Is Boys Wearing Dresses Like Girls Wearing Pants?

September 26, 2023

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In today's episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast, host Elizabeth Urbanowicz delves deep into a timely cultural question: How should parents navigate and guide their children in understanding gender-specific clothing, particularly as it relates to boys wearing dresses or makeup? Drawing from historical context, personal sentiments, and biblical references, Elizabeth examines whether this is simply a cultural shift or if it violates biblical principles. Plus, she draws parallels with women's adoption of pants in the past century, addressing the complexities of societal changes. Join us for a thoughtful exploration of clothing, deception, and the alignment of our beliefs with scripture.


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast. Where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question says, "How should we guide our children when seeing men or boys wearing dresses, pearls, makeup, nail polish, et cetera? It makes me uncomfortable and is becoming more prevalent, but I don't really know which Bible verses would be relevant. I also keep thinking back to what people must have been saying when women wanted to wear pants, when dresses were more acceptable. I don't have a problem with women wearing pants. How should I deal with this?" That's a really good question and an important one for us to think through in this time and culture in which we find ourselves.

Now, before we dive down deep into this question, I would ask that if you have found the content of this podcast beneficial, make sure you like and subscribe so that you never miss a future episode, and would also ask that you consider investing the time to write a review so that more people can find this content and we can equip as many children as possible to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter.

Now, when I first read this question, I thought that a certain part of the wording was very interesting. Part of the question says, "it makes me uncomfortable, but I don't know which Bible verses would be relevant." And I think that that's a really key part of the question that we need to zero in on, that we should always be checking whether something is just a personal idea that makes us uncomfortable, or if it's something that contradicts scripture.

Because our goal should be that we always want to submit ourselves to the authority of scripture. So if we have some personal thing that we think is wrong, we don't want to just go to the Bible and look for random verses and pull them out to support our opinion. What we want to do is say, "okay, I currently think this. What does God's word actually have to say?" and then we're willing to submit ourselves before what the word of God says. Whether what God's word says, affirms what we already thought, felt or believed, or whether it contradicts that because something that makes us uncomfortable but doesn't go against moral God's moral law, it's simply something that makes us uncomfortable. Where something that breaks God's moral law, it is immoral whether it makes us uncomfortable or not. So we want to make sure that our posture going into answering this question and any question that we have is that we're willing to submit ourselves before the word of God no matter what it says.

So my question now is what does the Bible have to say about our dress? Because that's what this question was about. It was about males wearing skirts and makeup and jewelry versus women wearing pants. And so we want to think through, okay, what does the Bible say about dress? And so what I've done is I've gone through and I've pulled out a few different passages of scripture that I think are really key in addressing human clothing. So the first passage we're going to look at is Genesis chapter three, verses six and seven, and then verse 21. And so Genesis chapter three verses six and seven, and then 21 says, "so when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths." Then verse 21 says, "And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them." So from this passage in Genesis three, what we learn is that we humans are to wear clothing because of the shame of our sin, that clothing is a reminder that we are all born sinful and that we bear guilt before a holy God. So clothing, the reason we are clothed being is because of the shame of our sin.

The next passage we're going to look at is from Deuteronomy 20, chapter 22, verse five. And so this verse takes place in God's moral law that he has given to his people, and this command is given in the midst of a whole bunch of other different commands for how people are to live. And Deuteronomy 22, verse five says, "A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God." Now, here in this verse, the Hebrew word translated abomination means something that is disgusting in the ethical sense of wickedness. So something that is disgusting in the ethical sense of wickedness. So the emphasis here with a man or a woman not wearing a man's garment and a man not wearing a woman's cloth is on deception that we are not to pretend to be who we are not. So women are not to try to deceive others into believing that they are a man, nor are men to deceive others into believing that they are a woman. I think a not completely perfect parallel, but a somewhat parallel example would be someone putting on doctor scrubs or a police officer's uniform to deceive others into believing that they were a doctor when they were not a doctor or that they were a police officer when they were not a police officer.

Now, this isn't a perfect parallel because being a doctor or police officer is not parallel with being a male or a female in that you can choose whether or not you're going to be a doctor or you can choose whether or not you're going to be a police officer, where being male or female is not a choice. It's God given from the time of conception. But the parallel here, the reason I'm giving this is just to show that what God is saying here is that clothes are not to be used as a form of deception. So that's the biblical principle we can use here: clothes are not used to be used as a form of deception. Another passage that talks about clothing is in the gospel of Matthew in chapter six, verses 28 through 30, it says, "And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of a little faith?" And so in this passage, as Jesus is talking, he's revealing that God is ultimately the one who provides us with our clothing, that all that we have and all that we are is because of God's provisions. Here we learn God is ultimately the one who provides us with the clothing.

Then the last passage we're going to look at is in first Timothy chapter 2, 8 10. And in this section Paul writes, "I desire that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness - with good works." And so in this passage, we see that the biblical principle for clothing is that modesty is the standard that should guide our dress.

So the four things that we've seen is first, we wear clothing because of the shame of our sin. Then clothes are not to be used as a form of deception. God ultimately is the one who has provided us with our clothing. And modesty is the standard that should guide our dress. So now the question is, the questioner says that men wear boys wearing dresses or makeup or jewelry, things that traditionally have been associated in the west with female dress, that this makes the questioner uncomfortable. So the question now is, does this cross-dressing men or boys wearing dresses, jewelry, makeup, does it violate any of these biblical standards? And so I think it's pretty clear that this type of cross dressing, it violates the principle that we are not to deceive others in our dress.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with someone, with anyone wearing a skirt or a dress. It's not that a man putting on a skirt or a dress is inherently evil. However, in our culture, men who are wearing skirts are doing so to appear female or to appear androgynous, where if we're thinking about a man wearing a kilt or a man wearing traditional garments from Kenya or from another country in Africa. In that traditional dress, the men are not trying to appear as women because that is what men in that culture traditionally have worn. However, in our culture as it's currently set up, when men or boys are wearing dresses or skirts or makeup or pearls, things like that, they're doing so to appear female or androgynous. And this is something that God forbids. He forbids us to use our form of dress to deceive others, to lead them to believe that we are something that we are not.

Now, if our culture shifts, if culture in the west shifts and certain style of skirts or dresses become clothing that are distinctly male, that there's certain type of dresses in the west that men wear certain types of skirts that men wear, then this would no longer violate the biblical principle because men would not in that case, be seeking to convince others that they were female or to act female. They would simply be going along with the traditional clothing for men in that culture.

Okay, so we can see that now this questioner, their discomfort actually is rooted in a violation of God's moral law, that people are trying to deceive others with their dress, and that breaks God's moral law. So now the question is, is this parallel with women wearing pants? Because 150 years ago, it was not common for women to wear pants. It wasn't really until the first half of the 20th century that women in the west started consistently wearing pants.

So we need to ask ourselves, why did women start wearing pants? Were they trying to pretend to be men, or was it something else? Now, as far as I know, and I haven't done hours of research on the history of women and pants, but as far as I know, no women were not trying to convince others that they were men. Some women who wore pants were trying to rebel against male authority in the home, which is a completely different issue for a whole other podcast. So not going to address that right now. But the women were not trying to convince others that they were men. Now, today, most women wear pants, and most of those women who do wear pants are not doing so to fool others into believing they are male. They're wearing pants that are distinctly female pants, and so it's not falling in the same category of trying to deceive others through dress.

So this is a completely different category. So I would say that these two things that men in our culture currently who are wearing dresses and skirts are not parallel to women who in the past have worn pants. Because currently what's going on in our culture is men are trying to appear female, where in the past, women were not trying to appear male. And so I think those are two completely different things.

Again, if you walk away with nothing else from this podcast, what I hope you walk away from it is just the importance of always asking ourselves whenever we're uncertain, is this thing that's making me uncomfortable? Is it just some personal thing that's making me feel uncomfortable? Or is it actually breaking God's moral law? And then making sure that we are approaching the text of scripture with humility and with a willingness to submit ourselves before the authority of God and his word, whether it aligns with how we're feeling or whether it contradicts how we're feeling, and this is something we want to make sure that we train our kids to do as well.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit that by going to As we leave our time together, my prayer for you as always is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using those things to conform you more into the image of his son. I'll see you next time.

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