In Part One of this five part post, we looked at Biblical precedence for speaking out on moral issues, a precedence we need to take note of and follow.
But let’s qualify the phrase “speaking out” with words like “wisely” and “appropriately” since we’re all weary of people being clumsy or downright crude when handling truth. (Without naming names, for example, we all cringe when thinking of what some Christian spokespeople have said in reference to homosexuals over the years.)
Still, truth is something God commissions us to steward. Allowing the fear of speaking it unwisely to keep us from speaking at all brings to mind the parable of the unjust steward who was harshly judged for sitting on talents he was supposed to make use of. (Matthew 25:14-30) And as noted yesterday, neither Jesus nor Paul nor the Bible itself show any reluctance to name, and condemn, sins of a sexual or gender-related nature.
We also noted that the Christian response to transgender controversies is just that: a response, not an initiative. We didn’t start an argument over this. Instead, we’ve responded to increasing demands that citizens comply with transsexuals who want to use bathroom or shower facilities based on their self-perception in lieu of their anatomy. In the court of public opinion, we object.
There are five reasons I believe we need to: Federal Overreach, Religious Liberty, The Value of Gender Binaries, The Error of Subjective Definitions, and The Importance of Natural Modesty. Today let’s look at the first two.
In The Federalist Papers 45, James Madison underscored the contrast between federal and state powers under our Constitution:
“The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace
Notice the phrase “lives, liberties, and properties of the people as being primary concerns of state, not federal, regulation.
“In like manner”, Madison continues, “as far as the sovereignty of the States cannot be reconciled to the happiness of the people, the voice of every good citizen must be. Let the former be sacrificed to the latter.”
Let the former – the sovereignty of the States – take a backseat to the voice of every good citizen.
On issues related to homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and transgender issues, the voice of the Feds drowns the voice of the States which, too often, turn around and drown those of the citizens.
The latest example is last week’s letter from the Obama Administration calling on public school districts nationwide to “allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity”, vaguely threatening loss of federal funding to schools who don’t comply.
Arbitrary muscle-flexing from Uncle Sam should make any good citizen nervous. But today, when a Presidential contender beloved of countless millennials leads what National Review calls a “national-socialist movement,” then the healthy fear of Big Government is way below healthy levels.
To me, that’s more ominous than anything related to gender identity. When Big Brother gets a foothold, whether through a social issue or party maneuvering, he seldom lets go, and freedom is the first casualty.
“But Didn’t Segregationists Say the Same Thing?”
When the Federal powers trump those of the States, many people say Amen! in remembrance of the Federal government overriding state’s rights to the segregation practices violating millions of African-Americans. It hasn’t been that long since the clashes leading to 1964’s Civil Rights Act, so the memories are fresh and shameful.
They’re also conveniently, thought wrongly, applied to current clashes. The Charlotte Observer made this application last week when commenting on the discomfort some girls might have (might have?) showering next to
“Yes, the thought of male genitalia in girls’ locker rooms – and vice versa – might be distressing to some. But the battle for equality has always been in part about overcoming discomfort – with blacks sharing facilities, with gays sharing marriage – then realizing that it was not nearly so awful as some people imagined.”
The Observer’s remarks were hopelessly stupid. Segregationists who didn’t want to shower with African-Americans also didn’t want to eat with them, sit in theaters with them, live in proximity to them, or go to school with them. They believed whites were inherently superior to blacks.
Schoolgirls, by contrast, hardly believe that they’re superior to boys! In fact, they tend to be quite fond of the guys, wanting very much to eat with them, go to the movies with them, and sit next to them in class.
But generally, they’d prefer not to get naked with them, especially in mass, and especially in a random manner. That has nothing to do with prejudice and everything to do with natural modesty, a point sensible people get which was inexplicably lost on the Observer.
Still, slavery and segregation (and the evil fueling them) are a horrendous part of our history that the Federal government rightfully stepped in to remedy. It had to; no argument there.
But to assume that because a social conflict once required government intervention, therefore any social conflict calls for the same, is wrong and dangerous. Because the more we defer to Washington’s social engineering, the less we’ll be able to govern ourselves, state by state, community by community.
For this reason I applaud those states (especially their leaders) brave enough to defy this heavy handedness, regardless of the outcome. I hope you’ll join me in praying God grants them steadfastness and wisdom as they do so.
According to the US Department of State Fact Sheet, “religious freedom” means:
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice,
To manifest my religion in practice surely means freedom to express my views on a matter, based on my religious beliefs, and govern my personal and professional practices accordingly. Yet expressing a faith-based belief on sexuality has cost teachers their positions, counselors their jobs, and students their basic right to speak without punishment. (Click here for numerous examples)
It’s hard to miss the trends – if you hold traditional views on sex, gender, and marriage, the law is, increasingly, not your friend. Since this has repeatedly proven true regarding homosexuality, it will surely prove true regarding the transgender question as well. Transgender is, after all, the “T” in the LGBT movement, so there’s no reason to assume the transgender movement won’t follow the same playbook the gay rights movement successfully employed.
Christians counselors in a growing number of states are unable to counsel minors who are in conflict over their homosexuality (if those counselors hold the conservative view); Christian teachers and professors are censured or fired or expressing, even on their own time, criticisms of homosexuality; Christian universities could face loss of federal funding if they maintain facilities only for opposite-sex married couples.
All of this, and more, will be faced by those holding the view that our sex is assigned, not chosen, and should be celebrated rather than altered, which makes religious liberty an endangered right. It gets lip service, but, when threatened, its alleged defenders look away.
Which cripples the very mission of the Church. Let’s remember that the Great Commission is not only to preach the gospel (a right currently not directly under fire) but also to make disciples. Yet disciples cannot be made without standards to follow, and standards cannot be promoted, much less followed, if they run afoul of a government which seems determined to control which sexual standards are or are not openly expressed.
This reminds us that whatever error is currently promoted is the very one we’re called to openly oppose, consequences notwithstanding. Because when our freedom to express the principles of the One we serve, and whom we hope to persuade others to serve as well, are curtailed, our ability to steward what we’ve been commissioned is lost.
Martin Luther, no stranger to controversy himself, would no doubt agree. Consider his comments on clashes between prevailing trends and eternal truth:
I will gladly confess Christ and His Word on every detail, except that I may keep silent about one or two things which my tyrants may not tolerate … for whoever denies Christ in one detail or word has denied the same Christ in that one detail who was denied in all the details, since there is only one Christ in all His words, taken together or individually.
In Part Three tomorrow we’ll look at The Value of Gender Binaries.
Please join us.