Note: The following essay should be considered deprecated. (But, of all of my essays, this one has received the most views!) But, clearly, with the death of Catholicism, you should simply view the Bible solely in light of modern historical scholarship, which plainly teaches that the Sun goes around the Earth. In any case, women should wear skirts/dresses, at least on occasion, because you look great when you do!
That women (and hence, girls) should only wear women's clothing is plainly taught in Sacred Scripture:
"A woman shall not be clothed with man's apparel, neither shall a man use woman's apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God." (Deuteronomy 22:5)
Of course, naysayers of this opinion will say that the Bible does not teach that women can only wear skirts/dresses. They will say, "Look at Mary and Joseph! Joseph did not wear pants. Or, look at Chinese women, they wear pants or pant-like clothes." In using these arguments, they are ignoring a fundamental principle:
Women's clothing does not always consist of dresses and/or skirts, but dresses and/or skirts are always women's clothing.
It is simple question-begging to say that women should only wear skirts/dresses, for if pants/trousers were acceptable for women to wear, why did women, for centuries, not wear those types of clothing? To say that it was "only cultural" is to ignore the arguments of the culture, which, for centuries, cited Deuteronomy 22:5 as the reason why women/girls could only wear skirts. A small minority of little girls and young ladies, for centuries, would on occasion don pants, and when discovered, their Moms & Grandmothers would sit them down, open up their Bibles, and read Deuteronomy 22:5, which they would cite as the reason why they needed to, immediately, change their clothes. As a matter of fact, historically, it was rather unthinkable until the early 1900s for a woman to be in pants or trousers, and even then, such was the rare exception. Prior to 1900, such overt cross-dressing was very rare (the early advocates of women's suffrage were heckled in public for wearing pants, forcing almost all of them to return to skirts), and almost unheard of prior to 1800. Of course, there were some exceptions, as I will discuss further on.
Roman Catholic canon law and Magisterial teaching took Deuteronomy 22:5 literally. The Synod of Gangra, called by Constantine, condemned the wearing of men's clothing by women:
Canon XIII: If any woman, under pretence of asceticism, shall change her apparel and, instead of a woman’s accustomed clothing, shall put on that of a man, let her be anathema.
Likewise, Saint Thomas teaches,
"As stated in the foregoing Article, outward apparel should be consistent with the estate of the person, according to the general custom. Hence it is in itself sinful for a woman to wear man's clothes, or vice versa; especially since this may be a cause of sensuous pleasure; and it is expressly forbidden in the Law (Deuteronomy 22) because the Gentiles used to practice this change of attire for the purpose of idolatrous superstition. Nevertheless this may be done sometimes without sin on account of some necessity, either in order to hide oneself from enemies, or through lack of other clothes, or for some similar motive." (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.169, a.2, ad 3)
Of course, some will say that pants are "women's clothing," which at best would be an argument that says that objective moral values should capitulate to modern secularized "values." However, this "argument" ignores the evidence. Even in 2011, skirts/dresses are still "women's clothing." California Code - Section 12947.5 states the following:
"(a)It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to permit an employee to wear pants on account of the sex of the employee."
Of course, this is question begging. If skirts/dresses were not "women's clothing," why would some employers be forcing women to wear them, and what motivation would there be for the California legislature to grant women legal protection to wear pants?
Likewise, AB 196 provides legal protection to transgender men who wish to wear skirts/dresses, requiring that "that each employee be permitted to dress in accordance with the employee’s gender identity."
So, in conclusion, the California Code of Law provides legal protection to women who do not wish to wear dresses and/or skirts as well as legal protection to men who do wish to wear dresses and/or skirts.
Finally, some will appeal to Pope Nicholas I, who wrote to King Boris I of Bulgaria: "Whether you or your women wear or do not wear trousers neither impedes your salvation nor leads to any increase of your virtue" (sive vos, sive feminae vestrae, sive deponatis, sive induatis femoralia, nec saluti officit, nec ad virtutum vestrarum proficit incrementum - Patrologia Latina, CXIX, 1002).
Pope Nicholas was, however, addressing Bulgar women and not other Catholic women. If you are Chinese, then, yes, certainly, you are absolutely free to dress according to your own culture, which is what Saint Thomas taught. However, as Cardinal Siri noted in his letter Men's Dress Worn By Women, in Western culture women have, historically, worn skirts/dresses and men have worn pants/trousers, which has been the custom for centuries. To say that modernistic secularism can change this immutable truth is to say that modernistic secularism can change other immutable truths of natural and divine law, which is both heretical and absurd.
To say that women should wear pants/shorts is also to ignore what the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed at Fatima when She stated, "Certain styles and fashions are being introduced which gravely offend My Divine Son."
Response to Catholic Answers Forum.
Most of you do not accept my arguments, except, for "Angela," (hope that I guessed your real name correctly -- sorry if I did not) and to her, I would say, "If you are troubled about wearing pants/trousers, then, yes, just wear skirts and/or dresses whenever possible, that is, most, if not nearly all, of the time." Of course, if you have to fight a fire and/or are in outer space, then, yes, I think that Saint Thomas would say that you have "a similar motive" to the other motives which he gave for "wearing men's clothing." And, you do not have to dress like some "prairie girl." Old Navy, T.J. Max, Nordstrom (a bit expensive, but with good sales), etc., have lots of feminine and modest skirts which extend below the knee. Ditto for blouses. To my pleasant surprise, I just saw a woman last week walking her infant in a beautiful and modest dress with an underskirt, so, clearly, even those are still "in vogue." You don't have to look like "a dork" to wear a skirt and "blend in." And, of course, an immodest dress and/or skirt can sometimes be made modest with the right sweater, jacket, or underskirt.
Let me address the points which I read from skimming your message thread: 1) "Is wearing pants a mortal sin?" Don't think that I have ever claimed that one?! Probably not, but is not pleasing the Triune God the most important thing in your life?! 2) Most of you acknowledge the fact that "Biblical arguments" were used in the past to keep women in skirts. But, since the culture, over time, ultimately did not embrace those arguments, then such "proves" that the arguments were ipso facto wrong to begin with? Hardly. Just because "the culture" goes one way does not mean that we should follow it?! But, yes, "the victors are the ones who write history." 3) Yes, Padre Pio did not like women in pants, or, for that matter, in skirts which went just below the knee. But, clearly, the good Padre did not accept the cultural norms of his day, which allowed women to wear pants, shorts, and even knee-length skirts. Clearly, Padre Pio had his own values! 4) "My arguments are illogical?" For instance, the California legislature is right in protecting working women who want to wear pants but is wrong in protecting men who want to wear skirts?! Says who? You?! If so, why??! 5) "Insane rant?" So, anyone who disagrees with you and your neo-con Catholicism is "insane"?
May the One and Triune God Bless you, Angela! And, you don't need a Novus Ordo priest and/or an atheistic therapist. Find a SSPX chapel near you, and if one is too far away, then move:
By the way, SSPX women typically are skirt-wearing women and girls:
And, stop posting at CAF and start posting here:
Matthew and his wife, our moderators, won't close your threads!
Moral Theology, by John A. McHugh and Charles J. Callan, May 24, 1958
2569. (c) The Sin of Defect.—This is committed when one's mode of life is not up to the reasonable standard of one's community, especially if this is due to negligence or itch for notoriety or disregard for decency. Examples are those who through carelessness go about unwashed or unshaven, who keep their quarters in a filthy and disorderly state, or who wear their clothing untidily; also females who dress in male attire, nudists who appear undressed in public places, and cynics who scorn the conventions of refined society. It is not sinful, however, but a virtuous act of temperance, to wear simpler and poorer garments from the spirit of mortification and humility (Heb., xi. 37). The clergy and religious, since they should be models of the penitential spirit, are to be praised, therefore, when they give an example of plainness and simplicity in personal style and dress.