This article first appeared in the Ask Hank column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 37, number 4 (2014). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal please click here.
I recently watched Conchita Wurst (alter ego of 25-year-old Austrian Thomas Neuwirth) pushing the boundaries of gender identity at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen, which boasted some 180 million television viewers. Wurst, who won, was roundly lauded for his courage in forwarding the normalcy of transgenderism, which continues to lag behind the growing acceptance of lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities. Sporting sensually highlighted eyes, a heavy dose of lipstick, cheekbones accentuated through an ample volume of makeup, and a gorgeous spaghetti strapped dress, the bearded drag queen championed progressive ideals of Western civilization against the backward tyranny of Eastern powers such as Russia, which stereotypically views the LGBTQ movement as a prime example of spiritual decay in Western Europe and America.
Concurrent with Conchita’s victory I watched ESPN proudly showcase Michael Sam kissing his lover after being drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. Coach Jeff Fisher hailed Sam’s surpassing courage in challenging the masses to accept the LGBTQ lifestyle as viable. Fisher in turn was roundly lauded for the courage to draft Sam. As Jarrett Bell wrote in USA Today, “Ultimately, Fisher might have to cut Sam….But first things first. Somebody had to provide the opportunity—in the name of progress.”1 Bell likened Sam to Kenny Washington, who broke the “color barrier” when he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1946.
Shortly after seeing Conchita win the Eurovision Song Contest and Sam being drafted by the Rams, I read a Kansas City Star account of a “happy, kind, sweet, considerate” six-year old named A. J. who had been determined to be transgender. “The rough-and-tumble kid who once sported buzz cuts and dressed for his birthday as a pirate was growing her chestnut hair below her shoulders. A. J. was now a girl. ‘There is huge judgment in society,’ said her father. ‘Not only on her, but on us’” (emphasis in original).2
The narrative was crystal clear. Those who would so much as bat an eye at the determination of a six-year-old boy to become a girl are like the bigots who once fueled the fires of racism in America. “The arc of history,” opined the Star, “is moving quickly toward both greater tolerance and acceptance.” In evidence, the article highlighted multiple societal achievements:3
- Barney’s New York, a high-end fashion store, [in January] unveiled a national ad campaign in magazines, online and in its own catalog featuring 20 transgender models.
- The U.S. Senate in November voted 64–32 to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that has been introduced since 1994. It would protect workers based not only on sexual orientation, but also on gender identity. It now awaits a vote in the House.
- A Colorado civil rights panel ruled in June that a 6-year-old transgender girl, born as a boy, suffered discrimination when she was not allowed to use the girls’ bathroom at her grade school.
- [In January], the Kansas State High School Activities Association, which administers interscholastic activities in Kansas public high schools, adopted a policy allowing transgender students to participate in activities “consistent with their gender identity.” Missouri high schools and the National Collegiate Athletic Association already had similar policies.
- Also in January, a federal appeals court ruled that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections’ refusal of sex reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate was unconstitutional, a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
One could just as well cite dozens of other high profile articles, books, and videos spotlighting the current LGBTQ politically correct narrative, such as the June 9, 2014 cover story of Time, featuring transgender superstar Laverne Cox with the headline
I’ve adapted as the title of this editorial, “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier.”
In the Christian Research Journal Joe Dallas of Genesis Biblical Solutions in Tustin, California, and the author of seven books on human sexuality, writes, “Even a casual look at our landscape raises not the question of how we can halt same-sex marriage, but rather, how we can best function as ambassadors for Christ in a society that has overwhelmingly accepted it, thereby rejecting God’s definition of the most basic human institution.” Says Dallas, “Those maintaining the traditional position are now in the minority, an uncomfortable, sometimes uncertain place. From it, we can rail against these trends, bury our heads in despair over them, or meet them responsibly, as stewards of truth in a time when truth is often unwanted and unpopular.”4
The question that inevitably arises is this, How should we then live? I’ve codified my response with the acronym GAY. First, we must recognize that God has spoken! And as such, we must be clear with respect to what He has said. Moreover, we must be equipped to communicate the truths of Scripture with gentleness and with respect. Tolerance when it comes to personal relationships is a virtue, but tolerance when it comes to truth is sin.
Furthermore, evangelicalism is sorely in need of attitude adjustment. In place of a we/they siege mentality, Christians must commit themselves to becoming salt and light, and do so with gentleness and with respect. The “God hates fags” mentality is more conducive to repelling than reaching a culture steeped in sin and confusion. As Joe Dallas has rightly said, “We can preach the right things in all the wrong ways, either too aggressively or too meekly. When either conviction or compassion is being compromised, a revision is in order.”5
Finally, yield not!We must never yield our consciences to the subtle lure of political correctness. Rather, with Luther we ought to say, “My conscience is held captive to the Word of God. And to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.”6 The temptation to yield to cultural norms will continue to be pressed upon us with increasing ferocity. Yet to yield is to abandon the very call that God has placed upon our collective lives. This is no trifling matter. It is a matter of natural law. As Dr. Jay Richards has well said, to deny natural law is to strike “a mortal blow to the foundation of a free society.”7
Playing Chicken. At present two LGBT communities are heading towards one another with blinding speed: one that finds its Life in God and Biblical Truth (LGBT) and one that comprises Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender activists who are pushing for a radical redefinition of marriage and gender; a church remade in the image of the culture; and greatly expanded government filling the void of a once-vibrant church. The question is no longer who will blink first. The question is why we blinked.
The answer is shocking. We have been silent on abortion, which Francis Schaeffer once called the watershed issue of the day; we have been silent on same-sex-marriage, which undermines the most basic building block of civil societies; and we have been silent on the radical agenda of the LGBTQ community in the interest of preserving our own turf. Crassly stated: our own fame and fortune. Make no mistake, the catalyst toward conformity is always personal acceptance and monetary survival. One speaks out today at the peril of his or her platform.
The words of pastor Martin Niemöller immediately spring to mind. As an outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler during the darkest days of Nazi Germany, Niemöller said this: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”8 Niemöller’s words are a sober reminder that we must continue to speak out boldly for life and truth. Each and every one of us is faced with either standing or sitting in the battle for the basic building blocks of civil society.
What are the building blocks of civilization? They are marriage, church, and government. And human life is quite obviously their foundation. While fetus fatigue has settled us into the fog of complacency, it is an ever-present warning of unthinkable realities that may well lie in our future. Think of the 56,405,000+ abortions in the U.S. since Roe v Wade.9 And then think about who faced the greatest peril as a result of our silence: unborn children, the most vulnerable among us.
Of the three fundamental building blocks of civil society resting atop the foundation of human life, think now about marriage and its redefinition. Children again are at greatest risk. Not only the unborn but those already birthed. Allow me to spell out the ABCs of marriage.
First, the Anthropological reality. According to a consensus of sociological metrics, women and men are complementary and thus are both essential in the rearing of children. As Ryan Anderson observed, “Marriage is a uniquely comprehensive union. It involves a union of hearts and minds, but also—and distinctively—a bodily union made possible by sexual complementarity. As the act by which a husband and wife make marital love also makes new life, so marriage itself is inherently extended and enriched by family life and calls for all encompassing commitment that is permanent and exclusive. In short, marriage unites a man and a woman holistically — emotionally and bodily, in acts of conjugal love and in the children such love brings forth—for the whole of life.”10 At its base: fathers will challenge children in developmentally vital ways that mothers will not, and mothers will provide care and nurture in ways that fathers cannot. In the words of Rutgers University sociologist David Popenoe, “The burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender-differentiated parenting is important for human development and that the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable.”11 Nor should we fail to warn people about the dangers inherent in same-sex marriage parenting because of exceptions to the rule. Just as the fact that some smokers outlive some non-smokers does not negate the danger of cigarettes, so too the fact that some same-sex marriages are better than some heterosexual marriages does not mean we should not warn the public of the dangers inherent in same-sex relationships.
Furthermore, the Biological reality. The biological reality is that sexual reproduction requires male and female. It does not take a budding theolog to recognize that every organ in the human body is self-sufficient to perform its intended function except one. Natural reproduction always, always, always, requires a coupling of male and female. As Dr. Jay Richards insightfully noted, “Marriage protects, reflects, and reinforces this powerful complementary, reproductive part of our natures.” As such, marriage “is a comprehensive union of body, mind, emotion, and soul, a proper end of which is children.”12 The fact that not all marriages produce children is hardly an effective counterargument. Not all soccer games produce a victor either.
Finally, the Civil reality. Children need a mother and a father. As President Barack Obama famously said before personally succumbing to the PC thought police, “We know the statistics—that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”13 Fathers are axiomatic to families, and marriage properly understood bonds fathers to mothers—and fathers and mothers to children.
Not only has Obama had a change of heart but so too have religious leaders who recently helped launch the first faith-based court challenge to bans on same-sex marriage. As Faith and Values Religion editor Tim Funk points out in the Charlotte Observer, “Their lawsuit claimed those prohibitions keep them from practicing their religion by denying them the right to marry certain members of their flock.”14
It is not too much to say that marriage redefinition opens Pandora’s Box and spells the death knell to civil society. Fairly applied, the current logic of Obama, who now supports gay marriage both personally and as a matter of policy and law, would apply equally to any voluntary relationship that one can conceive of. As such, marriage redefinition erodes the rational basis for rejecting aberrations ranging from group marriage and polygamy to incest. It is worth reemphasizing that the social impact on women and children is singularly draconian.
Enshrining a false definition of marriage in our laws is like flooding the economy with counterfeit money. Everything is ultimately devalued. As Jay Richards well said, “Rights come from our nature, and our nature comes from God. If you deny that, then you deny the basis of all our other rights.”15 In the end redefining marriage gravely undermines the foundation of human civilization. — Hank Hanegraaff
- Jarrett Bell, “Jeff Fisher, Rams Appreciate Michael Sam’s Impact,” USA Today Sports, May 12, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/columnist/bell/2014/05/11/jeff-fisherappreciates-michael-sam-impact-acceptance-in-locker-room/8981527/.
- Eric Adler, “‘I Am a Girl’: Transgender Children Face a Society Slow to Accept Them,” The Kansas City Star, February 9, 2014, online at http://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/2014/02/08/i-am-a-girl-transgender-children-face-a-society-slow-to-accept-them-a-458245.html#.U8RKLPldV8E.
- Joe Dallas, “Now What? Same-Sex Marriage and Today’s Church,” Christian Research Journal 37, 1 (2014): 42.
- Ibid., 45.
- Quoted in Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity, rev. ed., 2 vols. (New York: Harper and row, 1975), 2:717; and R. Tudor Jones, The Great Reformation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 44. For additional bibliographic data and discussion of variant renderings, see Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 8 vols. (n.p.: AP and A, n.d. [reprint ca. 1888]), 7:139, 141.
- Bible Answer Man broadcast, October 12, 2012; cf. Jay W. Richards, “To Defend Marriage, We Should Learn a Lesson from Apologetics,” Christian Research Journal 35, 4 (2012): 38–42.
- Quoted in “Martin Niemöller, ‘First They Came for the Socialists…,” Holocaust Encyclopedia, http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392.
- See “Abortion Statistics,” National Right to Life, http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf; cf. “Induced Abortion in the United States,” July 2014, Guttmacher Institute, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html.
- Ryan T. Anderson, “Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It,” Backgrounder, March 11, 2013, http://s3.amazonaws.com/thf_media/2013/pdf/bg2775.pdf.
- David Popenoe, Life without Father: Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 146, as quoted in ibid.
- Richards, “To Defend Marriage,” 40.
- Barack Obama, “Obama’s Speech on Fatherhood,” Apostolic Church of God, Chicago, June 15, 2008, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/06/obamas_speech_on_fatherhood.html, accessed May 20, 2014.
- Tim Funk, “Religious Left on the Rise, Thanks to North Carolina,” Charlotte Observer, May 16, 2014, http://funkonfaith.blogspot.com/2014/05/religious-left-on-rise-thanks-tonorth.html.
- Richards, “To Defend Marriage,” 42.