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Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
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.
1 Peter 3:3,4
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;
But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
1 Timothy 2:9,10




Discovering God's Rare Gems for Women


A trusting relationship with Jesus is a necessary component of salvation. He wants us to trust Him so completely that we have absolute assurance that anything He asks of us is for our ultimate best good. Without this deep faith, we cannot rest in His love, but instead we resist His counsel. As we learn to trust Him completely, there is no area of our life that is withheld from His management. His love in our hearts makes us willing to do whatever He asks.

As we submit our wills to Him, setting aside our desires, our preferences, our opinions, God is able to reveal wonderful truth to us. If we are ready to listen, He has abundant blessings and lessons to share with His us.

Gems of truth are like hidden treasure. We have discovered some wonderful and beautiful truths we would like to share. We would also invite you, after reading this article, to be a Berean and see if you can concur with these rare and very precious spiritual gems and principles that have become almost lost to our sight. WARNING: to understand these rare gems requires (1) a willing heart and (2) diligent individual effort to search these things out.

In our quest to draw closer to Jesus, some questions arise that should to be settled within our own hearts. In this article, we will explore four vital but rare principles of dress for Seventh-day Adventist women. Let us testify: we have searched diligently for the pearls, and upon finding them, have rejoiced exceedingly, for our thirsty souls have been abundantly refreshed and watered. For it has provided a divine antidote against the spiritual poison called worldliness and empowered our spiritual growth.

The first question under consideration is one we may have never asked ourselves before. Nevertheless, it is a very important question.



In the Spirit of Prophecy we can find many references to fashion. This was a frequent topic in the writings of Ellen White. The dangers of becoming followers of the fashions of the world are clearly pointed out. We read of the slavery of fashion, the devotees of fashion, and about those who worship the goddess of fashion. We read about the idolatry of dress, the absorbing fashions, the mania and the feverish desire to follow fashions. We see that to be a follower of fashion is equivalent to being unconverted, and ultimately lost. Strong language is used to warn the followers of fashion of their spiritual danger.

In the Spirit of Prophecy we read of the folly of fashion, the frivolous, vain and foolish fashions. We are warned about demoralizing and immodest fashions, satanically inspired fashions, and degenerate fashions. We are urged not to imitate prevailing fashions, ever changing fashions, and ridiculous fashions. Strongly condemned are unhealthful fashions, extravagant, expensive and time-consuming fashions. Women are warned not to follow abominable fashions such as mannish fashions [resembling very nearly the dress worn by men] and unisex fashions [lack of distinction of dress between males and females]. All of these are called the fashions of the world, and we are clearly warned against following them.

The fashion goddess is not just out there in the world; she has marched right into our church:

“All matters of dress should be strictly guarded, following closely the Bible rule. Fashion has been the goddess who has ruled the outside world, and she often insinuates herself into the church.” {CG 430.2}

Can we see the evil effects of fashion around us? How are we to know which fashions are acceptable for a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, and which are deadly traps of the devil?

“No Christian can conform to the demoralizing fashions of the world without imperiling his soul's salvation.” {RH, March 31, 1891 par. 7}

With all this strong language, it would seem that we should have a clear picture in our minds of what it means to follow the fashions of the world. But we find just the opposite in our church today. This concept is vague and confusing to most. But the Spirit of Prophecy seems to make a clear distinction between the followers of fashion and those who are walking closely with God.

“Have we exerted our influence on the right side? Have we set the proper example, or have we been following the fashions of the world?” Ms 29, 1886.

Either we are setting a proper example by following God's principles, or we are ignoring God's principles to follow the fashions of the world. And there are many excuses to justify following the fashions:

“As we bear testimony against pride and following the fashions of the world, we are met with excuses and self-justification. Some urge the example of others…. It is the inventions and fashions of the world that have led God's people, and they are unwilling to move out independent of the fashions and customs of the world. While I study God's word, I am alarmed for the Israel of God in these last days. They are exhorted to flee from idolatry. I fear that God's people are asleep, and so conformed to the world that we can hardly know them, or discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. The distance is widening between Christ and his people, and lessening between them and the world. The marks of distinction between Christ's professed people and the world, have almost disappeared. They follow after the abominations of the nations around them, as did ancient Israel.” {4bSG 66.1}

Do we know what these abominations are? If there are fashions out there that are abominations to God, we need to know what they are, don't we? What fashions are approved by God? Who will provide us with these answers? Are there guidelines that we can follow regarding this very important topic?

Some may think that in order to avoid being a follower of fashion, we just need to wait until the fashion is fully accepted by society. Then, when it's been in style for a while, some think it's perfectly alright to adopt it. That is surely faulty reasoning. It's not the passing of time that makes a style acceptable to God. If it was unacceptable to God when it first came into style, it will still be unacceptable to Him 10 or 50 years later.

There are clear guidelines given to the women of the Seventh-day Adventist Church about what God desires His daughters to wear, and what they are not to wear. We will find the divine principles on dress clearly outlined in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, so that we can make sure that we are pleasing God. Following the fashions of the world is so displeasing to God, that He prompted His prophetess to pen this serious warning:

“As soon as any have a desire to imitate the fashions of the world, that they do not immediately subdue, just so soon God ceases to acknowledge them as His children.” {1T 136.1}

How can we subdue an evil desire if we aren't sure what it is? This is serious, and we must find the answer! Following the fashions and customs of the world was considered to be such a serious sin in Ellen White's day that loss of membership could result from continued worldliness.

“But when they show that they are following the customs and fashions and sentiments of the world, they are to be faithfully dealt with. If they feel no burden to change their course of action, they should not be retained as members of the church.” {PH086 22.1}

How is it with us today? Are the fashions of the world more modest, more healthful, more feminine, more simple today than they were in her day? Has society improved and reformed, so that we can now safely follow the fashions of the world, and still be pleasing to God?

“Having before us the picture of the world's demoralization upon the point of fashion, how dare professed Christians follow in the path of the worldling?” {MYP 359.3}

We have learned that being a follower of the fashions of the world is a very spiritually devastating condition, and it will ultimately keep us out of heaven. Therefore, it would seem that every serious Seventh-day Adventist woman should be willing to investigate to find out if she is a follower of fashion or not.

As we read the Spirit of Prophecy, we discover many changeless principles. It is true that the fashions have dramatically changed from Ellen White's day to our day. Many of the problems that she specified no longer exist. We don't generally deal with tight corsets, dragging dresses, hoops, bustles and excessive feathers in our large hats. But we have other issues of which she never dreamed. What we need to do is to take the principles God has given us, and apply them to current fashions.

God's guidelines regarding dress can all fit into 2 basic categories: Modesty and Healthfulness. The word modesty is used in a very broad sense in the Spirit of Prophecy and in the Bible. It covers everything that tends to draw attention to self, in contrast to glorifying God. Many of the customs of the world, such as artificial cosmetics, unnatural hairstyles, jewelry, tattoos and piercing are therefore immodest in this broad meaning of the word, as well as any clothing or lack thereof designed to draw interest to self.

We are expanding these categories to four basic principles for the sake of clarity. These are the priceless gems God is wanting to give us. You can find these four principles in the Bible as well as in the Spirit of Prophecy.

It is through embracing these principles that we find freedom from the slavery of fashion. We find peace in submitting our wills to our Wise Counselor, and joy in the fellowship of obedience.

God has provided us with these precious principles so that we may know how to please Him in our dress. Human wisdom is not sufficient for these matters. All our decisions regarding dress must become subordinate to God's will. As we evaluate the clothing we wear, and test it against these four principles, we have a clear picture of God's desire for our dress. In order to be approved by God, the clothing must meet the standards embraced by all four principles. This is the key to knowing whether we are following the fashions of the world. A devotee of fashion consults the fashion. One devoted to God consults His principles.

When, after applying God's principles, we find a style that meets God's criteria, we can safely wear it. And when our hearts are adorned with a meek and quiet spirit, then we can know for sure that we are not followers of the fashions of this world. This is the only way we can really know for sure.

Without consulting these principles, we're left to our own opinions. We consult our preferences. Does this look good on me? Do you think this is cute? Does this flatter my figure? Is this my style? Does this look elegant on me? And so on. These questions, apart from principle, are all based on pride and vanity. The followers of fashion seek to please self, not God.

On the other hand, a genuine Christian woman, when consulting God's principles, will ask, Is this modest? Will it shield me from attracting sexual attention? Is it distinctly feminine? Will it reflect purity and enhance my womanliness? Is this style simple and plain, free from extravagance and excessive adornment? Is this garment conducive to my health? Will it properly cover my limbs? Is it free from constriction? Then, if it passes all those standards, we can consider the lesser standards, such as: Is it becoming, clean and neat, durable, appropriate, comfortable, practical, and so on. And the ultimate test is, Will this attire help me to reflect the glory of God, and not draw attention to self?

When we neglect to consult God's principles, we may go into a clothing store and think that 90 percent of the clothing is appropriate for us to buy, if we so desire. After consulting God's principles, we may realize that 10 percent or less of the clothing would be appropriate for a Seventh-day Adventist woman to wear. While we may find new clothing in the store that passes all of God's standards, most of the clothing simply will not qualify. It is “of the world,” not fit for a citizen of the heavenly kingdom.

How thankful we should be to the Lord for giving us these inspired principles! In His great love for us, He is seeking to protect us from our greatest enemy—self! He longs to empower us to overcome the worst of sins—pride! He wants us to help guard our brothers from their greatest struggle—lust! He desires to purify us from all worldliness, so that our hearts are knit to Him, and not to the world.

The destroyer hates God's principles, and he wants to hide them from every Seventh-day Adventist woman, if possible. He knows that if these principles are understood, intense spiritual warfare will be waged against him, and lives will become transformed. When the pull of fashions lose their hold, and an entire surrender is made to Jesus, Satan loses, and he is furious! Only the power of the Holy Spirit can purge us from the spirit of worldliness. Only God can give us the victory over the love of the fashions of the world.

When we turn from the fashions of this world—self is crucified with Christ! Then He can live in us! This is the desire of every sincere Christian. When self is dead, we are willing to give up anything and everything for Jesus. We are not focused on what the world thinks of us, but rather, what God thinks of us. We are hidden in Jesus. We are willing to be different from the world, if need be. An unconverted heart would not tolerate this, but a surrendered heart is made willing to be rare in the eyes of the world.

“When we reach the standard that the Lord would have us reach, worldlings will regard Seventh-day Adventists as odd, singular, strait-laced extremists. ‘We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.'” {FE 289.1}

God has promised to give us all the strength we need to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. As we draw closer to the end of time, our need to separate from the world becomes even greater.

“Seventh-Day Adventists profess to believe that the day of this world's history is far spent, and the night is at hand. . . If when we first heard the message of warning we endeavored to live in accordance with our faith, if the convictions of the Holy Spirit led us to shun the habits and fashions of the world, should we not be more earnest and zealous and faithful now that we are so much nearer the great consummation?” {RH, March 28, 1882 par. 1}



The principles of that God has given us are precious and rare. Satan has successfully suppressed them so that they are virtually unknown, even among Seventh-day Adventist women. And they are rare in that not very many practice them, even in the church. How sad God must be that something so very important should become so neglected by His church, who should be earnestly preparing herself for the wedding supper.

Since these four principles, modesty, femininity, simplicity and healthfulness are not commonly practiced, finding all four principles combined in a woman's attire is extremely rare! Yet, that is what God wants from His daughters.

It's very interesting to notice that all four of these inspired principles can be found in 1 Timothy 2:9, God's special directions to women regarding dress:

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest [modesty] apparel [femininity-lowering, letting down attire] with shamefacedness [simplicity-plainness] and sobriety [healthfulness-self-control] ; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

How succinctly God has summed up these beautiful principles, so that we can become rare, shining examples of His purity and holiness in this morally darkened and corrupt world. Although this article does not specifically address the wearing of jewelry, we can clearly see in this verse how it goes against God's inspired counsel. God's inner beauty in a converted heart does not need artificial adorning that takes away from the beauty of holiness.

As we unpack these principles of dress, we will see how rare they are today. How is it that we have gotten so far from God's standards? It is largely through the wrong influence of those who lived before our time, some of which were leaders in the church. And this wrong influence continues today:

“Some in responsible positions have exerted an influence in favor of worldly customs and entirely at variance with the Bible standard. They have done their part in bringing about the present state of worldliness and backsliding.” {4T 639.2}

Did you know that a wrong influence is 10 times more powerful than a good influence?

“The natural heart is ever pleading in favor of worldly customs, and any influence tells with tenfold power when exerted in the wrong direction.” {4T 638.4}

So we have wrong influence added upon wrong influence, with over a hundred years elapsing, which has brought us to a severely worldly and backslidden state.

“The church is weakened, her power is enfeebled, her influence is limited, because church-members fail to live in accordance with the directions of the Bible. The example of those who follow the fashions of the world has a disastrous effect upon other members of the church.” {RH, June 2, 1891 par. 8}

We will be discussing these four principles as they revealed in the Spirit of Prophecy, so that we can understand clearly how we may apply them to our own apparel. The first principle is Modesty.



The only time the word modest appears in the KJV Bible is in 1 Timothy 2:9, the verse that contains all four principles of dress:

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;

The first principle, modesty, sets the tone for all the rest. The truly modest woman will follow all of God's principles. Here are some definitions for the word modesty that have been gleaned from several dictionaries: Reserve or propriety (correct, proper, appropriate behavior) in speech, dress and behavior. Lack of pretentiousness (Pretentious means self-important and affected: acting as though more important or special than is warranted), simplicity. Unassuming or humble behavior, moderation, decency, decorum (propriety and good taste in behavior, dress, etc. an act or requirement of polite behavior), Absence of self-assertion. Freedom from vanity or conceit. The quality in a woman of dressing or behaving in a way which is intended to avoid attracting sexual interest .

The last phrase is the one we commonly think of today when we use the word modesty . But it constitutes much more than that. Modesty relates to clothing, speech and behavior. It encompasses the godly principles of humility and purity. Therefore, biblical modesty would include an inward submission and outward obedience to God's principles of dress, speech and deportment for the purpose of glorifying God. What a lofty goal for us as women!

The next question we need to ask is: Is modesty relative? In other words, does the definition of modesty change as society changes? Do God's principles change along with the fashions and customs of the world?

It is clear that the fashions and customs of the world do change. Especially in the last days, they are heading to moral degeneration as never before. Are we safe in setting our standards just a little higher than the world's standards? If that is the case, we just need to keep our eyes on the world, and make sure we're a few steps behind. But if God's principles of morality and modesty are unchanging, we are safe only as we keep our eyes on Jesus, and fill our minds with His Word.

Unfortunately, as a church, we have largely accepted Satan's lie that modesty is relative. The thought is that we can be less modest today than in former times, because it's acceptable to society. We think, if the world says it's OK to reveal certain areas, we just make sure we cover up a little more than the world, and we think we're being modest. We can keep in close step with society that way, and not feel out of place. Is there danger in that perspective? With each generation, more shocking apparel is introduced, and we just keep a few paces behind. We merely adjust our standards with the times. Unfortunately, this has led us far away from biblical modesty.

Modesty will keep God's daughters from dressing in any way that is designed to attract attention to themselves, especially sexual attention.

“The Bible teaches modesty in dress. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel." 1 Timothy 2:9. This forbids display in dress, gaudy colors, profuse ornamentation. Any device designed to attract attention to the wearer or to excite admiration is excluded from the modest apparel which God's Word enjoins.” {CG 423.2}

Several articles on this web site, written from a man's perspective, are quite specific on what articles of clothing and styles are likely to tempt a man to lust. Since man's weakness for lust hasn't lessened over the years, but has in fact increased, we must realize that, as God's daughters, we need to be extra careful to dress in such a way so as not to tempt our brothers. Lack of modesty is related to lust, and men are lusting more today than ever! As in the days of Noah, “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

Another question we should ask ourselves is: If something is deemed wicked and continues through many years, can it be turned into something righteous simply because, with the passing of time, it becomes an acceptable practice in society?

Through each successive generation, Satan is able to effectively pull standards increasingly lower. A lowered standard creeps up on the unwary, who are not standing solid on God's unchanging principles. Without God's principles to safeguard the heart, the lowered standard eventually becomes accepted and then passed on to the next generation. We inherit the lowered standards our parents accepted. We generally don't stop to question if the standards adopted by the former generation were acceptable to God. Since those “old-fashioned” standards were generally higher than society's current standards, we tend to assume that they were heaven-approved. So, generation by generation we become increasingly oblivious to the high moral principles God has designed for His people.

Remember that these principles of dress are rare. They were rare in Ellen White's day, and they are even more rare today. When we study the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, we discover God's high standards. The problem is that the standards seem so high and old fashioned compared to today's customs, that we tend to conclude that they certainly can't apply to our day. So we make excuses and rationalize away the standards. We go back to comparing ourselves with the world, and just keep a few steps behind. And that is right where we are now as a church.

But, God has a standard! Modesty is God's standard. And what does the Spirit of Prophecy say?

“Virtue and modesty are rare.” {2T 458.1}

“True dignity of character is very rare. True modesty and reserve are seldom seen.” {HP 197.2}

While that was true in Ellen White's day, without a doubt it is more rare in our day. Rare means uncommon, extraordinary, exceptional, infrequent, odd, singular. That means that you're not generally going to see modesty displayed as you look around in society. It's seldom seen, out of the ordinary. How often do you come across something that is rare? Not very often. If you look over a crowd of women, there may be a rare, modest one among them. But by far the majority will not be virtuous or modest.

God wants his daughters to value modesty, because it is a precious, priceless gem!

“I appeal to you as followers of Jesus Christ, making a high and exalted profession, to cherish this precious, priceless gem, modesty .” {2T 458.1}

If you treasure modesty, how will it be apparent in your behavior and apparel? You will guard it, and keep it, and practice it! You will dress and behave in such a way that you are one of the rare ones. You won't be looking like the crowd. A moral man would be able to pick you out of a crowd, and admire your inner virtue. And even more importantly, God, our King, will desire the inner beauty of His modest daughter, and greatly delight in it!

“So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.” Psalm 45:9

What is it about the inner beauty of a modest Christian woman that causes God to delight in her?

“The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.” Psalm 45:13.

Isn't that beautiful! The woman who has treasured God's principles is glorious within! She has accepted the inner raiment of righteousness, and the gold of faith and love, and she becomes glorious in His eyes! She is a true golden girl, glorious within, and modest without. That's what God wants from each one of His daughters. Unfortunately, this is a rare condition even in the church, for “not one in twenty of the sisters who profess to believe the Testimonies has taken the first step in the dress reform.” {1T 465.2} Let's make a covenant with God that we will allow Him to make us beautiful and glorious within, so that our modest appearance will glorify His name!



Sadly, modesty is rare. What else is rare? True femininity is rare, because true womanliness is a godly characteristic. The whole trend of society is to rob women of their womanliness. The feminist movement has made huge inroads into the thinking and practices of society in general. To take away the womanliness of women, and the manliness of men is Satan's plan.

As women, God has a special gift for us—womanliness! True sanctified womanliness is a rare godly quality, another one of God's gems. Do you know that God wants us to pray for womanliness? We can receive this gift from the life-giving Fountain – Jesus!

“From the life-giving Fountain draw physical, mental, and spiritual, energy. Manliness, [for men] womanliness [for women],--sanctified, purified, refined, ennobled,--we have the promise of receiving. {ST, August 24, 1904 par. 8}

What does Satan want to steal from us women? Modesty and womanliness, or femininity. In talking about how parents are failing to train their daughters to deny self, Ellen White states,

“Satan is leading them on to be a proverb in the mouth of unbelievers because of their boldness, their lack of reserve and womanly modesty . {AH 52.2}

Tragically, lack of womanly modesty is all too common today, because denying self is rare. Self leads to unwomanly immodesty. True womanliness keeps women where God designed them to be. Let us consider these words:

“In their efforts to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they might be a blessing. In their desire for a higher sphere, many have sacrificed true womanly dignity and nobility of character, and have left undone the very work that Heaven appointed them.” {PP 59.1}

“A neglect on the part of woman to follow God's plan in her creation, an effort to reach for important positions which He has not qualified her to fill, leaves vacant the position that she could fill to acceptance. In getting out of her sphere, she loses true womanly dignity and nobility.” {3T 484.1}

In studying the agenda of the feminist movement, we recognize that their goal is to take the woman out of her God appointed role in the home, and place her into the work force, in competition with men. While it may sometimes be necessary for godly women to be employed outside the home, they need to be very careful in regards to this trend, so that they are not robbed of their womanly dignity and femininity.

God's role for women is superior to society's role for women. If only we could see that!

“Woman, if she wisely improves her time and her faculties, relying upon God for wisdom and strength, may stand on an equality with her husband as adviser, counselor, companion, and coworker, and yet lose none of her womanly grace or modesty .” -HR, June 1, 1880.{DG 151.3}

Dear sisters in Christ, let not the world strip us of our womanly dignity, grace and modesty, by shaping us into society's mold. What a shame that would be!

Where will we find these rare gems of modesty and womanliness? Only one place: “All that makes men manly or women womanly is reflected from the character of Christ.” {CT 541.2}

The closer a woman comes to Christ, and the more fully she reflects His character, the more modest and womanly she will become. Both of these spiritual attributes for women are reflected in her clothing. Therefore, every genuine Christian woman will increasingly strive to dress in a modest and womanly manner.

Please notice that we are using the words womanly and feminine synonymously. However, the word feminine can sometimes be used in a worldly sense to mean something other than womanly . The seductive, sensual elements of an immodest woman may be seen as revealing her femininity, but this is not the femininity of which we speak in this article. Rather, godly femininity is the opposite of carnal sensuality. True womanliness or godly femininity exhibits modesty, dignity and reserve, not base immodesty.

A Dictionary.com definition of the word womanly is as follows: “Womanly is usually a term of approval, suggesting the display of traits admired by the society, such as self-possession, modesty, motherliness, and calm competence: a womanly consideration for others; with womanly skill and efficiency.” This is the meaning we are attaching to the synonymous words womanly and femininity as used in this article.

It is interesting to notice just how diligently Satan has been working through his demonically inspired fashions to strip modesty and femininity from women. We are in absolute danger of losing our femininity if we have adopted the idea that God's principles are relative, based on changing society. In effect, we are left without standards, where each does what is right in her own eyes. We allow the world to conform us into its mold.

"Women can be the instruments of righteousness, rendering holy service. It was Mary that first preached a risen Jesus. . . . If there were twenty women where now there is one, who would make this holy mission their cherished work, we should see many more converted to the truth. The refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth."--Review and Herald, Jan 2, 1879. {Ev 471.5}

"Sisters, we may do a noble work for God if we will. Woman does not know her power. God did not intend that her capabilities should be all absorbed in questioning: What shall I eat? what shall I drink? and wherewithal shall I be clothed? There is a higher purpose for woman, a grander destiny. She should develop and cultivate her powers, for God can employ them in the great work of saving souls from eternal ruin." {4T 642.2}



Now, we are ready to consider, is there a particular fashion that tends to diminish women's modesty and femininity? Let us take a closer look at the wearing of pants by women.

Can pants can be worn by women and still be modest and womanly? In order to answer this accurately, we must turn to God's changeless principles, the four rare gems regarding dress. Remember, in order for a style of dress to be approved by God, it must meet the criteria of all four principles, not just one or two principles. These God-given principles will guard us from becoming followers of the fashions of this world.

It is necessary to study many references in the Spirit of Prophecy in order for these principles to become crystal clear. This brief study presented here should not take the place of diligent study by every Seventh-day Adventist woman into this topic. This is too important of a matter for hearsay. The opinions of humans, no matter how high their position, must all be tested by the inspired Word of God.

The issue of pants on women is hotly debated by some, mostly because it is such a widely accepted practice in society today. To go against this fashion would be thought of as extremely radical. The wearing of pants has become deeply entrenched and widely practiced among our women, and continues to gain increasing acceptance by almost all.

In discussions with those defending the “right” of women to wear pants, you will hear many justifications for the practice. Some will declare that Ellen White herself wore pants, which contains a half truth. It is true, she did wear pants under the Reform Dress, with approximately 3 to 5 inches of pants leg showing. That's not very much compared to the 35-40 inches of regular pants.

To say that Ellen White wore pants would be misleading, as is this illustration: If a modest woman puts on a tank top which has a high neckline, and then covers it with a jacket, so that only small portion of the tank top is visible, can we truthfully say she is wearing a tank top? Yes, but not in such a way as to be immodest. Her tank top is used to increase her modesty by wearing it under modest clothing. That is how Ellen White used pants, wearing them under modest clothing in order to increase the modesty and healthfulness of her clothing. Our words must be carefully chosen in order to represent truth accurately.

We reiterate the fact that it requires careful study in order to understand the principles of dress that God has given to us. We must remember that Satan is trying to steal something very precious from us. He wants to remove the protective shield that God has given us. And he is able to do that if we ignore God's principles in dress.

“Chaste simplicity in dress, when united with modesty of demeanor, will go far toward surrounding a young woman with that atmosphere of sacred reserve which will be to her a shield from a thousand perils.” {CG 417.3}

Can feminine, modest and simple dress help to protect us from a thousand perils that await those who ignore God's principles? It can certainly protect us from immorality. It can also protect us from unbecoming behavior. And it can guard us from being pulled into the ungodly agenda of the feminist movement. God uses our obedience to His principles as a safeguard from Satan's many snares.

As stated, God wants us, as women, to be womanly, or feminine. God wants men to be manly, or masculine. He wants a clear distinction between men and women, both in their demeanor and in their dress. We are going to look at a significant quotation, line by line, to discover a timely message God has for us today.

"God designed that there should be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women…” {1T 460.1}

From this we understand that God doesn't want just a tiny difference between the dress of men and women, He wants a plain distinction. Those words, plain distinction , mean that God wants a clear difference between the dress of men and women.

If we believe these words are true, then they were true for all times, not just for yesterday, but for today and tomorrow, also. Because of this truth, we can be assured that God made a clear distinction between the coat or tunic He made for Adam, and the one He made for Eve. In Bible times, when God's people were following His plan, there was a plain distinction between the dress of men and women. And Jesus, who always pleased His Father, wore men's clothing, which was clearly distinct from the women's clothing of His day. While we don't have all the particulars of how men and women dressed in Bible times, we do have God's word that He designed that there should be a plain distinction, a clear difference, between the dress of men and women.

Now, let's read the rest of that sentence we started above: “"God designed that there should be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women and has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it …” Where has God given explicit directions in regard to the difference between the dress of men and women? Of course, Deuteronomy 22:5. We know that this is the verse Ellen White is referring to, because she says so in the preceding paragraph, which quotes that verse. In a parallel quotation, we read, “I saw that God's order has been reversed, and His special directions disregarded, by those who adopt the American costume. I was referred to Deuteronomy 22:5.” {1T 457.1}

So, we can know that Deuteronomy 22:5 contains God's explicit directions regarding the plain distinction between the dress of men and women. What does this verse say?

“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. Deuteronomy 22:5.”

If we accept the Bible as truth, and the Spirit of Prophecy as truth, then we will see that this verse contains God's explicit directions to us regarding our clothing. A plain distinction is to be made between the clothing of men and women. You can read this verse in at least 30 of the most popular translations of the Bible, and they all clearly give us the same message.

But, in Ellen White's day, there were some women who, according to her, ignored this biblical command. They adopted a masculine style of dress, disregarding God's special directions. She says,

“In this style of dress God's order has been reversed and His special directions disregarded.” {1T 460}

This is referring to the American Costume, promoted by Spiritualists and Women's Rights Advocates who openly flaunted their rebellion against God. They intentionally spurned God's special directions by fashioning their dress very similar to men's. See History of Women's Dress in Pictures and Satan, the Ultimate Cross-Dresser.

We are told that “God's prohibitions are lightly regarded by all who advocate doing away with the distinction of dress between males and females.” {1T 460} Please notice that these women weren't putting on men's clothing. They still wore dresses. But they had a slightly masculine style to them. And they showed pants from the knee down. By wearing clothing that was similar to men's clothing, they were blurring the distinction between the clothing of men and women. What they did was so displeasing to God He pronounced it abomination (extremely detestable).

"There is an increasing tendency to have women in their dress and appearance as near like the other sex as possible, and to fashion their dress very much like that of men, but God pronounces it abomination.” {1T 457.2}

Now, we'll read the entire quotation that we started at the beginning of this section:

“God designed that there should be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women, and has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it; -- for the same dress worn by both sexes would cause confusion and great increase of crime.” {1T 460}

This plain distinction between the dress of men and women is God's plan. What is Satan's plan? Not a plain distinction, but a blurring of the lines so that there is not a clear difference. Is this what has been happening over the last few generations in the realm of fashion?

Let's hear it from a secular source, Encarta:

“Two trends seen in the 20th century seem likely to continue in the future. The first of these is the blurring of gender boundaries . Fashionable clothing of the 19th century made very sharp distinctions between men's and women's clothing in color, shape, fabric, and decoration. Gradually these distinctions broke down, especially when women claimed masculine items of clothing. Trousers and tailored suits are two notable examples of men's styles now worn regularly by both men and women.”

Generally speaking, in Ellen White's time, (the 19 th century,) there were “very sharp distinctions between men's and women's clothing…” However, in the 20 th century, we see “these distinctions broken down, especially when women claimed masculine items of clothing” (trousers). In the 21 st century, what are we seeing? From MSNBC's fashion and beauty web page we read:

“Fine fabrics like silk, gazar and crepe de Chine crept into the male wardrobe for spring-summer 2009 as Paris designers increasingly blurred gender boundaries .”

In review, secular fashion experts state:

  • 19 th century - very sharp distinctions between men's and women's clothing
  • 20 th century – blurring of gender boundaries , distinctions broken down, women wore trousers
  • 21 st century – increasingly blurred gender boundaries , feminine items creep into male wardrobes

In this change, from very sharp distinctions between men's and women's clothing to increasingly blurred gender boundaries , we can see the fulfillment of Satan's plan. He is hard at work to steal away the femininity of women, and the masculinity of men. And he is using fashion to accomplish his wicked plan.

Now, the above secular sources have already described for us how this blurring of the gender boundaries transpired.

  • First, women started wearing men's clothing, pants in particular
  • Secondly men are wearing women's clothing.

Are we seeing an increase in confusion regarding gender roles, and a great increase in sexual crimes? That goes without saying.

Describing our prophetess' response to the American Costume, these were the main objections:

  1. It was too masculine and
  2. It was too immodest for God's daughters to wear.

God wants us to value modesty and femininity, the inner beauty which reveals a commitment to God's holy principles.

As was mentioned earlier, Sister White wore pants in a womanly and modest way—under a modest and feminine dress. She clearly described what was immodest and masculine in the wearing of pants, in contrast to how they could be worn modestly and femininely, as God showed her.

However, the Seventh-day Adventist ladies at that time did not like God's idea of a practical, healthful, modest and feminine “short” (9 inches from the floor) dress which included pants, called the Reform Dress . They rejected it. So God revealed that the Reform Dress was no longer to be presented as the style that should be worn. The pants were removed, and the dresses were to be worn a little longer (approximately ankle length). In this manner, the limbs could still be covered, the dress was loose and healthful, and practical because it did not sweep the streets. Further, she said it was unfortunate that God's Reform Dress was rejected because it would have been a great blessing to us, keeping us from following the fashions of the world.

Can we wear pants today modestly and femininely? Probably, if they're covered up by a long skirt. They may add extra warmth, if needed.

Is the wearing of pants alone acceptable to God? Consider some of the last words written on the subject of dress reform by Ellen White:

“I beg of our people to walk carefully and circumspectly before God. Follow the custom of dress in health reform, but do not again introduce the short dress and pants unless you have the word of the Lord for it.”--Letter 19, 1897. (To J. H. Haughey, July 4, 1897.) {5MR 405.3} [The Reform Dress and the short dress are used synonymously.]

In other words, the legs should always be kept warm with undergarments, but a style of dress with pants showing underneath should not be introduced unless God gives His word for it.

From the foregoing information, how can we reason that removing the modest element—the feminine dress, would make wearing pants alone acceptable? Is that reasonable? Do we have the word of the Lord for it? Has Satan deceived us into giving up our modesty and femininity?

Some will insist that pants can be feminine. It is true that the female form is very feminine, but when this form is revealed it becomes immodest. The short dress of the American Costume was declared to be immodest, even thought there were pants underneath. If you take away the short dress, you can see the outline of the female form when clad in pants. The tighter they are, the more “sexy” they become, making them increasingly immodest.

On the other hand, pants that are loose can actually be more masculine. If they are loose and baggy enough so that the feminine form is not shown, they can look like baggy men's pants, especially if the material is course and heavy. The baggier they are, the more masculine they appear.

If the material is slinky and clinging, does it really matter how baggy the pants are? The material will still cling and show the female form immodestly. The front private area is obviously emphasized. When a woman wearing pants bends over, the back end is accentuated.

We might like to reason that pants on woman can be feminine and modest. But we need to consider much more than just our opinion. If we rely on human opinion, we will end up following the fashions of the world. We need to be willing to closely scrutinize this history of this development. Many other articles on this web site will give detailed information that will be very helpful to those who are serious about following God's principles on dress.

Taking into consideration all the inspired counsel on dress, it becomes obvious that pants are the distinguishing article of clothing that pertains to a man. If we are willing to be obedient to God's specific counsel on dress, as women, we will avoid the wearing of pants.

Dear sisters, this is a hard saying, because we probably feel that we have inherited the “right” to wear pants. We didn't choose it, our parent gave it to us. Somehow, our mothers let down their guard, and let their modesty and femininity slip away as the fashions dictated. So we grew up thinking it was perfectly acceptable to God to follow this fashionable trend which was immodest and blurred the gender boundaries.

Which is more important, femininity or modesty? Can we choose between the two, and neglect the other principle? The Holy Spirit moved strongly on Sister White, urging her to let us know that BOTH are very important to God. In speaking about a “becoming reserve” she is referring to “dignified, virtuous womanhood.”

“I feel impelled by the Spirit of the Lord to urge my sisters who profess godliness to cherish modesty of deportment and a becoming reserve, with shamefacedness and sobriety .” {CG 144.4}

God feels strongly about this! Both modesty and femininity are absolutely essential for God's daughters to shine in the beauty of holiness.

One final thought about pants on women. As we consider the rare gem of femininity that God desires women to possess, wouldn't it seem reasonable for God's daughters to turn from the worldly fashion of wearing pants? How else can we exhibit that rare quality of womanliness that is so foreign to the world? Is this too great a sacrifice to make for the One who gave all for us?



There is another gem, a priceless principle related to our clothing that is rare, but very important.

“There is but one woman in a thousand who clothes her limbs as she should.” {RH, February 6, 1900 par. 12}

That's quite rare—one in a thousand! We can therefore conclude that the vast majority of women don't take proper precautions in keeping their legs and arms covered. It is quite fashionable these days to have bare legs and sandaled feet when wearing a skirt, even in cooler weather. And we frequently see bare arms and shoulders, even in air conditioned buildings. When the above statement was written short sleeves were relatively uncommon, and many women wore long sleeves year round. The style of dress popular at that time was to the ankles or longer. So she wasn't talking about shorts and tank tops. In her day she declared “There is but one woman in a thousand who clothes her limbs as she should!” What ratio would she have used today?

It is the following of fashion that has led us away from God's design for us to clothe our limbs.

“Satan invented the fashions which leave the limbs exposed, chilling back the life current from its original course.” {CG 427.1}

This health-related principle of dress is another “hard saying” for Seventh-day Adventist women today. Our standards have been lowered so far that it seems ridiculously “old-fashioned” and impractical. So we reason and rationalize it away, and ignore it altogether. We have accepted the world's definition of modesty, so it seems acceptable to wear clothing that leaves the upper and lower limbs uncovered. The world does not even consider the covering of the limbs to be a health issue.

At the beginning of this article we commented on our need for faith in God's Word, so that we are willing to obey His commands regardless of our ability to understand how they serve our best interests. Faith is believing that God is good, and that He rewards our obedience, even when we don't understand it.

It took faith to believe God's counsel that tobacco was a poison in the days when doctors were prescribing it for certain ailments. But today science has confirmed the truthfulness of God's inspired writings. In this case of clothing the limbs, science is lagging behind the inspired counsel, because they have not yet confirmed the healthfulness of keeping the limbs appropriately covered. Worldly medical experts are not speaking out against the fashions of leaving the limbs exposed to cool air. You can see bare legs and arms year round, especially on young children and fashionable women. But God's inspired counsel has warned us that this is a very unhealthful practice. It places an extra burden on our hearts, to keep the limbs warm. We are told that our limbs should be clothed as warmly as the rest of our bodies.

Satan has ways to trick us in order to get us away from God's principles. If we violate one principle, we are more prone to violate more of them, just like when we break one of the Ten Commandments. He designs fashions for women that violates one of God's principles of dress in such a way that it makes it easier to violate another principle. He introduced the shorter skirt with very little covering. Not long after Ellen White died, our SDA women accepted the fashion of the short skirt without pants. The hemlines kept rising until the “acceptable” SDA length was a little above or below the knee, with the legs covered by stockings that got thinner and sheerer as the years rolled on, until bare legs became fashionable!

One of the reasons pants have become so popular is that they keep the legs warm! Pants are much more healthful than bare legs under a short skirt. For years, nylon stockings were worn under the shorter skirts, which provided minimal warmth. Now the younger girls often have their legs completely bare under skirts. So, pants are becoming more and more popular, even for church, because they have the advantage of warmth.

When we accept a fashion that is against God's principles, it leads to more problems down the road. The shorter skirt alone should have never been approved by SDA sisters, because they did not keep the legs warm. At one point, God approved skirts about 9 inches from the floor with pants. When the pants were removed, the skirts needed to be longer , both for modesty and warmth. Now, going against God's principles, and following the fashions of the world, we've “approved” even shorter skirts without pants or pants without skirts. We cannot be in harmony with God's principles if we follow these fashions of the world.

If we would, in faith, be willing to adopt this gem of truth, and cover our limbs appropriately, we would experience the blessing of obedience. This principle is part of our health message that we should be giving to the world, as the “right arm” of the gospel. Instead of fighting against inspiration, let us ask God for wisdom and submissive hearts, so that we can shine forth with God's glory. By clothing the limbs appropriately, the principles of modesty and healthfulness are combined to bring us a double blessing!



The fourth rare gem that we are discovering is the principle of simplicity, or plainness in our appearance. Pride and vanity are so common today that we rarely see the virtue of simplicity.

Simplicity is now rare….pride and vanity are displayed, and a great lack of true principle is seen.” {4T 639.1}

It is very fashionable today to wear jeans and T-shirts. This may be thought to satisfy the principle of simplicity. But here we make a serious mistake. We must remember that these rare gems are inseparable. We cannot choose one and ignore the rest any more than we can chose one commandment and ignore the other nine. If we break one, we break them all.

There is an element of pride in following the fashions of the world, even if the fashion is just wearing jeans and T-shirts. The pride that leads one to conform to the world in order to find acceptance and approval is in opposition to the self-denying virtue of simplicity and plainness. It takes courage and moral independence to follow God's principles, and ignore the constantly changing fashions.

“Extravagance in dress is continually increasing. The end is not yet. Fashion is constantly changing, and our sisters follow in its wake, regardless of time or expense.” --Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 630, 631. (1864) {Ev 675.3}

If we are willing to follow modesty and simplicity, we won't need to be making constant changes to our wardrobe.

“Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty, and purity. But the Word of God gives no sanction to the making of changes in apparel merely for the sake of fashion,--that we may appear like the world.” {Ev 268.3}

“The making of changes in apparel for the sake of fashion merely is not sanctioned by the word of God.” {MH 290.1}

By refusing to follow the fashions of the world, we will be thought of as peculiar, because of our plainness. This could not be said of those who are fashionably “in style.”

“Our faith, if carried out, will lead us to be so plain in dress and zealous of good works that we shall be marked as peculiar.” {CG 419.6}

The carnal nature does not want to be plain. Naturally, we want to be noticed and admired. God wants to help us deal with the pride issue in our hearts by asking us to dress plainly, even severely plain.

“We who claim to be in the light, and who take prominent positions to instruct others in children's meetings, need to be severely plain , yet tidy and tasteful, in dress; we should not give a semblance of excuse to any for patterning after the worldly, changing fashions of this corrupt age.” {MR926 23.3}

This is a valuable antidote against pride. As we pray for humility of heart, let us lay aside the showy, expensive, glamorous attire, and in meekness and humility seek for simplicity and plainness that will demonstrate our faith. This is a powerful witnessing tool, as well!

“In no better way can you let your light shine to others than in your simplicity of dress and deportment.” {CG 417.1}

Let us praise God for this rare gem that will help us prepare for the soon coming of our Lord.

“We are nearing the close of this world's history. A plain, direct testimony is now needed, as given in the word of God, in regard to the plainness of dress. This should be our burden. . . .” {5MR 404.3}



Now that we have uncovered the four rare principles of dress, we can catch a vision of how God wants us to dress. We have the opportunity of making a practical application in our daily lives in such as way as to exert a godly influence on those around us. We can be one of the rare ones who shine for Jesus by our example.

We have considered the abomination regarding dress in Deuteronomy 22:5. We see this abomination practiced by virtually every daughter of the world, as they wear clothing very similar to men's. We see the immodesty of the worldlings, the bare limbs, the conformity to fashion's dictates. Are we willing to move out independent of the fashions of the day so that there will be a distinction between us and the world?

“Let every soul whose name is on the church books put away all pride, all frivolity, all desire to follow the fashions of the world. We are to receive from Christ the highest education possible, in order that we may not lead souls into paths that God forbids. There is to be no limit to the perfection of the example that we are to set unbelievers.” {UL 305.4}

We've read how God, through Sister White, declares that modesty is rare, simplicity is rare, that Satan is trying to rob us of femininity, and that not one in a thousand covers her limbs as she should. Fashion seems intent on keeping these four principles rare. But by understanding these gems of truth, we can break free from the bondage of fashion. By God's grace, we can dress in such a way that we are modest, feminine, plain and healthful.

When these principles are enshrined in our hearts, we can avoid being a follower of fashion, an idolater and a stumbling block!

“The moment a professed Christian goes over the line, and follows the fashions of the world, [s]he becomes an idolater, and a stumbling-block to sinners.” {RH, January 22, 1895 par. 7}

How extremely careful we should be to avoid following the fashions of the world! Unfortunately, in spite of all these clear testimonies, a majority of professed Christians will not accept God's counsel.

“Human reasoning has ever sought to evade or set aside the simple, direct instructions of the word of God. In every age, a majority of the professed followers of Christ have disregarded those precepts which enjoin self-denial and humility , which require modesty and simplicity of conversation, deportment, and apparel. The result has ever been the same,--departure from the teachings of the gospel leads to the adoption of the fashions, customs, and principles of the world.” {RH, December 6, 1881 par. 2}

Even if the majority of women in the church keep on following the fashions of the world, we do not have to be among them. We are never safe in following our peers instead of standing firm for God's principles. Instead, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, and follow Him.

God is urgently calling for a revival and reformation among us as a people.

“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work…. A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit.” {LDE 189.3}

But reform is not easy, especially dress reform. There is a great sacrifice involved. Those who are worried about losing the admiration of the world, the approval of their peers, or the acceptance of their family more than their desire to follow the principles of right, will end up opposing those who are convicted to reform their dress.

“Reformatory action is always attended with sacrifice. It demands that love of ease, selfish interest, and the lust of ambition be held in subjection to the principles of right. Whoever has the courage to reform must encounter obstacles. He will be opposed by the conservatism [opposition of radical change] of those whose business or pleasure brings them in contact with the votaries [devotees] of fashion, and who will lose caste by the change .” {4T 636.2}

Yes, those who have the courage to reform will encounter obstacles. Their biggest obstacle will be those who do not want to “lose caste” by reforming. This is referring to those who are afraid of being looked down on. Their reputation is more important to them then following God's will. They will try to stop those who are endeavoring to reform. They don't want to be embarrassed by the reformers in their midst. But God will give strength to those who are sincerely seeking Him.

“God rebukes His people for their sins, that He may humble them, and lead them to seek His face. As they reform, and His love revives in their hearts, His loving answers will come to their requests. He will strengthen them in reformatory action, lifting up for them a standard against the enemy. His rich blessing will rest upon them, and in bright rays they will reflect the light of heaven. Then a multitude not of their faith, seeing that God is with His people, will unite with them in serving the Redeemer.” {RH, February 25, 1902 par. 16}

This revival and reformation will fill us with God's love, and bring rich blessings upon those who seek it. It will then bring many souls to the truth. Praise God for this promise!

Let us allow God to revive us, and strengthen us to reform our lives. Let us die to self, and exalt the Lord alone. Let us say, Lord, I'm willing to treasure the gems of modesty, femininity, simplicity, and healthful dressing. All of these are priceless treasures. I will cover my body with “long flowing apparel,” and keep a plain distinction in my dress from that of men. I will dress healthfully and plainly. I am willing to die to selfish pride and vanity, so that You can clothe me inwardly with Your golden love. And then You can admire my inward beauty, because Your rare gems, your priceless principles are exemplified and displayed in my life.

Isn't that what you want, dear sister, for the Lord to admire your inward beauty? What a wonderful thought, that He desires to put His beautiful character within us, so His glory can be reflected even by the clothes we wear! Let us not delay any longer!

“Do not, my sisters, trifle longer with your own souls and with God. I have been shown that the main cause of your backsliding is your love of dress. This leads to the neglect of grave responsibilities, and you find yourselves with scarcely a spark of the love of God in your hearts. Without delay, renounce the cause of your backsliding, because it is sin against your own soul and against God. Be not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Fashion is deteriorating the intellect and eating out the spirituality of our people. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. I have been shown that our church rules are very deficient. All exhibitions of pride in dress, which is forbidden in the word of God, should be sufficient reason for church discipline. If there is a continuance, in face of warnings and appeals and entreaties, to still follow the perverse will, it may be regarded as proof that the heart is in no way assimilated to Christ. Self, and only self, is the object of adoration, and one such professed Christian will lead many away from God. {4T 647.2}

God forbid that this should be spoken of us! May God draw us ever closer to Him as we submit to His inspired counsel.