Should Christian women wear dresses or skirts?

The rules or cultures of some churches are very strong against women wearing pants.  There are some Biblical principles at work here that support the arguments on both sides of the issue.

Why many women choose to wear dresses.

Transvestite Clothing 

There is a prohibition of women wearing men’s clothing in Deuteronomy 22:5

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

It is a sin to live as a transvestite, someone who disguises him/herself as the opposite sex.  In the not-to-distant past (early twentieth century) women almost never wore pants, even while working.  Trends have changed, especially with the feminists’ movement.  Many Christian women still view pants as an expression of masculinity.  However some would argue that a woman wearing pants is no longer an attempt to portray oneself as a transvestite but rather just another choice for a normal lifestyle.  The culture does not view a woman in pants as cross-gender but quite normal, therefore pants do no damage the testimony of a woman’s character.

Principle of modesty

1 Timothy 2:9-10 

(9)  likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, (10)  but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works.

A piece of clothing that is too tight, too short or too transparent would be disqualified under the word “modesty” in these verses.  Many would consider tight pants as immodest.  Short skirts could just as easily be classified as immodest.  One could argue that pants can be designed to be modest.  Often in heated discussions about women’s clothing, 1 Timothy 2 is used inconclusively.

“Modesty” in this context also refers to the modest budget of the clothing.  Dresses covered with gold, pearls or other costly attire could hardly be considered modest according to 1 Timothy 2:9.


Too often externals are the criteria by which we judge each other’s spirituality.  In another context, Paul had to correct Christians’ thinking about eating meat, a superficial matter in comparison with true spirituality - righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 14:15-17 (15)  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. (16)  Let not then your good be evil spoken of: (17)  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Shad David Sluiter