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        Christian Clothing                                                                    (PDF version here)


Scripture Standards for Dress and Conduct



6. Worldliness in Dress

Today the result of Higher Criticism may be seen throughout Western society. Witness the barrenness in the Church, the dearth of gospel preaching and the tremendous surge in crime, corruption and filth.[1] These scourges are due to the undermining of the books of the Old and New Testaments – “all which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life” – and to the resulting rejection of the authority of this Holy Scripture, which “is to be received”, said our ancestors, “because it is the word of God”.[2] The assault on the Biblical distinctions between man and woman is now so widespread that in many places it has become necessary for the Lord’s people, as righteous Lot in Sodom, to differ openly from the general population in matters pertaining to the place of men and women, even in our dress. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). Paul became as a Jew in order to gain his brethren – his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3) – and as one without law to gain those who were not under the law of types and shadows; yet he remained “not without law to God, but under the law to Christ” (I Cor. 9:21).

Because the directive in Deuteronomy 22:5 does not elaborate on the differences required in garments, it is argued by many Christians today that the Bible does not teach anything specific about men’s and women’s apparel and that the instruction may be interpreted and obeyed by looking to contemporary fashions. Hence, with fashions changing according to the desires of ungodly yet influential men and women, Christian women are being allowed to wear men’s clothes, only of a “different style”. In the 20th century this worldly doctrine infiltrated Christendom, and it has almost eliminated the influence that godly and experienced men and women once had on fashion, leaving young women and children in particular to be swayed by the whims of perverse sinners.

The “women’s rights” movement of the 19th century, which, along with Darwinism, was exacerbated and fuelled by the Higher Critical erosion of faith in Scripture, was itself a catalyst for the disorder in families which is still reverberating across the globe.[3] The ringleaders of this movement called for an upheaval of the system instituted by God at the creation of the first man and woman: they decried the sheltered life accorded to women since the foundation of the world and they demanded the abolition of patriarchal headship. Seeking to destroy the mutual exclusiveness of the roles of men and women, they campaigned for the woman’s right to participate in men’s professions, and even to wear men’s clothes. Some, repeating the errors of Théroigne de Méricourt (1762-1817) – a pitiful woman who called for “rivalry with the men” during the French Revolution – drew much attention to themselves by wearing trousers[4] and other articles of men’s clothing, while others resorted to more violent criminal tactics. Although it may be proved from Scripture that the clothing known in Western history as men’s apparel is indeed prohibited to women, the very nature of the 19th century women’s movement indicates the rebellion inherent in the wearing of trousers by women. And the immorality of the 20th century[5], during which unbelieving actresses[6] and fashion designers popularised the practice, reveals that it began in evil times among evil people. If the practice has not sprung from rebellion against paternal authority, but is merely a harmless change in style, why does society retain a general prohibition against men’s wearing of women’s garments? Women who “wear the trousers” (or at least the trendsetters of such behaviour) do so in defiance of the God who ordained for all women a domestic role. By the evidence of history alone it is clear that the new dress code did not come out of a faithful study of Christian principles, and that it is a code to be avoided by those who have been called not “unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (I Thess. 4:7).[7]

Such a profound revolution in fashion could not have happened apart from the openly rebellious and independent spirit which has been increasingly manifest since the rise of Higher Criticism, and which has encouraged the scorning of the apostolic command, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). It is well pleasing to the Lord that children obey their parents in all things lawful (Col. 3:20, cf. Acts 5:29), and that they follow their parents' judicious guiding in matters of dress and deportment. William Gouge (1575-1653) told the people of his day that “parents must have the ordering of their children's apparel”:

A fourth branch of the foresaid subjection of children is about their apparel, that it be no other, than may stand with their parents' good liking. It is noted that Israel made Joseph a coat (Gen. 37:3). Doth not the particular mentioning of that circumstance shew, that parents must have the ordering of their children's apparel? Which is also intimated in the reason given of Tamar's garment of divers colours (II Sam. 13:18), namely because with such garments were the king's daughters, that were virgins, apparelled. And whereas Rebekah had the keeping of her son Esau's clothes, it appeareth that his clothes were to the mind of his parents (Gen. 27:15): else he would have hid them from them: for further confirmation whereof it is noted that his apparel was pleasing to his father.[8]

Unlike many leaders in the Church today, our forefathers in the faith considered the traditional form of clothing passed down to them, and the godly practice of their elders, to be guides for the young Christian in understanding the biblical rules of dress and conduct (Prov. 24:21; Jer. 6:16; I Peter 3:3-6, cf. I Cor. 11:1). James Durham speaks against ever-changing fashions[9] in his work, The Law Unsealed:

And therefore we say, that in men and women both there is condemned by the Lord, . . . 2. Strangeness in the ever-changing fashions, and extravagant modes of apparel, while as the Lord by nature hath continued the shape of men’s bodies to be the same; for what is meant else by strange apparel, so often forbidden in the scripture, but that which is commonly called the fashion, or new fashion, a new and uncouth garb? And certainly men’s minds are often infected with lascivious thoughts, and lustful inclinations, even by the use and sight of gaudy and vain clothing; and we will see light, loose, conceited minds discover themselves in nothing sooner than in their apparel, and fashions, and conceitedness in them.[10]

William Gouge concurs; upon listing women’s clothing among the “evident and undeniable proofs” of a husband’s superiority over a wife, he adds, “The very attire which nature and custom of all times and places have taught women to put on, confirmeth the same: as long hair, vails, and other coverings over the head: this and the former argument doth the Apostle himself use to this very purpose, I Cor. 11.7 &c.”[11] And William Perkins (1558-1602) says:

In apparel we must observe a holy comeliness . . . a man hath his set attire, a woman’s hers, a young man is apparelled on this fashion, and an old man on that. And therefore it is unseemly for a man to put on a woman’s apparel, or a woman the man’s. Deut. 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 abomination unto the LORD thy God.’ To set down precisely out of God’s word, what apparel is decent is very hard; wherefore in this case, the judgments and practice of modest, grave, and sincere men, in every particular estate, is most to be followed and men must rather keep too much within the bounds of measure, than to step one foot without the precincts.[12]

In the same vein is David Dickson (a close friend of James Durham’s), who speaks of “common sense” and “settled custom, . . . agreeable to nature in respect to what is comely”, as dictating “that it is unseemly for a woman to pray uncovered, or that a man should wear long hair, and the contrary is decent”.[13] Yet the Puritans approved of long-established custom not simply for its own sake, but because the style of clothing passed down through the generations was generally in accordance with the rules of Scripture and the light of nature, being morally and practically acceptable. They condemned new fashions for their immorality or for their failure to accord with common sense, as William Perkins demonstrates in his seven rules of decency and comeliness which guide us in framing and fashioning our attire:

Firstly, that it be according to the sex: for men must prepare apparel for men, women for women. This rule is not ceremonial, but grounded upon the law of nature, and common honesty, Deut. 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to unto man, neither shall a man put on woman’s raiment; for all that do so, are abomination to the Lord thy God . . .

Secondly, Our apparel must be made according to our office; that is, such as may be fit and convenient for us, in respect of our calling; that it may not hinder or disable us, in the performance of the duties thereof. Whereupon comes justly to be condemned the kind of apparel (specially of women) that is used in this age. For it makes them like to an image in a frame, set bolt upright; whereby it comes to pass, that they cannot go well, and with ease or conveniency, about any good business, but must of necessity either sit, or stand still.[14]

A sign that our modern confusion of apparel is in opposition even to nature’s light is the fact that the biblical pattern of distinction in the garments of men and women may be seen in traditional clothing not only in lands with a Christian heritage but throughout most of the world. A law that has a near universal adherence is generally one that is taught by the light of nature,[15] because the remnants of God’s laws are still found written in the hearts of the heathen (Rom. 2:14, 15). Nature itself teaches man what is comely, and generally only the most degraded of people – for example, those who thought little of the institution of marriage or indeed of the lives of their own children – have not insisted that their women wear long dresses or skirts. A study of the many civilisations and peoples of the world will show that women have generally worn long dresses, while most men, except on important occasions, tended to wear shorter tunics and sometimes trousers. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Britons and Vikings from Europe; the ancient Egyptians and Berbers from Africa; the Indians of the Subcontinent; the Japanese, Thais, Koreans and many of the Chinese from Asia; the Phoenicians, Ottomans, Arabs and Kurds from the Middle East; and the Pueblos, Aztecs, Incas and Plains Indians from the Americas are but a sample of those cultures which have, as a rule, attested to this statement.[16] Of the nations who valued clothing there were but few that allowed ordinary women to wear trousers as an outer garment,[17] or short tunics – this sort of dress was rarely accepted as appropriate for women even among the heathen (cf. I Cor. 5:1).[18] And when the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached among the Gentiles the beauty of modesty was seen in a clear light, and modest long garments were recognised as the only attire ordained of God for even the poorest of women.[19] Even those nations who formerly were most degraded, and for centuries forgot nearly all sense of shame and modesty, now have an abundance of wonderful accounts of men, women and children whom God rescued from the depths of heathen depravity and who joyfully covered themselves with clothing suitable to their sex and place.[20]

In his autobiography, the 19th century Scottish missionary John Paton tells of the young men and women of his classes in Glasgow, who “would, if it had been possible, have gone with me, to live and die among the Heathen”, and who, though extremely poor – they were “chiefly working girls and lads in trades and mills” – were led to “unite their pennies and sixpences, and to buy web after web of calico, print, and woollen stuffs, which they themselves shaped and sewed into dresses for the women, and kilts and pants for men, on the New Hebrides.”[21] Once settled on the cannibal island of Tanna in that archipelago, Mr Paton defied in the name of God the sorcery of the Sacred Men trying to kill him, and his bravery quickly opened the way to putting some of the kilts and shirts to good use. He tells of some of those witchdoctors:

If not truly converted, the two priests were fast friends of mine from that day, as also another leading man in the same district . . . These two and a number of others began to wear a kilt, and some a shirt also. Three of them especially, if not Christians, appeared to be not far from the Kingdom of God, and did all that was in their power to protect and assist me. A few began to pray to Jehovah in their houses, offering a kind of rude Family Worship, and breathing out such prayers and desires as I had taught them for the knowledge of the true God and only Saviour. And these, as my companions, accompanied me from place to place when I visited their district. But let us return to the war. Many Chiefs and villages were now involved in it . . .[22]

He later tells of the conversion of a young warrior chief on the island of Aniwa (also in the New Hebrides), at a time when the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high, a time when many were being brought down in conviction of sin and regenerated by the power of God. Mr Paton continues:

Like those of old praying for the deliverance of Peter, and who could not believe their ears and eyes when Peter knocked and walked in amongst them, so we could scarcely believe our eyes and ears when Youwili became a disciple of Jesus, though we had been praying for his conversion every day. His once sullen countenance became literally bright with inner light. His wife came immediately for a book and a dress, saying, ‘Youwili sent me. His opposition to the Worship is over now. I am to attend Church and School. He is coming too. He wants to learn how to be strong, like you, for Jehovah and for Jesus.’[23]

The conversions continued and the natives of Aniwa began to prosper, participating in the worship of God and hearing His Word expounded. “As their knowledge and faith increased,” says Mr Paton,

we saw their Heathen practices rapidly passing away, and a new life shaping itself around us. Mrs. Paton taught a class of about fifty women and girls. They became experts at sewing, singing, plaiting hats, and reading. Nearly all the girls could at length cut out and make their own dresses, as well as shirts or kilts for the men and clothing for the children. Yet, three short years before, men and women alike were running about naked and savage. The Christ-Spirit is the true civilizing power.[24]

Needless to say, these ladies’ dresses were full-length, and commodious enough to satisfy modesty and comfort in their tropical climate,[25] and the kilts and shirts also were admirably suited to the men’s occupations and environment. Godly practice is indeed “profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (I Tim. 4:8). And as believers have been created anew in the image of God incarnate – the Man who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners (II Cor. 5:17; Heb. 7:26) – they cannot but see the beauty of His holy commandments from the least to the greatest (Matt. 5:19; 22:37, 38). “And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). Converted savages worldwide will doubtless rise up in judgement against wanton professing Christians of this generation, and will condemn them.

Our Lord Jesus Christ counsels lukewarm Christians to buy of Him gold tried in the fire that they might be rich, and white raiment that the shame of their spiritual nakedness might not appear, and to anoint their eyes with eyesalve that they might see (Rev. 3:18). It is possible for one who is born again of the Holy Spirit to comprehend His inspired words, and also to see that many issues considered by worldly churchmen to be paltry matters, mere trifles (cf. Prov. 14:9), belong to the beauty of holiness in the kingdom of God. And the glorious liberty of the sons of God includes no licence to take away anything – not one jot or tittle – from either the gospel or the moral law (Deut. 4:2; Matt. 5:18; Rev. 22:18, 19). Thomas Boston rightly says:

As ye will not be libertines in your life and practice, being dead to sin and the world with Christ; so ye will not be legalists in your life and practice neither, being also dead with him to the law as a covenant of works. Your obedience will run in another channel than it did before your union with Christ, even in the channel of the gospel. Ye will serve in newness of spirit, in faith and love. The frowns of a merciful Father will be a terror to you to frighten you from sin; love and gratitude will prompt you to obedience. The grieving of the Spirit of a Saviour will be a spring of sorrow to you; and his atoning blood and perfect righteousness will be the spring-head of all your comfort before the Lord; your good works but streams thereof, as they evidence your saving interest in these, are accepted through them, and glorify God your Saviour.[26]

It may be helpful to remember, as we endeavour to live as believers set apart from the ways of this world, that Christians of the 21st century are not the only ones who have had to dress differently from those around them. John Owen (1616-1683), the great British theologian, wrote at a time when the confusion of the attire of men and women was rare, yet he did see worldliness in dress as a serious problem in his age:

The habits and attire of the world are the things wherein the world doth design to show itself what it is. Men may read what the world is by evident characters, in the habits and attire that it wears. They are blind that cannot read vanity, folly, uncleanness, luxury, in the attire the world putteth upon itself. The declension of professors [i.e., those who profess to believe] in imitating the ways of the world in their habits and garb [i.e., styles of clothing], makes a season perilous: it is a mixture wherein we learn their manners; and the judgments of God will ensue upon it. – In this, likewise, we are grown like the world, that upon all occasions we are as regardless of the sins of the world, and as little troubled with them, as others are. Lot lived in Sodom, but ‘his righteous soul was vexed with their ungodly deeds and speeches.’ Live we where we will, when are our souls vexed, [so] that we do not pass through the things of the world, the greatest abominations, with the frame of spirit that the world itself doth? Not to speak of voluptuousness of living, and other things that attend this woeful mixture with the world that professors have made in the days wherein we live, – corrupt communication, gaiety of attire, senselessness of the sins and abominations of the world round about us, are almost as much upon professors as upon the world. We have mixed ourselves with the people, and have learned their manners.

But, – 2. Such a season is dangerous, because the sins of professors in it lie directly contrary to the whole design of the mediation of Christ in this world. Christ gave himself for us, that he might purge us from dead works, and purify us unto himself a peculiar people, Titus 2:14. ‘Ye are a royal nation, a peculiar people.’ Christ hath brought the hatred of the devil and all the world upon him and against him, for taking a people out of the world, and making them a peculiar people to himself; and their throwing themselves upon the world again is the greatest contempt that can be put upon Jesus Christ. He gave his life and shed his blood to recover us from the world, and we throw ourselves in again. How easy were it to show that this is an inlet to all other sins and abominations, and that for which I verily think the indignation and displeasure of God will soonest discover itself against professors and churches in this day! If we will not be differenced from the world in our ways, we shall not long be differenced from them in our privileges. If we are the same in our walkings, we shall be so in our worship, or have none at all.[27]

He speaks elsewhere of the sins polluting his own nation in the 17th century, including gluttony, drunkenness and immodest dress and behaviour:

Thus the sin of this nation hath been always esteemed sensuality of life, in an excess of eating and drinking, with the consequents thereof. Hereunto of late have been added vanity in apparel, with foolish, light, lascivious modes and dressings therein, and an immodest boldness in conversation among men and women. These are corruptions, which, being borrowed from the neighbour nation, and grafted on crab-stocks of our own, have brought forth the fruit of vanity and pride in abundance. And it is the most manifest evidence of a degenerate people, when they are prone to naturalize the vices of other nations among them, but care not to imitate their virtues, if in any kind they do excel.[28] 

Naturalisation of degenerate styles of clothing is very common today, and the influence of the feminist revolution on female costume is now seen almost worldwide, not least in our own land.[29] Cultural revolutionaries throughout the West have, in the 20th century, conducted a long, vindictive campaign for “equality” with men in the dress, behaviour and work of women, as part of an attempt to usurp authority over the man.[30] Despite the rarity of cross-dressing in past ages, signs of such confusion were observable from time to time. John Calvin warned his congregation concerning scandals that are immeasurably more prevalent in our day:

But what? women are nowadays more out of square, than ever they were: especially if a man go to these great courts, hardly shall he be able to find any difference betwixt men and women. Indeed men for their part do also abuse themselves in this behalf. For they clothe themselves in women's apparel, and women in men's, so that there is an horrible confusion amongst them, as if the world had conspired to turn the order of nature upside-down: and beside this, there is a certain gorgeous bravery [i.e., showiness] amongst them which they lust after. And why so? Surely to be as it were an ale pole. Men use not to hang out a sign at a tavern, unless they meant men should come in who list [i.e., desire]. And while women deck and trim themselves after this sort, to draw men's eyes to them, and to have men stand gazing at them, what is this else but a spreading out of their nets? . . . And if this affection and perverse desire were well purged, no doubt women would deck themselves modestly, and we should see no more of these disguisings . . .

There is moreover, and besides this, ambition and pride. For women may apparel themselves as harlots, and yet not very sumptuously neither. A woman may have a gown that shall not be very costly, she may have no gold nor precious stones about her, and yet it is not to be said that she is not excessive, and wanting measure or superfluous. And why so? because her fashion may be unchaste, whorish, and enticing. And this is the first fault. But yet there is another, and it is this, women may apparel themselves modestly, without this shameless and impudent gorgeousness which I have spoken of, and yet we may see a bravery and pomp in them . . .[31]

Not only do we see at present the appropriation of men’s clothing by women, but also the uncovering of women to an extent that has previously been rare in all but the most degraded societies.[32] Although John Calvin went further than some of the more recent Calvinistic ministers in his insistence that women should always veil their hair in public, his prediction of the result of any sort of slackness regarding modesty should be noted, as it has evidently come to pass. In a sermon on I Corinthians 11 he warned that

when it is permissible for the women to uncover their heads, one will say, 'Well, what harm in uncovering the stomach also?' And then after that one will plead [for] something else: 'Now if the women go bareheaded, why not also [bare] this and [bare] that?' Then the men, for their part, will break loose too. In short, there will be no decency left, unless people contain themselves and respect what is proper and fitting, so as not to go headlong overboard.[33]

Such indecencies have become prevailing vices in many countries. But there is wisdom in many counsellors (Prov. 11:14), and we may learn from the leaders of the Church in past eras that similar evils have long existed (albeit in varying degrees), and that they may certainly be overcome. Martin Luther (1483-1546), the German champion of the Reformation, declares:

A Christian can have clean and pure clothing, as the Jews do . . . Formerly women walked about with neck bared all the way to the middle of the back. This was immodest dress. Elsewhere half the breast is seen. They have high-heeled shoes, etc., so that they can show off their bodies. Rather, they ought to have clothes to conceal themselves, to cover the neck. Our women walk about with their faces nearly veiled and everything covered very neatly, with their furs, so that almost nothing of their limbs or skin is seen. All this ought to be hidden in church in order that they may walk modestly . . . Thus I praise long coats and furs highly. Also young unmarried women ought not wear their locks braided but have a veil when they participate in the Sacrament. I find no fault in our women.[34]

Published abroad with divine power, the same cure which vanquished such evil in Luther’s Germany will prove effective in our time. This remedy, offered freely to all (Isa. 55:1-3), is the grace of God in Jesus Christ, which cannot fail to save and sanctify the sinner: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30). Hence those who show little sign of sanctification show little sign that they are among the redeemed. John Bunyan, the penman of the Pilgrim’s Progress and other works, says:

The attire of a harlot is too frequently in our day the attire of professors; a vile thing, and argueth much wantonness and vileness of affections. If those that give way to a wanton eye, wanton words, and immodest apparel, be not whores, &c., in their hearts, I know not what to say. Doth a wanton eye argue shamefacedness? Doth wanton talk argue chastity? And doth immodest apparel, with stretched-out necks, naked breasts, a made speech, and mincing gaits, &c., argue mortification of lusts? . . .

My friends, I am here treating of good works, and persuading you to fly those things that are hindrances to them: wherefore bear with my plainness when I speak against sin. I would strike it through with every word, because else it will strike us through with many sorrows. I Tim. 6.9, 10. I do not treat of good works as if the doing of them would save us, for we are justified by his grace, according to the hope of eternal life; yet our sins and evil works will lay us obnoxious to the judgments both of God and man. He that walketh not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, is like to have his peace assaulted often, both by the devil, the law, death, and hell; yea, and is like to have God hide his face from him also, for the iniquity of his covetousness. Isa. 57.17 . . .

It is true, faith without works justifies us before God: Rom. 3.28; 4.5. yet that faith that is alone, will be found to leave us sinners in the sight both of God and man. James 2.18. And though thou addest nothing to that which saveth thee by what thou canst do, yet thy righteousness may profit the son of man; as also saith the text: but if thou shalt be so careless as to say, What care I for being righteous to profit others? I tell thee, that the love of God is not in thee. Job 35.8. I John 3.17. I Cor. 13.1-3. Walk therefore in God’s ways, and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear of all these statutes, and say, ‘This great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ Deut. 4.6.[35]

The tide of this world often flows strongly against this way of holiness, and then the Christian is persecuted as a fool and a stranger; but Christ Jesus says to His servant, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9, cf. Psalm 20:2). Looking in faith to the crucified and risen Saviour a sinner will receive free justification, and strength to live in that true holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

May it be that in studying God’s laws unbelievers will be stirred by the Spirit to sorrow for sin and to saving faith in Jesus Christ, and that believers will be moved to renewed repentance, and to flee again to the blood of Christ to be cleansed of sin (I John 1:7; cf. Rev. 12:11). “Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips” (Hos. 14:2).


[2] ‘Of the Holy Scripture’, Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 1, p21. See II Tim. 3:16.

[4] While Mary Edwards Walker (1832-1919) was arrested for wearing standard men’s clothing, other early American feminists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894) and Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906) publicly wore harem trousers “under a short skirt” (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2002). Although Mormon leader Brigham Young "warmly approved of it” (Ann-Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, Dustin, Gilman & Co., 1875, p129), this imitation of the dress worn by women in Ottoman harems was much ridiculed by the public and condemned from Christian pulpits. Mrs Stanton once wrote, "The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women's emancipation" (Free Thought magazine, Sept. 1896).

[6] German-born Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) was one of several Hollywood actresses noted for lasciviousness – and lesbian perversion – who encouraged women to wear trousers in the 1930s: “[Marlene] Dietrich's great popularity made her a trendsetter; her adoption of trousers and other mannish clothes helped launch an American fashion craze” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2005). By this time “bobbed” hair and the controversial “V-neck” top had already been introduced to Western women.

[8] William Gouge, Of Domestical Duties (1622).

[9] “Back in Shakespeare's day, only upper-class people dressed fashionably; the mass of the rural peasantry wore simple clothing that hardly changed over many generations. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, fashions have changed rapidly” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2004).

[10] James Durham, ‘The Seventh Commandment’, The Law Unsealed, pp306, 307.

[11] William Gouge, Of Domestical Duties.

[12] William Perkins, ‘Concerning the Seventh Commandment’, The Order of Salvation and Damnation.

[13] David Dickson on I Cor. 11:13-15, A Commentary on the Epistles (1659). Regarding long hair on men see endnote [5].

[14] William Perkins, ‘On the Right, Lawful, and Holy Use of Apparel’, Cases of Conscience.

[15] “Murder is a recognized crime in all civilized societies” (Britannica).

[17] There are exceptions to this rule, some traditional Chinese peasants for instance – though it was the Communist revolutionaries who enforced the wearing of trousers for all men and women (see endnote [7]) – and the Eskimos of Greenland: “Greenlandic dress is one of the few national costumes that involve trousers for women” (Encyclopedia of People, Dorling Kindersley, 2003).

[18] Not that this sin is as heinous as that condemned in I Cor. 5:1, but by the light of nature both are censured. The apostle in I Cor. 5:1 demonstrates the aggravation of that sin “by saying, that the Gentiles by the light of nature discerned and declined such an abomination; by whom is not to be understood the more brutish part, but the more civilized part of the heathen, such as the Romans, &c. were” (Matthew Poole, Commentary, vol. 3, p552). Such heathen also condemned cross-dressing. A Roman woman, whose “stola hung to the floor” (World Book Encyclopaedia, 2005), was forbidden by law from wearing a man’s toga – unless convicted of adultery, in which case she was to be humiliated in this way.

[21] John G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) (Banner of Truth, 1995), p60. Observe that grim 19th century economic policies, which, much to John Paton’s sorrow, forced “healthy, happy, peasant boys and girls” into city slums (ibid., pp3-5), also forced women out of homes and into the mills, etc.

[22] Ibid., p143. New Hebridean converts wore a lava lava, or kilt, “reaching to about their knees, and a shirt . . . Women and girls wear skirts and a loose jacket . . . or a long gown” (Mrs Fraser to Mrs Scott, Tasmanian Presbyterian Mag. & Missionary Record, Oct. 1882).

[23] John G. Paton (cited above), pp372, 373.

[24] Ibid., p377.  

[25] They preferred “a loose flowing dress” (Robert Fraser, Tasmanian Presbyterian Mag. & Missionary Record, March 1883). Mrs Paton wrote from Aniwa, “If ladies prefer to make the natives clothing, before sending let the shape be loose . . .” (Ibid., Oct. 1882).

[26] Thomas Boston, A View of the Covenant of Grace (Focus Christian Ministries, 1990), p87.

[27] John Owen, ‘Perilous Times’, Works, vol. 9, p330.

[28] Ibid.,The Nature and Causes of Apostasy from the Gospel’, vol. 7, p207.

[29] In the Australia of the 1930s, “Fashion in general was impressed by the glamour of the American film industry” (Webster’s Encyclopaedia of Australia, 1996). Films (movies) and other fictional productions have done great damage to the beliefs and morals foundational to Australia’s Puritan heritage. Edward Fisher (1627-1655) in his Marrow of Modern Divinity depicts the Evangelist as saying, “That we may not stir up and nourish inward uncleanness in our hearts, is forbidden . . . the wearing of lascivious, garish, and new fangled attire, Prov. 7:10; I Tim. 2:9 . . . and so also is idle and curious looking of men on women, or women on men, Gen 6:2, 39:7; and so also is the beholding of love matters, and light behaviour of men and women represented in stage plays, Ezek. 23:14; Eph. 5:3, 4” (‘Commandment 7’, The Marrow of Modern Divinity – Part Second).

[31] John Calvin on I Tim. 2:9-11.

[32] See endnote [11]. Note that in the face of moral decline in Australia it is especially Aboriginal communities, influenced by Christianity, that have retained a more biblical approach to modesty. An Australian university study guide advises: “The kind of dress and appearance that is suitable for young people in the city may not be suitable for rural communities. For example, short shorts and make-up is not appropriate for working in an Aboriginal community. Women, in particular, should dress modestly.” A further caution is offered: “Clothing should be modest, especially for women. Aboriginal women usually wear long dresses . . . Due to modesty issues, women should bring a summer dress to wear over bathers for swimming and men should bring shorts and t-shirt” (Ethnoarchaeology in Aboriginal Australia, Flinders University, 2004, pp6, 9).

[33] John Calvin on I Cor. 11:2-16.

[34] Martin Luther on I Tim. 2:9, Luther’s Works, vol. 28 (Concordia Publishing House, 1973), pp274-275.

[35] John Bunyan, ‘Christian Behaviour’, Works, vol. 2, p569.  

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