Biblical answers to the questions of your heart

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I grew up hearing that it is sinful for women to wear trouser. In my denominational circle, it was a ‘taboo’ of some sort for women to wear trouser. I have seen ladies embarrassed in church gatherings and disdained because they wore trouser to church. The reference scripture has always been Deuteronomy 22:5. This age-long argument need to be analyzed properly from scriptures. To analyze this burning issue properly, we’ll need to look at it from three perspectives:

-Biblical perspective

-Historical perspective

-Cultural Perspective


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 an abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

The phrase ‘that which pertaineth’ is from the Hebrew word ‘keylil‘ which means article, vessel, utensils or instruments. Translators commonly render ‘Keylil’ as a weapon or armour. The word ‘man’ in Deuteronomy 22:5 is ‘geber‘, which means a man of war, warrior or soldier. In vs 13 of the same chapter, man (‘Iyish) was also mentioned but this time, they were referring to male man. Moses wasn’t talking about the ordinary man here but a warrior. So that verse should read thus:

The woman shall not put on [the weapon or armour of a warrior], neither shall a [warrior] put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

It is clear that God wasn’t talking about wearing of trousers here. Moses was even referring to a specific type of man here. God gave this command because those days, when pagans want to worship one of the idols, the females appear in male armour before her, an act known as TRANSVESTISM. Those days, there wasn’t much structural difference or distinction between male and female clothing. In the time of Moses, men wore skirt-like garments, it is not just a garment but a garment with a skirt. Psalms 33:2, “It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the SKIRTS OF HIS GARMENTS;”

So Aaron’s garments had a skirt. Isn’t that amazing! Genesis 3:21, after the fall of Adam and Eve, God made a ‘coat of skin’ for them (Adam and Eve), that’s what the Jews refer to as ‘Kethoneth‘, it is a skirt-like gown or garment that was worn by both males and females. It is more like an inner garment (Matthew 24:18, Mark 13:16).The Jews also wore an outer garment like cloth which doesn’t have so much distinction in the way it was sown between the sexes. This outer garment covers from the head downwards (used by men and women) and wrapped around the shoulders (Ruth 3:15, 2 Samuel 15:30, Isaiah 3:22). From the scripture above, it is very clear that the purpose of that law was to curb or warn against the pagan worship. Some bible scholars agree that Jael (in the book of Judges) killed Sisera with a nail instead of a sword because it was forbidden for a woman to handle the sword. She had access to the sword but in obedience to Deuteronomy 22:5, she used a nail instead.

The laws given to Moses are categorized into three: Moral law, Civil law and Ceremonial law. It is clear that this law is a Ceremonial law because when you read other verses in that chapter, there are lots of things written there that we aren’t doing again. When you take vs 11 of that chapter, God commanded them not to sew clothes of two materials together, many ladies have violated that law because you’ll see a mixture of lace and satin in their garments. Some people only emphasize Deuteronomy 22:5 but they don’t bother obeying other laws in that chapter. Why pick on one and discard the rest? The scripture made it clear that no man can obey the law in its totality and whoever doesn’t continue to obey all the laws is under a curse (Galatians 3:10). So why put yourself in bondage of one law when you can’t obey the rest?

Most people that argue against women putting on trousers only hold on to the trouser aspect of men’s clothing, what about T-shirt? If you say that women shouldn’t put on trouser because it is for men, then women shouldn’t put on T-shirt as well because T-shirt was designed for military men during WW1 and later introduced into American military by WWII before it became a general fashion on the streets of America. Biblically, God wasn’t commanding against trousers as some thought. Dressing is more of a cultural issue and Christians should abide by what their culture demands in that regard especially when the culture isn’t adulterated.


From the biblical perspective, it is clear and evident that neither men nor women wore trouser. Trouser wearing entered recorded history around Iranian horse-riders according to Greek ethnography. The central Asians, Bactrians, Armenians, Tigraxauda and Scythians wore them. It is on record that both sexes wore trousers because it was primarily designed for horse-riding and hard work. The Greeks thought it ridiculous to wear trouser and hence, they named it ‘sack’. The Romans rejected the idea of wearing trousers for both sexes because they felt it was a barbaric culture. Later, when it was discovered that trouser provided some warmth, they adopted it and they gave it different names based on design, the feminalia (sown to mid-calf) and braccae (sewn to ankle length). Later, it became an adopted wear by Europeans and there was no gender restrictions to it even under the Byzantium era not until the Christianization of Europe. Historically, it was designed for work and later it became a street wear.


In my opinion, dressing is a cultural issue. In Scotland, from around 16th century, men put on a type of skirt called ‘Kilt‘ till today. If you go to that culture and you quote Deuteronomy 22:5, and you make a demand of them to change, you’ll be wasting your time because God didn’t command them to do so. Missions have taught me to teach the basics of what will take people to heaven and still be relevant in their culture. In some parts of India, men still put on a type of skirt called ‘Sarong‘. To them, trouser is alien to them. Before civilization came to Africa, nakedness was covered with leaves while trouser wearing came with European invasion. In the Zulu culture, we still see a reflection of leather-like clothing and it doesn’t have trouser design at all. Just like in early civilizations, because men do strenuous work on the farm, trouser was adopted as men’s clothing in some African culture and when you look at it today, females are engaged in the same profession that used to be for men only. The men from Niger-Delta part of Nigeria tie wrappers whereas in cultures like Hausa and Yoruba, it is counter-culture. If a Yoruba man stands on Deuteronomy 22:5 in a Niger-Deltan community, he won’t have an impactful ministry because to him, trouser is for men, wrapper is for women; but to a Niger-Deltan, wrapper is for both sexes.

Conclusively, we need to understand that there is no rule in the bible that stops women from wearing trouser. Besides, there are trousers designed for women that men can’t wear. I don’t think God is angry with women that wear trouser because it is separating their legs into two for their convenience. In sociology, one of the characteristics of culture is that it is stable and it can change. Culture can change when a stronger culture meets with a weaker culture. The dress culture of Africans has changed because of contact with the western world. Our fathers didn’t tie ropes on their necks but now we do it in the name of fashion and we call it ‘tie’. If the borrowed culture of the western world permits men to wear suit and tie for men and now we have adopted their style of dressing as a corporate wear, then we are culturally adulterated because the same culture that permits men to wear suit and tie which is un-African also permits their females to wear trousers.

Historically, trouser was worn by both sexes and to so many cultures, it was alien. If I travel to preach in a culture where men put on ‘Kilt’ or ‘Sarong’, I must wear it to become relevant. What I advocate for women is that, they should dress in a way that covers all their nakedness and their dressing shouldn’t draw unholy attention to themselves. Also, if as a minister of the gospel, you are in a community where trouser wearing is counter-cultural, you may need to avoid it so that you can win all men except if you’re living in a community of mixed cultures. Paul said ‘I become all things to all men so that I might win them‘. We’ll make heaven if our lives manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) against which there is no law.