copyright 2001, D. Glenn Arthur Jr.
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Someone rather better informed than I am has responded to my request for additional information/corrections -- a more accurate version of this page will be coming soon (probably sometime in April 1997).

This is an edited (partly rewritten) version of something I posted to Based on the feedback I've been getting, I thought it was worth putting it up on the web as well.

What The Bible Says About Crossdressing

This was written in response to:

>>>I believe that the Bible says it IS sin for a man to wear a women's
>>>garment, and a women to wear a man's garment.  That's taken from the
>>>book of Deuteronomy chapter 5 verse 22.  
(Nope. It's 22:5, not 5:22.)

>>>Mind you, THAT is the only
>>>reference I can find that says anything about it, but I feel guilty for
>>>doing it.  
>>>Anyone got a bible at hand to check on this? 
Now, if you're not Christian/Jewish/Moslem, then what the JudeoChristian Bible says just plain doesn't matter. But since I'm a Christian, I'll tackle this question from a Christian perspective.

What Deuteronomy Says

As far as I know this is the only reference to crossdressing in the Bible.

Let's also note what else Deut. 22 tells us.

What Does This Mean For The Modern Christian?

Now that we've put it in context (though for homework you should go read a few other chapters of Deuteronomy as well), here's some insight from a Christian perspective:

Most (not all) of the other Christians I've talked to about the Mosaic laws have agreed that Christ "fulfilled" the law and that Christ's law supplants Mosaic law -- otherwise Christians would have to keep kosher, cover our heads at all times, not perform any "creative acts" on the sabbath (note that this is interpreted by modern Jews to include not turning on any electrical devices, and that the sabbath runs from sundown to sundown (actually from sundown to an hour after sundown, I think) Friday night/Saturday)).

How many of the folks who're quoting Deut. 22:5 at you obey all of that? Ironically, I come closer than most of them, despite being a crossdresser, because by being vegetarian I'm quite close to keeping kosher (and I know just enough about it to know that an Orthodox Jew is noticeably harder to find food for in downtown D.C. than a vegetarian is). Also, most of the ones who've quoted that verse at me have been clean-shaven, and I believe there's a biblical injunction against that too!

Anyone out there wear poly/cotton or wool/linen or wool/cotton blends?

A Jewish Perspective

I asked a few knowledgeable Jewish friends about Deuteronomy (though I have not yet asked a Rabbi), and they said that there are laws that are meant to apply to all of humanity and other laws that only apply to the Jews, and that Deut. 22:5 was only applicable to Jews. Though Christianity used Judeaism as its foundation, Jews (and most Christians) do not consider Christians to be Jews.

(Ironically, the last person to mention this verse to me was a woman wearing pants. I explained pretty much what I've written above, and pointed out to her that none of my female Orthodox Jewish friends wore pants. She said she'd have to ponder that.)

Finally, I recall (but can't find the reference) seeing a quote on the net some time back from a Rabbi discussing Deut. 22:5 who said that it should not be applied to transgendered people even if they're Jewish (though he might have been talking specifically about transsexuals). But I'm not sure exactly what his reasoning was or exactly what he said about it. It's been a while since I've seen the reference.

By the way, I've heard that the historical background for Deut. 22:5 was that some other religion in the area practiced crossdressing as part of its rituals, and this was really an injunction against participating in such rituals that were part of the "competition". (n.b.: I have not researched this claim.) Read enough OT and you'll notice a lot of "... And don't go to the priests/seers/sorcerers OF THE FOLKS YOU JUST CONQUERED" in there.


So unless you're Jewish (come to think of it, I don't know about Moslems -- could someone with a clue share it with me?) you don't have to worry about Deut. 22:5 -- unless you're one of the minority of Christians who doesn't think that Christians are exempt from strict obvservance of Old Testament law. And if you are, then there's a whole looooong list of other things to worry about besides crossdressing. Do you know how much work it is to keep a kosher kitchen if you don't live in a Jewish neighbourhood? And just how thoroughly you have to clean before Passover? (Come to think of it, just learning all of that stuff is difficult if you weren't raised in the culture ... I know an awfull lot about it for a goy, but every time I talk to a Jewish friend about it I realize how much I still don't know.)

So if someone tells you that crossdressing is a sin, tell 'em, "Yeah, I know, it's in Deuteronomy 22:5. Let's talk a little about the law, shall we? Uh, you DO keep kosher, don't you? And ah, you NEVER wear mixed fibers, right? And gosh, that's amazingly little facial hair you have -- I mean, I know you'd never SHAVE (or 'round the corners of your beard'), right? And you wouldn't even TOUCH a member of the opposite sex unless you're married to her, not even to shake hands? Er, you DO know your Bible, don't you? At LEAST the part about he who is without sin casting the first stone, in the other half from all those other rules?"

Then visit his house and see whether there's a railing around his roof.

(Finally, it's an tradition to mention what underwear you're wearing when you sign your posts. A silly, cute, friendly tradition. Here's how I signed the original version of this essay)

					Yours in Christ,
					-- Glenn
					   (black panties in 
					   violation of Deut. 22:5
					   and Deut. 22:11)
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