I received my Beacon Lights today and read immediately the article “Women’s Lib in the Church”. Certainly I must agree with the writer of the article that any part of the women’s liberation movement has no place in the church of Christ. Furthermore, I know of no women in our churches who believe themselves to be equal to their husbands either in the home or in the church. But what this has to do with wearing pantsuits to church, I really couldn’t follow the reasoning given.
I have no reason to believe that female members of our church that have worn pantsuits to church, have any desire to become card-carrying members of the Women’s Lib movement or have not remained in subjection to their husbands by donning a pantsuit.
When the writer states “Even though these women may not consciously realize it, they are competing with men.” I feel that to be pretty heavy judgment to make on your Christian sister sitting in the pew next to you, because she has worn a pantsuit. Nor is there reason to believe that because a female member of the church chooses to wear a pantsuit to church, that she will expect a seat in the consistory bench in a year or two. Women in the Reformed churches were given that “right” years ago and they did this without pantsuits. I hope and surely believe that our churches are strong enough in the truth that we are not that easily swayed by women’s apparel in the church.
Also, let us consider the women of whom we speak. We are not just talking about any women. Many of these women are mothers of covenant children and co-heirs, along with their husbands, in the church of Christ. And because this is of utmost importance to them, it should not be implied that they have become women-libbers.
I personally have not been offended in the least with the pantsuits that I have seen in church. The ones I have seen are very pretty, feminine, modest and cover a lot more than many of the short-short skirts and dresses that have been prominent on many of the female parishioners of the past few years. The question of attire in the church, male or female, providing it be modest, should not be a prerequisite to proper worship. As I wrote this article, one Scripture text kept coming to mind. Although it refers to the place of worship, I think that the spirit of the text can be applied here. John 4:24, “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” That after all is most important.
The above letter was written by Elaine Koop.
The following reply is by Gwen Van Eenenaam.
I believe Mrs. Koop may have misunderstood the point I was trying to make in the article through no fault of her own. No, I am not backing down, women’s lib in the church is wrong and women are to remain in subjection to their husbands. But even though wearing pantsuits in church may not lead directly to women in the consistory, it is still a liberalizing in our attitudes which may very well lead to it! This was and is my point. Therefore, I believe we should be concerned with this problem of dress, and in particular, pantsuits as proper or improper apparel in the church.
Why is there now such a rush to undermine long standing traditions in all areas of life? Women in the church have always worn dresses. But certainly, tradition does not make holy, as many will hasten to point out. The early church must have had some reason to set the standard they did in the first place, and I believe this reason was basically modesty. This does not include modesty in the physical sense alone!
If, then, a woman chooses to wear a pantsuit to church because it is more modest and covers more than a short miniskirt, what is wrong with this? But here the basic argument is at fault. Women in the church who choose to follow the fashions of the world by wearing miniskirts are already forgetting the concept of modesty in the physical sense. Then should pantsuits be allowed because they cover more than short skirts? Certainly not, for two wrongs do not make a right in any case.
We should not be concerned with modesty in the physical sense alone, but also in the spiritual sense, that is, in the sight of God. It seems to me that those who wear pantsuits to church are putting their values in the wrong place. Why are these women so interested in change all of a sudden? Are we placing more emphasis on apparel than proper spirit of worship? Maybe so.
Certainly we are speaking of covenant and elect mothers. I will agree wholeheartedly with that. But these mothers in the church of Christ are but sojourners here in this wicked world. Even though elect children of God, they are still sinful and prone to fall. We must strengthen ourselves in the truth, and uphold the brethren. This includes dressing modestly before God so we do not lead the weaker sister and children into sin.
This issue of Women’s Lib and pantsuits in the church is just another of the disguises which Satan uses to destroy the morals and values of the true church. Yes, this may be a small issue, but if we repeatedly compromise on small issues, what will be our stand when we are confronted with an issue of major importance? We can’t afford to gloss over even “small issues” in this day and age. We can afford to split hairs somewhat to reach the proper conclusions.
The church’s calling in the midst of this life is to remain separate unto God. How are we to be distinguished from the world and the Modernistic churches of today if there is no distinction in our dress?
Mrs. Koop writes of women in the Reformed churches being given the “right” to sit in consistory without wearing pantsuits in church first. Can’t she see that this was a big step towards liberalization with none of the minor issues in-between?
What this whole issue boils down to is really a question of right or wrong and also a matter of principles. The true church is called to stand fast and remain firm in the midst of the wicked world. As we near the end of time, we should remember that Satan is trying ever harder to destroy the church. We should be aware of this and thus look at any attempts at doing as the world does with extreme caution. We must maintain our distinctly Reformed heritage.
I Timothy 2:9-10 have something very relevant to say about the whole matter. Just remember, whatever you do, say, think, or wear, do it all to the glory of God alone, not man. Follow the rule of shamefacedness and sobriety.
Finally, women in the church of Christ, rejoice in the position that God has given you. Don’t be a discontent, and don’t change for change’s sake. Be happy with what God has blessed you. I know I am, and I have no desire to change my status in the least.