In Deuteronomy 22:5, perhaps the key text regarding clothing, God tells us that, “a woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” Some Christians hold to the conviction that pants are garments for men. If a woman wears pants, therefore, she violates God’s law by wearing men’s clothing. She has sinned. It is important to note, however, that the text, though written in a specific time and from within a particular cultural context, does not specify which garments belong to a man and which garments belong to a woman. The command is principal in nature and transcendent in scope, not culture-bound and specific. That is, there is a universal good to which the command appeals that is not bound to the historical community and context of the people of Israel during the Exodus. However, God does not want men setting out to dress as women or women as men. Any attempt to purposefully blur the binary distinction between male and female does violence to the Gospel, the image of God, and God’s created order. This explains why Deuteronomy 22:5 cannot be more specific than it is. The male/female binary distinction is essential to our humanity and is thus foundational to every civilization, culture, and nation but the expressions of this binary will differ from people to people, place to place, and time to time. What might be seen as masculine attire in one time and place might be considered feminine in another. This is an in-depth conversation with JOURNAL author Mathew M. Kennedy about what the Bible teaches about cross-dressing and the gender binary. 

This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Matthew M. Kennedy about his online exclusive article, “Does the Bible Dictate Clothing Style by Gender? Cross Dressing and the Gender Binary”.

Starting in February 2021, all online-exclusive articles, have had a early access window for Journal subscribers only before being made public. Given the prevalence of the subject matter in the daily news and our lives , our editorial board decided to make this available to the public as soon as possible. Also consider this a free preview of the quality and in-depth research that goes into our online-exclusives. To learn more about subscribing and gaining early access to future online-exclusive articles, please see our FAQ section on Early Access to Online-Exclusive Articles by clicking here and subscribing by clicking here.

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