Genesis 1:27 says: ” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” God created two distinct genders or sexes, male and female, with two separate, unique roles. Throughout Scripture we see that God expects men and women to keep the distinctions that He designed—the man the head, the woman the helpmeet (Genesis 2:18-25; 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-33; Titus 2:1-5; 1 Corinthians 14:29-35; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Psalm 127-128; Romans 1:26-27). Man and woman have different roles, but are the same in essence (Gal 3:28). God designed men and women different, gave them different roles, and out of respect for Him, wants them to honor His design. To show agreement with His design, God gave this order in Deuteronomy 22:5.
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
The words are specific and easy to be understood. The Hebrew and the English say the same thing. There’s no problem with the translation here. The verse prohibits certain activity. You’ve got three parts—one for the woman, another for the man, and the consequence for not obeying the order. The cultures who have cared about the Bible have understood and practiced this verse the same way for centuries.
You see what the verse says. The verse doesn’t say:
The woman shall not wear the military gear of a warrior man.
The woman shall not put on ornaments that a man wears and use utensils that a man uses.
The woman shall try to look different than a man.
The woman shall not be a transvestite.
The woman shall not be a cross-dresser.
The woman shall not participate in Canaanite worship practices that require wearing a man’s clothes.
None of these have been how Christians have believed and practiced this verse. The verse is not a euphemism for something else. It isn’t idiomatic. It is very straightforward. And in the end, God says a man or woman who disobeys this prohibition is himself or herself an abomination to Him.
The woman is not to have on a male article. The man is not to put on a woman’s clothing. Both sides assume that a certain article or certain articles of clothing in a God-honoring culture have been designated exclusively male and a certain article or certain articles of clothing in a God-honoring culture have been designated exclusively female. It is obvious from the verse that God wants men and women distinguished from one another in appearance, but the verse says more than that.
I believe that in principle we are helped in understanding God’s will in this matter by looking at 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, we are reminded of the point of the instruction about dress and appearance: male headship and female submission. Arguments are made for Christians to continue differentiating themselves in gender and role with their appearance, and in particular a symbol of submission and then male headship, the head-covering. Despite women being equal in essence to men, God expected His designed role distinctions to be honored in appearance. Why? Creation order (1 Cor 11:7-9). A testimony to angels (1 Cor 11:10). To honor God (1 Cor 11:12). To not be a shame but to be a glory (1 Cor 11:7, 13-15).
There is a reason why the problem today is women wearing a male article, not men wearing a female. This is clear by seeing the problem in Corinth. It is a headship and submission issue. It is the woman wearing the pants, not men wearing the skirt. Today men may hide behind a woman’s apron, but it started with women wearing the pants.
Obedience to Deuteronomy 22:5 and 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 is more than a testimony or stumbling block issue. Obedience to these is a statement to God. It is an act of worship to Him. It is a deed of deferment to His greatness and goodness. By obeying the prohibition, we are saying to Him, “You are wise. You know what you are doing. You know what’s best for us.” Angels were there at the creation of male and female, so they were there to see what God had in mind. I think there is more to it, but that isn’t as important. For instance, I believe that we learn sexuality and gender and role by appearance. This is a means by which children grow up and see the differences. In other words, without the clear delineation in the roles by means of the symbols of male headship and female submission, we have role confusion. This in part explains the rampant homosexuality. Sexuality is in part learned and we haven’t taught it as a culture.
Deuteronomy 22:5 doesn’t mention pant-skirt. It, however, assumes that God’s people would have such articles that were exclusive to each gender. And it is true that we have had that in our culture and because of Deuteronomy 22:5 and 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. What is it that in our culture has symbolized male headship, an article that was uniquely designated for the male, to be seen as a testimony to God and others of our agreement with Him in His design? Let’s think about it. Is it the hat? Is it the shirt? Is it underwear? Is it shoes? Is it the cape? Is it socks? No and no and no and no and no. Is it pants? Yes. Does history show this? Yes.
So why did women start wearing pants? It wasn’t out of conviction. It wasn’t acceptable to Christians and not really accepted by anyone when our culture reflected more Judeo-Christian ethics. Was it a group of godly people who got together to pray about being obedient to to God’s will? Of course not. It was in defiance of the idea of male authority. It was women’s liberation. It was convenience. Today it is just normal. Women don’t want to stick out, want to fit in. So now it is worldliness, going along with the spirit of the age, and even in churches. Here is a church that has that crazy skirts-only-on-women standard and the women wear pants in the other church—which one will I choose?
I’m not going to argue about whether it should be obeyed any longer because it is Old Testament law. That is a johnny-come-lately argument that goes along with the licentiousness and antinomianism of our day. Men use grace as an occasion to the flesh. Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. As it applies to Deuteronomy 22:5, this argument wasn’t even around until women started wanting to wear pants.
You’ve got those who use the “they wore robes” argument. Let’s jump right to their point. They say that men wear men’s pants and women wear women’s pants. Christians or this culture have never made that designation. We have never stated the unique design of the woman’s pant. What makes “women’s pants” to be “women’s pants?” There isn’t any distinction. Again, that’s just an argument after the fact. The whole point of pants was to take away differences and distinctions. Everyone knows this. Every history says this. The purpose of Deuteronomy 22:5 is distinction and difference. The purpose of pants was sameness. The robes argument doesn’t work because even if they were robes, which the passage doesn’t say, there would have been a unique male robe and a unique female robe. We haven’t done the same thing with pants.
The biggest argument that I hear is that the whole conversation is just stupid, tiresome, or ridiculous. The people that talk about it “have an infatuation with a different era and want everyone else to have the same.” Or, “you legalists!” The whole thing is actually about God and what he said. Christians should care. However, believers have decided to go along with the spirit of the age. Sad, but true.
If it isn’t about how crazy this discussion is, then it is about how that instead of focusing in on such a minor doctrinal point, why don’t we spend our time on the grand, important issues, like justification and grace and the trinity and the love of Christ. Or, “stop juding people’s external appearances and start looking at their heart and how much they love the Lord.” Whoever says those things ought to think of this: “abomination to God.” The very fact that God put this in the Bible makes it important enough, but we know that there is more to it than only a dress and externals issue. It does have to do with the heart.
The internet is new. Just look at Al Gore. Social networking sites (SNS) are even newer. In this era of modernity with the explosion of the information age, there is more to come. C. H. Spurgeon faced new kinds of entertainment at the end of the nineteenth century. He had words of warning based on scriptural principles for issues not found in the Bible. These require the development of spiritual discernment. God didn’t give church leadership a mandate to bury its head in the sand. We should give guidance in new areas of potential danger to the church.
A common opposition to biblical application to cultural issues is argument by moral equivalence. I’ve heard a couple different types even this month. One goes like this: “You can get in trouble with any kind of communication device. You can sin on the phone or on the internet too. SNS are no different. You could get hit crossing the street. Are you going to stop doing that too?” How did you know? I’m putting my finishing touches on my no street-crossing post, the father of all safety-patrol. I’m kidding, but I do believe there is a biblical answer to this. It’s 1 Corinthians 10:12: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” We have admonition against presumptuousness about sin. Certain places are of greater temptation than others. Some have worse associations.
Another moral equivalent has been the “SNS isn’t that much different than writing on a blog and you do that” argument. I could waste time here. I could violate scripture. I could cause damage to a church. I could get puffed up with pride over readership. I say “yes” to all of those. I could do any four of those “couldas.” So I should look at blogging with scrutiny as well. I do. I’m not going to write about it, but I do. However, as I have, I see them as very different activities. My blog posting doesn’t parallel with the activities of facebook.
The responses I’ve read and heard in this SNS discussion remind me of the major differences in the approach to liberties. What I am often reading from evangelicals and even fundamentalists are several unscriptural and indefensible perspectives of liberties. They’ll deny it, but I’ll also explain how it is that they do take on these three at least.
1. We have liberty to sin.
They say, “Do not say that.” I say, “You don’t say it, but you do it.” How? Some commands in Scripture require a secondary premise. Let me provide a syllogism.
Major or First Premise: The woman who wears the male article is an abomination to God.
Minor or Second Premise: Pants are the male article.
Conclusion: The woman who wears pants is an abomination to God.
I’ve found that Christians today won’t even agree on the major premise, even though Deuteronomy 22:5 says: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” “That which pertaineth unto a man” is the male article. I often ask men, what is the male article. Most don’t want to answer it. They know it’s pants, so instead of replying to it, they say: “the cape,” “the derby,” etc. They take a position of mockery akin to those who scorn the coming of Christ in 2 Peter 3. Without pants, there is no male garment any longer, and people know it. And they don’t care. It isn’t an abomination to them, only to God, so it doesn’t matter.
I recognize that I’ve chosen a more controversial example, but this isn’t a liberty issue. We don’t have liberty just because there’s a controversy. We don’t have liberty just because men have muddled up this issue. This is how Christians have practiced for centuries. Since the onslaught of feminism and unisex, men have changed the practice in favor of one more acceptable to pagan society. We have liberty in non-moral issues, and things that are an abomination to God are moral. It’s a sin to violate God’s instruction. There are many other examples.
2. We have the right to cause someone to stumble, to be a bad testimony, to offend another person’s conscience, to conform to the world, or to profane worship.
They say, “I do not say that.” I say, “You do too.” How? Evangelicals and now many fundamentalists turn 1 Corinthians 6-10 and Romans 14 on their head. Those passages don’t emphasize demanding rights. They emphasize limiting liberties for the sake of weaker brothers, of unsaved people, and for the greater glory of God. And yet the evangelicals and fundamentalists now see this as a basis for many unscriptural activities.
3. I don’t practice personally unpopular biblical application.
They say, “I do not say that.” I say, “You do too.” How? Evangelicals and many fundamentalists say something like what Nathan Busenitz wrote over at Pulpit Fellowship:
[T]he Bible tells us “not to exceed what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). We cannot add to the Scripture without subtracting from its effectiveness in our lives. If we elevate personal preference and man-made tradition to the level of God’s Word (Mark 7:6-15), we risk entangling people in the bondage of legalism and diverting them from the true issues of sanctification (Romans 14:17).
It sounds good. They say we don’t want to exceed what is written. And yet Phil Johnson recently wrote what he believed determined what foul language was:
Culture determines this. It’s quite true that the standard may be different from culture to culture and generation to generation. But both history and literature prove that it’s not nearly as fluid or as nebulous as postmodern language-theorists suggest.
You read it. If you want to know what cuss words are or what smutty speech is, culture determines this. Really? I agree with Phil wholeheartedly. To make application, you have to do that with truth not found in the Bible. Certain words, based upon the culture, we can conclude, “Yes, that’s foul language.”
We can also determine by the culture what is worldly dress, what is pagan music, and all sorts of other important application of Scripture. We do it the same way. Here’s what happens. Busenitz and Johnson (and me) don’t like the profanity in the pulpit. That’s wrong. So there, it’s OK to “exceed what is written” in Scripture. They throw that verse around at what they want to throw it at. But when it comes to these other cultural issues, they are blind in their application. What you will see them do is make statements like this monumental and mocking strawman that Johnson threw out for areas that he does not prefer to make application:
Yeah, but no one here (except maybe Kent Brandenburg) has ever seriously suggested that 1950′s style is the standard to pursue, either. What I have consistently argued for is clarity, biblical language (as opposed to some subculture’s hip patois), sound doctrine, and boldness in our proclamation of the truth-claims of Scripture that aren’t currently fashionable.
It’s weird how that keeps getting morphed into 1950s-style haircuts and poodle skirts in the thinking of some of the very same people who are so keen to keep up with postmodern fashions. I’ve said nothing whatsoever about dress codes, hair styles, or ’50s fashions in corporate worship or music. Let’s not pretend this post is about that.
What do you think of those arguments? See what evangelicals and fundamentalists do? They pick and choose the kind of applications they want to make and then veto the others. In this case, he talks about 1950′s style (who would make that argument?) or “poodle skirts” as a way to frame what is what Zephaniah 1:8 calls “strange apparel.” Evangelicals and fundamentalists commonly protect their popularity by making these areas of application matters of “liberty,” and the ones that they don’t like, they say they can be determined by the culture. You can see it yourself.
I’ve been away from my keyboard for a bit (and not minding it at all), and will be away for about another week. We spent half a month in Indiana and the country in between, visiting family and friends and covered bridges and State Parks. Along the way, we saw the new Lewis and Clarke Museum near Nebraska City, the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, and paid through the nose for petro. We arrived home on Tuesday night, unpacked for half a day on Wednesday, and then I got down to business preparing for our Summer Camp, which begins on Monday. When I finish camp, I’m looking forward to a little bit of a slower pace… and (I hope) some extra time to re-acquaint myself with my fellow JackHammers, and with my keyboard.
I had one more post I wanted to do on television, before we move on to the next item on the agenda. About a month ago, I wrapped up a series of lessons on television by asking our people to consider their relationship to what has affectionately been dubbed the “boob tube.” I proposed a series of questions for our people to ask themselves regarding the television, and in this post, I want to propose that same set of questions. Feel free to answer them in the comments section, if you like. But first, let me introduce the questions.
Paul makes a statement that I believe is relevant to the issue of television, as it is to many other cultural issues. He said,
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6
We want to bring into captivity every thought about television to the obedience of Christ. Really, that has been the point of this series all along. Would we like you to turn your television off? Sure. Would we like you to get rid of it altogether? Why not. But we have not turned this series into an extended rant on “television, smell-a-vision, hell-a-vision.” We have not urged holiness Read more…
For several weeks of summers, during my college years, I spent time in a cabin with jr. age boys. I always had a disciplined group and rarely missed the few hours designated for sleep. To get this accomplished, I didn’t make threats like: “If you don’t stop making noise, I’ll jump from this bed, roll you in honey, and make you do 1000 push-ups on top of an ant hill.” That was big talk that might work until they found out that you wouldn’t follow through with your promise.
We want to get rid of the television problem in churches, but we shouldn’t do that with big talk that we can’t back up with Scripture. We should strive for air-tight application in the verses we use as guidelines for television viewing. We also don’t want to set standards that we don’t enforce because we can’t due to the fact that we’re not convinced of them ourselves. A few things will happen in a church if we do that.
1. Lots of television will be watched; we’ll just not know about it.
2. The people who do watch will limit talk about television to those with the least discernment in the church—those with the most discernment won’t talk about it.
3. Kids will grow in the church seeing the standard as phony, so won’t have sustainable convictions.
4. Wild contradictions will exist in behavior in the church relating to entertainment.
5. We’ll be a joke to the world and deserve it.
I’ve already explained my television credentials. You may not do better than sending your TV to the dump. We survived just fine the centuries before television came along. With television, networks possess a convenient pipeline to send out their moral sewage. Advertisers will feed your lust and news outlets will manipulate your view of the world. Even the sports is often a distraction to what’s really important. Read more…
Does television exalt itself against your knowledge of God? If it does, it probably does through its images. God revealed Himself and His will through His Words. God is a Spirit. We can’t see Him. Our understanding of Him comes through Scripture. He won’t captivate our mind if we can’t allow Words to dominate our thoughts.
Our brains more easily access images. They are mind candy. Something close to the equivalent would be the choice between koolaid or water, a coca-cola or h2o, or a candy bar or a piece of celery. If thinking is a road, images are downhill compared to words uphill. We machete through words and coast through images. We sweat through words and relax through images. Images are the elephant in the room. Words are the dust mite.
Everywhere we go we have the choice presented between words and pictures. The Bible or the game. The book or the movie. The reading or the activity. Images are the enemy of pondering. We can’t meditate when the pictures have muscled their way to the front.
The more we give into the visuals, the deeper their groove becomes in our mind. We become more comfortable with them. It gets harder to think about what God said or a book about it. Our mind tires on the long sentence and thick paragraph. The golf cart’s there, so why walk the eighteen. Just push on the gas.
We won’t submit to God, when something else dominates our brain. The images crowd God out. He wants to fellowship through the Words and sentences. He wants to inform, to convict, to guide, to encourage, and to help. He wants our attention. Whenever He doesn’t get it, whatever it is that does is what we worship. How much competition should we give Him?
Graduation is tonight, then I’m off for a couple of weeks that will include some R & R, some family reunion-ish activity, and some guest preaching. But I don’t want to quit on our discussion, so I’m leaving a short and sweet post for you all — enjoy!
I invited our church members to participate in a little experiment… watch one hour of television, leave it on the same channel for the entire hour, and count how many commercials there are in that one hour. I think you would be surprised at the answer. Any television-saturated person will also be a commercial-saturated person. To watch television is to watch commercials.
Of course, some of our faithful readers (thanks, Mom!) have already thought to themselves, “I don’t watch the commercials… I mute them.” Perhaps you do what my dad did when I was growing up. Of all the things on television that bothered my dad, the commercials made his skin crawl the most. So, he invented a Commercial Curtain. He had my mom cut and hem a piece of dark material that we couldn’t see through, he gray-taped it over the screen, and then put a message on it. It said, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” Whenever the commercials started, he would flip the Commercial Curtain over the screen.Â Then, he would turn down the volume, and every once in a while peak to see if the commercials were finished.Â When the regular program (which, apparantly, was not the ‘wicked thing’) returned, the Commercial Read more…
A man heard a hot message from his preacher against television.Â He told the pastor that he had decided to put his TV in the closet for one month to honor the Lord.Â About halfway through the month, his pastor asked him how it was going with the television.Â HeÂ replied: “We’ve had a hard time all fitting into the closet.”
When I was a kid, my family didn’t leave on the TV like it was another household appliance.Â Did you ever have one of those moments though, growing up, when someone says, “I don’t have anything to do”?Â Translated:Â “Can I watch TV?”Â You don’t have anything to do and so you think and you think about what you can do and television’s the answer.Â Can television by definition count as something to do?Â Isn’t it the apex of do-nothing?Â Isn’t the TV in the same picture with the couch potatoe?Â Isn’t television in the definition of “sedimentary”?
When we had a television, we turned it on.Â I don’t imagine that there are many families that get home at night, who don’t turn it on.Â Â People ask, “What’s on tonight?”Â If the answer is, “nothing,” that doesn’t mean that they don’t watch.Â Â First they look, but then they find the best nothing on there and sit and watch it.Â Is there anything else that we say we’re glued to, besides TV?Â ImagineÂ children glued to homework.
More On Videos
Essentially, no television was available to me from the summer of 1980 for the next ten years.Â I spent some time standing in the television section of department stores, admiring the new technology for covering NFL and college football.Â I remember the advent of the close-up, cameras now zooming close enough to see clearly the ball manufacturer.Â I recall thinking that it would be nice to watch that kind of football coverage, briefly coveting the experience.Â It was during those silent years, however, that the video arrived, first Beta, then Read more…
Shhhhhh.Â Your television is talking.Â Just listen.Â Quiet now, everybody.Â Can you hear it?Â No, no, don’t turn it on yet.Â Â Even when it is off, it still has plenty to say.Â
You probably know what I mean.Â It speaks to you at night, when you sit down with a plate of Oreos and a mug of milk.Â It calls your name.Â It begs.Â It promises you a good time.Â “Just pick up the remote… go ahead!Â It won’t hurt anything.Â Just for a little bit.Â Won’t you please?”Â
Of course, your television talks to you when have it turned on, too.Â And I’m not just talking about the images on the screen, either.Â They talk to you, of course.Â But not just them.Â Your television talks, too.Â You listen, sometimes.Â Your television reminds you that there are other options than the one you are watching.Â It reminds you to check and see.Â You could check the TV guide.Â But why ask someone else?Â Your television is right there, promising an answer.Â “Go ahead, answer your curiosities.Â Forget what that newspaper says, I’mÂ the expert about myself.Â I’ll tell you whether there is anything else worth watching.Â Just use your remote, and explore me for a while.”Â You oblige.Â The TV keeps its promise.Â And doesn’t.Â
Your television doesn’t just talk to you.Â It talks about you.Â We already saw that.Â It tells us about your priorities, about your life, about your relationship(s).Â It has a lot to say.Â More than you know.Â But that is not all it says.Â Your television talks to you, talks about you, and talks about us.Â It not only tells your story, but it also tells our story.Â The story of our culture, of the so-called “Age of Information” is projected in its glow.Â Listen carefully.Â Your television has something to say.
Driver or Passenger?Â
First, I would point out the fact that television really does speak about us.Â In a culture that talks incessantly about television, we should note this.Â Television actually has more to say about us than we have to say about it (as hard as that Read more…
Hi.Â My name is Kent.Â
I want to tell you the true story of me and television.Â The names will not be changed to protect the innocent.Â I’m not innocent.Â Is anyone?Â We could add a chapter to James and say that he is a perfect man who can control the television.Â A television can no man tame.Â But I digress.
Before I really get into this story, I want to give you a few preliminaries.Â First, for the last 20 out of 21 years, which is my married life, we have owned a television, but had no antennae or cable hook-up, which in California means that we don’t receive any actual television to view.Â We do own a combination DVD/CD player and a VCR.Â Second, I think television can be as dangerous as anything to us.Â Â But so can guns.
The Early Shows
OK, I grew up watching television.Â I watched Armstrong make his one giant leap for mankindÂ on our black and white tube television, peering through the porch window where my brother and I slept on a very warm July late evening before my dad left for graveyard shift at the factory.Â Did you notice that I remembered all that and television was a positive part of it?Â Yes.Â Gilligan’s Island, Hogan’s Heroes, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, Gomer Pyle, Petticoat Junction, Leave It to Beaver, and The Waltons strand my cultural fiber.Â I remember the talking heads of the Watergate hearing.Â I first witnessed the amazing growth of homosexual political power in San FranciscoÂ on a news program on the same black and white.Â I’d never go to San Francisco after witnessing that.Â Ooops.Â Many days Read more…
At the founding of our nation, if someone hadÂ told America’s forefathers that in the future, a significant part of an American’s day would be spent staring at a box in the living room, I feel fairly certain that he would have been dismissed out of hand.Â Somehow, it is hard to imagine that men like Franklin, Madison, Adams, or Washington would have the ability to fathom such a cultural phenomenon.Â Let alone imagine the possibility of it.
And no, I am not simply referring to the invention of miniature projectors of animated images.Â Certainly, there are many inventions of the modern era (e.g., automobiles, telephones, i-pods, and tennis shoes) that would have baffled them.Â I am referring, not to the invention, but to the activity of television viewing.Â Considering the amount of time spent on this activity, we would have had one confounded Founding Father.Â
Yet here we are, right smack-dab at the start of the Twenty-first century, where Television has replaced baseball as America’s favorite pastime.Â To borrow a line from Neal Postman’s delightful little book, we twenty-first century Americans are consumed with amusing ourselves to death.Â
One might say that this new pastime of ours has had an impact on our culture.Â That would be irrefutable.Â And yet, one gets the vague feeling that such a statement somehow gets off the train a few stops short of reality.Â Television has had more than a mere impact on culture.Â Television has become our Read more…