In the comments of my recent post on the women-wearing-pants controversy, I was challenged to basically prove my position is a legitimate positive interpretation rather than a mere reaction. To boil down the issue, fundamentalists often use Deut. 22:5 to teach that it is wrong for women today to wear pants. My position is that the text teaches that there is to be a designed gender distinction in the way we dress, but that today there are female-designed pants perfectly suitable for women to wear in most situations. (I do think women should wear dresses from time to time, as they are so expressly and beautifully feminine.)
In responding to that charge, I came across the following excellent treatment of the issue from Elmer L. Towns (former Dean of the School of Religion at Liberty University) in the King James Bible Commentary (edited by Edward Hindson, Woodrow Kroll & Jerry Falwell; Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1983).
Verse 5 has caused divisions and confusion among sincere Christian brethren. Some have used this verse to maintain that women should not wear slacks. The word “pertaineth unto” (Heb keli) in the original language is used elsewhere not only of clothes, but also of decorations or utensils used by the opposite sex. The intent of this law was to maintain the distinction between the sexes. Today, it would apply to any unisex clothing that would cloud the distinction between men and women. The New Testament recognizes such a distinction (1 Cor. 11:3) and maintains that long hair on women was a sign of that distinction (1 Cor. 11:6-14). During the days of Moses, garments (Heb simlah) worn by men and women were similar (robes), so this command was designed to keep a woman from appearing as a man for purposes of licentiousness (to deceive the man). The major difference between male and female robes was their decoration or ornamentation, and not their cut. The principle taught by this passage is that the proper distinction between men and women in all cultures should be maintained. The passage does not teach against slacks per se (or hats, shoes, gloves, etc.–all worn by both sexes), but against men or women wearing any item specifically ornamented for the opposite sex (e.g., a man wearing female slacks, lipstick, etc.). The wearing of slacks by ladies today is not an attempt to deceive men, although some may be immodest and improper in certain situations. The final crieteria are that women look like females, that they are modest (1 Tim 2:9-10), and that their outward appearance reflects their inner character (1 Pet 3:3). ¹
¹ Pg. 168. Words in quotation marks are bolded in the original.
I also want to mention another good article on this issue that I came across: “Is It a Sin for a Woman to Wear Pants?” by Craig Hostetler.