The uproar over Transgender bathroom usage is just another example of the evangelical right refusing to deal with their own sin.
At least that is what I quipped on Twitter earlier today.
Another way of looking at it is that humans always find it easier to pop zits rather than attend to the lack of hygiene which causes them in the first place.
In Matthew 23 our Lord is occupied in a long, biting polemic against the leaders of the Jewish Church. These men were tasked with shepherding the people of God in holiness and righteousness. Yet, instead of keeping with the commands handed down by the LORD, first to Adam and then in their codification at Mount Sinai to Moses, the scribes and Pharisees were engaged in the acts of what Christ describes in vs.23-25 as:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
Verse 24 gets to what is at play in the opening sentence of this post.
The evangelical world is engaged in (and has been for a long time) a fight against the gnats of whatever the most recent epoch-ending issue is while swallowing the camel of worldliness, Phariseeism, and Antinomianism. (Phariseeism, or Legalism, and Antinomianism are not enemies, but partners in the same denial of Deuteronomy 12:32).
This is not to say the gnats are unimportant. Notice what Jesus says in the passage above.
The problem is not the tithing of the anise and the cummin, it is the fact the weightier matters of the Law are being left undone. We live in a weird and a culturally seismic time. Serious scholarship is required and must be directed at the real struggles the Church faces in the 21st Century. But this is not really the critique of this post. I am not advocating tossing out the gnats and ignoring their need to be strained. It is a both/and issue, not an either/or one.
To define things a bit more let us go back to the above passage. What exactly is Christ talking about when He discusses the “weightier matters of the Law judgment, mercy, and faith”? John Calvin in his commentary on this passage makes two points, first about the general mindset of this kind of hypocrisy and then on the what exactly the weightier matters include:
Christ charges the scribes with a fault which is found in all hypocrites, that they are exceedingly diligent and careful in small matters, but disregard the principal points of the Law. This disease has prevailed in almost all ages, and among all nations; so that men have, in most cases, endeavored to please God by observing with exactness some trivial matters. Finding that they cannot entirely release themselves from all obedience to God, they have recourse to this second remedy of expiating any heinous offenses by satisfactions which are of no value.
Christ therefore affirms that he has no intention to lessen the authority even of the smallest commandments, though he recommends and demands due order in keeping the Law. It is therefore our duty to preserve entire the whole Law, which cannot be violated in any part without contempt for its Author; for He who has forbidden us to commit adultery, and to kill, and to steal, has likewise condemned all impure desire. Hence we conclude that all the commandments are so interwoven with each other, that we have no right to detach one of them from the rest.
Here Calvin goes to great lengths to both defend the use of the Law and its right application to the Christian life. One of the points that you find regularly at play in what he says is the constant lie that we are far too good at telling ourselves: “I am not trying to be a mix-gender human going into a bathroom not made for me. Yeah my sanctification!”
And this is the kind of thing Pharisees are great at displaying for others to see. Thank the Lord I am not like that guy over there while I drown myself in hypocrisy.
Of course if we just focus on the way this applies to evangelicalism and the 7th Commandment a whole book could be written without problem. Whether it be no-fault divorce, pornography, flagrant 2 Cor 6:14 violations, questions around modesty, etc…
But I want to go something even more basic, or foundational if you will.
To be frank, since I am running out of steam, God is more concerned with whether or not you are ignoring His 2nd Commandment by integrating Ashteroth poles and man-made idolatries into His Worship than if your neighbor uses the wrong bathroom at Target. He cares deeply about the observance of His 4th Commandment. Are you making your neighbor work on the Sabbath for your pleasure or your failure to plan accordingly on the day before? It would be wise if the evangelical world spent 10% of the amount of energy it devotes to .01% of the American population to the weightier matters of the Law.
It would of been wiser for Jehoram to be more concerned with the sin of his father Jeroboam than the rebellion of the Amorites. If Ahab was concerned with what Jezebel would say when he returned from Mt. Carmel imagine the true fear that gripped his heart at death because of his dereliction of duty?
In closing, since I have the authorial skills of a junior-high newspaper writer I hope the general point has landed somewhere in the right zip-code. #oldmanrantover