Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Think (09/02/10)
TITLE: The man in the dress
By Graham Starling
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He sat right at the back away from everyone, kept his head bowed and the frantic bobbing of his more than prominent Adam’s apple betrayed his agitation. He didn’t stand to sing with the rest of the congregation and sat wringing his hands through the entire sermon. Not that there was much to be gleaned from Pastor Thomas’s words; he was completely flummoxed by the visitor and kept drifting off into a disbelieving silence as he stared in undisguised dismay at the odd form in the back row.
The rest of the congregation took this as permission to do the same and when, from time to time, the man glanced up, he found only disapproving glares staring back at him and quickly averted his gaze.
Every now and then a slightly louder than necessary whispered comment reinforced the congregation’s rejection: “It’s disgusting”; “It isn’t natural”; “Who does he think he is?”
He left as we were all singing the last hymn; the staccato counterpoint of his heels on stone floor of the church announcing his departure to all who now had their backs to him. There was a collective sigh of relief as he ceased to be our problem and instead became the focus of our discussion over coffee. “Who was he?”; “Why on earth did he come into OUR church?”; “What was he thinking?”; “Eugh, it was so disgusting!”; “There something in the Bible about that, men shouldn’t dress like that!”
I looked it up when I got home. It took a bit of searching with a concordance, but I found it. Deuteronomy chapter 22 verse 5, “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.”
Well that seems fairly clear doesn’t it? Except wasn’t there a scene in a film the other night where a young woman was walking around the house wearing just her husband’s shirt? I don’t remember anyone commenting on that and saying it was wrong.
Having found the passage I continued to read until I reached verse 11 and 12. “You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together.” Most of my clothes are made of mixed fibres and yet no-one gets outraged about that. “You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself.” I have never worn a garment with tassels, even during my hippy days.
So OK it’s a law and it’s in the Bible, and breaking it is a sin. Can’t get away from that, but “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Didn’t we just allow our prejudice to make this worse than all the others?
We don’t know why that man chose to wear a dress or why he came to our church, but now I guess we never will. I doubt he will be back after the way we treated him and because we were too busy looking and reacting to the clothes, none of us took the time to see the human being underneath and the anguish he was suffering. Because we didn’t think we lost the chance to touch a suffering soul with Christ’s compassion and acceptance which is so much greater than ours.
This is fiction, but maybe somewhere it isn’t.
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