Just yesterday, most Americans had never heard of gender dysphoria; and transsexuals were found mostly in schlock movies like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Today we are warned there is a national epidemic for which the only cure is the wholesale renunciation of the male-female concept of gender. Oh yes, and all individuals must be free to enter the restroom or locker room that fits the way they identify today.
This is not going to go well. Progressives will continue to taunt traditionalists that only bigots and haters seriously care who’s sitting in the adjacent restroom stall. And alarmed parents will reply that only perverts and fools would demand that males who self-identify as females must be allowed to shower with adolescent girls. And then a few religious folks will cap it off by snarling, “I’m a Christian and this is a sin against God.”
Last time, we acknowledged that it’s not very constructive to wade into a political debate firing Bible verses. If my adversaries are unbelievers, my scripture doesn’t resonate with them; in fact, it proves I’m in the narrow minded religious minority. A more rational approach might be to begin with the medical evidence that we are over dramatizing an adolescent phase that almost always passes, and an emotional disorder that responds to counseling, not surgery. For last week’s blog, click here.
Here’s my second principle for joining this cultural conversation (and many others:) In everything, lead with love.
It’s not helpful to suggest your Christian faith should automatically trump the opinions of other citizens who happen to be atheists or a Unitarians. But it’s downright destructive when you make that statement with a condescending glare. We are the people who love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We are the ones who turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and are controlled by the love of God. Even atheists who know nothing about our theology realize that we boast about love that is supernatural. They are right, of course.
We are not allowed to resent people who disagree with us- even radical activists who hope to undermine our traditions and deny us our civil rights. We cannot hate our fellow Americans, even if we rightfully believe they are drilling holes in their end of our national life boat.
Paul leaves us a vivid example in Acts 17. As he walks through Athens where pagan statues clutter every street and public pavilion, the great evangelist’s heart is broken. Scripture says his spirit is provoked. What’s more, some of the intellectuals actually insult him, mocking his barbaric accent. In response, Paul greets them warmly, quotes their favorite pagan poets, and respectfully warns them that the age of repentance has now dawned. They should turn to Christ. He never rebukes them: he builds bridges.
This principle also applies to discussions of race, Black Lives Matter, and policemen who feel they have targets on their backs. In having conversations with black Americans or frustrated law enforcement officials, I don’t have to win some kind of debate. Trying to understand another person’s concerns is not the same thing as agreeing with them. I want to ask thoughtful questions, listen respectfully, and then plant positive but subversive images of which will linger in their minds long after they walk away. The love of Christ lays the best foundation for cultivating haunting conversations.
More next time. In the meantime, lift up the Cross!