“In Lev. 19:19 and Deu. 22:11 , on the mixing of fabrics, what about polyester, viscose and linen- is that an acceptable to wear?”
Thanks for writing. Your question is a good one. The question arises in part because of the translations many of us use today. That’s why it’s helpful to look at a variety of translations and to use other Bible word helps.
The KJV translators use the word "diverse" to depict the opposing characteristics of wool and linen. Most of the accurate modern translations simply forbid the mixing of wool and linen. Deuteronomy was given by Moses to expound and explain the teachings of the law found in Exodus and Leviticus. Notice:
Deut 1:5 On this side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law, saying” NKJV
So the answer is best found in reviewing Deuteronomy’s record of these two parallel accounts. Notice then the context of Duet 22:11 in the New American Standard Bible Updated:
Deut 22:9 "You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled.
10 "You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
11 "You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together. NASU
The context gives the reader three similar examples of forcing things together that are not cooperative and complementary to one another – Diverse seeds planted in to close a proximity – Diverse animals yoked together in labor – Diverse materials bound together in one fabric or garment.
Paul showed us that these Statutes were given to apply in spirit and principle to men – not just to agriculture. For example, Paul explained that the principle of not muzzling the ox that treads out the grain found in Deut 25:4 was principally given by God to be applied to men – not just oxen. Notice:
1 Cor 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? NKJV
Clearly the laws against weaving or sewing with diverse fabrics, planting opposing seeds that when combined defile one another, and the yoking together of clean and unclean animals with widely varying characteristics, all apply in spirit and principle to in our lives today! These laws were not just for agriculture. The fact that Paul continued to teach these Statutes of God to the Gentile churches in the New Testament dispensation, is demonstrable proof that they continue to be for us to benefit from TODAY!Used with permission.
As to you question then, it is the specific combination of wool and linen that were forbidden as they are not a good mix. They are so diverse that they oppose each other. The spirit of this law applies to the yoking and mixing of all kinds of things that should not be put together - like unequally yoking an ox and an ass or the unequal yoke of a believer with an unbeliever. Likewise, diverse seeds in our field will prevent a good crop and produce unhealthy fruit. It’s a struggle. Life is hard enough. God is trying to make it easier for those who will to learn from Him. These Statutes outline Godly principles for us to benefit from today. God’s law (Torah) is given to us in love and is always for our good (Deut 6:24 ).
The mixing of cotton and wool is fine as they do not oppose each other. Many other fabrics can be successfully mixed as well. But wearing a mixture of wool and linen irritate the skin and cause excessive sweat (Ezek 44:17- 18). It reminds me of the expression, “Hot under the collar.” The combining of wool and linen does not enable a strong or lasting garment, as these two threads are to opposed and diverse in nature. Likewise, when we try to mate a believer together with an unbeliever - both become irritated, stressed, frustrated and the marriage is weakened tremendously. It puts us at a disadvantage. The same principle applies to business partnerships and always in our friendships – since righteousness never mixes well with unrighteousness (1 Cor 15:33 , 2 Cor 6:14 - 18). Both parties are harmed by such relationships. It’s the “bad apple spoils the whole crate” principle.
You can learn much more about the wisdom of these and many other loving Statutes of God in our "Expounding the Law Series" sermon series.
Thanks for asking. May the LORD guide and bless you as you pursue His Truth.
Don E. Haney
http://godslawislove.org (this site is no longer up)