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