Questions From Readers
● In view of what is written at Deuteronomy 22:5, is it proper for a woman to wear slacks?—U.S.A.
Deuteronomy 22:5 reads: “No garb of an able-bodied man should be put upon a woman, neither should an able-bodied man wear the mantle of a woman; for anybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah your God.” This text is not discussing styles of clothing. The prohibition concerns one’s putting on things specifically designed for the opposite sex.
The distinction between the sexes is of divine origin and the law set forth at Deuteronomy 22:5 served to preserve that distinction. When it comes to appearance and attire, the usual thing is for a man to want to look like a man and for a woman to look like a woman. For an Israelite to have acted contrary to this deep internal sense of what is fitting could have led to homosexuality. Thus the law at Deuteronomy 22:5 also opposed this sin.
At the time the law was given, both men and women wore robes. But there was a definite difference between the garb of men and that of women. Similarly, in some parts of the earth today both men and women wear slacks. But styles of slacks for women differ from those for men. Accordingly, the principle taught at Deuteronomy 22:5 would not rule out a woman’s wearing slacks or pants.
Moreover, Christians are not under the Mosaic law. (Rom. 6:14) Insistence on applying the letter of this law would therefore be contrary to Christian teaching. So if a woman were to put on a worn-out pair of her husband’s trousers to do a job around the house or on the farm, she would not be going against the evident purpose of the law, namely, to prevent confusion of sexual identity and sexual abuses.
The fact that Christians are not under the Mosaic law but are guided by its principles calls for them to use discernment, good judgment and to exercise their conscience. A Christian woman appreciates that whether it would be proper for her to wear slacks or pants depends upon factors other than her personal likes. She would not want to be the cause for stumbling others or bring reproach on the Christian congregation. Clothing that may not be looked on with disfavor if worn in the privacy of one’s home or at work may be objectionable if worn at Christian meetings and when publicly proclaiming God’s Word or carrying on other public activity. Attitudes, too, may differ from area to area. The Bible’s counsel is that women “adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, . . . in the way that befits women professing to reverence God, namely, through good works.”—1 Tim. 2:9 10.a
a For additional details on the matter of proper dress, see The Watchtower of April 1, 1972, pp. 222-224.