Yesterday the National Review, published Christians, Don’t Fall for the ‘Compassion’ Trap. The article made some fine points about how progressive and liberal Christians, in an effort to show compassion on the lost transgender person, are harming both the truth and fellow believers whom they attack as bigots. Author David French makes the following observations.
First, he presents an example of the progressive argument for tolerance:
Attention all Christians. The Transgender bathroom issue is not a fight we are called to enter into. I started to, and regret that, but now see it as trap to separate people, to vilify people, to make enemies and to distract us from the real heart issues that Christ demanded we pay the most attention to. Jesus died for straight, gays, transgenders etc. We aren’t here to change society, we have never been called to point out behaviors of the unsaved that we don’t agree with. We are called to love, we are here to change hearts and let God change behavior where He feels best. Distraction and divisiveness is the devils greatest tool and when we get caught up in causes such as this we lose sight of the true work of Christ and the Holy Spirit which is freeing sinful man from the burden of sin – which included us at one time as well.
French made three points, which I want to modify (since I thought his second point was weak, I wrote another ;).
1. Resisting social reforms is not inconsistent with “loving your neighbor”
Just because we resist the norming of trangenderism or poorly crafted legislation meant to help transgenders doesn’t mean we are against them. There are other side effects of such legislation that liberal social engineers ignore or don’t take seriously, i.e.:
It is compassionate to women and children to argue that governments and businesses shouldn’t render them more vulnerable to sexual predators….Yes, transgender men and women need the love of Jesus, but if by our words or deeds we contribute to the notion that their “transitions” are perfectly acceptable, we’re contributing to their own tragic self-mutilation.
The risk to children may be minimal, but it may not. Are you OK with having teenagers of all genders sharing bathrooms and locker rooms? Don’t you think there is tinder there for sexual abuse?
And let’s not forget another under-discussed side of trangenderism – that children who are allowed to take hormone replacements to switch gender end up sterile – a fact that seems tragic in light of the facts that
- some research indicates that as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty 1
- 20% of transgenders regret their irreversible decision 2 3
2. Resisting sexual decadence and moral confusion is not bigotry
Progressive Christianity has done a good job of purging Christendom of some darker extremes of paternalism, patriarchy, and the failure to pursue social justice for the oppressed. But all those who are poor or oppressed are not victims – the Bible presents many reasons for poverty, which include culpability for both the poor and rich.
For instance, the bible warns that various lacks of virtue, such as laziness, gluttony, drunkenness, associating with bad company, and failure to save are all sins that lead to poverty. We can’t emphasize only one side of the equation and think we are doing God’s work.
With regard to sexual and gender mores, while we must exercise compassion and concern and genuine love for those involved in sexual sins such as adultery, promiscuity, and homosexuality, we must also clearly articulate the words “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Grace without truth is false piety of the second worst kind (legalism and self-righteousness being the worst).
Historic Christianity and Drawing Lines
However, if you have migrated to the theological position that adultery, promiscuity, homosexuality, or bestialism are acceptable norms, I suppose you could attempt to condemn conservatives for rejecting transgenderism as ethically supportable.
But the history of morality and the Church across all of human history has realized, mainly from the increase in death and human misery, that at least some types of sexual practices, be they rape, female genital mutilation, adultery, pediastry, bestiality, homosexuality, promiscuity, necrophilia, or pornography are to be condemned as unhealthy, and thus immoral.
Drawing the line in a more generous place is not necessarily more true or generous, and anyone presuming themselves a moral Christian must condemn at least some types of sin, and be risked being called a bigot.
Consenting Adults and Doing Harm
Many progressive Christians draw their line regarding sexual morality based on whether both parties can legitimately enter into sexual affairs without coercion, and without harming another. They would argue that this rule effectively condemns adultery, rape, pedophilia, incest and bestiality. But gays and transgenders, it is argued, are not harming anyone nor entering into forced sexual encounters.
First, I must mention that such an argument does not clearly omit many of the sins listed, since incestuous relationships among the infertile seem to harm no one, some animals are very willing to copulate with other species, adultery may be seen as justified (by some) when the other spouse is already unfaithful or abusive, and some medical professionals are using the argument that pedophilia, like homosexuality or transgenderism, may be something out of the control of the individual, and therefore normative. 4
Second, and more importantly, what’s missing in this definition of morality is harm to one’s self, and rejecting the design of their creator. Being true to one’s self is a great truism, but as psychology and faith both teach, there is a false self, an “ego,” a fallen self, that should not be affirmed. And rejecting one’s gender (he made them male and female) is rejecting the image of God in us:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)
That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. (Romans 1:26-28)
3. A public political stance is not the same thing as a personal relationship.
Endemic in the progressive misunderstanding of moral declarations is an inability to recognize the difference between opposing bad ideas and condemning people. Being unwilling to bake a sharia cake, or a gay wedding cake is not malice towards Muslims or gays per se. Condemning Islamic theology as misogynistic or violent, or hating Nazism is not the same as hating Muslims or Germans.
Wicked ideologies and bad ideas must be condemned, even if some who are not mature enough to know the difference, perceive that as an attack on their persons. Or, as I wrote in CAKE WARS: Can we protect the rights of gays and business owners?, there is a difference between discriminating against people vs. content and activities:
Human Rights do not trump individual conscience in the public realm in cases of engagement in objectionable content or activities. This ‘secondary’ discrimination may impact distinct people groups who engage in legal or illegal activities that many consider immoral. Such discrimination, however, is protected by free speech and limiting government compulsion.
Progressives are entirely correct when they criticize hateful attitudes towards others deemed sinners, or of patriarchal abuses, or of Phariseeism. But in the case of the current sexual revolution, they do not have the moral high ground upon which to condemn those who have good reasons of their own to limit the influence of trangenderism on our public schools and bathrooms. And in accepting such sexual and gender practices as norms, thy almost certainly are abandoning Biblical truth for the false piety of “love fundamentalism.” 5
- Gender Ideology Harms Children (American College of Pediatricians) ↩
- Transgender Regret Is Real Even If The Media Tell You Otherwise (thedfederalist.com) ↩
- Sex Changes Are Not Effective, say Researchers (sexchangeregret.com) ↩
- Many researchers taking a different view of pedophilia: Pedophilia once was thought to stem from psychological influences early in life. Now, many experts view it as a deep-rooted predisposition that does not change. (latimes.com) ↩
- Less Dangerous: The Love Fundamentalists (wholereason.com) ↩