Why some Christian women wear dresses or skirts and long hair

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Wisdom4Today Wednesday with Dr. Mike

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.

Must be a cult
TLC’s Duggar Family Girls in conservative clothing. Source: DuggarFamily.com

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.

If Not a Cult, then Why?

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.

Modesty in Clothing

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 others’ 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.

Long Hair

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

[This article appeared first at wisdom4today.org in January 2012, it is one of the most popular articles on that site]

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Pamela Rose Williams

Pamela Rose Williams is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and her husband, Dr. Michael L. Williams, have served in Christian ministry since 2001. She has a bachelor's Degree in Christian Education and spends most of her time as a professional editor and writer, working with many Christian authors and artists. Additionally, she works with her husband using their extensive experience in information technology to provide Christ-centered teaching and resources to people all over the world. To learn more about Pamela visit her About page.