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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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clear.gif - 808 Bytes Question:

clear.gif - 808 Bytes Last week my Pastor and I had a discussion concerning women wearing pants to the services and the ladies fellowships. I told him that I thought this to be a preferential position that he has the right to set. I told him I would support him on that if that is his preference. However, we further discussed my qualifications to be a deacon of our church. He felt that because my wife has worn jeans to some of the ladies fellowship meetings in the past that I didn't qualify to be a deacon. My position is that I can support my Pastor if this is his preference for church attire and meetings, but I don't agree with him concerning this being a qualification to be a deacon. Please give me your thoughts.
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Thanks for writing.

I do not want to cause any friction between you and your pastor. You are absolutely correct when you state that it is his prerogative to establish standards for leadership within the church, including the office of a deacon. Therefore, I can't tell you that he is wrong at that point. If you really want to be a deacon in that church, you will have to measure up to both the standards of the Bible and the institutional standards of that particular church.

At the same time, it is pretty clear that the an individual's position on the slacks issue is not mentioned in the qualifications for a deacon found in I Tim 3. I assume that your pastor must preach his position on the subject from the pulpit, and therefore does not want to have a man serving as a deacon who obviously does not agree with the pastor at that point. That's the thing about "external" qualifications: everyone can see who agrees and who doesn't. Even though you are willing to support his position, he knows that you don't hold to it personally, and he probably fears that someone will see your wife out in public in slacks, and this will undermine his credibility. Most pastors want deacons who agree with them "right down the line". Your pastor is probably not an exception.

Personally, my wife does not wear slacks ever, and my daughters wear them only in the snow, and then with culottes overtop. While I do not ride the subject like a hobby horse, I have mentioned it from the pulpit once or twice in the 2 years since we started this church. Most of our people know how I believe. I have two deacons. Both of their wives wear slacks. Never to church or church meetings, but around the house, and sometimes out in public. I would prefer that they didn't. However, to me it is such a minor issue in the whole scheme of things that it doesn't keep the husbands from being able to serve.

I once told a brother in Christ that if the day ever came that all I had to worry about in my church was women wearing slacks, I'd be a happy man. I believe there are some Biblical principles involved, but I also believe that good men can disagree on how to apply some of those principles. Women are to wear a "katastole", (the Greek word translated "modest apparel" in I Tim 2:9). "Katastole" literally means "a flowing garment that comes down". Some say that slacks don't qualify, because they are not flowing, and I agree. However, I have seen my share of culottes that didn't "flow" much, either! Women (and men, for that matter) are to keep their thighs covered, according to Isaiah 47:2 and Exodus 28:42. They are not to accentuate their bodies. However, I have seen tight, knee-length dresses that showed off every bit as much of a woman's form as a pair of pants would have. I have seen culottes that come well above the knee when the girls is sitting, or involved in an activity. Are these ok because they aren't slacks? I personally don't think so. Is the person who wears these more spiritual than the woman who wears loose-fitting slacks? I don't think so.

The Bible also teaches distinction between the dress of the sexes in Deut 22:5. However, as time passes, slacks are becoming less and less a distinctive dress of men. A generation or so ago, women wore dresses, and men wore pants. Today, that distinction has been blurred to the point where I don't believe the average person, saved or not, sees a woman in slacks and thinks that she has a man's clothes on. What about women wearing suits (jacket and skirt)? Isn't the suit jacket man's attire? I never hear anyone preach about that. How about girls in athletic equipment? Wasn't that the boy's domain? Nobody, particularly those with Christian schools and sports programs, seems to have a problem with that! See how good men can view things differently, while attempting to honor the same Biblical principles?

I have rambled on long enough, and I hope I have given you some things to think about. I agree with your pastor's position on slacks, and I believe that he, as pastor, has the right, if not the responsibility, to establish specific qualifications for deacons, even if they seem to go beyond the Biblical list. Let's face it, he can easily say that because your wife wears slacks, you are not blameless, and blamelessness is a qualification for a deacon (I Tim 3:10); or he can say that, because your wife in not following his teaching on this subject, that you are not ruling your house well (I Tim 3:12). However, I personally would not make that particular issue the deciding factor in determining whether or not a man could serve as deacon, especially if the man in question agreed to abide by my standard.

May the Lord bless you.

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Dr Mark Montgomery
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209

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