Why do some Christian women wear dresses or skirts and long hair?

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Sometimes, when watching a news story about certain religious groups or when encountering a devout Christian family like TLC’s Duggar Family, many people will notice that the women are dressed a certain way, usually in dresses or skirts, and have long hair. Often their hair will be braided or formed into a bun, but in any case, it will be quite noticeable that it is different from the way most women dress and wear their hair today. This causes many people to wonder why some Christian women wear dresses or skirts and long hair.

The first thing that many people think when they see a woman dressed this way and wearing long hair is that they must be involved in some sort of religious cult that makes the women dress and look like Stepford wives. They base their observations on a popular science fiction movie where the women of a fictional town named Stepford all wore long dresses, hairstyles that were very feminine, and acted like perfect robotic homemaker wives.

Oddly enough, if these same people were to see a woman and her daughter wearing “normal clothes” like a pair of tight jeans and a t-shirt the idea of belonging to a cult would never cross their mind. This is because the “culture” we live in today is different from what it used to be and it is continually changing. However, to assume that someone who does not dress the same way as most people as being part of a cult is silly to say the least.

For example, if someone’s’ elderly grandmother dressed and wore her hair in a certain way that differed from the current culture we would not say she belonged to a cult, we would just say she is old fashioned. Likewise, if we see young women putting different colors of red or blue dye in their hair, why do we not think they are in a cult? The answer is simple, as open minded and tolerant as some people think that they are they want to label anyone different from them using a derogatory term.

This is especially true with people who despise Christians because of their religious beliefs and values, which differ from their own. If someone dressed a certain way and wore long hair because they were expressing their individuality, they would rarely get grief about it. Instead, they would be admired. However, the moment they say they want to do the same for any sort of “religious” reason, they are considered to be a religious nut, member of a cult, or a victim of repression.

Interestingly enough, most people do not even realize that the very word culture has as its root the word cult. To be part of the culture, literally means that we identify with certain people groups that share such things as language, values, heritage, customs, traditions, and religious practices. While some people may think that women wearing certain dress and long hair are different, there was a time when the same was considered typical of the culture. Just because the current culture may no longer embrace the same style, it does not make it weird, wrong, or cultism.

So then, why do some Christian women dress a certain way and wear long hair? To answer that question, we must first ask where the idea of dressing in a certain way and wearing long hair came from and what the purpose is. As mentioned earlier, there may be non-religious reasons for wearing dresses and having long hair, but for the sake of our question, let us stick to the reason many Christian women would do so.

As to the question of women wearing dresses, many Christians believe that men and women should not wear the same type of clothing. This is because the Bible says the same in Deuteronomy 22:5:

(Deuteronomy 22:5 KJV)  “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.”

Although this verse is found in the Old Testament, the New Testament speaks to the type of clothing that women should wear in 1 Timothy 2:9-10:

(1 Timothy 2:9-10 KJV) “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; {10} But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (Emphasis added)

Considering what these two verses are saying, we can see that they teach that women should wear women’s clothing that is modest and reflects the godliness that she professes along with her good works. This is in keeping with similar verses in 1 Peter 3:1-4:

(1 Peter 3:1-4 KJV)  “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; {2} While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. {3} Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; {4} But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (Emphasis added)

These verses speak volumes about women using their inner beauty and pleasant personality over their outward appearance to make a positive impression on their husbands. Not that there is anything wrong with looking nice, but more importantly, it is emphasizing inner beauty and godliness over looks. Something that is sorely lacking in today’s culture.

When considering what constitutes modest clothing, a point has to be made about the motivation for wearing the clothing and the potential effect it may have on others. As to the motivation for wearing the clothing, the point being made in 1 Timothy 2:9 is that if the purpose of wearing it is to draw attention to the person wearing the clothes, then she is not dressed modestly. Likewise, if the clothing is tight, or designed in such a way to be revealing to others, it is not modest.

As Christians, we should be conscious of how our clothing might adversely affect others. This is because there may be others who may struggle with lust, infidelity, or have difficulty being tempted by someone who is dressed seductively that is not their spouse.

When modest dress is worn, it should be because we do not want to be a “stumbling block” to other’s efforts to live a holy and God honoring life. We should show our love for God and our neighbor by dressing in a way that will not make it more difficult for them. Wearing clothing to draw attention to self sexually or otherwise says we do not care if it causes difficulty for someone.

As to the idea of wearing long hair, this is something that many Christian women do because of what is taught in 1 Corinthians 1:13-15:

(1 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV)  “Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? {14} Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? {15} But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” (Emphasis added)

Here we see that long hair is considered something that is glorious in the eyes of God. Likewise, verse fourteen teaches that long hair on a man goes against nature and is a shame to him in the eyes of God.

In conclusion, some Christian women wear dresses and long hair because they want to honor and please God, project a Godly image, and not provoke (hence the term provocative) sinful thoughts in others.

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15 Responses to Why do some Christian women wear dresses or skirts and long hair?

  1. Bro. Albert March 21, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    This is absolutely the truth. Some people regard this as being extreme, just because they are extremely far away from the truth. The world is in a mess, awaiting the great tribulation and really, the only sane people are the Christians. God bless you.

    • Dr Michael L. Williams April 7, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Thanks for the reply Bro. Albert. Amazing how so many people discount the why that Christians do things, yet will think it normal to walk down the street naked to protest for freedom of speech. Reprobate minds do the oddest things and call it normal.

  2. Dr Michael L. Williams May 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks for your comment. You are right, people should see us as Christians for the way we act, not for the way we dress. However, sometimes the way we dress reflects how we act. For example, if we dress in a manner that is intended to reveal parts of our body to get attention then we have to ask ourselves if we are demonstrating love for our neighbor. 1 Peter 3 mentions this even in light of the marriage relationship. When the Bible talks about modest clothing, one person’s definition may vary from another’s.. The question we all must ask is if what I am wearning reflects the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of the flesh? Does it cause my neighbor to struggle with lust of the flesh (1 John 2:15-16)? We can dress nice without being immodest. It is all about deference. Paul mentions something similar to this when he talks about people who think they must eat a certain diet to please God. Eating the food my not be sinful, but if it causes you brother to stumble, then it is sinful. For example, if some says they cannot eat pork for religious reasons, then don’t invite them to dinner after church and serve pork. Eating the pork is not sinful, but causing my neighbor to stumble in his faith is. Finally, when it comes to sin, only God can define it. If sin was left up to man to define, sin would only be a matter of publc opinion and before long anything would be acceptable. The bottom line is am I motivated to dress the way I do to please me or to please God? Thanks again, blessings. Dr. Mike

  3. Dr Michael L. Williams June 12, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for your comment Leanne. Good, question, “Who made this rule?” A better question is what part of the Old Testament Law do we keep? According to Scripture either all of it or none of it. If we keep any of it then we are obligated to keep all of it (Galatians 5:1-5; James 2:10). If we keep any of it, then what Christ did on the cross for us is of no effect (Galatians 5:4). The Old Testament law was our schoolmaster to demonstrate to us that we are sinners in need of a Savior (Galatians 3:19-25).

    It really is quite simple when comparing the Old and New Testaments (See 2 Corinthians 3). In a nut shell, the Old Testament Law brought death and condemnation. It was a like a set of electric fences designed to control our behaviors. When we sinned, it was like walking into the fence and the electrical current would zap us with a deadly charge spiritually (Romans 6:23) and a painful consequence physically. Just like cattle that need to be herded, we had the law to keep us penned in to keep us from doing the wrong thing. Then, when the New Testament came along through the death of Christ, the fences were removed and we are given the motivation to follow the voice and direction of the Holy Spirit.

    Now, instead of being kept on the right path by the law, we do not even need the law because the Holy Spirit is directing us every step of the way (Hence, Christ delivered us from the law). This being said, the Holy Spirit would never lead us into temptation (Matthew 6:13; James 1:13-15). As long as we follow His voice, we will never do things that displease God. That is the challenge–continually following His leading. We follow His leading because of our love for Christ for what He did for us first (Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 4:19). It is a lifelong challenge, but the key is continually feeding on God’s Word and using it to guide our every step (Psalms 119:11, 105).

    How does this apply to dress? Are you dressing based on the discernment that the Holy Spirit gives you out of a desire not to cause your neighbor to stumble and to keep you body honorable for God? Or, do you dress based on someone’s rule or commandment, even if your heart is not in it. If the latter, then your dress is not because of faith and love of Christ, it is because you want to keep a law, which renders your mode of dress as filthy rags in God’s eyes.

    It’s all about motivation. Are you motivated out of a love for God and your neighbor? Or are you motivated out of lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, or pride (1 John 2:15-16)? If the later, it is a sinful motivation. This is why the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that if we do all these great deeds without love (Of God or neighbor), it is useless.

    Thanks for your honesty

    Dr Mike

  4. Tracy Johnson April 7, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Thank you so much for such a clear message, based on the Bible !

  5. Justin June 27, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    Wow! Excellent article, thank you. Now if only modesty was more prevalent. I’ve never been to this site before, but, now I’m a fan.

  6. Emma September 22, 2015 at 10:44 am

    I wonder, though, why so many evangelical women show their hair? Isn’t the hair supposed to be a prime sexual signal of availability? Shouldn’t a truly religious woman cover her hair for only her husband to enjoy? Seems to me that a truly modest woman would hide her sexual attractiveness and keep it only for her husband, but I see Christian evangelical women all the time with elaborately curled and permanented manes of hair that must arouse lustful thoughts. Shouldn’t they cover up?

    • Dr. Michael Williams September 29, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Thanks for your response Emma. No where do I see in Scripture that exposed hair is the same as seductive. I have encountered people with fetishes for all sorts of things. For the person who has a foot fetish, would we suggest feet must be covered? Or what about a fetish for small hands. Should they wear gloves? I suppose if we continue, then what about beards for some and clean shaven for others? Hairy men versus body shaved. The point is, that we have an attitude that is deferential in the context of God’s Word. If there are special cases where someone has a fetish that goes beyond Biblical context, then the person needs discipleship so they can have the mind of Christ. At that point, we would never want to do something that causes our brother to stumble. This reinforces why ministries that work with people with these issues should strive to have a staff of the same gender so that there is no potential for temptation. I will not counsel a woman without an observer that is a lady. Likewise, I would not have a lady counseling a man. The key is a Galatians 6:1-2 approach with a willingness by all parties to do what is right in the context of God’s Word. Thank you again, your comment certainly gives us food for thought so that we can minister to one another without being a stumbling block.
      Blessings, Dr Mike

      • vanesa October 10, 2015 at 3:07 am

        (1St corinthians 11:4-6) 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
        It says while praying or prophesies so we dont have to cover our haead all the time.

        • Dr. Michael Williams October 10, 2015 at 5:02 am

          Thanks for the comment Vanesa. The key in the “legalistic” interpretation is in verses 15 and 16 of 1 Corinthians 11 – “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” Paul is expressing a Spiritual concept here, but he also recognizes that there are some people that get contentious about it. However, he points out that they do not have such a custom, nor do the churches. In other words, while many people may do it, it is not something to get upset about and make it required so that is causes people to be upset. I have known of some congregations where women may have shoulder length hair and there is a contentious attitude that the women who do not grow it longer are rebelling against their husbands. My wife, Pamela Rose, has worn long hair for years, but due to recent problems with her neck causing headaches, I encouraged her to cut it shorter because of the weight of the hair. We have not experienced it, but I am sure that if I was asked to speak in certain congregations, there might be certain people that would think poorly about it out of ignorance. Likewise, if a lady had chemotherapy, there may be some that would not like her to come to church. This is the kind of non-sense that makes it so that people are driven away from church, because someone is judging their heart for why they may not have long hair. The point is, some women sincerely love the Lord and grow their hair or wear long skirts or dresses because they are motivated to do so. It does not mean that everyone that is not exactly like them does not love the Lord. Thanks again, Dr. Mike

  7. Charlie October 28, 2015 at 12:06 am

    God’s clothing for the male is facial hair—not pants. There are overpowering reasons why history should be studied—it helps us to reach correct conclusions. Skirts and pants are in all cases sex neutral. But people can’t help themselves, they have to reason by association. Horseback riding by men caused the trouser/skirt division of the sexes, then the factory work in World War 2 set in motion the freeing of women to wear pants, because people always resist change. They call it sin, crime, deviance, mental illness, witchcraft, heresy, apostasy, or any other label that works. Don’t you people think Jesus understood what Deuteronomy meant, especially when he was teaching scholars at age 12? Men in skirts are hardly abomination to God, that’s what the Roman centurion was wearing in Luke 7. Jesus would not have commended him as having the greatest faith, if skirts were only for women and men wearing skirts were abomination to God. Rome exiled men in pants in AD 393 and in AD 867 the Bulgarians asked the Pope if they could be Christians, even though they wore pants. Pants comes from Pantalone, the top clown in the medieval Italian Comedy of the Arts. The last verse in that chapter mentions the man’s father wearing a skirt. Style differences are not sex differences. The Greek army still wears skirts today, suggesting that women can’t wear pants and more so that men can’t wear skirts is shamefully stupid. Graduation gowns, judicial robes, choir robes, and ethnic male costume in many nations today, are remnants of the skirt age for men. The sexes are to present as who they are, but this in no way assigns one tube to females only, or two tubes for the legs, to men only. Bras? Yes of course they’re female, and are not worn in any world culture which still has men sometimes in skirts (Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand, Hawaii, Albania, Bhutan, Dervishes in over a dozen Arabic states, Scots and many others.) If dogma is desired, skirts make more sense to be assigned to men than to women, because men can justify a need for extra free space where it’s needed most, as well as breeziness, for which shorts are still a “fail.” Deut 22:5 told men and women to not exchange garments because water was scarce and clothes were seldom washed. People adapt to their own germs better than those of anyone else. No difference of anatomy, style difference only = “no sex difference,” no NT verse states anything about the cut of a garment. If anything suits and ties are idolatrous. You’re almost saying God is a pair of pants. Suits trace to Beau Brummel, the London alcoholic who fled England to cheat his lawful creditors. He died of gluttony and syphilis in 1840 at a French insane asylum. St. Paul on long hair? You must interpret verse by verses. Samson had long hair, and most men generally did as barber trade wasn’t common like today. Men didn’t generally wear short hair until the 1300s when early medieval European military regulations mandated short hair on soldiers, because head lice was a problem and the pests could be better controlled by having short hair. None of you people know anything about history since Bible times, yet it’s had a great impact on what men wear today. You are borderline historical illiterate and call yourself a “doctor.” Without looking anything up, can you define these terms—tonnelet—houppelande—rhinegraves—jabot—foustanella—tennure—sulu—pareau—bliaud—cotehardie. Which gender has external anatomy in the CROTCH that could most benefit from the empty, free space—and breeziness—a skirt makes possible? Yes, you folks are under a deep mass hypnosis about apparel. I feel some of you might have brought the firewood for Joan of Arc to be burned alive in AD 1431 because of her “heresy” of wearing pants and they did resort to the most misunderstood verse of all—Deut 22:5. It is WOMEN, not men, who are wearing both the trouser and the skirt. If they are abomination for this, there would have been a prophecy in Revelation so stating. There is NOT! There is no rational argument against skirts and fancy clothes on men as long as they are still presenting as men. Have a LOOK at what men wore at the time the KJV came out in 1611. I doubt they felt they were going against Deut 22:5, and “Solomon in all his glory” was never about any trouser or suit coat.

    • Dr. Michael Williams October 28, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks for the comment Charlie. Next time how about discussing Scripture instead of your extensive condemnation based on your view of history. Likewise, I would recommend reading Ephesians 4 and James 1:19-22 before responding to articles and if someone is wrong in your opinion please use Galatians 6:1-2 as personal insults will never convince anyone to read your response. Likewise,if a woman is convicted to dress a certain way based on modesty because she loves Christ, perhaps exploring her motives before condemnation would facilitate better to inspire one another to conform to the image of Christ. Finally, I really do appreciate the historical information, but Scriptural context trumps history in this argument because tradition is not the basis of the article. Thanks again. Dr Mike

      • Curious October 30, 2015 at 8:19 am

        While Charlie’s comment may have come across as strong, he still did a good job of highlighting very interesting and relevant points which have not been addressed in your response.

        Historical information goes hand in hand with scriptural context, otherwise how was the bible drafted and verified? Should all the Theological colleges which also teach of the original languages (hand in hand with more accurate interpretations due to context) be shut down as scriptural context trumps history??

        Rather than getting complete condemnation from the passage, it was intriguing as it is very true that clothing standards change and have changed dramatically throughout history. Should we condemn Scottish men for wearing traditional skirts? Would we think Jesus was committing sin in wearing robes (which kinda look like dresses) in his times? What about the Roman soldiers?

        While it’s understandable for women to feel wearing skirts/dresses is a way to display modesty (which is great considering how things are trending at the moment) it can still be a legalistic problem. Not all women wear skirts for the reasons you’ve given in your article sadly, but based on strong enforcement by their church/fellowship/denomination. These denominations also present other things such as women only wearing hats in church (supposedly based on Paul), no jewellery aside from watches, no permed hair (in some cases) or even fake hair, make up….it depends how far their church leaders want to take it. This is problematic, as rather than biblical roots, it’s opinionated, and sometimes based on erroneous interpretation of scripture due to the lack of HISTORICAL and theological knowledge.

        It would be great if you could issue some sort of response to Charlie, as again he/she has brought forward some good points which should be taken into consideration regardless of the “tone” of the passage.

        Looking forward to your response.


        • Dr. Michael Williams October 30, 2015 at 3:26 pm

          Hi Curious, Thanks for the comment. The article is based on Scripture, which is infallible. Not history, which is fallable. I do not care what people historically wore as the world’s opinion is tainted with sin (1 John 2:15-16). While the context of history applies as one of 19 factors of Bible study, it is not a determinate of meaning, only context. For example, the types that Israel was given were fulfilled in Christ. It makes no difference what happened in 300 AD as to their meaning. Likewise, if Scripture has different meanings based on time, then it is not God’s Word which existed before man and timeless. The History Channel is a perfect example of an organization that reinterprets Scripture based on their views of history. Peter said they did not follow cunning fables, they were there and saw and heard what happened. But, what they saw and heard was not as reliable as what the Holy Spirit inspired them to write. He added no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation, but Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy ghost. (2 Peter 1) This, and many other Scriptures teach us that Scripture is more reliable than what we see and hear for numerous reasons. Finally, we know what version of Hebrew and Greek were used based on the 10’s of thousands of copies and the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. They were also stored at Antioch, but the Alexandrian manuscripts were not created until many centuries later and are riddled with errors, misquotes, and omissions. Yet, 90+% of today’s Bibles use them, claiming they are older so they are more accurate. They are older because they were not used or worn out by mainstream Christians and only recently discovered in a trash can at a Catholic Monastery in the Mid 1800s. Yet, if their “historical” claims are true, then Christians did not have the real Word of God for over 1700 years? I have an extensive background in history and am published in the same. Once you use extra scriptural sources to ” interpret” it, then Isaiah 40:8; Psalms 119:89; 1 Peter 1:25, etc are lies and the door is opened for “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” Finally, debasing an argument as to the exact clothing worn was not the point. Modesty was. Ask most Christians what modesty means and they will describe clothing styles. That is not modesty, that is a legalistic interpretation. Modesty is dressing in any style with consideration that one does not cause a brother or sister to stumble because of lust of the flesh. The first church I pastored was in northern Minnesota. Some women rode snow mobiles to church. Some women were condemned by the legalists for not wearing a dress. I would challenge any man to wear a tunic while riding a snow mobile in deep snow in northern Minnesota. Then if they take the challenge, ask how much snow went up their tunic and how long it took for the numbness to go away in their legs and crotch. This is the type of inane illogic that drives people away from God. If a man cross dresses in ANY style commonly used by women to attract men, that was what was condemned by God, not the style of clothing. The same goes for women as well. As to confusion over the “real Scriptures.” Orthadox Jews are not confused and their Masoretic Hebrew predates the New Testament. Christians are confused today because copyrighted Versions have been created from “new” manuscripts.” Take a look at any nin Catholic commentary published before 1800 and notice how different they are from today’s. Thanks again for your comment.

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