Talking about Transgender: Why we Must, Where we Stand (Part One of a Five-Part Series)

If you can keep your head
When all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
-Rudyard KiplingTransgender symbol

If you believe there are only two sexes, that each is intrinsically different, that when united they form the ideal marriage and parenting team, and that attempts to switch sexes or redefine marriage can’t work, then I’ll bet you’re feeling just a little crazy these days.

In times of widespread madness, someone’s lost it. And when more and more otherwise intelligent people embrace what seems madder and madder, you start asking yourself, “Is it them or me who’s gone nuts?” In fact, while having dinner with some good buddies a few nights ago, we decided one of the best things we can do for each other in 2016 is to say, “No, it’s really not you who’s going crazy.”

But someone sure is, and the national debate over using bathroom or shower facilities according to your self-identification rather than your anatomy is
today’s symptom.

Just when we started catching our breath after last year’s SCOTUS decision to correct God when He declared heterosexual marriage “good”, another wave crashed over us, this time plunging us deeper into the You Gotta be Kidding! vortex where we’re now flailing, trying to find the surface, wondering if this time we’re really going to drown.

The transgender movement now demands the right to share toilets and showers with whichever gender they say they are, the testimony of their feelings overriding whatever evidence their bodies display.

Simply put, someone with male genitals who identifies as female need only say “I’m a She” to enter the women’s facility, and vice-versa.

According to the President, no one should not be exempt from this trend, not even children. So he’s threatened public schools with loss of federal funding if they don’t comply with the new practice of sexual self-identification.

Those who’ve protested or defied the new way – whether governors who declare their states independent from federal imposition, or citizens who can hardly believe such an imposition could happen – are viewed as the problem. So those few brave states saying “no” are subject to cancelled celebrity events,  business boycotts, and unbridled contempt from the cultural elite.

To Speak or Not to Speak?

I got a taste of that last June on this blog, when I posted a response to Bruce Jenner’s “coming out” as a woman. Since I disagreed with his assertion that self-identification trumps biology, commenters called me “lunatic”, “ignoramus”, “buffoon”, “backwards”, and an “uneducated bigot.”

But the slam which really got my attention was this one:

“I know Christians are always right. You have Scripture and God on your side, and revel in telling everyone what/who they should be and how they should behave. And that, my friend, is the definition of Vanity and Pride. There’s no love in ‘speak the truth in love.’ You may mean well, but this ‘truth’ is just simple,
bigoted disapproval.”

His accusation of arrogance is a common one. Christians are often viewed as moral busybodies, imposing our opinions where they’re not welcomed, assuming we’re the purity police.

And because people see us this way, plenty of believers shy away from commenting on any moral issue, first because they dislike the self-righteous image we have in the public’s eyes, and second, because they’re unsure whether or not God even calls us to comment on worldly trends.

“After all”, they say, “isn’t the world what it is? Why should we get mad at sinners for acting like sinners?”

That’s a question we really should take up, because the further our culture drifts from Judeo-Christians standards, the more we’re challenged to justify any public expression of those standards.

I’d argue that a response from individual Christians, from Christian leaders, and from the collective Church is called for, because there’s Biblical precedence for it. At some point, conscience will demand it.

For the Umpteenth Time: What Would Jesus Do?

Let’s remember, in this age where Judge Not is the Moral Holy Grail, that the One who said not to judge others did, frequently and clearly, offer moral judgments.

Speaking to crowds made of Jewish and Gentile listeners, He openly condemned adultery (Matthew 19:18) moral uncleanness (Matthew 23:27) and lust (Matthew 5:28) while commending the heterosexual union (Matthew 19:4) and condemning unwarranted divorce. (Matthew 5:32) So although He offered grace to an adulterous woman (John 8:11-12) and respect to a Samaritan living with a man out of wedlock (John 4:1-26) He made no bones about sexual morality, regardless of who heard Him or who might object.

Paul did make it clear that we’re in no position to judge non-believers (I Corinthians 5:11-12) but his writings, like Jesus’ teachings, left no doubt as to where he stood on sexual matters. (See, for example, Romans 1, I Corinthians 6, Ephesians 5:3)

Christians teaching within the church can’t help but address sexual morality, because the scriptures are so full of references to it that one could hardly teach the Bible without hitting these subjects head on.

For that reason, no responsible pastor will shy away from clarity and emphasis when preaching on sexual or gender-related issues.

But there’s another reason, often overlooked: Christians aren’t attempting to impose moral regulations on the world. The world is imposing them on us, leaving us no choice but to comply, or defy.

I’ve heard of no Christian individuals or groups attempting to criminalize transsexuals who want to dress and live as another sex. Nor is anyone from the Church telling transgenders what they may or may not do.

But if believers aren’t dictating the terms, the culture certainly is. The world is now telling Christian fathers that their girls in public schools must be naked in the presence of anatomical males, or find another facility. It’s telling me my wife must now share toilet facilities with any male who says he’s not. And it’s telling us that if we object, then we, not the new morality, are the problem.

So the argument for speaking up is bolstered by the need to respond. We’re not initiating this discussion; it’s been initiated, so we’re answering back. Paul did so when a Roman soldier prepared to violate his citizen rights; (Acts 22:25) Daniel did so when he refused the order to bow; (Daniel chapter 6) his friends went and did likewise. (Daniel chapter 3)

They weren’t pushing anything on the world. Rather, they were pushing back.

Today, the need for godly pushback seems clear for five reasons, reason we’ll discuss in this five-part series:

1. Federal Overreach
2. Religious Liberty
3. The Value of Gender Binaries
4. The Error of Subjective Definitions
5. The Importance of Natural Modesty

Tomorrow (Friday) we’ll look at reasons 1 and 2. I hope you’ll join us.

I’m happy to announce a new article I’ve written called Of Bathroom Bills and Basic Beliefs is the cover story for this month’s special edition of the Christian Research Journal. To order a copy,
click here.


susanlkh | May 26, 2016

Congrats on your article being accepted as the cover story for the special edition, and praying for your interview. Thanks for this series of blog posts. Looking forward to reading them.

Jim | Jun 7, 2016

Joe, I deeply appreciate the courage and clarity with which you address important issues. I'll pray for you as you work with Hank Hanegraaff. A couple of weeks ago I made the comment in a discussion on Facebook about an article I had posted, that Christians should not expect non-believers to live by biblical, God-given moral standards. Some agreed with me, some (mostly Christians) disagreed, and some (mostly non-Christians) appreciated my assertion. I do believe that we must live holy lives, and that we should defend our right to obey God's Word, and should be able to talk with non-Christians about our biblical worldview. This thought is not original to me - it was part of a class lesson in the Romans and Galatians course, taught by a great teacher at CBC - and it has helped me many times over the years not to be judgmental of non-Christians.

Thank you for being a voice of godly reason to a world that needs to hear truth. You're a respected leader and a faithful representative of God (and secondarily, of the Assemblies of God). I pray that the Spirit will anoint you with supernatural wisdom during the next few days.


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