Fashion: ladies in trousers!
The Catholic Church in her social teachings has taught so many things that touches almost every aspects of human life: politics, morals, health care, medicine and others. Though she has no official teachings about fashion, I have however seen many Catholic parishes with dress code in attempt 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, hair style, make ups 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 which I am so proud of.
In the modern African society and particularly in Nigeria and may be some other parts of the world, some few fanatical Christians have confused culture, Christianity and fashion for what they are not or better put, have mixed them up. Many a time I’ve been approached by some Christians to ask if its right for a lady to put on trousers, and once I give my usual affirmative answer they begin to refer me to the bible where it is written that 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 belongs to men and what are the things that belongs to woman? The passage of the scriptures they often quote in defense of their stand dose not tell us exactly what those things are that belongs to men and those that belongs to woman. So, when some fanatical Christians begins to see women in trousers as prostitutes, I wonder if they are preaching Christianity, fashion or their 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 preached anytime and anywhere. But the ‘gospel’ that condemns ladies in trousers cannot be preached 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 dose not condemn ladies in trousers but condemns indecent dressing. St. Paul admonishes Also 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 sin for a woman to wear trousers, I however acknowledges the reality of some very unacceptable, seductive and indecent trousers worn by some ladies today. Christianity condemns such, and this can be preached anytime and anywhere, it is a universal message. Christianity is not against trousers but indecency in both men and women. And 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 properly cover the nakedness of man has failed to reach the purpose of fashion. From the very beginning, fashion was to cover our nakedness.