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What About Cross-dressing?


In Deuteronomy 22:5 it says, "A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this." Do you believe this applies to us today?

Steve Answers:

When I was a teen, women in America were beginning to wear pants on a more regular basis. But at my Christian school strict rules were in place. Females weren’t allowed to wear pants to school, unless it was a community service day or a play day or something like that.

I can remember when the rules changed (yes, sometimes rules actually do change), and females were allowed to wear pants. Some people clucked their tongues and said, "A woman shouldn’t dress like a man; the Bible clearly says that," referring to the text you mentioned.

I’ve heard the same argument about males who have long hair as well as females who have short hair. But if you’ve traveled to different countries and observed different cultures, it can crush your image of what’s appropriate in dress and hairstyle for males and females.

On my travels I’ve seen males wear short skirts and long skirts. Some males wear only a loincloth or a gourd. Some women wear pants, and others wear dresses. And still others wear something that’s neither a dress nor pants.

Your question prompted me to look in The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary to discover what some biblical scholars suggest as the meaning behind this verse. What I found was a warning against cross-dressing for immoral purposes (cross-dressing for sex).

The single paragraph in the commentary that relates to this verse concludes by pointing out that God created humans as male and female—two distinct genders—and the desire to minimize that distinction is bad. (See The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1030.)

I looked in two other commentaries and found similar ideas. Some outlined pagan religious practices and various forms of sexual practices quite deviant from God’s created intentions for sexuality.

So here’s a more direct response to your question. God made humans unique as male and female. Let’s not blur the differences, especially relating to a misuse of the sexuality God has given us.

In most cultures males and females dress differently from each other. Where there isn’t a large distinction, people learn to detect small differences. Check the male and female sections of clothing stores where you live, and see how much of a difference there is.

I don’t think this means that unisex clothing is wrong, nor is it wrong for a guy to dress up like a female for a school play or for a female to wear a dressy suit with pants and a tie. I do think it’s wrong to dress in drag and then go looking for sex. That’s not too surprising, is it? 

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