We've sown the wind and are reaping...

A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Matthew Henry's comments on this text: The distinction of sexes by the apparel is to be kept up, for the preservation of our own and our neighbour's chastity. Nature itself teaches that a difference be made between them in their hair (1Corinthians 11:14), and by the same rule in their clothes, which therefore ought not to be confounded, either in ordinary wear or occasionally. To befriend a lawful escape or concealment it may be done, but whether for sport or in the acting of plays is justly questionable. Some think it refers to the idolatrous custom of the Gentiles: in the worship of Venus, women appeared in armour, and men in women's clothes; this, as other such superstitious usages, is here said to be an abomination to the Lord.

It forbids the confounding of the dispositions and affairs of the sexes: men must not be effeminate, nor do the women's work in the house, nor must women be viragos, pretend to teach, or usurp authority, 1Timothy 2:11,12.

John Calvin's comments on this text: This decree also commends modesty in general, and in it God anticipates the danger, lest women should harden themselves into forgetfulness of modesty, or men should degenerate into effeminacy unworthy of their nature. Garments are not in themselves of so much importance; but as it is disgraceful for men to become effeminate, and also for women to affect manliness in their dress and gestures, propriety and modesty are prescribed, not only for decency's sake, but lest one kind of liberty should at length lead to something worse. The words of the heathen poet are very true: "What shame can she, who wears a helmet, show, her sex deserting?" Wherefore, decency in the fashion of the clothes is an excellent preservative of modesty.

The Sri Lankan rebel force, Tamil Tigers, have perfected suicide bombing, claiming a quarter of all suicide bombing victims during the 25 years prior to the war in Iraq. This week, they tried to assasinate Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, the recently appointed Sri Lankan army chief of staff. Fonseka was critically wounded; twenty-six others were wounded and eight were killed.

The bomber posed as a pregnant woman.

But there are many Christians who see no problem with women serving as military combatants...

In fact, many PCA teaching and ruling elders--I know because I served on a committee with a number of them and they didn't blush to defend this obscenity. But who knows, maybe seeing how easy it is to hide a bomb while pretending to be pregant will help them to see the error of their ways?

Somehow, I doubt it. The basic problem here is not that it's a pregnant woman, but that it's a woman at all. And that is precisely where they will never agree because they have lost any understanding of the nature of femininity, other than that the husband is the head of the wife and men are the only ones allowed to be elders. After all, most men still want to be king of their castle.

Men like this have absolutely no dotrine of sexuality, other than the bare-bones of adhering to the explicit rules of Scripture (where those rules don't cut too deeply into their lifestyle of libertinism, that is).


I can remember explaining to our daughter when she was in college in the 1980's that banning women from combat was a barrier against barbarism, a reminder that the truly "all-out war" which female combatants implies is idolatry.

A Baptist church I used to attend looked down upon women who wore pants instead of dresses. Were they biblically correct?

What is so sad in the PCA is that we still cannot agree that women in combat is an unbiblical, unnatural thing.
Rattlesnake 6

Hi Tim, I am posting this here also. I hope you can help me with a bit of information. Thanks! :)

I am in the process of refuting a woman named Gail Riplinger who wrote a book full of lies about many new version editors. She claims that Mr. Kenneth Taylor lost his voice permanently in the early 1970s. Is this true? She states he was never again able to speak above a whisper. My heart tells me not to believe her story, but I would like personal confirmation to prove whether she is fabricating stories about him. You would know first-hand how true or untrue this is. If you could write to me at my email address and please let me know I would be very grateful. Thank you very much.


When the debate over women in combat was hot and heavy in the early-to-mid 1990's, the Serbian campaign of genocide against the Croats and especially the Bosnian Muslims was in the news.

A favorite tactic of the Serbians was mass rapes of Muslim/Croatian women.

Pat Buchanan asked on CNN's "Crossfire" whether we really wanted to put American women into combat and subject them to "Serbian rape camps". That was one of the most effective secular arguments I have seen against women in combat.

As Mr. Reuter said, keeping women away from the battlefield is "a barrier against barbarism".

As far as pants vs. dresses, it is possible to wear pants and still be feminine. By the same token, cultures where men wear or have worn robes does not mean the men are effeminate. Cultures and fashion change over time, yet there are still distinctions between male and female clothes.

IOW, I don't think it is Biblical to require women wear dresses. I think they add things to Scripture that isn't there.


That's where it's tricky though, right? If cultural cues are what is to determine our understanding of male and female dress, then what happens when a culture erases distinctions? Cultural language barriers here in the States have been and are continually being torn down, such that masculinized language is being eradicated. Yet Scripture uses sexed language. We say that Scripture needs to be made plain in the common language and that involves understanding the culture that we're translating into. Cultures and languages change over time. So when we interact with a culture that is or is becoming increasingly egalitarian in language, do we then take our cues from the culture or do we oppose the culture and uphold the biblical distinctions even in our language, knowing that the Holy Spirit chose to make use of them?

Okay, I know that there's a difference here, but I think there's also something strange going on. Maybe I'm stupid, but I think Bill's question is a lot harder to answer than we'd like to think. We could dismiss it and shrug it off, but what if he's identifying something that is slipping under the radar? I don't care if he was making a reductio argument or not. What if there's something that Calvin and Henry caught (or rather assumed) that we, in our wicked day, have missed? What if those crazy Baptists aren't really so crazy? I know that I've intentionally avoided thinking about Bill's question in full until now, and that makes me uneasy about the answer.

So, Scott, how far do we go to protect God's distinction between the sexes? What about the churches that maintain a man should be bearded? Jewish men used to not shave their beards. How is that not a preservation of the God-given distinction between the sexes? How far do we go? Such churches are an embarassment to us because we view them as legalistic or stone-aged. I mean, after all, this is the 21st century, the times and culture have changed, and you can't go on living like it's Victorian England or something. Otherwise you've completely isolated yourself from the culture and rendered yourself irrelevant, right? Right? But isn't that dreadfully similar to the argument made by the gender-neutral Bible proponents? Have not the moves for neutered language in our culture and the normalization of neutral dress (jeans, t-shirts, etc) ran parallel to each other and been a convention of only the last 50 years? And why is it that pants for women have been normalized, but dresses for men have not? Is there no connection to the women's lib movement here?

Now don't get me wrong, I understand that translating the very words inspired by the Holy Spirit is a different thing than understanding a verse of Scripture's application to a modern culture. I understand that dresses are a product of western culture. But I think the original question poses a challenge: How do we obey this particular Scripture in a culture where distinctions don't exist if our cues are to be taken from the culture? What of Henry's exhortation: "The distinction of sexes by the apparel is to be kept up, for the preservation of our own and our neighbour's chastity. Nature itself teaches that a difference be made between them in their hair (1Corinthians 11:14), and by the same rule in their clothes, which therefore ought not to be confounded, either in ordinary wear or occasionally." Have we failed in this?

My point is not to make a case either way. My point is that we must be hesitant to dismiss that question outright, especially when we examine it in the context of historical Christianity and in the light of Henry and Calvin's witness.

I find it odd that Matthew Henry forbids men to "do the women's work in the house."

Something that puzzles me on this issue is that the fact that most often people that seek to make a pants/dress mandate refer to verses like this and ones in Leviticus. However, two things cross my mind regarding this issue.

1.) In those days, both men and women wore robes. How were they then differentiated? Did women wear a different cut? Did women have a veil? What? The LORD gave a command that they should not wear the opposite sex's clothes, but how could they tell what was what?

2.) Why are we not asking for our clothes to be made of only one type of cloth (per Lev 19:19). I'm not attempting to be trite here. I ask an honest question. If we are going to demand a certain type of dress based on Leviticus and Deuteronomy, why not the regulation on the types of clothes used?

Matthew Henry: "It forbids the confounding of the dispositions and affairs of the sexes: men must not be effeminate, nor do the women's work in the house, nor must women be viragos, pretend to teach, or usurp authority..."

Where in the Bible are men forbidden to do housework????

And what if a man is single, or a widower, and doesn't want or can't afford to hire a female housekeeper? Should he then live in squalor so as to avoid the sin of vacuuming, the abomination of laundry, or the iniquity of dusting?

Really, this is illogical to the point of laughability. People who teach this sort of thing under the guise of religion are adding to Scripture, and I believe that most of them are making up this stuff as they go along, because whatever the source of this Patriarchal nonsense may be, it certainly isn't the faith once delivered to the saints.

Add new comment