Official Statement on Women and Pants



Official Statement on Women and Pants

Questions relating to women wearing pants is an ancient yet growing topic in Great Awakening International. Many concerned achayot, inquiring to know the morality of the act of putting on trousers/pants;

Several doctrines suggest that it violates Torah for putting on jeans, that pants is only meant for men; they quoted Deuteronomy 22:5 – ‘A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the YAHUAH your Elohim detests anyone who does this’.

What is the position of Great Awakening International concerning women wearing pants? Before many people get misled in the name of religion by some seeming “religious leaders” etc., this is a formal response to the issue at hand.

We shall begin by clarifying the concepts, the (1) Biblical interpretation, (2) cultural perspective, and (3) the position of Great Awakening International.

To begin with, the words “pants” and “trousers” are often used interchangeably; trousers generally refer to tailored garments with a fitted waistline, pockets, and a zipper. Pants, although often used to refer to “undergarments” (British English), is also a broader term and can refer to trousers, bloomers, knickerbockers, breeches, slacks, jeans, shorts, etc. (American English). Therefore, in this statement, we shall make use of the words trouser and pants interchangeably to mean the same thing.

As we see it, “appropriateness” in men’s and women’s clothing is a concept that changes from culture to culture and from one historical period to the next. What “pertains to a man” in this particular time and place may not be the same as that which “pertains to a man” in another context. This is one of those instances in which the Bible has to be read and interpreted against the background of the culture and historical period in which it was written.

A quick historical survey of male and female dress illustrates the point we’re trying to make. Among ancient peoples only the Celts seem to have developed trousers as a standard item of apparel for men. In Israel, Greece, and Rome males generally wore garments that you would probably describe as “skirts” (and even the Celts had their kilts). We can safely assume, then, that when Moses, in Deuteronomy 22:5, told the people that “a woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man,” he was not thinking of pants.

This idea is derived from a lack of study in our Hebrew understanding. Sticking with the Greek surface-level text and the unwillingness to search the Hebrew is the cause for this misunderstanding.

We are aware that many achayot (Sisters) are seriously trying to adhere to the way of the scriptures but are being misled and they are leaving jobs, denying employment opportunities that can bring in needed income to support their families/children...all because of misunderstanding.

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man (geber), neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the YAHUAH thy Elohim.

In the Interlinear Hebrew text, DEUT 22:5 uses H1397 translated as "man" but it is a particular type of "man". (WARRIOR) Lexicon :: Strong's H1397 - geber

gheh'·ver (Key)
Root Word (Etymology)
From גָּבַר (H1396)
KJV Translation Count — Total: 68x
The KJV translates Strong's H1397 in the following manner: man (64x), mighty (2x), man child (1x), every one (1x).
Outline of Biblical Usage [?]
man, strong man, WARRIOR (emphasising strength or ability to fight)
Strong’s Definitions [?]
(Strong’s Definitions Legend)
‎גֶּבֶר geber, gheh'-ber; from H1396; properly, a valiant man or warrior;generally, a person simply:—every one, man, × mighty

In addition....kĕlî-geber as "a warrior's weapon" is a possible translation, in that the English given provides legitimate glosses on the Hebrew words. However, context determines meaning, and we'll seen in a moment that this (otherwise acceptable) translation is not suitable for the context. The Hebrew word "kĕlî" has a very wide range of meaning, with something like "utensil" as a base meaning. But, in the previous sentence demonstrates "clothing" is part of its semantic range, and what we want in context. "geber" is the word GT translates as warrior here: this is just possible, as it usually refers to men who can be part of the fighting force, but even this needs to be explained sometimes (see Jeremiah 41:16 where it spelled out as "gibborim [plural of geber] who were men of WAR.

"pertaineth" כְּלִי (keli in Hebrew) is a militaristic term! It's used in Scripture 11x as ARMOR, 4x as WEAPONS, 8x as INSTRUMENT & 4x as "STUFF" (as in a backpack)...for the last time, IT IS NOT ABOUT PANTS!!! It's a warning for Israel not to have women "dressed for WAR" or for men NOT to hide from a man's responsibility "dressed as a woman"!

As we can see it was a Soldier/Warrior's apparel, NOT pants. From a scriptural perspective, the important thing here is the principle. Men should be men and women should be women. It’s a mistake to become overly concerned about a particular garment or a specific style of clothing. As we’ve already said, that’s a matter of changing fashion. It’s been a very long time since pants were perceived as an exclusively male item of clothing in American society.

On a broader perspective, Deuteronomy 22:5 has to do with more than just clothing; it also speaks of a life that emulates in every way those of the opposite sex. We must also understand that in those days, the dress of men and women, however similar (tunic, robe, and cloak), differed in cut and styling; hence, the need for a distinction between men and women’s dress; although, the style of clothing is not specified. NEITHER MEN NOR WOMEN WORE TROUSERS.

Another Scriptural text to consider is the Pauline passage. Paul addresses the modesty of women in his first letter to Timothy. “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship YAHUAH” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). The Greek word translated as “modest” is “kosmios”, which occurs twice in the New Testament, once as “modest” in this passage and once as “of good behaviour” in 1 Timothy 3:2. It came to mean “well-arranged”, etc. As a follow-up, the Greek word “sophrosune”, translated here as “moderation,” means that in selecting an outfit, a person is of sound mind, uses self-control and good judgment, and is “well-arranged” (moderate). What is being asked of Torah Believers is dressing or behaving to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention. ONCE AGAIN, THERE IS NO MENTION OF PANTS VERSUS SKIRTS.

Sequel to the preceding, it might interest us to know that the word clothes in Greek means “katastole”. The meaning of the word was “to send or to let down or lower.” It was primarily a garment that was let down and in that day referred to a “stole” or a loose outer garment worn by kings and persons of rank. Since we know that Paul was not speaking to people of rank, the context here is simply modest attire, and it does not specify what that entails. Paul addressed this issue here because the women in the assembly were trying to outdo each other in how they dressed; i.e. the flashier, the better (which is still common in most assemblies today – “cold competition”). They were losing sight of the things that should adorn a Qodesh woman—humility, sobriety, godliness, and good works. The phrase “dress modestly” is not used here in the context of specific garments, but rather to be clad in a modest covering. THEREFORE, THIS SHOULD NOT BE USED TO PROVE A PROHIBITION AGAINST WOMEN WEARING TROUSERS.

Also, in union with the Brit Hadasha’s (NT) teachings on modesty at that time, Kepha (Peter) adds up: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in YAHUAH’s sight”. (1 Peter 3:3-4).

From what we have described so far, one might wonder, why then do some faith communities forbid women from putting on trousers/jeans? To this question, the issue of culture comes into play.

For example, here in Latin America, as well as other countries in North America; trousers, jeans, etc. form part of the regular dressing of ladies, and this is clearly seen in places of worship, among female ministers, etc., and it is very clear that the jeans/pants used by women are clearly different from that used by men in styles, shape, etc. This reflects their cultural matrices. Funny enough, in some cultures, men do wear skirts, such as the kilt in Scotland, the lungi in India, the kikepa in Hawaii, the sulu in Fiji, and many more. Whether men in a particular society wear skirts or not, has to do with culture and climate, not with any physical or objective moral reason because they know that this is the best form of clothing to wear. This is a clear indication that a given culture defines the clothes that are pertaining to either men or women, and consequently refuses or accepts any kind of dress.

Coming down to our respective African cultures, we see that Tradition generally frowns at wearing of trousers by women. Although it cannot be denied that the wind of “acculturation” in these modern times has swept across many cultures (acculturation is the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another culture/group), as a result, many ladies today in some parts of Africa are seen with trousers/jeans – which is okay.

However, if some GAI Assemblies or Hebrew Communities maintain that women should not put on trousers in their places of worship, then, such prohibition should be adhered to and understood in the light of the cultural tradition. This does not mean that an achot who decides to put on jeans/trousers outside the spheres of Assembly/Community is committing a sin or would go to hell (as some wrongly admonished). We believe that this shallow idea only results from a misinterpretation of the Scripture by uninformed minds; thereby misguiding others and making them feel guilty. If an achot resolve to put on skirts always, it doesn’t mean that another achot who puts on trousers/jeans is a sinner. When we put on this attitude, we would not be different from the “Pharisees”.

Now, what is sinful with regards to clothing? Here comes the issue of intention. Hence, it is an abomination and ungodly for women to dress in a way (be it trousers, skirts, gowns, etc.) that would sexually provoke the attention of the people around them; this also applies to men – that is exactly what the Bible condemns (indecent dressing).

It is said that “Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance” and “it guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity”

“Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing”.

(Please refer to GAI’s Modesty Statement)

While discussions about modesty and inappropriate clothing (including pants) are difficult in a desensitized and lawless culture, however, it is crucial for Great Awakening International must establish a standard for modesty modern culture continually drives an immodest agenda that is infiltrating our community.

As Torah-observant believers, we are obliged to address issues concerning immodest clothing and behavior. However, when confrontation is necessary, it must be approached in a biblical, grace-filled way within the context of a loving community.

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