By this point I assume you’re well aware of all the recent controversy surrounding whether or not transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom of their choosing. If your facebook feed is anything like mine, it is littered with shared articles about this topic along with many, many vehement comments (from both sides).
In recent days, I’ve been trying to think through all of the issues at play here and have asked many trusted friends for their perspectives. And though to some degree my thoughts on the matter are still coming together, I decided to share them with you in the hope that you might find them helpful, as together we seek to navigate this pressing ethical issue. I also hope that the tone you find here is more pastoral than combative.
So, here are some things I’ve been learning through the recent transgender controversy…
1. I’ve learned that a new code of morality is surfacing in America.
The locus of right and wrong used to be located externally. What I mean here is that not too long ago most people believed that right and wrong were objective truths which existed outside of us. Rape or murder, for example, were considered to be immoral acts regardless of the time and culture in which they occurred. But now morality is shifting to an internal locus. Each person, we are told, must “be true to themselves” and anyone who would dare stand in any one else’s way of that pursuit must be shamed in to silence.
In fact, that’s the other facet to this new code of morality. If I think a certain, culturally acceptable behavior to be immoral , I’m automatically accused of being a “hater” or spreading “hate”. Because I think that there is likely something wrong when a man sincerely believes he is a woman (and vice versa), I’m immediately labeled as a bigot, narrow-minded, etc. The point I’m making here is that my view is no longer up for discussion. Because I think morality is something which transcends time and space, and that culture is not the supreme arbiter of what is moral, I’m ridiculed.
One last thing under this heading. Because I believe there’s a problem that needs addressing when someone thinks themselves to be the opposite gender (even though the American College of Pediatricians would agree), it is assumed that I could not possibly have any compassion for the person involved. Again, there is no dialogue with my viewpoint, but only unfair assumptions.
2. I’ve learned that perhaps God has already judged us.
Many prominent voices from Evangelicalism have been warning us of God’s impending judgement on America. But what if this judgement has already come? As we look to the New Testament what we find is that God’s wrath can manifest itself in different expressions. To be sure, there will be a “day of wrath” when God will directly pour out His righteous anger on to unrepentant sinners (Colossians 3:5-6). But Scripture also talks about a way God expresses His wrath toward people today. In Romans 1:18-32 we read that “God’s wrath is being revealed” in response to man’s stubborn rebellion. According to Paul, God sometimes removes His divine restraints and allows us to pursue the self-destructive path we’ve chosen for ourselves. To give one example, in verses 21-24 Paul writes that because man has rejected God’s natural revelation of Himself, God “gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another”. This kind of “gave them over…” language occurs two more times in the passage. My point is, what we’re seeing today could very well be the out-workings of a society in which God has removed His restraints and has given us over to our soul-destroying desires. God’s judgement may already be here.
3. I’ve learned that I still have a lot of growing left to do in resting in God’s sovereignty.
I get defensive when I feel threatened. I would bet that the same is true for you. To a degree this is justified. No, I don’t want my little girl growing up in a world where boys are allowed access to the same bathroom. And I want to steward the freedoms that have been graciously given to me by God to steer the culture toward a healthier way of life.
Yet at the same time, I must remember that Christ truly is sovereign. Such a concept isn’t some nicety we find in Scripture but truly lies at the heart of much New Testament theology (e.g. see Colossians 1:15-20 or Philippians 2:6-11). When I panic to the point that I cave in to the temptation of name-calling and belittling others because of their views, I have betrayed my unbelief in Christ’s supremacy over every square inch of this universe. This leads me to one final thought…
4. I’ve learned that I’m increasingly feeling like a foreigner in my homeland.
I’ve worked hard at trying to ignore this reality. But I can do so no longer. Increasingly, people with my worldview are no longer being tolerated. The Church has moved to the moral minority. And as a result, this place is beginning to feel less and less like home.
But there’s a silver lining here. Maybe this is one way in which God is working all things together for the good of those of us who believe (Romans 8:28). When believers are lodged from their comfort in this world, they are forced to seek it in the world that is to come. And it is when we begin to see our lives from this incredible perspective that we begin to live the lives of holiness, love, and self-sacrifice we were intended to. Paul’s word to the Philippians is very salient for us today: “…our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 3:10). Let’s face it, we are no longer welcome here. But that just might be a good thing.