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Three Strikes

May 25, 2016

I continue to be dismayed by the way my fellow evangelicals race to the battle on the issue of transgender bathroom privileges.  What bothers me more than anything is that we seem to be ignoring the old maxim “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  The tactics used by the evangelical right follow the same three disastrous steps used in the losing fight against same sex marriage.  The comparison is eerie.  Let’s look at the three tactical steps.

  1. Appealing to an authority that others don’t see as authoritative.  While we evangelicals love our Bibles, or more accurately our understanding of our Bibles, we live in a culture that doesn’t see the Bible as the absolute authority on everything.  Trying to win your point by saying “the Bible says so” is, to many, akin to calling on Santa Claus for a ruling.  The well-reasoned theological arguments are simply ignored.  We skip over the first step, getting people to agree that Scripture is authoritative, because it is just too hard and time consuming.  Sure, the Bible says “male and female he created them” but, even for many Christians, it is a stretch to bring this into a 21st century bathroom issue.  We have no legitimate answer to the person who thinks it preposterous that this makes it a good basis for transgender bathroom rules.
  2. Arguing based on strategies and “world views” when others see the issue as impacting people. While we are busy with ideological arguments those who disagree use concrete language and share specific stories. They talk about real transgender people with real struggles that experience real oppression.  This is an echo of the same sex marriage debate where we ignored the reality of the struggles of same sex couples and came across as heartless and uncaring.  If you are arguing to win the mind while others are winning the heart you have no chance.  This is particularly true when your arguments have flaws; such as the inability to account for intersex people.  This condition, while rare, affects about 1% of the population, or around 300,000 Americans.
  3. Using fear as the primary motivator. In same sex marriage war the fear being tossed about was the destruction of the institution of marriage.  We were told to anticipate all sorts of strange marriages, with dogs and horses for instance.    This ignored the fact that such laws had been around for years without catastrophe befalling any traditional marriage and I am happy to report that that is still the case.  In the current issue the fear factor is the risk to our wives and daughters.  We are told that bills like NC’s HB2 “prevents putting women and children in vulnerable situations in public bathrooms and changing areas if men exploit the law and pose as transgender women so they could sexually assault or engage in inappropriate behavior in these areas.”  The problem is that there are18 states and over 200 municipalities or other jurisdictions that allow transgender people to choose their bathroom and none of them have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues.  Indeed, there is a coalition of over 200 organizations that actually deal with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors who oppose such fear-based laws because they see it as hiding the real sexual assault issues.

It seems to me that we have stepped up to the plate on the transgender issue and are prepared to battle.  It seems also that we are ready to use the same “three strikes and you are out” plan.  Maybe this time the results really will be different.  I’ll try and make myself believe it but I am not optimistic.

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From → Christianity

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