Deuteronomy 22:5 revisited

When I first started this blog I wrote a bit about how I am able to mix my conservative religious beliefs with an act that is explicitly condemned in the Bible.  Recently a friend told me he struggles with exactly the same problem and asked me how I interpret the various passages which condemn crossdressing and homosexuality, and rather than just copy-and-paste my old article I decided to give the thought another long bout of introspection so I could clarify what I believe about the Christian Bible.  Here is the result:

You asked about the bible’s take on “effeminate” not entering the kingdom of heaven. Of course you mean 1 Corinthians 6:9, which lists a whole slew of people that shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven but do you see heavily publicized hate groups warning us that God Hates Slanderers, or God Hates Drunkards?  No, apparently the only sin worth mentioning is homosexuality, and that’s not the word used.  Nor is “effeminate”.  The word in Greek is “malakoi” (you might get the idea that I’ve spent a LOT of time researching this, and you’d be right).  That word literally means “soft ones”. It’s the same word Jesus uses when talking about John the Baptist he sarcastically asks the crowd “What did you come out here to see, someone wearing [malakoi] soft clothes?”  Obviously to the people of that culture, “soft clothes” was a euphemism, a code word if you will that everyone knew exactly what Paul was talking about.  From the context of carnal immorality in general, he obviously did mean some kind of physical deviation, and quite probably homosexuality in which case we’re off the hook, at least here.  In any case, even if he specifically said “crossdressers”, I’d have an issue with this precisely because the church as a whole doesn’t take an equally hard stance against people who lie, people who cheat (think: finding loopholes to reduce your taxes, or speeding because “everyone does it”)… not to mention slanderers (not that anyone in church ever gossips) or even boastful people.

Romans 1:24-27 is a lot more explicit, but here Paul is speaking in a historical context of why God voided His contract with Abraham’s people over their excess of unrepentant sin. There is absolutely no way to sugar-coat his description of lesbians (1:26) and male homosexuals (1:27) or pretend it only applies to temple prostitutes or some other such nonsense.  Yes, God really does hate fags if you’ll pardon my appropriation of that hate group’s favorite phrase… or, more to the point, He hates homosexual acts.

And He hates crossdressers, or at least crossdressing.  The passage that zaps us is Deuteronomy 22:5 (I always squirm uncomfortably when a pastor suddenly decides to go into the OT and happens to hit on that one). Again, there’s just no way you can twist the words so they don’t apply to us.  We’re not just an annoyance or detestable, we’re a full-blown “abomination to God”.

Once I got through decades of self-doubt just because I didn’t understand what I was and thought I was gay or “trapped in a man’s body” and all that other stuff you can’t research because the Internet hasn’t been invented yet, I finally started to accept who I am… and then hit Deut 22:5. It was like finally getting up to a full gallop and getting ready to win the race only to slam face-first into a brick wall.

I cried about it.  I prayed about it. I hated myself for it.  And then… I was at peace about it.  What changed?  Did God change His mind?

No.  I changed my understanding of God’s priorities.  First I realized that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.  God gave me this personality and these urges for a reason. I’m not saying “It’s OK because it’s God’s fault I do something awful”; I’m just saying I’m grateful that I exist, and I know one day I’ll find out why I got the weird parts in the mix.  One possibility is that the extra dose of femininity that makes me prefer dresses also made me a gentler husband and father. I know for sure that once I started dressing more or less full time my stress levels went down considerably.

I also came to realize that we will ALWAYS sin — whether it’s “wearing that which pertains to a woman” or getting drunk or disobeying the laws of the government God placed in authority over us or gossiping or undercutting our tithe or whatever — and we are already condemned for it. The good news is that we are also forgiven… and because God doesn’t weigh sins according to some arbitrary standard of quality we do, my crossdressing is forgiven right along with my speeding and all the times I didn’t stop at a glass of wine or a single margarita but intentionally got myself good and snockered so I could sleep better (which never actually works, since I end up getting up to pee 82 times overnight).

So no, I don’t believe that crossdressing is NOT a sin… but I confessed all to God and asked Him to take it away from me if it is interfering with the two commandments*, and so far He has not chosen to do so.  I am extremely thankful that it’s at least a problem I can keep within the confines of my own home and family… I read about these brother/sisters who are so obsessed with crossdressing that they risk their marriages, their jobs, their very lives by putting the dressing ahead of all other priorities, and I wonder if I would have the strength to stop if the urge got so strong that I couldn’t think straight.  Probably not.

* Yeah, two, not ten commandments and you know exactly what I mean.  If we try our best to love God and love our neighbor — even the jerk who hates you and can’t possibly be loved — then all the other rules and regulations are irrelevant.

How’s THAT for a heavy sermon to end the day on?  🙂


About Ralph

Male. Straight. Married.
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12 Responses to Deuteronomy 22:5 revisited

  1. UPDATE: In one of those bizarre cosmic coincidences, a friend who also writes on his struggles with crossdressing, faith, and marriage wrote his own article about Deuteronomy 22:5. I wonder how soon before we both simultaneously start hearing a five-note sequence in our heads beamed down from the mother ship?

    Read Author’s take on the subject at his blog, Imitations of Reality:

  2. Doug says:

    Man Ralph. You have to do something with the font size. My 65 year eyes find it very difficult to read. But that might just be me.

  3. I looked into it, but apparently cheapskates like me who use only the free blog don’t get to choose font sizes; that costs thirty clams. It’s outrageous the way those rotten dotcoms think they have a right to make a living!

  4. Doug says:

    If you’re using WordPress, there are close to 100 FREE themes to use. Go to your Dashboard/Appearance/ Themes….Voila Mes amies!!

  5. Doug says:

    I can see! I can See!……….LOL

  6. Hallelujah, a miracle!

  7. thorin25 says:

    Hi Ralph, I took some time tonight and made it through all your blog posts. Don’t worry, it didn’t cause me any problems 🙂 You have a lot of interesting posts and some I want to delve more into. I particularly was interested in your post about playing video games as female characters. I’ll write about that sometime too.

    On this post, first of all, good research on the “malakoi” word in Corinthians. I should post some day about that. But to do that, I’d have to get time to really study that passage. However, I’d disagree with you about churches not making a big deal about certain sins. Certainly churches sometimes let some things slide that they shouldn’t, but none of them would admit to that being okay. I’ve personally never heard of a church that thinks its okay to lie, or cheat on taxes, slander, be boastful, etc. In fact in the last year alone, I’ve mentioned all of those things in my sermons multiple times. However, let’s just grant and say that churches weren’t preaching against those things enough – that doesn’t make them and other sins somehow okay. That is not a logical argument. That would just mean churches are sinning by ignoring some sins and not others.

    As far as thinking crossdressing is a sin, but saying we are still forgiven. I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve been a Christian for my whole life, and there has been plenty of crossdressing in it, that I know I am forgiven for. But what I say next, I say because I believe you are my brother in Christ, and I love you, but I really think you need to be careful.

    It is very true that crossdressing it not near as important to worry about as the two greatest commandments. Cheating on our taxes also isn’t as big of a deal as those two commandments. But what does it mean to love God? John 14:15 – Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” We know that we love God when we are trying to obey his commands. That means true love of God is striving as best as we can to obey everything God commanded us, from not murdering all the way to not cheating on our taxes.

    I’m the first to agree that we won’t do so perfectly and we will continue to sin until Jesus returns. But there is a difference between not being able to obey God perfectly and love him perfectly, and purposely living a lifestyle of sin. There is a difference between crossdressing continually all the time without trying to fight it, and crossdressing once in a long while only failing when temptation gets the best of you, but then repenting and continuing the fight against it.

    I recommend the book called “loving God” by Chuck Colson. It’s full of great stories of people learning how to love God by obeying him.

    What is the motivation for obedience? It’s not that we need to be obedient enough in order to earn salvation. We don’t believe in salvation by works. If we earned it, then we would have little reason to do more than necessary to obey God. But we do good out of love for God in response to what Jesus has done. Jesus paid for all of our sins, paid the infinite price, in order to save us even though we didn’t deserve it at all, and didn’t contribute to it at all. How can we repay something of infinite worth? We can’t. But his extreme love for us transforms our hearts making us love him in return. We then live for him out of thanksgiving and gratitude for what he has done. We do all we can possibly do to love him and obey him. We want to do it because of the costly price Jesus paid to save us.

    So I worry when I hear you say, I can sin, because I know I am forgiven. If a person really truly understands what Jesus did for us, and really loves Jesus, then we don’t talk about what amount of sin we can get away with. We talk about how we can continually strive to love and serve and obey Jesus as much as we can.

    I’m not saying you are not a true Christian. Like I said, what you said worries me, but only God knows your heart. Please think about this more and remember I say these hard things because I care. If you had rationalized that crossdressing was not sinful, I’d be less worried actually, because at least you wouldn’t be willfully sinning. But it troubles me that you think it is sinful, but still are purposely doing it.

  8. thorin25 says:

    Sorry Ralph, I didn’t mean to write so much, haha, turned out to be a long response.

  9. Wow! You have given me so much to think about (and re-think). Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to me, and not hold back.

  10. thorin25 says:

    We have another passage to consider as well, please read my recent post and give me your thoughts.

  11. jelwood1001 says:

    Hi Ralph. I’m also a married (with five kids no less!) Christian crossdresser who struggles with issues of faith regarding CD. Interesting take you have on Deut 22, I’ll try read more of your blog when find the time. Have a good day

  12. Ralph says:

    Thank you for visiting, JElwood1001. Is the J for Jake? “We’re on a mission from God…” 🙂 I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this difficult subject.

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