Target’s recent announcement of a new transgender restroom policy has left many conservatives in an uproar. As a result of almost non-stop public debate and media coverage of announcements similar to this one as well as state laws affirming or denying the rights of trangenders to use the bathroom of their choice, there has been a flurry of people taking to social media and other online outlets to express their opinion on the matter.
Beyond the fact that many of these people seem unreasonably angry, I have been troubled by some of the false assumptions that seem to be the foundation of so much of this outrage. I am not saying that people are not entitled to their opinion, but I am saying that much of the irrational anger seems to be a result of beliefs or assumptions that just are not true. Here are some of the false assumptions that I have seen quite frequently over the last week.
- False assumption # 1: Public restrooms are safe. One of the more common arguments I have heard is that now bathrooms aren’t safe for kids anymore. My initial reaction when I read this was disbelief. I thought, “Please tell me that these people don’t think that public restrooms just now became unsafe!” As a parent of four small children, I have never considered public restrooms safe. As far as the safety or accessibility of a restroom for my children, this policy has no bearing. I don’t care who is or isn’t allowed into the restroom, I am not assuming that my children are safe there. I have and will continue to accompany my children into the restroom and I would urge you to do the same.
- False assumption # 2: A transgender person poses a greater threat than anyone else. There is no reason to believe that this is the case. Regardless of one’s moral opinion of their lifestyle, it is unjust to assume that a transgender person is any more likely to cause harm than any other person who enters a public restroom.
- False assumption # 3: Predators will now have greater access to potential victims. This is one of the most ridiculous assumptions of all. It basically assumes that criminals, predators and just generally bad people are deterred by a sign or a policy. If someone is determined to do something wrong or violent, they are going to do so whether or not there are signs allowing them access.
- False assumption # 4: Public restrooms are a right. I know that we have come to appreciate and expect that most major retailers provide public restrooms, but we can’t forget that public restrooms are a service provided by businesses for our convenience. Whether you like it or not, a business has the right to formulate their own policies. In response, of course, you aren’t obligated to use their restroom or shop at their store.
- False assumption # 5: If I’m afraid, I can do or say whatever I want. Though most will not say they believe this, their actions betray them. I see men and women who claim to be Christians using their personal fear to justify hateful and irresponsible speech and actions. They may fear harm coming to their children or they may just fear change and those who are different than them. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not the fear is legitimate, though. Fear is not a justification for sinful behavior and it is certainly not a legitimate decision making criteria. After all, God has not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control. (2Timothy 1:7). I know there are some legitimate reasons to have fear, but we must not allow that fear to control us.
- False assumption # 6: Being angry about transgenders using their preferred restroom is equal to standing up for God. This assumption pops up every time there is a social or cultural shift, most recently in regard to issues regarding the LGBT community. Basically, Christians who believe that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins also believe that it is their Christian duty to angrily lash out at everyone in a public way. I have seen Christians and even those in ministry lashing out about these social and cultural changes with the honest belief that it is pleasing to God. Your angry social media rant might make you feel better, but it is not honoring God and it is not drawing men and women to Christ. Instead, these angry rants push people away and build additional barriers that must be overcome before they will come to Christ.
As a pastor, my primary concern in writing and sharing these thoughts is the edification of the body of Christ. I believe that the best hope for our culture is for the body of Christ to step up and behave like the body of Christ. If you are troubled by the state of our culture, I would urge you to put less energy into expressing your anger and instead put your energy into personally reaching out to those who need the Savior. Pray for them, serve them, love them and even be willing to sacrifice your personal convenience for an opportunity to minister to them.
Photo by Jay Reed (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons