TRANSGENDER BATHROOMS

Transgen
Transgender Bathrooms

Well… it is certainly a new “freedom”!  I don’t want to be flippant or “churchy”, but allow me to propose a certain line of thinking that involves a deeper meaning of “sin.”

It has been said that the root of all sin is self.  If you are familiar with the classic “seven deadly sins” (pride, greed, lust, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth) you see the common root is an obsession with self.  In their manifestations in our day, like adultery, human trafficking, shoplifting, terrorism, or even road rage; it is all about self no matter the cost.

Even as “sin” revolves around indulging self, it ultimately imprisons self.  Consider the alcoholic or chain smoker; they are free to indulge as much as they like, but they are not so free to quit.  Consider the habitual liar, they get out of a lot of scrapes, but eventually all that lying isolates them.

That’s perhaps the greatest irony of sin; isolation.    For all the indulgence of self, the nature of sin ultimately isolates one’s self from one’s self.  Swallowing a lie about self is at the root of sin.  Sin erodes the concept of who you are, who you are supposed to be, or if you have a purpose at all!

So how does that little theological reflection fit into an article on “Transgender Bathrooms”? Well let me quote a passage that is possibly “illegal” in our current state of political correctness:

Romans 1:23-27   Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator… For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another.

At first glance, it may seem this is a warning on gender confusion, but that is really just consequential.  The passage is first and foremost, about the tragedy of an entire society exchanging truth for a lie, living unreality as if it were reality.

There are few things more fundamental to one’s self identity than gender.  Post-modern thinking views everything as relative.  If we can convince ourselves that all of reality is relative, right down to our gender, it becomes impossible to know the reality of anything, even one’s self.  There is no real self!  You can’t even look in a mirror and see your self.  It doesn’t matter what physical features meet the eye, gender is an illusion.  It is a preference.  Should your feelings change, so does your gender; so does a fundamental feature of your identity.

The idea of transgender bathrooms is born from that very concept.  It forces ALL of us to live by that concept.  Every time you enter a public bathroom, you are not male or female, you are just somewhere along a line of subjective preference.  It is not just those who embrace such a worldview; the law of the land is telling YOU that you are not in reality, male or female.  No one is; that’s why it is a law for PUBLIC bathrooms.  …Don’t even believe your eyes.

We used to have a term for it, when people “lost touch with reality,” it was called “insanity.”  And that is a good working definition of “sin”; it is spiritual insanity, which leads to intellectual insanity, that ultimately leads to death; even the death of self.

So am I saying that transgender bathrooms are “sinful”?  -Tragically misguided, but really not the big issue.

What I am saying is; when you witness social trends where the human being is eroded; in dignity or identity, you are experiencing what sin is really all about.  You are living the book of Romans.   Transgender bathrooms are simply one more milestone in that direction.

Are they a wonderful new civil liberty?  -A new “freedom”, to be sure.  But what good is it if we gain a whole world of “freedoms” and lose our very selves?  It’s not really about bathrooms, or even gender; it’s about exchanging the truth for a lie and slowly fading away in the aftermath.  That’s what concerns me.  Anyway, it is certainly food for thought.

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WHAT WAS AMERICA’S “FIRST LOVE”?

Flag_AmericanThere is a lot of revisionism going on about where this nation came from.  For example, Bishop Paul O’Brien of the Universal Life Church claims:

The United States was started by men we today would call pagans.  They wrote a constitution without one word about God or Jesus in it.  And in the amendments they said there should be no laws respecting the establishment of religion.  This too is excluding God…Jefferson, Madison, Washington, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Pain, Patrick Henry and most of our Found Fathers were deists.

Keep in mind, that the Universalists have a particular meaning for “deist”; in their words, “If there were a God who made the world, he is beyond some star and cares nothing about what mankind does.”

If the founders of this nation were “pagans”, then that’s what they were!  The question here is; is that actually true?  The wisest way to know is to review these men in their own words, so here we go:

John Adams, 1776:    Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.

George Washington, 1796:    Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…”

Benjamin Rush, 1798:    The only foundation for…a republic is to be laid in religion.  Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.

Patrick Henry, 1799:    The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion.  This is the armor…and this alone, that renders us invincible.

Two great themes glimmer like a golden thread throughout all their thinking:

  1. The democratic society the founders envisioned, had to be founded on religion and morality.
  2. Religion and morality were absolutely necessary if there was any expectation of liberty and freedom.

Benjamin Franklin said this was for a very straight-forward reason:    Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.  As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

When these founding fathers talked of “religion” what exactly did they mean?  The Frenchman, Alexis De Tocqueville was fascinated by the rise of what he called, “the great American experiment.”  In 1835 his impression was this:

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.

So here’s the math: “Christianity” = “Religion”; “Religion” = “Freedom.”  Therefore; “No Christianity” = “No Freedom”

The intelligentsia of the day believed so completely in this that they warned of a future without it.  A leading lawyer of the day, Daniel Webster stated:

To preserve the government we must also preserve morals.  Morality rests on religion; if you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall.  When the public mind becomes vitiated and corrupt, laws are a nullity and constitutions are waste paper.

That’s strong language!  If the nation should lose its link to God, the Constitution wouldn’t be worth toilet paper!

In their words, the first love of America was Christ.  Not that the church should rule the government, but that Christ should so permeate our collective mindset, that in effect, Christ ruled the nation.  And should this fail to be; there would quite literally, be hell to pay.  It makes me think of a warning from the Book of Revelation that goes like this:

Revelation 2: 1-7

“…I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. …Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent.  … He who has an ear, let him hear…

It makes me wonder; in a time of revisionism and lies; in a cultural climate that would horrify our forefathers; how many people are left who even have “an ear to hear”?  I hope they hear and speak out soon! …Anyway, it is certainly food for thought!

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO “SHAME”?

Cake_Divorced_s3Browsing through internet images, I noticed a new product in the bakery world; it’s “Just Divorced” cakes.  There are a couple of classic lines to celebrate one’s cake day.  “I do, I did, I’m done!”  or a ball and broken chain that says “Free At last!”  There was one practical cake, showing the ex-spouse pushed over the side as it exclaims, “Problem Solved.”

I have no doubt that there are legitimate reasons for divorce, such as abuse.  But until recently, we have not seen divorce as something to celebrate.

It got me thinking of a warning I’ve heard a number of times now, it is basically that we are a society that has become shameless and blameless.  “Blameless” doesn’t mean we don’t place blame; it is simply that “I” will not blame “me.”   When we encounter a wrong, the default thinking is; it’s not me, it’s someone else’s fault.  We divorce, we sue, we blame our parents, our genes, our environment or the proverbial “they”; anyone but me.

Shameless naturally follows.  Here’s a little challenge; how many social practices can you recollect that were once an issue of shame, or at least, treated with discretion, that are now proclaimed or celebrated outright?  The list is getting longer all the time!

Each issue is a topic in itself, and the point here is not to argue any of them.  It is just to raise a question; is it really good for a society to eradicate shame?  I have no doubt it will allow us to avoid pain at some level, and in some cases, it may even encourage justice and equality.  But what happens to the collective soul of a society that is nearly shameless?

The English philosopher, Roger Scruton claims, “Our culture has become not just shameless, but loveless.  For the human body has been downgraded from subject to object, from self to tool.”

The New Testament was originally written in ancient Greek.  The language had two words for shame; one spoke of shameless acts.  The context is negative; such acts which lead to destruction and regret.  An example in our digital generation would be: Getting so plastered at a party that you wake up the next day naked on a public picnic table.  Shortly after that, you find a picture of the event plastered over every social media.  That has got to be big time regret!

But there is also a second word, (entrope) which implies a “wholesome shame.”  It is the moral pain one feels for practicing a wrong, and the pain is such that it leads to positive change.  Sometimes a shot of pain is a good thing.

There is a physical disease that entirely removes pain.  It is called “leprosy.”  In large part, the deformities are not caused by the disease, but by the absence of pain.  There is a lack of awareness of the harm one is doing.

Considering the uncomfortable parallel, I rephrase the original question:  What happens when an entire society contracts “moral leprosy”?   What happens when we actually celebrate what cultures before us considered painfully wrong?   Do we actually believe the quality of life goes up with the death of shame?

To cite an ancient “sociologist”, who witnessed the result of his culture becoming shameless: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”  (Hosea 4:6)  -And the word “knowledge” that he used, definitely implied a loss of moral pain.

Current day philosopher or historical record; the conclusion is the same; despite the pain, the death of shame inevitably leads to the death of us.

I find this bit of timeless wisdom haunting.  It moves me to honest concern and shatters my political correctness.  Whenever I see witty “Just Divorced” cakes or pride marches that no society before us saw as a point of pride, the question rises up again; what happens when we become completely shameless?  …It is certainly food for thought!