Bird Nests, Balconies, And The Distinction Of Male And Female

In Gainesville, Georgia it is illegal to eat fried chicken with a fork.

You have probably seen similarly bizarre laws listed on a website or in a book.

While many of these obsolete or just downright odd laws had some logical justification at the time they were put into place, some seem unfounded and foolish.

It is unfortunate that many skeptics, and even some professing Christians, would speak of Old Testament rules with the same kind of ridicule and disdain.

In this article, I hope to demonstrate that many of the Old Testament regulations which may seem pointless to the casual reader in modern times are actually quite meaningful upon closer observation.

This will provide a foundation for us to understand how some of the prescribed laws in the Old Testament are significant in our walk with God.

It is important to note that we are not justified by the keeping of the Law.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Galatians 2:14 – 16 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Note that the Law does instruct us concerning the nature of God and His expectations for our personal Holiness.

For many years, those who have argued for a more traditional distinction between the clothing of men and women have used Deuteronomy 22:5 for support.

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

If you have a conversation with anyone who opposes the teaching that this would prohibit the wearing of pants by women (a belief held by conservative Pentecostal Holiness groups, but shared by many others), this verse will almost surely come up.

It is also fairly likely that opponents of this teaching will point to the surrounding verses and ask why individuals who insist on a conservative interpretation of this Scripture do not follow these seemingly obscure and “irrelevant” verses as well. 

Let us answer this objection by an examination of the verses which immediately follow Deuteronomy 22:5.

Immediately following the often referenced verse concerning gender distinctive clothing are verses six and seven which instruct,

Deuteronomy 22:6 -7 If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: 7 But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.

Obviously, there are not many Christians from any mainstream denomination who are making noise about following this prescription strictly.

After this admonition, verse eight states,

Deuteronomy 22:8 When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.

This instruction is regarding the constructing of guard rails around the roof of one’s house.

Once again, we find a command that no Christian anywhere seems to follow. So, does this prove that the prohibition on crossdressing is just one among many obscure and meaningless verses? Not at all.

As I stated in the first paragraph, the Old Testament offers us much instruction regarding the nature of God and what he expects in our lives.

Fast forward to the New Testament. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus states that His mission is not to destroy the Law but rather to fulfill it. He also informs His audience that no element of the Law will ever pass away

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 fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

The Law does not bind Christians today, but it is filled with principles which were fulfilled by Christ.

Jesus indicates in Matthew 22:36 – 40 that the entirety of the Law is based upon the joint commandments to love God and love our neighbor.

Mat 22:36 – 40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Paul reiterates the idea that Christian love is the fulfillment of the Law in Romans 13:9 & 10.

Romans 13:9 – 10 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

So how do we reconcile the idea that every element of the Law is based on love with the seeming insignificant commands regarding balconies and birds’ nests?

I would argue that these two commands are expressions of a much more profound principle: the command to love our neighbor.

Think about this.

We live in a society that values natural resources. We have rightfully recognized that these resources, such as water, forests, but more particularly, wildlife do not belong to any individual but are a gift to be treasured and preserved by us for future generations.

Government agencies have enacted laws based on this idea. 2 Adam Clarke noted that the command regarding the treatment of wildlife encouraged conservation. 3

In this sense the Bible was centuries ahead of its time!

And while it is important to note that God is interested in the conservation of species, as demonstrated by his concern for the animals in Genesis 6, this is not only an issue of loving an animal but also a matter of preserving a resource that will offer sustenance for one’s fellow human beings.

When we look at it from that angle, it seems a lot more significant.

This command could easily be interpreted as a reminder that you are not the only person in the world, so think of others!

Also, we should consider the phenomenon of modern building codes. Love them or hate them, they serve a purpose.

One of the aspects of buildings that are addressed in such guidelines is the necessity of guard rails.4 We have in Deuteronomy 22 a building code written by God himself!

A man building a dwelling place, once again, had to consider others because the Law demanded respect and regard for the well-being of others.

I hope at this point we can see how these seemingly obscure references to birds’ nests and balconies are actually quite relevant to us as Christians.

While I haven’t recently consulted the Old Testament concerning building projects or wildlife conservation, I can look back to these Scriptures as important demonstrations of how I should be concerned for those around me.

I must love my neighbor in every area of my life.

Now, returning to the more controversial verse in this chapter, how does Deuteronomy 22:5 relate to fulfilling the Law through love?

Here, we shift our focus slightly.

The previous two commands dealt with love for our neighbors. This command deals with our love for God.

An important part of worship is submitting to God’s divine order.

Gender Distinction

This includes the issue of gender distinction. God created the genders to be forever distinct.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Here in Deuteronomy 22:5 God states that this principle of distinction extends to our clothing.

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

How can we claim to love God while disregarding one of the fundamental principles God established at Creation – the distinction of male and female. God expanded on it in Deuteronomy 22:5, and then reiterated the distinction of male and female in 1 Corinthians 11?

While there are many cultural and historical aspects to this debate, the bottom line here is that God cares about the distinction of male and female.

Anything that lessens that distinction is cause for serious concern.

A lifestyle of holiness will exhibit a deep love for God and others. This love is demonstrated in every area of our life, even the areas that we have a tendency to overlook.

The next time someone says that a conservative position concerning gender distinctive clothing is “majoring on the minors,” remember the significance of birds’ nests and balconies.



This article was submitted to us by Brother Cody Sellers. He is the President of Abundant Grace Youth Ministries here in Georgia. It is intended to be thought-provoking.

Brother Scott

I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior in march of 1984. I was in the Navy at this time. It became my greatest desire to draw closer to God. Since that day I have been led by God's Spirit and the scriptures to live a life of Holiness. Holiness is not a bunch of rules, but rather it is the conviction and desire that I am pleasing to God in my life. These convictions are then what set the boundaries of my conduct and actions in life.

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