By Drew Griffin There are times when being a Christian amidst culture is a joy. We take comfort in the fact that we are called to this time. God in His providence has placed us in this generation and determined the times and boundaries of our dwelling places in hope that we might feel our way toward Him and find Him. (Acts 17:26-27) This sense of purpose and intention should inspire the heart of the Christian to find joy in the face of every circumstance. But there are times when that joy is tested. When we look out across a culture and weep for the brokenness that we see and marvel at the pervasive nature of sin’s many perversions.
The latest lamentable report appeared recently in the New Republic. In “Bathrooms are Not Separate-But-Equal” writer Adam Winkler editorialized on the new frontier of transgender rights. Winkler recounts the story of Nicole Maines a 15 year-old transgender girl (born biologically a boy but now “self-identifies” as a girl) who was not allowed to use the girl’s restroom at her school. Nicole’s parents sued the school under Maine’s Human Rights Act, “which prohibits discrimination against transgender people on the basis of their gender identity.” The case has now risen to the Maine supreme court.
Winkler sees this incident as a test-case in growing struggle for gender equality and gay civil rights. He writes,
“Restrooms are one of the last explicit vestiges of segregation on the basis of sex. In a nation evolved enough to allow women to serve in combat and have women on the presidential ticket, we still maintain strict and outdated rules that discriminate in who can use which restroom. Even at liberal law schools like UCLA, where I teach, the bathrooms are all clearly marked for gender uses in a way that no one would accept for race: there are rooms labeled specifically for men and others specifically for women.”
His proposed solution is to simply allow “parents with transgender children choose which bathroom their kids will use.” He confesses that “these cases remind us, our tolerance for sexual difference still has a long way to go.” For Winkler, denying transgender individuals like Nicole is much more than an inconvenience. “It treats her, in violation of our constitutional ideals, as unequal.”
Articles, like that of Winkler’s, can be frustrating; and I am tempted to spend time taking apart the flawed logic of his cultural and legal argument. Much could be said about the role of the boundaries and barriers needed to maintain basic order in society. Much more could be said about the inherent insanity of denying basic biology found in young boys and girls in favor of cultural shifts. But I want to look past the surface of his article at the deeper reality present.
It is easy to read these articles and proceed to rail against the abstractions, but as Christians, we are called to care before we are called to critique. Winkler’s article is not merely an account about court cases and civil rights, it is story of two parents and a poor confused child.
Last August I read a similar article in the New York Times Magazine regarding transgender children. The article “BoyGirl: Raising a boy who prefers to look like a girl…” by Ruth Padawer, describes the plight of progressive parents raising “gender variant” or “gender non-conforming” children. Children like Alex, who at “age 3, he insisted on wearing gowns even after preschool dress up time had ended.” “By age 4, he sometimes sobbed when he saw himself in the mirror wearing pants, saying he felt ugly.” Alex’s parents were faced with a child (age 4) who became “inconsolable” when they banned the wearing of dresses past dress up time. Faced with such a struggle, Alex’s parents relented and now allow Alex to dress and attend preschool in whatever way he wishes, some days he is a girl, some days a boy.
While Padawer’s article along with Winkler’s describes the side-effects of our diseased culture, it is helpful for us to look at the disease of sin. The deeper disease here is one where even the basic biological building blocks of society are being dismantled. Stories like these, and choices like those above might seem trite; boys wearing dresses; boys in the girl’s room; but they represent an overflow of the sexual revolution, gay marriage, gay adoption, and other LGBTQ issues. Lay historians Will and Ariel Durant once described sexuality as “a hot river that must be banked on both sides.” When we look out on these stories about transgender children in turmoil we are gazing upon the soggy flood plain human sexuality unrestrained.
The “Fall” of man affected everything. One tiny crack in creation spread and fractured and no part of creation was left untouched. Biology was violated, relationships were ruptured, work was cursed, and peace was lost, all with one sin. The only hope we have as individuals, the only hope for our culture is found in the gospel. This is the new creation in Christ, which edifies what the world would tear down and reinforces what the world weakens. We must love our neighbors, we must love their children, we must proclaim the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice, which makes all things new. Children will always test the limits, and parents will always face the challenge of guiding and nurturing their children toward adulthood. When we struggle in our own families we should pivot to the gospel, and when we witness the struggles of other families we should proclaim the gospel in love. For we know that the only strength to parent through today’s culture is in the hope for the new creation to come and the only hope for transgender children is the transforming grace of God in Christ.
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