William Branham taught a very strict dress code for women in the Message. He warned that for women to wear pants was an abomination to God, and that modesty meant wearing loose-fitting clothes and anything opposite of the current fashion trends. But, is his teaching scriptural?
We’re all familiar with the story of Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden. Their disobedience to God opened their eyes to their nakedness, and God decided to create garments for them to wear. The original Hebrew word, “kethoneth”, is used here to describe their clothing. “Kethoneth” was a tunic, a long shirt-like garment.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make “kethoneth” of skins and clothed them.
God made the same gender-neutral garment for both Adam and Eve. He didn’t create pants for Adam and a separate dress for Eve. This Hebrew word is also used nearly 30 times in scripture, including Joseph’s coat of many colors and Tamar’s royal attire.
At this time of scripture, and when Deut 22:5 was written, men and women both wore the same type of garment, a long tunic to the knees and a mantle to cover the head. From a distance, men and women would have looked the same. They wore gender-neutral clothing. If Deuteronomy 22:5 says that “the woman should not wear that which pertained unto a man…for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God” (KJV), then why stop at pants for a woman? Every garment would need to be researched. Ties were uniform for both male and female teachers in the earlier centuries, stockings and hosiery were first worn by men, t-shirts were military undershirts designed in the 1920s, hoodies, baseball caps, tennis shoes, etc. Where would it end? What’s in your closet right now that would be considered an abomination? Clearly, there’s something deeper here to be studied.
The KJV is very different from the ancient Hebrew for that verse. The word "pertaineth" in “that which pertaineth” is translated from the Hebrew word “keli”. "Keli" meant “article, utensil, or vessel”. In other military descriptions of the Old Testament, “keli” is also translated into “weapon, armor, or instrument”. The word “man” in this specific scripture is from the Hebrew word, “geber”, which means “Strong man or warrior”. Worship in the temple of Venus required women to dress up as warriors to enter the temple, which better defines the Hebrew translation that a “woman should not put on the armor of a warrior for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God”.
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with modesty and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; -1Timothy 2:9
Does this scripture suggest that a particular clothing style is immodest? Let’s look at the scripture closely.
Now, let a man look at you, a little Christian girl coming down the street, pretty, sweet, innocent little thing, all dressed sexy. And a sinner looks upon her to lust after her. At the day of the judgment, when this man answers for committing adultery, who’s guilty? Her. See what I mean? -62-0610M William Branham
I said, “You wear them clothes the way you do, you’re going to have to answer at the Day of Judgment for committing adultery.” She was a married woman. -58-0309M William Branham
Branham taught two things about lust. First, that looking at a woman wearing anything other than his idea of modesty would result in immediate lust from a man. Second, that God would condemn the woman for the man’s lustful thoughts. The quotes above are referring to this following scripture:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -Matthew 5:27-28
Here it’s important to note that Jesus is only speaking to men (not women) about this sin. There is no follow-up scripture stating women’s attire is to blame for the man’s sin. Branham was the one to introduce that idea to his congregations, as well as teach that finding a woman attractive and the sin of sexual lust was one and the same. Is it? Here, the scripture clearly states “looking at a woman to lust for her” instead of just “looking at a woman”. If it was the latter, then Christian women would be required to be covered from head to toe like the Muslim women. Remember, not even Bathsheba was punished for bathing naked on her rooftop. King David was the one condemned by the prophet Nathan for the adultery and the murder of her husband.
The Bible interchanges the words lust and covet several times in scripture . Remember the 9th commandment of “Do not covet thy neighbor’s wife"? Jesus is referring to this parallel scripture. Again, we’ll point out that the commandment doesn’t mention how she dresses herself. Looking at a woman, finding her attractive, even sexually attractive, still isn’t defined as lust. So then, what is sexual lust? The definition of sexual lust is the obsession of dehumanizing a person for sexual control. Lust is a choice of the mind/heart; sexually objectifying something that doesn’t belong to them.
Furthermore, Jesus mentions that the sin here occurs “in HIS heart”, not in the woman’s choice of attire. Branham’s interpretation of this scripture looks something like this:
“But, I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her AND FINDS HER ATTRACTIVE has already committed adultery with her EACH OTHER in his HER heart.”
Are we not commanded to not add or take away from scripture? Branham's view of lust was a false doctrine enslaving women in a clothes-line religion and overly sensualizing the female body.
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