It is an abomination to God for someone to wear the clothes of the opposite sex. It is abominable to God; but I wanna show you something very interesting here. "That which pertaineth to a man," and the term garments, as I looked those up in the Hebrew, I found some most interesting things. "That which pertaineth" is more than clothes in the Hebrew. The word means anything pertaining to the opposite sex, and the lexicon says such as clothes, implements, tools, weapons, utensils, ornaments, or jewelry. How interesting.
In other words, anything that tends to obliterate or rub out the distinction that is in the design of God is an abomination to Him. . . . God wants to keep a very visible, obvious distinction; because He knows that Satan will try to undo that distinction, because it's a part of abominating God. You see, when God made humanity, He made male and female. He created them and said, "They two are to become one flesh." And Satan will forever try to rub out the uniqueness of man and woman.
He's saying that it means the same thing that I do. He's saying that it is saying the same thing as commentators and preachers have said in the history of Christianity. He doesn't deny that it says what it says.
I left out the section where he says that it is acceptable for women to wear pants, because that wasn't my point. I don't agree with his argumentation for that application of Deuteronomy 22:5. His argumentation there, I believe, is poor. It shows the pressure in our society that he has to even bring in pants at that point in the argument in order to justify them for women. Here's the argument that he uses for that application, and it is an application, not the interpretation:
Now this is not trying to teach that women shouldn't wear pants...Women should wear pants meant for women...People say, "Well, women should never wear pants." No, no, you see, in this time, when this verse was written, the men wore skirts...That argument doesn't make it. The point here is, if you're gonna wear pants, wear women's pants. If you're gonna wear pants as a man, wear men's; and if you're gonna be a...if you're a man, then be a man in every way you manifest yourself; and if you're a woman, then be a woman, even to the point that you don't use the utensils, the implements, the tools, and the weapons, and the ornaments that pertain to a man.
His avoidance of the application to pants is weak. It's the single most obvious, the primary way that Deuteronomy 22:5 is actually obeyed. That distinction, the pant-skirt one, is the way our culture has applied Deuteronomy 22:5, and it never did change that distinction based upon any kind of biblical basis. When it did change, it was based upon disobedience to the distinction. But here's the problem with his application. First, anyone can make the argument that a particular item of clothing or an implement is made for men or women---"these earrings are men's earrings," "this necklace is a male necklace." At West Point (where my son is), they have military uniforms that are designed for women, that look just like men's camouflage, but men couldn't get them on---they are shaped different in the hips and the buttocks. A man couldn't wear a woman's camouflage---they are women's. There is no movement among professing Christian pant-wearers to enforce some standard of women's pants. No marks have been designed to make that distinction. The pants themselves were the distinction---they themselves were the male dress---not some item about pants that caused men's and women's pants to differ from one another. This is still the case.
Second, men didn't wear skirts at the time Deuteronomy 22:5 was written. They both wore robes, but saying that men wore skirts is a misrepresentation. I just wag my head on that one. And their robes had designed differences---the robes were not an attempt to erase distinction, like pants obviously did and have done. It was how they made clothing at that time---the robe was the extent of clothing making. However, only men would gird up their robes. God commanded Job on two different occasions (Job 38:3; 40:7) to gird up his loins "like a man." Only men gird their garments, not women. Pants permanently gird a garment. God designated only men to gird their garments. Women wearing girded garments are wearing male garments. This is not a cultural argument.
Third, he doesn't tell us what women's pants are. If this is such an important issue, that makes someone an abomination to God, if he or she were to violate the teaching, then we should hear what the distinction or distinctions are that make pants uniquely women's pants. The reason there are none is because they were never intended for distinction, but for sameness. And then when you get into the utensils and implements, why not be a help by telling people what are female ones and what are male ones. MacArthur says very boldly that Satan would want to use this, to blur the distinctions. And MacArthur doesn't help clear up how this is done, which would seem to continue to aid Satan in his endeavor.
I can appreciate that MacArthur is honest with the text. He tells what it really means. He doesn't try to explain it away or ignore it like so many preachers. I do think this is something MacArthur wouldn't touch on today. Doing it in 1977 was a lot safer, more acceptable. I don't imagine him broaching it today. However, he misses the application and then he is very ambiguous and vague. That is unhelpful. Someone can explain his way out of about anything as it relates to how MacArthur applies Deuteronomy 22:5.
In the end, again, however, MacArthur says Deuteronomy 22:5 means the same thing we say it does.