Modesty and Dress Rules of United Pentecostals

United Pentecostal dress rules say no slacks for women

Pentecostal Dress Rules
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Women in United Pentecostal churches look different from females in most other Christian denominations: They don't wear slacks. This is just one of the Pentecostal dress rules. 

Church leaders cite the Bible for this unusual modesty guideline, such as this verse from 1 Timothy 2:9:

"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes..." (NIV)

Adherents of United Pentecostal churches believe holiness starts on the inside but should be reflected on the outside.

"Many times what we wear helps to mold their expectations as well as our own. When a woman wears an immodest dress, she begins to think of herself as seductive and acts accordingly," says the UPCI Positional Papers. "Other people perceive her as provocative and treat her as such, which reinforces her behavior. In short, appearance both reflects and to a large degree determines what we are in the eyes of self and others."

United Pentecostal Dress Rules for Women

"The basic reason for modesty of dress is to subdue the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," the UPCI document continues. "The exposed body tends to arouse improper thoughts in both wearer and onlooker."

To avoid such problems, United Pentecostal churches set these modesty guidelines for women:

  • No slacks "because they immodestly reveal the feminine contours of upper leg, thigh, and hip"
  • No makeup
  • No jewelry except wedding ring and wristwatch
  • No low necklines
  • No sleeveless dresses or shirts
  • No very tight or very thin clothes
  • No dress hemlines at or above the knee
  • No sleeves above the elbow
  • Uncut hair

The UPCI says balance is appropriate for women: "She is not so old-fashioned as to look like a monstrosity, but she is deliberately methodical in choosing clothing that will dignify her womanhood without provoking the stares of the opposite sex."

United Pentecostal Churches' Guidelines for Men

While the Bible does not set specific clothing guidelines for men, United Pentecostal churches believe men and women should be distinguishable:

  • No hair covering the tops of a man's ears
  • No hair touching a man's collar

"We can honestly proclaim that the basic principles of godly appearance that apply to Christian women should also apply to men; namely, modesty, moderation, decency, elimination of ornamentation and costly finery, and distinction between male and female in hair and dress," the UPCI says.

Pentecostal Dress Rules for Gender Distinction

In addition to modesty, the Bible calls for a clear distinction between the genders, says the UPCI. A recent position paper calls for Pentecostal dress rules for men and women to emphasize their differences. Following the Fall of Man,

"The Lord graciously intervened. He mercifully covered and clothed them (Adam and Eve), forever answering the question of God's involvement and interest in the apparel that men and women wear. In their fallen condition, they needed clothes to cover them and they needed God's guidance for proper clothing choices. In short, clothing mattered to God then, and it still matters to him today. The Lord provides parameters and principles concerning our clothing: modesty, costliness, and distinctiveness..."

Gender-appropriate clothing, the paper states, is pants for men and skirts or dresses for women. Further, women are to let their hair grow long while men should keep their hair short.

Pentecostal Dress Codes Vary

The UPCI is among the most conservative Pentecostal denominations. Other Pentecostal churches may allow more flexibility in their dress codes. Some require floor-length hemlines while others allow ankle length or below the knee. Some even permit shorts, as long as they are no shorter than 1 1/2 hand widths above the knee.

These dress rules have spawned a number of online clothing suppliers for Pentecostal women who cannot find suitable outfits locally. Some of these stores are run by Pentecostals, who donate a percentage of profits to church charities. Dresses, skirts, and tops on those sites are colorful and stylish, a far cry from the frumpiness one might expect.

In Pentecostal churches where women are allowed to wear slacks, the attitude seems to be that women should dress modestly and not give mixed signals with their clothing, makeup, or jewelry. Christians who reject strict obedience to Bible guidelines argue that Pentecostals, to be consistent, should eat only kosher food and practice the common treasury of the church in Acts.

Critics of “holiness standards” say that Peter and Paul, in their New Testament letters, were dealing with former pagans who had no experience with modesty in their previous lives and so needed counseling in virtuous behavior. Today, these Christians say, it is possible for women to enhance their appearance without being seductive.

United Pentecostal Churches' Behavior Guidelines

In addition to appearance guidelines, the UPCI also advises against activities it believes are unsuitable for Christians:

  • No mixed swimming
  • No dancing
  • No movies in theaters
  • No television

The problem, according to the church, is not with the technology itself but with the favorable display of worldliness and ungodliness so prevalent in movies and TV shows.

The United Pentecostal Churches' official website advocates internet accountability by all users as far as sites visited and the amount of time spent on the computer.

Sources

  • The Scriptures Decree Modesty in Dress, tract #1567220908 by The Word Aflame Press
  • UPCI Positional Papers