Jesus already did that.

The poor, the broken, the marginalized.  We are called to love our neighbor.  Not our righteous neighbor, not the neighbor who believes like we believe, but rather the neighbor we find on the street, broken and hurting – no questions asked.

I’ve had a chance to have several good discussions about the ordinance in Springfield providing protection to those in the LGBTQ community – this ordinance is about allowing people to work without fear of being fired based solely on their private life.  It’s about people not being kicked out of their homes arbitrarily.  It’s about the fact that we need laws to protect their basic rights to walk into a place and buy a cup of coffee without fear of being singled out and told, “We don’t serve your kind here.”

I know many are tired of hearing about it.  I know facebook and social media have been inundated with messages from both sides.  So why should I speak up?  Why do I keep sharing posts, liking posts, and talking about it?  Because I can.  Because I will not be fired from my job, or kicked out of restaurant because I love and support gay people.  But if this measure is repealed?  My friends won’t be safe.  For the LGBTQ community to stand up and ask people to vote NO to Repeal takes a lot of courage.  Because if it is repealed – they could go into work the next day and be fired.  They could be asked to move.  So I speak, because I have rights that I take for granted and sadly we need laws to insure that my friends have those same rights.  I speak because I love Jesus and I love the LGBTQ community and I want them to know both of those things.

I wish we didn’t need this ordinance.  We are a Christian majority after all, here in America.  Loving our neighbor, being a good samaritan, protecting those who are without majority or power – that’s our calling.  I don’t recall in the story of the good samaritan any interview for the victim to find out if he was worthy of love and care.  I don’t recall a checklist – if he were beaten on the side of the road there is a chance that he had done something bad – but no questions were asked.  This is the story that Jesus used to articulate what it means to love your neighbor.  And the hero was a Samaritan!  Did you know Samaritan’s were the most reviled of all people groups by the ‘holy’.  Jesus takes the least likely person of his day and puts him in the story of the Good Samaritan that we talk about 2000 years later – not only that, but he casts him as the hero!  Perhaps today the parable  to describe who our neighbor is would be a transgender victim being helped by a divorced and remarried gay man.  Does that repurposed analogy offend?  That’s good, because the story of a reviled Samaritan as the hero was certainly offensive when Jesus told it so long ago.  Perhaps we should show the mercy that Jesus desired. 

One aspect of the bill garnering a lot of attention is that a transgender person who is living as their identified gender would be allowed to use the restroom that they identify with.   The concern of many is that this makes our public restrooms unsafe.  The fear is that men could just dress up as a woman and go in a bathroom to accost children and women.  I understand that this is a horrific scenario to  imagine, but it is illegal today and it is illegal if the ordinance stands.  There is nothing stopping a pedophile from dressing as a woman and accessing restrooms.  I don’t let my children go to the restroom unaccompanied….ever.    I don’t today and I won’t tomorrow.

It is true that bathrooms can be very dangerous.  They will always be dangerous for children – this is why kids do not go into public restrooms alone.  Allowing a healthy transgender person into a bathroom does not change the risk – it doesn’t lower it, and it doesn’t raise it.  The fact of the matter is you will most likely never know when a transgender person is even in the restroom.  They simply want a private and safe place to go to the bathroom.  Bathrooms are not safe places for children, but in my reality bathrooms are fairly safe for adults.  That is not the case though for a boy or girl, man or woman, who was born with the wrong body.   

(On a side note – if your exposure to transgender people is isolated to the booking room scenes on Law and Order – I would encourage you to research real people’s stories.  Hollywood does a disservice on how it portrays Christians, they make us all look small minded, anti-science, and kind of mean.  Not surprisingly – they also do a disservice in portraying the transgender community and the rest of the LGBTQ community. A transgender person is someone who from a very, very young age – feels that something is wrong.  It is not about sexuality – many start saying they are the opposite gender long before any sexual development occurs – it’s just a genetic anomaly.  Rare, but scary and challenging.)

Back to restroom safety – I can confidently walk into a restroom and not fear for my safety.  Alternatively though, imagine a young woman (for clarity a man who is transitioning to female) being  forced to walk into a men’s bathroom – dressed as a female – she is highly likely to be accosted, injured, beaten, and abused.    In over 200 cities with ordinances allowing transgender access there are no reported abuses of the ordinance by pedophiles – but there are police reports across the country of transgender assaults.  Young children should not go to the restroom unaccompanied.  These ordinances, in my opinion, do not alter the risk to my children.  They do, however, provide a safety net for a group of people who desperately need it.   And this is just one aspect of the ordinance.

Although there are alternative interpretations of the bible on this manner, I realize that there are many people who believe the LGBTQ community is living in sin.  I’ve been surprised however, to learn that this means they feel they  should not have to work with or serve the LGBTQ community.   If you fear having to support sinners in your business, if you fear having to work with sinners, if you fear having to serve sinners, then you need to shut your doors.  Bad people get married and have cakes and photography at their wedding.  Like, really bad people.  

And if the issue is that they are ‘actively’ sinning – well, so am I.  I’m divorced.  I watch the wrong things on TV.  I get really angry at perceived injustices and I judge people – some harshly.  I have some really serious sins in my past.  But, I love Jesus. I believe he lived, died, rose, and will return. I claim His grace and mercy anew each day – can I shop, live, and work with you?    Because, I’m still a sinner after all.

I pray that everyone will vote ‘No’ to repealing this measure that protects people’s homes and jobs.   If you have questions or alternate views – I’m glad to sit down with a cup of coffee and talk about it.  And, if you are not in the LGBTQ community, we can go have coffee anywhere we want.

For the incredible men and women that I worship with each Sunday who will be impacted by this ordinance, for my friends who want nothing to do with God because of this issue, for the homeless teen, the young person considering suicide, for those who have been hurt and are hurting, I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.  I love you and I am for you.

  

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