Congratulations, you’ve found yet another blog talking about the recent issues springing up in the Southern United States concerning the current thoughts around the construction of gender, sexuality, and identity. If you’re hungry for more amateur commentary, please continue reading. If you’re sick and tired of it already, you’re free to click to this video to see some adorable pigs.
Ok, so I’m going to take the unpopular opinion here concerning the new bathroom policies. I’m going to be riding the middle of the road here (fancy that) and attempting to get back to how we should handle this.
First, I’ll quote Jesus. Seems like a good place to start, yes? Here goes, “Don’t give holy things to dogs. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they will trample them under their feet – and then turn around and attack you.” (Matthew 7.6 Kingdom New Testament) Am I calling people dogs or pigs? No. Honestly, you could insert the animal of your choosing there and the principle will still work.
Jesus is pointing out a basic rule of life. If you can’t use it, you usually don’t want it. Animals don’t have a need for jewelry or sacred objects. They need food. Animals are generally very pragmatic and only seek out things they need. I take naps because I enjoy them. Bears hibernate because their body chemistry and genetics drive them to. I eat a large variety of foods because I enjoy the act of tasting and chewing. Wolves eat because they are hungry and need to survive. I wear a watch because I enjoy the feeling of knowing the time. I could just as easily find a clock or check my phone, but I do have a preference. A robin doesn’t wear a watch because it doesn’t need to, it has a biorhythm that keeps it in check.
Those examples are to illustrate a point – most people don’t turn to God because they don’t see a need for him. Think about it, if a person is trying to survive meal to meal, their mind is generally going to be on meeting their biological needs before tending to their soul. If a person is seeking an identity that helps them understand the world better, they’ll find something concrete that they can put their finger on.
Jesus is pointing out that tossing out verses without context, arguing harshly, and thumping the Bible doesn’t tend to lead to life change. If you read Matthew 7.1-5, you’ll notice that arguing with someone to prove them wrong often leads to a more heated argument, not changed minds.
So how did Jesus handle it? Well, he met the need first. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, gave hope to the poor and oppressed. Once he did that, he met the spiritual need, unless he noticed that the spiritual need was more pressing. (See Mark 2.1-12) Instead of shouting and arguing, what if we used Jesus method? What if we showed with our lives that an identity in Jesus is more unshakeable than one rooted in gender, sexuality, or culture? What if we sought to meet the need and transform the life instead of only warning against consequences? What if we sought to meet people where they are instead of judging them by a standard they don’t even understand?
Second, the pragmatic, “What to do now?” As far as seriously considering the safety of children in public places, I do understand that sentiment. I will say, though, that the fear of someone lurking in the bathroom to snatch people up has been in our minds long before this legal issue cropped up. I remember being told hundreds of times as a child to be careful and watch for danger in bathrooms.
Bathrooms are a place where we feel vulnerable. And we are concerned about literally “being caught with our pants down.” But precautions can always be taken.
As far as your children are concerned, take advantage of your local Child Advocacy Centers. Get yourself educated on how to prevent child sexual abuse. The more you know, the better prepared you and your child will be. Have conversations with your child about appropriate touch and general safety. Accompany them to the restroom where possible. A good resource for education and prevention is Darkness to Light, a program that explains and seeks to prevent child sexual abuse. (The training is excellent and thorough, but it does not shy away from the issues or details, either.)
For yourself, trust your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, get out of it. Try not be be alone with another person in the restroom when possible. Be aware of your surroundings and make sure you have a way to get out, if needed.
Consider that the practical suggestions above can apply whether or not your state has changed its restroom policies.
If we want to change hearts and minds toward Jesus, then we need to focus on the individual level. Laws and secular morality are no longer going to be much of a help. Many of these groups have learned that face-to-face interactions make a huge difference in swaying others to their point of view. What if people who follow Jesus began to talk to their friends, neighbors, coworkers? There could be an exponential explosion of new followers ready to seek out their own friends, neighbors, and coworkers!
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has pointed out that what we’ve all been taught concerning the onward march of secular culture could be false. Secular culture has prided itself on one victory after another, claiming that religion as a whole is on the decline and has been since the 1700s. Look around today, with the amount of times we hear about religions in the news today, it doesn’t appear that religion is going anywhere. In fact, it seems like religion may be on the rise globally.