This section of the Bible contains many commandments of differing nature. We might call it a section which includes miscellaneous statutes. We will attempt to discuss a few of these statutes.
The first subject that I would like to address has to do with male and female roles. That seems particularly significant today when there is “gender ambiguity” in our society. The Lord said,
“A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)
Obviously the style of clothing changes with each culture so what might be considered male clothing in one culture could be considered female clothing in another. The idea here appears to be that men should be men and women should be women. Their clothing should reflect this. “Gender ambiguity” and “cross-dressing” should be avoided. You are what God designed you to be. To reject this is to reject God who designed you. If cross dressing is an abomination to the Lord, think how He must look on the practice of sex-change operations today.
Another controversial statute included in this section concerns illegitimate birth.
“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 23:2)
This statute appears to be particularly brutal since it applies to an individual who did nothing on his own to receive such harsh punishment. So we must ask the question, why would the Lord issue such a commandment? In order to understand the basis for this commandment, we must consider the impact of illegitimacy on a society. It seems obvious that the statute is aimed at maintaining the nuclear family consisting of a committed father and a committed mother raising children. For mature, committed parents, nothing could be more devastating than to have your child ostracized by being excluded from the community. Therefore, in order to avoid such ostracism, mature God-fearing individuals would bring forth children only as a family unit.
These Torah commandments apply first and foremost to God’s people Israel. However, the truth inherent in the commandments applies to all. In light of this truth, it is a humbling exercise to consider contemporary American society where in some ethnic groups ¾ of the children are illegitimate. As I understand it, close to half of all the children born in the U.S. are illegitimate.
In the book of Romans, Paul writes that the “wrath” of God is revealed in that He simply turns a rebellious individual or a society over to their own inclinations in order for them to be destroyed (See Romans 1:18-32). This applies specifically to an individual or a society which has received the revelation of God but chooses to ignore it. This is true of the United States of America. How long do you think that the U.S. can avoid ultimate destruction?
The Lord commanded,
“You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 23:18)
“A dog” in this case means a male prostitute. Temple prostitution was a common practice during the Biblical era. We may interpret the meaning of this statute today to apply to wages received from sexually perverted activities. Offering from such activities should not be received by the church. Individuals participating in such activities should not be accepted except in repentance.
Finally, the provisions listed in Deuteronomy 24:1-3 indicate that divorce was permitted in the Torah. Messiah Jesus declared that Moses permitted divorce and He developed the thought further.
“He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9)
Paul developed this theme even further (I Corinthians 7:1-16). Paul maintained that a couple who were real believers committed to the Kingdom of God should not pursue divorce at all. In their case, the importance of their witness in the Kingdom surpasses any momentary “personal happiness”.