cmycrossbl.gif (957 bytes)

Christian UniverseTM

mycrossbl.gif (957 bytes)

Home | Christian Resources | Christian Links | Links | Site Map

Online Bibles

Scriptural FAQ's




Topical Studies

Electronic Greetings

God's Earth



Doctrinal Discussions

These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by the Church of Christ to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. This is not an "anti-Church of Christ" site. I was reared in the Church of Christ and have preached in the Church of Christ since 1968. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men.  Bernie Parsons

To Doctrinal Discussions Archive Index

To Daily Devotions Archive Index

Does The Bible Command Men To Wear Long Pants?


by Bernie Parsons


July 09, 2009 - minor revisions 11-04-2009


A doctrine has floated in the background in the conservative Church of Christ for all of my life. It goes like this: The Bible commands men to wear long pants, and forbids women from wearing pants.


Sometimes, older preachers pass this doctrine down to younger preachers, either orally, or in articles or pamphlets. Included in scriptural offerings in favor of men wearing long pants is the one that supposedly says that women cannot wear pants at all.


Here is the way that some preachers attempt to create a chain of proof to substantiate those claims.


Deuteronomy 22:5 “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”


(1)    This supposedly teaches that only a man shall wear pants, and a woman must not.


Exodus 28:42 “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach”


(2)    This supposedly teaches that only the men wore pants among the Israelites.


Revelation 1:13 “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”


(3)    This supposedly teaches that the pants that men wear must reach to the feet.


Therefore, only man can wear pants, men must wear pants, and the pants must reach to the feet.


I have long wondered why preachers and church members doggedly and dogmatically promote this doctrine. Usually, they frame it as a point of modesty. Women cannot wear pants because that they are immodest. Men cannot wear pants shorter than those that reach to the feet because that they are immodest. They cite the following scriptures.


1 Timothy 2:9 “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;”


Modest here indicates orderly, or properly arranged, clothing.


1 Peter 3:1 “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”


Notice that the teaching in these passages does not delve into how cloth is cut and fashioned into a garment. There are no discussions of the type, shape, or the size of the garments. There is only a discussion of modesty, not only in how clothing is arranged, but also in outward appearance. Therefore, these verses teach us nothing about what types of garments men or women may or may not wear.


Let us look back at the first three scriptures and the supposed doctrines contained therein.


Deuteronomy 22:5 “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”


There is no mention of what kind of garment is under discussion. It is erroneous to claim that it is saying, “Long pants for men and long, loose dresses for women” as some teach. I suspect that this verse actually has to do more with homosexuality, and the desire of men to be like women or women like men. Today, this is referred to as “cross-dressing”. In any case, pants and dresses are not mentioned. The ancient Israelites, both men and women, likely wore robes.


What is more interesting is how that preachers and other church members insist on pulling this out as one of a handful of Old Testament scriptures that they bind upon others, while on other occasions insisting that the OT doctrine is done away with in Christ Jesus. Which is it? I am going to insist that if we must use this verse, we must teach and practice the surrounding verses, which contain some interesting commandments. Check it out!


Deuteronomy 22:4: “Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.”


When was the last time you heard a good sermon or read a convincing pamphlet on making sure that you help lift up your Christian brother’s animal when it falls down?


Deuteronomy 22:6: “If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:

7: But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.”


Now, that’s a hot topic! We’ve all heard many a passionate sermon on not taking the mother bird if you raid the nest of the babies or the eggs, haven’t we? No? Why not? I like the next one!

Deuteronomy 22:8: “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.”


If any of you Christians have built new houses, have you been careful to build a little fence around the top to keep people from falling off your roof? Keep reading the verses following that one, and tell me if you hear sermons, debates, or have read pamphlets pushing those doctrines? No? Then, why are our brethren pushing verse 5, but not 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10?


Exodus 28:42 “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach”


Does this teach that the men wear the britches? If you pay careful attention, these garments were from the waist to the thighs. They were shorts, not long pants. Not only that, they were under shorts! Rather than teaching that men must wear pants, this was a commandment for the priests only, and was an undergarment, not outerwear. Read the wider context. I have italicized key words for emphasis.


Exodus 28:42: “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:

43: And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.”


Leviticus 6:10: “And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire hath consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar.

11: And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place.”


Leviticus 16:3: “Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.

4: He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.”


Leviticus 16:23: “And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there:

24: And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people.”


Ezekiel 44:15: “But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD:

16: They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.

17: And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within.

18: They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.

19: And when they go forth into the utter court, even into the utter court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people with their garments.”


The breeches were worn by only Aaron, the high priest, and his sons, the priests, and their descendants, and only when in the tabernacle and the holy place. Let’s read some more about the priestly garments.


Exodus 39:27: “And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron, and for his sons,

28: And a mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen,

29: And a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, of needlework; as the LORD commanded Moses.”


If a man, by this verse, must wear breeches, then must he also wear a bonnet and a girdle, things that we today consider to be feminine articles of clothing? No, the linen breeches, or under pants,  were worn by the priests for two apparent reasons. One was to prevent their naked private parts from being seen as they went up and down the steps of the altar, and the other was to prevent their sweat from falling onto the holy place, or the holy things. Notice that they wore them only while in the holy place, ministering before the Lord. They took off these linen breeches, and put them aside, before leaving the holy area. They put on their regular clothes to move among the people.


But what about the scripture that spoke of the garment being to the foot?


Revelation 1:13 “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”


This is clearly talking about a robe, and not a pair of pants, thus the girdle that was worn with the garment. A girdle over a pair of pants and a shirt makes no sense at all. If we are to use this verse to command that men wear a long garment, should we not also insist that the garment be a robe, accompanied by a girdle?


In none of the verses do we find a general commandment to all men to wear “breeches”. In none of the verses do we find breeches to be long pants. Rather, they are under pants, not outerwear.


In none of the verses do we find God commanding either the man or the woman to wear their clothes cut in a particular fashion, that is, not pants, dresses, or robes.


How, then, did such a man-made doctrine come to be? I suspect that it had a lot to do with authority, but that the reason for the doctrine has been perverted over time. Have you ever heard the expression, “Who wears the pants in that family?”


The Bible clearly teaches that man is head of the woman. She is to honor him, hold him in high esteem, and allow him to be the head of the family. From this comes the modern admonition for the man to “wear the britches in the family”, an expression that I heard often while growing up.  I suspect that this admonition for a man to be the head of his family evolved into the doctrine that a woman may not wear pants of any kind, or any garment that is split into two legs. She must wear dresses only, as some say, or may wear blouses and skirts, as some others allow.


God has not told us that men must wear pants and women must wear dresses. These are man-made doctrines. In fact, if you will research the history of pants, you will see that what we men wear today is a fairly modern style of dress. They evolved over time from robes to hose, breeches, and shirts. This style was followed by men wearing trousers by day and pantaloons as evening wear. Over time, the trousers won out as all around wear for men. They have only been around a few hundred years. Men and women in the Middle East still wear robes.


If you will study the types of dress worn in different parts of the world, you will see that the garments are matched to the weather and environment. Robes came out of the hot, sandy part of the world. Breeches and hose, and later, trousers, were worn in the colder climes. In extremely cold areas, layers of heavy clothing were worn to protect from the fierce cold.


God has not dictated which style of clothing we are to wear. There is no universal dress code from heaven. To teach that there is, is to formulate man-made doctrine.


How does God feel about man-made doctrine?


Mark 7 6: “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

7: Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

8: For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

9: And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”


God has always been against men making up their own doctrines, claiming that they are from Him.


Deuteronomy 4:2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”


Deuteronomy 12:32: “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”


Jeremiah 23:25: “I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.

26: How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies?  yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;

27: Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.

28: The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully.  What is the chaff to the wheat?  saith the LORD.

29: Is not my word like as a fire?  saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

30: Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

31: Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

32: Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

33: And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD?  thou shalt then say unto them, What burden?  I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.

34: And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.”


We in the Church of Christ need to stop making up doctrines, or following the made-up doctrine of some other man or group of men. Following man-made doctrine is vain, which means useless, empty, or a waste of time. This is burdensome, causing confusion and making it difficult for people to understand how to correctly worship and serve God.


God has promised to punish those who burden others with made-up doctrine.

Love, in Christ,


Back To Top


saucerbl.gif (1636 bytes)

Hit Counter