“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.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭22‬:‭5‬ ‭NKJV


Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” ‭‭John‬ ‭7‬:‭24‬ ‭NKJV

‬‬Q: How are we to judge somebody in a Christian congregation who is not wearing proper clothing (ac. to Deut 22:5) when Jesus said not to judge according to “appearance”?

  • 2
    The judgment was already given by God to Moses. That decreed judgment is to be carried out. Enforcing God's judgment is not personally judging. There is no contradiction here.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 6, 2023 at 18:08
  • Again, contemporary application is off-topic.
    – Steve can help
    Mar 7, 2023 at 11:57
  • @Stevecanhelp I don’t agree with the closure of this question, John addresses appearance, and Deut 22 pertains to appearance.
    – Cork88
    Mar 8, 2023 at 4:09
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    Right, Deuteronomy 22:5 is a law pertaining to appearance... in ancient Israel. The author and original recipients would have known nothing of Christian congregations, nor do we have any reason to isolate Dt 22:5 as being something specific to a Christian congregation, any more than v8, v11 or v12. Per the closure reason, this isn't a question about the verse in its own context. Feel free to VTR or start a new Meta question to discuss it further.
    – Steve can help
    Mar 8, 2023 at 8:33

3 Answers 3


The judgment, Deuteronomy 2:5, was already given by God to Moses. That decreed judgment is to be carried out.

Enforcing God's judgment is not personally judging. There is no contradiction here.

If someone attempted to enter the assembly wearing no clothes at all, they would be rightly and properly prevented from entering. Not because anyone is making a judgment of them but because it is wrong.

And if it is wrong to do as Deuteronomy 22:5 describes then there is no 'judgment' being made. One is following the decrees of God.

What we are not to do is to make our own assessments based on our perceptions of what is apparent. We are not to be so superficial in that, first, we would let our judgment be determined by outward appearances, and, secondly, we are not to be so superficial as to think we can make such judgments of ourselves.

The word of God contains within it proscriptions which govern behaviour. And we have a responsibility (not only those who have leadership, but all who are of the body) to ensure that such proscriptions (in the gathered assembly of the faithful) are enforced.

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    Noted, +1 - I find it interesting that some people think Christians cannot judge with God’s word, very odd. Thx.
    – Cork88
    Mar 6, 2023 at 18:20

This is not an isolated problem - the NT appears equivocal about the matter of whether we judge anything - see appendix below.

In the particular case at hand, we have two different situations:

  1. Deut 22:5 - 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.

This is simply saying that God's people should not engage in gender cross-dressing. Put another way, God's people should not outwardly confuse the boundaries between the men and women. This is a simple moral requirement.

  1. John 7:24 - Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.

This is addressing a completely different situation - forming an opinion about a person's moral worth by outward behavioral appearances. Jesus said this while discussing the crowd's intent to kill Jesus (V19) while pretending to be law-abiding.

That is, Jesus is telling people to look beyond the pharisaical show to see the real intent and duplicity of those present and their hypocritical actions. [This would reach a much greater extent during Jesus' trials where the Jews were trying to murder Jesus while trying to appear to keep the law.]

Put another way, Jesus is not referring to people's clothes, but their pretense of piety while actually intending to commit sin and break the law.

APPENDIX - Should we judge or not?

Note the apparent diversity of views in the NT about judging others:

We should not Judge

  • Matt 7:1, 2 - “Do not judge, or you will be judged. 2For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
  • Rom 14:4, 13, 22 - Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. ... Therefore let us stop judging one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. ... Keep your belief about such matters between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
  • 1 Cor 4:5 - Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
  • Col 2:16 - Therefore let no one judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a feast, a New Moon, or a Sabbath.
  • James 4:12 - There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

We should judge

  • Luke 12:57 - And why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?
  • John 7:24 - Stop judging by outward appearances, and start judging justly.”
  • Acts 13:46 - And Paul and Barnabas, having spoken boldly, said, "It was necessary for the word of God to be spoken first to you. But since you thrust it away and do not judge yourselves worthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
  • 1 Cor 5:12 - What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
  • 1 Cor 6:1-6 - ... Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! ...
  • 1 Cor 11:13 - Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
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    + 1... but you mistakenly presume Jesus was arguing with Pharisees here. This is not in the text. Specifically, it was not a "pharisaical show" that Jesus argued against. He spoke of healing on the Sabbath, an issue on which there was no consensus that we know of among the Pharisees. Mar 7, 2023 at 2:21

How do we reconcile Deuteronomy 22:5 with John 7:24? To do so, we should consider the context of the NT quotation. My answer is that they do not need to be reconciled because Jesus is not discussing the issue of proper dress in John 7. He is discussing the issue of exceptions to the law against working on the Sabbath.

Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.’

The issue was this: when, if ever, is it permitted to "break the Sabbath." Or, more properly: "are there certain principles that supersede Sabbath observance." Jesus made the point that, according to Jewish tradition, circumcisions can be performed on the Sabbath. Although it is not mentioned in the Torah itself, this was apparently the case in Jesus' day, and remained so throughout Jewish history. According to Maimonides:

When a circumcision takes place at the regular time (on the eighth day), it supersedes the prohibition of work on the Sabbath. But if it is to be performed after the regular time, it neither overrides the obligation of the Sabbath nor of the festivals. (Mishneh Torah, Circumcision 1)

In this sense asking us to reconcile Dt. 22:5 and John 7:24 is a bit like asking us to reconcile "apples" and "oranges" -- because Jesus was not making a pronouncement about proper dress; he was pronouncing with regard to healing/circumcision on the Sabbath. When Jesus said not to judge by "appearances," Jesus was not referring to manners of dress; he was referring to the letter of the Law as opposed to the spirit of the Law, especially as regards Sabbath observance.


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