The Message Dress Code
This article is one in a series on the Message of William Branham - you are currently in the article that is in bold:
- What is the Message of William Branham?
- Is the Message a Cult?
- The Sub-Sects of the Message
- The Theology of the Message
- Are followers of William Branham Christians?
- What is the Fruit of the Message?
- The Message Dress Code
People that follow William Branham's message can be recognized by the way that their women dress - long dresses and long hair. Additionally men are not permitted to wear shorts (even though William Branham did).
This is because William Branham taught a "clothes line" religion.
William Branham's teaching
William Branham referred to Deuteronomy 22:5 as providing the scriptural basis for women not wearing pants:
- 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.
Here is an examples of William Branham's teaching on the subject:
- The Bible said that it's wrong. And get out on a afternoon and put them little bitty old short clothes on to mow the yard. It's wrong. It's a sin in the sight of God to do that. And you say, "No, I don't wear shorts; I wear slacks." The Bible said, "A woman that'll put on a garment that pertains to a man, it's an abomination in the sight of God." God doesn't change.
What does the Bible teach on this subject?
Does the Bible agree with William Branham's dress code?
What does the New Testament say?
The New Testament repeatedly warns against trying to import Old Testament laws into the Christian church:
- Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
- For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
- ...but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down tin his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
The apostles did not require Gentiles to follow the law. This is clearly outlined in the Book of Acts:
- Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.
- They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter:
- “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
- Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
So if the Apostles specifically exempted the Gentiles exempted from the laws of Moses and Old Testament law, what gives William Branham the right to bring those laws back into effect in the New Testament church?
What does the Old Testament teach?
There are two different Hebrew words in Deuteronomy 22:5 that must be differentiated:
- The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto (kelî) a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment (śimlâ): for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
The range of meanings for "kelî" extends beyond “clothing” to vessels and receptacles, utensils, tools and implements, furniture and furnishings, and jewelry. But the second term (śimlâ) is more specific, referring to the outer wrapper or mantle.
One explanation is that this practice was associated with the religion of Canaan; therefore, it was “an abomination to the LORD.” Apparently women appeared in male garments and men in women’s clothes when they worshiped their pagan deities. Yahweh wanted His people to be unique and to do nothing that was in any way connected with foreign religions.
Another theory is that this verse could refer to war. A woman was not to put on the trappings (kelî) of a soldier or dress like a man in order to try to gain admission into the army. Nor were men to attempt to avoid military obligation by dressing as women.
Another explanation often given for this ban is that it obscured the distinction between the sexes and therefore violated an essential part of the created order of life (Gen. 1:27). The Hebrew word kelî is used elsewhere in referring to decorations or utensils used by the opposite sex. During the days of Moses, garments worn by men and women were very similar (robes); so this command was designed to keep a woman from appearing as a man for purposes of licentiousness. The major difference between male and female robes was their decoration or ornamentation. This passage does not teach against women’s wearing slacks, hats, shoes, gloves, or other items that are now worn by both sexes, but rather against the wearing of any item specifically intended for the opposite sex.
Still another explanation is that this verse refers to the practice of transvestism, a deviant form of sexual behavior which is often characterized by cross-dressing. The verse says women should not wear things “pertaining to” the male. This phrase includes not only clothing, but also ornaments, weapons, and other items normally associated with men.
Transvestism is sometimes associated with homosexuality, and in the ancient world its practice was associated with the cults of certain deities. Whatever the circumstance, the practice of transvestism was “an abomination to the LORD.“
In today's world of fashion there are men's pant's and there are women's pants. A man would never wear pants designed for a woman and it would be rare to find women wearing men's pants. Why? They are designed differently. Thus the point made by William Branham and message followers is not relevant in today's society.
So what is the standard?
Paul's advice to Christian women with respect to their appearance is recorded in 1 Timothy 2:9-10:
- I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
Appropriate apparel was necessary for signaling modesty and respectability, inappropriate outer adornment — flouting the acceptable dress-code — was sure to raise suspicions of promiscuity and immoderation. Apparently the pre-Christian Roman republic had passed laws meant to discourage ostentation and encourage frugality. It naturally dwelt on the various ways in which ostentation might be shown, including the dress and adornment of wealthy women.
Paul lists four items.
- First to be mentioned is “elaborate hairstyles.” The term that means literally “braiding” refers to the complex and fancy styling of hair—plaiting and piling it on top of the head—preferred by fashionable wealthy women of a certain sort. This style presented the exact opposite to the modest, simpler styles traditionally associated with the model imperial women as displayed in the statuary. The modest imperial style was meant to set the cultural trend, but many women of means did not follow suit.47
- After referring to hairstyles, Paul shifts to jewelry. Jewelry was regarded as emblematic of the shameful woman. “Gold” was the most valuable of metals and the precious metal of choice by women who practiced ostentation and men who desired to bring attention of this sort to their wives. It came further to be linked with the dress code of highly paid prostitutes.
- “Pearls” also occupied a place in the caricature of imprudent ostentation.
- “Expensive clothes” completes the profile of the immodest Roman wife. Modest clothing associated with propriety and respectability was simple and full. What is envisioned by this description, found widely in the literature, is the showy expensive apparel that came to be associated with the woman drawing attention to herself—the prostitute and the promiscuous woman. The critique is precise. It prohibits the kind the dress and adornment that would associate Christian women with the revolutionary “new woman” already in evidence in the East. Were that connection to be made, the church would be open to allegations of endorsing this departure from traditional values.
Paul’s language implies that the standard was known and generally accepted. At first sight, the shift from apparel to conduct (“good deeds”) seems abrupt, but as already pointed out, in this kind of ethical discourse “adornment” was code for behavior. The shift allows a fuller description of the modest adornment encouraged for Christian women in v. 9.
First, he characterizes Christian wives as “those who profess to worship God.” The language of “professing” suggests a serious and perhaps public claim to be believers. The content of the claim is expressed with the term theosebeia. It is equivalent to the term eusbeia that defines authentic Christian existence as the integration of faith in God and the behavior that demonstrates this (2:3 and Excursus). Its choice selection here over the more frequently used term may correspond to the specific reference to wives (or to the language of the claim they were making), but in any case it indicates a claim to be authentic worshipers of God.
Second, he redefines appropriate adornment (the infinitive “to adorn” is still in effect) in terms of “good deeds,” which is shorthand for the visible dimension of authentic faith—action done as the outworking of faith to benefit others. In Paul’s formulation of the concept the inner reality (knowledge of God, faith) and outer action come together in a life of service in accordance with God’s truth. The sphere in which wives/women are to perform these deeds of faith is not limited to the worship setting, but would include the household and more public places of life.
The whole of verses 9–10 thus forms a challenge to a group of well-to-do Christian wives for whom the emerging trend of the new Roman woman, with its emphasis on outer show and rejection of cultural norms of modesty, was becoming a potent attraction. The language of the prohibition identifies this cultural trend rather specifically. Equally, reference to modesty and self-control identifies the dress codes and symbols of modesty and chastity that the new women were spurning, though as Christian virtues they have been deepened by the Christ event. Ultimately, Paul calls these Christian wives to give proof of their claim to godliness (1) by dressing modestly, (2) by living a life characterized by modesty and self-control and (3) by doing works of Christian service.
It is clear that the New Testament contains no prohibition against women wearing pants. However, women were required to dress respectfully and modestly but that did not mean they could not wear pants or any other specific type of attire.
Arguments used by Branham's followers
Message believers state that because the Bible classifies a women wearing a man's garment as an abomination, it is something that God hates and is therefore still an abomination today.
The problem with this approach is that it require other abominations in the Old Testament to be obeyed as well:
- And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: 11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.
- And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, 14 And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; 15 Every raven after his kind; And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, 18 And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, 19 And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
- All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
- You shall not eat any abomination. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep.
- A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God.
Horoscopes are out too!
- There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD.
Oh, I thought, what a thing for Christianity! Women, stop that wearing them clothes like that! Man, stop that telling them smutty jokes and all that stuff! We are sons and daughters of the King. Dress like a queen, dress like a--a lady. Act like a gentleman, don't let your hair grow down like this. The Bible said, "It's wrong (nature teaches you) for a man to have long hair. And it's a disgrace and a common thing for even a woman to pray with her hair cut." And how about these? "It's a--it's an abomination for a woman to put on a garment that pertains to a man." The great unchanging God doesn't change.
How could a bobbed-haired woman ever come through this Filter? How could a woman with shorts on ever come through It, or slacks, when the Bible says, "It's an abomination to God, for a woman to put on a garment that even pertains to a man"? And how can a man that thinks anything of himself, get out here and dress like the women, let his hair grow out like a woman, down in his eyes, with bangs, and twirled up like that? He is wearing his wife's underneath clothes. She is wearing his outer clothes. A thinking man's filter? A thinking man won't do that, or a thinking woman won't do it. God's Word won't let it pass through. 
"Blessed are they that do all the commandments of God, that they might have a right to enter in." Do all God said, and It said for women to have long hair. You say... A man told me not long ago, said, "I don't preach a clothes-line religion." I said, "Then you're not preaching the Gospel." Yeah.
God laid it out there, He said what to do. And you either do it... That's your natural, reasonable thing. What little thing... what... the little insignificant. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that would take all the little thing, do the little things." And a woman to let her hair grow, that's just a... why, it's just something she can do, and she won't even do that. She won't even do that. 
How could you ever draw a denomination through God's Filter? How could you do it? How could you draw a bobbed-hair woman through that Filter? Tell me. How could you ever draw a woman that wears slacks through There, when "It's an abomination for her to put on a garment pertains to a man"? See, God's Filter would catch her out there, It wouldn't let her come in. (But the church has got their own filters.) So I say that there is a thinking man's Filter, that's God's Word, and It suits a holy man's taste. That's right, a holy man; not a church man, but a holy man's taste. Because It's pure, holiness, unadulterated Word of God! There is a thinking man's Filter. And church member, I advise you to use That one.
- The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Deut 22:5.
- William Branham, 58-0316A - As The Eagle Stirs Her Nest And Fluttereth Over Her Young, para. 41
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ga 3:2.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ga 3:10.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ga 5:13–15.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Eph 2:14–16.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ac 15:19–20.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ac 15:22–29.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ac 21:24–25.
- The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Dt 22:5.
- Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 512.
- John C. Maxwell and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Deuteronomy, vol. 5, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987), 241–242.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 1 Ti 2:9–10.
- Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006), 208–210.
- The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Le 11:10–23
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Dt 14:3–5.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Dt 25:15–16
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Dt 18:10–12.
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