One of the things that I have come across the most in conversations about crossdressing or homosexuality (and many other controversial issues), is the charge that Christians just pick and choose what they want to follow from the Bible. Non-Christians (and even some confused Christians) claim that it would be ridiculous to follow the laws of the Old Testament. They see that Christians do not follow all the commands in the Bible literally, and so they say we are inconsistent. They say we are just picking and choosing what laws we want to follow and what ones we want to ignore. And so of course we follow the ones we want to follow and condemn others who aren’t following what we want. Their conclusion is that Christianity as a whole is ridiculous. It is foolish to believe the Bible is true and a guide for life, because they think they see even Christians not really believing that or following that. Or some people, instead of rejecting the Bible and the Christian faith completely, they just follow the teachings of the New Testament, or possibly just the words of Jesus in the Gospels, or possibly just the words of Jesus they think are recorded authentically. The Old Testament is seen as archaic and primitive and offensive.
This whole issue comes to a head with passages like Deuteronomy 22:5 (my post on that verse here). Even though the Bible says that dressing in the clothes of the opposite gender is detestable to God, the claim is that we can ignore this verse, just like Christians ignore plenty of other Old Testament laws.
But we cannot just arbitrarily pick and choose what to follow in the Bible. We cannot be inconsistent. And I believe most Christians are not in fact being inconsistent. It’s about knowing how to interpret the Bible correctly (see my post here). But for those of you who don’t want to read my really long posts on biblical interpretation and on Deuteronomy 22:5, then read this great article by Tim Keller – here.
It’s called “Old Testament Law and the charge of inconsistency.” It’s a short essay and in simple terms he explains why we as Christians seem to be picking and choosing, but what we are in fact actually doing. He explains why our application of the Old Testament makes sense in light of what Jesus did for us. This explains why we can say certain things like adultery and homosexuality and theft are still sinful things for us to do today (and I would include crossdressing), and things like eating shellfish are not sinful things for us to do.
So back to crossdressing. I still contend, as you can read in my post, that Deut. 22:5 is a moral law upholding the distinctions between the sexes. I think this distinction between the sexes is clearly upheld in the New Testament, (especially in 1 Corinthians 11 which I am currently working on a long post about). Crossdressing is a moral action and something that God thinks is detestable (abomination in some translations). It wasn’t just a ceremonial law. God didn’t say it was an abomination to eat shellfish.
The point of this post is to give you a simplified resource since my posts on Deut. 22:5 and interpreting the Bible are so long. Read Tim Keller’s essay if you are still confused. I think it will be very helpful to you and will help you to see why I am not inconsistent in saying 22:5 is a moral law, even though many of the other laws in that chapter are ceremonial or civil laws.
Keller talks about how most of the moral commands in the Old Testament are reaffirmed somewhere in the New Testament. I agree that “most” are, but not all. I think mainly the 10 commandments, as a summary of the moral law, are reaffirmed in the New Testament. But I don’t think every single sin of commission or omission mentioned in the Old Testament is specifically reaffirmed in the New Testament. The New Testament is not an encyclopedic list of every possible sin. Jesus and all the other NT authors affirmed the upholding of all the moral laws of the Old Testament. This means that moral laws in the OT that are not specifically mentioned in the NT are still commands for us. So for example, if Deut. 22:5 is the only verse in the Bible condemning crossdressing, it would be enough for me to still know it is wrong for us today. But as it happens, I think other passages in the New Testament do teach that crossdressing is wrong and will write on them at later times.