Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Should Women Wear Pants In Church?

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides a transcript of a YouTube video of an interview of a female Baptist pastor on the subject of women wearing pants in church. Both the interviewer and the pastor being interviewed are middle aged African Americans. The interviewee, who is the senior pastor of in Memphis, Tennessee, is wearing what I consider to be a stylish pants suit.

This transcript is provided for its historical, sociological, and educational values. While I generally agree with the pastor's position on this subject,* I recognize that other people-both inside and outside of the Baptist church and other Christain churches, disagree with that position.

* My position is that females & males should have the right to wear informal clothing including slacks in church. However, I prefer females & males wearing more formal attire in church. That said, I recognize that all too often churches have become fashion shows-for males and particularly for females. To relax the dress code for church to include even jeans & t-shirts might alleviate that fashion competition (Btw, this point wasn't made in this interview, but given her other remarks, I think the pastor being interviewed would agree with it.)

Pastor Gina Stewart - Woman Wearing Pants in Church -

Uploaded by americapreachers on Jan 27, 2009 - During a interview with Dr. Gina Stewart, Minister Rashad D.L. Cartwright asked for her views on women wearing pants in church. Log on to to view the entire interview. God Bless.



Interviewer (Minister Rashad D.L. Cartwright, President/Founder of - ...I want to hit on a couple of questions that I know that a lot of the women preachers, and just a lot of the women viewers are watching probably would like to know your views on, ah, you know tradition

Pastor Stewart -um hum

Interviewer- when you look at women wearing pants... in the church.

Pastor Stewart [chuckles]

Interviewer- What are your views on that?

Pastor Stewart (Senior Pastor, Christ Missionary Church in Memphis, Tennessee)-Well I’ll tell you this. If you came to Christ Missionary in Memphis some people would probably be in culture shock because [chuckles along with interviewer]. I mean our congregation is a very relaxed atmosphere.

Interviewer- Okay.

Pastor Stewart-Um I personally don’t have any hang-ups one way or the other about whether women wear pants to church. Um, there are some, though, who hold very strictly to their tradition that women should not wear pants in and some of them take it from their scripture where they talk about ah women should not wear that which pertains to a man.

Interviewer-Um hum.

Pastor Stewart-Um, however, we have to... I think...Jesus talked about strainin at a knat and swallowin a camel. And what I found is that if the pants...if it becomes that much of a barrier to somebody’s salvation then we’re in trouble. Because I can teach a person how to change their dress [briefly laughs]


Pastor Stewart-but if I miss the opportunity to tell them about Jesus...because they have on pants...they’ve missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime... and I have too. So I think that sometimes we put the cart before the horse. We try to teach people the practice before we even get people in a relationship with God. Consequently, people know how to do church real well but they don’t have a relationship with God. But if we get people into a relationship with God when they begin to love God and respond to God, ah, in a way that is...ah, that corresponds to God’s love for them, there’s some things you don’t even have to tell people to do.


Pastor Stewart- They just do it automatically. Now I think that for each church, every house is different. You know and whoever that pastor is, ah, they set the vision for that particular house. Now, ah, in our church, I might preach in blue jeans and ah ah t-shirt.


Pastor Stewart- Ah this summer, um, we had casual ah ah

Interviewer - indecipherable [maybe "Is that right?"

Pastor Stewart-Yeah yeah we had casual for the summer. Yeah we wear casually dressed.

Interviewer-Um hum

Pastor Stewart- Yeah so the deacons, myself, and the preachers, we all preached-Well they didn’t preach, but I did

Interviewer [brief chuckle] Right.

Pastor Stewart- in blue jeans and t-shirts, but now that the weather is changing, I’m back in something that’s more-that looks.. I don’t really preach in robes per se anymore but I preach in something that looks more like a robe , some of these African type garments. But I think a lot of it too has to do with your demographics. We have...the average age in our church is about 37. Ah..and they have a lot of small children. And so, and then you have to look at the time that we’re in as well. I did an ah ah a conference call online on ah old time religion that just looks at the different generations. Our churches are multigenerational. You got baby boomers, you got millennials, you got generation x, you have generation y, and many of them don’t even think the church is relevant., you know. So while we worryin about wearin pants, we, we really have an opportunity or we’re at risk for losin ah generation…that needs to know who Jesus is.[brief chuckles].So for me, pants aren’t that big of a deal.

Interviewer- Right

Pastor Stewart- What I say ah to our preachers is if you must, if you’re gonna wear slacks…just make sure they not to tight.


Pastor Stewart-Yeah, if you don’t have anything but tight pants, wear a dress.


Pastor Stewart - [Chuckles] But other than that, I don’t make a big deal about it because I believe that, that it’s more of a tradition than it is a commandment…. And I think that sometimes we make more of a commandment out of our tradition...then we do out of what the kingdom’s principles are.

Click to read this video's viewer comment thread.

Here's a video of informally attired female members in concert at another African American church. I'm also sharing this video because I love this Gospel song & this group's rendition of that song.

I've Decided to Make Jesus My Choice

Uploaded by Anthea11 on Jan 17, 2009

Alisa Shanta Gray debut concert, singing I've decided to make Jesus my choice with some of her siblings (McSwain Family). November 2008

Editor: From the uploader's comment, it appears that this video wasn't filmed at a Sunday service. However, according to traditional African American church customs, that wouldn't (doesn't) matter. Females, especially teens and women, were (are) always supposed to wear dresses, or modest skirts and blouses in the church building. They were also supposed to cover their hair with a hat, scarf or some other covering, and cover their hands with white gloves. However, in most Black Baptist churches in the USA, it appears to me that few congregations continue to adhere to the tradition of women covering their hair and wearing gloves.

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  1. I've heard lots of views on this issue, too. I think it's interesting to note the sartorial trends during the period when and in the cultures where the Bible was written. Traditionally, men wore what we'd call a skirt or dress. Women wore the more pants-like garments out of necessity, because of their menstrual cycle and the need to hold in place the cloths used for absorbency.

    I agree with the female pastor on this video. I know a lot of folks who don't even own a suit or a really fancy church dress with hat and gloves. I grew up in a church where women did NOT wear pants (or shorter-than-knee-length dresses/skirts) and men were all expected to wear very conservative suits, every time they came to church. It was a burden on some people just to try to find the money to afford the kind and number of outfits they needed to worship there.

    I prefer churches that are accepting of folks, regardless of attire. Of course, I try to make sure that my clothes are neat and clean and modest. However, trying to fit a hat over my afro is just a lost cause. I try to judge what's appropriate by whether or not I'd feel comfortable talking to Jesus in what I'm wearing to church. If I feel that Jesus wouldn't have a problem with it, then I'm okay.

  2. Greetings, Bint.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Btw, I've been wearing my hair in an afro style since 1966. When I want to, I wear a gele (African headwrap) and an African dress to church.