When North Carolina governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law on March 23, he didn’t know what demons would be unleashed. I wonder what he thinks now that all hell has broken loose.
The law bans people from using public restrooms that don’t match their biological sex. It requires men to use men’s rest rooms and women to use women’s rest rooms, a concept that in every era except our own would require neither law nor explanation.
But in our day an outraged response quickly followed. Transgenderism is the cause de jour, and its supporters won’t tolerate any dissent—legal, political, religious or from personal conviction. Even though there’s no way to define it or even to adequately describe it, the condition has risen to the level of a protected civil right, and those who oppose it are condemned as bigots.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch led the charge and on May 4 sent Governor McCrory a letter demanding he not enforce the law because it violated the civil rights guaranteed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Threats to cut off federal funds to the state if he didn’t comply followed. Our nation is so accustomed to the bullying of the federal government that no one was particularly surprised. Still, when you read the language regarding the categories of civil rights protected by the law there’s no mention of transgenders. Title VII specifically protects people from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. Transgenderism isn’t on the list.
No matter. The unelected bureaucrats in the Justice Department whose job is to interpret laws in accordance with the administration’s political agenda decided that the North Carolina bill discriminated against transgenders and so must be set aside.
North Carolina—to their credit—didn’t back down and on May 9 filed suit in federal court against the Justice Department’s action, sensibly asking how it could be forced to conform to a statute that didn’t exist. Governor McCrory accused the Justice Department of “baseless and blatant overreach.”
Playing tit for tat the Justice Department later the same afternoon filed a counter-suit. Vanita Gupta, who leads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division, explained how “[the North Carolina law] speaks to all of us who have ever been made to feel inferior—like somehow we just don’t belong in our community, like somehow we just don’t fit in. Let me assure every transgender individual, right here in America, that you belong just as you are.”
Ms. Gupta’s remarks are long on emotion but short on legal rationale. Shouldn’t we expect the Justice Department to have criteria for federal action more substantial than hurt feelings? But we should at least thank her for bringing to light a core issue of the whole affair. The difference between civil rights protected on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion and those protected on the so-called basis of transgenderism is perfectly clear to anyone not employed by the Justice Department. You can easily identify the five classes laid out in Title VII because each one reflects an objective reality. Transgenderism on the other hand is fluid by definition and nailing down what the word means is almost impossible—by their own admission transgendered people move freely between genders. How can the law which must be objective in order to be fair address a condition that’s demonstrably subjective?
Then on May 13, the battle between North Carolina and the federal government escalated into nation-wide war. That’s the day the United States Departments of Education and Justice issued guidelines to all public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms according to their gender identity. In non-Orwellian language, the guidelines demand that every public school in America allow students to choose whichever gender bathroom they want to use. Locker rooms, medical facilities and other school services are included. The guidelines further instruct school officials to disregard students’ birth certificates and deal with them only on the basis of their self-identification.
The government’s statement said the change was necessary so that “transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment” and included the government’s standard threat of withholding federal monies for those school systems that refuse to bow the knee to this novel understanding of sexual identity.
Conservative politicians and evangelical leaders across the country are rallying against the new guidelines, filing lawsuits and holding rallies as fast as they can. The notion of students not feeling safe in their own bathrooms and locker rooms explains much of the opposition. Parents should have confidence enough in their tax-supported and locally governed institutions to trust their children will be cared for when they attend a public school. The growing conviction that’s no longer the case is frightening.
Beyond that, for all of us who try to live according to biblical standards transgenderism isn’t just a matter of sexual identification, and it certainly isn’t about civil rights. It’s instead the indication of a much deeper, more troubling sign of cultural decay.
Rod Dreher blogged on the subject earlier this week and quoted an anonymous pastor who’s daughter is attending a public school about to conform to the new federal guidelines. The pastor emailed his daughter’s principal and superintendant his concerns, concerns that went well past the guidelines themselves and addressed the underlying motivation that lies at the heart of evangelical opposition:
The real issue here is that the Obama administration’s decree is at the surface a pragmatic directive regarding the use of bathroom facilities etc., but implicitly and by logical necessity, it is a claim about what is in fact the case (i.e., true) regarding human nature as an essentially fluid and endlessly malleable reality. That is to say, it is a denial of the reality of any such thing as “human nature” beyond the self-determining dictates of the sovereign, autonomous will. It is, in short, philosophy decked out in bureaucratic dress and backed with a closed fist aimed at … [Christians] such as myself.
Evangelical Christians and their churches are fast being pushed into a corner. The powers that be will tolerate no opposition to their agenda of exalting the individual human will into the place of God.
We believe this is the primal sin and the one most dangerous to humanity and for that reason it’s impossible for us to comply with the law. It’s like the temptation set before Eve in the Garden of Eden when the serpent scoffed at God’s warning against eating fruit from the forbidden tree: “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…’” (Genesis 3:4-5)
You will be like God the serpent said—the same lie transgenderism makes to modern America; a lie that, when enforced by a political will with no respect for biblical truth, is leading our nation downward into darkness.