Homosexuality in the Old Testament Pt. 3
By: Rev. Charles Burnett-Morrow
Today we shall endeavor to deal with an Old Testament passage that many use against individuals of the Transgendered experience, as well as those who cross-dress for more recreational or professional purposes.
5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
Many who are not the least bit familiar with the customs of Old Testament times are not aware of the fact that many religious sects of that era, as well as some continuing even up to today, particularly in India, engaged in the practice of enslaving young boys, often castrating them in order to preserve their youthful appearance and softer, more female-like qualities. To this day, in India, these individuals are known as Eunuchs. And yet to many of us in more developed parts of the world, we recognize them as Transgendered persons. Their gender has been forcibly altered and they are made to live out their lives dressing and behaving as members of the opposite sex. In India, these individuals are believed to have special powers and are supported by the community in which they live. Many fear that to fail to give to these individuals may bring great bad luck or ill fortune upon them. I recently saw a show on television about these Indian “eunuchs.” I believe it was one of the news programs like “20/20” or “60 Minutes.”
In Biblical times, as it is even today in the Middle East region of our world, a man’s clothing and a woman’s clothing are very similar. Basically, they all wear robes and long flowing garments of one kind or another. It has really only been in my lifetime that the “unisex” movement introduced the notion of women wearing pants. In Scotland, men have been wearing kilts for centuries, and yet according to our customs relative to dress, a kilt is in fact a feminine garment. To this day, many “holiness” Pentecostal churches prohibit women from wearing pants, even if those pants are specifically designed, cut, and manufactured for women. It is very easy to take this prohibition to unnecessary extremes if one is completely ignorant of the times and customs surrounding the writing of this particular passage.
Sometimes to understand why God said something, or even to fully understand the meaning of what He has said, one must consider His intent. In the Leviticus law, God was trying to draw lines between pagan and heathen practices and His people. He did not want them imitating many of the customs and practices of the idol worshipping nations that the Jewish people had conquered in establishing the nation of Israel. Moses, as well as many of his contemporaries and peers, was well aware of the many religious cult practices engaged in by the various idolatrous nations that surrounded them. As God gave His law to Moses, Moses was fully aware of the intent of the law - to prevent the people of Israel from incorporating or imitating various religious practices into their own worship of the one true and living Jehovah God. Even after all the prohibitions, the people of God frequently wandered after false gods and idols of stone and wood as the religious systems that were associated with those idols were more interesting or appealing to them than was the relatively bland practices and customs of Judaism. Why are their people yet today who choose to follow after the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, even when so many of their customs and practices are completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles. They like the pomp, the pageantry, the ceremony and ritual. So it was with God’s people of old.
The prohibition on individuals dressing in the apparel of the opposite gender certainly had nothing to do with voluntary cross-dressing for recreation or performance. Throughout the dark ages only men were permitted to perform on stage and this required that men assume the roles and attire of all the female parts in plays given before a public audience. An individual who dresses “in drag” today is doing so voluntarily, and is not being forced to live their life as a woman. They put it on and they take it off. It is a costume, a persona. While some GLBT Christians within our community like to be able to point their fingers at those who engage inn this kind of activity, the truth is, it is perfectly acceptable SO LONG AS IT DOES NOT INVOLVE ONE’S ATTEMPTING TO MALICIOUSLY DECEIVE OTHERS OR FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROSTITUTION!
Individuals of the Transgendered/Transsexual experience are in an entirely different situation, as they genuinely believe that their true inward identity does not match their external sexual genitalia. In this instance, one could argue, is it wrong for one who believes himself to be a woman to dress in accordance with his internal convictions that he is a woman? Is it wrong for a Caucasian individual to don the attire made popular by the Hip-Hop society, when after all, the majority of those who embrace this fashion are not white but black?
We could debate all day and night the issues relative to the Transgendered/Transsexual. I will not engage in such a debate. My Lord has taught me that if I am to be like Him, I must learn to love and embrace people as they are. It matters not whether they are right or wrong in their personal beliefs relative to themselves. It only matters that I show every human being the same genuine love and care that the Lord has shown me. While there are those within the TG/TS spectrum who may genuinely need psychological assistance, there are also those who are every bit as balanced and psychologically sound as you and I. I would not push an individual out of the church who believes that they are Mary Queen of Scots. Why in the world would I do so to someone who simply dresses as though they were a member of the opposite gender? When we can allow what our eyes behold to become so great an obstacle that we can no longer embrace another human being and love within the context of God’s forgiven family, I contend that we have lost our salvation!
So again we see that within the context of the times in which it was written, God’s Word is clear in it’s meaning and application. To pull it out of the context of the time in which it was written and try to apply it to our modern society at large would be a grave mistake.