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The Battle of the Bathroom

April 14, 2016

Well, the furor over North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which addressed the issue of which public rest rooms transgender people can use, continues unabated.  We continue to attract national, and even international, attention.  Ringo Starr is the latest one to cancel a scheduled event in our state.

Both sides are doing their best to rally the troops to oppose/support the bill.  Demonstrations of one sort or another happen just about every day.  At times the things being said make me cringe.  Our Lt. Governor, Dan Forest, humiliated himself, and anyone who re-tweeted him, by posting a picture of the door to men’s room at PayPal with its “Men” sign and calling them hypocrites for pulling out of a deal to bring jobs to NC.  Apparently he doesn’t know (or doesn’t care) that transgender people just want to use the rest room of the gender they identify with, not a whole new restroom.

For the most part this whole matters seems to be just the latest attempt by cultural and religious conservatives to turn back the hands of time.  In the same way that our culture is rapidly moving to accept the (now legal) same sex marriage, it is also becoming more accepting of transgender concerns.  The “no” side of that issue seems remarkably unconcerned about being seen as obnoxious haters.  They portray their stance as a “religious freedom” issue.  I saw one leader on TV just shrug his shoulders when asked if his position made him seem hateful.

So what does the Bible have to say on transgender rest rooms?  Obviously, nothing.  We are left therefore to look for and apply “biblical principles” to this issue which, more often than not, ends with our projecting our own already-held ideas onto the Bible.  In that spirit, here are a few ideas of my own.

Transgender people are out there, whether we like it or not.  They may seem strange to us but the Bible doesn’t teach that by showing kindness and welcome to strangers that they will cease being strange.  In the same way, if people offended by this law sound like our enemies, the Bible doesn’t say that if we love our enemies they will no longer hate us.

In fact, the Bible is pretty darn demanding.  We are to visit prisoners with no promise it will make them give up crime.  We are to feed the hungry with no promise that they will be grateful.  We are to care for the needy with no promise that it will be easy.  Rather, in a world of violence, prejudice, injustice and pain we are called to be a people who welcome strangers, love enemies, bring good news to prisoners, minister to the poor and care for those who no one else will.  We do this because this is what Christ has commanded us.  And I just can’t make myself believe that transgender people are an exception.

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