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T he verse used by Oneness Pentecostals to "prove" that women are not to wear pants is Deuteronomy 22:5.1 There are at least two reasons why this verse has a deeper meaning than what is concluded from just a simple reading of it and, therefore, does not ban women from wearing pants. One reason is that if we also read verse 12 it should be clear that the clothing worn in those days were similar for men and woman. They both wore robes as an outer garment. Let's now take a look at the text in two versions.

The KJV reads: "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." The Literal Translation reads: "not will be WHAT IS OF A MAN on a woman nor will put on a man garment a woman's because an abomination to Yahweh your God whoever does these things." Notice that it speaks NOTHING of a man's CLOTHING on a woman. It only speaks of a woman's clothing on a man.

The word "wear" (Hebrew hayah) means to exist (i.e. be or become, come to pass - always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary). Compare that to the word "wear" in verse 11 (Hebrew labesh) which means properly, wrap around (i.e. - by implication - to put on a garment or clothe (oneself, or another), literally or figuratively). Returning to verse 5, the word "pertaineth" (KJV; Hebrew kliy) means something prepared (i.e. any apparatus - as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon). This word is never used for clothing. The word "garment" (Hebrew simlah) means a covering through the idea of a cover assuming the shape of the object beneath (i.e. clothing; also treachery or pillage).

Therefore, verse 5 conveys two meanings. First, it may be referring to men who would wear something which would make them "become" as a woman. He would then "hang out" with a group of women and befriend a certain woman. Once the trust was established the man would then take advantage of her sexually and/or rob her.

Secondly, it may be referring to acts of idol worship. During this period, pagans would worship idols in rituals that would have women wearing men's accessories such as his armor, and staff, etc. Both acts would most certainly be detestable to God.

Nonetheless, in case you disagree with the interpretation above and still believe that it means woman are not to wear pants, you may be interested to know that this was a law given by God to the Israelites which would not be continued in the New Testament. As Romans 6:14 states, we "are not under law, but under grace." If you read verses 23-24, you will find a law that commands a couple be stoned to death for a certain act of fornication. I know of many "Apostolics" (as well as non-Oneness) who are very glad that this law is not still in effect. You will find certain laws that are still continued in the New Testament, such as the Ten Commandments, which we most definately should still uphold.

On this point, women are instructed in the New Testament to only wear modest and inexpensive clothes (1 Tim 2:9). The word "modest" (KJV; Greek kosmios) simply means orderly or well arranged (i.e. decorous, seemly). In fact, pants worn by women today are not worn because of idol worship. They are worn for comfort, and in some cases, for purposes of modesty. Many women first began wearing pants during the World Wars. Women were needed to work in factories because most of the men were away. They didn't wear pants because they wanted to be men or worship idols. They wore them because it was suitable and proper (seemly) for the job at hand.

1. Holiness & Modesty, Positional Papers of the United Pentecostal Church International (September 25, 1977).


Most Oneness Pentecostals believe that as a condition for salvation, a woman should never cut her hair, while men should always keep his hair short. The passage they use to support their view is 1 Cor. 11:3-16 1. However, here Paul is concerned with the Corinthian woman taking too much liberty with the message of grace. Therefore, he was addressing woman in the church who were throwing off all customary gender distinctions.

The Greek word for "nature"(phusis) can be used literally (the laws that earth is subject to) or figuratively (customary) depending on the context. If used literally, this verse tells us that the woman's hair grows longer than the men's. Yet it's obvious that men can also grow their hair long. And if verse 14 tells us that it is a disgrace for a man to have long hair, then it is clear that "nature" is to be taken figuratively.

Therefore, in the context of woman respecting her head (husbands), Paul is asking what is the socially acceptable custom that surrounds us. A simple study of history will show that during the first century, the men of Corinth wore his hair short. Likewise, the Jewish tradition, and even the Greco Roman society, saw woman who cut her hair short or going completely bald, as shameful. Furthermore, it was a custom then, as it still is in some middle east countries, for woman to completely cover themselves, which included covering the head and face.

The bottom line is that one's behavior should not shock the senses of other Christians or the sense of decency of the culture in which we live. Paul's advice here is not intended to be binding law throughout all time. If, for example, it is some sort of universal principle that long hair on a man is "shameful," why is it that, in certain circumstances, God's will for a man to have long hair was a sign of holiness (e.g. Lev. 21:5; Num. 6:5; Judg. 13:5)?

Whether or not one is circumcised, whether one wears a dress or pants, whether one's hair is long or short, and whether one eats meat or not (Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 10:23-33) are matters that may or may not be important to particular individuals, within particular cultures, at particular times.

1. Tract # 1567220916 The Scriptural Teaching on Hair (Word Aflame Press).

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