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.

Link to some favorite modest women’s closing at: Christianity Every Day

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9 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

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