The Bible doesn’t say a lot about crossdressing, but says more about homosexuality. How can understanding homosexuality and the Bible’s view of it, help us to understand better how to think about crossdressing? A friend sent me this resource, an article about homosexuality thinking it might be helpful on this blog. I agree. It’s full of good stuff, mostly about how to think about homosexuality, but also is relevant to all people in that we all have broken sexuality. And many of the principles he talks about are very helpful to us in understanding how to look at crossdressing as Christians.
It’s written by Sam Williams, professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The article/lecture which you can read here is called – “A Christian Psychology of and Response to Homosexuality.” I highly encourage you to read it. It’s really very good. And I’m just going to reflect on a few highlights, so my post won’t make as much sense if you don’t read what he wrote. It’s written from a Christian perspective. If you are not a Christian it’s still very much worth a read, but you might disagree with some of the conclusions. If you would rather watch a video than read it, you can watch the entire lecture – here.
The lecture begins very personally as he talks about his strong friendships with gay men and the struggles that they went through. The purpose of the lecture is not to argue the biblical viewpoint about homosexuality. He admits he agrees with the dominant Christian position that homosexual desires are not a good thing and that it is sinful to give in to them. His purpose is mainly to help Christians think about the causes and nature of homosexuality, and how to care for those well who are struggling with it.
He talks a lot about the differences between just having same sex attraction (SSA) and deciding to make your same sex attraction or orientation as a fundamental part of your identity. I never thought about the fact that “being gay” as an identity never existed until our recent Western culture, even though homosexuality has been practiced for thousands of years. I also thought it was interesting how he explained (in a footnote) how the Bible doesn’t talk in terms of gay identity, but just uses more descriptive terms about what a person does. Often I hear people say the Bible doesn’t talk about committed homosexual relationships, and the like. But the Bible does not need to. It describes concrete behavior which teaches us that the desires and actions themselves are “unnatural” and disordered. I think the same may be said about crossdressing. The Bible describes the concrete behavior but doesn’t need to get into all the details about people being crossdressers, or those with gender identity disorder, or transsexuals, etc. These are new modern labels, but it doesn’t mean the Bible doesn’t talk about these things. It just does so in the everyday language of concrete description. (Not to mention that other biblical truths and themes play a large part in helping us in how to think about homosexuality or crossdressing).
He talks a fair amount of “gay” identity and how some people with same sex attraction or orientation construct being “gay” as a big part of their identity, and others do not. He said that often the acceptance of such an identity shuts down communication with those who might want to explain why giving in to those desires is not the best thing. Here is a good quote from his footnote –
“It is this incorporation of homosexuality into the center of that person’s identity that makes even the most sensitive and winsome conversation so difficult with a person who identifies themselves as “gay”. If “gay” is who you are, then even the kindest challenge or disagreement is perceived at least as a personal rejection, and at worst as hateful
or “violent.” (Losing our Virtue, 1998, p.4).”
Similarly, I have found that the fact that I am a person of faith immediately deters people from reading what I have to say on this blog, rather than seeing if what I say is intelligent. They immediately dismiss me as foolish or intolerant. More on that in a future blog post.
He talks about how another option for framing identity as a person with same sex attraction is to find identity through the framework of biblical truth about God. A biblical view of life sees same sex attraction as disordered, and inconsistent with God’s will for sexuality. He says, “The key issue, for anybody, and particularly for Christians, is which of our desires and affections we choose to be defined by.” A Christian should find their identity in being a child of God, with Jesus as our savior. He says, “‘I’ (in the deepest sense of that little word) belong to Him. He redefines and redirects every part of my being.” In the same way, as Christians who struggle with crossdressing we should not let it define us. We are children of God, we are men of God. We belong to Jesus. Our crossdressing desires are disordered and unnatural, whether they are sexual desires or emotional desires. They are ultimately the result of the Fall into sin by Adam and Eve. But they don’t define who we truly are in God’s eyes.
The author also summarizes well the current findings on the causes of homosexual desires, looking at both biological and psychological and other causes. I found this part very helpful. He talked a fair amount about boys being insecure in their masculinity and identifying more with girls, and how that might relate to developing homosexuality. I’m not sure what I think about that. I think that if it is true, we should probably broaden it out and say it can help contribute not just to homosexuality but to crossdressing or gender identity disorders instead.
He also spent a fair amount of time explaining various types of treatments for helping people with same sex attractions. He explained how most people, even Christians, seem to think that treatments are not successful at all. But that is not the case, largely because people understand success incorrectly. If we think of success as people suddenly becoming completely heterosexual like a light switch being turned on, yes that rarely happens. But if we think of success as people being able to resist same sex attractions, having markedly less same sex attraction, or having increased heterosexual attraction, or finding peace and wholeness and contentment in life, then there is a lot of success! Many good therapists and Christian organizations are doing a lot to help those that are struggling with unwanted same sex attraction which he explains on page 12.
The same applies to crossdressing. Healing means being able to resist the desires, and finding emotional peace and health. It means strengthening our marriages and loving our wives more faithfully. It means being content with who God made us to be, rather than living separate identities as both a man and woman. It does not mean that suddenly all of our crossdressing desires will go away never to be seen again. We shouldn’t make people expect that, and we shouldn’t expect it ourselves. Yes it could happen and think does happen for some. But we can still have “success” in healing without that happening.
The author also explained well how the prevailing notion in our culture that same sex attraction is not consciously chosen, does in fact fit well with what the Bible says. We are born in sin, with a sinful nature. In the article we read –
“So, the starting point for a biblical psychology of homosexuality is fundamentally no different than the origin of many of our sindriven character flaws, whether it is selfishness and narcissism, or jealousy and envy, or a bad temper, or worry and anxiety, or mania or depression, or addictions or whatever. Everybody is born congenitally defective with some innate bio-psychological weakness, which finds its origin in the fall and subsequently in hearts and bodies riddled with the cancer of sin.”
and “As great-grandchildren of the enlightenment, we like to think of ourselves as free moral agents, choosing rationally among possible actions, but Scripture unmasks that cheerful illusion…the Bible’s sober anthropology rejects the apparently commonsense assumption that only freely chosen acts are morally culpable. . . . The very nature of sin is that it is not freely chosen. . . . We are in bondage to sin but still accountable to God’s righteous judgment of our actions. . . . In light of this theological anthropology, it cannot be maintained that a homosexual orientation is morally neutral because it is involuntary.”
We are in bondage to sin. It’s not just freely chosen actions that matter. It doesn’t matter whether we chose to desire those of the same sex, or chose to desire crossdressing. We are under God’s judgement for all of our sinful actions whatever they may be. But if we have accepted Jesus as our savior, we have full forgiveness for our sin and assurance that we do not have to face punishment for our sin.
He says the Gospel hope for homosexuals is that “The Gospel changes the most important things initially, and it changes everything eventually.” And that is the hope for us as crossdressers too. The good news of the Gospel is that we are forgiven. Our status in God’s eyes is changed because of his grace. And we actually being to resist sin in our lives and live for him. But our sinful desires don’t completely go away. We don’t completely stop sinning. We are not made perfect yet. But part of the Gospel good news is that Jesus is returning and when he does, he will make us new, and totally take away all of our sinful desires. We will then sin no more. That is wonderful news and very comforting to me.
Last, he suggest 4 responses to those struggling with same sex attraction, or 4 responses to homosexuality in general. I think they apply just as well to the issue of crossdressing.
“First, the essential starting point is BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF, OTHERS, AND GOD. ”
I’ve done this with my crossdressing, both on this blog and with many people in real life. Only if we are honest with each other can we get good support, understanding, and counsel from others. And we find out we are not alone, that we all have baggage and brokenness to deal with. Further, we then find that all of us have sinful desires we need to resist, that sometimes are extremely difficult and counter cultural. If we know that others have been able to give up certain sins in order to follow Jesus, we realize we can do so as well.
“Second, we can CULTIVATE A RENEWED RESPECT FOR DIFFERENCES.” “We need relationships characterized by respect and acceptance in which various forms of masculinity are affirmed, of course, that are true to one’s God-given gender, but also cognizant of a variety of temperaments.” I think what he is saying in this part agrees with my view that we shouldn’t get so caught up in the traditional stereotypes. There are more ways to be a man than just by being a hunter and someone who likes cars. True manhood involves the fruits of the Spirit as I’ve talked about in other posts. The author says, “If the character of Jesus is not the main part of your view of manhood, then it is not biblical manhood.” I think we will not feel such a need to crossdress, if we allow ourselves to be the sensitive caring men with an eye for beauty that we are. That doesn’t make us female, and we shouldn’t have to crossdress to be ourselves.
“Third, we can EXPRESS A TYPE OF EMPATHY FOR PERSONS WITH SSA THAT COMPREHENDS HOW LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD IS UNDER THE CROSS.”
We are all equal in sin, we all need’s God’s grace, and we all need to fight sin together. We shouldn’t put homosexuality on a pedestal as if its the worst sin in the world or the only important one to focus on. We all have our own sins to deal with and we should be fighting them together. It shouldn’t be the homosexuals fighting sin with us watching. We should fight together, and of course deal with our own sins first before judging others. And all of us have equal forgiveness under the cross.
“Fourth, PROVIDE BIBLICAL HOPE FOR CHANGE.”
He talks a while at the end, and throughout about the great hope we can have for change in our lives. God is a powerful God, and he helps us to grow in our sanctification. Great change is possible, and ultimately that change will happen fully when Jesus returns.
If you look at the bottom of the video link, there are some interesting comments given. The first comment shown has several criticisms which I think are good and worth taking a look at. I really like one guy’s comment – “I really wish instead of focusing on one side of the sexual spectrum as being disordered that it would of been shared that all sides of the sexual spectrum needs redemption and wholeness in Christ.” He also recommends some good books. And it sounds like he has some healthy constructive criticisms about ex-gay ministries.