Once again, America’s immorality has stolen the spotlight. In 2015 it was the Supreme Court’s decision to recognize gay marriages; for the last two years it has been the transgender movement. The transgender movement could be classified as just another “notch” on the belt of this culture’s overall agenda of “tolerance,” but it is more than that. It is a political push for the American society to accept men who identify as women and women who identify as men.
In April 2016 the popular chain Target openly and proudly communicated their acceptance of this movement by backing a policy to allow transgender people to select whatever bathroom they choose to identify with. Outraged by Target’s decision, many Christians responded through social media posts, petitions, and boycotts. While Target is not the only establishment to enforce such policies, it does accurately depict typical Christian reactions to the transgender movement. While this movement affects each person differently, the church as a whole is affected. By analyzing how Christians respond, we can glean some ways in which the transgender movement affects the church.
First, the transgender movement affects the focus of the church. Any time an immoral policy is passed, the church rises up to fight it. In the name of Christ and in the pursuit of godliness and truth, many well-meaning Christians and churches combat the infiltration of immorality. The Bible plainly speaks against immorality and ungodliness, but the focus of Christianity is not just about speaking against these “works of the flesh.” The focus of Christianity fixes on glorifying God by living like Jesus. There is an unfortunate tendency to shift our focus from Christ and apply it to current events when situations like this arise.
There seems to be two common errors of focus when Christians battle immorality. The first focuses on rejecting ungodliness. While it is true that Jesus would be against the transgender movement, His rejection of it would not consume Him and create a spiritual imbalance in His life. Individuals and churches grow unbalanced when they speak against immoral current events more than they speak for the truth and love of Jesus Christ. The second error focuses on America itself. Especially in the political season, it is easy for American Christians to confuse devotion to God with devotion to country (or some political figure or party). Christians do have a responsibility to their government (Romans 13:1-9), but that should not be the focus of our devotion to God. America may be a great country, and defending it is most certainly honorable; but do not let our love for America surpass our love for the Lord. Let us follow the admonition of the Hebrew writer and continue “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2; NJKV).
Second, the transgender movement affects the church by altering the Biblical roles of men and women. Both the family and the church are affected by the transgender agenda. The influences may not be obvious, but Satan does have some room to subtly deceive us. When it comes to the church, the family of God (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15), we understand that the church can only be as strong as the families that are a part of it. Fortunately, as Christians we are blessed with a perfect and divine plan for the home.
The man is to: love, protect, and guide his wife (Ephesians 5:25, 28; 1 Peter 6:4); rear his children in a godly manner (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4); and physically and spiritually provide for his family (2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 11:3). The woman is to: love, cherish, and submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24); rear her children in a godly manner (Proverbs 22:6; 1 Timothy 2:15; Proverbs 31); and be in subjection to her husband’s spiritual leadership. In the church, men are to be the take the role of leadership while women are to support them by rearing godly children and teaching other women (1 Corinthians 11:3-12; 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; Titus 2:3-5).
The advancement of the transgender movement provides Christians with an “easy sin” to speak against. Yet, at the same time, there are subtle gender-specific role violations within the family that ignore the Biblical model. Is every Christian man the spiritual leader, husband, and father that he needs to be? Is every Christian woman the spiritual example of what a wife or mother should be? This movement provides opportunities to “defend” the family, while at the same time pacifying our consciences when it comes to our deficiencies as a Christian man or woman.
God’s disapproval of men identifying as women does not dismiss Christian men from being spiritually weak husbands, fathers, and leaders. Likewise, God’s disapproval of women identifying as men does not dismiss Christian women from being immodest, unchaste, or unsubmissive. The same God who is displeased with a transgender lifestyle is also displeased with an apathetic lifestyle when it comes to gender roles. Not being transgender does not make one obedient to God as a male or female. Do not let the obvious violation of gender roles, trick us into thinking that we do not have to improve ourselves.
Finally, the transgender movement affects the perception of the church. Individuals and congregations have a vital role concerning how the church will be perceived by the world. As an individual, each Christian wields an enormous influence with potentially eternal effects. By one person’s actions a soul may be led to Christ to enjoy eternal salvation; and by one person’s actions a soul may be turned away from Christ to spend an eternity in Hell. That one person could be you, and that one action could be your reaction and response to the transgender movement. While it may not be fair that people judge an entire church on the action of a single Christian, it is an inevitable reality. After all, one of the most common excuses for not visiting a church is “All Christians are hypocrites!” Thus, it is vitally important that our individual actions reflect the life of Jesus in everything. How you and I respond to this movement will shape how the world views the church. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15, NKJV).
The transgender movement will continue to grow for a while, but then, like many other movements will fade away into the distance as something else replaces it. Truly the words of Solomon apply, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In one sense, the transgender movement uniquely affects the church, but in another sense, it is no different than any other sin propagated by Satan and his followers. One conclusion is certain—expect the world to act worldly; expect the immoral to make immoral decisions. If the church wishes to rid this country of ungodliness, then we must fill it with Christians.
Yet, in order to fill the world with Christians, we must first fill our own hearts and lives with Christ. Only time will reveal the answer to our question: “How does the transgender movement affect the church?” And, only time will answer an even more important question, “How is the church affecting the transgender movement?” “Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the
time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16).
By Rick Kenyon
This article first appeared in Think magazine. To learn more or to subscribe, click here.