Browse Worthy: Bathroom Battles

I never thought I’d have a blog post with this title.

With three children sharing a bathroom at home, we do sometimes have minor skirmishes in this area. Yet they are nothing like the battles going on in our culture. These conflicts cause us now to pause every time we are outside a public restroom door about what to do when we need to go.

Here are some perspectives to help.

Will You Use Target’s Transgender Bathroom?

John Piper packs some good theology into this article about not following the agenda of this world, but then does give his direct answer:

So, in answer to the last part of the question, Would you, John Piper, use a gender open restroom even if it says men on the door? My answer is, If I were there and if I had to, I would — just like I would stop on the highway if I had to. But I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to. And the reason I wouldn’t is because I want there to be a small act of protest and life consistency that may have no impact at all on the powers that make such decisions, but that keep my conscience clear and acknowledge God in practical affairs and give a consistency to my life that does help overall in showing the way of Christ to the world.”

Mothers, Bathrooms, and the Idol of Feelings

This mother hits the nail on the head with respect to training our children about this issue.

Boiled down, the trans-fiasco is one giant feelings-fest. Feelings are the new Baal. We don’t find our way out of it by teaching our young children that the way to love a man who thinks he’s a woman is by ignoring reality in favor of feelings-only  love.

The thing is, you can smile at the trans person in the bathroom. You can hand him the paper towel in an effort to teach your daughter that you love everybody equally and treat everyone with respect. You can tell her that somehow you’re being Jesus to that man. But you’ll simply be teaching her that reality doesn’t matter, only feelings. Because the reality is, that man can’t tell your “Jesus smile” from an “I think being trans is awesome smile” and your paper towel passing didn’t further him along one iota in knowing the true Jesus.

Talking to My Boys after the Transgender Talk at Their Public School

Now listen to a dad give his sons some advice.

We talked about gender being part of God’s design (Genesis 1:27) and that God’s design was good. I wanted them to know they should enjoy being boys and strive to grow into mature men who care for and lead their families well; also that it’s okay if they think girls have cooties right now [attempt at humor], but they should always respect women and treat them with honor.

A Transgendered Thought Experiment

Kevin DeYoung gives us a bit of a parable with some sad humor to help us see the foolishness of letting people define their own image.

I believe you. I believe everything that you’ve told me. If you tell me you’re fat, I’m not going to stand in the way of you accepting that identity. You’ve suffered too long. You’ve struggled too long. I can see how hard this is for you. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You are fat. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s who you are.”

5 Comments

  1. Teresa K. Pegors May 19, 2016 at 11:08 am #

    Just a thought I’d like to throw into the mix…
    I think we all know people with Chronic Pain Syndrome. This is a medical issue defined by a “feeling.” If we don’t believe in feelings potentially revealing something very true about something that is neurologically broken, we would have to tell people with this condition that they are simply delusional. Sex development happens on the outside and the inside, including the brain, and conditions exist in which sex development doesn’t happen “as planned.” Might gender dysphoria (a symptom for a subset of those who identify as transgender) reflect a disorder of this nature?

    In no way do we as Christians have to delete the categories of male and female to understand that sometimes, in a broken world, people do not fit into those categories set out at creation. This, among other reasons, should cause us to default on the side of grace.

    • Barry York May 23, 2016 at 7:50 am #

      Teresa,

      I agree that in these matters we are not to throw out feelings that people have, for emotions such as grief, frustration, anger, and joy all can reveal important aspects of a person’s inner psyche and/or physical condition.

      In the article above from the mother that I think you are referring to, I believe she is trying to say that just because someone feels they are the opposite gender that does not necessarily make them so. Yet as those who believe sin affects the whole person – body and soul and mind (the noetic effect of sin) – in certain cases we may need to look deeper and work harder in helping as you suggest.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      • Teresa K. Pegors May 24, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

        Barry,

        Thanks for your response. I think I’m trying to advance a more radical question, which is whether gender (male/female identity) itself may be partially revealed through “feelings.” External sex characteristics may not always be the final say on a person’s sex development – feelings are one way to tap into what is going on internally. … These thoughts are coming from my reading of both of your recent posts on transgender.

        I agree with much of what you say in your earlier post about the fact that we do not have the right before God to change our identity. If it is clear that I am female, I should not decide to identity differently. In that way, yes, we have to disagree with many in the broader transgender community who want to allow for self-definition of gender. What I don’t want to be lost in the fray is that group of people for whom their initial identity is uncertain … for example, those who have felt extreme physiological dysphoria from as early as they can express themselves. Might their sex development truly have elements of both male and female characteristics? (Modern medicine has identified numerous medical conditions in which disorders of sex development occur.) In these dysphoria cases, we can’t say that external physical appearance gives us the final word, because development involves the whole body and brain. At this point, shouldn’t we attempt to help them align with a gender (since as Christians, we do believe that the categories of male and female are meaningful and good), whatever this treatment may involve?

        I think my main point in all of this is that for Christians to acknowledge that gender isn’t always so straight-forward in this world doesn’t have to send us down the path of self-identification and gender fluidity.

  2. Marie May 23, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    I can’t agree with the entire “Mothers, Bathrooms, and the Idol of Feelings” Article. It makes some good points but here is the problem I have: if the loving thing to do is to point out their sin to a transgender person, with whom we have no relationship, then what about all the other sins we see on a daily basis? Do we tell the gay couple we see walking down the street that they are sinning? Do we go up to the cashier we see working on Sunday and tell them they should be in church?

    I do not think it is helpful to point out ever sin we see, especially with people who are outside the church and who we do not have any kind of relationship with. She brings up the example of Jesus with the woman at the well but , firstly, the woman has already asked Jesus for living water before he ever mentions her sin and, second, Jesus has known her from the foundation of the world.

    There is a time and a place for confronting sin. If a brother or sister in Christ is walking in sin we are commanded to tell them, and we should not simply allow our non-christian friends to believe that we approve of obvious sins in their lives. However, i do not believe that initiating a confrontation, with a complete stranger, is the loving thing to do.

    • Barry York May 23, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

      Marie,

      I agree with you that we cannot call out every sin we see in the unbelieving world as we travel through it (we would not get much else done if we did!), and have more responsibility to do so in the church.

      Perhaps your insight into the story of the woman at the well give principles of wisdom to guide us when confronted with an uncomfortable situation. Given proper personal interactions that “open the door” for conversation, we can then engage people in a discussion that shines the light of Christ on them.

      Thank you.

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