Thursday, March 11, 2010

Women Wearing Men's Clothes

Here I go again. And for three reasons in particular. First, I was sent a mass email from my alma mater (Maranatha Baptist Bible College) in which was a link to watch a live stream of a basketball game at the home gym in Watertown, Maranatha men versus Northland men. I opened that email right when I was preparing to do my daily trip to nowhere on the Nordic Trac for forty-five minutes. I often watch live sporting events while on the Nordic Trac in my garage, where I have a home office (I live in California---it's warm), on my computer screen. We don't have cable so I can watch things for free on my broadband internet. The game was just starting as I began to exercise. So I watched.

Northland defeated Maranatha. I watched the last part of the first half and then most of the second half. Maranatha might need to do something about its gym floor, because guys were slipping all over the place due to non-stop moisture in many places, especially right under one basket. About 5 people could not towel it off fast enough. There was a lot of ice-skating out there. But I digress. At half-time, the video feed stayed on, and the student body held some kind of activity on the court with girls running around all over the place. I switched it off then because I didn't want to watch that. All of the girls, all of them, a couple of dozen, were wearing pants. Mainly jeans. Not all loose fitting. It wasn't easy to look at. I just shook my head watching it. What they wore definitely affected how they behaved as well. They were running and bumping around, well, like men. They had girded up their loins like a man and were doing the now permissible type of activity.

Now for me, it isn't that I don't think women can do physical activity. I believe they should. And that isn't my point, so I'm going to leave that little digression to go back to my original focus. I never saw that type of female appearance when I was a student. The school has departed from that particular standard. As I watched how women's dress has changed there, I thought about the basis for the standard in the first place. I believe there is a distinct male garment and female ones that are unique to women. Because of God's prohibition in Deuteronomy 22:5, that when violated the individuals involved are an abomination to Him, I don't believe women should wear the male garment and men the female garment. Our culture still mainly keeps the female garment off of men. Men don't wear skirts and dresses. However, women wear pants. So men don't have a distinct garment any more.

And then I get to the crux of this part of this post. A big argument for the women-wearing-pants crowd is that women wear women's pants. I'm telling you. I don't see it. These professing Christian women don't wear pants that are different than men's. They don't care. That argument comes out only when someone like me comes along. It isn't any kind of conviction, just a convenient game to play at the time. I know that. I think the people know it too, and it shows when you look at all the pants. These women or the men, who supposedly are in headship over them, don't have a conviction about "women's pants." They just don't care about following Deuteronomy 22:5 at all.

I recognize that some people have other arguments. It's just that the "women's pants" argument is the one I hear the most now. It's the men and women both wore robes' argument. Since they both wore robes then, then they both wear pants today. Of course, that misses the point of obeying Deuteronomy 22:5. The assumption is that there would have been a male robe and female robe and neither gender was to wear the other's robe, which would have had distinctions that distinguished it plainly from the other. The move to women's pants hasn't been a move to distinguish the distinctions. It has been one to remove those distinctions. It has been a move to disobey Deuteronomy 22:5.

And again, I know there are other arguments. They have not been the historic position of the church on this passage. The two that come immediately to mind are the Canaanite worship point and then the "don't-wear-military-implements" argument. I'm not even going to deal with them. I've done that here before. They are just dodges. If there is another argument it is the don't-argue-over-non-essentials argument. This abomination to God isn't an essential, you see---to us it isn't.

The second event that directed me to think about this enough to write about it was something that happened in our school. A woman who is not a member of our church mentioned to us that wearing pants exclusively was a conviction for her. She would not wear skirts or dresses, didn't even own any. I won't comment further, but you can see how this may have gotten me contemplating this.

The third happening was a recent article by Kevin Bauder, which was published at SharperIron. This was an essay just before one he wrote has garnered a lot of attention, and I'm planning on writing about that one myself in the near future, but in the previous article, he mentioned the pant-skirt issue. He wrote:

For instance, one of my earliest written pieces was a response to someone who was trying to impose the “no pants on women” theory on our church. I regarded Fundamentalist speculations about music as simply pathetic.

I have recently seen potshots taken at this particular point, as a reason to be dismissive of separatists. These separatists have these, you know, strange standards. They were normal for most of Christian history. But now we have just subjugated ourselves to the world's way of behaving on this.

What the church has done is what Jesus spoke about in Matthew 15:6: "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." Deuteronomy 22:5 is a command that was kept by the church for centuries, but it has been voided now by Pharisaic tradition, tradition intended to make the Christian life "easier." Christians won't have to 'stick out' so much. They can fit in quite nicely with the world and many think this is a good thing. Why did we all take that position for so long, keeping the distinction? What were we thinking? These new theologians and teachers are so much more enlightened, seeing things in the text that people never saw before. It just took a little digging to find some way to void the teaching.

Alright, I'm done for now. No, wait, one more thing. These individuals who do this, all those girls on the basketball floor at Maranatha---they're an abomination to God. Alright. Now I'm done.

23 comments:

Christian said...

Hey, Brother Brandenber,

I will make a deal with you. Come visit for some fellowship anytime you want. Don't bother bringing any pants. When you get here you can go through my wife's wardrobe and you can personally wear anything you are comfortable with for a day. At the end of the day you can take it home.

For his glory,
Christian Markle

d4v34x said...

Hi Bro. B.,

In fairness to brother Bauder, I think it would be appropriate to post something from later in the same essay you link above:

"There is another side to my conundrum. By the mid-1980s, the weakness of fundamentalist argumentation had convinced me that certain “cultural taboos” were trivial. In some cases they really were. My subsequent study and thinking, however, has led me to believe that all cultural activities are far more freighted with meaning than Fundamentalists (or most other evangelicals) have realized . . . many of the things that I once considered trivial, I now see as greatly significant . . . Some of my present positions do bear similarities to practices that some Fundamentalists have advocated. In most cases, however, my reasons diverge, and in all cases the process of reaching my conclusions has been entirely different."

Hard to tell now what he really thinks about pants and music, at least from this.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Christian,

I could be happy about your practice. Happier for your wife than for the girls I watched on screen. I would hope that none of your wife's clothes would fit me, so I don't think you're talking about that. As far as all of them being distinctly female, that's good. So what is the male garment?

D4,

You are correct and perhaps I needed to explain that a little more. What I do know is that we are not left with a very clear picture of where Dr. Bauder stands or sits. But my point was that it got my attention. Thank you for pointing that out though.

Micah said...

"all those girls...they're an abomination to God. Alright. Now I'm done."

Kent, we've dialogued a couple of times and normally you seem pretty reasonable, even in disagreement. This little comment here challenges my previous assumption.

Your ineptitude to interpret scripture is beyond description. You cherry pick verses for your own personal convictions. You can write an article per day for the rest of your life and not convince the rational that Deuteronomy rules of life given to Israel are to be followed by the church of Jesus Christ.

It's borderline heresy when you use your poor biblical knowledge to apply rules to people you don't know and essentially announce they are disgusting to God and headed to hell. I am assuming you would be uncomfortable taking a wife or two as a spoil of battle, humbling her and then releasing her(Deut 21). Which do you apply? Does your church stone rebellious children? Does your church hang men worthy of death? You don't know how to handle the Word accurately. Go learn what the Bible means before you press the keys. If i could use stronger language and know you would publish it i would.

This issue is about control, rules-based spirituality and chest-thumping Pharisaism. You feel spiritual because you and your very insulated circle of influence are "standing against the world." The fact is, the numbers of folk who submit to this exasperated form of mindless Christianity are declining so rapidly you can almost hear a sucking sound. They are running to conservative evangelical churches and breathing a collective sigh of relief as they experience the grace of Christ and freedom to serve Him. I could recount scores of believers at our church who have expressed such refreshment at being out from under the suffocating dominance that you represent.

Scan your posts and weigh your positive and affirming words against your negative. It's not even close. Your ministry appears to be a mixture of vitriolic criticism and condescending false piety. This is not the ministry of a pastor, but that of a narcissistic gladiator, for which there is no role in Christ's body.

One thing i can i agree with in your statement. "Now I'm done." Please, may it be so.

Micah

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Micah,

I've not found you to be reasonable normally, but I've still talked to you. The one thing you are missing in your entire text is anything about the actual verse itself, which would seem to be ironic for someone who writes something so condemnatory. I have the sense that you are a young man too, which seems to add to your bravado and puffed up knowledge. So again, you say nothing about God's Word or its application. Really the burden of proof rests upon you to explain how scripture changed in meaning and practice. But younger men as yourself perhaps don't need to do so, you know, because of your own free floating autonomy, what you call liberty.

By the way, if I wrote a younger conservative evangelical like you have written, he would delete my comment.

Someone violating the prohibitions of Deut 22:5 is an abomination to God. I would think pleasing God would be a bigger deal to you, but you are more concerned that someone disobeying God's Word feels good.

Your "rules of life given to Israel" comment is the inept interpretation of Scripture. Paul uses Deuteronomy in 1 Cor 9 and 1 Tim 5. You would have argued with him about the place of God's law.

I find of interest what you think is your superior biblical knowledge, essentially "Christian" trash-talking that doesn't accomplish anything. And then I guess what comes next is what proves to me that we don't follow Deut 22:5 anymore.

I don't have to know someone to apply scriptue to what they are doing. Is that a prerequisite for you? Where do you find that in scripture? People can be disgusting to God when they do certain things. By the way, it doesn't suprise me that people are looking for churches where they're boss.

Do you have a problem with God's judicial law for Israel in Deut 21? Is the law of the Lord perfect? Or do you stand in judgment over it? And it is judicial in your examples, not moral law like we have in Deut 22:5. Notice the text itself (rather than your imagination and what you like or pick and choose) says "all that do so." That isn't just Israel. And when it is an abomination to God, it is moral. And I'm saying an abomination to Him. That never becomes amoral.

Punishments for crime in Israel are all judicial. I really commend to you Kaiser's Toward Old Testament Ethics. He doesn't disagree at all with this interpretaion of Deut 22:5. Perhaps you could write Kaiser as well and help him with your excellent, supreme knowledge of the Bible.

The next paragraph is in typical fundamentalist fashion as far as the judgment by you. Just name calling. You reduce what God said to a manageable number that you can keep. That is your Pharisaism, the left wing variety, truly making God's Word of none effect. If you submitted to the Word, let it dwell in you richly, and then to the Holy Spirit, it wouldn't be so grievous to you. You could keep God's Word out of love.

I can't really comment on your anecdotal material about people getting out of their suffocating environments. I know it isn't our church. Your blind judgments and snarky comments hopefully are a bump in the road for you.

Joshua Allen said...

Cool story, with a very unexpected twist. When you started out, and got to the point about pants, I thought you were going to say that the cheerleaders switched to wearing pants, because the traditional short skirts and bare legs were deemed to be un-scriptural. Having girls run around on court with pants on is certainly not the worldly way to do it, is it? Do you have any idea why they did it that way? Pretty fascinating.

Andy Efting said...

Kent,
I am a cultural non-conformist when it comes to modesty, clothing, and music. I do believe that God made man male and female and that He desires distinctiveness in roles, positions, and clothing. I think that concept can be shown pretty easily from both the Old and New Testaments. Our culture, though, has intentionally tried to minimize, if not erase, those God-willed distinctives. Because of that, I think it is important to embrace those distinctives and even emphasize them. By emphasize, I don’t mean “over do it” but rather not to be satisfied with just being borderline. Our desire should be to highlight godly masculinity and femininity, not minimize it. I view that as our family position but we don’t look down on people who still desire to please God in this area but not emphasize it the same way we do. The way that works out for us is that my wife and girls wear dressy-type fashions almost all the time. What we do as a family used to be much more common than it is now. Today it is very rare and we have never been members in a church where what we do is not rare.

I say all that to say two things. First, I don’t get the necessity of a male garment argument that you advocate. I’ve read your explanations but it just doesn’t ring true to me as a requirement that God has. I have corresponded with A. Philip Brown, who makes a similar case as yours (http://www.apbrown2.net/web/Deut22%275.pdf), and he wasn’t able to convince me, either. What I see Scripture saying is that women should avoid wearing garments that are distinctively male (and vice-versa) but not that there has to be a distinctive male (or female) garment. So, while I am very sympathetic to what you are saying, I am not able to agree with it. Second, that means what I said earlier, in that we do not sit in judgment on those who attempt to be distinctive in their clothing but do not emphasize those distinctions in the same way my family does. I have no problem at all with the way that Christian has suggested he practices this in his home. I do wish more people would at least think about the concept of distinctiveness but I don’t want anyone to think that I consider their practice an abomination before God just because they differ from our family practice. I fear, though, that many people think just that.

Micah,

I agree that Kent’s language was inflammatory but I do believe that the Pentateuch and all of the Old Testament was written for our instruction (Rom 15:5). Paul himself takes a passage from Deut 25:4 and applies it to the NT church (1 Cor 9:9ff). There is no question that it is valid to do so. Indeed, we must do it. The real issue is making sure that we do it correctly. In the paper I referenced above, Dr. Brown shows how that it done, not just with Duet 22:5, but with the entire OT. His discussion on “Principles of Interpreting & Applying Old Testament Law to the Modern Believer” is very helpful in that regard.

d4v34x said...

Scan your posts and weigh your positive and affirming words against your negative.

I'm checking the mirror for a beam in the socket . . . others feel free to join me as the Spirit prompts.

Anonymous said...

Brother Brandenburg,

I think a praying, Christian woman wearing a headcovering and pants is more biblically obedient than one without a headcovering and wearing a dress. Just my two cents. What say you?


PS. Thanks for all your work, bibliology especially. It has been so helpful to me and my growth.

In Christ
John G

Kent Brandenburg said...

Joshua,

If they had run around the court with their pants off, that would have assuredly been more worldly. However, Christianity did not start putting pants on women. The world did and then Christians went along with no good reason.

Andy,

I appreciate your comment, and I'm happy you read Dr. Brown's material. He and I have never talked to one another and came to the exact same position separately. And we started with the Bible. I am curious as to how I was inflammatory. If pants are a male article and a woman is an abomination to God when wearing them, then why is it inflammatory to say a woman who wears them is an abomination. Why is telling the truth inflammatory to someone who would profess to be saved? Jesus always told the truth, I've noticed.

Everyone,

Regarding negative and positive speech, how many of the ten commandments are positive? In 2 Tim 4 it says reprove, rebuke, exhort. Do those sound negative to you?

John,

Yes to the former.

Everyone again,

I think this is another one of those issues where men invent new interpretations and since there are so many interpretations, now men are free to take one they want without judgment. This is where historical theology becomes very important.

Joshua Allen said...


However, Christianity did not start putting pants on women. The world did and then Christians went along with no good reason


This doesn't really ring true, though. Has the world ever put pants on females at half-time? We are talking about a basketball game after all, and the men are wearing distinctive jerseys and shorts. The idea of sending out pants-clad females at halftime seems like a complete innovation on the part of Maranatha. Putting pants on women in a halftime thing seems almost as weird and retrograde as making them wear burkhas. I've never heard of such a thing anywhere else, which made me wonder what possible rationale the folks there could have had.

Perhaps one theory would be that the folks at Maranatha decided that they wanted to have some female halftime show (an embrace of worldliness), but then decided that normal cheerleader outfits (or even more modest skirts) would be too worldly and provocative.

IOW, perhaps it's the embrace of female halftime diversion that was the knowing compromise with worldliness, and the pants were an unintended side-effect.

Looking at it from another perspective, would you say that it would have been more biblically appropriate if the females had worn skirts, perhaps with bicycle shorts beneath for modesty? I mean, is your complaint primarily that they weren't wearing cheerleader clothes, or just that the whole production seemed weird and worldly?

Joshua said...

I just got front row tickets to what Micah described as "folks finding liberty".

Was the strongest standards monger around. Had standards for their standards. Had agendas and championed causes. Got advice from the unsaved, decided we were "oppressive", left her husband, dropped the KJV, popped on a pair of pants, rocked it up, bought a TV and joined the conservative evangelical church down the road. Took a family or two with her, slandered the pastor and tried to turn several women (including my wife) against their husbands.

Now she says she's never felt closer to the Lord and has some wonderful liberty. I think she was a slave before, and she's still a slaves. Just because you put your master in different clothes doesn't change who you are.

I have an eerie suspicion that her new friends at the evo church are congratulating her on escaping the cult, and rejoicing in what you call "the Grace of Christ".

Do a search for "the dangers of the www. christian". We've seen plenty of folks finding your liberty before.

d4v34x said...

Bro B. My comment on negativism was intended to highlight the irony of the behavior of the one whom I quoted.

I agree that there is both appropriate, Biblical "negativity" intended to reprove and correct as well as inapropriate negativity simply intended to tear down.

I think it's clear which comments here fall into which category.

I also think its important to check the mirror as often as possible for beams we've missed.

In Christ,

David

Andy Efting said...

It’s inflammatory because I believe you are wrong about the necessity of a male garment. It is an abomination for a woman to wear a distinctively male garment but if the garment is not distinctively male, then it is not an abomination. Now, their dress may not be distinctive because the culture has erased those distinctions, but the Bible doesn’t say that non-distinctiveness is an abomination but that going beyond that and wearing something that IS culturally distinctive – that is what is an abomination. Do I think that the loss of distinction is a good thing? No. That is why we are counter-cultural in our practice in our family. Am I going to call those who differ from our practice an abomination to God? No. I hope that makes sense in some way. I expect that you will disagree but that is the answer as to why I believe your comment was inflammatory and probably counterproductive to your point.

Gary Webb said...

Andy,
I am glad that you have some type of standard in your home. That's good. However, the NT teaches us that the church - the pastor in particular - is to instruct women how to dress (I Timothy 2:9-10 as a primary reference). Paul told Timothy to teach on these matters, & that would also require enforcement in the church where Timothy pastored. That clearly indicates that churches and Christians are to make judgments (be judgmental, if you will) about what women wear. God says that what they wear will affect their prayer life (I Timothy 2:8-9, notice the "in like manner"), so it is vitally important that a church take a clear stand on this subject. With such clear Bible instruction on this matter, it is quite revealing about pastors who do not preach on these things and the spiritual character of churches where such practice is "rare".

Gary said...

Wow!!! Almost a dozen posts in one day.

Kent,

I think that if you put all of your posts together on this topic , you will find that you have by far the most exaustive writings on Deut. 22:5 on the Internet!
You have done well with handling those who are not knowledgeable in Hebrew, while not being to extreme by saying that women in pants is a mortal sin.
I think that we've said and covered everything possible in the last few posts, so I think that I'll mainly just observe this time around. God bless.

Oh, when is your book going to come out?

Christian said...

Brother Brandonburg,

You asked a question earlier, and I have not forgotten or ignored it. I have spent a few hours the last few days trying to understand both your exegesis of Deuteronomy as well as you application to today's culture. Could you provide me a bullet list of biblical/practical requirements for what you call a "male garment?
This would certainly be helpful in determining if in fact there is none left (after the change in the usage of pants).

For His glory,
Christian Markle

d4v34x said...

Christian, I have a partial list of answers. Bro B. believes the male garment is culturally determined. Indicators of that cultural determination are:

1. Parisian law (circa 1880s)
2. Sillouhettes on the signs on bathroom doors.

Ok, just a bid of reductionist (if essentially accurate) fun.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Joshua,

Your questions were: "Looking at it from another perspective, would you say that it would have been more biblically appropriate if the females had worn skirts, perhaps with bicycle shorts beneath for modesty? I mean, is your complaint primarily that they weren't wearing cheerleader clothes, or just that the whole production seemed weird and worldly?"

If those women had on skirts, they would not have been involved in that activity, even with the bicycle shorts on underneath. I think the production was also worldly, so you do have a point there. Thanks.

Andy,

I wrote a whole post on "inflammatory," so I won't write anything here.

You say that since there is no distinctly male garment, this can't be disobeyed any longer. That seems rather convenient for a God-denying culture, to void a particular prohibition of God by erasing the God-ordained distinctions. And now Christians can't be disobedient because the culture at large has done this. I don't believe you'll get by with this, Andy, even with your counter-culturalism. You're not quite counter enough, therefore, losing your savor in this world. I don't mean that in the bad kind of inflammatory way.

Gary (not Gary Webb),

Good question on the book. I finished writing it four years ago and the guy who lays it out still is doing stuff with it. Thanks for asking.

Christian,

Bullet points in application of Deut 22:5, answering 'what is the male article?'

*It doesn't need to be just one, but at least one that distinguishes.
*It should be something that is always distinguishing, so it would be something worn every day.
*It should be external so it can be seen.
*It should be an article that has been distinguished as a male article (called a male article, since the culture thinks it right to distinguish in obedience to what God said).

I think that covers it (no pun intended).

Deut 22:5 assumes a male article. Our culture has obliterated the last remaining distinguishing garment for the man (the pants). We know why it did that and now we have capitulated to it. But we don't want women to be called by men an abomination to God, even if they are an abomination to God. Our feelings have become sovereign over God's. He's disgusted and we're not, so it shouldn't matter.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I am not purposefully being inflammatory, in case anyone thinks I'm trying to be smart. I'm honestly wondering. I had no idea you had a son at Westpoint. I think that's admirable, but at the same time I think much of what the military does is questionable. Not the soldiers so much because they are just the pawns. I sometimes wonder about the strategies and moral compass of the senators and high-ranking officers who actually make the decisions. I'm not trying to bait you. Please feel free to disregard my post and ignore it if it's too controversial, considering you have active military family.

Gary said...

Kent,

I know this is slightly off topic, but I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on 1 Cor 11 in regards to women wearing a head covering in today's society. The reason that I'm asking,is because a hispanic friend of mine was evangelizing in front of a Latino market (she was wearing a dress, wore no make up, and has long hair, so that she would not offend)when she was rudely confronted by a group from Luz De La Mundo Church. They thought that she should not be there with her head uncovered. She left quickly, because she thought that it would be a bad witness for the other people to see Christians argueing in public.

She wanted me to go with her this Saturday just in case they showed up again. I believe that you have mentioned in the past that head coverings were not necessary in today's society. If you could give me some of your insight on this it would be appreciated. God Bless.

Bookborn said...

There are no pants from Genesis to Revelation. "Pants" was a reference to undergarments for years. There are linen breeches (undergarments) worn by a priest, but no pants. So, in Deut. 22, they both wore skirts (robes). One was feminine and one was masculine. There is an 'attire of an harlot' in the Bible, etc. God even (anthromorphism) says He wears a skirt in Ezek.16. In Ruth, Boaz wears a skirt (type of Christ). Christ wears a garment down to the foot when John sees Him. Men wore robes and women wore robes. So, what was the difference? Funny how that men think they are holy wearing a suit and a tie (modeled after the business world?). We say that women wearing pants came from the world, but MEN WEARING PANTS STARTED IN THE WORLD AS WELL. Shall we all start wearing choir robes?
Kent, I have a signed copy of your Ps.12:6,7 book and we haven't talk in a long while. I appreciate your input.

Ricky said...

I agree with the whole women wearing a garment that has always related to men, but there are some things that men wear that guys probably shouldn't be.