Tom Brennan (please see Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Immodestly Dressed Women Are Like a Lit Cigarette at a Gas Pump Says IFB Pastor Tom Brennan) pastors Bible Baptist Church in Dubuque, Iowa — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation. As is common among IFB preachers — I should know, I was one — Brennan is obsessed with getting women out of their pants. He has written numerous blog posts about how women dress, especially pants wearing.
Last week, Brennan wrote a post titled Objections Against the Pants Standard Answered. In the post, Brennan lists twenty-four objections to his anti-britches standard:
1) “These are women’s pants.”
2) “There is no specific biblical instruction that a woman should not wear pants.”
3) “Whatever you write doesn’t matter; I’m just not convicted about it.”
4) “I have peace about wearing pants.”
5) “We have thought it through carefully, and we are going to allow pants now. But we will only allow modest pants.”
6) “I only wear pants to work.”
7) “Pants are more comfortable.”
8) “You are wrong; pants as an item of clothing do not belong exclusively to the male gender. That ship has sailed.”
9) “Well, you have to admit, pants are more modest for certain activities. I mean, can you imagine rock climbing at the mall in a dress?”
10) “Say what you want, I don’t have to answer to a man for what I wear.”
11) “That’s Old Testament stuff and we’re under grace now.”
12) “Yes, I wear pants. I am free from the bondage of legalism now.”
13) “It’s just not as important as you make it out to be.”
14) “Everybody knows that men and women wore the same robes in the Bible.”
15) “I can’t wear a skirt or a dress and stay warm.”
16) “Well, my pants are more modest than So-and-so’s skirts and dresses.”
17) “God doesn’t care about how I look; He only cares about my heart.”
18) “You should just stick with teaching the Bible and let the Holy Spirit convict people how He wants.”
19) “Dress standards just breed pride. The Pharisees. Hello?”
20) “You don’t understand, Pastor Brennan. If I require that standard of my daughters they will rebel against me.”
21) “I’m an older woman; ain’t no man going to lust after me.”
22) “What will the lost think when they hear you emphasize such quaint notions?”
23) “Who are you to judge?”
24) “Well, Paul said all things are lawful. So get off my case.”
Please take the time to read Brennan’s responses to these objections.
Brennan thinks that if good IFB women start wearing pants they will go “liberal,” and soon will be wearing shorts, tight jeans, and yoga pants. OMG, the pants apocalypse. 🙂
My wife and I have had this conversation with our own daughter. Why is it that when a formerly conservative independent Baptist family gives up the pants standards it seems to go entirely the opposite direction rather quickly? If they gave up, accepted pants, and wore the (relatively) modest old-lady pants (forgive me, I am sure there is a better term here) I could almost live with that. But they do not. In my experience, never. They say the pants are going to be modest, but inevitably, in a few years, the tight jeans, the yoga pants, and the short shorts show up, if not in the first generation then in the next one.
Brennan’s beliefs are not special or unique. Countless misogynistic IFB preachers hold similar beliefs. I remember losing good church families over my refusal to let church women who served in an official capacity wear pants. I have apologized to several families, but this kind of thinking causes untold heartache and harm, all over a pair of pants.
I am sure some of you wonder why IFB women willingly submit to such nonsense. Perhaps some of the former IFB church members who read this blog will chime in. I do know that women are deeply indoctrinated. They are conditioned to believe that the pastor’s peculiar interpretations of the Bible and social pronouncements are straight from the mouth of God. Little girls, teens, and women are taught to submit to their pastor’s authority and that of their husbands. When this is all you know, you don’t know any better. When you are taught certain items of clothing and fashion are signs of worldliness, is it any wonder you “willingly” comply. This sort of cultic thinking has ensnared countless American women. My wife, Polly, was forty-six years old before she wore her first pair of pants — capris. I encouraged her to buy a pair of pants. She refused, believing God would punish her if she did. We continued to talk about the matter, and Polly finally disobeyed God. What happened next? Absolutely nothing.
I have nothing but sympathy for women trapped in churches such as Brennan’s. Sadly, the only way out for them is rebellion or divorce — which an increasing number of women do. Some IFB churches give in and allow women to wear pants. They do, to a minute degree, become more “liberal.” Brennan sees pants as a red line that must not be crossed. Doing so leads to the incurable disease of “liberalism.” Brennan intends to man the Fundamentalist walls, keeping out the “world.” Brennan will fail, but before he does, he will cause untold harm. Such preaching kills marriages and families, often sending children running for the hills, never to return.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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