-out), your quotes of Gill, etc., were fairly partial and they didn’t actually prove your point. They said that Gill and others were also for long hair on women as a covering. Every head covering person is also for long hair on women.

    When you look at v. 6,

    For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

    the point of v. 6 is the shame of not having the head-covering, equivalent to having your hair either cut short or buzzed all the way off (shorn or shaven). If the head-covering is hair then it isn’t a comparable shame, but the exactly same shame. It doesn’t make sense at all. The point is that not having your head covered is a shame like a woman having her hair cut short or shaved off. Neither of them should take place.

    A second argument that is clinching is that the term for head covering in v. 6 is different than the hair covering in v. 15—two different Greek words. The head covering is a katakalupto and the hair is a peribalaion.

    A third argument is that in vv. 14, 15 Paul is arguing from natural to unnatural. The unnatural head covering should make sense to a believer in light of the natural head-covering that God has already given women. The differences in culture are legitimate because God has designed this type of difference already in creation. That argument of Paul wouldn’t work if it was already hair all the way up to vv. 14, 15.

    Concerning Afros, I’ve talked to an African-American woman in our church, and my answer is that women’s afros should be characteristically longer than men’s afros—longer afros-women, shorter afros-men. I know that afro hair grows slower than euro hair because of the curling action that it takes, so that when afros are straightened, the hair is surely longer. Don’t mistake this as my saying that afros need to be straightened; it isn’t. I’m just showing my afro knowledge to you, so you will know I know what I’m talking about.

    Jerry, I think you asked about it’s continuing today if it is the head-covering, so why no continued head-covering. This will probably partly answer Anvil’s question over at the second half of the article. I’ve got a longer answer in my book, so if this isn’t thorough enough, get the book. Get the book anyway. OK. God nowhere in Scripture told His people to wear the head-covering all the time, so He would be regulating something brand new here. That’s a reason and I thnk you can establish that women didn’t wear head coverings all the time in the OT. There’s one reason and you’ll need to look at the book for others. 🙂

  30. Anon
    November 27, 2007 at 12:36 am

    1 Samuel 16:7 (King James Version)
    But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

    We can tell how men look, but God can tell what they are. He judges of men by the heart. We often form a mistaken judgment of characters; but the Lord values only the faith, fear, and love, which are planted in the heart, beyond human discernment.
    Matthew Henry

    One thing I’ve noticed about people who hold strongly to the belief that woman should not wear pants is that when they see a Christian woman in pants, they are likely to give some very unchristian looks and even attitudes. God does not want us to look down on anyone for any reason. This standard gives Christians a unnecessary foundation for judging one another. Whether Deut. 22:5 is speaking of one specific article of clothing or is merely symbolic of dressing appropriately for ones gender…isn’t being a Christian with a heart of compassion and charity for everyone more important?

  31. November 27, 2007 at 1:05 am

    Hey Anon! I’ve read some of your hymns. One of my favorite hymnwriters is Anon. Anyway, of course all man can judge is the outward appearance, and even though God judges the heart, that doesn’t mean He doesn’t judge the outward appearance. In Zephaniah 1:8 God says that He is going to judge very severely those who wear the wrong apparel. Most of the qualifications of the pastor are outward. How do we judge anything inward? Could you explain that one? So in other words, if we don’t judge outward, we don’t judge, whether with the Louisville slugger in our eye, with the toothpick, or with 100% clear vision. And yet God commands us to judge everything. So what are you going to do?

  32. Sunnymom
    November 27, 2007 at 5:53 am

    Some very good posts and comments on this subject. I appreciate my dad- that when he got saved, even though he had only been in church about 6 weeks, one of the first things he did was let my mom and I know that we would be wearing dresses from then on. After he died (I was 13) I managed to convince my mom to let me wear pants, but that only lasted until I got out of high school. I never wore pants again. They’re icky. :p

    I appreciate what Anon is saying, as far as how women in pants are treated. I am more likely to ‘judge’ one’s actions than appearance, because modesty can be ‘progressive’, if you will. Many young ladies who did not experience parental guidance in this are have never even considered the idea of modesty and gender distinctions, and as they grow in the Lord, God will convict their hearts in His time. They should see vibrant and loving examples of modesty in dress and in attitude. If I am treating someone in an uncharitable manner because of their appearance, I would be guitly of some very un-Christ-like behavior, and could be a discouragement to a wonderful lady who loves God but hasn’t come to an understanding on this subject yet. The Holy Spirit doesn’t appreciate it when we step in and try to take over. We usually do serious damage to the landscape when we think we have the power of conviction.

    A woman’s behavior- now THAT will be a real indicator of what is in her heart. Is she brash and inappropriately bold? Is she a gossip? Is she lacking in compassion? Can she speak knowledgably about tv and movies, but doesn’t know even basic Bible doctrines? *Then* I might safely conclude that pants are yet another indication of her rebellious spirit.

  33. November 27, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Sunnymom, good points in conjunction with Anon’s comment.

  1. November 21, 2007 at 11:29 am
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