October 1, 2007

What I've been doing today

Well, I've been doing my normal Monday stuff- washing clothes and bedding, tidying up from the weekend, quickly cleaning bathrooms and floors and various other things. But, as you know I've been looking deeper at the modest and feminine dress issue, and have really been struggling even more. So, this morning before everyone woke up and during nap time I've been searching the Scriptures. I have to find out what God is clearly speaking for myself- I may come to the same conclusion as others, but I need to find it for myself.

My biggest question is: Are women immodest when wearing pants?

I have done word studies using a Hebrew and Greek lexicon- I've cross referenced and used the dictionary. And yes, in the Bible, clothing generally is referred to as long, flowing, robes, coats etc.
But I keep coming back to the idea that in that time and culture, men and women wore long flowing garments. They both wore undergarments of some type and the main difference between male and female dress was that women wore veils and head pieces at times.

A lot of people use 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. "

What I am wondering is since their apparel was so similar, how could they cross dress? I guess if men wore jewelry or veils and women didn't? Men in our country and in many countries don't wear robes. In some cultures they go naked, because in their particular culture that is acceptable. Yes, in America a man wearing a dress would be considered cross-dressing, but the Bible wasn't written by Americans in a modern time.

Now I'm not saying we should discount this verse at all just because we don't live in the 'olden days'. These are just my thoughts that I'm mulling over right now. So is women wearing dresses cultural? What does it really mean to be modest?

I went to Webster's 1828 dictionary, and this is what I found under the definition of modesty.

"MOD'EST, a. [L. modestus, from modus, a limit.]

1. Properly, restrained by a sense of propriety; hence, not forward or bold; not presumptuous or arrogant; not boastful; as a modest youth; a modest man.
2. Not bold or forward; as a modest maid. The word may be thus used without reference to chastity.

The blushing beauties of a modest maid.
3. Not loose; not lewd.

Mrs. Ford, the honest woman, the modest wife.
4. Moderate; not excessive or extreme; not extravagant; as a modest request; modest joy; a modest computation.

MOD'ESTY, n. [L. modestia.] That lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one's own worth and importance. This temper when natural, springs in some measure from timidity, and in young and inexperienced persons, is allied to bashfulness and diffidence. In persons who have seen the world, and lost their natural timidity, modesty springs no less from principle than from feeling, and is manifested by retiring, unobtrusive manners, assuming less to itself than others are willing to yield, and conceding to others all due honor and respect, or even more than they expect or require.

2. Modesty, as an act or series of acts, consists in humble, unobtrusive deportment, as opposed to extreme boldness, forwardness, arrogance, presumption, audacity or impudence. Thus we say, the petitioner urged his claims with modesty; the speaker addressed the audience with modesty.
3. Moderation; decency.
4. In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor."

From what I read here, it seems that modesty is more an internal issue. A woman can be dressed in a beautiful feminine dress, but if she is proud and haughty about her choice to dress in such a way, that is not modesty. A woman that is heartily serving the Lord with a meek and quiet spirit that wears blue jeans has the internal qualities of modesty. I'm not talking about those that wear the low cut shirts, the tight pants and miniskirts etc. I am thinking of people like my mom and those I go to church with- amazing ladies that are full of love and have a servant's heart, that wear pants.

I even talked to my dad about the subject, whom is quite knowledgeable and wise, and he didn't really think it mattered one way or the other what a woman wore, as long as she was covered. Now I didn't know what to think and neither did my husband. I have been so heavy hearted trying to figure this out. I don't want to spend a considerable amount of time on something that isn't all that important- if it really doesn't matter if I wear pants or not, then I don't want to spend a large percent of my time seeking out modest dresses or sewing them. I like to do those things, but it takes a lot of time and effort since I have three girls and myself to clothe. It has become a burden to me at times.

Now, before anyone starts bashing me or 'proving me wrong'- know that I am in the process right now. I love beautiful dresses- I love seeing my girls in cute, ruffled and laced dresses. But time is so short, and I want to be focused on the right things and not chasing something that is a rabbit trail. So that's what I'm trying to find out. Does it really and truly matter to our God. Dresses only? Are pants ok? I hope to know soon...


Sarah said...

I have been wondering the same thing! I had worn only skirts and dresses for about seven years and just in this last year I have been asking myself if this is what I'm really supposed to be doing. Can you be modest in pants? My biggest thing was that my friends that wore only skirts and dresses were so much more critical and judgmental of others- especially those who didn't 'dress' like them even if they were modest. They even went so far as to saying that women wearing pants was a sin! I don't know where they found that verse in the Bible! On the other hand, the Christian women I knew that wore very modest slacks and long shorts seemed so much happier and confident in their walk with the Lord. They weren't judging others by their outward appearance, they were looking more at themselves and how 'they' needed to change and grow. They also didn't judge me for wearing skirts all the time. So that is my reason for questioning skirts and dresses- I too was becoming critical of those who wore pants and it was wrong. I still wear skirts and dresses 'most' of the time, but there are times that I wear pants. I almost always wear pants around the house- the kind you wear to bed (don't worry, I shower daily and do my hair and makeup...I'm not a slob-totally). It's just so much more comfortable. I do wear denim skirts about 80% of the time (when I go out)and always wear skirts or dresses to church. This decision to wear modest slacks occasionally is not only my decision but also my husbands. He has seen the hypocrisy too and it makes him sick. I'm not saying you are hypocritical because I have read your blog and I know this is something you truly feel convicted about. You are researching this because you truly want to do and wear what the Lord wants you to. You want to dress feminine. I applaud you! So many women don't care about their appearance and don't even give a thought about looking feminine. Which I even believe some women who wear skirts all the time can look unfeminine. You know the kind of women I'm talking about. The ones that will throw on a denim skirt because that is what everyone else is doing, but they don't bother showering, applying a little makeup and doing something with their hair. They just head out the door looking like they literally just rolled out of bed. They wear grubby t-shirts and chunky, dirty tennis shoes, because they just don't care. What kind of image is that giving others? Don't we as Christians need to look our best at all times- skirts or pants? We are representing Christ...we need to remember 'that'! Good luck on your hunt for answers! I'll be checking back to see what you have found out.

Anneatheart said...

Wow Sarah, that's exactly how I feel :) I have seen a lot of women that wear denim skirts or jumpers, t-shirts and tennis shoes that just looked really sloppy. I've seen girls in the Penecostal church wear super tight skirts that were much more immodest than my blue jeans were, and girls that wore t-shirts, denim skirts and flip flops. They didn't look modest and feminine to me- just hoochy!

I too have gotten rather judgmental, which is why I'm examining this more in depth. I've sometimes gotten the attitude that I'm better or holier than others because of my choice. But I don't think I should cover my head, and yet other women do. Is it the same way with pants? Still waiting on the Lord...

Rachel said...

Love what Sarah said! I too was one of those women in stained Tshirts and grungy clothes - I didn't care! The Lord knows my heart. Yes, He does, but it's others that see my EXAMPLE by how I'm dressed. First impressions you know. We lead by examples - how we live our lives.

I have recently started to care more about how I dress. Being plus size, I'm very careful of necklines and skirt lengths and tightness and bunching of clothes. I do feel you can dress modestly and still wear pants, skirts, dresses, etc. My husband wants to see my curves when he looks at me.. but he doesn't want other men to lust after me. I also don't want to give the impression that I'm loose or looking for a man, etc.

There are some blogs I have been to that feel others are WRONG, just utterly WRONG for wearing pants or not covering. Who are they to judge?

I think dressing modestly in whatever we wear is a great thing. But I think more importantly it's how you live your life that matters most to God.

Are you judging what others are doing or not doing or wearing or not wearing?

Are you telling others their choice of religion is wrong?

Or instead, are you truly loving and accepting of people.. are you tolerant of others and their choices?

I have often asked myself what our purpose here on earth is?? Why does God make us come here first? Why cannot we just live as heaven on earth? Why do we need this suffering and struggling and horrible ways of some men? What are we supposed to be learning during our walk here on earth??

How to dress? What religion is best?

I think not.

I truly believe we are here to love. To openly, fully love each other. I said earlier we lead by example how we dress.. God led by example for giving us his only son who died to save us. Out of love. Love for us.

For me this says that we are here to love.

I'm not so worried about what I wear as much as I am worried about the impression it leaves. I'm more concerned about compassion and love and my faith.

I may not have helped you much.. but to me it's a personal choice. I'd rather be more concerned about other things :)

Pray and pray and pray some more. have you worn pants? How do they make you feel? How do they look? What does your husband feel? Does it change the way you act? Does it change your closeness to God?

let us know. I'm curious as to what you decide. I know women who just prefer dresses for no other reason than they feel more comfortable in them and it has nothing to do with their walk with God :)

Much love!

Mama said...

I think we are to be modest in the time that God has allowed us to be born in!!!!!!!!!! And in the culture that he has allowed us to live in!Just like they were advised to be modest in the culture that THEY LIVED IN in THEIR TIME! The bible doesn't say what exactly is a modest piece of clothing. It does not say "thou shalt wear what was worn by your grandmothers 80 years ago since the clothing today is unacceptable"

Now I'm NOT advocating low cut shirts and skin tight jeans etc (just like you said) but a normal acceptable way of dressing in todays world!!

Big Momma said...

I grew up in a pentecostal church and was told as a child that the only time that you are suppose to wear pants was if your work required it or for gym class. So of course I had the view that anyone claiming to be a Christian and wearing pants was in error. The scripture that was used was one found in the old Testament referring to men not wearing clothing pertaining to women and vice versa. All I have to say is that when I went away to college and to a non denominational church God showed me women who were used by him who wore jeans. I don't think Christian women should wear tight jeans where you can see everything outlined and plunging neck lines. But God loves all women, jeans or skirts. Lately my heart has been moving toward wearing skirts.. Long flowing skirts, ones with prints and body to them. Only because last week or so, my 7 month old reached out to me in the kitchen as I was doing something and she began to play and suck on my skirt and have a good time with it. And my 2 year old burried his face in my skirt and was laughing and twirling himself around in it. Thus, I have begun to wear more skirts on a daily basis because I want my 4 children to remember me as the queen that I am, Who floated down the stairs or down the aisle in the grocery store with her long flowing skirt on. Im not doing it to feel "more saved". My heart is just mofng in that direction. It is so legalistic for skirt wearers to condemn those that dont wear skirts. Our salvation does not wager on if we wear pants or skirts but, if we have repented of our sins and asked Jesus into our hearts. Unfortunately we live in a society where you will find certain women who feel the need to be the voice of the Holy Spirit instead of letting the Spirit do its job and tenderly lead hearts in the direction it should go. The best thing you can do is search Gods word and listen for his voice. Everyone that seeks will find. (Those are His Words).

cherylharrell said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile & it is very interesting. I'm enjoying the Christian stuff too! :)

I'm not an Independent Baptist but am a fellow Christian. I had a late Aunt & Uncle who were Independent Baptist & dresses only. I don't think you have to be dresses only. I had never heard of dresses being more modest than pants ideas until I started reading some Independent Baptist womens blogs. I knew they believed in dresses only but had no idea they thought it was more modest until then.

I'm a member of a good bible believing Presbyterian church & they don't mind folks wearing pants. I see nothing wrong with pants as long as you look femine in them & not like some guy lol. I wear some stuff the Independent Baptists probably wouldn't wear like jeans, slacks & spaghetti strap tops but try to make sure they are modest & don't show off everything I got. I've never seen anything in the Bible saying "Thou Shalt Wear Dresses Only".

I agree with ya'll that some of the dresses only folks are more critical & judegmental of pants wearers etc. I've seen it on websites etc like it's some kind of sin or something. My late Independent Baptist Aunt was never judgemental but just a good Godly woman & a real credit to the Independent Baptists. :)

I think God is more concerned with your heart then whether or not you wear dresses or pants... :)