Is crossdressing sinful? How do we know? What is our basis for determining truth? That is an important question. In this post, I will not make a full argument as to why I think crossdressing is sinful. I’ve done that in this post – Summary – Reasons Crossdressing is Sinful and Harmful. In this post I’d like to focus on the question of how we determine generally what is true. What are our sources of truth?
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 there, 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 chemistry, 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 three places, three 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. Let me explain the three places or sources.
1. I learn the 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 same time. For more information, you can see my post – How to Interpret the Bible. Also important is 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? Christians believe the Bible reveals to us truth, but Christians also believe the Bible trumps other sources of truth. And the Bible has a lot to say about morality. There are a couple challenges though. Sometimes people don’t like what God teaches us through the Bible, and sometimes the Bible is hard to interpret correctly.
2. I figure out truth by my own personal experience, feelings, and logic. I also include in this point that I learn truth, and specifically the truth about morality, through the 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 moral truth just by this second source alone.
3. I figure out truth, specifically truth about morality, 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. One problem with this third source is that sometimes mob mentality rules and even false beliefs can be shared by a majority.
Because all three of these sources 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 between them. If you are basing your view off of only one of these sources, and the other two disagree, you are probably 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 history, in which people were feeling they were following one source on a moral issue, but not paying attention to the other two.
So first, the Bible. Some have used the Bible to justify holy war against non-Christians, trying to force them to become Christians. Regrettably, this happened several times in church history in several places. But if these people had paid attention to the other two sources they might have realized they were interpreting the Bible incorrectly. In our own experience and personal feelings, we feel and know that this is just wrong. It doesn’t fit with the rest of what we as Christians believe. And regarding the third source, 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. If they had paid attention to the other two sources, they might have realized they were doing wrong and interpreting Scripture incorrectly.
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 if he had paid attention to the Bible, that all people are equally made in the image of God, and if he had listened to the rest of the world and whether they thought his genocide was morally right or wrong, he would have learned that he was very very wrong.
Third, the community. Sometimes even the majority of people can be together making wrong moral judgments. In America most people think promiscuity and pornography are both harmless. So if we only listened to other people, we might also agree that those actions are morally okay. But if we pay attention to what the Bible teaches, and the Holy Spirit speaking to us and convicting us on these subjects, and our personal experience and reasoning about how destructive these activities are, we would realize that these are sinful actions.
You see, we need all three of these sources to be in agreement. I realize this is very simplistic, but I believe that thinking of these three 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 let’s put crossdressing 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.
The Bible clearly says that crossdressing is wrong. See my Deuteronomy 22:5 post and 1 Corinthians 11 post. The Bible is not unclear on the subject. God made men and women and made them different. We are not to deny or distort his creation.
My personal feelings, experience, reasoning, and guidance of the Holy Spirit have shown me that crossdressing is wrong. I felt guilt every time I did it. I felt confused and conflicted and dirty every time I did it. It consumed me like an addiction and interfered with my life. It only caused me pain and hardship and deception and loneliness. I can plainly see how it is an all-consuming harmful addiction, a cheap replacement of a real woman. Concerning gender dysphoria, I can plainly see how it is a rejection of who I truly am, a rejection of my body, rather than accepting myself and learning contentment. I can see that gender dysphoria results from unrealistic rigid gender stereotypes.
When I look at the opinions and guidance of others, I see that the majority of the Christian community throughout space and time also agree that the Bible says that it is wrong, and also their reason and experience comes to the same conclusions as my own about crossdressing.
You’d have to go a long way to convince me that crossdressing is not harmful and sinful. Why? A cord of three strands is not easily broken – my feelings/experience, the Bible, and the Christian community. They are all in agreement about the morality of crossdressing.
Of course, in times of weakness in the past, I rationalized that crossdressing was 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 come to the realization of all the lies I had fallen prey 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 thoughts help.