Is crossdressing sinful? How do we know? What is our basis for determining truth?
Probably most people have not thought too much about this. A full answer for anyone would surely take pages and pages. This post is my attempt to give a general answer to this question, one that I find helpful for my own life. Most of us would probably admit that we can’t just trust our own insights and feelings to know whether something is true. We need other people. We need learning. That is the whole point of having schools. There is truth out here, facts to be learned, and we can’t do it on our own.
Our answers for figuring out what is truth will be somewhat different based on what we are talking about. For example, if we are talking about learning about the world, science and so on, then study, experimentation, and research would be really important. But what about morality or religion? How do we know whether something is morally wrong or right or indifferent?
In very general terms, I find my answers to morality in 3 places, 3 places which I think should ideally all be in agreement. Let me also say at the outset that I think there are some moral objective truths that fit for all people. God is real. He does hold us accountable for what we do. There are things that are wrong, and things that are right. Morality is not a free for all.
1. I learn my truth about morality from the Bible, which I believe is God’s Word. It is inspired by God, with God as the main author, even though also written by humans at the sametime. I’ve said a lot about this already in other posts and comments. You can see my post here – How to Interpret the Bible. Also, 2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. The Bible itself claims to be God’s Word. I believe it is. Some believe it isn’t. But I think people have to come to grips with the Bible’s claims. You either believe it is fully true and really from God, or if you don’t believe this, you should realize you have no reason to trust anything the Bible says. A lot of people want some kind of middle ground, which just doesn’t make sense. It also doesn’t make sense to me to believe that God exists, but to reject the Bible as God’s Word. Does it make sense to believe that God exists but that he didn’t speak to us to let us know his will and desires and truth? That’s almost ridiculous. So if you reject the Bible as God’s Word to us, then what do you believe IS the way that God has revealed his truth to us?
If you believe the Bible is true, Christians also believe it trumps other sources of truth. And the Bible has a lot to say about morality. The only problems are that sometimes people don’t like what God teaches us through the Bible, and sometimes the Bible is hard to interpret correctly or hard to agree on how to interpret it.
2. I figure out truth by my own personal experience, feelings, and logic. I also include in this the subjective promptings of my conscience and the Holy Spirit who I believe is living in me.
This source of truth is fundamental. Without our own personal experience and minds we would not be able to think at all. But I also believe that as a Christian the Holy Spirit guides my conscience and leads me to truth. The problem with this is that our own experience is limited. Our knowledge, wisdom, and understanding is limited. And sometimes we think the Holy Spirit is telling us something when it’s really just our own thoughts. Our own experience, thinking, and conscience help us to think about morality, but they can’t do so perfectly. We can see that this is the case in that we as humans don’t all agree on morality together right now. Our consciences tell us different things, and some things seem to have been harmful in one person’s experience, and that same thing seems to have been helpful in another person’s experience. And some people’s consciences are just extremely flawed or non-existent, whether they were born that way or if it was a result of their bad upbringing. These things make it hard to determine the truth just by this #2 alone.
3. I figure out truth by listening to the community. We learn truth by learning from others and hearing their perspectives and insights. None of us got where we are on our own. With morality, we need to hear the voices of others. It’s helpful to think about what the majority believes. It’s helpful to think about what the experts believe. It’s helpful to think about which people’s arguments make the most logical sense to us. It’s helpful to think about where those other people got their views from. For morality, I think the Christian community is even more important than the general community. What does the Church overall say about an issue? What has the Church said all throughout time and place and history? What can Christians in Bangladesh and Malawi teach us? What has Church tradition said throughout the ages? How have Christians interpreted specific Bible passages down through the ages, especially those Christians closest in proximity to Christ. The problem with this (3) is that sometimes mob mentality rules and even false beliefs can be shared by a majority.
Because all 3 of these things have their own difficulties, I think we should strive to base our beliefs on morality through all of them together. We should strive to see agreement on them. If you are basing your view off of only one of these things, and the other two disagree, you are probably actually wrong. This is a good check for me. If I believe something and it only fits one of these categories, I try to have enough humility to realize I’m probably wrong.
Let’s look at some examples from all three. So first, the Bible. Some have used the Bible to justify holy war against non-Christians trying to force them to become Christians. But we can see that this is probably a wrong interpretation of the Bible because of points 2 and 3. In our own experience and personal feelings (2), we feel and know that this is just wrong. It doesn’t fit with the rest of what we believe. And on (3), it doesn’t fit what the Church has said throughout time and history. Even if a majority of “supposed” Christians at one time and place would have been okay with violence against non-Christians, most Christians around the world and throughout all of church history have not been okay with such an action. After looking at our feelings and the community, it can cause us to relook at our interpretation of that part of Scripture, and maybe we will find that we’ve been interpreting it wrong.
Second, our personal experience. Sometimes we get crazy leaders like Hitler who are convinced in their minds about something horrific, like that Jews are inferior and need to be killed off. Maybe he truly thought he was right and that God was guiding him into such actions. But he should have realized that if the Bible disagreed with his actions, and the rest of the world as well, that he must have been wrong.
Third, the community. Sometimes even the majority of people can be together making wrong moral judgments. In America’s history, we were a little bit like this on the issue of slavery. Most people thought at one time that it was okay and normal. But there were still some people with personal conviction that it was wrong, and of course the Bible which tells us to love others, not enslave and torture them.
You see, we need all 3 of these to be in agreement. This is simplistic I realize, but I believe that thinking of these 3 things in general terms can give us a needed reality check at times. (I realize that it is possible for us to have a wrong interpretation of Scripture, and be ignoring the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and be in a community who is doing the same, but hopefully that doesn’t happen to often.)
So with crossdressing put into this schema –
Sometimes we might personally feel and think that it is okay for us to do. Maybe there is someone out there that has no personal feelings of guilt about it. It just doesn’t seem wrong to them. But we have to remember that the Bible says that it is wrong, and that the majority of the Christian community says that it is wrong.
For me, the Bible clearly says that crossdressing is wrong. See my Deuteronomy 22:5 post. My personal feelings and logic and guidance of the Holy Spirit have told me it is wrong. I feel guilt every time I do it. I hurt my marriage every time I do it. I feel confused and conflicted and dirty every time I do it. It consumes me like an addiction and interferes with my life. It has only caused me pain and hardship and deception and confusion and loneliness. When I have crossdressed it has even made me feel sick. And the majority of the Christian community not only agrees with my interpretation of the Bible that crossdressing is wrong, but the majority of the Christian community also feels that it is wrong and it seems messed up to them. You’d have to go a long way to convince me that crossdressing is not harmful and sinful. A cord of three strands is not easily broken – my feelings/experience, the Bible, and the Christian community.
There have been times that I have rationalized that crossdressing is okay and deceived myself. Then I would give in, but the Holy Spirit would give me a strong warning and wake up call to stop. And then I would stop, and all of a sudden realize all the lies I was giving in to. All the rationalizations I had built up would come crumbling down. And I would thank God for giving his Holy Spirit to me.
Some of you out there maybe are continually fighting against the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and continually stopping up your ears to God. The more sin we allow in our lives, I think the harder it is to hear God speaking to us. Eventually, maybe we can completely remove any feelings of conscience or guilt over a certain action if we just keep rationalizing and giving in.
Think about how you decide what is morally right and wrong, and determine if your system really seems like a reliable system. For those of you that only trust your own feelings, think about if that logically makes sense. I hope these few general tips help.