Monday, May 9, 2016

Jesus and Bathrooms..

Okay, North Carolina. Let's play WWJD!

Just kidding. Well, sort of. (confession: I totally owned that bracelet in the 90s and wore it proudly)

In all seriousness, how should we as Christians respond to the whole transgender bathroom thing going on in our state? I mean, Jesus doesn't say ANYTHING about transgender people and I'm fairly certain he doesn't talk about bathrooms either.

But I think there's some Scripture that could help us out here anyway.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)

Jesus, when pressed to declare the MOST important commandment, says that we are to love God first with everything we have. And even though he was never asked what the second greatest commandment is, he quickly follows his proclamation up with "and the second it like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Love my neighbor as myself? Treat my neighbor as if he's my flesh and blood? That's no small deal. And living that way is just like loving God with everything I have? yikes.

When I think about the things I want for myself and my family, a few things come to mind: a safe place to live, healthy food to eat, safety, and a great education. So, according to Jesus, I am supposed to want all those things for my neighbors (and maybe even putting my own desire for these things second to making sure my neighbor gets them... but that's a blog post for another day).

Transgender people want to be able to use the right bathroom for them. They want to be safe, not harassed, not victimized or harmed. I want a safe bathroom for me and my children. Transgender people are my neighbors. As a Christian, I need to be worried about safety for my transgender neighbor as well as for me and my children.

So now's the time for Christians to look at real information, not spin from one side or another. Transgender people are significantly more likely to be unsafe in bathrooms: roughly 70% report being denied access, harassed, or physically assaulted when trying to use a public bathroom (link to UCLA School of Law study here).  Transgender people report having health problems like UTIs and kidney infections from not using the bathroom in public because they're too scared so they just hold it. There is very likely a correlation between the high rate of suicide among transgender people and the way they've been denied access to housing and bathrooms. (link to study here). The suicide rate among transgender people is 41%. The general population rate is 4.6%.(National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 2011). This is a HUGE discrepancy. Our neighbors need our love and support.

So let's talk about women & children in bathrooms. Could a predator take advantage of the law that allows transgender people to use the proper bathroom for their gender? Sure. That could happen. However, 90% of child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by individuals known to the child. Not strangers hiding in bathrooms. And 75% of of sexual assault survivors know their assailant. Again, not strangers in bathrooms (US Dept of Justice, 2010).  And can we take a minute to note that before HB2, some transgender people were already using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender and we weren't having rampant cases of predators hiding in bathrooms.

So here's my take-away from this: we need to work to ensure that our  transgender neighbors have civil rights. Let's do what we need to do so that they can use the bathroom safely. And if we are serious about protecting women & children - let's work on the factors that lead to assault and abuse by those "known perpetrators." Let's fight against the rape culture that says "boys will be boys." Let's fight against the day someone is going to tell my daughter that the boy who touches her on the playground did so because her skirt was too short. Let's fight against the adults who tell young girls that the boys who hit them are doing so "because they like you." Let's focus on the rapes that are happening all across our college campuses. Let's be serious about protecting women and children.

So let's do those things. I'm in. I mean, Jesus told us to, right?


  1. never ceases to amaze me how often people make decisions that they obviously did not research...that's my only take on what otherwise is just plain ignorance. The fact that so many listen to so few is very sad. Transgender people just want to be who they's as simple as that. Stop trying to make something out of nothing and go educate yourselves while letting these good people have the freedom to pee in the stall with the right picture for who they are!!!!

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