Reverent Responses

You Make Me Want to Puke!
Rev. Vera I. Bourne Responds

[Posted on October 28, 2000]


I'm so glad you wrote to the magazine and expressed your anger and confusion. It must be difficult to have a brother whom you love who chooses to cross-dress. Have you talked at length to him about his need to cross-dress and your aversion to this habit? I have no experience in this field I will not attempt to offer you any explanation. But I would like to share some thoughts on clothing and fashion adopted by various cultures, as well as take a look at the laws recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy.

In Australia, and in most Western nations, we accept slacks and shirts, or suits as clothing suitable for men, but this is not the case in most of the world's nations. As a woman who is half-Maori I offer you the traditional clothing worn by men from various Polynesian nations, for men here wear skirts, either of material or reeds (grass-skirts). Yet these men, as is demonstrated when they engage in the haka before a sporting match, are not cross-dressing, but are wearing those garments which appropriate the qualities demonstrated in battles in which their ancestors were engaged. Men from Arab nations were long flowing robes, which we might consider more fitted to women, but which in fact protect the wearers from the intense heat of the sun. Traditional Japanese clothing for the warrior class and for the wealthy rulers has never fitted our concept of masculine clothing. In earlier periods of history men in England, America and even Australia wore powdered wigs, something upon which fashion would frown nowadays. Fashions change, and we change our clothing to suit our occupations. Currently across the world, those competing in equestrian dressage events, be they men or women, basically wear the same outfits - a practical necessity.

Deuteronomy records regulations by which the infant nation of Israel was governed. To choose just one law, e.g. that contained in your reference to Deuteronomy 22: 5, while ignoring the rest of these laws is unbalanced. Let us look together at other regulations contained in this book: Deuteronomy 21: 18-21 recommends the punishment for a stubborn and rebellious son as stoning by the men of the town. In our society such practise would bring with it the death penalty. Deuteronomy 22; 9 denies farmers the right to plant any two different varieties of grape in the one vineyard, yet we know that this is a practical method of maintaining a longer harvesting season, thereby utilising the available labour force more efficiently. Deuteronomy 22: 20-21prescribes death by stoning for any woman found not to be a virgin at her wedding. Likewise both parties found in adulterous relationships are to be stoned to death. Deuteronomy 23 commences with a list of all those who are denied access to worship in the Temple, and that includes the descendents to the tenth generation of those deemed as sinners. Deuteronomy 20: 14 allows the women, children, livestock and all goods captured in a war to be plundered by the incoming forces, while all men are to be slaughtered. Surely you will see from these brief examples that Deuteronomy's regulations have no credence in today's society.

We who have accepted Jesus as our Saviour are no longer bound by the regulations such as those listed in the Book of Deuteronomy, instead we follow gladly the commands of Christ, to make God the centre of our life and love, and to treat all people as those who are beloved of God. In obedience to Christ we abstain from judging others, for as our Saviour declared at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Thank you for the blessing with which you ended your letter, it is indeed our hope and assurance that indeed God will have mercy not only on our souls, but also on the souls of all people throughout the world. Thank you taking the time to write of your concerns.