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"Feminization of the Transsexual"
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Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road,
You can stand there and agonize 'till your agony's your heaviest load...

by Emily Saliers

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

Can you relate to the agony described in the song? At some time we have agonized, often unnecessarily, over crossdressing: Am I the only person who does this? Why can't I stop? What if my family finds out? Should I tell them? Will they reject me? Will I lose my job? We have asked these questions many times.

Jesus told his followers, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you... Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." When he spoke these words, he already knew the agony of torture and crucifixion was only a few hours away. Surely the suffering in our lives cannot be compared with his experience. We who believe in him should know his peace. And yet the crossdresser who is a Christian often goes through the most severe agony. We must have resolution of this spiritual conflict or we will be miserable all our lives.

When I began dressing in my mother's clothes, I was still full of the innocence of childhood. I quickly learned, however, the need for keeping my dressing secret from others. The secrecy over the following years created a sense of guilt as I enjoyed the "forbidden fruit."

My guilt was made worse when I discovered Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment; for all that do so are abomination to the Lord thy God." I didn't know the meaning of the word "abomination", but it appeared to be completely undesirable.

Since I trusted my life to Christ, the Lord has changed me in many ways over the years. When I let him have control, he has dealt with my quick temper, my impatience, my selfishness, and many other faults. I still struggle with all these things, but Christ gives me the power to overcome them day by day.

So when I prayed, "Lord, please take away from me this burden -- this 'sin' -- of cross-dressing, " I expected a prompt and positive answer. I claimed the promise of I Corinthians 10:13:

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so you can stand up under it."

Oh, how I prayed and prayed for "a way out".

It never came.

I believed my prayer based on I Corinthians 10:13 had not been answered. I could only think of two possible reasons: 1) the verse was not true; or 2) God did not hear or answer my prayer because I did not belong to him. Neither possibility was acceptable in view of my past spiritual experience.

Now after many years, God has given me an answer -- not what I expected, but beautifully simple. The third possibility regarding I Corinthians 10:13 is this: Deliverance from temptation to sin is not necessary when the activity in question is not a sin!

Look again at Deuteronomy. It is a summary of the law given by God to the Israelites and discussed in detail in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It contains not only the Ten Commandments, but a great variety of specific requirements described in Deuteronomy 6:1 as "the statutes and the ordinances". These statutes and ordinances cover matters as diverse as religious festivals, forbidden foods, slavery, and the conduct of war; yes, and the wearing of clothing of the opposite sex. Crossdressing in Old Testament times was a practice associated with priests and priestesses in the pagan temples of the Canaanites. This worship of false gods was why it was called an "abomination".

What did Jesus say about the Old Testament law? Look at Matthew 5:17-18: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle [we might paraphrase one dotted "i" or one crossed "t"] shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

Jesus came to fulfill the law, which he did through his perfect, sinless life; his sacrificial death; and his resurrection. He had authority to redefine the law to reflect the loving nature of God. This is how he summarized the Ten Commandments:

" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 22:37-40

Both these great commandments were already recorded in the Old Testament law (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18), but together they summarize the relationships of a Christian to God and to other persons.

In the New Testament we see the law as redefined by Jesus. Certain parts of it are made even more demanding; for example, an attitude of hatred is equivalent to murder, and an attitude of lust is equal to adultery. This is understandable in view of Jesus's definition of the Commandments, since hatred and lust reflect the absence of love in our lives. By expanding the meaning of the law, Jesus made even more clear its true purpose: to show mankind the impossibility of satisfying God by keeping all his commandments on our own power. When we realize we cannot earn God's favor, we are ready to ask him for mercy and accept his free gift of Jesus Christ.

The other part of the law, the statutes and ordinances, which distinguished the Israelites from their pagan neighbors, has served its purpose and been replaced by the new covenant of Christ. The first century Jewish believers called "Judaizers" mistakenly thought Gentiles would first have to become converts to Judaism and obey all the ceremonial laws, including circumcision. Paul devoted the letter to the Galatians to an explanation of how Jesus made such laws irrelevant.

So, some parts of the Old Testament law were preserved and expanded by Jesus's new law of love, while other parts were rendered irrelevant. How do we separate the one from the other? The answer lies in the two Great Commandments: any action or attitude showing failure to love God, or failure to love my neighbor, is sinful. Other actions, which made the Israelites a unique and different nation, are irrelevant. Circumcision is no longer required; "unclean" foods may be eaten.

Crossdressing in our culture has nothing to do with worship of pagan gods. It does not inhibit my love for God, or my love for my neighbor. When I am dressed I can feel close to God and praise him for making me the way I am. I am a complete person and I am at peace. Since our crossdressing does not violate the Great Commandments, Deuteronomy 22:5 has become irrelevant for us. We can be free from agony and guilt and we can know "the peace that passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). How wonderful it is to finally know this peace in Jesus Christ.