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Fashion: ladies in trousers!

05 Dec 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

decencyIn her social teachings, the Catholic Church has taught so many things that touch almost every aspect of human life: politics, morals, health care, medicine, and others. Though she has no official teachings about fashion, I have seen many Catholic parishes with dress codes to put under control the crazy ideas of modern fashion designers. For one to say that the world is becoming crazy about fashion is not an exaggeration, even though I am very sure that fashion has been in existence and is as old as man. It all began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve discovered that they were naked and decided to cover their nakedness with leaves. That covering with leaves could be considered as the fashion of the time. However, fashionable clothes, hairstyles, makeups, and many other aspects of fashion have evolved over the centuries. Our cultural heritage and traditions can be expressed through fashion, especially the beautiful African culture I am proud of.

In the modern African society and particularly in Nigeria and maybe some other parts of the world, a few fanatical Christians have confused culture, Christianity, and fashion for what they are not or, better put, have mixed them up. Many a time, some Christians have approached me to ask if its right for a lady to put on trousers, and in reaction to my usual affirmative answer, they refer me to the bible: A woman shall not wear a man’s apparel, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does such things is abhorrent to the LORD your GOD (Deu. 22:5). Yes, it is written, and I believe that everything recorded in the bible is true. But the question is, what are those things that belong to men, and what are the things that belong to woman? The passage of the scriptures they often quote in defense of their stand does not tell us exactly what those things belong to men and those that belong to a woman. So, when some fanatical Christians begin to see women in trousers as prostitutes, I wonder if they are preaching Christianity, fashion, or culture.

In African culture, particularly in Nigeria, it is not completely acceptable for women to wear trousers. Those who dare to do that are mostly seen as wayward, and some Christians condemn them in the name of Christianity; they confuse the gospel of Jesus Christ with their culture. I always express my conviction that the message of Jesus Christ is universal; it can be reached anytime and anywhere. But the ‘gospel’ that condemns ladies in trousers cannot be reached anytime and anywhere, which makes it not a universal message and therefore not Christian but culture. We cannot impose our culture on everybody, but rather learn to respect each other’s cultural convictions.

The bible does not condemn ladies in trousers but condemns indecent dressing. St. Paul admonishes that women should dress modestly and decently in suitable clothing ( 1 Timothy 2:9 ); this is not a condemnation of ladies wearing trousers but encourages decency. Though I strongly believe that it is not a sign for a woman to wear trousers, I acknowledge the reality of some very unacceptable, seductive, and indecent trousers worn by some ladies today. Christianity condemns such, and this can be reached anytime and anywhere; it is a universal message. Christianity is not against trousers but indecency in both men and women. Again, I encourage respect for culture; if your culture does not permit it, you may avoid it but not in the name of Christianity. The Christian message is different from that of our culture, and the Christian message supersedes and purifies all cultures.

Any form of fashion that fails to cover man’s nakedness properly has failed to reach the purpose of fashion. From the very beginning, fashion was to cover our nakedness.

  • Linda Reply

    I totally concur.

  • onuchukwu Reply

    great piece father. Love it. Well detailed and explained. we just sometimes confuse culture for Christianity but please ladies should know what type of trousers they wear abeg.

  • Ada Reply

    wonderful!!! Well explained. keep it up Fr.

  • Chinelo Reply

    Thank you Rev. Fr. Joel (My PP). Am now cleared on this issue. It has been bothering me. More wisdom on you, sir. Thanks

  • prince Reply

    Absolutely correct father! Thanks