Clothed in Christ: Paul’s View of Women as Citizens of the New Creation

What did Paul think women could do in the church? The debate rages on, although it seems to have reached a stalemate. Those who advocate for limitations on women’s roles tend to base their arguments on 1 Corinthians 14:34 or 1 Timothy 2:11–15; those who support their full inclusion in the life of the church often draw on Galatians 3:28 in conversation with texts such as Romans 16 to support their position. However, the idea of being “clothed in Christ” is rarely addressed in the debate. Drawing on the communicative role of clothing in the Greco-Roman world and the field of dress studies, this analysis investigates the contribution of this Pauline metaphor to the debate. Ultimately, it argues that women are not only ontologically equal, they are also co-citizens of the eschatological new creation, living and serving with equal responsibility in the already-not yet. As such, Paul’s instructions limiting women’s roles are best interpreted as dealing with specific issues in particular contexts in a culturally appropriate manner.