Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Skirt vs Pants Post

"Choose your battles wisely."

You have probably heard this old adage or something like it, and the gravity of this statement rings true.

I'm weary of it.
I'm weary of hearing about and being torn by the controversy, and if you grew up homeschooled or are still being homeschooled, you might be torn about this subject, too.

Skirts vs Pants!!!!!!!!
(Cue creepy music)


Skirts vs pants

Haha! You knew we were bound to cover this topic on Silk and Purple some day. Yet, in all honesty, I really didn't know how to approach it at first. I can tell you my personal story of how I have swung back and forth, either feeling "liberated, yet guilty" or "virtuous, yet pious." At the age of 5, I would throw a tantrum if I couldn't wear a beautiful dress even to play in the mud. When I became a little older, I grew up in the homeschooling community where I would choose dresses and skirts when attending a conference or seminar, but in my day-to-day life, I really didn't think much about it. I wore skirts, jumpers, dresses, jeans, capris, slacks, bermudas... and who can forget the classy overalls. When I was about 15, I read a lot about the feminist movement and the need to reclaim femininity again. One way I thought I could do this was to put on skirts and dresses ONLY. I got into blogs about how to wear long skirts while scrubbing the bathtub; many of my friends and I would chat about the virtues of skirts over pants; and acquaintances often remarked about how I always was so dressed up, i.e., this was code for, "She is always wearing skirts."

And so this continued, and I stood on my little soapbox and preached the glad tidings of feminine glory! Skirts and dresses to all women and to all a goodnight!

And then I did something foolish. I hurt someone I love over this subject. My sister and I are total opposites in some ways. She sports a baseball cap while I might wear a beret, but in many ways we complement each other, keeping each other balanced and laughing, reminding each other to laugh at ourselves. But one day it wasn't a matter of laughter. I hurt my sister. She was in town for a visit with her newest little one and our family was going some place (I really don't recall where). At that time in my life, I ONLY wore skirts and dresses. Whenever Mom asked for some wardrobe advice, I would pull out... you can guess. Jacqueline, who recently had had a baby, didn't have many options of clothing due to her beautifully changing body. I didn't necessarily say that my sister was WRONG to wear pants, but I made it evident that I found greater virtue in "lady clothing."

I made my sister feel she was in someway less of an excellent woman to her family. She and her husband don't share the same convictions as I on this point, so I, in essence, was asking her to overstep what conclusions they had made for their family. When Mom told me I needed to check my pious attitude, I realized I was the one whose "excellence" needed to be examined.

So why do I tell you this story? After this ordeal, the Lord helped me to do a little heart reflecting. My passion for femininity started with wholesome intentions. It began as a quest to preserve my role as a woman. But simply wearing the "right" clothing does not make me have a godly, feminine heart. I know girls that, aside from wearing a jean skirt to the floor, seemingly have no idea what femininity is.

Now I'm not saying that if you choose skirts over pants, you are practicing the ways of a pharisee rather than a disciple, but honestly, I was. Somehow I felt like a more holy Christian. I was prideful about the impression of humility. Yet I did learn some very good lessons, too -- like it is just as easy to wear a dress as it is to throw on some capris. I am treated more gently by strangers. I also learned that keeping a difference in the way men and women dress is very glorifying to the Lord!

So my question to you is: Is this argument about skirts and pants worth the separation of community within the body of Christ?

I hope you are following me with a resounding NO.
Girls, we have MANY battles to fight. And making our army of the Lord weaker by bickering or constantly focusing on this issue is not getting us anywhere -- it's rather like a dog chasing its tail.

But this is an issue today among many Christians, and Paul was going through a similar one. Here is what he did:

 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience?  If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 10:23-33

During this time, the church had a great many issues to deal with -- a big one was eating the meat offered to idols. (Let's call them "Zeus burgers.") Christians in society wanted to win people over to Christ and they were faced with a problem of how the law of Moses and the pagan rituals would be felt within the new church. What Paul was saying here is, if as a Christian you eat a Zeus burger, then you are not in danger of falling from grace; however, if you have a friend who came from that pagan background and she has a conscience about the Zeus burgers, then it is wise not to eat one. You want others to be at ease around you, not feeling as if you are being judgmental.

Zeus burgers are a lot like clothing because the verse here says "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

I think the big question is: Do we believe this? Are we wearing jeans to the glory of God? Are we wearing swimsuits to the glory of God?

Hard questions, because we are going to need to examine our hearts. So here is my advice on how to move on from this feminine dressing dispute.

1. Read scripture and define femininity, not as weak and childish, but strong, noble, and wise.
2. Prayerfully consider how the Lord wants you to grow femininity in your life.
3. Respectfully talk out with your parents as to what they would like for you to express in your feminine appearance.
4. Don't over-think it. Make decisions and move on. Turn your thoughts to the everlasting treasures -- sharing and teaching Christ.

Personally I have taken these steps, and I've found that even when wearing a pant I can look very feminine. I do enjoy dresses, skirts, pants, and capris because of the usefulness of each garment in many different life challenges.

As always, femininity is not just the exterior, but the inward person shining through.


  1. This post made me laugh out loud a little :) I remember this day very well... I think I had packed like 2 outfits probably both including t-shirts (hey what else do you wear when you go home to mom to relax) - funny how 5 years later, I have a hard time going out in a t-shirt :) It is true that it takes just as much effort to throw on a cute shirt and matching earrings as it does to throw on a t-shirt and ball cap. I think many times as women we take our femininity for granted... so yes, you will still find me in an Alabama t-shirt on Saturdays... one thing is for sure, the world could do good for a few more Abby Little's in the world! Very proud of you sweet lady!

  2. I think that is the wrong question to ask, though I have asked it all too often myself. The Bible says to let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ. I think this also applies to clothing. We should always be ready to give a defense of the gospel, ie share the gospel. If I am prepared to share a 4-Laws with someone, I don't want my clothing to be a distraction: too low cut, too tight, or too dowdy, too out of style, too homely. Our clothing should draw attention to our face and our face should reflect the light and love of Jesus. Our clothing should be in style and appropriate, not a distraction one way or the other. So the question is: would I share Jesus in this?

  3. I think y'all did a fantastic job of addressing this issue. Beautifully said...