Theologian and Bible teacher John Piper recently shared what he says are "six biblical realities" showing why Christian parents shouldn't allow their kids to cross-dress, especially at church.
In an episode of his podcast "Ask Pastor John" posted on the Desiring God website Monday, a listener asked about a family at her church that allows their son to wear dresses.
"They seem to let him choose most of what he wants to do," said the listener, identified only by the name Cindi. "We, of course, see a lot of danger in this parenting method. They were asked to leave a previous church over this issue. What would be your approach to helping these parents with Scripture on this issue?"
Piper, the chancellor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who served for 33 years as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, offered "biblical realities" he hopes will encourage parents to "gladly submit to God's word and adjust their parenting strategies."
The first biblical reality he cited is found in Genesis 1:26, where the Bible says that God created mankind in His image, specifically dividing humanity between males and females.
"God did not create a generic human designed to choose his sex. He created males to be males and females to be females," Piper said. "Boys and girls should be taught this from the very beginning of their lives as a great and wonderful thing."
Second, Piper said, "God created man male and female so that there would be a beautiful and happy and fruitful complementarity in marriage," citing Genesis 2:24.
"Whether they marry or not (in God's providence), we should raise them with the conviction that the difference between boys and girls is designed for this beautiful outcome, the one-flesh union in marriage of a man and a woman," he added.
"Now God's design of the one-flesh union of male and female in marriage in the act of sexual intercourse is a confirmation that the way he created us is not negligible. It was part of his plan for our good, for filling the earth, for our joy, our pleasure. Boys and girls should be raised toward this natural outcome of their sexuality."
Listing the third biblical reality, Piper, who holds complementarian beliefs about marriage, stresses that "God takes these sexual differences so seriously that he bases leadership roles on them." He cited verses like Ephesians 5:22–24 and Colossians 3:18–19, where men are identified as the head of the household.
"In 1 Timothy 2:12, he assigns the authoritative teaching and governing role in the church to men. And in Ephesians 5:22–24 and Colossians 3:18–19, he assigns the headship of the family to the husband and father," he said. "The natural superior strength of men is drawn out by Peter in 1 Peter 3:7 as a reason why women should receive special honor as the weaker vessel, as well as another kind of honor as the fellow heirs of the grace of life. Children should be brought up with the awareness that their sexuality matters that much and in that way."
The fourth biblical reality, according to Piper, is that parents should "encourage their boys not to embrace effeminate ways of dressing or acting; and they should not encourage their girls to embrace masculine ways of dressing or acting."
"The Bible warns boys and men, for example, against effeminacy in 1 Corinthians 6:9," said Piper. "They should move against culturally confusing hairstyles, for example, in 1 Corinthians 11:14, and Deuteronomy 22:5 warns men and women against cross-dressing."
Fifth, Piper pointed to Ephesians 6:4, which says, "bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." The theologian adds that this "instruction, as it regards sexuality, includes at least these previous four points."
Piper's sixth biblical reality to consider is that the church should "should help the parents feel there is a special urgency about these things in our day."
"And that if they don't help their children in a natural and happy way to grow up into mature manhood, or mature womanhood, they may be serving a wave of cultural rebellion against God, one that is not only destructive to their children, but to the world at large," he continued.
Last month, Piper denounced gender reassignment surgeries, telling an unnamed female listener who was considering undergoing such a surgery that it was "sinful" and "dreadfully destructive."
"The glory of womanhood is not something as superficial as breasts and uterus. It is marked in every cell of your body, every dimension of your soul, every part of your brain," Piper said.
"Dear friend, whose name I wish I knew, you are a female wonder of God's handiwork, and no amount of chipping away at it will make it cease to be a God-designed masterpiece."