Troublesome Topic: Crossdressing Is Deception

Lesson 8 of 9

Deuteronomy 22:5


A woman must not take upon herself anything that pertains to

Go to footnote number

a man; a man must not put on a garment of a woman, for all who do these things are despicable to YHVH your ELOHIM (read Adonai your Elohim).


A woman must not pretend to be a man by taking upon herself anything that a man would use; a man must not try to be a woman by putting on the clothes of a woman; this action and those who do it are despicable to THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD who is your CREATOR AND RULER.

First allow me to explain why we think the clothes of ancient times were very similar, but they saw them as very different. In those days men and women both dressed in long flowing robe-like garments. It was not that men wore pants and women wore dresses; everyone wore what we might call a “dress.” The main differences were the following: a man’s outer garment was more like a blanket, allowing him to spend the night out in the open if need be. This was not expected of a woman unless she were traveling, in which case she would be with a man, whose “blanket” she could share. A married woman’s “dress” had a slit in the middle between her breasts, and a large square or rectangular flap covering that slit. The square would extend 5 or 6 inches on each side of the slit. The covering square was only attached at the corners, or maybe across the top and the bottom, but the sides were open. This left a gap on each side of the flap so mamma could put the baby’s head under that square that covered the slit. This design enabled her to breastfeed easily and also modestly. To them the differences in men’s and women’s clothing were primarily functional, but we focus on appearance and so we think their clothes looked almost the same.

This issue was not just about clothing and what we call cross-dressing. This was about pretending to be someone you are not.

Notice the footnote about the word I have rendered “anything pertaining to” a man. The word has nothing to do with clothing but refers to almost everything else under the sun. Thus, any time a woman tried to be a man it was considered wrong. It does not mention a woman’s clothing, but clothing would have been included by implication. Likewise, any time a man tried to be a woman it was wrong. In the case of the man, clothing is the example that was given.

The problem here was that the person doing these things was practicing deception and was expressing a dissatisfaction with the way God had made him or her. When it came to clothing, their emphasis was on function, and since men and women have different body types which allow for different functions, then man and women should not switch clothing as if they can switch functions just as easily.

What Was Being Taught?

In a broader sense, any time we use deception, God is not pleased. This includes all types of deception for any purpose. Pretending to be a member of the opposite sex is only an example. So this issue is much bigger than cross-dressing; it is an issue of honesty on all levels. God is a God of truth; Satan is the one who is characterized by deception, and two of Satan’s names mean “deceiver.” We don’t want to choose Satan’s side, but God’s side, the side of truth.

Likewise, any time we are not happy with the way God has made us, He is not pleased. He is the wise creator, so any disgruntled part of His creation will actually make him mad – “What? Are you saying I made a mistake? Are you questioning my choices?” This is why these actions were considered detestable in God’s sight. There may be something about yourself that you do not like and you blame God for it, but the reason you do not like that aspect of yourself is most likely because of culture’s expectations for life, not because of God’s purpose for life found in the Bible.

But we must remember that any time we are unhappy with how God has created us, and we try to make changes or use deception in order to be perceived differently, it will be called despicable by God.

The next lesson in this Covenant topical study is Old Testament Motivation to Abstain from Sexual Misconduct.

The next lesson in Why Is That in the Bible is: Why Did God Allow Polygamy?



The word I have rendered as “anything that pertains to” means “something prepared, or something finished,” and had a wide variety of uses, such as: “vessel, receptacle, utensil, apparatus, equipment, article, implement of labor, tool, instrument, furniture, paper reed.” You will notice that there is nothing in here specifically about clothing, although armor was included.