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Confronting the Objections of Trouser Tyrants - Religion

How to answer religious objections to men wearing kilts, skirts, and other unbifurcated garments. God is not a Trouser Tyrant!

Battling the Bible Bugaboo

GodThe Judeo-Christian Bible has brought inspiration and comfort to millions through the centuries. Some people, including many scholars, view the Bible as a collection of human writings that are best understood by considering the historical and social context in which they were written. Other people, including many religious fundamentalists, believe that each and every word in the Bible is the inerrant and unchangeable Word of God. (Such people may include not only conservative Christians, but some conservative and orthodox Jews as well.) Some believers jump from place to place among various books of the Bible, selecting isolated passages that they interpret as support for whatever personal belief or prejudice they are seeking to justify. This tactic has been frequently used in a misguided attempt to support Trouser Tyranny.

Deuteronomy and "Cross-dressing"

The Bible verse that the Trouser Tyrants usually cite is found in the Old Testament, at Deuteronomy 22:5, which states:

"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." King James Version.

This passage has been open to many interpretations. Many Bible scholars believe that its original purpose was either (a) to condemn certain pagan religious practices, in which the temple priests dressed in female attire, or (b) to forbid men from disguising themselves in women's garments in order to go among the women for immoral purposes.

Those religious fundamentalists who support Trouser Tyranny broadly interpret this passage as a divine condemnation of anything that they personally regard as "cross-dressing." According to them, God demands that males and females always be clearly distinguishable from one another - in terms of clothing, hair styles, and behavior. The targets of their criticism are women who wear trousers, as well as men who wear skirts.

MosesBut wait a minute. Isn't it true that everybody wore skirt-like clothing when Deuteronomy was written - both men and women alike? How could God condemn men in skirts when Moses, Jesus, and all the other men in the Bible wore them? Look at all the depictions of Jesus, all the illustrations of Bible stories, all the pictures of clothing worn in those days, and you will not find any of the men wearing trousers. The only bifurcated garments mentioned in the Bible were the short breeches that Jewish priests wore under their skirts during religious services, to avoid exposing their private parts when they mounted the altar. But those were part of the priests' special ceremonial garb and not permitted for normal wear.

Even the strictest fundamentalists would concede that the men wore skirts in Biblical times and that men still do in many parts of the world. None would seriously contend that kilt-wearing men in Scotland are "cross-dressing," considering the fact that kilts are regarded as male attire in that country. Instead fundamentalists will probably point out that, even though both men and women wore skirt-like clothing in Bible times, there was always a noticeable distinction between male and female attire - whether it be differences in length, color, design, or ornamentation. For example, men's skirts may have been shorter than women's skirts, or men may have worn white robes while women wore colored ones. Or vice-versa.

Although the specific styles might change depending on time and place, people could always tell one's sex by the clothes the person wore. In other words, the definition of male and female clothing depends on the society we live in. Therefore, the Trouser Tyrant fundamentalist will argue that it doesn't matter what people wore in olden times or what they wear in other countries. In our country, trousers are male and skirts are female - it's as simple as that!

 While demanding strict enforcement of God's supposed ban on cross-dressing, the Christian fundamentalists who support Trouser Tyranny generally feel free to ignore most of the hundreds of other commandments contained in the Old Testament. For example, they routinely disregard the following other clothing commandments that are also found in Chapter 22 of Deuteronomy:

"Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together." Deuteronomy 22:11. (What about all those blended fabrics found in modern clothing?)

"Thou shall make thee fringes upon the four corners of they vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself." Deuteronomy 22:12. (Fringes on men's clothing? Wouldn't many fundamentalists find that too "effiminate" for their tastes?)

When confronted with these apparent inconsistencies, the Trouser Tyrants are unconcerned. They will tell you that commandments like the two cited above are technical rules that apply only to Jews and not to Christians.  However, Deuteronomy 22:5 is different, they will say, because it declares cross-dressing to be an "abomination." Therefore, it is considered to be a moral rule that applies to everyone.

How Can You Argue with God?

JesusThere is no point in trying to argue theology with religious fundamentalists who support Trouser Tyranny. Their attitude is summed up in the bumper-sticker slogan: "God said it. I believe it. That settles it!" By using God as their authority, these individuals avoid critical examination of ideas that may simply be their own personal prejudices. No matter what rational position you present, they will respond with their interpretation of some Biblical passage in order to cut off debate.

A better strategy would be to leave their religious beliefs alone. Instead, show how your own particular male kilt and skirt wearing doesn't violate them. (This assumes that you are following the Braveheart approach.) Proceed to point out that God and the Bible really have nothing against male unbifurcated garments. Demonstrate that the fundamentalist's objections are based on temporary, man-made attitudes about fashion, which have continually changed throughout history. In other words, the source of the objections is not divine, but human. If the fundamentalist then says that men's skirts are "not socially acceptable," respond with the arguments suggested in the previous section on "Cutting the 'Not Socially Acceptable' Knot," pertaining to wives' negativity. In summary, move the source of the fundamentalist's objections away from God and onto human society, then away from "society" and onto the fundamentalist's own personal attitudes.

Consider the following example:

Fundamentalist: "You can't wear that skirt. It's sinful for a man to wear women's clothing. God Himself said so in Deuteronomy 22:5. 'A man shall not put on a woman's garment.'"

Braveheart: "It's not women's clothing. It's a man's kilt (or Utilikilt or other MUG). It's designed and intended specifically for men. Therefore, I'm not 'putting on a woman's garment,' and I'm not violating God's commandment."

Fundamentalist: "But it looks like a skirt, and skirts are women's clothing."

Braveheart: "Well, God will know it isn't women's clothing. There's nothing in the Bible that says skirts are just women's clothing. All the men in the Bible wore skirt-like clothing. Look at the pictures of Moses, Jesus, and all the other men. According to Michelangelo's famous painting of the Creation, even God wore a skirt. No one wore trousers back in those days. Trousers weren't invented for another thousand years or more. Therefore, Deuteronomy couldn't possibly mean that men can't wear skirts."

Fundamentalist: "It doesn't matter what people wore in the olden days. God wants men and women to dress differently from one another, so people can easily tell them apart."

Braveheart: "A person would have to be pretty blind to confuse a man in a kilt with a woman. Has anyone ever mixed up the bride and groom at a Scottish-style wedding? No one thought Mel Gibson looked like a woman in Braveheart. Russell Crowe wore a tunic in Gladiator, and no one confused him with a woman. Do you have any doubt that I'm a man and not a woman? If you yourself can tell the difference, what makes you think that other people can't?"

Fundamentalist: "But we're not in Scotland. In this country, people expect to see skirts on women and trousers on men."

Braveheart: "First of all, trousers no longer indicate that a person is male. Most women this this country now usually wear jeans, slacks, pantsuits, and other forms of trousers. Whether or not you agree with that fashion, everybody is accustomed to seeing it. The fact that a woman wears trousers does nothing to disguise her sex. People can easily tell that she's female by numerous other characteristics - including the shape of her body, her facial features, her hair, her voice, the way she talks and moves. Furthermore, women's trousers are usually styled differently from men's. So a woman's sex is perfectly obvious.

"Second, if it's really so important that people see trousers on men in order to determine their sex, why in church do most ministers and priests wear long robes or vestments that cover up their trousers? Why do the members of so many church choirs wear long robes that completely obscure the 'sex' of the clothing underneath? If this were an 'abomination unto the Lord,' why would so many good Christians be doing it in their houses of worship - right in God's face?"

Fundamentalist: "That's different! People are used to seeing robes in church. But they aren't used to seeing men in skirts. They would be confused by it."

Saint Francis of AsissiBraveheart: "It might cause some initial surprise, because it's unusual. But it would be difficult for a man in a kilt, Utilikilt, or other male unbifurcated garment to be confused with a woman. There is at least as much difference between a man's kilt or Utilikilt and women's skirts today as there was between men's and women's clothing in Bible times. Men's kilts and Utilikilts are specifically designed and tailored for men and have a distinctly masculine appearance. In addition, a man's face, body shape, and other clothing will also indicate that he is male - not to mention hairy legs, and maybe even a beard or mustache."

Fundamentalist (becoming agitated): "But just look around! You usually don't see men in our society wearing anything but trousers! That must tell you something!"

Braveheart: "All it tells me is that trousers are currently in fashion. They were never ordained by God. Moses and Jesus never wore them. The ancient Greeks and Romans didn't wear them. Trousers were introduced by pagan barbarians who didn't worship our Judeo-Christian God and who didn't know anything about the Bible. They simply found trousers to be good for cold weather and for riding horseback. This was purely a human decision. God had nothing to do with it.

"Over a period of several hundred years, European men gradually switched from skirted garments to trousers, mainly for reasons of practicality or fashion. Some people were against this change; they considered trousers to be the mark of the barbarian. But did God care? You probably assume that He wasn't bothered by this development. So why should it matter to God if some men now want to switch from trousers back to more comfortable skirted garments? Maybe you're against it. That's a matter of personal taste, to which you are entitled. Perhaps many other people in this country are also against it. They're entitled to their opinions also. But why must these opinions be attributed to God? How dare we presume to know God's opinion on matters of human fashion?"

Fundamentalist (switching gears): "Regardless of God's opinion of men in skirts, good Christians should be humble and not wear clothing that will call attention to themselves. Wearing a kilt or skirt is like saying, 'Look at me, I'm special!'"

Braveheart: "How is wearing a kilt any less humble than all those good Christians wearing their fancy new clothes to church on Easter? Or military officers wearing prestigious uniforms decorated with ribbons and medals? Or Christians competing for trophies in athletic events? Or Christians showing off their new cars, houses, or other status symbols? And it certainly isn't any less humble than those Bible-thumping evangelists on television!

"Besides, how do you know what reaction the general public will have? Some people might enjoy seeing a man in a kilt. Most people probably won't care. And if some people don't like it, do you think they have the power to call down the wrath of God?"

Getting God on Your Side

St. Michael, ArchangelIf you really want to play mind games with a fundamentalist Trouser Tyrant, you could take the initiative and try a more audacious approach. You could declare that God wants you to wear unbifurcated garments. Although the following suggested arguments are tongue-in-cheek, they raise some provocative issues:

"When God made males, He put penises and testicles between their legs. Males have these things in their crotches and females don't. This was obviously how God planned it. However, males are now forced to wear trousers that cramp and cut into these God-given appendages. In actuality, males are the ones who would benefit from the freedom and openness that skirts provide. Females don't need extra room in their crotches, and yet they are the ones expected to wear skirts. It doesn't make any sense. People have gotten things totally backward from the way God intended.

"If God wanted males to wear bifurcated garments, why did he put external genitalia in their crotches, to be cramped and cut into by the seams? It is obviously God's divine plan that men and boys should wear skirt-like garments that do not encroach upon their privates. This is not only healthier and more comfortable for the male genitals - it is also God's will!

"Trousers are an abomination to God, because they disrespect the anatomy that God gave to men! God knew what He was doing when He designed the male anatomy and had men (including His Son) wearing skirts and robes throughout the Bible. Who are we to insult His Divine Plan? Anybody who thinks a man is a 'sissy' for wearing a skirt is committing blasphemy - because God's son, Jesus, wore skirt-like garments also.

Mephistopheles""Therefore, it is a man's moral duty to obey God's will and refuse to wear any bifurcated garments! Good Christian men must show devotion to Him by wearing male unbifurcated garments - such as kilts, Utilikilts, skirts from,  caftans, robes, sarongs, and other male skirts - whenever and wherever possible.

"We have all seen pictures of  angels and other holy personages wearing skirt-like garments. Priests and monks have worn them for centuries. Michelangelo's famous painting even shows God wearing one. In contrast, an argument can be made that Satan himself wears trousers, or something similar. There are numerous depictions of Satan (also known as Mephistopheles) either in trousers or red tights. He is often shown wearing a red cape - but never a robe or a skirt. Nor do you see devils and demons in skirts or robes - only God's angels. The lesson is clear: unbifurcated (skirt-like) garments are holy; bifurcated (trouser-like) garments are unholy. God's angels wear skirts; Hell's Angels wear trousers.

"Therefore, how can God-fearing Christian men continue to wear trousers, which are an abomination to God? They should ask themselves, 'What would Jesus wear?'"

A religious fundamentalist might consider the preceding arguments to be ridiculous, offensive, or even sacreligious - and perhaps they are. But, viewed objectively, they make a lot more sense than the fundamentalists' attempt to turn God into a Trouser Tyrant. These arguments show how God could just as easily be invoked against trousers.

However, what really seems sacreligious is the idea that God is so petty as to judge men based on whether their clothing divides at the crotch, or on the supposed "sex" of particular garments. This does not honor God, nor does it promote a humane, loving, and tolerant society. The religious objections to men in unbifurcated garments are based on human prejudices. Such attitudes detract from those religious commandments that are really important - such as loving God, loving thy neighbor as thyself, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.