Pentecostal Beliefs & Woman's Attire

by Dell Markey

The Pentecostal began in the early 20th century as an offshoot of the Methodist-Holiness movement of the late 19th century. Much of the focus of both movements involves personal holiness expressed in believers' lives, both in their hearts, in their lifestyles and in the ways they present themselves to the world. With more than 700 Pentecostal denominations today, there exists a wide disparity in Pentecostal beliefs about how personal holiness should impact a woman's attire.

Classical Pentecostalism

Mainline Pentecostalism includes denominations such as the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, the Pentecostal Church of God, the Church of God in Christ and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. These denominations trace their roots to the early days of the Pentecostal movement. Most classical Pentecostal denominations do not have official dress codes for women. They encourage both women and men to dress modestly, but leave the definition of modesty to the individual believer. Their view is summed up in the Assemblies of God's position paper on legalism, which states, "The Scripture warns against ... inappropriate appearance."

Apostolic Pentecostalism

The Apostolic Pentecostal movement, also known as Oneness Pentecostalism or "Jesus Only" Pentecostalism, broke off from classical Pentecostalism in the early years of the movement over a disagreement about the correct mode of baptism. Apostolic Pentecostal denominations, including the United Pentecostal Church International and the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, generally adhere to what they refer to as holiness standards. Regarding women's attire, the United Pentecostal Church's doctrinal statement states: "Holiness extends to outward appearance and dress. Biblical principles here include modesty, avoidance of personal ornamentation (ornamental jewelry and makeup), moderation in cost, and distinction between male and female in dress and hair. Women are to let their hair grow long instead of cutting it, while men are to cut their hair noticeably short."

What Women are Expected to Wear

Pentecostals' expectations of women's attire vary greatly. In most classical Pentecostal churches, any reasonably modest attire is considered acceptable. Many Pentecostal churches allow, and even encourage, attendees to dress casually. In such churches, it's not unusual to see women wearing jeans, t-shirts or shorts. Most Apostolic Pentecostal churches expect women to wear knee length or longer dresses or skirts -- but, not pants.

Make Up and Jewelry

Pentecostal beliefs about make up and jewelry tend to divide along the same lines as their beliefs about women's clothing. Classical Pentecostals generally either have no restrictions -- Tammy Faye Bakker started out in the Assemblies of God -- or very loosely defined calls for modesty. Apostolic Pentecostal churches discourage, and often forbid, wearing make up or decorative jewelry, which is generally defined as any jewelry other than a wedding band and a functional wrist watch.

About the Author

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.

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