Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,…“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”
Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, has locker room facilities it shares with two high schools—Olympia High and Capital High. The Evergreen Swim Club and Aquatics Academy also use the facilities. Keep in mind that Aquatics Academy has students who are six years old.
On September 26, 2012, a girls’ swim team was using the locker room. A biological male identifying as a female also was present, and he exposed himself to the girls through a window in the sauna. The girls’ coach, as well as the mother of one of the team’s members, reported the incident to the police, but they were told that the school would not act to prevent a man from using the women’s locker facilities. According to an eyewitness, the girls subjected to the incident were 6 to 18 years old.
If there ever were a clear case of indecent exposure, you’d think this would be it. Yet the county prosecutor indicated he would not pursue the matter in court to prevent it from occurring again. For its part, Evergreen College provided curtains and directed that the girls change behind those. A spokesman for the school, Jason Wettstein, declared, “The college has to follow state law.…[It] cannot discriminate based on the basis of gender identity. Gender identity is one of the protected things in discrimination law in this state.”
The offender was a student who was 45 years old! He dresses as a woman and calls himself Colleen Francis. He chose to live as a woman beginning in 2009—and this is not the first time he’s behaved this way at Evergreen. He said of the incident, “This is not 1959 Alabama. We don’t call police for drinking from the wrong water fountain.”
David Hacker, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Senior Legal Counsel, came to the aid of the girls and others who were outraged by the incident, declaring that the school’s giving preference to the whims and desires of an adult man over the clear need to protect young girls is “beyond unacceptable.”
He also said, “Little girls should not be exposed to naked men, period. A college’s notions about ‘non-discrimination’ don’t change that. The idea that the college and the local district attorney will not act to protect young girls is appalling. What Americans are seeing here is the poisoned fruit of so-called ‘non-discrimination’ laws and policies.”
“Poisoned fruit” is absolutely correct. At the time, in a BreakPoint commentary, John Stonestreet described just how far and how fast society had fallen. Two factors have been strongly influential: first, an emphasis on individual rights (including sexual rights) as absolute, and second, a cultural shift that stresses gender over one’s biological sex.
Until very recently a person was either male or female and the determination was based on objective physical criteria. While it isn’t always as simple as I just made it sound, the rule generally held.
Today, we speak in terms of “gender identity,” which “refers to a person’s private sense…and subjective experience.” It doesn’t matter if Francis has had sex-reassignment surgery or not—all that matters is his self-identification as “transsexual.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say that there are potentially as many gender identities as there are people. And under Washington law, each of these is protected from “discrimination” by state agencies such as Evergreen College.
When Francis walked into the women’s locker room, he was a rights-bearing individual whose “right” to use the facility trumped any other interest. Even the mental and sexual health interest of six-year-old girls.
Obviously this is absurd, but it didn’t come out of nowhere—it is where American law and culture have been headed for some time. And there aren’t enough screens to cover this damage.
Unfortunately, the legal situation has worsened in the state of Washington since 2012, further subjecting the general public to the whims of a miniscule few who have certain issues. Certainly we must not minimize these issues, but there are better ways to address them than trouncing on the privacy rights of the public at large. In the name of being sensitive to the tiniest of minorities, the doors have been thrown open to outright predators who will think nothing of feigning transgender experiences to gain access to vulnerable members of the opposite sex. Whatever happened to protecting the majority—especially innocent children? This noble principle is being increasingly ignored.
Apparently some city leaders are all too willing to throw the majority, including young, impressionable children, under the bus. Recently, in February of 2016, Dr. Michael Brown cited the incident at Evergreen State College in a speech warning the leaders of Charlotte, North Carolina, not to adopt a non-discrimination policy that, among other things, would allow a biological male to use a women’s bathroom or locker room facility, and vice-versa. City leaders, wisely, had rejected it in 2015. The text of the speech is available here. Unfortunately, even against the backdrop of overwhelming opposition to the policy, Brown’s speech and other pleas against the proposal fell on deaf ears. The bill was adopted 7-4.
Billy Graham, the widely known and widely respected evangelist, grew up near Charlotte, which now is home to the Billy Graham Library and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Graham’s son, Franklin, BGEA’s CEO, was bold in his response to the proposal both before and after it was adopted.
There is much more to discuss here than we will be able to consider in this one post. For now, I would like to highlight some of the words Brown and Graham used in expressing their opposition to the the non-discrimination bill. Note that Brown used the word warning in the title of his public remarks. He called the policy madness. Note as well the underlined words in these quotations from Graham’s Facebook page. Before the vote, Graham said,
It’s really hard to believe that such a ludicrous law would even be seriously considered…! Are people just not thinking clearly? This law would allow pedophiles, perverts, and predators into women’s bathrooms. This is wicked and it’s filthy.…It should be inconceivable that Charlotte’s mayor and the supporting City Council members have succumbed to the pressures from depraved sexual activists and are willing to put women and girls at risk like this. The ordinance was defeated last year, and the mayor shouldn’t have allowed it back on the table. Shame on her.
The next day, Graham stressed once more, “Shame on Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the City Council members who voted last night to pass an ordinance that would allow people to use the bathroom of their choice, not based on their biological sex.”
Especially taken together, these words reflect a rich prophetic tradition of confronting evil directly and forthrightly. Brown and Graham are to be commended for their boldness and candor. Neither man lacks compassion for those struggling with gender identity issues; however, to his credit, neither allowed compassion to overshadow the truth about the bill and the destination to which it certainly will lead. All too often today, out of fear of offending people, ministers fail to present the whole truth about the seriousness of sin and the severity of sin’s consequences. Without abandoning compassion or love, we need to warn people about the road down which society is heading. If we fail to do so, we are complicit in the moral degradation that occurs (see Ezek. 33:7-11). Mark it down! As believers, we don’t just have this responsibility to individuals, but also at the corporate level, in the society in which we live! We’ve been told that we don’t have the right to yell “fire!” in a crowded theatre, but we actually have a duty to do so if there really is a fire! We cannot let a packed theatre burn to the ground simply because we didn’t want to offend anyone!
“But wait!” someone will say. “Society abandoned absolute truth a long time ago, so people don’t have a set of standards by which to understand right and wrong. How can we speak of evil and wickedness and expect people to understand?” This person has a point. As Francis Schaeffer declared in the late 1960s,
Absolutes imply antithesis. The non-Christian went on romantically operating on this basis without a sufficient cause, an adequate base, for doing so. Thus it was still possible to discuss what was right and wrong, what was true and false. One could tell a non-Christian to “be a good girl” and, while she might not have followed your advice, at least she would have understood what you were talking about. To say the same thing to a truly modern girl today would be to make a “nonsense” statement. The blank look you might receive would not mean that your standards had been rejected, but that your message was meaningless.
Schaeffer was right in saying that the abandonment of absolute truth has led to a generation—to generations now—who have no familiarity with truth (moral and ethical standards of right and wrong) as far as a societal consensus is concerned. Yet this vividly underscores the critical need to help people see the benefits of such a consensus, and to uphold it and point them to it. Now more than ever, we are witnessing the devastation to which an abandonment of absolute truth in society has led. Do we really want to continue down this path? After struggling in quicksand, surely some relief comes from making one’s way to solid ground. Not all will escape the quicksand, but some will—and with each one that does, society moves closer to a return to truth. Jonah’s preaching provides a wonderful example of how God can use a strong and even harsh message to bring people to repentance. So does the ministry of John the Baptist.
As the Bible indicates, a lack of experiential familiarity with a societal consensus on absolute truth does not mean a person has no reference point at all for fairness and decency. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis astutely observed, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson.” Hear Romans 2:12-15 in the New Living Translation (NLT):
12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. 13 For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. 14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
Of course, we know that people are more confused about some sins than others. There is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding in society today about homosexuality and about gender identity. The Bible has answers for the questions that arise from this confusion. These answers include the truths that homosexual activity is sinful and wrong (a violation of God’s plan; see Rom. 1:18-27) and that God created men and women, boys and girls, in His image (see Gen. 1:27). We find fulfillment in God’s design, not apart from it. That said, let’s set these issues aside for a moment and consider how Charlotte’s non-discrimination bill exponentially intensifies the vulnerability of women and young girls. Supporters of the bill may not admit it, but they innately know it is wrong to give male perverts unfettered access to women’s public restrooms.
Thus, the strong language from Michael Brown and Franklin Graham is entirely appropriate—and even necessary. As believers, we need to add our voices to theirs if we haven’t already. We cannot effectively oppose evil or even begin to address it if we fail to call it what it really is.
Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
1 Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, in Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1990, [The God Who Is There was originally published in 1968]), 7.